Top Ten Reads of 2016 (part two)

Hey all, Dani here.

So, back in July I wrote up a post of my top ten reads in the first six months of the year…and since I’ve read so many amazing books this year, I’m just going to do another list, this time with books I read from July to December.

As with last time, these books are not in any sort of order of favoritism…but they might be in chronological order, so let’s get started.

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Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

So this is a fun little book to leave on a coffee table or have handy for a fun evening with friends. It takes popular songs, both current and classic, and turns them into Shakespearean sonnets, which is just highly amusing. I definitely enjoyed this book.

The ABCs of RPGs  by Ivan Van Norman

I love this book. I backed the Kickstarter, despite not having any children. It is obviously an ABC book designed for geeky families and has cute artwork and such. Inside you’ll find it going over the letters like A is for Adventure, L is for Loot, and Q is for Quest. I think it is perfect for any geek to have for the little nerdlings in their life.

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E Pearson

This is a book I had heard a lot about from BookTube and such, but hesitated a while before I actually started reading it. Why? I have no clue. I really enjoyed this. I like that there are two young men pursuing our main lady, and one guy is a prince and the other is an assassin, but you don’t actually find out which boy is which until near the end of the book. By the way, I thought I had them figured out and I was dead wrong. So I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.

Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

I love stories about libraries and magic and such. This is such an interesting tale, following a group of young men and women who are training to work for the Great Library, because in this series the Library of Alexandria never burned and has now become the dominant power of the world. This second installment deals with complications and repercussions from events and revelations in the first book, and man, it was intense. Also, the way this ended made me really really excited for book #3 next year.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Hmm…I think this is the only series/author to be included in both this list and my earlier one, but what can I say? Both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom were AMAZING. I was so in love with this world and the characters, in a way I wasn’t with the Grisha Trilogy. Honestly, I was sad that this was only a duology. I could have had so much more fun with this crew and their jobs and heists. Also, something I really wanted to happen after reading the first book actually happened and I was super excited about it. These books will definitely be favorites I reread again and again.

Dreamworld (Colorworld #5) by Rachel E Kelly

Speaking of favorites…I know I say that I don’t put an order of favorites on books I’ve read or authors, but I have to say that Dreamworld was my absolute favorite book of 2016. It was absolutely outstanding, and despite being the fifth book in the series, it is written to be accessible for fans old and new. So you can jump in at book five if you don’t want to read the others first…though reading this will probably make you want to read the rest of the series.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

This book surprised me. I thought the concept was interesting and I had heard quite a few people talking about it but I was still nervous when I started reading. Instead, I found myself sucked in to all the political intrigue and machinations, and especially into the development of Nemesis as a character. I greatly enjoyed this book.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick is hilarious and based on so many stories online, I figured she would be a cool and down to Earth person…and this book proves that she really is. Reading about her journey from childhood to present day fame was entertaining and relatable. Even when she was name dropping celebs like George Clooney it felt like I was hanging out with a friend who was gushing about running into someone awesome on the street or at a convention. It was really cool.

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything In Between by Lauren Graham

Speaking of awesome, funny, and down to Earth ladies…I had to read this collection of personal essays by Lauren Graham. I have to say, reading these, it is so obvious that Lauren just IS Lorelai Gilmore, and there is no way I could imagine anyone else playing the iconic character. This book was so encouraging and honest and relatable. I seriously felt like I was just hanging out with Lauren while she chatted about her life. I loved it.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Finally, another book that surprised me. I loved the cover (correction: I love the UK cover; the US cover is ugly) and so I was so hoping that I would enjoy the story contained between the front and back covers…and I really did. It was such a wonderful exploration into diversity and racism and gender norms and sexual identity. The characters were all kind of keeping secrets from each other and such but as the story progressed those secrets start to surface and this crew on the ship, the Wayfarer, have to deal with whatever potential complications arrive. I was just amazed by this book…to the point that I couldn’t just read through it in one or two settings. I would read 30 pages or so and then set it aside to digest and think and process. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one soon.

So…there you have it, another ten books I loved reading in the year 2016. What were some of your favorite reads of the year? Are there any you would recommend I add to my TBR for 2017?

Underwhelming Reads of 2016

Hey all, Dani here,

2016 was a wonderful year of reading for me and I found so many books that I absolutely loved. I listed some of them in my list of top reads from January to June, and there will be another list up Saturday for my top reads from July to December. However, with great reads also comes a few that are just all right.

Now, I know there are many of you who loved some of these books, and I am so glad you did. I realize that this post can be a bit controversial but I feel like I need to post it. I should also say that there are a few books on this list that I gave 4 star ratings too. They were good books and I enjoyed them; I just expected them to be more than what they were. Hype sometimes ruins expectations.

So please, don’t hate me for any of the books that make this list.

First up: Writer with a Day Job: Inspiration & Exercises to Help You Craft a Writing Life Alongside Your Career by Aine Greaney (3 stars)

I wanted this book to be so much more helpful than it was. This book really only focused on people with more corporate or office jobs where you work 9 to 5 and have like an hour long lunch and stuff. I work in a factory and get 20 to 30 minutes for lunch.

Next: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (4 stars)

Despite it being like a number of other YA fantasy or dystopia books I’ve read, I really enjoyed Red Queen, so I was really excited to read Glass Sword. The first 3/4 of this book really dragged for me and it took me over a month to actually finish this book, whereas I read the first one in just a day. Thankfully the ending picked up the pace and intensity and made me want to read book three.

Next up is: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (4 stars)

Okay, so to be honest, this one had the unfortunate timing of being right after I read Red Rising. Aside from that, though, I didn’t really connect with the characters so I wasn’t as invested in their story. It’s possible that if I read this again in the future I could like it better.

I’m sad about having this next one on my list: Soundless by Richelle Mead (4 stars)

I have loved every book by Richelle Mead that I have read so far…but this one just didn’t quite meet my expectations. I wanted more character development, but felt the story was limited by its standalone status. I liked Soundless but I didn’t love it.

This is one that I’m sure some people will disagree with: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (4 stars).

I didn’t think that Laia and Elias had any chemistry at all together. Also, the Elias chapters were filled with so many characters who–in my opinion–had personalities as deep as a kiddie pool. I wanted to know more from his Tribal life. Oh and I think Elias and Helene actually would make a better couple. So, I liked this but I didn’t love it…and part of me wonders if it’s because of all the hype surrounding this series. I still need to read A Torch Against the Night. I’m hoping I like it better than this one.

Next: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (3.5 stars)

The cover for this was so beautiful. I only wish the story inside was as lovely. All three narrators sounded the same to me, and the tone felt like a middle grade book, not a young adult one (obviously with the exception of a few curse words and instances of sex). I did like that you couldn’t quite tell who was being truthful or misleading everyone; that was interesting.

Next we have: Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (3.5 stars)

I mostly liked the characters in this one, and the geeky friendship of Clark and Solomon was adorable. I also liked the character development within the story. My main problem was that I didn’t like the writing style. I wanted to connect with the characters more and it felt like more of a clinically detached narrative. It was still a good story though.

Now for one of my absolute least favorite books of 2016: Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown (2 stars)

I thought this would be humorous but also have some helpful tips in it…and I guess it does if you have lived under a rock your whole life. To me, it felt like this book was “talking down to me” and I didn’t appreciate being treated like an idiot. There were actual sections in this book for how to make a shopping list or that buying a lamp is a good purchase. Oh, and it tells you how to clean. It was just not a book for me. I’m sure there’s an audience for it somewhere.

Okay, well, I know this one is definitely going to make some people mad: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling (2 stars)

Yes, I knew this was a play script. I have a B.A. in English Literature and have read numerous other plays before, so this has nothing to do with the format. I don’t feel like Jack and John had a firm grasp of the characters. So many of them acted very differently from how they were in the series. Plus all the plot issues thanks to all the time travel etc. The one bright spark in this 2016 read was Scorpius Malfoy; he was awesome.

Finally, my last underwhelming book of 2016: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (3.5 stars)

I felt like the first 85% of this book was slow and rather uneventful, and I didn’t really connect with the characters. And even though I totally called the plot twists and revelations that would happen in the end, I was still excited to have them out in the open, and I hope it all means that the second book will be a lot more exciting.

All right, well there we are with my list of ten books that were just a bit overwhelming to me. As I said before, they were still good reads (mostly), and for the series I do still plan to continue on to the next books.

Were there any books you read this year that you were underwhelmed by? Let me know in the comments.

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Hey all, Dani here.

So I like trying out subscription boxes. In 2016 I found myself subscribing to Novel Tea Club and Lit Cube, and they are both wonderful. Then I saw another literary box from Quarterly Co. Basically Quarterly Co’s YA box is curated by a different YA author each quarter. In the box you’ll receive the author’s newest release with annotations, a couple bookish items, and two other books selected by the author. Because I really wanted to get The Diabolic anyway, I decided to try the Fall 2016 box since author S.J. Kincaid was curating. I really enjoyed the box, but the book was even better than I expected.

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Summary

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

My Thoughts

I so enjoyed this book. The characters and the world were so intriguing to me. I know it is a sci-fi and actually takes place in a planetary system far away from ours, but this easily could have happened in a technologically advanced Earth of the future too. I did like the world though. I’m finding that science fiction is something I enjoy reading more than I used to.

The journey and growth of Nemesis throughout the story was so wonderful and understandable, and the friendships and partnerships and alliances made throughout were interesting and had several layers of political intrigue behind them. This is where the book truly shines, with the development of these characters and the political and societal issues.

I had heard a lot about this book from BookTube and so I wanted to pick it up. Now that I have I am so extremely glad that I got a copy, especially since I got mine from Quarterly Co. Having those Post It Note annotations throughout the book really made the reading process that much more interesting for me. I saw tidbits about the inspiration and writing process of certain scenes, and there were a couple times where S.J. Kincaid apologized for needing to do something destructive to further the development of the plot or of the characters’ story arcs. While I appreciate the apologies, in the context of the world and the plot, I am so glad that she didn’t pull her punches. People were hurt; people died. It made the world that much more realistic and none of it was done without reason.

Seriously, I really loved reading this book, and would definitely recommend it to people who like political machination/intrigue plots. I ended up giving The Diabolic a rating of 5 stars.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Book Depository, and anywhere books are sold.

Review: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I have another early review for you. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my own opinions on the book. Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s move on.

Freeks is the new standalone novel from Amanda Hocking, and it will hit bookshelves in stores on January 3rd, 2017.

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Summary

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

My Thoughts

I think based on the fact that the cover is beautiful and the fact that this is an Amanda Hocking book, a lot of people are probably going to buy it…and that’s cool. It’s another quick read by an established author.

When I sat down and started reading it though, it didn’t feel like anything all that special. Okay, so the book is set in the late 80s, which does make it a bit different from a lot of YA stuff coming out right now. And Mara is part of a traveling circus. Cool. Oh, and Mara very quickly meets Gabe and it only takes them a short conversation before they are making out. Seems standard for YA books with some romance in them.

Gabe is attractive and charismatic, and there’s something about him that Mara can’t quite place…and it takes until about 85% into the book for that to be revealed. But hey, Mara spends the first half of the book hiding the fact that she’s a carnie from him. Oh, and because this is a YA with some romance, Gabe and Mara go from just meeting to making out to “I love you” in a short time. This whole novel takes place in like a ten day span of time.

And I feel like the back cover blurb talks about Mara taking control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of…but that’s a bit of an overstated description. I don’t feel like you can fully take control of anything in the final 15% of a book. I mean sure, she’s learned quite a bit from growing up in a traveling circus/carnival but just because you talk about or see something a lot doesn’t mean that you’re capable of it yourself.

I’m trying to be vague because I don’t want to spoil things.

This was a good read. Not a great one. Not mindblowing or amazing or really all that different from others of the genre. But it was good. I mean, I read the whole thing in just a couple of hours, and that was with interruptions.

I just wanted more from this. Because it’s a standalone you are limited in the amount of time you get to spend with all the characters and such…and I would have just liked more about all of them.

So, I guess all in all I’m going to give this a 3.5 stars. Like I said, it was good, but nothing all that out of the ordinary. It’s still worth a read.

Where to Buy

You can pick this up basically wherever books are sold…Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-A-Million…probably places like Target and Walmart as well.

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Hey all, Dani here,

Whew, the end of the year always gets interesting when it comes to my blog. Typically I end up with a small pile of books I wanted to review and I always want to start my year off with new content so then I end up putting out a post or more a day for the last week or so of December…but hey, who’s complaining? Haha.

So today I’m going to be talking about a book that I put off for a long time because I thought I wouldn’t really like it, but then I heard so many awesome BookTubers and Bookstagrammers rave about it that I gave it a shot, and actually found myself really enjoying it.

Of course I’m talking about Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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Summary

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Thoughts

4.5 stars

It took me so long to actually get into the format of this book. Yes, it’s unlike anything else I’ve read but for a while the format kept me distant from the characters. I had to wait a lot longer to become fully invested in the story. But once that happened I didn’t want to put it down. I read the final 48% in just about an hour and a half. It was just so good.

If you weren’t already aware, this trilogy is written in a found documents style format…as in it is all text/IM conversations, transcripts of surveillance footage, and reports, etc. In some areas of the book that makes it really easy to fly through the pages (especially when following some of AIDAN’s thoughts/perspective.

Kady and Ezra had an interesting dynamic, and the fact that they were separated fairly quickly just meant that we were able to follow different events and different perspectives since we knew more characters. I wasn’t too invested in their romance for most of the book, at least not until the final 10-15% when a couple twists happened that had me thinking “that did not just happen!”

A character I really grew to enjoy was AIDAN, who is an AI, and the AIDAN plot is rather intriguing. Sometimes the logic of artificial intelligence makes cold and calculated decisions that a human wouldn’t and so you find yourself thinking that AIDAN is kind of a monster, but he undergoes so many changes throughout this massive novel, and in the end, I can’t help it, AIDAN kind of became my favorite character.

And that text conversation at the end, right before the final surveillance report…that just deepened the plot and made me excited to read Gemina (which I’ve almost finished so there should be a review for it up in the next couple weeks).

So yeah, despite the fact that Illuminae is a 600 page behemoth of a book, it reads faster than you might think, and even if you aren’t a huge sci-fi fan, maybe give this book a shot anyway. It’s pretty interesting, action packed, and you’ll get sucked in.

Where to Buy

You can pick this book up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Book Depository, and probably most everywhere books are sold.

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Hey all, Dani here.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Blessed Yule! Happy Holidays! Whatever your winter celebration, I hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family.

Today I’m going to be going through my review for the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. There might be some spoilery parts in here…maybe. So, if you haven’t either seen the movie or read the screenplay, I’ll just leave you with this opinion: It was amazing and go read/see it now.

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Summary

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.

My Thoughts

Don’t get mad at me for saying this, but Fantastic Beasts is leaps and bounds better than Cursed Child. Honestly I had to force myself to finish CC and it was not enjoyable, whereas I could not put this one down. The big difference is that J.K. Rowling actually wrote all of Fantastic Beasts instead of just supplying a basic story to other people to write.

This screenplay/movie is one that will be good for both long time Potterheads and people new to the franchise. But, if you are a Potterhead then you’ll likely pick up a few fun references and jokes that others might not get.

For example, shortly after Newt arrives to New York he is listening to a woman speak to a group on the street and she calls out to Newt and asks him if he is a seeker, a seeker of knowledge. Newt replies that he’s more of a Chaser really. Now, for us in the know, that’s a Quidditch joke, but he’s speaking to Muggles (or No-Majs as the Americans refer to them) and so they don’t get it. I found it hilarious.

My absolute favorite part had to be all the wonderful and fantastic beasts in Newt’s magical case. The Thunderbird, the Occamy, the Niffler, the Bowtruckle, the Swooping Evil…all of the creatures were just so well done and it was so lovely to watch.

I also really enjoyed getting to know Newt, Tina, Jacob, and Queenie. All of the characters brought interesting and compelling personalities to the story, and I really look forward to seeing them again and learning more about them in future installments.

I’m really going to enjoy watching Newt and Tina’s relationship/romance develop further, because hey, spoiler alert if you never read the textbook of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander…they get married.

Oh, and Jacob was an awesome character. He handled the magic and creatures pretty well for a No-Maj, and man…the end of the screenplay/film. I was seriously hoping there would be some sort of loophole or something, but I mean, I guess there’s still hope that things will work out in the future. I thought Jacob and Queenie would have made an adorable couple.

And…I don’t think I can go without mentioning Newt doing that mating dance. Reading it in the screenplay I just couldn’t fully imagine what it looked like, so when I finally saw the film I was so excited to watch Newt’s hilarious and ridiculous antics. It did not disappoint. 🙂

My only real issue with reading this screenplay was that a large number of the scenes seemed super short, some only being a line or two describing a brief action by a character or creature. And having a number of these super short scenes back to back, where we jump all over again and again made it feel choppy. Now, that was just for the screenplay, because watching the scenes in the movie, they were expanded upon a bit with beautiful cinematography.

Overall, I believe I gave the screenplay a 4 or 4.5 star rating, but totally gave the film a 5 star. I sincerely hope that they keep publishing the screenplays for the rest of the series, especially since we are now getting five installments instead of three.

Where to Buy

You can pick this book up practically anywhere. Seriously, I’ve seen it in my local grocery store. So go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Book Depository, Target, Walmart, or anywhere books are sold and you’ll likely find a copy of the screenplay and some behind-the-scenes books, and of course the coloring book.

Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Hey all, Dani here.

Today’s review is for the wonderful new book by Adam Silvera, and I’ll start this by saying that I received an ARC of this book back in June while at Barnes & Noble’s Teen Book Fest. Adam Silvera and Jasmine Warga were both present for a signing and writer workshop. Receiving a signed ARC did not influence my rating or opinion of this book in any way.

The release date for this book is January 17, 2017.

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Summary

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

My Thoughts

I gave this book a rating of 5 stars, and I simply could not put it down. It was so exciting to get this ARC, because honestly History is All You Left Me sounded more interesting than Adam Silvera’s first book (More Happy Than Not–which I also read and really enjoyed). My plan had been to just read the first chapter and then put the ARC away until like October or something. Instead I ended up carrying the book with me to work and reading it in every free moment I got.

Guess what? This is probably not a book to read in public. There are some emotional moments that will get you right in the feels.

So yeah, what influenced my rating for this story is Adam’s incredibly realistic character portrayals and relationships within the story. They were so complex and diverse, and even when the characters made decisions that I wouldn’t, I understood why they did it. Griffin’s struggles with his OCD, and the choices he makes because of them, and also because of how he’s acting due to Theo’s death, were something I was compelled to follow.

The handling of these emotions and the downward spiral of these boys dealing with grief and love and lust was just breathtaking, honestly.

There’s a lot more I could probably say about this book, but I’m trying to avoid saying anything spoilery because I don’t want to ruin this book. I just know that I am definitely buying a hardcover copy when it’s released.

Where to Buy

You can pick this book up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-A-Million, or anywhere books are sold. Again, this book will be released on January 17, 2017.

Review: Let Your Heart Be Light by Crista McHugh

Hey all, Dani here.

I’m starting to get into the cozy Christmas mood…and by that I mean that it’s the time of year where I like to read cozy romances or epic length fantasy books that I can disappear into for a whole day while drinking delightful warm beverages and cuddling under a blanket.

Today’s book definitely qualifies for the cozy romance part, and as a bonus, it is set during the holiday season as well. Now, I really enjoyed the entire Kelly Brothers series, so finding out that there’s now this novella that takes place after those seven books, and this time we are focusing on their mom…well, I was intrigued.

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Summary

All Maureen Kelly wants for Christmas is a full house. Unfortunately, now that her seven sons have all found the women of their dreams, they’re too busy to come home for the holidays. If it wasn’t for the attention of a good family friend, she would’ve completely given up on the joy of the season.

Rupert Bates has been in love with Maureen for nearly twenty years, before he had any right to have such feelings for her. He’s given her five years to grieve her late husband, all the while gathering the courage to confess his feelings to her. Bit by bit, the magic of the holidays draws them closer, and she begins to return his affection. But will falling in love with his boss lead to delight or heartache?

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

This was a cute novella that was about half the length of the rest of the Kelly Brothers books, but it manages to at least mention all of the brothers so we get little glimpses into where their lives have gone since the series wrapped in 2015. And I will honestly say that this novella just increased my desire for more books following the brothers and their growing families and such.

Legitimately, my only reason for marking the rating down .5 stars is because I wanted more from the story. I feel like I wanted to see more of the family Christmas dinner and actually interact with all of the Kelly boys instead of them being mentioned in passing or just being present in the background.

The fact that this is a story about a woman who is a widow and the mother of seven adult boys–the youngest of whom is 25–made this a romance unlike most I read, which focus on younger adults and such. 

I really did enjoy this, and if you want a nice happily ever after story set during the holidays, definitely pick this up.

Where to Buy

 You can pick up this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Review: Dreamworld by Rachel Kelly

Hey all, it’s Dani.

I’m wishing a very happy book birthday to Dreamworld, the fifth book in the Colorworld series, that if you follow me at all anywhere on social media, you’ll have heard me rave about these books for the past couple of years. Before I get into the review and everything else, I’ll first add the disclaimer that I was one of the copy editors for this book, but that did not influence my review. I was glad to get my hands on the story early because I obsessively needed to know what happened next. And this book delivered.

Again, I’m getting ahead of myself. You can find my reviews for the rest of the series (Colorworld, Teleworld, Lumaworld, and Shadoworld) on the blog BUT, you do not need to have read any of the previous books to read this one. Seriously, it was written for both readers new and old.

So, yeah, let’s get into the stunning amazingness that is Dreamworld.

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Summary

A celebratory dinner on a Saturday evening with her younger brother, Ezra, is the last thing Wendy remembers. Last she knew, she was living in California, trying to stay on top of her college classes; provide for her brother; and cope with her ability to sense the emotions of others. She has no idea how she ended up in Missouri and what she’s been up to. No one, not even her brother, is around to tell her.

She only knows that years have passed, and the world is in the middle of an apocalypse. Society is steadily crumbling, and its only hope is a no-longer secret organization called the Guild made up of supernaturally gifted individuals called Prime Humans. Wendy learns that not only is she one of them, but she’s far more than an empath.

The Guild is not without opposition. The Prime Human Insurgency Alliance, led by ex-Guild member Andre Gellagher, is out to senselessly massacre all Prime Humans as well as those who support them.

The Human Movement, on the other hand, wants the Guild disbanded. They are led by the compelling and tireless Gabe Dumas, who demands that the Guild shed all secrecy to give humanity its best chance against the elements.

Wendy, who has found new purpose to her life within the Guild, is ready to fight for her world. And that means protecting the Guild, and bringing the opposition down.

**Dreamworld is the next chapter in Wendy’s story, which began with Colorworld, but Dreamworld can also be read as an introduction to the series as a whole. So even if you’ve missed the other 4 books, feel free to jump in right here! Happy reading!

My Thoughts

A big huge fantastic 5 stars for this book.

First off, can we discuss just how stunning that cover is? I mean, I know I already drooled over it in my cover review post like a month ago, but seriously, it is so dang beautiful. Definitely my favorite of the series so far.

Obviously the memory issues are what really helps this book succeed at being a great read for new readers to the series and us readers who have been around since the beginning. Now if you’re a returning reader you’ll get the bonus of picking up small details that make you think of events from the previous books, and you’ll get to see the relationships and romances of certain characters develop all over again, which is a really awesome experience.

As I told Rachel in a Facebook message, this book also completely delivers on my need to have more Mike Dumas in my life, because last year I declared Mike to be my book boyfriend, and he is still my top pick for this category. Seriously, I love Mike Dumas. Read this book yourself (or the whole series) and you’ll figure out why he’s so great.

So anyway, we have a new Wendy that develops in this book. She wakes up and doesn’t remember how she got where she is or what is going on, and soon she learns that over two years of her memory is just gone. So everything Wendy has learned over the course of this series has disappeared…she only remembers what amounts to the first couple chapters of Colorworld. This means that through the early stages of this book Wendy is forming new relationships with both brand new characters and ones that returning readers have met before but Wen is meeting for the “first time.”

Oh, I should also say that this book is an absolute behemoth. Considering I read on my Kindle app, I can’t say exactly how many physical pages it will be, but I think it’s probably about double Shadoworld…so I’m guessing somewhere in the 800-900 page range. However, the pace is good, and I just devoured this book in very little time at all.

Dreamworld also put me in a horrible writer’s block, which was unfortunate because NaNoWriMo had just started. I regret nothing. Dreamworld is the best book I have read in 2016, and I’m up to 126 books read for the year.

It was an amazing and emotional roller coaster, with such wonderful character growth, depth, and development. The Wendy and Mike partnership is fascinating to watch, and Wendy’s friendship with Shiah (and just Shiah’s ability and how she utilizes it) is just so intriguing, and of course, Wendy’s romance with Gabe all over again. It was fun to see them fall in love all over again, and to play out some conversations and scenes again in quite similar but slightly different ways.

The further into the book I got, the more the plot threads began to intertwine and when everything came together I was simply blown away.

There are some plot points I clearly can’t really get into for this review because of spoilers, but if you get a copy of this book (and you really should, dear readers because it is so worth it), and you want to talk about it with someone afterwards, feel free to find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or e-mail, and I will gladly discuss the book in more detail.

Honestly, all I can do is gush about how much Rachel’s writing has grown, how much these characters have grown, and just how complex and realistic all of this felt while I was reading it. After I read Shadoworld I questioned how exactly Rachel could top the impact it had on my life, but somehow she did it, and Dreamworld completely delivered and left me wondering where this series and these characters will go next.

There are two books left in the series, and man oh man, I can’t wait to get my hands on them…though first I must wait for Rachel to write them. So basically I’ll just be over here re-reading the series. Come join me in my favorite fandom. You won’t be disappointed.

Where to Buy

You can pick this up on Amazon right now, and it should be on Barnes & Noble soon enough. However, I highly recommend buying straight from Colorworld Books so you can get a signed edition.