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Young Adult Book Review – DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS by Nina Moreno

DON'T DATE ROSA SANTOS by Nina Moreno

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS by Nina Moreno

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
a sweeping tale that takes place over a few short weeks in the spring before Rosa Santo’s graduates and needs to determine what to do with her life. She has a complex history. Her grandmother gave birth on a boat fleeing communist Russia and her grandfather died on the same trip. Rosa’s own father was also taken by the sea when his boat didn’t come back one day. To say she has a healthy respect for the ocean would be an understatement. In fact, she’s never really ventured down to the docks. At least until the harbor in her small Florida town is threatened and Rosa and the rest of the town come together with a plan to save it. This plan introduces her to tall, dark and brooding Alex. Not only is he ridiculously attractive, but he bakes. And he owns a boat. So, whatever feelings Rosa is developing for Alex cannot be acted upon. Because a to love a boy with a boat means to lose him to sea. At least according to the family curse. So when life has a way of disrupting the best of plans, Rosa will need to decide if she’s going to live in her family’s past or forge her own future.

Plot
The story centers around Rosa’s quest to find out more about who she is. She wants to study in Cuba, but with the current administration making that all but impossible, she turns to her secretive grandmother, with whom she lives, and her mother, who pops in and out of Rosa’s life, for answers. But her grandmother has roots in the old ways, dabbling in santeria and other Cuban customs that include doling out the information slowly. Rosa becomes frustrated and endangers her relationship with her grandmother just as her relationship with Alex takes an interesting but scary twist. Strong themes include family ties, finding yourself, coming of age, and the value of community.

Characters
Rosa and her family are incredibly detailed. Rosa, her mother, and Mimi, her grandmother, are all complex with rich backstories and fully-developed arcs. The balance of the characters, with the exception of Alex who has is own arc, are merely props to support the main trio. However, they never nosedive into stereotypes. They may have been created to serve a purpose, but they come across as more than just fluff, which is an incredible feat by the author.

What I Loved About DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS!
1. Cuban Culture.
 I’ll admit to not knowing much about this. My in-laws are of Spanish and Native American descent, but hail from the Southwest, which means their Hispanic culture is a mixed bag. It was fascinating to learn more about Cuba and the Florida Cuban culture. Everything from the food, to rituals, and daily life was vivid and exciting.

2. The Viejitos. The gaggle of retired men and their gossip they share via their Instagram account is both endearing and hysterical.

3. Rosa. She is so complex. The things she wants, what she values, and her desire to not rock the family boat create a deep character who was easy to cheer her on.

4. Alex. He has a bohemian spirit trapped in the body of a loyal son. A romantic at heart, I was rooting for Rosa to give him a chance.

5. The Ending. More than a little confusing at times, I liked that the author left much to the interpretation of the reader.

Bottom Line
Fantastic settings, beautiful writing, and amazing character combine for this young adult tale about discovering who you are.

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: DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS
Author: Nina Moreno
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Pages: 335
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | IndieBoundPowell’s

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Author Nina Moreno

Author Nina Moreno

About the Author
Nina Moreno is a YA writer whose writing is somewhere between Southern fiction and a telenovela. She graduated from the University of Florida and writes about Latinas chasing their dreams, falling in love, and navigating life in the hyphen. She lives by a swamp outside of Orlando where she enjoys listening to carefully curated playlists, hunting through thrift stores, drinking too much Cuban coffee, and walking into the sea every chance she gets. DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS is her first novel.

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Where to find Nina Moreno
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

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 – CHEROKEE SUMMER by Susan Antony

CHEROKEE SUMMER Blog Tour

CHEROKEE SUMMER by Susan Anthony

CHEROKEE SUMMER by Susan Anthony

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John’s friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Soul mates and impossible love collide in CHEROKEE SUMMER. Ace and her family spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina where John and his family, native Cherokees, live. After a chance meeting that initially gets off on the wrong foot, these two find each other inexplicably drawn to one another, despite cultural differences that threaten to keep them apart. Ace’s family is in shambles. She lives with her alcoholic mother, autistic younger brother, and cheating father. Her father’s inability to keep it in his pants only seems to fuel her mother’s drinking. John has his own issues with an alcoholic mother and a family and community that are determined to keep him on the reservation after graduation, just as he’s determined to leave for college. Ace and John find a refuge from their lives in each other’s company, sharing painful commonalities while exploring their differences. But more than just a jealous ex-girlfriend and family responsibilities stand in the way, and it all comes to a gripping climax.

Plot
The story starts off as a basic contemporary romance with our two main characters meeting before their attraction grows, obstacles are thrown in the way, but then the plot goes sideways and ramps up to an action-packed conclusion that sets it apart from other books in the genre. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be my last. The storytelling was intriguing, and even with a slow start, I was drawn to the characters, the setting, and the conflict. Since my kids are part Native American on their dad’s side, I was particularly drawn to the way the author portrayed modern Cherokees with the push and pull of tradition in the 21st century.

Characters
Told from both Ace’s and John’s points of view, there are solid differentiators between the two, keeping me from ever being confused about whose viewpoint I was reading. Ace’s devotion to her family makes her instantly endearing and I was able to sympathize with her belief that it was up to her to fix her family. John’s heritage and loyalty are in conflict with his life’s goals, making him a fascinating character.The supporting cast were more than caricatures, even the jealous ex-girlfriend had more depth than I was expecting. John’s twin sister, his grandmother, and even his alcoholic mother were more than fluff and helped define him a way that standard methods of characterization never could.

What I Enjoyed About CHEROKEE SUMMER
1. Reality.
 The author honestly portrays the devastating effects of alcoholism on families.

2. Native Culture. I thought this was particularly well done and an accurate depiction of what teens torn between two worlds struggle with.

3. Family Ties. While Ace lost the parenting lottery, she steps up to protect her younger brother at all cost. John’s loyalty to his family and way of life, even as he’s pulling away, endeared him to me.

4. John. Deep, damaged, sweet, and loyal. He’s a great protagonist and BBF.

5. Ace. From her awesome name to her flaws, she’s complex and intriguing and I loved seeing the world through her eyes.

Bottom Line
A sweet young adult contemporary with an action-filled finale.

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: CHEROKEE SUMMER
Author: Susan Antony
Release Date: January 21, 2019
Pages:
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & NobleiBooks | KoboGooglePlayScribdWalmart

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Author Susan Antony

Author Susan Antony

About the Author
Susan Antony is an IT by day, hip-shaker and writer by night, artist whenever possible, and an internet addict. She lives in the sunny south with her teenage son and two Cairn Terriers.

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

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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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Book Review + Giveaway – THE DEVIL’S OWN (Murphy’s Law) by K.A. Fox

THE DEVIL'S OWN (Murphy's Law #1) by K.A. Fox

THE DEVIL’S OWN (Murphy’s Law #1) by K.A. Fox

3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Delaney Murphy has always known she’s the Devil’s daughter. And although the title itself is a burden, she never expects to inherit all her father’s infernal abilities. When her newfound magic begins to poison the people closest to her, Laney must make a choice. To protect the world from the worst she can do, she leaves everyone she loves behind and builds a new life for herself, alone, in a place where she can control the urge to give in to the magic living within her.

But when she recognizes a familiar pattern in a string of murders, Laney leaves her peaceful, isolated life behind and goes on the hunt, unleashing a threat she never dreamed possible. Confronting this menacing specter could mean giving in to temptation and becoming the one thing she fears most. Will she use her magic to do the right thing, even if it means hurting the ones she loves?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
THE DEVIL’S own is a different take on the paranormal/urban fantasy genre, with the devil’s offspring as the protagonist. Delaney Murphy grew into her powers at the age of 16 and unleashed a terror so awful, she disappeared from the world for two years before returning. She has no better control of her powers now, so she lives in seclusion, something her father doesn’t approve of. Not  only is he worried for her safety, but her emotional wellbeing, so he sends a couple of companions who help Delaney unravel the growing mysterious deaths of girls who seem to have some connection to her.

Plot
The plot sort of meanders a bit, but is primarily about uncovering who is murdering young women. Delaney feels responsible due to her connection to them as well as some deep-seated guilt over events in her past. The main plot is criss-crossed with a number of subplots, including the slowly unfolding details of what happened when she was 16, her relationship with her devilish father, and a detective she accidentally bonds with when he comes to warn her about the deaths. The story slows down in a few places, especially early on, but it really takes off at the end, ending on a high note.

Characters
The characters are interesting enough. Delaney’s dad is probably my favorite as the former rock star who faked his own death to ensure the safety of his loved ones. Hardly the works of an evil man. Delaney is a little hard to get to know, but that makes her intriguing as the narrator. Torren the detective, Callum and a Hell hound, and a few other minor characters round out the cast.

What I Enjoyed About THE DEVIL’S OWN
1. The Concept.
 It’s an interesting switch up on the genre.

2. Fast Cars. Delaney drives a wicked sportscar that she has way too much fun in. I loved the scenes where she was racing around on the twisty roads in her sexy, fast beast.

3. Callum. He’s a good guy with a tough job – protecting the devil’s daughter. No room for making mistakes and it was a job he could hardly say no to. He handles the situation with humor and heart, though.

4. Angus. As Delaney’s dad and Lucifer himself, Angus Murphy is one of the best characters in the story. I hope he gets more page-time in book 2.

5. The Mystery. Usually I’m not a fan of the whole “murdering girls” trope. It feels way too misogynistic. But with Delaney as the protagonist, I could stomach it more than normal. And the way the author divvied up the clues kept me invested.

Bottom Line
A nice twist on the urban fantasy/paranormal genre.

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About the Book
Title: The Devil’s Own
Series: Murphy’s Law #1
Author: K.A. Fox
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Release Date: April 20, 2019
Pages: 224
Genre: New Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Rating:
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Kobo

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Author K.A. Fox

Author K.A. Fox

About the Author
K.A. Fox is a proud military brat who has lived all over the world but now calls the Midwest home. She uses her psychological training to facilitate successful negotiations at work and to convince her husband and three sons that she’s always right. When not writing, she can usually be found hiding somewhere with a book and a bit of chocolate, or chasing after her own adorable Hell Hound.

 

 

 

 

Where to Find K.A. Fox
Goodreads | Website | Facebook

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review + Giveaway – EXTINCTION OF ALL CHILDREN (Extinction of All Children) by L.J. Epps

EXTINCTION OF ALL CHILDREN (Extinction of All Children #1) by L.J. Epps

EXTINCTION OF ALL CHILDREN (Extinction of All Children #1) by L.J. Epps

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
A young adult, fantasy novel about a teenager who is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory. There will never be another child; every baby born after her has been taken away. Everyone wonders why she survived.

Emma Whisperer was born in 2080, in the small futuristic world of Craigluy. President Esther, in charge for the last twenty-two years, has divided their world into three territories, separated by classes—the rich, the working class, and the poor—because she believes the poor should not mingle with the others. And, the poor are no longer allowed to have children, since they do not have the means to take care of them.

Any babies born, accidentally or willfully, are killed. Emma is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory; every baby born after her has died. Somehow, she survived this fate.

During the president’s Monday night speech, she announces a party will be held to honor the last child in the territory, Emma Whisperer. Emma must read a speech, expressing how happy she is to be the last eighteen-year-old.

Emma doesn’t like the rules; she doesn’t believe in them. So, she feels she must rebel against them. Her family doesn’t agree with her rebellion, since they are hiding a big secret.

If this secret gets out, it will be disastrous, and deadly, for her family.

During Emma’s journey, she meets—and becomes friends with—Eric. He is one of the guards for the president. She also befriends Samuel, another guard for the president, who is summoned to watch over her. As Emma meets new people, she doesn’t know who she can trust. Yet, she finds herself falling for a guy, something which has never happened before.

After doing what she feels is right, Emma finds herself in imminent danger.

In the end, she must make one gut-wrenching decision, a decision that may be disastrous for them all.

“Fans of dystopian fantasy will devour this book. L. J. Epps writes a story that, while dealing with heavy subject matter, is still a light, enjoyable read. This dystopian fantasy novel ignites the imagination, and is a must read for fans of The Hunger Games and the Divergent Trilogy.”
—Kristina Gemmell, Beta Reader

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My Review
I’m a sucker for a good dystopian tale, and one involving the extinction of children has such incredible possibilities, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this. Emma Whisperer is the last child born in Territory L (lower class). Someone had to be the last child born when the president decrees that those in the lower class do not have the resources necessary to raise children. But that doesn’t stop those who lost children or younger siblings from hating Emma for something she had no control over. Because if a woman happens to get pregnant even after all the precautions and birth control provided by the government, the woman is forced to carry that baby to term, only to have the baby executed and the woman send to prison. It seems over-the-top cruel at times, until I remember all the horrors I read in THE HUNGER GAMES and THE HANDMAIDS TALE. There are a lot of similarities to both of those stories as well as DIVERGENT. In addition to Territory L, there is Territory M (middle class) and Territory U (upper class) where people aspire to move to, though it’s not rare and not easy to qualify. As time goes by, Emma discovers she was the last child allowed to be born for a reason. As she uncovers even more secrets, she is more determined than ever to change things in her world. For everyone.

Plot
While not action-packed, the plot does move at a steady pace. There were a few intriguing twists that kept me turning the pages despite the lack of action. Even the climax seemed to wrap up too quickly, and that’s one of my only real complaints with the pacing. The main plot centers around Emma and her place in Territory L. Her inability to go with the flow and buck the system at every turn lands her in jail for 30 days where she discovers a lot more than she ever realized about the inner workings of her government. She also meets several young male guards who challenge her in different ways, all of which she is ill-equipped to handle. The first of a trilogy, THE EXTINCTION OF ALL CHILDREN ends with a satisfying conclusion to the book, but with enough anticipation for what comes next, that I’ll be reading the next book in the series for sure.

Characters
The story is more plot driven than character driven and that shows up in the character development. The themes are dark and the characters have a hopelessness about them that carries through the story. No deep flaws are overcome at this stage and no real growth happens yet. But I suspect we’ll get that in the next couple of books in the series.

What I Enjoyed About THE EXTINCTION OF ALL CHILDREN
1. The Concept.
 What a great idea for a story. It has all the elements of the worst dystopian world, including a protagonist I can root for and an antagonist I love to hate.

2. Twists and Turns. More than a few surprises caught me off guard and in several times I was sure I knew what was going to happen, but it turned out I was wrong.

3. Emma. There’s nothing lovable about her, but Emma’s rough edges and harsh exterior are exactly what she needs to survive in her world. She’s part Katniss, part Tris, and part Offred.

4. Theodore. Emma’s brother is both annoying and sweet. The way he respects authority, even an evil regime, is excusable when you realize his family is the most important thing in the world to him.

5. The Settings. The entire Territory L is drab, bleak, grey, and you never lose sight of that through the author’s scene settings.

Bottom Line
A solid start to a dystopian adventure

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: EXTINCTION OF ALL CHILDREN
Series: Extinction of All Children #1
Author: L.J. Epps
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Pages: 250
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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About the Author
L.J. Epps is a lover of all things related to books: fiction and nonfiction novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies. She has also been known to sit and read comic books from cover to cover, several times over.

Over the last few years, L.J. has written several manuscripts; her mission is to publish all of them. She enjoys writing fiction in several genres, including contemporary romance and women’s fiction, as well as young adult dystopian, science fiction and fantasy. She loves to write because it immerses her into another world that is not her own.

Where to Find L.J. Epps
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Review – PEPPED UP AND WILDER (Pepper Jones Series) by Ali Dean

PEPPED UP & WILDER (Pepper Jones #6) by Ali Dean

PEPPED UP & WILDER (Pepper Jones #6) by Ali Dean

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Pepper:
The best part of a happy ending… finding out it’s actually just the beginning. Having someone promise to be by your side, to chase dreams with, whisper troubles to, it’s more than I could have imagined.

But after three seasons of Jace playing pro ball in Ohio, three long seasons, with him on the road, and me training all over the world, I’m questioning if we can really have it all. Harsh criticism of our relationship is all too familiar and uncovers old wounds. I only ever wanted to run and to be with Jace, and finding the perfect balance proves to be my greatest trial yet.

We vowed not to let our love deter each other’s athletic goals, but I miss him. I miss us.

Jace:
The demands of our careers have us running in opposite directions, when we should be putting down roots, together. But escalating fame and an overbearing agent have me fumbling everything I hold dear, including Pepper.

After years of dedication and sacrifice, I’m finally in a position to trade to my hometown team. Moving back to Colorado could be the answer to all our problems, but just when I think we’re finally on the right track, we’re sacked with news that turns everything upside down. News that rattles me and sends Pepper into a tailspin. It’s time for me to remind the girl that I fell in love with how to fight.

Until she’s ready, I’ll fight hard enough for the both of us. For better or for worse.

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My Review
I was introduced to Ali Dean’s writing with PEPPED UP, the first book in the Pepper Jones series, and was immediately hooked. I was surprised when a sixth book was released because Pepper and Jace’s story seemed to be over in in book 5, but I was eager to dive into their world once more. Both professional athletes now, Pepper and Jace are early to mid twenties now, and life seems to be going pretty well, other than the fact that they spend a lot of time apart from each other. They’re looking to settle down in their old home town of Brockton, Colorado, with Jace vying for a spot as the quarterback on the local NFL team, the Stallions (Broncos). There’s plenty of shallow people in both the running and NFL world to deal with along with returning favorites, including Bunny, Wes, Zoe and the rest of the Brockton crew. Madeline Briscole, my favorite mean girl (i.e. the girl I love to hate) makes a brief and snarky reappearance, but she doesn’t really rock the boat this time. In fact, not much rocks the boat, and that’s my biggest issue with this last installment. There isn’t as much conflict as I’m used to in Ali Dean’s stories. And the conflict that does arise is quickly doused by our now more mature protagonists. This is what we all wanted for them, but it doesn’t make for a page-turning read. That said, it was a very satisfying final conclusion to the series and the epilogue was especially fulfilling.

Plot
There doesn’t seem to be a main plot, but there are several parallel plots taking place: where will Jace play football, will Pepper make the Olympic marathon team, and where will they settle down. The three are obviously linked. Where Jace plays has a lot to do with where they will ultimately live which in turn impacts Pepper’s running career. As I mentioned above, there isn’t much conflict in any of these and anything that does threaten their happiness, isn’t a long-term issue. But the story unfolds at a steady pace and I didn’t get bored.

Characters
It was so fun being back with Pepper, Jace and the gang! I enjoyed seeing the more mature versions of these two and cameos from some of my favorite characters from the past. I would have liked more of Bunny, but isn’t that always the case?

What I Enjoyed About PEPPED UP & WILDER
1. Pepper and Jace.
 They work so well together, and after watching their trials and failures through five books, I love their HEA.

2. The Running. Pepper has evolved from trail running to marathon running. Having only ever run one half, I read through these scenes with only a superficial appreciation of what is involved, but I felt sucked into the events anyway. This is where Dean’s descriptive elements really shine.

3. Supporting Cast. Both old favorites and newcomers rounded out the characters nicely.

4. NFL Drama. It was my favorite sport to watch before the Chargers up and moved to LA (don’t get me started) but I still enjoyed reading about the behind-the-scenes drama that a bunch of egotistical jocks can drum up. Tween girls ain’t got nothing on this bunch.

5. The Epilogue. A deeply satisfying wrap up to one of my all-time favorite couples.

Bottom Line
A thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the series.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: PEPPED UP & WILDER
Series: Pepper Jones #6
Author: Ali Dean
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Pages: 185
Genre: New Adult Contemporary/Sports Romance
Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Ali Dean

Author Ali Dean

About the Author
Ali Dean lives in Colorado with her husband, twin babies, and golden retriever. In addition to reading and writing, she loves the outdoors- everything from marathon training and biking to snowboarding and skiing.

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Where to Find Ali Dean
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon
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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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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 – MEDALLION OF MURDER (Nefertari Hughes Mysteries) by B.R. Myers

MEDALLION OF MURDER Blog Tour

MEDALLION OF MURDER (Nefertari Hughes Mysteries) by B.R. Myers

MEDALLION OF MURDER (Nefertari Hughes Mysteries) by B.R. Myers

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Still struggling with nightmares from the past summer, Terry tries to bury her secret guilt and enjoy her family’s first Christmas in Devonshire. But when a murdered man is found with a postcard addressed to her, Terry fears the repercussions from that fateful night in Egypt are becoming a reality.

After she receives a coded message from Awad, Terry and her best friend Maude are thrown into the hunt for a lost medallion, an artifact that possesses a great power—and a gruesome destiny. As each clue leads to more disturbing truths (and bodies), Terry begins to suspect she’s the real target of the search. When Awad goes missing, she becomes certain the Illuminati are involved, and has no choice but to risk losing the thing she cherishes the most to get him back.

But Terry will soon discover the secrets of the tomb cannot be erased by distance or power, because the ghosts of her past are closing in quickly… and this time, they refuse to stay buried.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
While I realized this was the third book in a series, its a mystery and in most cases, you can pick up any book in a mystery series and read it as a stand-alone. That is not the case with MEDALLION OF MURDER. This book builds on the events of the previous two books in the series. While it’s easy enough to follow the plot, a lot of the surprises and twists would no doubt have more impact if I’d read the other books first. With that said, I enjoyed this one enough that I will go back and read the other two books. I recommend reading them in order.

Nefertari (Terry) Hughes is the daughter of a noted archeologist who wants her to follow in his footsteps, but her recent adventures have her longing for a future in law enforcement. She’s haunted by past events and struggling with her role in them. On Christmas Eve, out with her best friend Maude, they run into a situation tied to what happened in Egypt, that launches Terry and her friends into their latest mystery. With a coded message from her friend Awad and a mystery gift, they spend their winter holidays attempting to solve another puzzle with dangerous consequences.

Plot
The plot centers around the mystery, but with several subplots involving Terry’s life choices and her relationships with her friends. The events that unfold are masterfully crafted to keep the story moving at the perfect pace. The clues gave me just enough information to make me think I knew what was going on. With the history of the other two books, I may have figured things out sooner, but I love that I didn’t; it was more of a true mystery this way. There is some paranormal/urban fantasy elements, but otherwise feels more like a contemporary mystery. But those elements add interest and surprising ways for events to unfold. Lots of action and adventure, puzzles to solve, and a bit of romance round out a really nice young adult mystery.

The Characters
Told in third-person, single-point-of-view, I felt at a distance from the characters. I got a better sense of who Terry was, but for the most part, the rest of them didn’t resonate deeply with me. They’re all likable enough, but this is a plot-driven story rather than character-driven so the characters aren’t crucial to me being able to enjoy the tale.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About MEDALLION OF MURDER
1. Imperfections. I loved the diversity of the cast. With Terry’s prosthesis and Jackson’s blindness, the characters’ imperfections made them easier to root for.

2. Mystery. I love a good mystery and this had all of the elements to keep me invested to the very end.

3. History. The way the author weaves in historical figures and events into the story brought a young Indiana Jones feel.

4. Action. Plenty of action and adventure kept the plot from stalling.

5. Zach. As the love interest, Zach was the perfect romantic partner for Terry, making me want to read the first two books in the series so I can see how their romance evolved.

Bottom Line
A young adult whodunit with paranormal and historical elements making this not your average mystery.

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: MEDALLION OF MURDER
Series: Nefertari Hughes Mysteries #3
Author: B.R. Myers
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Pages: 282
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Paranormal
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU 

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Author B.R. Myers

Author B.R. Myers

About the Author
Always in the mood for a good scare, B.R. Myers spent most of her teen years behind the covers of Lois Duncan, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King. Her YA contemporary coming of age novel, GIRL ON THE RUN, was chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre as a BEST BOOK for TEENS for 2016.

When she’s not putting her characters in awkward situations, she works as a registered nurse. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, she lives in Halifax with her husband and two children—and there is still a stack of books on her bedside table..

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Where to Find B.R. Myers
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebookTwitter

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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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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – OUT OF SIGHT (Progenitor) by Matthew S. Cox

OUT OF SIGHT Blog Tour

OUT OF SIGHT (Progenitor #1) by Matthew S. Cox

OUT OF SIGHT (Progenitor #1) by Matthew S. Cox

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Most Citizens hold Outcasts in dim regard, but Sima never expected they’d throw her off the planet.

In 2411, overpopulation has spread a plaque of filthy, congested city to the corners of the Earth. Government has raised corruption to an art form, and no one hears the cries of those left to die in the dark passageways of civilization. Following the End of Nations, people cling to the only division left: social status.

Since running away from home four years ago, she’s managed to stay a step ahead of death―or worse. At sixteen, she’s getting too old to survive from begging, despite her best effort to pretend she’s younger. Worse, the sidewalks teem with little kids edging in on her turf, monopolizing Citizens’ charity with their wide, pleading eyes and genuine innocence.

A chance meeting with suspiciously nice cops leaves her more confused than ever. Between deadly gangs, unforgiving security forces, and a terrifying madam eager to exploit a girl her age, merely getting older is the biggest threat to her life. With no good choice to make, she risks the least of three evils.

Sima thought her life on Earth had been dangerous…

She hasn’t seen anything yet..

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My Review
Traces of DIVERGENT blend with PASSENGERS and LOST for a dark, action-packed scifi dystopian adventure. Sixteen-year-old Sima is an Outcast on future Earth where Citizens live an easy life and Outcasts struggle for daily survival. Sima begs for enough food to be able to live another day, but at sixteen, she’s no longer a cute waif, and is envious of the younger kids who still tug at the heartstrings of the more fortunate. The first third of the book is devoted to her day-to-day survival, until she’s wrongly associated with anti-government forces and arrested. Instead of prison time, she’s offered a chance to participate in the Progenitor program, although the details of what that means to her are a bit murky. With more trepidation than excitement, she agrees, which thrusts her into another world, where survival means something else entirely.

The writing is fantastic. Cox’s descriptive style conjures vivid imagery that stimulates the imagination. The world’s he conjures are fully developed and filled with environments and characters that bring the reader deep into the story. The technology and world building is superb and kept me rooted in Sima’s story.

Plot
The story takes a while to get going. However, there is enough action to keep the reader invested. We’re nearly 30% in when the inciting incident takes Sima from her “normal” life and thrusts her on her journey. She spends an inordinate amount of time musing over her choices for survival. Over and over again like a merry-go-round of the same three options, until finally a fourth option is presented to her. But instead of making a decision for herself, the choice is made for her, so she enters her new life kicking and screaming (and sobbing and whimpering).

The Characters
The story is about Sima. We spend the majority of the book inside her head. As a street rat, she pushes others away, preferring to go it alone. A whole host of minor characters interact with her, some superficial, but most with as much depth as Sima herself. Sima has a rich backstory and complex character. She annoyed me at times with her constant whimpering and sobbing. I can certainly understand her emotions, but I was hoping for more of a Katniss or Tris type character. She does transform, but it’s definitely a three steps forward, two steps back type of journey.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About OUT OF SIGHT
1. The writing. Vivid and unique, peppered with analogies that create stunning mental images.

2. Dystopia. I love a good story about a fallen civilization, and the dark future Cox envisions is layered and intense.

3. SciFi. While not strictly a science fiction, there is so much futuristic technology that it transcends genres.

4. Character development. Yes, it’s slow to come about, but Sima evolves into a young woman who learns what it means to care for someone other than herself.

5. Action. There’s no shortage of action and adventure throughout the story.

Bottom Line
A dystopian adventure with science fiction elements packed with action.

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: OUT OF SIGHT
Series: Progenitor #1
Author: Matthew S. Cox
Publisher: Division Zero Press
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Pages: 395
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian SciFi Adventure
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Matthew S. Cox

Author Matthew S. Cox

About the Author
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it. He is also fond of cats. Awards: Prophet of the Badlands (excerpt) – Honorable Mention – Writers of the Future.

Where to find Matthew S. Cox
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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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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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

 

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

THE DYLAN DILEMMA Blog Tour

THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

5 out of 5 stars

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Teen angst. My favorite kind of romance.

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

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

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

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Author Patricia B. Tighe

Author Patricia B. Tighe

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

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

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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

SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

5 out of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author Lisa Brown Roberts

Author Lisa Brown Roberts

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

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

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

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Where to find Lisa Brown Roberts
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter