Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Heartfelt and Authentic: A Review of 'Girls Like Girls' by Hayley Kiyoko

Girls Like GirlsGirls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko takes readers on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and love. At the heart of the story is Coley, a 17-year-old who finds herself grappling with the recent loss of her mother, thrusting her into a new environment and leaving her vulnerable and uncertain. Kiyoko's portrayal of Coley's emotional journey is incredibly poignant, allowing readers to connect deeply with her vulnerability and doubts.

When Coley crosses paths with Sonya, an immediate connection ignites. Kiyoko masterfully weaves their relationship, capturing the exhilaration, tenderness, and uncertainty of first love. Coley's doubts about her own worthiness of love and Sonya's journey as someone who has never been with a girl before adding layers of depth and authenticity to their evolving connection.

Set in a small town in Oregon, this book beautifully explores the challenges of teenage life and the courage it takes to embrace one's true self. With relatable characters and a celebration of LGBTQ+ experiences, Kiyoko's storytelling captures the essence of love and acceptance. "Girls Like Girls" was a captivating read.

Disclosure Statement:

I received a free Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions or the content of my review. My feedback is voluntary and unbiased. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an opportunity to read and review this book.

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Glitter, Guts, and Growth: A 5-Star Journey with "Pumpkin" by Julie Murphy

Pumpkin (Dumplin', #3)Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023


"Pumpkin" by Julie Murphy is an absolute gem and another five-star addition to her Dumplin' series. Julie Murphy's ability to create heartwarming stories with authentic characters is remarkable, and "Pumpkin" is no exception. This book brings Waylon's journey to life delightfully while seamlessly weaving the stories of Dumplin' and Puddin' into the background.

What sets Julie Murphy apart is her commitment to portraying youth with the depth and complexity they deserve. In "Pumpkin," Waylon is a refreshing protagonist—a fat, openly gay boy navigating the challenges of a small West Texas town. His journey towards self-acceptance and embracing his true self is redemptive and touching, making it a story that resonates with readers of all ages.

One of the standout features of "Pumpkin" is the authenticity with which Murphy writes her characters. Rather than resorting to stereotypes, she portrays today's youth as intelligent, self-assured, knowledgeable, and kind. This portrayal is refreshing and reflects the reality of our time's diverse and resilient youth.

Another aspect that deserves applause is how the author handles the high school bully character. Instead of giving him unnecessary page time, Murphy focuses on Waylon's personal growth and the positive aspects of his journey. This subtle yet effective approach allows the story to shine even brighter.

The publisher's description gives you a taste of the chaos that ensues when Waylon and Hannah are nominated for prom court. The mishaps, glitter, and the unexpected connection between Waylon and Tucker Watson add depth and humor to the narrative. It's a story that beautifully showcases the importance of living in the moment and embracing who you are, all while making us laugh and tear up.

In conclusion, "Pumpkin" is a must-read for fans of Julie Murphy's previous works and anyone who appreciates a heartwarming, authentic, and genuinely enjoyable story. It's a testament to the power of self-discovery, friendship, and the courage to be unapologetically yourself. I can't wait to see what Julie Murphy has for us next!

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Monday, September 25, 2023

Unveiling the Potential: A Review of 'Fire & Ice' by Michele Barrow-Belisle

Fire & Ice (Faerie Song Trilogy, #1)Fire & Ice by Michele Barrow-Belisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2015 

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions I express here are entirely my own.

There's no denying that this book brims with potential. However, this inaugural installment falls short of fully realizing that potential. The primary issue lies in the need for more rigorous editing. There were moments where the dialogue felt hurried and underdeveloped, so much so that I wondered if I had somehow missed pages in my ebook. Numerous plotlines were introduced and then seemingly abandoned, leaving me longing for closure.

Lorelei, our protagonist, struck me as a character who sometimes bore an uncanny resemblance to Bella Swan from the Twilight series. She appeared to lack substantial growth or development, consistently rushing headlong into situations that landed her in the damsel-in-distress role. When we meet her at the book's outset, she presents as a strong, silent loner with hidden talents. The rapidity with which Lorelei succumbs to swooning over Adrius feels somewhat incongruent with the girl we first encounter.

Admittedly, there were moments of frustration in this book. However, Michele Barrow-Belisle has crafted a captivating world filled with intricate details and vivid descriptions. Despite the book’s challenges, I was irresistibly drawn into the enchanting realm of faerie, brimming with magical creatures and boundless possibilities.

Now, in complete honesty, I won't be reading the sequel, "Bittersweet." While this book certainly intrigued me with its world-building, the character development and plot execution left something to be desired. With this series's potential, I earnestly hope it receives the attention of a skilled editor and undergoes revision. Such a revision could elevate it to greatness, but I'll be exploring other literary realms for now.

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Unlocking the Magic of "Secrets and Scallywags": A Five-Star Journey into Cozy Mystery Adventure

Secrets and Scallywags (Magical Mystery Book Club #5)Secrets and Scallywags by Elizabeth Pantley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"Secrets and Scallywags" by Elizabeth Pantley is a delightful addition to the Magical Mystery Book Club series, and it deserves a solid five-star rating! This book takes the cozy mystery genre to a new level, offering readers a unique and enchanting experience.

One of the standout features of this series is the imaginative concept of book club members stepping into the world of the books they choose to read. In "Secrets and Scallywags," we embark on a swashbuckling adventure alongside the club members as they become entangled in the mysteries of pirates and stolen treasure. It's a refreshing departure from the typical murder-centric cozy mysteries, making it perfect for those who prefer a lighter, more whimsical approach to the genre.

Elizabeth Pantley's storytelling prowess shines brightly in this installment. The island community setting is charmingly vivid, and the mystery of the washed-up pirate boat with its rumored treasure adds excitement and intrigue to the plot. As the club members meet the spectral crew of the ill-fated ship, the story takes on a magical quality that keeps you glued to the pages.

What sets this book and the entire series apart is the camaraderie and diversity of the book club members. Their quirky personalities, unique strengths, and humorous interactions add depth and charm to the narrative. It's easy to become invested in their adventures and root for them as they strive to solve the mysteries that bind them to the books.

The ultimate quest to find the treasure and release the ghosts is a thrilling ride filled with clever twists and unexpected turns. Pantley masterfully keeps you guessing while delivering heartwarming moments of friendship and courage. The resolution is satisfying, and the journey is one you will remember.

"Secrets and Scallywags" is not just a cozy mystery; it's a delightful escape into the world of books within books. It's a reminder of the magic that can be found in reading and the power of imagination. Whether you're a fan of cozy mysteries or simply looking for a unique and engaging read, this book—and the entire Magical Mystery Book Club series—is an absolute gem. I've enjoyed the whole series and can't wait to see where Elizabeth Pantley takes us next!

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Magical Mystery: 5-Star Review of 'Whiskers and Lies' by Sofie Kelly

Whiskers and Lies (A Magical Cats Mystery, #14)Whiskers and Lies by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Whiskers and Lies" by Sofie Kelly is an absolute gem in the beloved series that keeps improving with each installment. As a devoted fan, this book deserves a stellar 5-star rating and more!

Kathleen Paulson, our favorite librarian, once again finds herself in a perplexing mystery, and this time, it's a thrilling ride from start to finish. The Halloween-themed backdrop adds an extra layer of excitement to the story, and the author's vivid descriptions of spooky cupcakes had my mouth watering.

The real stars of the show are Kathleen's enchanting feline companions, Hercules and Owen. Their magical abilities and unwavering support make every adventure all the more enchanting. The bond between Kathleen and her cats is heartwarming and beautifully portrayed.

Sofie Kelly's writing is as enchanting as ever, with her knack for weaving an intricate plot while keeping the reader thoroughly engaged. Her characters are relatable and endearing, and her storytelling prowess shines brightly in "Whiskers and Lies."

In summary, "Whiskers and Lies" is a must-read for fans of the series. Fans will also be excited by the surprise ending! It's a delightful combination of cozy mystery, magical elements, and unforgettable characters. I can't recommend it enough, and I eagerly anticipate this excellent series's next adventure!

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Blooming Intrigue: A Review of 'The Chamomile Conspiracy' – A Cozy Mystery with a Botanical Twist

The Chamomile Conspiracy : A Garden Lover Cozy Mystery (Seasons of the Witch Book 1)The Chamomile Conspiracy : A Garden Lover Cozy Mystery by Louise Marvin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for cat mysteries - and this one has some pretty adorable cats. I can't wait to learn more about them and follow along on their continued adventures. The real "sidekick" star of this show is the PLANTS, though. Our heroine, Pax, can communicate with plants. The plant facts and the personalities of each plant that help her along the way really add a new and fun angle to the cozy mystery genre.

Pax's world is upturned when she goes to visit her friend, Miss Millie, for the weekend and finds Miss Millie dying - her final words are accusations of murder and poison! Pax has only known Miss Millie for a couple of years but felt a strong bond and kinship with the sweet nonagenarian instantly. Pax is from the Harbor area but left when she was only 6 years old. Her parents passed away, and her hyper-controlling, emotionally distant grandparents took her to Boston. Pax has always longed for family and to know her history - especially her mother's family, whom her grandparents have denied her learning about. Revelations abound throughout the story as Pax finds herself, her people, and her family.

A fun start to a cozy mystery series. A lot smoother than many firsts! The world-building is already very engaging. I look forward to following along for more adventures with Pax, Sam, Angie, the plants, the cats, and the whole Harbor community.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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The Witches of Bone Hill: A Spellbinding Tale of Family, Love, and Redemption - 5 Stars!

The Witches of Bone HillThe Witches of Bone Hill by Ava Morgyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Spellbinding Tale of Family, Love, and Redemption - 5 Stars!

"The Witches of Bone Hill" by Ava Morgyn is an enchanting masterpiece that effortlessly weaves elements of the supernatural, family secrets, and heartwarming romance together. From start to finish, this novel captivated me and left me craving more of the mystical world it brought to life.

One of the standout features of this book is its perfect balance between the eerie and the horrifying. Morgyn's ability to create a palpable sense of unease without diving into gratuitous horror is commendable. The atmosphere she crafts in Bone Hill is tinged with just the right amount of creepiness to keep you eagerly turning the pages without needing to hide under the covers.

But what truly sets this book apart is its portrayal of the bonds between women, both living and dead. The sisters, Cordelia and Eustace, are complex and relatable characters, and their journey of discovery and reconciliation is heartwarming and empowering. The themes of female solidarity and the strength that can be drawn from generations of women coming together to protect one another are beautifully explored throughout the narrative.

The romance between Cordelia and the enigmatic groundskeeper adds a layer of passion and depth to the story. While it may seem fast-paced initially, their connection is palpable. As a reader, I found myself cheering them on, hoping for their happiness amidst the supernatural chaos surrounding them.

As for Eustace and her gifts, I would have loved to delve deeper into her character and abilities. Nevertheless, the story maintains a compelling balance between the different narrative threads, leaving readers eager to explore more of this fascinating world.

The build-up to the climax is intense, and Morgyn expertly keeps the suspense at a fever pitch. You'll find yourself holding your breath as the secrets of Bone Hill unravel, and the resolution is nothing short of redemptive and heartwarming.

In summary, "The Witches of Bone Hill" is a captivating blend of mystery, romance, and the supernatural, all wrapped in a tale of family bonds and self-discovery. Ava Morgyn has crafted a spellbinding story that will enchant you from the first page. It's a must-read for anyone who enjoys stories of witches, family secrets, and the enduring power of love and sisterhood. Five stars don't do it justice; it's a literary gem that deserves all the praise it receives.

Disclosure Statement:

I received a free Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions or the content of my review. My feedback is voluntary and unbiased. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an opportunity to read and review this book.

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