Jul 29, 2017

ARC Review: The Border by Steve Schafer


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer
Publisher: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 360 Pages
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017

Summary: One moment changed their lives forever. A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them. Crack. Crack. Crack. Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them. Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

I received an advanced copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange, and I'm honestly so glad that I did. I didn't expect to be so engrossed in this book, but it seriously captivated me from the first word to the last, and I was even disappointed when it was over because I didn't want to end. In my opinion, this was a really, really good book.

As the summary explains, Pato's friends and family happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they're the victims of an attack by a drug cartel. (Why did they attack that family party, you ask? You'll just have to read the book to find out.) Only Pato and three of his other friends manage to survive, but then the situation is so dire that they know they can't stay in Mexico anymore -- which means that they have to attempt to cross the border into the U.S. There are several problems with that, though -- they're broke, they're kids, and they have absolutely no idea what they're doing. So this book chronicles their journey across the desert as they struggle to stay alive and reach freedom, battling the many dangerous (and sometimes deadly) obstacles that come their way.

This book really opened my eyes to a lot of things, which I thought was incredibly important and one of the best things about it. Not only did it show me firsthand experience through the eyes of Pato about the struggles and dangers that people in Mexico face every single day in their drug wars, but it also showed how dangerous and deadly crossing the U.S. border really is. I feel like there are a lot of people that think people from Mexico just hop through a hole in a fence and waltz around in America, immediately getting jobs and good lives and "taking away from hardworking Americans." (For the record, I completely disagree with this line of thought.) But what this book really demonstrates is how much hard work, heartbreak, and sacrifice goes into gaining just a small slice of freedom that American citizens are blessed with as their birthright and never have to work for at all. And once these immigrants get to the United States...things aren't pretty, or simple, and people are just doing what they have to do to survive, just like anybody else.

A character that I really liked in this book was Gladys. Not only was she adorable and funny and creative, but she was such a good soul and kept the group together and grounded through all of the hardships they faced. Even when times were grim and some pretty terrible things were happening. Gladys and her good heart kept everything at least semi-positive and she refused to give up even when I definitely would have, and when her companions definitely wanted to. She was a good soul throughout the entire book, and she was funny and sweet and artistic and I can definitely see why Pato liked her as much as he did. 

(Minor spoilers ahead so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want this book spoiled for you!) The only thing about this book that I wasn't crazy about was the ending, in the sense that I was left with so many questions that I didn't even remotely have answers to. Where did Marco go? Did they end up being captured? What happened when they got to Denver? And to Sr. Ortiz? And do they ever contact his children? What about Tito? There was just so much that I didn't know that I wish I did, and I was left with sooo many questions. But other than that, I really don't have any other complaints about the book. That's really it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Border. While the premise sounded interesting, I didn't expect to be sucked in so quickly, but before I knew it, I was unable to put the book down. Not only was the story itself so gripping, but Steve Schafer is such an excellent writer that his words leaving you wanting more and more. If this book isn't on your TBR yet, I definitely recommend adding it -- because even if you read the summary and think the book isn't your cup of tea, it's worth a shot, because if you're like me, you'll be delightfully surprised, and gasping with every turn of the page.

Seriously guys. So many plot twists.

I'm so glad that I got the chance to review The Border, and if you get the chance, I definitely recommend you do it too! I'm looking forward to reading more from Steve Schafer in the future after this book, that's for sure.

Jul 28, 2017

Guest Post: Temple West Talks Inspiration

Hi guys! We have a fun little treat for you guys here on the blog today -- Temple West, author of Velvet and Cashmere, is here to talk inspiration! She's super creative when it comes to both writing and turning pieces from thrift stores into works of art, so we couldn't imagine a better topic for her to come here and talk about. Without further ado, it's time to give the (metaphorical) floor to Temple!

Temple West


There have been many an article written about pantsing versus plotting. Since I fit neatly into neither category, I have created a third category: plontsing. Sometimes I pants, sometimes I plots. (Neither of those words needed an “s” but it sounded way more fun.)

When I was younger, I wrote whenever inspiration struck, which was virtually every day. I had this lovely thing called “free time” on my hands as well as “summer vacation” and “Christmas vacation” and “weekends.” Rent, bills, student loan payments — those were all problems for the future. I was living in blissful adolescence; the golden years where my worst conundrum was wondering how long I could go before the smell of my overflowing hamper forced me to do laundry.

Back then, inspiration was all around. I lived on a greenbelt; a strip of forest surrounded by houses, and its wild greenery offered up endless storylines. When I was even younger, I lived in the desert, where the mountains stuck up out of the cracked terrain like the rusted bones of ancient war-gods. Sunlight slanting through the windows looked like misting gold; rotting two-by-fours in the scum-covered pond like the moldering decks of long-lost ships; maggot-infested possums like the spoils of gruesome battle between feuding rodent clans.

Now I go to work. I put gas in my car, and commute. I pay for health insurance, and car insurance, and my credit card, and my Adobe Creative Suite subscription, and Dropbox subscription, and Vimeo subscription, and Hulu subscription, and Dollar Shave Club subscription, and iPhone storage, and… 

My day is eaten up so quickly now. By the time I’ve taken care of the essentials, I have so little energy left to observe the world, let alone write about it. I don’t notice the light slanting through the windows like misting gold. I drive around the maggot-infested road kill and through the desert mountains on autopilot, trying to get from Point A to Point B. I pay my bills, then worry about paying my bills again the next month (and the next, and the next). No one warns you how quickly you become tired when you grow up.

So now, I have to hunt down inspiration. I have to make the space to find it, or to let it find me. Sometimes this is as simple as snapping awake at the meter while I’m waiting to merge onto the freeway on my way to work, noticing how the green and red lights shimmer through the foggy rain. Sometimes it’s ditching my hair and make up and going to Goodwill in my sweatpants, feasting my eyes on the antique silver butter dishes and massive, gold-framed oil paintings and ornate vintage wedding dresses. Sometimes it’s driving to the cliff in Edmonds and just watching the sea; the light shifting through the clouds in sheets, piercing the water, then retreating.

And sometimes, instead of binge-watching Star Trek: Voyager, I go to bed early so I can wake up early so I can tell stories. And sometimes, in the dark and quiet of the morning, I find the right words to capture the insane beauty of the world.


Once again, we'd just like to thank Temple West for being sweet enough to guest post on our blog! It was so great having her here and we always love working with her, so we couldn't think of a better fit for our first author to do a guest post here with us. :-) I totally agree with everything she said (especially how quickly time slips away from you when you're an adult)

What'd you think of today's post? Have any questions for us or Temple? Leave a comment down below! 

Jul 26, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Emily's Waiting on:

Title: Jane, Unlimited
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books 
Publication Date: Sept. 19th, 2017

Summary: Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.
Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.
Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.
I received an ARC of this at BookCon and cannot wait to start reading this. I'm excited to find out the events that will unfold at Tu Reviens. I'm also curious about Jane's umbrella making obsession and hoping it leads to something interesting. Be sue to look back soon for my ARC review and after it's published, let us know your opinions!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so we can stop back!

Jul 24, 2017

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Hunted Fate by Jennifer Derrick

Hunted Fate
Jennifer Derrick
(Threads of the Moirae, #3)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult

Alex and Atropos have taken refuge at an abandoned mountain resort compound. Atropos is a wanted woman in hiding, and the downtime with her soul mate is a nice change of pace. But the peace will be short-lived. The authorities are after her for her role in the attack on the city of Charlotte. Zeus has put a bounty on her head. There’s also a war to prepare for—and if she wins, the gods will be deposed once and for all. But first she needs to track down Gaia, and even that won’t be simple. Gaia resides at the bottom of the ocean, and the humans and gods are already hot on Atropos’ trail…
A heart-pounding romantic adventure where Greek mythology and modern-day life collide, Hunted Fate is the third book in the epic Threads of the Moirae series by Jennifer Derrick.
Previous books in the series:

Grab book 1 – Broken Fate – for FREE!
“We need whoever provides security around here. Or Hades. They’re bound to be the ones who can open this. If we can find them, we can drag them down here and slap their hand on this thing to get it open,” Alex says.
“We need another way,” Sara says, shaking her head. “We haven’t seen a single person since we got here. It’s too time consuming to track them down. And we’ll never get Hades.”
“Anyone know of any other ways to crack a palm plate?” I ask.
“Short of finding a valid fingerprint and going through an awful lot of steps to create a fake finger, the only other way is to break down the software controlling it,” Alex says.
“Are any of you hackers?”
Alex raises his hand.
“You can hack this?” I ask. “I didn’t know you were a hacker.”
“I’m not. But there isn’t a lot to do when you’re stuck at home with a terminal disease or trapped in a crappy boarding school. I taught myself a few things, made a few online friends who were a little shady. Depending on how sophisticated the software is, I might be able to crack it.”
“Would it be controlled from the computer out front?”
“It might be. Or it might be controlled from a central server that’s who knows where. No way to know without looking,” he says.
“That computer is password protected. If you try to force it, you may set off alarms.”
“Then I’ll have to be careful,” he says, heading back to the lobby.
We follow and gather around the desk while he works. The keys clack under his fingers as he mutters instructions to himself.
“Okay, I’m in the system,” he says. “While I’m here, I’m going to shut down those security cameras. No need for everyone to know where we are.”
The TV feed blinks and is gone.
He keeps typing and clicking and muttering. The rest of us sit down on the floor and wait. There’s nothing we can do.
“Huh. That could be tricky,” he says.
“What?” I ask, getting up and going around the desk so I can see his screen. Not that the gibberish there means squat to me.
“The system that controls the fingerprint scanners also controls the card locks. Worse, it’s not separated by floor. I’m not good enough to bring down only one piece of the system. It’s all or nothing.”
“What’s the problem?” I ask.
“It means that the only thing standing between us and whatever is behind those cell doors is the hope that none of them try the doors. If the inmates figure out the doors are open, then security will be the least of our problems. All of them could walk right out of here.”
“Do it,” I tell him. “It’s not like we’ll be broadcasting the locks are down. No one will notice. Hopefully.”
“Okay,” he says and goes back to pounding on the keys.
After a few minutes, the computer beeps and Alex pushes away from it.
“Done,” he says.
The words are barely out of his mouth when a series of small pops echoes around the room. They sound like they’re both surrounding us and simultaneously heading away from us.
“Aw, shit,” I say. “The locks. We forgot they make noise! We are idiots. Come on,” I say, racing for the doors on the right.
We slam through the doors and pull up in front of door number four. No one is coming into the hall yet. I’m hoping the inmates think it’s a trap and are too intimidated to try their doors. Either that or they didn’t hear the locks release. Please, just let me get out of here before hell literally opens, I think.

Author Bio:
Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website:www.JenniferDerrick.com.

We'd like to thank the lovely team over at Xpresso for allowing us to be a part of this book tour! This giveaway and this book both seem super awesome and intriguing, and we can't wait to add this book to our TBR. Not to mention the fact that the excerpt is super captivating! 


Jul 22, 2017

ARC Review: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published August 2017

Summary: 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.


I received an advanced copy of this book at BookCon, and I'm not even ashamed to admit that I had total cover lust with this one, and that's what originally drew me to it when I had my choice of books to select as a prize for a spin-the-wheel game. And then when I read the summary, I was definitely drawn in -- because you guys, this book covers so many important topics and subjects and it was just an eye-opening experience on so many levels that I really appreciated and enjoyed reading about.

So, the summary of this book doesn't even remotely begin to cover all of the important topics that this story discusses. For starters, Little & Lion are both siblings in an "unconventional" family, Little and her mother being black, and Lionel and his father being white. In addition to having to answer question after question about her relationship with her brother, Suzette (dubbed "Little" by Lionel himself) is also Jewish. And bisexual...or at least, that's what she's contemplating when we get to the start of the book. She's not exactly rushing to put a label on her feelings, which she hasn't even figured out for herself yet. And to top it off, Lion has bipolar disorder -- which is the reason that she ends up being sent away to a boarding school. (Which is explained in depth in the book, but I won't be spoiling that for you here today!!)

What I really enjoyed about this book was how many important topics that it covered. In just 320-ish pages, Brandy Colbert managed to dig deep into family ties, expression of religion, sexuality (and the feelings and fear behind questioning it), sibling/friend loyalty, polyamory, race, and mental illness. Each character in this book has some sort of rich, important story, which will help the reader delve deeper into one of the aforementioned topics. Not only did I find it interesting to see all of these topics incorporated into one incredible story, but I also learned some things about each of them that I haven't previously known before.

If I had to choose, I'd definitely say that my favorite character in this book was Little. Even though she found herself in some tough situations that required making some undesirable choices (many of which she ended up regretting later, but some which she did not), she faced the consequences head on and just seemed so brave, and, most importantly, so genuine. I could really see myself being friends with somebody like Little. And the relationship she had with her family and her brother? I envy it. I have multiple siblings, but none of us are as close to one another as Little & Lion are.

I also really enjoyed Lion's character as well. For starters, he is a total book nerd, which my heart goes out to (as I'm sure yours does too, since you're on a book blog reading a book review). I also feel that Brandy Colbert did a great job of portraying the ups and downs of his mental illness without making it seem too theatric or fake. Even his episodes, as scary as they were, seemed genuine and real and had me on the edge of my seat. 

Emil was another great character in this book. (Minor spoilers ahead so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want anything spoiled for you!) He was always so kind and calm and compassionate, and level-headed when the situation called for it. He was also super sweet and a total gentleman to Little, which made my heart melt every single time. I shipped the two of them from the beginning (oh, my fangirl heart), and I was actually pretty pleased when the book didn't end the way I was expecting it to. (But how did it end, exactly? You'll just have to read the book to find out!)

Overall, I really enjoyed Little & Lion. If you asked me what category to stick this book into, I'd honestly have a hard time telling you, since it fits into so many important realms in YA lit. If this book isn't on your TBR already, it definitely needs to be (and I know I say that a lot, but I seriously mean it this time!), because this book will cover so many important topics, from relationships to romance to friendship and family to even mental illness. Seriously, this book leaves no stone left unturned and I was incredibly surprised (and grateful) for it.

So hats off to Brandy Colbert, because I really enjoyed this one. I'm looking forward to reading more books from her in the future! 

Jul 20, 2017

Release Week Blitz: Meet Me Under The Stars by KD Proctor!


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Author: KD Proctor
Genre: NA Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: BookFish Books (www.bookfishbooks.com)
Cover Designer: Anita B. Carroll, Race-Point US (www.race-point.com)  

About the Book...

When ratings for her popular DIY show start to circle the drain after the sudden death of her sister, Charlotte “Charlie” Conti has only one mission—to plan a comeback. But her sister had other plans. As part of the will, Charlie must work with *him*  to create a memorial scholarship in her sister’s memory. The same *him*  Charlie fell in love with three years ago while working at a summer camp.

The same *him* she dumped to protect his heart.
Sexy British player, Nate Walsh, has sixty days to find a new job or he’ll be deported back to England where he’s no longer welcome. He doesn’t have time to work on a memorial scholarship with *her*. The same *her*  who shattered his heart without explanation or warning.
The same *her*  he’s never gotten over.
Unable to agree on a benefactor for the scholarship, Nate and Charlie challenge each other to a winner-takes-all competition. They both know the only way to win is to turn up the heat and tease one another with the one thing they both want: each other. But as sparks fly, their true feelings resurface. Nate and Charlie must decide if their love is worth the effort or if they'll allow their disastrous past mistakes to destroy their chance at forever.


About the Author…

KD Proctor loved college so much that when it came time to graduate, she didn’t want to leave.  Trading in her textbooks for student handbooks and policy manuals, she began a career in College Student Personnel and she fulfilled her wish to stay on a college campus forever.  She always joked that one day she’d write a book about college students, never expecting that to come true!

KD lives in West Central, Minnesota with her husband and fur-kids.  She likes to write fun twists on the usual tropes that we all love. Her characters are smart, funny, and always swoony.  And yes. They always get their happily ever after.

Before being accepted for publication, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS (formerly titled IF YOU'RE EVER IN TOWN) was the 2016 YARWA winner for the New Adult category.

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Rafflecopter link- Two SWAG boxes with $25.00 gift card, signed paperback, and other goodies!

Find KD here:

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/kd_proctor/


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We'd like to thank the lovely team over at BookFish for including us in another spectacular blitz! Based on the teasers alone, the book is definitely something that we want to be checking out. If this book isn't on your TBR, add it ASAP -- because we are, too!

Jul 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Jessica's Waiting on:

Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: Putnam
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017 

Summary: Ever since Esther Solar's grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther's father is agoraphobic and hasn't left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck. The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them. Esther doesn't know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn't counted on: love.

I know that the golden rule is to not judge a book by its cover, but it was definitely the title of this book that caught my eye at first. Not only did it made me laugh, but it clued me in to the idea that this book was going to be funny while also a little serious, which is just how I like things. 

And then, upon reading the summary, I was even more hooked. The idea of facing everything that you're terrified of? Totally badass. The potential for love to be involved? Even more adorable. I didn't even know I needed a book like this until I came across it, and now it's one of my most anticipated reads for the slew of upcoming September releases. 

So yeah, I'm definitely really excited to read this one. Both the title and the summary (and yes, even the cover) caught my eye, and I'm excited to see where Esther and Jonah's adventures take them, and all of the places and things they discover along the way. Can September come soon enough?!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back!

Jul 16, 2017

Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Title: Ugly Love
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult Romance
Publisher: Atria Books 
Summary: When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.
Never ask about the past.Don’t expect a future.
They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.
Hearts get infiltrated.Promises get broken.Rules get shattered.Love gets ugly.

Yet again Colleen Hoover has made me feel so many feels all at once. I went from happy to sad, laughing to crying so many times. I loved the characters, I loved the story line, I loved everything.

Believe it or not, I actually loved Miles and Tate's relationship. Sure it was mostly physical, but you can tell they both really cared for each other, no mater how much Miles said he didn't. You can tell from the start that Miles has some sort of troubled past and a huge secret. It broke my heart that Miles felt he couldn't love anyone after what happened. But in this process, Tate is trying to hide her feelings, leaving her feeling hurt by Miles.

The book is written in dual pov with Tate's written in the present and Miles' written in the past. This helps give you a clearer view on why Miles feels the way he does, even though you don't actually find out what happens until the end of the book. 

Basically most of the book is the physical attraction between Tate and Miles. The story doesn't really pick up until the last few chapters (I've been noticing that a lot of other authors have also been doing this) after Tate finally confronts Miles on his feeling towards her. But let me tell you, those last few chapters had me in TEARS. Like, I was sobbing like a baby. I did expect what was going to happen when I got more hints, but I wasn't expecting the way it was going to happen. That left me heartbroken for both Miles and anyone who has to deal with that in real life. It really helped open my eyes as to why Miles was so distant and angry.

As Jessica talked about in her review, I found Ugly Love to be a lot like It Ends With Us. Both books had these two intense guys with total aversions to love and relationships, as well as troubled pasts. Then come the strong female characters who instantly fall for the troubled male. Although they were both similar, each book had its own special way to crawl into your heart and stay there forever.

It took me a whopping 24hrs to finish this book. Once I sat down to read, I couldn't stop. And when I did have to stop, I couldn't stop thinking about it and what would happen next. This New Adult was pretty descriptive at some parts so be warned that you'll be blushing hard. Overall, if this book isn't on your TBR pile, it should be. Hoover will have you blushing, laughing, crying, and so much more, so be sure to give this a read. 

Jul 15, 2017

ARC Review: If There's No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: If There's No Tomorrow
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: Sept. 5, 2017
Summary: Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances. Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.
Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.
For what she let happen.
With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed?

If I haven't said it enough already, Jenn is one of my absolute favorite authors. I have yet to find a book the I didn't enjoy. If There's No Tomorrow is Jenn's newest stand alone contemporary and I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy at BookCon. Once again, I wasn't disappointed by Jenn's latest page turner.

If There's No Tomorrow tells the story of Lena Wise leading up to and after she suffers a terrible accident. Throughout the book, Lena is struggling to deal with the events of the accident and her attraction toward her best friend Sebastian. Lena feels guilty every day for what happened and she's too scared to tell the truth for fear of what her friends will think of her.

Minor spoilers
This book is an excellent example of the horrors of drinking and driving. It gives a clear example of exactly why you shouldn't drink and drive or get in a car with a drunk driver. The depression and guilt Lena feels toward what happened, is a feeling no one should ever have to feel. I felt sick for her just reading about what she experienced and how real it felt. Lena is extremely strong for what she went through. Many people cant handle all that guilt, even when it wasn't really their fault. Although she did shut out hers friends, including Sebastian, she was able to overcome her emotions. She was able to talk to them about what really happened that night and was finally able to gain some closure. 

I really loved everything about this books. Lena's battle with her emotions felt so real as well as her relationship with Sebastian. I loved how the book was split in two parts, allowing the reader to hear Lena's story leading up to the accident and what happened after the accident. 

If There's No Tomorrow was an excellent read. Any fans of JLA or YA contemporary should totally give this a chance. The book will be published on Sept. 5th, 2017 so be sure to pick up a copy and give it a try!

Jul 13, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

Hi guys! I'm here today on the blog to be a part of the blog tour for Paula Stokes's next book, This Is How It Happened. In addition to all of these awesome graphics and things, I also have my review of the book! So without further ado, let's get things started.

About The Book


Title: This Is How It Happened
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 384 Pages
Published July 2017 (Two days ago!)
Summary: When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened. As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Guest Post By Paula!

Hi everyone :) This is Day 4 of my THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED blog tour. You can find the whole schedule of posts in the lead post on my blog right now.

I’m blogging about the different challenges I faced while writing and revising the novel. Challenge #4 was how to best incorporate romance into the book. The story is about Genevieve Grace, a girl who is in a car crash that kills her famous YouTube boyfriend. When Gen wakes up from a coma, she knows that she was driving, but she doesn’t remember what happened.

So right away you might be like “Hey Paula, why does this book even need romance?” Fair question. The easiest reply to it is that my editor and her boss requested a romantic element to the story. Maybe you don’t like hearing that, but let’s consider some things. If you’re a book blogger or voracious reader, you probably devour over 60 books a year. Some of you read over 150 books. That is AMAZING and I am grateful there are people like you out there, but you are also not the “normal consumer” that publishers think about when they decide to acquire a novel. I know book bloggers often buy and collect their favorite books, but they also get a lot of books for free. I don’t know anyone who could afford to buy 150 books a year. So, while many book bloggers think “Man. ALL of these books have romances. It would be refreshing for a story not to have a romantic component” more traditional recreational readers who read 20 to 50 books a year are likely to go into a YA novel expecting a romance and possibly feel let down if it’s not there.

It’s important to remember that Publishing is a business, and even that book you think is “a total work of art” was probably systematically analyzed by editors and sales team members with respect to “but how many people will actually buy this?” You might be sick of romances in YA, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is.

But I’m not trying to throw my publisher under the bus here. If I had been Very Opposed to a romance, my editor would’ve let me write the book without one and then we’d have taken a look together at how the overall story worked. My thing is that my editor has worked at HarperTeen for several years—she’s smart and knows what readers want. Her boss is the executive editor of the HarperTeen imprint. I trusted their judgment without question when they recommended including a romantic element. Also, I really like to write romances :)

So, how do you give the main character of a story where her boyfriend has just died in a car accident where she was driving a new guy in her life without making her seem like a terrible person? The first thing I did was use the flashbacks to show that Genevieve and Dallas’s relationship wasn’t very healthy and was already starting to fall apart. This was easily workable with the core story plan because I knew a fight was what led the two of them out onto the rainy streets late at night and I knew the fight had to do with Dallas deviating from the path he and Genevieve had shared for many years.

Some people might read the flashbacks and think that both Genevieve and Dallas are bad people. He has messed up and hurt her. She’s kind of controlling and struggles to deal with change. I don’t mean for either of them to seem like bad people. I tried to craft a realistic relationship that is falling apart because the two members want different things for the future. This is a very common problem. In my own past, I had relationships end because the guy wanted kids and I didn’t, because a different guy needed me to move to NYC and there was no way I could make that happen. Simply put, sometimes what one or both people in a relationship want changes, or maybe what they wanted was different all along and the other person was just in denial. There are some things you just can’t (or don’t want to) compromise on.

But even though Genevieve realizes that she and Dallas wouldn’t have stayed together if he had survived, it was still tricky letting her have romantic feelings for a new guy, especially in the midst of her grief, guilt, and confusion. As always, I made the relationship build slowly, from a place of friendship and trust. At first Genevieve only knows Elliott from the park. They go hiking as part of their daily work and she experiences a bit of peace for the first time in weeks. Elliott invites her to hang out as friends and they engage in another recreational activity that makes her feel better. Weeks pass. They hang out again and kiss, but Genevieve pushes Elliott away because she feels ashamed of her attraction to him. It takes several more weeks before she realizes that she doesn’t have to feel guilty about her emotions.

This point was really honed in on by an early beta-reader. One of the first drafts has Genevieve being interviewed at the end of the book and a journalist asks her about her feelings for Elliott. She still feels shame in that draft and says she won’t talk about her and Elliott. “I feel like the trolls win,” my beta-reader said. “It’s no one’s damn business if she likes someone new. They don’t get to demand that she act like their fave musician’s grieving widow for X amount of time, especially when they don’t even know all the facts.”

His words really resonated. He mentioned how people had expectations for Heath Ledger’s girlfriend and how it was ridiculous that fans got upset when she dated someone new years after Ledger’s death. And he’s right, you know? We feel things on different timetables. There is no one acceptable period to wait after someone dies or divorces you to start dating again. Some people are able to accept and absorb the grief and feel comfortable being vulnerable with a new partner quite quickly. Others need a much longer period of mourning. And either way is okay, as long as you’re being honest about your feelings, your needs, and your limitations.

There are plenty of people, online and off, who feel the need to judge Genevieve for becoming romantically involved with Elliott just a couple months after Dallas’s death. But by the end of the book she’s become empowered enough to embrace her feelings and make decisions about her budding relationship without letting a bunch of strangers make her feel bad for being the person she is.

What do you think about relationships in YA novels? Are you a sucker for a good ship in any genre, or do you wish more books skipped romance in favor of other types of storylines or relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Want to win a copy of THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED or any of my novels? Enter the Rafflecopter below. And look for tomorrow’s blog tour stop about the challenge of writing my first “issue book” on We Live and Breathe Books.

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Paula Stokes is the author of several novels, most recently This is How it Happened, Vicarious and Girl Against the Universe. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

I received an ARC of this book from Paula herself to review, and I'm honestly so glad that I did. I really enjoyed some of her previous books, and the entire premise of this one seemed promising and mysterious, especially since the summary hints that Genevieve ends up being more responsible for her boyfriend's death than she originally thought. 

As the summary explains, Genevieve wakes up after being in a terrible car accident that killed her boyfriend and rising YouTube star, Dallas. In addition to having to deal with that horrible loss, she also has to struggle with not being able to remember exactly what happened that night, and going off of whatever social media seems to be telling her. So Brad Freeman, the driver of the other truck in the accident, is basically a social pariah who is being bullied and harassed and physically and verbally taunted for killing Dallas, even though there weren't really conclusive results from the scene. But then Genevieve starts remembering pieces of the accident...and things aren't as cut-and-dry as they seem when it comes to the guilty party. And I'm not going to spoil it for you guys -- you're just going to have to read this book yourself.

(Mild spoilers here so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book yet!) Elliot was definitely my favorite character in the book. Not only was he so sweet and adorable and smart and kind, but even when Genevieve came to him with deep struggles and stories and confessions that she didn't have the courage to tell anyone else yet, he didn't treat her horribly or write her off or call her terrible names. He was understanding and patient, and he even brought up several important points about bravery and compassion and doing the right thing, all which are admirable traits in both characters in stories and in people outside of the pages. And then you even learn about how own dark past and the mistakes he has made, and they're definitely shocking and unexpected, and you learn that even the people who seem the most put together and perfect have their demons that they are battling with. 

What I liked most about Genevieve was that she was a genuinely good soul, even when life had dished her out a terrible hand and she found herself in less than desirable situations. Even if she had moments where her fear was taking control of her, she never stopped knowing in her mind and in her heart what was right and what was wrong. And that was a really admirable thing to read in a character -- because not everybody, in books and also in real life, can be like that. Not everyone can be brave despite the consequences, or face fears that others could never dream of having to battle with. Genevieve was such a great model for doing the right thing even after making mistakes that weren't easy to confront, which was a really admirable thing to read about. It really made me like her a lot.

The only character that I wasn't crazy about in this book was, surprisingly, Dallas. From the brief scenes where we met him, I didn't like how he would talk to Genevieve, or how he would behave, or even some of the terrible things he had done that had driven them apart. (And this is the moment where I lecture to all of my readers that what Dallas did is never ever okay in any circumstance and if I had been Genevieve I never would've taken him back at all.) But yeah, from the few scenes where he was actually alive and interacting with the story, he seemed kind of arrogant and it definitely felt like all of his fame went to his head, which made him a bit unlikable. *shrugs* Maybe that was the intention, or maybe that's just my take on it. 

In the end, I feel that this book was an excellent example not only of doing the right thing even when it may be hard or scary, but it also shares the importance of digital responsibility and the negative effects of cyberbullying as well. I actually really enjoyed the parts of the book where it showed the comments and Tweets on YouTube videos and articles, because while some of the things that people were saying were terrible and awful and just downright repulsive, they weren't really fiction. Those words and insults were in the same realm of some stuff that I see on Facebook every single day. (But never participate in, of course, because I'm an actual human being with actual human dignity and respect for others.) Seeing how cruel and hurtful and downright threatening people were to each other through a computer screen was really eye-opening and terrifying, which Genevieve even acknowledges in the book several times.

So yeah. Not only is this a great book, but you get tons of important life lessons about love and loss and acceptance and bullying and facing your fears and doing the right thing as well. You'll walk away from this book itching to be a better person because of Genevieve's twisted, confusing story and all of the terrible things that happened surrounding the death of Dallas.

Overall, I really enjoyed This Is How It Happened. Paula Stokes is an excellent writer in the sense that her books always keep you on the edge of the seat and wanting the next chapter, and she even throws in some shocking plot twists that you don't see coming. This was a quick, easy read that I sped though at the speed of light because it was just so good that I didn't want to put it down -- which, of course, meant that I totally shirked all of my other responsibilities, but it was totally worth it. If this book isn't on your TBR already, it definitely should be, because there is so much to enjoy when it comes to the book. Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was a 4 out of 5 stars from me.

So that was my review of the book itself, and now since you stuck around and read the whole thing...it's time for a giveaway!


Once again, I'd like to thank Paula for including us in her blog tour and for this awesome guest post! I really enjoyed reading her book and all of the mystery and thrills that came along with it. If this book isn't on your TBR yet, it certainly should be!