Book Review + Giveaway – STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

STAR-CROSSED Blog Tour

STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

Synopsis
Princess Vela’s people are starving.

Stranded on a planet that lacks food, Vela makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes an Aegis for her people. Accepting a genetic modification that takes sixty years off her life, she can feed her colony via nutrition pills. But her best friend is still getting worse. And she’s not the only one.

Now the king is dying, too.

When the boy she’s had a crush on since childhood volunteers to give his life for her father’s, Vela realizes her people need more than pills to survive. As tensions rise between Aegis and colonists, secrets and sabotage begin to threaten the future of the colony itself.

Unless Vela is brave enough to save them all…

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
An intense young adult dystopian romance filled with impossible choices, longing, loyalty, and above all, love. When seventeen year old Princess Vela is caught sneaking food to her best friend, her entire future is jeopardized. But the leadership sees something in her and offers her an opportunity to prove herself worthy of taking over her father’s position of Ruler when he passes. Vela and her sister, Blanca, are each challenged to show they have what it takes to lead their people, despite their weaknesses. Vela is compassionate to a fault and Blanca is logical and analytical at the expense of compassion. Each princess is forced into a situation that tests their limits in ways neither is prepared for.

Plot
The plot is intricately woven with subplotting that made this a “can’t put down” book for me. While I found some of it predictable, the author’s writing and the characters she created made me need to know what happened next. Dunn drew me into her world, which is richly built, and made me care about fictional people in a way I haven’t in a long time. I wanted a different ending, but the one I got was both gut-wrenching and satisfying.

The Characters
Well-developed and incredibly real, Carr, Vela, and the rest of the cast were real to me, and I loved them wholly, never wanting to the story to end. Carr is what every book boyfriend should be with a deep sense of family loyalty and strength, with a poetic side that made me swoon. Vela was everything I want in a young adult heroine. Her compassion for others and sense of doing the right thing at any cost made her one of my favorite young adult protagonists of all time.

Top Five Things I Loved About STAR-CROSSED
1. Vela. She was by far my favorite character of 2018 and in my top five young adult protagonists of all time. She’s warm, loyal, loving, and compassionate with a strong sense of doing the right thing. Her love for her family, her best friend, and Carr made her utterly relatable.

2. Carr. Ahh, what can I say about the dreamy boy who would give his life to save his sister? There is so much to him, but the way he cares not only about his sister but Vela, too, makes him worthy of Vela’s love.

3. Impossible choices. Vela is put in charge of choosing the boy who will die to save her father’s life, but when the only boy she’s ever loved, Carr, puts himself in the running, she finds herself in a situation with no good outcomes. This is the type of situation that makes for page-turning conflict.

4. Dystopian worlds. My favorite genre because anything can happen and nothing is ever as it seems.

5. The ending. Oh my God that ending. It gutted me but it made me FEEL.

Bottom Line
An outstanding young adult dystopian tale that will reside among my favorites for years to come.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: STAR-CROSSED
Author: Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Science Fiction Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Pintip Dunn

Author Pintip Dunn

About the Author
Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Pintip’s novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, and the upcoming STAR-CROSSED and

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Where to Find Pintip Dunn
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Entangled

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – THE SPONSORED by Caroline T. Patti

THE SPONSORED Blog Tour

THE SPONSORED by Caroline T. Patti

THE SPONSORED by Caroline T. Patti

Synopsis
Don’t break the rules…

Max Winter is a janitor at a ritzy boarding school. He’s supposed to keep to himself, mind his business, stay quiet about the things he sees, sweep the floors, and under no circumstances is he to have any contact with the residents. Now, Max will break every last one of those rules when he meets Ace Valentine.

Don’t follow your heart…

Ace Sloane finds out she’s on the wrong side of a war she no longer believes in fighting. Now, she’ll risk everything to get her life back from the people who stole it, including getting too close to exactly the wrong boy.

Don’t get caught…

Grey Winter lost both parents in a fire that should’ve killed her as well. A “miracle baby,” Grey is sent to live with her Nana who should have told her the truth about who and what she really is. Now she’s at the forefront of a cover-up, all-out manhunt, and the object of one boy’s interest she doesn’t want or need. It’s up to Grey to connect the dots and bring an end to the secrets and lies that have caused so much pain and suffering for so long.

 

 

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My Review
This is a great scifi/dystopian told from two points of view, a generation apart. First person present is Grey Winter, a teen girl with the ability to self heal. Through a series of flashbacks, we get the third-person point of view of Max Winter, Grey’s father. The two stories run in parallel through most of the book, but it’s clear they will end up converging. This is a unique twist on young adult romance. Both characters are teens at the time their stories are told and both include romances, making this a two for one if teen romance is your thing. But it’s so much more than that. There’s plenty of action, a huge mystery, and enough secrets and revelations to keep me turning the pages. The story starts off with a bang as Grey intervenes in a robbery, putting herself between a bullet and the owner of the bodega. Unfortunately, this also exposes  her ability to the boy at her school she likes the least. But there is so much more to Grey and Julian than one unfortunate incident.

Max Winter is the janitor at a prestigious school for The Sponsored, a group of kids who get the best education available in exchange for giving up their life choices to the government. Lowly janitors and Sponsored are not allowed to mingle, but with any good dystopian romance, rules are made to be broken. As both stories unfold, we learn everything is both more and less than it seems and secrets and lies run deep.

Plot
A two-forked tale, the plotting of both are expertly intertwined. As Grey attempts to keep her abilities a secret, live her life, and fight a budding, but dangerous, attraction to Julian, we see Max and Grey’s mom meet and fall in love. It’s more than just a romantic backstory, though. We learn all the secrets of The Sponsored through his eyes. A captivating storytelling approach that I absolutely loved!

The Characters
While it took me a bit to warm up to Grey, I loved her. Her penchant for keeping everyone at arms’ length initially seemed to include the reader as well, but over the course of the book, she lets us in. She’s wounded, damaged, and so incredibly easy to root for. The rest of the characters, Nana, Max, Ace, and Julian are well-developed.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE SPONSORED
1. The plot. Well told and kept me engaged from the opening scene.

2. Grey. She is a complex heroine with so much heart, I just adored her.

3. Dystopia. One of my favorite genres and the author’s take on a near-future society was utterly plausible, making it all the more terrifying.

4. Action. From the opening pages, there is just the right amount of action to keep the story moving.

5. Romance. Two separate romances means twice the angsty love!

Bottom Line
Wonderful dystopian romance with a storytelling twist.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE SPONSORED
Author: Caroline T. Patti
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: September 12, 2018
Pages: 330
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian SciFi Adventure
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound | !ndigo | The Book Depository

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Author Caroline T. Patti

Author Caroline T. Patti

About the Author
Caroline T Patti is the author of The World Spins Madly On and Too Late To Apologize. When she’s not writing, she’s a school librarian, mother of two, wife, avid reader and Green Bay Packer fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to find Caroline T. Patti
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Book Review + Giveaway – HOT PURSUIT (To Catch a Thief) by Kay Marie

HOT PURSUIT Blog Tour

HOT PURSUIT (To Catch a Thief #1) by Kay Marie

HOT PURSUIT (To Catch a Thief #1) by Kay Marie

Synopsis
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days meets White Collar in this sassy and sweet romantic comedy, new from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie.

All Jolene Carter has ever wanted is to own a bakery of her own. There’s only one problem. Her father, Robert Carter, is a world-renowned art thief and she’s, well, sort of his protégé. But he’s promised her that this next job in New York will be their last, and she won’t let anyone get in the way of her dreams…especially not the distractingly delicious FBI agent hot on her tail.

Agent Nate Parker has been on the Robert Carter case for years, and if the rumors of the aging criminal’s retirement are true, this might be his last chance to nail him. With the legacy of his late father in the back of his mind, the stakes are more personal than anyone realizes. He won’t let anything stand in the way of justice…especially not the red-headed vixen who keeps giving him the slip.

He’s a cop who’d never bend. She’s a con who’ll never break. But all’s fair in love and larceny…

 

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My Review
I love a good romantic suspense with a healthy dose of humor which is exactly what HOT PURSUIT delivers. Jolene Carter is the daughter of a notorious art thief being hunted by the FBI. All she wants is open her own bakery where she can make her coopies–cookies wrapped in pie dough. FBI agent Nate Parker just wants to nail Robert Carter. Too bad Carter’s sexy, flirty, bad ass daughter is hell-bent on making his life difficult. The two begin a game of cat and mouse that is as much fun as it is frustrating, until things shift and feelings get in the way of what both of them want. Responsibilities, desires, loyalties, and wits tangle within both Nate and Jo. Both will be forced to choose between what they want most and what they must do, with no easy out for either of them, and nothing but heartache on the horizon.

HOT PURSUIT Teaser 1Plot
The plot centers around the heist that Jo is helping her dad and her best friend, Thad, pull off, and the FBI’s attempts to catch them in the act. Central to that plot is the budding romance between Jo and Nate. The two plots are so intertwined they’re nearly one in the same. The romance drives conflict in the heist and Jo’s criminal family and her role in all of it drives conflict in their relationship.

The Characters
The characters are what sold this book for me. Not that it wasn’t a fun story, but the author made me care about the characters so much, that I wanted everything for both of them. Each has deep motivations and rich back stories that drive everything they do. At no point did I question their actions, because they remain true to themselves throughout. Jo is funny, irreverent, smart, and lonely. Nate is all about the rules and he hates everything Jo stands for, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for her after finding out what makes her do the things she does. Each wants to save the other from themselves.

HOT PURSUIT Teaser 2

Top Five Things I Loved About HOT PURSUIT
1. Jolene Carter. She’s adorably spunky, unpredictable, and just the type of person I’d love to have for a BFF.

2. Nate Parker. Sexy. FBI. Enough said.

3. Non-graphic heat. Don’t get me wrong, I love graphic sex scenes as much as the next reader, but the way the author creates sexual tension is straight out of Gypsy Rose Lee’s playbook. Always leave them wanting more!

4. Thievery. I’m not promoting lawbreaking, but I love a good heist story, along the lines of Oceans Eleven or Now You See Me. HOT PURSUIT is in the same vein, and it was pure fun.

5. Doing the right thing for the right reason. Both main characters try to walk a fine line, but in the end, they do what’s right for all the right reasons.

Bottom Line
A fun, witty, romantic comedy/adventure with lots of playful banter.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: HOT PURSUIT
Series: To Catch a Thief #1
Author: Kaitlyn Davis writing as Kay Marie
Release Date: August 27, 2018
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance
Pages: 324
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Kay Marie

Author Kay Marie

About the Author
Kaitlyn Davis, a bestselling author with over a quarter of a million books sold, writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie. Publishers Weekly has said, “Davis writes with confidence and poise,” while USA Today has recommended her work as “must-read romance.”

Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she’s not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found playing fetch with her puppy, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family. If you have any questions for her–about her books, about scheduling an event, or just in general–you may contact her at: KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com

Sign up for Kaitlyn’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with all of her new releases, to receive exclusive subscriber bonus content, and more! bit.ly/KaitlynDavisNewsletter

 

 

Where to Find Kaitlyn Davis
Goodreads │ Website | Twitter │ Facebook | Amazon | Pinterest | YouTube | Wattpad

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – THE DEVIL’S REVOLVER (The Devil’s Revolver) by V. S. McGrath

THE DEVIL'S REVOLVER (The Devil's Revolver #1) by V. S. McGrath

THE DEVIL’S REVOLVER (The Devil’s Revolver #1) by V. S. McGrath

Synopsis
She is Hettie Alabama — unlikely, scarred, single-minded, and blood bound to a revolver forged by a demon.

The first book in an epic, magic-clad series featuring the Wild West reimagined as a crosscultural stereoscope of interdimensional magic and hardship, The Devil’s Revolver opens with a shooting competition and takes off across the landscape after a brutal double murder and kidnapping — to which revenge is the only answer. Hettie Alabama, only seventeen years old, leads her crew of underdogs with her father’s cursed revolver, magicked to take a year off her life each time she fires it. It’s no way for a ranch girl to grow up, but grow up she does, her scars and determination to rescue her vulnerable younger sister deepening with every year of life she loses.

A sweeping and high-stakes saga that gilds familiar Western adventure with powerful magic and panoramic fantasy, The Devil’s Revolver is the last word and the blackest hat in the Weird West.

 

 

 

 

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of the SyFy show Wynonna Earp, so fresh off of a trip to Comic-Con this seemed like something right up my alley. I was not disappointed. This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Set more than a hundred years ago in the old west, it follows the story of seventeen-year-old Hettie Alabama as first tragedy befalls her family, then she begins to discover dark secrets about them and herself. With her young sister missing, Hettie is convinced she’s alive and will do anything to get her back. Anything includes imprinting on the Devil’s Revolver, known as Diablo, a gun with an endless supply of ammunition, never needs to be reloaded, and oh yeah, every time Hettie kills someone with it, she grows another year older. Surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, Hettie attempts to stay one step ahead of those who want Diablo and remain alive long enough to find her younger sister, Abby. Beyond that, she has no plan, so when everything starts to fall apart, Hettie lurches one from ill-conceived idea to the next. Filled with magic, history, and a mix of cultures, this is one of my all-time favorite reads.

Plot
The plot centers around Hettie’s search for her missing sister, Abby. But there’s so much more going on. Dark family secrets, a band of ruthless gangsters hellbent on getting their hands on Diablo, Hettie’s recurrent sudden aging, the fight for survival, and more. The author does a masterful job of taking us into a can’t-win situation, only to find a way to just barely survive, then knock us back yet again. Every time I thought Hettie was finally close to getting what she wanted, V.S. McGrath would tear it away from her again.

The Characters
The characters are nearly as fascinating as the plot. Each one is unique, with complex backstories, vivid characterization, and fully-developed goals and motivations. Hettie is by far the star of the story, and she’s so thoroughly developed, she could carry the story on her own. But the people who surround her bring more than just support to their roles. Even those who only show up in a handful of scenes are just as detailed and vivid as the characters who accompany Hettie throughout her journey.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE DEVIL’S REVOLVER
1. Expert plotting. One of only a handful of books I’ve read this year that I couldn’t put down.

2. Magical elements. I’m not usually one for fantasy or paranormal, but the way the author wove these aspects into the story felt natural. Although the magical elements are a big  part of the story, I was still rooted in the natural world in a way a lot of fantasy doesn’t allow me to be.

3. Hettie. One of the all-time best fictional characters.

4. Diablo. The gun is nearly a character all its own and its powers drive some of the best plot points.

5. Scene setting. The author creates such vivid scenes, bringing the reader in with all five senses, I’ve no doubt this story will stick with me for a long time.

Bottom Line
One of my favorite books of 2018 with amazing characters, an exhilarating plot, and unique aspects that make it unlike anything I’ve read.

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About the Book
Title: THE DEVIL’S REVOLVER
Series: The Devil’s Revolver #1
Author: V.S. McGrath
Publisher: Brain Mill Press LLC
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Pages: 323
Genre: Young Adult Historical Western Dark Fantasy/Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo

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Author V. S. McGrath

Author V. S. McGrath

About the Author
Vicki So, writing as V. S. McGrath, is a published romance author (as Vicki Essex) and has six books with Harlequin Superromance: Her Son’s Hero (July 2011); Back to the Good Fortune Diner (January 2013), which was picked for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sizzling Book Club; In Her Corner (March 2014); A Recipe for Reunion (March 2015); Red Carpet Arrangement (January 2016); and Matinees with Miriam (November 2016). She lives in Toronto, Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Find V.S. McGrath
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – ECHOES by Alice Reeds

ECHOES Blog Tour

ECHOES by Alice Reeds

ECHOES by Alice Reeds

Synopsis
“Fast-paced and thrilling. ECHOES is a heart-pounding and addictive love story.” —Mia Siegert, author of Jerkbait

They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.

Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.

Something that won’t let them leave alive.

Echoes is a thrilling adventure about confronting the impossible, discovering love in the most unexpected places, and, above all, finding hope in the face of the unknown.

 

 

 

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My Review
Two parts LOST, one part THE HUNGER GAMES, ECHOES is intriguing, complex, at times confusing, but a fast, fun, satisfying read. The story opens with a plane crash on a deserted island before flashing back to a trip to Germany seventeen hours earlier. At first, it seems like two separate storylines, and I wasn’t sure which one was real, but it ultimately resolves clearly, so stick with it. High school students Fiona and Miles are recipients of a swanky internship for tech-giant, Briola, in Germany. They’re flown on a private jet and set up in an expensive hotel, but it all falls apart when they take a cab to Briola only to find an empty warehouse with every physical and online trace of Briola wiped from existence.

On the island, Fiona and Miles struggle to survive. Their own relationship is fraught with distrust and animosity. Miles is a trust-fund kid and Fiona is a scholarship recipient at his private academy. They have nothing in common except this internship, which doesn’t make sense to Fiona since she doesn’t see herself as being nearly as qualified as Miles. While the two of them work to remain alive, they have to first learn to trust each other. Surprises and mysteries lurk around every corner, and the more they learn, the more dire their situation becomes.

Plot
The plotting is flawless, with heart-pounding tension, plenty of twists and turns, and unexpected surprises. The relationship development between the two characters is woven through the story so that it’s an extension of the plot rather than the main focus. The author kept me guessing until just the right moment.

The Characters
Both Fiona and Miles are complex characters. Told only from Fiona’s point of view, we see Miles evolve through her eyes. Their assumptions about each other fall away as they’re forced to work together to live another day and get off the island. Fiona is a tough-as-nails kickboxer with a string of trophies to show for it. Miles is a spoiled rich boy with far more to him than just that. Both will learn there is more to themselves and each other than what’s on the surface.

Top Five Things I Loved About ECHOES
1. Twists and turns. I love when I reach the end of a chapter and NEED to turn the page to find out what happens next. Alice Reeds ended nearly every chapter with something that made me not only want, but need, to read on.

2. LOST-ness. The similarities to LOST were an homage to the groundbreaking television show. It both grounded me in the story as well as intrigued me. The parallels begin and end at the setting, though. ECHOES is very much its own story.

3. Fiona. She’s determined and brave, but with a believable vulnerability that suits her character.

4. Miles. He defies stereotype and is a swoonworthy romantic lead.

5. The writing. Author Alice Reeds does  phenomenal job of pulling the reader into the world she’s created so you can breathe in the humid ar, taste the salty air, feel the grit of sand on your skin.

Bottom Line
A perfect blend of terrifyingly thriller elements mixed with a swoony teen romance.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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ECHOES Teaser

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About the Book
Title: ECHOES
Author: Alice Reeds
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo | Entangled

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Author Alice Reeds

Author Alice Reeds

About the Author
Alice Reeds was born in a small town in Germany but spent her first eight years in Florida, USA. Later on, she moved back to Europe, where her family moved around a lot. She was raised trilingual and has a basic understanding of Russian, read and spoken. After getting her International Baccalaureate Diploma, Alice is studying English Language and Literature at University. In her free time Alice mostly writes, reads, figure and/or roller skates, or watches countless let’s plays and figure skating videos.

 

 

 

Where to Find Alice Reeds
Goodreads | WebsiteTwitter | Instagram | Amazon | Entangled

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US by Katy Upperman

THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US Blog Tour

THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US by Katy Upperman

THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US by Katy Upperman

Synopsis
The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

 

 

 

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My Review
There is so much to love about THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US. A slow-burning teen romance with enough angst to choke a horse, this story ripped my heart out and pieced it back together again. When Elise and her mother move to a small beachside town south of her beloved San Francisco to be closer to Elise’s brother’s widow and daughter, she’s resentful. Not that she doesn’t love her sister-in-law and niece and want to spend more time with them, but it’s the summer before her senior year of high school, and she adores the city. An avid photographer, Elise finds San Francisco a better muse for her art than some sleepy seaside town. To make matters worse, they’re in a touristy area with almost no kids her age to befriend. Her days are spent walking the beach with her new puppy, Bambi, and her family. Still grieving her brother’s death three years before, Elise is slow to warm up to her new home and surroundings. But a fateful walk on the beach sends shy, soulful Mati into her path, changing everything she’s ever known about life, love, and what it means to be accepted for who you are.

Plot
Author Katy Upperman does a great job of keeping the story moving along. The tug and pull of Mati and Elise on each other is palpable, and the drama surrounding their families’ objections to them being together is straight up Romeo and Juliet territory. While primarily told from Elise’s point of view, we get glimpses of Mati through his writing which is both poetic and raw. With a due date on their relationship looming, the two only grow closer together and closer to certain heartache. The author portrays the intense emotions of first love and heartbreak with authenticity.

The Characters
The character development was the best part of the story. Elise, Mati, and their families were all well developed and deeply drawn. Even though there were times I disagreed vehemently with what some of the characters said or did, it was always clear what their motivations were. The characters remained true to themselves even as they grew throughout the summer.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US
1. Angst. It’s the primary reason I love reading teen fiction. There is something so deeply moving about it.

2. Photography. Reading about Elise’s art inspired me to pick up my own, neglected camera again.

3. Mati. Passionate, soulful, loyal, romantic. Sigh…

4. Elise. Her ability to see the best in everyone made her easy to root for.

5. Bambi. The big lug of a labradoodle completely stole the show.

Bottom Line
An intense young adult contemporary romance with passion and heart.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US
Author: Katy Upperman
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonAmazon UKAmazon CABarnes & NobleiBooksKobo

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Author Katy Upperman

Author Katy Upperman

About the Author
Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. KISSING MAX HOLDEN is her debut novel; her sophomore novel, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US, will be available summer, 2018.

 

 

 

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Where to find Katy Upperman
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review – THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME (Morriston Superheroes) by Danielle Banas

THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME Blog Tour

THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME (Morriston Superheroes #1) by Danielle Banas

THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME (Morriston Superheroes #1) by Danielle Banas

Synopsis
As witty as it is heartpounding, this fresh take on the beloved superhero genre is all about finding your own way to shine even when it seems everyone else around you is, well… super.

Never trust a guy in spandex.

In Abby Hamilton’s world, superheroes do more than just stop crime and save cats stuck in trees―they also drink milk straight from the carton and hog the television remote. Abby’s older brother moonlights as the famous Red Comet, but without powers of her own, following in his footsteps has never crossed her mind.

That is, until the city’s newest vigilante comes bursting into her life.

After saving Abby from an attempted mugging, Morriston’s fledgling supervillain Iron Phantom convinces her that he’s not as evil as everyone says, and that their city is under a vicious new threat. As Abby follows him deeper into their city’s darkest secrets, she comes to learn that heroes can’t always be trusted, and sometimes it’s the good guys who wear black.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, The Supervillain and Me is a hilarious, sweet, and action-packed novel by debut author Danielle Banas that proves no one is perfect, not even superheroes..

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My Review
I absolutely loved THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME! What a great twist on the teenage superhero genre. Seventeen-year-old Abby is the daughter of the town mayor and sister of Morriston’s superstar superhero, Red Comet. Still reeling from the death of her mother three years ago, she struggles with life in general, but also keeping her brother’s secret and accepting that her father has withdrawn himself over the death of his wife. Morriston is a crime-ridden town that even Red Comet can’t clean up. At least not on his own. With the help of Fish Boy, he does what he can. However, a new super has arrived, known as Iron Phantom. He’s captured on video destroying City Hall, and the level of crime only escalates from that point, making him the city’s first supervillain. But everything is not as it seems. After Iron Phantom saves Abby from a mugger, he visits her regularly and the two build a tenuous friendship at first, before sparks ignite. Seeking Abby’s help, he hopes to figure out who is framing him for the crime wave and what those funny little chips are he found in the mayor’s office.

Plot
The plot centers around the mysterious chips, but there’s a strong romance subplot between Abby and the Iron Phantom as well as the real identity of Iron Phantom. All three are incredibly well done. I waffled a lot on  Iron Phantom’s alter ego, going back and forth between a couple of characters, before wondering if it was someone else entirely. The romance was cute and I was rooting for these two the entire time. There weren’t any major plot twists and nothing that really made me go, “no way,” but it was a fun story that moves at a solid pace.

The Characters
The characters are the star of this story. Abby is infinitely likeable as is Iron Phantom. Both have solid backstories that bring their characters to life in colorful ways. Connor is the perfect older brother/foil to his sister, and the rest of the cast is a mix that seemed almost stereotypical at first, only to surprise me a little more every time they showed up on the page.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME
1. Iron Phantom. He’s witty, charming, and oh yeah, he has super powers!

2. Abby. She’s fiercely loyal, deeply wounded, and brave as hell.

3. Superheroes. What can I say — when you mix super powers with hormones, things are bound to go just about anywhere.

4. SciFi Lite. I love the use of science fiction throughout the book without it consuming the story. I was able to appreciate the technology and science without leaving Earth.

5. Humor. While there were no laugh-out-loud moments, humor was woven throughout the story, which kept what could have been a dark tale, much lighter.

Bottom Line
A wonderful debut by Danielle Banas! I’ll be reading more by this author.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME
Series: Morriston Superheroes #1
Author: Danielle Banas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonAmazon UKAmazon CABarnes & NobleiTunesKobo

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Author Danielle Banas

Author Danielle Banas

About the Author
Danielle Banas, a Pittsburgh native, earned a degree in communication from Robert Morris University. After years spent dreaming up characters instead of paying attention in class, Danielle joined the storytelling platform Wattpad, where her work has received millions of views online. When she isn’t writing, she can be found loudly singing show tunes, spouting off Walt Disney World trivia, and snuggling with her puppy. THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME is her debut novel.

Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @daniellebanas

 

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Where to find Danielle Banas
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Book Review + Giveaway – REALITY GOLD (Shifting Reality Collection) by Tiffany Brooks

REALITY GOLD Blog Tour

REALITY GOLD (Shifting Reality Collection #1) by Tiffany Brooks

REALITY GOLD (Shifting Reality Collection #1) by Tiffany Brooks

Synopsis
High school senior Riley Ozaki is desperate to change her reality after an avalanche of Internet shaming ruined her life. With her reputation and self-esteem at rock bottom thanks to cyberbullying, Riley needs to do something drastic to repair her social standing—which is why she decided to try out for a reality TV show. Suddenly, she’s dropping onto a deserted tropical island with nineteen other teens for a Survivor-style competition that she hopes will be her redemption.

With a cast of vivid characters who will stop at nothing to win the show, a cursed island setting, and a priceless treasure waiting to be discovered, Reality Gold pitches readers right into scheming web of lies, love, and betrayal. This novel is a fast-paced journey where allies may not be who they say they are, and legends abound. Riley must embrace all of life’s realities, including loss and deceit, in order to discover who she truly is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Wow, wow, wow! What a ride!! REALITY GOLD is a non-stop young adult adventure with fascinating characters, intrigue, secrets, lies, and plot twist after plot twist that made it impossible to put down. Riley Ozaki is a down-on-her-luck teen, whose misfortune is of her own making. When she has the opportunity to rebrand herself after internet infamy, she jumps at it. The opportunity is in the form of a reality TV show, called Reality Gold — a Survivor-style teen-centered show set on a South American island that just happens to be the rumored home to a long-ago buried treasure. Riley has roots on the island; her own godfather, Miles, was killed while searching for the treasure recently and Riley herself accompanied him on one of his expeditions just two years prior.

But being one of twenty kids on an island, surrounded by cameras, may not be what Riley needs. Forging friendships under constant surveillance is tough for a girl who currently has no friends. With everyone competing for the same prize and the chance to maybe hunt for the treasure while they’re there, trust is a valuable commodity that is as hard to come by as the elusive buried gold. When one mishap follows another, cast and crew alike begin to wonder if the rumored island curse is true.

Plot
Outstandingly plotted, this story moves. I loved the attention to detail throughout the story and not just with settings; everything from their surroundings, to the clothes they wear, to micro expressions bring the reader deep into the story. But they also serve as expert foreshadowing of every devious twist and turn the author throws at us.

The Characters
LOVE the characters. I was up and down on Riley throughout. She’d win my loyalty, then do something stupid and make me wonder about her. At least up until the end when she redeems herself as only Riley can. The rest of the cast is wonderful. Perfect. Seen from Riley’s perspective, the reader doesn’t know who to trust either. I had all of my ideas about what was really going on turned upside down so many times, I gave up trying to figure it all out.

Top Five Things I Loved About REALITY GOLD
1. Reality TV. While not one of my favorite things to watch, although I did watch several seasons of Survivor when it first came out, it may be one of my favorite things to read. The behind-the-scenes wrangling is so much more interesting that what shows up on screen.

2. Riley. She was both annoyingly inconsistent and lovably confused about who she was and who she wanted to be.

3. Treasure hunting. Maps, and ciphers, and markers, oh my!

4. Plot twists. So many twists I nearly got dizzy, but each one was perfectly timed, completely unpredictable, and hella fun!

5. Maren. Riley’s teammate and frenemy was one of the most complex characters and I still don’t know enough about her. I hope we get more of her in the next book in the trilogy.

Bottom Line
A rollercoaster ride of action with a mystery tied up with a simple romantic bow. Highly recommend!

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: REALITY GOLD
Series: Shifting Reality Collection #1
Author: Tiffany Brooks
Publisher: Dunemere Books
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Pages: 391
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Adventure
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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Author Tiffany Brooks

Author Tiffany Brooks

About the Author
Tiffany Brooks lives in San Francisco with her family and a bunch of pets, who luckily don’t object to being featured on her Instagram. The best thing about living on the west coast is she can find out what happens on Game of Thrones three hours ahead of air time. That, plus not having winter weather, means she’ll never move back east, although that doesn’t stop her New England family from asking when she’ll be moving “back home” to NYC or Connecticut. Reality Gold, her debut novel, kicks off the Shifting Reality Collection, a YA trilogy..

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Where to find Tiffany Brooks
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Book Review + Giveaway – THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK by Karole Cozzo

THE GAME CAN'T LOVE YOU BACK Blog Tour

THE GAME CAN'T LOVE YOU BACK by Karole Cozzo

THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK by Karole Cozzo

Synopsis
Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s focused on one thing and one thing only—being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her high school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He cant afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher—even worse, to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
My favorite Karole Cozzo book to date, and the title, THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK, might be the most perfect title ever — it perfectly sums up the themes of the story. When Eve’s high school suffers a freak accident, she and the rest of her Bulldogs are forced across town to attend school with the rival Pirates. And the school rivalry is only the beginning of her issues. As the only girl in a family of boys, Eve’s mom told her if she wanted to play sports, she’d play with her brothers, because she didn’t have time to start carting a child off to girls’ sports as well. So Eve plays baseball, not softball. Problem is, the boys’ baseball team at her new school doesn’t want her anymore than she wants to be there, particularly rival pitcher, Jamie. Jamie is all smooth lines and cocky smiles, everything Eve despises. Eve glares far more than she smiles and has an attitude to match, everything Jamie despises. So of course these two enemies are fated to become something more.

Plot
The story is about Eve and Jamie on and off the mound. Their romance is the main focus, but with both of them vying for the Cy Young award at the end of the season, there’s no way things in the primary plot are going to go smoothly. With Eve’s stubborn need to prove she’s one of the boys and Jamie quiet determination to prove she’s more than that means there’s plenty of conflict. There’s also Jamie’s history as a player, Eve’s inexperience in that area, jealous girls who see Eve as a rival, and an unwillingness to allow their relationship to come under the scrutiny of their teammates, meaning their tender relationship is clandestine at best. Cozzo executes all of this with moments of laugh-out-loud humor and even a few that made me tear up.

The Characters
I absolutely adore Eve. She’s a refreshing departure from many female protagonists I’ve read lately. She’s complex and relateable, tough, determined, but with a vulnerable streak she wishes she didn’t have. I love her naivete with a solid streak of street smarts that makes her anything but typical. Jamie has a lot more baggage that drives him, but his walls crumble around Eve, making him vulnerable in his own ways. Eve is ultimately torn between what she wants on and off the field, and her growth comes when she figures out what matters most in life. The other characters are mostly minor players, a supporting cast that basically exist to prop up the main characters. They do their job without coming across as too flat.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK
1. First kisses. One of the all-time best first kisses in the history of young adult fiction.

2. Eve. I loved her stubborn streak, her need to win, the way she doesn’t care about dresses or makeup. She was so easy to relate to.

3. Baseball. I’m a big fan of the game and the way it was woven into the story got me even more fired up to watch my sad Padres this season.

4. Witty banter. Eve and Jamie had some of the best lines in the book when they were baiting each other. The dialogue was one of my favorite parts of the book.

5. Jamie. He was perfectly flawed in all the best ways to make him a natural fit for Eve.

Bottom Line
A fantastic young adult sports romance with fabulous characters and sizzling dialogue.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Pages: 315
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Karole Cozzo

Author Karole Cozzo

About the Author
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.

 

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Where to find Karole Cozzo
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Book Review – NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

Synopsis
From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes a novel about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France as he finds love and discovers the long-hidden secrets about his heritage.

In 1950s New Jersey, Michael Daniels launches a radio show in the storage room of his Russian-Jewish grandmother’s candy store. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.

There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.

But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered in the candy store. Why anyone would commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman is anyone’s guess. But she had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out to Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.

Featuring Peter Golden’s signature “vivid characters and strong storytelling” (The Washington Post), Nothing Is Forgotten changes our understanding of the impact of World War II on its survivors and their descendants, and will appeal to fans of novels by Anita Diamant and Kristin Hannah..

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My Review
NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN is currently in my top five favorite books of all time, joining A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, SHE’S COME UNDONE, GONE WITH THE WIND, and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. At times, the book is a thriller, others a mystery, and still others, a romance, but at all times, it’s captivating, emotional, and incredibly well told. The story opens in Michael’s childhood and reads like a memoir until his grandmother is killed, and then it takes off like a thriller wrapped in a mystery as Michael tries to figure out who killed his grandmother and why. His search for the truth takes him to Europe and Russia where he meets and falls for Yuli, a smuggler and defacto spy. Together they seek clues about the death of Emma, which only raises more questions and puts them both in danger.

Plot
Impeccably  researched, there is as much history as there is storytelling going on between the pages. The story is expertly plotted and moves along at a steady rate. The pace picks up speed at the climax and keeps it up until the very end. And that ending…wow. For me, it’s perfect. Yes, I want to know what happens next, but I don’t need to know. It’s such a satisfying conclusion with just the right amount of uncertainty to allow me to imagine what comes after without feeling frustrated.

The Characters
The characters are a masterpiece. Michael, Yuli, Der Schmuggler…they’re deep, nuanced, and intriguing. Throughout the story, Emma goes from being an enigma to someone fully fleshed out as the reader learns through Micheal’s research who Emma really was. The characters seem so much a part of the era (late 1950s to 1960s), that I never once questioned the setting.

Top Five Things I Loved About NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN
1. Yuli. She was by far my favorite character. She’s so complex, strong and vulnerable, proud with fits of guilt, having lived through the horrors of the second World War, she’s hard to identify with, but so easy to root for.

2. Michael. His optimistic Americanism is the polar opposite of Yuli’s Eastern European post-war hopelessness. His quest to uncover the truth is both reckless and admirable, making him an absolutely fascinating protagonist.

3. History. I love history, but even more when it serves as a backdrop to a compelling story. The author’s meticulous attention to detail made history come alive, leaving me wanting to learn more about the events of that time.

4. The ending. One of the best endings ever.

5. Storytelling. The way the story unfolds kept me glued to the pages, but the characters made me care about what happened.

Bottom Line
One of my all-time favorite novels. I will be reading more by Peter Golden.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN
Author: Peter Golden
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Pages: 352
Genre: New Adult Historical Mystery/Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon  | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Peter Golden

Author Peter Golden

About the Author
Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, historian, and novelist who has written nine books and interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush (41); Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, Shultz, and Eagleburger; Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, and Shamir; and Soviet President Gorbachev. His first novel, Comeback Love, was praised by the novelist and reviewer Caroline Leavitt as an “extraordinary debut.” Wherever There Is Light, his second novel, was featured in New York Magazine’s Fall Preview issue, widely reviewed, and selected by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as one of the best books of 2016. His third novel, Nothing Is Forgotten, which explores the connection between the Holocaust and the Cold War, will be published on April 10, 2018.

 

Where to Find Peter Golden
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Book Review + Giveaway – THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

THE DYLAN DILEMMA Blog Tour

THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

Synopsis
High school senior Kenzie Harper-Shea has no time for dating, especially after the arrival of the basketball coach from hell. Now Kenzie has lost her confidence, is in a slump, and in danger of losing out on a scholarship to play college ball. The last thing she needs is her “vacation boyfriend,” Dylan McCoy, distracting her with warm smiles, inside jokes, and swoony kisses.

Dylan, however, is totally ready to date. He finally lives in the same town as Kenzie and is not about to lose the chance to let their relationship grow into something more. But for now, he’ll stay in the friend zone because he’s determined to find out what has her running scared. It can’t be just about basketball.

As Kenzie spends more time around Dylan, her feelings become a jumbled-up mess. It’s obvious they’re into each other. So, why does she panic whenever she thinks about dating him? Is it connected to basketball or to something deeper? She’s not sure. Does she have the courage to examine her heart, even if it means breaking Dylan’s?

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
I’m a big fan of Patricia B. Tighe’s fun and flirty young adult contemporary romances, so I jumped at a chance to read and review this book based on the name alone. Seriously, THE DYLAN DILEMMA is the perfect title for a wonderful romance that blends light-hearted comedy with deeper issues. Mackenzie, AKA Kenzie, and Dylan have had an on-again-off-again relationship since first hooking up on a summer trip years ago. Kenzie lives her life according to plans. She’s not good with the unknown and especially surprises. So when her basketball coach surprisingly has to leave for a family emergency, the new coach rocks Kenzie’s world. And not in a good way. With Dylan a freshman in college now, surrounded by hot co-eds, and Kenzie’s status as a starter on her high school basketball team in question, Kenzie feels as if now is a good time to be in the “off-again” status. Dylan begs to differ, so when he makes a plan to get Kenzie to change her mind  things are only going to go from complicated to tangled and messy.

Plot
Alternating points of view give us insight into both Kenzie’s and Dylan’s motives. Dylan is calm and logical to Kenzie’s more scattered approach to the situation. Kenzie has a lot going on with her family and school without trying to bring a romance into the picture that she’s sure will only end in heartbreak for her. She has some serious trust issues that drive most of the conflict in a believable way. Dylan has a few things in his own life, but none as serious as what Kenzie is dealing with, but everything ties together to pull the main plot into a tight knot filled with plenty of drama mixed with some sweeter moments and even some pretty hot kissing!

The Characters
It took me a few chapters to warm up to Kenzie, but once I understood her, I couldn’t help but love her. Dylan, on the other hand, had me from the start. Kenzie is intense and needs to analyze everything. This perfectly fits with her need to know what’s going to happen. Dylan is the perfect foil with his easy-going, let’s see what happens style. These two seem like they should never work, except for that undeniable spark each of them feels in the other’s presence. Kenzie’s and Dylan’s families provide just enough of a hint at why each is the way they are, and friends on both sides round out a great cast of characters.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE DYLAN DILEMMA
1. Comedy. The author’s way of weaving lighter moments throughout made this a fun, fast read I was able to complete in one sitting.

2. Dylan. His go-with-the-flow style really resonated with me and I found myself instantly connecting with him.

3. Steamy kisses. From their first kiss to an emotion-filled teeth clashing snogfest, Patricia B. Tighe creates heat at levels not normally seen by fully-clothed characters.

4. The ending. I love how the author wrapped everything up, tying everything together, without being too neat and tidy.

5. Teen angst. My favorite kind of romance.

Bottom Line
THE DYLAN DILEMMA is an adorable contemporary teen romance with heat, heart, and humor.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE DYLAN DILEMMA
Author: Patricia B. Tighe
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Pages: 339
Genre:
 Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Patricia B. Tighe

Author Patricia B. Tighe

About the Author
The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and two dogs. Her love of the written word caused her to get a journalism degree from Texas A&M University in 1980 and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2008. When not writing or reading, she can be found walking the dogs or yelling at the TV during an NFL game. She’s also a fan of British TV shows. Downton Abbey, anyone?

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Where to find Patricia B. Tighe
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

Synopsis
Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

There’s a crazy guy running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting – in a good way. But I can’t even think about him that way because Crazy Guy says any fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous weirdo with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer..

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My Review
I love this book! Seriously, freaking LOVE! I’m a huge Lisa Brown Roberts fan and had the distinct pleasure of being her “seat filler” for all of five minutes at the RWA conference in San Diego a few years back; coincidentally, just a few days before San Diego Comic-Con. And though I’m sure she’s quite a bit younger than me, I still say I want to be LBR when I grow up. And SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES is the reason why. The banter, the characters, the pop culture tie-ins. This story is pretty much everything I love: young adult romance, teen angst, Star Wars, nerd geekery, pop-culture references, Comic-Con… Yeah, if I was a teen in 2018, this would pretty much be my life.

The summer before her senior year of high school, Laurel convinces her dad to allow her to work at his public relations and marketing firm so she can spend more time with him. She calls him Dad Vader, and at first I was worried this was due to a fractured relationship. But other than her father working a lot, the reference is to a mutual love of Star Wars and a time he dressed as Darth Vader to her Princess Leia. Initially excited, Laurel soon realizes this may not be the summer she was hoping for. Instead of sharing leisurely lunches with her dad, she barely sees him other than the commutes to and from work. And on top of that, she’s expected to report back on a group of interns who are all vying for a $100,000 college scholarship in a reality-TV-show inspired competition. Not only does she not want to spy on her contemporaries, but one of whom just happens to be Josh, the dreamy high school quarterback she’s been pining for since middle school.

It isn’t Jason, though, who gets her worked up. Instead Carlos, the boy with the Hershey Kiss colored eyes sets her pulse zinging. The “no-fraternizing with the interns” rule makes both boys completely off limits for Laurel, who soon finds her attention focused on discovering the culprit using social media to sabotage her father’s company. Before summer is over, Laurel will learn a lot about first impressions, what it means to really trust someone, and the power of persuasion.

Plot
The main plot is definitely the romance, but there are a lot of great subplots involving Laurel’s relationship with her father, her friendships with the other interns, and the mystery of who is trying to hurt the company. All are woven expertly together. The constant sprinkling of pop-culture references also played into the plot, including a Breakfast Club-esque scene in the building’s basement. My only real complaint with the story, and it’s not even so much of a complaint, is that the mystery was introduced with only one likely culprit. Even though the story isn’t primarily, or even secondarily, a mystery, once that element was introduced, I would have liked a little more to it.

The Characters
The characters are the best! Laurel is fantastic as the adorable teen nerd who loves Star Wars and refers to her dad’s right-hand-man, Mr. Mantoni, as “the Manicotti.” She’s confident, but with a reasonable number of insecurities which keep her grounded and utterly relatable.

Top Five Things I Loved About SPIES, LIES AND ALLIES
1. Laurel. She’s adorable, funny, and just neurotic enough to make her the perfect heroine.

2. Carlos. He’s witty and loyal and easy to love. Being insanely attractive doesn’t hurt either.

3. Star Wars. I’m a full on Star Wars geek, and like Laurel, I believe any movies with Jar-Jar Binks don’t really count. I like to pretend those were never even made. I adore the way the author wove in so many Star Wars references and compared their mission to blowing up the Death Star.

4. New friends. I love the whole Breakfast Club feel of the interns’ relationships with one another and how they evolve over the summer.

5. Standing up for what’s right. Laurel repeatedly risks her job and her relationship with her dad to do what she feels is the right thing; consequences be damned.

Bottom Line
Another fantastic LBR book that I couldn’t put down!

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonAmazon UKAmazon CABarnes & NobleiTunesKoboBookDepositoryBAM

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Author Lisa Brown Roberts

Author Lisa Brown Roberts

About the Author
Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year.

This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several fourlegged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

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Where to find Lisa Brown Roberts
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

Young Adult Book Review – HIDING LIES (Eleanor Ames) by Julie Cross

HIDING LIES (Eleanor Ames #2) by Julie Cross

HIDING LIES (Eleanor Ames #2) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
At Holden Prep, dirty little secrets always have a way of coming to the surface.

Eleanor Ames has never been what she seems. Average high school student on the outside, but reformed con artist trying to break free of her past on the inside. When Eleanor receives startling news about someone from her previous criminal life, plans for a new operation coinciding with her school’s upcoming field trip quickly consume her.

But operations rarely go according to plan. And this is one her irresistible teen FBI agent boyfriend, Miles, would never approve of.

Now, more than just Ellie’s reputation is at stake. If she fails, it could be her life.

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My Review
WARNING – Spoilers Ahead for Book 1
It’s been over 18 months since I read CHASING TRUTH by Julie Cross, yet the characters and story were still so vivid in my memory, I didn’t need any refreshers. HIDING LIES picks up where CHASING TRUTH left off, with life returning to relative normal, considering Ellie’s past and Mile’s future. With Miles returning to his military academy after spending the holidays with his family abroad, Ellie fills her time with her sister, Harper, Harper’s former Secret Service boyfriend, Aidan, and her classmates from Holden Academy.

When Miles fails to meet her as planned after returning from overseas, and Miles’s CIA Agent father makes an unusual request of Ellie, she can’t help but worry about Miles. Things get more interesting when Ellie’s past confronts her in her present, setting up an opportunity to undo the damage from one of the biggest regrets in her short life. With one twist after another, this was the first page-turner I’ve read in a while. I’m a huge fan of Julie Cross, and HIDING LIES reminds me why.

Plot
The plot is flawless. Everything flows with important information is sprinkled throughout so when something unexpected happens, you realize the hints were there all along. This is a “stay up late and read until your eyes blur” kind of story. While some of it on the surface seems implausible for teens, the author always explains it in a believable fashion. And if if she didn’t, I wouldn’t care, because it’s just that good.

The Characters
I have so much love already for former con-girl, Ellie, straight-laced Miles, flakey Harper, and G-man Aidan, but in HIDING LIES, Ellie spends more time with Dominic, the moody secret love interest of Ellie’s tragic friend, Simon. Dominic and Ellie forge an almost friendship and I grew to love him in this book. A number of new characters are also introduced who add a lot to the story, and I also got to know and respect Justice just a little bit more. All the characters are deeply drawn and realistic.

Top Five Things I Loved About HIDING LIES
1. Miles. He drove me nuts with his conflicted feelings, but he totally redeems himself in the best possible way.

2. Ellie. She’s changed by the events in the first book and is less confident, leading her to make choices I might not have expected before, but given everything she’s been through, they are completely within character. I loved seeing a more vulnerable side of her.

3. Surprises. There were so many unexpected twists, I couldn’t put this book down.

4. The ending. Well done and even more exciting and satisfying than the first book.

5. Teen angst. While different this time around, there is no less drama surrounding Ellie and Miles’ romance.

Bottom Line
Julie Cross upped her game and wrote one of my favorite young adult novels ever!

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: HIDING LIES
Series: Eleanor Ames #2
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon  | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository | Entangled

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME Blog Tour

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

Synopsis
“Doesn’t matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It’s over.”

When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve..

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My Review
This was an intense rush, eliciting so many emotions. Drix is a troubled teen who was given a second chance by the Governor’s program. Although he was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he knows he was on the wrong path, chasing girls and drugs. Elle is the Governor’s daughter. But this isn’t your typical good girl drawn to bad boy story. Nothing is as it seems on the surface. Drix has a rough past, none of his doing. Elle’s life as the first daughter of Kentucky is anything but the glamorous life the media portrays. Sparks fly at first sight, but it’s not instalove. Instead, the two build a friendship based on mutual respect while battling against everyone who wants to keep them apart. There’s a lot at stake for both of them and nothing comes easy. Drix’s suspicions on who really committed the crime drive deep wedges in his closest relationships and Elle’s relationship with her parents becomes strained as they attempt to mold her into someone she has no interest in being.

Plot
The main plot is Elle’s and Drix’s forbidden relationship. But they mystery behind who really robbed the convenience store and whether or not Elle will push back against her parents’ wishes are both strong subplots. There’s a lot of personal growth and character development throughout that drives the story forward. There aren’t many romances that I find difficult to put down, but this was definitely one of them. Katie McGarry tells a compelling story and I was hooked from the first chapter.

Characters
The characters are everything. Elle and Drix are deep, complete, with rich back stories. While Drix has more baggage than Elle, her life isn’t as perfect as it seems, and that shapes who she is in so many ways. Drix’s family and Elle’s family are just as well developed, adding so much to the conflict in the story. This is only the second book I’ve read by this author, but I’ll be reading more just for her ability to craft such amazing characters.

What I Loved About SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME
1. Elle.
 She’s utterly relatable as a teen struggling to find out who she is versus who she’s supposed to be based on parental expectations.
2. Drix. He’s one of the most authentic male characters in teen fiction I’ve had the pleasure of reading. There’s nothing stereotypical about him.
3. The realism. Nothing is wrapped up too neatly in sitcom fashion. Instead, there is a realistic ending that deals with issues in a way that feels so much more satisfying than if they’d been tied up with a nice neat bow.
4. First love. The author captures the intense emotions and that overwhelming rush that accompanies first love.
5. Social Injustice. The way in which the legal system doesn’t work for everyone the same way is highlighted throughout and is a real issue I’m personally passionate about. I loved seeing the way it was dealt with  with such honesty and heart.

Bottom Line
An intense, moving, passionate portrayal of first love, finding out who you are, and fighting for what matters.

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SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME Teaser 4

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About the Book
Title: SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Pages: 464
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo | GooglePlay | BAM

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Author Katie McGarry

Author Katie McGarry

About the Author
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

Where to Find Katie McGarry
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Young Adult Book Review – ON THE FENCE by Kasie West

ON THE FENCE by Kasie West

ON THE FENCE by Kasie West

Synopsis
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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My Review
An absolutely adorable tale of friends to more. Charlie is the only girl in a family of boys. Her police officer father and three older brothers have shaped her into a tough-talking athlete who is more comfortable hanging with the guys than with other girls. When Charlie speeds one too many times, her dad forces her to get a job to pay her own ticket, landing her in the unfamiliar world of fashion and makeup  with the free-spirited owner who sees auras. Charlie learns more about herself and those around here through these new experiences, but most of all, her best friend and next door neighbor, Braden. Braden and Charlie often meet by the fence that separates their two properties for middle of the night chats. Charlie is haunted by her mother’s tragic death ten years earlier and Braden by the constant battles that rage within the walls of his home.

Plot
This is more than a basic romance. Charlie and Braden both have a bucketload of baggage. But as their relationship evolves and Charlie realizes her feelings for him run deeper than just friendship, she fears the changes that come with that. At least until Braden lets her know he doesn’t feel the same way about her. Crush, Charlie works through her issues, a complex relationship with her dad and brothers, and her greater place in a world that worships femininity over athletic prowess.

The Characters
I love Charlie so much. She’s complex and deep and wounded. Watching her work through her issues is both painful and emotionally rewarding. Her family dynamics made me smile and laugh more than once. I come from a big family, so I could relate to the interactions she had with her siblings. I loved their competitiveness and the little bets they were always doing. Even Charlie’s dad, as the reluctant single father to a teen girl, is so well-developed, I couldn’t help but sympathize with his attempts to relate to Charlie the best he knew how.

Top Five Things I Loved About ON THE FENCE
1. Deep characters. There is nothing light and fluffy about the characters, even though the story itself is more lighthearted than not.

2. Teen angst. The romance aspect between Charlie and Braden was my favorite part of the story.

3. Brothers. I have a couple of my own and the bond between the boys and their baby sister was beautifully done.

4. Father/daughter dynamics. The relationship between Charlie and her father rang the truest of all. It was both awkward and endearing, pretty much the definition of father/teen daughter interactions.

5. Being true to yourself. Charlie has many lessons to learn along the way, but foremost is figuring out how she fits into the broader world around her without losing who she is. This subplot is particularly well done.

Bottom Line
Sweet, deep, and moving, ON THE FENCE is more than just a teen romance. It’s about finding yourself and learning how to be real.

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About the Book
Title: ON THE FENCE
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Kasie West

Author Kasie West

About the Author
I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, and BY YOUR SIDE. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

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Where to find Kasie West
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Book Release + Review – BREAKING THE ICE (Juniper Falls) by Julie Cross

BREAKING THE ICE Release Blitz

 

BREAKING THE ICE (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross

BREAKING THE ICE (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
The second book in the Juniper Falls series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson is pretty, popular, cheer captain, the princess of Juniper Falls, and voted most likely to get things done. Haley might appear to have rock-solid confidence, but her less-than-stellar GPA tells otherwise. Haley’s determined to turn things around this summer by acing the Civics class she’s been forced to repeat. Angsting over ex-boyfriends is a thing of the past—in fact, Haley’s sworn off all dating until college because the options in Juniper Falls are narrowed down to guys she’s known her entire life.

Unlike Haley, Fletcher Scott prefers to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. In fact, he was fine with his mediocre status on the hockey team. That is, until Coach put him in during the state final last season for a whopping thirty seconds. With the tension on the ice combined with Haley Stevenson’s gorgeous legs visible from the seat in front of him, it’s possible he won’t survive the summer. Not as Fletcher Scott, invisible guy, anyway. Not with Haley constantly talking to him, and making him glittery invitations to join her study group.

If he were a regular guy, maybe Fletch might consider asking her out. But he’s not a regular guy. Even Haley can see that right away. There’s something different about Fletcher Scott. Something that makes her want to work hard to break down all his guarded walls despite her pact to steer clear of local guys.

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My Review
Everything I loved about the first book, OFF THE ICE, and none of the things that bothered me, are included in this second book in the series. I absolutely adore this installment by one of my favorite young adult authors, Julie Cross. To say that Juniper Falls Princess, Haley Stevenson, and nerdy Fletcher Scott are opposites would be the understatement of the century, yet these two mismatched personalities are clearly soul mates. While they have gone to the same school for years, Fletcher avoids the social universe that Haley orbits in, so when they wind up in the same summer school Civics class, things heat up. Fletcher can’t ignore the fact that he’s attracted to Haley, but isn’t willing to change his ways to act on that attraction. Haley is infuriated by Fletcher’s obvious interest and unwillingness to do anything about it.

But Fletch has issues. Big ones that Haley will learn about in the worst way possible. But Fletch also learns that Haley is anything but the self-absorbed, superficial princess he’s always believed her to be. Julie Cross ramps up the angst in this book and it’s as delicious as anything she’s ever written.

Plot
For a romance, there was a fair amount going on. Haley has a personal journey as does Fletcher, but in addition, they both have external goals, including Fletcher’s position on the hockey team and Haley’s need to get a decent grade in Civics over the summer. Each subplot impacts the main storyline, making for a wonderfully plotted teen romance.

The Characters
I absolutely adored both characters. Haley took a good few chapters to grow on me, but Fletcher is total book boyfriend material from page one and only gets hotter through the story. Both have plenty of depth, though Fletcher has a lot more layers, which makes him infinitely intriguing. It was fun to see Tate Tanley, Jamie, Mike, Claire, and the rest of the group from the first book again, and it was especially nice to see Tate and Haley get a little closure on their relationship after it ended so abruptly in the first book.

World Building
Once again, the author drew me into the world of amateur hockey. It may not be a big sport here, but she has a way of making me want to watch it whenever I read one of her books. There’s also a little bit about Fletcher’s secret life that rounds the story out nicely and seems particularly well researched.

Top Five Things I Loved About BREAKING THE ICE
1. Food allergies. As the mother of three children with Celiac disease, it was refreshing to see this addressed in an open, honest, and non-judgmental way.

2. Heat. For a teen romance, there is plenty of heat without ever crossing a line. I love the way Julie Cross is able to consistently bring this in her books without it ever feeling stale.

3. Fletcher. One of the more interesting protagonists I’ve read in a long time. He’s introspective, angry, angsty, and oh yeah, hot.

4. Haley. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the Princess of Juniper Falls, but she made me care about her more than I thought I would.

5. Fletch’s job. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that the scenes at his place of employment are among my favorite in the entire book.

Bottom Line
BREAKING THE ICE is a wonderful young adult romance with plenty of heat and with a little something extra, that I won’t spoil, but you’ll know what I mean when you read it.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: BREAKING THE ICE
Series: Juniper Falls #2
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 26, 2017
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Review – AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS (Love Unexpectedly) by Lauren Layne

AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS (Love Unexpectedly #5) by Lauren Layne

AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS (Love Unexpectedly #5) by Lauren Layne

Synopsis
She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.

When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.

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My Review
Still on my friends-to-lovers kick, I couldn’t wait to get into this light-hearted romantic comedy. Add Lauren Layne as the author, a little bit of snow, and some holiday magic, and I was all in. Layne is known for her quirky characters and Kelly is no exception. A school teacher in a private New York academy, she lives and dies by the Magic 8 Ball, allowing it to guide her choices. So it’s not surprising that Kelly would take the prophecy of a subway psychic to heart. When Kelly discovers that the love her life is someone she’s already met, she makes a list of all of her exes to figure out which is “the one.” Things go hilariously wrong with each one, only frustrating Kelly. She can’t figure out how the psychic could possibly be wrong, so she works her way through one ex after another, with disastrous results.

Enter Mark. He’s been her best friend for the better part of a decade. Old high school friends who have never risked that friendship with something as temporary as sex. Not to mention the fact that Kelly is so not like any of the super hot girls Mark usually dates. So when she starts to have deeper feelings for Mark, she only amps up her search for the right ex before she acts on those feelings.

Plot
The plot is somewhat predictable, but it’s so adorably told, it doesn’t really matter. Much of the story centers around Kelly’s search for her perfect ex, but her long-term friendship with Mark is a strong subplot until it becomes front and center. Underlying it all is Kelly’s superstitious nature that drives most of the conflict.

Characters
Lauren Layne’s writing shines when it comes to her characters. Kelly is delightful as an elementary school teacher who relies on fate to chart her course in life. While this could easily come off as cartoonish, Kelly has more depth to her than that, making this aspect of her personality realistic. Mark is utterly believable as the long-suffering best friend. A man of few words, he lets his actions speak for him. The supporting characters are light, with Kelly’s exes getting most of the roles.

What I Loved About AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
1. Friends to Lovers.
 One of my favorite tropes.

2. Kelly. Her smart, spunky brand of quirky is a breath of fresh air.

3. Mark. He takes the strong, silent type to a new level of hot.

4. Christmas. I love all the holiday elements incorporated into this story. Everything from snow to decorations and a Christmas parade make the setting an essential part of the story.

5. Surprise Ending. So while I was pretty sure I knew how things were going to end, I didn’t know how it was going to get there, and the sweet surprise at the end was perfect.

Bottom Line
An adorably fun contemporary romance with the perfect amount of heat and humor.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
Series: Love Unexpectedly #5
Author: Lauren Layne
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Pages: 204
Genre: Adult Contemporary Holiday Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Lauren Layne

Author Lauren Layne

About the Author
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren lived in Seattle with a cushy job in e-commerce/web-marketing. On a whim, she quit her job and moved to NYC to pursue a writing career. A year later, she had an agent and two publishing contracts.

She now lives in midtown Manhattan where she writes full time, although has been known to be lured away from the computer by a well-made cocktail.

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Where to Find Lauren Layne
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | TumblrAmazon

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Young Adult Book Review – MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES (School Dayz) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES (School Dayz #3) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES (School Dayz #3) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

Synopsis
Colette always tries to follow the school rules, except when it comes to chemistry.

Colette Rodriguez hates rules. Just ask her perfect, older, gorgeous, rule-following sister, Jana.

But now that Jana’s away at college and Colette’s a sophomore in high school, things are going to change. She’s gotta find a way to get out from under her sister’s shadow.

The problem is, everyone, including the boys, remembers perfectly-hot-Jana and they constantly compare Colette to her.

With Jana finally out of the house, Colette decides that sophomore year is the best time to make her mark on the world. She vows to follow the rules, although rule-following has never been her strong point. When a teacher asks Colette to lead a STEM Mentoring project, working with middle school kids, Colette sees her chance to stand out, though she doubts her ability to take charge.

Enter Will Gamen, junior football star. Looking for a club to boost his chances of a college scholarship, Will signs up for STEM. From the first meeting, when Will inadvertently takes over, Colette wonders if he should really be the person to run the project. And, in an even more confusing turn of events, Will starts to drop by her house for unplanned study dates. After the two spend one fabulous Saturday night together, he suddenly backs off.

But Colette and Will started out as friends and she’s determined not to let one meaningless kiss come between them. Plus, keeping Will on her team is the best thing for the STEM project. And it also gives her more time to convince him that they work better as a couple.

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My Review
This is the third book in Jennifer DiGiovanni’s witty and hilarious young adult contemporary romance series, School Dayz. It lives up to all of my expectations. Colette, the younger sister of Jana, from MY SENIOR YEAR OF AWESOME, tries to navigate her way through sophomore year. As the younger sibling of popular, high-achieving, beautiful Jana, Collette attempts to pave her own high school path by agreeing to take on the STEM club, mentoring middle school kids. She enlists the help of her best friends, Mila, Jake, and Ayden, along with Will, a junior she only knows by reputation, a reputation as one of the most popular guys in school, and on-again-off-again boyfriend of Becca from MY JUNIOR YEAR OF LOATHING and MY CLUELESS BROKEN HEART. With Becca and Will in off mode again, he seems to take an interest in Collette, something she isn’t quite sure how to handle, although she’s pretty sure she wants to.

Plot
The plot centers around Collette’s relationship with Will. She spends a good deal of the story not really understanding how to even define said relationship. They’re friends, but when Will unexpectedly kisses her, she’s thrown into a confusing blend of emotions which only gets more complicated after he acts as if it never happened. The push and pull is done with just the right amount of humor and angst.

Characters
The characters are delightful. Collette is a spitfire and I love everything about her. Will is more complex, and while he drives most of the conflict, he never comes across as a jerk. He may not be as forthcoming with Collette as he should be, but he doesn’t play her. Both suffer from serious communications issues they both resolve by the end. We also get to see snapshots of beloved characters from previous books, which is always fun in a series like this, although newer characters like Mila, Jake and Ayden, hold their own.

Top things I LOVED About MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES
1. Collette. She’s one of my favorite young adult protagonists. I love that she’s not a completely honest individual, seems hellbent on breaking rules, but she is so authentically teen girl, you can’t help but root for her.

2. Will. He’s the character I knew the best going into this book, and he’s been one of my favorite characters throughout. I love his easy-going style.

3. Collette’s “rules.” She has many, she’s just not very good at following them.

4. Flights. My least favorite part of running track when I was in high school, but somehow DiGiovanni makes them humorous.

5. Light-hearted angst. While angsty romance is my favorite young adult type, the author manages to wrap it up in funny moments that only add to my enjoyment.

Bottom Line
This is now my official favorite School Dayze novel. Will and Collette are absolutely adorable.

About the Book
Title: MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES
Series: School Dayz #3
Author: Jennifer DiGiovanni
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Pages: 241
Category:
Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Book 1 Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Book 2 Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

About the Author
Jennifer DiGiovanni is the author of the School Dayz Series. When she’s not writing or reading, she likes to try new sports and activities from archery to ballroom dancing, with varying degrees of success.

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Where to find Jennifer DiGiovanni
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
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Book Review – ALL IN (Full Tilt) by Emma Scott

ALL IN (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

ALL IN (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

Synopsis
SPOILERS FOR FULL TILT….

Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.

Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.

Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.

Part II of the two-part Full Tilt duet, coming Oct 2016

PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.

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My Review
I needed some time to grieve and regroup after finishing FULL TILT, but then I was finally ready to read the rest of Kacey’s story. This time around, we hear from Jonah’s brother, Theo. It’s no secret to readers that Theo has it bad for Kacey, but it is a secret to her. The first half of the book deals with Kacey’s out-of-control spiral of pain and Theo’s guilt over his feelings for his brother’s love, even though Jonah told him to find happiness with her. The second half is them coming to terms with their feelings for each other. Everyone has an opinion on their relationship, which only drives more conflict. The pacing is great and the emotions are raw and real.

Plot
Primarily, the plot centers around the relationship between Theo and Kacey. It is less of a romance and more of an in-depth, emotional commitment from the get-go. They lean on each other as the cope with the loss of Jonah, and that connection builds into something more. So much of the story is about their internal struggles with loss, love, and letting go as well as acceptance and moving forward.

Characters
The characters are just as deep and wounded and broken as ever, but they get to heal in this installment. Healing leads to growth and some semblance of happiness, although the story has an edge of realness to it, meaning it’s not without the pitfalls that real life brings.

World Building
Once again, Emma Scott brings her settings to life. Everything from Kacey’s shotgun house in New Orleans to Theo’s tattoo studio in Las Vegas feels authentic and draws me deeper into the story.

What I Loved About ALL IN
1. Reality.
The author makes her characters work hard for every ounce of progress they make. Nothing is easy, but it’s rooted in reality, making it that much more satisfying.

2. Kacey. She’s so broken, and yet that fighting spirit is always there, just under the surface, waiting.

3. Tattoos. I don’t have any, but as a recent breast cancer survivor, I have a few in my very near future. The idea of Theo’s unfinished art to cover my scars is something that has had me scouring my local tattoo community for something similar.

4. Redemption. It takes a lot, but both Theo and Kacey get very satisfying endings to their stories. It’s a painful route, but oh so worth it in the end.

5. Theo. I liked him before, but I love him now. He’s complex, loyal, and has an underlying need to do the right thing. Always.

Bottom Line
A utterly emotional and satisfying conclusion to this duet.

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About the Book
Title: ALL IN
Series: Full Tilt #2
Author: Emma Scott
Publisher: Trillian
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Pages: 281
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Emma Scott

Author Emma Scott

About the Author
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the California Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.

She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.

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Where to find Emma Scott
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Book Review – CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL (Writing Active Setting) by Mary Buckham

CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL (Writing Active Setting #1) by Mary Buckham

CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL (Writing Active Setting #1) by Mary Buckham

Synopsis
Readers usually remember the plot and characters of a story, but setting is every bit as important in creating a memorable world. Discover the difference between Ordinary Setting that bogs down your story, and Active Setting that empowers your story — creating a compelling story world, regardless of what you write.

* See how to spin boring descriptions into engaging prose.
* Learn to deepen the reader’s experience of your story world through sensory details.
* Notice how changing characters’ POV can change your setting.
* Explore ways to maximize the setting possibilities in your story.

WRITING ACTIVE SETTING is a powerful combination of fresh insights, practical examples, and how-to advice on the often overlooked but critical element of Setting … written in a quick-to-read and easy-to-understand style, and packed with useful application exercises. ~~ Kelly L. Stone, author of THINKING WRITE: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind

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My Review
This is my favorite book on the craft of writing so far this year. To say my scene setting needs work would be a massive understatement. This first in a three-book series, is a fast read packed with tons of helpful advice and examples to drive Buckham’s point home. I immediately applied the lessons learned to my latest manuscript and ran to Amazon to buy the next two books in the series. With chapters like, Subtext in Setting, and Revealing Character Through Setting, I was able to quickly grasp where my writing was lacking and make corrections. Every pass I make, I look for ways to incorporate what I learned from this book. The common sense approach and relatable writing style of Mary Buckham makes this an outstanding resource for the writer at any stages of their journey.

Bottom Line
An outstanding resource on writing setting for fiction and nonfiction alike.

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About the Book
Title
:  CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL
Series: Writing Active Setting #1
Author: Mary Buckham
Publisher: Cantwell Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: October 7, 2013
Pages: 59
Category: Fiction Writing
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Mary Buckham

Author Mary Buckham

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham credits her years of international travel and curiosity about different cultures that resulted in creating high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories. Her newest Invisible Recruit series has been touted for the unique voice, high action and rich emotion. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love. Mary lives in Washington State with her husband and, when not crafting a new adventure, she travels the country researching settings and teaching other writers. Don’t miss her latest reference book Writing Active Setting.

Currently she is neck-deep into writing an Urban Fantasy series centered around five women drafted to combat preternatural beings agitating for world domination. The INVISIBLE RECRUIT series combines a fantasy/paranormal element with high stakes and the pace of action adventure stories. Mary loves creating thrills, spills and spells as she follows the ups and downs of fascinating characters starting with Alex Noziak, the heroine of INVISIBLE MAGIC, INVISIBLE FATE and INVISIBLE POWER.

Where to find Mary Buckham
Goodreads Website | FacebookTwitter | Pinterest
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