ARC Review: My Whole Truth

My Whole Truth

Book: My Whole Truth

Author: Mischa Thrace

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018

Pages: 256

My Rating: ★★★★

Summary (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Seelie Stanton never wanted to kill someone. She never wanted to be invisible in her own family, never wanted to crush on her best friend Alyssa, and she definitely never wanted to know how effectively a mallet could destroy someone’s head.

But the universe doesn’t care what she wants. Shane Mayfield doesn’t care what Seelie wants either. When the former high school basketball star attacks her, she has no choice but to defend herself. She saved her own life, but she can’t bring herself to talk about what happened that night. Not all of it. Not even when she’s arrested for murder.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A solid 4/5 stars for My Whole Truth. I started reading this to break myself out of a reading slump, and I liked it a whole lot more than I thought I would. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours. I skipped dinner and breakfast, left laundry undone, and ignored the outside world all morning just so I could finish it. To me, that is the true indication of a good book. MILD SPOILERS MAY BE BELOW.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Sexual assault/rape, violence, victim blaming, bulling.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The hook. “The air was dead with the stench of blood”. I mean, holy cow. If that first sentence does not leave you wanting more, then I don’t know what will. And this book definitely kept you hanging on to every word all the way through. There was a moment where I was getting slightly less engaged…but then they yanked you right back in with another twist. This book was a total page turner and a quick read.
  • The representation. POC, LGBTQ, and one of the friends is of Japanese descent. Not to mention that our heroine is heavier set and never once described as beautiful (a rarity in YA novels). While these representations definitely could have been more fleshed out and brought more to the forefront, I appreciate any book that includes these reps.
  • The message(s). While a little heavy handed at time, My Whole Truth was definitely not lacking messages, which I appreciated. Without giving too much away, the two heavy hitters were: when it comes to friends, quality is definitely better than quantity, and sometimes you have to save yourself.

WHAT I DIDN’T:

  • The mom. I know we weren’t supposed to like her, but I found this slightly unrealistic. Any mother that works as hard and as much as she does to support herself and her daughter definitely cares about her daughter. I was disappointed that the author never chose to bring this to light, or to develop Seelie’s character arc enough to reach a place where the mother-daughter relationship was less strained. Seelie’s mother was pretty much absent for entirety of the novel, except to swoop in like the Wicked Witch of the West on occasion. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more growth on Seelie’s part, instead of just a sullen teenager who never learns to get along with her mom.
  • The character development: I already kind of touched on this, but the character development wasn’t great. I liked Lys, would have liked to have seen more insight to Finn, and I definitely connected with Seelie, but it all felt a little bit underdeveloped. In the case of Ashlyn (whose name I literally just had to look up because she was so forgettable), her only purpose seems to be to offer the pro-life view in one scene halfway through the book.
  • The book was fairly predictable. While I was engaged and absorbed throughout, I definitely guessed pretty much everything that came my way.
  • The cops and doctors were so unrealistic that I wanted to bang my head against a wall. NO ONE asked this girl if she was sexually assaulted, even though there were red flags everywhere, and that is just not realistic in the slightest. Not to mention, the cops going to such extreme lengths to protect Shane was also slightly unrealistic. This aspect of things really could have done better.

All in all, 4/5 stars for My Whole Truth, mainly because I truly enjoyed the read. It was super engaging and really sucked you in, even if the writing was somewhat juvenile and predictable at times. I’m looking forward to future work from Thrace.

My Whole Truth releases on October 2nd, 2018.

What do you guys think? Does this sound like one you’ll pick up?

xoxo,
Jen

Beacon Book Box: April Unboxing

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If you guys follow my instagram at all, you know I absolutely adore Beacon Book Box. They just started their box in February of this year, and I jumped right on board with a single-purchase box. After that, I signed up for a subscription and I haven’t regretted it since. They are a Michigan-based company run by the most wonderful people, Cameron and his dad. They are super active on instagram and respond quickly to email, so if you have any questions be sure to reach out to them! You can also check out their past boxes on their website if you’re interested.

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This month’s theme was A Crown Divided and while I tried all month to guess what the book was going to be, I was wrong (but not disappointed!). The items in this box were inspired by Red Queen, Alice in Wonderland, The Selection, Heartless and Three Dark Clowns. Without further delay, here’s everything that was included:

 

“Lady Catherine Pinkerton” tea with an organic agave nectar stick and Maxon’s Chocolates from a Michigan company, ChocolaTEA. Ok, so I’m actually pretty shocked these chocolates made it to the picture-taking portion of this unboxing. Rest assured, I ate them IMMEDIATELY after – and they were DELICIOUS. I also love supporting local companies and representing anything from the mitten state, so these were especially sweet to me. 🙂

 

“Queen of Hearts” bookmark, created by Medusa Dealmaker. I am a total sucker for bookmarks – can you ever really have enough? And this one is particularly gorgeous. This may be my favorite item in the box.

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“Red Queen” pad of paper, designed by @littlebearries and supplied by the team at Beacon Book Box. Paper is definitely always useful, especially for taking notes to write reviews!

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“Three Dark Crowns” print, exclusively for the box, from Stella Bookish Art. I haven’t read Three Dark Crowns yet, but even I can tell this is gorgeous. I have to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of use for prints – they’re pretty and they make great props for pictures, but I really like this one!

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And finally: THE BOOK. The Queens of Innis Lear, along with a signed bookplate and a letter from the author, Tessa Gratton. I had never heard of this book, but the synopsis alone was enough to get me interested. I am actually already planning on a buddy read of this book next month, so let me know if you’re interested in joining along!

Goodreads synopsis:

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

So yeah guys, that’s it, that’s everything included in my wonderful April Beacon Book Box. They are also doing a special edition box for the release of ACOFAS, which should go out May first, and I think they have a few of that left as well as their May box. The May theme is Whispers of Wanderlust, and I think I know what the book is! If you’re interested, go check them out at their website, and use my rep code JEN10 for 10% off your first box! (not valid for special edition boxes).

xoxo,

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Frequently Used Words in YA Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

The topic this week was “frequently used words in [insert genre/age group] titles.” I chose YA, as that’s the genre I’ve been reading the most of recently. Here are my picks, in no particular order:

1: THE FORMULA

This isn’t technically a word, per say, but this formula: “The BLANK of BLANK and BLANK”. See: ACOTAR (whole series), The Girl of Fire and Thorns, etc. If I see this formula, I know I’m in for a YA (and typically a fantasy).

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2: GLASS

Glass: Glass Sword, Throne of Glass, City of Glass, etc. Funny, Glass is one of those words that the more you say it the weirder it looks/sounds…anybody else? No, just me? Ok then.

3: QUEEN

Queen of Shadows, Red Queen, The Queen’s Rising. Enough said here. Obviously a lot of YA fantasies involve queens. Plus it’s always easy to get behind a strong female lead these days.

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4: ASH

Kingdom of Ash, Ash Princess, An Ember in the Ashes. We get it. YA books have frequent themes of overcoming difficulties and setbacks –> rising from the ashes. Not heavy handed at all.

5: CROWN

Crown of Midnight, Three Dark Crowns, The Crown, The Crown of Embers, Cruel Crown. What is the deal with YA and monarchies?? Why not throw in a democracy every now and then?

6: THRONE

Throne of Glass, Game of Thrones (is this really YA though? I don’t think so but I’m including it anyway), Traitor to the Throne, etc. So. Much. Monarchy. And also, are thrones even that comfortable? Because they definitely don’t look like it. If I was royalty, I would have a recliner.

7: KINGDOM

To Kill a Kingdom, Kingdom of Ash, Crooked Kingdom. I’m starting to see a theme…and why so many YA fantasies have similar storylines…

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8: BONE

City of Bones, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Children of Blood and Bones. Finally, something that has nothing to do with a monarchy. But is extremely morbid… where’s all the sunshine in these titles? Wait..What do you mean a truly good book crushes your soul and rips out your heart and makes you beg for more????

9: CRUEL

The Cruel Prince, Cruel Beauty, Cruel Crown. Again with the morbid. Are all us followers of YA just gluttons for punishment?

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10: FIRE

Catching Fire, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Heir of Fire. Same vein as the ‘ash’ reasoning here.

 

I guess I should edit the title to be strictly YA Fantasy title catch phrases, since apparently that’s all I wanted to include. It seems authors really know how to hook us, y’all!

xoxo,

Jen

Review: To Kill A Kingdom

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Book: To Kill A Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Pages: 342

My Rating: ★★★★

Summary (from Goodreads):

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Review:

A solid 4/5 and ALMOST 4.5 for To Kill A Kingdom. In fact, I’d almost go so far as to say 4.25. Honestly I’m conflicted because I loved this book so much. I have such a soft spot for the Little Mermaid, and this book surpassed all expectations. I was a little nervous because of the hype, but I was not disappointed. MILD SPOILERS ARE BELOW, PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • Lira. If you love strong, badass, female leads, Lira is your girl. Lira may be my favorite character in any book I have read so far this year. This girl is awesome, and her character arc is incredible – well done, Christo.
  • The retelling. Retellings are usually a hit or miss for me – I either love them or I hate them. In this case, I loved it. So unique, and such a great storyline. Does anybody else want to be a siren after reading this besides me???? The world-building was incredible, and I would jump at the chance to read more in this world (even though I loved that this book was a stand-alone).
  • If you read my reviews, you already know what I’m going to say…GREY. SO MORALLY GREY. I LOVE IT. I cannot get enough of this. Lira and Elian, as a pair, are awesome. I love seeing their reflections of each other – what the other might be if only their fate had been different. And I also loved seeing how they changed each other, and helped each other evolve. This might be the best chemistry between two characters I’ve seen in a long time.
  • The dialogue, especially between Lira and Elian or with his crew. Witty, sarcastic, funny. I really couldn’t ask for more and I loved it. The writing in this debut novel was, overall, superb and I cannot wait to see where Christo goes from here

WHAT I DIDN’T:

  • A few minor plot points that don’t really matter. Such as: how did Lira learn how to walk/be human so quickly? Why is Elian kind of whiny and spoiled in the beginning (boo hoo being a prince is hard blah blah blah. Over it.). Why was an avalanche the thing to [DO THE BIG THING AT THE END SO I DON’T SPOIL IT]? (this felt like an out to me). The whole final battle felt anti-climactic to me. Guys, I truly loved this book so I really was wishing during the reading of this that I could shut my brain off but I COULDN’T.
  • The romance. Don’t get me wrong. I totally ship it. But…it came out of basically nowhere? Sequence of events: they barely like each other -> Lira almost dies for Elian out of the blue -> they’re kind of friends -> Lira’s all, ‘are you gonna kiss me yet?’. Whoa girl, cool your jets. This felt rushed and forced to me. I feel like it could have used a little bit more development.
  • This isn’t really something I didn’t like, it’s something I wished I had more of: backstory of the crew. I LOVED THEM ALL SO MUCH. TELL ME MORE. I was really missing this here and I don’t want to step out of line but MAKE ME THIS BOOK PLEASE SO I CAN KNOW THEM.

Guys, if you’re hesitating, go pick up this book if you love: retellings, badass female leads, witty dialogue. Look somewhere else if you love: books that focus on romance (it’s more of a side-show here), totally realistic and reasonable plot points, or if you don’t have a soul (just kidding. But really, this book was epic and you should give it a try).

 Have you read To Kill A Kingdom? What’d you think?
xoxo,
Jen

The 20 Questions Book Tag

Thank you so much to Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills for tagging me to do the 20 Questions Book Tag! Check out this girl’s blog and instagram you guys. Her pictures are gorgeous, she’s super nice, and her reviews are awesome.

I had a lot of fun answering these questions! Feel free to do this tag, but ping me back by linking to this post so I can read your answers!

 

How many books is too many books in a book series?

It honestly depends. If we’re talking Throne of Glass, THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST. If we’re talking The Mortal Instruments, WHY ARE THERE 452 BOOKS???? In all seriousness, I’m a big fan of trilogies. I get my fix (I love series and prefer them over most stand-alones) but there’s plenty of time for the author to wrap it up the right way.

How do you feel about cliffhangers?

I love to hate them. Especially if the next book isn’t due out THE VERY NEXT DAY (looking at you, Children of Blood and Bone and Strange the Dreamer).

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Hardback or paperback?

I own them all, as well as an e-reader. It really depends on the cover. I usually buy hardback these days because I like how sturdy they are, but I’m always terrified of messing up the dust jacket.

Favorite book?

Do I honestly have to pick one? I can’t. So I’ll just pick my favorite one from this year: Strange the Dreamer. This book was epic and I’m still not over it.

Least favorite book?

This one is actually easier. I absolutely HATED Lord of the Flies when I had to read it for school. I’m not even all that sure I finished it, and I hate not finishing books – it makes me feel like a quitter (this is just my OCD coming out to play).

Love triangles, yes or no?

This is a loaded question. I can enjoy some love triangles, but I absolutely HATE HATE HATE when the girl bounces back and forth between two guys and just cannot decide which one is better. I hate when she just seems to love the one she’s with at the time. I get being conflicted, but come on girl. Make a choice, or at least know which one you like better. This was one of my main beefs with An Ember in the Ashes and a Torch Against the Night.

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The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

Like I said, I don’t like to not finish books. I honestly don’t remember the last one I DNF. I ALMOST bailed out on All the Ever Afters, which I received as an ARC, but felt I owed it to the publisher and Edelweiss to finish.

A book you’re currently reading?

I’m currently doing a buddy read of To Kill a Kingdom and I am loving it! I’m about halfway through (slightly behind on that buddy read) but it isn’t letting me down! I was a little nervous about all the hype. I’m doing the buddy read with Bookish Boss Book Club, and they have an instagram and Facebook group if you’re interested in joining in on the monthly buddy read!🙂

Last book you recommended to someone?

Strange the Dreamer. I think I’ve recommended it to about 452 people by now. Can’t stop won’t stop. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK GO BUY IT IMMEDIATELY.

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Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Oh geez. I don’t know. I know I’ve read some classics but none are sticking out in my brain. Sorry y’all.

Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Definitely Children of Blood and Bone, I read that the week it came out. I’m not including ARC’s, that doesn’t seem fair.

Favorite author?

I don’t have just one! Here’s a few: Sarah J. Maas, J.K. Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Tamora Pierce, and more recently Laini Taylor.

Buying books or borrowing books?

I do both! If it’s something I’m not completely sold on (or it doesn’t have a gorgeous cover – I can’t resist), I borrow it from the library.

A book you dislike that everyone else seem to love?

The entire Mortal Instruments series. Remember how I said I don’t like to quit reading books? I also don’t like to give up on series – but I did. I stopped after book three. I have a really hard time enjoying books where I hate the main character… and to me, Clary was one of the most annoying, selfish, foolish main characters I have seen in a long time (don’t hate me!). I just could not stand to read one more page of her.

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Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Bookmarks, you monsters! Don’t you dare dog-ear that page!!!

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A book you can always reread?

Harry Potter or anything my Sarah J. Maas.

Can you read while hearing music?

I can if it’s soothing music. If the TV is too loud or the music is too up-beat, I get distracted. It also depends how good the book is!

One POV or multiple POV’s? (POV’s = Point of views)

I love multiple POV’s! It (usually) makes me more endeared to more characters, and I feel like it really helps develop the story more.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Multiple days. I have done one sitting, but honestly I just don’t have the time to do that anymore, and when I get home from work I feel like I should interact with my family for a little while.

A book you’ve read because of the cover?

It is a pretty frequent thing for me to buy and read books just because of the cover. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, to which I say: THAT IS THE POINT OF THE BOOK COVER. TO DRAW YOU IN. Most recently I bought (but have not read yet!) The Wicked Deep solely because of it’s cover. I honestly have no idea what it’s about. But look at this thing of beauty! How could I say no?

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NOW I TAG:

Dani at Literary Lion

Destiny at Howling Libraries

Stephanie at Scribbles and Knots

Kathy at Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

Kathy at Books & Munches

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved But Will Never Re-read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

I’ve decided to jump on the Top Ten Tuesday train! April 17th is technically a freebe, but since I just started I decided to use last week’s: Books I loved but will never reread. I suppose I could always change my mind, but here are 10 books (or series) I don’t feel the need to ever read again (in no particular order):

1. The Twilight Series by Stephanie Myer. Ok, ‘love’ is a strong word, but I did buy the entire series. I will probably never reread them. Why? My reading tastes have matured with my age, and I simply can’t take the subpar writing or problematic themes.

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I absolutely adored this book. It was well-written, made the reader ask themselves all the tough questions, and was a real tear-jerker. However, I didn’t love the second book as much and honestly, I don’t feel the need to give myself another sob-fest.

3. The Kite Runner. See above.

4. Paper Towns by John Green. I love John Green’s writing, and have re-read several of his books up to this point. This one, I probably won’t. I have trouble with books where I don’t love the main character, even if I love everything else, and I absolutely hated Margo. I don’t think I could take a round two.

5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I love Gillian Flynn – her book Dark Places is one of my favorite psychological thrillers of all time. I can never guess any of the twists and this lady takes creepy to a new level. However, Sharp Objects was a little too disturbing to me, especially as a health professional. I loved it, but I don’t need to re-live it.

6. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. I’m not a big one for memoirs, so it was a stretch for me to read this. I ended up loving it, but I probably won’t ever read it again.

7. Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen. I read this in 2014, and I remember loving it, and I rated it 5 stars, so I must have really loved it….but now I can’t remember anything about it. Pass.

8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Love love love. Atwood was before her time, and I could not put this book down. But see #2 and 3 on this list…once was enough. (Side note: I also loved the Hulu show!)

9. Pretty much anything written by Sarah Dessen. I own tons of books by Dessen, and I’ve read them all. I loved them, and think they have a lot to offer in the way of lessons for young girls. These lessons are delivered artfully and with relatable characters and storylines, some of which overlap. Unfortunately, I think I’ve outgrown these books slightly – although I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. I probably won’t read them again.

10. Most of the classics I’ve ever read (with the exception of To Kill a Mockingbird). I’ve read a handful of classics, and I usually end up liking them. Some favorites include One Flew Over the Cuckoos NestThe Picture of Dorian Gray, Romeo and Juliet, and Gone with the Wind. But guys. These books are dense. I do not feel the need to slog through them again, even though (especially the four I listed) I absolutely loved.

 

What are some books you loved but won’t (or can’t) reread??

xoxo

Jen

 

Shelfie Sunday!

Hey y’all! So this Sunday I decided to do a shelf tour because…tomorrow is my birthday and my hubby is buying me new bookshelves! This will be the last shelfie sunday with this bookshelf as my only shelf.

Pictured below is my (very full) bookshelf – and this isn’t even all of them. I cannot WAIT for more space. This is how it’s organized:

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On Top: Obviously, Harry Potter deserves a place of honor – the very top of the bookshelf.  The Twilight series is also up there, but mainly because the books are GINORMOUS and they take up a ton of room on the actual shelves.

First Shelf: Book of the month books, organized by color! I LOVE this shelf, and if you haven’t checked out BOTM do it now!! Also on this shelf are a couple of series that really don’t fit anywhere else on this bookshelf so i threw them in the corner (Sisterhood of the traveling pants, Sabriel series, and A Wrinkle in Time series).

Second Shelf: Most of these are standalone books, or first books in series that haven’t released the second one yet. I tried to organize by color but unfortunately I seem to have an abundance of white, blue and black. Also, a lot of these books are paperback or different sizes so the aesthetics of this shelf irritate me.

Third Shelf: This is one of my favorites. These are my series books (with Children of Blood and Bone and Strange the Dreamer since they don’t fit on shelf 2. See my reviews of those books by following the links!).  Honestly this is where I could use more space the most – I have several other series not pictured that would love to be on a shelf! Is anyone else too OCD to separate their series?? I know these would look lovely organized by color but I CAN’T DO IT.

Fourth Shelf: Obviously, this shelf is overflowing. This is my (ever growing) TBR shelf. Help! I literally think I need an entire bookshelf JUST FOR MY TBR. Again, this is not even all of them. I need a book ban so bad but I’m not a quitter.

And that’s it guys! That’s how I organize my current bookshelf. This is where I need your help. Comment below – how do you organize your shelf? Do you have any tips for me? What do you think would look nice? HELP ME FRIENDS!

Can’t wait to show you all my new shelves! Hopefully getting them today or next weekend.

xoxo

Jen