Review: Vassa in the Night

This book is my Book club’s August read. I first saw this book last year before it was to release and I remember wanting to read it. I thought it sounded really intriguing and who doesn’t like a good YA Fantasy Retelling?

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa.jpgIn the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

My Review

3 Stars

This book is probably a 3.5 for me. It totally gave me serial killer vibes with its grotesquely morbid weirdness. As a criminal justice major, and lover of all things morbid, I found this book to be so interesting.

The magic system didn’t make sense, and there were times that were downright confusing, but I couldn’t help smiling throughout listening to the audio. The characters are definitely what did it for me because the story was so weird. 

Vassa is this strange teenage girl who doesn’t really fit into the living situation she has been left in. She doesn’t really know much about her mother, her father left, and her stepmother, well that’s hard to explain because of how confusing the book could be at times. She has two step-sisters, one that hates her and one that likes her, who are definitely unique in their own right. Vassa is forced to spend three nights working at the convenient store where strange things happen to those who go inside. There is a strange romance, not romance, between her and a mysterious motorcyclist, and becomes friends with a bunch of swans.

Erg. Well, how to explain Erg. Vassa’s strange magical wooden friend who likes to steal things and blame it on Vassa. Sounds legit.

There were just so many strange elements to this book. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this as a YA because of how graphic and grotesque this book is. At one point it talks about Vassa having a gun in her mouth which I didn’t find to be very appropriate in regards to young readers.

Audio Rating

4 Stars

I would give it a high Audio rating because I thought the narrator did a wonderful job of narrating this strange yet intriguing read.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? 

Waiting on Wednesday: Hunting Prince Dracula

I cannot wait for this book! I received an ARC of Stalking Jack the Ripper last summer when my bookish bestie picked one up for me from a Barnes and Noble event. I loved it so much and I know I’m going to LOVE Hunting Prince Dracula. I think that the concepts of these books are so much fun. We’re just over a month out from the release and I’ve already Pre-Ordered my copy!


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Be sure to check out their blog and share the upcoming books your excited about with us each Wednesday!

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

33784373.jpgIn this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.


The Details

Title: Hunting Prince Dracula

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Publication: Little, Brown, and Company

About Kerri Maniscalco

From her website

kerri.jpgKerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Favorite non-writing things:

I believe curry, avocados, vinyl records, handwritten letters, and my 1950s Smith-Corona typewriter are the best things on the planet. EVER. (Aside from my food blog,, that is.) 😀 My favorite quote of all time is: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club” by Jack London.

Hunting Prince Dracula Pre-Order Swag


Details Here

Have you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What other YA Mysteries have you read? 


Hello! I want to thank Mandy over at Book Princess Reviews for nominating me for this A-Mazing Tag!! I love her tags so much because I love Disney Princesses sooooo much!! If you haven’t checked out her blog you need to head over there now and click that Follow button!! She is the sweetest!

(Not Princess related but I’m totally watching Twilight while putting this post together.  #sorrynotsorry )



Alosa from Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller is one of the funniest characters I’ve read. Her banter is so much fun, whether in her head or not. When Dimple Met Rishi was like reading a RomCom and I loved it! If you haven’t read these two yet you definitely should! They are so much fun!





Paige Mahoney’s crew from Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season is one of my favorites! Not only is the world incredibly well developed but so are the characters. It is so intricate and dynamic that you are left wanting more! There is also going to be seven books in this series which I found to be another perfect fit for this category!





When I first saw this cover and heard that it was a Phantom of the Opera retelling I jumped at the chance to get my hands on it. I used an Audible credit for it and lets just say I’m glad they let you return books. This book started out pretty decent, one of those where you keep reading in hopes it gets better, and then it just got weird. And then weirder. It was definitely not what I expected. Unfortunately Roseblood just didn’t do it for me.





HOLY LORD OF SHADOWS Cassie Clare! I did not see that coming!!!



I love the relationship between Safi and Iseult in the Witchland‘s series. Even when they are far apart they are always still so close. I have friends that I consider sisters and I think that’s important to have in life.



Oh my gosh! If you haven’t read or listened to Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green than you need to! It is fantastic! Once you read that one you definitely need to pick up Hold Me Closer by David Levithan. These are definitely my favorite musical books and I love to sing their praises!!





These books are all about obstacles and I love it! I love Greek mythology, quests, and the friendships found in The Percy Jackson series. I still need to read The Heroes of Olympus but I will definitely get there!





The Shadowhunter world if filled with so many great families. Not only are there individual families spanned across decades but they stick together as if they are one giant multi-family family. You’ve still got your black sheep and bad apples but it’s all done for the good of the family. I love how well Cassandra Clare has created a world filled with such dynamic characters. She is truly brilliant!



These two books will always hold a place in my heart. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is a beautifully written book about grief and learning to move on when it doesn’t feel possible. And Gem and Dixie by Sara Zarr really hit home for me. I have an extremely close relationship with my sister and a lot of that is because we’ve learned that we will always have each other, despite the moments where it felt like we’d kill each other at any moment, in good times and in bad. So many feels!

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I love this series but I’d have to admit that Helene is my favorite character of this series. We first get a taste of her in An Ember in the Ashes but then it’s taken to a whole new level of badass in A Torch Against the Night. I think she is the most dynamic character and I can’t wait to see how her development continues!

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Ooh! Best opposites attract ever! I know I’m going to have many opinions on this one. I can’t wait to see who my fellow Twihards are! I don’t feel guilty about it! #TeamEdwardForLife

Tag…You’re It

Mia @ Pen and Parchment , Steph @ Lost: Purple Quill , Danielle @ Life of a Literary Nerd , Yesha @ Books Teacup and Reviews , Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books , Lizzie @ Stellar Kitten Book Reviews Dawlyn & Krista @ Little Blind Book Finds , Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile , Raven @ Dreamy Addictions




Kiersten White Event Recap

If you haven’t had a chance to meet Kiersten White you’re seriously missing out! She is so witty and fun to listen to. She’s so passionate about writing and has great insight for aspiring writers. I was so excited to hear she would be making a stop here while on vacation visiting family. I first met her last year for the release of And I Darken so I was even more ecstatic to get my copy of Now I Rise signed! This series is a dark gender swap YA Historical Fiction about Vlad the Impaler, or the real Dracula!

Event Recap


First, if you ever get a chance to attend one of Kiersten’s events make sure you’re ready to laugh so hard your cheeks hurt! She is so hilarious in her banter. I enjoy listening to her speak.

One of her favorite historical figures she came across in her research for this book is Theodora, Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Her intelligent and keen political sense made her Justinian’s most trusted adviser and that is why he made her his equal, empress to his empire. Having a powerful, intelligent, and fierce woman in a state of power makes her story important to the history of women in society.

When asked if it was difficult to write a gender swapped story about an unconventional female main character Kiersten responded with, “It was freeing to write a woman who does what she wants to get what she wants despite societies norms”. I loved this answer because Lada is not a likable character and we don’t always see that. She defies what how a woman should act in a society filled, and run, by men.

She was also asked about her experience in writing an LGBT character in a book with this particular content and her answer, like above, was perfect. Kiersten felt that it was “important to bring in characters that readers can see themselves in.” This answer didn’t just apply to Radu’s sexual orientation but also the religious aspects of this book. I think Kiersten did a great job of portraying these two themes in a book with respect.

Writing Process/Advice

Kiersten works in concentrated bursts and with having three projects coming out next year time management is key.

She only works on one project at a time and although she tends to be more of a pancer, she was definitely a plotter when it came to The Conqueror’s Saga.

The advice she has for other writers is to not forget to give yourself creative downtime. To avoid getting burnt out it is important to take time for yourself, your family, or hobbies that help relieve the stresses of writing full-time.

She wrote her first middle grade novel Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales in between writing this series because she needed a way to break away from the dark tones of these books. She enjoyed taking the time to explore another genre she’d not written before and tries to do that when it comes to writing.

She also reads mostly adult horror.

Have you read The Conqueror’s Saga yet? What other books by Kiersten White have you read? Will you be adding this YA Historical Fictions to your TBR? 

Review: Heart of Mist

Wow. That’s what I have to say about this adventurous YA Fantasy. I received an eARC of Heart of Mist directly from Helen a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. After reading the first page I knew it would be a book that I would enjoy. I not only enjoyed it but this book seriously blew me away. The cover is stunning and the story is so fantastically unique!

Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

heart of mistIn a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.

The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles, a fantasy series of epic proportions.


The Details

Title: Heart of Mist (The Oremere Chronicles)

Author: Helen Scheuerer

Publication Date: August 31, 2017

Publisher: Talem Press

My Review

5 Stars

The branches of the canopy were like springs beneath her feet, making her lighter than air as she leaped from one to another, towards her freedom.


This story takes hold of you from the very beginning. It’s a YA fantasy that features the most unlikely of main characters. Bleak is a drunk who is known to be one of the town’s most renowned gutter rats. She’s taken one day to be presented to the king, or to her death if you were to ask her, but on the way she encounters a group of warrior women known as the legendary Kindred. Only then is her world turned upside down and she becomes aware of how different she really is.

Bleak was a fun character to read because she really doesn’t care about anything. She drinks to drown out the voices in her head, to get away from reality, and mostly because she just feels like it. Scheuerer did a fantastic job with Bleak’s development, especially the development of her power as the story progressed. You start to really believe in Bleak and what she may be capable of. Bleak’s life is a mystery throughout most of the book but you start to form ideas of what, or who, she may possibly be and I really enjoyed her character ARC because of that.

I found the Kindred to be almost amazonian. They are a society of women who live among the trees who train all day both physically, mentally, and magically. They have a caste system which I found very interesting and the rules around their society were well developed.

Romance. There really isn’t any romance in this book and I actually enjoyed that. There is definitely opportunities for it, and possibilities around something that may develop later in the series.

Only a few of the many secrets this book may contain have been revealed and I think that is a testament to how well Scheuerer’s writing is. The events throughout the book were not predictable and the ending leaves you wanting more. I’m so excited to see what Scheuerer has in store for us next!

What books from self-published authors have you read and loved? Will you be adding this to your TBR?

Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Exciting, intense, and down right magical is how I would descibe Spellbook of the Lost and Found  by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. It is a book where reality blends with superstition and where friendships form among all things lost.

I received an e-ARC of Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyly from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

spellbookOne stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewelry, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .


The Details

Title: Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Publication Date: August 8, 2017

Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

My Review

4 Stars


I really enjoyed this book. I thought Moïra did a great job of blending two groups of teenagers to create two story lines that intertwine in a way that makes you wonder if finding the spellbook was meant to be, or just coincidence. I also loved the setting. I spent a few days in Dublin a couple of years ago and we found a dinner where Irish Folklore and Stories would be told throughout the evening. Although this book didn’t include the mythical creatures of Irish folklore I felt the magical elements like the howling of the dogs, and the forests around, felt authentic to the story. It brought back memories of my stay in Dublin and I really enjoyed that.

The first group of characters consist of three best friends named Laurel, Ash, and Holly. These three girls cast a spell to find the things they’ve lost and end up meeting a boy who may or may not be good for them. This friends group felt a bit more tumultuous in what they experience after casting the spell from the spellbook and their friendship gets tested in a ways that may possibly come back to haunt them in the end.

The second group of teenagers consist of two best friends who happen upon a set of twins and their childhood friend. Their names are Olive, Rose, Hazel, Rowan, and Ivy. These five teenagers come together in the most unconventional of ways to cast a spell to find what they’ve lost. Instead they end up learning that maybe losing things isn’t always a bad thing, and maybe the things they want found should remain lost forever.

When events start to overlap and the pieces come together in the end do these friends discover that the past may be closer to them than they could’ve imagined.

I liked that the relationships in this book showed a range of sexuality which I think is important in books these days. Young Adults shouldn’t feel bad for loving who they love and that you can love multiple people in different ways. Moïra did an exceptional job of portraying the dynamic relationships found among all these friends which I really liked.

This book will teach you about friendships, loss, love, and learning that home is defined by where you choose to be, not where you believe you should be.

Have you read Moïra’s other novel The Accident Season? Will you be adding this to your TBR pile?

July Wrap-Up

Hi Everyone! I was in a bit of a reading slump for most of July which was not fun tbh! I only made it through four books and crazy enough all but one are YA Historical Fiction books which I find kind of fun! I don’t read enough of them but that is definitely going to change! I am finally getting over it though so let’s hope I can pick up more reading for August!!

What I Read!!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I thought this book was so adorable! I had such a fun time buddy reading this with someone I met on Instagram. I am definitely going to read the rest of the series in the future!

5 Stars

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Oh my! You guys! If you haven’t read this book yet than you are seriously missing out. This book is one of my top 2017 reads. It’s filled with adventure, friendship, and the craziest journey through Europe you could ever imagine! Get out there and buy it now!!

5 Stars

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

This was my book clubs July read and honestly it was just a four for me. I think this is about where my reading slump started taking place because I struggled my way through this read. It’s not a horrible book by any means, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping to. It was based more on politics and less on battle scenes which would have kept me more engaged. I enjoy the history and the concept of the main character being a gender swap of an actual person so I did enjoy that part. The pacing was just a bit slower than I’d have liked.

4 Stars

Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton

If you haven’t already read my review on this amazing book hop on over there and check it out. This book is definitely a top 2017 read for me and I think everyone should read it. It’s not only a YA Historical Fiction but the weight of the book is made up of real life events that took place in the life of Ricky Anywar. He is a real survivor in more than one way! Definitely add it to you TBR list!

5 Stars

July Events Attended

July was a slow month for events but starting in August that is definitely about to change! Stay tuned to find out what authors will be making a stop in Salt Lake City soon!!

The Penguin Teen Tour hit Salt Lake City July 19th!

The Launch of The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg on July 25th!


What books did you read in July? Did you hit up any fun events? 

Charlie N. Holmberg Event Recap!

Charlie is one of our local authors here in the Salt Lake City area so of course I went down to support her! She is so quirky and fun with her red hair, 25 pairs of glasses, and a sense of humor that I wish I had! I enjoyed her event and can’t wait to dive into her book The Fifth Doll released this past Tuesday July 25th!

About The Fifth Doll

the fifth dollThe bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.

Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.

Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.

When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.


Event Highlights & Fun Facts

Charlie got the idea for The Fifth Doll when teaching a class at our local Storymakers conference when she took normal every day items and told her students to create a magic system from that one item. As soon as she saw that Russian nesting dolls she instantly had a story to tell.

She told her editor what she was thinking about writing and they loved it so much they asked if she could have a synopsis to them within the next three weeks. Low and behold The Fifth Doll was born!

She wrote it during her second trimester while watching Stranger Things.

She owns 25 pairs of glasses!

The Paper Magician Trilogy film rights have been purchased by Disney and assigned the same producer who did Rogue One! Cross your fingers we’ll be seeing a trailer for them soon!!

She was asked which books she wished she had written and she said Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. The Mistborn trilogy is one of my all time favorites so I loved hearing she loved it too!! I also loved An Ember in the Ashes and can’t wait for the next installment to come out!

Have you added The Fifth Doll to you TBR lists? What other Russian themed YA books have you read? Have you read The Paper Magician Trilogy

Soldier Boy Review

Our amazing Indie Bookshop, The King’s English, asked us a couple months ago if we’d like to participate in a Skype discussion with Keely Hutton to talk about her debut novel Soldier Boy and we excitedly accepted! This book is nothing like I’ve ever read before, especially in the world of YA. It is a powerful and heartbreaking book that tells a story of a boy who learns to forgive when forgiveness doesn’t seem possible. I think that books like Soldier Boy are important for young readers, and adults alike, to help people understand that the world that we live in is not black and white. History needs to be talked about, even the bad parts.

Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton

soldier boyIt was just a nightmare.

All Ricky needed to do was wake up. Just open his eyes. And Kony’s red-eyed beasts with their long claws dripping blood and their fiery breath would have disappeared. His brother would be beside him. His parents and sisters would be safe and asleep in their beds.

Just like before.

Here is the true story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted in 1989 at age fourteen by Joseph Kony’s rebel army in the Ugandan civil war (one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts). Ricky is trained, armed, and sent to battle government troops alongside his brutal kidnappers, but over his two and a half years of enslavement, he never stops dreaming of escape.

Here also is the story, set twenty years later, of a fictional character named Samuel, a boy deathly afraid of trusting anyone ever again, and representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky has helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.


My Review

5 Stars

I was a student at Weber State University in 2012 when the documentary Kony 2012 hit the world. I have not watched the documentary but I became very aware of who Joseph Kony was, and who he was in the world. I started seeing flyers with “Kony 2012” plastered all over campus and Facebook events started showing up encouraging people to go out and paint the town with awareness to the documentary. I think we live in this bubble where we choose not to see what is happening in other parts of the world, especially the negativity, unless it is directly related to us. In my opinion, just because Kony and his LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) are in Africa it doesn’t mean that we as human beings are not affected by the actions they took against their society.

This book is done in two points of view. The first POV is that of Ricky Anywar, who is a real life person, and Keely did a wonderful job of writing Ricky’s story in a way that makes you feel what he is feeling. When we spoke with Keely the other day one of the questions asked was, “How much of Ricky’s experiences were in the book, and were there any parts that were changed?” Everything that happened to Ricky in the book are true events that happened to him during his 2 1/2 years in the LRA. Knowing these events actually took place made reading some parts of the book very difficult but by the end you can’t help but feel inspired by Ricky’s strength and inspired by his will to survive.

The second POV is from a fictional boy named Samuel. These chapters in the book were found less often but were used as a way to relieve the reader of the difficult events taking place. Keely based Samuel off of a compilation of real life survivors of the LRA. Although he is a fictional character, Keely wrote him so realistically that it felt as if this book were about two real life boys who escaped a life of fear and learned that there is still hope in a world where all feels lost.

Audible Rating

5 Stars

I listened to this book on Audible and I can’t rave enough about it. I listen to most of my books and this is probably one of the best audio books I’ve ever listened to. Although there are moments in this book that may be hard to listen to I highly recommend it. Kevin R. Free is one of my new favorite narrators. He brought Ricky’s story to life in the most authentic way and really portrayed the emotions of each character in this book.

Have you read other YA Books based on real individuals? If so, what books? Will you be adding this to you TBR lists?

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