It’s been a long time! I am back, and I am so excited to get into the swing of things again!
As some of you may recall, from January 2017 to June 2018 I was serving a full-time proselyting mission forThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Utah Provo Mission. It was the most amazing experience, and I am so grateful for the people I was able to meet and the things I was able to learn. To learn more about what I was doing, visitlds.org.
Since my return home, I’ve been readjusting to normal life. I was a nanny all summer (seriously the best job ever), and now I’m halfway through my first semester of Junior year at Brigham Young University – Provo. Yup, I fell in love with Utah while serving here, and so now I’m back! It’s great, because I get to visit people that I helped and worked with while I was a missionary here.
Since I already have my associates in science, I’m currently working on my bachelors in economics, and then I’ll be going to law school! I want to work as an attorney to fight sex trafficking. My life goal is to work for Tim Ballard ofOperation Underground Railroad.
I really want to get as involved as I can in the book blogging world while still staying on top of my studies, so I would love to get caught up! What have I missed? What do I need to know about and get involved in! Unfortunately, textbooks have overtaken fiction novels as my primary reading nowadays. My college #Shelfie is kinda sad, but check out the cute bat halloween lights!
To my beloved authors: If you have sent me a book to read and review, please know that I have not forgotten you! Feel free to shoot me a reminder email (email@example.com) if you would like, but I promise I am trying my best to get things done! I am so excited to read your work and share my thoughts about them!
Summary: Travel to other planets is a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity to find habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. With no time to wait years for communication between slower-than-light spaceships and home, the Long Range Foundation explores an unlikely solution–human telepathy.
Identical twins Tom and Pat are enlisted to be the human radios that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. The only problem is that one of them has to stay behind, and that one will grow old while the other explores the depths of space.Always a master of insight into the human consequences of future technologies, this is one of Heinlein’s triumphs.
My Review: Man, this was a weird book. Yeah, I know, Heinlein practically specializes in weird, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But Time for the Stars was it’s whole own category of strange… But I liked it. Also, this book was published in 1950. That’s crazy to think about! Over 60 years since it’s publication, and this unusual book still fascinates sci-fi readers today. Myself, most certainly included. Heinlein’s
Hero/Heroine: Our two leads here, identical twins Tom and Pat are fascinating, and a refreshing change from the cliche way that twins are often portrayed in novels. Tom and Pat aren’t just in constant competition – frankly, they don’t even like each other very much when our story begins. They are fun characters to read about, and their morals are deep and complex.
Plot: It’s hard to explain the allure of a Heinlein book to someone who has never read one before. His writing is masterful, and his plots are slower paced than what you will see from 21st century writers. But the slow pace is to their benefit, and you never lose interest in the story at hand. They’re nearly impossible to put down, and frankly I find it charming. We follow our young heroes as they begin to experience the consequences of FTL travel, and what that means to them and those they left behind. At the same time, you are experiencing the daily monotony of life on a spaceship that only sees one major battle. The story is not monotonous, though, and you become truly invested in the character’s lives and interactions. Just like with Star Trek. Except there are near constant battles in Star Trek… So, probably not by best comparison, but, whatever.
And, for reals, y’all: THAT ENDING THOUGH. I was in shock for hours! It was crazy.
Content Advisory: An intense battle scene involving significant loss of life. This is a story featuring teenage boys, so there is also romance and some kissing.
To Sum it Up: Heinlein’s storytelling is timeless, charming, and reminiscent of a different age of literature. Time for the Stars is a fun, thought provoking sci-fi adventure that explores FTL travel, telepathy, and what life on a spaceship really means. I recommend this book to readers ages 10+.
Summary: “If a fairy falls in love, it’s going to be bad for the fairy.”
Her mother warned her, but Margaret doesn’t worry. She’s never found a human attractive . . . until now.
When her elderly landlady dies, Margaret, a house fairy and quilt expert, moves in with her landlady’s single grandson Jonathan. As long as she stays small, this tall, handsome human will never notice her. Or will he?
The Quilt Fairy is a sweet romance — a modern-day fairy tale. It is 12,000 words, technically a long short story or novelette. It was previously published as “If a Fairy Falls in Love.”
Hero/Heroine: Margaret and Jonathan. They were well developed characters, and their relationship intrigued me greatly. In a very short period of time I was invested not only in their relationship, but in their individual characters. Margaret was quirky and had a Luna Lovegood-esque feel to her, whereas Jonathan was an open minded and passionate young banker who thought he may never have a second chance at love… Until he met Margaret. (Yup, definitely the cheesiest line I have ever written in the history of this blog. I am truly sorry …But not sorry enough to delete it. I promise, this novellette is nowhere near as cheesy as that line). Anyway, Jonathan and Margaret have a cute and quirky relationship, and it was very fun to watch them grow.
Plot: I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I suppose I should stop assuming things like that when it comes to Beverly’s books. ;) Her fresh and original storytelling was unpredictable and fun. I do wish there had been a bit more world building, but it is a short story, so… The fairy tale world she created was absolutely wonderful, and the story arc was perfectly formed. An absolutely lovely fairy tale.
Content Advisory: Mentions of sex, but only a grand total of like three sentences, and nothing ever happened. A character dies.
To Sum It Up: Short and sweet, just like this review, you won’t regret spending an hour or two reading this fun, original, sweet romance. I recommend it for ages 13+.
Her books have brought me happiness when I’ve been down. They’ve taught me about victory, even after suffering a horrible defeat. They taught me to be confident in myself. Words can’t really express how much I owe to her. I love her! She’s helped me so much. They’re the best books I’ve ever read.
Oh, Jo. Thank you!
2. It’s Harry Potter’s 35th birthday! Happy Birthday, Harry!
And Harry… Harry taught me that friends are more important than anything else. He taught me that anything is possible. And he taught me that love is the greatest weapon of all.
3. It’s J.A. Dalley’s 23rd birthday! Happy Birthday, James!
Author of the Almek Manning novels, my favorite YA military sci-fi series. Have you read it yet? If not you HAVE to check it out here! And to give you an idea of what it’s about…
The synopsis of the first book, the Zochtil:
Jump to the Stars! Join the Solar Fleet!
The Solar Fleet faces just two problems: one, the alien blockade that prevents any ship from leaving the solar system, and two, the United Monarchy of Europe, which is tying up most of the Solar Fleet’s resources, thus preventing them from attacking the blockade.
Almek Manning is eighteen and wishes to join the Solar Fleet as a midshipman and train at the Academy. However, Almek has a few problems of his own to overcome before he can go to the Academy, the first of which is to escape from a United Monarchy of Europe detention facility.
4. And finally…. the big announcement… I have a #Bookstagram account!
So, maybe this wasn’t given for the 31st, but I figured it was as good a time as any to make my announcement. Head on over to Instagram and follow me for lots of bookish fun! You won’t regret it! Also, if you have any tips for new Bookstagramers, I would be ever so grateful for them! Y’all are the best!
Now go celebrate these 4 things! Have a wonderful day!
Tips for Bookstagrammers? Has Harry Potter / J.K. Rowling influenced your life? What do they mean to you? Have you donated to Light Up Jo’s Birthday yet? Followed me? ;) Comment below!
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/5 stars) Pages/Genre: 452 / YA Fairytale Retelling
The Ugly Stepsister will be available for purchase on June 12th! Pre-order your copy NOW! You won’t regret it!
*Persuade the prince to give the ball
*Learn how to act like a noble lady
*Find fairy godmother
*Prevent other stepsister from sinking her claws into Prince Charming
*Find out why Cinderella has a mother and two brothers in the poorhouse
When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?
My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I almost gave up on it, though. The beginning was very rocky as the author struggle to establish the world. If it wasn’t for my love of all things Cinderella, I might have given up on this book. But I’m so glad I didn’t! By the end of the third chapter, I was hooked, and couldn’t put it down! There was the occasional instances throughout the book that flashed back to the ameteur writing of the first two chapters – things like Kat yelling “Noooooo!” in her head when something went wrong. Luckily, those occasions of amateur writing were relatively few and far between, but when they were there, it was painful. I also wish we’d been given more insight into the goblins. Who they are, why they do what they do, etc., etc. We didn’t know enough, and a more complete knowledge would have significantly added to the book. The writing may still lack a certain maturity at times, but the plot, the world, and the characters MORE than make up for it.
Honestly, those first two chapters, and the swearing were the only things that kept this book from getting a six star review, because I adored everything else about it. Also, I really want a physical copy of it. Because that cover is gorgeous. And I loved the book.
Hero/Heroine: Kat & Edward. Without giving anything away, I’ll attempt to explain everything I love about these two characters.
Kat: When creating a character like Kat, I often see authors make one of two mistakes: a whiny feminazi who ruins the entire book with her elitism and superiority, OR a boring cliched teenage girl who refuses to see the bigger picture – ever. Luckily, Kat was NEITHER of those things and I adored her! She stood up for herself and for others. She kept her head and was both fun and relatable. I wish there were more protagonists like Kat!
Edward: *Swoon* Ahhh, Prince Charming. (I cannot say enough how thankful I am that “Charming” was absolutely nowhere in Edward’s name. So sick of that. Anyway.) Edward was the Prince Charming I have been waiting for. I’ve read and watched countless Cinderella retellings, and there was always something off about the Prince. Something that I just didn’t like. Never could put my finger on it. But whatever it is, Aya Ling fixed it. Edward is a refreshing take on an age old cliche – this prince is dedicated to his country and his people, and absolutely hates social gatherings. He is also totally swoon-worthy, loves gardening, always knows what to say (but is still a flawed character) and I cannot even begin to describe his perfection.
Content Advisory: The swearing, though only S, B, D, and H, was excessive. I notice this often when adults are trying to write for teenagers. Swearing is thrown in randomly, and without any real meaning or usefulness – just kinda forced in. Some of the swearing had merit, and worked well, but some didn’t. Aside from that, there are some make out sessions, but nothing detailed or inappropriate. Mentions of rape, and of the horrific conditions of child labor in factories.Again, no more graphic than necessary.
Plot: You go into a fairytale retelling knowing the story – and counting on the characters and setting being interesting enough to make up for the lack of suspense. In The Ugly Stepsister the characters and setting were absolutely phenomenal — but so was the plot! For the first time in my fairytale retelling days, I was actually kept guessing the entire time! I’d think I knew exactly what was going to happen, and then Aya Ling would throw another curve ball. I was literally on the edge of my seat in excitement (and sometimes on the floor in despair) as I devoured this book. THE FEELS WILL KILL YOU AND YOU WILL LOVE IT.
Kat’s adventures (and misadventures) as she attempts to set up Prince Charming with Cinderella, find a fairy godmother, and organize a ball will keep you laughing (and screaming at the characters) for hours. You delve into a rich and meticulously created world of social classes and rules of etiquette and you enjoy every second of it. I’m probably not describing this book very well, but just know that you WILL LOVE IT. The Ugly Stepsister is probably my favorite fairy tale retelling – ever. It has taken incredible self restraint not to go full-on Caps Lock ASDFGHJKL fangirl on you during this review.
To Sum it Up: If you like fairytales at all — Please, please, please read this book! You will love it, I promise. Aya Ling manages to successfully tackle a very difficult premise (I’ve never before seen it accomplished to my satisfaction), while simultaneously keeping you engaged and invested in the story and happy with the ending. This was a very warm fuzzy happy book — and one that I will definitely be re-reading time and time again. One of THE BEST Cinderella retellings I have ever read (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them) I would recommend The Ugly Stepsister for ages 14+.
Summary: Monsters are real. All the things from myth, legend and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows. Officially secret, some of them are evil, some are just hungry. On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living. Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company and now Owen Pitt is their newest recruit.
Genre/Pages: Adult Urban Fantasy / 457
Rating: ★★★★★ (5.5 of 5)
My Review: This is not a YA novel. It’s modern adult. The first one I’ve actually ever read. (I say modern, because the Anne Mccaffrey non-YA books of the past are quite different than the adult books of the present). My brother, J.A. Dalley, a YA Mil-Sci-Fi author, and soon to be Urban Fantasy author (his first UF book will be published within a year), continually told me that I HAD to read this book. That it was super amazing and basically the best book ever. I have a long TBR list. I said I’d get to it eventually. Finally, he took my iPod, and downloaded the audiobook onto it himself. So, I gave in. I pressed play.
Hero/Heroine:I am absolutely overjoyed to be able to talk about a MALE protagonist for the first time in a LONG time. I’ve gotten really sick of being stuck in the head of teenage girls every time I read a book, so the fact that Owen Pitt was the hero of this series made me super excited. The only problem I had character-wise was that, and maybe this was because I was listening to it, not reading, but I could not for the life of me, keep all the character’s straight. I dearly loved all of them, the character development was great, how we gradually learned more about them was wonderful, the diversity was refreshing, but for the grand majority of the book, if you’d asked me whether Milo or Trip was the preacher-turned-monster-hunter, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to answer.
Owen: I loved Owen. Actually, the characters were all really great. But I really loved Owen. Larry Correia is an absolute master of story telling. That fact was most prevalent when it came to how Owen’s character, backstory, and destiny slowly unfolded. Not so slowly that I was bored out of my mind, but not so fast that I felt like I already knew everything. Information was never dumped. I got to know Owen at a normal pace, like I would get to know a friend. So he became a friend. I began to understand him, as he began to understand himself. I was never given useless information to throw me off a trail. And let me tell you, he is an EPIC character. Accountant by day, expert marksman by night. I knew the second he pulled out a gun for the first time, that I was gonna love him. And love him I did. Because he’s just so dang loveable!
Julie: Okay, remember what I said about being so glad to get out of a girl’s POV in books? Well, there were definitely no shortage of freakin’ INCREDIBLE women in this book. Julie, of course, being the most prevalent (though stripper-turned-monster-hunter Holly is pretty freaking amazing, as well). But I loved Julie. I loved that she wasn’t a “strong female character” she was a “strong character who is also a female” (but the difference is a rant for another time), she wasn’t just written as amazing as she is to be “politically correct” (a problem I often see in literature), she’s just that amazing. A deadly fighter with a mysterious family, Julie is one character you can’t help but admire (and love!).
Plot: Did I mention that Larry Correia is a freaking master of storytelling and suspense? I did? Well, I’ll say it again! This plot was PERFECTLY paced. I didn’t even know that that was possible. The fight scenes were intense, emotional, and engaging. I would be walking in the hallway at school, earbuds in, and I’d just have to stop dead and sit down, give my full concentration to the mass of action going on. Beware Chapter 22. You’ll need some tissues, and private room. The mysterious and cryptic dreams, the humorous and engaging character dialogue, the edge-of-your-seat fight scenes, the horrifying monsters, the romance, the realism and the excruciating pain — this book is to die for. Not literally, though, cuz then you wouldn’t be able to read the second book! Also, I loved that MHI wasn’t just a bunch of heroes — They’re also mercs. They’re bounty hunters. New twist! Lovin’ it.
Content Advisory: A fair amount of cussing. Not like you hear in the hallways at high school, but a lot of S- words, D- words, H- words, and B- words, and maybe 10 o so F-bombs. One scene of sexual nature (went to second base, non graphic.), One implied scene of sexual nature (off screen), a few sexual inneundos. A lot of violence. Not terribly graphic, but PG-13. Blood, gore, and death (both of monsters and humans) abound.
To Sum it Up: I’d never read Adult, let alone Urban Fantasy. I was skeptical. It felt like Percy Jackson all grown up. Even if the action, the guns, and pure enjoyment didn’t make me desperate to read the next book in the series, the motley band of characters, and the freaking amazing monster lore have sealed the deal. Like monsters? Like characters? Like enjoyment? READ. THIS. BOOK. That is all. Recommended for ages 17+.
Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it?
1. Appaloosa Summer — By Tudor Robins. YA Equestrian Sweet Romance. I’ve read a lot of horse books in my day. THIS one stood out as a phenomenal read. The characters were not only real, they were amazing. You loved them, and all of the major discoveries in the book existed in them. The plot was great, but BECAUSE the characters were great. This is basically my happy book. I LOVE THIS BOOK. READ IT. RIGHT NOW.
2. Her Ex Next Door & Corporate Husband — By Beverly Farr. New Adult Sweet Romance (books aren’t related, but they are both amazing). The plot is fairly predictable, but you fall in love with the characters, and love watching their personal stories slowly unravel.
Okay, so at this point, I realize that I have no idea what qualifies as Character Driven. Maybe I just ONLY read plot driven novels. I dunno… this is a very confusing and conflicting week for me. Does it mean it doesn’t have a good plot? Or just that the characters are SUPER amazing?
3. A Just Determination — by Jack Campbell. Military Science Fiction. This tells the story of the day to day life on a military spaceship. Sounds boring, right? But it actually isn’t. It is very character driven, and it gives a refreshing look into the everyday. It was totally unpredictable because of that, and 100% realistic.
5. Nobody’s Princess — By Esther Friesner Historic Mythological Fiction. Retelling of Helen of Troy’s early life.
6. SECOND STAR — By Alyssa B. Sheinmel. YA Fairytale Retelling. Peter Pan. I still haven’t reviewed this just because it’s so amazing, but at the same time — UGH! I can’t even give it a star review! I can’t even tell if it’s a 1 star or a 6 star! This book did strange things to my head. But you will love it.
7. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight — By Jennifer E. Smith — YA/NA Sweet Romance. The plot itself has every trope you could ever imagine in a sweet romance, but the character’s are so wonderful, that you just love it, regardless. This would make a GREAT movie.
8. Every Jack Weyland book ever — Inspirational fiction. His stories center around one character, and their journey after a crisis of some sort.
9. The Captive Maiden — by Melanie Dickerson — Fairytale Retelling, Cinderella. Everyone knows the fairytale. So Ms. Dickerson changes it up. The plot itself is MUCH different than your typical fairytale, but the characters are really what stands out about it. Not your typical Cinderella and Prince.
10. HONORARY — Pawn of Prophecy (Belgariad,, #1) — By David Eddings I haven’t read this book, but everyone I know who has says it is THE MOST character driven book you will ever read. I’m looking forward to it!
So, I decided to hop on the bandwagon. However, when I took the #Shelfie I was in a hurry to get to school, so it’s not a very high quality one. Anyway, this is one of my 5 personal bookshelves. It’s my personal favorite. Isn’t it beautiful? In my room, I own about 400 ish books. 50 of which are signed by the author. In my house? Well, let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to attempt to count them. Each room has at least one, if not two, bookshelves, and then we have a library and hall which are floor to ceiling bookshelves, soo…
Anyway, I thought this was a good way to begin the end of the hiatus! Enjoy!
Since it’s such a terrible picture, I figure an explanation is in order. My top shelf has my legend books. Le Morte D’Arthur, Sherwood Forest, etc. They’re mostly Robin Hood and Arthurian legends, my two personal favorites. It also houses some of the spillover Harry Potter memorabilia. :)
The second shelf is part of my Harry Potter collection. I have the full Mary Grandpre editions, half of the original British children’s editions, plus tons of related books such as Page to Screen, Harry Potter and the Art of Spying, We Love You Harry Potter, We’ll Tell You Why, etc.
The third shelf is my Work and the Glory collection. Along with a few carefully placed vintage books that I’ll probably never read, but they LOOK gorgeous! This is the closest my shelf’s have ever come to pretty over practical.
The fourth shelf is a bunch of my random books that I love, along with a few of the horses from my Breyer collection. I’ve got The Illiad, Four, Lincoln, 7 Habits of Highly Effective teens, Gregor and the Code of the Claw, the Buffy books, and more.
The fifth shelf didn’t fit in my frame. I’ll try to post a high quality image of this shelfie soon, so if you can’t read the titles now, just wait a few hours!