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The Forgetting: I could have SWORN We were on Earth

bookreview

The Forgetting (The Forgetting, #1)The Forgetting
(The Forgetting #1)
by Sharon Cameron
Scholastic Press
403 Pages
YA / Dystopian / Sci Fi
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: wait, this wasn’t set on Earth?! what even?!?!; awesome, well-written characters; interesting, entertaining plot premise; I don’t even know how to handle this book right now; so many unanswered questions, no pages left in this book!

When I first added this book to my TBR, I’m almost certain I’d taken the time to read the book blurb. I remember being super excited about the premise…but time has a way of settling in and making us forget, doesn’t it? When I actually sat down to read this novel, all I remembered of the blurb was that some sort of mass memory loss occurred. So basically, I knew absolutely nothing about what I was getting myself into. Good times, Penguins–as I’m sure you all already know, I am all about going into books blind!

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So if I told you that I knew, when I began this journey, that this book wasn’t set on Earth after some form of apocalypse… I’d have to call myself a humongous liar. Honestly, I was POSITIVE we were on Earth…right up until Nadia and Gray break into the cave and discover the truth. And I might be wrong, but I felt that perhaps this minute detail was left unknown for a purpose. I feel as if it might have been meant to act as a “shocking” revelation–and it worked, for me at least. So kudos to Sharon Cameron if that was done on purpose!

These characters are complex and well-written, though I felt we got a bit short-changed on certain plot points (for instance, Nadia’s dad–what’s the deal with that situation?! what exactly did he change about her/her family’s books?! WHY did he change them?!) Of course, this is probably partially due to who the POV belongs to–Nadia, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t necessarily have ALL the big answers. Still, certain things are left decidedly more vague than I’d like–though perhaps book 2 is meant to shed light on all the dark corners. I certainly hope that’s the case, at least!

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This was, overall, a thought-provoking and entertaining read, though a bit vague and gray on certain plot points. I’d recommend this to lovers of science fiction, dystopians set on planets NOT Earth, and spunky characters seeking hidden truths. I cannot WAIT to see where book 2 takes us! Tell me, Penguins; will you Forget, or remember?

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Mirror Me: This Plot is Twisty-Turny Awesome!

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Mirror MeMirror Me
by Tara St. Pierre
208 Pages
YA / Paranormal / Romance
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Hannah McCauley doesn’t look at herself in the mirror anymore.

After a rebellious past, she now attends a strict private school in a new town, where her recently divorced mother has put her on social lockdown. No driving. No bad grades. No skipping classes. No unapproved friends. No makeup. No boys. And the subject of her best friend from her old school is definitely forbidden.

Hannah is being punished for something that happened a year earlier, something that she would like to put behind her. But strange occurrences frighten her, and she’s accused of breaking rules and doing other terrible things without any recollection of them. No one believes her, so she starts distrusting everything, even her own reflection.

Is she being haunted by her past? Stalked by someone with a grudge? Or is it all in her head? If she doesn’t figure out what’s happening fast, her existence could end up irreparably shattered.

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4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: THOSE MORALS, THOUGH!; this is as close to a “life-ruiner” as I’ve gotten in a while; maybe a bit too much focus on the romance and not enough on the friendship; slight warning for mature/sensitive subjects; awesome, well-rounded, complex plot and characters!

HUGE thanks to Tara St. Pierre for sending me a free egalley of this title in exchange for a voluntary honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Having now finished TWO of her novels, I think it’s safe for me to say that Tara St. Pierre is one of those authors with imaginations that know NO bounds. Because I read her debut novel last year, I went into this book TOTALLY blind–and let me tell you, I am so so glad that I did! Because I had no preconceived notions of what this book was about, I was able to take the journey in an unbiased and completely open way, which was both an awesome experiment and something I hope to experience again in the future.

 

This book was just…. GAAAAAH! I knew, from the first book I read of hers, that I was bound to stumble upon an incredibly moving, absolutely unique premise. Let me tell you, I was in absolutely no way disappointed! This novel takes a pretty old idea–being able to look at yourself in the mirror–and twists it into something unrecognizable, yet still completely relatable. When I reached the end, I sat here staring at the last line in total awe at just how far the morals and lessons stretched for this read. Seriously, coming out on the other side of these pages, I grasped the message entirely–and bow down to Tara St. Pierre for tackling such an abstract concept head-on, and making it into this gorgeous journey!

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I just… I cannot sing enough praises for this novel! I did feel, at times, that the focus on the romance came out a bit too steeped for my taste. There are some awesome, complex side-characters that sort of get kicked off to the wayside in the course of this book, and while this is both realistic and understandable given the circumstances…. I just felt as if those friendships might have done better to be more cultivated. Especially when the bomb near the end drops and they get pulled into the middle of the chaos–they accepted the strange situation VERY easily, and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how quickly they pulled together to help Hannah.

 

Still, this was an entertaining and beautifully inspiring journey…and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a mirror in quite the same way again! Tara St. Pierre DID include some potentially triggering, mature subjects, so for sensitive readers–please, please keep yourselves safe! The characters are complex and vibrant, the plot is filled with twisty-turny vines and angst, and that ending! OH, MY PENGUINS, that ending is just glorious! I’d recommend this to lovers of unique premises, emotionally-challenging journeys, and characters who find their strength and come out on top in the end. Take a look in the mirror today, Penguins; this book just might change your point of view.

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: The Dragons of Nova

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Dragons of Nova CoverThe Dragons of Nova
(The Loom Saga #2)
by Elise Kova
Fantasy / Steampunk / New Adult
488 Pages
Keymaster Press
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust — hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything — and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills — and quick-shooting accuracy — makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons.

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

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The other LOOM SAGA books:

The Alchemists of Loom

See my review for THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM (THE LOOM SAGA #1) by clicking here!

About the Author:

Elise KovaElise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media.

 

Find her on:

Goodreads | Twitter | Website

Giveaway Details:

· Hard cover copy of The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova and a swag pack

CLICK HERE to go to the giveaway!


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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: YESYESYES let the sparks fly!; I love the dual-setting we have happening here, and how juxtaposed (yet so similar?) the settings are; so much danger and suspense!; I feel Ari lost a bit of her snark somewhere on the flight; Cvareh is still just as adorable as ever

Huge thanks, once again, to Elise Kova and Keymaster Press for sending me a gorgeous softcover ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review, and to Chapter by Chapter Book Tours for taking me on as part of this tour! This in no way altered my read of or opinion on this book.

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Once again, we return to the battle between Loom and Nova…and the battle is only just beginning, Penguins, let me tell you! In this sequel, we journey to the skies and the world of the Dragons–which, honestly, is almost more confusing than the world they overlord. While Elise Kova dips her pen in gold and weaves gloriously brilliant, beautiful imagery…I find that sometimes, my brain can’t quite follow the path she leads me down. I have a hard time actually SEEING the world I’m being thrust into. Which is depressing; as vibrant as Elise Kova writes, I wish I could better put myself into the settings.

 

However, these characters are just as snarky and entertaining as they were in the first book. I really, REALLY adore the growth we see throughout–not just from Ari, but from all the main players. I also really love that we’re given a glimpse into enemy minds; this really helped to ground me in the drama and strife. I was better able to “get” the motivations from each side, selfish as they seem at times. This also helped to answer some of my more prominent questions. Ari seems to have lost a bit of her snark and spunk somewhere, though–while her words and quips still bite deep when she lets them loose, I felt she was holding herself back in this particular journey. Cvareh, on the other hand, shows a ton of growth and adorable vulnerability. And Ari DOES show signs of vulnerability, as well, which only helped to endear me to her–though I did sort of miss her hardcore, stubborn spunk.

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I absolutely ADORE the worlds of Loom and Nova, and love how Elise Kova paints each–individually, yet somehow both juxtaposed and similar at the same time. Because honestly, these worlds are both facing the same struggles–a fight for ultimate power, a showcasing of foolhardy strength, a match striking into flames. So while they’re juxtaposed–in the sense that Loom is darkness and oppression, and Nova is light and “freedom”–they’re also surprisingly (or, perhaps, NOT so surprisingly) fighting the same battle. Sort of. Kind of. It might be a BIT of a stretch but it’s there, okay?! SO GO WITH IT!

 

I just…. AHHHHH! I am definitely hooked (even though let’s be honest, I was hooked from book one page one so this shouldn’t be a shock to anybody) and I NEED BOOK THREE GIVE ME BOOK THREE! These characters are quirky and snarky and so well-written. The growth we see in a lot of (or all?) these characters is just entertaining and astounding. AND CVAREH AND ARI MAKE THE CUTESTESTEST COUPLE EVARRRRR I NEED MORE OF THEM IN LOVE IN MY LIFE! I definitely recommend this series to lovers of steampunk/fantasy, unique worlds, and dragon-y dramatics (is that a thing? that should be a thing. let’s make it a thing.) We’re taking to the skies, Penguins; are YOU ready to soar?

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Blog Tour, Teasers, Giveaway, and Review: One Broken Day

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One-Broken-Day-coverOne Broken Day
by Melissa MacVicar
324 Pages
YA / Contemporary
Get a copy here!
BLURB:
After a notorious school shooting leaves her a shadow of the girl she once was, seventeen-year-old Lizzie Beringer moves to Nantucket Island. There, Lizzie is determined to keep her identity as the shooter’s sister a secret. All her efforts to fly under the radar, however, are complicated by her PTSD and her treatment at the hands of two very different boys. While fending off the unwanted advances of John Wickersham, she must also deal with her growing feelings for her brooding lab partner Gage Pike. Gage may act like he’s all wrong for her but the pull between them is undeniable.

Under the threat of discovery and the possibility of testifying in a televised trial, Lizzie attempts to pick up the broken pieces of her life.

One Broken Day is a brilliantly imagined story about the ways we are all broken and the miracle of second chances.

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Teaser # 1 One Broken Day LaineyTeaser #2 MacVicar One Broken Day
About the Author:
MacVicar Author Photo Melissa was born and mostly raised on Nantucket Island, and she currently lives there with her husband and two teenage children. When not being a wife and mother and teaching writing to seventh graders, she enjoys binge watching shows like Big Little Lies, House of Cards, and Outlander.

Despite the rumors to the contrary, she does not actually wish she was a teenager again, nor does she see ghosts like the main character in her first novel, Ever Near. She does, however, love to hear from readers so send her a message on social media or at her email!

email: melissa.macvicar@gmail.com
Twitter: @MelissaMacVicar
Facebook: Melissa MacVicar
Instagram: melissa.macvicar
Giveaways:

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: LIFE-RUINER ALERT!; this was an emotionally challenging read; I can understand the motivations behind the character choices; the upheaval in Lainey/Lizzie’s life is obvious from page one; I couldn’t put this down

Huge thanks to Melissa MacVicar and YA Bound Book Toursfor sending me a free egalley 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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This was SUCH an emotionally challenging, haunting read. I finished this several days ago and have been struggling to put my thoughts into coherent words, because OH MY PENGUINS, this read! I was drawn into the turmoil from page one, ensnared and enchanted by the tragedies of the situation–and the reactions of the world. Melissa MacVicar did a stupendous job thrusting readers straight into Lainey/Lizzie’s head, and I applaud her so much for it. Truly, I was captivated just as much as I was heartbroken. Coming out of this read, I can see the motivations behind certain decisions Melissa MacVicar made for her characters and their coping mechanisms. Having grown up in a household of addiction, it was even easier for me to see into the heart of the recreational drug use that occurs throughout this read. (Of course, this doesn’t mean I necessarily condone such coping mechanisms–just that I understand why the characters react the way they do)

I feel the strength of this novel lies in the characters–and the different ways they grow and shift throughout this journey. However, there’s a sense of mystery and suspense woven through every page–a motivation that kept me trapped, unable to put the book down. While we don’t necessarily get handed all the “answers,” I feel Melissa MacVicar did this with a purpose–life, after all, doesn’t always just hand us a reason or justification for why people do the things they do, or why things happen the way they do. So while a lot of other readers are calling for “more” depth to this read… I applaud Melissa MacVicar for not trying to force a solution where, sometimes, there just ISN’T one.

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This was a desperate, twisting path of emotions–and I cherished every moment for reminding me that the world isn’t always black and white. That there are grey areas where answers are elusive and human reactions don’t always make sense. I will, for sensitive or easily triggered readers, put a slight mature content warning out there–recreational drug use and sex, along with bullying and suicidal thoughts, are prevalent throughout and play a large role in this read. Please keep yourselves safe.

I am awed by how powerfully poignant and heart-wrenching this read from Melissa MacVicar is, and cannot wait to see what the future holds for her creatively. While there are some grammatical errors, there weren’t enough of them to break my concentration or bother me. The characters and their reactions are vividly painted and, at least in my opinion, realistically written. I definitely recommend to lovers of emotionally challenging reads, characters struggling to cope with heavy burdens, and twisting plot vines. Look deeper, Penguins; there’s more to these words than meets the eye.

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Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review: Friend (with Benefits) Zone

Friend (With Benefits) Zone
by Laura Brown
on Tour June 26 – July 13, 2017

 

Friend (With Benefits) Zone by Laura Brown

Book Details

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Published by: Avon Impulse

Publication Date: June 27th 2017

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN-13: 9780062495594 (ASIN: B01EFM8NC0)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Synopsis:

I’m ridiculously attracted to my best friend.

Today is a bad day. The worst actually. After dealing with the constant manhandling that comes with being a cocktail waitress at a dive bar and surviving a date from hell, I see an eviction notice slapped on the door of my sketchy basement apartment. Great.

When my best friend Devon shows up at my door and uses his stubborn charm (emphasis on stubborn) to get me to move in with him, I give in. We’ve had about a million sleepovers since we met in the kindergarten Deaf program, but this time it’s different because I can’t stop thinking about his hard body covering mine, every single night.

I know Devon would do anything for me, but I’m afraid what I want to happen will ruin our friendship forever. And the more time we spend together in close quarters, the harder it’ll be to resist the spark of attraction I’ve always felt. But maybe it’s possible to have the best of both worlds: keep the one relationship I can’t live without and indulge in an attraction I can’t deny.

I guess the only thing we can do is try…

Read an excerpt:

I was still staring at my notebook when a light flashed by my tiny window. Outside someone stood with a flashlight, shining it into my apartment. I didn’t need to adjust to the light to know who that someone was with the one, two, three blinking pattern.

It took five steps to stomp over to the door. Dev came in once I wedged it open. He pushed the door closed.

“You can’t have your clothes back,” I signed, even as I was grateful to see him. When Dev was around, even this place sorta felt like a home.

“I don’t want my clothes back. Not now, at least. I wanted to make sure you were OK.”

I held out my hands, showing that I was fine. Even if I did scan my coffee table and breathe in relief that the eviction letter was face down in a crumpled mess.

He studied me, searching for all my little tics that spelled I was in trouble, tics only he knew. I blanked my face; otherwise he would latch onto there being a problem. A big one. Dev shoved a hand through his hair, those wavy locks rioting into one massive sexy-as-hell bedhead. I missed the days when he was a spindly little thing, before he grew into this hunk I could never unfriendzone. He meant too much to rock the boat, and I didn’t dare risk losing him. He scratched at a day’s worth of scruff, the black stubble contrasting with his pale skin. Then he kicked off his shoes, tossed his coat on the back of a chair, and plopped down on my bed in a way that had to have a spring or two digging into his back.

He didn’t budge.

I wanted to laugh. Forget me time—neither one of us had given the other the right to be alone since we first met. Still, I couldn’t let go of our usual bickering match. “Go home.”

He folded his hands behind his head, not moving. I crossed my arms. A few seconds later he sat up, grabbed my laptop off the floor, and flipped it open. “We’ll watch a movie.”

“My laptop can’t handle Netflix. You know that.”

He closed the laptop. “Right. Forgot.” He unlocked his phone and placed it on the bed.

“Tiny viewing tonight?”

“You refused to come to my place.” Underlining meaning: we could have watched on a large flat-screen TV.

Since there was no budging him now that he had settled in, I climbed onto the bed with him. He picked up the phone so we could watch, and I settled my head on his chest.

I didn’t pay much attention to the action flick he put on. Most days I loved the intensity of those movies. Tonight, those explosions felt too close for comfort. Instead I made a mental list of my options. Had to before Dev found out. He’d want me to stay with him. And being cuddled up with him, I had to admit, had potential. More so when I placed my hand on his firm stomach and took in a deep breath of the ocean scent of his soap. Problem was, I needed to be on my own two feet. The last person to take care of me—my mother—had failed. I couldn’t trust anyone else.

Not even Dev.

***

Excerpt from Friend (With Benefits) Zone by Laura Brown. Copyright © 2017 by Laura Brown. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Laura BrownLaura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family. Her husband’s put up with her since high school, her young son keeps her on her toes, and her three cats think they deserve more scratches. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates.

Visit Laura on her Website, Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads pages!

 

Visit these Tour Hosts for More on Friend (With Benefits) Zone by Laura Brown:


Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Laura Brown and Harper Collins. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown. The giveaway begins on June 24 and runs through July 14 2017.

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bookreview

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: believable, realistic, awesome characters; SO STEAMY I CAN’T EVEN!; mature subjects handled with sensitivity and poise; I am much more open-eyed on hearing impairments/deaf culture after this read; just enough drama and angst to keep my penguin heart cold

Huge thanks to Laura Brown, Avon Impulse, Partners in Crime Book Tours, and Edelweiss for sending me a free egalley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

So once again, I find myself on the other side of a book I never even took the time to read a blurb for–and feeling SO very glad that I went into this read blind. I was honestly surprised with what I discovered between these covers–and what a steamy, sexy cover it is. I mean, just LOOK at him, with his brooding face and black leather jacket and… GAAAAAH. Someone, quick, find me my partner in crime and bestest panda buddy Annelise–those abs are just BEGGING her to lick them!

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This romance was steamy and heart-wrenching in turn. I have always been a fan of “friends” to “lovers,” and this story BEAUTIFULLY encapsulates that journey in a dramatic, angsty, fear-for-the-outcome way that kept me enthralled and entertained. The love between Jas and Dev was believable and endearing, and I loved learning about them from not only THEIR POV…but from the other’s as well. The fact that these characters are also diverse and well-rounded only made me fall even more in love with them. Honestly, I’m going to be picking up more of Laura Brown in the very near future–I had such a great time rooting for (and shouting at) this couple. Their dynamics and antics are just… AGGGGGGH, I just want to hug them both!

 

This was a super fun, light-hearted (though still painful at times!), and diverse read–and I adored every minute of it! The characters are well-rounded, the romance is believable, and the angst only helped to cement me more fully into their journey. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary romance, complex growth stories, and the flight from “friends” to “lovers.” Sparks are flying, Penguins; take a seat and watch the show!

 

 

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Gemina: BOOK, HOW DARE YOU End Like That?!

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina
(The Illuminae Files #2)
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
672 Pages
Science Fiction / Young Adult
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 18th, 2016
Get a copy here!

BLURB: 

The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Timesbestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.” 

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

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See my review for ILLUMINAE (The Illuminae Files #1) by clicking the cover below:

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: I SWEAR, these books will be the death of me!; super entertaining, snarky, and heart-wrenching; complex, frustrating, endearing characters; the roMESS in this read is SO WORTH IT; OH MY PENGUINS ALL THE PLOT TWISTS OF EVER; someone please tell me you’re buying me book 3 for my birthday?!

AHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I feel like if I let myself, I could spend this entire review just screaming and none of you would even come close to understanding the amount of feeeeeeelings I’m feeling right now because words just…. they fail me. They fail me so hard core right now I can’t even. I am so…just… GAH, THIS BOOK SERIES! I swear, it’s going to be the death of me–all the plot twists and turny-loops and “you thought you knew what was coming?! you thought WRONG!” ness. Seriously, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff know how to weave a topsy-turvy, confusing, twisty tale…and keep readers enthralled throughout. This installment was absolutely no exception!

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These characters are super entertaining and endearing. While I found myself (inexplicably? or perhaps not, given how much I ADORED him in Illuminae) missing AIDAN through a large portion of this read. Of course, once he made his appearance (and stuck around!) I was a very happy penguin and could focus more completely on the rest of the crew, who were just as vibrantly written and stubbornly AWESOME as I’d been expecting. I don’t quite know how Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff managed it, but they wrote a sequel that both stands apart from it’s predecessor and yet somehow fills in at least a few of the questionable gaps. I just… I am in absolute awe.

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The plot is fast-paced and so twisty, you’ll find your heart has broken and been mended at least half a dozen times within the span of just a few pages. No, really Penguins–this is not an over-exaggeration at all! I was on the tippity tops of my toes throughout this entire read, begging to know what was happening while at the same time trying desperately to close my eyes to the events because SO MUCH HEARTACHE! I screamed at my book–numerous times. I pleaded, and threw tantraums (over facebook chat, at least), and laughed and rallied and then fell apart all over again. Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are BRILLIANT at writing intensely entertaining, dramatically realistic, gut-wrenching shotgun reads, and OH MY PENGUINS, I cannot wait to lay my hands on Obsidio next year. I need it.

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I just… If you haven’t heard me wax poetic about the beauty that is Illuminae, hear me now. Pick up this series! The characters are entertaining and lovable, the plot is action-packed and so full of surprises, and you will–guaranteed!–find yourself flinging the book in anger at least once, but probably more like a thousand times, before the end. I definitely recommend this series to lovers of science fiction, uniquely formatted reads, and super epic world-saving journeys. The wormhole is open, Penguins; the fate of reality rests on your readerly shoulders now!

 

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The Duchess’s Descendants: I am Head Over BEAK for Jordinia!

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The Duchess's Descendants (Jordinia #3)The Duchess’s Descendants
(Jordinia:  Book 3)
by C.K. Brooke

Fantasy / Romance / Historical
285 Pages
48fourteen Publishing
Publication Date:  June 19th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

The next generation. A new adventure…

Over three decades have passed since the Ducelle Empire reclaimed the land, and Jordinia has never prospered more. When the Emperor negotiates a treaty among neighboring nations, Jordinia is awarded an archipelago of islands in the north. With intentions to colonize, His Majesty enlists his two underachieving nephews on an expedition to chart the wilderness.

Reclusive Ludwig has his violin and no desire to travel, while his charismatic brother Drew is seduced by the grandeur of making history…and money. Desperate to flee a secret scandal of her own, their sister Johanna insists upon accompanying them. With a team of soldiers – including longtime friend and royal guardsman, Bram Visigoth – the Cosmith siblings set off to conquer their uncle’s newly-acquired territory.

From an icy shipwreck to precarious encounters with the native inhabitants, almost nothing goes as planned in this fast-paced comedy of errors teeming with humor, fantasy and plenty of romance. Prepare to fall in love with Jordinia all over again!

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See my reviews for the previous books in this series:

The Duchess Quest (Jordinia #1)  The Duchess Inheritance (Jordinia #2)

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: aaaaaaah, I adore this series!; a new cast of unique, complex, well-rounded characters to love; political intrigue and subtle morals; awesome, entertaining action; I love the way C.K. Brooke writes about love (scratch that. I love the way C.K. Brooke writes, period)

Huge thanks to C.K. Brooke and 48fourteen Publishing for sending me an early copy 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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C.K. Brooke has knocked it out of the park for me again with this return to Jordinia. I swear, each time I hear there’ll be a new book in this series, my penguin heart flutters a little bit harder–it sounds unhealthy, sure, but oh my goodness, I ADORE everything about this series, and can honestly admit this is my favorite fantasy series to date. Seriously, the world of Jordinia is ripe with adventure, political intrigue, and humongous personalities–and I love rediscovering every nook and cranny with each book!

 

I really enjoyed that we were given more glimpse into the family dynamics for this particular read. The focus on their relationships, their interactions and reactions, made this read pure gold for me. While they separated throughout and chapters were interspersed with alternating POVs, a large chunk of the story remained on the siblings and their “growth”–both together and apart–throughout this journey into the unknown.

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As always, C.K. Brooke has written a series of complex, realistic, and believable romances–and I adored every single one of them! I was a bit worried near the 90% mark that one of the couples I’d been rooting for from the start wasn’t destined to work out…but was, pleasantly, wrong. The ending is adorable, and while I feel this read might have been a smidge shorter than the other books in this series, it’s just as beautifully written and just as entertaining as the others.

I am head-over-beak in LOVE with Jordinia and every character we’ve been introduced to! The romances are realistic and butterfly-inducing, if not a little bit roMESSy at times. The plot is fast-paced and filled with delicious political intrigue/moral conflicts. All-in-all, I devour every book C.K. Brooke puts in front of me…and feel more readers should do the same! I’d recommend this series to lovers of fantasy, flawed but redeemable characters, and snark (because there’s a lot of that in C.K. Brooke’s novels). Set sail for Jordinia with me, penguins; it’s a wild ride, but I promise you’ll love every minute!

1

Star-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet: This Verona is Full of Strife and… Pizza Sauce?!

bookreview

 

Fakespeare: Starcrossed in Romeo and JulietStar-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet
(Fakespeare, #1)
by M.E. Castle

280 Pages
Middle-grade / Children’s / Retellings
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group /
Imprint Publishing
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Romeo and Juliet finish their story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader, 

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club. 

Are you ready to embark on a journey to Italy, where you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a major feud between two rival pizza-making families: the Montagues and the Capulets? A swordsman and perfumer will hunt you. There will be disguises, fake pizza, and tomato fights (make sure to duck!). You must help Becca, her stepbrother Sam, and her dog Rufus convince Romeo Montague to ask Juliet Capulet on a date, or you will all be stuck in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet forever! 

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.

Sincerely,

The Narrator

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this was, throughout, laugh out loud hilarious; I LOVE the new “spins” that M.E. Castle put on this classic; the morals and lessons are whimsical, witty, and well-done; the nods to the original play were woven in to this story brilliantly

HUGE thanks to M.E. Castle and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Imprint Publishing for sending me a gorgeous hardcover copy 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. Here’s what’s going to happen next: I’m going to FREAK THE FRACK OUT about this hilarious, awesome book…and then you’re going to drop everything you’re doing for the next few hours and go read it! Trust me, the time is well worth it, and passes in a fit of rib-cracking laughter and manic cackling that’s bound to make your (insert family, roommate, lover, children, pet, wallpaper, violent pink flamingo, etc. here) wonder just what it is you’re up to. Which is GOOD, because that means more Penguins wanting to pick this book up, and that means my army will grow even bigger! Yes. This is such a great plan, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

 

This book is, as I mentioned a time or two earlier, absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious! Within a page, I was giggling (very obnoxiously, might I add). From the very get go, this book sucked me into the story–almost as literally as the book in the book that eats the main characters, in fact! (Wow, that was a mouthful of a sentence! Let’s not do that again.) The action begins almost immediately upon landing in Verona, though we quickly learn that things are not QUITE like the original play led us to believe. This retelling was super inventive, with some genius spins on the “tragedy” that kept this read perfectly acceptable for young hearts and minds. I really appreciated the amount of humor M.E. Castle put into this, while still maintaining the bigger plot points from Shakespeare’s star-crossed tale of woe.

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The morals and lessons woven throughout the journey–about bullying, and family, and self-love/self-acceptance, and so many other delicious things!–were well-handled and portrayed in a light that made them both entertainingly humorous and super easy to understand. This is such a great book to lead mid-grade readers to, both for the morals AND for the introduction to Shakespeare. While the prose is much less complex (and much easier to understand!) than Shakespeare’s tragedy, the main story is still mostly there–just minus the actual TRAGEDY of the, uh, tragedy.

 

I had an absolute BLAST blasting my way through this retelling, and cannot wait to pick up the next book in this series (and YAY me, I already own it!) These characters are entertaining and set on a path of growth/acceptance; the prose is humorous and enlightening; and the new spins on an old tragedy both made this read unique and were laugh-out-loud hilarious. I definitely recommend this to lovers of middle-grade novels, those seeking a less intimidating introduction to The Bard, and readers who love humor and word play. Be careful when touching this book, Penguins; it just might eat you while your back is turned!

0

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: All that Glitters

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This is my stop during the book blitz for All That Glitters by Tracy Krimmer. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 19 till 25 June. See the tour schedule here.

All That GlittersAll That Glitters (All That #1)
By Tracy Krimmer
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
Age category: Adult
Release Date: summer 2017

Blurb:
Country-music star, Dory Walker, never wanted to come back to the small town of Sycamore Bay. But after her fairy-tale life is flipped upside down, and her marriage becomes a casualty, she has no choice.

Harris Malone is a man with few commitments. He keeps a low profile most days while he cares for his young daughter and helps run his dad’s hardware store.

But when he and Dory run into each other at the local gas station, all either can think about is the searing kiss they shared many years ago.

Can a woman who only wants to rekindle her career and a man who enjoys a no-strings attached lifestyle find everlasting love?

You can find All That Glitters on Goodreads

You can buy All That Glitters here.

Tracy KrimmerAbout the Author:
Tracy’s love of writing began at nine years old. She wrote stories about aliens at school, machines that did homework for you, and penguins. Now she pens books and short stories about romance. She loves to read a great book, whether it be romance or science fiction, or any genre in between, or pop popcorn and catch up on her favorite TV shows or movies. She’s been known to crush a candy or two as well. Her loves include fitness, reading, coffee, dogs, and naps (not in that order), and her dislikes are blue cheese, cold weather, and burpees.

You can find and contact Tracy here:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon
Bookbub
Instagram
Newsletter

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of All That Glitters. One winner will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this read a LOT like a YA; I was super annoyed with Dory throughout most of this read; in fact, I wasn’t impressed with a lot of the characters; Harris’ relationship with his daughter is adorable; I’m glad the “ex boyfriend returns” trope wasn’t found here

Huge thanks to Tracy Krimmer and Lola’s Blog 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.

I’ll be honest, Penguins–this book fell very flat for me in a few different instances. The biggest one? I felt that, on the whole, these characters were much more immature than I was expecting them to be. Several times, I had to force myself to STOP thinking of them as teens and remember them for what age they really are–mid to late 20’s. I’m not entirely sure where the disconnect happened for me; I feel as if the attitudes, especially those in times of drama or stress, were less “put together” and more “chaos roaming” than I expected. Dory, especially, seemed much more like she was still in high school. Perhaps there was a reason for this, in the end–perhaps Dory was meant to complete some life-changing character ARC/growth journey that I, as a reader, didn’t catch onto or witness. This disconnect, however, held me back a little–I wasn’t entirely able to connect with or feel for these characters, especially Dory.

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The plot was entertaining and well-paced, however! I also feel as if the relationships outside Dory’s POV (those between Harris and his daughter, for instance; or Harris and his ex-wife; or Harris and his dad) were all gorgeously written and so well done. I was SO happy to see a divorced couple that actually strove to remain friends after splitting; for a romance novel (or our world, to be honest) this was a refreshing and surprising outcome, and I love that it’s how Tracy Krimmer handled that particular relationship. I wish we’d seen such growth and closure from Dory’s relationships; even at the end of this book, I felt she was a bit too stiff and awkward with the people who were supposed to be her family. Still, I had fun following Dory on her journey to finding where she belonged.

This was, overall, a cutesy contemporary that read just a BIT too much like YA for me. I was often confused or embarrassed by Dory’s immature outbursts, and felt she wasn’t given enough chance to grow and shape herself on this journey. I adored the relationships centered around Harris, however, and found him to be a complex and entertaining character to get to know. I’d recommend this to lovers of angsty romances, intriguing sub-plots, and well-rounded relationships. Kick up your heels, Penguins; glitter doesn’t always have to be gold.

 

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Scandal

Scandal banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Scandal by Athena Grayson. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 12 till 25 June. See the tour schedule here.

ScandalScandal (Scions of the Star Empire #1)
By Athena Grayson
Genre: Sci-fi dystopian with romantic elements
Age category: New Adult/ Adult
Release Date: 23 March 2017

Blurb:
They can have anything they want…except a future.

Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis–gossip journalist Jaris Pulne–is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who’s no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.

For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father’s shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion–and freedom from his father’s ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse–force them together before their time.

Damage control turns into danger when their attempts to retrieve the images lead them both into the dark underbelly of the glittering city-planet, exposing secrets of both friends and foes that could lead to more than just social suicide.

You can find Scandal on Goodreads

You can buy Scandal here:
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iTunes
Google Play
Smashwords
Books2Read

You can also find all the buy links for this book here on the author’s website.

About the Author:
Athena Grayson likes kickass heroines, big-brained and sexy beta heroes who aren’t afraid of strong women or their own feelings, and stories that turn the genre tropes sideways. If you’re looking for something a little unexpected, a little more, and a lot of fun…this is your kinda place.

You can find and contact Athena here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads
Bookbub

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Scandal. These are the prizes you can win:
– 2 paperback copies of Scandal by Athena Grayson (US Only)
– 2 $10 Amazon Gift Cards (International)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

 

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: I feel I was thrust into the middle of a story I never got; vibrantly detailed, gorgeous descriptors and characters; the complexities of the political intrigue were interesting and enthralling; these are murky, murky waters, penguins; a promising start to a new series!

Huge thanks to Athena Grayson and Lola’s Blog Tours for sending a free egalley of this title my way in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

 

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Alright, Penguins–let’s talk about some things. This book and I? Didn’t QUITE agree about a few things–mostly in terms of story. See, I feel as if I was thrown into the middle of a story that I never really was given, if that makes sense? I was very, very confused–from basically the get go–about what was happening and the reasons why. While answers are found and given throughout, I felt as if there was a bit of disconnect between story line and world-building. In other words…I felt like I was expected to know more about this world/the characters going into this, book one, than I ended up ACTUALLY knowing. And this bothered me a bit, because I was bound and determined to adore this book, and instead found myself struggling to put the pieces together.

 

The descriptors and prose, though! There is so much to take in throughout the course of this read. Athena Grayson went to very long lengths to ensure readers were completely immersed, head to foot, in this journey. While I struggled to connect the dots of the story line, I was almost immediately entrenched in the gorgeous world being painted around me. Every page was filled with sights, sounds, smells–the five senses all came into play and helped to more fully encapsulate me in Athena Grayson’s imagination. This read THRUMMED with the senses, and made it so much easier for me to visualize and feel a part of each page, so kudos to Athena Grayson for such awesome world-building!

 

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So, while I was a bit confused throughout–and felt I was thrust into the middle of a story I had no beginning for–I REALLY adored the world-building and vivid descriptors. I was ensnared almost immediately, lusting for more of Athena Grayson’s gorgeously detailed word-paintings. I just wish the fit had been a BIT more snug in terms of story line. I would recommend this to lovers of sci fi/fantasy, uniquely vivid worlds, and curiously enthralling political intrigues. Put your seat belts on, Penguins; we’re about to go off-world!


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