Odd and Bookish
Reading progress update: I've read 237 out of 384 pages.
The Heart's Appeal - Jennifer Delamere
Review
5 Stars
Spotlight - Jacqueline E. Smith


I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Jacqueline has done it yet again! This was another amazing book from her.

 

This book is technically the end of the of the series, but I’m still holding on to hope that there will be more. *fingers crossed* As a conclusion, this book was great. It wrapped up the main storyline of the Tara drama perfectly. I was very happy with what ultimately transpired.

 

I really liked how this book incorporated even more of Chloe and Kendra. They’re both super awesome characters and were a nice addition to the band’s inner circle. I loved the all-girl alliance that Mel, Joni, Chloe, and Kendra formed.

 

Like the other books in this series, there were a lot of twists and turns. It kept me guessing the entire time. I literally had no idea how it was going to end. I got anxious in the last 30 pages because I wasn’t sure what would happen. But like I mentioned previously, it ended very well. I have zero complaints.

 

As a random side note, there was one paragraph in the beginning that I really loved. It’s when Mel is describing how hot Sam looks while shooting a music video. She remarks, “By God, he looks so good. He kind of looks like the Prince from Beauty and the Beast, but if the Prince was blond and like, a million times hotter. And not animated” (46). As you probably already know, I love Beauty and the Beast and I love any reference to it.

 

Overall, this was perfect!!

Reading progress update: I've read 127 out of 232 pages.
Spotlight - Jacqueline E. Smith
Review
5 Stars
A Cactus in the Valley - Olivia Bennett


I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

This was an amazing book. I haven’t read a YA book this deep and emotional in a while.

 

First off, I loved the dual points of view. It allowed me to really get into the minds of both Terra and Wyatt and feel what they felt.

 

I also really loved the flashbacks. They were incredibly well done and were spaced perfectly throughout the novel. You learned more about the characters gradually, as opposed to being info-dumped with backstory. The author did a good job paralleling the flashbacks. I enjoyed seeing the connections between their stories.

 

The writing style of the book was really beautiful. The descriptions were phenomenal. The author writes with such an ease. Two of my favorite lines (which also show the parallels) were “My name is Terra Lombardi, and I am a shooting star falling from the heavens” (24) and “My name is Wyatt Hartman, and I am a meteor crashing from the skies” (44).

 

The subject matter can be heavy and very mature at times, but it was all handled appropriately. Sometimes authors will throw in things like rape and abuse as a plot device, without doing the matter justice. This book did not do that and I really appreciated that.

 

Overall, this is a powerful story about survival and facing your inner demons.

Reading progress update: I've read 54 out of 390 pages.
A Cactus in the Valley - Olivia Bennett
Review
3.5 Stars
Who is Vera Kelly? - Rosalie Knecht

I received this book for free from the publisher (Tin House Books) in exchange for an honest review.

 

This book is a slow burn. It’s not your typical spy novel. It’s on the slow side and there isn’t much action. I was expecting some twists and turns to the story, but that wasn’t what I got. It was a pretty straightforward plot. As a spy novel, it was a bit lackluster. I also felt that the spy parts could have been developed more because all the events seemed to move at lightning speed. I would have loved to seen more of Vera’s day to day life as a spy and more of her interactions with her fellow students.

 

As a work of literary fiction, this book was more successful. I actually enjoyed the flashbacks to her youth a lot more than the spy parts. I liked unraveling who Vera was and how she got to be the person she is. I particularly liked the parts about her sexuality because it shed light on how different things were for the LGBT community back in the 50’s and 60’s.

 

Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed by the spy aspect, but was satisfied with Vera’s character development.

Review
5 Stars
After Death - Jacqueline E. Smith

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

As usual, I loved this book because I love all of Jacqueline’s books. Her writing style is just amazing.

This book was another fantastic addition to the series. There was a lot of paranormal activity in this book and I loved every second of it. I think out of all three of the books, this had the most spooks. A lot happened in this one.

The haunted carnival setting was really perfect because it introduced a lot of interesting new characters, like Rasia and Chance McDermott. I’m curious to see more of them in future books.

What I really love about this series, and this book in particular, is how it deals with death and grief in regards to both the loved ones and the deceased. It explores the nuances of both sides in great depth. The last two chapters of this book demonstrated this perfectly. Those chapters were so touching, emotional and heartfelt. If I was one of those people who could cry when reading books, I probably would have.

All in all, this was an incredible addition to the Cemetery Tours series and I cannot wait to see what Jacqueline comes up with for the next book.

Reading progress update: I've read 178 out of 250 pages.
After Death - Jacqueline E. Smith
Review
5 Stars
Between Worlds - Jacqueline E. Smith


I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

I was so excited to read this book because it takes place in a haunted house. Fun fact about me: I LOVE haunted houses. My favorite ride at Disneyland is the Haunted Mansion and I often consider it to be my dream home. I also live super close to the Winchester Mystery House (which is totally awesome by the way). So already I was destined to love this book.

 

I liked the first book in this series, but I loved this one more! I tend to like the second book in series more than the first because all the set up is already done. This book got straight to all the haunting fun and did not disappoint.

 

So first off, Stanton Hall Manor sounds like my kind of house. There’s a room called the Storybook Room and it sounds like the greatest thing ever. The book states, “The Storybook Room was designed like a book store, with antique novels lining each and every corner of each and every wall. It reminded Kate of the castle library in Beauty and the Beast” (90). That place sounds like heaven!

 

Character-wise, I really liked how we got to meet Luke’s ghost hunting team. I can’t wait to see more of them! Also, I really love Brink. He’s so precious and provides such great comedic relief.

 

The storyline was really good and as usual there was a good balance of the paranormal and the normal.

 

I also liked how natural Kate and Michael’s relationship felt. They make a very cute couple.

 

Overall, this was even better than the first. I can’t wait to start reading the third book as soon as I post this review.

Review
4 Stars
Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England, 1544 - Kathryn Lasky

This was a reread for me. I believe I originally read this book sometime during middle school and I remembered that I really liked it. I read a bunch of the Dear America and Royal Diaries books but I would always get them from my school library. Now I’m going to try to buy the ones I liked so I can relive my childhood.

 

Reading this now as an adult is such a different experience, but I still enjoyed it.

 

The author did an amazing job imagining what a young Elizabeth I would be like. There was a nice blend of innocence and tragedy to her character.

 

I also really liked the little tidbits about life at court, like how often they took baths (spoiler alert: it’s not very often).

 

Overall, this is a great middle grade book for kids who want to learn more about Elizabeth I.

Review
4.5 Stars
Wild Beauty - Anna-Marie McLemore

I received this book for free through BookLikes’ Giveaways.

 

This was such a unique read. I have never read anything quite like this before. It’s really hard to explain what this book is about, because you kind of have to read it for yourself to find out.

 

I loved a lot about this book. First there was all the diversity! All the main characters are Latinx. In addition there was also great LGBT rep. All 5 of the girls were bisexual and had a crush on the same girl, and the girl they had a crush on ended up being genderqueer.

 

I loved the writing style of the book as well. The author writes so beautifully. The atmosphere the author creates is magical. In general, I loved the Latino folktale vibe of the entire book. It was so refreshing to read a book from that perspective. I also really liked all the witch allusions. The women were often referred to as witches and that word just holds so many connotations. It really showed how feared these women were but also their strength.

 

This is random, but I liked how the book talked about periods. Periods are mentioned a few times and I’m glad the author mentioned them because it is a part of life and being a woman.

 

There was one passage that I really loved and want to share:

 

“As though their daughters loving men and women meant they wanted all of them in the world. There was no way to tell their mothers the truth and make them believe it, that hearts that loved boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke. And the way it happened depended less on what was under their lovers’ clothes and more on what was wrapped inside their spirits” (242).

 

I thought this was so powerful and showed that love is love while also dispelling the common belief that bisexuals are promiscuous.

 

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that it still felt like things were unresolved at the end. I had wanted a bit more than what I got.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and if you are looking for a different kind of read, then consider picking this book up.

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Review
3 Stars
The Echoes of Love - Hannah Fielding

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

This is an odd book for me to rate because I found the first half of the book to be 2 stars, but the second half was 4 stars. My final rating for this is 3 stars, which is the average of the two.

 

On an unrelated note, when I first saw that one of the epigraphs was an excerpt from Burnt Norton I was really happy. I love that poem mainly because Lana Del Rey recites it for her interlude on her Honeymoon album and I love Lana Del Rey.

 

So the first half of the book was 2 things: slow and cringe worthy.

In regards to its slowness, I thought that it took way too long to get to Tuscany. It took nearly 150 pages for our main character, Venetia, to finally get there. I felt like the story didn’t actually start until she arrived. A lot of the first half of the book was Venetia being wishy washy towards Paolo. She would think to herself, I love Paolo. Then the next page she would be like, I don’t love Paolo. That continued regularly until about half way through and made the book go by so slowly. I got pretty annoyed with her because she could not make up her mind. A good portion of the first half could have been removed because it was all really repetitive.

 

As for the cringe worthy parts, there were two lines in particular that drove me nuts. The first line described Venetia as having “neither racial or social prejudices” (41). Like okay. That’s kind of an odd thing to say in a book. The second line was when Venetia asked the Chinese fortune teller, “How come you speak such perfect English” (98). As someone who is half Asian, I really have an issue with that. It just adds to the perpetual foreigner stereotype that gets attached to Asians. It wasn’t even a necessary question for the story. Another thing that had me cringing was how predatory the males were in the beginning. Count Umberto was so horrible and even Paolo was a bit too much with his constant demands.

 

But then the book moved to Tuscany and things got a whole lot better. Paolo and Venetia became less annoying. There were conflicts which finally got the story moving (I loved Allegra’s character. She was really interesting). The romance finally heated up. A lot of the time it reminded me of Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast, which isn’t surprising considering Beauty and the Beast (the original fairy tale version) is mentioned on page 304 and Jane Eyre is mentioned in the author’s Q and A at the end of the book. I could definitely see the inspiration and since I love both of those I did end up enjoying the second half.

 

As for the big reveal at the end, I had already figured it out by that point so I wasn’t super surprised by it.

 

Overall, this wasn’t the best romance due to its overly long beginning but the second half saved this book from becoming a disaster. I’m am curious to read more from Hannah Fielding because out of all her books on Goodreads this one has the lowest average rating of only 3.66. All her other books have an average rating of over 4. I’m hoping that this book was just a fluke and not representation of her writing as a whole.

Reading progress update: I've read 74 out of 416 pages.
The Echoes of Love - Hannah Fielding
Reading progress update: I've read 74 out of 416 pages.
The Echoes of Love - Hannah Fielding