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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow

Release date: November 6th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?

About the Author
Rebecca BarrowRebecca Barrow is the author of You Don't Know Me But I Know You. She writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Release date: August 21st 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.
Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal--and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it's to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.
Amy's life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she's gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return--and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother--and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

*Received a paperback copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A truly incredible story! I was invested from start to finish, so intrigued with the characters and how this intensity would wrap up. It's still so fresh in my mind that I can't even find the words to write a sensible review. For starters, let's see if I can get my thoughts out clearly on Sarah deciding to take Emma. 

Okay, you could say Amy and her husband deserved it, they weren't the best parents and Amy was rather abusive, both physically and verbally towards Emma. The poor child was depressed and I could see her growing up to be a broken adult. And I believe during that first sighting of Emma with her family and observing the ill-treatment from Amy, something clicked in Sarah and she could instantly relate, having experienced a similar treatment from her own mother as a child. Perhaps it was fate or just mere coincidence, but spotting Emma again led Sarah into thinking she had to do something to help the little girl. Should she have gone as far as to kidnap Emma? I don't think so. That's wrong in itself, and Sarah based her judgment on the fact that the child protective system was messed up and she didn't believe they'd save Emma from her unfit mother. Whatever the reasoning, kidnapping is never the answer. Personally, I would have reported Amy after seeing the way she treated her daughter and let the authorities handle the situation. But I completely understood Sarah's intentions and saw how the abandonment from her own mother had affected her and possibly caused her to take Emma in hopes of giving her a better life. Also, the immediate bond between Sarah and Emma was quite adorable and so opposite of what both girls had with their mothers. You just couldn't stay mad at Sarah for doing what she did when the two were enjoying each other so much, and I would constantly question myself as to whether or not the kidnapping would change Amy into becoming a better and more loving mother should Emma return home.

Staying on Amy a bit, it was hard sympathizing with the woman. While I'm not a mother, I know how tough it is for mothers and how they are simply doing the best they can. But my gosh, Amy had some seriously deep rooted issues that she took out on her daughter. She seriously needed to see a psychologist. I don't want to give too much away as to how terrible her behavior and attitude toward life in general was, but she pretty much took a lot out on Emma and acted as if the five-year-old girl was out to destroy her when she was, in fact, reacting to the abuse of her mother. And don't let me get started on the father. He was oblivious of a lot and never really stepped up. His attention was mostly given to their younger child so his actions toward the end were totally predictable. Amy often thought to herself how she didn't really want children, but I'm not sure if her marriage would have still worked out had they not been parents, not with the unaddressed issues she had coming into their relationship.

Back to Sarah. It was interesting seeing how much she gave up to save Emma. She initially seemed so career driven so I was a tad surprised. However, in the flashbacks to her relationship with Ethan, she'd often mention becoming a wife and mother. But I wonder if that had to do with the neglect she carried from childhood and desire to do the opposite for her own family? Whatever the case, I was hoping for closure for her and was delightfully fascinated when the opportunity arose. I'm not sure how I would have handled that but I commend Sarah for her strength in facing it. I also would have liked to know how the second encounter went but then the story might have become too stretched. 

As for how things turned out in the end, I honestly wasn't expecting that. I'd thought it a bit at the beginning of the story but felt like Amy would've changed somewhat to a point where she deserved a second chance. Either way, I was sort of left in limbo as to how I feel about the ending and had questions as to what would happen next. But I'm also contented with that and draw my own conclusions, for instance, what would Emma think about Sarah and Amy when she got older? Would she hate Sarah for kidnapping her? Things like that will stay with you after reading this book. Kudos to Rea Frey on such an incredible and intense story. The writing is wonderful and consuming. You won't put this down once you've started, and you'll hate for it to ever end. I highly recommend!

IMG_2050 copy.jpgAbout the Author
Rea Frey is the author of four nonfiction books. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel. When she’s not exercising, mothering, adulting, wifing, eating, or writing about herself in the third person, you can find her hard at work on her next book and ghostwriting for other people.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#FearlessWomen Tour ~ The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

Series: Lady Astronaut #2
Release date: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Tor Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Mary Robinette Kowal continues the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars.

Of course the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but could the International Aerospace Coalition ever stand the thought of putting a woman on such a potentially dangerous mission? Could Elma knowingly take the place of other astronauts who have been overlooked because of their race? And could she really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.


The thing about wearing a space suit on Earth is that it’s designed for lower gravity. Even being in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab’s pool didn’t change the fact that gravity pulled at me. Sure, it didn’t pull at the suit, but inside it, I slid around every time I changed orientation. As a woman, I was smaller than the men the suits had been designed for, so I had to wear padding around my hips to sort of wedge me in. This kept the air bubble surrounding me inside the suit distributed evenly, allowing me to move from horizontal to vertical over the course of the NBL run without fighting gravity. Without the padding, the air bubble acted like a giant beach ball, strapped to my stomach, always wanting to be pointed up to the surface. It made it difficult to roll any other way.

In truth, having an air bubble inside the suit wouldn’t be a problem in space, but the NBL was where people decided if you had what it took to do a spacewalk. So neither I nor any of the other women would complain. No, sir. Everything was splendid and we were happy to be in the pool.

I hung sideways in the water with the fiberglass shell digging into my armpit. My neck burned from holding my head up inside my helmet. My fingers ached from forcing my stiff gloves to close on the edge of the solar panel we were practicing “repairing.” With the suits pressurized to 4.9 psi above ambient pressure, every movement felt like working against a heavy-duty spring. It wasn’t exactly like working in a vacuum, but it gave us a sense of how exhausting it would be. A wrinkle in my glove felt like a metal wire across my knuckle as the pressure made it rigid. But if you asked me how I was doing, I would have been so very, very chipper.

About the Author

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of the historical fantasy novels Ghost Talkers and the five books in The Glamourist Histories series. She is also a multiple Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction has appeared in Uncanny,, and Asimov’s. Mary, a professional puppeteer, lives in Chicago with her husband Robert and over a dozen manual typewriters.

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.” 

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen will be a coordinated social media celebration encouraging fans to start a dialogue about women in publishing, their worlds, their voices, and their unique stories. 

Tor Books’ handles across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@torbooks) will be using the hashtags #FearlessWomen (and #FearlessFantasy and #FearlessSF) to promote excerpts, exclusive content, quizzes and giveaways beginning in May. There will also be exclusive giveaways at BookCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and New York Comic Con. Follow Tor Books online, join the conversation – and get reading!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart

Release date: July 17th 2018
Publisher: Howard Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
A story of re-connection, lost love, and the power of faith, Heart Land follows a struggling fashion designer back to her small Iowa hometown as she tries to follow her dreams of success and finding true love.

Grace Klaren has finally made her dream of living in the Big Apple and working in the fashion industry a reality. But when she’s unexpectedly fired and can’t afford the next month’s rent, Grace does something she never thought she’d do: she moves back home.

Back in Silver Creek, Iowa, Grace is determined to hate it. She rails against the quiet of her small town, where everything closes early, where there’s no nightlife, where everyone knows each other. She’s saving her pennies and plotting her return to New York when she almost runs over a man who’s not paying attention at a crosswalk. It turns out to be Tucker, her high school sweetheart whose heart she broke when she left ten years ago. They reconnect, and Grace remembers why she fell for him in the first place.

And her career begins to turn around when she finds a gorgeous but tattered vintage dress at a flea market. She buys it, rips it apart seam by seam, and re-creates it with new fabric, updating the look with some of her own design ideas. She snaps a picture and lists the dress online, and within a day, it sells for nearly $200. Suddenly, Grace has her ticket out of here.

But Grace can’t fight her growing feelings for Tucker. Sometimes when they’re together, Tucker paints a picture of what their future could be like, and it feels so real. And when she finally gains the funding to move her new business back to New York, Grace must decide where home really is—will she chase her long-held New York dream, or find a new dream here in the heartland? 

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Heart Land is a cute story that while has its predictable moments, there are good life lessons you can take from it. One thing I liked the most is how it emphasized that home is truly where the heart is, no matter where you go or how much you may feel like that place isn't for you and that you need bigger things to fill a need.

Character-wise, Grace came off rather naive to me, especially in how she maneuvered life in New York. It baffled me how quickly she was to trust, more specifically trusting the same person that carried out her firing. That bit aside, she was relatable in the sense that some people just want more and want to experience greater things than their small town can offer. So it's understandable that she didn't want to limit herself to Silver Creek. Sadly, there were times she straight up shaded her hometown in the process, even failing to keep in touch with those closest to her.

Gigi was a wonderful figure in the story. The way she'd always have open arms waiting for Grace was commendable because not many would do the same after Grace's continuous neglect of where she came from. I also liked her unwavering faith and the constant reminder that you'll rise after every fall in life.

The romance aspect was also adorable. Tucker went through a lot with Grace and it's a wonder that he could still love her after everything, but he definitely held her in his heart and held on to the hope that one day she'd open her eyes and realize everything she wanted in life was already in front of her face. 

Again, a really cute story with some valuable lessons. For instance, I liked that Grace tried to help out members of her town by involving them in her business when things started to turn around for her. And the fact that she stood her ground and thought of them when faced with a horrible deal made her more likable and showcased growth. As I've said, a good story. It's just that it was a tad predictable. But overall, if you're looking for a short and sweet read about faith, self-discovery, and love, then you may enjoy this one.

About the Author

Kimberly StuartKimberly Stuart, in an effort to condone the time and money spent, would like you to know she holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Iowa. She learned lots of interesting things at these fine institutions, none of which prepared her for the lethal cocktail of parenthood and writing. Stuart is the author of the Heidi Elliott series, Act Two, Stretch Marks, Operation Bonnet and Sugar. She is a frequent public speaker and is passionate about helping others live great stories.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Release date: July 17th 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us—whose writing is “emotionally wrenching and utterly original” (Sarah Shepard, New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series)—delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

*Publisher approved request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

All Your Perfects is a beautiful and realistic story depicting how two people can move from being hopelessly in love at the beginning of their relationship to fighting for each other when times get tough.

I'd like to start of my review by admitting that I didn't totally understand Quinn's unhappiness at first. I found it baffling as to how she could be so sad in her marriage yet she wants to have a baby. Babies don't fix things, it only makes the situation more stressful. But as the story progresses and I begin to learn more about what she's going through and why Graham's love hurt her so much then I could sympathize with Quinn and where she's coming from. 

I really like how real and relatable their problems are, especially on Quinn's part. I don't want to specify too much but I do want to say this is something many women face and I like that Colleen explored this issue so much. 
Graham is definitely one of a kind, in the way that he's so loving and understanding of his wife and is accepting of everything about her. I think Quinn had all these expectations and dreams going into their marriage, that while Graham shared and loved about her, he also knew within his heart that none of those things would shatter the love he has for her should they not achieve them. I believe Quinn lost this somewhere down the line and definitely needed to be reminded of what truly matters and why they got married to begin with.

Being that the story is written in past and present times, you really get to experience the highs of their relationship and the most hurtful times. I enjoyed getting to know these two and falling in love with their love. It definitely started out crazy but you quickly warm up to the intense feelings between them. I'd be smiling at their cuteness and then crying at their sadness. It's just that great of a story with superb writing. I haven't read a Hoover novel since Confess, but this book certainly has me hopping back on the CoHo train. I highly recommend!

Colleen HooverAbout the Author
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, Point of Retreat, This Girl, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Maybe Not, Ugly Love, Confess, November 9, It Ends with Us, and Without Merit. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.


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