Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, #1)


I recently featured this book on my weekly meme “Books Left Unread”. I stated I had been putting it off because of the “Based on the YouTube web series phenomenon”. I am not a fan of watching YouTube series so I didn’t know anything about this other than it was supposed to be about a haunting. This, my dear readers, was anything but a scary book. It will not haunt you, nor will it keep you awake at night.

Short recap: Sunshine (yes, that’s her name) moves with her mom to Washington State. The house they move into gives Sunshine the creeps and soon, weird things start happening. A ghost starts playing games with Sunshine but her mom doesn’t believe her. Can Sunshine help the ghost and figure out what is going on?

Well, that’s the book in a nutshell. I will state again – this is not scary, creepy, or even eerie. It felt too fluffy and light-hearted to be a true horror-type story. I found myself quicking wishing I would DNF this story but I was stubborn and stayed with it. Oh what a fool I was. It got worse the more it continued. Everything was just all over the charts and not in a good way.

Apparently Sunshine’s character was supposed to be “adorkable” and to that I laugh. AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA! HA! She was not “adorkable”, she was a struggle. The girl felt like a type of manic pixie dream girl and that means I instantly cannot stand her. She was the dutiful daughter that did whatever her mother wanted in order to make her happy. She never caused trouble, never snuck out of the house, never argued with her mother, and she never cussed. That’s right! She said phrases like, “gosh dang it” and “Jeezus Loueezus” and “Good golly!”. *sigh* I wanted to slug her. She was also that character that was trying too hard, like a special snowflake. She dressed different, in vintage clothes she found at a thrift shop, she was a book nerd. she had specially different eyes, and collected unicorns of every color. WHO. CARES. That did not make me like her, that made her into a female trope. Give me a break.

Her character never developed or got better as the weak story continued. She did catch the eye of the super cute edgy guy (Nolan) at school that no girl has gotten close to before. gag See, girl trope. Even her mom was forgettable. She was in the story for an obvious reason if you read it but she didn’t add anything as a character. Neither did Nolan. He brooded around in his grandfather’s original leather jacket and drove his grandfather’s car. Whooptie freaking doo. Get over yourself already.

The overall story was grossly underwhelming. If this was such a huge sensation on YouTube then why wasn’t this… better? It was not flushed out, developed, thought through, or hashed out. This didn’t even read like a YA book, it read like a MG book.  As for the ghost within the story? Weak. Sauce. Again, do not go into this expecting or even hoping that you will be scared because it won’t happen. The ghost is supposed to tie to this spooky overall mystic plan that is tied to Sunshine but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The way it was presented was odd because it was done by an alternate POV male voice (according to the audio) that gives zero information as to what is going on. It did nothing but confuse me further. It was not a huge surprised when the mystery announced who they were, I saw it from the first time he was introduced.

Not hard to realize that I did not like this book. I am a fool for thinking this would be better than what it was. It felt more like a Scooby-Doo episode rather than a scary story. I wanted to like this more than I did because I really like the author and think she is a marvelous person, but this story just was not. I won’t be reading the rest of the series or even checking this out on YouTube. I don’t care enough for that.




ARC Review: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2)


Oh Wadsworth and Cresswell. How you two have a part of my heart.

Short recap: Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have been accepted to participate in an exclusive forensics training, which happens to be the former home of the one and only Prince Dracula. A strange series of deaths takes place and this famous duo springs to action to try to solve the mystery of what is really happening.

I thought Maniscalco hit it out of the park with Stalking Jack the Ripper… I was wrong. She only made the series better with her second book in the series! Hunting Prince Dracula was bloody brilliant. I thought I loved Wadsworth and Cresswell in the first book but this story made me love them more, if that is even possible. This story starts just weeks after SJTR. Audrey Rose is still shaken by the events that took place in book 1, but she has her faithful partner, Thomas, with her to keep an eye out for her. Both characters were deeply developed and wonderfully complex. They grew so much from the first book to this one…. and they continued to grow! Even their romance continued to grow and it was magical to witness. Thomas still had his undeniable charm and Audrey Rose tried to ignore his advances. The way they were together, no matter what the situation was, was amazing to read. They could be in a forensics class cutting up a dead body or waltzing around a castle – the chemistry was just there and it was hot. It had me blushing at times and that’s saying something. Thomas was such a smooth talker that I wanted to claim him for my own book boyfriend. (Is he claimed yet? I want to claim him.) Thomas was not without his secrets and they are revealed in this story. They just made me like him even more.

The plot of this story was marvelous. Maniscalco did a wonderful job of researching and it showed in this story. The entire thing flowed like honey. It was a pleasure to read and I never wanted it to end. I was fascinated with the story of Prince Dracula and the way Maniscalco weaved her tale surrounding the Prince. Was he coming back to life? Was he the one responsible for killing the people and draining them dry of blood? You know I won’t give anything away but you will not be left wanting at the end of this one. Oh who am I kidding – you’ll definitely want more Wadsworth and Cresswell action.

I swear, Maniscalco must have some hidden magic up her sleeve because when she writes, I am transported to the world she has created. I never wanted to leave. I wanted to follow Wadsworth and Cresswell long after the story finished. I felt as if I was with these characters in the castle during those cold and blustery nights. I believed I was in those dark and frightening tunnels with this duo. I just could not put this story down, it had me from the first word. I swear, this author has magic in her words. Be warned – you won’t want to put this down once you start. You might forego meals, work, and even sleep just so you can stay in this world just a little bit longer.

I’m making my proclamation here and now – Kerri Maniscalco is now an instabuy author for me going forward. I promise that if she publishes her grocery list, I’ll buy it. If she writes a recipe for apple pie, I will own a copy. I will forever read whatever she writes because this author is gold. I hope I have done a small bit of justice to this story. Bottom line – bloody brilliant. Everyone needs to borrow/read/own this story so they can experience Maniscalco’s words. You won’t be sorry.




Waiting on Wednesday: Retribution Rails (Vengeance Roads #2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:


Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road, #2)



From Goodreads:

When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


The first book blew me away so I cannot wait to read the sequel!


Texas Teen Book Festival ’17 Recap

Welcome to my Texas Teen Book Festival 2017 Recap! It was October 7, 2017 in Austin, TX. Sit back and get cozy because this may be a long post.. full of pictures and great stories! (HA! See what I did there?)



This festival was at St. Edwards University again. I had only been to this festival two years before and it was a disaster. I could regale you with horror stories or share pictures but just trust me when I say it was a cluster. It made me not want to go back, especially after the horrific stories I heard from last year. Leigh Bardugo anyone? I took a chance and packed up my books. I am overjoyed to say that, as an attendee, I feel this year’s festival was wonderfully done! Other than the Texas heat and humidity, which nothing can ever be done about that, I believe this festival was really well done. It did not feel like the same festival I went to years before.



This was taken early in the morning but it was still a beautiful day.



Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Book People in Austin was in charge of the sales and I feel it went off without a hitch. All of the books were neatly laid out and you could easily tell what was signed and what wasn’t. I’m surprised that a good majority of the books were already signed by the authors but you certainly had the opportunity to get them personalized later if you wanted.



Publisher Additions


It was so great to see publisher tables at this event! Macmillan and Penguin were the two tables I saw but I know more publishers sent items to be given away. Festival attendees (like me!) always enjoy any presence from a big publisher.

I believe there were some Fierce Reads events during the day but I wasn’t able to attend. Unfortunately, it clashed with a signing time so I couldn’t go.



It may have been me but it felt like the attendance was not as high this year. Maybe it was because Austin City Limits was going on at the same time and people didn’t want to risk the traffic? Whatever the case, I took advantage of it. The lines were almost non-existent. The longest line I stood in was at the end of the day to see Mackenzi Lee and that was because she is a sweetheart and wanted to chat with every single person who was in her line. I can’t be mad at an author who wants to be so engaging with her readers and fans.




I try to express how important it is to make friends at these festivals. I made more friends this year and was over the moon excited about that! It also blew my mind how many people actually knew me. I have moments where I still feel like a newbie when it comes to blogging but then I remember I have been posting on my blog for two years now. Where has the time gone? I was even more floored when people asked where I blogged and I was able to hand them my card! Little moments like that is why I love blogging so much.


It is not a true Texas book festival until I see Xander!



Everyone, @heartbrekkerr! This girl was my lifeline all day! I am not sure I could have made it through the festival without her. ❤



I may jinx myself here but I don’t feel like I have to cover this topic when it comes to experience I had at this festival! Everyone was nice! Everyone was friendly! Everyone was helpful! From the volunteers (SHOUT OUT TO THE VOLUNTEERS!) to the publishers to the venders to the attendees. Everyone had manners and was respectful! I still feel like I was in a dream when it comes to not be shoved around or treated like a faker because I’m an older YA reader. Just know it was a breath of fresh air.




I did not attend any panels this year. There wasn’t time! Again, you had to make a decision – attend panels or go to a signing. (I’ll get into that in a moment.) Maybe next year I’ll go to one.


Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I am guessing that you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. I am happy to report that this went super smooth. Both Book People employees and volunteers were on point and had everything under control – and they were nice about it. There were four different signing times throughout the day and I think that helped a lot with crowd control.

The early bird signing included E. Lockhart, Stephanie Perkins, Jason Reynolds, and Marie Lu but Marie was unable to attend this signing. I volunteered at this time so I didn’t get photos. But never fear, I still took plenty of pictures of the rest of the day!

I cannot remember the exact authors at every signing as there were so many. Instead of trying to rack my brain and possibly missing someone, I’ll share with you the photos I took:


I bought Aditi’s book signed later in the day and am kicking myself for not having her personalize it.



Lisa Maxwell was just so nice!



ERIN BOWMAN!! I simply love her books. ❤ (Notice Cindy Pon on the left!)



ONE OF MY FAVORITES!! Stephanie Perkins is just too sweet for words. This was the sixth time (I believe) that I’ve met her and it still blows me away that she knows who I am. We chatted like old friends and it warmed my heart.



Me after the first signing event I went to. Notice how organized things are behind me as that’s the signing tent. So awesome.


Third signing of the day!




Notice Jason Reynolds on the left… he was so engaging with his readers.



Jessica Taylor and Peter Bognanni



Amy Tintera



Jason Reynolds’ line never stopped! He was very popular. 🙂


The fourth signing of the day was a BIG ONE for me. MARIE LU was going to be in this signing and I was bursting with excitement! Somehow I was able to be the first person in line to meet her!



Because her line was so intense, wrist bands were handed out to the first 35 people to guarantee them a spot to meet Marie.




While waiting for the signing to start, I stopped Jason Reynolds for a photo. I’m not intimidated by a lot of authors but he kind of intimidated me.



Can you tell how excited and over the moon I was to meet Marie again?! AAAHHH!



Next on my stop was Mackenzi Lee but I was able to snap photos of other authors while waiting. Here we have Jennifer Mathieu, Julie Murphy, and Sandhya Menon



Better shot of Sandhya and Julie



Kathryn Ormsbee



AAHH!! Mackenzi Lee!! She has been one of my most favorite authors! Notice me holding an ARC of her debut, This Monstrous Thing. She was floored to see it in the wild again!



Anna-Marie McLemore was so sweet and super friendly. I have heard nothing but great things about her book.



I was in line for Ashley Poston (!!!) when the signings were cut off so the workers could prepare for the final signing of the day –every author would be available to sign books. I was just a few people away from meeting Ashley but was able to capture a photo of Ryan Graudin… 🙂


After the signings, I spotted Adi Alsaid and grabbed him for a photo!



You are seeing that photo correctly! I met Ashley at the last and biggest signing of the day and I had TWO copies of Heart of Iron for her to sign! When I told her I had these babies, she legit teared up. It pulled on my heart strings. This story is six years of her blood, sweat, and tears. She hadn’t seen but one other reader with the ARC so seeing them in the wild brought tears to her eyes. She was gracious enough to sign one to me and even wrote some spoilers somewhere in the book. She’s so evil that way and I love her for it.


My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 90lbs worth of books all day? I even went light this year! I took one small bag of books with me to start the day



I am rather proud of myself because I only bought five books this year. All were already signed and three I had personalized by the author.



These are the books I was given throughout the day… I’m still in shock over them!



These are the books I had signed and/or personalized



All in all, this is what I carried around (proudly) all day!




Swag is not something I’m big into but I did collect some throughout the day




Overall Thoughts

I am blown away by how much improvement there was with this festival. The first year I attended was the first year it was at St. Edwards University. It was a horrific nightmare. I Nobody working the festival had any idea what was going on, the signing events were screwed up, and so were the lines. Oh goodness the lines! They were stuff nightmares were made of. I am now going to be a forever fan of this festival and attend every year I can if it continues to run the way it did this year. This felt easy. Maybe the Texas heat kept people away or the ACL event, but either way it was really enjoyable and I still feel like I’m floating from the amazing interaction with everyone.


So tell me, did you attend this event? Or would you attend this event? What are you thoughts on everything I laid out about the day? I want to hear from you.sara-signature1



Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read to Get in the Mood for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different theme for bloggers to post their top tens about, and this week I’m listing…

Books to Read to Get in the Mood for Halloween


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories





Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)



The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)



Enclave (Razorland, #1)



Slasher Girls & Monster Boys



Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)



The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)



The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)



Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)




What books would you recommend to read to get in the mood for Halloween? Something with vampires or zombies? Ghosts or ghouls? Let me know!


Review: Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1)

Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles, #1)


Books like this give me trust issues. The cover gives the impression that the story inside the covers will be badass, while the blurb promises a gritty dystopia thriller. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Short recap: Felicia has died and finds herself in a place considered “Level 2” – essentially a stop between Heaven and Hell. She fights to help uncover the truth of the evil plan of the angels that are keeping people trapped in this Level 2.

Uh… what. The blurb itself talks about Felicia spending her days in a white, pristine place doing nothing but watching her old memories all day. Everything is turned on its head when Felicia discovers another girl dead (how can that happen when everyone is already dead?) but nobody knows who Felicia is talking about. It is as if the girl never existed. Sounds kind of … sci-fi and right up my alley. But this story was anything other than good. What I read was a gushy, sopping pile of instalove with a side story of Heaven vs. Hell and angels being bad guys. It was all over the place. I almost needed a map to be able to figure my way around. There were just so many things that hit me wrong about this story and that irritated me. It left me confused, as if I just wasn’t smart enough to figure out what was going on. I’m not a stupid person, this story just did not make sense to me.

The overall plot. Let’s start there, shall we? Anyone that knows me knows I love a good dystopia. This was not a dystopia story. I’m not even sure what it was. It tried to be too many things and ended up failing at all of them. Apparently, in this story, when someone dies (not murdered, mind you) they go to a place called Level 2. As I mentioned, it is considered an ‘in-between’ place. Everyone that is in Level 2 is completely clueless why they are there and spend their days rewatching their past memories. That’s right. That’s all they do. OH, and people on “The Net” can rent these memories and pay a small fee. The person that owns the memories can choose to keep some private, not release for public viewing. I could keep going but it just gets weirder and more pointless. There were so many things happening but together they made zero sense. It left me confused on what the actual plot was supposed to be – these trapped souls in Level 2 trying to escape to see what happens next. None of that is really discussed until the last half of the book. The first half is all about Felicia reliving her memories. YAWN.

There was also a severe lack of detail throughout this entire book. The author had one job: create a world that pulls the reader in and keeps them there until the end. That did not happen here. I was not able to connect to the world or picture what was going on because too much time was spent in Felicia’s memories – none of which had anything to do with the overall story. Sure, they were probably there for backstory but 75% of the book cannot be her backstory. Also, this was the type of story where things magically happened because it was just easier for the story. Felicia is supposed to be addicted a drug from pods she watches her memories in but suddenly she isn’t? In a very short amount of time she is able to simply manifest anything she wants like a pro?  That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

Now the characters. I strongly disliked Felicia in a way I haven’t disliked a character in a while. She was weak and immature and I could not ever connect with her. How was she supposed to be one of the main people fighting the angels to get into Heaven? (see, that just sounds so bizarre.) All she wanted to do was relive her memories with Neil, her instalove, and Julian, a boy she liked but acted like she didn’t. groan She kept hinting at something “super awful” that happened in her past so I guess I was supposed to believe she was a megabadass? Not going to happen. She was too meek and fragile to do harm to anyone or anything. I could not stand the way she did nothing but pined over Neil and she wanted nothing more than to save him. Honey, he did nothing for you so why risk it all for him?

I was not aware this story had such a heavy religious tone to it. If I had known, I honestly may have skipped it. This isn’t a cram it down your throat religious book but it was pretty bad. Felicia’s character was very active in her church and we, as readers, are forced to relive them. It shouldn’t be that bad of a topic but the way it was portrayed in this story made me a little uncomfortable. Felicia was dating (instalove) the head church boy and he didn’t want to get physical with her. She was upset by this. UH, why is this even brought up? What does this have to do with anything? Felicia herself was playing two boys at the same time so she really shouldn’t be casting stones. What I’m getting at is that the heavy use of religion in this story was out of place and probably not necessary. I didn’t need to relive the memory where Felicia goes to a sleepover in the church and they play a game where Roman soldiers were hunting down the Christians. Pointless.

As you can tell, I did not enjoy this book. It caused me to rage in a way I haven’t in a long time. I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started this but I was so very wrong. This was a long, boring, pointless story that simply tried too hard to be something it wasn’t. In fact, it was such a mess that I don’t think it knew what it wanted to be when it grew up. The author just tried too hard to put so much into this one story that it messed it all up. I will not pick up the second book, nor will I ever recommend this to anyone. In fact, I’m going to try to forget I read this one.



Books Left Unread #97


Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, #1)


I think the I have figured out why I haven’t read this yet – the little blurb at the bottom of the cover that says, “Based on the YouTube web series performance“. I’m not the absolute biggest fan of YouTube (can you believe that?!) so I’m afraid I just won’t like it. 😦