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ARC Review of Ripped Pages by M. Hollis

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Ripped Pages by M. Hollis

Publication Date: September 22, 2017.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: Retellings, Romance, Young Adult, LGBT, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon | GumRoad

Synopsis: Princess Valentina lives a reasonably comfortable life, but after her mother’s death, her father gets tired of taking care of her and locks her in a tower. She spends years on her own, talking to the birds on her windowsill, and reading books with adventures she will never experience. Her plans of running away are usually left for another day because she knows the vast forest surrounding her tower is too dangerous to cross alone.

Until one day, another girl passes by on her horse and Valentina wonders if she’s finally brave enough to seize her chance of freedom.

Ripped Pages is a Rapunzel F/F retelling in the format of a novelette.

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Thank you, Maria Hollis, for my ARC of Ripped Pages. 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.

Ripped Pages is a beautiful story that feels fresh, unique, and absolutely perfect. This f/f fairytale feels modern and timeless at the same and is a retelling of the classic story of Rapunzel. Ripped Pages is a short and quick read with only about 60 pages and I do think a lot of people will fall in love with it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a princess whose name was Valentina. She had long golden hair that her maids loved to take care of because of its beauty and softness. When she laughed, her plump cheeks turned a delightful shade of pink, and her bright green eyes were always lit with excitement over every little thing.

I love how this book was a retelling of Rapunzel yet it had unexpected twists that made it its own. Moreover, this fairytale retelling is diverse and just what I feel is needed in young adult literature. Ripped Pages is filled with cute and precious moments yet still deals with important and heavy topics that are in no way brushed over. These heavy topics are addressed in the beginning of the story in a clear trigger warning. Despite not being able to speak on these matters with authority, I do felt that the way they were handled were in a good way that felt appropriate for the story that was being told. However, like the author mentioned in her TW, proceed with caution since you know yourself the best.

Ripped Pages is a beautiful, soft, and romantic f/f story and is perfect for anyone looking for a book about a girl who after a long time of hardship finally gets her own chance at a happy ending. The main character Valentina is young and has found books as an escape, and throughout this story, she comes to terms with what it means to realize you are worthy of love, happiness, and freedom.

Valentina knew then what she wanted to be, more than anything in the world. A heroine; helping other women, having adventures and lifting curses from enchanted princesses.

Everyone, remember this, once upon a time in a place called earth a little novelette called Ripped Pages, written by a woman called Maria Hollis, came out and anyone who knew what is what knew that Ripped Pages was a book to get. Thus, mark your calendars for September 22, 2017, and buy this f/f fairytale as fast as you can.

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Review of Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

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Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

Publication Date: August 8, 2017.

Publisher: Button Poetry.

Genres: Poetry, Nonfiction, and Mental Health.

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Purchase here: Amazon Book Depository 

Synopsis: Depression & Other Magic Tricks is the debut book by Sabrina Benaim, one of the most-viewed performance poets of all time, whose poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” has become a cultural phenomenon with over 5,000,000 views. Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family. It is a documentation of struggle and triumph, a celebration of daily life and of living. Benaim’s wit, empathy, and gift for language produce a work of endless wonder.

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Thank you, Button Poetry, for my ARC of Depression & Other Magic Tricks. 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.

The poetry collection Depression & Other Magic Tricks is amazing and captivated me from start to finish. It is a book about depression, anxiety, love, and heartbreak. However, I have to mention that based on the synopsis and title I expected the book to be more about mental health and less about romance and heartbreak, which took up a large part of the collection. I don’t mind poems about romance and heartbreak but I did find this collection to give another impression before I started it.

anxiety is the cousin visiting
from out of town
depression felt obligated to
bring to the party.
mom, i am the party.
only, i am a party i don’t want to be at.

My favorite poems in the collection are explaining my depression to my mother a conversation, on releasing light, so my friend tells me she identifies as a mermaid…, sevens small ways in which i loved myself this week, and follow-up a prayer / a spell. There is something absolutely magical about these poems and a few of these have become my all-time favorites. The poems in this collection are well written and beautiful. In comparison to a lot of other contemporary poetry collection I’ve read the poems in Depression & Other Magic Tricks are a bit longer which I thoroughly enjoyed. At times, more depth was achieved because of it.

i held hands,
with my sadness,
sang it songs in the shower,
fed it lunch,
got it drunk
& put it to bed early.

If you want a poetry collection that deals with depression, anxiety, romance, and heartbreak then this collection is a perfect fit. I felt that this book really dealt with mental health in a genuine, respectful and relatable way. Depression & Other Magic Tricks is truly a book to put on your radar if you love contemporary and diverse poetry.

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ARC Review of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

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The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

Publication Date: August 22, 2017.

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press.

Genres: Fantasy and Young Adult.

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Purchase here: Amazon Book Depository | Harmony Ink Press

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

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Thank you, Julia Ember and Harmony Ink Press, for my ARC of The Tiger’s Watch. 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.

As Julia Ember’s third published book, The Tiger’s Watch manages to still contain all the things I love about Ember’s work and continue to surprise me with new stories and concepts. The Tiger’s Watch is about Tashi, who is nonbinary, genderfluid, and uses they/them pronouns. Throughout the book, Tashi’s pronouns are respected and the few times someone uses the wrong pronouns for them, it’s immediately called out and corrected. The world we see in The Tiger’s Watch is filled with magic and culture, and Tashi among other selected are inhabitors: “As inhabitors, we all bonded with one animal at the age of eight, and our life force linked to theirs.” At first, the connection between Tashi and their golden tiger Katala reminded me of Sense8 with how they can enter each other’s minds and take over each other’s bodies. In their country, Tashi learned to become an inhabitor at an academy specifically meant for children, poor or orphaned, to be trained to become inhabitors and spies, with the ability to wield their unique magic.

“It was something we all were conditioned to understand, even if most of us never fully accepted it. Once you became an inhabitor and said the words of the binding spell, your soul literally fused with another creature’s. I could access Katala’s memories, feel her emotions, and see what she saw. When she or I died, the one who lived would slip away as Kalx was doing. For me, bonded as I was to a mountain tiger with a projected lifespan of more than thirty years, things didn’t seem so bleak. I could live to be forty or maybe older.”

I think what really makes you connect with The Tiger’s Watch and draws you is the characters, even if your feelings towards them are torn. Tashi really evolved in this book. They still doubt themselves at times, but they also come to the realization that they can be brave despite not always having been so in the past and Katala, their golden tiger and other half, balanced them out in the perfect way. However, it should be mentioned that all characters in this book, including Tashi, can be seen as morally ambiguous. There is no one that is 100 % good or evil, there is both in all of them and that makes the entire story that much more complex and intriguing. It’s a lot harder to know who to root for when you’re on the fence about everyone and their true intentions. I cannot wait to see where the sequel takes us because there is unfinished business, and questions I’m eager to get answers to.

The romance in the book is complex and for me, it was very unexpected. At first, I thought it was going in one direction and then it went into another. I’m still uncertain how I feel about any of the possible pairings that have been explored in this book. Despite this, I do lean more towards one of the pairings and hope it will be further developed in the future (or that maybe a new pairing pops up).

One thing I’d like to point out is that I do not share the marginalizations the main character, Tashi, and a few other the other main characters have. Therefore I cannot speak on the representation in the book. If I find any ownvoices reviews that discuss the representation I will make sure to update my review and include these reviews here.

The Tiger’s Watch is perfect for readers who love unique and diverse fantasy books, especially if you love ones you’ll get through quickly. There are characters you won’t be sure whether you hate or love, and there will probably even be some tears (there was for me). However, The Tiger’s Watch is a great read and I really recommend it.

P.S. A personal side note. I’m so happy, surprised, and grateful that a dream came through with this book; I was mentioned in the acknowledgments of the book. If you’ve read my blog post, Bookish Bucket List Goals, you already knew this was something I’ve always wanted to happen since I honestly think it’s the coolest thing ever. Anywho, I’m so glad to be a reader and supporter of Julia Ember’s books.

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ARC Review of The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

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thelittlequeen1The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

Publication Date: August 1, 2017.

Publisher: Poetose Press.

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: When her mother and father pass away, the little queen must figure out how to be a little queen. And so she begins her adventures, journeying away from her palace and into the world to determine how she should go about going on. The little queen soon encounters numerous folks who teach her a thing or two: the book sniffer, the dream writer, and the architect of silence are just a few. Along the way, the little queen finds friendship, love, and meaning in being a leader in her world. The Little Queen is a magical exploration of self-discovery, vocation, community, and home.

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Thank you, Poetose Press, for my eARC of The Little Queen. 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.

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes starts with two simple sentences that lay the basis for the entire story: “On a little world, upon a little hill, a little tear fell down a little face. A little girl was now a little queen.” The story follows a little queen who lost her parents and is now trying to figure out how she can be a little queen, and if it’s something she can be. She is filled with insecurities and a bit of sadness too. To figure it all out, the little queen goes on several adventures and meets a lot of different women that teach her lessons about life and about who she is. Along the way, she even falls in love with a girl.

“Each of them admired the other’s ears and eyes and smiles, and in that moment both of them knew that they had fallen in love.”

The Little Queen is a book I truly want everyone to read. It is basically the sapphic fairytale everyone deserves in their life. Not only is the story suitable for everyone, both young people and the old, it is also a story I feel will bring light and warmth to everyone who reads it. The story is simple, pure and just beautiful. The Little Queen is a novella, unlike anything I have read before which is also why I fell in love with it. I can with confidence recommend it to everyone who likes fantasy books, to people who love it when a book reads like a fairytale and to everyone who loves a story that is both unique and adorable. The Little Queen is the fairytale we all deserve, one written by a woman of color and is about girls loving other girls. Meia Geddes is definitely on my radar from now on. I want to buy a physical copy of this book just so that I can read it to my children one day if I were to have them.

“When the little queen moved her hands through air and earth and swung her legs forward in long, steady strides, she felt a tingling. Lying in fields, she looked up at the sky and thought how the clouds looked like clusters of stars and how the stars looked like tiny suns.”

I love The Little Queen, the writing is both beautiful and lyrical and the book itself explores topics revolving who and what we are, where we belong in the world, and where we want to go. Moreover, when The Little Queen goes on a journey of self-discovery and love, you find yourself doing the same. The book is feminist and filled with strong women so sure of themselves and I think no matter your age or preferred genre, this book has something to give to everyone. Don’t miss it when The Little Queen by Meia Geddes comes out August 1, 2017.

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ARC Review of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

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bearlyalady1.jpgBearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

Publication Date: July 18, 2017.

Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing.

Genres: Romance and Paranormal.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month. Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks.

Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to? Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague. What’s a werebear to do?

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Thank you, Book Smugglers Publishing, for my eARC of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw. 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.

I love Bearly a Lady and the main character Zelda McCartney. This book is funny, cute and sexy. It is impossible not to enjoy the characters and their banter, chemistry, and tension. I love the world Cassandra Khaw has created, with shapeshifters, vampires, and fae etc., and I want to see more of it. Seriously, give me more of both the main ship and the world. Not to forget, the book is also really feminist and calls out bullshit like no other. We deserve to see more of that, especially in romance.

“I breathe in. Calm. I am above all of this. I am a werebear. I am a goddess. I am a woman, large and in charge, a captain who is in control of her ship. This is nothing. I am above this.”

Zelda is a fat, bisexual werebear, a woman of color, and the most amazing book character ever. She works at Vogue and is a fashionista, which is honestly just the coolest. However, what makes her so amazing is the fact that she embraces herself and her body. Zelda’s confidence is incredible. To see a woman owning her body, her looks, her fashion sense and being “I’m a goddess” is so great because we need to tell women that that’s how you’re supposed to feel about yourself. You loving yourself is the most beautiful thing and I love it when we get to see female characters doing just that despite their insecurities, insecurities we all have. There is also, of course, Zelda’s love interest(s). Truly, there is only one that counts (squeals over them and their cuteness) but throughout the novella, we get to see Zelda with a couple of potential matches which makes the endgame that much sweeter. This is an f/f romance and I selfishly want more.

The ending, though sweet and happy, was way too short for my taste and that’s partly why I want a sequel. However, I also feel like a sequel is wanted because there are a lot of unanswered questions for me. At first, I wasn’t sure whether Janine was human or some supernatural being, and the whole mechanics of how humans interact with the supernatural beings and who is allowed to know and not know about their existence was really something I wanted to know more about.

“Long story short, cross-species romances are rare and occasionally fatal. Antelope and crocodile? Nope. Wolf and dog? Horrible, horrible idea.”

I would recommend Bearly a Lady to everyone who loves romance and the paranormal. I love the fact that we get to see shapeshifters and vampires in an “everyday” environment and not in some sort of bubble where the rest of the world doesn’t seem to exist. If you’re craving a book that is sweet and hilarious and also nails the perfect blend of all things supernatural and fashion, look no further, Bearly a Lady is just for you.

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ARC Review of Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

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fragilechaos1.jpgFragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

Publication Date: July 11, 2017.

Publisher: Radiant Crown Publishing, LLC.

Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

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Thank you, Amber R. Duell, for my eARC of Fragile Chaos. 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.

Fragile Chaos is a book I’m in love with and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read this one early. It took me a while to get into the story but once I was in, there was no going back for me. The entire concept of Fragile Chaos intrigued me and while I was scared it wouldn’t deliver I can definitely say it did and then some. The story follows Theo, the God of War, and Cassia, a female sacrifice meant to become Theo’s bride. From their first scene, there is a clear connection between the two and the more you see of them, both individually and together, the more invested you become in their fates. If you are a fan of young adult books with strong mythical elements and romance that is fought for then Fragile Chaos is a must read.

“War is a captivating, magnetic disorder. And it’s mine. Only the God of War can decide when and how it ends, and right now I’m perfectly happy to let it rage on despite what my brother wants. He may be older, and the King of the Gods, but this is my decision.”

I love the mythology aspect of the story. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Greek and Roman mythology. However, despite the similarities, the mythology present in Fragile Chaos is that of its own. In Fragile Chaos, there are six realms of the gods and goddesses and all of the gods are siblings. The siblings are Ebris, the King of the Gods; Drea, the Goddess of Life; Brisa, the Goddess of the Sea; Leander, the God of Death; Astra, the Goddess of Love, and lastly, Theodric, the God of War and the protagonist of the book. The thing about Fragile Chaos is that it feels new and different in comparison to a lot of other books I’ve read based on mythology. First of all, Fragile Chaos focuses on the God of War which I have never seen before. Moreover, the whole world that Amber R. Duell has created is intriguing, draws you in and makes you want to see more of it. I have always loved books that feature gods and goddesses and I’m really happy that Fragile Chaos managed to surprise me, which I didn’t think it’d do. Fragile Chaos is gritty and manages to keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end.

However, what made me really fall in love with Fragile Chaos is definitely the main characters. We have Theo, the God of War, who is misunderstood by his siblings and wants them to see him for who he is, and for them to trust his judgments. Then we have Cassia, who despite being all alone in the world is strong and never gives up without a fight. Both of them are headstrong and have a soft side to them not everyone gets to see and that is what makes them such interesting characters.

To see Theo and Cassia fall in love was seriously a pleasure. My heart was weak the entire time, especially during the moments when Theo turned soft in the presence of Cassia while at the same time everything was on fire between them. The tension between Theo and Cassia was electric, and their chemistry and the way they were around each other throughout the book will make you fangirl. Another aspect of their story that I love was the fact that their love didn’t come easy. They both struggled with their emotions for each other and that made their connection that much deeper in the end. Theo and Cassia made me root for them, fangirl over the way they looked at and thought about each other, and their kissing scenes had me squealing. I just love it when a book does that.

“She collides against my chest. My breathing hitches. Each place her body touches mine feels as if it’s exploding. I push her away, stepping back at the same time, and drag in a breath.”

The one aspect of the story I think could have been written differently is the way Cassia’s skin color is described. She is clearly a woman of color, especially based on the book’s cover. However, in the book her skin color is described as tan and bronze. Tan is a very ambiguous word. Anyone can be tan no matter if your skin color is pink, beige, brown and black etc. and that’s why I thought her skin color could have been described better and therefore clarified. Two quotes from the book that highlights this issue are the following,

A girl in an oversized khaki jacket is sitting at the edge of the firelight’s glow. Shadows flicker over her tan skin, dancing in time to the flames. She can’t be more than sixteen. “Last roll,” she says.

and

My skin is almost as bronze as hers, my hair just as black, and if it weren’t for my blue eyes, I could easily pass as a fellow islander.

All in all, Fragile Chaos is a great young adult book about six gods and goddesses and the world they are a part of, for better and for worse. This book will make you fangirl and root for the protagonists until the very end. Theo and Cassia’s story has its ups and downs, nothing is ever easy for them, but their chemistry is amazing and you will want them to end up together despite all their flaws. If you love a good young adult romance, mythology, and a story with high stakes then you definitely need to read Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell.

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

WhyILoatheSterlingLaneTour

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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.

Publisher: Entangled: Teen.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, and Romance.

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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, Entangled Teen, for my advanced review copy of Why I Loathe Sterling Lane. 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.

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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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.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: Poetry and Abuse.

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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, Alex Casso, for my review 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.

if my words bring joy to others
then maybe
one day
my words will bring joy to me too

– doubt

words catch in my throat
coated by the poison you left behind
but my voice is strong
i am powerful
and one day
i will roar

– im not ready yet and that’s okay


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.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: Poetry and Love Poems.

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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, Theresa Sopko, for my review copy of Cold Sober. I received this review copy in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion.

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.

PET PEEVE

I am wary of the
Strings attached to kindness.

The last thing I want is to be
Indebted to a person, stuck in a magic lamp
Until I’ve given the perceived equivalence

No one’s going to wish your freedom
So don’t put it into another’s hands.

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.

IN TONGUES

Our love language is sarcasm.

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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.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, and Romance.

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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. 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.

My actual rating for I Believe in a Thing Called Love is 3.5 planets rounded up to 4 planets. 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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