Friday, September 14, 2018

Review: Paloma's Dream

About the Book

Paloma's Dream by Paloma Rambana and Hillary Ring
Published on June 1,2018 by New Iberia, LLC

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

In a world where lobbyists are big and carry briefcases, one little girl with an IPad walked into the Florida state capitol and made a big difference. Meet Paloma Rambana who was just an above average fourth grader until she successfully lobbied the State of Florida legislature to help secure $1 million in funds for blind and visually impaired kids in Florida. Born with a rare eye condition called Peters Anomaly, Paloma knows what these kids need, and she is on a mission. Join Paloma as she sets out on her adventures to secure funding for kids, to inspire kindness and activism in people of all ages, and of course to finish her homework before bedtime.

My Thoughts

I was absolutely blown away by this book.  I typically do not review nonfiction, but I was so drawn in by Paloma's accomplishments at such a young age.  These feats are simply incredible for such a young person!  

This book is impressively written by such a young individual.  Her use of words and the flow of her memoir blew my little teacher mind.  It can be such a struggle to get my students interested in literature at all, and here is Paloma.  She enjoys lobbying and going to museums and reading!

I was surprised that I didn't spend more of this book thinking about her disorder.  Which seemed weird to me because her disorder is the reason that she was able to see the needs for teenagers in her area.  I thought much more about her interests and her accomplishments than about her inability to see properly.  At first, I was upset about this.  Wasn't the point of the book to show that despite her disability she was able to conquer?  But, I think Paloma would be happy to know that I thought of the things she did and achieved before I ever considered the things that she couldn't.  After all, those are the things that truly matter.

I am beyond excited to share Paloma's story with my seventh grade class.  So many of them are in need of inspiration and I believe that Paloma is the perfect role model for them.

My Rating

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

About the Book

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Published on April 4, 2017 by Quirk Books

Neither the author nor the publisher requested this honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad's old costume, Elle's determined to win - unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons - before he was famous. Now they're nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake - until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part-romance, part-love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

My Thoughts

Me?  Read a fairy tale retelling??  DUH!!!!!  I freaking love these things.  They are sooooooo much better than bacon!  And, to make things a million times better, I'm a total nerd!  This book was so freaking enticing, even if the weirdly girly cover did put me off a bit.

I absolutely loved this book!  When I was getting close to the last page, I actually stayed up as late as my exhausted teacher body would let me before passing out.  I woke up the next morning, still clutching to the pages of this book! 

What I Liked

  • I related to Elle so flipping much!  Not because I have a horrible family life (my family is flipping amazing), but because she is wonderfully independent.  I absolutely loved seeing a Cinderella that was bound and determined to make her own happiness happen instead of waiting for someone to come and fix it for her.  She embodied a strong female spirit that is perfectly wonderful.  I am pretty much guaranteed to love any book with a strong female lead, and Geekerella did not disappoint.
  • Darien was a wonderful guy.  I don't say that in a "He's so cute I wanna die!!!" kind of way, but in a "Thank goodness that someone is showing the softer side of a guy."  Too often, I think we are encouraged to think about the hardened exterior of our gentlemen; this book illustrates that typically hidden side.  I am so happy to see that Poston made such a bold statement in a world where boys are typically told just to suck it up.  Darien learned to make his own decisions and deal with consequences while seeing that it was OK to experience emotions rather than hide them and neglect them.
  • I know that there will be others who say that this romance wasn't very believable.  And I agree.  But, I think that this really makes the book.  After all, does the original Cinderella tale really make romantic sense?  I think that by choosing a slightly unrealistic path to a very sweet romance, Poston stayed true to the original piece.
  • The world building in this piece was immaculate.  I had no trouble visualizing every scene that Poston wrote.  The world needs more books with such beautiful writing.

What I Didn't Like As Much

  • Holy typos, Batman!  I was really surprised to see so many typos in such a well-loved book.  There were actually a few places where they distracted me from the story and interrupted the flow.
  • I hated that I couldn't reach into the book and slap Chloe. Those of you who have read the book will get it. If you haven't, go read it.  Then you can get it too.

My Rating

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Giveaway!!!!!!! Signed Copies of The Apollo Illusion by Shari Lopatin!

Who doesn’t love winning an author-signed copy of a terrific new book?

In May this year, the riveting science fiction/dystopian suspense about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology, The Apollo Illusion, hit the market. A gripping story of opposing futures, it’s been racking up four-and-five-star reviews from readers and book bloggers. You can check out my review here! Now, author Shari Lopatin is giving away two SIGNED copies of The Apollo Illusion to two lucky winners!

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter the giveaway, sign up for Shari’s email list, “The Readers Club” before Sept. 30, 2018. Then, on Oct. 3, Shari will randomly select two lucky winners from the list of giveaway participants. You could be one of them! 

1. Sign up for Shari’s “Readers Club” at this link:

2. That’s it!

But hurry and enter now, before you forget! And you might even get a sneak peek at the opening chapters (wink, wink). 😊

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cover Reveal: Xavier by Christina Bauer

Christina Bauer
(Angelbound Worlds, #1)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: February 25th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
“Anyone into fantasy and other worldly experiences would enjoy these books. I am officially addicted!” – Rachely, Goodreads
I am the archangel Xavier,
General of the Angelic Army.
My life began at the dawn of time,
And in all the long eons since
I have only known war, never love.
Until HER.

Enter the Angelbound Worlds, a new series of novellas that take place within different areas and eras of the after-realms (Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, the Dark Lands, and Antrum). Don’t miss Book 1 in the Angelbound Worlds series, in which the archangel Xavier shares how he finally fell in love.
Suggested to read after Angelbound Origins Book 1.
“SUCH interesting stories!! I love the characters, the plot, the writing style. Unique, beautiful, not sappy with the romance, but steamy enough to keep my interest. DEFINITELY recommend!” – Keri, Goodreads

Author Bio:
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Wolf of the Baskervilles by Majanka Verstraete

The Wolf of the Baskervilles
Majanka Verstraete
(The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, #3)
Publication date: June 25th 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Who is Marisol Holmes?
She’s a teenager.
Jaguar shifter.
And don’t forget, she’s also the descendant of the great Sherlock Holmes.
Our heroine had been in some pretty tight spots before, but now? She’s about to face her biggest challenge yet: a powerful shifter with a taste for blood. No one has faced down the deadly wolf of the Baskervilles and lived to tell the tale.
Even so, Marisol Holmes plans to do just that.

Author Bio:
Author Majanka Verstraete has written more than twenty unique works of fiction. A native of Belgium, Majanka’s novels explore the true nature of monsters: the good, the bad, and just about every species in between. Her young adult books include the acclaimed Mirrorland (YA Dark Fantasy) and Angel of Death (YA Paranormal) series of novels. At MHB, Majanka is currently developing a new YA shifter series with a fresh take on fierce female detectives called THE ADVENTURES OF MARISOL HOLMES.
When she’s not writing, Majanka is probably playing World of Warcraft or catching up with the dozens of TV series she’s addicted to.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

About the Book

Published by HarperTeen on June 6, 2017

Neither the author nor the publisher solicited this review.  These are my honest and unbiased opinions.

GoodReads Description

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

My Thoughts

The moment I saw this book's GORGEOUS cover, I knew I had to read it.  I simply had to know what this was all about!  After reading the synopsis, I was even more certain that this book was right up my alley.  This was a wonderful introduction to Charbonneau's work!

What I Loved

  • Charbonneau writes in a very descriptive style that truly draws the reader into her words.  I especially appreciate this as a teacher because I know that a copy of this book in my classroom is sure to draw in reluctant readers and to keep their attention.  I was impressed by her choice to include sex and violence without overdoing either.  It is obvious what is happening during these scenes, but they are written in a clean and tasteful way.
  • Many times, I was certain I knew what was going to happen next. And then it didn't.  Something WAY better happened instead.  This only added to the fast pace of the plot and made sure that around each corner there was something for the reader to look for and be excited for.  The intrigue and suspense that Charbonneau creates is truly magical.
  • By far, my favorite character was Princess Carys.  I admire her steadfast bravery as she guards her family and her people.  She truly goes through an awakening not only of herself and her duty, but of what it truly means to be loyal.  In each moment that she held to her morals and her loyalty to her brother even as it was tested, I admired this strength and considered how hard that would be for a young woman to do.  I think that Princess Carys needs to go down in the literary bad***es of literature with Hermione and Katniss!

What I Wasn't A Huge Fan Of

  • Andreus.  What a piece of trash!  His character did nothing but infuriate me as he left his morals far behind him in his desperate grasp for power.  The things that he put his sister through even as she held fast to their long history of camaraderie and loyalty is truly appalling.
  • Additionally, Andreus' relationship with Imogen seems a bit forced.  It showed just how power hungry the two of them are, quite like the MacBeths.  This relationship was based on deceit and immorality despite their supposed feelings of love and loyalty to each other.
  • The most troubling thing for me, however, was the lack of concrete world building.  I know that there are these monster things but I don't know why they're so cranky. Heck, I can't even pronounce their name correctly.  Why are they so afraid of the orb?  There were so many issues with the world building that I spent a frustrating time flipping through the book to find clues as to why things mattered.  This definitely interrupted the book's flow and readability.


I truly enjoyed the quick pace of this book and the intrigue that came with it.  I believe that Charbonneau paid excellent attention to the affects that power can have on morality and on immorality.  She makes an excellent case for the ways that power can change an individual.  I would love to read this book with a class of seventh or eighth graders.  It would give me a wonderful opportunity to talk about plot, characterization, theme, setting, and many other literary elements.  

My Rating

Monday, August 20, 2018

Guest Post: The Process of Writing with A. M. Bochnak

The Process of Writing

I’m often asked about my writing process and for advice on how others should approach writing a novel. I wish there was an easy answer to this question, but it’s surprisingly a hard question. When you break down writing a novel into its simplest form, it seems so easy. You start with the basic three act structure and identify all the key plot components that need to be considered to tell an engaging story and you start writing. Sounds simple enough. Wrong.

Here’s the thing. No two people approach writing the same way. And no two people are inspired to write via the same techniques. Some people are plotters (that’s me, every detail must be planned out from beginning to end before I write a single word) and some people are pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants and don’t plan anything out). Personally, I have no idea how the pantsers do it, but that approach works very well for so many.

Beyond plotting, there’s the process of just sitting down to write. Sometimes I can sit down and simply brain dump. This is a process by which I don’t let myself think too much about the words I’m putting down on paper, but rather let information dump onto the page without a care in the world about the prose. Sometimes this works really well for me when I’m struggling with where to the take the characters or how to get them to the next major plot point.

As I’ve grown as a writer, I’m finding that I’m leaning on this technique a lot less than I used to. In large part, because the amount of rewriting required is significant. Yes, you read that correctly, rewriting. Writing the first draft of your first book doesn’t even scratch the surface of the amount of writing still required to make the book great.

It took me almost three years to plan, plot, organize, write, rewrite, rewrite again (and again), and edit my debut novel, Fortitude Rising. I rewrote this book so many times, I lost count of my revisions. Not everybody takes this long or goes through so many revisions to get to the final product, but for me it was very laborious and on occasion, painful. At times, I thought it would never be finished. No matter the frustration or mistakes I made, I continued and worked hard to get it right.

People are surprised to hear my writing experience with my first book and often ask me why I did it if it was so painful. All I can say is I loved every minute of it, even all the frustration and pain it caused me. There is a skillful art to writing. It’s not something you’re born great at, and you must work at it every day. Yes, it comes easier to some than others, but everyone who wants to be a good writer and write books that others will enjoy and read for years to come, must be willing to work harder than you’ve ever work before.

The good news is, it gets easier. I started writing the second book in this series, In the Wake of Rebellion, long before Fortitude Rising was published. The third book in this series is plotted and ready to write as soon as I am finished with book two. All you have to do is finish one book, that’s the hard part. The others will come and be easier than the first. The most important thing to remember through this process is to have fun. This is your imagination at it’s best and nothing should stop you from starting.

Author Bio:

A.M. Bochnak is a dreamer. With her head in the clouds or her eyes turned to the stars, she spends countless hours imagining new adventures and far off worlds for which to travel. When she isn’t dreaming, she writes science fiction and fantasy with her focus on epic fantasies, apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Fortitude Rising, a sci-fi dystopian fantasy, is her first published novel. She is an American author, born and raised in southern Ohio and now lives in Gainesville, Florida.

Debut Novel: Fortitude Rising, Volume One of the Magical Bond Series

Ebony Hunter has spent her entire life isolated on an island institution run by her father, Dr. Daniel Hunter. When Connor Vance and his group of outsiders are brought to the institution, they cause her to question everything her father has ever told her about the world. But who’s telling her the truth? Her father or the outsiders?

Just when she starts to open up to Connor Vance, he admits that he and his companions are on a mission to kill her and her life-long friends. Connor’s mission to kill her is halted when he realizes Ebony is a pawn, albeit a powerful pawn, in her father’s game. They must join forces and work together if they ever hope to escape the clutches of the true enemy, Dr. Hunter and Vivian Way, a political reformist.

To find the truth, and hopefully earn her freedom, Ebony must overcome her fears and embrace her magical powers. Her life depends on the trust of people she hardly knows as the battle for control of her powerful magic escalates between her and her father.

Through her journey of self-discovery, she finds friendship, love, and a strength she never knew she possessed. Everyone around her is taking sides in the struggle for power, and the lives of everyone she cares about are on the line as the tension rises in this sci-fi dystopian fantasy. Available on Amazon:

Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Blitz: Broken Arrow by Azaria M. J. Durant

Broken Arrow
Azaria M.J. Durant
(Darkened Destiny Saga #1)
Publication date: July 29th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
An ancient power long kept dormant stirs in the shadows once more as one boy embarks on a quest to earn his freedom and the freedom of his world!
Magic has turned to myth, the Vaelhyreans of old to legend, and the power wielded by the ancients has long been forgotten. However, with Ealdred, a mere half-breed slave boy, myth becomes real, the forgotten remembered, and the power of legend is reborn within him.
Ealdred is merged into a world of mystery, brimming with deceit, where the remaining Vaelhyreans are in a desperate fight for their very survival. When Ealdred is kidnapped by the power-mongering dark lord Zeldek himself, he must make a choice; to commit his newfound magic to Zeldek’s service or die. But when he meets Bellator, clever yet treacherous servant of Zeldek, an alternative is presented to him: to escape from Zeldek’s stronghold and embark on a quest to find a cursed arrow and free the Vaelhyreans from the spell that keeps their powers at bay.
Yet how can he survive in a world where magic is illegal, half-breeds are hated, and the four countries are on the brink of war?
Are you a book blogger?
Sign up for the blog tour here!
“That time is already upon us,” the Master stated, rising to his feet. “Many nights now, my gaze has been turned to the stars. The constellations Heroi and Retsu are aligning for the first time in two and a half millennia. Prophecies connote these coming years as the last of mankind. This is the opportunity I have been waiting for. I must not fail!”
His eyes glowed with the passion his words expressed, and murmurs of agreement echoed through the room.
“Our toils have been rewarding and our preparation has been long,” the Master went on. “Yet we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that our position is secure.”
The murmurs fell to silence. The Master had never spoken so freely of such things before. The most this council had ever discussed were the brief updates concerning the progress of each respective country and its assets. There was the occasional new order from The Master, but such a thing was rare, and was always followed by a long, tedious discussion concerning the politics of the task, and thus was never interesting.
“It has been predicted that there is one who has the potential to stand in my way; one who may have the power to end my supreme rule before it has begun.”
“My lord, who could possess the power to rival you?” Valamette asked, bewildered.
The Master lifted his gaze to glare at Valamette from beneath the shadow of his hood. “You of all people should know.”
Understanding dawned on Valamette. He nodded slowly. Bellator glimpsed the other figures, looking to find a shred of understanding among them. But they too turned to look at Valamette, hoping to glean what they could from his bearing.
“The boy, my lord?” he asked.
“Yes,” the Master replied. “The boy.”
Bellator was intrigued. When had a boy ever entered their conversation?
“But my lord, how could he be a problem? Didn’t we do away with him as an infant? How is it possible that he still draws breath?”
“Does it matter how?” the Master snapped. “What matters is that he lives and that he will pose a threat if we aren’t careful to hone his abilities to our favour.”
“I can do it.” Valamette took a breath. “I can kill him, if you wish it. I will not fail you.”
“No!” The Master’s fist slammed on the altar. “If I wanted him dead, I would have let him die! I wouldn’t have kept him safe all this time.”

Author Bio:
Azaria M. J. Durant is a young, passionate writer of fantasy with plans to branch out into sci-fi and dystopian. She enjoys writing stories with action, adventure, unexpected plot twists, and fleshed out characters that challenge gender roles and expectations.
Azaria lives in Atlantic Canada with her family, cats, and dogs, and her big dreams to travel the world. In the moments when she isn’t writing, she is sketching concept art for her stories, participating in community theatre, or curled up with a good book and a bag of mint chocolates.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: Tales Untold by Kevin Focke

About the Book

Published on October 19, 2017 by The Despised Profiteering Posterity Publishing House

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

Before his untimely death in 1967, Focke lived in poverty and poetry; he struggled to make ends meet and spent his days mulling over melancholies.

This omnibus combines Focke’s magnum opus The Reflection Collection, Seasons Of Love, The Zoobadoo Zoo, and other never-before-seen tales from the Short-Lived King of Short Stories.

My Thoughts

This is such a hard book to review. There are definitely things that I LOVED and things that I really couldn't stand. 

Things I Liked

  • Focke has a wonderful imagination and terrific command of the English language.  He is unafraid of being a little bit out there.  For this reason, his work reminded me of Douglas Adams.  It was definitely entertaining.
  • Focke chooses to write from a variety of points of view.  This shows his ability to adapt to a wide range of speakers and showcases his talent as an author.
  • The art work is absolutely stunning!  I would love to put these illustrations on my walls.

Things I Didn't Like As Much

  • There was no cohesive story line. It was one constant jump from story to story to story for all of the 67 pages.  It left no room for me to care about any of the presented characters. I didn't like leaving this book with a big "so what?"
  • I spent more time interacting with the art than I did with the words.  To me, that was more meaningful.

Unfortunately, I felt like this book was a miss for Kevin Focke. However, his willingness to step out of his comfort zone and his wonderful use of adjectives inspire me to give his writing a second chance should I find another of his books.

My Rating

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Review: Urban Heroes by T. J. Lockwood

About the Book

Published on June 14, 2018 by Mecha Panda Publishing.

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description


The creation of the twelve skyward cities did more for mankind than the renaissance of old. With them came a new species created to serve the ideals of the future. To Calista Ridley, an android is an android, just like heroes are little more than fairy tales. She knows the world is far from perfect, and that human nature is not something to be proud of. But she also sees the storm forming on the horizon. As a pilot of Voltza, her past decisions are set to shape the future in a way no one could have predicted. The lines between man and machine are blurring at a rapid pace. Innovation never comes without a price.

My Thoughts

Urban Heroes was my introduction to Lockwood's series.  At first, I didn't realize it was part of a series.  I was pretty upset that there weren't more details about certain aspects and I felt like I was just thrown into something that I could never figure out.  I almost decided not to review it.  Thanks to GoodReads, I realized that this is the second in the series.  Once I saw that, I was able to appreciate the book for the wonderful thing that it truly is.  For the second in a series, it does a pretty good job as a standalone novel!

I absolutely loved Calista.  It was so good to see a female MC that thought for herself and was willing to do whatever it took to get through.  This included pain, anger, and betrayal.  She took all of these in stride and just kept on keepin' on.  Despite her "survivor" attitude, she had a soft side to her as well.  She could have easily walked away from the friends she makes along the way, but she is dedicated to the ones she loves.

Lockwood brings some wonderful points to the minds of her readers.  With all of our technological advances, where will we stop?  With drones on the battlefield, the idea of androids similar to those in the story are not that far off.  Will we begin to play god?

Now that I know this was the second in the series, I will have to make time to read the first. I feel like a little back story could go a long way with this piece!

My Rating

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Review: The Long Body That Connects Us All by Rich Marcello

About the Book

Published by Langdon Street Press on January 9, 2018.

GoodReads Description

Provocative and profound, Rich Marcello's poems are compact but expansive, filled with music as seductive as their ideas, and focused mostly on how to be a good man. This is a collection of deep passion and wisdom for fathers, husbands, and sons, but also for mothers, wives, and daughters, many who began with a longing for the things they were taught to desire by their forefathers, only to later discover a different path, one lit by loss and welcoming of the vulnerable, one made of the long body that connects us all.

My Thoughts

If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I like poetry but I don't really get the opportunity to review it as often as I would like.  I was ecstatic when Marcello approached me about the possibility of reviewing The Long Body That Connects Us All.  Not only did I get to read a book of poetry (YAY) but by a gentleman who really knows how to make words sing (DOUBLE YAY!).

My favorite part of Marcello's poetry was the way that each one resonated.  Yes, the meanings resonated with me and that was incredibly important.  However, each poem deserves to be read aloud so that a reader's ears can be pleased by how wonderfully he uses sound devices.  I have not seen alliteration, assonance, or consonance used so beautifully in such a long time.  Too often, people neglect these and focus only on imagery.  Don't misunderstand me, Marcello fills his poems with imagery.  But the way he ensures that his poems sound like music was what impressed me most of all.

The aforementioned imagery is stunning.  I loved that as I read each poem I could clearly see the scenes depicted for me.  I enjoyed the experience of having a bunch of mini-movies running through my brain.  These images filled me with such strong emotions that there were points I had to stop reading so that I could wipe the tears away.  Not only is sadness included, but the dazzling realism of just how emotional and meaningful the world we live in is when we take the time to see it.

I am so in love with these poems, but I know that at 26 there is no way I could understand all of his meanings.  There are just so many things he talks about that you don't go through until you're older than I am now. I can't wait to revisit this collection later in my life and see how the meaning of each poem changes for me.

My Rating

Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Veiled Waters by H. G. Lynch

Veiled Waters
H.G. Lynch
(Unfortunate Blood, #5)
Publication date: July 24th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
They’ve faced ghosts, fought witches, and escaped the clutches of a lunatic cult…but this may be their most difficult enemy yet.
The new girl. One girl with the power to take Reid’s eye away from Ember, the power to break friendships, the power to destroy relationships.
And to top it off? Something is drowning students in the local lake.
Previous books in the series:
A sudden, familiar voice yelling his name from some great distance jerked him awake and he gasped. All he saw at first was endless, impenetrable blackness, but only for a second before his eyes adjusted and he was staring at the ceiling past Ricky’s concerned face. The younger boy’s eyes glowed blue-green in the darkness.
Slowly, Reid realized his heart was pounding on his ribs, he was gasping, and his hand was clenched tightly around Ricky’s wrist, so tightly he could feel it as a tiny bone snapped under his fingers. Ricky hissed in pain, but didn’t try to pull away, his mouth tight but his eyes gentle. With a shudder, Reid pulled his hand back to himself, and stared at Ricky with ghosts behind his eyes.
“Sorry,” he muttered apologetically, his voice hoarse. Had he been screaming in his sleep again? Most likely. No wonder Ricky had woken him. This was getting beyond ridiculous.
Ricky just nodded, rubbing his wrist as it healed swiftly and neatly. He was examining Reid carefully, kneeling on the floor by his bed. There was deep, serious worry in his face that Reid could read effortlessly in the dark. Not wanting to see it, Reid turned and glared at the useless dream-catcher on his wall. It hung there innocuously, the glass beads shining and the feathers still and pale against the dark wall.
“I guess I was right the first time; Feathers and beads do jack all to help nightmares,” he said shakily.
With a sigh, Ricky retreated back to his own bed and sat there, gazing evenly at Reid, who shifted uncomfortably. He noticed then that he was drenched in sweat and it was sending chills down his spine. His light hair clung to his forehead and ears, and his hands trembled on the mattress. He clutched the bed sheets to hide the shaking.
“They’re getting worse, aren’t they?” Ricky asked plainly, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
Not meeting his gaze, Reid nodded, running a hand through his messy, damp hair.
“There has to be something that would help. We could get you drugs, or Ember could make a potion I’m sure. We must have a recipe in one of the grimoires.Ember would have the power—”
“No,” Reid protested bluntly. The thought of Ricky going to Ember and asking her to make a sleeping potion or elixir to banish nightmares…her surprise and confusion, her hurt when Ricky explained what it was for…No.
Ricky started, frowning. “But why? It’s not like it’d put her out to do it. I’m sure she’d do anything to help you.” he insisted.
Reid just turned away, looked out the window as he got to his feet. He put his back to Ricky as he yanked his damp t-shirt over his head and tossed it onto his bed.
“Unless…” Ricky said slowly, and Reid could practically hear the gears turning in the boy’s head. “Unless she doesn’t know about this yet…”

Author Bio:
H.G. Lynch is a Paranormal Romance author from Scotland. She is an avid reader, and cat-lover. She spends most of her days writing, while wrestling her cat off her laptop. She loves horse-riding, Star Trek, and snow.
Her books are dark paranormal romances.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Us People by Maxwell Gruber

About the Book

Us People by Maxwell Gruber
Published on January 1, 2018 by Clovercroft Publishing

I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

How far is a person willing to go to escape their own personal demons -- the bottle, a drug, possibly a vacation? A past mired with trauma and heartbreak, Sam Case seeks what he believes will be the safety of the streets. A place to escape the demons that once haunted him and tugged at the deepest parts of his mind. Struggling to survive with the aid of his best friend Cam, a mentally unstable veteran, Sam finds solace amongst the chaos. Initially an escape from his past, the horrors of insanity and heartbreak coax him back towards confrontation. Sam must make an impossible choice – a stigmatized imprisonment or the freedom of the streets.

My Thoughts

When I received the query asking me to review Us People, I almost said no.  My TBR is like 6,000,000,000 feet tall and I'm only 5'7".  But there was this little voice in my head saying that I would absolutely regret not reading this one. So, I accepted the query.  Turns out that little voice in my head knows what it's talking about!

Us People is not for the faint of heart. To get through this book, you have to be willing to experience every emotion in the book.  But, it is definitely more pain, violence, and anger than it is happy fluffy love bunnies.  Gruber took the chance to smack us upside the head with the cold and dark reality of the world and he succeeded.  There are times when this book physically hurts.

At first, I abhorred the overly simplistic writing style.  I was expecting something with a little more artistic flow.  The more I read about Sam and Cam and their adventures on the streets, the reasoning behind the styling finally slapped me in the face.  This book is written simply because on the street, Sam and Cam have to live simply.  They don't get to take time paying attention to artsy fartsy things. They live.  They search for food in trash cans.  They panhandle.  That's all there is.  This simplicity is demonstrated by Gruber's writing style and brings a whole new level of elegance to the story he pens.  

While Sam may be the main character, Cam was definitely my favorite. He took on the role of Sam's protector in such a harsh lifestyle.  It's hard to say much more about Cam's relationship with Sam without spoiling too much.  I will say this,  "Curse you, Gruber!  You know what you did."

I just wanted to hug Sam.  There is no freaking way an eighteen year old kid should go through everything that he does before and during this book.  I know that there's no way a hug could fix everything, but it would be a good start.  

Gruber states that he wrote this book to bring attention to the homelessness issue.  He does exactly that.  The author has done his research and makes sure to discuss not only the need for shelter, food, clothes, and water but the prevalence of mental illness among homeless individuals.  

The biggest thing that I took issue with was that during some of the flashbacks, it wasn't obvious that I was reading a flashback.  Every time this happened, I found a very disorienting interruption to the plot and it took me a few moments to get myself back into the flow of the plot.  Thankfully, this doesn't happen very often.

Like I said, this book hurts.  It shows reality for what it is. I was impressed by such powerful writing.

My Rating

Cover Reveal: Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge

Sugar Spells
Lola Dodge
(The Spellwork Syndicate #2)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
After her run-in with a jealous warlock, apprentice baker Anise Wise can’t wait to get back into the kitchen where she belongs. But thanks to her brush with death, the land of the living isn’t all cupcakes and marshmallows.
Anise’s magical mojo is way out of whack and her changed powers are stirring up trouble. The town’s abuzz with news that Anise can bake deathly spells, and unsavory characters start lining up for a taste. They’ll stop at nothing to use Anise and her witchcraft to further their own plots.
She plans to hole up researching solutions until the attention dies down, but then she discovers the horrifying terms of her bodyguard’s contract. Wynn has saved her life so many times, she can’t leave him trapped. Doing the right thing will mean risking death or worse—losing her dream job.
For this witch, justice might not be as sweet as advertised.

Author Bio:
Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

About the Book

Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on June 5, 2018

I received this book from Uppercase Box.  Neither the author nor the publisher requested this review.

GoodReads Description

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.

My Thoughts

Unfortunately, this is one of those times when I have no choice but to be painfully honest.  I subscribed to Uppercase Box as a birthday present to myself and was really excited.  I got my first box, saw Save the Date, and thought, "Oh yay.  Another stupid girly romance book."  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm a hopeless romantic and I love a good rom com, but I HATE when the lead in them is a super girly girl.  And, based on the cover, that was exactly what I thought I was getting myself into.  I simply knew that I could not handle a book filled with, "Like, omigod! Frfr he's so cuuuuuuuuteeeeeee!"  But, I bought the dang book, I'll be danged if I don't read it.


This was definitely not what I expected!  Instead of a cheesy romance, I found a book filled with character development, comedy, and a character who really steps into her own skin for once in her freaking life.  I loved it!

What I Loved

  • The character development in this novel was amazing.  Matson started this novel with a main character who was blinded by her strange perceptions of her family and the boy she had a crush on.  These perfect images were completely shattered and Charlie was left to deal with the reality of what was beneath the illusion.  I loved watching Charlie grow like this. It felt like I was watching a baby turtle come out of it's little shell for the first time!
  • This was definitely one of the funniest books I've read so far this year!  A few of the gags were a bit predictable but most of them weren't.  There were a few times that I absolutely needed to take a breather so that I could continue reading.  In the past, I've described my own family as a group of Lokis and the Grant family is much the same!
  • The relationship between Jesse and Charlie was very predictable.  Therefore, I thought I knew what would happen between Bill and Charlie. Without spoiling it, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised.

What I Didn't Love

  • There were a few places where I felt like the plot just dragged on and on and on and on and on *deep breath* and on and on and on.... It would definitely have been more effective if these parts had been shortened so that more emphasis could be placed on some of the more important world and character developing pieces.
  • At times, I felt like more detail was needed.  I think Matson could have developed a better novel if it was more fleshed out.
  • The entire family we really stand-offish to Danny's girlfriend.  I could not get over how rude that was!  I hated it, so did she, because most people wouldn't be so f'n rude!  The girlfriend repeatedly asked if she could help and tried to get into the family traditions but was brusquely pushed aside.  
This may have been my first time reading Matson's work, but it will not be the last.

My Rating

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Blitz: Escape Forbidden by Ruth Silver

Escape Forbidden
Ruth Silver
(Aberrant Prequel)
Publication date: June 15th 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Fight to stay alive.
The Gravelands are a dangerous place.
In a world of uncertainty, Cora Manning knows one thing without a doubt: getting into Genesis will offer her a brighter future.
When the intake coordinator agrees to let her in because of her genetic makeup, Cora discovers the promised city of utopia is nothing like she imagined.
The rebellion has begun.
“Sit,” Noelle said and gestured toward the cot positioned on the floor.
Without much thought I wandered over and stretched out to lie down. Had it not been a trying day and with bombings outside, I’d have opted to go home or at the very least refused special treatment. That was what Noelle offered me, wasn’t it?
“You don’t have to stay here all night,” I said. It felt weird to be watched as I slept. “If I need anything, I can let you know. Or I mean, whoever stays.” I didn’t want to assume she wouldn’t go home either. I shut my eyes and relaxed against the cot. It wasn’t the most comfortable bed I’d been in, but it beat the straw in the barn.
“Toby and I will alternate, unless your fever breaks. Then we’ll both go home and let you sleep in peace.”
Hearing her words was enough to help me relax. “Okay,” I mumbled. If only I had the ability to control my own body temperature.
Noelle shut off the lights which helped ease the throbbing pulse behind my eyes. The distant wail of the siren ceased. Had it ended? Was everyone safe? I took momentary comfort in the quiet of Noelle’s office and allowed myself to fall asleep.
During the night, I heard the door whine and I attempted to roll over, only half cognizant of where I was. The cot groaned beneath me and I felt the warmth of metal against my cheek.
“Wake up, little girl,” an unfamiliar voice said, and I heard the distinctive click of the safety released from a gun.
My eyes flashed open, staring up at the intruder, the gun tight against my skin. How would I get out of this mess?

Author Bio:
Ruth Silver enjoys reading, traveling, writing, photography, boardgames, and playing with her dogs.
REFUGE FORBIDDEN (Aberrant Book 4) by Ruth Silver will be available June 29, 2018.
She also writes adult romance under the name Allison West.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: Redemption by Mike Schlossberg

About the Book

Published on June 5, 2018 by Ellysian Press

I received an eARC of this title from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

GoodReads Description

Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.

Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.

Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.

Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.

My Thoughts

I want to begin by stating that although Firefly is one of my absolute favorite shows (if you haven't seen it, go watch it NOW.  You can read this review later...), I don't usually read science fiction that is written as Schlossberg chose to write Redemption.  There may be a few things in my review that don't apply to reviewers who more typically choose this genre.

Things I Loved

I loved the characters.  They were the perfect mishmash of teenage insanity, rage, and romance.  Wonderfully done!  Asher was definitely my favorite character.  He felt absolutely real.  I have my own arguments with anxiety and could see and feel each moment that Asher argued with his.  My favorite thing about him was definitely how stupid he could be.  After all, he is a teenage boy!  He shouldn't be written as a perfectly logical individual in total control of his emotions.  I loved that he was so realistic!  And, he was able to grow as an individual.  Did he start out by getting in his own way and hiding from his problems?  Yup.  But, by the end of the novel he was taking charge and dealing with his anxiety after the crisis was over.  What a wonderful way to demonstrate anxiety and growth!  

The romance between Alexis and Ash was very well done.  I didn't feel like it was forced at all.  Better yet, I loved that Alexis wasn't going to let Ash sit and wallow in his own problems.  We all need that person who will pull our heads out of our butts from time to time.  Alexis was perfectly matched for Ash.  They worked as a wonderful team.

Things I Didn't Love

I felt like this piece was very hard to follow.  There were terms that I didn't understand and no glossary to help me out.  There were times when previous events were alluded to and I had no memory of them ever happening.  I felt like these parts needed to be cleaned up a bit so that the audience could focus on the massive story that Schlossberg works to unfold.

When I wasn't getting lost in the story line, I was predicting it.  I don't want to go into my predictions because I do want to save you from the spoilers.  However, I will tell you that EVERY PREDICTION WAS TRUE.  C'mon, surprise me a bit!

Overall, I think that this could be a really well-written piece if it was cleaned up just a bit and the reader had more help understanding it.  Schlossberg is definitely onto a wonderful story here, so I am excited to see what the next book holds.

My Rating