Flashback Friday: Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan

flashback-friday-featuredHappy Friday!! Today is the first official Flashback Friday 🙂 What’s Flashback Friday?? Well, the full story can be read here (& you should read it), but it’s a weekly meme meant to highlight books published at least 2 years ago that are on your to-reads (that you never got to) or that you read years ago and loved! It’s hosted by Swoony Boys Podcast & Fiction Fare.

cirque du freakA LIVING NIGHTMARE (Cirque Du Freak #1)

by Darren Shan
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Little, Brown Young Readers (first published 2000)

Book Blurb

Darren Shan is just an ordinary schoolboy – until he gets an invitation to visit the Cirque du Freak…until he meets Madam Octa…until he comes face to face with a creature of the night.

Soon, Darren and his friend Steve are caught in a deadly trap. Darren must make a bargain with the one person who can save Steve. But that person is not human and only deals in blood…

Add to Goodreads to-reads (hopefully you get to it!)

My Thoughts/Review

I won’t do thoughts/this long of a post every time, but this is one of my all time favorite books so…

For my first Flashback Friday post I decided to choose the entire Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan, more specifically A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak/The Saga of Daren Shan #1).

Now, I’m a huge vampire fan (?–not sure if that’s the right word). I love vampire lore. It all started with Anne Rice, as it should, and my most recent addition to the vamp book lineup was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black which was amazing (in her acknowledgments she thanked vamp lore writers like Anne Rice, it brought tears to my eyes).

Alas, I digress. I picked this series/this book because it was one of those series I wasn’t sure I would love. I mean, I love vampires but this is like if Stephen King wrote a vampire book (has he?). Major horror. I don’t know how I slept at night. But, it’s Upper MG/low YA. I vividly remember being in my school library and picking it up for the first time. Love at first read.

It’s a beautiful story about a boy who gets mixed up with vampires, but there’s so much more than that. It spun the genre well, it added in marvelous creatures, a very interesting friend/enemy-ship(…I mean the relationship between Darren and Steve, boy now that’s good), had all these underlying messages about your destiny and rewriting your own path (hehe, Mr. Des Tiny<–took me forever to get that, he’s a character in the book). And the ending, wow. They made a movie and while it’s okay there’s no need to waste your time…there’s a reason there’s only one movie out of the 12 books published (it stars a young Josh Hutchinson). 

I whole heartedly recommend it (My rating: 1 million owls, LOL). I think it’ll surprise you. It sure did me.

Oh, and J.K. Rowling blurbed it so, yeah…it’s freaking awesome 🙂

What was a book you remember reading when younger that surprised you and became one of your all time favorites?

Whimsically Yours,


Review: BROKEN by CJ Lyons (Blog Tour)

17520996Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: November 5th 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 1402285450 (ISBN13: 9781402285455)
Edition Language: English

Book Blurb

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of seventeen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net and everything she knows about being a bestseller at www.NoRulesJustWRITE.com

Interview with CJ Lyons (Part One of my post for the BROKEN Blog Tour)

My Review

Owl rating:

BROKEN was a refreshing read. I love Dystopian books but I’m so thankful that I got the chance to read & review this book! In fact, after having just finished writing a MG Thriller manuscript and reading BROKEN, I’ve become so in love with thrillers and am looking forward to finding some more to read.

One of the biggest draws to BROKEN is that I immediately connected to the main character, Scarlet who just wants a chance at living like a “regular” teenager. I was drawn to her story, to her voice, to her will to keep going.  I  love strong female characters and Scarlet definitely hit the mark. I also loved the relationships within the book, they were well developed and real.  Scarlet’s relationship with the guys she meets, classmates, family…it was nice to see all the dynamics interrelating.

It was so hard to put this book down. On the first night, I stayed up until 3am (and I had a 9am class)…no regrets at all. Also, CJ Lyons knows what she’s talking about. The book with the knowledge that only comes from someone who not only did their research well but clearly had lots of medical experience.  The book blew me away.  Maybe for you it won’t be as unexpected but for me, BROKEN kept me guessing until the very end!

This is a 100% honest review, I received a copy from the publisher to read & review!


Whimsically Yours,


The Super Spies and the Pied Piper


by Lisa Orchard

Book Blurb

Sarah Cole and her sister Lacey are at it once again when they learn their missing parents’ cell phone has been traced to Alden, Michigan. When the FBI declines to continue the investigation, Sarah takes matters into her own hands. She calls upon the Super Spies and they delve into the situation.Suddenly, the teens find themselves immersed in small town intrigue and mystery involving a menacing stranger, who Sarah dubs “The Stalker.”

But when Sarah learns he’s connected to her parents’ disappearance, she’s determined to find out what that connection is. The Super Spies embark on a journey that leads them into a web of corporate corruption at its highest level that leaves innocent victims in its wake.

Can they find the proof they need to stop the greedy corporation before it’s too late?

My Review

Owl rating

As with the previous two books in this series, THE SUPER SPIES AND THE PIED PIPER was quite the adventure.  I love fairy tales, mythology, and all types of folklore and such so from the title alone, I was intrigued to read more.

The girls are so witty and smart, not to mention they’re pretty much on their own.  I can’t even imagine my parents disappearing and it being up to my siblings and/or friends and I to find them.  Whew, what a task!  I thought the setup of everything was great, especially as someone who has read the previous books, it was nice to start off with a familiar setting.

However I didn’t connect to the girls as much as I usually do, especially not as much as I did with the last one.  I love the plot, and the mystery kept me guessing but for some reason I didn’t feel as much for the characters.  Hence the three owl rating since voice and characterization is what keeps me going.

That being said, I still love the series.  I’ve said this before but as someone who grew up reading Nancy Drew, it’s nice to have a group of friends out there solving town mysteries. I think these series would work great with a younger YA or upper MG audience.  I think friendship in YA isn’t shown as much as I’d like, at least friendship without feuds over a guy or a friend who “disappears” once the romantic interest comes into the story, and The Super Spies series keeps friendship a central theme.

Buy Links

Astraea Press | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Many thanks to the author, Lisa Orchard, for sending me a copy to read and review.  This is a 100% honest review!

Whimsically Yours,


Blog Tour: ALL OF YOU by Christina Lee

Hello Readers!

Today I’m excited to be a part of the ALL OF YOU blog tour hosted by The SubClub Books!! My review is below, enjoy!

all of you leeBook Title: ALL OF YOU
Author: Christina Lee
Genre: New Adult/Romance
Publishing Company: Penguin
Expected Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Book Blurb

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she’s perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother’s bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won’t accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more.

As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too.

So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.

Add ALL OF YOU to Goodreads

Buy Links
AmazonBarnes and Noble | Kobo


We pushed our way to the middle of the writhing bodies and I started swaying my hips in time to the music. I raised my arms in the air and got lost in the slow and sexy song.

A minute later, I felt warm breath stroke my neck and a strong hand brace my stomach. I knew it was him without turning around. Those same long fingers had been splayed against my body all week long. I closed my eyes and savored his skin touching mine.

“I like when you wear your hair down.” He twined his fingers through the ends of my curls and it sent a shiver ricocheting through my body.

“You haven’t come up,” he breathed against my ear.

“I figured it was time to be a big girl and sleep in my own bed,” I said.

“Understood.” He held on to my waist and swayed along with me. His fingers trailed beneath the hem of my shirt and a couple of inches upward. I fought to keep my breaths under control.

“I know this is going to sound crazy,” he whispered. “But I kind of missed you.”

He pulled me flush against him and I sucked in a breath. I felt the hard wall of his chest, the strong and steady thud of his heart at my back. I laced my fingers around his neck and leaned into him.

His fingers blazed a trail along my rib cage and stopped just above my navel. I rocked my hips back and forth in time with the song and he let out a slow groan.

“Jesus, Avery,” he said. Suddenly he pushed away from me. “I need some air.”

He stormed off the dance floor, leaving me speechless and way too aroused.

 *This is one of my favorite scenes!

Giveaway Code: A Rafflecopter Giveaway

About Christina Lee

christina lee phototMother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives near Cleveland with her two favorite guys. She’s addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything.

New Adult/Young Adult author. NA Contemporary Romance, ALL OF YOU, releases September with Penguin. BEFORE YOU BREAK in 2014. Repped by Sara Megibow.

Also the creator of Tags-n-Stones (dot com) jewelry.

Connect with the author!

Facebook | Twitter | Website

My Review

Owl rating:

I LOVED this book.  Not only was it moving, steamy, and sweet but it was different.  I really appreciated how the “tables were flipped” with the girl rather than the guy being the more experienced one.  However I never felt it crossed into the realm of slut shaming.  Avery, the main character has a lot of past issues and as a result she has developed some very tough skin especially in relation to relationships.  She is not at all interested in long term dating however Bennett (who also happens to be a tattoo artist) has had a past that has made him want to wait for the woman he loves.

It’s a wonderful pairing and the chemistry and tension rocket off the pages from the first time the two are introduced.  I mean I love bad boys.  Let’s just be honest about that however it’s nice to have something different and Bennett is just that.  He’s kind, he’s protective but not overly so, and he’s respectful.  He’s also interesting.  Too often when you have “perfect” guys they turn out very one dimensional however from the first couple chapters you can tell there’s more to his sexy self than it seems.

Not to mention there’s also a great supporting cast of characters that add even more dimensions to this already rich novel.  I’m so thankful for the chance to read an advance copy of this book and be a part of the tour.  As someone in the NA age range myself, I can promise that I’m going to be reading a lot more NA.  I’m looking forward to seeing the genre blossom.

*This is a 100% honest review, I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley to read & review*

Thank you to The SubClub Books for the opportunity to participate in the tour! 

Whimsically Yours,


A Missing Peace by Beth Fred


by Beth Fred (link goes to her blog, it’s great btw)

Book Blurb

A turbulent, emotionally charged YA novel that breaks down barriers and challenges the status quo…

Angry, seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller.

Caleb has much to be angry about too, including Mirriam who turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to the prom and regain his pride.

But their relationship soon moves beyond high school antics. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives — and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond.

When Mirriam’s family discovers their relationship, they decide it’s time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever — or risk losing her for good.

My Review

Owl rating:

This book holds a special place in my heart.  Not only is it set in Texas (my home state) but I’ve had the privilege and joy to have seen this book from it’s earlier stages, pre-agented and publication, to now.  I know how hard the author, Beth Fred has worked to make this book what it is now, and it is with all my heart I wish her a HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!  That being said, I honestly believe this book deserves its five owl rating.

From the beginning, Beth paints a picture of a small Texas town with prejudices and such one might think a small Texas town might have yet through the course of the book she weaves a story of how two people from very different backgrounds can fall in love.

I’m not one for romances.  I like the when they’re done well and truly add to the story, but especially in YA, they’re overused, overdone, and often not fully fleshed out.  At first, when Beth asked me to beta read a much earlier version, I was afraid it was going to be a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale of two people who thought they knew what love was then did some tragically stupid stuff.  Thankfully, it wasn’t.  With Mirriam and Caleb, it feels real.  There was no insta love (Thank goodness).  No and then we lived happily ever after.  I appreciated how the story is so real and fresh.  How the Caleb has to work to gain Mirriam’s love, how Mirriam doesn’t, like so many YA young women protagonists, fall in love with him from the get go.  I also think the story was highly realistic.  They come from completely different cultures.  It would not have been easy for them to get together.

Oh, and the minor characters are great.  I love Mirriam’s brother, Abe.  I’ve also had the privilege to read more of his point of view, and let me tell you, the writing, the characterization, it only gets better.  Also, when you’re from a place, you know it well.  I’m not from a small Texas town originally but my dad now lives in one.  No, they’re not all as dramatic, soap-opery, closed offish-y as Friday Night Lights, although we Texans do love our football.  But I especially felt her characterization of the town was spot on.  I have friends who live in small towns and let me tell you, when a new person who doesn’t “fit in” comes to town, everyone knows.  Texas also has a lot of military bases thus a lot of people who have served in the military so yeah, there’s a lot of hate in some communities against anyone who people think are Middle Eastern.  It’s unfortunate but true, and I’m glad the author didn’t shy away from that part of the story.

Congratulations again, Beth on a wonderful story.  I hope all of you go out and buy the book today and support Beth.  I expect many more great things from her in the future.

**This is a 100% honest review, I received the book from the author, Beth Fred, to read and review.**

Whimsically Yours,