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Blog Tours Book Reviews

The Essential Carl Mahogany – Blog Tour and Book Review

To see all of the awesome blogs featuring Carl Mahogany, click here.

Title: The Essential Carl Mahogany

Author: Zach Boddicker

Pages: 270

Genre: Fiction, Neo-Western

Publisher: Last Chance Press

Published: March 24, 2017

 

Summary:

What can an award-winning Nashville singer-songwriter learn about himself by agreeing to a best-of tour in a beat up old van? If it means getting out from under the thumb of a label that considers him washed up, he’s willing to find out. At least until an ex-lover wants to come along for the ride.

Carl Mahogany’s not your average protagonist. In the practiced drawl of the aging country singer, and echoing Edward Abbey’s Henry Lightcap, Boddicker takes us across the country in an Americana-steeped journey through Mahogany’s roots. Encounters with old friends and lovers, including the Eisenhower Interstate System, a firecracker tenured professor, former bandmates, and a down-to-earth small town mechanic, shake the dust out of Mahogany’s creases to revision his life.

If a lifetime of travel, songwriting and performing equates to learning to work with the monsters inside us, The Essential Carl Mahogany is that journey. Grab a six pack, settle into the cushions, and come along for the ride.

Add to Goodreads

Continue reading to see my review of The Essential Carl Mahogany 

Categories
Book Boyfriends Book Reviews contemporary romance ya fiction

Lucky in Love – Book Review

Title: Lucky in Love

Author: Kasie West

Pages: 333 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: July 25, 2017

Summary:

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Review:

 

I was so excited for this book when I heard about it. I’ve read a few of Kasie’s books and I absolutely loved them. So when I got a chance to read Lucky in Love, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to fall in love with this book. I liked it okay, but I have quite a few problems with this book.

Maddie, our main character, is likable. She’s smart. She works hard for what she wants, and has a close group of friends. But once she wins the lottery and has $30+ million at her disposal, she makes a lot of bad decisions. She says she’ll go see a financial advisor as soon as the money comes through, yet she puts it off over and over again. She lets people talk her into giving them money for the stupidest things. The more bad decisions Maddie made, the slower I found myself reading. I have very little patience for stupidity, and Maddie is just so darn trusting and gullible. When I had about 50 pages left, I seriously considered not finishing because I just couldn’t deal with Maddie any more.

The crazy thing is, though Maddie’s instincts when it comes to giving people money absolutely suck, her instincts about people in general are pretty spot on. Which makes it so much more difficult to believe that she’s making such bad choices. I fully believe that she has the best intentions, and that she just needs a little help. Nevertheless, it was still tough to read. A contemporary that’s as long as Lucky in Love takes me less than a day to read usually. This, however, took me three whole days to get through.

There were some redeeming aspects to Maddie. She does give each of her parents and her brother a million dollars apiece, to help with their financial struggles. She thinks that this will fix all of her problems (i.e. her parents’ marital issues and her brother’s depression over not being able to continue college because of money), and while the money makes things better for a while, it’s only a temporary fix.

I did really like the romance in this book, which is probably why I rated this book as high as I did. I loved that Seth and Maddie didn’t have instalove, and their romance developed throughout the course of the entire novel. Their romance is really cute, and gave me all of the feels.

Overall, I didn’t hate this book, but I wanted to smack some sense into Maddie so many times that it made it a bit difficult to get through at times. I give Lucky in Love 3/5 stars. Definitely not my favorite book of Kasie West’s.

Categories
Book Reviews contemporary romance ya fiction

What to Say Next – Book Review

Title: What to Say Next

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Pages: 272 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: July 11, 2017

Summary:

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Review:

 

I was so excited when I got an ARC of this book. If you’ve read my review of Tell Me Three Things, then you know how much I absolutely love Julie Buxbaum’s writing. I went into What to Say Next with pretty high expectations, and I wasn’t disappointed. I flew through this book so quickly, and instantly fell in love with the characters.

The first thing that I fell in love with about this book was the diversity of the characters. Both of the main characters in this novel are diverse: David is on the Autism spectrum, and Kit is half Indian. While each of these characters are unique, their personalities work extremely well together. Seeing their friendship develop throughout the book made me love these two so much. You know those books where you never want to leave the characters behind, even after the story is long over? This is most definitely one of those books. Kit and David’s story sucks you in and leaves you feeling so many emotions.

I also really loved the alternating perspectives in this book. It helps to show the back and forth between Kit and David, as well as what they are both thinking and feeling as things happen between them. Especially in some scenes, it was so great to see both sides of the story and really understand how things can be meant to come off a certain way, but are completely changed by someone else’s perspective on the matter.

I give What to Say Next 5/5 stars. On a side note, I am absolutely LOVING all of the diverse reads that we have been getting lately, and all I can say is “Give me more, please!”

Categories
Book Boyfriends Book Reviews contemporary romance ya fiction

Tell Me Three Things – Book Review

Title: Tell Me Three Things

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Pages: 328 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: April 5, 2016

Summary:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Review:

 

I am utterly obsessed with this book. From the very first page, I fell so hard for the story and  the characters. If I’m being completely honest, I really only picked this book up because the cover was adorable, and I thought it would make a great addition to photos on my bookstagram. But Tell Me Three Things is so much more than just a cute cover.

“My voice is smiling. I didn’t even know it could do that.”

-Tell Me Three Things, Julie Buxbaum

Buxbaum’s writing is so incredible. She manages to put words to thoughts and feelings that I’ve felt, but definitely couldn’t have described as eloquently. So many times throughout this book, I related to Jessie on such a deep level. It was almost as if Buxbaum had gone into my head, lived there for a while, and then wrote a character based off of her time there. There is really something special in reading about a character who you relate to so completely. Buxbaum also does a fantastic job of capturing an outsider’s perspective of Los Angeles and all of the weird, “trendy” things that people are into. I’ve lived near LA my entire life and I’m still amazed by some of the things that are considered completely normal here.

The characters in Tell Me Three Things are so lovable. Jessie has a lot of development throughout the book, and grows in so many ways. She is such a strong character who is undeniably herself. She is funny and witty, and I saw so much of myself in her character. There are also some very swoon-worthy guys in this book, and one who stands out above all the rest.

I also really loved the game that Jessie and Somebody/Nobody had where they would tell each other three things that the other didn’t know. It was such a cute way for them to get to know one another. Tell Me Three Things basically turned me into a big ball of feels, and I want to read it over and over until the end of time. I give it 5/5 stars, and recommend it to EVERYONE. Seriously, do yourself a favor and go read this book.

Categories
Book Reviews contemporary romance ya fiction

#famous – Book Review

Title: #famous

Author: Jilly Gagnon

Pages: 384 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Published: February 14, 2017

Summary:

In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Review:

#famous is an adorable story about a girl whose crush goes from a secret between her and her friend, to something that the entire internet knows about I’m just a few hours. Rachel is a girl who likes to stay under the radar. She’s quirky, and by no means someone who would be considered popular. So needless to say she’s pretty stunned when her post with a photo of Kyle goes viral. After all, she only has 20-something followers.

Once the photo goes viral, it doesn’t take long for Kyle to figure out who posted it. People, both online and at school, are bullying Rachel for dreaming to believe that someone as weird as she is could possibly get someone like Kyle. Kyle ends up getting a ton of positive attention from the incident, while Rachel gets a ton of crap because she’s not some beautiful, perfect supermodel type. This book does a wonderful job of portraying the different ways that women and men are treated in the media.

One aspect that I really loved about this book was the bits about the story being picked up on a talk show, which is basically the book’s equivalent of the Ellen show, and turned into a recurring segment on the show. As someone who studied broadcast communications and knows how the whole television business works, it is always fun to read about characters appearing on tv shows.

There were so many times throughout this book where I just wanted to yell at the characters. If only they would open their eyes and see what was so clearly right in front of them. But alas, that would be too easy.

I think one of the main things that readers should get from this book is that you never really know what is going to happen once you post something on the internet. After all, Rachel obviously didn’t expect her photo to go viral. I know we hear things like this all the time, but it’s so important to think about what we post on the internet, and the potential consequences that these things may have.

I listened to the audiobook of this, which I rather enjoyed, because there is a narrator for each perspective in the book. It really helped to add to the overall effect, because the story is told by both Rachel and Kyle. I give #famous 3.75/5 stars. It was a fun, quick read that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Categories
Book Reviews science fiction ya fiction

Replica – Book Review

Title: Replica

Author: Lauren Oliver

Pages: 520 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Published: October 4, 2016

Summary:

Lyra

From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.

Gemma

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Review:

I love the unique way that this story was told! Instead of the book being told in alternating chapters to tell both stories, each half of the book is dedicated to one character. That means that the book can be read in numerous ways. I chose to read a chapter from Lyra, then a chapter from Gemma, alternating throughout the whole novel. I really liked each girl’s perspective. By the time I made it to the end of a chapter, I was so immersed that I wanted to keep reading, and not switch chapters. But as soon as I switched, I was right back into that perspective too.

This book really looks at what makes someone human. Is it the ability to love? The ability to feel emotion? The ability to make your own choices? All of these questions are explored throughout the novel. And while we may not come out of the novel with a clearer idea of the answer to this question, I never really expected that. After all, it isn’t really an easy question to answer. There really isn’t just one thing that makes someone human. It’s a combination of all of the things we are that add up to the big picture.

One of the things that I wasn’t a huge fan of was Gemma’s lack of value of herself. She is a little overweight, and by the sound of it, it’s not as if she is morbidly obese, she just has a little extra weight that all of the “perfect” size zero girls at her school don’t. But once Gemma finds a boy who is attracted to her, she suddenly becomes okay with herself. It’s problematic thinking.

It was very interesting to see that this world exists in our own world, and not some far off fantasy world. It really makes you wonder just what goes on out in the world that most people would never believe is real.

I enjoyed this book, and have started reading the sequel, Ringer, which comes out in October. Expect my review of Ringer closer to the publishing date, but so far I’m enjoying it even more than I liked Replica. I give Replica 4/5 stars.

Categories
contemporary TBR

My June TBR

So far this year, I have read 76 books! That’s just crazy to me, seeing as though last year I read 82 books. So this year I decided to set my Goodreads challenge to 100 books, and I’m on track to almost double that as of now. So I’m pretty impressed with myself.  I am notoriously bad at sticking to my TBR though, so this is really more like a wishlist.  Click through to see what books I’ll be tackling this month.

Categories
Book Reviews contemporary romance ya fiction

I Believe in a Thing Called Love – Book Review

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Author: Maurene Goo

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Published: May 30, 2017

Summary:

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 never had a B. But in her charmed school life, there’s one thing missing—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a known disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet. When the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides it’s time to tackle her flirting failures. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has watched obsessively for years—in which the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. All’s fair in love and Korean dramas, right? But when the fun and games turn to feelings, Desi finds out that real-life love is about way more than just drama.

Review:

This book is one of my new favorite contemporaries! From the moment I picked this book up, I didn’t want to put it down. I Believe in a Thing Called Love is sweet and funny. Desi Lee is great at all things, except when it comes to boys. Her friends have lovingly coined the term “flailing” when it comes to Desi flirting: flirt failing. I could relate so much to Desi, because I, too, excel when there is a set list of “rules” for something. When things are left up to chance, Desi fails miserably, and often embarrassingly.

I’ve never seen a K drama before, but after reading I Believe in a Thing Called Love and seeing all of Desi’s “K Drama Rules for True Love,” I feel like I understand the genre a lot more, and might actually appreciate it if I were to go watch some of them. There’s even a handy guide at the end of the novel for getting into K dramas, based off of what genre you’re looking for, which I found to be really unique and helpful.

Have you ever watched a show or read a book that you knew was going to end in a huge disaster, and were just waiting for the bomb to go off? That’s what this book was for me. I just had this feeling that all of Desi’s ridiculous manipulations to try and snag Luca were going to end terribly! I mean, she makes some horrible decisions throughout the book, that no sane person could possible come up with, but I think that she also learns a lot about herself through the course of the book.

Maurene’s writing style is one that I really like. It’s engaging, funny, and kept me immersed within the story. The friendships that her characters share are absolutely amazing, and they are so supportive of one another. I constantly found myself wishing that I had friends like Fiona and Wes.

I give I Believe in a Thing Called Love 4.5/5 stars. Thanks so much to Maureen Goo for the ARC of this book, I couldn’t have been more pleased with it!

Categories
Book Reviews dystopian fantasy science fiction ya fiction

True North – Book Review

To see all of the great blogs featuring True Born and True North on this blog tour, click on the banner above!

Title: True North

Author: L. E. Sterling

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Published: April 4, 2017

Summary:

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.??

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

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Review:

If you haven’t read my review of the first book in the series, True Born, be sure to go check that out HERE.

True North returns readers to Dominion City, where the plague is continuing to wipe out the population. While I generally enjoyed this book just as I did the first one, there were a few issues that I had with it.

First, for a good chunk of the book, I felt like nothing was happening. Yes, I was reading words and some things were going on, but there was no advancement to the plot. The pace in the beginning of the book was slow and dragged on, causing me to wonder when something was actually going to happen. However, once things did start happening, it hooked my attention again and kept me hungry for more.

I love that this series explores a world that could conceivably be in the not too distant future, with such vast differences from the world we currently live in. While it’s hard for me to fathom that the world could one day have completely new countries, it’s entirely possible. After all, I’m sure the Romans thought they would be on top forever too.

In this book we get to see a lot more of the politics and the inner workings of the Upper Circle, which was very interesting. This really helped me to understand what kind of world Lucy is a part of, and just what motivates the characters in this novel.

I think that True North is an okay sequel to a great first novel. I’m not completely in love, but there is definitely enough intrigue to keep me reading to the third book when it comes out. I give True North 3/5 stars.

Categories
Book Reviews dystopian fantasy science fiction ya fiction

True Born – Book Review

To see all of the great blogs featuring True Born and True North on this blog tour, click on the banner above!

Title: True Born

Author: L. E. Sterling

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Published: May 3, 2016

Summary:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

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Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve visited some dystopian fiction, but I was very excited to dive into this book and see where its pages took me. I’ve had this book on my iPad for ages now but unfortunately had never gotten around to reading it. But then I saw that book two in the trilogy (True North) was coming out so I finally picked this up, and I am glad I did.

I think that it was very interesting to see a dystopian/plague-type novel from the perspective of an upper-class person, as I feel like most of the time with these novels we are only privy to the perspectives of the lower classes who are struggling the most. The rich perspective was done in such a way that didn’t feel like it was trying too hard to be what it was. Oftentimes, a perspective like this sounds unbelievable and overdone, but L.E. Sterling really managed to capture the tone and mood of the upper class as they perceive themselves, as opposed to an outsider-looking-in perspective,

Lucy and Margot are twins who were conjoined at birth, by a small area on their toes. And all those rumors you hear about twins being able to feel each other’s pain and whatnot are actually true with Lucy and Margot. They use this special connection to communicate with one another, and can also tell when the other is in danger, which comes in handy quite a few times throughout the novel. I thought that the connection between the sisters added something to the novel that helped to make the reader feel things for the sisters more deeply.

As with any YA book, there’s usually a love interest, and for our dear Lucy, this comes in the form of True Born Jared Price. From the moment Lucy lays eyes on him, she is intrigued by him (hello, insta-love!) yet once she gets to know him she finds herself rather annoyed by some of his behaviors. While I overall liked his character, I hated how he and Lucy were constantly hot and cold with one another. It seemed as though neither could make up their mind about how they felt about the other, and were constantly flip-flopping between liking one another and hating the other’s guts.

There were a few times throughout the novel where I got a bit confused as to what was going on with the story. This could be because some things just needed to be fleshed out a little more, or perhaps there are a few sentences that just needed some reworking. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed True Born and I am very excited to see what the sequel has in store about tying up the many questions I am now left with. I give True Born a solid 4/5 stars.

Be sure to look out for my review of True North, coming on Tuesday, April 25th.