Love by Matt de la Pena

I recently discovered that Overdrive are now offering read-along eBooks. No, this isn’t your typical audiobook, nor is it a simple narration.

You open the book, click on Start Narration and it reads the words to you. It even highlights the words as it goes along so it’s easy to follow.

I didn’t realise it at the start, but it will even turn the page when it gets to the end of the page!

Its almost handsfree reading!

But enough about that. The book that I found, was Love by Matt de la Pena. I wanted a cute short story to read to by daughter at bed time. She’s only one. She fell asleep pretty quickly but me, I was in awe.

The read-along I heard was by the  author. I heard how the story was meant to be read, how it was meant to be heard. That was the pinnacle of my experience.

The story really tugs at the heart strings. It’s so full of emotion and shares all the ways we experience love. The story resounded with me as I snuggled in bed with my daughter.

The last page was my fave: It’s not luck you’ll leave with, it’s love.

I hope that when my daughter leaves home, that saying is how she will feel. Knowing that she is safe & has that security to know we will be here for her always.

The best book I have read since ‘Guess How Much I Love You’. Children’s books are the best.

xoxo Shaz

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Series: standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Books
Released: 10 May 2012, first published in 2006
Length: 227 pages
Format: paperback from the library

Book Blurb: Katherine V thought boys were gross Katherine X just wanted to be friends Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail K-19 broke his heart When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.
On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

My Thoughts: There is something different about John Green’s books that make them different to other young adult books.

This is a coming of age story. One that I’m not sure too many people could identify with. Only dating people with the same name. Being super quick at anagramming almost everything into structurally sound sentences. Having parents let their teen-aged son take off on a quest of self-discovery after a girl dumped him. But there is something about Colin Singleton that’s relate-able, and it isn’t just the heartbreak.

One thing I really like about this story: even though there are plenty of mathematical algebraic(?, that’s me pretending to be smart) equations, by no means does it leave you feeling dumb. They are well explained by Colin and the footnotes. And the footnotes, I think they added to this story’s originality. It doesn’t make for good listening. A friend was listening to the audiobook and couldn’t quite understand what was going on, so make sure you have a physical copy with you.

I’m finding with John Green novels, he takes the boy meets girl expectations and gives them a simple twist. Like with TFIOS & Paper Towns, you would move mountains for that happy ending but when those final pages come around, you are happy with where the story has gone. It’s not the “happily ever after” you expect from YA.

My Rating:

5 Leaf

Author Stalker Links
I honestly think everyone knows John Green. He’s pretty popular on the YouTubes with his bro Hank and in the book world, especially among the YA readers. But just incase you live under a rock, you can find John with these links:

Website | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Final Comments: If you’ve read John Green and haven’t read this one, make sure you do! If you haven’t read anything by John Green, this is a good one to ease you into the heartbreak that is TFIOS.

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Review: unDefeated by J.C. Valentine

Series: Wayward Fighters #3
Genre: Romance
Released: 26 May 2015
Length: 310 pages
Format: I read an ARC e-book

***I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my rating.***

» Book Blurb
Spencer Bradley ruins everything he touches. Addicted to gambling, he’s lied, cheated, and stolen to get what he wants. Now, in order to protect those he cares for, he’s keeping his distance. Rehab’s taught him a lot, but when his time runs out and he finds himself with nowhere to turn, he seeks help from the one person he’s capable of destroying.

Olivia Carter fell in love the day she met Spencer Bradley. Despite him being responsible for the downfall of his best friend’s career and landing himself in rehab, she can’t bring herself to stay away—even if it means risking her own recovery.

» First Sentence
Addiction comes in many forms – alcohol, drugs, sex.

» My Initial Reaction
Addiction is rough. This is gonna be an emotional ride.

» My Review
I don’t know how I made it to the end. This book was so emotional!

UnDefeated is the 3rd book in the Wayward Fighters series. I haven’t read the first 2, but don’t let that hold you back from diving into this book. It’s a great standalone too. Knockout, the first book in this series, is available on Kindle for free! Grab it today!

Olivia, has been battling her life threatening addiction to cut herself. Spencer, straight out of rehab for his gambling addiction, jumps back into Olivia’s life. He has no-one else to turn to and Olivia just wants Spencer back in her life, her own health be damned.

They have to work out how to deal with their own addictions and how to communicate with eachother so they don’t go on a backward spiral. It’s not smooth sailing which makes for a quick read.

I like Liv’s character. She works 2 jobs to get by, hairdressing & bar tending. She’s got her weaknesses and strengths, but she takes a risk to keep Spencer in her life, any way she can get.

I feel like J.C. Valentine really researched these addictions. I’ve not dealt with these struggles in my life but the characters and story lines are realistic.

I definitely need to get my hands on the first two books of this series to know where Liv & Spencer’s story begins. I’m sure knowing the full background, this could become a 5 star rating.

» My Rating
4 Leaf

» Author Stalker Links
J.C. Valentine is a pen name for Brandi Salazar. Brandi started writing poetry, short stories, and novels at a very young age, weaving tales to share with her friends that were geared toward making them laugh. Today her writing habits reflect that, ranging from young adult to urban fiction romance, but no matter how different her works may be, you can always find a healthy dose of action, romance, and humor. Brandi lives in the Northwest with her husband, their children, and pets. As a university student, she studies literature, which goes well with her dream to become an editor. Brandi entertains a number of hobbies including reading and photography, but her first love is writing fiction.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

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Review: Dante’s Fire by Jennifer Probst

Dante's Fire

Series: Standalone
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Cool Gus Publishing
Released: 26 August 2014
Length: 130 pages, according to the pbk on goodreads
Format: I read an ARC ebook from LibraryThing

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my rating.

» Book Blurb
It’s Time To Meet A New Kind Of Hero…

Dante Stark has a dark secret–a legacy left to him by his father which is both a blessing and a curse. A traumatic experience as a small boy gave him special powers of healing, but it comes with a price. Destined to wander the world alone to heal others, he’s accepted his fate. Until Selina Rogers forces him to confront his deepest fears, erotic desires, and question his capacity to love.

Selina Rogers has made a name for herself at Inferno Enterprises. She’s tough, confident and prepared to succeed. She’s also built a world she believes is safe, until she’s attacked and then saved by a masked stranger. As he helps her heal physically and emotionally, she becomes fascinated by his overwhelming power and gentle touch. Determined to show Dante the love he’s been denying himself, Selina surrenders her heart, and dreams of a future with the mysterious man who completes her.

But will his dark legacy destroy them…or save them both…

» First Sentence
DANTE Stark lifted his hands and pressed palms flat against the windowpane.

» My Initial Reaction
This is not your every day super power! How intriguing. Some people are gonna call Dante a very, very lucky man.

» My Review
Dante has been given this unusual super power. He marks men that try to sexually abuse women. The mark stops them from repeating such a horrible thing. Dante gets “called” at any hour of the night and decided to personally never fall in love. I agree that it wouldn’t be fair to ask for a commitment from someone when he himself couldn’t offer the same.

In real life, Dante is the CEO of Inferno Enterprises, a fitting name for his heated gift. But instead of being in charge, he poses as their mailman Daniel. I like this about Dante. He’s a little mysterious, just like all good superheroes.

Life isn’t quite going the way he plans when Selina, a friend from the office becomes the target of sexual abuse. Dante is there to pick up the pieces and help her overcome the abuse. The story is quite fast paced and by no means boring! Jennifer Probst is an excellent writer. It doesn’t make light of how sexual abuse can affect a woman.

“I love you, Dante Stark. I want the chance to be with you. When you disappear to help another woman, I want to be waiting for you. I want to be the one to guide you back into the light. Don’t you think we both deserve to be happy?”

It’s quite open-ended. Dante happens to find someone who accepts his power and the intimacy that’s involved. Dante’s Fire is a standalone but there is definitely room for a sequel! I certainly couldn’t be as accepting as Selina is. Oh and hello to Sage. That could be a side-kick character right there.

» My Rating
Top marks for taking a super hero story that has been told time again and transforming a knight in shining armour into something contemporary.

5 Leaf

» Author Stalker Links

Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at the age of 12. Bound in a folder, she read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She is married, became a mother, bought a house, continued her education with a master’s in English Literature, and rescued two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

I can’t wait to read her other new adult, romance novels! Jennifer has a number of titles under her belt. Check them out!

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


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Review: Redeemed by P. C. & Kristin Cast

Redeemed (House of Night, #12)

Title: Redeemed by P.C. Cast
Series: House of Night #12
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
St Martin’s Press
Release Date: 14 October 2014
Length: 320 pages (ebook)

» Book blurb

In the final electrifying novel in the HoN series, Neferet has finally made herself known to mortals.  A Dark Goddess is loose on Tulsa and the world.  No single vampyre is strong enough to vanquish her – unless that creature has the power to summon the elements as well as the ability to wield Old Magick. Only Zoey Redbird is heir to such power…but because of the consequences of using Old Magick, she is unable to help. Find out who will win and who will lose in this epic battle of Light versus Darkness.

» First sentence:

I’ve never felt this dark.

» My Review:

FINALLY! I don’t know how I stuck with this series for so long.

The final installment is narrated by about 7 characters, mainly Zoey (protagonist) and Neferet (antagonist). It changed with the events of the book. For example, when Zoey hands herself in, we hear from Detective Marx and when Kalona fulfills his duty to Thanatos, we hear from him. It makes sense because so much happens without Zoey present.

This book is set in present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m not sure if the locations are real or based on real structures, like the Boston Avenue Church or the Mayo Hotel. The Cherokee heritage is important, in characters like Zoey’s Grandma. Their family have a spiritual connection to the Earth which greatly influences the plot.

In terms of themes, the House of Night series covers a lot. I would say identity is a common theme. The fledglings need to come to terms with who they are, where they fit in and who they will become. Each of Zoey’s friends have a purpose whether its oathbound, part of her circle, or has been blessed by Nyx. Other themes I recognize are relationships with friends, family and authority, young love, the consequences of evil doing and the power of goodness.

This series is written by mother/daughter combo, P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast. P. C. Cast has a number of titles under her belt, all are paranormal, mytholigcal in nature. I have read a romance novel by P. C. Cast, Goddess of Legend. It’s only similarity that I can think of, they are both fantasy. There are no vampires to be found. Kristin Cast has a new series, the first novel to be published this year, Amber Smoke. Still in the realm of mythology, but it seems this new series will be based on Furies.

» Final Thoughts:

I honestly don’t think this series needed to be so long, BUT… I still really liked this book. Each chapter adds a punch. There is decent build up to the big finale. There could’ve been more tie in to the previous novels, the circle using what they have learnt and using it to fight against Neferet. If this was ever made into a movie, I hope they combine novels and make it no longer than a trilogy.

The wait is over. All books are out so you don’t have to wait for months to finish the story. I would recommend this to young-mid teens. I’m in my late twenties and I wouldn’t recommend it to friends my age. I rate this novel 4 out of 5, but I would give the entire series a 3.

» My Rating:

4 Leaf


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