Book Review: Young Adult (YA) Fiction

Book Review: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo

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In the history of titles, has there ever been something more appealing than Bacon Pie? I can only imagine the hilarity and the food consumption that must have occurred when Candace Robinson and Gerardo Delgadillo focused on proposing potential titles. For me, bacon and pie are delicious thoughts… but putting them together? Wow, I’m not sure how that would taste, but it certainly captured my attention. Both the title and the book… now let’s get into the real review.

Let’s start with the basics of how I chose this young adult contemporary fiction novel published just a few short months ago. I’d seen it advertised on many social media platforms and I followed one of the authors blogs, but I didn’t jump on the initial bandwagon only because my backlog of TBRs, ARCs and other book OCDs had to be sorted and cleaned. I finished that grandiose task right before vacation and took this delight with me to Italy. I devoured it in less than 4 hours between a train ride from Amalfi to Tuscany and an afternoon sitting near the Arno river banks in Siena. What a perfect way to enjoy ‘la dolce vita’ while reading a touching, comical, and thoroughly engaging book.

The story is told through the multiple perspectives of a mid-to-late teenage groups of friends in a typical high school setting; however, it’s not your standard ‘jocks versus nerds’ or ‘life is hard as a teenager’ coming-of-age story. It’s much stronger… there’s a ton of family dynamics, old rivalries, crushes, and emotion built into a backdrop full of diversity and wit. Between Spanish translations and conversations with armadillos, I can’t decide which character I love the most… or which love story is the most endearing and reflective. All of the characters are charming, even when they’re misbehaving or doing something foolish. Their relationships with their parents echo beautiful sentiments, but also show a tougher side of why we all ‘loathe our parents’ from time to time in that age range. Kudos to the authors for bringing out both sides of the puzzle it is to be a hormonal teenager with a chip on our shoulder but also a need to be loved.

And let’s talk about that concept: authors… plural. Yes, it’s a co-written book. I know from first-hand experience how difficult it can be to write one on your own, and while the thought of someone taking on half the work seems easier, I know it’s probably harder than to do it on your own. Merging styles, voices, and patterns. Keeping facts straight. Disagreeing on direction or tone. But never did I see anything in the novel where I thought… ‘hmm, this feels different.’ What a great way to produce a truly a solid book that will entertain all types of readers and bring tons of smiles to their faces.

What I love most about this book is how it’s a finely balanced tale showcasing a few weeks to months in a mixed group of teens without trying to teach huge moral lessons or be more than it needs to be. It’s a beautiful story, leaves you with a lasting impression, shows you the different sides of life with alternative families, and gives you plenty to think about in a subtle manner. I’m really glad I took this book on and can’t wait to read anything else they collaborate on together, or they publish on their own. What’s even more fantastic is that the authors have placed the Kindle version of this book on sale for a limited time… download today via this link on Amazon for only .99 cents! You won’t be disappointed and will probably want to pick it up again soon for another read.

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For those who like to get to know their authors better, be sure to check out their profiles on Goodreads via the links above. You can also find them on Instagram and Twitter via @literarydust and @Gero_Delgadillo. They both have great blogs which you can find thru their profiles on these sites. I’ve given them each a dedicated page on my blog, too, so stay tunes for more as I read future books they’ve written independently or together. I highly recommend taking a chance on this one!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Happily by Chauncey Rogers

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Why This Book

I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of of Happily by Chauncey Rogers this week and am grateful for that opportunity. I’ve been a fan of the author’s work ever since I read one of his earlier novels, Cleaving Souls, last year after I connected with him via his blog. I liked his style and was eager to see the translation from a more psychological and suspenseful story to a re-telling of a classic Cinderella story.

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Approach & Style

It took me about 5 hours over 3 days to read an electronic version via Kindle Reader on my iPad. The book is ~300 pages and divided into ~20 chapters each with a clever title to clue you in on the events. The story is told in first-person POV and from the perspective of Laure, the protagonist. It is a re-telling (re-appropriation, alternative version) of the classic Cinderella tale, but it has several new takes and theories on what was really happening behind the scenes with that darn shoe! It crosses many genres and would be a good read for young adults or adults, especially with the beautiful imagery, language, and multiple double-meanings in many of the lines and action.

Plot, Characters & Setting

Laure is trying to survive in a distant land with no family to support her. She’s caught trying to steal some supplies but races away in the nick of time. Just as she’s about to be captured again, she stumbles into the perfect escape route with the help of local merchant, Luc. At first, he wants to turn her in, but when an opportunity presents itself for them to both get what they deserve/want, everything changes. Meanwhile, King Justin is looking for a bride for his son, but there is a twist regarding the shoe left behind at a ball. Some fathers (or royalty for that matter!) just don’t know when to quit being so pushy. The two stories collide and threaten to change the future for everyone involved, but Laure fights to get what she wants. It’s a fairy tale… wanna guess what happens?

Key Thoughts

Although it’s a fairy tale, the language is more modern and realistic. Rogers has done a fantastic job removing the fluffy aspects of the original story by adding a touch of rawness and humor. It’s very easy to read his work without getting caught up in too much description or too many unnecessary details. There’s always a good balance of imagination, facts and ample window room for the reader to fill in the blanks when you read a Rogers novel.

The re-telling of the story is quite brilliant. You of course have your shoes, the ball, a prince and a girl trying to get away from a poor life… but she is not Cinderella… and you know that from the very first page when she begins talking. Sassy, direct, and tough are the three words that most come to mind. When you dive into the other characters, you’ll find no true step-sisters, but a pair of reasons/people that hold her back. Not all the characters are picture-perfect pretty models who we often see in these types of stories. Rogers took the facts, threw them high up in the air, caught a few as they landed, twisted and tortured the rest, thus turning everything we knew upside down!

What I enjoyed most about this story is the clever use of modern afflictions or situations in a timeline that could be almost any period in history. It’s less about the setting and characters, and instead more about the challenges we face in being who we are. One or two facts about our appearance or lot in life do not define who we can be or what can happen to us. That’s where I found myself intrigued and surprised throughout the course of this wonderful read.

It’s a story you will enjoy reading if you find humor and smiles in seeing how people can very differently interpret the comings and goings of Cinderella and her prince. Some parts will speak more loudly than others, but in the end, you’ll have a very fun connection to familiar people in an alternative setting. You’ll know it’s the same story, but it will also be something fresh and new. Kudos for such an insightful glance into what makes characters tick.

Summary

I recommend this book, as well as several others written by Chauncey Rogers. His imagination will surprise you and his writing will impress you. Another winner! Be sure to pick this one up on April 3rd when it is officially published.

More Details on the Book

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

No fairy godmother. No magic pumpkin. Just one grumpy girl and a glass slipper. If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, make it.

Links to Buy or Read More:

 

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

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Today you’re in for an extra treat as not only do I have a book review, but I’m part of a fantastic blog tour to support this wonderful writer. To top it off, Misty Mount is also today’s featured Author Alert! To see the companion post to this one, check out her Author Alert or continue below to learn more about the various stops on the blog tour and read my 5-star review of The Shadow Girl.

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Why This Book

The concept of a shadow has always been a fascinating subject, and when I saw it in the title of a book, I wanted to learn more. I chatted with the author on Goodreads a few times about her life as a writer, quickly finding myself even more intrigued. I got a copy of the book and then saw she was having a blog tour – by the virtue of luck, I got myself included as part of the team (which I’m incredibly grateful for) and dove head first into reading the book. And I’m so glad I did… what a strong and solid young adult, mystery, and coming-of-age novel to spend a few days with!

Approach & Style

I read this ~300-page novel in early January via Kindle Reader on my iPad. It contains twenty-eight chapters and took about six hours to read over three days. The story is told with a first-person point-of-view and a perspective focusing on the main character, Zylia, a 13-year-old girl who feels like no one can see her. There’s a fine line in the story that will make you wonder if there are any magical elements going on in the background, but it truly makes for a breathtaking transformation as you live through everything Zylia experiences.

Key Thoughts

The story is simple, but it is captivating. It’s a psychological character study, and Mount has done a tremendously wonderful job to keep us interested with only small, simple, and ordinary events happening to her family. Kudos for making something truly introspective feel so warm and other worldly as the same time.

Mount completely captured the life of a 13-year-old girl (not that I would truly know what that is, but that it’s definitely what I imagined it to be). Readers see everything from her point of view in a way that makes you feel like part of the action. Whenever I wanted to be angry with Zylia’s siblings or parents, they do something to re-balance the equation, so I adore them again. The family dynamics in this book are extraordinary.

The tone is perfectly set. It is somewhat ominous, but not in a dark way. It’s written with a light touch that makes you keep thinking… what’s gonna happen here? I need to know, and I hope she’s gonna be okay. Don’t hurt my Zylia! Since this is spoiler-free, I will not tell you what happens… you have to go read it for yourself. Just trust me!

One of the strongest areas is Mount’s use of language, narrative, and dialogue to tell the story. The words she’s chosen make you think deeply. The book gives you an understanding of the questions we all ask ourselves at different ages, and what we choose to see or not see when we interpret other people’s actions.

I definitely see Zylia as becoming a beloved character by readers: 95% adored and maybe 5% frustrated when she slinks too far into the “no one sees me” depths which is completely the way a young teenager would feel — it’s absolutely necessary to draw the emotions out us, so it belonged. Zylia reminds me a lot of Leisl from The Book Thief! All the different things she encounters really show a day in the life of a young girl learning how to find her voice, which will absolutely pull readers in, and allow them to compare situations to their own lives or worry whether they’ve done the same things to others… exactly what a great book is supposed to do!

Summary

This is a book you want to take a chance on, especially if you’re a young adult reader or love when books take you on a psychological journey.

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SG Digital CoverGenre: YA/ Fantasy/ Coming of Age

Publication Date: December 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Blackness. Nothingness. It was in the shape of a giant, hazy shadow, enveloping me, swallowing me, and digesting me into the unknown. It was my biggest fear and my ultimate fate.

Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the “in between” world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped “in between” forever.

You know you want too… click here to add this amazing book to Goodreads

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How about reading a brief excerpt to get you even more interested?

I did my best to fight and claw my way back to the life I once knew, but panic had taken over and colors were swirling and fading all around me. It was all turning into a great cloud of blackness, just like the one I had seen in my dream. The looming cloud of nothingness I had feared for so long was finally grabbing me, wiping my world dark and blank.

The darkness was thick and intense, an inky void that stretched to eternity in every direction. Eventually my panic burnt itself out and I simply stayed there in the dark, feeling as if someone had drained my adrenal glands. I was no longer responding to the dark with fear, but acceptance. In fact, curiosity was beginning to take over.

The longer I let myself stare into it, the less dark it appeared. After some time, I realized that it was all different shades of murky black and foggy gray overlapping and undulating, just out of focus. I blinked mentally and suddenly she was there, standing above me with concern etched in sooty-colored lines on her monochromatic face.”

About the Author

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Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist. She resides in Wichita, Kansas.

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If you want to take a chance on winning a copy, there’s an amazing giveaway where 1 print* and 2 digital copies of The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount are available:

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*Print copy is available to North American residents only.

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This amazing Blog Tour was organized by:

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Review: Garden of Shadows

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Garden of Shadows Book Review
3 out of 5 stars to Garden of Shadows, the 5th book in the young adult thriller series written in 1987 by V.C. Andrews. Two key things to note about this book. The author passed away while writing this book, and I’m not clear on how much VC Andrews wrote versus a ghost writer at the publishing firm. Also, it’s the fifth book in the series, but it is actually a prequel to Flowers in the Attic, so it should be read first. That said, if you read it first, you’d totally lose the power of the first book… it’s better to see someone as bad before you find out they were once good, as well as what pushed them to turn towards the bad life! If you haven’t read Flowers in the Attic, stop reading this review and go back to the beginning.

We find out what Olivia, the grandmother, was like as a child. We learn to like her for awhile, seeing how she was broken down by a wicked man and the loss of her parents at a young age. You begin to feel sympathy, but then you remember, it doesn’t quite matter what was done to you, you should know better than to repeat the cycle, right?

I loved and hated this book. Took too much to read, pushed in the wrong directions. But it also continued a devastating and complex family saga. I had some different ideas on how it should have come together, but I was barely a few years at this point to be able to say anything. Imagine a young kid saying “Oh, I can write that better.” LOL

If you read the series, you owe it to yourself to finish it with this one. If you didn’t, don’t start with this one even tho it’s technically the “first.”

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsBook Review
4+ out of 5 stars to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and supposedly final book in 2007 by J.K. Rowling. But then “Cursed Child” came out last year… so is a series really over? Not in our hearts and minds, my friends… this neither shall this one be… and although I considered spending a huge part of today drafting a very thorough review of Harry Potter, my instincts kicked in and told me not to do so… instead, let’s meet up and talk about it somewhere if you want to get into the details. I literally don’t have the ability to write everything I am thinking about when it comes to these books… and I wrote my first novel in less than 3 months with not a stitch of writer’s block.

Sometimes things just flow out of your creativity and into the world’s waiting and willing hands. And that’s exactly what’s happened with the HP book series. It’s the kind of book where you can read it at any age and feel a deep connection. You can re-read it and watch the movie all in the same day and never be bored or feel the need to do anything else. When HP movies are running on TV back-to-back over a weekend, I always catch a few of them.

These characters are wonderful. The plot is just brilliant. And in this last book, when all the surprises burst from within our own little goblet of fire, we find true nirvana in a set of books unlike any other. From drama to shock, sadness to beauty, Deathly Hallows re-invents the construct of an emotional roller-coaster. Whether you read the whole series or just picked up the last one, you feel the power inside the text… especially when you consider it all started with an innocent and scared little boy who lived under the stairs at 4 Privet Drive.

We are all Harry Potter at one point in our lives or during the course of his life. Could be when you were a child searching for someone to love you, or it may be now as an adult looking back on the differences you faced in the eyes of good versus evil. Whatever the connection is, you’ll feel it until you are no more… and while this may seem like an exaggeration or a rather ethereal point of view… one thing I know is true:

We all make the exact same face when we hear or think of anything to do with his amazing story: there’s a brief pause, our lips curl, our eyes roll back a little as we shut out lids, our breath thins out towards the back of our throat, and our hearts all decide it’s OK to stop beating for just that 1 second. And in our collective sigh of “I love Harry Potter” exclamations, we are all for once, connected by a shared intense feeling that might be strong enough to fuel the world’s future.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the 6th book in the Young Adult Fantasy series written in 2005 by J.K. Rowling. Although I could go on and on about this book, there are so many other reviews and reviewers who are likely to have a better one simply because they wrote it write after reading the book or watching the movie. I read it close to ten years ago, saw the movie at least 5 years ago, and though I would love to re-read them… my TBR pile is way too high. That said… it’s a fantastic series full of wild imagination, great beauty and intricate sentiment. In this book, Harry must connect with the past and his dark side, trying to figure out who this half-blood prince is… and when he finds out, everything is different. The book is about relationships… discovering things about yourself and others that you didn’t know. And when someone Harry absolutely adores is murdered right in front of him, and it’s connected with the half-blood prince, it sends Harry on a downward spiral, out of control, but necessary for him to find the inner strength to fight Lord Voldemort. I can’t even begin to write a review for this book… let’s just go get some coffee or a drink and talk about it. It requires us having an animated conversation… right?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Seeds of Yesterday

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Seeds of YesterdayBook Review
3 out of 5 stars for Seeds of Yesterday, the 4th book in the “Dollanganger” thriller and young adult series, written in 1984 by V.C. Andrews. When I first read this series, I absolutely loved the characters and plot. It was mesmerizing and felt just dark enough to pass the reality line, but not too far where I thought it was completely unbelievable. Somewhere around books 3 and 4, it fell down for me. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t as good as the originals. I still enjoy hearing Cathy’s voice, understanding her point of view and knowing what happens with her and Chris. But her own children are terrible, and the concept of the seeds of yesterday coming back to haunt you… was mediocre for me. It’s a fine line to say what turns a good person bad, and a bad person to redemption. It’s rare I can buy such a change… or do I really want it to change in something like this. Writing is similar. Style is similar. But the plot just gets away too much for my taste. I gave it a 3 as it’s worth the read, have some cautions with it, but would still want to finish the series. One more to go!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews