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

In A Gilded Cage: This Rapunzel Prefers Strawberry Sundaes

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In a Gilded Cage

Lucci Grimley is indeed alluring—crowned with a mane of long blond hair, and blessed with an enchanting musical talent that draws a brave rescuer to a high tower hidden in the forest.

However, this modern-day Rapunzel is a young man, sold as a child to the wealthy and childless Damien Gotham for the price of a fast car and a pile of cash. And Lucci’s heroic prince is William “Prin” Prinzing, a handsome college student and star soccer player, hired to care for the grounds of the lavish Tower Estate. Prin climbs an extension ladder rather than a long golden braid to gain access to Lucci’s second floor bedroom window, ultimately penetrating the secrecy surrounding the cloistered young man.

Friendship, and soon romance, blooms. The tower captive eagerly gives his loving innocence to his brave rescuer, which sends the strict and reclusive Gotham into a frenzy of jealous rage. With Prin, Lucci gets a taste of real life, and he wants more. Together, the young men must face Gotham’s ruthlessness and pay the price of liberating Lucci.

Romance (M/M) / Erotica / Retellings / Diverse Reads
166 Pages
Evernight Publishing
Publication Date: October 21st, 2016
Get a copy here!

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: fluffy, steamy, adorable romance; I’m branching out again!; a disturbing, dark take on Rapunzel; seriously, the “father” was terrifying; quick read with lots of adorable, quirky moments; I love?! this relationship; diverse read!

Huge thanks to Mia Kerick, Evernight Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours 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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As per usual lately, I want to start with a trigger warning for sensitive readers: there are some violent scenes, and there is abuse (mostly emotional/mental), present in this book. Please be careful, and keep yourselves safe!

Also, this book explores some very mature themes/ideas. There are several explicit M/M sex scenes. Ideas like abuse, human trafficking, self-discovery, self-harm, and diverse love all play a role in this read. If these upset you or make you uncomfortable, this is probably not the right fit for you. Keep that in mind!

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All that being said: I REALLY enjoyed this journey! The characters are endearing and adorable. I easily empathized with and found myself rooting for them both, in very different ways. I feel like the romance itself might have been just a little bit rushed, though. Given how little Lucci was allowed to experience the world, the insta-love on his end makes sense–Will is the first person to actually interact with and treat Lucci decently, so of course he’d be star-struck and infatuated. Will, after all, represents hope for Lucci. But I’m not sure it’s entirely believable, especially on Will’s end of things. He accepts his feelings toward Lucci almost TOO easily, in my opinion (having never been interested in anyone prior to this), and he doesn’t seem to struggle with it at all. Perhaps he’s just super resilient and adaptable, but I had a hard time believing it.

This was a quick read with some gorgeously written moments. I sat down intending to only read a small part of this…and ended up finishing it off within a couple of hours. The plot is well-paced, and I adored the ways Mia Kerick wove inspiration from Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretelthroughout the story. It’s a darker take, though–Lucci especially, while coming out stronger and standing on his own at the end, remains traumatized. So if you’re going into this read expecting a “magical happily ever after”…well, you won’t find it here. The ending is happy, of a sort, but it’s not all magically better.

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Overall, I enjoyed this read. The characters were mixed parts snarky and endearing; the plot was driven and easy to slip into; and the subject matter was just dark enough to test my comfort zone. I will be keeping an eye out for Mia Kerick in the future–I can’t wait to see where she leads readers next! I recommend this to readers of diverse romance, journeys that make a statement, and stories inspired by fairy tales. This was exactly the adorable, steamy, dark romance I’ve been craving! Now, on to the next one.

4

Saving Hamlet: With Two Worlds on Your Shoulders, You Gotta Stand Tall

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Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh–the adorable soccer boy who’s cast as the lead–turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy–even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

LINKS: Amazon | B&N

molly-boothABOUT MOLLY BOOTH:

Molly Booth grew up homeschooled in Massachusetts with her four boisterous siblings. She stage managed for three different community theatres in high school. Her first college was Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, MA; she then went on to study writing, literature, and Elizabethan history on a very cold hill at Marlboro College in Vermont. There, she wrote the first drafts of Saving Hamlet, her debut novel, coming 11/1/16 from Disney Hyperion. Her second book, Nothing Happened, will be coming spring 2018.

Molly also writes for The Mary Sue, and sometimes other sites like HelloGigglesThe Tempest, and McSweeney’s.  She spends most of her time snuggling her adorable dog Suzie, pet rats Meg and Marigold, and Harriet the queen cat.

She’s represented by Alex Slater at Trident Media Group, and edited by Kieran Viola at Disney Hyperion.

 

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

Interested in winning a finished copy of this awesome read?!  CLICK BELOW (US entrants only, please)–

Giveaway:  THREE (3) Finished Copies of Saving Hamlet!


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4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: hello, well-written diversity!; hugely entertaining; loaded with snark; love the mix of sci fi and historical fiction; complex, awesome characters; realistic “love” story; I laughed out loud–loudly!; such an entertaining, hilarious journey

Huge thanks to Molly Booth, Disney-Hyperion Publishers, Irish Banana Tours and Netgalley 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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I have a confession to make, penguins. Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of only skimming a book’s blurb once…and then going into the read basically blind. This is, in my opinion, the best decision I’ve ever made–because I never know for sure what to expect when picking up a book. It’s also, often, an exciting adventure. Take THIS book, for instance–I forgot everything about the blurb…except that there was something to do with Shakespeare/Hamlet. Imagine my surprise–and delight!–when the plot REALLY got underway and the time travel began! What I guess I’m saying is, if you’re the type of reader who lives for adventure, maybe you should think about adopting a similar habit.

Which is a round-about way of saying I ADORED this read! Particularly the diversity. There are several key characters from the LGBTQIA communities–and they are possibly the BEST and most well-written characters I’ve come across in YA fiction recently. They are complex, well-rounded, and individualized; they are in NO way the “token” diverse characters so many novels fall into the habit of employing. Lulu and Stanley (the two) were also my FAVORITE characters from this book, though only outranking the rest by just a little. I blame their fiercely independent and snarky tendencies–they were just too awesome to NOT love immediately.

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The plot is multi-layered and interesting. While not necessarily filled with a ton of action, I found myself on tenterhooks throughout the entire read–always wondering what was going to happen next. There are so many life lessons/morals floating throughout, including: self-confidence; self-love; acceptance; and tolerance. While Emma is on a journey toward confidence in and acceptance of herself, the rest of the crew face their own struggles and life lessons. There is so much going on, from page one–but Molly Booth blended everything into a seamless, cohesive, heart-wrenching, hilarious journey.

This was such a fun, awesome read–I am definitely impressed, and will be impatiently awaiting Molly Booth’s next release. I recommend this to lovers of time travel, diverse characters, and realistically-written romances. Also, a love for Shakespeare doesn’t hurt. Pick this book up, penguins–and let the giggle fest begin!

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1

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.

2

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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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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2

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Can You Love without Really Knowing Someone?

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
YA/Contemporary/Romance
369 Pages
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Get a copy here!

3.5Penguins

Quick Reasons: cute and entertaining, but nothing I wasn’t expecting; I absolutely ADORED Peter by the end of this book; the relationship between the sisters and their dad was absolutely adorable; well-rounded, diverse characters; the focus on finding yourself and forging a way through life is so important

Okay, penguins, you can all stop screaming now–I did it. I picked this book up. I picked it up, and I opened to the first page…….and I didn’t put it down again until I was finished. (Well, I mean, I DID–to do normal human stuff. But in the grand scheme of things, I read this in one sitting.) Relax! The world isn’t ending. Not today, at least.

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To be honest, this was pretty much EXACTLY what I was expecting going into this read. By which I mean, I wasn’t really surprised. There are quite a few cliche scenes/moments. The prose in this read is so poetic and beautiful, though–I felt I’d been sucked straight into the mind of a writer. Being a practicing poet myself, I feel I can say with confidence that Lara Jean has the soul of a poet. The prose is, therefore, at times abstract and always, always gorgeous; the descriptions and details pore from every page like magic, waiting for readers to stop and take them in.

The characters were vibrant, diverse, and well-rounded. Because this is from Lara Jean’s perspective, we don’t, unfortunately, get all the nitty-gritty of the inner-workings of everyone else. Instead, we are made to see them from Lara Jean’s mind–and often, this means from a biased or judgmental standpoint. Lara Jean is, I feel, the sort of girl who makes snap judgments. This made for both entertaining and confusing reading–several times throughout, I wanted to reach through the pages to shake some sense into her. To yell at her to stop daydreaming and actually LOOK at the world around her. Still, I had a ton of fun following her along this journey, and watching her come to grips with herself.

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The relationships are probably the most important focus in this book. I absolutely ADORE how much emphasis was put on Lara Jean’s relationship with both her sisters and their dad. Their reactions and interactions were endearing and entirely human, even during moments of drama or upset. The fact that these relationships also brought up a strong focus on self-discovery helped to drive home and emphasize what I think Jenny Han was most trying to convey: that sometimes, you HAVE to stand on your own. That sometimes, you have to break yourself apart to figure out who you really are.

So, while I was not necessarily blown away by this read, I absolutely ADORED the journey regardless. There are some cliched moments/scenes, but the characters and the relationships really helped to drive this story for me. I will definitely be picking up P.S. I Still Love You in the near future (I mean, it’s already waiting for me on my kindle, so…) I recommend this to lovers of contemporaries, very messy romances, and self-discovery journeys. This was an adorable read, penguins–you should definitely keep it in mind next time you’re seeking those elusive heart-flutters.

2

Blog Tour and Review: Night Ringing

night-ringing-bannernight-ringing  “I revel in the genius of simplicity” Laura Foley writes as she gives us in plain-spoken but deeply lyrical moments, poems that explore a life filled with twists and turns and with many transformations. Through it all is a search for a fulfilling personal and sexual identity, a way to be most fully alive in the world. From multicultural love affairs through marriage with a much older man, through raising a family, through grief, to lesbian love affairs, “Night Ringing” is the portrait of a woman willing to take risks to find her own best way. And she does this with grace and wisdom. As she says: “All my life I’ve been swimming, not drowning.” -Patricia Fargnoli, author of “Winter, Duties of the Spirit, ” and “Then, Something

“I love the words and white space of poetry. I love stories even more. In this collection, Laura Foley evokes stories of crystallized moments, of quiet and overpowering emotion, of bathtubs and lemon chicken. The author grows up on the pages, comes of age, and reconciles past with present. Almost. Try to put the book down between poems to savor each experience. Try, but it won’t be easy. -Joni B. Cole, author of “Toxic Feedback, Helping Writers Survive and Thrive”

Plain-spoken and spare, Laura Foley’s poems in “Night Ringing” trace a life story through a series of brief scenes: separate, intense moments of perception, in which the speaker’s focus is arrested, when a moment opens to reveal a glimpse of the larger whole. Memories of a powerful, enigmatic father, a loving but elusive mother, a much older husband, thread Foley’s stories of childhood, marriage and motherhood, finally yielding to the pressure of her attention, as she constructs a series of escapes from family expectations, and moves toward a new life. In these lucid, intense poems, Foley’s quiet gaze, her concentration, and emotional accuracy of detail, render this collection real as rain. -Cynthia Huntington, author of “Heavenly Bodies”

Foley’s voice rings with quiet authority undercut by calamity, examining a life so extraordinary, she seems to have lived several people’s lives, setting a high bar for poetic craft she meets, in great mystery perfectly expressed in the tiny, quotidian, “spent matches pressed on wet pavement,” to soulful beauty, “as wind lifts/every shining wave”; in wisdom rooted in humor, from the deliciously funny “Flunking Jung,” to self-deprecating wit, misreading “poetic” as “pathetic,” reminding us wisdom is love, grown from self-compassion. -April Ossmann, author of “Anxious Music”

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About the Poet:Laura Foley is the author of five poetry collections. The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Joy Street won the Bi-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review and in the British Aesthetica Magazine. She won Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Award and the Grand Prize for the Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest.

Find Her:
Website | Goodreads

Buy Night Ringing here:
Amazon


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4Penguins

Quick Reasons: gorgeous, powerful, poignant; the poetry in this collection is emotive, evocative, and thought-inspiring; while the progression isn’t always clear, it’s obvious there’s a story to be found here, interlaced with both the abstract and the realistic; human nature–and personal growth–are very strong focuses throughout

HUGE thanks to Laura Davies Foley and the crew atWorldwind Book Tours for sending me a copy of this poetry collection in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Let me just start by saying…. POETRY, HOW I MISS YOU!

I mean, honestly–this collection? makes me want to go out and scoop up as many poetry books as I can find, to devour, to be inspired by, to fall in love with. Laura Davies Foley has woven a journey–to self-acceptance, to loves and to heartbreaks, to the abstract and the realistic–that I both related to and was captivated by. This collection is FULL of human nature and the assurances that everything you do–even the worst mistakes you think you’ve ever made–make up exactly who you’re supposed to be, and that’s just beautiful to me, as a reader, to come across in poetry.

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The poetry herein is emotive and evocative. Subjects range from the abstract to the wholly realistic–from sea turtles on page one, to experimentation with partners later on. Marriage, children, divorce; happiness, disappointment, anger–all are touched upon and explored, a tapestry of emotions.

Every sense is ALSO brought into play, though sometimes more subtly than you’d expect. Laura Davies Foley chose her words with care in order to take readers along a path of reminiscences, heartaches, and self-discovery. Split into different sections, each portrays a different event in the poet’s life. Sometimes, this connection is easy to spot. Other times, readers will need to piece the seams together as the poems come.

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I really enjoyed basking in the beauty of Laura Davies Foley’s words–and the journey transcribed within these pages. There’s something heart-wrenching and honest about this collection that is bound to be relatable to even the newest readers of poetry. I definitely recommend this read to lovers of the poetic, the juxtaposition of abstract with realism, and seekers of an emotionally evocative journey. I am determined, after reading this exquisite collection, to read much more poetry in the near future!

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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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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!

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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…

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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.