Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Blog Tour: The Code for Love and Heartbreak Review

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Inkyard Press for having me as part of the blog tour for The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor!

Pub Date: 10-6-20
YA - Contemporary

Emma Woodhouse is a whiz at math, but utterly clueless when it comes to human interactions. People can be unreliable, but numbers will never let you down. When her older sister heads to college leaving Emma completely friendless, she plans to dedicate all her time to the coding club she's co-president of. With the national competition looming, the club must brainstorm an idea that will take them to the top, and Emma has a rather unconventional project in mind: an app that will mathematically match students up with their perfect partners within the school called The Code for Love.

The rest of the coding club, especially George, Emma's co-president, is hesitant, to say the least. They believe nothing good can come from meddling in people's love lives, but the more excited the student body gets about the matches, the more they have to admit maybe Emma is on to something. But when couples start breaking up, and George is matched with someone else in the club causing certain feelings to stir in Emma, she has to face the facts that maybe math can't solve everything.

I'm always a fan of a Jane Austen retelling, and while I did enjoy this, it felt a little young. There was all the typical high school drama you'd find in a YA, so I do think it'd be well-suited for someone who is actually in the age bracket of the characters. Like the original material, Emma is headstrong, stubborn, and a bit childish at times. She is dead set on the fact that math is the answer to everything that she gets very defensive and lashes out when things don't go her way. I did like her and George and felt he brought out a nice balance to her, and they were cute together. I did also have a few issues with the writing itself. There were times where Cantor felt very repetitive and wordy. The highlight for me was all the actual coding references. I know nothing about that, so it was interesting to see how in-depth and complex it all is. Despite not fully clicking with this, it was a quick read and kept my attention for the most part, and I'd recommend if you're into retellings and YA contemporaries.

Rating: 3/5

More info about the book can be found here!

Friday, September 25, 2020

5 Fandom Friday- Sci-Fi Series That Make You Nostalgic

Hello, all!

There are so many sci-fi shows that I love, but here are just the first few that came into my head.

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation: I’ve always had issues falling asleep ever since I was young, and so I would usually just watch TV, and I vividly remember spending lots of late nights with this and The Late Show with Arsenio Hall.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This show was my everything growing up! I mean, I even have a tattoo for it for cryin’ out loud. Buffy taught me all about Girl Power, and to this day, I still wish I were part of the Scooby Gang.

3. The X-Files: I was definitely far too young when I started watching this, but it’s fine. This is probably the only show that I’ll go back to that still creeps me out so many years later.

4. Red Dwarf: I don’t think this show is that well-known which is a shame because it’s so good. It was a British show from the 80s/90s that I originally started watching because the main characters reminded me of some of my friends (literally, Lister looks exactly like a friend of mine, it’s creepy), but it’s so cheesy and hilarious and it reminds me of being back in college.

5. The Twilight Zone: Every year since I can remember, I’ve spent New Years’ day binging the Twilight Zone and Honeymooners marathons on TV. It’s my little tradition and I can’t ring in a new year without it.

Lemme know some of your favorites!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

September OwlCrate Review

Hello, all!

The theme for this month was "A Glorious Haunting," and it did a pretty good job of getting you in the spooky mood.

First up was this pumpkin spice flavored Sleepy Hollow chapstick by Fiction Bath Co. I actually have super sensitive lips and they get chapped very quickly if I use anything other than Carmex, so I can never actually use lip balms when we get them. I also don't like pumpkin anything (I'm more of an apple girl when it comes to fall!), so this isn't my cup of tea.

Next we had a Hocus Pocus Black Flame Candle by Novelly Yours. This is slightly too strong from my tastes, so I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of this, but I just love anything Hocus Pocus related.

My absolute favorite item in this box was this gorgeous bookmark by Lapels and Spells. I don't have any bookmarks that look like this, so right off the bat it's a standout for me, and I just can't get over the design. 

Then we had these little skull coffee spoons by Team OwlCrate. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I'll find some other use for these cause they're just so fun.

The last item was this The Raven blanket by Michelle Gray. On one hand, I love how soft and cozy these blankets are, but the size always throws me cause they're never long enough to cover you fully.

The book for this month was Horrid by Katrina Leno. After her father's death, Jane and her mother move from sunny California to the dreary Maine house of her mother's childhood. As Jane tries to settle into her new surroundings, she seeks solace in old books and memories, especially after dealing with bullying and her mother's emotional spiraling. When exploring the old house, Jane stumbles upon a locked room that her mother says was for storage, but Jane soon discovers that it's actually a young girls bedroom-- and it doesn't seem to be as empty as it looks.

I've actually never heard of this book before, but it sounds intriguing and it definitely gives off the creepy vibes. Lemme know what you thought of this box!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Museum of Ice Cream

Hello, all!

Like most lactose intolerant people, when it comes to ice cream, I pretend I'm not lactose intolerant. So when I heard about the pop-up Museum of Ice Cream in NYC, I knew I needed to go. The tickets were originally for April, but due to Covid, the date kept getting pushed back, but finally Saturday was the day! 

Obviously, the exhibit drastically changed due to the virus and wasn't as interactive as it once was, but it was still so much fun. I didn't know what to expect, but there were tons of installations and everything was really well done. There were little bits of ice cream history which were littered throughout, and the staff give you a fun scavenger hunt to play in all the different rooms. It was a quirky way to spend an afternoon.

You can check out all the pictures below! More info about the museum can be found here

Friday, September 18, 2020

5 Fandom Friday- Top 5 Sci-fi Movies

Hello, all!

Let’s talk sci-fi movies!

1. Serenity: I’ve already mentioned my love of Firefly, so this was a no brainer. It was such a great way to end the show after it was canceled, and who could ever forget that iconic shot of River standing over all the Reavers she killed singlehandedly?

2. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial: This movie just warms my heart. I love the relationship between Elliot and E.T. so much that I actually went as them for Halloween a few years ago (I even built a tiny bike handle/basket for my E.T. doll). It’s also fun to say “phone homeeee” in my best E.T. voice.

3. Spaceballs: Can this be considered sci-fi? I’m gonna count it. This is one of my favorite movies, and I can pretty much quote it from beginning to end. It’s so hilarious and never fails to make me smile.

4. The Fifth Element: I can sum up my love for this movie in one phrase: Leeloo Dallas multipass.

5. The Thing: ‘80s Kurt Russell, am I right? Whatta babe. Also, there are some scenes in this movie that still gross me out and that’s always a sign of a good movie.

What're some of your favorites?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The House in the Cerulean Sea Review

Hello, all!

Have you ever read a book and known within the first few pages that it was something magical? That's how I felt with The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. It quickly became one of my favorite books of all time.

Pub Date: 3-17-20
YA - Fantasy

Linus Baker is as quiet and unassuming as they come. Not one to ruffle any feathers, he keeps his head down and does what he's told. Especially when it comes to his job as a caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he evaluates the well-being of special children at government-sanctioned orphanages. So when Linus is unexpectedly called up to meet with the Extremely Upper Management, he's as shocked as anyone. He's sure he's about to get sacked for something, but instead, he gets chosen for a very classified job: investigating the Marsyas Island Orphanage to determine whether or not the place is safe to hold the dangerous children that live there. When he arrives at the island, Linus finds he was totally unprepared for what he meets.

The children housed here are unlike any he's ever encountered before: there's Theodore, the wyvern with an affinity for treasure; Chauncey, a tentacled species of unknown origins who desperately wishes to become a bellhop; Talia, a cranky but lovable gnome; Phee, a feisty sprite; Sal, a quiet anxious boy who turns into a Pomeranian when startled; and Lucy, a precocious 6-year old who loves belting along to oldies records who also just so happens to be the Antichrist. And at the helm is Zoe, the sprite guardian of the island, and the master of the orphanage, Arthur Parnassus, a charming man who keeps throwing Linus off-kilter. At first, the kids unsettled Linus, but as he spends more time around them, he starts to see these "dangerous" charges for who they truly are: special kids who are just trying to make the best out of what they were given. Soon, everything Linus has come to know, all his rules and regulations he's spent his whole life following down to the T, get thrown to the wind and for once in his life, Linus finally learns what it means to be alive.

Oh. My. God. This didn't just pull at my heartstrings but instead made it burst into a million little pieces. It was the most charming, whimsical, enchanting, beautifully written/crafted stories I've read in a while. While I adored Linus and Arthur and how entirely sweet they were, the kids are what truly shine. They are the heart of this story and it's so lovely. Each one is so different, but they all blend to make this adorable little family. If I had to pick, my favorites were Lucy and Chauncey because anytime they opened their mouths, I was either smiling or laughing. This is really a story about found family and never letting the prejudices of others cloud how you see yourself. It's so hilarious, heartwarming, and wholesome, and I can't recommend it enough.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Blog Tour: Smash It! Review

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Inkyard Press for having me as part of the blog tour for Smash It! by Francina Simone.

Pub Date: 9-22-20
YA - Contemporary

Olivia "Liv" James has never been one for the spotlight. While her two best friends, Eli and Dré, make girls swoon with their cover band, Liv dissolves into the background. After one embarrassing show, Liv decides she's had enough. She's through letting her insecurities run her life, so she takes a cue from Shonda Rhimes and drafts a F*ck It List.

Soon, Liv is living her life like never before. She has new-found confidence, new friends, and even a part in the school's production of Othello. Liv's checking off items on her list one after another and having the time of her life. What could possibly go wrong? But when she gains the attention of three different guys, two being her best friends, Liv quickly finds out the answer is way more than she bargained for.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this. I was probably about thirty percent of the way through before I felt it all clicked and the story began to hit its stride. I liked Liv and felt she was very relatable and was rooting for her on her journey of self-discovery. I did think she fumbled the ball a bit at times, but it was a nice learning experience for her and I felt it helped her grow by the end. Her relationship with Dré was sweet and ended in a way more mature manner than I would've thought, but I was definitely rooting for her and Eli the whole time. I also loved the little glimpses into the script for the play. I thought that was a nice touch since so much of the plot revolved around the show. Despite not fully vibing with the writing at first, I thought this was a cute quick story that would be good for fans of all those messy love triangles teen dramas are famous for.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Fable Review

Hello, all!

Have you ever seen a book cover that just immediately sucked you in? That's how I felt about Fable by Adrienne Young. Big thanks to Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 9-1-20
YA - Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Fable has only known one home: the sea. As the daughter of a notorious and powerful trader, she grew up on ships-- being lulled to sleep by the waves, diving for treasures with her mother. However, four years ago, a storm destroyed her father's ship the Lark, killing her mother, and forcing her father to abandon her on a remote island full of cutthroats and thieves. Fable had to quickly learn that the only person she could count on was herself. For four years, she's only had one goal: get off the island, find her father and demand that he gives her her rightful spot by his side. To fulfill this plan, Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West and his reluctant crew.

Fable soon discovers just how far her father's reach has grown, and how dangerous it is to be associated with him and his enterprise. She also learns that West isn't exactly who he seems to be. If the pair hope to survive not just the storms that plague the Narrow sea, they'll both need to learn to trust one another with secrets that every other trader would kill to know.

I really enjoyed Young's other novel, Sky in the Deep, so I was hoping to be immediately sucked into this story and world. While I did enjoy this, it fell slightly short for me. I did like Fable and admired how strong and self-sufficient she was. I thought the whole crew of the Marigold was fun and each brought something interesting to the table. The relationship between Fable and West was fine, but nothing to write home about. The merchant politics and trading was intriguing with just how cutthroat it all is. The story had many good parts to it, yet I just felt like something was missing. It just didn't grab me as much as I was expecting it to. Despite that, I'm still interested to see where the story goes from here.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Blog Tour: The Orphan of Cemetery Hill Review and Excerpt

Hello, all!

Hester Fox has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She has such an atmospheric writing style and the way she weaves supernatural elements into her stories is always done so well. That's why I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for her newest release, The Orphan of Cemetery Hill. Big thanks to Graydon House for having me! For my part, I'll be giving you a little review as well as an excerpt. Enjoy!

Pub Date: 9-15-20
Historical Mystery

Young orphaned Tabby has a peculiar gift: she can commune with the dead. While fleeing from her oppressive aunt and uncle who exploited her for her gifts, Tabby and her sister are tragically separated. With no family left, Tabby seeks shelter in a crypt and is soon taken in by Eli, the kind caretaker of the local cemetery. For years, Tabby has lived a quiet life hiding her dangerous secret, but when a string of grave robberies start cropping up around Boston and her gift is uncovered, Tabby finds herself running for her life yet again. Soon, she's taken by a shady group called the "Resurrection Men" who have high hopes that her gift will help them on their quest for reanimating the recently deceased. Tabby must trust in her powers, as well as her small group of friends including the frustratingly handsome Caleb if she hopes to make it out alive.

I absolutely loved Fox's other novels, so I had high expectations for this, but it ended up falling a bit flat for me. While it had all the elements I've loved from her previous work--an interesting historical setting, a mystery that kept you on your toes, and writing so atmospheric it felt like a movie playing in your head--it just didn't capture me as fully as I was hoping. I think part of that reason was the characters themselves. I really liked Tabby and this strange power she had, and the little family she created with Eli and Mary-Ruth, but I just couldn't get behind Caleb. I didn't think he had many redeeming qualities and he treated Tabby so poorly time and time again. Yeah, he may have had a change of heart towards the end, but it was too little too late in my opinion. I also felt the plot was a bit slow, but it came to a satisfying end. Despite a few bumps in the road, I'd still recommend if you're looking for a Gothic mystery and think this would make a great read for Autumn.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, September 4, 2020

5 Fandom Friday- Favorite Sci-Fi Universes

Hello, all!

It’s been quite some time since I did a 5FF, and I figured it was time to rectify that! This topic was really fun for me because I’m constantly thinking about what it would be like to live in the worlds of my favorite fandoms. Here are just a few of my picks.

1. Star Wars:
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. If you know me, you know my undying love for the galaxy far, far away, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve always been fascinated by all the different planets, and would love to explore around Endor with some Ewoks or bask in the beauty of Naboo.

2. MCU: Again, obvious. Aside from the Battle of New York (I’d rather not have my house crushed by falling Chitauri debris), any universe where Captain America's butt is plastered everywhere is one I'd like to be in.

3. Firefly: I love Firefly with every fiber of my being, and still get so emotional thinking of Wash’s death. There’s tons of interesting planets to see and fun new slang to learn, just try to stay away from the Reavers. Plus, I’d just really like to be part of Mal’s crew.

4. Farscape: Two words: John. Crichton. *Swoon*

5. Doctor Who: If you tell me that you wouldn’t jump at the chance to be the Doctor’s companion and travel all throughout time and space in the TARDIS, I would call you a liar.

What’re some of your favorites? Lemme know!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Blog Tour: The Book of Hidden Wonders Excerpt

 Hello, all!

If you're a fan of stories about stories, or stories about family dynamics, look no further than The Book of Hidden Wonders by Polly Crosby. 

Romilly Kemp is a bit of an outcast in her quaint English village and doesn't have too many friends besides her eccentric father and her cat, Monty. When her father falls on hard times, he decides to write a children's book based off the adventures of Romilly and Monty. Soon, the small family is thrust into the spotlight and eventually the father and daughter grow apart. As Romilly gets older, she searches her father's stories for the connection that they lost, and is surprised to find clues hidden within that lead Romilly on an unforgettable journey that will uncover a precious family secret. Big thanks to Park Row Books for having me on this blog tour, and for my part, I'll be sharing an excerpt of this charming story. Enjoy!

Pub Date: 9-1-20
YA - Mystery

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Woods Review

Hello, all!

It's September 1st, which means in my mind, it's officially my favorite season: fall. From now on, I am Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail walking along the streets of NYC while The Cranberries play in the background. Now, I don't know about you all, but something about autumn makes me crave more mystery/thriller reads. There's just something so atmospheric about them that fits this time of the year so well. With that being said, massive thanks to Grand Central Publishing for sending me The Woods by Vanessa Savage!

Pub Date: 8-25-20
Adult - Thriller

Ten years ago, Tess Cooper experienced an incident so traumatic that to this day she still doesn't remember exactly what happened. All she knows for sure is that she and her sister went into the woods one summer night, but only she made it out alive. She left her small village soon after with no intention of ever returning. However, when her father calls to let her know her stepmother is dying and only has a short time left, she has no choice but to face the broken memories.

Once Tess is home and reunited with a group of people she hasn't seen in years, she starts remembering fragments of what happened that fateful summer. She remembers the family who moved in next door and all the chaos that brought to her quiet life; she remembers the village was in a craze after a few local girls turned up murdered; she remembers how distant and closed off her sister became as the summer progressed. But Tess starts to wonder if the stress of her stepmother dying, losing her job, and finally being back in this dreadful place could be clouding her memory. Especially when she starts remembering pieces that prove her sister's death might not have been an accident as it was reported.

Much like the actual woods, this was twisty, dark, and branched off in all directions. There was an undercurrent of tension and paranoia throughout that kept you on edge the entire time. Tess is suffering from memory blocks that stop her from remembering certain things from her time as a teen which makes her a pretty unreliable narrator. But then bits and pieces start coming back to her, and those around her start twisting her memories and words in ways that make it seem like she's the suspect, so you really have no clue who to trust. Savage has such a way of immersing you in this story that you feel every anxiety that Tess feels. Every emotion she goes through, and she goes through a lot, hits you right in the face. I thought the mystery played out well, and while I did figure out a small part, the whole of it took me by surprise which is what you always want in these types of stories. If you're looking for a gripping psychological thriller to sink your teeth into, definitely check this out.

Rating: 4/5