Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review: Second Time Around

Author: Erin Kaye
Publication Date: July 5, 2012
Publisher: Avon

The path to true love never did run smooth….

With a successful interior design business and two loving children, divorcee Jennifer Irwin is quite content. But when her forty-fifth birthday approaches, she starts to feel lonely in her empty nest.

Then she meets the handsome and self-assured Ben Crawford, who, although sixteen years her junior sweeps Jennifer off her feet. Knowing the residents of their small town wouldn’t approve, they hide their affair.

But a secret is never a secret for long in Ballyfergus…

Enraged by her mother’s love life, Lucy seeks comfort in the arms of charismatic but troubled Oren. Jennifer knows he is no good, but can she convince her daughter before it’s too late? And with everything going against them, will Jennifer and Ben’s relationship survive?
Everyone deserves a second chance, right? That was the first thought that entered my mind upon seeing this book for the first time. I actually wrote to the author, personally, to ask for a copy to read and review. I love when the colors are so wonderfully selected for the front of books because color matters! This book has a beautiful front cover and I love how the tree is made so much bigger than the man and woman in the bottom right hand corner. As if to state that new beginnings will begin to grow within the pages of this book.
This book consists of many different relationships, not just a romantic one. That is one reason that I loved this book so much. When you look at the front cover and you read the synopsis, you might be tempted to assume that Jennifer Irwin is the only character getting a second try at love or life. You would be wrong. So many other characters bloom and blossom throughout the novel. There are so many different relationships happening, but the book is never confusing and it is very easy to maintain what is going on and whose perspective is being revealed.
One of my favorite characters was Jennifer’s daughter, Lucy. At first, I will tell you that I hated her and the way that she treated her mother. Lucy and Jennifer do not have the best relationship in the beginning of the story. One of my favorite parts was getting to know what was going on between them more than any of the other characters. Lucy was studying at university and was still trying to “define” herself, which is completely understandable if you have ever been to university. It is a big change in any young adult’s life and you find out a lot of things that you didn’t know about yourself prior to attending. Lucy has a lot of maturing to do at first; she is ungrateful and takes everything for granted. Her character was my favorite to analyze and guess what horrible decisions she would make next!
The fact that Jennifer and Ben’s relationship steps outside of the box, at least in their community, is what kept me so interested. Jennifer is a “cougar” as she would be called in America or at least where I grew up. I loved that they both felt such a strong connection to each other that the age did not seem to matter because in reality, it doesn’t. Jennifer had me from the start because I just respected her character so much. The way that she was able to be civil and even kind to her ex-husband who then married her ex-best friend is totally commendable. Jennifer was just such a poised character and even made her flaws seem sophisticated.
This was a charming read, by far. I loved finding this new author, whose work I am now going to obsess over! Erin has been so great and is one of the kindest authors that I have worked with. I highly suggest looking into this book and giving it a try if you think you can handle all the screwed up relationships that are involved, and I mean that in the best way possible. I just want to say a big thank you to Erin, and to all of my many readers who keep me pushing on even when I am covered up in schoolwork and my blog has to take the back seat!
***A big thank also to the publishers at Avon/Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this enjoyable read in exchange for my unbiased opinion***

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly book meme that lets readers just like you guys know what to be expecting and waiting anxiously for. It is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

Author: Lili Peloquin
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: The Innocents # 1

Nothing ever came between sisters Alice and Charlie.
Friends didn't.
Boys couldn't.
Their family falling apart never would.
Until they got to Serenity Point.
"The Innocents" is the first in a new series of young adult novels that weave a saga of nail-biting drama, breathless romance, and gothic mystery.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Book Review: Love Finds You In Mackinac Island, Michigan

Author: Melanie Dobson
Publication Date: July 1, 2012
Publisher: Summerside Press
Series: Love Finds You

It's the height of the Gilded Age, but Elena Bissette's family has lost most of its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, and they spend summers there in hopes of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls at the Grand Hotel, she spends her days walking along the island's rugged coastline. There she meets Chase, a young fisherman who invites her to watch the ships from an abandoned lighthouse. The two begin to meet there in secret, hoping to solve a decades-old mystery. Meanwhile, Elena's mother contrives introductions between Elena and the island's most eligible bachelor, an elusive millionaire named Chester Darrington. When Elena's two worlds unexpectedly collide, she will be in for the surprise of her life.

Mackinac Island looks like a place that I desperately want to be. My favorite flower and the flower that I want to use in my wedding is a hydrangea, which is beautifully adorning the front cover of this book. The landscape is beautiful and it looks to be the perfect place to have a vacation home. This is the kind of book that displays the “summer read” feel, and many dedicated readers know what I mean! And not to mention this is actually a real place in Michigan, how cool is that?!!

Here is historical fiction that is well written. Have you ever read a book and it seems like the words just flow? Like they may even flow off the page, that’s how smooth they are? Please allow Melanie Dobson to do just that for you. I have never been so entranced by the description of any certain setting until I began to read about Mackinac Island, Michigan. What beautiful and not too overly done descriptions! I honestly got caught up in a daydream. This was the first book that I had read by this author only because this is the first that I have heard of her!
Elena Bissette is the perfect rebel without a cause heroine. She wants nothing to do with love, marriage, or even finding a man to have all of this with. During this time period those three things listed above are pretty inevitable for most women. Elena loves her mother, but constantly defies her wishes for Elena to be betrothed to Chester Darrington by summer’s end. I loved Elena from the first time that she snuck out her bedroom window!!
A lighthouse played a huge part in this story and it was so romantic and fit like a puzzle piece in all the right areas. Elena met a stranger one night at this lighthouse that she adored so much and it was where their love and connection started to form and develop. Lighthouses are such majestic structures and this one was no different. Just how a lighthouse brings in lost ships or ships looking for land, it brought Elena in and helped her decide who and what she wanted to be.
Even though the plot was somewhat predictable as most romantic ones are, I still believe that this book was a nice little escape for me for a few days. The perfect book to end summer with!
***Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity and Summerside Press for providing a copy for review***

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: The Color Of Tea

Author: Hannah Tunnicliffe
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Scribner

Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace. It was time to find a life for myself. To make something out of nothing. The end of hope and the beginning of it too. After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land—a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets. As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of family have been shattered. She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.

Grace opens a café where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons—the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones—to the women of Macau. There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family. But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface. Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghosts to rest and to begin to trust herself. With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked, Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.

A delicious, melt-in-your-mouth novel featuring the sweet pleasures of French pastries and the exotic scents and sights of China, The Color of Tea is a scrumptious story of love, friendship and renewal.

I am a sucker for books with food on the cover. This book honestly reeled me in with a solid and endearing story line about a woman who is looking for her place in the world and is trying to cope with life’s unsettling disappointments. I was thrilled to find out that within the story our main character, Grace Miller, opens a café called Lillian’s and there she hopes to make a name for herself within Macau. I love characters who pursue their utmost desires and dreams!!

This story pulled on my heartstrings big time. It made me laugh and cry all at the same time. This story is completely Grace’s, but she has the help of some amazing secondary characters. A writer who can make the reader appreciate even the smallest characters is getting their job done. There are in fact too many secondary characters for me to name, but they are the icing on top of the cake in this story. Even though I love and came to admire Grace, her story would still not be the same without characters like Rilla and Gigi, and it is safe to say that the book is enjoyable from reading about them alone.
Grace Miller is suffering from a lot of things at the beginning of the novel. Her marriage is struggling, she has been moved to China to follow her husband’s career, she wants to become a mother but her chances are not looking good, and on top of it all I believe that she was suffering from depression. For awhile I was beginning to wonder if she was ever going to be able to pull out of the funk that she was stuck in. Then came in her desire to make, serve, and sell the finest Parisian inspired macarons that Macau has ever seen. When Grace comes upon a closed down café for sale I knew that all her answer lay within those doors. I was praying so hard that she would open up the café and sell her beloved macrons.
Once Lillan’s was open it was like reading a whole different book and Grace’s loving and spontaneous came out as she met many new faces and shared her passion with the locals. Grace was new to the culture in Macau and therefore had to learn her way around and how things were done just like someone who moves to a new school. It was interesting to watch her transformation from a wilting flower to a blossoming rosebud. At first I questioned if I was going to like her character but by the end of the book I was warming up to her more and more. I love seeing characters come through obstacles in their own lives and see how they adjust to all of the changes.
What a wonderful book full of sugar, tears, smiles, and plenty of macarons. Grace writes letters to her mother throughout the entire book, that are very heartfelt and really allows you to get inside of Grace’s mind. I love added touches like that from authors. Grace is given a new hope when the doors of Lillian’s open and the transformation of her married as well as social life is something that I would not want to miss.
***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Scribner for an honest review***

Waiting On Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly book meme that lets readers just like you guys know what to be expecting and waiting anxiously for. It is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

Author: Suzy Cox
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

When Charlotte comes to after being pushed onto the subway tracks, she is informed by a group of teenage girls that she is dead…they all are. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency. With the support of these dynamic girls—including fashionable Lorna, who can’t wait to find out if the devil actually wears Prada, and nerdy Nancy, who insists on staying in limbo to help out other girls—Charlotte follows leads and tracks down clues to solve her own murder. With plenty of juicy mysteries and some pretty cute guys, readers are sure to fall in love with this fun and suspenseful page-turner!

Fans of Meg Cabot, Sara Shepard, and Ally Carter will delight in this exciting new paperback original

Halloween will be approaching by the time that this book is released and I always get in the mood to read ghost, vampire, or other supernatural stories near Halloween! I think this book will be a fun read and I am maybe hoping for a little humor since the girls sound so different from one another.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ARC Book Review: Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous

Author: Kathryn Williams
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America's finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering--fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance

I requested this book from the publisher back at the beginning of the summer just because of how completely adorable it looked and sounded! A girl chef with a passion for tomato sauce sounds like such a cute read and I loved the wooden spoon she is holding on the front cover; it just added charisma and attitude to my perspective of Sophie. I read on to find out that she was Greek/Italian, yeah even cooler!! This book sounded like the perfect summer read and first impressions really matter, right?!

This book was not what I expected it to be. It was a cute read but it just lacked something for me. I was not as into it as I hoped that I would be. I really wanted it to be like one of my favorite books, but sadly I was a little disappointed. Not that it was all bad because there were definitely parts that I did like. I loved Sophie’s ambition and her desire to cook. I could feel a passion in her that was so real and I love that she was so connected to her family and really embraced her Greek/Italian culture. I will admit that the cover caught my eye here and the story did not quite match my radiant expectations.

Like I said before it was an enjoyable read, but I never felt a strong pull or connection to the story that made me want to keep reading until I finished the book. First of all I hate reality shows anyway the ones like Jersey Shore, The Bachelor, or The Bad Girls Club. However, I love shows like Chopped and Iron Chef so I thought that maybe I would like this book seeing as how Sophie is a contestant on Teen Test Kitchen. I did not like this reality TV show setting. I felt like parts of it were so generic and that I already knew what would happen next. I feel like I would have like Sophie in a different setting, if that makes sense to readers.

I was left disappointed by the romance side of things as well. I felt like this would be a breezy read with cute and romantic lines from a ridiculously handsome boy, but sadly I was left empty handed in this department as well. I felt like Sophie was even closed off to me sometimes as well in the romance department and I wish I could have known more of her feelings and thoughts in certain parts of the book. I wish Sophie would have been more a go getter!! I did like Sophie but I just felt like sometimes she was too scared to take a chance on things that she knew she wanted.

I did love the recipes that were included in the book and I will treasure the book just for those recipes. It added a nice touch and made Sophie feel more realistic and personable to me as I read her story. Nice touch, Kathryn!! Not an overall bad book if you are looking for a light summer read.

***A copy of this book was generously provided to me for an honest review by Henry Holt & Co. Thank you so much!!***

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: The Waiting Sky

Author: Lara Zielin
Publication Date: August 2, 2012
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend.

Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.

When I was younger I was terrified of tornados or twisters, but now I LOVE storms! Isn’t that funny? Thunder and lightning actually put me in a great mood and I always use storms as the perfect opportunity to pull out a great book and read for awhile. The twister in the jar immediately caught my eye! It is a huge symbol for being able to contain chaos and I am so digging it!!!  

This book reminded me so much of Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols and I mean that in a totally good way. This is the story of a girl who is drowning in the misery and problems in her own life and most of them are created by her alcoholic mother. Jane McAllister goes out to Oklahoma to stay with her brother, Ethan, and help him and his storm chasing team, Tornado Brothers, locate and photograph a few bad tornados. This is more than just an escape for Jane; it’s a way to be released from the grips of her mother and make her own life.

I loved Jane from the moment that I was introduced to her. Jane’s story could happen to anyone and I often felt so sorry for the way she was forced to live. Her mother was a severe alcoholic and often times squandered away all of their money for alcohol at the local bar. Jane was always there to protect and take care of her mother, and when Jane left to go out west her mother was completely lost. Jane loved her mother and it was so sad to see Jane struggle through letting her mother go, but she knew that she had to do it for her own good. It was such a heart wrenching experience to read and see Jane struggle, but she became so much stronger because of it.

Then there was the actual chasing tornados part!! It was so full of action and so electrifying to see how the team of storm chasers interacted with one another on the journeys after massive storms. I have never read a story before about chasing storms and I was so pleased with this one that I want more. These people, including Jane, all have to have a little adrenaline junkie inside of them somewhere in order to be able to do what they do. Jane was so used to dealing with chaos, after taking care of her mother for so long, that she fit right in with the team and really seemed to enjoy helping her brother. It was one of the most thrilling reads that I have opened up this summer and I felt as if I were in the van alongside the storm the whole entire time.

You also get a look into what being a part of a real storm chaser team would feel like. They hop from town to town and stay in different hotels every night, which sounds like it might suck but the team is really a family and they seem to enjoy each other’s company more than anything. They are always eating fast food or at some local restaurant, which gives the book a nice cozy feel. The most important thing about this book is the passion that each character brings to the chase! They really love what they do and that makes for an amazing read!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by Putnam Juvenile for review purposes***

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: The Chocolate Thief

Author: Laura Florand
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Kensington

Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…


Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais. Not unless there’s something much more delectable on the table…

Stolen Pleasure

Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter?

The mini Eiffel Tower on the front cover told me that I was in heaven simply because I love anything that has to do with Paris. And then there is the chocolate! Oh my goodness let’s talk chocolate. From the start I knew that this book had all the making for a charming read. Then when I started reading I was so enthralled with the magic of Paris as it came out through the pages!

Laura’s ability to write characters that you sometimes love and you sometimes hate is out of this world! Sylvain and Cade often made me so mad when they tried to hide or deny their feelings for one another. Their relationship was a love/hate ordeal and it was so amusing and often times frustrating to read. I was thinking to myself, “OK, you both just need to swallow your pride and admit to the other that they are all you can think about!!” I loved watching their relationship develop and I can honestly say that this is not one of those contemporary romance novels that are often times way too predictable. This book keeps you guessing what will happen next!!

Cade Corey was my favorite character just because of all her spark and spunk. She came to Paris on a mission and she was determined not to return home until her mission was complete. Her love and passion for chocolate and Paris was so believable and as the reader I was cheering for her the whole time. She absolutely loved Paris and some of the best descriptions of the city came out through Cade’s thoughts and remarks to herself. She was a no back down type of character (if that makes sense)! She took nothing from no one and especially not Sylvain Marquis!! Here is a direct quote from Cade’s thoughts on Paris, “Outside, Paris put on darkness the way her women dressed for excitement-a black dress sliding over skin, something glittering in its threads. Paris pulled black net stockings over her elegant lines, added high-heeled black boots to click against pavement. Buildings lit strings of jewels-an earring here, a bracelet there, and a shimmer of something over the skin, a dusting of glitter” from page 89 of the ARC copy. Florand provides such eloquent descriptions all the way up until the last page!

Ultimately the best part of this book was the chocolate!! You will seriously crave chocolate and you will want to go out and buy some. The way that Sylvain talks about chocolate and his passion for making it helps to make this story what it is. Sylvain often used his chocolate to lure his women in; now that tells you how skilled he is with chocolate.

Such a fun, light and enchanting read about a beautiful city and a richly made chocolate with a handsome chocolatier!!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by Kensington for review purposes***

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway

Is almost over :(

So in that case it is time for a giveaway to draw us away from the summertime blues!

This giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships to your country! You will need to confirm that before entering in the giveaway.

There will be ONE winner (:

The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I will be forced to select another winner!

Now let’s take a look at the prize! I love a good series so I figured that I would place this series up for grabs. This series is titled the Darkest London Series by Kristen Callihan. I am sure that some of you are familiar with these books, but if you are not please feel free to head on over to Goodreads to check them out!

I am going to buy both copies of the books in this series, that’s book 1 & 2 for the lucky winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Kissing Shakespeare

Author: Pamela Mingle
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school's staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she'd like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he's a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen's really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn't convinced she's the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it's her only chance of getting back to the present and her "real" life. What Miranda doesn't bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required

Shakespeare is in the title so this book was a must have for me! I requested it from the publisher months ago and was so pleased when it arrived! The cover is beautiful and also leaves the mind to wander; who is this girl and what does she get herself into? When I learned that this was a time travel novel I was all the more pleased because that is definitely something different than what I have been used to reading here lately. If I had the ability to travel through time then Shakespeare’s doorstep is where I would hope to end up! One of the greats and I sure would love some writing tips from him.

I appreciated this book so much. Being a college English major, I have sat through my fair share of Shakespeare readings, reenactments, and of course his famous plays. This book took another look into the life of Shakespeare as historians know it and I was very pleased with the way that this novel was written! Shakespeare is often a touchy subject amongst scholars because of the conspiracy theory that he did not in fact right half of the plays, sonnets, and poetry that his name claims. (I, of course, think this is bull crap!!) Mingle did her research and her perspective of Will Shakespeare was a rather pleasant one to read about. I was just so pleased that I felt I needed to share that little tid bit first!

Miranda Graham is completely discouraged when we are introduced to her because of her recent performance in Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew. Readers soon learn that her parents are huge stage actors and are traveling all over Europe and Miranda feels it is pertinent to live up to their expectations even though she thinks she will never be as good as her mother. Mingle gets straight to the point in Miranda’s story. I believe that even before the first chapter has ended Miranda and Stephen have already traveled through time back to England, 1581. I can definitely appreciate this is a book because the parts I hate the most are the ones where I, as the reader, am waiting and waiting and waiting for the action to take place. Mingle does not ask you to wait, but instead writes an exciting adventure that hooks you after the first few pages.

Once Stephen Langford, who is from Shakespeare’s time, and Miranda have safely arrived back in England it is wonderful to read about Miranda’s adjustment. She has to give up her modern clothes and technologies (tough for any teenager or young adult). He is constantly reminding her not to slip up and say the wrong thing because in a time such as this she could be easily mistaken for a witch or worse if her modern tendencies were to surface. I loved reading about Shakespeare’s England from Miranda’s perspective. I mean can you just imagine? I would not know what to do with myself. And one of my favorite parts is when Miranda is actually supposed to be helping Shakespeare critique his play, The Taming of the Shrew. Miranda is actually sitting in his presence listening and watching him read and act out the play and then she realizes that she is in the presence of one of the greatest literary masterminds! I got chills just reading this section.

I loved all of the characters and it is seldom that I will say that. My favorite was probably Stephen Langford who was in fact able to travel through time and brought Miranda back to England, 1581 in order to help save Shakespeare’s career as one of the best known playwrights of all time. Stephen did not fall head over heels right from the start for Miranda and I almost expected that to happen, but was so glad that he didn’t. It was a change and for once the whole novel was not revolving around a love story. This was a well written book and I really enjoyed my time spent reading it. If any potential has any love or admiration for Shakespeare at all then I suggest you pick up this book!

***A copy of this book was provided by Delacorte Press for review purposes***

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Early Book Review: The Demon Catchers of Milan

Author: Kat Beyer
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA

Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.

Ok so I am not crazy about any kind of horror movie or book that involves anyone being possessed by a demon. I don’t know it just has never been my thing and it really freaks me out. But this book is not anything like a Stephen King thriller and when I discovered that it was actually a YA fiction novel I was so shocked because this is different from anything I have ever read in the YA genre. The candles on the front cover are my favorite part especially when you learn that there is actually magic in them and they are used to help rid off demons!

The story drops the reader in the middle of Mia’s life and in the middle of a demon possession, hers! Mia soon learns that her family is rooted in Milan and consists of a bunch of demon hunters and the only way that she will be safe is to move to Italy with them and learn their language and culture. I loved Mia’s attitude and her willingness to embrace the fact that she was being attacked by a demon and that she now had to uproot her life and learn how to ward it off. The story was full of action the entire time and sometimes I will admit that it became confusing. I am looking forward to see if other bloggers and reviewers agree with me on that statement because I feel like it was easy to get lost at times and have to back up and re-read a few paragraphs.

What I did absolutely love was the Milanese culture and background that Beyer provided. Mia was forced to learn Italian and the ways of life were so different from her own in America that it was an interesting transition to read about how Mia handled her new life. My favorite part of reading this book was Mia’s depictions of the history and life of family in Milan. Beyer obviously did her research here! The family tradition of demon hunting was also something that was well written as well. I loved how they all worked together as a family and every cousin, brother, sister and aunt had a task to perform in an exorcism. They were always very family oriented, but I believe that most Italian families receive that rep. Another interesting aspect, as I mentioned before, was the candles. Mia soon learned that there was more to the candle than ambiance. They were supposed to leave the candles burning at all times and the candles actually gave them signs as far as demons were concerned.

My only complaint with this book is that sometimes I was as clueless as Mia to what was going on. For the longest time after Mia arrived in Milan she was not allowed to venture outside or anywhere other than their home for fear of another demon attack. Yet, no one really answered a lot of Mia’s questions. In the midst of an exorcism I was often left as puzzled as well. I was like wait what just happened?! The writing is creepy and weird at times and will completely leave you in the dark and that is so frustrating. Once I get to the end of the book I would like a few answers, if you know what I’m saying?! I honestly just never felt the spark from this book. I wanted to love it but I had nothing to hold onto.

***A copy of the book was provided for me from Southern Book Blogger Tours for review purposes***