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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Groupie

 

Groupie
(Rock-Hard Beautiful, #1)

by C.M. Stunich
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

“Can one of these five rockstars fill the hole in my heart? Or will I stay broken forever?”

Young, dumb, and broke.

That’s what started everything. With five dollars in her pocket, and everything she owns stuffed in the back of her car, Lilith Goode’s life is over. Done. Destroyed.

Ten words. One text. That’s what it took to change the whole world.

A crumpled concert ticket. A chance encounter. That’s what it takes to start all over again.

Five rockstars. One girl. Six dark hearts, six withered souls.

But can one broken person really put another back together again?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

 

Author Bio:

C.M. Stunich is a self-admitted bibliophile with a love for exotic teas and a whole host of characters who live full time inside the strange, swirling vortex of her thoughts. Some folks might call this crazy, but Caitlin Morgan doesn’t mind – especially considering she has to write biographies in the third person. Oh, and half the host of characters in her head are searing hot bad boys with dirty mouths and skillful hands

(among other things). If being crazy means hanging out with them everyday, C.M. has decided to have herself committed.

She hates tapioca pudding, loves to binge on cheesy horror movies, and is a slave to many cats. When she’s not vacuuming fur off of her couch, C.M. can be found with her nose buried in a book or her eyes glued to a computer screen. She’s the author of over thirty novels – romance, new adult, fantasy, and young adult included. Please, come and join her inside her crazy. There’s a heck of a lot to do there.

Oh, and Caitlin loves to chat (incessantly), so feel free to e-mail her, send her a Facebook message, or put up smoke signals. She’s already looking forward to it.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!

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bookreview

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: this made my penguin heart go all aflutter; I love how unique and vibrantly written each character is; you can see their personalities through their reactions/interactions; the drama is hugely satisfying and entertaining; STEAMY, STEAMY, STEAMY!

Huge thanks to C.M. Stunich, Sarian Royal, and Xpresso Book Toursfor sending me a free 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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I can hear all you penguins roaring in outrage right about now. “BETH!” you all scream loudly, “what is UP with your taste in books lately?! It’s all love and music and diverse relationships! Why!?!?!” …Okay, okay, so maybe that’s not your actual reaction. Honestly, I’m sure most of you don’t even care what I read, within reason–so long as I don’t force YOU to read it if you don’t want to. But, see, someone recently DID ask me something close to this question, and I wanted to take a moment to address it. I, your Princess Penguin royal extraordinaire, am all about the butterflies! I know, I know…penguins and butterflies?! Not something you hear about often–I mean, penguins chase butterflies to EAT THEM, right?! But seriously, this book? These characters? Huge case of satisfying, delicious butterflies–with a heavy dose of grief and pain on the side. That’s right, penguins; I have found a new reading niche I adore and enjoy, and I’m not giving it up anytime soon…so expect to see many more such books on this blog.

That being said, let’s move on. There’s this sense of… “wrong” that Lilith, throughout, feels about what’s happening between her and the guys. I want to address this first and foremost, because while she does in the end come to terms with feeling “judged” by others… I don’t understand why the judging was happening to begin with. Sure, this relationship? is not one we see in today’s world often. But I think this is more due to the way we, as humans, so often leap to “judgement” than to “acceptance.” So let me just say this: this book? Is probably not for a lot of readers. But you should at least try to keep yourself from judging something you don’t understand, because how else are we ever going to learn about others’ otherwise?

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I went into this book expecting something not quite as steamy as what I actually found. Honestly, going into this book, I was NOT expecting what I got–though what I got was wonderful and exciting and pure literary gold, in my opinion. This is what happens when your Princess conveniently always forgets to read the blurb for books before picking them up–because who needs to know what’s going to happen!?! GO IN BLIND for the win! And this was a win, penguins–the characters are so vibrantly written, they painted themselves on the backs of my eyelids. The darkness in each of them only helped to mold and shape them even further in my mind’s eye; I could practically SMELL each of their shampoos, they felt so real to me. And the love! The love was glorious and delicious and butterfly-inducing. Each personality brings something unique and different to the forefront, and I adored learning about these characters and watching their journey play out.

I cannot WAIT to lay hands on the second book in this series! C.M. Stunich brought these characters, and their love, to life for me within these pages, and I will definitely be picking up more of her novels in the future. This love is endearing, STEAMY, and beautiful; the characters are vibrant, loud, and clashing in exactly the right ways. I recommend this to lovers of “different” relationships; contemporary romances; and soulful rock bands. Open your heart and let an attachment form, penguins; the guitar riff is to swoon for with this one!

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Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: The Wanderer

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THE WANDERER
Dahlia Donovan
Series: The Sin Bin, Book 1
Genre: MM Romance
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Publication Date: April 8, 2017
Can love be found off the beaten track?
Graham Hodson lives for adventure. His entire life has revolved around his obsessive wanderlust. His inner fear of staying in one place or being with one person for too long has kept him on the go. The last thing he expects is a sudden diagnosis to ground his travel permanently.
Boyce BC Brooks has screwed up his lifelong dream of being the captain of the English national rugby team. He’s lost everything. When his uncle leaves him an inn and a dog in Cornwall, he has little choice but to try his hand at innkeeper.
Can two jokesters kicked around by life and their own decisions find stability when their world shakes beneath their feet?
This book will have you laughing so hard at the easy banter between these two then clutching your chest as the emotions threaten to boil over.
– ~lil maso~, Goodreads Reviewer
Teaser

Giveaway

WIN
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Prizes up for grabs:
$10 Amazon Gift Card + 1 eBook of the Wanderer
(One Winner)

Additional Giveaway

Be sure to also join the giveaway organized by Hot Tree Publishing.
Get a chance to win The Wanderer in paperback

About Dahlia Donovan

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Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’ be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
Official website: http://dahliadonovan.com/
Social media links: Facebook | Twitter
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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?

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, Teasers, and Giveaways: #FinishLine

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finishline-ebooksm#FinishLine (GearShark #5)
by Cambria Hebert
Publication date: February 27th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Every race has a finish line.

Where you go after you cross it is what matters most.

And sometimes, that’s the most intriguing.

Here at GearShark, we’ve featured lots of drivers.

All of them are well acquainted with the finish line.

And as race fans, we’re well acquainted with cheering as they cross it.

What we aren’t privy to is riding shotgun, seeing where they drive once the race is
over.

Our interviews barely scratch the surface, offering just a glimpse of the men and women behind the wheel.  The discovery of vanished Motocross sensation Jayson Hamilton, who has been right under our noses for years, proves secrets abound.

It’s time to dig deep. Look beyond the racetrack at the drivers who continue to pique our interest. In addition to scoring an exclusive, all-access interview with the elusive Jayson Hamilton (his first and only since the death of his fellow racer and partner Matt Lewis), we’ve caught up with some of our most popular featured men and women in the racing world.

Where are they now?

Who are they now?

What do these hot commodities do when they escape the spotlight?

Rumors of weddings, babies, and new tattoos swirl through the media on a weekly
basis.

And though we’re headlining the hashtag #Finishline, we’re far from finished.

In fact, we’re just getting started.

This newest issue of GearShark is jam packed with everything you’ve been dying to know… and it just might be our biggest page-turner yet.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

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Excerpt from #FINISHLINE

GearShark #5

Copyright by Cambria Hebert; do not copy or distribute

Hopper

“What’s wrong?” he demanded the second I opened the door.

“Nothing,” I said and motioned for him to come in.

He pulled off his Oakleys and slid one earpiece beneath the neck of his dark-blue T-shirt so they were out of his hands and stepped into the apartment.

His eyes searched out his brother, wanting to be sure all was well.

“He isn’t here,” I said and shut the door.

Lorhaven turned. “Where is he?”

“Meeting,” I replied.

“Why aren’t you there?” He scrutinized.

“Because I didn’t need to be.” I cleared my throat. “And, I, ah, wanted to talk to you. Alone.”

His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why?”

Arrow’s big brother was an asshole. It wasn’t anything new to me, and his constant suspicious demeanor didn’t offend me like it used to. I understood his extreme overprotective nature when it came to Arrow (and Joey). I even respected it.

There was a time when I doubted we would ever get along. Hell, sometimes I still doubted it. But ever since the day I raced across the track to pull Arrow out of a multicar pile-up, things were different between me and Lorhaven.

Friendlier.

He welcomed me to the family that day, and since then, he’d backed up his handshake
with actions. Arrow and I hung out with him and Joey regularly, something I knew meant a lot to A. To me, too.

Joey was my first and only real friend since Matt died. The months we’d spent not really speaking had hurt. To have her friendship back along with a new one in Lorhaven gave me the sense of family I’d deprived myself of for so long.

“There’s something I want to ask you,” I said.

He made a sound, sort of an agreement, and shrugged out of the jacket to fling it over
the back of the couch. “You called me down here because you want to ask me a
question?”

“It’s not something I could do over the phone.”

He folded his arms over his chest and regarded me in a way that would probably make a lesser man piss his pants. Lorhaven didn’t intimidate me. He never did, and he never would.

But, uh, yeah… I was anxious right now. “I know how close you are to A.” I began. “He told me you’re more like a dad to him than The Fucker ever was.”

Lorhaven’s arms dropped to his sides. “He told you that?”

I nodded. “Yeah. And honestly, I’m fucking grateful to you for that.”

Shock widened his very dark eyes. I committed the look to memory as I smothered a smile. I’d likely not see that look on his face ever again.

My voice dropped. “I think you were the one thing that stood between Arrow and total shutdown a few years ago.”

“Until you came along,” he replied, gruff.

“Thank you for everything you did for him, for everything you do. I know you already know how much he appreciates you, but now you know I do, too.”

“He’s my family,” he said, like it was all he needed to say.

I half smiled.

“As touching as this is…” Lorhaven studied me. “Why do I get the feeling you want something?”

“Because I do.” I took a deep breath. “I want Arrow.”

He made a sound. “Pretty sure you already got that.”

I shook my head once. “I want to marry him.”

Lorhaven jolted like someone tossed a bucket of ice water over his head. “You wanna
what?”

“I’m gonna ask Arrow to marry me, but before I do, I’d like your permission.”

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for-bioAuthor Bio:

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking
her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many
paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic
suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch,
and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook /
Twitter / Pinterest

 

GIVEAWAYS!

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PLUS:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Boxer and the Butterfly: A Romance Full of Floats and Stings

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The Boxer and the Butterfly

Autumn Chamberlain has everything: a rich family, connections and a perfect GPA. Autumn’s satisfied being the perfect daughter until she engages in a game of dare and loses.

Her punishment for destroying school property? Tell her parents and face the consequences or tutor bad boy, Mickey Costello. The problem? He’s the principal’s nephew and has more demons than Autumn could’ve ever imagined.

Living life on the edge, Mickey’s everything she isn’t. Once tutoring begins, he shows her a world where everything that glitters isn’t gold. As their attraction grows, long buried secrets resurface. Inside the ring Mickey’s never lost a fight, but when tragedies come back to haunt him, he’ll have to conquer past sins, guilt and a hate crime that pushes them both to the edge. Can Mickey fight his way through his troubled past to have a future with Autumn or will the truth shatter them both forever?

YA/Contemporary/Romance/Diverse Reads
353 Pages
Evernight Teen Publishing
Publication Date: October 21st, 2016
Get a copy here!

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: some mature themes and situations; these characters are endearing and easy to love; tons of character growth; intense scenes; some unexpected plot twists; just a small case of, “woah, slow down, you’re moving too fast!”; whirlwind romance; diverse loves/characters

Huge thanks to Sasha Hibbs and Evernight Teen Publishing for sending me a free 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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Firstly, penguins–there are some mature themes and situations in this book. There is one scene, in particular, in which a hate crime takes place. There is also a mention of parental, physical abuse. The main male character, Mickey, is ALSO a fighter in an underground boxing ring–and several fights are detailed from the POV of our narrator. If you are a sensitive reader or are easily triggered by acts of violence or abuse, please make sure you keep yourself safe. This might not be the read for you.

That being said–there is SO MUCH character growth happening in these pages! I will be honest: at the start of this read, I really loathed Autumn. She was snooty; she was spoiled, even if she didn’t realize it. She came off as the kind of character I generally don’t like. BUT. I promise you, penguins, she changes–and quickly. Autumn shows so much growth throughout this journey, I was left with a cricked neck, so hard was I craning to keep up with her as she ran. Autumn’s parents also make quite a shift in their ways at the end of this book, and Mickey has a growth journey all his own. In all, this book most closely focused on growth…and the ways it can both drive us apart and bring us together. The many, MANY ways it can change us, touch us, push us.

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This plot is FAST. In fact, I found myself doubting, at times, the romance aspect itself–I felt as if Autumn and Mickey weren’t so much falling in love, as throwing themselves off a cliff in hopes of flying. Of course, this doesn’t mean it was badly written–there was, it turns out, a reason for the set up. The rest of the events were well-paced and believable–and there were several moments I was sure my heart had stopped. This is a heart-wrenching, beautiful read with so many important subjects and morals; Sasha Hibbs did a great job crafting this to make exactly the points she wanted to.

Overall, this was a fluffy romance with just the right touches of danger and drama. I really enjoyed following Autumn and Mickey on their journeys–both together and apart. It seems every character featured had some small amount of growth, some tiny lesson to both learn themselves and share with readers. I will be seeking out more of Sasha Hibbs in the future. For now, I recommend THIS book to readers of contemporary romance, star-crossed loves, and journeys that pack an emotional punch. This read is a knock-out; why don’t you step into the ring and take it on?

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The Bone Sparrow: Poetic Prose, Heart-Breaking Plot

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The Bone Sparrow

The Bone Sparrow

Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.

Middle Grade/Diverse Reads/Contemporary
240 Pages
Disney-Hyperion Publishing
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: GOODNESS, this book is so important; diverse characters/settings; this is a mid-grade novel with HUGE bite; super important moral/societal statements are made throughout this read; I just… I can’t find the right words; this is a MUST read; gorgeous, poetic, lyrical prose

Huge thanks to Zana Fraillon, Disney-Hyperion Publishing, and Netgalley for granting me free access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

I want to start this review off… with the dedication, because it’s gorgeous, and says so much in so little about what readers will find between these pages (or, at least, a small part of what they’ll find):

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Penguins… If you haven’t picked up a Disney-Hyperion book in the last year, you need to drop whatever you’re doing and GO DO IT. Right now. Go on. I’ll wait right here. Seriously, I have read a good number of books from them this year so far, and every. single. one. has pushed me, challenged me, and shown me the world from unexpected and diverse perspectives. Disney-Hyperion strives not just to bring a beautiful story to readers…but to shove readers off the cliff of comfort and make them see the world differently.

This book is no different in this regard, though it might be my favorite one so far this year. This is a middle grade read with a HUGE amount of bite, guys–this book sucks you in with the lyrical, gorgeous prose…and holds you hostage throughout. Subhi immediately endeared himself to me–his voice is unique, often hilarious, and (for a large portion of this read, at least) filled with that which so many of us go seeking in our later years: hope. This book takes a challenging, important societal flaw and puts it under a microscope–and forces readers to step outside their comfort zone in the process.

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Zana Fraillon broke me into a thousand tiny penguin pieces with this book, guys–and I am honestly just SO awed and glad to have been given the chance to experience this. The characters and setting are diverse and hard-hitting; the plot, while filled with the naive humor of children and told from a young perspective, takes on a dark and hopeless tone throughout. But above all else, this book makes you ask WHY.

There is a lot of abstract imagery and oral-narrative feel to the prose, so I suppose this isn’t the book for everyone. Personally, I adore stories that are poetic and haunting and abstract–they allow me to see the world in my own way, while still seeing it from another’s eyes. And when handed a topic as important–as heart breaking–as this one, sometimes the more abstract the better. This doesn’t mean the book shies away from the hard truths, or sugarcoats–it doesn’t. Not once. These characters are handed some terrible situations; they fight for their lives, for their memories, and for their rights to be seen, to be heard, to EXIST.

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Just… trust me, penguins. Disney-Hyperion is doing beautiful things with their books lately, and I’m loving every single journey. If you’ll let them, books like this will open your eyes…and put a fire in your soul. If you’ll let them, books like this will change you for the better. I recommend this to lovers of lyrical prose, hard-hitting middle grade novels, and beautifully diverse reads with important things to say. I cannot wait to see what Disney-Hyperion–and Zana Fraillon!–do next. For now, I’m off to sweep my pieces off the floor and attempt to put myself back together.

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Blog Tour, Teasers, Giveaway and Review: A Fabrication of the Truth

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YA/Contemporary/Romance/Diverse Reads
250 Pages

Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Get a copy here!

The last time Lexie Stein saw Dalton Reyes he lay in a pool of blood, hovering somewhere between life and death. Now, five years later, he’s the new guy in her high school.

What happened between then and now is a mystery Lexie is afraid to explore. Just one lie uncovered from her past can cause the house of cards she’s so carefully constructed to come crashing down around her. And Dalton is the key to that past.

She doesn’t need her grandmother’s warnings to convince her that Dalton means trouble. But the bond they shared as kids seems to have only gotten stronger, transforming into something wonderful and powerful.

When Dalton opens up about the intervening years and what they mean for his future, Lexie is determined not to let him get away a second time.

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Add to Goodreads

katie-kaleskiAbout the Author
Katie Kaleski is a young adult author that hails from the midwest. A Fabrication of the Truth
is her debut novel, but she will have plenty more books coming very soon.
Her favorite food is cereal with milk, she holds cookies in high regard, and she loves all things cute and fuzzy.
Author Links:

GIVEAWAY:

2 $15 Amazon Giftcards are up for grabs!  CLICK HERE!


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3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: cute, fluffy, steamy romance; tons of drama; I didn’t always believe the characters/their reactions; teenage angst, first love, and “rebellious” awesomeness; this is roMESS to the nth degree!; some mature scenes/content; quick, easy, and entertaining

Huge thanks to Katie Kaleski and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of this title free 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 an entertaining, though not necessarily surprising, read. There were a few twists I wasn’t expecting, especially pertaining to the secrets these characters both hoard like honey at the beginning of the read. Lexie, in particular, was a riddle of a character to figure out–and I’ll admit, for almost half of this book, I didn’t like her. She was flat; she lied a lot; she just wasn’t grabbing me. BUT THEN, enter Dalton…and suddenly the entire world shifted, and Lexie began to change. So I’m going to say this first: if you’re not sure you like the book at the beginning, keep pushing–there’s a ton of character growth that happens near the 50% mark. It gets better! (Warning: there are some mature sexual scenes included in this book. If you’re not comfortable reading that, please keep this in mind)

Some of the characters/reactions came across as a bit unrealistic to me. There were a few moments I caught myself scoffing at the scene– “NO WAY that’s how they’d actually react in this situation!” They were few and far between, but when paired with some characters who felt a bit stiff/1 dimensional, it was worth noting. While I feel Dalton and Lexie go through a ton of growth throughout, I’m not sure the side characters were given as much room to show us who they were–they felt a bit flat overall.

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This was, however, an entertaining and quick read. I sat down several hours ago planning on reading only a small percent…and ended up finishing the book! The beginning was a bit confusing–Lexie does, at first, come off as a very unreliable narrator. She would often begin a story promising answers, only to end it vaguely or by changing to an entirely different subject. I sort of ADORED this technique, though–and she becomes very much the opposite by the end of the read. Katie Kaleski put you into Lexie’s head, and let you see the character for who she was–every crevice, every facet. It was intriguing, and so well-done.

I am excited to see what the next book in this series promises readers, as this was fluffy, endearing, and dramatic. While many of the characters felt a bit flat to me personally, I still had a ton of fun navigating the deep recesses of Lexie’s mind–and finding out the truth about what really happened all those years ago! I recommend this read to lovers of contemporary romance, mystery/intrigue, and not-so-reliable narrators. I can’t wait to see what Katie Kaleski does next!
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A Review of The Steep and Thorny Way, by Cat Winters

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Goodreads Rating: 4.21 Stars
352 pages
Expected Publication: March 8th, 2016
Amulet Books

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

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5Penguins
Quick Reasons: educational, awesome glimpse into 1920s Oregon; entertaining, fun characters; a sense of mystery and flair for drama; some interesting/unforseen plot twists; complex, heart-wrenching story; subtle but easy-to-spy influence/references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet; LIFE RUINER!

Huge thanks go out to Cat Winters, Amulet Books, and Netgalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered how I read or reviewed this book!

“Do you hope to get married someday?” he asked.

“As long as I don’t fall in love with a man the wrong color.”

He exhaled a steady stream of air through his nostrils. “I think love and wrong are two deeply unrelated words that should never be thrown into the same sentence together. Like dessert and broccoli.”

GUYS! I forgot how much I absolutely love love looooove reading historical fiction! And this?! This book is the perfect melting pot of historical, diverse, and absolutely brilliant. Also, apparently it’s a Hamlet retelling, which I didn’t know going in…but can definitely see now! I have to admit, when I found out that little tidbit, I squealed a bit TOO loudly in the husband’s ear. I don’t think he likes me very much right now; I proceeded to go on a five minute rant about how much I love Hamlet. Oops!

But seriously, let’s get into this. The book starts off RIGHT in the middle: with Hanalee pointing a gun at the head of her father’s murderer, threatening to kill him. I mean really…if you weren’t sure about the book before diving in, by the end of the first chapter you should be hooked and dying to know what happens next! I could not slow down while reading; this was a break-neck, full-throttle tilt into the mysteries and drama of 1920s Oregon.

Silence reigned over the world outside the window above the sink, and only a hint of the glow of whiskey stills peeked above the tops of the trees. Or maybe I only imagined that faint glimmer of orange. Maybe the world slept uneasily, holding its breath, waiting to see what I would do next.

Cat Winters did her research, and I give her major props for weaving everything she learned/knew about this time period into a dramatic, heart-wrenching, awesome read! The characters are engaging, redeemable (in the cases that matter, anyway) and complex. They will push your buttons. They will annoy you. They will FORCE you to think outside the box…and to think about things you might not have considered before. This entire read is written in a way that pushes readers out of their comfort zones and makes them actually think about what’s going on. And it will piss you off, no doubt about it. It will make you nauseaus. It will turn your blood to acid in your veins. If you’re anything like me…you’ll love every minute of it.

The prose is also pretty astounding—gorgeous, melodic, and descriptive in all the right places. There’s a masterful blend of the realistic with the paranormal that Cat Winters pulls off beautifully—and manages to work seamlessly into the time period. The entire story is seamless—the plot is action-packed, filled with mystery, and wrapped up by the last page without holes. The character’s all go through life-changing, deep growths. And hey…it’s 1920s Hamlet! Where could you go wrong?!

“I brought flowering almonds for you,” she said, and she handed me the flowers, which she had wrapped in a white handkerchief and secured with a ribbon the same pink as the petals.

“Are these for luck, too,” I asked, “like the alfalfa?”

“No, for hope.” She squeezed my hand. “An entire bouquet full of hope.”

This is a fantastic, pulse-pounding, haunting read—I promise you do NOT want to miss out on it! I’d definitely recommend to lovers of historical fiction, diverse characters, and just a slice of paranormal mixed into their reality worlds. I can’t wait to dive into another Cat Winters read—it’s a good thing I have a few waiting for me on my Kindle!

6

A Review of Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human

Goodreads Rating: 4.12 Stars
352 pages
Published February 2nd, 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Get it here!

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

– – – – –

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: good god this book!; realistic, endearing, believable characters; lots of angst, drama, and confusion; delicious ambiguity; yet another book that will change your view of the world; this novel is SO IMPORTANT; well-written, sensitive, and amazing

Anyway, it’s not that simple. The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.

So first off: there is bullying in this book, both real life and online. There are some cruel words flung around, especially toward the main character. There is emotional abuse…and a physical assault. Suicide is brought up, talked about, and plays a part in this story. If any of these things are triggers for you, please be careful reading this book (if you decide to).

That being said—the ambiguity in this book about Riley is real and poignant, and I absolutely adore the way Jeff Garvin handled this. There are hints and moments that will have you tilting your head, wondering if that was supposed to be a “reveal”…only to have you read further along, and find a different moment that makes you think the opposite. Riley’s gender—the one given at birth—is never once divulged, and while a huge portion of this book is people wondering…I feel as if I was given the chance to get to know Riley in different, more heart-touching ways. If you’re the sort of reader who thinks you need to know EVERY answer about your characters, though, this book might frustrate you. Just a warning.

It takes me a moment to react; I’m honestly surprised. It’s one thing to whisper about me to her friends, or to laugh when her boyfriend taunts me—but I didn’t expect Sierra to be openly aggressive.

Slowly, I turn and look her in the eye. “That’s none of your business,” I say. “And, while I’m flattered by your interest, you’re really not my type.”

Riley’s snark and attitude are also on point. The narrative is interspersed with snippets from blog posts, from messages sent to and by the MC…all of this leads up to several climaxes and revelations. Throughout, Riley manages a sense of strength and poise that I am envious of. On top of this, I will probably never look at the world the same way twice, especially in regards to gender—this book helped to further strengthen the realization that gender (or looks, or attitude, or clothes, or musical tastes, or….) should never be the most important thing about somebody. We’re all human, we’re all important. We all should feel comfortable in, and validated by, ourselves as whole—because we all ARE whole. None of the characters fall flat in this read—even those who go out of their way to bully or abuse Riley are portrayed in realistic, human ways, and are given chances to be redeemable.

This is the sort of read that breaks all the rules…and comes out on top of the world for it. This is a ground-breaking, heart-stopping, realistic examination of and discussion on not only gender fluidity, but the entire LGBTQIA community. This is, I feel, the type of read that could easily move mountains—it is so, so important, and so powerfully done.

“So, first, I want you to know that everybody experiences some level of anxiety. It’s a normal human response to stress. It’s like your body’s smoke alarm. If there’s a fire, you want to know so you can put it out or call 9-1-1, right?”

I shrug. “I guess. But it feels like my alarm is going off all the time.”

Doctor Ann nods. “Some people’s systems are more sensitive than others’. For you, maybe all it takes is burning a piece of toast, and your alarm thinks the house is on fire.”

This is a life-changer, guys. I recommend lovers of all types of literature pick this up, because it will shake you up and spit you out a different person. The writing is poignant, filled with morals, and always pushing readers to think. There’s a subtle, breathless sense of wisdom in the way Jeff Garvin went about writing Riley and this story… I promise you won’t be disappointed in the journey, if you’re open to letting it sweep you away.