Monday, April 22, 2019

ARC Review: Waisted

About The Book:

  Title:  Waisted 
  Author: Randy Susan Meyers 
  Pub. Date: May 21st, 2019 
  Publisher: Atria Books 
  Pages: 288 
  Genre: Fiction, Women's Fiction 
  Rate: 3/5 stars 

Synopsis :

In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.

Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.

The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.

The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability...until they decide to take matters into their own hands.


The initial description of Waisted reminded me of Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty which came out last November. If you haven't read that yet, it was basically about nine individuals who decide to go to a 'health and wellness retreat' for separate personal reasons. So, like the description said, Alice and Daphne decide to go to a 'health and wellness retreat' (more or less) for the sake of weight loss, but unlike Nine Perfect Strangers, the women in Waisted who were attending the retreat had to agree to be filmed. Pretty soon, the ladies realize that the retreat, 'Privation', isn't what they thought it was going to be and they start to look for ways out. 

The description of this book is was really drew me in. The health and wellness retreat in Nine Perfect Strangers was really interesting, so I thought I would also be interested in the retreat called 'Privation' in Waisted. Turns out, most of the focus of this book was not with the retreat, but with the lives of the women and what they were dealing with. Alice, with her supportive family but (excuse my language) jackass of a husband and Daphne, with her unsupportive and judgmental family and gem of husband are the main focal points of this novel. 

I would have liked to see more about what really pushed Daphne and Alice to make the decision to leave their families and go to this month-long camp. We get a little bit of a backstory regarding their struggles with weight, but not enough to convince me that these women had no other choices than to go to this camp and leave their lives behind.  As someone who has been struggling with weight since the birth of my son, I really related to Alice's thoughts of "what if my husband doesn't find me attractive anymore". This book really squashed those fears from looking from the outside in. I realize "wow her husband is a jerk" after she gave him the precious gift of a daughter . 

For the first half of the novel, everyone was calling these two ladies variations of fat. At Privation, when they revealed their height and weight, they honestly weren't what I was expecting. How they were being described for the first half of the novel would make anyone think they were pushing maybe 300 pounds. However, in reality, one of the women wasn't even close to 200. Also, at Privation, they make them exercise a crazy, crazy amount that nobody could sustain. Let alone starving and not taking any vitamins, those ladies' bodies would start to shut down (there is no way they could last for like 4 weeks).

Waisted really resonated with me due to the fact that the subject matter hit close to home. I loved that it gave a voice to a lot of things people think about themselves but are just too afraid to say (like being consumed by the weight on the scale day after day). Unfortunately, I feel like the short length of the book really prevented in-depth characters and a thorough plot from coming through. That's why I'd rate this novel a 3/5. What do you think about this topic? Do you think this novel would interest you or are you going to pass on this one? 

Thank you to Atria for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Monday, March 18, 2019

Book Review: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)

About The Book:

  Title:  King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) 
  Author: Leigh Bardugo 
  Pub. Date: January 29th, 2019 
  Publisher: Imprint 
  Pages: 527 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
  Rate: 4/5 stars 

Synopsis :

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


"They would build a new world together. But first they had to burn the old one down.

King of Scars is the first book in the new 'Nikolai Duology' by Leigh Bardugo.  King of Scars picks up pretty much right after the ending of Crooked Kingdom. With that being said, while this is being marketed as new duology, I feel that if you read this without reading the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, you will be supremely lost. Which I feel is different from the Six of Crows duology, which you could most certainly read without reading the Grisha Trilogy first. Ok so anyway, King of Scars is basically just a continuation of the Grisha world we love. We get perspectives from Zoya and Nikolai, as well as from our favorite dreg, Nina Zenik! 

Getting to read these characters again was comforting in a familiar type of way. I enjoyed seeing their development. I once hated Zoya and now came to love her (which was probably what Bardugo was intending). We not only get to see her strength and determination, but her vulnerability as well. As for Nikolai, he was just as likable as he was throughout the Grisha trilogy but we do get to see another side of him, namely a more modest side. I didn't care much for the new characters in the book, I was mostly focused on Nina/Nikolai/Zoya and when that fourth perspective was added, I routinely found myself bored with that character. 

"Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not?
Who will speak for me?" 

As far as the story goes, I like that it entwined plots from both Ruin and Rising and Crooked Kingdom. Nina is trying to track down some Grisha parem victims in Fjerda while Nikolai is struggling to maintain control of Ravka and the beast within himself. The pacing really varied in this book and some of the plots did seem a little messy and directionless to me. So, the characters were definitely the highlight of this for me, which really surprised me because plot typically shines for Bardugo.  

All in all, I'm a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and all that is Grisha. I wouldn't say that King of Scars is my favorite book from the Grisha world, but I loved it all the same. It was great seeing some of our favorite originals we haven't seen since Ruin and Rising. I will definitely be pre-ordering the next book in the duology because I am so invested in the characters and can't wait to see what happens next! 

- Jocelyn

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4)

About The Book:

  Title:  Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4) 
  Author: Matt de la Pena 
  Pub. Date: March 5th, 2019 
  Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers  
  Pages: 336 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Comics, Retellings 
  Rate: 3/5 stars 

Synopsis :

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

His power is beyond imagining.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet.

But power comes with a price.

Lately it's difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark's not the only one hiding something. Teaming up with his best friend, Lana Lang, he throws himself into the pursuit of the truth. What evil lies below the surface of his small town? And what will it cost Clark to learn about his past as he steps into the light to become the future Man of Steel? Because before he can save the world, he must save Smallville.


"You have found refuge on Earth, where you will love and protect. 
But you must never forget where you came from. And who you were meant to be." 

Superman: Dawnbreaker is the (to my knowledge) final book in the DC Icons series. I was looking forward to teenage Clark Kent more than I was for Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne, and Diana Prince mostly because I couldn't wait to get in his quiet, good-natured head. We know Selina and Bruce dabble in some illegal extracurricular activities, but all extraterrestrialness aside, Clark can be described as the boy next door! 

In Superman: Dawnbreaker, the town of Smallville is all getting riled up when residents start to go missing, particularly those of Hispanic descent. When some questionable businesses also move into town during the same time, Clark and Lana start to explore the possibility that they are linked together. The plot had very good pacing and I was never bored while reading. 

As far as characters go, this is where I would have liked to see more. Clark's perspective was great, but I was hoping that de la Pena would make it more of a teenage Clark as opposed to calm, cool, and collected adult Clark. A teenage superhero without angst? I mean... most teenagers have angst! I wanted an angst-y Clark! I loved the name drop of Lois Lane towards the end of the novel. I thought it was really remarkable but still subtle enough (unlike Luthor). 

Lex Luthor played a minor role in this novel, which was definitely fitting seeing as how this is more of a Superman origin. Everything portrayed from his character was very characteristic of him, but I felt as though he was just there for show (oh look, here's Clark's arch nemesis  Lex Luthor). He really didn't sway the storyline and honestly his appearance made no difference. His name could have been exchanged with anyone elses or his character deleted entirely and it wouldn't have changed the outcome or the story that much. With a character of that caliber, I would have liked to see him do something other than be a placeholder. The secondary characters were ok - but let's be honest, we all really loved hearing from the famous DC characters we are already familiar with. 

Overall, I would have liked to see a more unique spin on Clark Kent. Everything in this novel was what I could have already assumed of Clark. I wanted a more personal take on school, family, and friends. I am sad that this is the last DC Icons novel because I really was a fan of the series as a whole. While this one didn't necessarily jump out at me, I wish there would be more of these books because I truly did enjoy reading about these classic DC characters. Have you read any of the DC Icons series? Which has been your favorite? 

- Jocelyn

Monday, January 21, 2019

Top Books of 2018

Is it 2019 already? You know what that means - yearly favorites! While my goal was initially to read 100 books in 2018, I subtracted 10 from my Goodreads goal because 90 was a little more attainable for me. So here it is, my favorite books of 2018! Did any of these make your list as well? What were your favorite books? Leave a comment below! 

Jocelyn's Favorite Books of 2018 

8) The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White 

I must say, this was one creepy retelling of Frankenstein! Kiersten really knows how to spin a dark story. This was my first book by Ms. White and was not my last (I read Slayer shortly after ). She definitely has a new fan of her stories after 2018! 

7) Any Man by Amber Tamblyn 

While this was a short read, it was anything but easy. It was frightening, emotional, and literally unlike anything I've ever read before. This was an allegory for gender roles and assumptions and it just has to be read. Trust me on this one. 

6) The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke 

Another retelling is in my favorites for this year - this time a gender-bent Beowulf retelling. The relationships in this book were so wonderful - some romantic, some platonic, all amazing! I'm a big Tucholke fan. I really can't wait to see what she comes out with next. 

5) The Tatooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris 

Marketed as a historical fiction based off the dialogue liberties taken by the author, this true story about the holocaust was deeply disturbing yet extremely informative about how politics played out in the camp. This book will be very traumatic for some people, so just a warning! However, I feel like this book tells an important story of hope during a very dark time period. 

4) The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black

Holly Black - Queen of Faerie is back with a new series. While this book came out super super early in 2018, I still remember how sucked in I was. However, writing this now, all I can think of is how amazing the follow up, The Wicked King (which I read after BEA) is. HOLY CRAP. You need to read this series because The Wicked King literally just came out like last week and needs to be talked about asap. That ending, though?! 

3) An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1) by Charlaine Harris 

I was SO stoked this year that one of my favorite authors released a new fantasy series. An Easy Death is the first in a series of fantasy western novels! This book had such a perfect setting, romance, and mystery, like only Charlaine knows how to do! I highly recommend giving this series a try! 

2) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James 

So, this book hit me like a ton of bricks! I read this so fast and found myself turning the pages so quickly. A SciFi Thriller YA set in space? This was AMAZING and full of plot twists. I really hope Lauren James has more up her sleeve for 2019! 

1) Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) by Neal Shusterman 

The second book in a series is never good as the first, is it? I'm not sure if it's because length of the time you went between reading them takes a toll, if the plot drops off, or what ... but this follow-up was not like that at all. It was PHENOMENAL and my all time favorite book of 2018. I'm obsessed with this series and can't stop thinking about wanting the third book in the series to be out NOW. If you haven't started this series, I highly recommend you do so. It is amazing. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

ARC Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

About The Book:

  Title:  Girls of Paper and Fire 
  Author: Natasha Ngan 
  Pub. Date: November 6th, 2018 
  Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books 
  Pages: 336
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT 
  Rate: 4/5 stars 

Synopsis :

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.


Girls of Paper and Fire is the start of new fantasy series by Natasha Ngan. It stars Lei, who is forcefully taken from her small village in order to serve the Demon King as a Paper Girl. (Usually) 8 Paper Girls are chosen yearly to serve the King and all of his nightly desires. Typically only higher class paper-caste are chosen, but Lei's golden eyes captured the attention of royal consorts and is given as a gift to the King. A threat on the only family she has left is keeping Lei from escaping, but she looks for other ways to defy the royalty at every turn. 

"The fear might be strong.
But my hatred is stronger." 

Like nothing I've ever read before, this book was completely original. There are 3 castes in this book, Paper, Steel, and Moon. Paper castes, like Lei, are full human and considered the lowest of the low. The members of the Steel caste are a combination of demon and human, while those in the Moon caste have full demon traits. The demons in this book look part human/part animal. The Moon and Steel castes treat the Paper caste like trash, calling them horrible names and giving them away as slaves. The world building is so lush, it's absolutely phenomenal. Miss Ngan submerges you in this new world and it's so wonderfully horrifying that you won't want to get out.

When Lei is taken to the palace, she doesn't expect to fall for anyone, let alone another one of the Paper Girls. Girls of Paper and Fire includes a romantic f/f relationship and so much diversity. The characters are vibrant, even the secondary characters in this novel are so well-developed it feels like you really know them. 

Girls of Paper and Fire is a beautifully written, Asian-inspired fantasy. It ties up many plot lines, but leaves some open for the next book in the series. One of those being the Demon Queen! I really want to learn more about her and her secret life. Considering this book is going to be marketed as YA, I was definitely surprised at the explicit content. It reminded me of ACOTAR in the way it has quite a bit of YA/NA crossover appeal. Anyway, I definitely recommend this book for all of those YA fantasy fans out there. I know you'll love this book as much as I did. Are you excited for Girls of Paper and Fire? Are you planning to preorder? 

Thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review
- Jocelyn

Monday, September 24, 2018

ARC Review: An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1)

About The Book:

  Title:  An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1) 
  Author: Charlaine Harris 
  Pub. Date: October 2nd, 2018 
  Publisher: Saga Press 
  Pages: 320 
  Genre: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy 
  Rate: 5/5 stars 

Synopsis :

Gunnie Lizbeth Rose has been hired by a pair of Russian sorcerers as both their local guide and muscle through the small towns of East Texas as they search for a distant relative of an infamous sorcerer whose bloodline can help save their emperor-in-exile as an ever increasing number of assassins tries to stop them.

After the assassination of FDR in the 1930s, the US collapses and is picked off by the UK, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. We find ourselves in the southwestern states now known as Texoma. It is here that the gunnie Lizbeth Rose tries to piece out a life, running security on runs from Texoma, across the border to Mexico where work and prospects are stronger. When two Russian magicians come looking for a man named Alex Karkarov, they hire Lizbeth to find him or his family, but there are problems: The man they're looking for is dead, but he has a daughter they now need to find, as an ever-growing set of sorcerers and gunnies do not want them to succeed. It’s a good thing Lizbeth is a deadly gunfighter; too bad she hates sorcerers, even the ones she has to learn to rely on.


When I found out Charlaine Harris was releasing a new fantasy series, I literally could NOT contain my excitement. I am a huge fan of her work and cherish both her Sookie series and Midnight Texas series. An Easy Death takes place in an alternate history where the Holy Russian Empire is still ruled by Tsars (THE ROMANOVS, EVERYONE!) and the US is no longer United. Our main character, Lizbeth Rose, is a gunnie in the Southwest (now known as Texoma) and she is tasked to find someone who could save young Alexi Romanov's life.

A major theme in this book are the Russian wizards. Outside of the Holy Russian Empire, citizens aren't a huge fan of them. In the book, you'll see themes where they are not widely accepted and even banned from some restaurants, hotels, etc. Lizbeth is obviously cautious when these two wizards hire her to be their gunnie, but she's not about to turn down their money. I look forward to learning more about the broken US and Holy Russian Empire in the future books. There is a lot of world building going on. We have territories New Britannia (the original colonies), Dixie (current southeast of US), The Holy Russian Empire (modern California and Oregon), New America (Canada Controlled), and Texoma (southwestern US). It's a lot to come to grip on for a 320 page novel, but  I definitely feel like we will learn more of the HRE in the next book because of that ending!

Lizbeth is a great main character. She's tough, snarky, and doesn't care what people think of her. Unlike a lot of fantasy heroines, she actually has flaws and isn't annoying. She is definitely the type of heroine who can drive a series. I can't wait to read more involving her!! The other two important characters in this novel are the two Russian wizards who hired her to be their Gunnie - Eli and Paulina. From the Holy Russian Empire, they are mysterious and have lots of secrets they don't want to reveal. Paulina reminds me of Pam from the Sookie Series! She's funny with that dry sense of humor. Eli, is a hot Russian wizard that reminds of Eric Northman. Ok - I'm reaching here a bit, but I LOVE Charlaine's characters!

Ultimately, An Easy Death is something new and fresh from seasoned author, Charlaine Harris. I'm not sure how many books are going to comprise this series, but I can't wait to see what comes next for Gunnie Rose. Sex, magic, and adventure - you can't go wrong with this novel. If you are a Charlaine Harris fan or love Urban Fantasy novels with magic, I hope you'll give this book a try.

Thank you to Saga Press for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review
- Jocelyn

Monday, July 9, 2018

ARC Review: Baby Teeth

About The Book:

  Title:  Baby Teeth 
  Author: Zoje Stage 
  Pub. Date: July 17th, 2018
  Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
  Pages: 320 
  Genre: Adult, Thriller, Mystery 
  Rate: 2/5 stars 

Synopsis :

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.


Baby Teeth is being marketed as a thriller involving Hanna, a (selective) mute girl, who hates her mother so much that she wants her gone so that she can spend all her time with her dad. Meanwhile, her father refuses to believe that Hanna has any ill intentions toward her mother. While this novel is being marketed as a thriller, I didn't find anything thrilling about it.

The synopsis of this book is literally the entire story. It never progressed past that, and went in circles of 1. Hanna planning to hurt/kill her mom, 2. Her mom reacting to the situation, and 3. Hanna realizing it didn't work and goes back to the drawing board. Obviously, I got very bored after awhile. But I stuck with it because I thought something exciting was going to happen.

I will say that Hanna was a creepy, albeit believable little girl. Her lack of empathy turned her into a pretty scary character. Suzette, her mom, was at the end of her rope and extremely confused why her daughter hates her so much and is so defiant towards her but doesn't act this way towards her dad. I do wonder why she wouldn't just put video cameras around to catch her daughter's behavior if it was so concerning to her that her husband wouldn't believe her? The dad, Alex, is just so clueless that there is nothing interesting about him.

While I liked the characters and writing of this book, I was disappointed that there really wasn't any type of resolution or fulfillment to the plot. I felt like we were just reading a big short story with no climactic aspects. This book is being marketed as shocking and disturbing. I guess at times Hanna could be disturbing but it wasn't shocking at all. Because I liked the writing, I would definitely try something else Ms. Stage writes, but, unfortunately, Baby Teeth was not a hit with me.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn