Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange Fire

Posted December 21, 2017 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 4 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireThe Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Gallery Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake


Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.

DNF @ 20%

I adore Magical Realism and I adored Reichert’s debut The Coincidence of Coconut Cake but this one just didn’t do it for me. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a reading year and being very much a mood reader it seemed like every time I picked this one up, it never felt like the right time. Alas, I’m making this my last attempt (my fifth attempt, for the record) and calling it quits. This book possessed a lovely, heartwarming feel to it as you learn about the orchard and see all these special touches of magic throughout but as the summary states, Sanna is most prickly indeed. Her character was so completely off-putting to me that it lessened my interest in everything else. Did she redeem herself in the end? Possibly. But if I’ve restarted a book five times in a single year and still can’t get through it, honestly, that was more time spent trying than should be necessary.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on February 27th 2018
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Seraphina


Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.

DNF @ 15%

Blogger Problem #74: Being blinded by the excitement surrounding an ARC that you accept it without completely thinking it through.

Seraphina was a real struggle for me to get through, especially when all my blogger friends were raving about it. Despite this, I still picked up Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) and ended up DNF-ing. Even though Tess of the Road is not classified as Seraphina #3, it really is. It’s set in the same world, most of the same characters, just focusing on a different main character. Same series, spin-off series, either way… I really should have skipped over this one. Hartman’s world building is spectacular but I continue to struggle with the pacing of her stories.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – The Simplicity of Cider, Tess of the Road, Strange FireStrange Fire by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Joy Osmanski, Madeleine Maby, Corey Brill, Jacques Roy, Gibson Frazier
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 386
Length: 9 hours and 35 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: We All Looked Up, Thanks for the Trouble


It only takes a spark.

They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for wealth, for power. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world.

The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries, they banded together to form a new civilization—the Descendancy—founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated.

Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother.

Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself.

DNF @ 10%

I understand that the whole purpose of a blurb is to quickly encourage readers to pick it up, but when you do, and the blurb is nothing like it promised, that’s mighty disappointing. Oregon Trail meets Westworld was what hooked me and caused me so much excitement I admittedly didn’t even read the rest of the blurb (although this is a rampant problem for me.) If I had read the entire blurb I would have been immediately put off by the excessive religiousness and would’ve skipped this. But nooooo…. my 10-year-old brain started daydreaming of Oregon Trail instead.

Image result for oregon trail dysentery meme

Strange Fire is told from the point of view of two brothers from a religious society that views technology to be the root of all evil. It’s less fantasy and more futuristic dystopian but possessed an essence of more popular dystopian novels (Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Handmaid’s Tale, as well as the more recent Blood Red Road.) The writing was well done but the plot was slow to build which makes more sense when you consider it’s the start of a series. I tried to keep an open mind regarding the religious aspects but this ultimately just failed to capture my interest.



Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Posted July 21, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2015, Release Day Feature, YA / 5 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! Damage Done by Amanda PanitchDamage Done by Amanda Panitch
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 21st 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning….

In this deliciously twisted contemporary thriller, family can be a real killer. For fans of We Were Liars and readers who love unique multiple perspectives that leave clues like breadcrumbs until they reach the stunning conclusion.

About Amanda Panitch

Amanda Panitch grew up next to an amusement park in New Jersey and went to college next to the White House in Washington, DC. Amanda now resides in New York City where she works in book publishing by day, writes by night, and lives under constant threat of being crushed beneath giant stacks of books. You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaPanitch, and visit her online at

‘I only did what I did to protect myself. I didn’t have any other options.’

Julia Vann had the seemingly perfect life before the incident. She belonged to a happy family, had a twin brother she was incredibly close to, close friends, and a boyfriend she thinks she could love. The incident took that all away and left her and her family packing up their belongings to move to a new town with new names where nobody knows who they are. Lucy Black has a chance to start over, to start fresh, but her past proves to be a bit more inescapable than she thought.

Julia/Lucy was a very surprising character and her first-person narrative which carefully entwines the past and present was written extremely well. She was quite a distorted character that at first appears to be like any normal teenager, but the subtle glimpses that begin to leak through her façade tells a whole other story. Was it the incident that transformed her or does her past provide the real answers? The side characters weren’t as impressive: the dutiful boyfriend that comes over to make her homemade soup when she isn’t feeling well, the devoted best friend that asks no questions, and even the absent parents that we see very little of. The legal technicalities did manage to raise some eyebrows as well, however, despite these issues that could have brought down the whole story, Panitch still impressed me with an incredibly riveting tale.

Damage Done is quite the twisted mystery and the summary does little to prepare you for what’s in store. I think it’s best kept that way, seeing as the reveal was quite the impressive twist, even if it was foreshadowed early on. The first twist isn’t the only twist though and this is one engrossing mystery that will keep you speculating. Panitch has another YA psychological thriller coming up in 2016, Never Missing, Never Found that will most certainly be on my TBR.

Thanks to Random House Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Damage Done to give away to one lucky reader! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Ends August 4th, 2015

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Book Review – Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman

Posted July 30, 2012 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2012, YA / 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel HartmanSeraphina by Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 10th 2012
Pages: 451
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher

Also by this author: Tess of the Road


Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Fantasy is a real hit or miss for me… That said, I have found some fantasy novels I have read and enjoyed immensely so I’m certainly not going to stop since I’ve found more bad than good. ‘Seraphina’ may not have been for me but I can definitely see the attraction and why this will be an extremely popular book. I will say this, Rachel Hartman writes incredibly well. You could visualize the world she created and her attention to detail was flawless. Seraphina was an awesome character View Spoiler » The storyline itself, with Seraphina being a half-dragon and the garden in her mind… wow. I must say it was incredibly original and was the reason for my initial interest in this novel.

But I did give this 3 stars so I suppose I should discuss why. The storyline was not fast-paced in the least and the pacing was completely off so I did find myself struggling through sections (although I do blame the fact that I’m not a very patient reader). I actually stopped about 200 pages in and set it aside for the better part of a month. I did find that the story picked up around mid-way through and I was able to finally get through it.

Despite the fact that I praised the world-building I still found myself struggling to keep my facts straight. First installment novels in series often bother me because of the massive amount of info-dumping, but that wasn’t the total problem for me. Again, I’m not a huge fantasy fan but the strange names of people and places was too much for me to keep straight at times. The mystery itself that was the center of the story really lost me and even when the big revelation happened and all was revealed I was still scrunching my forehead trying to remember names and who was who. (There was a glossary in the back to help you out, but, I have an aversion to novels which require a glossary. I did sign up to read a story, not a textbook.)

The addition of the love interest was completely unnecessary and I would have loved if it had been left out. The attraction between the two left much to be desired plus there was the whole ‘he has a fiancé’ thing that was a bit off-putting.

I do still plan on reading the next installment, Dracomachia. I have a feeling (and high hopes) that since all the intricate world-building has been established we can focus solely on the story I will enjoy it more.