Book Review: The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch

Please note that these are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase – at no additional cost to you!

The Purple Haze is a fantastic, family-friendly fantasy adventure.

It’s appropriate for both upper Middle Grade and YA readers and is just good ol‘ clean fun.

The worldbuilding is impressive. And I realize this sounds like an odd thing to say, but one of my favorite parts of the book was the names of the various villages. You’ll see what I mean once you read it. 🙂

You can tell Einspruch put a lot of love and care into writing this adventure, and you’ll fall in love with Princess Eloise, Jerome and her other companions. The action really ramped up in the last quarter of the book, and while there is a cliffhanger, it’s a good one.

Click here to grab your copy today.

Note: I was provided with a copy of The Purple Haze by the author, but I am voluntarily writing this review and the opinions expressed are my own.

You can get a free copy of the prequel, The Wombanditos, by joining the author’s newsletter. Just CLICK HERE.

Missed my review of The Wombanditos? You can read the original post here.

The New Paranormal Romance Series You Need to Read Before Everyone Else

Please note that these are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase – at no additional cost to you!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know that to say I’m obsessed with vampire books is a massive understatement (after all, I am writing an entire vampire series right now!).

But when I saw the cover for Bearly Married, the prequel novella to the Shift series, I just had to pick up a copy. And I’m so glad that I did because I may have just stumbled upon a new favorite author!

As the name and cover suggest, Bearly Married is a story about bear shifters. But really, it’s a breathtakingly beautiful romance between Christine and the swoon-worthy Alexandre. You’ll be rooting for them from the start, and while the romance was my favorite part, there are some great action scenes, too! (There is definitely some steam, so be aware of that before picking up a copy. )

I don’t know if other readers struggle with this, but a lot of times when I pick up a book, it takes a good few chapters to get in the flow of the author’s writing. But this was NOT the case with this book. The writing flows so smoothly that I found myself totally lost in the story.

If the rest of this series is half as good as the prequel, readers will not be able to devour it fast enough. I can’t wait to read Trust the Wolf next! I guess I’m officially a fan of shifter books now. 🙂

Oh. And best of all? You can read Bearly Married for free by joining Ashwood’s newsletter.

2018: A Year in Fiction Book Reviews

Here's a look back at some of the best books I read in 2018 (mostly YA fantasy and YA paranormal romance), plus one that I simply couldn't finish. Click to check out the full list of books and my reviews of them.

As much as I love to read, I’m actually a pretty slow reader. So I went into the year with the goal of reading one book a month.

Luckily, I discovered so many wonderful books that I read far more than that.

(And if I count the children’s books I’ve read to my kids, I could probably add 100+ to this list!)

So, without further ado, here is the round-up of the fiction books I read in 2018.

(These reviews first appeared on BookBub – be sure to follow me there for my latest recommendations and reviews!).

Plus, keep reading for the one book I just couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Books Worth Reading

Please note that these are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase – at no additional cost to you!

Elementals by Michelle Madow

This was a really enjoyable read. I thought the concept of the elemental powers was clever and intertwining that with mythology made for an interesting storyline. I’m planning to read the whole series. 🙂

The Blood of the Hydra by Michelle Madow

I loved the second book in this series. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to the characters and elemental powers in the first book, now that the characters are well established the reader is immediately pulled in to a wild adventure. I love Madows‘ writing style. Her books are fast-paced and easy to read — the perfect little escape from reality!

The Head of Medusa by Michelle Madow

This book was action-packed, easy to read and thoroughly entertaining.

The Portal to Kerberos by Michelle Madow

The Portal to Kerberos continues Madow’s style of great world-building and is a real page-turner.

The Hands of Time by Michelle Madow

The conclusion of this series was action-packed, original and thoroughly entertaining.

Gods and Demons by BR Kingsolver

This book was very well written, it just didn’t capture my interest as much as I would have hoped. I don’t fault the author for that, though, as I knew I was trying a new genre. The main characters were original and believable (although I did have a hard time remembering who the more minor characters were). The storyline was unique and very creative. I think readers who enjoy UF books about elves and shifters will find this to be a fun read.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Why did I wait so long to read this?!?! It’s like The Bachelor meets dystopian YA fiction, but in the absolute best way possible. There’s jealousy, competition and friendship among the girls vying for Prince Maxon’s heart. And the blossoming relationship between America and Maxon feels so genuine and sweet. I liked this book WAY more than I thought I would. This is a series I definitely plan on finishing.

The Vampire Wish by Michelle Madow

I never got into the whole Twilight thing as a teen. But I’m on a The Vampire Diaries kick right now, so I wanted to read a book about vampires. I loved Madow’s Elementals series, so I knew this series would probably be good, too. And it is! The book is written from multiple points of view, and the chapters are relatively short and keep you wanting more (in a good way). It was a really fun read and not too graphic. I think this is a book both teens and adults will enjoy.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I don’t know why I waited so long to read the second book in The Lunar Chronicles. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Cinder, and Scarlet did not disappoint. Scarlet is definitely a strong female lead and will do anything to save her beloved grandmother, even if that means putting herself in grave danger. Marissa Meyer’s beautiful descriptions and thoughtful character development make this book one you can lose yourself in. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

The Elite by Kiera Cass

I have mixed feelings about the second book in the series. I didn’t love it as much as the first. But every time I thought I might be about to lose interest, a new twist pulled me back in. I’m still enjoying the relationship blossoming between America and Maxon and hope America can use her position for good. I’m still liking this series enough to read the next book. 🙂

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I’m (seemingly) one of the few people in the world who didn’t read the Twilight series when it first came out. I think I would have absolutely loved it as a teen. As an adult, I can see the argument for Edward coming across as a bit creepy and controlling. But if I turn off the logical part of my brain and just enjoy this story for what it is, it’s hard to deny that it’s a fascinating premise and keeps your attention. It’s easy to see how this book started a phenomenon.

The Vampire Prince by Michelle Madow

This book was romantic, had great world-building and is filled with wonderful characters.

The Vampire Trick by Michelle Madow

The third book in this series was easy to read, entertaining and totally original.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

While A Study in Charlotte is a little outside of the realm of what I normally read, I decided to give it a shot. And I’m so glad that I did. I thought this was an insanely clever idea. The descendents of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson ending up at the same boarding school and teaming up to solve a mystery that they’re being framed for? Um, yes please! I wavered between giving this 4 or 5 stars. The biggest negative aspect of the book, in my opinion, is how casually Holmes’ drug use is treated. I mean, the girl has a SERIOUS drug problem, but it’s treated as if that is perfectly normal and just what teens do. That really rubbed me the wrong way. But the story was entertaining enough that I could look past it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad I decided to branch out and try something new.

The Wombanditos by Andrew Einspruch

The Wombanditos is unlike anything I’ve read – in the best way possible. In a novelette, author Andrew Einspruch has managed to create a whimsical yet believeable world inhabited by an OCD princess and her talking chipmunk companion Jerome (who was my favorite character!). Together, they set off on an adventure – and run into trouble along the way. Princess Eloise is kidnapped, and it’s up to her and Jerome to outsmart her captors – the Wombanditos. I actually found myself smiling as I read this story. There have been plenty of books lately that have made me teary-eyed, but I can’t remember the last time I SMILED while reading. It’s one of those books that’s a great little escape. Though this story can stand alone, it is the perfect teaser for the series. While it’s technically a YA book, it can certainly be enjoyed by a younger audience as there is no violence or graphic language. As a parent, it’s always nice to come across a fun story that can be enjoyed by all ages. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

The One by Kiera Cass

The third book in The Selection series did not disappoint. If you enjoyed The Selection and The Elite, you’ll find The One to be a great conclusion to America and Maxon’s story. While I expected the dystopian element to play a larger part in things, this series is definitely more of a romance than anything else. I thought I had the ending figured out, but while there is an HEA, the way it played out was shocking. The action really ramped up, which made for a page-turning ending. This series is a great little mindless read. It’s fun and entertaining and a fun escape.

A Game of Vampires by Caroline Peckham

I think I just found a new favorite vampire series. I can’t wait to read the rest! The quality of writing was superb and the descriptions were so vivid without being over the top. For a relatively short story, it was full of action and romance. I loved everything about this book! I highly recommend it.

The Vampire Fate by Michelle Madow

If you enjoyed the rest of The Vampire Wish series, Book 4 will not disappoint! Can’t wait to see what happens next. 🙂

V Games by Caroline Peckham

I absolutely LOVED this book. Like most readers, when I see something being compared to The Hunger Games, I’m a bit skeptical. But y’all… after reading it, I’m telling you it’s a totally fair comparison. It’s like The Hunger Games on steroids… with vampires. But in it’s own totally unique way. The whole premise was fascinating, the characters were well developed, the quality of writing is phenomenal. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re into reading books about vampires, you do NOT want to miss this one.

The Book I Just Couldn’t Finish

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I realize that I’m in the vast minority hear, but I did not enjoy this book. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I really don’t get the hype. The idea was interesting enough, but I think there was just SO much description that, for me, it got in the way of the story. Before reading it, I remember seeing reviewers complaining about the excessive descriptions of dresses and thinking that was an odd complaint. But seriously. There are so many long-winded descriptions of dresses and colors that it started grating on my nerves. It’s not a terrible book by any means, but I was nearly finished with it when I realized I wasn’t enjoying it at all.

The YA Paranormal Romance You Need To Read Immediately

V Games is the first book in Caroline Peckham’s exciting YA paranormal romance series The Vampire Games. And let me tell you – I absolutely loved it.

Like most readers, when I see something being compared to The Hunger Games, I’m a bit skeptical.

But y’all

After reading it, I’m telling you it’s a totally fair comparison.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

It’s like The Hunger Games on steroids… with vampires. But in its own totally unique way.

The whole premise was fascinating, the characters were well developed, the quality of writing is phenomenal. I can’t recommend it enough.

If you’re into reading books about vampires, you do NOT want to miss this one.

Enjoy this review? Check out my other book reviews here.

Book Review: The One by Kiera Cass

The third book in The Selection series did not disappoint.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

If you enjoyed The Selection and The Elite, you’ll find The One to be a great conclusion to America’s and Maxon’s story.

While I expected the dystopian element to play a larger part in things, this series is definitely more of a romance than anything else. I thought I had the ending figured out, but while there is an HEA, the way it played out was shocking. The action really ramped up, which made for a page-turning ending.

This series is a great little mindless read. It’s fun and entertaining and a fun escape.

Haven’t read it yet? CLICK HERE to grab your copy.

If you enjoyed The Selection series, then you might also enjoy my Fate Abandoned series featuring a rebellious princess and a dangerously charming outlaw.

And finally, if you read The Selection series, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.

Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Let me preface this review by saying that I love Elizabeth Gilbert. She has such a relatable way of writing, and her words have such a natural flow to them that I can’t help but get lost in her books.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Knowing this, I had very high expectations for Big Magic.

And it did not disappoint.

It’s a unique kind of book in that it’s not instructive. She’s not teaching the reader how to become a writer or an artist. Rather, she offers encouragement for you to accept your calling and revel in the joy that is creative living.

I found it reaffirming that she embraces the art for the sake of art mentality.  That not everything you make has to be perfect. What matters is that you create.

She literally gives you permission to be what you know in your heart that you are – a creative being.

This is such a beautiful book. By the time I finished it, I couldn’t wait to get back to writing. It renewed my passion for my art, and for that I am grateful.

BIG MAGIC | ELIZABETH GILBERT | CREATIVITY | BOOKS ON CREATIVITY | CREATIVE LIVING

If you are a writer, you will like this book.

If you are an artist, you will like this book.

If you have an ounce of creativity within you, yearning to be set free, you will like this book.

BIG MAGIC | ELIZABETH GILBERT | CREATIVITY | BOOKS ON CREATIVITY | CREATIVE LIVING

I can’t recommend it enough. It’s officially one of my favorite books of all time.

My only regret is that I borrowed it from the library and don’t have a copy to put on my bookshelf (yet).

Do yourself a favor and read it today. You won’t regret it.

 

 

Book Review: The Wombanditos

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

The Wombanditos is unlike anything I’ve read – in the best way possible. In a novelette, author Andrew Einspruch has managed to create a whimsical yet believable world inhabited by an OCD princess and her talking chipmunk companion Jerome (who was my favorite character!). Together, they set off on an adventure – and run into trouble along the way. Princess Eloise is kidnapped, and it’s up to her and Jerome to outsmart her captors – the Wombanditos.

I actually found myself smiling as I read this story. There have been plenty of books lately that have made me teary-eyed, but I can’t remember the last time I SMILED while reading. It’s one of those books that’s a great little escape.

Though this story can stand alone, it is the perfect teaser for the series. While it’s technically a YA book, it can certainly be enjoyed by a younger audience as there is no violence or graphic language. As a parent, it’s always nice to come across a fun story that can be enjoyed by all ages.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

You can get a free copy of The Wombanditos by joining Andrew Einspruch’s Reader Group! Just CLICK HERE.

 

Note: I was provided with a copy of The Wombanditos by the author, but I am voluntarily writing this review and the opinions expressed are my own.

Enjoy this post? You might also like:
Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass
Book Review: A Study in Charlotte

Books That Will Change Your Life

As a YA sci-fi and fantasy author, I don’t think it’s any secret that I love reading books in those genres. But in-between the fiction books, I love reading books that help me understand myself better, open my heart and give me the tools to grow as a person.

So today, I’m sharing a selection of books that have made an impact on my life in one way or another. I hope you find them as healing and transformative as I did.

Note: These images are affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m guessing you’ve probably heard of this one. Julia Roberts even starred in a movie based on this one. This book is all about healing and reflection.  Through masterful storytelling, Elizabeth Gilbert takes us along on her journey of self-discovery – changing us, too, in the process.

 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art is one of my all-time favorite books. I recommend it to everyone. Technically it was written for creatives, but honestly, this should be required reading for EVERYONE. It’s all about finding the courage to pursue your calling and put in the work to make things happen. It is the most motivating book I have ever read, and I find myself quoting it to myself when I’m in need of some encouragement. Honestly, I never would have published any of my books without it.

I first learned about this book during an interview the author did with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday show. If the book’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me.

 

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This book was one of those books that touches your heart in unexpected ways. I honestly didn’t have any idea what this one would be about, but Emma Watson recommended it as part of her Our Shared Shelf book club on Goodreads, and something told me to give it a shot. The first 50 pages or so dragged a bit, but once I got past the author explaining her credentials and going into the actual storytelling, I was blown away. Women Who Run with the Wolves analyzes various folklores and fairy tales and extracts the hidden wisdom within. Trying to summarize it or explain it just doesn’t do it justice. But I promise it’s worth reading, especially if you’re a woman.

 

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai


I am in complete awe of this young woman. Of course, I’d heard her story countless times on the news, but short news segments do not do her tale justice. The book provides so much more context as far as what was going on in Pakistan at the time, her family life and how her father influenced her worldview. In order to fully appreciate the story of this brave young woman who stood up to the Taliban, you need to read this. I dare you to do so and not to be inspired. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated what a gift education really is until I read this book.

 

I could go on and on about the many non-fiction books that have shaped me, but these three have made the biggest impact.

What are some of your all-time favorite books? The ones that have touched your heart and changed you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Books have the ability to inspire and transform us. Today, I'm sharing books that will change your life and touch your heart.  Books have the ability to inspire and transform us. Today, I'm sharing books that will change your life and touch your heart.  Books have the ability to inspire and transform us. Today, I'm sharing books that will change your life and touch your heart.  Books have the ability to inspire and transform us. Today, I'm sharing books that will change your life and touch your heart.  Books have the ability to inspire and transform us. Today, I'm sharing books that will change your life and touch your heart.  

Book Review: A Study in Charlotte

While A Study in Charlotte is a little outside of the realm of what I normally read, I decided to give it a shot. And I’m so glad that I did.

Note: This image is an affiliate link, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

I thought this was an insanely clever idea. The descendents of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson ending up at the same boarding school and teaming up to solve a mystery that they’re being framed for? Um, yes please!

I wavered between giving this 4 or 5 stars. The biggest negative aspect of the book, in my opinion, is how casually Holmes’ drug use is treated. I mean, the girl has a SERIOUS drug problem, but it’s treated as if that is perfectly normal and just what teens do. That really rubbed me the wrong way.

But the story was entertaining enough that I could look past it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad I decided to branch out and try something new.

5 Kick-Butt YA Heroines I’m Totally Obsessed With

Everyone loves a strong female lead, and these YA books deliver! Here are my top five favorite heroines from YA books.

Katniss Everdeen: I mean… duh. The Hunger Games was the first series I practically devoured. And much of that was because Katniss was such a fascinating character. She’s clever, resourceful and skilled with a bow and arrow. Oh, and she leads a revolution. That’s pretty kick-butt in my book.

Tris Prior: As a general rule, whenever I’m talking about how much I love the Divergent series, I’m really just talking about how much I love the first and second books. If you read the third, you probably know why. That aside, Tris is practically the definition of a strong female lead. She’s physically strong and has a strong moral compass, too.

Cassie Sullivan:  Cassie is fiercely protective of her little brother. And the girl faces off against ALIENS. Need I say more?

Cinder: Cinder was a fascinating spin on the classic fairy tale. A cyborg Cinderella? Yes, please! She’s smart. She’s self-sufficient. She’s good at fixing things. And she’s full of sass.

Charlotte Holmes: Charlotte may not be leading uprisings or fighting aliens, but her clever deduction skills make her an incredibly strong female lead. I mean… she’s descended from Sherlock Holmes! And sleuthing skills definitely run in the family.

 

That wraps up my Top 5. And if you’re looking for your next favorite kick-butt heroine, be sure to check out Daphne in Fate Abandoned. She’s not afraid to stand up to authority. She’s amazing with a sword. And she’s determined to save her brother when he ventures on a doomed quest.

What other heroines should be on the list? Let me know in the comments below.