Monday, October 24, 2016

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


This was the perfect October read. It had a creep factor, tons of mystery, and a thrilling plot that held my attention through the final page. It had plenty of twists and turns and a jaw dropping reveal at the end. I found it to be a fast paced and filled with lust, charm, gore, and thrills. 

Ella's mom is about to get remarried and along with a stepdad comes a gorgeous stepbrother. He is almost too perfect. Good looks, great ideas, overly friendly... It's easy to get wrapped up in the charm. Especially when he is helping her figure out the mystery behind all of the crazy in her life. Shortly before the marriage... dark, twisted things begin to happen. Black flowers show up at the cemetery, muddy prints find their way to mirrors, bloody hand prints drip from the walls, and sick twisted secrets begin to surface... It all builds up and eventually brings Ella crumbling down with it. It pushes her to believe lies and it forces her to think the worst of herself. While there are a few suspects only one stood out to me. Unfortunately, I was wrong and left dumbfounded. I sort of expected it, but I definitely didn't want to believe it...

Looking back at the book as a whole... I am pleasantly surprised by the strong character development and rich content. The Author really packed a lot in 272 pages and for that I am thankful. I thought the story was unique and brought a lot to the table. It was diverse in that it had a little bit for each reader. Whether you like paranormal, romance, horror, thrillers, or ya contemporary you will find a piece to love in this story. I highly recommend it. Especially during the Halloween time!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Walk on Earth a Stranger (Gold Seer Trilogy) by Rae Carson

"Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes."

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.



When I was growing up, I became slightly obsessed with a game called The Oregon Trail... It was a Western survival game with tough choices about health, animals, supplies, and mapping out routes. This book brings that game to life (well life in the book world that is).

Leah/Lee is a on the journey of a lifetime. She loses everything she knows and decides to flee to the West with her best friend soon to be love interest. In order to escape without being noticed she has to don men's clothing and act as a lad. She works for her passage and eventually finds what she is looking for. It's a unique story with emotional turmoil and charming twists. I found myself intrigued and fascinated by the western frontier. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and when I finished, I instantly went to purchase the next book.

It was a historical fiction with fantasy elements, a tough heroine, and a slow burn romance. It captured the essence of a time period and was able to bring aw upon the gold panning days. I fell in love and think readers of all ages will too. It's a total MUST READ! 

The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders

From the New York Times bestselling author of Lost in Translation comes this charming illustrated collection of more than fifty expressions from around the globe that explore the nuances of language. From the hilarious and romantic to the philosophical and literal, the idioms, proverbs, and adages in The Illustrated Book of Sayings reveal the remarkable diversity, humor, and poignancy of the world's languages and cultures.


I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but was pleasantly surprised. It was an educational book that explored the phrases of different cultures. My husband and I had a great time guessing what each phrase meant... Some were easy, while others were a tad more difficult. The illustrations were gorgeous and really added to the overall reading experience. It was unique and fun and I would definitely recommend it to all readers looking to branch out and explore a different language.

*Shoutout to Random House (Ten Speed Press) for the review copy!*

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin

It's October 1942, in Oslo, Norway. Fifteen-year-old Ilse Stern is waiting to meet boy-next-door Hermann Rod for their first date. She was beginning to think he'd never ask her; she's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. 

But Hermann won't be able to make it tonight. What Ilse doesn't know is that Hermann is secretly working in the Resistance, helping Norwegian Jews flee the country to escape the Nazis. The work is exhausting and unpredictable, full of late nights and code words and lies to Hermann's parents, to his boss... to Ilse. 

And as life under German occupation becomes even more difficult, particularly for Jewish families like the Sterns, the choices made become more important by the hour: To speak up or to look away? To stay or to flee? To act now or wait one more day?

In this internationally acclaimed debut, Marianne Kaurin recreates the atmosphere of secrecy and uncertainty in World War II Norway in a moving story of sorrow, chance, and first love.

3/5 STARS 

I love historical fiction and will read any WW2 books I can get my hands on...
With that being said, this one wasn't as good as others I've read. While I enjoyed the book a lot, it didn't feel complete to me. There were so many perspectives that it came off a bit scattered. Like I get Hermann and Ilse's parts, but the family ones were built up to go no where... I think maybe if the book was longer and better developed I would have appreciated those parts more.

What I did love about this book though were the lessons that were so intricately weaved into the story. The words taught us that time is precious and to never hold back. It also gave us a great perspective of what survival looks like.

I'm torn. I keep going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars... On one hand it's history and that's important, but on another I craved more of that raw emotion that comes with war. I wanted to feel like the characters were in desperate situations and instead I felt like they were just going through the motions... riding the boat, sitting on the bed, stripping down... Where were the heart breaking scenes of turmoil? And also, why didn't we get more info on the paper that Hermann worked at... I guess looking at the book as a whole I just need to settle on a 3. I wanted to love this one, but it needed better execution.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Beast by Brie Spangler

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way? 

I went into this book blind... 
The ARC showed up at my door and I immediately started it without reading the back. So imagine my surprise when Jamie's identity was revealed... It's not at all what I expected, but it worked so well. You can definitely call it a twist on Beauty & the Beast and I LOVED it. 

The words of this book wrapped around me and slowly pulled me beneath the surface of norm. It was heartwarming, educational, emotional, and inspiring. The focus was on first love, self exploration,  self harm, and painful peer pressure, but there was so much more between the words. Dylan is a troubled boy who is self conscious about his appearance.

"I like you too." she says.
"You are a wonderfully horrible boy."

When he "falls" off his roof and ends up in group therapy, his world is turned upside down. Jamie is going through a transition... When her and Dylan start to hang out, emotions slowly form into something a tad forbidden. Dylan is oblivious to the situation and when the truth is revealed it sends him running the opposite way. Slowly though, he lets his guard down and opens up to what his heart truly wants...

I wouldn't say I have an closed mind, but I definitely wouldn't seek out a trans book. After reading this one though, my feelings have changed. The Author did so good at making this book beautiful and all consuming that at the end I craved more. I wanted to know what happened to Jamie and Dylan after high school. I wanted to know if their love made it...


Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. 


If you are thinking about reading this book I'd recommend skipping the first part ... For me, I instantly became meh and confused. That part was so scattered and disconnected that I almost didn't continue...

However, I'm so glad that I did because I fell in love with the rest. I really related to the breaking part and it opened my eyes to a new perspective. It helped me appreciate the flaws and made me happy I experienced such turmoil. It pulled out emotion and also filled me with inspiration. I think all who have experienced a bad break up will definitely find solace in the pages.

Overall, I definitely recommend it to readers searching for a word hug. Let this story be a lesson or guidance or just reassurance that no matter what happens you can always overcome it.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

5/5 STARS 

Eerie plot, folk feel, and absolutely beautiful execution. My mind and heart fell in love with this book. The story was haunting, yet intriguing. The characters were unique and the book world was vivid and lush. As I turned the pages I could feel the mist clinging to my skin and the breeze blowing the back of neck. The plot pulled me in and I found myself captivated by the magic. I mean witches, sea monsters, forbidden love, and folk lore... What more could you ask for?

If you like to be swept away from reality then you MUST read this one. FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP had me hooked from page one. I was so torn on whether to quickly turn the pages to unravel the secrets or to slowly savor each and every word. I've never felt so compelled by a plot before. There were twists and turns that I never expected and jaw dropping, epic battles at sea. Between the dark water, lush music, and terrifying creatures... my mind was blown. Not to mention the romance. Umm... I never would've guessed that, but wow was it good. 

I won't say any more because I would just be spoiling the parts that are too good to spoil. However,I will leave you with this... There is a little something for everyone so don't let one classification scare you away. 

I received an ARC (Thank you Skyhorse Publishing & Sarah Glenn Marsh) and it was so good that I now MUST own in it physical form. I can't wait to purchase the hardback on release day!

The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut. 

"Persecution and hatred had walked through the door to my soul and ripped out my heart." 

This book was historical fiction at it's finest. The ugly words were intricately weaved into a beautiful story of strength and perseverance. My heart ached with pain and swelled with inspiration. The circumstances Helen overcame were gut wrenching and awful. She lost loved ones, was humiliated in more ways than one, and in the end had lasting emotional scars.

"I found gratitude in the basement. My heartache never stopped, but I learned to be grateful for the essentials of life: for the air in my lungs, the visions my eyes behold, and the very experience of being alive." 

The story was about a young girl trapped in a real life nightmare... Helen is a jew and Hitler wants rid of all jews... Her friend Max enlists to protect her and when times become too dangerous for her to remain at home, he hides her and her brother. They remain in hiding for years before the monsters come knocking down their door. While the cellar always seemed like a prison, when the S.S. come to take them away, they know things will only get worse. Together they embark on a terrible journey to hell (or Auschwitz) and when they arrive, they are separated and she is left with the images of murder in her mind. She finds her strength to survive illness, rape, and physical abuse in her father's words and a dirty dress.

"I wanted to confiscate one of their guns and shoot all of them through their hearts. I wanted warm bullets to find their frigid, calculating, stone-hard souls. 

I finished the book hours ago, yet my brain is still within the pages. I was so captivated by the horror and utter raw reality. To think that actual people lived through similar things makes me sick to my stomach. It also makes me very appreciative for the life that I live. While reading Helen's story I felt so twisted thinking how fortunate she was, but to think how many people were killed... in some twisted way, Helen was lucky. She went through hell for that luck and had to sacrifice her health, innocence, and pride for that luck or as other's would call it, life. Her story is one that should be read by all. The Author's writing flawlessly intertwined history with an emotionally charged work of fiction. I loved it!