Review: Atheists Who Kneel and Pray

Title: Atheists Who Kneel and Pray
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Genre: New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: July 13, 2017
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Yara Phillips is a wandering muse.

She dates men who need her, but always moves on to something new, never staying in one place for very long.

David Lisey is in need of a muse.

A talented musician lacking lyrical inspiration. When he first sees her, he knows he’s found what he’s been looking for.

Yara believes she can give David exactly what he needs to reach his full potential:
A broken heart.

David’s religion is love.

Yara’s religion is heartache.

Neither is willing to surrender, but religion always requires sacrifice.

This was my first book by Tarryn Fisher and HOLY. FREAKING. HELL. I’m in love.

Maybe it’s ’cause I’m crazy and insecure and an absolute mess too, but Yara is my spirit animal. Her journey to discovering herself is long, hard, and full of pain, and I was present for every second. There’s something about Tarryn’s writing that doesn’t allow you skim pass any details. Everything mattered and it was beautiful. So much of what Tarryn wrote about Yara’s psyche and her choices, and why, why, why she does what she does just resonated with me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a character who I just understood so easily. I’m rambling now, but my goodness my heart hurts.

David is perfect. He is everything I want, have already found, and yet dismiss as easily as Yara. Again, the details – all the looks, the quirks, the little things about relationships that are so often missed in romance books today were all there for me to consume and store away. It wasn’t just that he was present in her life, or their sex was fantastic, or that he was a brooding man who needed a girl to come change him. He was always present, in body, mind, and spirit with Yara and had this innate understanding of who Yara was. There was so much to his character and yet not enough. I was always hungry to know more about him, his life, and his thoughts. And I got just that (thank you to whoever thought of putting multiple perspectives ’cause it worked so so well here). His character bled music and feeling. They say artists feel more than normal people do, but with David I got it. I understand what that means now.

I have so much to say without the words to say it. All I know is that this wasn’t simply a romance. It was a book about self-discovery and understanding yourself before you give yourself away. It was beautiful, heart-wrenching, and real, and next time I’m in a bookstore, I’m grabbing another Tarryn Fisher book to read.

Side note: I’m giving this book a 5/5. I do this with a lot of books, but I mean it so much more than I usually do with this one. Honestly, if you have a chance, it’s amazing.

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pace: 4/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.4/5

Book Tour + Review: Just Friends

Welcome to the Just Friends Book Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: Just Friends
Author: Tiffany Pitcock
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.

Buy Links:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

Review:

As a debut novel, it was pretty good. The subjects broached here are real and hard to deal with and I think Pitcock really treated them with respect and care.

The book starts off a little oddly. Immediately, we have a sense of who the characters are and we get a odd game of pretend. It’s weird. I can’t really see a “good girl” and a “bad boy” doing that together and doing it well. That being said, you immediately see some of the chemistry the characters have with each other. Broaching the subject of “bad boy” and “good girl”, I can’t say they needed the labels. Chance was kind of a player, but there was nothing really “bad” about him. This definitely wasn’t a Katie McGarry sitch where the he’s part of a gang or the wrong side of town, he was just hot and girls liked him. Back to their chemistry though, the characters played off each other well, and I felt like their relationship was really natural.

The story itself was good. Labels aside, the characters were pretty down to earth and seeing into their worlds really brought the story to life. My heart actually hurt for some of them, ’cause honestly life sucks, but they dealt with it well enough. To be honest though, a lot of the story and problems the characters had could have easily been solved with this magical thing called communication. It was all just assumptions, overheard conversations, and jealousy, though I guess that’s kind of what high school is anyway. I don’t know guys, was high school really like this for you guys??

One thing that always drives me bananas is when the protag ditches her best friend for a guy. I get that it was a little different here, but her best friend plays a very peripheral role in this book, and she even states that she never sees Jenny anymore.

After typing all that out, you wouldn’t know what’s good about that novel, but honestly, there was something in the writing that kept me reading. The chemistry between the characters is great and the banter is funny, and as a whole, this book made me feel for the characters and their experiences. Is it a little cliche, sure. Is it super deep, not really. But I think it’s a good book to keep you company because you can’t help but smile while reading it.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.76

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

23. Writer. Reader. Sarcastic.

I was born and raised in Arkansas, which isn’t terribly exciting. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I used to sit in class and write stories in my notebooks, thinking that everyone did. It turns out, everyone didn’t. I love writing because it means I’m putting my thoughts, feelings, and soul out there for someone else to read – for someone else to feel. The fact that someone can read my words, and empathize with my characters – characters that wouldn’t exist with out me, that I created from my mind – is such a wonderful concept to me. I could happily write for the rest of my life as long as there was one person out there who was affected by my words.

Author Links:
GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Enter to win a print copy of Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock! Open to US/CAN.

Book Blast: Dating the It Guy

Welcome to the Dating the It Guy Book Blast, hosted by I Am A Reader!~

Title: Dating the It Guy
Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Buy Link:
Amazon

Excerpt:

He put the magazine between us, and when I moved forward to see it, he put his arm across the back of my chair. Now lots of guys did put their arms on chair backs, even Kirk did that with Rory, and he definitely wasn’t interested in her, but I couldn’t help but hope it meant something. I got this shivery feeling, and he asked if I was cold. I shook my head. I always got a feeling before something major was about to happen, and it has nothing to do with being cold, but I didn’t know why I got the feeling. Grandma used to do the same thing and always said, “Somebody just walked across my grave.” Somehow I didn’t think Brendon would understand if I told him I needed to move my future burial plot to a less high-traffic area.
“Are we still on for the art fair?” he asked.
I had only been circling it with hearts on my calendar since he asked.
“Sure, I think I’m still free,” I said.
We finished up our work, and he walked me out to meet Kylie.
“Okay, I’ll pick you up at three tomorrow,” he said, walking off.
“Can I ask a stupid question?” Kylie asked as soon as Brendon was out of earshot. “What’s he like? Because he’s so well-known, and I can’t imagine what it’d be like to grow up with your whole life under a microscope. I mean, my mom remembers his first birthday party pictures being shown on the news. And he’s hot, but he’s not like I-know-I’m-a-hottie hot, but more like a confident, ‘Yes, I am hot. Any questions?’ I mean, he has to have noticed there aren’t any guys who look like him walking around.”
“I should tell him what you said.”
“Don’t you dare,” Kylie said.
“I get what you mean—he’s grown up with everybody knowing his dad and watching him, but he’s pretty down to earth.”
“So what’s up with you two? You guys didn’t do any work last Saturday, and now you’re going to an art fair.”
“I dunno. He just asked me to go with him.”
“Asked you to go with him as his study buddy or asked you to go with him because he’s desperately in love with you?” she asked.
I said we were just friends, but she wouldn’t let it go.
“Okay, duh, obviously I like him, but let’s be honest. He’s out of my league. He’s out of most people’s league. It’s weird because normally if I like a guy then one of two things happens—either he likes me and asks for my number…or I find out he’s not into me and I cry in my pillow and listen to man-hating music for at least three days,” I said. “But this time’s different because he’s, I dunno, not just ‘some guy.’ I mean, I’m not putting up a shrine to him in my room, and I haven’t rooted though his garbage can, but I have as much chance of going out with him as Kirk does of getting an ‘A’ in this class.”
“You listen to man-hating music?” she asked, and I narrowed my eyes at her. “Whatever. Anyway, Em, he’s asked you out once already, and you are seeing him tomorrow. Plus, he’s always staring at you.”
I said he was probably just bored in class today, but she wouldn’t let it go.
“I’m not just talking about today. When we watched the movie on Monday, he watched you instead, and whenever I see you guys, he acts like there’s no one else in the room,” she said.
I couldn’t hold back the big, stupid smile spreading across my face. “He does? For real?”
She nodded. “You know, it’s weird. Here you were all upset you didn’t have a partner at the beginning of the semester, and then you ended up with like, Mr. Perfection, as your partner.”

Praise for Dating the It Guy:

“Dating the It Guy is an entertaining story that is as absorbing as it is hilarious.” Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite
“A satisfying YA romance that is really about growing up and learning how to deal with life.” Writing Pearls book review blog
“There is so much to love about this book. Krysten Lindsay Hager knows how teens think and speak, and she understands why Emme would feel overwhelmed by everything about Brendon – his looks, his popularity, his feelings for her, his exes, his family.” Vox libris: the voice of books book review blog
Book Trailer:

Buy Link:
Amazon

About the Author:

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2), and Dating the It Guy. Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Best Sellers award. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Grand Blanc View, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Giveaway:

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 7/23/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Review + Book Tour: Internet Famous

Welcome to the Internet Famous Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

Title: Internet Famous
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Can an online romance survive in real life?

Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.

Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything―and everyone―she loves?

Review:

First off, I loved that this book gave so much time to Madi actually writing her blog, and tweeting out to her followers. It gave a sense of realism to the book – she wasn’t famous just because, she was famous cause she actually put time and effort into her work. As a blogger, I was able to relate to her a lot. That being said, I can’t say that I’m as accustomed to so many (read: any) responses to my work. It was great seeing Madi interact with her fanbase and try to be neutral and kind in her posts.

I have to admit – the troll made me nervous. There’s something about a faceless villain that really gets to you. And the scary thing is that it can happen. This is the world that we live in, where people can ruin your safe space with a few simple clicks of a button. And it sucks. It sucked for Madi more than most <highlight for spoilers> because the troll actually affected her real life – her schooling, her grades – and I think the worst is that the school kept buying into anonymous tips about Madi’s work that never actually panned out.  My stomach kept knotting itself every time the troll struck, and that feeling is what fueled me through the book. I needed to know what the resolution was. I needed to know why this troll was after her.

Madi herself was well developed – I enjoyed her little quips and appreciated her introversion. Her motto was something along the lines of human interaction sucks, and I can definitely relate to that. We really got to see her step outside of her comfort zone and learn to take control of her own life. Madi’s sister, Sarah, added a lot of emotion to the book. I loved her and yet I also understood Madi’s own kind of resentment towards her parents, and kind of her sister. We learn early on that Sarah is someone with special needs, though her condition is never actually named. She is fun and lovable, and my heart hurts for her throughout the novel. Madi tries her best with her and I love the sisterly relationship that is a big part of this novel.

The romance itself is cute – it doesn’t actually steal the spotlight in the book, and I have to give the author credit for that. Some of the ideas lent to the whole long-distance relationship were fun and creative, too, and I enjoyed learning more about Laurent and the other NYC characters.

Random note: I would love to see/own a printed version of the book because some of the details would be cool to see off the screen.

As a whole, this book is probably one of my favourites this year. The resolution of the book was really well done, and I didn’t actually feel like the end was rushed. In fact, the epilogue was just what I needed to finish off the book (it’s something I kind of wanted to see at the end of books like Girl at Sea and other romantic contemporaries). Definitely would recommend!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.8

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author:

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Author Links:
Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway | Open US/CAN

Enter to win a print copy of Internet Famous!

Review: The Darkest Corners

Title: The Darkest Corners
Author: Kara Thomas
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery Thriller
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
GoodReads

Synopsis:

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Review:

This took a me a long time to review. It’s not that it was a bad book – it was quite good in fact. I think it was because I didn’t know what to do with it. At the end, I had so many questions that didn’t have answers. Here I am, a year later, reflecting on it, and I still say that it’s a pretty great book.

I liked Tessa. I enjoyed accompanying her on her hunt for clues, even when her curiosity made my stomach clench in fear for her. In the end, I also ended up liking Callie, despite my initial annoyance with her character. She grows up, I think, a lot throughout the novel.

Admittedly, the pacing was a little slow. There was a lot of history of the characters and of the town itself, and a lot of “why me” thoughts. But I felt like the book as a whole was put together well. Nothing was revealed too quickly, and I liked that there were some dead ends. It helped make the story more intriguing and creepy.

I read this book when I was taking a criminal profiling class in uni and I found it fascinating to learn and read about this whole thing simultaneously. While I found that some things made sense, I felt that there were a couple things that were a bit of a stretch. In the end though, I was too surprised to really care much about the couple of things that didn’t really click for me.

The end itself was quite the surprise for me, but at the same time, it left me wondering so many things. I get that there wouldn’t be a second one, but maybe a little more added to the ending would have been eye opening, or it might have ruined it, I don’t know.

The thing I love about Kara is that her books always surprise me. I really enjoyed her Prep School Confidential series, and I loved this books as well. I look forward to diving into her new book, Little Monsters, when it comes out in July!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.78/5

eARC obtained via Delacorte Press via Random House Children’s via NetGalley.

Review: The Bachelor Auction

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Title: The Bachelor Auction [The Bachelors of Arizona #1]
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Genres: New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn’t entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn’t she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes—or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire—maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn’t anyone’s dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk—even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it’s karmic retribution that he’s tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can’t have. But while they can’t have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy

Sometimes, I just want to write a review like, “This book. It was good. Good book.” But that’s not very helpful to you or me (well, it would save me some time…).

When I think back to reading this book, I think light, fluffy, funny, great read. Then the rest of the story comes floating back into my head like a train wreck. Not that the book itself was a train wreck, but there was some heavy emotional healing in here. I loved the development of the characters as a whole, but I think the Brock’s brothers stole the show for me. I looked forward to their scenes and their entertaining quips. They helped lighten the mood and gave readers a well needed break from the brooding mains. Also, he ending was pretty great, and it really got me excited for the next books.

Side note: I’m crazy excited for the sequel coming out in August: The Playboy Bachelor! The MC is Bentley and I loved his character in this book!

The being said, Jane and Brock fit well together. I really liked how their character grew into themselves. I loved the memories they had of their families especially – there were some cute memories/flashbacks.

Oh. My. Goodness. Jane’s sisters made me want to tear my hair out. I know they were supposed to drive me bananas, but how did they manage to become so freaking spoiled??? I just don’t get it.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book, but I can’t say it wowed me. It was well written and well executed, but I think I’m just a little tired of the Cinderella story.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.9/5

eARC obtained via Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Review + Book Tour: Forbidden Dance

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Welcome to the Forbidden Dance Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

33389018Title: Forbidden Dance [Lover’s Dance #1]
Author: Deanna Roy
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

She was hidden from the world. Then he arrived.
An emotional new novel from six-time USA Today bestselling author Deanna Roy

For four years, I’ve lived in almost total seclusion. Homeschooled, forbidden from social media, seeing no one other than the dancers at Dreamcatcher Academy, where I teach ballet to little girls in wheelchairs.

Then Blitz arrives.

He’s the disgraced host of Dance Blitz, a bawdy reality show where Blitz sleeps with as many dancers as possible while looking for his perfect partner.

At least he was. A few weeks ago, he got kicked off his own show.

He’s at my academy for a publicity stunt, and my wheelchair ballerinas are his ticket back into the public’s good graces.

I intend to hate him and stay as far away as possible. But when he looks at me, I can’t resist. Before I realize what’s happened, we’re sneaking into back rooms, dancing, kissing, planning dates away from the cameras and the wrath of my family.

But I’m afraid. I have a secret at the academy, a small, wonderful, terrible secret, and if I stay with Blitz, the world will find out.

Buy Links:

Review:

I will admit, there are some aspects of this book I didn’t love – there was some insta-love going on there, and honestly the relationship moved a little faster than I thought it should have. I mean, this girl was hidden away ’cause she made some huge mistake and then she just jumps down the rabbit hole the first chance she gets. It was a little unrealistic and too fast.

That being said, I did really like the characters and the overall premise of the book – the accessible ballerina class was adorable, as was the grandma jazz class, and the overall premise of the book was cute. There are a lot of funny, awkward, and cute moments, as well as a couple steamy moments throughout the book. To be honest, it’s those steamy moments that I just felt like shouldn’t have been in this book – I mean it’s be 45 seconds, put your hormones away.

Admittedly, Livia is a sweet girl who made a mistake at a young age – her parents’ over-protectiveness is understandable to some extent. But this girl is 19 now and she’s still restricted from most things, like cell phones, Internet, closing her bedroom door, and it’s like… okay time to release the reigns a little. Then those steamy moments come in and I’m like girl, this is why there are still tight reigns on ya. In contrast, Blitz has been kicked off his show for being a cheeseball – he’s seen too much of the world – but as he goes back to his roots you get to see the real him. He’s sweet, thoughtful, and not an absolute idiot when you think he COULD be, and it’s much appreciated.

Of the characters in this book though, I think most of my pity went out to Livia’s mom and brother – because of Livia’s mistakes, they’re caught in the crossfire, in the rules, the restrictions, and it sucks. Similar to the book The Truth She Knew though, this may be a social commentary on the concept of “the man of the house”… Or maybe I’ve been analysing way too many English books for my degree…

As a whole, this book was sweet and nice, but it was rushed. There are sequels to the novel, but this book can stand alone if you want it to (just don’t read the teaser for the second book and you’ll be fine) (In other words, I read the except and now I want to read the second one ’cause I have some questions I want answers to). All in all, a light, easy read.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 3/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.0/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

About the Author:

Deanna Roy is the six-time USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction.

She is a passionate advocate for women who have lost babies. She has several books on the subject, including her bestseller FOREVER INNOCENT, a romance about a couple whose baby is taken off life support at seven days old.

She has run the website PregnancyLoss.Info for fifteen years, including many large spin-off support groups both online and in person.

To learn about new releases, sign up for her subscriber list. She has regular giveaways in conjunction with major pregnancy loss events.

Author Links:

Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway | Open USA and CAN

Enter to win a Kindle Fire and two $25 gift cards!

Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: October 25, 2010
GoodReads

Synopsis:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

I wrote this review for a media class, and I figured I’d post it since a) I already wrote it, and b) the movie just released recently. Let me know if you want more reviews like this in the future. Here it is:

I turned the last page of Before I Fall expecting one more line, a funny quip, or even an epilogue. All I got were the Acknowledgements, and I sat there for a moment stunned. How could it just end like that?

Originally published in 2010, the novel Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is gaining worldwide attention due to the upcoming release of its movie adaption by the same name. The movie stars Vampire Academy actress Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston. According to the synopsis, Sam is popular, has the perfect boyfriend, and dies on Friday, February 12, only to wake up the next morning and relive the day of her death six more times.

I decided to take a chance on the book before watching the movie. As they say, the book is always better.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that Samantha’s character undergoes a huge transformation throughout the story. Although we only see seven days of her life, her character develops exponentially. Sam plays by the rules of her friend group without really questioning why they do the things they do. As the book progresses, we see Sam become herself, living her life authentically and being more accountable for her actions.

Each relived day is spent differently – the first two are slightly similar, then she spends a couple full of angst, and then another day is spent solely with her family. Each day is a testament to how multifaceted our lives are, and how easily we neglect different aspects of them.

Something I often didn’t think about during high school was that my friends were basically my family. I saw them eight to nine hours a day, spoke to them when I was home, and hung out with them during the weekend. My family was on the backburner. This is true in Sam’s story as well. Her friends have become such a large part of her life that her family is neglected as a result.

That being said, there is more to it than that. With friends, there is the potential for judgment and shame for saying or doing the wrong things. There is also a certain amount of scrutiny that you are under when you are popular. Sam reflects on this as she watches her friends bully people, her boyfriend belittle her, and people’s reactions to her being nice. It is fascinating how much is missed when focusing on oneself.

Before I Fall encourages readers to examine their everyday choices. A couple changes here and there lead Sam to learn things about her friends, family, teachers, and classmates that she would never have known otherwise. Her relationships were superficial, and she drifted through life with ease. When push came to shove, however, she began to see people for who they were and began to challenge the status quo.

Before I Fall is a very easy book to lose yourself in – the plot is well developed, the characters are thoroughly fleshed out, and the story feels real, relevant, and heartbreaking. In the end, I gave Before I Fall four and a half stars of five.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.92/5

Interview + Book Tour: Finding Paradise

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Welcome to the Finding Paradise Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

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Title: Finding Paradise
Author: V.P. Ortiz
Publication Date: Sept 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Mila Quinn is ready to finally move out of the college dorms into an apartment with her longtime boyfriend, Ethan Lowe. But when Ethan reveals a big secret, her world is suddenly turned upside down, stirring up old memories of love and loss. Completely torn apart, she boards a plane to Hawaii to escape for the summer.

Even though Mila wants to spend her time in paradise in isolation, fate has other plans when it drops sexy local Gage Madden in her lap. Hesitant at first, she agrees to let him take the reins on her island exploration. As Mila discovers the wonders of Oahu with Gage, it becomes harder for her to fight the budding attraction between them.

But behind the curtain of island adventures and undeniable chemistry, trouble is brewing where Mila least expects it. Secrets begin to bubble to the surface that could destroy her all over again. Will Mila find her paradise? Or will she leave Hawaii with another broken heart?

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Interview:

Hi! Welcome to Between Printed Pages, we’re so happy to have you here today.

Thank you so much for having me, Alicia! This is actually my first author interview, so I’m super excited that I can have it here at Between Printed Pages!

Before we start, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I’m a long-time reader, first-time author. I fell in love with reading at a very early age – say, around first grade or so. Unfortunately for me, writing novels isn’t my “day job.” I actually work in the legal field as part of a litigation support team. I’ve been asked why I write romance novels instead of crime or lawyer drama novels if I know the legal field so well. The answer is simple: to escape! Haha! Who wants to work all day, then come home and write for a few more hours about work? No, thank you!

Aside from being a reader and a writer, I’m a mother to two awesome kids and a wife to a very loving and supporting husband. They are really the reason why I feel so inspired to follow my dream of being an author and to never give up!

What was the inspiration for Finding Paradise and what about the story called to you?

My husband and I eloped on the island of Oahu in Hawaii over ten years ago. He had grown up on the island (his dad was in the Army and was stationed there for a few years) and we decided to have a wedding/honeymoon in one. The minute I stepped foot off the airplane, I fell in love with Hawaii! From the culture to the food to the scenery to the lifestyle, it was all so mesmerizing. Fast forward nine years, we went back to Oahu for a family vacation with our children and, as expected, I fell in love all over again. There is just something about Hawaii that is special and I wanted to share that with others so they can see and feel the same things about Hawaii that I do.

It’s interesting because a few months after we returned from our Oahu family vacation, I decided to write and publish my first novel. I wrote about six chapters worth of another story, but always had the Hawaiian islands in the back of my mind. They were haunting me in the most beautiful way. So I pushed that novel aside and mapped out a new idea that transformed into Finding Paradise. I wrote Finding Paradise in a way that the love story of Mila and Gage were almost secondary to Mila discovering Hawaii in the same awestruck way that I did so many years ago.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

JUST DO IT! No, I’m not plugging the Nike brand, though if they paid me to, I wouldn’t turn it down. My advice is to just do it! Go for it! I know it’s a scary concept – to open up your heart and your work to the world. And I will tell you right now: not everyone is going to love your novel. But that’s okay! You’re not writing for everyone else. Not for your significant other, not for your neighbor, not for your frenemies (though I get the innate urge to rub your accomplishments in their face). Write the novel because it’s your dream, not theirs.

Like Gage says in Finding Paradise, “You have to leap if you want to know how it feels to fly.” It’s so easy to find a million reasons why you can’t do it, but you will never know the amazing feeling of being a published author if you don’t try.

Finding Paradise is a self-published book, which is a whole new ballgame when it comes to writing novels. You are now not only the author, but you are also the publisher and the marketing team. I’ve started a blog on my website, www.vportiz.com/confessions, called Confessions of a New Author. This blog is a series of my adventures in writing that I hope can calm some fears and maybe even inspire some aspiring writers to take the next step and publish their novels. I’m hoping to put up some new content on the blog after my next novel is published this spring.

Within Finding Paradise, which character was your favourite to write and why?

Honestly, I would’ve thought it would be Mila because we share so many of the same personality traits. But it turns out that I loved writing Aunt Sophie and Baylee! Probably because I based those two characters on two people that I know personally. Aunt Sophie is based on my best friend’s mom, who is witty and sharp while having the gentlest heart I’ve ever known. And Baylee, oh Baylee, she is based on one of my work besties. A crazy, fun soul who is just as vulnerable as anyone, even though she tries to hide it. It’s so funny because the inspiration for Baylee was one of my beta readers and after she read Finding Paradise, she said she LOVED Baylee. I told her, “Well, of course, you did. You two are the same person!” Both Aunt Sophie and Baylee were such fun characters to write. I loved their dynamic together and separately with Mila. They were a big part of Mila’s journey.

And yes, readers, Baylee will have her own story coming soon! That will be a fun book to write!

What are three songs that describe Finding Paradise?

I have a Spotify playlist specifically for Finding Paradise at https://open.spotify.com/user/vportiz_books/playlist/3loOrvQKy3c6XXStWk4zVj. I listened to this playlist pretty much non-stop while I was writing Finding Paradise. Most of the songs are sung either by native Hawaiians or are sung in the Hawaiian language. Such beautiful melodies that take you to the islands and make you never want to leave!

I love all the songs on the playlist, but if I had to pick three, they would be:

  • Simple Love Song by Anuhea: This song is what I consider to be the anthem for Finding Paradise. The words accurately describe everything that Mila felt for Gage and I love Anuhea
  • Falling by Keahiwai: These Hawaiian singers capture what it feels like to fall in love in paradise in this song.
  • Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: This song is so important to me. Not only does it appear in a great scene in Finding Paradise, but it is also the wedding song that my husband and I chose. It’s a gorgeous rendition by a Hawaiian legend.

I heard that you have some ideas for your next book! Can you tell us anything about them?

YES! YES! YES! I am so excited to exclusively announce my next book on your blog!

Damaged Property is slated to be released this spring, though the exact date is currently tentative. It’s the story of a broken woman, Talia, and her chance meeting with a ridiculously hot Albuquerque Police Officer, Dante, who has demons of his own. Even though they fight it, fate throws them together and they learn to work together to fight their pasts before it catches up with them.

Where Finding Paradise was bright, fun, and sweet, in contrast, Damaged Property is much darker and sensual. The heat between Talia and Dante is unimaginable and you’ll find yourself caught up in their sexual tension, biting your nails and waiting for them to give into each other. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions with an ending that you’ll need to read to believe!

What are three books you believe everyone should take a chance on?

I read across all genres of novels, so my answer to this may seem a bit odd. But there’s something for everyone.

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover: This book BLEW ME AWAY! I wasn’t so sure about it when I first cracked it open, but I was stuck on a six-hour flight home and that was the only book on my Kindle. By the time my final plane landed in my hometown, I was literally in tears. So perfectly written by my favorite author. My goal in life is to bring Colleen Hoover to tears with one of my books as she did to me with her book.

The Project Eden series by Brett Battles: The first novel in this series, Sick, captured my attention and refused to let it go until the conclusion of the series six books later (seven books total). I’ll admit, I’m a secret lover of doomsday and apocalyptic novels, but many books I’ve read fell short of what I was looking for. Project Eden was what I was looking for!

The Pact by Jodi Picoult: Oh my gosh, this book was incredible. It was the second book I ever read by Jodi Picoult and it was the one that turned me into a lifetime fan. I love that Jodi Picoult can make you question your own morals that you thought were set in stone before opening the book. What you thought, in the beginning, is never what you think about in the end.

Aside from reading and writing, what do you do in your spare time? Any unusual hobbies?

Most days, I share the same hobbies as my three fat cats: sleep, eat, and complain. But, when I can actually talk myself into it, I love to go running outside when the Colorado weather allows for it. I’ve run two half-marathons, a few 10K’s, and an obstacle course race.

But if we’re being honest here, I love to dance and lip sync. I’m not talking about professionally. I’m talking about acting out my own music video when no one is around. Sometimes in the mirror. Sometimes in the kitchen (best place to spin in my socks). Sometimes in my office at work when the door is closed and no one is watching. It’s weird, I know. But it’s fun. In my head, I’m a superstar!

Last, but not least, what is your favourite word?

Peculiar. I like the way it rolls off your tongue, especially if you have some sort of accent. Everyone says it just a little bit differently and I love that. Plus, I tend to describe myself as peculiar and whenever I do, no one ever disagrees with me. Sort of peculiar, isn’t it?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! Congratulations on your debut release! We’re extremely excited for Finding Paradise, and we’re looking forward to reading Damaged Goods!

About the Author:vp

V.P. Ortiz lives, works, and breathes in sunny/snowy/beautiful Colorado with her loving husband, their two beautiful children, and their three fat cats. While her home may be in the Rocky Mountains, she left her heart somewhere on the island of Oahu, where she plans to retire someday in a tiny house with an avocado tree and free-range chickens. Besides reading any book in sight, her hobbies also include eating, dancing, lip syncing, and occasionally running until her husband has to pick her up eight miles away because she got lost and has a leg cramp.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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Review: The Truth She Knew

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Title: The Truth She Knew [Book #1]
Author: J.A. Owenby
Publication Date: Sept 12, 2016
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me.
For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a rollercoaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love.

But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair.

Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth.

I finished this book and wanted to scream like WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ENDING!?!? I can’t even. WHY.

Lacey believes that she is possessed by demons because that’s what her mother says. And she also believes that her mother has a special relationship with God. Lacey believes that God tells her mother what she does when she’s not home, because her mother somehow knows everything.

Enter Walker, normal guy, normal life, relatively normal family. When he meets Lacey, he begins to show her that maybe her family isn’t “normal.”

As a whole, this book was both insanely what-on-earth and yet amazing. Lacey’s belief in her mother’s “relationship” with God is astounding – and it’s sad to think that there are people who live like that. If their family is all they know, they will never be able to tell what’s “normal” and what’s absolutely, totally, insanely wrong. Lacey doesn’t realize that her family is crazy simply because it’s been something that she grew up with, lived with, and has been reinforced through her sister and her mother’s “friend.” There are so many things wrong with Lacey’s perception of the world, and I think this book does a great job of showing how skewed it can be and how much of an impact family can have.

Note: I’m not saying her family is crazy ’cause they’re religious (I mean, I’m Christian, and I’m like 90% sure I’m not crazy…), they’re crazy and dysfunctional for very different reasons…

Lacey grew A LOT throughout this book, and her character grew to be better, stronger, more resilient. Then there’s Walker… Oh man. There’s so much about the second half of the book that I want to just toss out there, but it’ll spoil the book. BUT I WAS SO ANGRY. LIKE… F U R I O U S.

In part, I get why it happened, kind of. But it really flipped some of my initial judgements on their head. I actually got so mad at the end, and then the book was suddenly done. AND I WAS SCREAMING. Ask my roommate.

I mean, it’s one thing to have that happen and for the book to progress, but everything just hits the fan, and the book ends only like 20 pages later.

LIKE WHAT?

YOU CAN’T DO THAT — JHLAKJHFLKAJSDHKAJDH

Anyways, so the book ends – I fly to GoodReads, and I’m both frustrated and relieved to find that this is actually the first book in a series.

Now I’m waiting for the next book to release and am hoping that we see a lot more of Lacey as she tries to navigate the world with her new perspectives (and a few dashed hopes).

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.46/5

eARC obtained through Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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    All my textbooks have arrived and school is looming over me... I'm so excited for Friday because:
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b. My school gave 12 people in our class tickets to Guys & Dolls! I've never been so this is huge for me 😆
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Mine is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 😊
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