Tag Archive | Young Adult

Final Book in the Strange Luck Series

It’s out! A Darling Secret, the third and final book in the Strange Luck Series by Amie Irene Winters is out today. Below is my book review.

Barnes & Noble

Strange Luck Series by Amie Irene Winters

Young Adult/Fantasy


A Darling Secret


I received an advanced copy of this novel. I choose to review the book because I enjoyed it and think you might too. You can read reviews of the first two novels by clicking their titles below.

WARNING: This is the third novel in a three book series. Book 2 ended in limbo, so some of the summary of Book 3 will be a spoiler if you haven’t read the first two books.

Read my reviews on the first two books: 

Strange Luck (Book 1)

Nightmare Birds (Book 2)

Overall Rating: 3.5

Quick Summary: After the thrilling ending of the Nightmare Birds, Daisy Darling is driving into the unknown. While she has her twin sister at her side and a crew of family members she didn’t know existed, Daisy is scared at all she must still face. A part of her just wants to go back to the way things were before, but she knows that cannot happen. She must face the Realm of the Shadow Gods and help to destroy an evil she never saw coming.


This is a fantastic ending to an exciting and thrilling series. Amie Winters continues to offer up surprising twists in this last installment, along with a very sweet and satisfying ending. Of particular note is the great evil that rules the Realm of the Shadows Gods. Complex even in its horror, the villain of this series is not a simple caricature of the devil.

I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow, primarily because Daisy kept breaking down. This is understandable, given everything she’s been through, but it seemed a bit out of character for her. In the end though, I thought the difficulty Daisy has at the beginning of the book add a bit more depth to her romantic relationship, especially since the climax of the novel has her facing off with the Shadow Gods with only her twin sister at her side.

Thinking about this series in its entirety, I am awed at the imagination of Winters. Each book offers a different world to explore. It lives up to the fantasy genre and offers interesting twists on old classics like witches, evil, and the afterlife.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $2.99)

If you’ve been reading the series then of course you need to know how it ends. Luckily, if you have Kindle Unlimited, the entire series is free. All three books can be bought bundled together for $8.97, which for an ebook is a lot, but compared to paperback novels is a steal.

Something else you might enjoy:

I love Cat Winter’s young adult novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. It has a fantasy feel with an added historical element. You can read my review of Winter’s book here.


Cover Reveal: Book 3 in Strange Luck Series

A Darling Secret

Strange Luck series, Book 3

Coming September 22, 2017


Learn the fate of your favorite heroes and love-to-hate foes in the thrilling conclusion to Amie Irene Winters’ bestselling Strange Luck series.

Before the Theater of Secrets was formed, before the Nameless was built, before Daisy Darling learned of her magical bloodline, there was the Realm of the Shadow Gods—ruled by the most powerful and wicked creatures known.

For nearly two decades, Daisy’s twin sister, Rose, was held captive by the Shadow Gods and survived. Now Rose has come to find Daisy to stop their impending evil from spreading into the human world. But Rose bears a terrible secret that has the power to destroy everything.

In the devastating Realm of the Shadow Gods, dark magic holds no bounds. Daisy will risk everything to save those she loves, but will the truth finally break her?


Unlock the final book in the Strange Luck series with A Darling Secret.


Pre-order today, read it September 22, 2017.


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A Darling Secret excerpt:

A slow, creeping fear wound its way around me.

Tiptoeing around the mysterious plain, too afraid to call out, a surprising wisp of music came floating through the air. It was a jingly little melody—like a music box—followed by soft voices.

I paused. Through the violet-stained sky and swirling rainbow mist I saw something moving. My eyes narrowed as I stealthily approached an illuminated cave.

Shadows were gathering there.


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A Darling Secret Amazon link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074JVRWH4?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

Curious about the first two books? Read my reviews of them:

Strange Luck

Nightmare Birds


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Amie Irene Winters was born and raised in California but now lives and writes in western Pennsylvania. She is the author of the bestselling Strange Luck series.

When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dog, baking desserts, or breaking a sweat in kickboxing class.

To learn more about Amie and her books, visit amieirenewinters.com.

Amie Irene Winters Headshot Cropped

Sign up for my mailing list here! You’ll only get emails when I have a new release coming up, a sale, or a giveaway.


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Social media links:

Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00XZ88V5A

Blog: https://golden-cricket.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aiwinters

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13851542.Amie_Irene_Winters

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amieiwinters/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmieIWinters

Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com

Fangirling Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Young Adult


Overall Rating: 5 (xoxo)

Quick Summary: Cath has never been a fan of change. But Cath has always been the ultimate fan of the Simon Snow series, writing fan fiction that has garnered thousands of followers online. As Cath and her twin sister Wren begin college, Cath struggles with the autonomy of growing up. As her sister copes with change in her own way, Cath must figure out where her world begins and ends, especially as her conception of writing is challenged by her fiction professor.

This book has a lot going on in it. It deals in some pretty weighty issues like college binge drinking, sibling relationships, mental illness, and what constitutes creative writing and plagiarism. With all of these topics floating along in a 445 page book some are going to fall by the wayside. There are some questions that never get answered, like what exactly happens to Wren at that party (I won’t be more specific because I don’t want to spoil anything), or what happened with Cath’s dad that triggers an intervention. Despite these unanswered questions, I didn’t feel troubled by them. The way Rainbow Rowell crafts her story it makes sense that I don’t know everything, because Cath doesn’t know everything. Reading the world through Cath’s eighteen-year-old eyes, she isn’t interested in knowing all the details because they get in the way of her ability to deal with her relationships.

Cath is a terribly flawed character in many ways, but she is trying, and I love that. She makes mistakes, but she doesn’t make the same ones over and over again. While some may find this idealistic, I thought Cath is terribly brave and lovable. I was rooting for her all the way, and I was rooting for her in a way that extended beyond having her first “real” boyfriend (the “romance”) to writing her first creative fiction piece and building a strong relationship with her roommate.

I found Rowell’s portrayal of the first college romance so realistic. I, too, was a virgin upon arriving to college and while it was a religious thing, it was also about how important authentic relationships were to me. I didn’t want to deal in casual kisses and embraces, just like Cath. And I remember vividly how slowly my first romance blossomed. Cath and Levi are so quintessentially true to each other and to listening to their inner sense of self. Levi is comfortable with who he is and while Cath is getting there, I love how she thinks about whether or not she’s ready to embark on a physical relationship. Levi is so supportive of her quirks and insecurities; I wish I had dated a Levi early in my life too. Their relationship brings a beautiful balance to a novel that would otherwise be too weighty. While their relationship creates an element of hopeful anxiety, it is so sweet and optimistic that it evens out the pain of failed parental relationships and worries about mental illness.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $9.99)

It’s pretty rare for me to give out a five star rating, so a part of me screams “yes! This book is absolutely worth it.” But another part of me cringes at paying $10 for an ebook. I think I bought the book when it was on sale, but now I can’t remember. So I’m going to go with yes, since clearly I bought it at some point, but if you can find it at your local library or used book store, I’d go with that too.

Something else you might enjoy:

Obviously you should read Rowell’s other young adult books, like Eleanor and Park. Beyond that, you should try out Amy Harmon’s books. I’ve reviewed a few here on this blog, but I think Making Faces is a great one after Fangirl.


The Nightmare Birds, Strange Luck Book 2

Strange Luck Series by Amie Irene Winters

Young Adult

The Nightmare Birds (Book 2)

 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The first book of the series, Strange Luck, has already been reviewed and you can find it here. While this novel can be read as a standalone, I highly suggest reading it as part of the series.


Overall Rating: 4


Quick Summary: Daisy Darling’s shop, Strange Luck, attracts all sorts of people and things. When she is tasked with vetting the Theatre of Secrets, she embarks on a journey that no one has returned from… at least no one who has seen the performance. It is said that only those with wild eyes, an impulsive heart and a wandering spirit hunt for the Theatre of Secrets, but that once found it will change your life forever.

Like the first novel in the series, there is a lot of action. There is mystery, suspense, and an estranged mother all to be had. Since it’s a somewhat complicated plot, it is difficult to follow in some places, but I enjoyed the dark and twisty nature of the novel. I was surprised in some places, which I always love in a fantasy novel, both by the characters and the nature of the story.

Amie Irene Winters seems interested in exploring the nature of life itself in this tale. What makes life worth living? What gives us motivation to continue living? And what are our greatest fears? Fear itself plays a very important role in the novel, but then again, so does its opposite, love.

This is not a romance novel, but there is a lot of love in the story. Daisy is a very loving person and it really helps to draw people to her, including me the reader. The love of a daughter to her father, first love, and the love of a mother to her child—it’s all there and I enjoyed it immensely.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $2.99)

Yes, I enjoyed the second book in this series a lot and found it to be a fun adventure. It is highly entertaining and worth the three dollars. Plus if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free.

Something else you might enjoy:

You have to read Cat Winters, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. It’s so good! It’s a little bit dark, a little bit of fantasy, with the added benefit of it being a historical novel. You can read my review of the book here.

Strange Luck Book 1

Strange Luck Series by Amie Irene Winters

Yong Adult Fantasy

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The second book in the series is The Nightmare Birds and I will be posting a separate review once I have finished reading that book.

Strange Luck (Book 1)


Overall Rating: 4


Quick Summary: Daisy Darling has spent her life listening to far-fetched stories in her father’s shop Strange Luck. Specializing in the mythical, mystical and mysterious, Daisy has enough material to pursue her dream of writing for years. But Daisy has to take care of the store, especially since her father needs a heart transplant that they can’t afford. When Daisy finds out that these stories aren’t just made up, she’s trapped in a world that she can’t quite decipher or escape.

This is not a love story in the traditional sense so it’s a little out of the blog’s normal reach. There is a bit of romance, but the story is much more focused on Daisy’s journey. Essentially it’s a coming of age novel where Daisy realizes that there are more possibilities in life than she originally thought. I appreciate that the lesson Daisy learns has to do with the place of dreams and memories in creating meaning in our lives. This is such an important lesson and I love that it is interwoven into an exciting tale of adventure.

The writing and dialogue are smooth and the world that Amie Winters creates is vivid and interesting. However, there are some lingering questions in my mind. I don’t quite understand everything that happens in the novel and that unsettles me. Fantasy/paranormal is a genre in which a lot of odd things occur, but I still like everything to add up. So that’s my only real problem with the novel. I don’t want to go into more detail because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $2.99)

Yes! It’s a lot of fun and it’s a quick read. Although it is a part of a series it can stand alone with no cliffhanger ending and I would definitely recommend it to my 17-year-old sister. It’s also a Kindle Unlimited book so it’s free to read if you have a subscription.

Something else you might enjoy:

The Savannah Witches series is another great young adult fantasy/paranormal series. I loved it and it is one of the first books I reviewed on my blog so it has a fond place in my heart.

Let This Novel Capture You

Seaside Pictures Series by Rachel Van Dyken

Teen & Young Adult


This is a new series that is a spin off from Rachel Van Dyken’s Seaside Series. Many of the characters from the Seaside Series appear in this book. I have not read the Seaside Series, but I wish I had. This is a standalone novel.



Overall Rating: 4 (sXe)


Quick & Dirty summary: Dani knows that she’s a freak. She hasn’t spoken in eight months, her boyfriend broke up with her because she can’t get over the death of her parents, and her best friends are famous rock stars. Not to mention her brother-in-law is a famous actor and her sister is an up-and-coming starlet. When she is forced to work as a personal assistant to the famous movie star Lincoln Greene, she’s glad she can’t speak so she can’t make a fool out of herself. But she can’t help but wonder if her relationship with Linc wouldn’t be different if she was just normal.

The pacing of this novel was probably the best of the Teen & Young Adult genre that I’ve read. Yes, this novel is full of drama. Ex-boyfriends appearing, overprotective friends, and unexpected competition are all featured in this storyline, but nothing dragged on or was overdone. Rachel Van Dyken’s writing style is smooth, the transitions between points of view are easy and the dialogue flows well.

I do wish I had read the Seaside Series prior to reading this novel though. It would have added some depth to the secondary characters and if I had one critique, then it would be that even Dani’s sister isn’t fully drawn out. I can understand why this is, assuming people have read the previous series, but this is a standalone novel.

A warning: if you have issues with underage sexuality, you may not enjoy this novel. Dani is 17 for much of the novel so you can imagine that with a budding relationship there is some sexual situations. If you can remember what it was like as a 17 year old, and are realistic about sexuality, then you probably won’t think much of this, but it could pose an issue for some.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $2.99)

Yes! I like this book and I think it was a lot of fun to read. I am looking forward to reading the next novel in the series.

Something else you might enjoy:

The Rook & Ronin series by JA Huss is another fun, drama filled book. It’s in serial form, so you have to read all of them to get the total story, but it’s worth it. You can read my review of Rook & Ronin here.

Mile High Author Event

October 17, 2016

Denver, CO

Mile High Author Event hosted by Black Heart Productions and Jay Crownover

My friend and fellow blogger, Cyndi, was quick to introduce me to the joys of living in Colorado by taking me to this awesome event to meet approximately 50 romance authors including Jay Crownover, Joanna Wylde, and Alice Clayton. Unfortunately with the recent chaos in my life I hadn’t prepared as much as I would have liked so my plan was to follow Cyndi around and find some new authors to read. I was blown away by how amazingly NICE authors and readers are–such a great community!

Far and away my favorite author, based on personality alone, is Anne Eliot. She writes young adult and you can find her books here: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Eliot/e/B0076LG8PW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1474397210&sr=1-2-ent  She is wildly funny and an encouraging person in general. I got quite a few books for my 16 year old sister to enjoy at Christmas this year (I always get her books), so Ashley, don’t read this post or your gift won’t be a surprise. I can’t wait to read the novels myself for as the followers of this blog know, I enjoy a good young adult novel myself.


Anne Eliot and myself


Anne was the instigator of this set of shenanigans, so you can tell her personality really sparkles! In the picture, from left to right is: Kim Holden, Anne Eliot, Ginger Scott, and Christine.


The game was, “guess who the real pregnant lady is…” All of the balloons were suppose to light up, but I guess Anne’s was the only one who listened.

Speaking of sparkling personalities, I loved meeting Meghan Quinn. I had never read her books prior to this event, but I am currently in the middle of her The Virgin Romance Novelist, primarily because Meghan is so funny in person I knew her book had to be good. I mean, who else gives away boob pens? Yes, pens with a nipple/boob on them! You can find her books by following this link: https://www.amazon.com/Meghan-Quinn/e/B00G2PREA6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1474397494&sr=1-4  And since I got a food poisoning while in Denver (I know! Could my luck get any worse?!), I need a funny pick-me-up while I recover. As an aside, Anne and Cyndi make a great emergency team when Uber-ing sick pregnant women around Denver.

If I could make Meghan Quinn my BFF, I would. Unfortunately her child is a little too young to play with my kids, but perhaps when my 2016 arrival shows up, I can set up a play date? Infants like to play together, right?! These two ladies pictured with me below are the kind of moms I so desperately need, since I caught them looking at videos of their kiddo during a lull. Women after my own heart!


If you need a dose of real life romance, check out this hunk-a-hunk of burning love. This is Rachel Van Dyken’s husband of 8 years who so graciously agreed to be surrounded by 800+ women when Rachel couldn’t make the event. I picked up two books by Rachel, so you can expect to see reviews sometime in the future, but I had to post a picture of the World’s Second Best Husband (sorry, my husband always gets first place). You can find books by Rachel here: https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Van-Dyken/e/B0054TW5AA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1474397864&sr=1-2-ent


Also, look at this super cute book cover of the married couple. They look like supermodels, so it makes sense they’d grace the cover of one of Rachel’s book. But doesn’t real life love look beautiful? I had to bring this book home with me.


The book that I am most looking forward to is Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci. It has crazy good reviews and Cyndi read an advanced copy and vouched for it. You can read Cyndi’s review of the book by clicking here. I can’t wait to crack this baby open! Here is the link to Roman Crazy: https://www.amazon.com/Roman-Crazy-Alice-Clayton/dp/1501117637/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474398149&sr=1-1&keywords=alice+clayton  And if you haven’t read the Wallbanger series by Alice Clayton you should! I know I’ve recommended it in a previous review, but I read the series before I started the blog, so I don’t have a summary here for you to read. You can find the books here: https://www.amazon.com/Wallbanger-Cocktail-Book-Alice-Clayton-ebook/dp/B00B73MULG/ref=la_B006T9XV8E_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474398254&sr=1-3

Here I am with Nina Bocci and Alice Clayton


Other books I picked up along the way include:

ROCK by JA Hass. I read her Rook and Ronin series and loved it so I am looking forward to this romantic suspense. You can read my review of Rook and Ronin here.

Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino. A gift for my BFF.

Evil by Tijan. I read Sustain right before the event and will post a review in the next day or two to follow up this post, but Evil is a paranormal while Sustain is a contemporary, so I’m excited about the change of pace. I had Tijan autograph a copy of Sustain so I can give it away with my review when it’s live, so sign up for my blog so you can be notified when it’s up, or follow me on Twitter @loveserially for a chance to win.

Reapers and Bastards by Joanna Wylde. A future prize for a reader of this blog!

When We Collide and A Stone in the Sea by A.L. Jackson. Another future prize for a reader of this blog.

Authors I plan to find and read include:

Ginger Scott, Kim Holden, Lisa Renee Jones, Jennie Marts, Tish Thawer, and Rebecca Yarrow have all been added to my TBR list. If you’ve read books by them and want to recommend one to start with, please share!!

Ginger Scott especially made my night with how awesome she is as a person. And I loved talking to Kim Holden too. When authors are sweetness in person, it makes their books so much better. Regardless of what genre you read, I hope you, fellow readers, take the time to meet authors you love in person. Sometimes it’s a let down, but most of the time, it makes the books mean something so much more.

Thank you Black Heart Reviews and Jay Crownover for a great time!