10

Four Real: This Book BURNS with Hot and Steamy

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Four Real

Her love was greedy. Their love was infinite.

Lead singer of the start-up band Four Real, Tricia Donahue left her hometown with one question. How can you love three men at once? She’s convinced herself that it can’t be done—not without living up to her family’s infamous reputation. Now, years later, lead guitarist Michael Hill is touring with world famous TRE, far removed from the small town band he once called his family. Home will never be the same until he makes things right. Keyboarder, Pete Morello and drummer, Marty Pierce were always close, but when the one girl they ever loved disappeared from their life, their casual threesomes and life’s hard knocks revealed the feelings they share for each other. Reunion time for four best friends with unfinished business means they will finally face the music. Fantasy…meet reality.

Erotica/Romance
158 Pages
Publication Date:  December 5th, 2016
Get a copy here!

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: this book is FULL of the hot and steamy; mature audience recommended; there are some heavy subjects broached; complex, well-rounded, entertaining characters; I loved the focus on relationships within these pages; super fun, quick read

Huge thanks to Alyssa Turner and Xpresso Book Tours for granting me early access to a digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Let me get this out of the way before anything else: this book is NOT for readers uncomfortable with polyamorous relationships. This is not a “one guy, one girl” kind of book, so if you’re expecting or wanting to find that…you should probably put this one down and step away. Find something else to read. Also, there are some mature themes and subjects broached throughout–please keep this in mind! This book is definitely not going to be for “everyone,” so if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay!

That being said. I. LOVED. this book! I actually just went and bumped my penguin rating up a tiny bit because it was, having thought about it, a smidge too low for how I feel about this book. The characters are complex, well-rounded, and super entertaining. I’m not going to lie: I’ve always been a sucker for “love between band mates” books…and this book met that criteria beautifully. On top of that, the characters are realistic and diverse, while not being too cliche or “in your face” about their differences. They are human, and real, and I loved each of them equally. It doesn’t hurt that they practically leaped off the page at me. I was, at times, a bit frustrated by Tricia; she came off very flighty and cowardly at times, and that didn’t mesh at all with the vibe I expected her to put off going into this read. Once I wrapped my head around her and her character quirks, though, I enjoyed her much more. Of course, each of the boys in this are immediately bae–I just couldn’t choose between them if I tried! #multiplebookboyfriends #forthewin #Imnotashamed

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Alyssa Turner knows how to weave a relationship and make it realistic, and the relationships built upon and explored throughout these pages are one of my favorite elements. The friendship–gone so long with so many things unsaid and so many subjects unbroached–felt cohesive and natural even after so much time had passed in the characters’ lives. Reading this, I felt an outsider looking-in on a group of friends I could only HOPE to someday be as close to. The fact that a deeper, stronger relationship is woven into and throughout that friendship only helped to make these friends/lovers FEEL like the real deal to me. There are so many different types of love divulged and explored throughout this read, and each of them is just as natural and just as true-to-life.

I had a TON of fun reading this, and cannot WAIT to dive into more of Alyssa Turner’s novels! This book helped to give me a glimpse into a different type of love and intimacy, and I enjoyed every moment of it immensely. The relationships felt cohesive and realistic, the characters are well-rounded and entertaining, and there are several moments hot and steamy enough to leave even the most seasoned romance reader blushing. I recommend to readers who appreciate friendship-turned-love plots, deliciously sexy romps, and journeys of self-discovery. Alyssa Turner caught me in her snares with this one; maybe you should dance the dance, too!

2

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?

2

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Book Review: A Mortal Song


A Mortal Song
Megan Crewe
Publication date: September 13th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Goodreads

Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

“Megan Crewe’s A Mortal Song is engrossing from the first chapter. The world of the kami is beautifully fantastic and delicately drawn, and the switched-at-birth scenario made me instantly feel for both of these resilient, brave girls. A Mortal Song has lots of magic, lots of heart, and lots to love.” -Kendare Blake, author of Three Dark Crowns

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives with her husband, son, and three cats in Toronto, Canada (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she can’t look at the night sky without speculating about who else might be out there.

Join her newsletter for book news, recommended reads, and exclusive giveaways: http://eepurl.com/btE8mH


GIVEAWAY:  CLICK HERE!

Seriously, guys, click the above–the giveaway is HUGE, and filled with media and treats from Japan!  GO ENTER!


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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: diverse setting with an intriguing look into culture and mythologies from the region; strong-willed, resilient, endearing characters; lots of action and fight scenes; quick, entertaining read with a very large side of sass; awesome, unique story filled with well-crafted, relatable morals/lessons

Huge thanks to Megan Crewe, Another World Press, andGiselle @ Xpresso Book Tours for granting me early access to 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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So first and foremost: I signed up to read this book PURELY because of the intrigue surrounding it. When I signed on for a review copy, I didn’t even have a cover or title. There was no blurb. What can I say–I’m the kind of person who picks up mystery grab bags because I want to know what’s in them! This is not, honestly, the first book I’ve signed up to review before knowing what it was–and I sort of have a ton of fun doing it this way. It’s like…mystery fuels my little penguin heart, or something.

That being said, this book? Took me by total surprise. For one thing–read that blurb up there. Read it again. This book? Takes “switched at birth” to a WHOLE new level. The setting is diverse…but THE FOCUS, guys! The focus of the plot here–on the cultures and mythologies of the region–is my favorite part of this entire read. Megan Crewe knows how to weave a story around what she learns of a corner of the world–and she proved that with this book. I had not, until opening this on my kindle, known anything about the kami mythology. Having read this, I’m disappointed by that fact–despite leaning more toward the fantastical (I mean…Sora DOES live with the kami in Mt. Fuji for most of her young life), Megan Crewe depicted the lore beautifully and with respect.

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The plot was fast paced and entertaining. From page one, we are thrust into Sora’s life, and all the drama that unfolds within just a matter of several days. There is a LOT of character growth happening in this book, as well–and not just in the case of Sora. Even the minor characters have some small semblance of growth, of backstory–every contributing character is fleshed out and brought to life almost seamlessly. This story evokes a lot of conflicting emotions, as well–as Sora struggles to come to grips with her newfound identity and role in the life she THOUGHT was hers, readers are taken on a roller coaster of an emotional journey.

There are also many profound, relatable morals and lessons sprinkled throughout that readers–particularly those struggling to come to terms with who they are or what their roles in life are–will appreciate and emote with. This is not necessarily, however, a “heavy” read–the sass in these characters is real, and it’s HUGE in several chapters. And you all know I love my books full of sass–snark is like hot fudge on a sundae in my world.

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Despite going into this read literally blind, I LOVED the journey, and will definitely be looking out for Megan Crewe works in the future. She blended mythology and culture with the fantasy/paranormal seamlessly–and made the roller coaster of emotions both profoundly relatable and emotive. Lovers of switched at birth tales, diverse settings/cultures, and stubbornly kick-ass characters will ADORE this (currently) stand-alone novel. If this sounds like your type of book–pick it up!

4

Stained: The Book May Be Short, But it Says SO Much!

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Stained

174 Pages
Harvard Square Editions Publishing
Expected Publication Date: October 3rd, 2016
Preorder a copy here!

Selina, a beautiful, British-born Pakistani young woman recently lost her father, and finds herself struggling to cope with life, in particular with some aspects of her studies. Matters go from bad to worse, when a trusted family friend from the mosque offers to tutor her, and rapes her instead. With the threat of dishonour to her family at her back, Selina goes to extreme lengths to avoid scandal, and prevent shame being brought to her widowed mother’s door. It will take all the strength and courage Selina can muster when her life travels down a dangerous path, from which there may be no return…

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: the prose is a bit stiff and awkward in places, but PENGUINS, this book is so important; diverse read; hard-hitting, emotionally-charged subject matter; super short, but SO SO heavy; Selina’s story is one of strength and poise in the face of adversity, of finding yourself despite the darkness threatening to swallow you; this book touched me deeply

Such a HUGE thank you goes to Abda Khan and Harvard Square Editions publishing for sending me a 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, let’s get this out of the way first: this book is SUPER short. Perhaps, in light of everything that happens within these pages, a bit too short to really do the emotions justice. The prose was a bit stiff and awkward throughout, though not enough to slow down my reading or confuse me. In spite of these things…this book is SO, SO super important.

 

BUT. The subject matter is very heavy. Relevant as it is–especially for other women who have, or are, or will in the future experienced such trauma–it is not a read I would recommend to just anyone. There are triggering topics brought up: rape, miscarriage, emotional abuse, self-defense, and murder are just a few of the bigger ones. If you are a sensitive reader, or are easily triggered by such heavy topics, I recommend seriously thinking on picking this book up. It’s important…but so is your safety as a reader.

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That being said, I fully appreciated–and was deeply touched by–Selina’s story. Throughout this read, she remained strong and poised in the face of adversity and trauma. She picked herself up; she tried her best to move on. Even when the world was at its darkest, she brushed the dust off and kept moving forward. There’s a lot to be said for a character who can stand so tall despite the things life throws at her; there’s a lot to be learned from such characters as Selina. More, though–her story was of finding herself DESPITE the path life set her on.

 

The prose throughout was melodic and, though dark at points, maintained a poetic beauty I admire. Though this is first person narrative from Selina’s perspective, I feel Abda Khan painted the rest of the characters in ways that made them live and breathe from the pages. The “uncle”–the villain–in particular both chilled and absolutely disgusted me, the testament of a well-written and effectively portrayed character. These characters are SO real…and it only helped to drive home the fact that there are, in the world today, people just like this walking around. That we, on a daily basis sometimes, come into contact with them without ever realizing.

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This is an important, emotionally-heavy read, and I am so honored to have been given the chance to pick it up. It is obvious Abda Khan knows and studies people–her characters were realistically portrayed and effectively written. Human nature, and the ways we deal with trauma and adversity, are two of the largest resounding topics, though I say again: this read is NOT for everyone, given the sensitive subject matter. I recommend this to readers of hard-hitting, intense, emotionally-charged stories. This book is short…but it says so, so much.

2

Summerlypse: This Romance Felt a Bit like a Bad Lipsync

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After his crush rejects him, seventeen-year-old Colton catches a plane to Mexico, hoping to forget all about girls. But a night out at a dance club crowded with long legs in miniskirts doesn’t help, especially when he meets the club’s beautiful DJ, Alex.

In awe of her mixing skills, Colton finds it hard to believe Alex is deaf. As they bond, she asks him to help her win a DJ contest behind her rich, estranged father’s back.

Colton’s not a wimp or anything, but millionaires with armed bodyguards are not his ideal vacation buddies. The only problem—if he helps her, he may fly back home in a body bag.

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Teaser 1 (with sale)

gerardo delgadillo

Gerardo Delgadillo lives in the Dallas metropolitan area with his wife and children and dogs and cats and the occasional rabbit. Originally from San Francisco and raised in Mexico, he loves to write about contemporary teens in distress in English and Español. So no magic, dragons, or unicorns.

Gerardo’s fun facts:
– At the tender age of sixteen, when giant lizards ruled the world, Gerardo was a DJ–turntables and all.
– Cloud computing is his area of expertise–just don’t ask him what cloud computing means.
– He loves football, the one played with the feet by footballers, La Liga from Spain being the best.
About his novels:
– His writing must be emotional, or else…
– He believes in the Oxford comma, but the Oxford comma doesn’t believe in him.
– Loves first person present tense POV.

Author Links:

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3Penguins
Quick Reasons: entertaining, though not always believable, plot; diverse characters; insta-love to the millionth degree; the romance didn’t feel completely realistic; interesting character growth; “stream-of-conscious” prose with a ton of personality/voice

Huge thank yous go out to Gerardo Delgadillo, Whole Enchilada Press Publishing, and Sara @ YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a 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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This book was, overall, pretty entertaining. The plot was filled with action, drama, and angst–though also, at points, some pretty unbelievable situations. There were moments I found I couldn’t QUITE suspend my disbelief enough to get into the action–there were situations that, in the end, didn’t make much sense save as plot devices. These were, however, few and far-between.

 

A large part of this read, however, focused on Colton’s love life… or, rather, lack of one. It was insta-lovey. It was sort of obnoxious at some parts. It was, in the end, very unbelievable for me–I just didn’t connect Colton and Alex as a couple. I didn’t SEE it. I didn’t FEEL it. I wasn’t shipping them at all. Colton does, however, make quite the large amount of character growth. Alex, also, has a story arc and fair amount of growth. So while I wasn’t shipping them as a couple (their romance seemed contrived to me, I suppose–disappointing, not realistic), I WAS rooting for them both in vastly different ways.

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The prose in this book is…unique. Unique is the best way to describe it, I think. There’s a sort of “stream of conscious” feel to it that both put me into the mind/thoughts of Colton immediately…and also made bits of this read very awkward or confusing. I LOVE how much voice and personality this POV allowed the book–from page one, we knew everything going on in Colton’s head. There were no surprises. Gerardo Delgadillo really dove into his character, and achieved a sense of “closeness” for his readers that I wasn’t expecting going in. There are, however, some “broken” moments. Not every thought makes sense. Sometimes topics leap-frog. Sometimes, a sentence was put in such a way that I was confused, and had to go back over it three or four times to figure out what was being said.

 

I love how diverse this read is–and not just in the usual terms. These characters were written in such dynamic, unique ways–I could SEE each of them, they leapt to life for me during the reading, and they surprised me consistently. Colton, especially, was a delight in characterization–his personality, his general traits, all came together in an entertaining and satisfying way. The rest of the characters do not, in any way, fade into the background though–they all stood out and held their ground throughout this read, though a few were given much less emphasis than I’d have liked. Martin’s grandma, for instance, was a character I’d have LOVED to see more of. I get it, though–books are only SO big, and sometimes side stories exist that cannot be given a specific focus to. Still, I was intrigued by her, and sad to only get a few small scenes with her and the rest of the crew.

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Overall, this was a quirky and entertaining read, though I’m slightly disappointed with it in the end. The romance felt a bit stiff and contrived, though the plot was FULL of drama and danger. I definitely recommend this read to lovers of fast-paced contemporaries, diverse characters, and wide-arcing character growths. I had fun with this one–but now, it’s on to the next!

YABound

4

A Review of Rebel Bully Geek Pariah, by Erin Jade Lange

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The Breakfast Club gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever.

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.
The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.
The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college.
The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.

When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive.

With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes readers on literary thrill ride.

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3.5 Stars
Quick Reasons: action-packed plot; lots of built-up backstory and character growth; some parts were very hard to “believe”; nice nod at a “first romance”; awesome tale of finding friendship in the most unlikely places; overall enjoyed this read

Huge thanks go out to Erin Jade Lange, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Netgalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my reading of or opinions on this book.

When I first found out there was going to be a modern-day “retake” on The Breakfast Club, I squealed and danced and celebrated. I LOVE that movie (actually, I love any movies with the Brat Pack in them) and I immediately knew I needed to read the book. So when I stumbled upon it on Netgalley, it only took me about 2 seconds to hit the “request” button. Let me tell you, I think I celebrated even louder when I found out I’d been approved an eARC! Happy, happy days—I was going to read one of my most anticipated books for 2016!

I closed my eyes, wishing the thought away. It happened like that sometimes: one bad memory bleeding into the next, as if my past were a patchwork quilt of ugly moments and I was chasing the seams, trying to find an exit but only bumping into new patches, new memories.

I was hyped going into this read, but ultimately feel a bit let down. The characters are pretty great—like the movie, they take on the same traits, though in vastly different ways. I really enjoyed the perspective—having the story come from the pariah, instead of one of the others, really helped to show that friendships are often found in the most unlikely places, especially during moments we’re not seeking them out. I would have liked, I think, to know a little more about the other characters—while we get snippets of their lives (the infamous heart-to-heart is replayed several times in this novel), we only really know Sam’s whole story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s powerful, and it’s a decent glimpse into why she is who she is/acts the way she does… But the rest of the crew sort of fall “flat” for me. While I cared about the story, I wasn’t invested in the characters as much as I hoped I’d be.

There’s also quite a few moments I found myself questioning the author. There are a lot of unbelievable plotlines and loopholes used throughout that I found almost unnecessary to the story. It was hard for me to get into the story…because I didn’t fully BELIEVE in the story being crafted around me. While it’s true something like this wild night could happen, I just… I had a very hard time feeling convinced when it came to certain plot twists or reveals. A lot of times, it felt more like a ruse to keep the story going than an actual part of the story.

I know in this moment that I’m stronger than Mama. And not because I don’t cry, but because after everything life has thrown at us—or, more accurately, after everything Mama has thrown at our lives—I’m not so breakable. Mama is glass that shatters too easily. I am stone that doesn’t crack easily enough.

The different levels of character growth, on the other hand, are astounding and so easy to believe. The characters, while a bit flat overall, go through a lot of terrifying, life-altering drama during the course of this book…and they all come out changed in drastic, awesome ways. I had a ton of fun watching these characters interact, grow, and relate—comparing their before and after personalities is almost mind-bending, how far they’ve come!

The plot twist near the end was also well-done. While I’d had suspicions early on, they were waylaid by the story and a bit of red-herring. While I wouldn’t claim to have been shocked speechless by the big reveal, I definitely hadn’t been expecting it. The ending, also, wasn’t what I was expecting going in—I LOVE how the famous “Breakfast Club” letter is reshaped and molded into something different for this read. It works, and it works effectively. The twist there was also surprising—and more pleasant and unexpected than the previous one.

“I think maybe you’re nicer than you let people see,” I finally said. I looked down the line at my partners in crime. Their faces were all the same as they were less than twenty-four hours ago, but they were somehow changed, too. “But maybe we’re all something a little different than we let people see.”

Overall, this modern-day retelling is entertaining, and it’s easy to see where the influences of the original content came into play. I had a ton of fun reading this, though I also had some issues with things like believability and character-love. I’d recommend to lovers of fast-paced action, slap-hazard but immediate friendships, and “coming into oneself” stories. This is a great redo of an older classic; hats off to Erin Jade Lange for a pretty great read!

8

A Review of Vinyl (The Vinyl Trilogy #1), by Sophia Elaine Hanson

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Legend meets Leviathan in this gritty steampunk fiction by debut author Sophia Elaine Hanson. Charged with fear, heavy with heartbreak, and stitched with unexpected moments of joy,Vinyl is perfect for fans of Cinder andDivergent.

In the heart of the once powerful nation of Arutia lies the reclusive city state of Revinia. All citizens within its soaring black walls have metal Singers grafted into their skulls at birth. The parasitic machines issue a form of auditory hypnosis called The Music, which keeps their minds malleable and emotions flat. All artistic expression—especially real music—is strictly prohibited.

On the edge of the city, nineteen year old Ronja struggles to support her family. Plagued by migraines and haunted by prejudice brought on by her mother—a ‘mutt’ genetically twisted as punishment for crimes unknown—Ronja is hanging by a thread. Then, a chance meeting leads to her kidnapping by the Anthem, an underground resistance working to snuff The Music and preserve the human spirit. Violently severed from her Singer by the brash young agent Roark, Ronja revels in her newfound freedom…until she returns home to discover her family has been taken as a result of her disappearance.

The first in a trilogy, Vinyl is a story of loyalty, passion, trauma, human connection, and the extraordinary power of real music.

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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: future readers be warned: 77% is a life ruiner moment; this book is gritty, unique, and all sorts of epic; I’ve never read anything QUITE like it; I need book two like yesterday; awesome characters; “the chosen one”…but not really; all-around wonderful

I should probably begin with the thing everyone’s thinking, probably. Future readers, beware: that 77% mark WILL stop your heart. It is the plot twist from hell. It will rip it into teeny tiny pieces and scatter them to the four corners of the world. It will laugh in your face and refuse to back down. Please—breathe through it. Don’t hyperventilate. Don’t throw your book across the room, because that will only hurt your book. DON’T set your book aside in a fit of anger. This, too, shall pass. Maybe.

Moving on. Sophia Elaine Hanson, you’ve just become my newest favorite person ever—and not just because you took my random fits of twitter rants in stride. Those were by and far ugly; I blame my heart giving out at the earlier stated plot-twist from hell.

“The Music was not crafted to protect the people of Revinia from their demons. It is a muzzle, one that purges all powerful emotions and rebellios inclinations, prevents tumult in the face of Bullon’s injustice. It exchanges your natural-born passions for a single thought: Be loyal to The Conductor.”

This book? Is steampunk dystopian like you’ve NEVER seen it. I know, you probably hear that every time someone recommends a new book for you to read, but trust me: I’m not lying, I’m not exaggerating, I’m singing these praises loudly but only because I stand behind them completely. The ideas in this book are so unique. And the writing?! is absolutely gorgeous. This book is dark, and dreary, and just the right amount of spine-shuddering creepy. When you crack this book, you will feel like you’ve stepped immediately into the world—it breathes, sings, and screams into life around you. It haunts you. It kidnaps and forces you to watch as it unravels and laughs as it shatters your hopes again, and again, and again…

Sophia Elaine Hanson knows how to write a world, is what I’m saying. She starts you off in the middle, as is the way…but wraps you in so much world-building, you’ll feel as if you’re not only watching from the sidelines, but are privvy to your own set of headphones and dome-like movie theater. You will see this world as if in 3D. The characters will grip your fingers, claw their way down your spine, and settle somewhere around (or on top of) your heart. They will build themselves a home inside your ribcage and then trample all over it—and you’ll LOVE every second, I promise. Ronja is just the sort of strong-willed, sassy MC I love reading about. The rest of the characters, as well, have a tendency to wrap themselves around your little finger and pull you along where they want to go.

“The Music is a beast, Ronja. A living, breathing beast that has its claws on your pulse. When your heart races, it clutches you harder.”

The plot is linear…but there’s an interesting experiment with varied perspectives going on throughout that I found not annoying, but intriguing and well-done. There aren’t so many that it gets confusing—the main perspective generally remains with Ronja—but there’s enough of a draw-back to open up book two to some interesting possibilities in regards to viewpoint. With everything that happens at the end of the read, I imagine this will be coming into play in said next book.

Overall, this was an amazing, life-ruining experience and I am SO so glad I picked up this book on the whim that I did! The only problem is…book two isn’t even finished yet. Someone remind me why I do this to myself? I think I’ve forgotten in the echoing heartaches this read left me with. I definitely recommend this to lovers of steampunk, dystopian, and uniquely amazing world-building! This just soared to the top of my “new favorites” list; I can’t wait to see what’s in store come book two!

6

A Review of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow

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This debut novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white. In the tradition of Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, here is a portrait of a young girl – and society’s ideas of race, class, and beauty.

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5 Stars
Quick Reasons: unique, poetic language that helps put us into the characters’ heads; well-written, non-linear plot; not a journey in way of plot, but a journey toward self-discovery and truth; there’s a lot of character growth (and some character regression)

This book tore my heart from my chest, twisted it into about a thousand knots, ate it like licorice…..and then spat it back out for me to retrieve! Not even an exaggeration. 2016, you’ve thrown some pretty spectacular reads my way so far! It’s only been three days, here’s hoping you don’t peter out anytime soon!

This is the third diverse read of the year for me. So far, I haven’t been let down yet, though I think this one’s my top favorite of the three. SHHH! Don’t tell the others; they’ll be upset.

My children are one half of black. They are also one half of me. I want them to be anything. They are not just a color that people see.

The language is absolutely beautiful. It’s got a quiet sort of poetry, a flair for individuality… throughout, no matter which section or point of view, I felt as if the narrator was speaking directly to me. Each of these voices—Rachel’s, Nella’s, Laronne’s, Brick’s—rings true to their personality and their journeys. Above all, they each get to tell their stories to the reader. While some, like Nella’s, are more distanced, they’re all sort of guiding the reader where Heidi W. Durrow wants them to end up.

The journey, while heartbreaking and at times tough to stomach, is so gorgeously done. This book is not for lovers of action stories or fast-paced plots; there’s a subtler, quieter discovery going on. Instead of a race to find a killer, or some complicated fight between good and evil…this is ALL about the discovery of self. Mostly Rachel’s—hers touches on so many hard-hitting, wise and important epiphanies. This is the sort of book I feel many people might relate to—the schism of morals discovered throughout are bound to teach readers about themselves along the way.

Heredity isn’t supposed to work backward. I think about these things: the way that science or math tells us certain things. Math can explain the reason there’s a one out of four chance that I’d have blue eyes. But it doesn’t explain why me. And science or math can’t explain what makes one person lucky, or what makes a person lucky enough to survive.

If you’re searching for a fluffy, light read…this is not it. It starts immediately on the deep, emotionally-charged feel train and it doesn’t let off the petal once. If you’re seeking a fast-paced, filled to the brim with action book…again, this is not it. There’s a type of drama happening, but it’s more focused on the characters and their journeys than on the plot. And I LOVED that about this book, the artful blend of humanity and growth Heidi W. Durrow wrote. The poetic beauty of the language, as well, helped to craft and mire these characters in my mind.

I would advise readers to take care: there are some heavy, triggering subjects broached in these pages. If you’re at all bothered by abuse, suicide, molestation, or bullying, you shouldn’t read this unless you know you can handle it. While the plot isn’t focused on action, a LOT happens in this read—it’s all done with sensitivity and maturity, but it’s not all easy to read through.

“Hey,” Brick says finally. “What did you wish?”

“I can’t tell you,” I say. But I think, If only Robbie had been a bird. If only we had been a family that could fly.

This book is the epitome of a life-ruiner. It will change how you look at the world, if you let it—and you should! I definitely recommend to lovers of diverse characters, journeys of self-discovery, and reads with an emotional punch. I will be thinking about this book for a LONG time to come; maybe you should give it a chance to break you, too!