Picture Book Review: The Land of Nod by Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Hunter (Illustrator)

Picture Book Review: The Land of Nod by Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Hunter (Illustrator)The Land of Nod by Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Hunter
Published by Flying Eye Books on February 14th 2017
Genres: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 32
Goodreads
five-stars

Ever wondered about the mysterious place we all visit when we fall asleep? Robert Louis Stevenson's classic children's poem about dreamland is given new life in this wonderfully illustrated book. Accompanied by Robert Hunter's bold and beautiful illustrations, this picture book will bring the beloved Scottish author's work to a whole new generation of young readers.
Robert Frank Hunter is a London-based illustrator. Working on a range of projects in both print and moving image, he is keen to keep applying his work to new disciplines.

When you open the gorgeous and colorfully illustrated The Land of Nod, you are instantly captivated. These beautiful images provide a dream-like landscape to accompany the words of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Land of Nod”. Every single page is full of details and whimsical drawings reminiscent of the “feeling” of a dream. Which is sure to draw readers deep into the story. Because of the lovely hues of blue and pink Mr. Hunter uses in his illustration, he is able to create a “twilight-type” mood and truly bring the poem to life.

 

It is clear from the illustrations and the words of the poem that the little boy is feeling isolated from the outside world. However, in his dreams, he can go on all kinds of adventures and see all sorts of different things. This would be an excellent choice for a bedtime story, or for inspiring young poets. As well as a book to read to little ones when they are sick and have to stay in bed. I highly recommend The Land of Nod to dreamers of all ages.

 

 

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.”

 

*Thank you to Flying Eye Books for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.  

five-stars

YA Book Review: You Don’t Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles #1) by Kristen Orlando

YA Book Review: You Don’t Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles #1) by Kristen OrlandoYou Don't Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles #1) by Kristen Orlando
Published by Swoon Reads on January 10th 2017
Goodreads
four-stars

Fighter. Faker. Student. Spy.
Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan. Now Reagan must decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? And does she even have a choice?

You Don’t Know My Name is an intense and thrilling story that brings us right to the action from the start. The story begins as Reagan’s family home is being invaded by an assassin. That’s definitely one way to catch the attention of your reader!

 

I love Reagan as a character. She is fierce, brave, smart and strong. Reagan’s parents belong to a secret spy agency called The Black Angels, and Reagan is expected to become one too. Even though she is training to become a Black Angel, the reader can still relate to her. She’s vulnerable and questioning what she really wants to do with her life. The constant stress of having a new identity, and constantly moving is starting to become too much for Reagan.

 

When Regan’s parents are kidnapped, Reagan has to decide how much she is willing to risk and sacrifice in order to save them. There are some crushing moments in this story, and I wanted to reach into the book and comfort Reagan. The relationship between Reagan and her parents is a big focus of this story. They expect her to follow in their footsteps and become a Black Angel. However, Reagan is torn between doing her duty or following her heart

 

Though I normally shy away from anything with anything that seems like it could be INSTA-LOVE, I really enjoyed Reagan and Luke’s budding romance. It is actually quite swoon-worthy. I like that Luke can stand on his own as a character, even without the romance. Luke is sweet, adorable and completely accepting of Reagan “just as she is”. Luke’s support for Reagan is one of my favorite things about them as a couple/team. Also, I didn’t feel like their relationship was rushed or that it was INSTA-LOVE, which made me happy.

 

You Don’t Know My Name has some fantastic pulse-pounding action scenes, it keeps you entertained and turning the pages. The author does a great job keeping you hooked and guessing what will happen next. There are so many twists and turns that I truly couldn’t guess what would happen next.I love the suspenseful mood the author creates and the detail she put into the world of the Black Angels. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves spy stories, suspense, and books that completely absorb the reader into the intrigue of the story.

 

**Thank you to Swoon Reads for providing me with an advance copy of You Don’t Know My Name in return for an honest review. **

four-stars

Blog Book Tour and Giveaway: The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner

Published by Steel Page Press LLC Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Welcome to The Blue Moon Narthex Book Tour! Today is my stop on the tour hosted by Irish Banana Tours and I will be sharing my review of The Blue Moon Narthex. This is a great new series for middle-grade readers and is sure to capture their attention.  Remember to enter the awesome giveaway at the bottom of the post! You don’t want to miss it!

 

The Blue Moon Narthex

Author: N.J. Donner

Publisher: Steel Page Press 

Pub. Date: Feb 7th, 2017

My Rating: 3 Stars

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ABOUT THE BLUE MOON NARTHEX:

The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen-year-old… Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.

 

A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.

 

With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

N.J. Donner is the author of the new Karmanic Sovereign Legion books. N.J. loves to explore. The world fascinates him and he wants to figure out why and how things work, including Karma.

College adventures took N.J. far from his small Nebraska hometown to the southern hemisphere and the inner city. This was the beginning of his wanderlust and today he loves to travel with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

N.J. became the first person to graduate with a minor in international affairs from Nebraska Wesleyan University and spent the years right out of college building a successful steel company.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

 

MY REVIEW:

The Blue Moon Narthex is a middle-grade fantasy is made for readers who enjoyed the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series. It is filled with adventure, friends, mystery and even a bit of magic. Were there moments and certain things about the three main characters that reminded me a little (maybe a bit too much) about the Harry Potter series- yes. However, since this is the first book in the series I still believe there is time for it to become more defined, and hold its own with future books. Now that we got that over with, let’s move on to how fun this book is to read. My advice is that if you are a grown adult (like myself…most days) please keep in mind this book is meant for Middle-Grade readers.

 

Thirteen-year-old Cole and his two best friends Britten and Sasha are suddenly thrown into a secret world they didn’t know even existed. The world of the Karmanic Sovereign Legion is dedicated to fighting evil. This is the world Cole’s father was involved with before he died. Cole inherits the Blue Moon Narthex stone which leads him and his friends to the Coreseum. The Coreseum is a school where the kids are divided into groups depending on their talent and given a role to master as part of their education.

 

Hopefully, as the series develops the main characters will come into their own voices. Though they are likable, they do read a bit “younger” than 13. I also feel that their personalities need to be a bit more defined and individualized. Then again, when was the last time you met a 13yr old that was completely self-confident and sure of themselves? There were also times that their immaturity turned me off a bit, I do love the friendship between these characters and how they are always there for each other.

 

Though the characters need a bit of work, the world building is fantastic in The Blue Moon Narthex. While reading the book I felt like I could “see” the Coreseum, the Narthexes and the “sliding”. The author did a wonderful job describing and explaining these places and things in detail. Though I would have liked to see the “real” world and WWI appear or factor in a bit more into the story. The war is only mentioned a few times but not enough for such a huge world event. But then again, maybe the author was avoiding it on purpose. After all, we dive into fantasy to get away from “reality”, and placing the war more prominently would have taken away from the fantasy.

 

Being given a thorough background on the mythology of the world, and details on how Karmanic Matter is discovered and used kept me intrigued and fascinated. It also made the world of the Karmanic Sovereign Legion come to life for me. The concept of “sliding” into different dimensions is what I really loved about this book. It’s one of my favorite things to read about in science fiction/fantasies because I would love to be able to do it myself.

 

Overall, I believe that the Blue Moon Narthex will captivate younger middle-grade readers and transport them to an exciting new world, filled with mystery, friendship and even a bit of magic.

 

*I received this book in a promotional package from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

 

GIVEAWAY: 

Enter for your chance to win a Blue Moon Narthex Swag Box

(US ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

FOLLOW THE TOUR

Week 1:

2/6: Swoony Boys Podcast – Review

2/7: Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Q&A

2/8: Kara the Redhead – Spotlight

2/9: Young Adult Rocks – Review

2/10: books are love – Top 10

Week 2:

2/13: Such A Novel Idea – Q&A

2/14: Book Stacks Amber – Excerpt

2/15: Books Buying Beauty – Review

2/16: Red House Books – Guest Post

2/17: Basic Book Blog – Review

Week 3:

2/20: The Irish Banana Review – Review

2/21: Lisa’s Loves – World Building

2/22: Pondering the Prose – Review

2/23: Who RU Blog – Novel Secrets

2/24: The Plot Bunny – Review

 

YA Book Review: SOULMATED by Shaila Patel

YA Book Review: SOULMATED by Shaila PatelSoulmated (Joining of Souls, #1) by Shaila Patel
Published by Month9Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 300
Goodreads
four-stars

Two souls. One Fate.
Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family's standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother's ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam's father isn't convinced Laxshmi is "The One" and Laxshmi's mother won't even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one's own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

SOULMATED is the story of two individuals (Laxshmi “Lucky” and Liam) who are destined to find each other, no matter the obstacles. Liam comes from a royal empath family.  This means he has the power to understand others’ emotions and also to manipulate how people feel. However, in order for his family to gain social standing, he must find his soulmate.

 

This, of course, is easier said than done, because finding your soulmate is a very rare occurrence. But everything changes when Liam moves next door to Lucky. Lucky is from a very traditional Indian-American family and she has pressures of her own to deal with. Her mother is giving her only two choices, graduate early and go to medical school or marry a man of her mother’s choosing.

 

Lucky is determined to have some control over her own destiny.  Her chance comes when the meets Liam. There is an instant spark between them. As their relationship progresses they must deal with their families disapproval, as well as other dangerous rival empath families. They must decide if their love is worth pursuing and at what potential cost.

 

Normally I am not one for INSTA-LOVE stories. I have often complained about them in the past. However, the whole premise of this book is based on the idea of soulmates. The very definition of a soulmate is a person with whom you have an immediate connection from the moment you meet. Therefore this is the perfect use of INSTA-LOVE. You don’t need any explanations or reason because they are soulmates. Which is why it is such a rare thing to find. So in this specific case,  Lucky and Liam falling in love so quickly did not bother me as it normally would.

 

My main issue with the SOULMATED is that I wanted further development in the world building.  I also would like the empathic powers explained in further detail. Since there is another book in this series I assume further development will happen there. 

 

I found SOULMATED to be charming, and full of humor too. I loved reading about Liam and Lucky as their relationship grew. Their chemistry is palpable. You can’t help but want to root for them to be together. Shaila Patel’s writing is lovely. It captured the mood and feeling of falling in love beautifully. My favorite part is how authentic Lucky’s voice is to her Indian-American culture. Which made the character really come to “life” for me. I can’t wait to see what adventures book 2 holds for these two lovebirds. 

 

If you are looking for a fun, YA romantic fantasy read I would recommend you pick up a copy of SOULMATED.

 

Thank you to Shaila Patel and Month9Books for providing me with an E-ARC of her book in return for an honest review.

four-stars

YA Book Review: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

YA Book Review: Freeks by Amanda HockingFreeks by Amanda Hocking
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

In a world of magical visions and pyrokinesis, Mara just wants to have a normal life. But is that possible?
Mara has become used to the extraordinary. Roaming from place to place with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival, she longs for an ordinary life where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future.
She gets her chance when the struggling sideshow sets up camp in the small town of Caudry and she meets a gorgeous local guy named Gabe. But before long, Mara realizes there’s a dark presence lurking in the town that’s threatening the lives of her friends. She has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she had in order to save everyone she cares about—and change the future forever.

Freeks brings us into the world of the traveling carnival sideshow. This is what first caught my interest about the book. I have a soft spot for books about circuses and carnivals, and the gorgeous cover also helped. 

 

The carnival is run by Gideon, and it has fallen on hard times. In a last resort attempt to save his show, Gideon takes his traveling convoy to the town of Caudry, Louisiana. However something “feels” odd about this town. Soon many of them start to disappear, or reappear…but not quite as they were.

 

Mara, our main character/heroine has always been with the sideshow, yet she has no special ability, “powers” or abnormality. Her mother, however, is a psychic, and Mara travels with them doing odd jobs and errands.  Mara doesn’t mind seem to mind the life she’s been living, traveling from town to town, but it’s clear that she does long to set up roots of her own.  

 

I feel a little sad for Mara, because it doesn’t seem like she has many friends. It also seems as if she wishes she could be part of a regular family. Yet she does not complain or whine about this, which I give her lots of credit for not doing.

 

The romance with Mara and Gabe is what really drove me nuts. I felt it was rushed, and too “INSTALOVE” for my taste. She barely meets him, and she is already deep throat tongue kissing him all the time? I just don’t buy it, but maybe she is just that horny and lonely. Still, I don’t see how this could be a good way to showcase the heroine of the novel to young readers.

 

I wanted her to have a little more common sense, and self-worth. The romance could have been great if it had not seemed so forced. It needed time to develop to be more believable. I like their personalities with each other but it was all too fast for me to put my seal of approval on it. Also, Gabe’s secret was pretty obvious to me from the very beginning.

 

Freeks has quite a few supporting characters, and I feel the author did a fantastic job keeping them all individual, and not feeling overwhelming to the reader. I enjoyed the parts of the book that gave details about carnival life and the intrigues of the sideshow acts. If there had been more of the carnival bits in the book and more details about each of the sideshow characters I would have been very happy. When it came to the ending, it felt rushed to me and I wish there had been more time taken to bring the story to a close. 

 

Overall Freeks was a quick and fun read. There were things I really liked, and some things I really did not, but it all balanced out. I would recommend this book to YA readers who enjoy mysteries, and books with paranormal activity.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martin Press for providing me with an e-ARC copy of Freeks in return exchange for an honest review.

 

three-stars