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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – THE LAST WORD by Samantha Hastings

THE LAST WORD Blog Tour

THE LAST WORD by Samantha Hastings

THE LAST WORD by Samantha Hastings

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Set against the smoky, gaslit allure of Victorian London, this sweetly romantic historical debut is full of humor and stars a whip-smart female heroine ahead of her time.

Where one story ends, another begins.

1861. Miss Lucinda Leavitt is shocked when she learns the author of her favorite serialized novel has died before completing the story. Determined to learn how it ends, Lucinda reluctantly enlists the help of her father’s young business partner, Mr. David Randall, to track down the reclusive author’s former whereabouts.

David is a successful young businessman, but is overwhelmed by his workload. He wants to prove himself to his late father, as well as to himself. He doesn’t have the time, nor the interest, for this endeavor, but Lucinda is not the type to take no for an answer.

Their search for the elusive Mrs. Smith and the rightful ending to her novel leads Lucinda and David around the country, but the truths they discover about themselves—and each other—are anything but fictional.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, The Last Word by debut author Samantha Hastings is a fun yet intellectual romp through Victorian London—the perfect book for book-lovers.

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My Review
Reminiscent of Jane Austen, THE LAST WORD combines neoclassicism and romanticism along with a healthy dose of humor and wit to bring Lucinda’s and David’s story to life. The two are childhood friends who meet again after a four-year separation to find the other both the same and yet infinitely different than the person they remember. Throw in a big misunderstanding and a young woman ahead of her time, constricted by the customs of 19th century England, and sparks fly higher than between Emma and Knightley or Elizabeth and Darcy, but with the underlying warmth of Elinor and Edward. The two dance around a mutual attraction while Lucinda fights against society’s dictates for her. Fresh out of finishing school, she wants nothing to do with being a proper lady, but rather to use the brain that God gave her to work in her father’s counting house. A natural talent with numbers, she helped him when she was younger but now is expected to do needlepoint instead of auditing.

If there’s anything Lucinda hates more than sitting around and waiting for someone to call on her, I don’t know what it is. Not having been born to a high-class family, her social standing comes from the wealth her father has amassed. His goal is to marry her to a man of higher social standing. Lucinda has less than zero interest in that plan. She managed to get through the long boring hours by reading. But her favorite author died before finishing her last novel, leaving Lucinda desperate to find out how it ends, as if her own ending will somehow reveal itself in those final pages. With the help of her father’s business partner and her longtime friend, David, she sets out to find anyone who may know how the story ends. But the more they dig, the more she’s left wondering, before a tragedy forces both of them to reevaluate what really matters. And what doesn’t.

Plot
The main plot focuses on the budding romance between Lucinda and David, but Lucinda’s desires to work in business and find out the ending of her beloved novel are strong subplots that drive most of the action. The conflict derives for the social norms of the time, status and who is allowed to associate with whom. Women’s options and their carefully guarded reputations only further bind Lucinda in a world she finds too restrictive. Her father withdrew into himself after her mother’s death years before and their strained relationship underlies everything. The author does a phenomenal job of keeping the reader in Victorian England through scene setting, language, fashion, and customs. There is both a whimsical and sweeping cinematic feel to the places Hastings sets her characters in, drawing the reader right along with them.

Characters
If you love any of Jane Austen’s characters, you will love these! From the narcoleptic Mrs. Patton to the eccentric woman in the half-built estate they visit in their quest, the characters are a delight. Lucinda is utterly relatable as a young woman who wants so much more from life than the world wishes to allow her and David is a man after my own heart, both seeing Lucinda as an equal, and treating her with that respect. The American girl, Persephone, who befriends Lucinda, is a delightful, although often inappropriate, breath of fresh air.

What I Loved About THE LAST WORD
1. Everything.
 Seriously, the entire book was just amazing. It was a joy to read.

2. Lucinda. I love that she’s independent and strong and refuses to be confined by rules of society.

3. David. He is also a man ahead of his time with his ability to see Lucinda as more than just an accessory.

4. Language. I love the way they speak and the words the author chooses to tell the story as if it were written as a contemporary in 1861.

5. Romance. It isn’t angsty or intense, even though Lucinda and David are both teens, but it’s perfect for the time.

Bottom Line
A stunning coming of age story in a time long gone with amazing characters and beautiful storytelling.

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 LAST WORD
Author: Samantha Hastings
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Pages: 261
Genre: Young Adult Historical 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 Samantha Hastings

Author Samantha Hastings

About the Author
Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, and chasing her kids. The Last Word is her debut novel.

 

 

 

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Where to find Samantha Hastings
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter 

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK by Natalie Williamson

RULES WE'RE MEANT TO BREAK Blog Tour

RULES WE'RE MEANT TO BREAK by Natalie Williamson

RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK by Natalie Williamson

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Honest and full of heart, this clever contemporary romance debut deftly combines utterly relatable family drama with all the sweetness and uncertainy that comes with falling in love.

Rule #1: Don’t get attached.

Amber lives by strict rules to survive her mother’s love life: Always keep your eyes on the horizon and never get close to anyone connected to Mom’s boyfriends.

But after they move in with Kevin, the latest of her mom’s “soul mates,” the rules become increasingly difficult to follow. Kevin’s daughter, Cammie, keeps acting like Amber’s friend, even though she’s definitely not. And Jordan—star basketball player, hottest boy in school, and Cammie’s best friend—keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments.

Amber has reasons for every one of her rules, and following them is the only way to protect her heart when her mom inevitably moves on. But as she spends more time with Kevin, his daughter, and especially Jordan, she starts to wonder if the rules might be worth breaking this time.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Rules We’re Meant to Break is a charming, heartachingly real story of family and young love by debut author Natalie Williamson.

Praise for Rules We’re Meant to Break:

“The last time I devoured a book like this—I can’t even remember. … It was so openhearted and raw.” —Clarissa, reader on SwoonReads.com

“It is such a true true story about a girl finding herself within her first love. I loved it!” —Forever Bookish, reader on SwoonReads.com

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My Review
This is such a cute young adult romance. Everything from the settings to the characters sucked me in. Amber lives with her single mother, her father having left them when she was just five. Her mom bounces from one relationship to another, and after a particularly difficult breakup for Amber, she vows never to get close to anyone her mom dates again. This becomes challenging when they move into her mom’s then boyfriend’s place early in Amber’s senior year of high school. To make matter’s worse, this guy has a teen daughter who goes to Amber’s school. Said daughter, Cammie, is no bigger fan of the situation than Amber is. The only thing that makes the situation mildly tolerable is that hot Jordan Baugh lives down the street from her new house. Much to Amber’s surprise and delight, he seems to be flirting with her! And in a perfect world, that would be awesome, but Amber’s world is anything but perfect. It appears that Cammie has some sort of a history with Jordan and that breaks Rule No. 7 on her list of rules for surviving her mother’s dating life. If only Jordan wasn’t so incredibly adorable and insistent.

Plot
The plot centers around Amber’s relationship with Jordan, but is laced with Amber’s lack of a belief in relationships that can last and a fierce need to protect herself from getting hurt again. With the help of her best friends Hannah and Ryan, she navigates tutoring Jordan while attempting to hold fast to her “rules”. But feelings have a way of getting in the way of the best intentions. Strong subplots include tense relationships with her mother, Cammie, and her mom’s boyfriend, as well as Amber’s plans after graduation. She has her heart set on KU while her mother is dead set against it. All of these subplots weave expertly into the main plot for a compelling story beyond just the romance.

Characters
I love the characters so much. Amber is so relatable as a teen girl hell-bent on protecting her heart. Jordan is beyond adorable and it’s easy to see why Amber is attracted to him against her better judgments. Hannah is the perfect loyal best friend, even when she feels as if her friend isn’t necessarily doing what’s in her own best interests. And Cammie is suitably complex making her a standout character. Everyone comes across as authentic and well developed, creating balanced and nuanced relationships that drive the story.

What I Loved About RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK
1. Buffy.
 The German shepherd adopted by Amber is cute, smart, loyal, and makes Amber a better person.

2. Buffy. The OTHER Buffy. The one Buffy is named for. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer references peppered throughout are lighthearted and actually tie several things together.

3. Jordan. The adorable basketball player with a penchant to capitalize words that excite him is a boy worth swooning over.

4. Angsty Romance. My favorite kind. With Amber’s insecurities and her list of rules, there was no way this romance wasn’t going to come with a health dose of angst. It just has a way of pulling at my heartstrings. I love, love, love it.

5. Realistic Growth. While Amber has some amazing growth, I love that she isn’t totally transformed. Her history is so ingrained in who she is that by the end she’s only tentatively stepping forward into the unknown rather than fully embracing it, giving this a really realistic vibe.

Bottom Line
Fabulous characters in realistic predicaments and a swoony romance to boot.

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: RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK
Author: Natalie Williamson
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Pages: 296
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary 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 Natalie Williamson

Author Natalie Williamson

About the Author
Natalie Williamson is an HR person by day and a YA writer by night and nap time. She referenced Harry Potter in her first ever full time job interview, which tells you almost all the things you need to know about her. Other important things to know include: she loves her husband, daughter, dogs, and cat; she has a serious dessert problem; and she frequently Wikipedias movies and TV shows to find out if they have happy endings. RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK is her debut novel..

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Where to find Natalie Williamson
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Giveaway
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Book Review – AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux

AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET Blog Tour

AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux

AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Katherine Garnet is a writer who has never cared much about much, making it awfully difficult to create new content. Despite the fact she has the “edge” of being trans (according to her cis male editor) she is not looking to capitalize on her own personal story. Garnet tries to sneak a peek at her rival, August Prather’s, latest fantasy manuscript about a quest for the elixir of life.

While reading, Garnet gets accidentally dragged into a bizarre cross-country road trip that may or may not have a purpose and begins to see parallels in the story of the manuscript and the reality of their journey. Along the way, they encounter a parade of equally troubled individuals, including ghost-hunting priests, a robot magician, a discarded piece of furniture, a runaway teenager, and a Japanese rock star.

As Garnet confronts her past, she begins to understand why someone might want to live forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
I’m not sure exactly what to make of AUGST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET. There’s a quote by one of the protagonists that says a good book is one that leaves the reader to figure out what it’s about, and I kind of feel like the author was letting us know that it’s up to us to decide what her novel is about. To say I was confused for much of the book would be an understatement, but at no point did I want to put it down. I needed to know what the heck was going on. And because the characters are so fascinating, I was hooked on their fates from the beginning. But if I had to tell you what this book is about, I’m not sure I can easily sum it up the way I normally do for a book review. It’s about letting go and finding yourself, it’s about exploring all the sides of yourself, it’s about friendship and camaraderie, doing the right thing for no reason other than it’s the right thing to do, and the quest for immortality, but it’s also none of those things and a thousand things more. And yet the story is riveting as author Kate Garnet sets off on a cross-country trip with fellow author August Prather along with two “priests”, a table, and a dead body in a Prius. And that’s not even the strangest part.

Plot
The plot unfolds haphazardly with as many detours as the group takes on their road trip. Kate gets herself accidentally kidnapped when she sneaks into August’s car to read her latest unpublished manuscript. We alternate between the two stories as Kate reading the book is interspersed with their adventures. August’s manuscript is the story of a two individuals on a quest to find the elixir of immortality, but there are so many parallels between the book Kate’s reading and what’s unfolding in her real life, she soon discovers what she thought might be a lighthearted road trip with a group of free spirits might be something much more deeply personal.

Characters
The characters are, simply put, brilliant. August is a quirky bohemian who befriends anyone and everyone she meets. Kate is complex as a trans woman who is still on a journey of self discover. Mitya and Lyosha, the Russian ghost hunters, posing as priests, are both irreverent and the cutest couple ever. Everyone they meet along their way is somehow larger than life, but in a completely believable way. it’s not that they’re necessarily caricatures, but we view them through Kate’s lens, and she notices the more obscure oddities more than most people would, so that’s how the reader gets to experience them. Even the characters in August’s book have depth. These are the types of people who not only temporarily occupy my mind as I read about them, but take up space in my brain for a long time after I finish the book.

What I Loved About AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET
1. August.
 If she mentioned a road trip, I’d be strapped into the shotgun seat before the “p” popped on her lips.

2. Quirky Characters. Everyone who populates this story is unique and a delight to read.

3. Witty Banter. The dialogue is among the best I’ve ever read, whether they’re dropping off a dead body at the hospital or discussing a murder that August witnessed, everything uttered is pure gold.

4. Road Trips. Setting off on a cross country trip with no itinerary not only makes for a fantastic story, but it’s a metaphor for what life should be.

5. True Love. Mitya and Lyosha are so freaking adorable. One of my all-time favorite fictional couples.

Bottom Line
An unusual tale with compelling characters that is impossible to put down.

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: AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET
Author: Danielle K. Roux
Publisher: Parliament House Publishing

Release Date: August 7, 2018
Pages: 368
Genre: Adult LGBTQ+ Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Danielle K. Roux

Author Danielle K. Roux

About the Author
Danielle K. Roux is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her first novel August Prather is Not Dead Yet is currently available in e-book and paperback through Parliament House Press (and soon will be available in hardcover and audio book). Danielle has always loved reading and telling stories – especially stories with adventure, mystery, humor, romance and at least a little bit of spookiness. Not Dead Yet has all this covered, with a story-within-a-story structure and a quest for immortality in the early twentieth century paired with a present-day road trip. There’s a lot of existential crisis and a male/male romance that is sweet and steamy.

Danielle has been writing fiction since she was nine, after getting tired of reading from the perspective of white, straight male characters in fantasy novels. Her first written story involved a group of middle school girls who find necklaces used by a dead witch that give them supernatural powers. It was written in notebooks in purple and green gel pens that are currently housed in a box in her linen closet. She is inspired by travelling to new places and reading about the stories tied to landscapes. She has at least three novels building in her brain (or wherever novels come from) and wishes she was writing them all right now.

Danielle lives with her wife and two orange cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has added a lot of young adult fantasy fiction to her bookshelves recently, and regrets nothing. Her dream library would be accessed through a secret door and look something like the library in the animated Disney Beauty and the Beast, although it would also have a cute barista or sentient coffee machine that once was said barista.

When she isn’t writing or thinking about writing, Danielle is building houses in the Sims, listening to podcasts, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what kind of tree she is based on her hair color. She has recently been watching lots of old BBC period pieces, and some of them are good. She has begun to drink Diet Coke and is worried this might be a real problem. Coffee and tea are still her primary beverages of choice..

Where to find Danielle K. Roux
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Book Review – THE EMOTION THESAURUS (A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression) by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

THE EMOTION THESAURUS (A Writer's Guide to Character Expression) by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

THE EMOTION THESAURUS (A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression) by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
The bestselling Emotion Thesaurus, often hailed as “the gold standard for writers” and credited with transforming how writers craft emotion, has now been expanded to include 55 new entries!

One of the biggest struggles for writers is how to convey emotion to readers in a unique and compelling way. When showing our characters’ feelings, we often use the first idea that comes to mind, and they end up smiling, nodding, and frowning too much.

If you need inspiration for creating characters’ emotional responses that are personalized and evocative, this ultimate show-don’t-tell guide for emotion can help. It includes:

Body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for 130 emotions that cover a range of intensity from mild to severe, providing innumerable options for individualizing a character’s reactions A breakdown of the biggest emotion-related writing problems and how to overcome them Advice on what should be done beforedrafting to make sure your characters’ emotions will be realistic and consistent Instruction for how to show hidden feelings and emotional subtext through dialogue and nonverbal cues And much more!

The Emotion Thesaurus, in its easy-to-navigate list format, will inspire you to create stronger, fresher character expressions and engage readers from your first page to your last..

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My Review
I want to scream from the rooftops to every author out there: go get this book! We’re constantly told to “show, don’t tell,” but finding the right way to show can make all the difference in the world between a scene that merely goes through the motions and one that that brings the reader deep into the story and allows them to get lost. THE EMOTION THESAURUS is part how-to, and part reference. After learning how to use the guide, there are 130 entries to help you find the right way to show character emotions. With helpful cross-references it’s easy to find the right way to show escalation from anger to rage or de-escalation to mere annoyance. All the body language, both internal and external, can be used to kickstart the analogies and symbolism necessary to tell a compelling story. Because weak verbs can be the death of good writing, the authors also include power verbs for each entry to further stimulate creative writing. And finally, each entry includes helpful writing tips, such as:

Pay special attention to the events leading up to an emotional response. If the plotting feels contrived, the character’s emotion will feel contrived as well.

Each entry includes physical signals, behaviors, internal sensations, mental responses, long term responses to an emotion, and signs that an emotion has been suppressed rather than dealt with, providing all the pieces to construct dazzling scenes.

Bottom Line
One of the best references for creative writing I’ve ever read.

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About the Book
Title
: THE EMOTION THESAURUS: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression
Authors: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Publisher: JADD Publishing
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Pages: 304
Category: Writing
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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Author Angela Ackerman

Author Angela Ackerman

About the Author
ANGELA ACKERMAN is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of 7 bestselling books for writers, including The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (now an expanded 2nd Edition). Her books are available in six languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world.

Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers®, as well as One Stop for Writers®, an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling. A strong believer in writers helping and supporting other writers, she tries to pay-it-forward however she is able to..

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Where to find Angela Ackerman
Goodreads | Website | Twitter.

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Author Becca Puglisi

Author Becca Puglisi

About the Author
Becca Puglisi is a speaker, international writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via her newest endeavor: One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library like no other, filled with description and brain-storming tools to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter..

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Where to find Becca Puglisi
Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – YOU, ME AND LETTING GO by Katie Kaleski

YOU, ME AND LETTING GO Blog Tour

 

YOU, ME AND LETTING GO by Katie Kaleski

YOU, ME AND LETTING GO by Katie Kaleski

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Van Sato’s got labels. Tourettes, ADHD, SPD – words that have defined his existence since the time he was old enough to know what they meant. Now, Van wants to prove he’s more than an acronym, a syndrome, a problem kid. He takes a summer job as a day camp counselor to prove he’s capable of independence and moving on to the next phase in his life. Maybe, he might even make a friend while there. Someone who’s got just as many or even more labels than him. Someone who understands what it’s like.

Tabby Dubanowksi wants to forget about everything, the hospitalization, the judgment, the whispers behind her back. As a camp counselor, she will be admired, looked up to, and able to help people who don’t know anything about her old life. Tabby wants a fresh start and a chance to re-ignite her passion for film-making, if only for one summer.

After running away from their pasts, Van and Tabby collide in a storm cloud of attraction laced with self-doubt, insecurity, shame, and blame. Now, with Van feeling like he might have to quit his job, and Tabby struggling to quell the urge to cut, they will struggle to find themselves in a world designed to keep them apart.

 

 

 

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My Review
Two misfits, who see the humanity in each, find a bond that goes beyond mere attraction. What I loved best about this tale is that it wasn’t like they wound up together because no one else would have them, no one else understood their struggles, or any of the typical tropes with characters who have serious medical or psychological issues. Instead, they two were genuinely attracted to each other despite their issues. Their own challenges kept them from reacting to each other in a way most people would, which only fueled that attraction into something more. The meet cute was anything but cute when Van, who suffers from Tourettes, called Tabby by her hated high school nickname, “Lard Ass” when they run into each other at the same summer camp where they’re both working as counselors. But even after Van apologizes and Tabby decides it’s not enough, he never uses his Tourettes as an excuse for why he blurted it out unbidden. Their friendship develops without that understanding, making it more authentic and deep. Tabby has her own issues stemming from an eating disorder and cutting herself in an attempt to cope. But somehow, Van and Tabby overcome every obstacle to find solace in friendship and maybe just a little bit more.

Plot
The main plot centers on the relationship between Van and Tabby, but because they both have huge obstacles to overcome, there are strong subplots involving these as well. Van hopes for a life of independence even though on top of Tourette’s he has ADHD and SPD. Tabby has a tenuous relationship with food and deep-seated insecurities that drive nearly everything she does. She’s just trying to learn how to live life outside of Hope Springs where she spent time dealing with her anorexia. Romance isn’t on either kid’s radar, but some things just can’t be denied.

Characters
Oh the characters!! They are my favorite thing about the story. Van and his irreverent humor when it comes to his condition. Tabby and her confident insecurities (yes, that is actually a thing). The loving families who just want what’s best for Van and Tabby but still manage to do so much wrong. And best friends, Matt and Maritza are people I’d want to hang out with. The author totally does right by her characters, giving them depth, humanity, and creating such amazingly authentic-feeling three-dimensional beings that I was rooting for them from the opening chapters. Sometimes characters need to grow on me, but not this bunch!

What I Loved About YOU, ME, & LETTING GO!
1. Van.
 The boy with the tics so severe he hits himself and others with uncontrollable arms has a heart of gold. The way he deals with the kids in his care will melt anyone’s heart.

2. Tabby. It can be difficult to identify with and not get annoyed with insecure characters, but Tabby is so much more than that and I loved her from her first chapter.

3. Summer Camp. The kids are hysterical, from a boy who eats everything to a girl who likes to dissect whatever is found, including her food, bring humor and adorableness to the pages.

4. Honesty. The author’s honest portrayal of anorexia, cutting, Tourette, ADHD, and SPD show that people are so much more than the labels we attach to them.

5. Friendship. The bonds of friendship throughout the tale were heartwarming and the threads that tied everything together.

Bottom Line
A wonderful young adult tale about overcoming odds and taking control of your own life with some of the best characters in the genre.

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 – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: YOU, ME, & LETTING GO
Author: Katie Kaleski
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Pages: 197
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 Katie Kaleski

Author Katie Kaleski

About the Author
Katie Kaleski has started down many career paths and held many jobs—indie craft store clerk, pizza maker, photo developer, shoe salesperson and cashier, dental assistant in the army, daycare teacher, student teacher—but her favorite one by far is being a writer.

She’s originally from Chicago, so she says things like pop, gym shoes, and front room. Her favorite food group is sugar, and she loves writing young adult novels.
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Where to find Katie Kaleski
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – THE GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING BAD by Cookie O’Gorman

THE GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO BEING BAD by Cookie O’Gorman

THE GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING BAD by Cookie O’Gorman

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Sadie is tired of being a good girl.

Her Career Aptitude Test results say she’s ideally suited for a career in the clergy (aka a nun), and on top of that, she receives yet another rejection. An aspiring dancer/choreographer, Sadie dreams of being featured on Dancer’s Edge—but they say she’s too sweet, needs more life experience. Her BFF, Kyle, and her oldest friend, 79-year-old Betty, agree: Sadie is in desperate need of a life makeover.

But she’ll need a coach.

Sadie doesn’t lie, cheat or steal–heck she doesn’t even curse (part of the reason she hasn’t checked off anything on her “Carpe Diem List”). Sadie doesn’t know the first thing about being bad. But Kyle’s twin brother, Colton, does. And he’s willing to teach Sadie on one condition: she has to do everything he says for the next month.

A dazzling first kiss, two smokin’ hot brothers and a bet that changes everything. In this enemies-to-more YA romance, Sadie learns:

Breaking the rules can be fun—especially when it leads to happily-ever-after.

 

 

 

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My Review
The latest release from one of my favorite authors does not disappoint! Sadie has been in love with her gay BFF, Kyle, since forever, so her list of naughty things she’s done is so short, it doesn’t even have one thing on it. After taking an aptitude test that showed she’d be awesome at being a nun, Sadie decides to live a little before high school graduation. She makes a carpe diem list that includes things like parties, a piercing, a tattoo, pulling a prank, and lots and lots of kissing. Considering the guy she wants to kiss most in the world is off limits, she reluctantly agrees to let Kyle’s equally hot, but utterly annoying, identical twin brother, Colton, be her bad girl coach. Colton has two rules though – Sadie has to do what he says, no questions asked, and she absolutely, positively cannot fall for him. Since Sadie loathes Colton and always has, this is a slam dunk. Right?

Plot
The main plot is the romance between Colton Freakin’ Bishop and Sister Sadie Day, but completing Sadie’s carpe diem list is nearly an equal subplot. The push and pull of Colton and Sadie is the kind that makes you laugh and want to keep turning the pages, as only O’Gorman can. The pacing is perfect, with lots of humor in the mix. While the reader may understand exactly what Colton is feeling, Sadie’s inability to see it for what it is drives some of the best moments in the story. It’s a sweet, angsty romance with seriously one of the all-time hottest kisses in the history of young adult romance!

Characters
These are among my favorite of O’Gorman’s characters. Sadie is sweet, funny, confident, but with a streak of typical teenage insecurity that makes her easy to identify with. Colton and Kyle couldn’t be more opposite, but they’re both lovable in their own unique ways. Just like Sadie, there were times I wanted to punch Colton moments after I swooned over him. He’s complex and perfect for Sadie. We also get cameos by returning favorite, like Ash and Snow as well as Becks and Sally. And Sadie’s mom is perfect. She is the Lorelei to Sadie’s Rory.

What I Loved About THE GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING BAD
1. Sadie.
 She’s adorable as the girl who doesn’t like to swear, would rather be comfortable than fashionable, loves ballroom dancing, and has a list of bad things to do. I love that she never felt like she needed to change who she was.

2. Colton. He’s a bad boy who is easy to love. He likes to pretend he’s a total player, but I had him figured out pretty early on.

3. Complicated Relationships. Sadie had one of the more interesting parental relationships I’ve read in a long time with her cool mom and serial-cheating father co-owning a dance studio.

4. Betty. As one of Sadie’s older friends, retirement home Betty has some of the best lines.

5. Kyle. He’s the BFF every girl deserves.

Bottom Line
A wonderful young adult contemporary with some of the best characters I’ve read in a long while.

Disclaimer
I was provided with 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: THE GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO BEING BAD
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Release Date: April 25, 2019
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 Cookie O'Gorman

Author Cookie O’Gorman

About the Author
Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE and NINJA GIRL are out now! Her third book, THE UNBELIEVABLE, INCONCEIVABLE, UNFORESEEABLE TRUTH ABOUT ETHAN WILDER, was released April 5, 2018!.

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Where to find Cookie O’Gorman
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND (Grove Valley High) by Emma Doherty

THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND Blog Tour

THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND (Grove Valley High #1) by Emma Doherty

THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND (Grove Valley High #1) by Emma Doherty

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Livy Chapman is in love with Jessie Stephenson. It’s that simple. She has been for years but he only see’s her as his best friend. His best friend who copies her homework, relies on her to bail him out of trouble and who he hooks up with other girls in front of.

Enough is enough and when Chase Mitchell, star of the soccer team, and all round Mr. Popular steps in and convinces her that they can do each other a favour by pretending to date, Livy is just crazy enough over Jessie to agree to it.

I mean, Chase is just her stand-in boyfriend. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Oh wow, words are not sufficient to convey the depth of feelings this book brought out. THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND is filled with love and longing, insecurities, anxiety, and more. It’s like stepping back into high school. And though I read a lot of young adult, that doesn’t happen very often for me.

Livy Chapman has been in love with her best friend almost from the moment they met. But he doesn’t see her as anything more than a buddy, breaking her heart just a little more every day. When she finally thinks her chance with him might actually happen, he ends up hooking up with his ex, shredding her already damaged heart. In comes Chase Mitchell, hottest guy in school. He offers Livy a proposition: pretend to date to make Jessie notice her and get Chase’s ex-girlfriend, Abigail, off his back. The only problem is, other than soccer, Livy and Chase have nothing in common. Or do they? The more time they spend together, the more Livy realizes that Chase gets her. Even if he’s only pretending they’re a couple, he makes her laugh and feel comfortable in a way almost no one else can. So when she finally gets Jessie’s attention, everything should be smooth sailing, right? Right?

Plot
The plot centers around Livy’s relationships with Jessie and Chase. She and Jessie have been BFFs since seventh grade, but he doesn’t see her the way she sees him. Chase is the “it” guy in school, but Livy sees there’s so much more to him than everyone else does when they spend time alone. Even though their relationship is fake, the budding friendship is real. Livy is so blinded by her undying love for Jessie, she’s unable to see the boy right in front of her. As she’s tugged in two directions, her anxiety ramps up, eliciting genuine emotion from me as I read. Any female who has ever been a teenager will be able to identify with the emotions that are tearing Livy apart.

The Characters
The characters were really well developed. Both Livy and Chase had rich backstories that defined who they were and drove their actions in believable ways. As Livy’s best friends, Jessie and Sophie are vibrant foils to her more serious self. Even Abigail is more than a two-dimensional mean girl.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND
1. Angsty romance. My favorite kind, the type that makes me keep turning the page to find out what happens next.

2. Loyalty. Sophie is the best of the best when it comes to BFFs. She has Livy’s back no matter what. Always.

3. Chase Mitchell. He’s genuine, sweet, funny, and thoughtful as well as hot with buns of steel. What’s not to love?

4. Character depth. The author created well-rounded, fully fleshed characters that are easy to root for, flaws and all.

5. Anxiety. I have a teen daughter who suffers from anxiety, and I thought the author handled this perfectly.

Bottom Line
A breathtaking young adult romance that left me wanting more.

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

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About the Book
Title: THE STAND-IN BOYFRIEND
Series: Grove Valley High #1
Author: Emma Doherty
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Pages: 260
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Link: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon UK

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Author Emma Doherty

Author Emma Doherty

About the Author
Emma Doherty was born in Yorkshire, England. She attended university in Newcastle before moving to London. She loves to travel, write, spend time with friends and family and hear from her readers.

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Find Emma Doherty
Goodreads │ Facebook │Twitter | InstagramAmazon

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – ONLY A BREATH APART by Katie McGarry

ONLY A BREATH APART Blog Tour

ONLY A BREATH APART by Katie McGarry

ONLY A BREATH APART by Katie McGarry

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Jesse dreams of working the land that’s been in his family forever. But he’s cursed to lose everything he loves most.

Scarlett is desperate to escape her “charmed” life. But leaving a small town is easier said than done.

Despite their history of heartbreak, when Jesse sees a way they can work together to each get what they want, Scarlett can’t say no.Each midnight meeting between Jesse and Scarlett will push them to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ONLY A BREATH APART Teaser

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My Review
A riveting contemporary romance with breathtaking characters and so much angst! Childhood friends Scarlett and Jesse drifted apart their freshman year of high school. Well, Jesse basically drove Scarlett away. She harbors the scars of that betrayal while hiding an ugly secret within the walls of her seemingly perfect home. Jesse is everything Scarlett is not, yet when his Gran dies, the delicate thread that was holding his tenuous world together breaks and Jesse and Scarlett learn they have far more in common than either of them thought. As forces outside their control threaten to rip each of them apart, they find comfort and strength in the renewal of a lifelong friendship.

Plot
The primary story is the relationship between Jesse and Scarlett, but deep subplots drive that relationship. Jesse’s tenuous hold on his family’s farm after his Gran’s death affects everything he does. Scarlett’s home life and her dreams for a future she controls impact every relationship she has. A family curse forces Jesse to keep everyone he loves at arms’ length. While the two struggle with their own goals, an undeniable attraction to one another soon becomes the biggest obstacle either of them could have imagined. The story moves from the opening chapter through the gripping conclusion that kept me turning page after page in true Katie McGarry form. No one does angsty teen romance quite like McGarry and I’m a forever fan.

The Characters
Oh my gosh, how much do I LOVE these characters? They are complex, driven, damaged, and oh so lovable. Even though Scarlett is known around school as the Ice Princess, she’s much more than just a mean girl. She’s got so many issues and the way she protects herself is utterly relatable. Jesse is damaged from an early age and protects people the only way he knows how — by shutting them out. Watching these two grow and develop is satisfying at every level. The additional cast, Jesse’s posse of equally messed-up friends, Scarlett’s popular friends and her dysfunctional family, only add to the depth of the two main characters. But none of these supporting characters come across as two-dimensional. Each is fully fleshed out with their own goals, obstacles, and backstories.

Top Five Things I Loved About ONLY A BREATH APART
1. The angst. Oh how I love me some teen angst, and ONLY A BREATH APART is dripping with it!

2. Complex characters. Every single character involved in the plot or subplot is fully-developed and three-dimensional.

3. Friends to more. As someone who married my BFF, this is my favorite trope.

4. Scarlett. She’s fierce, self-protective, loyal, and scared, there is some much conflict within her, I want to take her home and let her experience family love the way it should be.

5. Jesse. He’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders, yet he still does things for others for all the right reasons.

Bottom Line
A gripping young adult contemporary with realistic characters who are impossible to resist.

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

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ONLY A BREATH APART Teaser

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About the Book
Title: ONLY A BREATH APART
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Pages: 368
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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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME by Olivia Hinebaugh

THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME Blog Tour

THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME by Olivia Hinebaugh

THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME by Olivia Hinebaugh

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.

But then everything changes.

When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Fiercely feminist main character — check, viola player — check, ace BFF — check! My daughter is a fiercely feminist, viola playing, asexual teen, so really there was almost no chance I wasn’t going to loveTHE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME, but it still surprised me. I was surprised by how much I loved Lacey, Theo, and Evita. The complex relationships explored and the bonds of friendship stretched were incredibly realistic. The choices that the three of them face as high school seniors are typical, but no less intense because of that. When Lacey pushes back against her school’s archaic and factually inaccurate abstinence-only program that attempts to shame teens into not having sex, things go hilariously wrong. Lacey and her friends appoint themselves the sexperts, even though Lacey has never had sex, herself. They offer advice in the bathroom and provide covert access to condoms, until they get caught and suspended. But Lacey’s no wallflower and she fights the system with her mother’s support.

Plot
This is really a story of standing up for what you believe in and the enduring bonds of friendship more than a romance. There is a romantic subplot involving Lacey and Theo, but Evita’s past relationship with Theo, before she realized she was ace, only complicates this. How the three best friends navigate their life goals, their determination to bring comprehensive sex education to their peers, and balancing loyalty is what drives this story and that’s where it really shines. The romantic elements serve more of a supporting role. The author doesn’t let her characters off without facing the consequences of their actions, making it believable. She weaves humor throughout the story, creating a lighthearted tale that could easily have taken on a darker tone.

The Characters
This is really a character-driven story more than anything else, and the characters are utterly delightful. While this is Lacey’s story, all three have their own arcs and grow over the course of the book. Lacey’s knowledge of sex, without any firsthand experience, is a breath of fresh air. I wish more teen girls were this comfortable with the topic. Evita, as the leader of the trio, is fierce, funny, and loyal — everything you want in a BFF. Theo is a delightful third, the only boy in their close-knit group, who lends a little testosterone to all the estrogen flying around.

Top Five Things I Loved AboutTHE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME
1. Representation. As the mother of an ace teen, I loved seeing such a strong ace character who was true to herself and didn’t end up in a romantic relationship.

2. Comprehensive sex ed. Another topic near and dear to my heart handled, with a responsible, fact-based approach.

3. Music. A cello, a viola, and rock music. What’s not to love?

4. Friendships. I love that the friendship is the primary focus over the romance. While romance plays a part, the enduring friendship is the glue holding everything together.

5. An honest portrayal of teen pregnancy. Nothing is sugar coated, but it’s not presented as shameful either. Really well done.

Bottom Line
A book about friendship, personal responsibility, and the value of education, wrapped with humor and heart.

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 BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME
Author: Olivia Hinebaugh
Publisher: SwoonReads
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUBarnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Olivia Hinebaugh

Author Olivia Hinebaugh

About the Author
Olivia Hinebaugh loves all stripes of literature for children. When she isn’t writing fiction, she can be found writing freelance, making art, discovering new songs on spotify, texting her writing buddies, or folding laundry. She lives near Washington, D.C. with her spouse, three kids, a dog that looks like a coyote, and a one-eyed cat. The Birds, The Bees, And You And Me is her debut novel.

 

 

 

 

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Where to Find Olivia Hinebaugh
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – WAYPOINT (Waypoint) by Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins

WAYPOINT Blog Tour

WAYPOINT (Waypoint #1) by Deborah Adams and Kimberly Perkins

WAYPOINT (Waypoint #1) by Deborah Adams and Kimberly Perkins

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
How far will they go to restore the power?

It’s been lights-out for three months and society is already falling into chaos.

Teenage tech-genius Simon Harper and his team of fellow gamers have been searching for the cause of the outage since it went down. Simon and his twin brother West are often at odds, but when the key to restoring power drops into their hands, they’ll risk everything and join forces to bring it back.

Descend into an epic, young adult adventure, featuring family and friendship with a heart-skipping side of romance by debut authors Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins.

Mysterious deaths and disappearances are piling up, and unknown enemies are everywhere. As the brothers make their 500-mile journey to Waypoint they’ll have to decide who they can trust, and which secrets can be told.

“Thanks to its tantalizing pace, well-established consequences, and complicated character development, this novel is worth writing home about. I didn’t feel ready for it to end.” -Independent Book Review

 

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My Review
I need to start off by saying this is the first book in a series. It wasn’t obvious from the description, so I wasn’t expecting the ending, but now that I know, I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment. Told from four third-person points of view, this is a little different than most young adult dystopians. Instead of a single protagonist, we have four, although Simon seems to be the main character. Twin brothers Simon and West inhabit a world without power, similar to the TV show Revolution from a few years back. West is a classic player with good looks and swagger to match. Simon is a nerd among nerds, living inside a role-playing game he accesses through power he generates with solar panels, something that must remain a secret. When a mysterious man is killed in front of Simon, he’s given information that may allow him to turn the power back on. He and West embark on a journey to Washington DC, only to be separated almost immediately. While West is at home in the wilderness, Simon is out of his element. Each winds up with a traveling companion, Riya for Simon and Alex for West. Both girls provide a romantic element as well as the foil that each boy needs. Along the way, all four encounter danger and learn a lot about each other and themselves.

Plot
The plot centers around Simon and West meeting up in DC to turn the power back on. Several subplots feed the main plot, but they’re minor. With four points of view, we get a lot of insight into their journeys. The authors throw everything at them, one setback after another, at a pulse-pounding pace that kept me turning the pages long past when I should have been doing something else. While this is primarily a plot-driven tale, the authors do a good job with character development which feeds into the story well.

The Characters
The characters are where this story really shines. All four main characters are deeply-drawn and complex in ways that enhance the plot. I loved all four of them, and even though at times their goals conflicted with one another, I never stopped rooting for all of them. West and Simon couldn’t be more different as twins, and yet that bond is strong, making them realize how important they are to one another. Alex and Riya were as different from one another as Simon and West, but they each bring something to the relationship that the brothers desperately lack, rounding out this foursome to perfection.

Top Five Things I Loved About WAYPOINT
1. The plot. Young adult dystopian is my favorite genre. I love dark worlds that are recognizable, peppered with characters who are still trying to figure out themselves much less the world around them.

2. Angsty love. Not one, but two romances with enough angst to satisfy even me.

3. The characters. I can’t pick a favorite; I love them all. Like two sides of a coin squared, they balance each other out.

4. Action. There’s plenty of action, adventure, and suspense to keep me riveted to the pages.

5. The ending. Normally I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings, but the authors crafted a satisfying conclusion to this portion of the story while leaving me on the edge of my seat for more

Bottom Line
A wonderful young adult contemporary romance that examines how social anxiety can transform someone from the inside out.

Disclaimer
A pulse-pounding young adult dystopian page-turner!

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About the Book
Title: WAYPOINT
Series: Waypoint #1
Author: Deborah Adams and Kimberly Perkins
Publisher: Rocket City Publishing
Release Date: December 1, 2018
Pages: 296
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUBarnes & Noble | Kobo

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Authors Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins

Authors Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins

About the Author
DEBORAH ADAMS and KIMBERLEY PERKINS are friends and coworkers. They share a love of coffee, literature, and teenagers saving the world. By day, they work for a defense contractor in Huntsville, Alabama as the HR Director and an Excel-wielding Analyst, respectively. By night, they build worlds with words and devour stories. For more information about Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins and their foray into writing, check them out on social media.

 

 

 

 

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Where to Find Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins
Deborah Goodreads | Kimberley GoodreadsWebsite | Kimberley Twitter | Deborah Twitter

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Giveaway

WAYPOINT Giveaway

 

Book Review + Giveaway – STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

STAR-CROSSED Blog Tour

STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

STAR-CROSSED by Pintip Dunn

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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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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

5 out of 5 stars

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

5 out of 5 stars

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
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

5 out of 5 stars

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