In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson (Review & Giveaway!)

In Another Life

Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.

Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson
Published February 2, 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 368 pages
Also By This Author: The Crows of Beara
Goodreads Amazon Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Ahh this book made me miss living in France! I loved the description of French culture, architecture, and history. If you enjoy historical fiction, this is a great book to curl up with (France itself is just so full of history). I was also surprised at how suspenseful In Another Life is. There were several times I told myself, “One more chapter…” and ended up staying awake an extra hour because I had to know what happened next.

In Another Life is several different genres all tied together: historical fiction, romance, suspense, and fantasy (time travel!). For that reason I think Johnson has penned a book that can be enjoyed by a variety of different readers. There is also a heartbreaking tone to the novel that I really appreciated. I always feel more connected to books that have sad or bittersweet themes to them. I love feeling those deep emotions that don’t go away after I’ve finished a novel.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy historical fiction.
…you love France, or you love reading books where the setting’s culture is very prominent.
…you’re in the mood for a heartbreaking read.
…you’re looking for a book that has a bit of everything.

Final Musings

I read In Another Life as part of a book tour for France Book Tours. I miss living in France and being immersed in French culture, so I was happy to pick up this book and imagine myself adventuring in Southeastern France (In Another Life takes place not far from Carcassonne. I haven’t been there myself but my husband has and absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to go one day).

Below you will find an excerpt and a giveaway for this debut book by Julie Christine Johnson! Enjoy :)

Excerpt

A three-quarter moon lit the long room and pulled her toward the far end, where a long table sat before a wall of windows. Feeling weightless with fatigue, Lia thought she might float through the windows to the terrace and the Cesse River canyon beyond. But her bleached reflection halted at the glass.

Angles defined her body where there once had been curves. Shadows pressed against her ribs, the hollows of her cheeks, and her sunken eyes. She touched her belly and the sharp point of a hip. She was bone and muscle, hard and flat. Grief had eaten away the lush curves of her breasts and the sweet rise of her belly that Gabriel had loved to caress.

Her body shimmering white against the cold glass, Lia saw how tightly she held herself, as if hardening her muscles would somehow steel her heart from pain. Eighteen months since she’d had an appetite. Eighteen months of going through the motions. She’d drifted through a life that had no rails to grasp for balance.

She backed away from the glass with a curse of surprise but stopped as something white flashed just beyond the window. In the space between heartbeats, she saw the face of a man. Moonlight revealed fierce dark eyes and the etched planes of cheekbones. A seeping black streak marred the left side of his face, running from his temple down his cheek to the corner of his mouth. The palm of a hand came into view, reaching toward her. Her own hands flew up and smacked the glass as adrenaline, warm and electric, seared the weariness from her bones.

A screech ripped through the air, and the vision reassembled itself into something other than human. On the bough of an umbrella pine that clung to the side of the cliff perched a raptor. The breeze lifted the feathers of the bird’s underbelly, and the moon bleached them white. His brown head tilted, and his amber eyes lit on Lia’s naked form. Keeping her movements small, she looked around for something to cover herself. A chenille throw sat folded on a low, upholstered chair in the near corner. She edged toward the chair, her eyes on the bird outside, and clutched the blanket.

With the throw draped over her shoulders like a cloak, Lia turned the lock, pressed down the handle of the French door, and slipped onto the terrace attached to the stone face of the house.

“What brought you here?” she whispered to the eagle as it watched her from his perch on the swaying bough.

In reply, he shifted his weight and showed Lia the profile of his fierce head and hooked beak. Then he spread his wings, and she gasped at the span of feathers, bone, and sinew that measured six feet from tip to tip. He launched from the tree, the whoosh of his wings more a sensation than a sound, and was swallowed by the night.

Leaning over the iron railing, she peered into the black depths below. The river whispered and the wind answered as it swept through the scrub, but the moonlight revealed only vague shapes. She slipped inside the door and locked it behind her.

“Lia, you need to sleep,” she said to the empty room.

~

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In Another Life- Julie Christine Johnson

Photo by Al Bergstein

Julie Christine Johnson is the author of the novels In Another Life
(February 2016, Sourcebooks Landmark) and The Crows of Beara (September 2017, Ashland Creek Press).
Her short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss and featured on the flash fiction podcast, No Extra Words.
She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.
A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state with her husband.
In Another Life is her first novel.

***

Visit Julie’s website and blog
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***

Global giveaway open to US residents only:
5 participants will each win a print copy of this book.

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS, EXCERPT, INTERVIEW, GUEST-POST

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A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings

A Grimm Curse

Long before Andi woke up in a world that was not her own, her grandmother, Cynthia was entangled in the palace’s circle of glitter and privilege. Explore the dramatic history of Elorium in this standalone prequel to the Grimm Tales series.

Lady Wellington’s obsessive quest to thrust a crown on one of her daughters’ head at any cost has ensnared Cynthia in a scheme that has her sidestepping the arrogant Prince Wilhelm who is determined to make her his bride. With a twist that could only transpire in a fairy tale, Cynthia rescues her own prince, Remington Landry III—cursed by a spiteful witch into the form of a frog.

In the search for a willing princess to lift Remi’s curse, things do not go as planned. The frog-prince disappears, leaving Cynthia wondering at the state of their friendship. Without Remi, Cynthia finds herself a pawn of the ruler of Elorium and imprisoned by his henchman, Prince Wilhelm, who won’t take no for an answer. Cynthia’s life in Elorium is upended as revelations of who she is and the truth about their world comes to light in this stunningly reimagined fairy tale.

A Grimm Curse by Janna Jennings
Published November 17, 2015 by Patchwork Press
Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 174 pages
Also By This Author: A Grimm LegacyGrimm Memories
Goodreads Amazon Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

I really like Janna Jennings’s Grimm Tales series. The world building is intriguing and the fairytale aspect is fun and exciting. A Grimm Curse is a prequel to A Grimm Legacy, and it follows Cynthia, who is the grandmother of one of the characters from later in the series. Cynthia was a lot like Cinderella, but a lot of her story also resembled The Princess and the Frog.

Even though this book is part of a series, it could be read as a standalone. It’s been about a year and a half since I read the original series, so I had forgotten some of the details about Elorium, but that only made me want to reread A Grimm Legacy and Grimm Memories!

I do wish there had been some deeper character development in this book. Although I really enjoyed Cynthia and Remi, I found myself questioning the motivations of some of the secondary characters. Prince Wilhelm started out charming and amiable when we first see him but in his next scene he’s suddenly a jerk, to put it mildly, and Princess Marcella started off rather snobby and disinterested but by the end she was helping Cynthia and Remi and we never really got to see a plausible explanation.

But despite my few issues with the holes in the character development, this was a fun addition to the world of Elorium and I’m really glad Janna Jennings gave us this prequel to her Grimm Tales series!

Read This Book If…

…you like fairytales and fairytale retellings!
…you want an adventure book that’s also a quick read.
…you enjoy intriguing and magical world building.
…you’re looking for a new series to start.

“What’s waiting for me on the other side?” Cynthia asked, her voice lower than a whisper.
Her mother smiled, leaned over and gave her a ghostly kiss on the forehead. “Freedom.”

Final Musings

If you enjoy retellings, especially fairytales, the Grimm Tales series might be enjoyable for you! It’s a Young Adult series, but I feel the writing is appropriate for Middle Grade, too. I really liked the characters, especially Remi, and I can’t remember if he shows up later on in the series (another reason why I want to reread A Grimm Legacy and Grimm Memories). The way his storyline ended surprised me, and I was sad about that twist in my expectations, but it’s also nice when books don’t follow my predictions :)

Soulprint by Megan Miranda

soulprint

Most people agree it’s better not to find out who you once were. And if you do find out, it’s best to keep that knowledge to yourself. Because while the soul has no memory, the world does, and that is usually enough.

Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Published Feb 3, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Young Adult/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Format: e-book from Netgalley; 368 pages
Also By This Author: Fracture, Hysteria
                                                            Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

                                                            My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Synopsis:

With the science of soul-fingerprinting a reality, Alina Chase has spent her entire life imprisoned for the crimes her past-self committed. In an attempt to clear her name, Alina unintentionally trades one prison for another when she escapes, aided by a group of teens whose intentions and motivations are a mystery to her. As she gets to know one of the boys, sparks fly, and Alina believes she may finally be able to trust someone. But when she uncovers clues left behind from her past life that only she can decipher, secrets begin to unravel. Alina must figure out whether she’s more than the soul she inherited, or if she’s fated to repeat the past.

Thoughts:

Alina is a 17 year-old girl who is being “contained” on a guarded island for her own protection (or for punishment). Why is she being contained? Because in a past-life, Alina’s soul belonged to a fugitive named June Callahan. The science behind “soulprinting” is that when a person dies, their soul is essentially reincarnated into a newborn, who grows up to lead his or her own life but studies showed that they would exhibit similar tendencies. Throughout the course of the novel, Alina is trying desperately to prove to the world that she is not June, but unfortunately for her, the more she tries to break away from June, the more she starts to understand and sympathize with her.

Soulprint is one of those stories that stays inside your brain for a few days after you finish reading it, and I think that’s because the world that Megan Miranda creates is not far-fetched. The idea behind categorizing people has been around for ages; sometimes it’s used to protect others (for example, identifying people as sex offenders and making that database public), but it has also been used to control and annihilate people (in the case of the Holocaust). In Soulprint, people are defined by who their soul belonged to in a past life. Officially, this is meant to be private knowledge. Only an individual can find out who they used to be. But since this is a dystopian novel, you already know that there is something much bigger going on here. In the novel, June Callahan became a fugitive after she publicly called out people for being criminals in their past lives. And at the start of the novel, Alina Chase is paying the consequences…but are they hers–or June’s–to pay?

Read This Book If…

…you’re intrigued by sci-fi/fantasy stories, especially if they deal with ethical issues.
…you’re a fan of dystopian themes in literature.
…you’ve ever been curious about genetic memories or other similar sci-fi motifs.
…you’re looking for a book that fits into multiple genres like science fiction, fantasy, young adult, suspense, and romance.

“Yes, I wanted out,” I say, my voice firm and practiced. “I always wanted out. Because I was being held, inhumanely and unconstitutionally.” The speech I’d come up with last year pours out of me. “Because my soul is my own, and the world is punishing me for something that no longer exists. The world is the only one with a memory. Not my soul. June is dead. I am the only one here. I am Alina Chase.”

Final Musings:

Soulprint captivates you from the very first page. There is a constant suspense looming that something huge is about to happen, and the characters have solid motivations that anyone can identify with: greed, love, guilt, innocence. I found myself having a hard time putting this book down, and for anyone who enjoys intriguing sci-fi/fantasy novels, I would recommend Soulprint to you in a heartbeat!

My soul was not meant to be in a cage. Not then, and not now.

The Messenger by Pamela DuMond

themessenger

“Madeline, I do not care where you are from–the future, the past, a star in the sky. I will love you here, now. I do not care what people think. I will love you in the past. I will love you in the future. I will love you, forever, Madeline.”

The Messenger by Pamela DuMond
Published April 20, 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Romance
Format: e-book; 257 pages
Also By This Author: The Story of You and Me, Annie Graceland Mystery series
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Madeline’s meant to fall in love with Samuel in every lifetime. But she meets him for the first time when she accidentally time travels into the past—hundreds years before she’s even born!

Their relationship is forbidden—Samuel’s half Native, Madeline’s white. Every rendezvous they share must be secret. Each moment they spend together tempts the odds that they’ll be discovered and brutally punished. But their love is fated—they musk risk all.

Danger intensifies when Madeline learns she’s in the past not only to fall in love, but also to claim her birth right as a Messenger—a soul who can slip through time’s fabric at will.

Deadly Hunters, dark-souled time travelers, crave Madeline’s powers and seek to seduce or kill her. Can Madeline find her way back to the future in time to save herself and Samuel?

 Thoughts

I really enjoy time traveling books! I just wish I read more of them. The Messenger combines my interest in time-travel with historical fiction, and I really love that combination because there is always that major predicament: is the main character going to stay in the past or will he/she chose to return to their present day? I will not spoil Madeline’s decision, but I will tell you that the book had me in total suspense until the very last paragraph.

The majority of Madeline’s time travelling adventure revolves around Samuel, a Native American with a soft heart and healer’s hands. As Madeline discovers more about her inexplicable trip to the past, she begins to feel a pull towards Samuel that even three hundred years of history cannot deter.

But Madeline’s time-traveling abilities open up so many questions regarding her past and her family. And Madeline isn’t the only one with these fantastical abilities–the longer she stays in Colonial America, the more she realizes that her abilities are so much greater than herself.

Read This Book If…:

…you love time-traveling stories!
…you have a guilty pleasure for historical romances.
…diverse stories involving race and racism resonate with you.
…you enjoy books that leave you hanging in suspense until the very last page.

Final Musings:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Messenger! There were several times when I could not put this book down. I was worried when I couldn’t find any announcements on a sequel, but I just found out that book 2, The Assassin, will be published early next year! Can’t wait :)

“Come Away, Come Away!”: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan

Peter-Pan-To-Neverland1

Artwork by Nicholas Jackson

“You just think of lovely wonderful thoughts,” Peter explained, “and they lift you up in the air.”


“After the first production I had to add something to the play at the request of the parents…about no one being able to fly until the fairy dust had been blown on him; so many children having gone home and tried it from their beds and needed surgical attention.” – J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan (originally Peter and Wendy) by J.M. Barrie
Published Oct. 11, 1911 by Hodder & Stoughton
Children’s/Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Annotated hardcover; 182 pages
Also By This Author: The Little White Bird, Peter Pan (play), The Admirable Crichton
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children–Wendy, John, and Michael–who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks. 

(This review is spoiler free)

Thoughts:

What is there left to be said about the story of Peter Pan, the Darling children, and Neverland? I feel as if this beautiful story about children who don’t want to grow up has been analyzed, digested, and adapted more times than anyone can count, but clearly there is a reason for that: Peter Pan is an enduring masterpiece. So instead of analyzing it, I just want to share a few of the things that struck me the most while reading this book.

Firstly, I checked out my library’s copy of The Annotated Peter Pan, and I’m really tempted to buy a copy for myself. It has so much information about J.M. Barrie, the early productions of the play, hundreds of footnotes (which is where I found that quote from Barrie about the fairy dust), and some chapters on Peter Pan adaptations, spin-offs, and productions.

The Introduction by Editor Maria Tatar included this similarity between Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which echoed my own feelings while reading the novel:

[Dorothy], Huck, and Peter have won us over with their love of adventure, their streaks of poetry, their wide-eyed and wise innocence, and their deep appreciation of what it means to be alive. They all refuse to grow up and tarnish their sense of wonder and openness to new experiences.

Reading this book as an adult, I noticed myself trying to rationalize things or figure out a logical solution to the characters’ conflicts, but when I tried to see Peter Pan and the world of Neverland through the eyes of the Darling children, I began to feel inspired and light-hearted again. This is the exact reason why I enjoy reading children’s and YA literature. Of course every genre deals with serious subject matter, I am not disputing that, but I particularly love reading tales from the POV of a child or adolescent; experiencing situations from the eyes of a younger person has always been eye-opening to me.

Another aspect of the novel that made a big impression on me was Barrie’s style of writing. His sense of humor is both subtle and cheeky, and it’s most concentrated in his descriptions of the characters. One of my favorite examples of this is from a passage about Peter Pan’s imagination:

The difference between him and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing. This sometimes troubled them, as when they had to make-believe that they had had their dinners.

And another one about Captain Hook being temporarily overcome by softness:

There was a break in his voice, as if for a moment he recalled innocent days when–but he brushed away his weakness with his hook.

Speaking of the characters, every film adaptation I have seen of Peter Pan has done an excellent job at keeping the characters pure to their original depictions. I grew up watching both Hook and Disney’s animated version of Peter Pan, and I was easily able to resonate each of the film characters with their print versions. Captain Hook seemed both hauntingly intimidating and ironically frightful while Tinkerbell was as mischievous as ever.

I loved how the last chapter concluded everything nicely for our characters, although in such a short and intense way that it definitely brought tears to my eyes. This is one of those books that stays with you a while after you finish the last page; you’ll reflect on things in a bittersweet or inspirational way.

Read This Book If…:

…you have an active imagination
…you’re always up for an adventure!
…you’re not ready to grow up (or you have grown up, and you wish you hadn’t)
…you need to refresh your sense of wonder and embrace the unexpected

Final Musings:

I dearly loved this book, in a different way than I probably would have if I had read it as a child. The themes that resonated with me the most weren’t about the pirates or the fairies, but about living for the moment, staying curious and interested, and always being ready to face the unexpected (as impossible as that sounds). And this wonderful story reminded me that sometimes we have to pause and take a look at the things around us, to reflect on where we are and how we got there.

Odd things happen to all of us on our way through life without our noticing for a time that they have happened.

Grimm Memories by Janna Jennings

grimmmemories

The nightmares were getting worse, plaguing her more and more over the last six months. Images, sharp and vivid as a recent memory, invaded her dreams until the lines of reality melted together.

Grimm Memories by Janna Jennings
Published Oct 29, 2014 by Patchwork Press
Young Adult Fantasy
Format: e-book; 337 pages
Also By This Author: A Grimm Legacy
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 4/5

(spoilers below for A Grimm Legacy)

Synopsis:

It has been six months since Quinn and her friends returned home after barely escaping Elorium—but no one ever really leaves the world where fairy tales are born. Not a day has gone by where they haven’t thought about returning to save Jack. Even their dreams are urging them to return to the strange world.

Falling back into the fairy tale world, they find the situation more dire than the way they left it. Jack has disappeared, and he’s not the only one. Elorium’s citizens are near panic as characters are missing and rumors are spreading about massive creatures roaming the sky. A rising darkness is enslaving the dreamers, and in a land filled with water nymphs and malevolent mazes, it’s hard to find any allies.
Despite the risks of their rescue mission, Fredrick is determined to bring back his grandfather, no matter how personal the cost.

Thoughts:

“Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!”

If you’re a fan of Beauty and the Beast you’ll recognize that line from the opening song. It’s the line that kept playing in my head while reading The Grimm Tales series by Janna Jennings.

Grimm Memories, the sequel to A Grimm Legacy, picks up six months after Andi and her friends escape Elorium. The group devises a plan to return to the fairy-tale world after Andi and Dylan begin having strange nightmares. Frederick is determined to rescue his grandfather, Jack, who they were forced to leave behind during their escape. But when the teenagers return to Elorium, they find things a lot stranger than they had left them.

Our four heroes and heroines have changed a bit since we last saw them, although their distinct personalities remain intact. Frederick, Andi, and Quinn are still stubborn in their own ways, but they return to Elorium prepared to fight, both physically and mentally. Dylan, in an appropriate fashion, didn’t even bother to brush up on his knowledge of fairy-tales before deciding to come back to Elorium, something that Quinn hilariously calls him out on more than once.

While our group of fairy-tale descendants are back and better than ever, the world of Elorium has changed for the worse. Houses have been destroyed and left destitute and many Elorians have mysteriously disappeared. Grimm Memories is a lot darker than A Grimm Legacy. The nightmares that Dylan and Andi suffer through every night are haunting, and the new creatures and story book characters the group encounters during their second visit to Elorium are more dangerous and unfriendly than before. This added so much suspense which I thoroughly enjoyed. There are several scenes in this novel where Andi and her friends’ lives are in peril and often people were gravely injured. Suffice it to say that the suspense was killing me during several of the more intense chapters!

The novel’s resolution is sweet and well-done. Some of my lingering questions were answered (always a plus), and while I don’t think there are plans for a third book, there is an epilogue at the end that leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger, so who knows? :)

Also…once again, I adored this book cover! So pretty!

Read This Book If…:

…you’ve already finished A Grimm Legacy (this is not a stand-alone novel)
…you’re intrigued by darker fairy-tale characters
…you’re in the mood for a good suspense novel
…you like happy endings :)

Final Musings

As much as I enjoyed the first Grimm Tales book, I liked the second one ever more! There was more action, more mystery & suspense, and more adventures with the characters I’ve come to love. Grimm Memories deals with sacrifice, love, and friendship, and it is full of surprises in every chapter! If you like reading stories that can make you laugh, swoon, and bite your nails, this book is for you!

 

A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings

grimmlegacy

“I’m a girl of many hidden talents.” She gestured to her filthy, damp clothes. “Keeping myself out of trouble is not one of them.”

A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings
Published Oct 28, 2013 by Patchwork Press
Young Adult Fantasy
Format: e-book; 308 pages
Also From This Author: Grimm Memories
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Enchanted castles and charming princes thought to exist only in stories come to life in this classically twisted fairy tale that combines the timeless quality of folktales with the challenges of the modern world. 

The woods of Elorium appear ordinary to Andi…until the birds start to talk and elves answer doors. Whisked out of her world along with three strangers, Andi finds herself the reluctant guest of Mr. Jackson, a perplexing millionaire who claims to be able to help them get home. The secrets he harbors, however, make it difficult to know just who to trust. 

When the group of teenagers discover that in this new world, fiction is anything but, and that they all have unexpected family ties to this fairy tale land, they must learn to rely on each other.

Faced with characters short on whimsy and bent toward treachery, Andi, Quinn, Fredrick, and Dylan are forced to play their parts in unfinished fairy tales. But in Elorium, happily ever after is never guaranteed.

Thoughts:

loved A Grimm Legacy! The fairy tale world had me captivated instantly and I was rooting for the four main characters the entire time. Andi is the unwavering leader, the main link between the other characters and the fantastical world of Elorium. Fredrick, a compassionate southern boy, is the brave protector. Quinn, strong and selfless, is always quick-thinking in stressful situations. And Dylan, a stereotypical Californian surfer, has a secret soft spot beneath his persuasive exterior.

This story begins when these four teenagers from different areas of the country mysteriously appear in a foreign world. As the plot progresses, we discover that Andi, Fredrick, Quinn, and Dylan each have a connection to the world of Elorium.

One of the coolest things about this novel is how it echoes popular Grimm fairy tales, but with a twist, of course :) Even if you aren’t too familiar with fairy tales (which I am not), you’ll still recognize references to the major stories. For the lesser known tales, Janna Jennings summarizes them in a fitting way that still leaves you anxious to find out what happens next.

“Don’t say impossible, not after the day we’ve had.”

This book is suspenseful and intriguing! During the more mysterious plot lines I found myself devouring every page. And let me just comment on this gorgeous cover: I love it! I am a sucker for beautiful book covers even though I try not to ignore or judge books with horrible covers (I fail sometimes). This cover is great–it’s simple yet it pulls you in at the same time.

Read This If:

…you enjoy fairy tales
…you are a fan of the TV show “Once Upon A Time” (this book is exactly like that)
…you’re into reading adventure novels
…you love books that leave you hanging in suspense until the last page

Final Musings:

This book exceeded my expectations. It was full of mystery and suspense, and several of the big reveals really surprised me. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Grimm Memories! Check back for that review next week :)

Whole In The Clouds by Kristine Kibbee

Whole In The Clouds

“Don’t forget, dear. This is you. This is your strength and your compassion and all the love inside of you. This is you as you truly are.”

Whole In The Clouds by Kristine Kibbee
Published Nov 6, 2014 by Illusio Baqer (Zharmae Publishing Press)
Middle Grade Fantasy
Format: e-book; 156 pages
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

Cora Catlin is a misfit at best, and an outcast at worst. She feels out-of-place, as if everything is backward and something is missing from her life.

And then, on her first day of middle school, everything changes.

When Cora encounters an elfin stranger who speaks of the magical world Clouden, an entire kingdom hidden up in the sky, she can’t wait to leave her boring, humdrum life behind. As Cora travels to her new home, she finds herself transformed–and if that weren’t enough, she has to adjust to royal parents, talking Pegasuses, a raging war, and an alluring love interest as well.

Exploring this new land, Cora unearths wonders and secrets beyond her wildest imaginings, discovering the meaning of true friendship, love, and what it means to feel whole.

Thoughts:

Whole In The Clouds was a really refreshing read for me. I haven’t read a Middle School level book in quite some time, mostly because I’m suspicious of what I might find in them, but this one was not what I was expecting (in a good way). Right from the start I realized that Cora is not your typical twelve-year-old girl. She doesn’t daydream over boys, she doesn’t have sleepovers with her friends (because she doesn’t have any), and she doesn’t have any hobbies. Like many preteens, Cora is bullied by her classmates and because of this she is self-conscious about her appearance and she begins feeling lonely and out-of-place.

Seeing Cora as an outcast was really sad. The bullies in the beginning of the story gave me compassion for Cora right from the get-go, and then I developed a soft spot for her when I discovered that Cora loved adventures. (I love adventures too!) I was really excited when the fantasy aspect of the novel set in. I haven’t read very many recent fantasy novels, but this one borrowed a few qualities from Harry Potter and Narnia, two of my favorite series. After Cora finally arrives in Clouden, the novel develops this exciting & mysterious atmosphere.

There are several areas of the book that did seem a little cheesy and unrealistic to me, I have to admit, but there were also a lot of things I really liked. The most interesting thing for me was the difference between a person’s appearance in Clouden and their appearance in The Backworlds (or the real world for us). In The Backworlds, as we know, looks can be deceiving. A physically charming or beautiful person can really be evil or malicious on the inside. In Clouden, our inside characteristics are reflected in our physical appearances. Cora, who is kind, compassionate, and selfless, holds this ethereal presence in Clouden even though in The Backworlds she is mocked for her plain appearance. This “our outsides reflect our insides” idea resonated with me and I appreciated the extra virtue that those who are beautiful on Clouden aren’t vain about their appearances.

Cora squinted through the darkness at the mirror and was astounded to find someone else staring back at her. An ethereal girl looked quizzically through the glass. She had flowing copper-red hair that glistened like spun silk and a pair of the most haunting green eyes Cora had ever seen. Her skin was the color of baby-doll porcelain and when coupled with her slightly flushed rosy cheeks resembled strawberries and cream. The girl’s mouth, pursed in confusion, was delicately shaped, her lips a natural crimson that no makeup could duplicate.

Whole In The Clouds made me feel all sorts of emotions: happiness, sadness, suspense, anxiety, and I even gushed over the little bit of romance that was woven in. I was a little disappointed in how quickly and cleanly everything was wrapped up at the end, but I was satisfied in the ending and overall I really enjoyed Kristine Kibbee’s second novel.

Read This If…:

…you love characters who are pure-of-heart
…you wish your pets could talk
…you enjoy stories about good vs. evil
…you crave an adventure!

Final Musings:

Although Whole In The Clouds felt a bit cheesy at times, overall I really enjoyed the purity in Cora and her story. Cora is a very mature, caring, and selfless main character who has a heart for those around her. This novel is a fun fantastical read that deals with bullying, parent-child relationships, and believing the best in people.