Guest Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin 
Paperback, 372 Pages
First Published September 1937

Summary: Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!
Today on the blog we have a guest review from Sadie over at Sadie B. WriterShe was kind enough to stop by and review The Hobbit -- an old-time classic -- and share her thoughts on it, and we couldn't be more excited to have her! So without further ado, let's get into it!

My father first introduced me to the book when I was just five years old. He read The Hobbit to me as my bedtime story, and I was immediately hooked. Today, I re-read The Hobbit a few times every year from the same battered book my father used to read it to me. I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with the characters, creatures, and specifically the cultures of Middle-Earth. Tolkien’s worlds are a big part of my life, and I love sharing my fascination of his works with others. I hope you enjoy my review of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and if you have any questions about the book, don’t hesitate to ask me! 

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole full of worms and oozy smells. This was a Hobbit-hole, and that means good food, a warm hearth, and all the comforts of home.” 
Homebody Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit of the Shire, in the realm of Middle-Earth. Hobbits are respectable folk, and are known for their love of peace and quiet. They never do anything unexpected and nothing unexpected ever happens to them. 

One day, by chance (or by the will of a Wizard), quiet Mr. Baggins is asked to be the thirteenth member of a company of Dwarves setting out to reclaim their homeland of Erebor stolen by the dragon Smaug. 

Smaug has not been seen for over forty years, and the peoples inhabiting Middle-Earth knew of the vast treasure that the dragon had horded. Bilbo reluctantly agrees to be the final member of the company and finds himself an unlikely adventurer on a journey to take back Erebor. 

Bilbo is out of his element. Going on a long trip with twelve messy, smelly Dwarves is not his idea of a good time. The group endures many hardships at the hands of Mirkwood elves, giant spiders, Orcs, and trolls (who want to squash them into jelly); all trying to stop the company from reaching Erebor and the dragon’s gold.

On the way, Bilbo accidently stumbles upon a tiny object: a gold ring. After being hunted down by the creature Gollum – who was trying to kill Bilbo for stealing his Ring – Bilbo uses the Ring to escape the caves and re-join the Dwarves. Gandalf suspects Bilbo of having found a magic ring, and eventually confirms his suspicions in The Hobbit’s follow-up book, Fellowship of the Ring. This Ring will eventually interfere in the lives of many, and will change Middle-Earth forever. 

Packed with incredible descriptions, witty dialogue, and unique characters, The Hobbit is a book I recommend to everyone, regardless of whether of not they have seen the recent movie trilogy. Keep an open mind, and don’t judge The Hobbit on its movie; instead, read the book and see just how different the two are. Author J. R. R. Tolkien, influenced by his best friend and fellow writer C. S. Lewis, originally wrote The Hobbit to be a children’s book, but today, both adults and children alike find themselves captivated by this timeless, classic story of Bilbo Baggins and his unexpected adventure. 

I hope you enjoyed my review! Don’t forget to check out my blog for more YA book reviews and geeky ramblings.

[Portions of this review were previously published in TVO ©]

We'd like to once again thank Sadie for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review. You can read more original content over on her blog!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Title: Emergency Contact
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 400 Pages
Published March 2018

Summary: For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

I bought a copy of this book at the bookstore the day it was released, because it sounded so freaking cute and I just couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I'm so glad that I made that choice, because I ended up reading such a funny, heart-warming story full of friendship, secrets, and even a little bit of love.

As the summary explains, Penny runs into Sam, a barista at her college coffee shop, a few days into moving to campus. They immediately click, but there's a slight problem -- Sam is Jude's uncle. And Jude is Penny's roommate, and arguably her only friend on campus. So Penny struggles with her budding friendship with Sam while also trying to keep it from Jude, and on top of all of that, she's trying to get settled into her new college life. And did I mention the part that she's constantly butting heads with her over-the-top mother? 

I really enjoyed reading this book. It took me a little while to get into it at first because Penny's character was hard to pin down at first. We got a lot about what was going on with the people around her, but I couldn't tell what she really liked or what her personality was like. But I kept reading and eventually the friendship between Penny and Sam started picking up speed, and I found myself sucked into the story and unable to put this book down. Even though the book was sort of big (almost 400 pages!), I flew through it because I just kept wanting to flip the pages and see what was going to happen next. It took me a little bit to warm up to this story, but once I did, I fell hard and fast.

Something else that I thought enhanced my reading experience was the fact that I started reading this book shortly after its release, which meant so many of our other awesome blogger friends were reading it at the same time! It felt like we were all in one little adorable book club, reading along with each other and sharing our thoughts and gushing over all of the adorable stuff at the same time. It's been awhile since I've had a group experience like that, so that definitely made me enjoy reading this book even more!

group hug hollywood week GIF by American Idol

My favorite character in this book was definitely Sam. Even though he was hot-headed and closed off a lot of the time, he definitely spoke to me and I found myself really interested in him from the very beginning. Not just because he seemed super attractive (but I mean, that is certainly a bonus), but because he seemed to be working through so many struggles and rough patches in his life that my heart immediately went out to him. I also really liked Jude -- she was so sweet and kind and unfailingly loyal to all of her friends and family in the book, which I loved. She reminded me a lot of friends that I have and it just made my heart so warm and fuzzy inside. 

The only thing I wasn't super keen on with this book was the fact that it seemed like there were so many plot points happening all at once that I found myself lost or forgetting about them sometimes. There's Sam and Penny, Penny and her mom, Penny and Jude and Mallory, Penny and a boy from her class, Penny's writing class, Sam and Lorraine, etc. There are just a lot of different threads to be followed and at times I felt lost or confused or that I was missing something. But that was really the only thing I wasn't super crazy about with this book -- it felt like a lot was going on in a short period of reading. But after finishing the book and thinking about it for a little while, I realized that all of the threads were tied off -- it was just a little bit difficult to realize in the moment when a lot of things were going on.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Emergency Contact. It was filled with a lot of laughs, gasps, and heartwarming moments that I really found myself delving into. I'm glad that I decided to pick this book up after discovering it on Goodreads, because I got an adorable story out of it, as well as that fuzzy feeling of being in a book group as I read it alongside all of my blogger friends and book buddies that were reading it at the same time!

If you're looking for your next heart-warming read, I definitely recommend picking up this book or adding it to your TBR! You definitely won't be sorry!

ARC Review: Whisper by Lynette Noni

Title: Whisper (Whisper #1)
Author: Lynette Noni
Genre: Young adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Edelweiss 
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018

For two and a half years, Subject 684 --- "Jane Doe" --- has been locked underground in a secret government facility, enduring tests and torture. In that time, she hasn't uttered a single word. Not even her real name. Jane chooses to remain silent rather than risk losing control over the power within her. She alone knows what havoc her words can cause. Then the authorities put her in the care of the mysterious Landon Ward, and Jane is surprised when he treats her like a person rather than a prisoner. Ward's protective nature causes her resolve to crack in spite of her best efforts to resist. Just as Jane begins to trust him, though, a freak accident reveals the dangerous power she has concealed for years. It also reveals that the government has been keeping secrets of its own. Now Jane's ability is at the heart of a sinister plot for vengeance, and she has to decide whom she will trust ... and whom she will help.

I have extremely mixed feelings on this book. On one hand I really enjoyed it and loved the idea and the characters and on the other hand I felt like the story was underdeveloped and awkwardly put together at some points. It isn't that the idea for Whisper was horrible, it was quite opposite actually but it felt very rushed and underdeveloped in certain spots.  

Jane Doe or subject 684 has been silent and locked up in an underground government facility, Lengard, for the past two and a half years. With her time running out and all other attempts with other Lengard personal having failed the Director of the facility sends in his nephew, Landon Ward in to get Jane Doe to respond. What surprises Jane the most is the fact that Ward treats her like a human rather then an animal like the other personnel at Lengard do. After a freak accident Jane reveals her Speaking ability and is thrown into a whole other side of Lengard that she didn't even know existed. 

The idea for Speaking was really cool. After failed drug trails in the past subjects who had taken the drug started to develop Speaking powers, which are is when ever they speak something with intent and it happens. Years after when these subjects began to have children of their own those children also developed Speaking abilities which brings us to our current set of characters. Though Speakers can create objects, influence people or heal them they are only confined to Speak in their category. For example Cami can heal people, Crew can injure, ect. My only confusion is how these abilities developed, I feel like they are more fantasy based rather then science fiction. Its only a small detail but it was something I thought about often enough through out the entirety of the novel. 

I liked Jane Doe (We do learn her real name in the novel. But I don't want to spoil anything.) There is definitely character growth through out the novel, even if its all mostly towards the end. For the secondary characters in Whisper I found them to be underdeveloped. I liked them, don't get me wrong on that part but I feel like they could have been expanded on. Ward is one of the main character and as the reader I feel like all I know is his Speaking ability and that is it. I like having a feel for the characters and Whisper fell a little short on that aspect. 

I also loved that this book was not focused on Jane Doe having a love interest. I can see that happening later on in the series and for there to be a possible love triangle. But it was nice seeing a YA novel that wasn't focused on the relationship of the characters rather then the actual story. 

Here is where my review is going to get a little more negative. Some of the plot points I found where awkwardly thrown together, and that could have just been the way the book was formatted meaning: there were a few time gaps, a couple of days, a few weeks, a few hours. I felt like the story was a little fragmented in that part. Also, nothing really interesting happens until about half way through the book. I kept on reading because I was curious about what made this book a sci-fi (Plus, I love sci-fi) but it did move slow and then after the half way point more picked up. 

Overall I didn't hate Whisper. I did enjoy it, (despite my previously stated issues) and I do plan on continuing on in the series when the next books are published. The book has a lot of potential to grow from the point it is at right now. This was a quick read, so for those of you who are looking for something that isn't crazy long this is definitely a good option! 

(3.5 Stars!) 

Guest Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published April 2017

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
Today on the blog we have a guest review from Esther over at Bite Into Books! In honor of it being a whole year since The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (famous author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, if the name sounds familiar!), it's time to host a guest review featuring this fabulous book. So let's get into it!

My Thoughts
If you want to read a nice YA/Contemporary that is light and just fun to read, this is the book to pick! I rushed through and I just ENJOYED. It's such a cute, feelgood book that leaves you with a smile.


GOT, LOTR, HP: I LOVE the references in this book. Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, it's all there! I'm such a big fangirl and I can immediately feel a connection with a character if they're a fan of the same things that I am. I love when authors know a lot of the books and TV Shows/Movies that I also enjoyed.

Text messages and emoticons: I'm a person that uses text messages and emoticons a lot. I love reading books that contain emails or text messages, because I can relate. Molly talks in emoticons a lot and that's so much fun, because you recognize the emoticon and feel yet another bond with a character!

Feel good book: Like I said; This is just a book to lay back, relax and enjoy the ride. The book left me with a satisfactory feeling and a big happy smile on my face.

Characters: I love the different characters in this book and how strong they are. The characters are really thought through and have a lot of personality even in the way they talk. I felt a good connection with a lot of the characters. That's the main reason I enjoyed the book a lot.


Not mind blowing: This book isn't mind blowing. It doesn't stir up big emotions and it doesn't have big plot twists as well. That's why I gave it 4 stars and not 5.


A great book for the YA/Contemporary fans out there. It's actually 336 pages but doesn't feel like that at all. You rush through and can just enjoy the well shaped characters and nice story line. Definitely worth laying back and making you forget the world around you.

We'd like to once again thank Esther for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review. You can read the original review over on their blog by clicking HERE!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!

Waiting on Wednesday: Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Jessica's Waiting on:

Title: Love & Other Carnivorous Plants
Author: Florence Gonsalves
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018

Summary: Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny's life. She's failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is. 
The title of this book is what drew me in right away -- it's certainly interesting! And once I read the summary, I knew that this was a book I had to read. I'm really excited to read this book next month, because it seems like a story of romance, confidence, and even sadness -- a blend that I'd really enjoy reading. If this book isn't on your TBR yet, I highly recommend putting it there -- because this seems like a really promising story!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Frequently Used Words in YA Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between!
This Week's Topic: Frequently Used Words in YA Titles
Today's TTT is an interesting topic that caused me to go on a little search. I never noticed how many book titles had these words until I sat and thought about it, but now that I did, it was interesting to see! So without further ado, here are ten frequently used words in YA titles that I've noticed!

1. "Love"

2. "And Other"

3. "When"

4. "Total"

5. "You"

6. "Beautiful"

7. "Rules"

8. "Prom"

9. "Summer"

10. "Moment"

So those are ten words that I noticed have been frequently used in YA book titles that I've noticed! Have you noticed any that I missed? Agree/disagree with any of the ones I pointed out? Comment down below and let me know! :-)

ARC Review: All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Title: All of This is True
Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 432 Pages
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018

Summary: Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault. Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book. Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined...

I received an advanced copy of this book through TeenReads, and I'm really glad I did, because I was really excited to get my hands on this book ever since I found out that the story took place in an area I grew up in -- an area that isn't talked about much! That immediately drew me into the story (after texting my boyfriend and my other friends from home about it!), and I couldn't put the book down once I picked it up.

As the summary explains, a group of teens find themselves living in their wildest dream -- they've become best friends with a super-famous Young Adult author who wrote their favorite series. Before long, they start sharing secrets, getting closer, becoming the envy of their school...but things can't stay in paradise for long. Because Fatima Ro needs new material for a story. And it seems like she doesn't care who she hurts in the process -- exploiting the secrets that her new friends trusted her with. And when Jonah's secret is revealed in the book, something really, really terrible happens to him because of it.

What I really loved about this book was the way it was told. It definitely didn't follow the usual storytelling format! It reminded me a little bit of Illuminae, in a way. The book is told entirely through interview transcripts, pieces of Soleil's journals, and excerpts from Fatima's new book. So you learn the entire story -- what happened, what was said, and the aftermath of it all -- completely through these mediums. And sometimes reading books like this (such as Illuminae) can leave me with a lot of unanswered questions, because there is a lot that isn't always conveyed through transcripts. But this book did an excellent job of weaving a solid, captivating story -- when I finished reading, I didn't feel like anything was left out or like I was missing something!

Another thing that I really loved about this book was the references, which I mentioned a little earlier in this post! There were a lot of mentions to specific bookstores, areas, and cafes that I remembered from home, and the boarding school in the book even took some details from the boarding school that my boyfriend went to!! It was just really interesting (and exciting!) to see a book set in my hometown, since that's not something that really tends to happen. So it gave me a feeling of being an "insider," so to speak -- I caught all of the references and felt excited and familiar with the setting. I absolutely loved that part of the story, and that's part of the reason I'm officially pushing this book on all of my friends back home!

The story itself was seriously so good. It hooked me right away and kept me stuck to the pages until the very end -- for the first time since I've come to college, I managed to read 300 pages in a single day!! On top of classes and school work and other responsibilities! I seriously just could not put this book down. The book starts off by telling the reader what happened with Fatima and the group, so you know how it ends, but the book breaks it down and explains what really played out. Plus, all of the juicy details aren't really discussed in the beginning, so you do have to read all the way until the end to find out what's going to happen!

Character-wise, I really loved Penny and I really couldn't stand Miri. Miri seemed like the ringleader in a not-good way, and even throughout all of the terrible things that were happening, she didn't want to acknowledge the fact that Fatima was, in fact, freaking creepy and awful. She definitely was brainwashed in that regard. And as for Penny, my heart absolutely broke for her -- all she wanted was to feel special, important, and respected. It made me feel really bad when she would talk about how ignored and lonely she felt. Everyone in this book definitely should've treated you better, Penny!!! I'm on your side!!!

(Spoilers ahead, so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want this book ruined for you!) The only thing was that I was able to predict the ending from very early on in the book, which was just a tiny bit sad because I love being surprised. As soon as you start getting some details of what happened and Sunny finds out, I knew. I knew exactly where it was going, and maybe that was intentional, or maybe it wasn't. But yeah, I definitely predicted the ending. But there was still a heightened level of suspense, waiting to see how everything was going to play out! So I don't think that takes away from the story for me at all, really.

And as for where I stand on Fatima being guilty of exploiting these kids for their story? I absolutely believe she's guilty. I know not everyone may feel that way, but there's something really creepy and unsettling about an older author befriending these young kids with the intention of having them spill their deepest, darkest secrets, only to use them in her latest book. I really didn't like her for that -- I thought it was really shady and wrong. But what were your own thoughts about the book? Comment down below!

Overall, I absolutely loved All of This is True. This book is captivating, mysterious, thrilling, and every amazing adjective in between! I flew through this book quicker than I've read in the longest time because I just had to know what was going to happen next, and the way the book was formatted made it really easy to get through. And, like I said, I loved the references! And, in a weird way, this book inspired me to get writing in terms of my own current project again. I love books/TV shows that have writers as some of the main characters, because it really helps inspire me and get me in the mood to create!

But yes, yes. Back to the book. This incredible, 5-star book that I couldn't put down.

What are you waiting for?! This book absolutely needs to be on your TBR RIGHT. NOW. Scroll up and find that Goodreads button at the top of this post and add it!

Special thanks to TeenReads for supplying me with a copy of this ARC! There were no review expectations or anything; I was simply given a copy of the book just because my boss knew I was interested in it. And I'm so glad that I got the chance and could read this book early and tell all of you how amazing it is and how much you need it!! So what're you waiting for?

Hats off to Lygia -- I'll definitely be reading more of her books in the future! 

Guest Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie Lemore

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie Lemore
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Published October 2017

Summary: For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens. The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.
Today on the blog we have a guest review from Tessa over at Crazy for YAShe stopped by to review Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie Lemore, a book that none of us Book Bratz have read before but now are so glad to see on our radar! So without further ado, let's get into the review!

There are very few times when the inside of a book is just as beautiful as the outside, especially with the high standards that the colorful blossoms on Wild Beauty's cover set. However, the writing and characters found inside the cover is just as beautiful as the lush cover.

Some people would assume that beautiful writing sacrifices substance for pretty words and lengthy descriptions, but that is simply not true with Wild Beauty. Yes, the writing is full of flowery prose, perceptive descriptions, and flower puns (which I greatly appreciated), but that doesn't mean that the words were empty.

In fact, Wild Beauty is one of the most diverse books I have read. Not only is there major LGBTQ+ representation through the main characters, but the entire cast of character seeps the story in their culture and ethnic history. This book taught me more about Hispanic culture than three years of Spanish classes at my high school. I loved how their traditions, especially the food, were flawlessly incorporated into the story instead of as a token element. There is no separating the Nomeolvides women and their culture, which I greatly admired throughout the story. Also, issues of race and sexuality were expertly woven throughout the story in a realistic way that avoided the didactic tone that many stories can fall into while taking on important issues. There was no lecturing or nagging, just subtle revelations about how these topics fit into real life.

The characters are the true gems, or should I say blossoms, of the story. Not many YA books have a strong focus on family (especially since half of YA features main characters with dead parents), so the strong bond between multiple generations was refreshing. The cast included grandmothers, aunts, mothers, daughters, and cousins, yet I never felt overwhelmed. Each of the cousins were thoroughly developed and I was able to tell them apart (which is truly an accomplishment for me and my mushy memory). By giving each of the cousins distinct characteristics, McLemore was able to maintain a large cast of characters that emphasized the importance of family. 

Even though I loved the characters, magic, and diversity, I will say that there was not much of a plot. This book is definitely not the going to deliver epic battles, suspenseful mysteries and all of that jazz. I did not go into the book expecting a ton of action, but there were lags toward the middle of the book with some repetitive plot lines. However, if you are just in it for the action, I would still highly recommend that you keep an open mind and try the story anyway. Although action is not the main focus of the story, the amazing Nomeolvides family and their flowery magic is. 

Due to the diverse cast of characters, heartwarming emphasis on family, and the beauty growing out of the writing, I would recommend Wild Beauty to anyone undeterred by a slower pace.

We'd like to once again thank Tessa for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review. Don't forget to check out Crazy for YA!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!

Spotlight & Excerpt: Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellison

Hi there! Today on the blog, we have something different and exciting -- a spotlight and excerpt on a book all about awesome, badass lady pirates, courtesy of author Jennifer Ellison! So without further ado, let's get into it!

Title: Over Raging Tides
Author: Jennifer Ellison
Publisher: Kindle
eBook, 239 Pages
Published March 2018

Summary: The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board. That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her. Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans...To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew. Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this. She just isn’t sure that she won’t.


“Leave him!” The captain’s voice is a hoarse shriek echoing over the waters. The crew on her longboat release startled grunts as she darts to the side of the longboat. “Grace! I said, leave him.”

My jaw hardens. I won’t. 

I’m closer to the door and the boys, and that counts for something.  Despite the Mordgris’s speed, I make it there first. 

“Help me up,” I demand. Wordlessly, the older boy complies, dark eyes wide, and I scrabble back on my hindquarters, tugging at my belt, just in time.

My pistol wavers as I level it at the Mordgris’s head. The threat is meaningless. The gunpowder is wet, rendering the gun useless, but I chance that the Mordgris know only that these objects kill. That they’d work just as well to blow away their gods-be-damned heads as mortal ones. 

I swallow hard, never having been this close to one before. It’s wholly unsettling to feel seen and held in a gaze when a creature’s eyes are consumed by the pitch black of a night sky. The Mordgris has gray skin, stretched tight over cartilage where a nose should be. Its teeth are rows upon rows of needles as it hisses at me, backing away, webbed claws raised as it sinks into the water. My hands are shaking, but I don’t dare lower my weapon until I can no longer see its silver sheen beneath the water.

Only then do I holster it.
“Thank you,” comes the voice behind me, and I start. Locked in a silent battle of wills with the Mordgris --- who would attack or withdraw first? --- I had nearly forgotten the boys that had spurred me to action in the first place.

“Don’t thank me yet,” I reply grimly. Captain Ilene’s crew rows toward us, her eyes murderous.

We have plenty of rules on the Lady Luck. But chief among them is this:

We don’t take men on-board.


Jennifer Ellision was born and raised in South Florida and lives in perpetual fear of temperatures below 60F. She spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn't find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. 
*If you sign up for her newsletter, you get a free short story!

We'd like to thank author Jennifer Ellison for being awesome enough to reach out and allow us to do this spotlight post! This book seems super awesome and badass, so if it isn't on your TBR yet, it definitely should be!

Interested in learning more about the book? Click on the Goodreads link above!

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Title: Truly Devious
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 416 Pages
Published January 2018

Summary: Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. "A place" he said, "where learning is a game." Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

I've been a Maureen Johnson fan (both her writing and her Twitter account) for the longest time, so, needless to say, when I found out about Truly Devious, I automatically knew I wanted to read this book. I mean, a creepy, disturbing murder occurring at a secluded boarding school and then trying to be solved by a student there? I'm a huge dark mystery fan, so this book seemed like it was right up my alley. And trust me, once I started reading, I realized that it really was. I absolutely tore through this book and I couldn't put it down, because I kept wanting to know what would happen next. This book seriously hooks you and doesn't let you go -- just like the tantilizing Ellingham mystery.

I really enjoyed Stevie's character -- she was definitely my favorite in the book. She was quiet and curious, mysterious and also really intelligent and sarcastic in a way that only Maureen can write characters -- I don't know if this is just speculation or not, but I definitely saw traces of her humor in Stevie! Speaking of humor, I also really liked Nate's sarcastic, dry humor. There were several times while I was reading that I had to stop and take pictures of some of the lines in the book that made me laugh out loud and I absolutely had to share them with my boyfriend. Maureen also threw in some personal jokes that made sense after having followed her on Twitter for so long, like Stevie's parents supporting a "racist, fascist bigot" and a few mentions about the Zodiac Killer, which was a possible nod to her hilarious Tweets about Ted Cruz.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was the way that there were so many different elements and mysteries that were unfolding at the same time without feeling overwhelming or confusing. Not only was Stevie trying to figure out the Ellingham case, but she was also trying to figure out Hayes and David and Ellie and all of her new friends. And how life worked at Ellingham. And clues for each different curiosity slowly started to pop up, and eventually there was a lot going on in this book, but all of it hooks you in without seeming crazy or confusing -- it's hard to explain without reading the book yourself, but it just works.

I really liked the alternating stories in the present and the past that also took place. This book has two "points of view", so to speak, even though it's told entirely in third person -- in some chapters, you are peeking through back at what happened at Ellingham when the case occurred. And in others, you are witnessing Stevie navigate life at Ellingham in the present. The contrasts and the similarities are interesting to witness, as well as knowing some personal, first-hand events about the case that Stevie may not have necessarily known or experienced herself while trying to solve the mystery. It's a nice way of keeping the reader in the know all the time, and I really enjoyed exploring that.

There was absolutely nothing I disliked about this book. I have nothing to say in the critique department, because this book was great and I'm already starting to push it on everyone I know, because it's just that good. And the ending left me with so many eager questions that I can't wait to have explored in the sequel!

And you guys. There were seriously so many plot twists in this book that I wasn't expecting and it made the story all the more gripping and I seriously sat down all day and read over 300 pages in one sitting just because I couldn't stop flipping the pages!

Overall, I absolutely loved Truly Devious. I couldn't put this book down, and the mystery captivated me from start to finish. If you're looking for a chilling mystery to capture your attention, this book is definitely perfect for you. Put this book on your TBR immediately -- you won't be sorry! I already can't wait for the second book next year!