Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spotlight: SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson + Giveaway

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Save the Date
by Morgan Matson


Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

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Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
• Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / TBD / IndieBound

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Morgan Matson grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children's department of Vroman's Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.







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Continue on for the giveaway! ~

Monday, May 14, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

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Title: Where I Live
Author: Brenda Rufener
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 28, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Book Source: publisher via edelweiss
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars



**POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

Synopsis:  LINDEN ROSE HAS RULES FOR SURVIVAL.

1. Prevent the in-class nap.
2. Never carry too many belongings.
3. Avoid looking the part.

Her rules guarantee no one discovers her secret–that she’s homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her best friends, Ham and Seung, have formed a makeshift family, and writing for her school’s blog prevents downtime. When you’re homeless, free time sucks. Despite everything Linden’s burdened with, she holds on to hope for a future and a maybe romance with Seung.

But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea’s life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay attention. And attention is the last thing Linden needs.

To put a stop to the violence, Linden must tell the story. Even if it breaks her rules for survival and jeopardizes the secrets she’s worked so hard to keep.
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Yet another "on the fence" book for me. Sigh. This is the year for ON THE FENCERS with me.

Alright, let's start with a quick rundown of the story. Basically Linden is a homeless teen. She is in hiding, sort of, right in front of everyone's eyes. She sleeps in her high school or outside of it in the dugout on the baseball field. She gets food from friends or she doesn't really eat. She bathes in the school bathroom/locker room. She carries her life in her backpack. This book is not only about her struggle with homelessness and trying to stay in school and make something of herself, but also the everyday struggles of high school and life as a teen.

Let me start with the bad:

• The plot was everywhere! I think I got whiplash from this book. I honestly think the messiness is due to the fact that there are too many themes in this book. It's like the author had so many great ideas, but instead of doing a couple books, she goes and puts ALL THE THINGS in one book. So, we not only deal with Linden and her struggles with being homeless, but we also have a reporter (?) at the school asking random questions, a gay-best-friend with WAY too many issues, a crush on the other-best-friend, who happens to be Korean-American and struggles with Korean/Asian stereotypes, and abusive relationship, possible love triangle, family drama, bullying, and on and on and on. It is just TOO MUCH. I feel like having too many things mushed together just made the book messy and it felt like no single thing got enough attention, you know? If anything, I felt that this book was MORE about the abusive relationship sidestory than the actual main plot, which was supposed to be Linden dealing with her homeless situation and being an orphan.

• As I mentioned before, this book does cover a lot of bullying issues. Racism, sexism, homophobia. Linden's gay friend (I can't remember his name) was bullied for being gay. He also had this weird obsession with the female student that was IN the above mentioned abusive relationship. Between this and the bullying, he was an angry guy. He wanted revenge and decided to take a really negative approach and get "revenge"... well, this is never a good thing. It didn't turn out well, but mostly my issue is with the fact that he countered bullying WITH bullying—not average bullying either, it got physical and not in a fist-fight type of way. It was just wrong and made him a completely unlikable character. I dealt with bullying in school, big time, so don't take this the wrong way, but I had ZERO sympathy for him by the time the book was over.

*** SPOILERS BELOW! ***

• There was a part in the book where Linden thought one of her friends was dead. Without going into too much detail, I will explain why this event bothered me. Alright, so, there was a school event. One of her friends was "attacked" and injured and was unconscious, yeah? SHE THINKS HE IS DEAD! Well she decides to run away instead of doing something about it. You aren't the one who hurt him, but you witnessed what happened, yet you run off? I get it, she was scared because of the police possibly finding out she was homeless. Buuut, as far as I am concerned DEATH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HOMELESSNESS! Hello?! I just didn't get it. On top of that, the fact that she even thought he was dead was VERY unrealistic. The situation was so unbelievable it was almost comical. Very very eyeroll worthy, to be honest.

Moving on to the good:

• No one talks about homeless teens. It's rare in YA fiction. I think I've read only one other book in YA where this issue was highlighted ( Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala), but that is LITERALLY it. So, obviously I admire this author for even going there. Poverty is a real, never-ending issue, for adults and teens alike. Following Linden through her day-to-day struggles is humbling. Will she have enough to eat? Will she have to steal food? Will she have to sleep outside on the ground or can she break into the school that night to stay warm and dry? Will she be able to bathe before classes? Will she have time to clean her meager clothing in the bathroom sinks at school? Will she be able to dodge police and a possible-social-worker at school? Will someone find out? Literally, any moment someone can find out. 

“If I want my life to matter, these eyes can't see who I really am.
Who I'm striving hard not to be.
The homeless girl hiding in front of them.”
These are things the average teen NEVER has to worry over.

• I honestly really admired Linden as a character. I think her personality was great and, although she was going through something not ALL teens do, she was very relatable. I felt a lot of sympathy for her while reading through her story. Even though she had to do questionable things—like steal food from friends—she never forgot any of the things she did. She always kept a mental tally of what she "owed" people, whether it be a tangible thing or an intangible thing.

• The romance was important. I think a lot of people didn't like that a romance was present in a book with more serious themes, but I feel differently. I think that Linden deserved to have a romance! Seung was a wonderful love interest for her! He was sweet, caring, but also put his foot down when it mattered in the friendship as well as the romantic relationship. Their dynamic was great and I felt that the falling in love aspect was realistic and sweet. I was extremely happy with the way things were wrapped up.

Overall, I think this book is important and I did enjoy it for the most part. It definitely had A LOT going on, but while this is so, the issues covered are relevant and they were mostly well done. I recommend it if you enjoy a book with diversity and important themes PLUS a little fun and romance to boot.
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{Blog Tour} THE QUEEN'S RISING by Rebecca Ross—Excerpt + Giveaway

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The Queen's Rising
by Rebecca Ross


When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

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Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / TBD / IndieBound

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    I watched him begin to gather his things, my heart stumbling over the desire to ask him how he had hurt himself, the desire to ask him to stay longer. But I swallowed those cravings, let them slide down my throat as pebbles.
            “I should go,” Cartier said, easing his satchel over his good shoulder. The blood continued to weep beneath his shirt, slowly spreading.
            “But your arm…” I almost reached for him again.
            “It’ll be fine. Come, walk me out.”
            I fell into step beside him, to the foyer, where he gathered his passion cloak. The river of blue concealed his arm, and he seemed to relax once it was hidden.
            “Now then,” he said, all stern and proper again, as if we had never stood on chairs and laughed together. “Remember to have your three approaches prepared for the patrons.”
            “Yes, Master Cartier.” I curtsied, the movement ingrained within me.
            I watched him open the front door; the sunshine and warm air swelled around us, laced with scents of meadows and distant mountains, stirring my hair and my longings.
            He paused on the threshold, half in the sun, half in the shadows. I thought he would turn back around—it seemed like there was more he wanted to say to me. But he was just as good at swallowing words as I was. He continued on his way, passion cloak fluttering, his satchel of books swinging as he moved to the stables to fetch his horse.
            I didn’t watch him ride away.
            But I felt it.
            I felt the distance that widened between us as I stood in the foyer shadows, as he rode recklessly beneath the oaks.


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Rebecca Ross was born and raised in Georgia, where she continues to reside with her husband, her lively Australian Shepherd, and her endless piles of books. She loves coffee, the night sky, chalk art, maps, the mountains, and growing wildflowers in her yard. And a good story, of course.







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Continue on for the giveaway! ~

Saturday, May 12, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

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Title: The Secret History of Us
Author: Jessi Kirby
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 288
Pub Date: August 01, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Book Source: publisher via edelweiss
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars



**POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

Synopsis: A near drowning…a coma for days…and then…

Olivia wakes up to realize she doesn’t remember. Not just the accident—but anything from the last four years. Not high school. Not Matt, the guy who is apparently her boyfriend. Not the reason she and Jules are no longer friends. Nothing.

That’s when it hits her—the accident may not have taken her life, but it took something just as vital: her memory. The harder she tires to remember things, the foggier everything gets, and figuring out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

But then there’s Walker. The guy who saved her. The one who broke her ribs pumping life back into her lungs. The hardened boy who keeps his distance despite Olivia’s attempts to thank him.

With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t even remember living.
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The Secret History of Us... oh man, what can I say? Not a fan.

I loved the premise of Olivia losing basically her whole memory of high school. I always love a book with memory loss because there is always some huge thing hiding within those lost memories.

BUT... in this book, it was too obvious WHAT that hidden thing was. I like a little actual mystery IN MY MYSTERY STORIES. Basically, Olivia wakes up with a chunk of her memory missing. She angsts over her boyfriend (who has no personality, BTW... kind of like Olivia herself), decides she likes another guy, finds out the thing, then lives HEA. THE END. All of the MIDDLE pieces were just boring fluff. I honestly expected more.

The characters had very little personality. The author spent too much time on the silly details of Olivia's memory loss and the fact that she was mentally stuck in middle-school than actually building up the characters a bit. They were just bland, thus making the story more bland. There wasn't any real emotion in this book, and I feel like better character development could've given us some of that. Perhaps the process of Olivia reconciling the person she was before the accident with the person she (according to her friends and family) should be now, would've been a little more impactful if we really understood who she was and how she felt. Not only was she hiding her feelings from her friends and family, but from the reader as well. There just wasn't ENOUGH.

Now, the only reason I gave this a two star instead of one was because, ultimately, the author did wrap things up nicely. I enjoyed the ending. It was a bit abrupt and maybe should've been built-up to better, but it was good. I liked that Olivia sort of stood up for herself and the person she was in that moment.

I have read a book similar to this. I have to mention it, because while I was reading this one, I found myself comparing the two. If you want something with a similar premise, but executed to perfection, check out One Moment by Kristina McBride. I read if a few years ago, and it blew me away. It has a VERY similar theme to this book, only 100x better.

Overall, this book was a fail for me. I can't really recommend it because it was just lackluster. Slow, boring, dull, etc. No real character development and no real storyline. It was kind of gimmicky and just not for me.
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