Book Review/Blog Tour – Heart Sister

Title: Heart Sister
Author: Michael F. Stewart
Published: September 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Love it

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Synopsis:

After his twin sister, Minnie, dies in an accident, Emmitt’s world goes sideways. He’s lost his best friend and it feels like the family is falling apart without her. But Minnie was an organ donor and Emmitt soon receives an anonymous thank you letter from one of the transplant recipients. Inspiration strikes, and he decides to try and put his sister back together, in spirit. He’s going to track down each organ recipient and film them to show his parents the results of Minnie’s selfless act and help them move on. But when each recipient falls short of his expectations and the star of his film, the girl who received his sister’s heart, refuses to meet him, Emmitt has to turn to extreme measures to find her. What he doesn’t know is that his “heart sister” is hiding an agonizing secret, one that could push Emmitt to the breaking point.

But I also envy people who have courage. I think envy tells us a lot about who we are and what is important to us. I envy the brave. In some ways, I’m still searching for my heart”
(p. 45)

Thank you to Michael F. Stewart, Orca Books, and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC of Heart Sister in exchange for an honest review. You can pre-order it now to read it as soon as it releases in September!

I inhaled this book in 24 hours, and can honestly say it’ll stick with me for a long time. Stewart writes an emotional journey where Emmitt learns how a single death can have a life giving ripple effect to many others. Emmitt is essentially forced to move on from his sister’s death to take care of his parents, who are not coping. So he decides to make a movie about his sister and the lives she changed by being an organ donor in hopes to help his parents begin to heal. During his search, he finds an unlikely group of friends, breaks many rules, and has to radically change his expectations about grief. In his journey of healing, he is broken again.

Stewart writes such a captivating story about the fluid nature of grieving, and the amazing selflessness of being an organ donor. You will be in your emotions this whole book, but it’s okay, because those emotions will latch you onto these characters for a full experience of story. After reading about these transplant patients, after feeling the joy and pain they feel in being given a second life at the expense of another, I hope you research becoming an organ donor yourself in order to fill others with life even in death, just like Minnie.

Purchase Links:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble

About the Author


Michael F. Stewart is an award-winning author of many books for young people in various genres, including Ray Vs. the Meaning of Life, which earned a Kirkus Star and won the Publishers Weekly’s Booklife Grand Prize. and Heart Sister (Summer/Fall 2020, Orca Books). Michael lives in Ottawa.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL):

1 print copy of Heart Sister
10x ebook copies of Ray Vs the Meaning of Life

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review/Blog Tour – The Good for Nothings

Title: The Good for Nothings
Author: Danielle Banas
Published: August 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s Okay

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Synopsis:

They’re only good at being bad.

Cora Saros is just trying her best to join the family business of theft and intergalactic smuggling. Unfortunately, she’s a total disaster.

After landing herself in prison following an attempted heist gone very wrong, she strikes a bargain with the prison warden: He’ll expunge her record if she brings back a long-lost treasure rumored to grant immortality.

Cora is skeptical, but with no other way out of prison (and back in her family’s good graces), she has no choice but to assemble a crew from her collection of misfit cellmates—a disgraced warrior from an alien planet; a cocky pirate who claims to have the largest ship in the galaxy; and a glitch-prone robot with a penchant for baking—and take off after the fabled prize.

But the ragtag group soon discovers that not only is the too-good-to-be-true treasure very real, but they’re also not the only crew on the hunt for it. And it’s definitely a prize worth killing for.

Whip-smart and utterly charming, this irreverent sci-fi adventure is perfect for fans of Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lunar Chronicles, and Firefly.

“Together we will accomplish great, but possibly not legal, things,” she whispered
(chapter 23).

Happy book birthday to Danielle Banas’s latest release, The Good for Nothings! Thank you to Banas, Xpresso Tours, and Swoon Reads for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Who knew that thieves could be heart-warming? A ragtag group staring two aliens, a human, and a malfunctioning robot are able to make a deal with their warden to journey across space, face indescribable dangers, and bring back a treasure of legends. All in return for their freedom. Or so he says. The whole trip is filled with misadventures, plans of betrayal, acidic plants, budding friendships, and a desire to belong. A typical day in the life of a teenager, right? At least for these four.

Banas writes a creative, fast-paced, adventure tale…IN SPACE. I always forget how much I love sci-fi until I’m knee deep in it. Cora is a moody criminal, an unlikely main character to adore, but you can’t help it when she shows just how much she is willing to do for those she loves (mostly her robot, who is the CUTEST little sidekick!) This team of misfits fit so perfectly together, and because they’re criminals, there’s no line they won’t cross to get what they want.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

About the Author

Danielle Banas is the author of THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME and THE GOOD FOR NOTHINGS. She earned a degree in communication from Robert Morris University, where she spent slightly too much time daydreaming about new characters instead of paying attention in class. When she isn’t writing, Danielle can be found loudly singing show tunes, spouting off Disney World trivia, and snuggling with her puppy. She lives in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (US only):

Print copy of The Good for Nothings

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – More Than Maybe

Title: More Than Maybe
Author: Erin Hahn
Published: July 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealously-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on a music blogger, Vada Carsewell.

Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke’s singing about some mystery girl on their podcast, and she really, really wishes it was her?

“I’d rather lose myself in a sea of strangers than find myself one-on-one with an acquaintance” (chapter 4).

Hi, Wednesday Books? I’d like to place a preorder for all of Erin Hahn’s books as soon as she writes them. Please and thank you. Also, thanks for the free eARC in exchange for a review, but really, how am I supposed to convince my husband that I need to buy these books now? What have you done?

Luke is in introverted, shy artist, and Vada is confident dreamer, they’re as different as can be. Yet, both have deeply dedicated ex-musician dads, which means their upbringing and their very blood is made up of rock music. It’s the thing that connects them, and it helps them work through their fears and disappointments. Music brings the world together, and Vada and Luke are no exception.

I kinda didn’t enjoy Luke’s brother, Cullen. He was very pushy and didn’t respect his brother. He performs a “self-less” act by leaking Luke’s VERY personal song, but honestly, the fact that he didn’t listen to Luke’s desires made it feel way more like it was about what Cullen wanted. I mean, I guess typical teen stuff, a lot of teens are learning to look outside of themselves and their small world, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. I wasn’t able to attach myself to Cullen like I was to basically everyone else.

Two published books into her career and I already know that I am going to care about every single main character (and most side characters) that Hahn writes. I feel almost like a mama bird, I just want to tuck them all under my wing and tell them everything is going to be alright. I know life seems like a lot to handle right now, but trust me, Erin Hahn has it all figured it, babies. You’ll be alright. The only thing that would just nail me in as a fan girl for life is if I could actually listen to the songs her characters write. However, MAJOR plus, guys. More Than Maybe IS basically a big ol’ playlist. Next time I read this (yeah, you heard me), I’m going to read it slower and listen to every song listed.

Book Review – You’d Be Mine

Title: You’d Be Mine
Author: Erin Hahn
Published: April 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when  your bad boy image turns into a bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing Youtube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and she isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

 

“I’m not good enough for her,” I say.
Lindy’s lips spread into a blinding smile, and she taps the table with two fingers. “That’s the best thing you could’ve said. Never forget it. If she chooses to love you anyway, don’t you dare let her go” (chapter 25).

I received a eARC of You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn through Netgalley during a time when I didn’t actually have time to read things. So I’ve been slowly making my way through some of those titles. Well, gonna give myself a good ol’ pat on my back for feeling slightly guilty because I’ve found a 5-star book! Y’all. Y’ALL! I loved this book. Loved.

Clay and Annie are compared to Johnny Cash and June Carter (LOVE!) but real life doesn’t look the same as it does on stage. They have a whole mess of things they’re working through, which means they should stay far away from each other, right? Just focus on their music and making the label happy. As the tour progresses and they start opening up about their hurts and their pasts, it become harder and harder to keep priorities straight.

You’d Be Mine is all of the swoony, sunshiny, romantic, sad, deep country sounds all wrapped up into one sweet story that sticks with you (like a country song–duh). It has angst, heartbreak, forgiveness, and new love. Even just thinking of the story is like being reminded of a friend. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put this book on my wishlist and listen to “I Love You This Big”, which was our first dance song, because country music makes me think of my husband.

Book Review – Air Awakens

Title: Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1)
Title: Elise Kova
Published: August 2015
Genre: High Fantasy, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Love it

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Synopsis:

A library girl with a secret. A dark and fiery prince. When he awakens her magic, there’s no going back.

The Solaris Empire sone conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now chemist decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined…

 

“You can read all the books in this library, be wiser than the master himself someday, and  then you will die having never really done anything. You will have only ever lived through everyone else’s experiences” (page 52)

I recently discovered that this series, which has been on my radar for a while now, is on Kindle Unlimited, and when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean I devoured it! I’m not usually able to get into high fantasy. I usually find even the descriptions and covers to not be engaging to me, and the world building is daunting. I typically am much more drawn to low fantasy, because frequently we are introduced to the magical parts of the world with the main character, which makes it much more of an exciting adventure to me. In Air Awakens, magic is a norm on the Crescent Continent, but it is widely feared because it is strange and unusual. So there still is an introduction to the history through the main character’s discoveries because she is being thrust into the magical parts of her world, when before she feared even being around a sorcerer.

I read some reviews after I finished to help myself formulate my many thoughts, and was surprised to see many people disliked it. So in efforts to articulate why I think it’s a great piece of literature, and since my thoughts refuse to formulate in a nice pretty essay, we’ve got bullet points today:

  • The crown prince is thought to be cold and unapproachable, which is a reputation he built himself because so many people fear magic. He also has a guard on his emotions because magic is heavily influenced by emotions, and he does not want to accidentally cause harm in a slip of his emotions. Any crack in his shield could be fatal. Those that do not understand and fear magic can’t understand this, and instead judge him to be cold and harsh. I feel like there is so much depth here.
  • Deals a lot with economic inequalities, specifically how differently people live within the walls of the palace depending on their status. The economic classes are evidently so important to some people in this world, that when Vhalla starts crossing boundaries, there are those who will do everything they can to not only retain order, but to keep the feared unknown far away.
  • The themes in this book honestly complement the storyline very well and add depth that kept me thinking long after the book was finished.

I finished reading at 1:30 in the morning and immediately turned to my husband and told him I wanted to start the second book instead of sleeping. He looked at me and laughed, as I’m usually unable to stay awake past 10pm.

Book Review – How to Quit Your Crush

Title: How to Quit Your Crush
Author: Amy Fellner Dominy
Published: May 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover:
It’s okay

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Synopsis:

Mai Senn knows Anthony Adams is no good for her – no matter how hard she might crush on him. She’s valedictorian; he’s a surf bum. She’s got plans; he’s got his art. Complete opposites in every way. Vinegar and baking soda, they once joked. A chemical reaction that bubbled.

Yeah, they bubbled. Maybe still do.

Good thing Anthony’s got the perfect plan: two weeks to prove just how not good they are together. Whoever can come up with the worst date–something the other will seriously hate, proving how incompatible they truly are–wins.

Like take a snake-phobe to the Reptile House at the zoo (his idea).

Or a cooking class where they don’t even get to eat the food (her idea).

It’s all about the competition, and it’s meant to help them finally crush their crushes. But it wasn’t supposed to be so hot. Or so fun. And when Mai’s future becomes at stake, will she be able to do the right thing and quit Anthony forever?

“But if you live afraid, you’re not really living. That’s no future at all” (chapter 39).

Thank you Entangled Teen Crush and Amy Fellner Dominy for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. You can read my review of Amy’s first book in this universe, Announcing Trouble, here.

I read this in a day. Honestly, I don’t even think I put it down after I picked it up. The premise was really new and fun for me, and the depth behind the characters and the things they wish for or are scared of was very engaging.

Mai’s has some trauma in her past that she holds tight to and allows to define what’s important to her. Her family doesn’t seem to realize this because they encourage this behavior with their overbearing ideals instead of encouraging her to discover who she is and give her space for that. As a result, she has a bit of an identity crisis as she starts transitioning into adulthood after graduating high school. What would her life look like without carefully laid plans she’s created with her family? And would being different make her adoptive parents not want her anymore?

Anthony doesn’t fit in Mai’s carefully laid plans, even though she can’t help but practically drool over him. He doesn’t want to think about the future, he doesn’t want to make plans, he doesn’t even want to go to college. He’s definitely not someone she could ever bring home to her parents. Anthony is fully aware that they just don’t fundamentally work. So why can’t he get her out of his head? Why does he want to kiss her so bad?

The two agree that they need to let this crush burn up by having a fling to effectively make themselves unattractive to the other. They plan dates with the intention of turning the other off, but it ends up being way more fun than annoying. In trying to have something light to turn each other off, they end up digging in deep and understanding each other’s fears. I never wanted to stop reading about these two. Their chemistry and their vulnerability really won my heart.

Book Review/Blog Tour – Love on the Line

 

Title: Love on the Line (Women at Work #1)
Author: Kirsten Fullmer
Published: June 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, New Adult, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

Andrea is an ordinary girl in an extraordinary situation.

She left her comfortable home and family to take a job building a pipeline with her estranged grandpa, Buck. She’s curious about his job, and why her mother dislikes the man. She didn’t expect to uncover buried family secrets, or for the job to be so difficult.

Rooster isn’t a bad guy. He respects women; he was raised by one of the best. But that new girl on the job is too small and feminine. She’s a distraction, plain and simple, and she doesn’t belong on a pipeline. This job is his chance to impress Buck Brennan, a pipeline legend, and no girly greenhorn is going to ruin it for him.

Will Andrea prove herself to her grandfather and forge a relationship with the old man, or will continuous disagreements and unexpected sexual tension between Andrea and Rooster derail their hard work?

Thank you Kirsten Fullmer, Augustine Press, and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC in return for an honest review.

I’ve seen movies where the MC is thrown into a work situation very out of the norm for her and she has to learn and adapt, but this is my first book I’ve read with this scenario. Fullmer clearly did a lot of research in writing this to be able to write the ins and outs of a pipeline career. I enjoyed reading about how Andrea is stretched and pushed in order succeed and do well in a male-dominated career. She does not make it look easy, that’s for sure. I know some people might not love this book because of how much it does actually talk about the work being done, but I found that part fascinating, albeit a little dry. Getting a deeper look at what days on the job look like gave me more of a desire to root for Andrea as she navigates it all.

Rooster and Andrea are FUN. You can genuinely watch them start softening toward each other and realizing that they care about each other, even when the other person makes them want to scream. I wanted more, though. I felt like it was built up so much for such a  short and less passionate relationship.

I also really wanted to see more of the relationship between Andrea and her grandfather being built. We only really see glimpses and it’s hard to walk away feeling like they got to know each other as much as we were told they did. I mean, he’s really a big reason why she took this job, why do I feel like their relationship dynamic was an afterthought.

Some of the writing felt really awkward, mostly when the author refers to Andrea’s family members as “the woman” or “the girl” or “the old man.” Otherwise, as I said, the book felt very well researched and the writing definitely displayed that.

It’s refreshing reading about characters actually working, and working hard, and not just focusing on the romance or family dynamics as many books do. This story wraps all of those elements into one, and I enjoyed the ride.

Purchase Link

About the Author

Kirsten is a dreamer with an eye for art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.

As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)

$50 Amazon gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour – Sticks and Stones

Title: Sticks & Stones
Author: Dianne Beck
Published: March 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Sticks and Stones - eBook.jpg

Synopsis:

When fifteen-year-old Emily Greene wakes up to police banging on her door, she is shocked to see her mother arrested on drug charges.

Uprooted and in disbelief, Emily moves to a new town to stay with her grandmother, known as Crazy Carol for her outspoken faith and quirky behaviors. As if the arrest isn’t enough, kids at her new school immediately begin to stereotype and judge her based on the news they’ve heard about her mom.

Emily is sure her mother’s fiancé is to blame for the crime. He has conveniently disappeared since the day of the arrest. She’s determined to find him, and prove he’s at fault. But something awful happens, shaking her world yet again.

After this string of tragedies, Emily starts to question God, but is gently and consistently reminded by her grandmother, through stories she tells of all the sticks, leaves, and stones she collects, that God is her good and faithful parent.

Emily must learn that the words others say about her don’t matter, that her mom’s mistakes don’t define her, and she is always deeply loved by her heavenly father. If only she can learn to forgive herself.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

I have to get my mom out of jail. She’s Tiffany Greene, the one who sang me to sleep when I was four, brought my dying pet goldfish back to life when I was seven, stayed up all night with me to make a model of a California Mission with homemade dough when I was nine.

Now that I’m fifteen, she’s the only real family I’ve got, and she’s not capable of committing a crime. She’s too nice. Richard Holder, her fiancé who recently moved in with us, is the one who should be in jail. But at six in the morning, when the police knocked on our front door, Richard was conveniently missing.

I woke up to fists pounding on the front door that winter morning, shouting voices, “Police! Open up!” Next, the scurry of Mom’s slippers, the opening and closing of cabinets and drawers, my mom’s voice, high-pitched and frantic.

“I need to talk to my daughter. Please let me talk to her.”

I sat up in my cozy, pillow-filled bed, rubbed my eyes to see if I was dreaming. Mom appeared in my doorway. She wore the long T-shirt she always wore to bed, green sweats with my Chaparral High track team logo on the side, and her black coat with the furry Sherpa lining I always loved. It was clear that she just threw on whatever was in easy reach. She swung her head to flip her tousled brown hair out of her green eyes. Everyone said we looked so much alike, more like sisters than mother and daughter.

But now, with her wrists handcuffed behind her, and her pretty face twisted in grief, it was impossible not to feel like we were both losing everything in an instant. What was happening?

“Okay, say what you need to say.” The stocky policeman refused to look at me. He kept his eyes on Mom. Jared, my closest friend and also, unfortunately, Richard’s son, ran in behind her.

“What’s going on?” Jared’s crystal blue eyes blazed. His hands grabbed Mom’s petite shoulders. “Tell us what’s happening!” At six foot two, he made her look so tiny, so fragile. His anger made him seem even larger.

“Jared, Emily, I’m so sorry. Call my mother — tell her you need to stay with her.”
Mom stared at Jared, like she was expecting him to understand and follow her orders. In the awkward stillness that followed she said, “That’s all I can tell you right now, I’m sorry.”

Jared’s chest heaved up and down like he’d been running, his mouth quivered. “Yeah, whatever, I’ve heard that line before. Us kids aren’t allowed to know anything, but we still have to live with all your problems.”

“I love you guys. You’re the best, okay? Please remember I love you and um, know that I’m sorry.” Tears showered her face.

I hated seeing her helpless, unable to even wipe her tears because of her cuffed hands, or to make things better for us like she always did. I knew this couldn’t be her fault. My mom was a good mother. She worked long hours as an emergency room nurse. We lived in a nice home, in a quiet neighborhood, in beautiful Southern California. Things like this didn’t happen to families like ours. ”Why are you letting them take you? Where’s Richard? Why aren’t you fighting back?”

She looked down at her feet, opened her mouth like she wanted to say something, but nothing came out. I ran to her, wrapped my arms around her waist. I breathed in her scent, a mix of her bath soap and vanilla perfume, felt a tear fall on my arm. I put my finger on that tear and let it soak into my skin where it would stay with me.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

About the Author

Dianne Beck has spent the majority of her career teaching students ranging from Kindergarten through adult. No matter what age, her biggest goal is to encourage her students to be their own unique selves, to have confidence in who they are, and to follow their passions.

Dianne’s debut young adult novel, Sticks and Stones, was inspired by her years of teaching, where she saw so many students struggle with varying issues, and also experienced how an understanding ear and relevant literature could make a significant impact on their lives. She hopes young people as well as adults can find faith and strength, like her main character Emily does, even when things seem to be falling apart.

Dianne is motivated daily by her faith in God, her husband, and her four adult children. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading, sipping coffee, browsing a bookstore, or pursuing a part-time faith and fitness ministry at http://www.ofcommonground.com.

Website

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
$25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review – I Hate You, Fuller James

Title: I Love Hate You, Fuller James
Author: Kelly Anne Blount
Published: March 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

I hate you, Fuller James.

I hate your floppy hair and your lopsided grin and those laughing blue eyes that always seem to be laughing at me.

I hate that you’re the most popular guy in school and I’m still the girl who sneezed and spit out her retainer on someone at the middle school dance. It’s just such a cliché.

I hate that I’m being forced to tutor you in English and keep it a secret from everyone. Because otherwise it might put our basketball team’s chances at winning State in jeopardy, and even though I hate you, I love basketball.

I hate that it seems like you’re keeping a secret from me…and that the more time we spend together, the less I feel like I’m on solid ground. Because I’m starting to realize there’s so much more to you than meets the eye. Underneath it all, you’re real.

But what I hate the most is that I really don’t hate you at all.

Happy book birthday to I Love Hate You, Fuller James by Kelly Anne Blount! Thank you Entangled Publishing and Blount for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

A hate-to-love romance AND a sports romance? Two of my favorites. Bring. It. On.

Wren and Fuller actually have a lot in common, they just never knew until they were thrown together in an annoying tutoring set up. Both put family above all else, both are very driven to pursue college and their future careers, both live and breathe basketball. The only difference is, they live in two completely different worlds.

Fuller is the best basketball player this school has ever seen. He’s also part of the popular crowd and the reason Wren gained a horrible nickname and lost her best friend in middle school.

Wren doesn’t mind being an outsider anymore. She’s worked HARD to move past all the bullshit and has two best friends and her family that would do anything for her. Next step is to leave the rest of the people from high school in her dust.

I really loved seeing inside each of their worlds, particularly through the dual perspective writing. Their romance is whirlwind and exciting, I just wish there was a little more build up from Fuller’s side first. We see a glimpse of his tough guy act, but we don’t really see enough to know why it’s there in the first place, or to give more meaning to his softened personality when he starts falling for Wren. He’s fully able to recognize that he’s a big jerk and possibly has a history of being shallow, but why? I wish he had been a little more introspective, and that we had gotten more of a look at his daily life before Wren got stuck with him.

I thoroughly enjoyed two of my favorite tropes wrapped in one for this YA romance. While I wanted more depth and character growth, I still had a lot of fun with this book.

Book Review – The Bookworm Crush

Title: The Bookworm Crush
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Published: October 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Shy bookworm Amy McIntyre is about to compete for the chance to interview her favorite author, who hasn’t spoken to the press in years. The only way to win into step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, but that level of confidence has never come easy.

The solution? A competition coach. The problem? The best person for the job is the guy she’s secretly crushing on…local surfer celebrity Toff Nichols.

He’s a player. He’s a heartthrob. He makes her forget basic things, like how to breathe. How can she feel any confidence around him?

To her surprise, Toff agrees to help. And he’s an excellent teacher. Amy feels braver–maybe even brave enough to admit her feelings for him. When their late night practices become less about coaching and more about making out, Amy’s newfound confidence wavers.

But does Toff really like her or is this just another lesson?

Thank you Entangled Publishing and Lisa Brown Roberts for an eARC of The Bookworm Crush in exchange for an honest review. I’ve had this sitting on my kindle for a few months now because it was forgotten in the midst of wedding planning, but I actually picked it up as motivation to go to the gym (haha). I think this made me like it a little bit more than I would’ve otherwise because it helped distract me from the fact that I was sitting on a stationary bicycle, sweating my guts out.

I love that there is another book about book lovers for book lovers, and this one with an unconventional match: the surfer god. Amy and Toff’s friendship-to-lovers relationship is cute and flirty and fun. Unfortunately, we don’t go much beyond that. The characters had little glimpses of depth, but we never camped out there, it was mostly just mentioned in passing. The plot was a bit dry in parts, as well, making me wish for more meat to it. I’m still a little confused about why Amy asked Toff to help her with a book contest, but reading about them working together was enjoyable.

One thing I really struggled with is the overuse of pop culture and book references. Obviously some book references would be expected of a girl who spends her life between pages, especially books that are helpful for the plot or character development, but the titles were thrown about willy nilly, making me feel like the author just wanted to see how many book references she could cram in. I’m also really not a fan of frequent name dropping in pop culture references because I feel like it has the potential to age the book badly.

The writing was chunky and a little juvenile for a book with older teens with an active sex life. I have several sentences that I highlighted because they were awkward or just didn’t make sense (the editor in me–oops), but I eventually gave up. Since I was reading the eARC, I really hope more edits were made before the final print, but I was not able to connect enough to this book to have any desire to find out myself. Amy and Toff were a fun, surface level glance, but not engaging enough to think about them after the book is over.