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Geekerella: All that’s Missing Are the Mice

bookreview

GeekerellaGeekerella
by Ashley Poston
320 Pages
Quirk Books
Publication Date:  April 4th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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4Penguins
Quick Reasons: yet another CINDERELLA retelling!; I loved the nerdculture/comic con references happening throughout; awesome, entertaining voice; these characters are pretty rocking; LOVELOVELOVE the play on fandom; not so sure how I feel about a few of the relationships here

Huge thanks to Ashley Poston, Quirk Books, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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As so often happens when I pick up a CINDERELLA retelling (or ANY retelling, honestly), I found myself swept up in the magic of the story…and yet, somehow, also questioning some of the relationships. Now, don’t get me wrong–I totally understand the whole “wicked stepmother, evil step-siblings” trope. By “understand” I mean I get why it has to exist. But recently, I’ve begun to question the REALITY of such relationships. In this book, for instance: it’s really unclear exactly why the stepmother is so determined to be so cruel to Elle. I get that the stepsister is really just “following by example” in this case, and can therefore wrap my head around her being so unnecessarily snotty. But the stepmom? While we get a bit of an explanation later on in the story, it just… it doesn’t really FIT for me. It doesn’t really make much sense, or explain anything. It’s an excuse, in the end–not a justification or explanation. So I’m not sure how much I believed that particular relationship–it just didn’t seem very realistic.  It felt, in fact, just a little forced to fit the fairy tale trope, in my opinion.

 

That being said, however–these characters shine! The personalities are all individualized; I absolutely adored watching Elle transform and grow from “shy girl who never says no” to “independent, strong young lady.” I also adored all the mini references/nods to the original Cinderella–such as the pumpkin/chariot, which I only JUST now realized and pieced together (oops!)

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The play on fandom and cons was super entertaining for this lover of all things nerdculture, and I so appreciated all the pop culture references laced throughout. It was so great to watch these characters react to and interact with others over their passion–and introduce a few specific special characters to the obsession, as well! I had a TON of fun watching the relationship between Elle and Darien evolve, as well–they’re so sweetly cute and tooth-rotting!

 

Overall, this was an entertaining read FULL of nerdculture/pop culture references. The characters are well-written, though a few of the relationships felt a bit too contrived to fit tropes for my taste. Also…I now wish that Starfield was an actual thing, because it sounds amazeballs. I definitely recommend to my fellow retellings fanatics, lovers of modern-day fairy tales, and other pop culture nerds. Roll up your sleeves and step on the gas, penguins; it’s time the masks came off.

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Book Tour, Giveaway, and Review: It Had to Be You

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It Had to Be YouIt Had to Be You
by Lizzy Charles
YA / Contemporary / Romance
184 Pages
Entangled Teen: Crush
Publication Date:  May 15th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

 James Parson has a problem. His military dad is going to yank him out of his expensive boarding school if James doesn’t prove he’s no longer hooking up, pulling pranks, and charming his way out of consequences. What better way to show he’s now responsible than becoming the committed boyfriend of a U.S. diplomat’s daughter?

Level-headed, book-smart Edelweiss may have traveled the world thanks to her dad’s job, but when it comes to friends and boys, she knows exactly nothing. Newly enrolled in boarding school, Edel is now on a mission to learn it all. James says he’ll help her experience the ultimate high school life—if she’ll be his fake girlfriend. And fake is perfect, because he’s exactly the kind of player she’d never date.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains red-hot romance, all the feels, and a soul-mate bad boy.

About the Author:

Processed with VSCO with q4 preset When Lizzy Charles isn’t scrambling to raise her two spunky toddlers or caring for premature and sick babies as a neonatal intensive care nurse, she’s in a quiet corner writing or snuggled up with a novel and a few squares of dark chocolate. Black tea keeps her constant and she loves guacamole. She married her high school sweet heart, a heart-melting musician, so it’s no surprise she’s fallen in love with writing contemporary YA romance novels.

Giveaway Details:

* Prize 1- $25 H&M Giftcard
* Prize 2- $25 H&M Giftcard

Open to US or International (if no H&M near them if international, they will receive a $25 amazon card)

CLICK RIGHT HERE to go to the giveaway!


bookreview

4PenguinsQuick Reasons: super cute, endearing romance; absolutely love the “fake to real” relationship trope; not sure I buy that they “love” each other after such a short amount of time, but I’m willing to overlook this; Edel’s character arc is well-rounded and entertaining

Huge thanks to Lizzy Charles, Entangled Teen Crush, Chapter by Chapter Book Tours, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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There’s just something about contemporaries that, recently, have me falling head over feet to get through. I don’t know if it’s that I can “turn off my brain” and just enjoy the journey, or something else entirely…either way, contemporaries have been calling my name a LOT lately. It’s a good thing I’ve got a ton of them on standby for such occasions, I suppose?

 

Regardless–this was SUCH a cute, entertaining contemporary. I sat down expecting it to be just like all the rest…and instead found myself sucked straight into the story. There’s something adorable about Edel that I couldn’t look past, and something searingly steamy about the “fake to real” relationship.

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The character arcs are also entertaining and enlightening. I really enjoyed that we got front seats to both James’ and Edels’ changes over the course of just a few short months. Many of the side characters also step into their own, and I loved seeing how they each brought something new and unique to the table. Learning the intricacies of familial relationships–the the rules of boarding school–right next to Edel was a great way to bridge the gap between characters and readers, in my opinion. The fact we got to watch her interact with and react to the varying situations that crop up only helped to more vibrantly paint her across the page. This was, in fact, true of all the characters; due to this, they all were bright sparks of personality woven into the pages.

 

In the end, I had a ton of fun (as I usually do!) stepping out of the chaos of my own life and into the chaos of someone else’s for a little while. Lizzy Charles wrote these characters with intricate, vibrant personalities–and made me care for each of them as individuals. The plot, while not inundated with action, was fast-paced and entertaining all the same, and I cannot wait to pick up another Lizzy Charles novel in the future! I definitely recommend this to lovers of boarding school settings, bad boys struggling to change, and “fake to real” relationships. Care to redefine relationships? Pick up this book!

 

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Blog Tour, Teasers, Giveaway, and Review: The Upside of Regret

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The Upside of RegretThe Upside of Regret
(Aimless Perfection #1)
by T.K. Rapp
YA / Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date:  May 17th, 2017
Get a copy right here!

BLURB:

 Brighton and Leah have been the best of friends since seventh grade. Where Brighton is the quiet one who is focused on school, Leah is the bold and daring one who craves the adoration of an audience. It’s always worked for them, until now.

Heading into their senior year, Brighton is challenged with an opportunity that can change the course of her future. The only problem? She just might have to step out of her best friend’s shadow.

But when Leah doesn’t support the choices she makes, Brighton is forced to reevaluate what true friendship is.

Brighton is changing and exciting doors are opening. A new world of music, friends, and even love are falling at her feet. But it’s hard to enjoy it when Leah’s life is spiraling out of control.

Now Brighton must try to not only save her friendship, but also her friend, before it’s too late.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

T.K. RappTK Rapp is an author living in Houston, Texas with her husband and two daughters.

Prior to writing, she spent over ten years as a photographer and photo editor, specializing in wedding album design. She left photography to pursue her dream of writing a story and it was in 2013, she self-published her first novel, Being There. It was a standalone story about long-lost friends finding each other. She has since written both contemporary and young adult novels.

Rapp grew up in Texas, but has lived in California, South Carolina, and Virginia, all of which serve as inspiration for her writing. With several more works in queue, she doesn’t anticipate stepping away from the computer anytime soon, especially since she makes friends with all of her characters.

Goodreads | Twitter | Website

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Giveaway Details:

· Prize #1 – $10 Amazon Gift Card
· Prize #2 – Ebook copy of TUoR
· Prize #3 – Signed Paperback copy – mailed out when the paperbacks are available. US Only (Should be soon after release date.)

 

CLICK HERE to go to the giveaway!


bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: cutesy contemporary with some heavy-handed subject matter; Brighton’s character ARC is so gorgeous and inspiring; I fell in love with these characters, and they smothered me with their vibrantly written personalities; I was NOT expecting that bombshell to drop

Huge thanks to T.K. Rapp and Chapter by Chapter Book Tours for sending me a free galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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First things first: the biggest reason I picked up this book? THAT COOOOVER. Just look at it, penguins–LOOK AT IT! I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty simple…but that blue with the red? The way it’s sort of split down the middle, a sort of warning that the read is a bit like fire and ice? The fact it’s a treble clef?! I just adore everything about this cover, and how it lends itself to the read ahead. I’m not ashamed to admit I drooled over it, penguins. I drooled over it HARD.

And these characters are sort of the personification of the idea behind “fire and ice,” when it boils down to it. Brighton and Leah are best friends…and are written so, so gorgeously. I could tell, almost immediately, that while they’re so super close, they’ve sort of fallen off the friendship path and into something closer to uncomfortable. I’d even go so far as to say that the plot and their interactions lend to this theory–where one is burning, the other is frozen. It’s actually brilliantly and subtly done, and looking back on it now, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it while reading.

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There are some heavy, mature subjects touched on throughout. Alongside things like personal growth, friendship, and relationships are things like molestation, rape, and underage drinking. T.K. Rapp approached these heavier topics with sensitivity and poise, while still leaving them prominent enough for readers to ponder on and think about.

This was an entertaining, if heart-wrenching, journey, and I cannot wait to pick up another T.K. Rapp novel in the future! The characters are vibrant and personify the “fire and ice” idea brilliantly; the plot is fast-paced and filled with gut-churning moments. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary reads, personal growth, and mature subjects handled with sensitivity. Step into this book, penguins; don’t let it be something you regret missing out on!

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review — Time Weaver: Heart of Cogs

 

Time Weaver: Heart of Cogs
(Time Collector #1)

by Jacinta Maree
Publication date: February 21st 2017
Genres: Steampunk, Supernatural, Young Adult

I have a clock for a heart…and the man who put it there tried to take it out.

Time Collectors are modern day genies capable of exchanging wishes for time. Elizabeth Wicker lives within a steampunk world riddled with the supernatural. Among the stories of witches, Bacts, and other monsters, Time Collectors remain as the greatest hushed secret among the noble families. They are temptation’s greatest tools. A contract with a Time Collector is a guaranteed death sentence, and for some the price isn’t worth the prize. But when Elizabeth is struck down by a fatal heart attack, she finds herself trapped beneath a Time Collector’s blade. With no time left to offer, she makes a desperate sacrifice for a second chance at life. If there’s only one truth, it is a Time Collector will always come back to collect.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

 

Author Bio:

Born in Melbourne Australia, Jacinta Maree considers herself a chocoholic with an obsession with dragons and Japan. Published in 2012 to USA publisher Staccato Publishing, Jacinta writes a variety of genres from YA paranormal, steampunk, horror and fantasy. Winner of 2014 Horror of the year and best selling author, Jacinta writes to answer all of her absurd questions and to explore themes and characters not often seen in main media.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: welcome me back to steampunk!; awesome, thrilling adventure; these characters are complex and astoundingly vibrant; Elizabeth has a bit of the “special snowflake” happening, but I didn’t care; fun, whimsical, dark read akin to The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart

Huge thanks to Jacinta Maree, Ragnarok Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Steampunk, my love, I have missed you SO! I am so happy that you can overlook my unavoidable on the side relationships with other genres and accept me so quickly back into your life; I don’t know what I would do without you. Although I don’t seek you out very often, I want you to know that you still remain my FAVORITE genre…and it’s for this reason that I only read you once every few months. Don’t tell the others–I need to keep them in my world so I always know just how much better you are!

Okay, I know that might be going a LITTLE too far–don’t get me wrong, I love all the other genres I read equally. But steampunk… there’s just something special about steampunk that I cannot, for the life of me, bring myself to examine too closely or ruin by reading too much of it. I cannot risk going down the path of no return only to realize that the magic fades…which is why, while I ADORE steampunk so much every time I pick it up, I often go months between readings of the genre. The return is always SO much sweeter than I expect it to be, which is exactly the case with this title!

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These characters are well-rounded and so vibrantly written, I found myself living in their heads for the duration of the journey. Elizabeth almost immediately called to me–I mean, aside from the fact we share a name, there’s an edge to her that I wasn’t expecting going into this read. She is not as soft as you’re initially led to believe; she has spunk, and intellect, and knows how to fight for herself and her loved ones with aplomb. I admired her strength throughout this journey–especially in those moments when I might have otherwise simply given up. The rest of the cast are just as endearing and, in most instances, wholly redeemable.

The plot is fast-paced and enthralling. I found myself whisked away to another world and plopped down in the middle of the excitement. There’s a bit of a nod to The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart, though this novel is a lot less whimsical and a whole lot darker. The world-building is so well-done, I didn’t find myself questioning anything or becoming confused. Jacinta Maree did an amazingly beautiful job of putting me into the heart (clock though it might be!) of this story, and I cannot WAIT to see what happens in the coming installments!

I definitely recommend this to lovers of steampunk, stories with a focus on time, and entertainingly stubborn characters! Jacinta Maree stuck me straight into the story and ensnared me there between the tocking hands with her vibrant personalities, fast-paced plot, and beautiful world-building. My heart ticks with steampunk, penguins; maybe you should take a chance to find out why with this gorgeous read!

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4

Netherfield Prep: There’s More to This than Pride and Prejudice

bookreview

Netherfield Prep

YA / Retellings / Romance / Contemporary
580 Pages
Sleeping Dragon Books
Publication Date:  April 6th, 2017
Get a copy here!

 

A modern reimagining of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

When Lily Brewer’s mum dies, she’s shipped to the other side of the world to her step-sisters’ pompous English boarding school, Netherfield.

There, she meets Austin Cooper. Arrogant as hell but with abs to die for, Austin soon becomes the bane of her existence.

His twin brother, Jax, is the complete opposite. Kind and sweet, Jax soon strikes up a thing with Lily’s roommate, Anne.

Austin, though seems keen to keep them apart.

Will pride and prejudice ruin them all?

Or, will love win the day?

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: P&P Retelling for the win!; I mean really, do I need any other reason to adore this?!; the characters are superbly individualized, with enough hints at the original to keep them straight in my mind; lovelovelove the modern day boarding school setting; a lot of weird comma usage?

Huge thanks to Elizabeth Stevens and Sleeping Dragon Books for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Be still, MY beating heart! I know what you’re all thinking. “Really, Beth?! ANOTHER P&P retelling?! Haven’t you read enough of those yet?!?!?!?!” And the answer is….NEVER. I can never ever ever read enough P&P retellings for it to get old, so….get used to it and suck it up, beakers. You’ll be seeing a lot more of them to come; they’re here to stay! They’ve lugged their many suitcases out of the car, dragged them up the stairs, and perched themselves on my shelves –both the physical and the digital ones– in pretty little rows. They’re not going anywhere…except maybe to work with me, tucked into my purse.

That being said. Elizabeth Stevens brought a hint of the new along with the classic in this modern-day retelling, and I absolutely ADORED every step of the journey! The characters have all been given different names. The relationships in a lot of instances have been changed–for instance, not all of the Bennet sisters are ACTUAL sisters in this version. I adored how out of the box and creative Elizabeth Stevens decided to be with these characters; she gave them all such vibrant, loud personalities, while still maintaining the integrity of the original characters. It was both a refreshing change and a beautiful nod to the original content, I’m super impressed.

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There was, throughout, a weird issue with commas in random or wrong places that sort of broke me out of suspended disbelief…but these were such minor and easy to forget issues, I didn’t have trouble quickly falling back into the story and following the flow of the plot. In fact, I got rather used to the awkward comma placement, and learned how to ignore it whenever they popped up. The plot, the characters, and the entertainment were more than enough to make up for such a small grammatical problem, it didn’t subtract from my enjoyment of the read at all!

This was a super adorable, entertaining, modern-day P&P retelling and I will be on the lookout for more of Elizabeth Stevens’ works in the coming future. The characters are vibrantly written and imbued with their own unique quirks…while still maintaining enough of the original characters for readers to tell who’s meant to be whom. I definitely recommend this to lovers of Pride and Prejudice, boarding school romances, and bad-boys turned “good.” Don’t pass this ball down the field, penguins; run with it and score!

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Wicked Dance: Who Knew Dance Shows could Be So Steamy?!

bookreview

Wicked Dance (Lovers Dance, #3)

Lover’s Dance #3
New Adult / Romance / Contemporary
260 Pages
Casey Shay Press
Publication Date:  April 28th, 2017
Get a copy here!

Previous books in the Lover’s Dance series (click the covers to be taken to MY reviews!):

Forbidden Dance (Lovers Dance, #1) Wounded Dance (Lovers Dance, #2)

If there’s one thing that chases you and never lets you go, it’s fame.

Despite being a painfully shy and sheltered ballet student, three months ago I charged onto one of the most popular TV reality shows in the world and changed the course of five lives.

Mine, when I accepted the star of the show, Blitz Craven, as my lover and dance partner.

Blitz’s, just as he was about to walk away from his hard-won career.

And three girls who were the finalists on the show.

Those girls are back to get their vengeance, and as usual, the producers of the show are in it for the ratings.

So now I have a choice: let each of them have another shot at my lover.

Or take them on myself.

But Blitz is mine.

Game on.

Wicked Dance is book three of the Lovers Dance series, which ends with book five, Final Dance. Each book is full length and stands alone, but should be read in series order to avoid spoilers.

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: Livia and Blitz 5ever!; love the change of scenery and the introduction of some pretty feisty side characters; Ted and Blitz are such awesome friends, I love them; yet another glimpse into the lives of these endearing, sweet characters; I swear, this love never gets old or stale

HUGE thanks to Deanna Roy and Casey Shay Press for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Penguins, it’s yet another day in my world and THIS BOOK! My gosh, this book–no, no. This SERIES. This series is, at current, a rapidly growing obsession bordering on dangerous for this reader’s heart. Livia and Blitz FOR LIFE, okay?! I swear, these two make true love for me. It’s obvious, from their interactions with each other compared to that with those around them, that the world revolves purely around their love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way because they’re adorable and endearing and my favorites ever.

 

And this journey, once more, proves that these characters were meant for one another. I really adored how much we see Livia stepping up and taking things into her own hands. I SUPER loved how much Blitz dotes on her, and how obvious it is that his world lies in her palms. There’s just so much to be said for this pairing–and the fact that Deanna Roy can make them so realistic without actively setting out to sabotage them or their romance is beyond appreciated in my world. Because yeah, things happen in real life–couples break up all the time. But sometimes… SOMETIMES, it’s nice to see a couple who is actually, actively making a relationship work despite the hurdles. I love that so far, Deanna Roy has achieved this brilliantly.

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Of course, that’s not to say that there isn’t drama in this book. PENGUINS, is there drama–and a ton of it! I was at turns entertained, frustrated, and downright livid throughout the journey…though mostly entertained, because let’s be honest, Blitz knows what to do with his mouth (and I don’t mean the kind in the sheets, get your mind outta the gutters! I meant SASS and SNARK and all things witty delicious banter. sheesh.) Livia holds her own quite well, too; it was nice to step outside the “normal” scenery and see them in a different situation, playing different roles. The rest of the characters introduced throughout brought their own flare and drama to the forefront, and I had a blast getting to know (and, at times, loathing entirely) the new personalities.

 

Overall, this was SUCH a great third book for this series, and I am on the edge of my seat, pins-and-needles excited, to see what the next installment brings these adorable cuties. The characters are vibrant and well-rounded, the plot is filled with drama and sass, and I just cannot get over how much Livia has grown in such a short span of time. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary romances, dancer dramas, and a battle for the heart. Step onto the stage and take your marks, penguins; the camera’s rolling with this read!

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Don’t Kiss the Messenger

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DKtMCover Don’t Kiss the Messenger
(Edge Lake High School, #1)
by Katie Ray
Publication Date: April 10, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.

CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett isblindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.

Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett.CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings them all together. This modern Cyrano de Bergerac retelling will make you laugh, swoon, and fall in love.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon |Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Entangled Publishing

Link to Tour Schedule

Katie RayAbout the Author:

Katie Ray (also known by her previous author name, Katie Kacvinsky) writes teen and new adult fiction novels. Her books have been nominated for YALSA awards, and First Comes Love was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her screenplay, A High Note, was a semifinalist in the Austin Screenplay Competition in 2015. She currently lives in Ashland, Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a slightly insane dog.

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway:

One (1) SIGNED copy of Don’t Kiss the Messenger

Go to the giveaway HERE!


bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: loveloveLOVE the message here; this novel is packed with growth, courage, and morals; subjects are touched with sensitivity and tact; the snark and witty banter made this penguin swoon; cute, endearing characters….though I’m a bit iffy about the role of parents in this novel

Huge thanks to Katie Ray, Entangled: Crush, Netgalley, and Chapter by Chapter Book Tours for granting me free access to a digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I have to be honest, penguins. I sort of totally forgot I had this tour coming up. As in, I sat down in front of my computer on Saturday after work, opened up my calendar…and panicked because I hadn’t even STARTED the book yet. I promptly, of course, dropped everything else–told the boyfriend to watch his youtube “watch later” list and clicked open the galley on my Fire tablet. I fully expected to be sliding into Sunday with only half the read finished, in a blind panic to get to the close before the night’s end so I wasn’t RUSHING to get my review written before falling into bed. I totally forgot this book tour was coming…and it snuck up on me, but when I sat down today to read, I did not expect the whirlwind that was this book.

Because this read? Was a whirlwind. It’s boarding school, and opposites-attract, and poetic, and beautiful. I read this in something like three hours–maybe less, I don’t know because I was in such a hurry to read that I didn’t really keep track of the time I spent doing just that. This is teen angst at its best, and I adored every minute of it. The characters are endearing, and redeemable, and beautifully woven throughout. I fell in love with the witty banter, especially spouting from CeCe. She is such a fierce, tough character…and I honestly feel like she is, at the heart of things, the sort of role model girls in today’s world need. Because she’s fierce, and honest, and she doesn’t so much “hide” herself from the world but instead tackles it head-on. She challenges her classmates to see BEYOND the scar, to see anything outside the one feature people insist defines her. She challenges people who might in other ways be “bullies” to move past that, to accept her as she is, and to get over the pettiness that appearance sometimes brings with it.

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This is a story of growth, and acceptance, and standing up for yourself. This is a journey that focuses on the emotional and, sometimes, damaging ways the world effects us. I was, however, a little put off by the role of these kids’ parents throughout. It is made clear, early on, that CeCe and Emmett are a bit…on their own? They are cut off from their families, sort of striking it out alone. Of course, they do have backstories and reasons for the distance…and in some cases, this distance is bridged in the journey, but… I felt like the parents were more cardboard cutouts than actual characters, I guess. I suppose this makes sense, though–they are away at a boarding school of sorts, and therefore, not under their parents’ or guardians’ supervision. It just bugged me a little…but not enough to put a damper on the read!

This was a fun, snarky, angst-laden title, and I cannot WAIT to lay hands on the next book in this series–it’s bound to be just as entertaining a journey! The characters are endearing and adorable, the witty banter scenes were delicious, and I blew through this like a whirlwind. I recommend the read to lovers of cutesy contemporaries, characters struggling to understand the world, and tastefully handled morals. Like the title says, penguins–don’t kiss the messenger. You might just like it.

 

In Partnership With:

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Wounded Dance: Seriously, Blitz is the Absolute ADORBS

bookreview

Wounded Dance by Deanna Roy

For four years, I’ve had a terrible, wonderful, beautiful secret.

But now it’s out.

My brief brush with fame caught the attention of a boy I once loved. He was ripped from my life at a tender age by my father, who moved us and hid me away so that we could not meet again.

Only after he was gone did I learn I was pregnant with his child.

He’s spent years trying to find me.

And now he’s at Dreamcatcher Dance Academy.

He’s going to find our baby, he says. The adoption wasn’t legal since he didn’t know.

He has no idea how close our little girl really is. That I secretly teach her ballet.

He can’t know how important it is that I keep the secret.

But when your boyfriend is Blitz Craven, the reality TV dance show star, the press follows you everywhere.

And no matter how much Blitz wants to protect me from my old love, from the threat he poses to our happy life, there’s one fact I have to face.

My past has caught up with me.

Wounded Dance is book two of the Lovers Dance series. Each book is full length and stands alone, but should be read in series order to avoid spoilers.

Lovers Dance #2
New Adult / Romance / Contemporary
260 Pages
Casey Shay Press
Publication Date:  April 11th, 2017
Get a copy here!

Rating: 4.25/5 Penguins
Quick Reasons: okay, WOW; the mystery, resolved!; I just cannot EVEN with her family at this point; LOVELOVELOVE the love!; awesome, emotionally-challenging, journey; there is so much growth happening here; can we talk about how perfect and strong and ADORABLE Blitz is?!

HUGE thanks to Deanna Roy and Casey Shay Press for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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Okay, penguins. If you read my review for Forbidden Dance (and if you haven’t, you just have to click right there on that linky!), you’ll know that at the end of the first book, I was wholly in love with these characters…but also still searching for some answers. Because book one? Leaves out some VERY big plot points, and I was confused, and I NEEDED to know the story. I needed it SO badly. So when I was offered the chance to (maybe?) find out some of these answers, you can bet your button beak I jumped at the chance. Literally. If this book wasn’t being offered to me already, I might have been brought up on charges for stealing. (Okay, okay. Maybe I was not quite THAT desperate…but I was pretty desperate!)

This sequel in no way let me down, let me tell you. The characters, once again, came to life and breathed themselves into my veins. We start off at the beginning like bullets, hurtled out of the comfort zone we’d let ourselves fall into and straight into chaos–exactly like, I imagine, Livia felt when she walked out of that building and saw the past standing before her. Because that’s the way life works, isn’t it? It takes us by surprise. It gives us no warning. And I can tell you, I for one was NOT ready for the answers I’d been so desperate to find out at the closing of book one, just a few mere pages prior. Because the answers, like life, are messy, and a bit jarring, and uncomfortable. I was thrust into this place of discomfit and weirdness…and suddenly, understood Livia–and, in a disturbing way, her family’s–life prior to Blitz much more clearly.

 

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This story is challenging, in that it makes readers step outside themselves and consider things they might not otherwise think about. The ways our lives are woven between and interact with others’…it’s a complex and perplexing subject to explore, and Deanna Roy, I believe, did a beautiful job of this. The characters are as vibrant and snarky and endearing as they were in book one. The addition of the past, while he in the end turns out to be just as reckless and lost as we’re told…he’s just as human, and redeemable in his own ways. There are subjects here that, I feel, should be talked about more in our world, because they are important. Deanna Roy did a lovely job of at least opening the dialogue, and forcing readers to step outside of themselves for a moment.

I am so, so happy I was given the chance to see where book two leads these characters…and am now desperate for the next book in the series! The characters are realistic; the subjects broached are important and emotionally-challenging. I recommend this to readers of contemporaries, lovers of dance romances, and those seeking a book that forces them to step outside of themselves. Strap on your pointe shoes and step up to the bar, penguins; the music is just the beginning.

6

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Duels and Deception

 

Duels and Deception
by Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 11th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: entertaining, beautifully written historical fiction; absolutely adore Lydia; realistic, delicious romance; a subtle hint of mystery and intrigue; Lydia’s shift from “not a romantic” to “fully in love” is believable and well-done; oh my penguins, THE SNARK

Huge thanks to Cindy Anstey, Swoon Reads, Netgalley, and Xpresso Book Tours for granting me free access to a digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Holy penguins, is Lydia QUITE the character! I fell in love with her pretty quickly, honestly–her snark and personality are loud and vibrantly painted and she drew me in like a fine work of art. I kept trying to burrow my way into her heart, to better see and feel the world from her point of view. In fact, I’d say she’s one of my favorite characters of recent reads–the fact that she’s so super snarky and to the point only helped to cement her place in my list of favorite personalities. She’s blunt, she goes after what she wants (for the most part), and she doesn’t let society denote what she does with her life or her time. I mean seriously, she’s a role model–and her story in this read? Only helped to strengthen the message that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to, so long as you don’t let the rest of the world get in your way.

The relationship with Robert– ahem, Mr. Newton –started out a bit awkwardly and stilted. In the end, though, it was believably written and so, so endearing. Robert was written to perfectly match Lydia in wit and intellect–and helped prove that real romance and passion do exist in the world. The fact that they start off a little rocky, and each hiding their feelings for the other because of convention or rules– only to finally drop the act –was realistic, though a bit frustrating at times for me (I just wanted to shake some sense into their hearts, that’s all!)

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The slight, subtle use of mystery and intrigue helped to pull me more thoroughly into this read, and I really enjoyed that we got the story from both perspectives. I find what I miss most in books like this– such as Pride and Prejudice –is that we weren’t given a glimpse into the OTHER side of the story. This book took the guessing and the mystery away by giving us access to Mr. Newton’s thoughts and emotions, which I really appreciated. This helped to make him less a “bystander” in the action of his life, but have a more concrete and tangible role in the story.

This was such a snarky, personality-filled, entertaining read, and I’m even more excited now to pick up more of Cindy Anstey in the future! Lydia’s vibrant, strong-willed character and Robert’s passionate intellect made for a positively wonderful match. The action of the plot, mixed with the subtle mystery, helped to keep me enthralled throughout. I definitely recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, vividly-painted characters, and subtle societal statements. This read enchanted me, penguins; maybe you should take a taste of the magic, too.

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Definitions of Indefinable Things: Realistically Written, Surprisingly Entertaining

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Definitions of Indefinable Things

This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.

Reggie Mason is all too familiar with “the Three Stages of Depression.” She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in.

Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.

 

4.25Penguins

Quick Reasons: life changer; this tackles some important, heavy subjects…and does so with sensitivity and tact; don’t expect a miracle cure, penguins; this paints mental health in a realistic, complex, true-to-life way; these characters are just…GAH

Huge thanks to Whitney Taylor, HMH Books for Young Readers, and Netgalley for providing me with early access to a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I’m going to be honest, penguins. This book is messy. The characters are struggling with some very heavy burdens…and Whitney Taylor doesn’t once mince her words, or sugar-coat the emotions. From page one, you will be taken on a whirlwind ride of snark, angst, and depression. There is no miracle cure waiting at the end–even at the end, these characters are hurting, and they know it. They acknowledge their invisible struggles in every word, in every action, in every single moment–and you’ll be forced to step outside yourself and live their pain with every flip of the page. This book does not offer an easy solution, a cure, or an answer–because honestly, in reality, there isn’t always one.

 

This is, instead, a small glimpse into the ways depression wreaks havoc on an individual–and their loved ones. Whitney Taylor took a very heavy subject and approached it with sensitivity and tact. The characters are realistic and beautiful and flawed and struggling–and I so, so appreciated that in this read. While this was a difficult journey for me, as it forced me to step outside myself and back into a darker state of mind… I also appreciated the way Whitney Taylor approached this journey. I also ADORED how much snark and angst followed these characters throughout the read–their interactions with and reactions to each other/the world were undeniably some of my favorite moments.

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While there is a bit of a love triangle and there are some pretty lofty mistakes made…this book is unarguably REAL. The morals imparted? The messages explored and spelled out? Only helped to cement this in my mind as one of the best, most emotionally-challenging reads of the year so far. This is the sort of book that makes readers think, and leaves them changed–I know, for sure, that it’s changed me.

 

I just… this book is important, penguins. Whitney Taylor handled this journey with tact and sensitivity. The characters are snarky, adorable…and battling some dark demons. There is no miracle cure waiting at the end–and I adored that about this, because it’s so realistic and true-to-life. I’d recommend this to lovers of contemporaries with heavy subjects, honest implications, and journeys bound to change you. If you had to define indefinable things, what would be on YOUR list?