Reading

Nocturna By Maya Montayne | A Book Review

Title: Nocturna

Author: Maya Montayne

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the first in a trilogy called A Forgery of Magic written by a debut author from the alternating perspectives of a prince and a thief.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love the cover because it’s gorgeous. The premise sounded promising. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the world-building at the beginning.

Characters: The two main protagonists, Alfie and Finn, are flawed but likeable. I adore when two characters don’t get along right away, but later become allies. As a result, I liked their development throughout the novel. The villain is so evil. Even the secondary characters are interesting and dynamic. Kudos to the author for not only including great backstory but also diversity.

Quote:

“Who you are when you’re angry is still you.”

Writing: The fantastical aspects are fantastic. I was fond of the magic system, especially because of the Spanish words. I’m also here for the Latino-inspired elements. I enjoyed the banter and comic relief, specifically between the two protagonists. There’s not really any romance, which I’m more than happy about. Then again, I do adore Alfie and Finn separately, so I wouldn’t mind seeing them together by the end of the series. Also, Alfie loses his brother, Dez, and I think writing about grief is a very difficult thing to do, but Montayne does such a good job. Some scenes were a bit more violent than I expected. The author does not hold back in that regard.

Final thoughts: The ending left me wanting more in the best way possible. I need the next book right now since I crave closure. I highly recommend Nocturna, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy and not big on romance.


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Reading

Finish First By Scott Hamilton | A Book Review

Title: Finish First: Winning Changes Everything

Author: Scott Hamilton

Genre: Nonfiction

About the book: The author, an Olympic gold medal winner in figure skating, talks about winning.

I received a free copy from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I looked at the premise and found it interesting. I don’t follow skating, so I didn’t know who the author was, but I liked the title. It’s also shorter than I expected at less than 200 pages.

Content: Hamilton writes about finishing first. He talks about this own life experiences, bringing up challenges he faced such as cancer and how he overcame them. The author’s likeable. I like his attitude even when the odds were stacked against him. Hamilton offers general advice that could apply to almost anyone in every field. It’s a very inspirational read broken into several chapters. I can imagine some of these passages would make for a great motivational speech. That being said, sometimes there was a little repetition.

Quote:

“Trust isn’t built in one interaction or two or three. It’s built in the day-to-day moments of life.”

Writing: The chapters are short and so are most of the sentences. This book is a good starting point for those looking to make small changes to their life. The author includes some biblical passages and mentions God.

Final thoughts: If you’re a fan of Hamilton, check out Finish First. I would recommend it even if you have no idea who he is, but you’re looking for a story to inspire you.


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Reading

The Debt Free Graduate By Murray Baker | A Book Review

Title: The Debt Free Graduate: How To Survive College Or University Without Going Broke

Author: Murray Baker

Genre: Personal Finance

About the book: It’s a guide on saving money for students pursuing higher education.

First impressions: I’ve had this book for so long, but I never got around to reading it until now. I figured I would before I graduate from university in June.

Content: The book is divided into several chapters focusing on different aspects of life from eating to traveling and everything in between. It was published over a decade ago, so some of the information isn’t as up to date anymore. That said, I found it fascinating to see how much the world has changed, especially in regards to technology. Baker offers some good tips on how to save money nonetheless.

Quote:

“The good news is that you can still spend wisely, and save, without giving up your pleasures and passions.”

Writing: The author adds humour and funny anecdotes to make the read more interesting. He makes topics like taxes and investments accessible, even easy to understand for the average reader. The book is a little over 300 pages. The chapters aren’t too long, and sometimes Baker gives a brief summary at the end of them. He isn’t too general or specific either.

Final thoughts: Nowadays you could probably find a lot of tips about money online, but The Debt Free Graduate is still a solid resource for those in school. I recommend the book to high school, college, university students and even parents with kids in academia.


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Reading

Nil Unlocked By Lynne Matson | A Book Review

Title: Nil Unlocked

Author: Lynne Matson

Genre: Dystopia

About the book: It’s the second novel in a series about a group of teenagers stuck on an island called Nil, and they can only escape using gates.

First impressions: The premise interested me. I didn’t realize it was part of a series. I thought the novel was a standalone, so I went in having no idea what already happened. That’s one of the reasons why I had a hard time getting into the story.

Characters: There were a lot of people to remember. I’d recommend reading the first book beforehand. That said, I appreciate the racial diversity and the different personalities. The main protagonists, Skye and Rives, grew on me. I would’ve liked to learn more about the secondary characters.

Quote:

“Notice what others ignore.”

Writing: The chapters are longer at the beginning but get shorter near the end. It alternates between Skye’s and Rives’s perspectives in the first person. The romance also builds as the plot unfolds.

Final thoughts: The ending is my favourite part. It ties up many loose ends.

I probably would’ve enjoyed the novel more if I read the first book. The novel is weird in a good way.

If you’re interested in fantastical island survival stories, you may enjoy Nil Unlocked.


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Blogging

10 Book Blogger Commandments

  1. Thou shalt read books thou wants to.
  2. Thou shalt write honest reviews.
  3. Thou shalt disclose the books thou received for free.
  4. Thou shalt respect bloggers.
  5. Thou shalt never sell ARCs.
  6. Thou shalt give thyself more credit.
  7. Thou shalt not steal the ideas of others.
  8. Thou shalt take care of thyself.
  9. Thou shalt live thy life.
  10. Thou shalt blog for thyself.
Reading

Secrets At Cedar Cabin By Colleen Coble | A Book Review

Title: Secrets At Cedar Cabin

Author: Colleen Coble

Genre: Romantic Suspense

About the book: It’s the third novel in a series about Bailey Flemming who is running for her life after her mother gets murdered, and Lance Phoneix who is looking for his sister after she ran away from home as a teenager.

I received a free copy from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The premise piqued my interest. I like the title and cover. I didn’t even realize this was the third book, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Characters: One drawback of not reading the rest of the series is I had a tough time keeping track of all the characters. Bailey and Lance are likeable though.

Quote:

“Life had been coming at her from every direction…”

Writing: It’s told in the third person, alternating between various character’s viewpoints. The descriptions included a lot of adverbs.

While I enjoyed the suspense, I didn’t love all the romance. Some of the dialogue felt unrealistic or cliché, especially the romantic moments between Bailey and Lance.

The chapters are short and suspenseful. Many of them end on a cliffhanger. I enjoyed seeing the plot play out.

The novel sheds light on the issue of sex trafficking. It also references God and religion.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends. There’s even an epilogue. Although the book answers some lingering questions, the ending unfolded quickly.

If you like romantic suspense, Secrets At Cedar Cabin has a lot of both.


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Personal Reflection

1 Year After I Was Hit By A Car

It’s been exactly one year since I got hit by a car.

On this day in 2018, I had class in the afternoon. I should’ve been home in the early evening. I didn’t get back until it was dark outside. Thankfully on February 6, 2019, I got home safe and sound.

I still think about all the things that happened. How the car slammed into my right leg, how I fell to the ground on my left elbow. Hearing the sirens grow louder. Riding to the hospital in the back of an ambulance. Waiting and more waiting. Having X-rays done. The paperwork and pain that followed. Every phone call to the police and insurance companies afterwards.

I doubt I’ll forget anytime soon. But I’ve come a long way. And despite all the setbacks, I’m so proud of myself.

I survived. I was able to walk away. I can walk and run and dance today. I hope I never take these blessings for granted.

I had some help along the way. I know no one else can possibly understand how I felt, not without experiencing everything I did. But I want to thank someone special. A small act of kindness made a big difference in my life.

Thank you for giving me hope when I needed it the most. Thank you for helping me more than you’ll ever know. Thank you for making me smile and laugh again. Thank you for pulling me out of hell. Thank you for the memories I’ll cherish forever. Thank you for everything.

This post has been incredibly difficult to write. I keep editing my thoughts before I even type them out.

More than anything, I hope one day I can tell the story I need to tell, and do it justice. After all, this isn’t someone else’s story. It’s my own.

Reading

You Must Not Miss By Katrina Leno | A Book Review

Title: You Must Not Miss

Author: Katrina Leno

Genre: Young Adult

About the book: It’s a standalone novel about a teenager named Magpie Lewis who creates a world called Near that comes to life.

I received an advanced review copy from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The premise sounded interesting. I like the title, cover, and chapter titles.

I didn’t quite know what I was getting into, but the beginning does a good job in setting up the rest of the novel.

Characters: Magpie could be considered an anti-hero. I’m all for anti-heroes, and I felt like she was more relatable than likeable. She is a teen who has been wronged by everyone around her and wants to get revenge.

I kept reading Magpie as Maggie, but I appreciate more uncommon or unique names, especially if they have a special meaning to the story. It took me a while to warm up to her. I didn’t connect with Magpie right away. By the end, I finally understood where her anger came from.

I’m a fan of the diversity with transgender and bisexual characters.

Quote:

“Everybody has a reason to want to change their lives.”

Writing: Leno doesn’t hold back. She explores a lot of important issues. There is also mention of sexual assault. There’s a bit of romance but not too much.

Final thoughts: The ending is weird in a good way. I’m still not sure what to make of it.

The novel isn’t for everyone, but if you love anti-heroes seeking revenge in a contemporary setting with fantastical elements, don’t miss You Must Not Miss.


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