Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

Love & Other Carnivorous Plants
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult | Fiction
Pages: 352 Pages
Format: ARC
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For an honest review

Buy the Book

Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny's life. She's failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.

It's hard to take a book like this and say how much you enjoyed it considering the subject matter, but it's true, I really liked this book!

I really enjoyed Danny's character. Her dark and sarcastic humour added comedic relief to the overall tone of the novel. The book itself dives into the struggles of eating disorders, addiction, and depression with the real-life realities of living life through it all. Florence Gonsalves did a wonderful job at penning these delicate subjects and delivering them with a raw voice. It can be tough approaching Mental health in novels. It's placing a very real struggle into a fictional world and the author did a spectacular job. I feel that if anyone who has been in Danny's shoes would have felt the author was very authentic. There was no sugar-coating. It was no holds barred.  It was raw and untethered. 

There are multiple storylines going on in the novel. We have Danny and Sara, Danny and Bugg, Danny and her parents and Danny and herself.  Each storyline packs a lot of punch. Each one is riddled with highs and lows. It's messy but in an intentional way.

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants went beyond my expectations. I wasn't expecting this book to turn out the way that it did. It's sad yet hilarious at times. Even though it's a fictional story, it's a very truthful representation of disorders and mental health.  Definitely a one-of-a-kind read!

"When I no longer hear her receding footsteps, I touch the place where her lips were, half expecting to find a scar."

Monday, May 14, 2018


I am beyond thrilled to have author, Daniela Tully, on the blog today! Daniela is the author of the newly released, Hotel on Shadow Lake. Daniela stopped by the blog today to talk about something that stirs inside all of us. We long for it. Crave it. Devour books about it. I'm talking about Wanderlust. The desire to travel and explore. To see the world and experience different cultures.  Read on below for Daniela Tully's honest and beautiful view on Wanderlust.

The crippling grip of Wanderlust: Curse or blessing?

Wanderlust is generally defined as a “strong longing for or impulse toward wandering.” In fact, it’s an English loanword of German origin, my origin, which literally translated into English means ‘the desire to hike’: Lust auf Wandern. Wandern, however, doesn’t actually translate into ‘wander’, but into ‘hiking’. And hiking alone doesn’t do the trick. The places wanderlust-stricken people long to see are not just a simple hike away. So we loaned our word to you, and in German replaced it with a term of different connotation: “Fernweh”, weh meaning ache, ‘fern’ translating into ‘far’. So in contrast to what the English loaned from us, our “new” term speaks of pain at feeling wanderlust, not just a “simple” desire. So why is it that the German language acknowledges the pain one can feel for the things that are away, and the English language, on the other hand, only talks about pain that one feels for things left behind? You can be homesick in English, but you cannot be “farsick”. The longing for what is far is a lust. One not associated with pain.

And yet, my experience sometimes has been, and still is, a very different one.

When I started writing my debut novel, which has two female protagonists, one in the past, one in the present, I at first depicted one of them as a wanderlust-crippled woman who couldn’t settle, but was then called back home, to solve a mystery.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to like that character. What was likable about her? Traveling still is a luxury many people cannot afford. Why feel empathy with someone who feels the need to travel all the time? Especially when contrasted with my other heroine, Martha, who undergoes a “real” plight in the Third Reich, one that is associated with suffering, while a wanderlust-crippled person is not really suffering, is she?

When my mother married my father, she was only able and willing to move to a new home that was within walking distance of her parents’ house. I, on the other hand, was bit by the travel bug on a school exchange to Argentina, at the age of 16, taking my first flight ever. And after that I’ve never stopped travelling and lived all over the world.

And this also begs the questions: where does wanderlust start, and where does it end? To some people with wanderlust, traveling to a far away country for three weeks per year won’t do the trick. It needs to be more. It needs to be a dive into the culture, rather than gaining a brief glance as a tourist. Experience it with a vehemence that a vacation can never offer you. Just like it is for me.

I come from a mid-sized town in Germany, a place not small enough to not allow for any kind of otherness, but too small to accept it without further ado. I was the odd one out. When would I grow roots, when others had never uprooted themselves before? I approached an age at which being a female global nomad was no longer cool, it was just bizarre. I was the wrong gender to play the role convincingly: of the ageless, lonely wolf, roaming the world, who -- just like wine -- was getting better with age. I felt faced with Victorian attitudes. Of course, nothing was made obvious, we are in the twenty-first century after all. But I was told in no uncertain terms that nobody would settle with someone that “restless”.

When I googled the wanderlust definition on Google, the Oxford Dictionary gives an exemplary sentence containing wanderlust right after providing me with the definition: “a man consumed by wanderlust.” I am not saying it is only attributed to men; wanderlust is not conditional to gender. But the stigma of it is.

I now live in Dubai, again, for the second time. Most of my female friends are either single and came for the job, or have come here to accompany their husbands. They have followed his path, not their own, to make the partnership work. When we came here the first time, my husband (who I met on a job in Los Angeles) came with me, because of the job I was offered. Only once have I met another couple, whose husband accompanied the woman for her job, and not vice versa. There aren’t many men who follow their women abroad.

I don’t know yet where the road is taking us, my husband, my daughter and I. We don’t know yet where we will live in two years. Even here, in a country filled with expats, friends ask me: “When will you go back?” There is no ‘back’, only onwards, and not necessarily always upwards. Most of the time, I am a very happy global nomad, but I also know that there is a price to pay. Recently, when I see a movie or read a book about someone’s loss and how the person is supported by family and friends in a closely-knit community, I start to worry about myself, about us. I’ve always been on the road (on the run?); do I have a strong enough community? Will I end up alone one day, without a strong local community, without friends who simply moved “back”, a daughter who carries a certain degree of wanderlust maybe already firmly implanted in her? A daughter who is raised as a third culture kid, a child who spends its formative years growing up in a culture other than their parents’? And what about my own cultural identity? I do not want to move back to Germany. That would mean moving back. I don’t want this. Yet, my family members, and especially mother, a real “home buddy”, will need me one day, as they grow older. But that is a whole other topic.

I don’t ever regret having succumbed to wanderlust. Over the years, however, I’ve grown to appreciate those that have only been stricken with the milder, more confortable form of wanderlust. Not with what we Germans call Fernweh, farsickness, a sickness that is so hard to heal, and yet so little understood. Including by myself, as otherwise I would have ventured out and dared to make Maya, my heroine of the present, a ‘farsick’ person, and not someone my total opposite, and my worst nightmare: a person crippled with aviophobia, the fear of flying.

The day I am creating a likeable version of the character I had originally envisioned for the present plot strand of my novel will hopefully mean I, myself, have come to terms: with wanderlust, with myself.

Hotel on Shadow Lake

Hotel on Shadow Lake
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void. 
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.
Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

About Daniela Tully
Since early childhood I have dreamt of exploring the world outside of my birthplace, the mid-sized city of Bielefeld in Germany. Too young to yet fulfil my wanderlust, I escaped into the world of storytelling, and - as soon as I was able to read - was always seen with a novel plastered in front of my face. In fact, for many years, I wanted to become a librarian. Instead, I chose a different path and dove into the world of audio-visual storytelling: first, with film making. I began my career working with famed director Uli Edel while completing my film studies, which allowed me to work on sets all over the world. Once I met my husband, on one of those films, I settled down in Munich for a while, and first became head of script development at a film production company in Munich, and then a network executive of original programming at one of Germany’s major private networks. After this I moved to the United Arab Emirates, where I had been hired to help develop the country’s film industry. Through our company’s partnerships with Hollywood, I was involved in projects such as the critically-acclaimed Fair Game, box-office hits Contagion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as the Oscar-winning The Help. However, as nice as it is to be able to include these titles on my resume, I sometimes felt, especially with other films I produced, that the art of story telling in film making can be compromised by the number of cooks in the kitchen. And so I sat down one day and started writing my own story, the first of many to come.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 368 Pages
Series: Stand alone
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Reason: Personal interest
Find the Author:
Buy the Book: Website

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

Gayle Forman is a writing genius. Read this book now.
Okay, okay, I give you a little more on why you should read this book. But really, the above statement should be all you need.

Gayle Forman has been an auto-buy author of mine since I read If I Stay when it was first released. Her writing paired with diverse characters hooked me, and she has continued to keep it that way since. I snatched up I Have Lost my Way the moment it was released and I couldn't wait to dive into it. 

I usually love to savour books. I'm not one that usually finishes a book in one day because I actually like to give myself time to enjoy the reading experience. However, that was impossible for this book. I couldn't put it down even if my life depended on it! I devoured it, happily, without guilt, in one sitting. I got completely immersed in the lives of Freya, Harun and Nathaniel. Forman's ability to craft such in-depth characters is really a magical thing. She can take you from wherever you are in the world, wherever you a reading, and place you right into the lives of the characters and their world. Her story telling is masterful. Giving your heart a tug on one page, while making you chuckle through your tears on another. She is a fine artist in this literary world.

I Have Lost My Way is the story of 3 teenagers that are lost. Their lives are at a stand still and their options barely visible. A series of events brings these 3 characters into each other's lives. The span of their time together is only 1 day; but Forman has taught us that a lot can happen in one day. 

I adored every single second of this novel. It just proved to me even further why I love Gayle Forman. Another win for the books...see what I did there....

 “They may be complete strangers, with different lives and different problems, but there in that examination room they are measuring sadness the same way. They are measuring it in loss.” 

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 336 Pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
Reason: For an honest review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book: Amazon | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . . 

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .


From Page one this book grasped its ghostly fingers around me and didn't let go! Fascinating characters with an irresistible storyline made The Broken Girls one of my favourite reads of 2018...actually, one of my most favourite ever!

The Broken Girls is a captivating mash-up of ghost story meets suspense. You have a whodunnit thrown right into the mix of a haunting. You will not be able to break free until all of your questions are answered. And trust me, the author doesn't give in easily. Each cliffhanger moment is both painful and scrumptious all at the same time!

The Broken Girls was delivered not only in multiple perspectives but in 2 different eras. Some may consider this a risky move but Simone St. James did it flawlessly. Each Character was so diverse and each held a strong and distinct voice that not once did I find they blended together, or that I got confused on who's point-of-view I was reading from.  Each character is also presented at a beautiful pace. Their stories slowly unfolding made it a great opportunity to bond with each character. 

The Paranormal aspect of this novel was done perfectly! It was both eerie and mysterious. It definitely made my bedtime reading a bit challenging. You're never too old for a night light...right??

The Broken Girls is the total package. It packs so much in its 326 pages. It will tug at your heart one moment, and send your spine tingling the next. Buckle up, because you're in for one epic reading experience!

Also, is Simone St. James not the best author name?! 

"It wasn't easy to survive in a boarding school full of throwaway girls, but after swallowing her tears in those first moments, Katie has mastered it."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 320 Pages
Format: E-galley
Source: Netgalley
Reason: For Review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book: Amazon

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


For fans of Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic? YES PLEASE!

The Wicked Deep is about 3 Sisters who were sentenced to their death two hundred years ago for Witchery. Every Summer they come back, inhabit the bodies of young girls so they can entrance and drown boys for their own sweet revenge. 

This was one. Epic. Read. The Wicked Deep hooks you from the very beginning. It blankets the salty sea air around you, sings its sweet song in your ear and doesn't let you go. Not even after you've finished the last page. You'll be left cast under its spell, still captivated by it. 

I may question Shea Ernshaw of witchery myself for creating such a spell-binding and addictive tale! Ernshaw crafted such compelling characters. Their stories unfolding at a beautiful pace.  I loved the romance between Bo and Penny. It wasn't a cliche or your typical young adult love story. 

The story itself had a great flow! Not once did I feel that it lagged or that any part of it was rushed. Each chapter ended in a way that made you want to move on to the next. It was nearly impossible to put down! It is a unique and fresh take on other Witch stories out there. The Swan sisters stand out strong against the popular genre. It's haunting and dark yet magical and lovely. The Wicked Deep will appeal to all readers, not just for fans of the Young Adult genre.  This book is just begging to be filmed. I would love to see it hit the big or small screen. 

The Wicked Deep will take you on an eerie and memorable adventure. Your heart will flutter and ache and the Swan Sisters will remain with you long after you've finished. 

“We wait for death. We hold our breath. We know it's coming, and still we flinch when it claws at our throats and pulls us under.” 

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg

The Tombs
Release Date: February 20th, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 448 Pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: From publisher
Reason: For honest review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book

New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.
Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why. 


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Like a boss! That my friends, is how Deborah Schaumberg blasted into the YA Book scene. If this is her debut, I cannot wait to see what else she has in store!

I knew as soon as I laid my eyes on the stunning cover of The Tombs that I had to have it, now! I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but look at that beauty! How can you possible ignore it's calling to you?! As soon as it arrived, I dove right in, head first. Kissing goodbye anything else life was throwing my way until I was done reading it. Who needs work, sleep or food when you can be reading, right? The Tombs did not disappoint. Between that gorgeous cover was a haunting yet beautiful tale about a girl and her mother. 

The Tombs is told from the perspective of Avery Kohl. A sixteen year old girl that is trying to make sense of her life and the visions that are troubling her. The very same powers that has her mother locked up in an asylum, the tombs. Avery is a just trying to navigate life, working at the ironworks and living with her father, who is battling his own demons. But, after a series of events Avery is given no choice but to accept this gift that she has within her and fight. Fight for herself, her mother and all of those around her. 

Deborah Schaumberg's writing is absolutely beautiful. It flows so effortlessly off of the pages. She penned a tale that will take you on a wild ride. The author transports you from your reading nook right into 19th century New York. A time when New York is evolving at a rapid pace. She crafted such a sensational cast of characters. The secondary characters are just as prominent of as the main characters. She also did a wonderful job at the back story of each character. We were given bits and pieces throughout the story, just as if you were truly getting to know someone. 

The Tombs is so much more than a story about a girl. It tackles race and discrimination. It touches on the hardships people had to live through just so they could be who they are. It is about a daughters love. I adored every single moment of this book. It was a powerful reading experience that has left me with a major book hangover!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Summer of Broken Things
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 400 Pages
Format: E-galley
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For honest review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.

But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.


*Sigh* Wow...just...wow.

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I was in a bit of a reading funk prior to reading The Summer of Broken Things. It wasn't for lack of good books, it was just a lack of motivation to read. Nothing was capturing my attention...but then this book happened. What I thought was just going to be your "run of the mill" coming of age story turned into the one that would break me out of my funk, wrap its pages around me like a warm blanket and tell me a great story!

Firstly, the characters for me were the star qualities of this book. Yes, the story is spectacular but the characters really bring it home. I loved the dual perspective and it was delivered flawlessly. Not once did the characters blend or get lost within one another. Margaret Haddix penned 2 very strong female characters; They really were the stars of the show. Having said that, nowhere did the book fall flat. Haddix crafted a perfectly paced story with twists and surprises that I never expected. Almost like a Russian nesting doll: beautifully detailed and layered.

The Summer of Broken Things went far beyond my expectations. A wonderful story of self-discovery and growth. An in-depth story about 2 girls and family secrets. It was everything I could have asked for in a book!

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