Review of Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Publication Date: June 10, 2017.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: Romance, Contemporary, and Adult.

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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.

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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.

Publisher: Philomel Books.

Genres: Young Adult and Contemporary.

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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, for my advanced review copy of Speak of Me as I Am. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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.

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Review of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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Rebel of the Sands

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Publication Date: March 8, 2016.

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers.

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, and Romance.

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Selling points: Strong girls, incredible character development, and amazing setting.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

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Thank you, Faber and Faber Ltd, for my advanced review copy of Rebel of the Sands. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. 

Update 11/12 2016: Since I first read Rebel of the Sands in February I have learned that this book has a very problematic representation of middle eastern culture and people of color. I learned this from listening to multiple people pointing it out on Twitter, and I will in the future not recommend or promote this book in any way knowing it has hurt and/or offended people. I will keep my original review for transparency, but I no longer stand by what I thought before. If you’ve read this book because of my recommendation, I’m truly sorry. If you, like me, want to know more about what good representation in books is, I urge you to follow marginalized writers and reviewers on all social media platforms because they are constantly doing amazing, invaluable work, and deserve all the love and praise in the world.

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Review of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Publication Date: September 30, 2014.

Publisher: Harlequin Teen.

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, and LGBT.

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Selling points: Girls loving girls, it deals with racism, faith and gives you hope for the characters and the future.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

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Update 30/12 – 2016: Since I first read Lies We Tell Ourselves in April I have learned that this book is very problematic. I learned this from listening to multiple people pointing it out on Twitter, and I will in the future not recommend or promote this book in any way knowing it has hurt and/or offended people. I will keep my original review for transparency, but I no longer stand by what I thought before. If you’ve read this book because of my recommendation, I’m truly sorry. If you, like me, want to know more about what good representation in books is, I urge you to follow marginalized writers and reviewers on all social media platforms because they are constantly doing amazing, invaluable work, and deserve all the love and praise in the world.

You can read what the author had to say when she addressed the problematic aspects of her book, here.

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