OwlCrate July Box

***WARNING!!! THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR JULY OWLCRATE BOX!!!***

Today I am going to be reviewing the July OwlCrate Strange and Unusual Box. I have received OwlCrate boxes for almost two years now and with any subscription box there are going to be months you LOVE and months you HATE. This was neither.

I kinda liked this box: it was amazing, but it wasn’t horrible.

For one, I liked only about half of the accessories:

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The accessories I loved were the painted Whale print, skull push pins, Luna Lovegood sticker, and Ouija mints! Personally, I thought all of these were adorable and somewhat useful (except for the print, which I just thought was gorgeous). I’m so excited to use the skull push pins, once I have my own place and a cork board. (I swear these will not sit on my shelf and get dusty!!) I’m tempted to frame the whale print or hang it somewhere; it’s too pretty not to show off! And honestly, I will most likely end up eating all of the mints in a week and be left with a cute container that I can use for other things! (Yay!!)

On the other hand, some of the accessories I got I either didn’t like, want, or need: and I am currently selling them.

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While I adore the wallet, it is not a practical thing for me to use and therefore would end up sitting on my shelf for a long time, so it is just easier to sell it. The other items, specifically the Peculiar flag and the Eleven funko, I’m not part of the fandom, so I thought selling them to people that would actually want them is better than having it collect dust on my shelf. Lastly, I have so many OwlCrate pins that I don’t need the skull one and would prefer to not have it (again) collect dust on my shelf.

While I loved the accessories, just practicality wise, or fandom wise, some of these items will be re-homed and hopefully I can get some of my money back!

Finally! The book for this month was (drum roll please!):

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As you guys have seen, I have already read this book and I was super excited to see I got an exclusive cover of it! And it’s signed by all three authors! I love the change in cover colors from blue and yellow to purple and green; it definitely gives me ghostly vibes, much more than the original.

Overall, I thought this box was so cute and spooky, even if I am going to end up getting rid of some of the items. I honestly love OwlCrate, and even their “worst” boxes are still amazing! I would give this box star.png star.png star.png.5 stars and the company  star.png star.png star.png star.png star.png stars!!!

If you’re interested in learning more about OwlCrate, check out their website here:

https://www.owlcrate.com/

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If you love YA or any book subscription boxes, there are so many to choose from! I will shout out LitJoy Crate because their boxes look amazing and their merch is fantastic!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is a contemporary young adult novel about Lara Jean, the girl who’s secret love letters are now, not so secret.

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Personally, I’m not a fan of contemporary novels, especially romance novels, but this one seems to have found a special place in my heart. Going into this story, all I knew was that Lara Jean’s love letters were sent to her past crushes without her knowledge, and now all five boys know she likes them, including her sister’s boyfriend.

Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

To be completely honest, this book was so cute. I only read the book because I am buddy reading it before the show debuts on Netflix and I assumed I wouldn’t be that into it. I was wrong! It’s hard not to grow to love Lara Jean’s quirkiness or Kitty’s (Lara Jean’s younger sister) spunk. I really wanted to not enjoy this book, but I couldn’t. It was good and cute and I’m dying to read the next two books!

My favorite thing about the story line is that it’s not relationship based. On the contrary, Lara Jean’s motivation to avoid relationships made me interested in this story line and want to figure out 1) why and 2) is this actually going to remain like that? I also enjoyed the fact that our main character is not a popular girl or an absolute freak. She’s – normal. She has friends but isn’t a known somebody in the school. She has a close relationship with her family, but not too close. That’s one thing I can definitely appreciate! The trope of the popular girl or outcast is too over done and this story brings a refreshingly interesting main character.

Another thing I enjoy about this story is that it shows a family that realistically loves each other. It’s not all perfect sunshine and rainbows. There are fights and arguments and other things going on that occur but don’t utterly destroy the relationships. This realistic family makes me actually smile, instead of rolling my eyes. As I read about Margot (Lara Jean’s older sister), I’m reminded of myself. As an older sister I have to take care of my younger sisters and make sure they’re on the track to success – not because I have to, but because I love them and I want to. It was so refreshing to see an older sibling that cared, but wasn’t overly involved.

Another factor that made this book so enjoyable was the humor. I loved the inside jokes, or jabs at friends/family, or snarky comments that occurred between different characters. It not only kept the conversation interesting, but made it realistic. I’m a sucker for realistic characters and conversation!

I also really enjoyed how short the chapters were. It made the book fly by for me; I read it a lot faster than I would have assumed for a 350 page book.

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars! I thought it was a cute, romantic read that wasn’t your ordinary contemporary romance! I’m very excited to continue the series and read the next two books!

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If you like this book, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Selection by Keira Cass!

 

They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is a heartbreaking story about two boys that receive a death call notifying them that within 24 hours they are going to die.

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Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads:

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

This story was so sad, but so incredibly good. I think I learned more life lessons from this book than anything I’ve read recently. I learned a lot about life, death, happiness, and what it means to truly live, which is rough on someone in general, but I was on vacation (cue the sobbing).

Overall, I loved the fact that Adam uses different POVs throughout the book, not just Mateo and Rufus’ view of things. We get to see other perspectives from friends and strangers which makes this book even more well rounded. When we do hear from our main characters, I love the distinct differences in their personality – I don’t feel like I’m reading the same thoughts just under a different name. Mateo’s personality is radically different from Rufus’ and we see them change over time, just in that one day.

Adam’s narration skills are also amazing. Every scene has a purpose and is detailed enough to make me feel like I’m there, without being told too much. I also really enjoy the conversations between characters; like personalities, each has their own distinct voice and it makes it so enjoyable to hear them talk to each other, even about something as morbid as death.

While this book is mostly realistic fiction, I do love the bit of science fiction thrown in through Death Cast. As explained in the book, Death Cast is the system that keeps track of when people die. Between 12:00am and 3:00am the company calls people that are going to die that day. There is not time stamp on when or how, just that within the next 24 hours, that person is going to die. I think this idea is not only horribly morbid, but an amazing technological advancement that I’m not sure I would want.

As the two boys go on with their day, knowing they’re going to die, it was hard for me to not get attached to them (I totally got attached). Their new friendship made their experiences and journey bittersweet: I didn’t want it to end, but everyone knew it was going to.

Besides the slight science fiction of Death Cast, this book is purely realistic fiction and it terrified me. The book frequently talks about death, what happens after death, and how they don’t want to die. Honey, me neither. It was so hard for me at some points to read through their speculations and fear, but it was honestly a genuine way of looking at life. The death conversations lead to some heart wrenching moments savoring life and those were the moments I cherished in this book.

When I saw reviews of this book, I was told that I was going to bawl my eyes out at the end. I mean, the ending is literally in the title, although the how and when are still a mystery. I was so ready to sob when it came time for the ending, but I didn’t. There were certain parts in the book before the end that I cried ridiculously hard (maybe too much) but when the book ended, I felt, nothing. Why? Because I was confused on what happened!

The ending kind of confused me, and maybe it’s just me and I need things to be spelled out, but I wasn’t sure what happened. Now, I won’t spoil the ending, but for anyone that has read the book and knows how it ends, please don’t judge me. Besides the ending, the book is a scary look on life and death and will leave you with an existential crisis. At this point, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars! I’m not a huge fan of contemporary, but this book was thought provoking and heart breaking, it definitely deserves 4 stars!

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If you like these books, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas! Another young adult thought provoking book on police brutality in America.

Escaping From Houdini

Escaping from Houdini is the third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco and will debut on September 18th, 2018. I received this as an ARC at BookCon and nearly died from it! (Seriously, I was almost trampled getting in line for this!) But, it was totally worth it! If you haven’t read Stalking Jack the Ripper or Hunting Prince Dracula, I will link their description on Goodreads so you can check them out!

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Here is part of the synopsis from Goodreads:

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. . .

(Please follow the link attached to read the rest of the synopsis!)

I read both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula last winter (I know, I know, I’m late to the party!) and absolutely adored them! If you have not read Stalking Jack the Ripper yet, here is the synopsis from Goodreads and here is the description for Hunting Prince Dracula on Goodreads.

These books are historical, young adult fiction and they are fantastic! They are all murder mysteries (I think I’m starting to see a trend here with my taste) but are so creative and witty at the same time. Audrey Rose is one of my favorite characters as she embodies the sass of the late 1800’s with grace and side eyes.

Meanwhile, Thomas, her uncle’s assistant and Audrey Rose’s soulmate (in my opinion) is hilariously sarcastic and witty with Audrey Rose, while also being aloof and professional. I loved both of them in the first two books and I loved them in this one too!

Just like books one and two, the plot leaves me questioning what the heck is happening! Every time someone is murdered, I find myself examining the scene along with Audrey Rose and trying to piece together the clues. I think Kerri does an amazing job hinting at who the killer is without making it too obvious, but not making it so hard that we’re all dumbfounded at the reveal.

The characters are all amazing and spunky, including the new ones introduced in this story. I thought each of their backstories and arcs were well defined and heartbreaking, while also being completely realistic. It was so refreshing to get to know these characters and add another layer to Audrey Rose’s character.

The one thing about this book that I disliked was the ending! Now, Kerri has confirmed that the ending is different in the final draft and the book is overall 40 pages longer. So, I am not going to talk about the ending, since it is being changed anyways and I am disregarding it in my review and rating until I’ve read the finished copy.

I honestly adored this book and I am so sad to hear we only get one more book after this and then it’s done! I want to keep following Audrey Rose and Thomas on their murder mystery journeys and see where their life goes. Unfortunately, my dreams will not come true and I am stuck enjoying these four books from Kerri.

Overall, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars and I would definitely recommend it to a friend!

If you haven’t read Stalking Jack the Ripper yet or Hunting Prince Dracula, make sure you do so before September 18th because you do not want to miss out on this book!

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If this book sounds good to you or you enjoy historical fiction, I would suggest A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee!

My Lady Janies

My Plain Jane is the sequel to My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton. This review is going to be a double whammy as I’m going to talk about BOTH MLJ and MPJ! 

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Here are the synopses for both My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane from Goodreads,

My Lady Jane:

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

(The synopsis continues on Goodreads, feel free to click the link to read more)

My Plain Jane:

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

(The synopsis continues on Goodreads, feel free to click the link to read more)

I first read My Lady Jane on January 10, 2018. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I was so excited to read this spin off novel and I was not disappointed! I not only adore the concept of rewriting history, but the narration that Jane gives is hilarious! I honestly feel like we’re the same person (kinda). The book offers three different narrators and each of them are funny, witty, awkward, and brave. I loved the fantastical/magical aspect that was thrown in while also keeping the realism of the time, language, culture, and aesthetics.

As the story progresses, I’m not only drawn in by the utter sass, but the mystery. This novel not only turns history upside down, but throws in a murder mystery into too! (Which, are my favorite!) These ladies do it all.

While the characters are phenomenal, so are the history behind them. The authors keep a lot of the original history/story in the novel while explaining why it’s wrong, or simply changing minor details to make it work in the story; which is not only an amazing way to add to the story, but a lot of research, which I appreciate!

While I really enjoyed the story, I did feel like some parts of the novel flew by, and not because I was reading quickly (although sometimes I was). There are definitely times, especially leading up to or during big events, that it feels like the scenes are rushed through. I want more of the juicy details and sometimes I don’t get those.

Overall, this book is adorable and a great, fast paced read for anyone, especially historical fiction lovers! If you know the original history/story it not only makes the book more enjoyable, but funnier in my opinion.

As a result, I would give this bookImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars!

Now, for My Plain Jane, I first read this book on July 9th, 2018. After reading, and loving, My Lady Jane in January, I was so excited to read the sequel!

While I loved the story line, and the added paranormal aspect to it, I felt like this story lacked what MLJ had. Both had fantastic, witty, and odd characters, but Charlotte’s point of view was sometimes, dull.

In MLJ I never felt like the character’s narration was boring, but sometimes I felt like Charlotte’s chapters dragged on in MPJ or were not important. While I adore her character, and think she added a lot to the story, there were times when her POV was boring, which I think is sad. She has all the potential to be an amazing character and I didn’t get that every time we saw her.

On the other hand, I loved the plot of MPJ much more than MLJ! My Plain Jane takes ghosts, which I love, and throws them into high society England, also something I love. The romance aspect of the book is something I found utterly hilarious, especially when explaining how quickly people fell in love back then!

While I loved the plot more, the lack of character spunk in this book (specifically Charlotte) made it harder for me to get through. I still love this book, but I would have to say that My Lady Jane was a better story.

As a result, I would give My Plain Jane Image result for starImage result for starImage result for star.5 stars!

Even though I liked My Lady Jane more, both of these books are wonderful, amazing historical fiction reads (with some fantasy thrown in) and if you haven’t read them, I definitely recommend them!

In total, the average between the two books would be Image result for starImage result for starImage result for star.75 stars! And both are available to check out at your library or for purchase!

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If you like these books, or this review sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead! It’s historical fiction blended with science fiction and it’s a great young adult read!

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab debuts in August 28, 2018. We both received this ARC at BookCon as part of a three pack for the Epic Reads event. Personally, I am not a giant fan of middle grade books, but stop the presses! This book was so good and so cute!

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Here is the full synopsis from Goodreads:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Going into this story I was excited, because I adore Victoria Schwab, but also nervous. As a not-so-big fan of middle grade, I was scared this book would be dull, boring, or too easy. On the contrary, this book was fun, exciting, witty, and action packed. While the language was dumbed down (obviously!) it was such a fun and enticing read.

My favorite thing about ALL of Schwab’s books are her amazing characters. Cass and Jacob are complex and three dimensional throughout the entire novel. Their choices reflect who they are as people instead of what the author or readers want. I think that Schwab’s use of realistic characters (even the side characters) not only make this book easy and fun to read, but also scary. This ghost story does include actual ghosts (shocker) and the humanity in each of those ghost scenes sometimes make it less scary, and sometimes terrifying.

Another thing I loved about this book was the strong detailed descriptions of what is going on around Cass and where she is. I never felt like the screen in my brain went dark because Schwab keeps it lit with her avid and, sometimes, scary descriptions. I loved reading scenes just of Cass’ surroundings because even that is interesting and I loved viewing Scotland through her lens.

The plot of this story was also adorable! Being a middle grade, I thought this book was actually scary. If I were a elementary or middle schooler reading this now, I might need to leave the lights on for a few weeks (I’m also just a giant scaredy cat!). I think this book is a perfect intro to supernatural, horror, and other spooky subjects for kids and does so without scarying them half to death (cough cough Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark cough cough!).

The only problem I had with this book was that I felt it ended too early! I wanted to hear more about Cass and Jacob’s adventures and see more of Edinburgh, Scotland! Thankfully, Schwab has confirmed book two, and it appears it takes place in Paris!

Overall, I would give this book Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star stars!

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If you liked this review or this book sounds interesting, I would check out either Coraline or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman! Both are middle grade scary/suspense novels by another amazing author!

The Thousandth Floor

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee is a not so classic murder mystery novel.
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We are introduced to the characters by the ending – someone falls off the top of the thousandth floor of the Tower to their death. McGee uses multiple points of view to explain what happened and how this person died, while also allowing the reader to guess the possible victim. As we are pulled into New York City a hundred years in the future, it is revealed that the area that used to be central park now inhabits a thousand floor tower, called the Tower. This tower has everything for its occupants, including schools, spas, clubs, shopping centers, apartments, and more. And it’s the location of a horrible murder.
We follow our main characters: Avery, Leda, Eris, Rylin, and Watt – all occupants of the Tower and all possible victims. As we learn more about their lives, and how they’re all connected, we learn that things aren’t always as they seem. Each of them are keeping secrets and putting their reputation, and life, at risk.
“Nothing mattered except this moment. She felt invincible, untouchable, like she would be this way forever: young and dancing and electric and alive.” – The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
When I read the first chapter that was it. I was sucked in. I wanted to know who died and how and I couldn’t avoid picking this book up. Every chance I had to read what happened, I did. When I realized it was multiple points of view, five to be exact, I was afraid I was going to get lost or confused. Surprisingly, not only did I not get lost, but the multiple POVs worked really well for the story! I like how they added a sense of mystery and also allowed the reader to get to know the different characters better, without being able to guess who dies until the last minute.
I also enjoyed the plot and character arcs from beginning to end – I think sometimes authors have an issue keeping track of characters and making sure they all experience a solid arc, but McGee seems to breeze through this like no problem. All of her characters have their own fleshed out subplots and their character arcs are not only complete, but engaging. I wanted to find out what happened next with every page turn and new clue.
Some of my favorite things about the book are figuring out, or trying to, on how all of these characters are related at first. When I originally started reading it I was unsure how all of these characters knew each other and their role in the murder, but as the book goes on, those fears are subdued. Another thing I really liked about the book was the advanced technology that McGee incorporates into their society. Their high tech not only seems cool (I totally need it!) but makes sense. Any gadgets that she mentions in the book have a logical purpose and sound like devices that could actually work in the future!
Overall, I didn’t have any dislikes or things I would change about the book, except maybe the ending. I think McGee wrote an amazing murder mystery using multiple POVs and pulled it off stunningly!
I would give this book a Image result for star image Image result for star imageImage result for star image Image result for star imageImage result for star image review for the amazing plot, intriguing characters, and for pulling it off in an intricate and exciting way.
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If you like murder mysteries with multiple POVs, I would recommend Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte which is out in February 2019!