Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

Review: I read The Girl with the Red Balloon two days ago and I am still suffering from a major book hangover. Katherine Locke has written a book dealing with a dark part of our history it was raw, gritty and a definite conversation starter, especially with everything that is going on right now.

The book had three points of views one from Ellie a Jewish American girl from our time, another was Kai a dark skinned Romani boy and an unexpected point of view from Benno a Jewish boy through whose eyes we see what it was like living in the Chelmno concentration camp and Łódź Ghetto. Even though I loved all three points of views Benno is the one who wrecked me, I mean how could it not, Locke did not shy away from any of the details, she didn't sugar coat anything for the readers and she brought us into his world and made us feel his suffering in the most necessary of ways possible. If anything pick up this book for Benno.

Kai and Ellie were such wonderful characters Ellie was strong and fragile and everything a girl would be who suddenly found herself in 1988 East Berlin. It took me a few chapters to really fall in love with Ellie but once she was thrust back in time her character had a lot of growth. Kai was just amazing he fled his home to protect his sister from people who were trying to harm her because of her magic, I loved everything about him once I got to really know him and yes there is romance and it was swoon-worthy as it can get. The romance between Kai and Ellie was beautiful and bittersweet and my heart is still trying to recover.

There is one character, in particular, I had to mention who did not have a point of view but I loved her just as much and that would be Mitzi, a blue haired gay girl who was kicked out of her home by her family because of who she chooses to love. Mitzi ran balloons for the balloon makers along with Kai helping people get across the wall. At first, I didn't know what to think of her, was she going to be jealous of Kai and Ellie's growing relationship since before her it was just Kai and her, was she ever going to warm up to Ellie? Am I going to dislike her because of all of that? Luckily all my concerns were laid to rest when Mitzi embraced Ellie as a dear friend of her own. I loved everything about Mitzi, she was loyal to Kai and Ellie and the three of them together were the perfect trio of friends. I don't think I will ever forget Mitzi's character.

This review wouldn't be complete if I don't talk about the red balloons and the people with magic running through them. There were quite a few balloon makers the ones behind the magic of balloons being able to transport people over the walls and obviously through time although the time travel portion did shock the magic community because that was never their objective which leads to the discovery that someone has their own agenda.

Overall The Girl with the Red Balloon was one of the most memorable books I've read all year and it should be a must buy for everyone when it is released, I plan on buying myself a hard copy so I can re-read it again and sticky tab all my favorite parts. The characters will live with me for a very long time and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, I am little sad to see it won't be a continuation of this story but rather a prequel set decades before the events in this book, nonetheless I am very excited for it. 


Blog Tour: Q&A with Molly E. Lee

What was the hardest part of writing Love in the Friend Zone?
The most difficult part of writing Love in the Friend Zone was definitely the time-frame. In this series, all the character’s storylines take place either right before or during the epic grad night party. That is a huge challenge in creating an entire backstory, as well as an entertaining enough plot to fill an entire book. Ultimately, I found a balance and rhythm with the characters, and discovered it was quite fun attending this crazy party with them!
How many rewrites do you go through before you get to the final draft?
The first draft always comes out the fastest for me because I just let the story out. I don’t worry about pacing or editing or the mechanics. I let the characters dictate where we go. Then in the subsequent drafts, I add and cut and shape and mold it until it meets its much shinier end product. That can take anywhere between three to four takes depending on the book.
What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
This is always such a hard question! SO many books have influenced my writing style, and it never ends. Each book I read—whether it is young adult fantasy, contemporary, or adult paranormal—I learn something from it. That is one of the best things about being an author, there is always room for improving your craft. Of course, the books that I re-read constantly—J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, anything by Kimberly Derting or Molly McAdams, and most recently Sarah J Maas’ books—are always pushing me to be better. Being inspired by great works is what keeps me fighting to take what I know and push it to the next level.
If you could introduce Braylen to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I’m so in love with this question! I would love for her to meet Kate from the wickedly talented Cindi Madsen’s OPERATION PROM DATE. I think Braylen and Kate would totally get along, shipping couples and obsessing over fandoms together. In my mind, they end up sharing a dorm together freshman year of college and Cooper and Fynn are fast friends because of the love they have for their girls! :)
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Fynn?
Fynn was such a fun character to write because his one flaw is being haplessly blind to what he really wants. I think that can be super relatable, even to those of us outside of high school. Sometimes it’s easier to let our desires, or what we think we want, be manipulated by what is expected of us. Watching Fynn slowly come to terms with what his heart was screaming at him all along was a great process, and just like in real life, having that moment of revelation in his self-discovery was a rush!
Other than writing what are you passionate about?
My family, of course, is my first response. I have two toddlers that keep me hopping from sunup to sundown. My husband is an amazing supporter of my author aspirations, so he’s in there, too! My bulldog, just because she’s the coolest dog ever, lol. But if we’re talking outside the family, I’m totally obsessed with the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Deadpool. Friends of mine might say I get a little too passionate when discussing theories in these fandoms!  
When you walk into a book store, where do you head to first?
Lately it’s been the children’s book section because I never feel guilty about getting my babies more books! After that I’ll head straight for young adult fantasy and soak up all the awesome. Then I’ll pop over to contemporary romance, wave to all the friends I know, and grab some knew ones :) Then I usually take a gander at the journals…because you can’t ever have TOO many of those, right?
You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? ( alive or dead)
This is so incredibly hard. Just five? Can’t this dinner party turn into like an event where we rent out an entire restaurant? No? Okay, well...
J.K Rowling. I’m not sure if I need to explain why she’s the first on the list but to sum it up…she’s brilliant and the intricacies in her writing never cease to amaze and inspire me.
Edgar Allan Poe, because the first time I read The Tell-Tale Heart as a young child it stuck with me. I devoured more of his works because of that and I remembered thinking how awesome it was that a story could still tickle your brain days, months, even years later. Plus, I think he’d be wicked cool to have a chat with.
Stephan King, because his novel, On Writing, is one of the best craft books I’ve ever read. I tend to flip back through its pages when in need of a little motivation. It’s simple, direct, and engaging. I’d like to thank him for taking the time out of an incredibly busy schedule to pen those tips down for hopefuls like me!
Beatrix Potter, because Peter Rabbit was the first book I ever remember being read to me. And it’s one I remember reading myself once I learned. It was the book that made me fall in love with reading. I’ve read all her books to my children as well, so her work has a very special place in my heart. I’d seat her next to Poe in the hopes that together they’d come up with a dark yet fun Ravenesque picture book.
William Shakespeare, because it would be wonderful for him to settle all the debates that were never agreed upon in my Shakespeare class in college LOL. Plus, I’d love to pick his brain about how he created some of the most memorable villains ever, and ask him how he made creating works that dealt with such universal yet intricate topics look so easy.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you. I know that is a given but I’m constantly in awe of this wonderful book community! Readers are seriously the best, and I know I’ll never be able to thank you all enough. You are what breathes life into my characters. You are the lifeblood of my stories. I couldn’t do what I love without you, and that’s why I always thank you first and last and always.

by Molly E. Lee 
Release Date 8/14 

Published by Entangled Teen 
YA Contemporary 
Barnes and Noble /  Amazon / Goodreads

The only thing worse than not being able to tell your best friend you’re head over heels in love with him? Having to smile and nod when he enlists your help to ensnare the girl of his dreams. Braylen didn’t even want to go to Lennon Pryor’s epic graduation-night party, but when Fynn begs her to be his “wingwoman,” she can’t deny him. Talking up her BFF—how he’s magic behind a camera, with a killer sense of humor and eyelashes that frame the most gorgeous blue eyes in the history of forever—is easy. Supporting his efforts to woo someone so completely wrong for him? Not so much. Fynn knows that grad night is his last shot before leaving for college to find true love. And thanks to Bray, he gets his chance with the beautiful Katy Evans. But over the course of the coolest party of their high school careers, he starts to see that perhaps what he really wants has been in front of him all along. Bray’s been his best friend since kindergarten, though, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend than not at all.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two best friends whose sexual chemistry is off the charts…if only they’d succumb to it. 

About the Author: Molly E. Lee is an author best known for her debut novel EDGE OF CHAOS, and as a fourth year mentor at Pitch Wars – a program which connects promising writers to established authors in the community. Molly writes New Adult and Young Adult Contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English Bulldog, Molly loves watching storms from her back porch at her Midwest home, and digging for treasures in antique stores.

Website:http://www.mollyelee.com   Twitter: @MollyELee


Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

  • Pub. Date: September 12, 2017
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Pages:496
  • Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
  • Rating:3/5
  • Goodreads/Amazon


Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.


Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

Review:  Mira Minkoba had the fortunate or unfortunate fate (depending on how you look at it) by having a treaty named after her signed by all the islands, which makes her the face of the treaty and therefore she is deemed important by many as well as hated. Mira has a way with Dragons and that's all I'm saying because that's all I know. Clearly, she really is special but we get maybe a glimpse of what it could be in the entire novel.

I loved the dragons in the story, I just wish there was more time spent on them. There are various types of dragons and I really wanted to learn more about them but most of the story was spent with Mira in prison and when the chapters alternated to the past we got bits of dragons but not much. It wasn't till the end we saw more of them but still nothing to what I expected. I'm hoping the next book will focus more on the dragons because they are the reason I even picked up Before She Ignites.

Okay, so I'm pretty sure most of you can agree that a book about dragons if there is going to be romance in it, it better be epic because dragons are epic right? Well, the romance that is developing is lackluster and the guy is not someone I even cared for he was just mind-numbingly boring. Is it wrong to say that when I realized he was the guy Mira was going to fall for I was secretly wishing the author would kill him off (I know harsh, sorry) because I just didn't get it and I still don't. I never like to wish death upon characters except for the evil ones of course but even those I sometimes love and want them to be kept around anyways I don't see myself picking up the next book if he continues to stay the love interest because it kind of killed it for me in this first book already as it was.

Mira was the only real complex character in the novel. She suffers from severe anxiety and has OCD where she has to count everything due to an incident that occurred to her when she was younger. It was impossible not to like her I just wish there was more character development with her along the way. Throughout the whole book she is so focused on her appearance, how must everyone see her, she isn't pretty anymore etc. and I get that it had to do with her upbringing and how she was constantly reminded that it was her beauty which was most important but I wish she would have grown out of that mind set. I didn't understand how anyone could still be so worried about their looks in life and death situations. Mira also had the habit of putting herself down, that she wasn't smart enough or good enough and I really felt for her, I was really hoping she would eventually realize how amazing of a person she really is and how capable she is. I really hope she develops more in the next book I think it will be interesting to see her transformation throughout the series and how she deals with her anxiety.

Mira also had two best friends, Hristo who was also her bodyguard and a girl named Ilina. I can't say much about them though because of no real character development, they were in the "before" chapters and in present day when they do finally pop up we still don't get to know them. The only thing I really know is they are loyal to Mira. There was one other character who really caught my attention and that was Gerel, she was imprisoned in the Pit as well and has been there for quite some time, she is still a bit of a mystery but what I did learn about her I loved. Gerel was a total badass, I really hope to see more of her in the future books. Then there was the villain Altan, I expected more. Not sure how else to say it but he was supposed to be Mira's torturer in the Pit which is made to be this horrific underground prison but he never really physically put his hands on her, he did make her suffer once greatly when he wanted information but not in the way I would have thought. Now that I think about it, Altan I would say was another complex character. Still, don't know much about him or his motives but you can tell there is more to him.

I do give credit to the author for going out of the norm though, usually books in this genre you expect a kick-ass fear nothing type of heroine, instead of one who suffers from anxiety, has self-esteem issues and doesn't have a clue how to fight. So I can see some becoming a little frustrated with that and others admiring the deeply flawed character.

Overall Before She Ignites was a fast read for me, I had my issues with it and I am still conflicted on whether I will be continuing the series or not. If I do it will be for the dragons the mythical creature lover in me needs to know how things turn out for them.


Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

  • Pub. Date: July 23, 2013
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Pages:391
  • Rating:5/5
  • Goodreads/Amazon

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Review:  If there is one retelling that I am to be the most critical with it would have to be any book that claims to be a retelling of my most beloved fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. I have had the chance of reading Stacey Jays Princess of Thorns which was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty and I liked it but didn't love it, so I was a little skeptical going into this one and kept putting it off because I would be fuming if it wasn't anything but stellar. Needless to say, Stacey Jay has written a retelling which will be forever cherished by me. She took the tale of Beauty and the Beast and made it her own. 

The world was fantastical, there were the smooth skins who lived under the dome where the earth still thrived as long as the queen was sacrificed every so many year's thanks to the curse. On the outside of the dome lived the Monstrous people who had scales and claws who were wasting away in a land where nothing grew. The curse was the most interesting part of the tale, it was definitely different and a lot more depth to it than I had expected. I know the monstrous are supposed to be deemed as the"beast" and the smooth skins as "beauty" but honestly, I didn't feel that was the case. At times I was a bit confused on who was playing what role. The smooth skins are powerful and cruel while the monstrous are only fighting for survival, they wouldn't do half the horrible things that go on inside the dome to their people. Oh, by the way, quite a bit of court politics as well which kept things fast paced.

Now on to the two main reasons why I fell in love with Of Beast and Beauty, Isra our smooth skin queen and  Gem our swoon worthy monstrous. There was point of views from both characters and I honestly think that is what took this book to a whole another level. Of Beast and Beauty would not have been the same without Gem's view we got a real look into his world and what his people go through and believe me when I tell you it is heartbreaking, his story alone was gut wrenching and I loved him even more than Isra so that's saying something especially when I couldn't help but fall in love with Isra's struggle. It may have been her kingdom but she might as well have been a  noble servant because that's how people under her treated her. No one cared about what she had to say, she didn't even have control of her own military, no one respected their blind ruler. 

The character development was done very well, we saw both Isra and Gem grow as people and get past their prejudices for each other. I also loved some of the side characters they were all exceptionally written and complex.

Overall if there is one retelling you decide to pick up Of Beast and Beauty should be it.

Memorable Quotes:

"I am efficient in my darkness but how I crave the moonlight!"


Review: Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne

Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne

  • Pub. Date: August 25, 2015
  • Publisher: Loveswept
  • Pages:221
  • Rating:4/5
  • Series: Love Unexpectedly #1
  • Goodreads/Amazon

In a novel that's perfect for fans of Abbi Glines and Jessica Sorensen, USA Today bestselling author Lauren Layne delivers a sexy take on the timeless question: Can a guy and a girl really be “just friends”?

When Parker Blanton meets Ben Olsen during her freshman year of college, the connection is immediate—and platonic. Six years later, they're still best friends, sharing an apartment in Portland's trendy Northwest District as they happily settle into adult life. But when Parker's boyfriend dumps her out of the blue, she starts to wonder about Ben's no-strings-attached approach to dating. The trouble is, even with Ben as her wingman, Parker can't seem to get the hang of casual sex—until she tries it with him.

The arrangement works perfectly . . . at first. The sex is mind-blowing, and their friendship remains as solid as ever, without any of the usual messy romantic entanglements. But when Parker's ex decides he wants her back, Ben is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ben starts seeing a girl from work, Parker finds herself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship on the rocks for the first time, Parker and Ben face an alarming truth: Maybe they can't go back. And maybe, deep down, they never want to. 

Review: Blurred Lines couldn't have been a more perfect title for this book. Parker and Ben have been friends for well over six years and everything is great until they decide to mix casual sex into their relationship then you add feelings to the mix and things became a lot more complicated real fast between the two. Blurred Lines is your cliche friends to lovers story but seriously I can't get enough of them they are always so fun to read.

Parker and Ben couldn't be any more different. Parker has a long term boyfriend who she is very serious about and Ben, on the other hand, is your typical player. If it wasn't for Ben's point of views I will admit I might not have cared for him as much because I'm really not a fan of the hit it and quit it type of guys but we get to see how much he really cares for Parker and how great of a guy he really is, he just doesn't care for commitment. 

I loved the two of them together they were freaking all sorts of cuteness and this is before the hookup. As friends they were perfect and then not to mention they are also roommates which led to a lot of banter and bickering between the two about house rules, chores etc. which was fun and cute and then when the two finally started hooking up I just wanted them to get over the whole friends with benefits crap and figure out their feelings for each other and just get together already.

Overall if you're looking for a great light fluff book I definitely recommend Blurred Lines and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series, which is about another couple.

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