Book Review/Blog Tour – The Secret Recipe for Moving On



Title: The Secret Recipe for Moving On
Author: Karen Bischer
Published: March 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

 Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Don’t like it

Synopsis:

When Ellie is dumped by her boyfriend, she’s forced to make new friends (while watching her ex swoon over his new girlfriend) in The Secret Recipe for Moving On, a smart and funny YA debut from Karen Bischer.

Ellie Agresti’s not sure anything could be worse than being dumped by her boyfriend, Hunter, the first day of senior year.

But sharing a “life skills” class with him and his new girlfriend, Brynn? AND getting partnered with a “family” of misfits (A.J., the loudmouth; Isaiah, the horse-racing obsessive; and Luke, the tattooed stunt-biker)?

It’s a recipe for certain disaster…until an in-class competition allows Ellie to channel her angst into beating Hunter and Brynn’s team, and she unexpectedly bonds with her own group–especially Luke–in the process.

But as Ellie soon discovers, it will take more than classroom triumphs to heal her broken heart–and find herself again.

“I guess some life skills you don’t learn in home ec” (chapter 18).

Happy release week for Karen Bischer’s book, The Secret Recipe for Moving On! Thank you Entangled Teen, Xpresso Tours, and Bischer for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. What a sweet journey this book is!

The story opens up with Ellie feeling a little insecure in her relationship and with his friends. Cue the first day of school and she gets quite the slap in the face when her boyfriend, Hunter, breaks up with her to be with one of his long time friends. Suddenly Ellie doesn’t belong anywhere as she’s quick to learn her “friends” were more situational than true. To make things worse, she has to sit through home ec with Hunter and his new boo practically breaking the PDA meter. After realizing how torturous being in the same group with her ex and ex-friends would be, she quickly joins the “misfit” group and starts plotting revenge. 

Cue the misfits: the sweetest, quirkiest group of boys you can find. Each of them have their own personality traits that keep them from the popular crowd, but Ellie quickly learns that they’re not quite as odd as first impressions hinted. As Ellie gets to know them, she learns about what it means to be a true friend, how to work together as a team, and who she is apart from the life she felt was taken from her.

While I did find Ellie’s character growth inspiring, Luke was probably my favorite character, even though, *groan,* he has a girlfriend already. Or maybe AJ? Honestly, the boys are all so wonderful, it’s hard to pick. I do feel like Luke was supposed to be intimidating because he has a couple tattoos and he’s into bike stunts, but he never really was for me. I wish Bischer could’ve built up that reputation better in the beginning so that, when Ellie learns about how goofy and sweet he is, it’s a much bigger deal.

Bischer writes such a sweet story about how preconceived assumptions about people don’t tell the whole story. The family Ellie becomes a part of are all flawed, real, and kind. With a team like that in anyone’s corner, there’s no telling what you can do. I’d definitely read this again just to hang out with the characters more.

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Karen Bischer has written short stories for Girls’ World and Animal Tales magazines and currently works as a copyeditor. She lives in her native New Jersey, where she has never encountered Bruce Springsteen in the wild, but does have a cat named after a member of the E Street Band.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram

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You Have a Match – Book Review

Title: You Have a Match
Author: Emma Lord
Published: January 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Love it

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Synopsis:

A new love, a secret sister, and a summer she’ll never forget.

From the beloved author of Tweet Cute comes Emma Lord’s You Have a Match, a hilarious and heartfelt novel of romance, sisterhood, and friendship…

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer, injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front. But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister. When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents–especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself. The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because somethings, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

“If you learn to capture a feeling, it’ll always be louder than words” (chapter 37)

Thank you Emma Lord and Wednesday Books for an eARC of You Have a Match in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, my feelings really went back and forth on this one. Shortly after I finished it, Reese Witherspoon announced it for her book club and I thought to myself, “Am I missing something?” So I just set it aside for a while because I didn’t really know what I thought. But here I am–I’ve gone through my notes and tried to write up my thoughts in a cohesive way; here’s the good and the bad.

Abby is passionate about photography (I love to see it!) and her friends. She feels a little overlooked by her parents sometimes because of the two rugrats who claim the titles of her little siblings. But the one person who always made her feel seen and helped cultivate her love of photography, her grandfather, “Poppy,” has recently died and she’s trying to cope and grieve while still trying to live her life. Her two best friends are her lifelines, so when one of them, Leo, wants to learn about his biological family with a DNA test, she decides to do one too in solidarity. She was expecting Leo’s test to be the most informative, but somehow her’s took the spotlight when it revealed a fully biological sister that she’s never heard of. Cue Savvy, Instagram star and practically perfect in every way. Instead of just going to their parents about this discovery (why?) Abby and Savvy decided to sign up for camp together as a way to bond and try to figure out the mystery unraveling before them. Oh, and, SURPRISE! Abby’s best friend Leo, who she’s actually desperately in love with and trying to convince herself not to be–he’s going to camp, too!

Some things I loved: Abby learning to craft her love for photography and continue that special bond she shared with her Poppy; Abby and Savvy trying to figure out how to have a relationship with a sister you’ve never met; some of the side characters are sweet and funny, and I really wish we could’ve seen more of them. I believe I said this in another review of Lord’s books, but while I love her quirky, quick voice, I also don’t like when authors try to name drop everything currently popular (brands, celebrities, etc) to stay current because I know this will cause the book not to age well. However, Lord’s writing is also very engaging and sweet.

Here are some things that I had problems with. The Big Embarrassing Incident is what Abby dubbed as the reason she can’t be in love with Leo anymore. However, when it was finally revealed (which was way too long), it is pretty anti-climatic and fell pretty short of being a big deal. Their chemistry was also not expanded on much beyond Abby’s constant “does he like me” stream of consciousness and his pretty clear hints. When they do get together, I did feel that “aww” moment mostly because I also fell in love with my best friend, but if I didn’t relate as much, I might have been asking why they liked each other instead.

Abby’s best friend Connie wasn’t fleshed out very well and it seemed she was mostly used as a plot device to keep Abby and Leo away from each other. I honestly felt like the book would read the same without her. I also felt like Savvy wasn’t easy to connect with (I don’t really like influencers, so that could be it–though Lord doesn’t really paint them in a great light either), but I did like the contrast in her personality and Abby’s, especially as they tried to navigate that.

The explanation of what happened between Abby and Savvy’s parents and their best friends that caused them to give up Savvy, cut ties, and have Abby just over a year later was quite the information dump and I still felt confused. The whole book was working up to this big reveal and it just didn’t feel like something that would happen–or even if it did, why would Savvy’s adoptive parents not move away once they had cut ties? They’re basically setting their daughters up for finding each other and feeling betrayal toward their parents for keeping them in the dark about a pretty life changing event. Even as the book draws to a close, all the lying that has taken place, not only in Abby’s and Savvy’s lives, but also just in this one summer, everything seems to be tied up with a pretty bow with not a believable amount of resolution. Honestly, the reveal and somehow happily-ever-after conclusions were what I had the most problems with in this book. I also feel like it doesn’t have a good adoption rep, which makes me wonder if Lord had any commentary from people on this.

Overall, Lord’s writing is engaging and fun enough to carry you through the book, but you’ll be left scratching your head on how everything was resolved. I’m not sure how it made Reese Witherspoon’s book club, to be honest.

Book Review/Blog Tour – Beautiful Facade

Title: Beautiful Facade
Author: Kathryn S Rose
Published: February 2021
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Rating: 2 stars
Cover:
 It’s okay

facade

Synopsis:

On the day that 16-year-old Winter Starling had her life and dreams shattered by a sexual assault, she meets Kai, a boy from her high school obsessed with music. They develop a deep friendship, which comes to an abrupt end when Kai unexpectedly has to leave. Winter has no idea why he went or any way to contact him.

Ten years pass, and Winter has constructed a new reality for herself. Now living in Melbourne, she has a successful career in advertising and is engaged to Liam King, a star player in Australian Rules Football. Winter has a perfect life.

During a night out, Winter runs into Kai, now the lead singer of ‘The Stonevilles.’ Winter and Kai rekindle their friendship, and to everyone around them, their attraction is evident. With Kai back in her life, Winter’s past threatens to ruin her relationship with Liam and everything she has worked to achieve. But can she risk losing Kai a second time?

Emotional and edgy, Beautiful Facade is about love, loss, healing, self-discovery, and the messy battle between one’s head and one’s heart.

Happy book birthday to Kathryn S Rose’s Beautiful Facade! Thank you Rose and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pretty much right from the beginning of this story, you learn that 27-year-old Winter has officially faked it until she made it–working through trauma from a sexual assault in high school and somehow convincing her famous Australian footballer fiancé that she thrives in the spotlight, and working up the ranks in her great job. When a friend from her past shows up and brings back memories from high school–the good, the bad, the ugly–Winter’s mask starts cracking and she can’t seem to cover up the holes in her facade quick enough. Does she even want to anymore?

For me, the idea of this story was great, but the execution fell short. Kai is supposed to be this mysterious enigma who vanished in thin air with no explanation, but for me, he was pushy, unstable, and it’s strange how obsessive he is with Winter. The build up to solving the mystery of Kai ended with a quick, lackluster explanation. Actually, the last part of the book just felt like an information dump with very little satisfaction in discovering answers. The idea of Winter living out this beautiful facade wasn’t developed as well as it could have been, and most of the story was taken up by her conflicting feelings for her returned best friend. And the famous, gorgeous footballer? What a one-dimensional jerk.

While I struggled with the execution of the story, I did enjoy Rose’s writing style. It was fun reading a book about characters my age juggling work, relationships, trauma, healing, and somehow managing a social life. I will be interested to see what Rose comes up with next.

Goodreads / Amazon

About the Author

Kathryn S Rose is a mum, wife, reader, writer, traveller, and food enthusiast. Writing a book was always on her bucket list, and finally, with Beautiful Facade, it has come into fruition.

Kathryn is interested in the study of human behaviour and obtained a Bachelor of Social Science, with a focus on Community studies and Welfare Work.

Since completing her studies, she has worked in several jobs, which have enhanced her understanding of social issues, human development, relationships, and lifestyle. Some of these insights are reflected in her writing and give her inspiration.

Besides books, Kathryn has many other loves. She enjoys listening to live music, relaxing at the beach, embarking on random hiking adventures, and indulging in too much food and wine with family and friends.

When Kathryn and her family aren’t traipsing around the world, they can be found residing in Perth, Western Australia.

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Book Review/Blog Tour – Love Spells and Other Disasters

Title: Love Spells and Other Disasters
Author: Angie Barrett
Published: February 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Paranormal
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s Okay

LOVE SPELLS AND OTHER DISASTERS by Angie Barrett

Synopsis:

I didn’t know when I wrote the first love spell that it would actually make things happen. Like, actually make people fall in love with each other…

How could I have known something like that? I mean, magic isn’t real, right?

But here’s the thing—the spell does work and so does the next one and the next one…and suddenly I’m getting a whole lot of attention from everyone at my high school. Me, Blend-into-the-Walls, Please-Let-Me-Introvert-in-Peace Rowan Marshall. And not only that, but I’ve also caught the attention of Luca Russo, a godlike, football-playing hottie who claims he likes me just the way I am. Ummm…

But as I’m about to learn, playing around with things you don’t understand means when things go wrong—like really, very awfully wrong—you don’t know how to fix them.

Happy book birthday to Angie Barrett’s debut, Love Spells and Other Disasters! Thank you Barrett, Entangled Teen, and Chapter by Chapter for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rowan doesn’t have a normal life–she’s the daughter of the famous Dr. Marshall: Ghost Psychologist. Not that Rowan even believes in that stuff. Honestly, watching her mom try to talk to her dad, who died when Rowan was young, is kind of depressing. Being related to her mom is probably why her partner in her school project wants to build a business plan on writing and selling love spells. But what Rowan doesn’t understand is why the spells seem to be working. Or why a hot football player wants to date her.

Barrett writes a great story arc that takes the reader along for a big bite of character growth. Rowan at the end of the story is almost a different person from the Rowan at the beginning, and we got a front seat look at the weird and amazing journey that took her there. I love stories where everything seems to go wrong and this one did not disappoint. Plus, it has magic! 

I do wish there was more character growth for Rowan’s best friend, Ethan. He basically disappears for half of the book and gets why too distant from Rowan for someone who’s been her only and closest friend for so long. I just wanted better friends for her.

Purchase Links:
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About the Author

Angie Barrett
Author Angie Barrett lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada in an old century home that is also known as the “cat house” because, well, Angie likes cats. A lot. She also likes shopping for books, or for anything really, and spending time RVing in the summer with her family. She has worked for sixteen years as a high school English teacher and Librarian and is currently a Curriculum Consultant for new teachers. Angie has always dreamed of being a published author and strives to create worlds where there are strong, relatable characters who maybe are not always perfect but who understand the meaning of friendship and loyalty and who will use their collective strengths to overcome adversity.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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Escaping Eleven – Book Review

Title: Escaping Eleven 
Author: Jerri Chisholm
Published: December 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Sci-Fi
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

IMG_0166

Synopsis:

In Compound Eleven, the hierarchy of the floors is everything.

My name is Eve Hamilton, and on my floor, we fight.

Which at least is better than the bottom floor, where they toil away in misery. Only the top floor has any ease in this harsh world; they rule from their gilded offices.

Because four generations ago, Earth was rendered uninhabitable–the sun too hot, the land too barren. Those who remained we forced underground. While not a perfect life down here, I’ve learned to survive as a fighter.

Except my last match is different. Instead of someone from the circuit, my opponent is a mysterious boy from the top floor. And the look in his eyes tells me he’s different…maybe even kind.

Right before he kicks my ass.

Still, there’s something about his–something that says he could be my salvation…or my undoing. Because I’m no longer content to just survive in Eleven. Today, I’m ready to fight for more than my next meal: I’m fighting for my freedom. And this boy may just be the edge I’ve been waiting on.

“Maybe it never really made sense to hate an entire society; maybe it never made sense that all of them up there were evil in the first place. The actions of the few should never speak for the many–this is something I already know” (chapter 28).

Happy book birthday to Escaping Eleven by Jerri Chisholm. Thank you to Entangled Teen and Chisholm for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Chisholm writes a dystopian society that mirrors ones found in The Hunger Games and Divergent, but has enough punch in the storyline to stand on it’s own legs. I was completely captivated, letting dishes pile up and my to-do list go untouched just so that I could find out what would happen next.

Eve is a darker, scarred character. Her life has not been a walk in the park, but really, could that describe anyone’s life in the lower floors of Compound Eleven? In order to help forget about the constant oppression they face every day, many people on the lower floors have taken up a hobby or career in fighting. Eve’s father has been training her to go pro since she was a young girl, but when the time draws near to commit to a career after finishing school, she just can’t force herself. The only thing she wants is to escape and taste freedom.

I liked that Eve grew up hard and constantly has to choose to be hard to deal with the horrors in her life. It gave her more depth to explore throughout the story. When Wren, the elite boy from the top floor, enters her life, she really has to wrestle with whether she should close herself off from people or not. And through her constant preparations to seek freedom, she finds out that she might have put her trust in the wrong person.

Some thing I struggled with is that I really wanted more fleshing out of Wren’s story, who was definitely one of my favorite characters. Eve is pretty single minded, which means that Wren learns way more about her than she learns about him. I hope that we get to hear a lot more about Wren in the next book, since this one ended with a lot of open questions. Actually, some of her friends could’ve used some fleshing out, too. I also found the description of the book misleading to the plot–just little things, like the fact that they don’t actually fight for their food, but more for a hobby, career, or survival tactic. The comment about Wren being the edge she needs to find her freedom isn’t quite true either since she really focuses most of the book on trying to figure it out on her own. Finally, the ending was a little predictable, but it did end in such a way that you’re anxious to know what happens next.

Okay, how do I figure out how to fast forward time so that I can read book two?

Blog Tour – The Christmas Spirit

Title: The Christmas Spirit
Author: Alexandrea Weis
Published: October 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

SOMETIMES IT TAKES ONE BROKEN HEART TO HEAL ANOTHER.

Courtney Winston is a writer on a deadline. Eager to finish her book and get over a recent break-up, she ditches Christmas with her family and retreats to a secluded cabin in the mountains.

Appliances rarely work, and cell service is spotty, but Courtney senses there is more to her rustic rental—something dark and haunting.

Then Peter, the attractive Stone Mountain Lodge owner, and a meddling cook, Mrs. Finn, keep coming around, shattering her peace and offering advice on how to fix her heavy heart.

Courtney grows closer to Peter, but Mrs. Finn warns her of his troubled past. Undaunted, Courtney sets out to win him over. But being with the brooding stranger may end up costing her more than she ever imagined.

Excerpt

She spotted the bridge and decided crossing it would be faster than fighting the ice. Courtney headed toward the arched structure, wishing she had never come with Peter to the magical place.

She stepped over clumps of brush along the shoreline, her boots sinking into thick patches of snow as she hurried to reach the bridge.

The stonework on the steps was like the mantle in the cabin. The same attention to detail reminded her of Peter. Even when he chopped wood, he had to make everything precise.

Her glove brushed the smooth surface of the wooden railing, wondering how many hours the two young men spent building the bridge. That Peter’s beautiful remembrance of his life with his brother should be hidden away in the woods made her sad. If only others could see what they had done.

Then a funny indentation in the railing stopped her cold.

She rubbed the surface, not sure if the imperfection was intentional or just a play of light on the dark wood.

A portion of the railing had been expertly carved away, leaving a name raised in the wood like a bas-relief. The letters were swirled and decorative. This was professional, even, and expertly done. It wasn’t the work of a lovesick schoolboy, but a man who worshipped the woman whose name he’d forever attached to the bridge—Evelyn.

Courtney’s knees became weak as she traced the name she had no doubt Peter etched there. The love he’d borne for the woman became painfully clear.

Her heart grieved, sinking like an anvil in her chest. No one would carve her name into anything, or pine for her after she went off with another. She wasn’t the kind of woman who lived fairy tales. She only read about them in books.

“You found it.”

He was in the middle of the bridge, a few feet away. So caught up in the testament of one man’s love, Courtney had not heard Peter’s heavy boots or felt the bridge tremble under his weight.

“When did you do this?”

He swung his hands behind his back. “What makes you think it was me?”

She glanced at him and tipped her head. “I didn’t realize how much you loved her.”

The thin line was back on his lips. “Neither did she. I carved this right after she married Lawrence.”

She tapped the carving with her hand. “Has she ever seen

this?”

“No. She never came here.”

Goodreads / Amazon

About the Author

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author, screenwriter, advanced practice registered nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable.

Weis writes romance, mystery, suspense, thrillers, supernatural, and young adult fiction and has sold approximately one million books. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.

She is a member of both the International Thriller Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association. http://www.AlexandreaWeis.com

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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

the-good-for-nothings

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.

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Giveaway

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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 – 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.

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.

 

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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

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