Shadow Eyes Review

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Shadow Eyes (Shadow Eyes, #1)Iris thought she could ignore the shadows…until they came after everyone she loved.

Seventeen-year-old Iris Kohl has been able to see both dark and light figures ever since a tragic incident three years ago. The problem is, no one else seems to see them, and even worse…the dark figures terrorize humans, but Iris is powerless to stop them.

Although she’s learned to deal with watching shadows harass everyone around her, Iris is soon forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her world and herself. Her sanity, strength, and will power are tested to the limits by not only the shadows, but also a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows, a new friend with an awe-inspiriting aura, and a mysterious, alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, Iris must ultimately accept the guidance of an angel to revisit the most horrific event of her life and become the hero she was meant to be.

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This book had some of the most realistic YA fantasy characters that I have ever read. I am used to YA characters either acting a lot younger or a lot older than their age because of adult authors writing them. Crabtree gets the seventeen-year-old lifestyle just right! Once I started relating to the characters on a deeper level, I knew I would love this book. And love it I did.

Iris had been seeing shadows for years, but she wasn’t some sort of instant hero. She wasn’t trying to take on the shadows by herself, she just wanted to be able to make them go away again. Nevertheless, she kept trying to live her life. She had a crush and started dating Josh, and she went on group dates with her friends. The shadows kept trying to bother her and her family, and Iris slowly starts to see everything around her crumble. Either Iris is going to have to start fighting back, or the shadows will win.

I hate to keep using the same word, but I have to say that Iris’ relationship with her boyfriend Josh was so relatable! She was with him and she liked him, but sometimes he would just go too far. She never wanted to speak up for herself, but something would always happen to allow her to get out of the uncomfortable situation. Now I’m not saying that all teenage boys are like this, but like every single girl I know who has had a boyfriend has one of these “uncomfortable but just waiting it out until I can leave” stories to tell. Heck, even I have a few! It just seems like a teen girl’s relationship rite of passage. Of course, if she said something, Josh would always back off. But he would get upset about having to back off at the moment, and only apologize later. My gosh, if only all YA boyfriends were written like this. It would definitely tell girls that no, all boys aren’t the perfect beach boys who can never do any wrong like most YA guys. Josh was a generally good guy, but he could get pushy, and Iris just didn’t know how to deal with that. I could go on and on about those few scenes, but they just stuck with me. I hope that this relatable-ness continues in whatever relationships Iris is in in the future novels.

Iris family situation was different but in a good way. One of her sisters was older and was struggling to have children with her husband. Iris thought that the shadows must have been messing with her. Her other sister lives with Iris and her mother and tries to keep things light in the house when Iris or her mother is depressed. And her mother was divorced, finally trying to look for love again. Definitely a modern family situation, but it was more realistic for a girl born in the 2000s. I liked seeing Iris and her sisters make a family with her mom whether or not a new boyfriend was in the picture. They each had their own demons to fight, demons that had truly come out after Iris’ fourteenth birthday, and they leaned on each other to fight them.

The only thing that I didn’t quite like in this book was the assault scene. I thought that it was kinda strange how it played out. I didn’t know exactly what the person did to Iris, and it was never quite explained. Iris just forgave this person, and I think that she forgave the person too quickly. But things were explained at the end of the novel, so maybe they will be revisited and explained in the second book of the series. I’m not saying that Iris shouldn’t have forgiven this person, but I still don’t know why the person tried to attack her. We will see in the next few books!

Overall, this was an amazing read. I can’t even mention everything that I loved about it because it contains too many spoilers, but I will definitely revisit some more things in my review of book 2. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for an actually relatable and realistic YA fantasy read.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Review

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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I read this book because of the hype around it with the movie (that I will probably never see because I suck at watching movies). I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I usually don’t read contemporary YA romance novels. Now, I’m still kinda confused about what to think!

So I came to the story thinking that this was going to be more about Lara and her relationships, but it was more about Lara and her relationship with her sisters Margot and Kitty. Margot is older than Lara and is about to go to college in Scotland, and Kitty is 9. Lara is a junior in high school, around 15-16 years old.

Margot has held the family together since their mother died, as their father could not easily work and raise three children on his own. She was in charge of scheduling almost everything, cooking, and driving her sisters around. She even had the perfect boyfriend, the “boy next door” Josh, until she moved away to college. Now she is enjoying her freshman year of college while hoping that Lena will be able to take her place as the oldest sister.

Lara is completely different from her sister though. She hates driving, she can’t seem to keep track of everything that the family has to do, and she doesn’t have a perfect boyfriend. When all the secret love letters she wrote to boys she had a crush on in 8th grade get sent out, she thinks that her life is over. Then, when her secret crush Josh asks if she is going out with anyone, she latches onto the first boy she sees. He happens to be her former 8th-grade crush, and now the two of them are stuck in a secret relationship.

The book focuses on Lara and Josh a lot, but even though Lara has a crush on him, she won’t act on it out of respect for her sister. Which I get, but I mean, her sister did break up with him, so she COULD have gone out with him if she wanted to. It might have caused a fight between her and her sister, but she wouldn’t have been helping him cheat on her sister. They were broken up. I won’t go more into this, as this probably has more to do with the future books in the series rather than this one.

I just want to say that even though this book was okay, nothing really stood out to me. The big shock was when Lara’s letters were sent out, but I already knew who sent them out from the very beginning. The biggest issue should have been the family trying to transition after the older sister left for college, but then the romance storyline was thrown in randomly. The book tried to do a lot, but I feel as if it didn’t end up doing anything particularly well?

I could not get behind Lara’s relationship with Peter. Fake or not, it was clear that they were going to get closer as the story went on, but it was so awkward and stilted that I just wanted them to fake break up and get over it. Then there was Josh in there, I don’t even know what’s going on with him.

Overall, this book disappointed me, but not that much. I am going to eventually read the next book in the trilogy, where I can hopefully come to some more final conclusions on these characters. But I definitely don’t plan on watching the Netflix movie. If the book is like this, I can’t imagine how they would have managed to turn it into a film. Unless they focus more no the family than the romance, which a teen girl movie would NEVER do, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books

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Princess in Love Review (Princess Diaries #3)

Princess in Love (The Princess Diaries, #3)Princess Mia may seem like the luckiest girl ever.

But the truth is, Mia spends all her time doing one of three things: preparing for her nerve-racking entrée into Genovian society, slogging through the congestion unique to Manhattan in December, and avoiding further smooching from her hapless boyfriend, Kenny.

For Mia, being princess is not the fairy tale it’s supposed to be . . . or is it?

I have to say, out of the three Princess Diaries books that I have read so far, this one has to be the one that I hated the least.

Mia has done a wee bit of maturing here. Her mother is married to her Algebra teacher, but she is getting used to having him around. They do a good job of separating home and work/school, so there aren’t that many awkward altercations while Mia is still trying to be a normal freshman in high school. And even though Mia still wants to tell her mom what to do while she is pregnant, they are just a few occasional remarks instead of a constant banter about how she’s being a bad mom. Much more tolerable!

The only thing she said in this book that truly made me angry was when she said that mistletoe was a way for boys to sexually harass girls, but then makes a comment along the lines of “but it’s only harassment if the WRONG boys have it.” So does that mean that if a hot guy does it it is fine, but if a “nerdy” guy that you don’t like has it that it is harassment? But onto the story as a whole.

Kenny and Mia are together, but Mia doesn’t love him. He is constantly doing cute things for her, but her heart lies with Michael, Lilly’s older brother. Lilly actually questions her as to why she stays with Kenny when she isn’t interested in him, and this was one time where I actually agreed with Lilly. Mia just leads him on for the majority of the book, and in the end, she doesn’t even want to break up with him until the Biology test is over so that she can cheat off of him. This is cruel, but she doesn’t sneak behind his back to cheat on him (only sending a few anonymous notes to Michael), and she doesn’t dump him randomly. She is sorta nice about it? I’m not letting her off the hook, but the situation could have gone a whole lot worse than it actually did in the story.

Mia even stands up to Lilly a little in this novel! When Lilly plans a walkout during in-class final reviews, Mia knows that this will just lead to kids getting in trouble and not being able to study for finals. So instead of allowing her friend to get herself in trouble, she pulls the fire alarm. This does force the school to technically walk out, but it gets students back to class faster than Lilly’s walkout. And since her school didn’t have cameras (did they have camera’s in schools in 2002?), she was never caught. And she had a bonding scene with her stepfather, which was really cute and showed how much the characters have grown. Even though Lilly was still being herself, Mia was not going to just take it anymore, and I hope that she continues this attitude in future books of the series.

The other thing that I didn’t like but that I can’t discuss because of spoilers has to do with the grandmother. I can’t believe some of the stuff that she does, and she does something in this book that is unbelievable. She had good intentions, but she destroyed her relationship with multiple people in the process. I think that her relationship with Mia might be repairable, but it might not be, who knows.

Now I’m torn. This is the last Princess Diaries book I own, but the series JUST got good, so I kinda want to read the next book just to find out what happens. But I don’t want to fall down a rabbit hole and read myself into a slump with these books. I’ll take a break, and then who knows, I might just revisit it.

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 books

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Princess in the Spotlight Review (Princess Diaries #2)

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Princess in the Spotlight (The Princess Diaries, #2)She’s just a New York City girl living with her artist mom…
News Flash: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that’s why a limo meets her at the airport!)

Downer: Dad can’t have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)

Shock of the Century: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material.

Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmére, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he’s royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty–no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what’s a girl to do when her name is Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?

So, I thought that Mia couldn’t get worse, and she surprisingly doesn’t. But she doesn’t get much better in this book.

Mia’s mother is pregnant, something left out of the official Goodreads synopsis. But it is revealed on the fourth page of the book, so it isn’t much of a spoiler. Rather than being supportive of her mom, Mia is at first upset at her mom for having ANOTHER child out of wedlock. Which isn’t really her job to judge, as she is still only 14, but I digress. Luckily, she eventually warms up to the idea and decides to be her mother’s caretaker. She has to make sure she doesn’t drink or eat anything unhealthy so that her baby sibling will stay healthy as they grow. Throughout the book, there are scenes where she literally gives away or throws out things that her mother has bought that she deems are “too dangerous” for her to eat while pregnant. And you never see anything about her mother’s reaction to these events! Why isn’t this addressed? I know if my teenage daughter threw out things I had bought with my own money, or gave them to neighbors, we would be having a serious talk. It would have been more mature for Mia to go to her mother and have a discussion about healthy eating, instead of just throwing everything away and hoping that her mother doesn’t notice. But instead she gets rid of the food, and her mother seemingly has no reaction.

The only other thing that seemed really unrealistic was when Mia was writing in her diary for English class. This diary would be given to her teacher at the end of the semester. She is writing about her favorite TV show, Baywatch, and she says that she wishes her breasts were as big as Carmen Electra’s. No one would write anything like this in a journal they are turning in to a teacher. A classmate of mine wrote a fairly mild curse word in a timed class essay without even realizing it, and was given Saturday detention because of it. No way that half the stuff Mia writes in the English journal would fly.

The main drama of this book was when Mia went to do an interview as a princess and completely flopped. Did she not practice questions for the interview beforehand? She couldn’t answer any of the questions and gave far too much personal information out to the public. I can’t believe that her strict grandmother would allow her granddaughter to go out there without proper training, embarrassing herself and her country in the process. It just doesn’t seem in-character for her. But this “drama” is what connects her more with Lilly’s brother, her secret crush, and simultaneously damages her friendship with Lilly. Because of COURSE Mia promised her first interview to Lilly’s public access television show and then forgot about it later on. I don’t even remember this promise being discussed earlier in the book, did Lilly just lie to try to make Mia feel bad? I don’t even know.

There were two things that I truly enjoyed about this book. I thought that Mia was a bit more tolerable, and she didn’t do as many things to make me outright hate her. Her father also redeems himself a bit, so I enjoyed that storyline. I even started to think that the third book might have been one that I slightly enjoyed! But a few sentences at the end of the story made me certain that the third book of the series would be just as bad as the last two. I can’t wait to finish it and give all three back to the used bookstore where I bought them.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books

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Oh Brother Review

Oh, BrotherLily Afton’s older brother is shot – but Lily can still see him. And hear him. And be irritated by him…

Lily has always been a normal teenage girl: good grades, a group of friends she has a laugh with and a crush on one of the cutest boys in school. Then her brother Sam is shot, and her whole world changes. The brother she’s argued with for fifteen years is now her constant companion, whether she likes it or not. And all around her, family and friends are being torn apart by grief.

As Lily tries to help Sam, hold her family together and keep up the façade of the grieving sister, being all things to all people starts to get too much. While people start to question Lily’s behaviour, one question hangs over the siblings: how long can the ghost of Sam stick around?

Lily doesn’t know why she can see the ghost of her brother. She didn’t even realize that her brother was dead until her parents came home, he was just sitting and watching TV like normal. She is the only one who can see Sam, and her parents are grieving immensely. Lily doesn’t want to feel like she isn’t being genuine about grieving, but she doesn’t feel as if her brother is gone, and her brother is constantly trying to reach out to her parents and make them feel better, even if they can’t see him. Lily doesn’t know how long Sam will stay, but she knows that she will have to help Sam figure out who killed him. She also has to keep her family together during their time of distress and help friends in school who also knew Sam.

This book definitely discusses how death affects the family. The book never truly explains why Sam was killed, only that he was killed, and focuses instead on how the family reacts to this news. Lily’s father tries to be strong, but he ends up seeming more and more distant as the story progressed. Lily’s mother never tried to be strong, but she became weaker emotionally as the story progresses. She goes through a lot of mental breakdowns as she deals with losing her son, and at least partially losing her daughter as her daughter becomes more distant. Lily goes through several stages of grief, and she isn’t able to fully grieve as her brother’s ghost is constantly around her. Lily’s family notices that she is acting strangely, and they try to send him to counseling, but Lily thinks that her parents are the ones that actually need counseling.

The story could have been fleshed out a little bit more detail-wise, but it definitely got the message across. I connected with Lily so much and was rooting for her and Sam the entire time! There was even a bit of romance with someone in Lily’s school, but it still stayed on a fun YA level.

My favorite part of the story was seeing Lily connecting with Sam’s girlfriend. She couldn’t see Sam so she was properly grieving, but she slowly warmed up to Lily and got to make a good friend. I wish that there was a sequel just about those two!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new YA book about grief, romance, and friendship, with a splash of paranormal activity.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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How She Died, How I Lived Blog Tour Plus Review

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HSDHIL Cover.pngAbout The Book:

Title: HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED

Author: Mary Crockett

Pub. Date: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 416

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie–beautiful, saintly Jamie–was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.

On the eve of Kyle’s sentencing a year after Jamie’s death, all the other “chosen ones” are coping in various ways. But our tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.

Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie’s boyfriend–knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead? 

My Review

The main character is beating herself up because she feels that Kyle should have killed her, not her friend Jamie. She almost went to meet Kyle, and it could have been her. Now, a year later, Kyle is getting sentenced. She has to go with her other four friends and testify against him, and she will see him for the first time since he killed Jamie. She doesn’t know how she is going to deal with it, or her attraction to Charlie, Jamie’s ex-boyfriend.

This book is about the main character and her friends healing. There are many side plots, including the trouble that her friends get into as they are grieving. I will not give any names besides Charlie, for spoiler purposes, but the side plots make up the majority of the book. This book is definitely important for YA readers. Sometimes things happen and people die. Sure, not everyone has one of their semi-close friends murdered in high school. But whether it be in high school or college or young adult life, almost everyone is going to see someone they know die unexpectedly. Whether it is something as big as a murder or as normal as a car accident, it will happen. People will have to deal with it. I liked how the main character noticed her own stages of grief and learned how to cope in her own way, instead of just allowing herself to drown.

One thing that was a little strange was Charlie’s emotional outbursts. I thought that we would get some sort of clarification as to why he was so upset. Like, we understand that your girlfriend died, but sometimes he was acting a little crazy. I thought that he would come out and say that he and his girlfriend had a fight right before she died, and so he felt like he was the reason that she saw Kyle that day. Or that his girlfriend had been cheating on him with Kyle. Something to warrant him being so unstable during the time, more unstable than I considered to be normal. But no surprising details were given. He was simply upset. This was even a lesson for me about grief, that it sometimes isn’t “normal.”

Then there was a bit of a love triangle, but luckily it sort of went away by the middle to end of the book. I was able to overlook it and focus more on the better parts of the story.

This book had so much to offer, and even though it felt very long to read, I thought that the read was worth it. If the book had been paced faster it might have been quicker to read, but I don’t think we would have gotten all the details that the slower pace allowed.

Overall, this was really an enlightening read. It wasn’t a fun or easy read, but it was realistic and important. I would recommend this book to lovers of YA fiction.

I received an advance copy of this novel.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Mary.jpgAbout Mary:

A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model.

 In her other life, she’s an award-winning poet and teaches creative writing at Roanoke College in Virginia.

 If you tweet at her, chances are she will tweet back.

Website | Twitter | FacebookInstagram | Tumblr | PinterestGoodreads

Giveaway!

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

11/12/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

11/13/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Review

11/14/2018- Novel Novice– Excerpt

11/15/2018- Bri’s Book Nook– Review

11/16/2018- Pretty Deadly Reviews– Review

 Week Two:

11/19/2018- The Desert Bibliophile– Review

11/20/2018- Lifestyle of Me– Review

11/21/2018- Moonlight Rendezvous– Review

11/22/2018- Savings in Seconds– Review

11/23/2018- Cindy’s Love of Books– Review