Review | Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko

Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps!

Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.

It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.

When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl.

But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways.

To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was not expecting to fly through this one as fast as I did, but it was definitely a one sitting read. I really have a soft spot for Zee as she tries to navigate school, friendships, bullies, the death of her mother and absence of her father and more. Elijah was also a wonderfully crafted character as he dealt with the pressure he experienced at home and with expectations that are laid upon him. A lot of the characters in this story had clear voices and were able to be seen easily in the mind’s eye as they went about their daily lives while also trying to figure out what was happening in their little town. There are a lot of real issues that kids deal with featured in this book and honestly I think a lot of people in the target audience would be able to see themselves in at least one of the characters.

Malinenko’s writing is easy to read and flows really well, while there are clear breaks between chapters and scenes, everything flows together really well. I also felt that the three main characters she put together played off each other really well, even if they struggle to be friendly at times. This is definitely a great spooky middle grade that is fun for young readers while still having depth and real world issues woven in.

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Ally Malinenko is a poet, novelist, and librarian living in Brooklyn, New 

York, where she pens her tales in a secret writing closet before dawn each day. Connect with Ally on her website at www.allymalinenko.com

Thanks so much to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review. Make sure to check back on release day, August 10th, for a Q&A with Ally!

Happy reading!

Q&A | Alexandria Rizik

Happy release day to 21 Questions by Alexandria Rizik! To celebrate its release I’m excited to bring you all a Q&A I was able to have with Alexandria about the book and her writing experience/process. If you haven’t already make sure you check out my review for 21 Questions. Also, huge thanks to Alexandria for answering my questions and thank you to Sparkpress for reaching out to me about reviewing this title!

Alexandria Rizik is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of two books, the poetry collection Words Written in the Dark and the children’s book Chocolate Milk. She was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she was brought up by a large Armenian family. She received her bachelor of arts in English literature from Arizona State University. Alexandria’s love for writing began when she was a young child: her aunt bought her a journal and told her to write her a story, and the rest is history. Her favorite part about writing is being able to write the happily ever after that doesn’t always happen in real life. Besides writing, Alexandria loves yoga, wine, and family time. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Learn more at https://www.alexandriarizik.com.

Now, let’s get to the questions!

It says that this book is based on some of your own experiences, could you share a little bit about that?

Yes, this story was inspired by my first real relationship and breakup when I was seventeen. The only way I could get through it was by writing. It started as a screenplay that I wrote. I love film and cinema and was just getting into screenwriting when I was going through this breakup. But eventually I adapted it into a book. A lot of the scenes, like the haunted house scene, movie theater, the drive-in theater are based off of real events (obviously I exaggerated them to an extent). My ex-boyfriend’s family was kind of odd and being a writer with a very vivid imagination, I concocted this story that they were drug dealers and using him to deal to a high school clientele. Looking back, I sound crazy and they were probably just reserved, private people (as opposed to my crazy Armenian family). But that’s where the plot of the story stemmed from. 

How long did the writing process for this book take?

So, I started writing the screenplay at seventeen. I even submitted it to a few contests. But, a few years later I adapted it into a novel. It’s evolved so much since the first draft. So overall, it’s been a ten year process from beginning to end. 

What are your five must haves while writing?

My five must haves while writing are either coffee or wine, (depending on the time of day), a nice fall-scented candle, obviously my computer to write on, sometimes headphones to listen to music, and I also love using Pinterest. It draws inspiration. 

Do you have any upcoming books in process?

Yes! I’m always writing something but what I’m focusing on mostly right now is the sequel to 21 Questions, titled 21 Confessions and also another book I’ve been working on for a while titled Mi Amor. I also just finished a screenplay titled, Cigarettes & Other Toxic Loves. 

What is your dream project?

Oh my gosh, this is a hard one. My dream project would be adapting 21 Questions and its sequel into a Netflix series. It’s going to happen, I’m manifesting it. 

What are your favorite writing tools?

My favorite writing tools are my iPad or computer (or my typewriter if I’m working on poetry) and my copy of The Emotion Thesaurus

If you could describe Kendra and Brock in 5 words each, what would they be?

Five words to describe Kendra would be independent, determined, forgiving, awkward, and innocent. For Brock, I would say fearless, misunderstood, hot, charismatic, and infamous. 

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I believe that whenever we struggle to write it’s due to our own inner self critic judging our words. To avoid “writer’s block,” it’s important to just keep writing, even if what you think you’re writing sucks, it can always be edited. But writing something is better than nothing. 

Who would you recommend this book to?

I’d recommend this book to any girl who knows what it’s like to be in love for the first time and how your heart shatters when it ends because you never thought it would. And to any girl whose ever known what it’s like to try and fix a person they care about. Sometimes people don’t want to be fixed and sometimes it’s just the wrong timing. 

Lastly, do you have anything you want to share with readers regarding this book? 

21 Questions is a story of two teenagers with young hearts and old souls. They’re beautifully flawed and I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

Check out 21 Questions on Goodreads!

Again I want to give a huge thank you to Alexandria for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope you all had as much fun reading her answers as I did. Make sure you check out 21 Questions!

Happy reading!

Review | Spooked in Seattle by Ross Allison

Seattle may not be as old as some would expect from a haunted city. But it has a large number of haunted sites and stories. Spooked in Seattle will lead readers on a journey through Seattle’s neighborhoods and reveal the city’s public locations, history, and tales of strange encounters. For those who love to venture off into corners in search of ghosts and the unknown, this book will set readers forth in the right direction.

Spooked in Seattle features more than 150 haunted locations, historic and contemporary photos, top ten questions about ghosts, Seattle’s top ten most haunted places, location maps and addresses, Seattle history and haunted facts, Seattle cemeteries and tombstone symbols, and more.

Spooked in Seattle presents many locations throughout the city that are believed to be haunted, claim to have ghosts, or have undergone investigation. All of these stories are broken down into sections based on the city’s neighborhoods with corresponding addresses to make finding them easier for the ghost enthusiasts. Maps and photos help bring to life the locations, making the Seattle ghosthunting experience easy and enjoyable.

As someone who loves reading ghost story collections, I was really excited to dive into this one. Some things that I really enjoyed about it were how in depth some of the history was, there were some really great passages about the city’s beginnings and some of the historical figures associated with the city. The haunted facts sections at the end of chapters, with information on hauntings in general, were fun to read.

That being said this book was in dire of one thing – a proofreader. There were so many instances where the author clearly meant a different word, but the word in place of it was spelled correctly, so it wasn’t something spell check would catch. Some examples were “foots steps” instead of footsteps or “leather jack” instead of leather jacket. This is something that happened many many times throughout the book that always took me out of my reading enjoyment. A second pair of eyes looking over the book before it went to publication could have fixed it – and honestly could have bumped it up to 3-4 stars for me (yes, the history and stories were that interesting). I had a really hard time though because these errors stood out to me and would slow down my reading.

If you’re looking for a book with a lot of great background information on Seattle, this is a solid pick, but be aware of the errors.

Happy reading!

Blitz | Frostbite by Lynn Rush

Frostbite
Lynn Rush
(Touch of Frost, #1)
Publication date: September 11th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Amanda gives a whole new meaning to cool…

Amanda Smith is sick of getting chased from town-to-town. So when she lands in tiny Trifle, Arizona, she hopes it’s her last move for a long time. Despite hating the smallness of the town, she settles in and finds a best friend, and even a boyfriend. Normality at its finest.

But for a girl who can shoot snow from her hands and lift a two-ton truck over her head like a bag of feathers—normal is not an option.

The scientists who murdered her mother come barreling into Amanda’s quiet life. She must decide if she’ll run again or stay and fight. The price of either choice might be her life or the lives of those she’s come to love…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

“You barely know me, Zach.” And I was so the wrong girl. He just didn’t know it.

“I’m trying to get to know you. You won’t let me.” His dark eyebrow quirked up, and his dimple flared as he offered me his totally addicting half-smile.

He was right, though. So trained to stay protected I’ve pretty much forgotten how to…be. So controlled. So…

I inched closer, which probably looked ridiculous as I scooted across the sand, but if I was going to take a chance, Zach was going to be that chance.

His eyes widened, and he leaned forward as his grip on my hand tightened. Despite the sand mixed in with our hands, his warmth still crept up my arm. But it also left a trail of goosebumps.

Do. Not. Freeze. Him.

I drew in a breath, then pushed that last inch separating us. My reward was the softest pair of lips. The contact, as light as it was, sent a shockwave through my chest, rattling down my spine. The warmth of the sun toasting us, and his now familiar scent, swarmed around my body, filling me with him.

All Zach.

I turned my head a fraction and that angle offered me even more of him. That pouty bottom lip I’d been eyeing since I’d first seen him was all mine to taste. To nibble. And I took full advantage.

Author Bio:

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author, Lynn Rush, is a full-time writer, wife, and trail runner living in the Sonoran Desert, despite her fear of rattlesnakes. Known as #TheRunningWriter, Lynn can’t resist posting epic sunrise pictures while running in the desert with her trail sisters, even if she has to occasionally hop a scorpion.

When she’s not running or writing, she’s watching movies that fuel her everlasting love of superheroes, vampires, and all things Supernatural. The books she reads usually carry the same theme, but this former college athlete loves reading sweet sports romances as well.

She’s madly in love with her Ironman husband of 20+ years who is the inspiration for what true love is. You can find her on social media as @LynnRushWrites and her website is: http://www.lynnrush.com

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Writing Update | 7/31

Hey everyone! So it’s the last day of July and you may have noticed I didn’t have a ton of writing updates the past couple weeks. I did write a few thousand words on a couple different projects, but didn’t really hit my goal. There are a number of factors or reasons that I could go into, but the crux of it is that life is life and things happen.

Plus…Cozy Grove. Playing lots of Cozy Grove.

So yeah, lots of different factors that have meant I haven’t had time to write, I’ve been trying to maintain mental health, improve overall health in general, practice some self care, etc. July was weird and went by super quickly.

So what are my plans going forward after two Camp Nano’s that didn’t go well? I’m still planning on participating in NaNoWriMo in November and planning on winning if possible but until then I might just take a break. I may do some planning as we get closer to November and I’m always jotting down notes and ideas, but until then I may just take it easy and concentrate on other things.

That’s the way I’m feeling I need to go. My day job is taking up a huge amount of time and between reading, gaming and self care I don’t really have the mental space for writing intensely. So I’m going to do a refresh and hopefully come back strong in November.

Happy writing!

Cover Reveal | Huntsman by Cambria Hebert

Huntsman
Cambria Hebert
(House of Misfits, #3)
Publication date: August 13th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Romance

Once upon a time…
A boy is sired with poison in his veins. He cannot outrun the venom in his blood, so he escapes from those who put it there. Secreting away his darkest tendencies, he grows to become a friend, brother, bartender…
Huntsman.

A man who becomes exactly what he ran from, a villain of his own making.

A villain who falls in love with the one woman he is told to steer clear of.
Enchanted by a girl with hair as brilliant as the sun and innocence as potent as his corruption.

A girl locked away in a tower and told she will never walk again.
This boy doesn’t want to be the villain in her story. For once, he desires to be a hero.
Regrettably, his past creeps in like thick, winding fog, reaching wickedly for the one he loves the most. A hero is no match for the rotten tree from which he fell.
Once a huntsman, always a huntsman.
Poisoning guaranteed.

**Huntsman is a contemporary romance novel – a modern retelling of the fairy tale Tangled. It is recommended that you read Ivory White (House of Misfits #1) before diving into Huntsman. This book does not have a cliff hanger and has a HEA

Add to Goodreads


Author Bio:

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

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Blog Tour | A Brambleberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne | Review

A new season leads to a new beginning in New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s latest heartwarming romance!

Will the secrets of her past…

Prevent her from having the future she’s always wanted?

Rosa Galvez’s attraction to Officer Wyatt Townsend is as powerful as the moon’s pull on the tides. But with her past, Rosa knows better than to act on her feelings. When Wyatt and his adorable son become Brambleberry House’s newest tenants, Rosa finds her resolve slipping. Her solo life slowly becomes a sun-filled family adventure—until dark secrets threaten to break like a summer storm.

Add A Brambleberry Summer to your Goodreads!

Buy Links | Harlequin.com | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a fun and easy read for the summer this is definitely a good one. It’s very much a low angst story and is really light and heartwarming. There are certainly some moments of tension, but nothing that is extreme. I really liked the relationship between Rosa and Wyatt, but also the one between Rosa and Wyatt’s son. I also love that it was set in Oregon, as it’s a beautiful state, so it’s pretty much an auto buy location for me. Thayne’s writing in this book was light and refreshing and made this story a perfect summer read.

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

Connect with the Author | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Blitz | On Mission by Aileen Erin

On Mission
Aileen Erin
(Off Planet, #3)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: July 27th 2021
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

“Action adventure, space drama, political schemes, and just the right hit of romance has this series turning into an absolute must-read. Whether you think you’re a fan of sci-fi or not I’d urge you to give this series a try….”Angela, Pooled Ink Reviews

From USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Erin comes the fourth book in the Aunare Chronicles

Amihanna di Aetes has finally accepted her place in the Aunare world. In a matter of weeks, she’ll be their High Queen, but no matter how hard she tries, she finds that she’s always doing the wrong thing. At least that’s what the High Council keeps telling her…

There’s only so much rejection a girl can take, which means she’s spending her afternoons trying to get out of High Council meetings. And yet, every time she leaves the council room, she sees the disappointment on her father’s face, and worse, on Lorne’s face. It pains her, but she can’t say what they want her to say.

The council is refusing to see the truth. War isn’t just upon the Aunare – they’re about to lose.

Training her guards to invade Earth is a much better use of her days. She spent too much time hiding, obeying, forcing herself to do what she had to do to survive.

She’s used up all her pretending and can only be who she is. A fighter. A leader. A warrior.

When SpaceTech attacks the Aunare colonies, she’ll do what needs to be done –she’ll fight to defend the Aunare alone if she has to. Because Amihanna is a di Aetes. She’ll never give up. Not until SpaceTech is dismantled and Jason Murtagh is dead.

Amihanna isn’t the queen the Aunare want. But she is the queen the Aunare need.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

“Go, but leave knowing that I’m okay. Earth didn’t kill me. I didn’t die on Abaddon. And SpaceTech? They’re not going to get me while I’m here. I’m going to win.” I brushed a quick kiss against his lips. “I hate that you’re having nightmares about what I played in that interview with Himani, but if you’re having them, that means that you’re forgetting that I survived. All of it. Everything. And I’ll survive whatever comes next, because I’m a di Aetes, and I never—”

“—give up,” my father said with me. “Not ever.”

I glanced at him. How did he know that’s what I always told myself to keep going? “Right.”

“I’m glad to hear that my teaching stuck with you despite everything.”

I blinked a few times. His teaching?

It made sense that my secret motto—the rallying cry that I gave myself to get through everything—came from him, but I’d never thought about it before. I don’t know why. It was obvious. Of course it came from my father. “It really did stick. Telling myself that over and over got me through a lot of tough times. When I was scared or hurt or burning to death on Abaddon, I told myself that and it made me keep going. Keep fighting. If I wasn’t dead yet, then I wasn’t going to give up. I couldn’t quit. Because I’m a di Aetes.”

“Good.” My father considered me for a moment and then his skin lit, just ever so slightly. “Good.

There was approval and pride and respect for me in that second good that made me feel like I’d done something really right.

Author Bio:

Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.

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Review | 21 Questions by Alexandria Rizik

In Laguna Beach, California, sixteen-year-old Kendra Dimes is preparing for the 2010 USA Surfing Prime West. She’ll be competing this year in honor of her brother, who was a surfer too, but who died from a drug overdose. Kendra has suffered anxiety attacks ever since her brother’s death, and surfing is what’s been helping her heal.

Brock Parker is the new bad boy at school; he deals drugs to the high school clientele for his parents, who work for a Mexican drug lord. Though Brock and Kendra come from two different worlds, sparks fly when they meet at the homecoming dance—their attraction is magnetic. When they start a game of 21 Questions one night, they begin to learn more about each other—and, surprisingly, about themselves too. But some questions aren’t answered with the whole truth; after all, Brock can’t tell Kendra what his parents do for a living.

As Kendra and Brock experience all of life’s most exciting firsts, they prove that even when life throws you the perfect storm, you can make it through and come out stronger than before. 21 Questions is a coming-of-age journey packed with passion and heartbreak, risk and romance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was not expecting this one to hit me in the feels the way it did, but it did. Don’t let the summery beach cover fool you, this is a book containing some very real and heavy issues, mostly in the realm of drug use and selling. While the romance between Kendra and Brock is very much at the forefront, it is not the only focus. We get to see both of their points of view, which I felt really added to the story and all the different aspects of subjects that were included. Being someone who actually lost their older brother to drugs Kendra’s story hit especially hard – including her coping mechanisms, internal dialogue and specific memories of her brother. So much of the events and actions of people based on past experiences (especially Kendra’s) were so spot on in those situations.

Rizik’s writing flowed really well in both viewpoints and I really enjoyed the characters she crafted. There were a couple characters that I didn’t enjoy, but even they had some redeeming factors (and all teenagers can have moments of cringiness…so realistic). There were also characters who I really felt for and wanted to know more about, which is a sure sign that they are well crafted. Keep in mind that there are definite trigger warnings for death of a loved one, drug use, drug dealing, grief and more.

Alexandria Rizik is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of two books, the poetry collection Words Written in the Dark and the children’s book Chocolate Milk. She was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she was brought up by a large Armenian family. She received her bachelor of arts in English literature from Arizona State University. Alexandria’s love for writing began when she was a young child: her aunt bought her a journal and told her to write her a story, and the rest is history. Her favorite part about writing is being able to write the happily ever after that doesn’t always happen in real life. Besides writing, Alexandria loves yoga, wine, and family time. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Learn more at https://www.alexandriarizik.com.

A huge thank you to SparkPress for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it! Come back on release day (8/3) for a Q&A that I was able to have with Alexandria!

Happy reading!

August TBR & Reading Plans

Hello everyone! Time to talk about what I plan to read in August. I may be taking on more than I can handle, but I not only did my card draws but also am going to do the Trope-ical readathon!

For my cards I drew the following:

  • 3 of Diamonds – Wheel #3: The Proposal
  • 6 of Diamonds – Horror/Thriller: Home Before Dark
  • 5 of Diamonds – YA: My Best Friend’s Exorcism
  • Jack of Spades – Under 300 Pages: Kamisama Kiss #18
  • 5 of Hearts – BotM: The Guest List
  • 6 of Hearts – Random Kindle: The Folcroft Ghosts

For the Trope-ical Readathon I tried to have as much crossover as possible with these picks as well as previous card picks. I’ve made a graphic to show my TBR for this readathon. If you want more information on it make sure to check it out on JenJenReview’s Blog post.

Who knows what I will be able to complete, we’ll just have to see. For the most part I just want to have some fun! Are any of these books on your TBR?

Happy reading!