Book Review/Blog Tour – A Night Twice as Long

Title: A Night Twice as Long
Author: Andrew Simonet
Published: June 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Night

Synopsis:

What do you call the difference between what you should feel and what you do feel? Life?

The blackout has been going on for three weeks. But Alex feels like she’s been living in the dark for a year, ever since her brother, who has autism, was removed from the house, something Alex blames herself for. So when her best friend, Anthony, asks her to trek to another town to figure out the truth about the blackout, Alex says yes.

On a journey that ultimately takes all day and night, Alex’s relationships with Anthony, her brother, and herself will transform in ways that change them all forever.

In this honest and gripping young adult novel, Andrew Simonet spins a propulsive tale about what it means to turn on the lights and look at what’s real.

Excerpt

I wake at dawn, tangled in a heap of blankets, hugging my pillow. My open window is letting in chilly air and a riot of bird- calls. How’s a recluse supposed to sleep?

I’m dreading telling Anthony I can’t come. I should have done it last night.

I’ll bring him snacks for his journey. I think we still have granola bars.

I shut the window and flip the light switch.
Nope. Day twenty-two.
My mom taught me this trick to figure out if you’re dreaming: Try to change the lighting. Turn a light on or off in a dream, and nothing happens. Our unconscious doesn’t know about electricity, because it’s too recent. Once, I dreamt of a flood, watching from my window as a car floated by, a bewildered kid staring out from the back seat. I pulled the chain on my desk lamp. She was right. Nothing.

I creep along the green hallway carpet, past my mom’s room. Silence. Past my brother’s room. Dangit. My mom’s twitchy breathing. She’s whimpering, maybe half-asleep, in Georgie’s bed. Again.

Jesus, Mom, we talked about this. Georgie’s bed doesn’t help you sleep. It doesn’t help anything.

My breakfast waits on the kitchen counter: two packets of instant oatmeal, not cooked but soaked in water overnight. It’s a gloopy room-temperature treat. Cinnamon & Spice tastes pretty much like Maple & Brown Sugar, gritty and sickly sweet. I’m not hungry.

In the bathroom, the window by the toilet glows gray blue with the first light. I’m getting better at moving around in the dark and near dark. We all are. We moan about the blackout— the inconvenience, the stress—but mostly, we adjust. It’s wild how quickly your animal senses come back. From our yard, I can hear a door close two blocks away.

On the shelf with the hairbrushes and deodorant, our phones are optimistically, pointlessly plugged in. It’s my mom’s old rule: When you brush your teeth before bed, you’re done with your phone. For now, we’re really done with them.

I think of all the messages and stories and pictures that flowed from that cracked dark screen the minute I turned it on in the morning. Every day for the last three weeks, we’ve asked: When is that coming back?

This morning, I think: Maybe it’s not.
Maybe none of it’s coming back.
Maybe these veterans will say it’s time to bury our phones, time to move on.
Georgie’s bed, five feet above my head, creaks and clunks as my mom rolls over.
Maybe the blackout wiped everything clean. Maybe the treadmill we all trudge on, our heads down, has stopped.
In the mirror, I’m a silhouette, a gray outline, my frizzed-out hair making me vague and approximate. My mom coughs out a string of sobs, high-pitched and whiny, like giggles. Our floors are thin, and her whimpers, so soggy and immediate, could be mine. It’s karaoke weeping. My reflection is sobbing. I am the one stranded and stricken.
I bring a hand to my mouth. No, I’m not sobbing. I’m not collapsed in my little brother’s bed. I am standing.
I pull my hair back, and my bangs droop forward. I’ve hid- den under this mud-brown tangle for months, letting it grow. It’s the untended hedge of a deserted house. It’s the frayed screen door Anthony knocks on, trying to coax me outside.

Sweet Anthony, the one person who still shows up, he needs me today. He said so.

All right, shut-in. Time to tear the screen door off. Time to chop the damn hedges down.

I look for scissors. Clippers would be best, but, with the power out, scissors will have to do.

Wait. Georgie’s clippers are rechargeable.

Bottom shelf, behind the cough medicine and the broken hair dryer. I thumb the ridged switch to on. That hard snap as the clippers start, then the soothing hum. The first electricity I’ve touched in days.

Upstairs, my mom blows her nose, the bleat of a party horn.

As dawn turns the white bathroom tilesgold, I run the clip- pers front to back, like I used to for Georgie, the pitch falling as my thick hair clogs the blades. Heavy coils tumble silently. I knock the clippers clean on the counter, building a nest of me in the sink, a soft mound of what I’ve been carrying.

The first rays of sun show my true outline. This is where I begin. This is my edge, my boundary. I look like my brother: My ears stick out, my nose is big, and my eyes droop.

I pull off my shirt, itchy with hair, and see my round belly and my pale scalp, my thick arms and my scrawny boobs. I am uncovered.

I’ve been hiding for a year. I take my hair off and I’m visible. I silently thank Georgie for the clippers.
Georgie. He hates haircuts. You can’t use scissors, cause he

might flinch or grab them. And you can’t take him to the barber. Mom tried.

“You don’t owe me anything, lady, just get your kid out of here!” the barber yelled after Georgie smashed a jar of disinfectant on the floor, bright aqua swallowing clumps of brown hair. Georgie’s half-shaved head bobbed down the side- walk, arms in the air, celebrating his escape.

So we got the clippers. His haircuts last ninety seconds: Put the number one guard on, the shortest, run it front to back. It made him look mean, punchy, like a military kid, his normal I-smell-something cringe turned into a scowl.

I could use a second pass now, but the charge ran out. I’m uneven, patchy. Stubble, not hair.

All right, Anthony, let’s go find some truth.

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About the Author

Andrew Simonet is a choreographer and writer in Philadelphia. His first novel, Wilder, published in 2018. He co-directed Headlong Dance Theater for twenty years and founded Artists U, an incubator for helping artists make sustainable lives. He lives in West Philadelphia with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two sons, Jesse Tiger and Nico Wolf.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
Print copy of A Night Twice as Long
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Book Review/Blog Tour – The Marvelous

Title: The Marvelous
Author: Claire Kann
Published: June 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Marvelous

Synopsis:

From the author of Let’s Talk About Love and If It Makes You Happy, this exuberant YA Novel follows six teens locked together in a mansion, contending for a life-changing cash prize in a competition run by a reclusive heiress.

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen. Heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel makes her dramatic return with an announcement: she has chosen a few lucky Golden Rule users to spend an unforgettable weekend at her private estate. But once they arrive, Jewel ingeniously flips the script: the guests are now players in an elaborate estate-wide game. And she’s tailored every challenge and obstacle to test whether they have what it takes to win–at any cost.

Told from the perspective of three dazzling players–Nicole: the new queen of Golden Rule; Luna: Jewel’s biggest fan; and Stella: a brilliant outsider–this novel will charm its way into your heart and keep you guessing how it all ends because money isn’t the only thing at stake.

“Jewel isn’t the person any of us think she is. That’s not necessarily a bad thing–it’s okay if the Jewel in your head doesn’t match the Jewel in real life–but being loyal to an idealized version of her is.”

Happy release week to Claire Kann’s book, The Marvelous. Thank you to Kann, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book is fun and will have you on the edge of your seat! It was a fresh blend of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Clue with a mixture of The Westing Game. Four users of the vlogging social media app Golden Rule are invited to an exclusive weekend at the creator, Jewel’s, mansion. When they arrive, they discover that Jewel has created a game filled with puzzles, challenges, team work, and secrets. With plenty of twists and unreliable narrators, this story will keep you guessing the whole way through.

The story is told from three of the players’ perspectives, which I did feel to be a little too big of a bite to chew, and the amount of characters involved made me wish for a longer book in order to actually get to know all of them. I still feel like I don’t really know Harlow or Francis.

Kann’s writing is engaging and descriptive, giving you just enough of a peak behind the curtain to keep you hooked. As this is my first book by this author, I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on her other books!

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About the Author

Claire Kann is the author of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life, she works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. Find out more by visiting her website: http://www.clairekann.com (and while you’re there, tell her about your cats. She loves cats. A lot.)

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
Print copy of The Marvelous
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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.

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Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
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Book Review – Amelia Unabridged

Title: Amelia Unabridged
Author: Ashley Schumacher
Published: February 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Love it

53138069

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s flight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along. Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.

“I’m crying, silent tears that don’t leave me gasping for breath or needing to rip books in half but that taste almost sweet in their saltiness. When did emotions start having emotions of their own, and how do I make it stop?” (p. 174).

Thank you Ashley Schumacher and Wednesday Books for a free eARC of Amelia Unabridged in exchange for an honest review. I have been sitting with this story ever since I read it almost in it’s entirety on February 16th. This story filled me to the brim and I’ve been struggling to find the words to capture the experience reading it was for me. As soon as I finished it, I texted my husband that I was utterly enchanted and I so deeply wanted to own a physical copy of it–which he was so kind to tell me to buy it, even though he truly cannot understand why I want to own books I’ve already read. That’s real love, my friends.

The book opens up on Amelia’s less than stellar home life (her father leaving for a younger woman, her mother in complete shock and depression) and ushers her into a friendship that helped her discover her value. Jenna and her family welcome Amelia in as a surrogate family member, and Amelia spends her high school years wanting for nothing and cherishing the worlds found in the pages of her books with a wonderful friend. Suddenly Amelia’s world is shattered when she gets the phone call that Jenna has died in an accident. The last thing they had said to each other was a fight. Jenna had their lives together all mapped out, how was Amelia supposed to do this alone? After a mysterious and rare copy of the girls’ favorite book arrives for her, Amelia goes on a journey to find out if Jenna was behind it. On the way, she discovers a whole new cast of quirky book lovers like her who welcome her in and give her space to discover who she is on her own.

Once Amelia makes it to Michigan, it’s clear that she’s battling so many things internally. She doesn’t know whether she should continue to pursue the life Jenna had planned for her, which means she would have to allow Jenna’s parents to pay for the college she’d otherwise be unable to afford in order to study for a career she’s unsure she wants, all while keeping up appearances as Jenna’s replacement almost in a family that’s not biologically hers. But what is there for her if she doesn’t do this? And how can she possibly let down her best friend and her family by changing the plan after Jenna’s death? How can she continue reading books when the very person who taught her to love them is gone? How can she be a complete person without the person that helped shape her?

There are so many different forms of grief throughout several characters, which I feel like makes everything more relatable and tangible. Amelia’s grief and anxiety throughout the book is attached to images of whales she pictures in her head that bring her peace. I thought this was such a beautiful way of writing Amelia’s thought processes as a creative individual who spent so much of her life in other worlds. After she meets Endsley, she uses these pictures in her head to relate to his anxiety. 

Everything about this story is just so wonderfully done. The cozy acceptance of an environment for book lovers, the sweet and very quirky friendships Amelia discovers in Michigan, and the tragically beautiful relationship she builds with Endsley. There’s even a wonderful dog who’s always in everyone’s space. I truly felt this was such a perfect illustration of true friendship being more than being there for each other in the convenience, but being an unwavering force in the inconvenience and uncertainty.

Schumacher’s writing is poetic and enchanting right from the beginning. Truly one of a kind. It was so difficult to put down or tear myself away for even the smallest thing because I didn’t want to leave this wonderful place she painted for me. I felt like I was there, on this journey of self discovery with Amelia, rooting for her, crying with her, and rejoicing with her. One thing that really stuck out to me about Schumacher’s writing is that she so beautifully crafted a world of book lovers without name dropping and shoving as many references as she could fit in there. All of the book references were so gently entwined into the story that it was more like a treasure hunt to see if I could figure out the reference instead of being pulled out of the story with a name drop. I don’t think I’m explaining it well, but this is something I struggle with in books because I often find name dropping so inorganic. Schumacher mastered this.

After all this rambling, I still feel like I only touched the surface of how wonderful this book is. And to think it’s only Schumacher’s debut? Sign me up for every book she comes out with ever, please and thank you? I will be fervently recommending this book to anyone and everyone possible.

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:
Google Play | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway:

One (1) winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card
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Blog Tour – The Ice in Our Hearts

Title: The Ice in Our Hearts
Author: BC Powell
Published: August 2020
Genres: Romance, Sports, Young Adult

Bryce is a snowboarding sensation, a cocky teenager from California with a giant chip on his shoulder called Type 1 diabetes. He competes because he has something to prove.

Daria is a rising star in figure skating, a withdrawn teen from Russia with a tragic past. She competes to provide her family with a better life.

Primed to overthrow archrivals who dominate their sports, they’re both headed to the Winter Olympics. But soon after arriving at the Games, a flurry of ill-timed setbacks threatens to shatter their dreams.

When two teens from halfway around the world meet, they discover an unlikely but undeniable connection. As they gear up for their final shots at medals, they help each other realize the greatest barrier to the top of the podium might be hiding inside their minds.

Take a breathtaking ride with Bryce and Daria as they find true understanding, try to overcome the bitterness of their pasts, and share a romance more meaningful than winning gold.

Written by the parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes.

After the eleven competitors before Bryce had completed their first jumps, Ryan Jones had logged the highest score. Bryce finalized his trick with Mike and strapped his board to his feet. With one hand on Bryce’s back and the other on his hip, Mike pushed Bryce across the snow to the starting area. As Bryce looked out at the Olympic flags over the massive crowd, he momentarily lost his breath. His heart beat faster and faster until it was like a drum roll inside his chest.

He’d been so focused on how his body was feeling through the practice jumps that he hadn’t thought about where he was. This was the medal round at the Olympics. The big air starting area was much different than the one in slopestyle where you couldn’t see or hear the crowd at the bottom of the run. Trying to keep a sudden onslaught of nerves in check, he bent down and rested his hands on his knees. As he inhaled a few deep breaths, Mike leaned down beside him.

“It’s just you and the jump,” Mike said. “That’s all there is.”

After Bryce nodded his head, Mike stepped back from the starting area. When the official starter told Bryce to drop in, he returned to upright. Focusing his eyes on the lip of the kicker, he tried to blur out the enormous crowd in the background. He visualized his take off in his mind and shook his arms by his side. He’d need a lot of speed for this trick.

He suddenly sprang into the air, twisted his body to the right, and hit the steep slope with his left foot forward. Zooming straight down the center of the ramp, he kept his board as straight as he could to max out his speed.

As he sank low to his board, the crowd disappeared behind the kicker. He sailed through the swoop at the bottom of the slope while the radar gun that showed his speed to the spectators flashed eighty-four kilometers per hour—fifty-two miles per hour. He blocked out every sound and narrowed his vision so that only the top of the kicker was in his sight. The only thought in his mind was his timing off the jump.

He hit the lip, burst straight up from his crouch, and twisted to the left. Throwing his shoulders backwards, he rifled his board over his head. He reached his right hand behind his waist and then back through his legs until he snatched the toe edge of his board. Cramping his body in a tuck, he pulled the center of the board as close to his face as he could while hiding his left hand behind one of his boots.

Flipping backwards, his body fluidly spun through the air. He counted the inversions in his head and marked his height over the slope each time it came into view. As he tumbled for the fourth time, he let go of his board and uncoiled his body.

Wrenching his hips to straighten out his board, he waved his arms by his sides to keep his balance. He knew he’d traveled way down the slope, but he was even farther than he expected. When the tail of his board grazed the snow, it was at the last blue line.

Like firm, controlled springs, his legs absorbed the jolt from the landing. With one hand out in front of him and the other extended to his side, he sped towards the finish zone. On the flat span of snow, he rose from his crouch and swung the tail of his board around so his back was to the crowd. Cascades of snow sprayed out from underneath him while he screeched to a stop. As though a mute button switched off in his mind, bellowing cheers hit his ears.

“A quad underflip nine-hundred!” the loudspeaker announcer shouted.

Goodreads / Amazon

BC Powell is a fantasy author from Los Angeles, CA. Described as “a stunning fantasy adventure,” “incredibly original,” and “a wild ride,” his debut science fiction fantasy novel “Krymzyn” was published in October, 2014. “The Infinite Expanse”, the highly anticipated second book in “The Journals of Krymzyn” series, was released in March, 2015.

Powell has a diverse background, having held several creative positions in the entertainment industry, including an executive role at ABC-TV, but writing fiction has been his lifelong passion. “The Journals of Krymzyn” represents, in his words, “finally finding the amazing story I want to tell with characters who are able to bring the story to life.”

He dual majored in journalism and philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. When he’s not writing, he can often be found hiking the hills of Southern California, daydreaming on the beach, or ocean kayaking. He credits his three sons, two currently in college and one in high school, as his inspiration for writing in the new adult genre.

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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

HS.jpg

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.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL):

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

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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 – 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 – 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.