advanced readers copy

Review of Gravity by Juliann Rich

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gravity1.jpgGravity by Juliann Rich

Publication Date: November 15, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, and Sports

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A shot at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that has been the exclusive property of male athletes. Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic competitor whose dreams were blown along with his knees on an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

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Thank you, Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley, for my eARC of Gravity and the chance to read and review it!

I have very conflicted feelings about Gravity. My expectations were mixed, some of my friends loved this book and others did not. However, in the end, I feel like this book was a bit subpar. It was nothing special except for the fact that it’s about sports, in particular, ski jumping, which was the best part of this book. I’ll talk more about that after I’ll deal with my biggest issue of the book. To understand my issues with the book I’ll have to divulge on events that transpired in first third (or so) of the book. This book is about Ellie, whose father is a former ski jumper and who now trains Ellie to get ready for the Olympics. Ellie is gay and likes girls and up until the beginning of the book, Ellie was together with and in love with a girl named Blair. However, a couple of days before the book starts Ellie gets the following text, a text Blair was meant to send to Geoffrey (a guy also in the ski jumping circle of people).

“I promise I’ll break up with Ellie tonight, Geoffrey. I hate sneaking around as much as you do.”

What has happened is that Blair has been cheating on Ellie with Geoffrey. Naturally, Ellie is heartbroken and mad which I totally understand. Getting cheated on is the worst and it’s not wrong to feel bad about it. What I dislike about Ellie’s reaction though is 1) her biphobia and 2) the fact that she called Blair a bitch (not to her face, but still). The first part is a real problem for me because while Blair being unfaithful and sleeping with someone other than Ellie is wrong (because they were in a committed relationship) that does not give Ellie the right the “claim” that Blair is a straight girl. The sexuality of Blair is never actually mentioned but we learn throughout the book that the feelings Blair had for Ellie were still real. The parts I found to be biphobic were,

“She still can’t and it would be almost funny, the way her eyes rove around the room until her gaze settles on Jack’s ass, if it didn’t hurt so damn much that even her eyes are off limits to me. To people not in the know, it probably looks like Blair hasn’t given up girls for good. Not by a long shot. But Blair knows and I know, the deep red that spreads across her face has nothing to do with Jack’s glutes and everything to do with her guilt.”

And

“What’s there to understand? Your text was pretty clear. You got sick of me. Or it was all a lie and you never loved me. Or you wanted something Geoffrey had that I didn’t.” I spit that last one in her face, because it was always good between us, that part. Better than good.

And

“It was the type of torment I was willing to endure back then, but only for Blair Caldwell. One year of walking around with a hard-on will do that to an otherwise sane woman. It’ll make her drive through impassable conditions. It’ll make her pretend she loves being dragged into store after store. It’ll make her strip on command in order to try on obscenely overpriced jeans in cramped dressing rooms in front of the girl of her dreams—the supremely uninterested and presumably straight girl of her dreams.”

I’ll be honest, maybe I read too much into it, but to me, it felt really wrong of Ellie to talk about Blair in that way. Blair cheating and presumably being bisexual (she is coded as a bisexual), but being called a straight girl because she is with someone of the opposite sex at the moment, can be seen to feed into a lot of negative stereotypes.

Moreover, I don’t have a problem with swearing, but I’ll admit that a woman calling another woman bitch really rubs me the wrong way which is why I, for example, had a problem with the following sentence.

“My Blair, my girl, the bitch who leapt into his arms like it was the easiest thing in the world.”

There was also a moment when the word slutty was used and I’m not really a fan of women (or anyone else for that matter) slut-shaming other women.

“Most days, I’m scoping out tourists, but all I see are silly girls or pouty girls or slutty girls. No one who could interest me enough to take my mind off Blair for one second.”

Despite my issues with Gravity I still really found the last half of so enjoyable. The main pairing, with their relationship in a large part built on lies which later on got exposed, towards the end really found each other and the truth together with shared dreams. That was very sweet. I really wish though that Ellie hadn’t lied so much to Kate and dealt with a lot of situations differently but that might just be me. The most interesting part about Gravity is that fact that it’s women in ski jumping. There is a lot of interesting trivia both in the book and afterward which teaches you about the fact that ski jumping is really misogynistic (which is called out in the book by the characters) and I loved that topic. I also loved the part about female ski jumpers being allies despite them also being competitors because of the misogynistic nature of the sport. In the Author’s Note: The Real Heroes in the end of the book it says the following,

“Though the Olympic barrier has been breached, the struggle to find equal footing continues. Currently women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in one event while their male counterparts compete in three.”

I really hope and wish we get to see more books about women in ski jumping because the sports sounds so amazing and I love seeing women taking their rightful place where men have tried to keep them away for so long. Big thumbs up for that. All in all, my feelings are mixed and I cannot give this book more than 2.5 stars. If you love f/f romances and sports, I say you can give this book a go but definitely be aware of the issues that exist in the book.

BLOG TOUR Why I Loathe Sterling Lane (Review, Giveaway + Guest Post)

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Hi, readers and welcome to my blog post for the Why I Loathe Sterling Lane blog tour. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and cannot wait to share my review with you guys. Also, don’t miss a guest post by the author Ingrid Paulson in which she shares five rules to create the perfect prank. There’s also a giveaway, don’t miss it.

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Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, and Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | KoboiBooks

Synopsis: Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn’t entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.

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Thank you so much, Entangled Teen, for my advanced review copy of Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson!

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is a book that really surprised me. I did not expect to feel as invested in this book and the main characters as I was. However, it did take me a while to get there. Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is about Harper, her twin brother Cole, and Sterling, the new guy at their boarding school. Harper and Sterling are opposites and quickly become rivals, constantly trying to up one on the other through masterful pranks. Things get pretty wild. However, despite this, they decide to cooperate to help Cole get out of the trouble he’s gotten himself into. I really liked Why I Loathe Sterling Lane a lot because it brought something new. The way the book is structured is unique because the chapters aren’t named chapter 1, chapter 2, etc. but instead, the chapter headings are reasons why Harper loathes Sterling. They really make you anticipate every time a new chapter begins. It was awesome.

“I’m glad you found someone to stroke your already sizable ego. But I think you’ll find I’m not susceptible to your games.”

“You know, that almost sounds like a challenge.” There was a quiet menace in his voice that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

The best part about Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is definitely the fact that it’s the trope hate to love. The masterful pranks are amazing, the chemistry and tension between Harper and Sterling is legendary, and the banter is on fire. I love it when rivals/enemies turn into lovers. It’s one of the best tropes out there. I also liked how in the beginning Harper was very much alone, her only friend her twin brother Cole. However, as the events of the book progressed Harper went more and more out of her comfort zone and did things she never had before. I really love the friendship that developed between Harper and Kendall. I also love the sibling dynamics in this book. The fact that Harper would do anything for her brother is just beautiful. I love it when characters have each other’s backs. More of this in Young Adult books, yes, please.

Even if I ended up loving Why I Loathe Sterling Lane I have to say that the first half of the book did not impress me. It took me about 50 % of the book to get invested in the characters and the story. Also, some of the character’s actions were at times infuriating. I definitely wish the dynamics between the characters and more of their motives had been clearer from the start since that would have improved the first half of the book. Nonetheless, it really did turn around and the second half was truly magnificent. Another downside was the fact that the words crazy and lunatic were used once which was really unnecessary.

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is perfect for young adult readers who love a good hate to love story. They will fall in love with the banter, the pranks, and the ship. I know I did. There are amazing sibling vibes in this one, lovely friendships and a rivalry between the two main characters that will blow you away. It is very electric. If all of that is your thing, you definitely need to check Why I Loathe Sterling Lane out.

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ARC Review of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

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ibelieveinathingcalledlove1I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, and Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Diverse story, adorable characters, and a unique twist to normal high school drama.

Purchase here: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

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Thank you, Macmillan International, for my ARC of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo!

My actual rating for I Believe in a Thing Called Love is 3.5 cake slices rounded up to 4 cake slices. I Believe in a Thing Called Love is an adorable young adult rom-com story about a girl named Desi Lee. Desi is Korean American and excels at school but not so much at romance. After years of flailures (flirting failures) Desi, finally, starts to watch the k dramas her dad loves so much and uncovers the secret to how the couples always get their happy ending. “The K Drama Steps to True Love” is born and Desi is sure that if she follows the steps, her crush Luca will become her boyfriend and they’ll have their happily ever after. Desi and Luca have great chemistry and banter in this book, and you’ll be rooting for them until the very end. The ship is honestly just adorable.

“K dramas bottled up swoony true love in addictive ten-to-twenty-hour packages. My reactions to chaste first kisses were akin to heart attacks. I bawled with abandon when couples had to break up when one of them was suffering. I sighed happily with glazed eyes when my characters finally got their happy ending.”

This book is hilarious, in an almost painful way, and if you’re a fan of contemporary stories then you will love I Believe in a Thing Called Love. Desi’s personality really shines through the pages and you will fall in love with her in an instant. I love how Desi has so many sides to her and people will relate to both Desi’s confidence and her insecurities. Desi is an unapologetic know-it-all, she is a hard working student and knows how to fix a car because of her dad being a mechanic. Speaking of Desi’s dad, the relationship between Desi and her dad is the most precious part of the book. It’s heartwarming and beautiful, I wish parents got more presence like this in young adult books.

I love the idea of Desi finding love through following her thought out k drama steps. However, I definitely think this book should come with a “Don’t Try This at Home” warning label. To fulfill her k drama steps Desi takes some drastic measures, a few really dangerous ones too, and I wish the severity of some of her actions had shown through some more than I felt they did in the book. Another downside to the book was the ableist language that was used throughout the book. Words like “crazy” and “insane” were thrown around a lot which was just unnecessary and could potentially upset readers.

All in all, I Believe in a Thing Called Love is definitely a young adult contemporary story to check out this season. This book had me fangirling over Desi and Luca and even got me invested in the amazing side characters as well. It will make you laugh (out loud) and it will make you swoon. At certain times my heart was racing from the tension but the end really wrapped it all up nicely.

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{#SUMMERFEELS BLOG TOUR} Review of Summer Feels: A #romanceclass Anthology + Giveaway

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Welcome to the blog tour for Summer Feels: A #romanceclass Anthology. Today I have my review for this amazing book and a giveaway where you can win a gift card and a few books. You definitely have to join in on the fun!

SUMMERFEELS-cover-ebookSummer Feels: A #romanceclass Anthology

Publication Date: April 30, 2017

Genres: Romance, Contemporary and Anthologies

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: A lot of short stories, there is something for everyone to enjoy during the summer.

Purchase here: Amazon | Print Copy (the Philippines only)

Synopsis: Summer loving happens so fast, as you’ll find with Summer Feels, an anthology of 23 stories of love under the summer sun by #romanceclass authors. Savor the candied thrill of firsts—first loves, first kisses, first solo vacations—and the bittersweet triumph of second chances. Tour the Philippines as the stories take you to mountain retreats and island paradises. Let the magic of the hot sun, clear blue skies, and lots of love take you on a roller coaster ride of feels. With stories ranging from sweet to sexy, there’s sure to be something for any fan of romance.

Featuring stories by: Elea Andrea Almazora • Erleen Alvarez • Ella Banta • Rachelle Belaro • H. Bentham • Halina Cabrera • Charlie Dio • Mina V. Esguerra • Elizabeth Galit • Georgette S. Gonzales • Ami Granada • Irene Jurado • Catherine Lo • Arlene Manocot • Bianca Mori • Eris Peñaluna • Farrah F. Polestico • Kit Salazar • Miel Salva • Fay Sebastian • Kate Sebastian • Yeyet Soriano • Marian Tee

About #romanceclass:

#romanceclass is a community of authors who attended various writing workshops organized by Mina V. Esguerra, readers of books by those authors, and readers of English-language romance books by Filipino authors. Visit romanceclassbooks.com to see the full catalog of books!

Giveaway

For this giveaway, you have the chance to win a gift card, some swag and even a copy of the book. You don’t want to miss out on the chance.

Prizes:

  • International: Amazon gift card worth $25
  • Philippines Only: Print books from some of the authors:
    • My Dutch Billionaire by Marian Tee
    • Kate, Finally by Yeyet Soriano
    • Old Enemies Make the Best Lovers by Kate Sebastian

Enter the giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway, and good luck to you, I hope you win!

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Thank you to the authors and editor Kate Sebastian for my e-ARC of Summer Feels and the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour!

Summer Feels is a book that’s cute and hot, and that makes you want to go to the ocean to take a dip to cool down. I doubt any other anthology will soothe your cravings for a good summer read like this one. The anthology starts out slow with short stories that are cute and lovely, and that will make your heart flutter and then gets hotter and hotter with every story. Towards the end, you will definitely need a fan and/or a dive straight into the ocean. The best part about this anthology was that I got the chance to read short stories both from #romanceclass authors I have loved and admired since before and also new ones where I want to devour every book they have ever written.

I do believe there will be at least one short story (but probably, very likely, a lot more) for everyone. We see so many tropes that I love in this one that I know if you are a romance fan, you will want to devour Summer Feels like you devour an ice cream on a hot summer’s day. Only this anthology lasts way longer, and will probably make you warmer instead of colder. However, you will love it. While I gave this anthology 4 cake slices as a whole, I had a lot of favorites that I believe are worthy of 5 cake slices and I really want to really highlight them here. They made me fangirl, squeal, laugh and just feel as if I was in the middle of the best summer ever which is just what I love about these short stories.

The following short stories were all favorites of mine. Fall for Me by Miel Salva made me fangirl and fall in love with the characters that I cannot wait to read more about in the future. Then there was The Game of Twenty Questions by Elizabeth Galit which was second chance romance with stargazing, a soft spot for me. Moreover, Guide for a Day by H. Bentham also really stole my heart away with this m/m romance where a tour guide and the journalist that was given the tour fall in love. Secondhand Wanderlust by Erleen Alvarez was amazing with its travel vibes, a backstory of sisterhood and a girl finding love while also stepping out of her comfort zone. Four Basic Principles by Bianca Mori was really unique and had second chance romance and beautiful ocean scenes. Wedding Night Stand by Mina V. Esguerra was a really hot short story that makes me want to read the full book where these characters are from, it was just the best. There is also An Overdue Adventure by Kate Sebastian which had a bit of a hate to love story with childhood frenemies together with a bittersweet backstory and beautiful nature scenes. Lastly, Butter Sunset by Halina Cabrera which was steamy and had lots of food references that made me crave seafood. These short stories were all beyond amazing, and I will definitely be checking out these author’s full books in the near future.

An issue I had with a couple of the stories was that a few slurs and harmful words were used. The words crazy, gypsy and queer were all used in inappropriate and harmful ways and were completely unnecessary for the stories. They could have easily been deleted.

All in all, this is a summer themed anthology you should definitely have on your radar. If you love reading romance and finding new authors at the same time, there is no better choice than this anthology. There are so many adorable and hot stories in Summer Feels: A #romanceclass Anthology, you will most likely fall in love with a lot of couples in it. In Summer Feels you will see enemies turned into lovers, childhood friends, romances with second chances, men with beards, female soccer players and so much more.

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{THE SEAFARER’S KISS RELEASE DAY} ARC Review of The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO THE VERY ANTICIPATED THE SEAFARER’S KISS BY JULIA EMBER! 

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Today is the day, after my week long The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember Countdown the book is finally out in the world. If you haven’t pre-ordered the book before today, you can now buy the book at the purchase links I have linked below. I’m sure you guys will love this book, I know I did.

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Publication Date: May 4, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT and Mermaids

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Fat bisexual MC and a unique story that is a retelling of the Little Mermaid but with a darker twist.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository | Duet Books

Synopsis: Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

About the Author

Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks was published by Harmony Ink Press.

Connect with author Julia Ember at Julia-Ember.com, on Twitter @jules_chronicle, and on Facebook at facebook.com/juliaemberwrites.

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Thank you, Julia Ember, for my advanced reader copy of The Seafarer’s Kiss. I really appreciate the opportunity to read and review it.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is a breathtaking story about a mermaid and a human with Norse mythology and unforeseen plot twists woven into their story. This book will move readers that cannot get enough of magical, beautiful worlds and characters that are relatable in the way they are flawed and the way they grow. This is a book you need on your radar, as even though it has an incredible f/f love story the book focuses heavily on personal growth. The main character, Ersel, is a fat bisexual mermaid who goes through a lot of character development throughout the book and by the end of it still isn’t perfect (like none of us are). That is what makes her such a compelling character, and a protagonist you can truly feel for.

The world in The Seafarer’s Kiss is one that will mesmerize you, and how the mermaid culture and human culture is woven into the story will have you enjoying every single moment. We see the power balance between the mermaids, mermen, their leader, and the gods. Loki, the trickster god, plays a large part in the story, is genderfluid and uses they/them pronouns. Even though they are the villain in a lot of ways, you will still find yourself truly liking them for their unique personality and scheming ways. I also fell in love with the belugas, they were such a beautiful part of Ersel’s life, and I just really enjoyed reading their interactions with the other characters. This book is based on Norse mythology and is also a retelling of the Little Mermaid and the entire concept of the story makes you want it to never end in order to stay in the world forever.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is a story about breaking free, creating your own path and deciding who you want to be and what you are willing to do to get there. It explores how easy it is to make rash and irreversible decisions that can have catastrophic consequences, and how to deal with that afterward. Both Ersel, Havamal, and Ragna all made mistakes that they have to live with, at times they are selfish and mean, but that is what makes you truly remember these characters. They are flawed, and they fuck it up like the rest of us, but we see their journey of growing and dealing with their mistakes. This book and its characters show readers that making mistakes is okay, and though we cannot undo them, we can move forward and do differently next time.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is filled with strong and flawed women, who are so much more than just their love interest, and are all about personal growth and finding their own path in life. Throughout this book you will be rooting for the characters, hoping they are safe and that no harm is done to them as they fight their way through unforeseen obstacles. Reading the Seafarer’s Kiss felt a lot like being on a rollercoaster. I was screaming at some parts out of fear for the characters, and squealing out of joy at other parts where everything was just right. This is a book every reader needs on their radar this spring. Explore the world and its complexities with Ersel, Ragna, and Havamal and never look back.

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April Book Haul – My Latest Purchases & Acquired ARCs

Hi everyone in the galaxy! April is ending and I thought it’d be a fun idea to show you guys which books I got this month. At first, I was unsure about whether to make this post or not, but I figured it doubles pretty well as a book recommendations post (cheap books am I right) so why not. Lots of these books have been anticipated reads for me so I’m really excited to finally own them in one way or another. If I got any books you’ve already read, let me know what you thought of them. Let’s look at the books I got in April.

Ebooks & eARCs I Got in April

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I bought the following four ebooks during the beginning of April. They were all on sale, and you know how much I love a sale, I grabbed them as fast as I could. I always have my eyes out on Amazon and their sales since they often come out of nowhere.

  • As You Breathe Again by Molli Moran. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are romance, new adult, interracial romance, and contemporary.
  • Beginner’s Guide by Six de los Reyes. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are romance, contemporary, and new adult.
  • Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are contemporary, young adult, mental illness, and romance.
  • When Sparks Fly by Ines Bautista-Yao. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are romance, chick lit, and new adult.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is still on sale for 1.59$ so I’d definitely get that one if you’re interested. The rest are 5$ or under.

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I also purchased the following four ebooks during April and they were basically a steal for me. I’m excited for every single one of these ones.

  • Lilacs and Vanilla by CS Patra. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are women’s fiction and lesbian fiction.
  • At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are romance, new adult, and contemporary.
  • What About Today by Dawn Lanuza. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are romance, young adult, and contemporary.
  • I Am More Than a Daydream by Jennae Cecelia. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are poetry and inspirational & religious.

Lilacs and Vanilla is only 0.99$ at the moment and At Any Price is currently free. The rest are 3$ each.

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The following four are the last ebooks I got this month. The first two are already published and the last two are eARCs.

  • The Beast That Never Was by Caren J. Werlinger. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are fantasy, LGBT, romance, fantasy, and retellings.
  • Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon. The genres of the book are fantasy, young adult, mystery, and LGBT.
  • Summer Feels: A #romanceclass Anthology (received an ARC through the blog tour). You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and pre-order it on Amazon. The genres of the book are romance and anthologies.
  • Piglettes by Clémentine Beauvais (received an ARC through Edelweiss). You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and pre-order it on Amazon. The genres of the book are young adult and cultural.

The Beast That Never Was is currently free on Amazon so I would definitely grab that one. The pre-order price for Summer Feels is 2$ so I would definitely check that one out. I’m currently reading it and it’s really cute.

Physical Books & ARCs I Got in April

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I only got two physical books this month. The first one I pre-ordered ages ago and the other was an ARC, my first ever physical ARC actually, which is really exciting.

  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon or Book Depository. The genres of the book are contemporary, young adult, and romance.
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (received an ARC through the publisher). You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads and pre-order it on Amazon or Book Depository. The genres of the book are contemporary, young adult, romance, and school.

What books have you gotten this month? Have you gotten any of the ones I did? If you know a great book that’s on sale right now I would love to hear about it. 

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ARC Review of How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

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downloadHow to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, and Contemporary

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Bisexual representation, explores different kinds of grief and has an interracial relationship.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

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Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, for my e-ARC of How to Make a Wish I received through Netgalley. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review this book early!

Trigger warning for parental neglect and emotional abuse, as well as implied sexual assault (one of the characters implies they were inappropriately touched at a bar, but the scene is not on the page).

How to Make a Wish surprised me, and had a lot of the aspects I want and crave in an excellent book. All of my friends who read this book early swore it was amazing and How to Make a Wish really delivered, and then some. This book has complex and fully fleshed characters that you will instantly fall in love with. I laughed, I cried (more like bawled like a baby) and was filled with utter joy because of this book, because of Grace’s bravery and Eva’s strength, and their shared love for each other. This book really is something special and I would recommend it to everyone who loves a young adult book that doesn’t shield away from the sad and messy parts of life, the beauty that exists between all of it and the complexity of loving someone and still knowing they’re not treating you right.

What really makes you fall in love with How to Make a Wish is the characters. We have the protagonist of the story, bisexual Grace Glasser, and her relationship with her mother, a mother who is reckless and acts like a child, making Grace the adult in the relationship. It was truly heartbreaking to see Grace deal with her mother, constantly being crushed by her expectations for things being better this time. Grace dreams of becoming a pianist, but even that dream seems impossible when her mother is completely dependent on Grace. However, there is also Luca, Grace’s best friend, and his mother and their support and love for Grace is endless and beautiful. Grace is basically a part of Luca’s family. Luca knows Grace likes no one else and he loves her so much, despite their ups and downs. Their friendship was one of my favorite parts of the book.

“But it was so easy. Up there, I didn’t belong to a messed-up mother. She wasn’t the grieving daughter. We were just Grace and Eva.”

Then we have Eva, biracial, gay and the love interest of the story, who moved to live with Luca’s family after her mother died unexpectedly. Eva had a hard time dealing with life without her mother, in a new place where nothing is the same, not even her love for ballet. I fell in love with Eva immediately, she is sarcastic and strong, and a character I think many will feel for. When Grace and Eva meet, there was an instant connection. Two lonely, motherless girls found comfort in spending summer nights together at the top of a lighthouse and before they knew it, it became something so much more than just two girls finding contentment in each other. I love Grace and Eva’s relationship because it’s so soft and tender, which is something I really miss in f/f relationships. There is something so incredibly heartwarming about the connection Eva and Grace has and I love how this book shows us the insecurities and complexities that exist with it.

“Then her whole hand slides across my whole hand, and our fingers are all mixed up, pale and dark, lavender on dark purple, wrapped over and around. The tree creaks ominously, but I don’t care. I forget about everything that came before this – every [pissed off] and jealous emotion I had from earlier tonight, gone.”

You can’t discuss How to Make a Wish without mentioning the writing. Blake truly draws you in with her use of words and imagery, and the voice of Grace is one that makes it impossible to put the book down. There are funny and sarcastic moments, sad and heartbreaking scenes, and everything in between, and Blake delivers in her execution. How to Make a Wish has amazing bisexual representation and a masturbation scene that needs to be celebrated since they are so rarely featured in YA books.

All in all, How to Make a Wish is a book you need to put on your radar this spring and summer. This book is so beautiful it hurts. You will fall in love with Grace, Eva, and Luca and see their struggles, their happy moments, and most importantly of all, their happy endings despite life not being easy or fair. This story is about grief, freedom and the complexity of love. How to Make a Wish is a magical mess of beauty, sadness, love, dreams and wishes and a book that deserves all of the praise in the world.

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ARC Review of Promdi Heart (Hometown Love Stories)

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promdiheart1.jpgPromdi Heart (Hometown Love Stories) by Georgette S. Gonzales, Agay Llanera, Chris Mariano, C. P. Santi, Jay E. Tria and Ines Bautista-Yao

Publication Date: March 29, 2017

Genres: Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: Take a quick tour of the Philippines with six hometown love stories.

Visit Jimenez, Misamis Occidental where a priest might just set you up with a man whose dimples are to die for. Visit Silay, Negros Occidental and get on a horse alongside hunky, hazel-eyed Negrense royalty. Visit Kalibo, Aklan and find yourself in the arms of a cute drummer boy who just happens to be your kuya’s BFF. Visit Hagonoy, Bulacan and spend All Saint’s Day next to a distracting boy who promises to write you a song. Visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur and meet the hot man you used to bully when he was a shy, chubby boy. Visit Pundaquit, Zambales and find love in a bronzed fisherman whose eyes hold depths you’ll want to explore.

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Thank you to the authors for my e-arc of Promdi Heart. I really appreciate the opportunity to read and review this book early!

Promdi Heart is a cute anthology with short stories from six different authors. There were lots of romantic moments I enjoyed. However, there were a few issues I had with a few of the stories, which is why I have a hard time deciding where between 3 and 4 stars my rating lands. I think the most accurate rating is 3.5 stars but I do think my favorite stories of the anthology were worth a very strong 4 stars. I would definitely recommend this anthology, especially if you love #romanceclass, but I would warn you that the word crazy and lunatic are used in an ableist way in two of the stories and that in one of the stories a bully falls in love with her victim, and though it’s resolved it’s still something potential readers should be aware of. I love how food and culture were woven into all of the stories, and it even made me a little hungry at times, so I think people will really appreciate that.

Only the Beginning by C. P. Santi

Only the Beginning is a cute and romantic short story. I thought it was lovely to see Andi and Martin get to know each other. We see their friendship and relationship grow through their regular meetings and through texts, which was a nice way to show time passing. The story is a typical enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story that I know many will appreciate. I enjoyed that we got to see so much about the city of Jimenez, its culture, and rich food. There were a lot of Filipino expressions and names I did not know, but that made me that much more eager to want to look it up and find out. Also, all the talk about donuts gave me a craving. I thought the whole part with “choose your own happiness” part could have been done differently since not everyone can choose their happiness due to mental illness and whatnot. I understand what the author wanted to say but it could have been expressed differently.

Letters About a Boy by Ines Bautista-Yao

I liked how Letters About a Boy was a story told in a sequence of letters throughout many years. Slowly through the letters, we get to know Tin-Tin and Nicolas and how their relationship evolves. At times, the letters felt a bit too one-sided for real life, but it worked well in this story. In this story, there was some electric moments between Tin-Tin and Nicolas, as well as some cliché scenes that I know romance lovers will squeal over. However, I thought the ending felt too rushed and that one or two extra letters between the second to last two would have made it feel more natural in the grand scheme of things. I wanted Nicolas to woo Tin-Tin a bit more before they got their happily ever after because she really deserved it. Other than that, the ending was adorable and funny and fit the story perfectly.

Drummer Boy by Chris Mariano

Drummer Boy together with One Certain Day were my favorite stories in the anthology. Drummer Boy was filled with culture and music that will make any reader fall in love. The story is sexy, cute and I loved how the characters already had a backstory, which is a lot better when you’re thrown into a short story since you don’t need to spend unnecessary time on the “getting to know each other” part of the story. The relationship had real buildup and the trope younger sister falls in love with big brother’s best friend is strong in this one. This trope is one of my favorite ones. There are a lot of moments where you will swoon over the couple and love how romantic their entire story is. I love how the characters in this ship are really there for each other through everything, which is damn lovely.

One Certain Day by Jay E. Tria

One Certain Day is a story that is centered on one holiday, All Saint’s Day, every year and the interaction that happens between Jose and Alice. In the story, there is banter and a growing friendship between the two. It becomes very clear that despite them not meeting each other often, they speak regularly and have a real connection. I love how All Saint’s Day and the sense of family was such a big part of the story. I love books with a focus on family and this short story really delivers in a genuine way. The attraction between the characters is subtle and adorable, to be honest. I love how the ending was not a typical “and they lived happily ever after” but more bittersweet and realistic, making you wish for more.

Once Upon a Bully by Georgette S. Gonzales

Once Upon a Bully is the story about Bridgette and Miguel. Bridgette used to bully Miguel in elementary school before his parents died and he moved out of town. Later in life after many years they are both back in town and neighbors at that as well. I’ll admit, the idea of a romance between a bully and the one who was bullied honestly set me off right away. It’s not something that should be taken lightly and I hate it felt that way at times in this story. Miguel brushed the entire thing off because he was bullied by a girl and they were just kids, which didn’t sit right with me. However, Bridgette did apologize to Miguel and they were very sweet together, with a chemistry between them that is very apparent, which is why I still found the story enjoyable. The word crazy was used in an ableist way twice in the short story so be aware of that.

Back to the Stars by Agay Llanera

Back to the Stars is an enchanting short story and had the most amazing vibes. I loved that the story mostly took place by the ocean and that open starry nights played a large role in this couple’s story. This story has everything I love about romance. Wency was Leah’s closest childhood friend, they always spent summers together growing up, and he has been in love with her for years when she finally comes back to Pundaquit. This story has a lot of lovely themes that I enjoyed. It’s about growing up, what it means to change and still hold on to the things that matter. This couple is really swoon-worthy, I love Wency and think he’s probably my favorite love interest from the entire anthology. He was that amazing. The one alarming part of the short story was when Leah called her boss Luna, as in lunatic, which is ableist.

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ARC Review of Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas

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keepinghersecretKeeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas

Publication Date: August 22, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT and Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Extraordinary f/f romance, magical writing and diverse characters.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository 

Synopsis: Two girls. One Kiss.

The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer camp is Courtney Chastain—her childhood best friend and the girl who broke her heart after a secret, mind-blowing, life-altering kiss. She definitely didn’t expect to be sharing a bunk bed with her for four long weeks.

Courtney has what every girl wants—she’s beautiful, rich, and the object of every boy’s desire at Camp Pine Ridge. Too bad none of them make her feel an iota of what Riya’s kiss did all those years ago. But Courtney needs to uphold appearances at all costs—even if it means instigating an all-out prank war with Riya as her main target.

Neither girl can stop thinking about the other…but that doesn’t mean they can give up past hurts and take a chance on a future together.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains drinking, sexual situations, and a fairy-tale romance sure to make your heart melt.

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Thank you Netgalley and Entangled: Crush for my e-arc of Keeping Her Secret!

Keeping Her Secret is a book that stays with you, like a beautiful sunset is engraved in your mind for days or even weeks after you’ve seen it. This book is refreshing, beautiful and fills your heart with love and joy. Keeping Her Secret has now become one of my favorite books of all time, I already want to reread it and experience these emotions all over again. You can review a book where you analyze it point after point, however, the one thing that has always had the greatest impact on me is how a book makes me feel. Keeping Her Secret makes me feel a lot, in the best way possible.

“Courtney, I’m bi,” Riya explained.

But Courtney gave her a blank look, and her head twitched. “Bi?”

“Bisexual.”

Riya Johnson is a half Indian bisexual girl and I absolutely love her. She’s brave, sporty yet clumsy and honestly one of the most refreshing protagonists I have ever read about. Seeing such good on the page representation is valuable and precious, and something I wish we got more of. Sarah Nicolas does it so well.

What I love about Keeping Her Secret is that it’s in a lot of ways about bravery, and in more ways than one. Riya who has always had a supportive family was never scared to come out and has always throughout her life been true to who she is. Courtney on the other hand is rich and has always been surrounded by people in the social elite, something that has made her conform into being the perfect it-girl. Beautiful and someone all the boys wants. However, that’s not who she is on the inside, and that’s what is so beautiful to see. Courtney is brave but in a very different way than Riya. She is willing to go after her passion, ballet, even if her parents do not approve and she is slowly but surely coming to terms with her sexuality. She is finally starting to accept who she is and what she desires after struggling with it for so long.

“David was a beautiful distraction, but she appreciated his six-pack and dimples the same way she appreciated Monet paintings. She acknowledged they were pretty, but she didn’t experience an emotional response to them. Not like she did with Picasso paintings.”

Even though Riya and Courtney are the heart of this story, the side characters are just as amazing. We have Colt, Courtney’s twin brother, who is the most supportive guy in the entire book. He knows about the kiss that happened between Riya and Courtney all those years ago and though Courtney insists she doesn’t like girls, Colt is very supportive. In fact, in many ways, he knows Courtney better than she knows herself. We also have Dee, who is funny, a total prankster and a really good friend to Riya. These supporting characters make the story more dynamic and captivating than it would have been if they hadn’t been there.

“God, she was so unworldly beautiful, like a river nymph bathing in the moonlight.”

Keeping Her Secret is a story that will stay with me for a very long time. This book had me crying, it touched my heart and gave me so much hope. It’s a book that’s beautiful, funny and absolutely mesmerizing. You will root for Riya and Courtney, you will scream for them in the hopes that they get their happy ending and in the end, you’ll feel alive. Keeping Her Secret is a sweet summer story that will set your soul on fire and make you feel brave and invincible afterward, because that’s what these characters are. They are girls loving girls, brave and unstoppable, and no one can get in the way of what they want.