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BOOK REVIEW – The Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1) by Katherine Locke

BOOK REVIEW – The Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1) by Katherine LockeThe Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1)
by Katherine Locke
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

If you gave a girl a magic balloon, she’ll become something else.

OKAY. Can I just say that if this isn’t the best book I’ve read all  last year (I don’t think I can take that position away from ACOL) then it’s the one that’s left the biggest impact on me. And it still takes the cake as second best book. I requested this after having read ONE great review but still wasn’t fully prepared for what I was getting myself into. This book is a prime example of historical fiction and time travel done right—EVERYTHING about this book is done right. And as a person who love time travel that should really mean something.

Ellie is a modern day student who is in Germany on a study abroad trip. Her grandfather, who was actually a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, used to tell her these stories about magic red balloons and how one actually saved his life while he was being transferred from a Polish ghetto to an internment camp. Oh a whim, she goes to grab it and ends up in East Germany in 1988.

The city hummed with a frenetic sort of energy, the kind that came when people say the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it wasn’t the oncoming train. It was hope. The world was changing. We were along for the ride.

Now, I was born in 1991 and I’m going to tell you straight up that it was unbelievable for me to read about this place, one continent over, that had people living in that much fear only three years before I was born. I know that people in different places around the world are STILL living in that kind of fear but…this book in particular made me feel so sheltered. In all of my twenty six, almost twenty seven years I have NEVER known that kind of fear. And it just kills to know that I have it so easy when so many others don’t. I think that this book is a good reminder of that. What’s out there even still today.

But I digress. Let’s get to the other parts of this book that had me laughing, SOBBING, and everything in between. Well let’s see. First of all, ALL of the characters were amazing. Ellie, the main character is probably one of my favorite female protagonists of ALL TIME. Other than the small breakdown she has after being transported back in time (and I mean who WOULDN’T freak out about leaving YOUR time and friends and family) she is calm, cool, collected, sassy. UGH I  LOVE her. Kai and Mitzy are just as amazing. Oh—and by the way, this book is DIVERSE. Ellie is Jewish, Kai is Romani, and Mitzy is gay. And that’s just who they are and we get to see how being those people in that time period affects their lives in a place that is so unforgiving.

For those of you who love romance, the stuff we get in here is SO BELIEVABLE AND WILL GIVE YOU BUTTERFLIES AND SO MUCH MOREEEEEE. I just want to cry thinking about it. I don’t want to say any more honestly, you’ll just have to read it and find out yourself. Not sure what direction book two will go in or who will be in it but I am already dying to get my hands on it.

If you give a girl a red balloon, she’ll believe in magic and memory. If you give a girl a red balloon, she’ll never want to let go.

Overall, this book just goes to show that one person, magic or no, has the ability to change the course of history with even just one decision—exactly the kind of book that we want to be reading in this day and age.

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren LayneAn Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.

When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.

“I meant that I’m not usually. Not before.” 

“Not before…?”
I feel him smile against my neck, stubbornly refusing to answer. I smile, too, because I know what he’s not saying.
Not before me.

Anyone who has been around long enough knows that LL used to be my absolute favorite author. Without any doubts, when asked, it was LL. Fast-forward a couple years annddddd…that answer isn’t the same. It’s not that I don’t like her-I do. But, after a while, it all became a bit contrived, to me.

“Mark hates Christmas,” I inject, tired of being ignored.
Both men look at me. Mark frowns. “I do not.”
I look up at him. “Okay, you don’t hate it, but you don’t really get into it. You never get a tree, you won’t hang lights, you wouldn’t even let me put a wreath on your door last year.”
“Because it was white and had a pink bow.”
“It was flocked, and pink and white were very in that year.”

Somewhere along the way, and I’m not sure when, I lost that connection I had held steadfast to. I stopped picking up every book because I wasn’t laughing and swooning as much…and it broke my heart. But, here we are, and LL wrote a Christmas book and…well…it was Christmas. So why not?

“Where’s his snowman costume?” I call to Mark.
“Burned it.”
“I hope you didn’t put it in the washing machine—it’s hand wash only,” I say, picking up my peppermint martini and heading back into the kitchen.
“Yeah, Kelly. I hand washed a dog sweater. Sounds just like me.”

Well. I don’t know. There was just way too much that bothered me:

-Clueless heroine
-Single POV (CANNOT believe I’m saying that, but I needed to hear what Mark was thinking, frankly. She was just too much)

I don’t know! I can’t even remember all the reasons! It just did not work for me. I eventually fell hard for Mark, but it took forever. I like gruff men, but without being in his head he just seemed flat…until when I fell for him, obviously lol. At that point, he became the thing I held onto, the guy I couldn’t stop reading about…and hating Kelly for hurting. He was just…so so loyal. Ugh. Amazing.

Mark stamps out my babbling with a searing kiss. “I’ve wanted,” he says against my mouth, a little gruffly. “God, how I’ve wanted.”

And, frankly, I found the blurb a bit misleading, like…why tell us that Mark wants her to wake up and smell the roses, but then not let us be in his head to hear that? Just…odd. Odd odd odd.

“Ask me,” he orders, pinning my wrists over my head with one hand.
“Ask you what?” I say, a little breathless.
“Ask me what you asked the damn ball.”
I swallow. “Should I sleep with Mark again?”
His smile is slow and confident as he slowly lowers his body to mine. “It is certain.”

Like I said, somewhere along the way LL stopped being my ‘go-to’ contemp gal. And for real, it kills me to say that. But it is what it is and I can’t fake loving something. I loved their friendship. I loved the shared dog, backyard, etc. But when your heroine is as dumb as Kelly was-well. It’s just too much.

“You’ll never guess what happened to me at the train station,” I say, leaning forward excitedly.
“Hmm?” he asks, less excitedly.
“Okay, if I tell you, you have to not roll your eyes and tell me I’m a crackpot. Promise?”
That’s about what I was expecting.

PS-OH! And it really sucks, it does, because I loved Kelly’s humor. She had the funniest dialogue…I just couldn’t get past the stupidity, unfortunately.

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BOOK REVIEW – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW – Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie GarberLegendary (Caraval #2)
by Stephanie Garber
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.

“What have I always told you about the future?”
“Every person has the power to write her own.”
 Tella said.

Please God. Let there be a third book. There has to be a third book. Right? RIGHT?! THIS WAS SO GOOD. I spent a good four hours this morning finishing this book, completely ignoring everything else around me an I can’t say that I regret it. I mean seriously, the only part of this book that I didn’t like was when it ended…

Dante looked up and gave her a fallen star’s smile.
“You should always wear flowers.”

Would it be bad if I said I hoped the next book (IF there is one) was also centered around Tella? I liked the first book BUT this one was just so much better in my opinion. I thought Garber’s writing had seriously improved, the plot was even more twisty than in book one AND Tella was just so damn likeable! 

Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female.

I only read Caraval once as an ARC so it’s been quite awhile but from what I can remember, Tella is so much fiercer than Scarlett. I loved her sass and how even in the moments where she knew she should be scared of the people and things happening around her, she put on a brave face. She always had a retort ready for Dante and Jacks or anyone else trying to stand in her way. I couldn’t get enough!

But Tella didn’t believe in impossible choices. In her experience one path was always clearly worse than another.

I was a huge fan of the plot centering around the Fates, too. I’ve always thought that the concept of fate was an extremely interesting thing so the fact that Tella had to worry about them AND a new game of Caraval made the stakes even higher this time. It was all so incredibly twisty and complicated and of course you never can tell what’s real or fake—who’s working for Legend and who’s genuinely trying to help Tella. I LOVE IT.

But Tella didn’t want to look at the stars. She wanted to see him.

There also might be a love interest in here that I am completely obsessed with. Extremely broody and obviously I will not be saying more, just know that I am all for this ship. 100%. That’s basically why I need another book if we’re being honest with one another, lol. 

Tella claimed she didn’t want love—she liked to say loved trapped and controlled and ripped hearts apart. But the truth was she also knew love healed and help people together, and deep down she wanted it more than anything.

Overall I was THOROUGHLY impressed, you guys. While the first one was good, this one was GREAT. All the stars!

“Don’t be like me and settle for the ease of an almost-ending, when you could have the true ending.”
“I’m not sure I understand what that even means,”
 Tella said.
“It means most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most.”

ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. THANK YOU NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the chance to read this early. ♥

BOOK REVIEW – The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

BOOK REVIEW - The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I re-read this book in anticipation for the final book releasing this month. And it was even more amazing the second time around, so I tweaked some stuff in my review. Here it is.......

BOOK REVIEW – The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. ArmentroutThe Power (Titan #2)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


With any great change, there is always strife, and the Covenant University has become the frontline between pure-bloods who want the Breed Order reinstated and the half-bloods who want the right to control their own destinies.

Fate has other plans.

The violence is escalating and war between the races seems inevitable, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Hyperion may be out of commission, but Josie and Seth know they have only earned a reprieve. Seth must get Josie fully prepared, which means controlling her newfound abilities, and they need to find the other demigods before the Titans do.

But the gods are sensing a greater threat.

Only one thing is more dangerous than a bunch of starved Titans, and that’s an out-of-control Apollyon. The aether in Josie is drawing Seth in deeper, and when lust mixes with love and gives way to power, he knows being close to her is not only dangerous to her, but to everyone around them, but letting her go requires a level of selflessness that just isn’t Seth’s style.

The paths taken in the past are becoming the roads of the future.

Just as chaos breaks out, familiar faces from the past return, complicating the already strained bond between Josie and Seth, and when the danger from the Titans erupts with devastating consequences, the dark allure of power calls to Seth again, but this time Josie might not be able to pull him back.

And when the struggle between power and love becomes the deadliest battleground, there may be no salvation.


The Power was emotionally gripping and powerful!  Even though my adrenaline was still running high after those last few scenes, I kept swiping at the tears falling from my eyes.  I couldn’t seem to shake off the heartache, fear, and nervousness that was still thrumming through my veins.  But that’s not all that I was feeling.  The Power captured my heart all over again.  It was hilarious, heartwarming, sexy and extremely addicting.  Seth and Josie’s story is a must read for all paranormal lovers out there!

I didn’t . . . I didn’t deserve this with her.
I didn’t deserve her in general. – Seth

Seth continued to pull at my heartstrings.  He tried so hard to be good,  yet he had this innate ability to tap into the darkest part of himself.  It always seemed to just be a breath away, even with Josie in the picture.  But I didn’t care how dark his demons were.  And I sure didn’t care that he was judged and looked down upon by others.  Because he had the most pure feelings when it came to Josie.  He sent my heart into a tailspin with just the way he protected, cared and touched her.

There would be no room for anything else, because after this—after having her, after knowing that she was mine—there was no way I could stay away from her.
So I would do right by her.
Even if it killed me. – Seth

After how The Return ended, Seth was even more adamant about training Josie in not just hand to hand combat, but in learning to control and use all five of her elements.  The Titans were still out there, and they would try to get their hands on Josie again.  She had to learn to protect herself and be ready to go to war with them in the future.  And just like how Alex and Aiden’s training sessions were sizzling hot, Seth and Josie’s were scorching.

“I know I have the power,” she argued. “Duh.”
I arched a brow. “Yeah, you know you do, but you don’t really believe it or trust yourself.  If you did, you wouldn’t be setting every damn thing on fire every time you get horny.”
Her cheeks flushed pink. “I do not!”
I smirked.
“That was like once or twice.” She threw up her hands. “Okay, maybe four times.  I didn’t this morning.” A light sparked in her eyes. “Then again, maybe that just means you were slacking.”

By that last page, I was so proud with how far Josie had come!  She continued to find her voice while being determined to protect herself and fight right alongside with the others.  And I loved that some of her mannerisms were so relatable.  I mean she loved french fries and saw running as a necessary evil.  Hello, welcome to my life lol.  But again, I found that my favorite thing about Josie was the way she saw Seth.  Her faith and hope in him shined brightly.  She didn’t care about his past and what others thought.  She saw the good in him and believed he deserved his happily ever after, just like every one else does.

I felt bad poaching the dagger from him, but it was heavy and warm in my hand as I forced myself forward, knowing I was making the right choice. I was not a weakness that needed to be hidden away.
I was a mother-freaking demigod. – Josie

And Josie and Seth were surrounded by characters that I loved from The Covenant Series – Luke, Deacon and Solos.  But this time we got a few more additions……  (view spoiler) I loved having them back in the mix.  And seeing them through Seth and Josie’s eyes felt so very different from how we viewed them through the Covenant Series.  Eeks, you must read this!

Pressure increased in my chest and more tears snuck free. They kept falling silently, and I squeezed my eyes shut. By the time exhaustion dragged me under, I wasn’t sure who I was crying for the most. – Josie

So I closed the book in complete awe of my feelings.  While my heart is sad over some things that happened, I can’t deny how elated I still feel!  From that first page I was utterly addicted and so happy to be in a world that feels like home!  The Return and The Power are both books that I can’t wait to pick up and read all over again!

*ARC kindly provided by Spencer Hill Pres via Inkslinger in exchange for an honest review*


Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
the return titan jennifer armentrout
The Return #1

The Power Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan
The Power #2


The Struggle #3

The Prophecy #4
About Jennifer L. Armentrout:

Jennifer Armentrout JLA_Author-photo# 1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.



BOOK REVIEW: The Studying Hours (How to Date a Douchebag #1) by Sara Ney

BOOK REVIEW: The Studying Hours (How to Date a Douchebag #1) by Sara NeyThe Studying Hours (How to Date a Douchebag #1)
by Sara Ney
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


No doubt about it, Sebastian ‘Oz’ Osborne is the university’s most celebrated student athlete—and possibly the biggest douchebag. A walking, talking cliché, he has a filthy mouth, a fantastic body, and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you or anyone else thinks.

Make no mistake, Jameson Clarke may be the university’s most diligent student—but she is no prude. Spending most of her time in the hallowed halls of the library, James is wary of pervs, jocks, and douchebags—and Oz Osborne is all three.

She’s smart, sarcastic—and not what he expected.


He wants to be friends.
He wants to spend time with her.
He wants to drive her crazy.

He wants…



What can I say about this book? My friend compared it to #Nerd, and I just wholly have to disagree. Yes, there are similarities:

-Meet in Library due to tutor session type deal
-Guy tries to win girl most of book
-Guy is panty-dropper jock who can get any girl he wants
-Little quotes at the beginning of each chapter
-Good*ish type girl

And that’s where the similarities end for me. Yeah there are cute jealousies for both guys and yeah guy wants girl for real…but seriously-the amount of times the guy talks about sex in this book is staggering. No WONDER the girl won’t commit to you, bro-Every time you say anything it’s about trying to get in her damn pants. And, I’m sorry, Romeo was about WAY more than THAT. And I guess that’s why I’m comparing. I’m not being a bitch and dissing my great friend…I just couldn’t help but to compare after she mentioned they were similar. And, frankly, the biggest difference between the two??

This book didn’t have an ounce of all the cute heart and passion #Nerd had.

And it’s as simple as that. I’m sorry, H, this one just was extremely underwhelming…and not just because we only got a little time with the two together-it was just too much and not enough. I liked the guy’s jealousies and I liked how much he liked her…but it wasn’t enough to make up for all the sex talk and repetitiveness I had to go through for 60% of the book.

And I’ll leave it there, lest I keep bashing a very popular book. I think I made my pearl clutching point. 😉

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