rating: 5

Review of When We Wonder by Fatima AlSuwaidi

whenwewonder1.png

whenwewonder1.jpg

When We Wonder by Fatima AlSuwaidi

Publication Date: November 11, 2016.

Publisher: Blurb.

Genres: Poetry.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Purchase here: Amazon Book Depository 

Synopsis: When We Wonder is a journey through
love and pain,
hurt and healing.
This collection of poetry and prose explore the different aspects of self-struggle and self-discovery,
and all the things that make us wonder.

galaxyreview

Thank you, Fatima AlSuwaidi, for my review copy of When We Wonder. I received this review copy in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion.

When We Wonder has become one of my favorite poetry collections. This book manages to say so much with so little words and there is no doubt in my mind about the fact that When We Wonder deserves endless success and a spot among the more well-known poetry authors currently sporting their names on the bestseller lists. What I love about this poetry collection is that the poems are relatable, beautiful, and will sweep you away.

I fall in love with the idea of people
The ones I created in my head
I create them
With all the things I want them to be
And all the things I want them to tell me
And I fall in and out of love with the idea of them

When We Wonder is easy to read, draws you and it’s just what I look for in poetry. The writing is concise and to the point, and that’s what makes it so good. The book is about love, pain, struggling, and self-discovery while it at the same time also takes you on a journey. I think anyone will be able to find multiple poems in the collection that speaks to them. Moreover, I love how When We Wonder incorporate space and nature into a few of the poems through vivid and beautiful metaphors that feel modern and on point.

Sunsets;
is the universe showing it’s talents
It’s the way it holds the brush
The way it chooses the colors
And the way it paints

I recommend When We Wonder to all contemporary poetry lovers out there. This is a collection by an author of color is one you don’t want to miss out on or overlook. It’s without a doubt a perfect collection that shows you the best and the worst of love, sadness, and self-growth.

I am an ocean
A whole universe is in my head

I am more than the bruises on my skin
I’m more than the bags under my eyes

signature9

Advertisements

ARC Review of East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo

eastinparadise1

eastinparadise1

East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo

Publication Date: September 4, 2017.

Publisher: Pocket Star.

Genres: Contemporary and Romance.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: When an entrepreneur and an Army reservist end up in their own reality show fauxmance, they have to decide whether their love exists just for the cameras…or if it’s for real in this warmhearted romance, perfect for foodies and wine lovers!

Bryn Aquino, the former manager of a Filipino restaurant, knows the value of hard work. With a shiny new MBA in tow and an investor, she’s ready to start her own business: a culinary retreat where visitors can relax, cook, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Dubbed Paraiso Retreats, she leases the childhood home of army reservist Mitchell Dunford—who returned from Afghanistan to revive his family’s vineyard—but finds herself in a bind when her investor pulls out of the business.

When the retreat catches an internet live stream producer’s eye through social media channels, Bryn is offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to document her journey in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Excited, Bryn happily agrees to the arrangement…only to find out that she’s going to have to fake an onscreen romance with her indifferent landlord in order to keep her audience interested.

As Mitchell and Bryn put on a show for the cameras, they find their romance isn’t hard to fake. They’ve got more in common under their bluster, banter, and doubts. As their relationship heats up and the cameras keep rolling, the line between show and reality blurs. And when the pressures of family, business, and the audience stack against them, will their romance survive internet stardom? Or was it just for show?

galaxyreview

Thank you, Tif Marcelo and Pocket Star, for my ARC of East in Paradise. 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.

East in Paradise is the standalone sequel to North to You. The book follows Bryn Aquino, a Filipino business woman, and Mitchell Dunford, army hero, and an expert in all things agriculture and vineyards. East in Paradise takes you on a journey where you are swept away by reality TV, fake dating, delicious food and wine, raw emotions and lots of laughs. If foodie romances, as well as strong and vulnerable heroes and heroines, are your thing, then your next book purchase should be none other than East in Paradise by Tif Marcelo.

This attraction is a conflict of interest, and all wrong. But the electricity between us–it’s palpable. It has both a negative and a positive charge that draws me to him and pushes me away, though equally powerful. And I know he feels it, too.

I love how sweet the romance between Bryn and Mitchell is, their banter is A+ and they really have to work to get their happily ever after. They both have walls that need to be torn down and I loved to see that happen little by little. The end result was that much sweeter because of the hard work and ups and downs Bryn and Mitchell had to get through to get their happy ending. This book has both fake dating and reality TV and I love these tropes so much. Moreover, I love how the story is about more than just the romance between Bryn and Mitchell. Both of them are also trying to start businesses and that’s a whole process, and I like how we get to see that. There is a lot riding on the success of their businesses and we get to see them on every step of the way: the good and the bad, the rewards and the setbacks.

Damn, the woman won’t stop. Her attitude won’t quit; she refuses to submit.
And it fucking turns me on.

Bryn is a remarkable heroine, I love her so much. She is energetic, and always wants to fight and have the last word in discussions and arguments. I’m so glad she was portrayed the way she was because I think it’s rare to see headstrong and opinionated women get celebrated. I relate to her so much, so definitely give me more gutsy, vulnerable and stubborn women in romance. I love it when we see women going after what they want and not being afraid to do it. Furthermore, what I love about Mitchell is the fact that he’s kind, is in love with all things nature, and totally has a green thumb. There is also the fact that he’s a soldier, a captain. Mitchell has PTSD and I loved the way that was shown and handled. We see how he deals with both his anxiety and insomnia and how he gets treatment for his PTSD as his symptoms begin to worsen. I love how this book called out a lot of the stigma that exists surrounding soldiers with PTSD and I’m glad something so significant was brought up in a skillful way that in no way diminishes its importance. Mitchell and Bryn are both fully fleshed out characters that I think many will enjoy reading about and getting to know them.

Another aspect of East in Paradise I loved was the family vibes. We get to see both Bryn’s and Mitchell’s family, and despite none of them being perfect, I love how authentic it feels to see them come with their two cents about the entire ordeal of the plot. It’s also very clear how much Bryn and Mitchell care about their families and thus also care about what the other’s family thinks of them. Another plus was the main characters Camille and Drew from North to You made multiple cameo appearances (which was not surprising considering we were introduced to Bryn in North to You since she’s Drew’s cousin). As for future installments, the information about who the third book is about is still unknown. However, I’d really like to see the next book be about Victoria (Bryn’s sister) or Cody (Mitchell’s brother) since I fell in love with them both from what we saw in East in Paradise.

All in all, I love how Tif Marcelo has brought us two amazing foodie romances that will make you swoon. East in Paradise has the best romance and an amazing cast of characters to get invested in. I love how this book is both light and funny yet still manages to tackle important topics that I can imagine are often just brushed over. If you’re a lover of romance, food, wine and that classic “and they lived happily ever after” then you need East in Paradise on your TBR. Nothing beats a really good romance read and this book is definitely it.

signature9

ARC Review of Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

illegalcontact1

illegalcontact1Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Publication Date: August 15, 2017.

Publisher: InterMix.

Genres: Romance, Sports, LGBT, and Contemporary.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

galaxyreview

Thank you, InterMix, for my e-ARC of Illegal Contact. 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.

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell has become one of my favorite romance reads of the year and has shown me how romance is done right. This dislike to love story between Gavin and Noah will surprise you and draw you in like you never saw coming. If you want a sports romance between two men that manages to be both cute, sexy and has that little extra look no further. Illegal Contact is it for you. As my first Santino Hassell book, Illegal Contact has cemented me as a fan and I need to read the rest of Hassell’s work as soon as I can.

“If you think my image is shitty now, just wait until a housekeeper or a PA finds out I like fucking guys. Gavin Brawley, the Barons’ alpha asshole, being bisexual will be a lot more sensational than golden boy Simeon experimenting at the club while wasted.”

My favorite part about Illegal Contact is definitely the characters. We have Gavin Brawley who is an American football player who is under house arrest because of an aggressive encounter. However, despite the first impression the world has of Gavin we soon learn there is so much more to him. First of all, he’s bisexual, something he has kept a secret because of how homophobic the football world is. Moreover, what the world doesn’t see is that Gavin is loyal and would do anything to protect his friends and teammates, his chosen family. Not to mention, despite being a very angry and blunt person Gavin has a soft side that you get to see more and more of as the story progresses. My friends and I have unofficially dubbed Gavin as a bisexual king. He’s just, you know, so majestic. There is also Noah Monroe, the other main character, a gay man, who only wants to do good in this world and help LGBT youth. He’s also not afraid to call it like it is and is a total badass at times. However, after an awful incident, he’s without a job, in need of money, and decides to apply for the job as Gavin’s personal assistant. Noah who knows nothing about football is nerdy and loves to read books. In a lot of ways, Gavin and Noah are such different people but as they grow closer and closer they find that there is a lot of common ground between them.

“The warmth in my chest and butterflies in my gut made it plain as day that my miserable ass really fucking liked him. In the hand-holding kind of way, not just the ass-pounding way.”

This leads me to the romance between Gavin and Noah, and let me tell you, it’s simply amazing. I mean they have such amazing banter, which is heightened because of the whole ordeal of them disliking each other in the beginning. Everything just progresses from that. You can slowly see them falling in love with each other and the readers know this is real love even before the characters themselves do. It’s so precious, they’re so precious, this is everything I could ever want from a good romance. I love how these men become all soft for each other, they just want to be there for each other and love one another. It’s so beautiful. At first sight, they look like they could never be a match but towards the end you know there is no better pair than Gavin and Noah.

Moreover, there is also a lot about sports in this book (since you know it’s a sports romance) and I love how Illegal Contact really called out how homophobic and toxic the football community is but also showed us how being a team is about teamwork, commitment, and family. The book also discusses how white sports media is and how in sports calendars the majority of players shown are white and how that does not represent what teams actually look like. Illegal Contact shows you both the good and the bad about the sports world and does so in a way I think many will appreciate.

All in all, if you want a quality romance novel about two men falling in love then look no further. Illegal Contact is funny, sweet and hot and is a perfect blend of everything you could wish for in a sports romance. This m/m story will knock you off your feet and have you singing your praises before you hit the halfway mark. You deserve this content in your life, make sure you put Illegal Contact on your radar.

signature9

ARC Review of The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

theheartswesold1.png

theheartswesold1

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Publication Date: August 8, 2017.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Science Fiction.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Purchase here: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

galaxyreview

Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for my advanced review copy of The Hearts We Sold. 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.

Emily Lloyd-Jones’s novel The Heart We Sold is an amazing book and for me, it has cemented her as an author you should have on your radar. There are so many aspects of The Hearts We Sold I love and the fact that I went into this book with little to no expectations and hints of what would happen just made the journey all that more entertaining, beautiful, and heartbreaking. Readers should be aware, this story is both soft and dark: you will laugh, cry and swoon, and the ending is not your typical “and so they all lived happily ever after” because that is not the kind of story The Hearts We Sold is. This is a dark tale where there’s danger, and girls become knights in shining armor to fight demons and monsters, both literally and figuratively, and nothing is guaranteed or as it first seems.

But Dee was not angry.

She had walked willingly into a fairy tale, in a world where she could trade her heart for her freedom. She may as well have donned a red cloak and strode into a darkened forest.

She had always known there would be wolves.

I chose this.

The Hearts We Sold is about Deirdre “Dee” Moreno who goes to boarding school to escape her parents who are alcohol addicts and have emotionally abused her during a large part of her childhood. When she loses her scholarship due to budget cuts she is put in a difficult situation. With nowhere else to turn she goes to a demon. Demons are a daily part of the world in The Hearts We Sold where they grant wishes in exchange for body parts. Because of her situation, Dee does the unthinkable, she trades her heart in exchange for money so that she can continue to attend her school. After the deal is made, she is introduced to the demon’s troop, a group of heartless teens who are supposed to do the demon’s bidding for two years, in which he has their hearts. When their two-year period is over, the teens get their hearts, and their freedom, back.

James’s expression softened. “Look, I get it. You’re panicking right now.” He edged closer, until she had no choice but to look him in the eye. He made a motion as if to touch her arm, but then his hand fell away. “A demon just ripped your heart out. By all rules of the universe, you should be dead. I should be dead. But you know what we’re going to do in the meantime?”

“What?”

“Live,” he said.

I feel that what makes this book so amazing is definitely the characters. The main character Dee, who is Latino, really has been through a lot in her life and has never been able to rely on anyone. However, throughout this book, we see her meet James and form a connection, a friendship, and something more. James is an artist, he paints and he’s really good at it. He’s soft, funny, and kind, and I love how good Dee and James are for each other. However, despite the soft and cute romance that grows between Dee and James in this book, I would not call this book a romance novel.

Except for Dee and James, there were also a lot of other characters that played a large role in this book, and I love how diverse this group of teens was. There is Cora, a black girl and one fourth of the heartless troop, and Gremma, who is Dee’s boarding school roommate, a lesbian, and a total badass, and Riley, a trans girl who shows up towards the end of the book and who complements the group in the best way. This book is about relationships, survival, love, and trust, but most of all about friendships. You will, ultimately, root for these characters because of how close you feel to them and their connections with each other.

The Hearts We Sold is perfect for readers who love young adult books that feature the supernatural and high stakes, with characters you can relate to and will fall in love with. This book will surprise you, break your heart, and leave you with an ending that is bittersweet. However, you will love every minute of it. Make a deal with a demon, and get yourself a copy of The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. 

signature9

ARC Review of The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman

thequeensgame1.png

thequeensgame1.jpg

The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman

Publication Date: August 1, 2017.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: Romance.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: There are only two reasons why Nina would come back home to Cincamarre–one, if Auntie Delia promises to stop butting into her business, two, if her father died and she was made to ascend the throne to be queen.

Unfortunately for her, it was the second thing that brought her home.

As a princess who’s sunk a yacht and been caught kissing popstars, it’s easy for her aunt, the regent, to think she’s ill prepared for the throne. But Nina doesn’t think that having to fake date Felipe, the handsome, squeaky clean Prince of Concordia was the best solution for that.

Nina’s ready to learn the ropes of her new role and make it hers, and reconnecting with Felipe only makes her want to be a better queen. But is the monarchy ready for Queen Nina?

galaxyreview

Thank you, Carla de Guzman, for my advanced review copy of The Queen’s Game. 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 am in love with The Queen’s Game and this contemporary romance story featuring Filipino main characters. As soon as I saw the blurb I knew I had to read it. I have a weak spot for contemporary royalty and mix that with #romanceclass and you know it’s a winner. This story features a princess, Nina, and a prince, Felipe, who grew up side by side because of their neighboring nations, Cincamarre and Concordia. Later on, in life, they reunite when Nina returns after several years of travel to attend her father’s, the king’s, funeral. What then begins is a story of a fake relationship that turns into something real. This book has royalty, fake dating and childhood friends; this book has it all.

As the prince and princess of neighboring nations, born in the same year, the Royal Houses of Mercado and Macasaet thought it would be cute if their equally royal children grew up together. No promise of engagement, no particular political reason except that the children looked so darn cute together.

 I love how Nina, who despite dealing with the loss of her father, is so strong and fierce. She is about to become queen in a nation where very few know who she really is. All they are aware of is what the media has been feeding them through various scandals. I love how Nina just embraces her past and her scandals. Nina is a rebel but she’s also kind and cares about her people, which becomes so clear when she’s finally back in her home nation of Cincamarre. There is also Felipe, the prince in charge of Concordia. He loves farming and everything that has to do with nature. He’s sexy, sweet, and modest but also very clumsy. I love how passionate he is about the things and people he loves and you can clearly see that he is a great ruler and an amazing person who cares deeply about the people he is in charge of.

“There’s only one thing I’ve done recently that makes me as happy as this does.”

“What?” She asked him, tilting her head.

“Spending time with you,” he said, smiling with that cocky little grin of his again.

I love the dynamic and banter that exists between Nina and Felipe. I love it when they flirt with each other and tease one another. However, there is also this soft side to their relationship. Felipe writes Nina love letters where he expresses his feelings for her and both Nina and Felipe are very supportive of one another. I love how Felipe sees Nina in a way that others don’t and he believes in her from the beginning until the very end. He lifts her up and reminds of her of what she already knows deep inside; she is meant to become a queen. Another aspect of Nina and Felipe’s relationship I really loved was how they talked about sex. Nina calls out the fact that sex should not have to shameful or something you have to wait until marriage for if you don’t want to. Sex can be pleasurable and fun and Nina embraced that in the most amazing way which made Nina’s and Felipe’s relationship that much more admirable.

If you love diverse books, romance, and contemporary royalty then The Queen’s Game is a perfect match for you. This book is funny, sweet, and sexy and will make you want more by the end of it. There is fake dating, rule breaking, and even a little bit of scheming. You don’t have to wait any longer, the contemporary royalty romance novel you’ve always waited for is here and ready to be read. Long live the queen!

signature9

ARC Review of Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

littleandlion1.png

littleandlion1

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Publication Date: August 8, 2017.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Illness, and Romance.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert.

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

galaxyreview

Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for my advanced review copy of Little & Lion. 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.

Little & Lion is my favorite read this year and truth to be told, I love it in a way that is hard for me to describe. There are some books that you read that you just know will mean a lot to you and Little & Lion was definitely that for me. When I heard this book was being released, many months ago, I just knew I had to read it. My expectations were sky-high and for that reason, I was also scared to start it. However, as it turns out, the book exceeded all of my expectations.

Little & Lion is about Suzette, a black Jewish bisexual girl still trying to figure out who she is, and her brother Lionel, who is bipolar. Suzette and Lionel’s bond was formed as kids when Suzette’s mom, Nadine, and Lionel’s dad, Saul, started dating and then after two years decided to join their families and merge households. Despite the fact that there is a large dose of romance in this book, both for Suzette and for Lionel, Little & Lion is about family and Suzette’s and Lionel’s relationship as siblings. Their relationship is not always easy, especially with Lionel’s bipolar disorder. There are disagreements, secrets, and even distance. However, there is also so much love between the two. It’s clear that Suzette and Lionel’s bond is special and beautiful, which is further highlighted through flashback chapters, and I love that we got to see both the good and the bad of their relationship. It makes you root for them both that much more. Suzette and Lionel are characters you can relate to, and you will definitely question and cheer for decisions both of them make throughout the book. However, despite it all, by the end of it, they are in a good place with each other which is what I loved the most.

“It’s no big deal.” He looks at his feet, sticking up beneath the covers. “You’re my sisters.”

I know that’s what he’s saying every time he calls me Little—acknowledging that we’re siblings, even if we’re not related by blood. But I like hearing him say it so plainly. It makes me think there’ll never be a time when we question our bond.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of romance in this book and lots of drama that surrounds it. There is somewhat of a love square (instead of a triangle) at one point in the story, and I feel like it was done in such a way that it just made sense for the story and the characters. These teens are figuring out who they are, who they want to love and be and what that says about them. Teenage love is new and exciting and confusing, and it deserves to be just that. This also leads to me into Suzette and her bisexuality. First of all, I love how this story called out bisexual stereotypes and misconceptions. However, my favorite part of the story was definitely how we get to see Suzette realize that she is, in fact, bisexual. The reader gets to see Suzette’s doubts and thoughts, where she tries to decipher what her feelings for both girls and boys mean, and I think that will be meaningful for a lot of readers. Figuring out who you are is not always easy or instant, and I love how Little & Lion showed that.

Honestly, there is so much to love about Little & Lion. I love the way it makes me feel, I love that it made me both laugh and cry, and I love that there are so many characters to love in this book. Two people have gone unmentioned so far are the two love interests, Rafaela and Emil. I especially fell in love with Emil, who is black and Korean, because he is literally the sweetest guy ever. Moreover, another aspect I love about Little & Lion is what an important aspect Suzette’s Judaism had in the story. Suzette has to deal with a lot because of Jewish stereotypes that exist, particularly what it means to be both black and Jewish. However, she also mentions how her Judaism is her connection to Saul, her stepfather, and how she’s proud of it, and I thought that was really beautiful.

All in all, I love this story and recommend it to everyone who loves young adult literature (but also if you don’t, trust me, you won’t regret it). This book means a lot to me and even if this review appears to be coherent, I honestly just want to fangirl and scream over how much I adore this book. I will recommend this book for a long time to come and I’m sure I will be rereading my favorite parts whenever I want to experience the joyous feeling this book gave me, all over again. Don’t miss out on getting to know Suzette and Lionel, Little and Lion, and make sure this book is on your radar and TBR.

signature9

{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! 

theseafarerskiss2

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.

Seafarers-Kiss-1600px-FRONT-Smashwords-Amazon.jpg

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Publication Date: May 4, 2017.

Publisher: Duet Books.

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, and Mermaids.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

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.

galaxyreview

Thank you, Julia Ember, for my advanced reader’s copy of The Seafarer’s Kiss. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion.

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.

signature9

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

howtomakeawish2

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: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

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.

galaxyreview

Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, for my eARC of How to Make a Wish. 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.

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.

signature9

{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

thepathswechoose2

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.

big-cover-the-paths-we-choose

The Paths We Choose by M. Hollis

Publication Date: April 6, 2017.

Publisher: Independently published.

Genres: New Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, and Romance.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

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.

galaxyreview

Thank you, Maria Hollis, for my advanced review copy of The Paths We Choose. 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 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.

signature9

ARC Review of A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

acrownofwishes2

acrownofwishes1.jpgA Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Publication Date: March 28, 2017.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Genres: Fantasy and Young Adult.

Rating: 587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png587264602.png

Selling points: Lyrical writing, amazing and fleshed out characters and magical world.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

galaxyreview

Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin, for my eARC of A Crown of Wishes. 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.

A Crown of Wishes is a magical story that follows the Fox Prince and the Jewel of Bharata through a Tournament of Wishes with them seeking and fighting for their dreams and hopes. Roshani Chokshi with her lyrical writing has a way of pulling you in and making you feel every word on the page, every smell, touch, and feeling as if it were your own. If you love fantasy you are guaranteed to love this book, but even if fantasy is not what you usually read I know the writing and the characters in A Crown of Wishes will sweep you away like the wind.

“This was a fight. I would fight to win and fight to return. And that hope, to have something to fight for once more, grew wings inside me.”

Except for the writing, the characters are really what made me love A Crown of Wishes as much as I did. Vikram and Gauri are from enemy kingdoms and together have to fight in a Tournament of Wishes where everything is at stake: their dreams, hopes, and fears. Their journey will push them to their limits and take them to places they never saw coming, both in this magical new world, they are discovering and within themselves.

First of all, we have Vikram, a prince about to be king in name only in his kingdom Ujijain. He’s courageous, witty and charming, with lots of hope and faith in himself and his abilities. Gauri on the other hand, the Jewel of Bharata and the exiled princess, whom Vikram calls Beastly Girl is a mixture of sweet and vicious. You could say she is a series of contradictions but her flaws are so genuine and relatable you can do nothing but love her. She has grit in every bone of her body, but her heart and soul have a soft and tender side that comes out in painfully human moments. They are both forced to work together, having been mere enemies a few moments earlier, and through their journey, they get to know each other and learn to trust one another in ways they never saw coming. There is undeniable chemistry between Vikram and Gauri which is seen both in their most dangerous moments and the discreet moments just between the two of them. Another character I really fell in love with is Aasha, though she plays a much smaller part in the book than both Vikram and Gauri she truly captures your attention and makes you want to see more of her. She is curious and kind, and will always lend you a helping hand.

All in all, this amazing fantasy book deserves all of the praise in the world. I’m still awestruck by the writing and doubt anything I write in my review will ever do it justice. The lyrical writing we see in A Crown of Wishes is breathtaking and rare and will make you fall in love with every word you read. If you are looking for a book with a detailed and interesting plot with well-developed characters and beautiful writing then look no further. A Crown of Wishes is filled with culture and lush descriptions and is a must read Young Adult Fantasy book this spring.

signature9