book review

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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The Six Most Beautiful Books I Own

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Hey, galaxy travelers! Today I have a bit of a different post for you all. I had an idea a while back that I really wanted to make gifs out of my favorite books and this week I finally did it. The gifs could definitely be better but I still like the way they look (because you know, they could have been worse). I really love the book covers of these six books and their interior looks as well. There is something very amazing about a book that pulls at your heartstrings due to its beauty. A lot of these books I haven’t read but that just means I have so many great reads ahead of me.

1. Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz

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Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz is a book high on my summer to be read list. Not only is this book really beautiful, it comes highly recommended, has a Filipino main character, is #ownvoices and is supposed to have amazing romance.

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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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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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{The Paths We Choose Release Week} ARC Review of The Paths We Choose by Maria Hollis

The Paths We Choose Release Week: Day One – My ARC Review

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Hi, readers and welcome to day one of my The Paths We Choose Release Week. There are four days left until The Paths We Choose is released into the world and to celebrate I’m releasing a fun new post every day until the book is out. Today I have my ARC review of the book, and as you might have suspected already, I absolutely loved this book.

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The Paths We Choose by M. Hollis

Publication Date: April 6, 2017

Genres: New Adult, LGBT, Contemporary and Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Strong friendships, chosen family, and girls owning their sexuality.

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: Lily Ferrari enjoys having control over every detail of her life. Ever since she left her parents’ house to gain her freedom, she decided to fully own her autonomy. But an unexpected visit from her little brother may change the path she chooses to follow.
Add to that a casual fling with the bright architect Mayte González, and Lily’s summer is turning out more interesting than she expected. It certainly beats the routine of working extra shifts at Johnson’s Bookstore.

A few weeks before her college life begins, Lily needs to figure out if she’s wrong about the past or if she should continue to protect her heart at all costs. Sometimes moving forward is only possible if you have the right people by your side.

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Thank you, Maria Hollis, for my advanced review copy of The Paths We Choose. I really appreciate the opportunity to read and review it early.

The Paths We Choose is amazing in its simplicity and grace. It shows us the story of two very different girls, Lily and Mayte, who after a one-night stand start a causal relationship before Mayte leaves for Florida to study her masters. This story is about two women proud of their sexuality and even if their agreement to only be friends with benefits is kept somewhat a secret they are not afraid to be open with what their relationship is, to a certain degree. This book is definitely one I would recommend if you love seeing girls supporting girls and just girls being proud of their sexuality. There is a strong sense of friendship and family, in the sense that family is not blood but instead it’s who you choose to love and stand by no matter what. What I love about Maria Hollis’s books is that she makes you feel as if you are a part of the girl gangs she portrays in her books and that you’re just as awesome and supported as they are. Her books are really positive and uplifting.

The book is told from the point of view of Lily who is non-straight but not comfortable with attaching a label to herself. I think it’s important to see that not taking a label is just as valid as choosing to have one and that no matter what you’re always a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. The most amazing part about Lily, though, is her personality. She is rude, feisty and the most organized out of her friendship group. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and that’s what’s so great about her. However, there is also a lot more to her than that which is why this book was a lot sadder than I expected. Not that I’d say The Paths We Choose is a sad book, but because what Lily went through is a reality for young adults all over the world. Nonetheless, the book shows us hope in the way that Lily has found herself a group of friends that are her family, her chosen family and girl gang. This book also explores what it means to be free, to be who you are and to find what it is you want to do with your life. This book is about girls who are driven and hardworking, they are badass women who survive and can do anything with the support of each other and the strength within themselves. This is something that I think should be celebrated.

“She has the freedom to be who she wants to be. Freedom to love herself without worrying whether other people accept her as she is.”

All in all, The Paths We Choose is a book with lots of hot scenes as well as amazing friendship and family moments that will make your heart squeal out of delight. There are even a few cheesy ship moments that had me fangirling a lot. I’m very weak for those. Maria Hollis knows exactly what to do to make you fall in love with a couple and make your heart sing. The ending was beautiful and realistic, and I love how we see that there is no instant “I love you” moment. Maria Hollis just keeps on impressing me with her work, and I can’t wait to see the rest of this series and her other future work. The Paths We Choose is a book I know many will come to love and enjoy just as I have.

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ARC Review of Speak of Me as I Am by Sonia Belasco

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speakofmeasiam1.jpgSpeak of Me as I Am by Sonia Belasco

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Genres: Young Adult and Contemporary

Rating: sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A moving story of grief, honesty, and the healing power of art—the ties that bind us together, even when those we love are gone.

Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it’s the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.

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Thank you, Philomel Books, Penguin Young Readers Group, and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy of Speak of Me as I Am!

Be aware that Speak of Me as I Am deals with death, cancer, suicide and has some offensive language. All of this is discussed down below in my review. There will be spoilers in this review so consider yourself warned.

Speak of Me as I Am is a story about two teenagers, Melanie and Damon, who have both dealt with an immense loss but in different ways. The story made me cry and there were several scenes I enjoyed in the moment, however, there is a lot about this book that bothered me. I see what this story is trying to do. It wants to show us how grief is something we just have to live with and how there are so many different ways we experience it and are faced with it. I really wanted to love this book, but it fell short in so many ways and was even hurtful at times instead.

The story is about Melanie who lost her mother to cancer and Damon who lost his best friend to suicide. Damon is a black teen who we see throughout the book dealing with the loss of Carlos, who is Salvadoran and his best friend. Carlos was a photographer and left all of his photos and his camera behind, and with those Damon clings to his memory and the feelings he carries around with him regarding Carlos’ suicide. Throughout the book, we find out about Carlos’ hard home life but despite this, the reader gets a feeling there is something we don’t know about Carlos’ death yet. What we towards the end of the book find out is something Damon himself first releases after Carlos’ death. Carlos was in love with Damon, which was very clear in the photographs Carlos left behind.

“He was a master at that, at avoiding getting too deep. He could be evasive as hell. But it was all so clear in those photos, all these pictures he took of me but never showed me.”

I wait, but he doesn’t say anything. His hands are shaking. “What, Damon?” I ask. “What was so clear?”

Damon takes in a deep breath and lets it go all at once. “The way he looked at me,” he says.

To me, the story reads as if Carlos killed himself because he was in love with a man, his best friend Damon, and it very much falls into the bury your gays trope. The fact that Carlos was gay (or bisexual, his sexuality was never defined) felt very much like a plot device and like it only existed to make the main character Damon feel ashamed that he didn’t know and support his best friend sooner, despite him not feeling the same way. The way Carlos’ sexuality was used felt cheap because it only served as a way to give the main character meaning to his suicide and I think it could have been dealt with in a lot of other better ways and still convey the story’s main message.

However, we have another character in the story that also plays a large part and that is Tristan. Tristan has been Melanie’s best friend since they were kids, and he is gay. In the beginning of the story I was scared he would fall into the gay best friend trope, however, I did feel that his character got its own subplot and his character was fleshed out which is why I think he becomes much more than just the best friend. Nonetheless, I had issues with his subplot. During the course of the book Tristan’s rich and political parents find out he’s gay and their reaction is to send him to a therapist that is a family friend in the hopes to “cure” him. They force him to go by forbidding him to be a part of the school play unless he meets with this therapist. This is not okay, you cannot cure homosexuality and to even see it suggested in YA book is saddening.

A few other things I had a problem with in Speak of Me as I Am was the fact that the black characters’ skin was described using food comparisons, for example, in the book we see one character described as he “has his mother’s dark, almond-shaped eyes and father’s espresso skin” and our main character Damon is described by the other main character Melanie like “His skin’s the color of latte, with dark, wiry hair and eyes so green they’d make Kermit jealous.

Another instant that bothers me was how the main character Damon was supposed to be understanding and accepting, yet used the fa-word (a homophobic slur) in a conversation with his cousin who thinks theater is gay. Down below are two quotes that I thought were offensive and that involve this homophobic slur (trigger warning for the fa-word).

First quote,

“Really? You don’t think that’s kind of—”

“—fucking gay?” Jackson finishes. It’s the first thing he’s contributed to the conversation.

“No, actually,” I say. “I don’t think it’s particularly homosexual that I’m participating in the play.”

“All the theater kids are straight-up fags,” Jackson states.

“Yeah, D, he’s not lying,” Prague says.

“Oh, really,” I say, leaning forward in my seat. “How do you know this, Jackson? You spend a lot of time hanging with the theater kids?”

Second quote,

Prague looks down at his shoes, shoulders slumping. “It ain’t like that, D, we were just being—”

“Ignorant, right,” I say. “Because that makes it better. What’re you afraid of, Prague? That you’re gonna catch the faggot bug?”

First of all, when you call someone out on the page for their homophobic and ignorant statements you don’t actually imply or insinuate that they are gay too and if you are so accepting yourself you should never use the fa-word to describe a gay person even if you say it with sarcasm. You cannot show how offensive a word is by using it yourself.

The book also showed ableism which is seen in the following quote,

“I give him this pathetic little half wave in return, a scrunching of my fingers that probably makes me look like I’m physically disabled.”

Verdict: This book is offensive in more ways than one, and I would seriously advise you to read it with caution, if at all. This book has a lot of elements that can be hurtful to marginalized readers and I hope my review has shed some light on why that is. All of my quotes and conclusions comes from the ARC provided to me. There may be differences between the ARC and the final version.

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Review of My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

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1361263_large.jpgMy Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Genres: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Music, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Amazing allergy rep, a cute gang of kids who all play in a band together, and calling out mean girls.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: If Life Was Like a Song.

Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.”

Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer.

Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..

Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.

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“Bringing my EpiPen with me everywhere I went was like having a stupid pimple that never went away! Besides, like I was going to have the guts to stab myself with a giant needle in the leg if I ate something I was allergic to anyway. Wouldn’t I bet too busy barfing or fainting or something else awful to be my own doctor?”

I’ve had severe allergies since the day I was born, and it hasn’t really been easy or fun most of the time. Having allergies can be extremely lonely, and pretty scary too, especially when your allergies can kill you in a matter of minutes. This book is a book I wish I had when I was younger. We all know that representation matters, and as I read My Year of Epic Rock it was as for the first time someone else had all the same fears and quirks as I did about my allergies.

Thank you, Andrea Pyros for giving a peanut allergic girl like me a book where I got to laugh, cry and just enjoy a whole gang of kids with different allergies just being themselves. No one dies in this book, the squad is all supportive of each other and to be honest having a band called The EpiPens is the most genius idea ever. I honestly hate my Epipen but I can’t go anywhere without it, and Nina just totally gets that, among other things like kissing and eating at a friend’s house. Nina’s mom also reminds me of my mom, which honestly makes me cry all over again. Because yes this book made me cry multiple times. I’ve never had anyone truly understand what I go through on a daily basis, and this book just hits right where it hurts.

All in all, what I wanted to say is this, if you are looking for a cute book about friendship and a group of kids starting a rock band together then pick this book. There are middle school crushes, lots of fun parts with all of the gang, and characters that feel completely genuine. The book community needs more books with main characters that have allergies, and if nothing else will convince you, I hope you might pick this book up to spread awareness about allergies. I know I will recommend this book to anyone that listens as I scream into the void. I want allergic teens to have what I didn’t.

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ARC Review of Infini by Krista and Becca Ritchie

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686979_orig.jpgInfini by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Amazing characters, family oriented story and lots of epic circus moments!

Purchase here: Amazon | iBooks

Synopsis: Some love is infinite

“Don’t have a best friend that’s a girl” — this was the advice from my older cousin. I didn’t take it. Because he followed with, “friends don’t f*ck friends. And you’ll want to f*ck her.”

It was terrible advice.

My cousin should’ve told me that being best friends with Baylee Wright — since she was twelve — would be the best and worst decision of my life.
He should have told me to protect her from what was coming.
He should have told me that when a darkness crawled towards us, there’d be no safety net.

Now I’ve signed back on to the same Vegas acrobatic show as Baylee, working together for the first time in years. And she tells me that she’s having trouble in a certain “area” of her life — because of our past.

“You can help me fix it,” she says.
And then she hands me a list.

Recommended for readers 18+ for mature content.

Luka Kotova is introduced in Amour Amour, and Infini takes place in the same acrobatic world. However, it’s not necessary to read Amour Amour prior to Infini.

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Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie tells the story of Jamaican-American Baylee Wright and Russian-American Luka Kotova, and takes you on a captivating and unexpected journey that will sweep you away to the sound of the circus. Infini is nothing like I expected it to be, and everything I needed it to be, and more. It’s beautiful, full of culture, music, raw emotion and battles impossible to overcome. But as they say, the circus is where the impossible becomes possible. This book has a lot more angst than I expected, and with both the bff-to-lovers trope and the forbidden love trope, I’m absolutely certain that this book will move readers just as much as it has me. I was mesmerized from beginning to end, with not a single dull moment in sight. Infini deals with a lot of heavy topics, that are in no way romanticized. It deals with depression, kleptomania, bulimia and abuse. All of this is mentioned in a detailed trigger warning in the beginning of the book. All of the topics are dealt with in a very respectful manner in the book, but should be taken into consideration before reading.

I absolutely fell in love with Luka and Baylee in this book. Their story is very unexpected, and we are thrown right into the middle of it. There are so many unexpected twists and turns, for them and for the people around them. Their friendship, their love, it’s not easy. The journey is one filled with so much angst, but also with so much love and support. They have a healthy relationship, where they constantly push each other to take care of themselves, and just thinking about it makes my heart swell. Their love for dance is so special to me, and almost a bit magical. The way dancing and music moved within them, and how important it was to them, was one of the most precious parts of their relationship.

However, I think what will truly catch readers, and make them completely hooked on this book, is the amazing and huge cast, and the big family they all are. The Kotova siblings and cousins all play a huge part in this book, and yes there are a lot of them, they basically rule the Aerial Ethereal universe. We also see a lot of Baylee’s family. Nonetheless, what truly bonds all of the characters is the circus, the ties they make through all of the ups and downs, and that is why circus is family. The art is what makes them family, and it’s far from easy at times, but seeing all the work that goes into the relationships is what makes them so precious and worthwhile in the end. A strong sense of family exists throughout the entire book, and you will fall in love with so many characters, a lot more than just Luka and Baylee. The cast in Infini is huge and diverse, and will have you rooting for so many people, and consequently craving more books about the Aerial Ethereal universe. I know I am.

I think personally though, what I love the most about Infini, and all books Krista and Becca write, is that they have this way of always keeping you on your toes and always making you so emotionally invested in the story, the characters, the moment right here, right now in the book. I guess you could say I’m a very emotional reader, but Infini truly made me cry several times throughout the book. Through the good moments and the bad, Infini pulls you in like few other books can. I have such a hard time describing what it is that makes this book so special to me, I love it so much, and Krista and Becca’s characters have a way of making you feel a part of their world, of them essentially. You are not only reading about Luka and Baylee, and the circus, but you are also a part of their magical and tough world. Every struggle, every achievement, you feel it as if it were your own.

I can barely express how much this book means to me, I just know that Baylee and Luka will always stay in my heart. All the tears shed, the laughs I’ve had, and all the special moments in between, have made me so happy and I’m really thankful to have Infini and its characters in my life. I can’t wait for the world to read Infini and love it as much as I do.

Thank you Krista and Becca for my ARC of Infini, I appreciate this opportunity so much. I can’t wait to see what more books you both put into the world, you have a forever fan in me.

P.S. Fangirl Time. After I finished Infini I started listening to the official Infini playlist on Krista’s Spotify, and it’s so amazing. I highly recommend it. Also, I’m dancing around my house to it, thinking of all the epic moments in Infini, and the songs fit the book so well *crying* I’m surprised the review above is actually somewhat composed, BECAUSE LET ME TELL YOU I WAS NOT WHEN I READ THIS BOOK. IT WILL GUT YOU AND MAKE YOU CRY AND LAUGH AND SQUEAL, LIKE A LOT. I had so many fangirling moments, and I still can’t believe this book is real AND THAT I READ IT. I have a lot of pent-up emotions, and happiness, AND I JUST NEED TO DANCE AND CELEBRATE THE AMAZINGNESS THAT IS INFINI. Okay thanks that was all *dances away*

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Review of Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan

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image2Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan

Publication Date: November 22, 2016

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Apocalyptic

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Amazing woman of color as protagonist, character development and unique world with angels.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository | Three Little Books Co.

Synopsis: When seven-year-old Evie Weiss discovers a strange, sickly boy in her otherwise familiar forest, she has no idea what it holds for her world. He is a dark angel, one of a race of humanoid beings that feed on humanity and tear Evie’s world down around her. Years later, as humanity mounts a counter-attack against the dark angels, Evie remembers the boy in the forest and finds herself torn between her loyalty to her own people and feelings of compassion for these strange creatures that first captivated her as a child.

It is the quest of one girl to unite two worlds so separated by war, but how can she close the gap between two races so determined to hate each other?

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Thank you, C.T. Callahan for my copy of Plastic Wings. This book has officially become one of my new favorites and I’m truly grateful I won it.

Plastic Wings is one of my new favorite books, and it even sparked my love for fantasy. I’ve only been reading contemporary books for months now, and it’s so refreshing to be reading fantasy again, and one about angels too. I haven’t done that in ages. There are literally so many amazing things to highlight about Plastic Wings; the strong heroine of color that is the most relatable girl ever, the diverse cast and the epic world C.T. Callahan has created, are just a few.

Evie, the main character, is someone I relate to a lot. She loves her family, but disagrees and hates a lot of the things they do. I honestly respect that part so much. Loving your family and disagreeing with them at the same time is okay, and I think that was just so beautifully done. Evie is strong willed, but she has her flaws too, which is what makes her really stand out as a character and make you fall in love with her. To me, Evie also reads as someone who is on the ace-spectrum. I base this off of two very specific parts of the book (the quotes below have small spoilers, but not a lot. I replaced the names with x and y so that people wanting to see for themselves can do so with minimum spoilers. I think you can read the quotes without the story being spoiled, but I’m warning just in case).

I was never interested in physical intimacy so X instigated the kissing and touching, often catching me by surprise. It took practice and guidance on his part for me to live up to his standards. He’d guide my hands, lead my mouth, and constantly tell me how I could improve.

&

“We’re not screwing,” I said. “Honestly, I don’t even want to.”

Angie rolled her eyes. “I think you’re missing the point of a relationship.”

I didn’t know how to explain to Angie what it felt like to just want to be near someone, to want to hear their laugh like a soundtrack and wake up to their smile every morning. Even with X, I’d never craved physical intimacy, but with Y, just the sound of his voice brought me more pleasure than sex ever could.

Note: I’m not on the ace-spectrum myself, and because of that, cannot speak about the representation as well as someone who identifies as on the ace-spectrum can. If I find further information about this topic, I will edit my review to include it here.

Plastic Wings is a very funny story despite all of the horrors displayed in this world C.T. Callahan has created. A pretty memorable moment taken out of context is this one,

“The shirtless hero was always my favorite trope.”

“Hold still,” I said. “You’re bleeding a lot.”

But if we are being real here, the character that truly brings a lot of sass into this book is Alex. Getting to know him and seeing him and Evie get to know each other was something else and I was at multiple times kicking my legs everywhere because I had, the feels. This should convince you as to why you need to get this book as soon as possible, as in yesterday.

The characters in Plastic Wings have incredible character development, they grow, they evolve and yet they still stay true to who they are. It’s amazing to read, and makes you want to get to know the characters even further. I can’t wait for the sequel because I crave more of these characters, answers to my questions and so much more. Plastic Wings perfectly shows a world where the line between good and evil is blurred and together with some amazing characters, this book is a winner. I recommend it with all of my heart.

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BLOG TOUR: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair Review + Interview with Johanna Parkhurst

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Welcome to  the blog tour for Thanks a Lot, John Leclair by Johanna Parkhurst! Down below you can check out my review of the book, and also see an interview I had with Johanna.

o-thanks-a-lot-john-leclairThanks a Lot by John LeClair

Publication Date: December 15th 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary and LGBT

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository  | Harmony Ink Press

Synopsis: A Companion to Here’s to You, Zeb Pike

Sixteen-year-old Emmitt LaPoint has secretly been writing letters to his hockey idol, John LeClair, for years. So it’s probably only fitting that Emmitt’s small Vermont town seems desperate to make him the next LeClair. After all, Emmitt is about to lead his high school hockey team to the state championship, he has a near-perfect GPA, and he’s liked by almost everyone.

But even golden boys have problems, and Emmitt has more than his share. His father’s back in town to breathe down his neck. He’s happily dating his coach’s nephew, Dusty, but almost nobody knows he’s gay—and that secret is getting harder and harder to keep.

When Emmitt discovers Dusty is keeping secrets of his own, he’s forced to decide exactly what kind of golden boy he wants to be.

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Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is an amazing and adorable book that will move readers all across the world. The story is about Emmitt and Dusty, a young gay couple who are closeted to their high school and community, basically to everyone except their families. The reason is because Emmitt is a hockey player who wants to play in the NHL and there are not exactly a lot of hockey players out at the moment. No matter their struggles, the love between Emmitt and Dusty is strong, and one that will appeal to so many readers.

I think I might be gay. But gay guys can’t be hockey players, right? I’ve never heard of a gay hockey player. Ever. So I guess I can’t be gay. Because all I want to be is a hockey player.   —Emmitt LaPoint, age 11

There is so much to love about this book, Emmitt is an amazing protagonist who deals with so much. How to be a hockey player, a big brother and a son to a father he has a complicated relationship to and a boyfriend. I love seeing how Emmitt deals with his life and the struggles he faces. The relationship between Emmitt and Dusty is so sweet, and they go through a lot, both ups and downs, just like any other high school couple. They are just two gay boys willing to do anything for each other.

Coach groans. “Emmitt, are you listening to yourself? You sound like some lovesick teenager!” He pauses. “Jeez, you are, aren’t you?” “Am not,” I mumble. I don’t like the sound of that.

There are so many amazing things that could be said about this book, but in the end, I’d just tell you that you really have to read it. Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is the best feel good book out there. It’s a happy book about two gay boys dealing with high school drama, the reality of the hockey community and its relationship to the lgbt community. This book will be so important for gay teens who think and believe that they don’t belong in the sports community. This book will show them that they can achieve anything, all their dreams, and find love at that too.

If you’re a fan of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli then I really think you’ll love this book. It’s the same HAPPY lovely feeling only more focused on sports. If you want a cute book to lift your spirits, one that deals with important and relatable topics, then this book is for you. You won’t regret a second of it.

Interview with Johanna Parkhurst

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Author Website | Twitter

  1. What inspired you to write Thanks a Lot, John LeClair?

It sort of happened by accident. I wrote Here’s to You, Zeb Pike, and in the first drafts I created a very minor character named Emmitt LaPoint. As the book grew and changed, Emmitt became more and more important to the plot, and eventually it became clear he had a story of his own which needed to be told.

Emmitt’s story feels very unfinished at the end of Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. Does Emmitt ever come out? If so, does he keep playing hockey? None of those questions get answered in HTYZP, and that’s largely because I always knew those questions had to be answered from Emmitt’s point of view and in his words. Since HTYZP is told from Dusty’s perspective, I was sort of forced by my characters into writing Emmitt his own book. Not that I complained. Emmitt has always been one of my favorite characters to write, and Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is a book that’s incredibly close to my heart.

The struggles Emmitt faces in this book are huge.  No current or retired NHL player has ever come out, and that fact weighs heavily on Emmitt as he tries to figure out if the hockey world can accept him for who he is. I’m not going to lie: in the back of my head, I always thought a NHL player would come out by the time this book was finally released. It’s been years since I first started outlining this novel. The entire time I was writing and signing contracts and doing edits I always half-assumed by the time the story saw print it would be less relevant. But here we are, nearly at the book’s release, and we’re still waiting.

I hope we’re not waiting much longer. I hope everyone who reads this book checks out the You Can Play project, an amazing organization that supports LGBTQ athletes. They’re doing impressive and very important work.

  1. I really love that we get to read the letters that Emmitt wrote to John LeClair throughout his life, how did you come up with that idea?

In Here’s to You, Zeb Pike, every chapter opens with a flashback to an earlier time period in Dusty’s life. I wanted to do something similar for this book, but I wanted Emmitt’s “flashbacks” to be unique to his character. One of my favorite things about Emmitt is his endearing nerdiness. The idea that he would obsessively write letters to his lifelong hero and never send any of them seemed just endearingly nerdy enough to fit his personality.

  1. If there is just one thing you want your readers to take with them after having read your book, what would you want that to be?

There are lots of things, but I think the most important ones circle around acceptance and trust.  I also hope this book gets readers thinking about what success really looks like and how we define what success means to us as individuals.

  1. Do you have any book recommendations for fans of your book, as in, if they loved Thanks a Lot, John LeClair they’d also love … ?

I’m biased, but if you like these characters, I’d say you should definitely read Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. It’s the companion to this novel, and it tells the story of how Dusty first came to Vermont and met Emmitt. If you like stories about LGBTQ hockey players trying to navigate life, definitely check out Mia Sigert’s Jerkbait. I’ve just started reading it, and I’m so impressed. Siegert’s writing is brilliant and her character creation is haunting.

Also: if you are 18+ and like webcomics, go investigate the series Check Please! It’s got college hockey players, LGBTQ characters, pie, and some truly excellent hockey humor. You won’t be sorry.

Thank you so much Johanna for answering my questions, it was lovely seeing your answers. Now readers, are you excited for this book? You just have to read it. It’s a perfect read for your holiday break.

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