Book Review: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

9780544815193_p0_v3_s192x300Is there anything better than meeting someone who changes your life for the better? This book made me ponder about friendships for a long time. When you’re young, it seems like you may have a lot of friends–but are they friends of circumstance (ie you go to school together and share a lunch), or are they friends that will stand by you when you need them? Will they be the friends that last beyond high school, beyond college, beyond all of life’s ups and downs?

“If you really want something, the stars won’t help you. You have to reach out and take it.”

Grace is determined to keep her head low and just get through life until graduation. Things are not so great in her life. Things hurt. Her mom is immature (at best). Her mom is not villainous exactly, but she is abusive, and she makes a downward spiral in the book that not many teens are equipped to handle.

So when Grace meets Eva in this book, it warmed my heart. Eva is a game changer for Grace. She is a friend that wants her to have fun and adventure. And she is also a friend who has her own past that she is trying to get away from. They connect on so many levels, that it is no wonder that Eva is willing to share with Grace that she is a girl who likes girls. And Grace discovers that she is a girl who likes girls and boys. I love the bi representation because I believe that you love a person… not their gender, not their race, not their anything. You fall in love with the PERSON. The person that makes you feel something more, something extraordinary, and who, in turn, you want to do the same for.

This book tackles a lot of topics including friendship, family, sexuality, mental health and grief. It also has all the earmarks of a summer read – the season, the setting, the romance. It’s just a really good book! I liked it a lot. Highly recommended for YA romance seekers and those seeking diverse reads.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.


All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

9780399559396_p0_v2_s192x300When I first read Windfall, I immediately thought it was a cute story with so many elements that I like. And because I hadn’t (and still haven’t) read another YA lottery win tale–Lucky in Love by Kasie West–my opinion at first was definitely favorable. And it still mostly is. But after some discussion with other reviewers, I have to agree that one of the characters is quite frustrating. More on that shortly.

Windfall is a YA contemporary about a girl who has been in an unrequited love situation with her best friend Teddy for a long, long time. And just about the time something could maybe happen (because apparently she hasn’t seen or read He’s Just Not That Into You and hasn’t moved on), she buys Teddy a lottery ticket for his birthday. And he wins millions of dollars. I think a lot of people like to dream about winning the lottery, but just as many have read about what it has done to families and external relationships. People’s judgement tends to be not so clear in the best of stories, and in the worst of them, there is often tragedy. But seeing that this is a YA, I figured the most that would be on the line is their friendship and potential romantic entanglement.

Both the MCs, Alice and Teddy, are given really sob story backgrounds. Which while it worked well for their character, it was also a bit unnecessary. In a fictional setting, it didn’t work well for me to think that because they are both poor, one is an orphan, and one had their father walk out on them… I don’t know. It just seems like a bit much. Sort of like a crutch to explain why you should be that much happier that things are going well in their life finally when they win the lottery. But it is a rags to riches story… I just don’t see that as super relatable.

Regardless, the windfall of having money in their lives (Teddy’s money), is a lot for them to handle. Being that Teddy is a teenager, you expect him to be a little reckless with it. He has zero experience at handling that much cash, or a decent paycheck even, so his idea of what to buy is going to be reflective of his idea of how rich people spend their money. So Alice keeps getting her hopes up on being with Teddy, and Teddy makes a lot of mistakes, looking her over time and again, until he finally comes around.

I found Alice quite relatable and likable. From being a volunteer (I did tons of community service as a kid, and no it was not court mandated… just a do-gooder) to being in love with something who is not in love with you… I get it. It’s a tough place to be in. I think I wanted her to be more assertive with Teddy, but she wanted him to figure it out on his own. That fear of losing him when she never had him to begin with was, however, the primary driving force. So the book played out how it should have. It was good, but for me it wasn’t my favorite YA.

If you do like a bit of melodrama in your YA romance, I think it could be a fun read for you. It does have a bit of a I’ve-read-this-before vibe, but overall not a bad read for summer.

Book Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

29741905.jpgBeing a New Englander with most of my family living in Massachusetts, I am no stranger to stories about witches, John Adams, Paul Revere, and all the other common folk tale type stories that come with living in New England. The themes are very common for local authors, who spend evenings at storytelling dinners at local inns spinning new twists into old favorite tales, but also for authors who tend to enjoy the setting, history and people. Brunonia Barry, the author of The Fifth Petal, was born in Salem so I had high hopes for this book. And on some accounts, it really delivered on a solid murder mystery crime novel mixed with some wonderful paranormal elements.

Barry’s descriptions of the area are exceptional in a way that only someone who has spent vast amounts of time in Salem could achieve. I have visited it, and it brought so many memories and images back to life for me. The story itself was interesting enough, but for me lagging rather slowly until about 50% of the way through. I liked how it tied together an old and new crime, seeking to make a connection between the two… and that the connection could be a something not of the mortal world. The second half of the book held suspense and tension in a way that did propel me forward toward the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but mostly it was okay for me. It was not a must read for my personal tastes, but I would highly recommend it for fans of paranormal fiction in a great setting. There is a previous book, but as the author has stated, it can be read as a stand alone book. All the elements you need from the first book to tie them together are presented in The Fifth Petal. Some readers do recommend reading The Lace Reader first.

Side Note:

I was supposed to receive this book from Blogging for Books via the mail, but after several attempts to reach out to them inquiring as to when it would arrive, it had not, and with very little explanation. So as to not slight the author, I found the book at the library. This posting is much much later than originally intended as a result. 


The New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader returns to Salem with this spellbinding new thriller, a complex brew of suspense, seduction and murder.

When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Blog Tour: Review of Roar by Cora Carmack

Before we get into the review, let me just say that prior to reading this book I had not previously read a Cora Carmack novel. She has a few published (and popular) New Adult series and this was her first journey into YA fantasy. I have been excited about this book for months for many reasons… all of the sneak peeks, all of the street team work, the beautiful cover…it made for a perfect storm (see what I did there?) of being exactly what I wanted in a book. And it made me want to read her other works… but at the same time, because I am a die-hard fantasy fan, I wanted to see how her work stood up to my other favorite fantasy novels/series/writers without having experienced her other works.

Many, many thanks to the author, Inkslinger PR / Tor Teen for the readers copy of Roar. It was so worth the wait. And now on to the review.


“Challenge a tempest, survive it, and you become its master.” – The Tale of Lord Finneus Wolfram


Cora Carmack’s Roar is churning with intriguing danger and crackling electricity like the storms it seeks to conquer in its pages. The idea of a world so wrought with storms that they must be challenged to be defeated, and that there are humans capable of wielding their power has a great promise for action and magic. And that’s exactly what you get as this journey begins.

Aurora comes from a long line of Stormlings, who reign over lands as royalty and offer protection to its citizens. Rora, however, has no magic of her own and must marry a Stormling Prince from another land in order to preserve her family name. And if her secret, her familial shame of being born without magic is discovered before the marriage, all could be lost. A chance meeting changes Rora’s story, the very possibility for being the princess that her mother and people have always needed her to be. Can she challenge a storm to gain her own power?

“And what you said earlier, about feeling like you were in the wrong life? I’ve felt that too. Felt it right up until the moment I decided to stop trying to run from storms and hunt them instead. I know what it looks like when someone finds the life they were meant to have.”

This world immediately had me tangled into it’s effortless dialogue, beautiful world-building and strained relationships. The storms themselves are mesmerizing in their description, being nearly sentient in their ability to seek out and destroy. Having lived to long in an area that has unpredictable, and at times extreme, weather… I could feel and appreciate the temperament of the different storms meandering through the pages. And all the while, I still felt a greater connection of the tempests with the plot itself. Each incident leads you to dwell on the delicious suspicions that surround their magic and Aurora’s magic-less body. The aptly named Rage season exposes the readers to a gambit of emotions, from anger to despair, playfulness to wanting–it is a non-stop thrilling ride through the cities and wildlands of Caelira as Aurora seeks answers and confidence.

“Sometimes she was Aurora. Confident. Clever. Cultured. Sometimes she was Rora. Afraid. Alone. Ashamed. And more and more, she was Roar–bold, brash, and increasingly baffled by the situation in which she found herself.”

I particularly enjoyed the multiple POV in this book as more and more interesting characters were introduced, including a stunning villain who wields terrible power and yet we have to wonder what their true motivation is… is their ill-will justified in some odd way? And can anyone stop the oncoming destruction? I feel like everyone has a back story in this world, and it is welcome. The more Roar, the better.

I cannot wait to see how the rest of Carmack’s series unfolds! This first book in the left me wanting more and more. Her practiced hand at building romantic tension shined in the later chapters, reminiscent of some other recent popular YA/NA crossovers (but without heading into NA territory). Highly recommended read for those who love fantasy, adventure and romance. Eagerly waiting for the next chapter.


From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack comes her debut young adult fantasy, ROAR! Releasing June 13, 2017, ROAR takes readers on an adventure filled with charismatic characters in an enthralling world sure to keep them turning the pages. Order your copy today!

New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack’s young adult debut: Roar.

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.


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“You taught her?” Cassius asked.

“Yes, Your Highness.”

He surveyed Taven for several long moments. Then Cassius turned to Aurora and their eyes met. Anger clawed up her throat, and she struggled to keep her face blank. Better for him to believe he still had the upper hand.

“You taught her well,” Cassius said without looking away from Aurora, “but I’ll take it from here.”

Over Cassius’s shoulder Tavan met her gaze, eyebrow raised. She nodded; she had kept him away from his soldiers long enough, and she could not avoid the prince forever.

“You are full of surprises, Princess.”

She smiled, ignoring the bile threatening to rise in her throat. “As are you, Price Cassius. As are you.”

He circled behind her, and she felt the weight of his touch against one of the knives still sheathed near her shoulder. His breath fanned over her ear as he asked, “May I?”

Without waiting for an answer, he lifted the blade from her. “Good balanced weight,” he said. “I imagine it flies well.”

“Like a dream.”

His mouth was at her ear again—too close, too warm. “Show me.”

She stepped away like it burned. “I think I’m done for the day.”

“Come now, Aurora.” She flinched at his use of her name. Had he used it yesterday? She could not remember. But now it felt too familiar, far too intimate. “What will it take to get you to show me? How much of my pride shall I bargain away?” His hand touched the small of her back. “Or what shall I offer you in return?”

She spun, and before she realized what she was doing, she had the point of her knife beneath his chin. The courtyard went still around them, but Cassius only smiled wider in response. She was unnerved by the darkness that licked at the edge of her thoughts, of the voice inside whispering to push the knife a little harder, to show him she was not so easy to control. All she knew was that she had let fear rule her for too long, and now it was time she took the reigns.

“Do you trust me?” she asked, and slowly let the knife drift along his jaw.

His eyes narrowed. “Trust…is not one of my skills.”

“If we are to be married, if we are to someday rule, there is nothing so important as your ability to trust me, and I you.” He watched her warily. “You want something from me,” she continued, “but you’ll not get it unless I trust you.” She was talking about far more than knives, and from his long pause he seemed to know it.

“I’ll hand over my trust in this. What would you have me do?”

She led him to the largest target, the one with an outline of a person meant to test the thrower’s ability to hit a body’s weak spots. She pushed against his chest until he thumped back against the target. Then she snatched the knife from his hand and said, “Stay there.”


Cora Carmack’s ROAR – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

June 5th

As The Book Ends – Review & Excerpt

BookWorm221 – Review & Excerpt

Milky Way of Books – Review & Excerpt

Omg Books and More Books – Review & Excerpt

Reads All the Books – Review & Excerpt

Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Review & Excerpt

June 6th

AC Suqared Book Blog – Excerpt

Happily Ever After Book Reviews – Review

Letshaveakya – Review

Movies, Shows, & Books – Excerpt

Read more sleep less – Review

Smart & Savvy with Stephanie – Review & Excerpt

June 7th

Ali’s Reviews and More – Review & Excerpt

Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt

Books, Dreams, Life – Excerpt

Dazzled by Books – Review & Excerpt

Miss Nicole The Librarian – Review

Quite the Novel Idea – Review & Excerpt

June 8th

Adventures in Writing – Excerpt

BookCrushin – Review

Crazii Bitches Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

NovelKnight – Review

The Rest Is Still Unwritten – Review

What Is That Book About – Excerpt

June 9th

Books Books Books – Review & Excerpt

Bookshelf Adventures – Review

Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions – Excerpt

Feeling Fictional – Review & Excerpt

Grownup Fangirl – Review

The Rest Is Still Unwritten – Excerpt

June 10th

Ceres Books World – Review & Excerpt

My Fangirl Chronicles – Review & Excerpt

Red Hot + Blue Reads – Review & Excerpt

Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Review & Excerpt

Zili in the Sky – Review & Excerpt

June 11th

Book Briefs – Review

PBC – Excerpt

Ramblings From This Chick – Review

Vi3tbabe – Review & Excerpt

With Love for Books – Review

June 12th

Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Review & Excerpt

MrsLeif’s Two Fangs About It Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Reads & Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Swoony Boys Podcast – Review & Excerpt

Take Me Away To A Great Read – Review & Excerpt

Whatever You Can Still Betray – Excerpt

June 13th

Beneath The Covers Blog – Review & Excerpt

Chapter Break – Review & Excerpt

I’m A Book Shark – Excerpt

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review & Excerpt

Resch Reads and Reviews – Review

Two Chicks on Books – Review & Excerpt

June 14th

Boundless Book Reviews – Review

Kindle and Me – Review & Excerpt

Lovely Reads Publishing – Excerpt

My Book Filled Life – Review & Excerpt

Stuck In Books – Excerpt

The Cover Contessa – Review & Excerpt

Bibliobibuli YA – Review & Excerpt

June 15th

A Hopeless Romantic’s Booklandia – Review & Excerpt

Books Need TLC – Review & Excerpt

Lit This & That – Review & Excerpt

Seeing Double In Neverland – Review

The Book Hookup – Review & Excerpt

This Jabberwocky Eats Books – Review & Excerpt

Shelf Life-Review

June 16th

Bookish Things & More – Review

Closet Geeks and Slow Mo – Review & Excerpt

Fishing for Books – Review

Library of a Book Witch – Review & Excerpt

The Book Maven – Review & Excerpt

Under the Covers Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

June 17th

Book Lovers Hangout – Review & Excerpt

G & T’s Indie Café – Excerpt

Little Red’s Reviews – Excerpt

Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

The Ordinary Housewife Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

YA Insider – Review

About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website

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