book reviews

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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Friendship, Fiction, and Coming Out by Marie Landry {A Pride Month Guest Post}

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I started selectively coming out about eleven years ago. I pretty much always knew I wasn’t ‘straight’, but I didn’t know what to call myself, largely because I grew up in a time when calling someone ‘gay’ was considered the funniest/best insult by a lot of people, and I didn’t really know any labels beyond gay and lesbian. For a long time, I figured it would be a part of me I kept mostly to myself, but when I started dating a girl, I knew I needed the people closest to me to know about this side of my life and this important person I loved.

The first person I came out to was my friend Meghan. I don’t remember how I told her. I can’t remember the exact words. I honestly don’t even remember if I did it in person or on MSN Messenger (showing my age here, haha). What I do remember is one of the next times I saw her, she gave me a book: Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall. Meghan was always lending me books – books that often ended up being favourites, like The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. When she gave me Bottle Rocket Hearts, a book about 18-year-old Eve, a French-Canadian lesbian, I was grateful, but I don’t think I got her true intentions. I was excited because the book is set in Canada and there are so few books set in my beloved homeland.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, as I found the LGBTQ+ community on Twitter and heard about people’s experiences with coming out that the significance of Meghan’s gift really hit me. It wasn’t just that she was giving me a book she thought I would like. It was her way of saying ‘I love you, I support you, I’m here for you’. I cried when I realized, and I still get teary at times when I think about it. She was the perfect first person to come out to; I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, or a better friend.

Meghan’s thoughtful gift got me thinking about what book I would give a friend who came out to me, or was newly out. I’ve read a lot of LGBTQ+ books, but there are a specific few that come to mind.

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Review of Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Publication Date: June 10, 2017

Genres: Romance, Contemporary, and Adult

Rating: sliceofcake5

Synopsis: Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect. What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

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Disclaimer: I’m not Filipino but I’ve consulted with a friend, who is a Filipino-American book blogger, about the issues I had with this book. 

I really wanted to love Dear Aaron, I really did. The plot and premise of the book check off a lot of boxes for me when it comes to things I want to find in romance novels. Slowburn romance, online friendships, and just general cuteness. The couple did make me mushy and that is why I’m all the more disappointed that Dear Aaron is really disrespectful and problematic. I really won’t recommend this book to anyone based on the comments made in this book, which will be discussed in more detail later.

To summarize the book is essentially about Ruby Santos and Aaron Hall who start emailing and texting while Aaron is deployed in Iraq. They get to know each other and become very close. It is a pen pals-to-friends-to-lovers story with a strong element of the legitimacy of online friendships.

The main character, Ruby Santos, is Filipino which we find out about 9 % into the novel when Aaron and Ruby are emailing each other. What is written is the following,

“The only reason my parents moved here (Texas) was because of my mom’s family. My dad hated living here. He says the humidity reminded him too much of the Philippines when he was a kid.”

The fact that Ruby is Filipino is only ever mentioned in one other scene, which is where things get really disrespectful. At this point in the novel Ruby and Aaron have met up, are on vacation together and are out having dinner together with a couple of Aaron’s friends. They are ordering food and Aaron’s friend orders frog legs. This spurred a discussion about food, in which Ruby started telling the friends about Filipino cuisine that her dad eats.

“I’ve had cow tongue a few times. That was good actually—” “Cow tongue?” that was Brittany. “Yeah. They sell it all over the place in Houston. I’ve had dinuguan—” “What’s that?” Max asked. I scrunched up my nose, remembering eating that way too clearly. “It’s a Filipino dish that my dad made me try. Its pig intestines, kidneys, lungs, heart, and the snout cooked in its blood—” At least four of them said a variation of “eww” that made me grin. “I know. My dad claimed it was dessert, like pudding. He loves it. I can’t eat pudding anymore because of that, no matter what color it is.” “I’m not going to be able to eat pudding anymore after that….” Mindy trailed off. “That’s not the worst,” I started to say before I shut my mouth.

That was one part of the scene, soon thereafter another Filipino dish is discussed.

“I’ve never tried it, but my dad has a bunch of times—” “What is it?” Max asked. “It’s called balut. I’ve watched him eat it and I didn’t gag, and I’m pretty proud of myself for it—” “What is it?” “Jesus, Max, give her a second,” Aaron chimed in, his big hands resting on the table. I squeezed my fingers between my thighs and just got it over with. “It’s a duck embryo in its shell.” Four sets of eyeballs blinked.

After that, the friends have awful reactions and it’s described as “Four different people made dry-heaving and gagging sounds.” It is also made clear that everyone thinks this is gross, including the main character Ruby who claims that she and her siblings have never tried it and claims nothing grosses her father out food wise. This was all very disrespectful. I cannot imagine being Filipino, thinking this book represents you and then having their cuisine treated like this. It was cheap and lazy both in the way the author shows that the main character is Filipino and how somehow this is how the main character connects with Aaron’s friends. It could have been done in literally any other way which would have been less problematic and hurtful. However, my problems don’t end there. Later on, during the same scene, when Ruby and one of Aaron’s friends are alone they continue the discussion in which the following was said,

“You can’t really tell you’re Filipino, except for the shape of your eyes.” She blinked. “That sounds really racist. I’m sorry. Mindy’s been rubbing off on me this week.” I snorted. “I get it. My mom has really red hair and she’s super pale. I got a weird mix of both of them. No one can ever tell what I am.”

This is racist and isn’t called out anywhere in the book, in fact as you can read the main character just brushes it off. In a lot of ways, it feels like the main character being Filipino is just added there as an extra bonus. The representation is lazy, superficial, disrespectful and potentially harmful. Moreover, other issues I had with Dear Aaron is the ableist language used. The words crazy and insane were used multiple times. I particularly did not like the following two sentences “You guys either like the crazy or need a new radar” and “Because she’s a crazy person.” There are more examples similar to these two (I searched and the word crazy is used 58 times).

All in all, I say be aware of all of these issues before thinking about buying this book. I had high hopes, especially since the author’s other books are very hyped up among friends and the general romance community. I’d say read reviews and check out her other books instead of this one. Dear Aaron left me disappointed and in need of a romance novel with a similar premise because damn this had so much potential. Someone out there, give us the diverse online friends to real life friends to lovers story we all deserve. I’ll drop all of my coins on it.

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Review of The Secrets I Keep by Alex Casso

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The Secrets I Keep by Alex Casso

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Genres: Poetry and Abuse

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: The Secrets I Keep is a poetry collection about mental illness, as well as child abuse and the lingering effects it has. Through it, Alex Casso bares their soul and proves that, despite everything, they are a force to be reckoned with.

About the author: Alex Casso is a bi aroace-spec and nonbinary SFF author and poet. They spend most of their time playing videogames or listening to podcasts like The Adventure Zone and MBMBaM. They’re also a baby DM for an amazing D&D group and enjoy making their players suffer (in all of the best ways).

You can find them on Twitter and Patreon!galaxyreview

Thank you so much, Alex Casso, for my copy of The Secrets I Keep. I really appreciate you sending it to me!

The Secrets I Keep is a beautiful poetry collection with 24 poems about abuse and mental illness. This collection is a fast read with poems that will really capture your attention. It’s a collection that’s heart touching and empowering. The poetry collection tells a story about surviving abuse and the strength that exists within the survive. The style of the poems in The Secrets I Keep is one I love and my two favorite poems from the collection are the following.

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I recommend this collection if you want to read a poetry collection that is easy to read, deals with a serious topic that’s also very important. The Secrets I Keep is a raw collection that will grab you and hold you tight, take you through a journey and end on a note that is fresh and hopeful.

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Review of Cold Sober by Theresa Sopko (Poetry Collection)

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coldsober1.jpgCold Sober by Theresa Sopko

Publication Date: April 21, 2017

Genres: Poetry and Love Poems

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: A girl with no plan to fall in love realizes there is no choice in the matter.

Cold Sober is a delicate and organic collection of poems that chart the journey from skepticism to fulfillment. With the genuine tone of somebody discovering love and navigating a relationship for the first time, it is impossible not to feel the surprising wonder as you turn each page. Sopko’s words are a slowly blooming bud, taking readers from apprehension and distance to trust and intimacy. Cold Sober asks all of the questions, addresses all of the fears, and acknowledges all of the beauty within the perfect storm that is falling in love.

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Thank you to the author, Theresa Sopko, for my review copy of Cold Sober to read and review!

Cold Sober is a beautiful poetry collection about love and everything related to it from beginning to end. I really love that we were taken on a journey in this collection and how it really came full circle with the last poem referring back to the first one in a really beautiful way. The poetry collection Cold Sober is filled with imagery that is clear and to the point and I think if you’re someone who likes simpler poetry this collection is really recommended. There were several poems that spoke to me, but two of my favorites are PET PEEVE and IN TONGUES. However, there were truly a lot of gems in this collection.

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The more poetry I read the more I enjoy the wide range of different poems and poetry collections that exist. Cold Sober is about love, the feeling of expectations in the beginning of a relationship, and intimacy. The purest form of love, where everything is electric even when two people are barely touching each other. I really appreciated that. If you want to read about love, Cold Sober is an excellent choice.

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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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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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{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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