Book Tour, Reviews

Jane Anonymous

Bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz returns with Jane Anonymous, a gripping tale of a seventeen-year-old girl’s kidnapping and her struggle to fit back into her life after she escapes.

Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.

Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?

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I was immediately intrigued when I read the synopsis of this story: a kidnapping, a girl trying to reintegrate into her life, how nuanced and difficult that must be psychologically. I had to read it. Here’s the good news: I also loved it.

Jane Anonymous has made one of the biggest emotional impacts on me that I’ve felt from a book in a long time. In fact, my favorite thing about this book is the skill, honesty, and care that the author so clearly put into the emotional backbone of this story. Jane’s terrifying journey, her confusion, her desire to feel happy again while simultaneously not understanding why she can’t- so many of us can relate to these feelings. And even more so when an author writes them with such nuance and raw empathy.

Second, I found the balance between the two storylines, one emotional and one more immediately pressing, to be a perfect fit when it came to pacing. I was stuck on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who had taken her and why, reading that story and her story of escape. And then I was stuck in my chair feeling when Jane, free at last, chooses to isolate herself from her family, confused and not sure how to go on. I wanted to reach into the book and hug this character, all of these characters, and tell them they would get through this.

Last, but definitely not least— I hesitate to say much else, so as not to spoil it, but…oh man. That twist at the end. I did not see it coming and it hit me like a sucker punch. Such a surprise and just another thing I can add to my list of reasons why you should pick up this book and check it out.

Ultimately, Jane Anonymous is an empathetic, intelligent, nuanced and important story about a young girl who is just trying to survive in this world. Her circumstances are extreme, her situation dire, but everyone can find something to relate to in this entirely too human story. Such a fun read.


Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston.

Laurie Faria Stolarz is an American author of young adult fiction novels, best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Her works, which feature teenage protagonists, blend elements found in mystery and romance novels.

Stolarz found sales success with her first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, and followed it up with three more titles in the series, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, and Red is for Remembrance, as well as a companion graphic novel, Black is for Beginnings. Stolarz is also the author of the Touch series (Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, and Deadly Little Lessons), as well as Bleed and Project 17. With more than two million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been named on various awards list.

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Enter to win 1 of 2 copies of Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz!

Giveaway is open to US residents and ends 01/21/2020.

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Book Tour, Reviews

Scavenge the Stars

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide. Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo.

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I was highly anticipating this one for 2020 and, for the most part, I got what I wanted. I enjoyed this big tale.

What was I expecting? Well, a lot, to be honest. It’s a Count of Monte Cristo retelling, which fascinated me from the get-go, it’s gender-bent and different enough to still be a fresh story, and I also have to admit I was impressed by the “perfect for fans of” authors too. I also happen to love all those authors. It seemed fated.

The book started off quick and really took off for a while. I loved the world-building and the straight-forward way of writing and dialogue throughout the story. These details made it feel easy to slip into the magical world and the passion of revenge. My favorite part was probably the main character’s inner voice: I liked the way she talked to herself and saw things from other angles than myself. This book was full of characters that I really enjoyed getting to know and I will probably read the sequel/finale (it’s a duology) just to find out what happens to everyone.

The book does struggle with pacing in some moments. It takes off like a rocket in the beginning and then drags a bit in the middle when everyone is planning and waiting. Thankfully, I do think it all came together in the end, somehow in a way I didn’t expect but also wasn’t surprising.

Overall, despite its slower moments, this was a fun, original and yet still familiar, and highly character-driven story that I enjoyed reading. If you like this story or retellings, or if you happen to like those authors (especially their character-driven) books– this might just be the book for you. Check it out! It’s available for pre-order now.



Tara Sim is the author of SCAVENGE THE STARS (Disney-Hyperion) and the TIMEKEEPER trilogy (Sky Pony Press) and writer of all things magic. She can often be found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California.

When she’s not writing about mischievous boys in clock towers, Tara spends her time drinking tea, wrangling cats, and occasionally singing opera. Despite her bio-luminescent skin, she is half-Indian and eats way too many samosas.

Tara is represented by Victoria Marini at Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

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Book Tour, Reviews

The Weight of a Soul (+ Giveaway!)

When Lena’s younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should’ve lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.

But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction.

Still, with her sister’s life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She’s willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?

Check out the Book Trailer here!

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The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi was insightful, descriptive, fun, and showcases one of my favorite things: the love between two sisters. There were a lot of things to like about this book.

Probably my favorite aspect of this story was the emphasis of Nordic Mythology. Tammi does a great job of interweaving the mythos with the rest of the world and the story and I loved that she took a spin on the topic that most don’t. The Nordic angle still feels fresh and new and original and it was fascinating to me to be introduced to myths I wasn’t already so familiar with. The viking characters care deeply about these myths and gods and I loved that the author took the time to connect that to the characters’ culture. It really was well done.

Another thing I loved is that this book starts off fast right out of the gate. Before we even get to know anyone too well, things are turned on their head and we have to reorient ourselves all over again. Usually this would be jarring, but for some reason here it worked well. I liked having to relearn the new rules of the story. The pace does lag in the middle and I struggled to get through some bits, but it picks back up near the end and ties off nicely.

The sister relationship between Lena and Fressa was another high point for this story. Their closeness felt real and relatable instead of too sweet or too formal, and the lengths they would go for each other are vast. I have a sister and reading this made me think of all the things I would do for her. I was really touched.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit overall, even though I struggled in the middle. The mythology is rich and the world is immersive, the relationships are touching and intuitive and the story was pretty interesting. If you’re a lover of myths, this might just be the next book for you.


Elizabeth Tammi was born in California and grew up in Florida, but is currently double-majoring in Creative Writing and Journalism as an undergraduate at Mercer University in Georgia. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Elizabeth at work for her university’s newspaper and literary magazine. Her other interests include traveling, caffeinated beverages, and mythology.

You can find Elizabeth online on Tumblr at (annabethisterrified), Twitter at (@ElizabethTammi), Instagram at (elizabeth_tammi), and at elizabethtammi.com.

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Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi!

Giveaway is open to US residents and ends 12/17/2019.

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See you tomorrow, bookies! x

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Reviews

Nevernight

“The brighter the light, the deeper the shadows.”

I don’t even know exactly what to say about this book because there is so much I want to say about it! Mostly I just want to shove it into people’s hands and say “READ THIS.” I’ve found that isn’t usually received well, though. Oh, well. That’s what this review is for!

Nevernight is not for the faint of heart. This epic fantasy world follows Mia Corvere, a young girl who has vowed to avenge the brutal death of her family. To do that, she finds her way to The Red Church, an establishment that has been training the most deadly and dedicated servants to carry out assassinations. Sounds light and fluffy, right? This book is like…if Divergent and Assassin’s Creed had a baby and then that baby wanted to go to Murder Hogwarts; it’s fantastic!

Nevernight follows Mia all the way through her search for revenge, through her training with her peers in the Church, through some insane and tough decisions, and then…to what comes next. (I’m not just gonna tell you, obviously.) I loved that Nevernight took the time, and length, to follow Mia all the way through what turned out to be a physical, moral, and philosophical journey. It’s a book that’s meandering in the best way: dipping in and out of moments that are shocking, delicious, and deeply complex. It’s a long book that doesn’t feel long at all, which I consider to be a crowning achievement.

I loved so much about this world that it’s hard to list it all, but the most compelling aspect of it all has to be the characters. While I personally wish Mia had been somewhat older, she is a powerhouse of a character, fierce, feminine, and focused. I love how Kristoff makes it a point of showing how different Mia is from other girls her age but also how she’s similar too. She felt whole and real and I delighted in just about everything she did, including murder! Tric, who I would call the “love interest” of this book except that he’s much more than that as a character, gained a special place in my heart too.

This fantasy world is dark, beautiful, hypnotic, and wholly, wonderfully original. Kristoff embraces horror and beauty in the same breath and shows us exactly how fine of a line it is between the two. Nevernight is blood and sex and death and does not flinch or shy away from the brutality, ugliness, and elegance of each of its moments. I was drawn in immediately to this world and it never let me go, I just want more. Especially after that killer ending.

I wouldn’t recommend this to everybody. Is it fantastic? Yes. Do I want to recommend it to everyone? Absolutely. But it’s just- not for everyone. Nevernight is not a gentle or soft book in any way, nor is it a happy, relaxing story for you to slip into, its…an epic, bloody battle. If you haven’t seen the brilliant marketing campaign they’re using for Nevernight, which features angry letters from (mostly) parents, it’s very telling of what kind of audience this book seeks. It will not apologize if you try it out and don’t like it. Nevernight, and Mia for that matter, does not care if you don’t like it, and— that’s what I loved most.

I knew that I would love and continue this series within the first chapter of this book and I am so excited to have fallen so deeply in love. Kristoff has done it again. If this sounds like a fun challenge to you, I highly recommend signing up for the ride. Nevernight will snatch you into its dark corners so fast and never let you go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Check out the guest review I hosted for this book right here!


See you tomorrow! x

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Reviews

The Vanishing Stair

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life. 


This review is heavily delayed, given that I read and enjoyed this book at the beginning of the year. The sequel, and final installment in the trilogy, is about to come out however…and I need to be ready. I also buddy-read this with Liz from This is Lit! (Check her podcast out here.)

To be honest, I was skeptical when I first read Truly Devious, the first novel in this mysterious trilogy, but I powered through and ultimately had a good time. The Vanishing Stair was a different story- I was sucked into this from the beginning. Vanishing Stair is a lot like its predecessor in many ways, but it also had a sense of urgency and action that I felt the first one lacked. This time around there was no slowing down.

My favorite thing about these books has always been their protagonist, Stevie. Her practical outlook on life, her struggles with her anxiety disorder, as well as her all-too-common variety of teen problems, have always come off as very relatable to me at their core. While the books might sometimes be over-the-top, or just over-the-top enough one could argue, Stevie is an anchor for the whole series. Her personality is whole and grounded and I enjoy watching her make decisions and figure out secrets at every turn.

I haven’t connected super deeply with any of the romantic stories in this series, but I honestly don’t think that the book needs it. The Vanishing Stair moves quickly and has detail and action a plenty, there is always something happening. I didn’t get bored, all the way up to the end.

I’m really looking forward to The Hand on the Wall, the finale to this trilogy. I can’t wait to find out who ’Truly Devious’ is and solve the mystery once and for all.

If you are someone who likes a good mystery without the gore or scares, these books are for you. They are eerie and mysterious, confusing and thought-provoking, even sometimes surprising, but its a gentler kind of murder mystery than I am used to. Personally, I think its a strength. This core has connected with so many readers and I whole-heartedly enjoyed my read so far. Check this one out for yourselves!


See you soon, friends! x

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ARC Reviews, Reviews

The Return

An edgy and haunting debut novel about a group of friends who reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance.

Julie is missing, and the missing don’t often return. But Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and she feels in her bones that her best friend is out there, and that one day she’ll come back. She’s right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she’s been or what happened to her. 


The Return by Rachel Harrison was un-put-down-able.

I had so much fun reading this and stayed up way too late more than once to reach the end of the story. The Return was everything that I wanted in a modern horror, mystery novel: it’s murky, compelling, hypnotic, and slowly ratchets up the tension with a masterful hand. If you like horror, or even if you like thrillers or mysteries and want to try something new that isn’t too gory, this is the book for you. I highly recommend it.

This book is ultimately about friendship. As dark, mysterious, and grisly as it gets, what makes this book so great is the emphasis of the strength of female friendships through it all. If you’ve had a group of girlfriends for a long time, you know how far you would go for them. Or do you? Regardless, The Return makes you face this question over and over and over again as Elise, Julie, Molly, & Mae have to figure out the answer to this question themselves.

The friendships and characters alone were enough to keep me reading. The book shifts POVs occasionally, but I most loved and related to the primary POV character: Elise. She was broke and a little bit judgemental, sarcastic and a little crass sometimes, while giving in too much in others. She was, more than anything, just so relatable. All of her feelings, thoughts, and choices that she has to face in the story after her missing friend returns after so many years, they felt real and natural, like how I would probably react myself. Their friendships are real and deep, despite their struggles and so much time apart. Anyone who’s tried to reconnect with an old friend after too many years will find so many of their most painful moments so relatable. Mostly, I enjoyed that a group of women friends were center-stage for this story. Especially in the horror genre, I find that to be a beautiful and powerful thing in its own right.

More than anything, The Return was just engaging as hell. Even if I hadn’t known it was a thriller, each page felt like it turned itself as I couldn’t stop reading. Reading about them trying to reconnect after such an odd and all-consuming trauma was fascinating in its own right, before anything spooky even begins. After that– well, I couldn’t have put the book down then if I’d tried. Once the shadows start to recede in this mystery, this book breaks out the insane, dark and deadly in such fine form and it was a real treat to read.

Check out The Return when it releases on March 24th, 2020!

Thanks so much to Edelweiss+ for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


See you all on Tuesday! x

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