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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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.

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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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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.

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Blog Tour (Review), Teasers and Giveaway: The Duchess Quest

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Dainy doesn’t know that she is the lost Duchess of Jordinia, believed to have been assassinated fifteen years ago. Nor does she know that her uncle has implemented an illegal contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward! Though at odds, three clashing rivals – including a noble giant, a forest dweller and a thieving rake – voyage together by woodland, prairie and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding the assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, young Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic quadrangle as each suitor competes to capture her heart. Charmingly romantic and bursting with political intrigue, startling twists and vivid characters, readers of romance and fantasy alike will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.

About the Book:

Jordinia #1
412 Pages
Published October 3rd, 2014
48fourteen Publishing

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BooksAMillion | 48fourteen | CKBrooke

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About the Author

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C.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers’ Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books – reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys info-tainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There’s tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she’s up to!

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Click the picture above for the GIVEAWAY!


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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: awesome start to what is bound to be an AWESOME series!; love triangle? booooo…messy romance/lots of drama? YUM; LOVE the character growth, especially that seen in Cosmith; believable, realistic characters and relationships; some easy-to-spot plot twists, paired with some not-so-easy ones; this world sucked me in and held me captive, though there are some world-building issues

HUGE thanks to C.K. Brooke, 48fourteen Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Now, if you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know I don’t read much in the way of pure fantasy. Usually, I go more for the paranormal, or the magical, or the steampunk. I have nothing against fantasy–but as a genre, it ALONE doesn’t generally appeal to me. I usually need something on top of it. So why THIS book?! Why NOW?! I decided…I needed to branch out again, I suppose. And this cover? THIS COVER CALLED TO ME, penguins! This cover was like a beacon lighting my way, begging me for attention. I was also drawn in by the promise of a “love quadrangle,” though honestly I found this bit of the summary to be a lie–it’s more of a love triangle, in the end. Still, it was entertaining!

These characters are all so unique and complex. I particularly enjoyed Dainy’s feisty, stubborn, snarky nature–I mean, those are the traits I always look for in my favorite characters, so I’m glad she exhibited them. Cosmith, however… Cosmith took me completely by surprise. At the start of this journey, I was bound and determined to loathe him…….only for that to change as the story progressed and as he grew. There was so much character growth in him, guys, I couldn’t help but be swayed to his side. I don’t even know when, specifically, I began to see him not as a manipulative jerk, but as someone worthy of my reading time. Regardless, it happened. And the character I hoped to LOVE by the end of this… actually sort of made me loathe him somewhere in the middle! I was a mess of confused emotions, basically–but am so so pleased by this book as a whole.

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The plot is entertaining, filled with action and adventure. There were several deceptive red herrings and delicious plot twists…and some twists I saw coming a mile away. I laughed, I exclaimed–very loudly and in much surprise! I was enthralled, beginning to end. The prose is a bit awkward and heavy-handed at parts, written to emulate the way these characters speak. It’s more formal than I’m used to from books, but was also gorgeous and well-managed. It wasn’t ever TOO much, though sometimes walked a thin line there.

The world building was decent, though I have to admit to being a bit confused about the time period. This has been shelved as “historical” fiction a few times on goodreads, but….some of the technology (the blood lock, for instance) seems a bit advanced for historical fiction. I am also confused by the world as a whole–technology is all but unmentioned, which made it difficult to gauge exactly the time period. I wish there had been a few more hints along the way, to help better root me in the world itself–while I don’t feel I missed out on the world much, I feel as if there was a slight disconnect between my head and the book’s reality.

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Overall, this was an entertaining, snark-filled read–and I can’t wait to see what the next book brings our merry trio of characters! C.K. Brooke caught me by surprise with this one, enthralling and ensnaring me with poetic prose and creatively-captured characters. If you enjoy fantasy, “self-discovery” stories, and characters with their snark torches burning at both ends, this book should be right up your alley! I definitely recommend it!

YA Bound Book Tours

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The Sky is Everywhere: And These Lessons Fall like Rain

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The Sky Is Everywhere

Goodreads Rating: 4.05 Stars
288 Pages
Dial Books Publishing
Publication Date: March 9th, 2010
Get a copy here!

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: poetic, melodic, gorgeous prose; this novel tackles grief–and how differently everybody handles it–with aplomb; I admit, my heart might be just a little bit broken–but also taped back together; realistic, beautifully flawed characters; lots of great moral stuff going on throughout

Okay, okay, you can all get off my back–I finally did it. I FINALLY picked up–and read!–a Jandy Nelson novel. Aren’t you proud of me? Huh, huh, aren’t you?! Because you should be.

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Now…I’m not going to say this was the most ground-shattering thing I’ve ever read, because let’s be honest: it wasn’t. There are, admittedly, many more grammatical issues than I expected–I mean, everybody raves and rants about this author, I figured I was stepping into something rather close to perfect. Except…there are mistakes. Quite a good number of them, which I of course paid attention to–in the midst of such poetic, gorgeously lyrical prose, it’s hard NOT to notice when a mistake stutters into the mists of your reading. And each time, I had to stop, backtrack to the start of the sentence, and read it over again–just to make SURE the mistake existed. Sadly, this took a bit of the magic out of this book for me.

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BUT! This book? Really tackled grief, and the many different ways people handle it, with aplomb. The lyrical, musical quality of the prose only helped to bring atmosphere and mood to the story. The journey the characters are on–toward acceptance, toward each other–is beautifully rendered. There were several moments I had to stop and just THINK about what I’d read; moments I wanted so badly to step into this world, take the characters in my hands, and tell them everything would be okay; SO many moments I wanted nothing more than to shake sense into them. Of course, they’re book characters–this isn’t a possible thing to do. The desire was there, though, and so so strong.

 

These characters are beautifully flawed, and in the midst of a journey that nobody should have to handle…and yet everybody, at some point in their lives, DOES have to. Jandy Nelson took one of the most heart-shattering situations in the world…and made it relatable, made it beautiful, made it a lesson–not just for readers who’ve gone through, or are currently facing, such difficult times, but for everybody. There are morals to be learned in this read that are important, guys–perhaps not life-altering, but SO important in their own quiet, subtle way.

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So no, this isn’t the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read…but it’s heartbreaking all the same, in a more subtle, poisonous way. The morals are so important, pertaining to grief, how okay it is to handle it in any way you need to–and pertaining to, if not necessarily moving on after a tragedy, at least figuring out how to pick up the pieces and, perhaps, find yourself in the process. Lennie’s journey is one I think all readers can relate to…and need to read. I definitely recommend to lovers of contemporaries, romances, and novels with a wider-arcing purpose. This is one read I’m glad I didn’t pass up.

5

This Old Heart of Mine: Is a Bumbling, Babbling Band of Baboons

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This Old Heart of Mine

Goodreads Rating: 4.90 Stars
340 Pages
Expected Publication Date:  May 24th, 2016
Get a copy here!

Ava Malone knows all about being broken-hearted.

Born with a severe heart defect, she’s spent her whole life in and out of hospital desperately needing a transplant.

Just days from death, her weak prayers are finally answered, and she receives a new heart; one that not only saves her life, but changes it forever.

Now fit and healthy, Ava is able to do things she only dreamed of, like get a job and some independence, fall in love, and finally live life to the fullest.

But her journey of self-discovery takes her to places she never expected. Along the way, Ava doesn’t just find the woman she was always meant to be, but she also finds out more about the woman who no longer is. The one who gave her this new life because she lost hers.

Faced with a devastating dilemma, Ava must decide whether the heart that’s pumping inside her body now belongs to her, or is still beating for someone else.

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: oh my goodness, my poor heart!; this..this book…I am a babbling, incoherent idiot right now; this book needs to be read; the emotions, the challenging subject matter; I want to be friends with these characters, they could teach me so much; I can’t even compute what I just read; this book is GORGEOUS, guys; I feel a book hangover coming on

First and foremost, huge thanks go out to A.J. Compton and Xpresso Book Tours for granting me 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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And oh, PENGUINS, guys—this book was nothing like what I expected going in. Yes, I caught on to the “plot twist” pretty early on in the book. Yes, some of the prose and dialogue is awkward and confusing. But the heart of this story? Devastating. The subject matter? Approached with sensitivity and maturity. The things this book TAUGHT me? Absolutely priceless.

You laugh because I sound like a Kodak camera commercial, but I’m not lying. This book is the definition of a life-ruiner, in my world. This book challenged me, pushed me out of my comfort zone…and made me stop to really think about things in a different way. The sheer number of pulse-stopping moments, the ones that make you step back and catch your breath? I can’t even try to guess how many there were in this read. More than that, though—I closed this read with a heart both heavy, and at the same time, light. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but…it’s the best way I can explain it.

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These characters are vibrant. They leech from the pages, they slip the claws of their personalities beneath your skin—they linger, even when the book is closed. I found myself longing to be friends with them, even just for a moment; I feel they could teach me, and the world, a lot about what it means to actually live. The romance is believable and steamy in all the right ways; the heart butterflies were strongly aflutter, just the way I like them.

And the story. THE. STORY. I just… I cannot, simply cannot, get over the vast amount of growth these characters go through. We get a short, and (in my opinion) much-needed, perspective shift around the 75% mark which just…really helped to tie the world, and these characters, together for me. The voices are strong, the prose is melodic and atmospheric… I just cannot stress how much I adored this read, start to finish.

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I am beyond honored to have been granted access to this title; it was, and IS, a life-changer. A life-ruiner. This is one book that will stick with me, rubber cement on the heart, for quite possibly the rest of my life. I recommend to lovers of hard-hitting contemporary, strong characters who overcome the hardest obstacles, and unexpectedly emotional journeys. The subject matter is SO heavy…but so, so needed. You guys NEED to read this—please, pick it up. Let it change you.

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Blog Tour (Review) and Giveaway–The Urban Boys

The Urban Boys banner

This is my stop during the book blitz for The Urban Boys by K.N. Smith. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 25 till 29 April, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

The Urban BoysThe Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses (The Urban Boys #1)

by K.N. Smith

Genre: Action-adventure/ Paranormal

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: October 1, 2015

Print Length: 292 pages

Publisher: Two Petals Publishing

Blurb:
The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds. It introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever. The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative!

Overview: The story’s small town of Danville Heights, a carefully crafted universe, contrasts with the dark, gloomy town of Sandry Lake, where evil abounds. Upon the boys’ mysterious incident with the energy source, they’re instinctively called to Sandry Lake to root out evil. Their senses guide them each time. However, secrecy about their mission, furious battles with evil thugs, extreme fatigue, and stress and pressure soon overwhelm the boys, but they must find a way to embrace their fate. A lurking, Dark Stranger seems to know their plight, and a strikingly beautiful, fearless girl lends way to heightened confusion. Shocking details about these two characters, and the evil antagonist, the dreaded Druth, twist and grind the story even further. Despite tension and fierce battles, will the boys hold it together long enough to fulfill their destiny?

Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for young and mature readers alike!

You can find The Urban Boys on Goodreads

You can buy The Urban Boys here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iTunes

You can watch the trailer for The Urban Boys on Youtube

About the Author:

K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits. Her creative, lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. Smith has over twenty years’ experience in writing, communications, and creative design. She lives with her family in California.

You can find and contact K.N. Smith here:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of The Urban Boys. These are the prizes you can win:

– a 25$ Amazon gift card

– 5 signed copies of The Urban Boys by K.N. Smith (U.S. only)

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

Click here for the Giveaway!


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3Penguins
Quick Reasons: intriguing concept; very flowery, purple prose; there was a LOT happening in this book; I enjoyed the interesting twist to “superheroes”; lots of yabba-yabba, but not a lot of “action”; meant to be fast-paced, but sort of dragged for me

Huge thanks to K.N. Smith, Two Petals Publishing, and Lola’s Bog Tours for granting me access to this book in exchange for an honest review!  This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this novel.
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This was, to say the least, an interesting book.  There’s an intriguing play on the five senses, and the “rediscovery” of them, that I found both entertaining and, at times, very confusing.  Don’t get me wrong here!  The prose is pretty–both poetic and flowery, the atmosphere and scenery leap to life from the pages.  Descriptions are detailed so completely, I could imagine myself in the middle of this story.  But.  At the same time, I found the purple prose to be, at times, a bit TOO heavy-handed.  Certain scenes tended to drag for me, because as a reader, jumping from the fight into “oh, look, foliage! and rain! and garbage!” felt oddly stiff.  While there’s a TON of action in this book, I didn’t feel, personally, as if a lot actually happened…because I kept getting bogged down by the writing.  What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that the prose just didn’t work for me.
That being said, I feel like this book could be AWESOME for the right readers!  The twist on superheroes and supervillains was both interesting and unique; I’ve never seen it done quite this same way before, and really enjoyed delving into this new-found battle between good and evil.  While I wish we were given, perhaps, a bit more world-building and a bit LESS focus on the scenic drive, I feel we have sufficient enough information throughout the read to piece the strings together, at least.  I also did appreciate the author’s keen eye for detail.  While I admit the prose was a bit TOO much for me, personally, I still found myself in awe at the sheer amount of detail and information the author was able to impart in each and every sentence.  Every sense was called into play, not only for the characters along their journey, but for myself as a reader.  It’s a talent I don’t feel many have, being able to immerse readers so fully in the story they’re able to practically taste what the character is.
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Overall, while this book isn’t necessarily the right fit for me personally, I felt the story was entertaining, the characters were unique, and the prose was gorgeous.  I am intrigued by this world, and would love to know more about the magic occurring in this town.  I definitely recommend to lovers of coming-of-age stories, flowery prose, and different twists to the superhero/supervillain lore of old.  This was a quick, fun read; I am glad to have picked it up!
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Teaser Review: The Cresswell Plot, by Eliza Wass

The Cresswell Plot

Goodreads Rating: 3.52 Stars
272 Pages
Disney-Hyperion Publishing
Expected Publication: June 7th, 2016
Get a copy here!

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

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5Penguins
Quick Reasons: OHMAHGOSH, ohmahgosh, this book is insanely intense; I took a huge step out of my comfort zone for this read—and am so glad I did!; lots of plot twists and moments that caught me off-guard; lots of pretty, “makes you think” moments; the prose is beautiful and well-done; the characters are vibrant and unique; the plot is action-packed and full of mystery from the beginning; THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!

Huge thanks go out to Eliza Wass, Disney-Hyperion Publishing, and Netgalley for access to the eARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my opinions or review of this book.

Keep an eye out for the publication in June 2016! Until then, SHHHH—my full review is a secret!

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A Review of Not If I See You First, by Eric Lindstrom

Not If I See You First

Goodreads Rating: 3.96 Stars
310 Pages
Poppy Publishing
Get a copy here!

The Rules:

Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.

Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Erid Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: snarky, confident, headstrong, AWESOME main character; also, a bit of an unreliable narrator, which I love; diverse read; interesting, illuminating exploration of living without sight; just a TOUCH of romance; a ton of self-discovery and personal growth; well-rounded, complex characters throughout; readers are bound to grow WITH Parker

“He still looks at you like he used to, even before you got together, like you’re the most important thing in the word. Like if you were trapped on railroad tracks he’d break every finger to get you free without even noticing…and if he couldn’t, he’d sit on the tracks and hold your hand and watch you instead of the train.”

Oh. Oh, my heart. Okay, guys—just bear with me, yes? I promise I’ll get through it…Maybe.

So. First things first. This book? Absolutely freaking gorgeous. Especially the characters and their relationships. There is an interesting, complex, completely realistic thing happening in the pages of this read—where characters are connecting, reconnecting, snap-judging and then owning up to their mistakes… Parker, our main protagonist, is especially bad throughout about snap-judgments. I mean, I don’t think anyone can BLAME her—she’s standing with one less sense than the rest of us, and therefore can’t read those around her with her eyes the way the rest of us do every single day.

On the other hand, my experience of sitting with Marissa consisted almost entirely of hearing everything her mouth and nose were capable of in sticky detail. That’s what unrequited love sounds like to me. Disgusting.

The writing throughout is gorgeous, and takes care to pull in as many of the other senses as it can to keep readers semi-grounded and connected to the surroundings. We don’t have to SEE what’s going on in this book to relate to Parker or her struggles—and she is certainly dealing with a lot of them. As a character, she’s spot on: snarky, confident (perhaps a bit too much in some instances), but quick to own up to her own shortcomings and mistakes (at least, when they’ve been brought to her attention). It wasn’t hard to connect with her immediately—she literally leaps off the page as you’re reading. Her personality is bad-ass, quirky, and just right. I adored her immediately. I also love that she’s a bit of an unreliable narrator—not on purpose, mind you, but because she doesn’t always get/have the entire story before jumping to conclusions. This made her so much more realistic for me.

There is a TON of personal growth and self-discovery occuring for each and every character throughout. Going in to this read, I expected there to be at least one superbly annoying, immature “antagonist”…but there wasn’t? I was surprised, when I reached the end of the book, that every single character is, in some way, given the chance to redeem themselves/be redeemable. There were no true bullies—just people being people, in all their awkward and realistic glory. Also, just reading about the world from Parker’s POV was an illuminating experience for me—and I loved “seeing” how she went about tackling every obstacle she found in her path. Her journey toward greater self-actualization helped ME, along the way, which is something I think all great books ought to do.

Every night I pulled gold stars out of that stupid bottle it never occurred to me how morbid that was. I thought it was part of remembering but it was slow poison, like if I kept water to drink on my nightstand in the wine bottle Mom polished off that night. It’s amazing how people can be so blind to what’s good for them and what isn’t, what’s truth and what’s not, or the difference between secrets and things just not yet known.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and cannot WAIT to see what’s in store for Eric Lindstrom in the future. He took care to craft this book and its characters with sensitivity, realism, and respect; it’s easy to tell he was passionate about the messages being portrayed here. I definitely recommend to lovers of contemporary lit, diverse reads, and books that make you question yourself throughout. This is one I don’t think you want to miss; if you haven’t picked it up yet, you should!