Book Review/Blog Tour – Love Me, Love Me Not

LoveMeLoveMeNotTourBanner-1

Follow the rest of the tour HERE!

Title: Love Me, Love Me Not
Author: S.M. Koz
Published:June 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it
LMN
Synopsis:
Family, abandonment, and forbidden romance are at the core of SM Koz’s powerful and emotionally charged novel about a teen who falls for her foster brother.
When Hailey Brown is removed from her home and put into foster care, all she wants is a safe, comfortable place where she can finish school and move on with her life. It’s not easy adjusting to a new school and a new life, but Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and their teenage son, Brad, welcome Hailey with open arms.
As Hailey begins to adjust to her new life, she and Brad grow closer. For the first time, Hailey feels like she might have a real shot at a future. Soon, however, Hailey realizes her relationship with Brad has crossed the line from friendship into something more. But being with Brad would mean giving up the perfect life that Hailey has waited so long to have.
Can Hailey and Brad resist the feelings that are developing between them—or will they risk it all to be together?
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, SM Koz delivers a powerful debut about the ups and downs of being a foster child.
“Maybe, sometimes, you have no choice but to do things before you’re ready” (chapter 3)
Happy book birthday to Love Me, Love Me Not by S.M. Koz! Thank you Koz, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I read this whole book from start to finish in one day and found myself completely enchanted. A heads up, though, you probably shouldn’t start reading it while you’re serving at your church like I did since the book opens up with a sex scene. Oops.
Koz does a wonderful job of giving a raw look into the ups and downs of foster care, which I think is completely necessary for people to grow in empathy. Hailey has had a rough life, living with a mother who is a drug addict who has made choices that have hurt Hailey emotionally and physically. She gets put into the foster care system as a senior in high school, so she has to go through the changes this entails knowing that she will be aging out soon and will have to go through more changes. Not only is this a difficult concept to wrestle with, but Hailey also has trouble trusting the multiple families she gets placed with because she doesn’t want people pitying her or elevating themselves in their views of her. My heart ached to watch Hailey struggle with who she is because of her past and who she could become because of her future.
Brad, Hailey’s foster brother, is honestly a dream. He’s a buff football star with the most empathetic heart. He refuses to let Hailey view herself as someone stuck in her past and choses to help her move forward by remembering the good memories. I could definitely see him being a Hufflepuff with his loyalty, kindness, and dedication. Maybe that’s why I liked him so much.
In the midst of Hailey’s chaotic changes, she discovers that her friendship with Brad is growing beyond appropriate boundaries. Their relationship moves into the forbidden, which is a trope that I’ve learned is popular, but it isn’t so rule breaking that I lost interest. Brad’s care for Hailey in learning about her without pushing her trust too hard is heart melting and I found myself rooting for ways they could make their relationship work without getting Hailey kicked out of the first stable home she’s ever been in. Hailey’s character growth and the Campbell’s demonstrations of their love for her will completely enchant you from start to finish.

Purchase Links:

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About the Author
SM
S.M. Koz is a medical writer from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and numerous pets. She has a BS in Biology from Duke University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, photographing nature and her family, gardening, travelling, and attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to decorate birthday cakes. Love Me, Love Me Not is her first traditionally published novel.
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Book Review/Blog Tour – Just One of the Royals

JOofRTour

Follow the rest of the tour HERE!


Title:
 Just One of the Royals (The Chicago Falcons #2)
Author: Leah Rooper and Kate Rooper
Published: June 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

Star hockey player Daniel Sacachelli wants only two things: 1) for the Falcons
to win next season, and 2) for his secret — the fact he’s actually the prince of Eldonia — to never make its way to Chicago. But if Daniel keeps avoiding his crown, their family will lose their kingdom forever.

Madison Myong can’t believe that her will-they-or-won’t-they best friend Daniel is
really a prince! He’s always seemed more rebel than royal. But now, he needs to clean up his image, fast. Posing as his long-time girlfriend, Madison accompanies him back to Eldonia, intending to give Daniel a makeover fit for a king.

Only, the more royal Daniel becomes, the more Madison misses her best friend. And if she does her job right, she’ll lose him forever…

“But I know that in order to pull this off, I’m going to have to let go of every real thing about me. I’ll have to become someone else, someone new, someone…royal” (chapter 6).

Happy book birthday to the second book in the Chicago Falcons series, Just One of the Royals by Leah and Kate Rooper! Thank you to the Rooper sisters, Entangled Teen, and Chapter by Chapter for my eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. While I have not read the first book in the series, these books are actually just different stories about different people on this hockey team, so there isn’t a ton of build up missing by jumping into the second book, and the reoccurring characters are reintroduced.

This book felt very much like The Princess Diaries vibes: Daniel is a prince who grew up living a normal life in Chicago. He needs to be whipped into shape and lose his bad image in order to take the throne of a small European country after the death of his father. The biggest difference is that he brings along his best friend and secret crush, Madison, to play the role of his girlfriend in order to improve his image. Boy, do things get messy there!

Madison’s goal in life is to be a big time movie star, so when she is offered the role of a lifetime, and the opportunity for her big break if she succeeds, there’s no way she’d turn it down! Especially when it means more time with her best friend. But with so much acting going on by both Daniel and Madison, how is anyone supposed to tell what’s real and genuine, and what’s not? Are the people they strive to portray taking them away from the people they really are?

Just like Mia Thermopolis, while learning about this country he is being asked to rule, Daniel learns about the people, the culture, and begins to love everything about it. He starts to take a genuine interest in the people around him, which is honestly one of the biggest character growth scenarios he goes through. It’s no longer about what he wants when he wants it, but about how the people around him are affected.

The playboy who gets serious about one girl trope seems to be super common in YA contemporary books lately. It didn’t really feel necessary to this plot–there are plenty of other ways Daniel can be selfish and unfit for the throne. From this aspect, there doesn’t seem to be much creative liberty and I was wishing for more depth to Daniel.

 Purchase Links:

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About the Author

leah_and_kate_rooperLeah and Kate Rooper are sisters from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Growing up beside the Pacific Ocean and inside a temperate rainforest fed their sense of adventure as children, and nourished a curiosity for strange and distant lands. They fed this curiosity with books – lots and lots of books. After experiencing the magic of Middle-earth, they began creating their own worlds. When they’re not writing, Leah and Kate spend their time blogging and vlogging about their travel adventures and their writing journey.

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 Giveaway Details:

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Book Review/Blog Tour – The Game Can’t Love You Back

Happy book birthday to The Game Can’t Love You Back by Karole Cozzo! I LOVED this baseball romance and it’s spunky characters! Click the banner below to follow the rest of the tour. Read on to hear my review–thank you Xpresso Book Tours, Swoon Reads, and Karole Cozzo for my eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


 

 

Title: The Game Can’t Love You Back
Author: Karole Cozzo
Published: May 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

game

Synopsis:

Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s focused on one thing and one thing only—being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her high school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He can’t afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher—even worse, to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?

“And maybe if you’d pull your head out of your ass and stop feeling so personally offended by everything I do, you’d see that. You’d see that I love the game every bit as much as you do and deserve to be out there, too.” (chapter 9)

Why haven’t I been reading more sports romances? I think this every time I pick one up. I am a big fan of baseball, especially going to see games in person. However, not growing up in a sports-sleeping-eating-breathing family, I’m actually still learning every time I go to a game. I was THRILLED to discover that I understood every single term and phrase in this book aside from one, which I obviously looked up so NOW I know it–haha. Knowing the game made me feel way more immersed into the book, however, the terms and phrases weren’t overly confusing, so someone who isn’t as familiar with the game could still enjoy this story just as much!

The thing I love most about sports romance novels and sports movies is the passion and drive behind dedicated athletes. The inspiration that builds up seeing the characters work hard for something. It fills me with pride every single time. The thing I love most about hate-to-love romances (which it is very clear that this story is from the beginning) is seeing the characters learn about each other in a way that they wouldn’t have if they didn’t get under each other’s skin, and learning that they actually like these aspects they discover.

A theme throughout the book, which is highlighted in the title, is what love looks like, and how it looks different for different things and people. There is a raw honesty to Eve’s desire to fill her life with her passion and love for the game so that she doesn’t have to explore the confusing and sometimes tricky path of loving a person who may or may not feel the same way. Cozzo does a great job of showing Eve’s internal struggle with where to put her heart and whether it would be worth it to put it somewhere that may hurt.

Eve is perfectly stubborn, driven, and works her ass off. Jamie is the same, which causes tension, especially given that she is a girl on his baseball team. But they both learn to open up and let the other person in–discovering that they can no longer be the person that they once were. The competitive setting for this story is PERFECT for highlighting both character’s strengths and weaknesses, plus it just makes everything way more fun. The sparring and banter between the two will have you smiling like an idiot the whole time. The character growth and inspirational drive will grow your heart three sizes, even if you’re a Grinch. I am looking forward to read Cozzo’s other work.

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About the Author

Author Bio:

Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Book Review/Blog Tour – Stanley & Hazel

Happy book birthday to Stanley & Hazel, a fun mystery set in the 1930s! Today I will be sharing my review–thank you Chapter by Chapter, Month9Books, and Jo Schaffer for my eARC of the book. You can follow the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below!

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Follow the tour HERE

Title: Stanley and Hazel
Author: Jo Schaffer
Published: May 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Stanley and Hazel Cover

Synopsis:

A great depression has gripped the city of St. Louis in 1934. Stanley, an orphaned newsy, lives in a poor part of town hit especially hard by the economic downturn. One night, Stanley runs into Hazel, a restless debutante in waiting who has begun to question her posh lifestyle in the midst of the suffering she sees. She’s out and about without an escort and against her father’s wishes.

When they discover the body of a girl with her head bashed in by a baseball bat, the very different and separate realities of the two teens inform their decision. Together they will figure out what happened to her and bring those responsible to justice.

But getting involved with each other and digging into the secrets behind this murder earns them some powerful enemies, including a secret group seeking to rid society of all they deem “undesirable.” They’ve put into motion “The Winnowing,” a plan seeking to take over the city and enforce their will.

As Stanley and Hazel’s forbidden feelings for one another grow, their investigation turns deadly. Now, it is up to Stanley and his gang of street kids to stop Hazel from becoming the next victim.

“Somehow, some way, even though they were from different worlds, they were on the same page. Stanley saw it in Hazel’s eyes.” (chapter 10)

Honestly, when I started to read this, it didn’t seem like something that would grab my interest. However, it didn’t take long for this opinion to change. As I continued to read, even only a fourth of the way in, I was hooked. What was going on and who were all these shady people? I had to know.

Hazel comes from a very high class society with rules and expectations. When she accidentally steps out of these rules by attending a movie unescorted, she quickly learns that things aren’t quite as black and white as she always assumed. Suddenly all these hungry, poor people from the lower class had faces and personalities and their struggles became real to her. What does this mean for the privileged life she has led up until now? Will she ever be able to go back to the way things were, and with her newfound friendship with Stanley, does she even want to?

Stanley is a fighter, not just physically, but he is also fighting for his dreams and his future. He refuses to let the hand he’s been dealt define how he lives the rest of his life. And gosh, he’s got such a heart of gold. While he fights for the truth and for his dreams, he’s also fighting for everyone else, protecting them and giving them a better future. He’s definitely not what Hazel expected, and he sure won me over pretty fast.

The rawness of classism and discovering privilege is so refreshing, even taking place at a time where it looked different than it does today. It’s still happening, it’s still relevant, we still innately judge what we do not know or understand. Books that commentate on classism are still so important in this day, and Schaffer creates that bridge, making a book about the 30’s relatable.

The gritty mystery and the stirring questions about privilege were what got me hooked, but the developing of Hazel and Stanley’s characters, their growth, and let’s be real, their blatant attraction to each other kept me going! I didn’t want to put this down!

About the Author

Jo Schaffer

Jo Schaffer was born and raised in the California Bay Area in a huge, creative family. She is a YA novelist, speaker, writer at Patheos.com, works in film production and is a Taekwondo black belt.

She’s a founding member of Writers Cubed and co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, one of the largest conferences in the nation for youth ages 13-19. She and a crew of local and international bestselling authors present writing workshops to hundreds of attendees at the Utah-based conference as well as hundreds of others worldwide who view the conference online.

Jo loves being involved in anything that promotes literacy and family. She is passionate about community, travel, books, music, healthy eating, classic films and martial arts. Her brain is always spinning new ideas for books and sometimes she even gets around to blogging.

Jo is a mom of 3 strapping sons living in the beautiful mountains of Utah with a neurotic cat named Hero.

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Review – Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)

Shaila Patel’s second installation of the Joining of Souls series comes out in FIVE DAYS! Today I’ve got an early review for you to help you get excited. Thank you, Shaila Patel, for my eARC. If you missed my review for the first book, check it out here: Soulmated. I also have an interview with the author after the first book’s release HERE, as well as an excerpt of Fighting Fate HERE!

Title: Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)
Author: Shaila Patel
Published: April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
Goodreads 

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s Okay

fightingfate_ebook-amazon

Synopsis:

Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi “Lucky” Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs–even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam’s life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.

After the unthinkable happened, Lucky’s “hallucinations” have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?

“Who was the real Lucky?” (chapter 17)

Shaila Patel did it again! The characters were captivating, the connections between Liam and Lucky were descriptive, and my heart was beating out of my chest with ANOTHER cliffhanger! Why do you do this to me, Shaila?

One thing I particularly loved about this second book is the more in depth looks into Liam and Lucky’s individual cultures, as well as that of the empaths. The descriptions of the landscape of Ireland and the foods of Lucky’s Indian heritage created a desire to know more, to understand more. I even went and made myself some penda after reading the mouth-watering descriptions! There is also a bunch more background on the empath history, which sometimes slowed the plot down quite a bit, but it all ties up very nicely by the end of the book.

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As Lucky learns more about what it means to be an empath, her powers and connection with Liam, and the dangers racing toward her, it honestly gave me some Twilight vibes. Let me preface this by saying I do NOT like the Twilight books, I DO like the Joining of Souls books. For starters, I think Patel writes these stories better than Meyers did. But the phenomenon of Lucky turning into this supernatural being and Liam teaching her about this world and her powers made me feel a ton of similarities between the stories. Thankfully, while Liam and Lucky can get pretty obsessive about each other, neither are whiney and selfish like Bella and Edward. In fact, one thing I admire a ton about their love for each other is how much they seek to put the other person before themselves, trying to give them what’s best for them. But, like typical teenagers, that’s not always actually the best thing for them.

There is still the tension of Lucky’s mom’s desires and Lucky being straddled between Indian culture, American culture, and empath culture, which is one of the most interesting conflicts in these books in my opinion. How does Lucky stand up to her mom without dishonoring her? How can she be one person split between so many people and worlds?

Patel does a fantastic job of jumping in right where Soulmated ended, while also slowly reminding you of things from the first book without being completely obnoxious. Yes, that’s a thing. I remember hating it way back when I was a kid reading the Nancy Drew books as a kid. YES I KNOW WHO NANCY IS BY THIS POINT, OKAY? The last fourth of the book had my heart racing. I was reading as fast as I can, devouring the drama. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, Shaila LOVES her cliffhangers, so now I have to wait even MORE impatiently for the next book!

Blog Tour – Sneaking Out

Title: Sneaking Out (Chased #1)
Author: Chuck Vance
Published: March 2018
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult

SO

Synopsis:

Could you sleep next to a murderer?

Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.

For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

“Come quick! You gotta see this!”
Luke was just exiting Talbot and walking toward the quad behind the library when Andy Slater called out to him. He stopped and waited for Luke as several students ran past, taking the path toward the pond.
“What is it?”
“Just come! They think they found something.”
“By the time Luke and Slater made it to the pond there was a large group of kids clustered in the northwest corner pointing at something. Luke could see two security guards in front of the pack, furiously talking on their walkie-talkies, and one on his knees by the pond.
“What is it?” Luke asked.
Andy elbowed through the crowd, with Luke following. There was frenzied excitement in the air, and everyone was pointing and talking nervously.
“It’s a bra!” said Andy, who had a better view from his vantage point.
The news rippled through the crowd, setting off a cacophony of comments and outbursts.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” some student called out.
“The Southborough Strangler was here!” shrieked a girl’s voice.
“Was someone else murdered?” another girl called out.
“Okay, everyone, move aside.” Mr. Hamaguchi, a science teacher, pushed his way through the crowd. “Step back right now or you will be receiving demerits.”
The students dispersed enough to make a path for Mr. Hamaguchi and the additional security guards. Mr. Hamaguchi bent down next to the security guard, who was using a stick to pull the bra toward him. Luke heard footsteps slapping the pavement and glanced to his side to see Mr. P. running from the direction of Archer. His tie was askew and his hair windblown.
“What is it?” asked the dean, moving toward Mr. Hamaguchi.
The guard pulled up the bra in time for everyone to see that it was a lacy and red. He immediately bagged it in a Ziploc and sealed it closed. Mr. Hamaguchi and the dean conferred in hushed tones, and everyone stood still, craning to hear what they were saying.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” Andy called out.
Mr. P. put his hands up. “Everyone back to class.”
“Should we be worried?” a girl’s plaintive voice called out.
“No. This was obviously a prank, and not at all funny,” warned Mr. P. “We will be looking into this.”
“How do you know it’s a joke?”
“Yeah, maybe someone else was strangled and dumped in the pond.”
That set off a new wave of frenzied discussions.

About the Author

 

 

Chuck

Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.

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Review / Blog Tour – Sugar Lump

Title: Sugar Lump
Author: Megan Gaudino
Published: January 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

SL

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world—CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count.

But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.

“but all I could think about was how Sugar Lump was full of crazy people” (p. 40)

Thank you Entangled Teen, Xpresso Book Tours, and Megan Gaudino for a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review. You can check out the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below.

 

How would the world work if everyone were to achieve the American Dream? What are the stakes in achieving that? CC and her dad move into the most perfect town in the world, with picturesque views that attract wedding parties from across the world. But something very strange is going in and everyone seems to be keeping something from CC, even her own dad.

I couldn’t put this down. The creepy vibes and commentary on the American Dream drew me in and kept me hooked.  The descriptions were vivid and the characters perfectly quirky. CC’s internal struggle between what she thinks she wants and what this strangely perfect town wants for her is riveting. Plus, could Thorne get any sexier? I found my heart racing every time his name was mentioned because I wanted to uncover the mystery of who he was just as much as CC.

However, the ending felt super flat and I was unsatisfied. The conflict between CC and Thorne and the town’s secrets creates this amazing tension and it feels like the ending was a complete copout. I wanted more and was honestly a little bit annoyed. There was no justice and no promise of a continued fight.

This is my first read by Gaudino, and I’m guessing it will not be the last. The writing is beautiful and the characters mysterious. I just hope her other books have a better written ending.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

Megan Gaudino works in a high school library by day and on her own books by night. She’s made up of a mixture of black clothing, iced coffee, and a desire to go adventuring. Those things sort of come together naturally to form a writer. She lives in Pittsburgh where you can find her reading, writing, and Instagraming.

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