ARC REVIEW + EXCERPT: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June + INT Giveaway!!

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It Started With Goodbye

Christina June

Published May 9th 2017 by Blink/HarperCollins

YAContemporary | Romance

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD

4 ★★★★

 

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Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

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REVIEW:

“I cried for the girl constantly trying to force a connection, to find someone who took her at face value and didn’t ask her to be something she wasn’t. cried out for the doors that had closed and cried for the ones that might never open..”

I didn’t even know this was a retelling! Come to think of it, while I was reading the book I have this bubble of thought that says ‘Gosh she’s so much like Cinderella with what’s happening to her lol’ I love how Christina June got a lot of the books scenarios and character attitudes from the original Cinderella and modernized it but not in a way that it will lost the FEELS of the original story.

What I love about ISWG is that it’s not a love story. But it’s full of love. It’s romantic. It’s swoony. And most importantly, it’s full of heart. It started With Goodbye starts with our main character having the baddest day of her life and I like that. Because it just says that everything happens for a reason and bad things happening are actually a sign that GREAT things are ahead. Which is what happened with Tatums story. And Christina June made such a readable story with a relatable set of characters. Tatum is quirky, sweet, funny and authentic. She’s not perfect. You’ll scratch your head by some of her actions sometimes but that is the most wonderful part of reading a story, right? Getting affected by the characters actions that you’re connected with them. Now, I’m not sure if I’m the only one who felt this way but Tate’s parents are the only characters who I didn’t like much (her father is present here unlike from the original and she also has a stepmother) but I guess the author really designed them that way. The important thing though was that they helped a lot with Tatums character development.

The book has a lovestory as well that will also make you think of the original Cinderella. I don’t want to tell here how they met (hella cute), how did their love story progressed (swooooony) and what happened to their lovestory. You need to read the story for that, but one thing I can tell you is that even though the romance is not the highlight of the book, you won’t stop talking and thinking about it (like what I’m doing right now) just because it was done beautifully. There are a lot of winning relationships that is also part of the book such as friendships and family relationship. I specifically love the bond of Tatum and her abuela which is so delightfully sweet.

My rating is missing one star because ISWG started slow for me but despite of that, I would still recommend this book for contemporary lovers like me. It Started With Goodbye is well written and full of charm that will just touch your heartstrings. The characters are authentic and the story will make you believe that you could be a Tatum as well who is still lovable and fearless despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her.

 

EXCERPT:

I started crafting a letter, each key cool and hard under my fingers.

Hi Ashlyn,

Would she get stabby if I was formal, or would she think I was being contrite? I took off the lyn.

Hi Ash,

I heard through the grapevine that you enrolled at Blue Valley. I checked out the website, and it pretty much looks too good to be true. Do you ride to class on horseback? I bet they feed you nothing but ambrosia and Perrier too. We miss your face around here.

We or I? I left it we.

You aren’t missing anything at all at Henderson. Three more finals and then hello, junior year.

Remember the logo I was working on for Abby Gold’s blog? I finished it, and it turned out pretty well. Abby thinks I should make this a regular thing and launch my own business. What do you think?

Maybe she’d bite and give me her opinion. I did actually want it—she was pretty savvy when it came to people-oriented things, Chase excepted. I really just hoped she’d write me back.

Anywho, hope things are going okay. Do you have a roommate? If yes, if she annoys you, you can always freeze her bra or something. My intel says that’s the kind of prank people pull at all-girls schools.

Tatum

Or should I sign it Tate? Ashlyn was the only person who ever called me that. Again with the formal name or not. I looked back up at the top of the email. I supposed they should match, so I changed it.

Tate

Oh crud. What about a closing? Did I say Love or Sincerely? Warmly? Yours truly? The cheeky but effective Cheers? Or, my least favorite of all because it was so sadly insincere and fake, Best? Why was this so difficult? I closed my eyes for a moment, the pores on my hands prickling. I googled “how to close a letter,” determined to find exactly the right way to show my friend that I missed her and wanted to talk with her, but that I wasn’t going to apologize because I’d done nothing wrong and acted out of self-preservation. Google would know the right answer.

I read the almighty Wikipedia page titled “Valedictions”—apparently, that was the fancy word that meant how to say goodbye—and laughed at some of the phrases people used to write in old letters. “Yours aye”—which meant “yours always”—made me think of a pirate. The list of more casual closings suggested TTFN. That was too childish. Yours hopefully? Plain desperate, and too obvious. Couldn’t give it all away. And then I saw it. Be well. It made the most sense, as I was innocently hoping she was settling in at her new school. It wasn’t reciprocal. With a simple Be well, I was offering my personal goodwill without asking for anything in return. And it wasn’t too stiff or laid-back. Just right, as Goldilocks would say.

Be well,

Tate

AUTHOR:

  Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.

Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.

Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, will be published by Blink/HarperCollins on May 9, 2017.

   

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

5 Winners will receive a Copy of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE by Christina June

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REVIEW: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

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The Distance from A to Z

Natalie Blitt

January 12th 2016

Young Adult > Contemporary

316 pages (Kindle edition)

 

3★★★1/2

 

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Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

 

REVIEW:

 

I’m not in love with this book as much as everyone else seems to be but it’s still good nonetheless.

The MC, Abby, is a bit judgmental so I had a hard time liking her. There were times when I thought I finally liked her and then she would go back to being annoying so of course we’re back to square one. Also, I’m glad that her aversion to baseball was addressed because it really grated on my nerves and part of me actually thought she was overreacting about it.

The love interest, Zeke, wasn’t as swoon worthy as I hoped he would be. I don’t know. Maybe because like Abby, I had a hard time liking him too? He was okay at first but then he kept some things that bothered me as much as Abby did but for a whole lot of different reasons. It was because it’s like I never saw the real him. The whole book is on Abby’s POV so it was harder for me to connect with him, I guess. He has these two separate versions of himself–Zeke in English and Zeke in French. The Zeke in English who parties and hooks up with other girls and has all these secrets as opposed to Zeke in French who’s just so utterly adorable and nice. It made me really wonder how Abby and Zeke could ever work out once their summer program is over but maybe it’s just the cynic in me talking.

I do love how amazing the friendship is here though. I just wanted to scream ‘forget the romance, here is a friendship I’ve been dying to read and have for myself in ages!’ Alice wasn’t treated as a mere plot device but her friendship with Abby played a big role in Abby’s growth as much as Alice’s. It’s real and it’s strong and I want it for myself. It’s one of my favorite things about this whole book actually. Along with the French language and how it was incorporated in the story. I took a French class sophomore year and needless to say, I learned more here than I ever did in that class.

Overall, The Distance from A to Z is a nice and heartwarming book that’s not all about the romance but also about friendship, growth and taking chances.

MARLAhbt

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Darkest Dawn by Katlyn Duncan

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Darkest Dawn (Willows Lake #1)
Katlyn Duncan
Published September 17th 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers, Carina UK
YA >Fantasy | Paranormal
 
 
 
Purchase links:
Amazon  | Barnes & Noble |  Apple iBooks
 
 

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One desperate journey for the truth
Returning to Willows Lake eleven years after her mother’s tragic death, Sloane Baker knows she will finally get the answers she needs! She always suspected that there was something more sinister at the heart of the accident that claimed her mother’s life, but a cryptic note could be the key to her past…
Two lives changed forever
The small town has always seemed safe to Brianna Taylor – until a mysterious new girl arrives who looks exactly like Bri! Now everything Bri knew has been thrown into question and Sloane’s arrival has changed the world of Willows Lake forever.
Strange things are happening in Willows Lake. But when they turn deadly, Bri and Sloane must find a way to save each other or risk losing everything they hold dear…
 
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AUTHOR:

 

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Website | Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook

 

Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

 

 

 
   

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BOOK SPOTLIGHT: A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

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A Step Towards Falling

Cammie McGovern

Expected publication: October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen

YA >Contemporary | Realistic Fiction

 

 

 

 

Purchase links:

Amazon | B&N

 

 

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Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut, Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

 

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AUTHOR:

 Caroline-Patti-225x300

Website

 

Cammie McGovern was born in Evanston, Illinois, but moved to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. She is the author of three adult novels, The Art of Seeing, Eye Contact, and Neighborhood Watch. Say What You Will will be published by HarperTeen in June, 2014. She currently lives in Amherst, MA, with her husband and three sons, the oldest of whom is autistic.

 

 

 


   

GIVEAWAY:

 

One winner will get 2 copies of A STEP TOWARD FALLING by Cammie McGovern, one for themselves and one to give to a friend.
Must be 13+ To Enter |Ships in US only | Winner will be asked to provide contact info for friend so we can gather their shipping info and mail directly.

 

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ARC REVIEW: Last Train To Babylon by Charlee Fam + Giveaway!!

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TITLE: Last Train to Babylon: A Novel
AUTHOR: Charlee Fam
PUBLICATION: Published October 28th 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
GENRE: NA > Realistic Fiction
PAGES: 352pages (paperback)
SOURCE: arc via publisher
RATING:
 
 

 4 ★★★★1/2

 
 
You can buy the Book here:
 Amazon | Barnes | iBooks | Kobo
 
 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

 
Fans of Alice Sebold and John Green will be transfixed by this sophisticated, edgy debut novel packing dark humor, biting wit, and a lot of Jack Daniels
Who put the word fun in funeral? I can’t think of anything fun about Rachel’s funeral, except for the fact that she won’t be there.
Aubrey Glass has a collection of potential suicide notes—just in case. And now, five years—and five notes—after leaving her hometown, Rachel’s the one who goes and kills herself. Aubrey can’t believe her luck.
But Rachel’s death doesn’t leave Aubrey in peace. There’s a voicemail from her former friend, left only days before her death that Aubrey can’t bring herself to listen to—and worse, a macabre memorial-turned-high-school reunion that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone… including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between she and Rachel.
In the days leading up to the funeral and infamous after party, Aubrey slips seamlessly between her past and present. Memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters while underneath it all Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. And when the past and present collide in one devastating night, nothing will be the same again.
But facing the future means confronting herself and a shattering truth. Now, Aubrey must decide what will define her: what lies behind… or what waits ahead. 

 

 

Last-Train-to-Babylon-Charlee-Fam

 

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REVIEW:

 

My mouth is literally hanging open when I finished this novel and I don’t even know what to feel. For real. I was angry, sad.. I wanna cry, and I want to hug someone too. I just don’t know!! But one thing is for sure, I was surprised. This book snuck up on me and totally squeezed my heart. It gripped me from the very first chapter and I never thought I’d like Aubrey so much. If you read this, you’ll be surprised.

You see, Aubrey is a b*tch. I’m sorry, but she is. According to her,she’s incapable of having feelings, which I thought was true until her story started to unravel. We found out that Rachel, Aubreys ex-bestfriend, has committed suicide. Now as Rachel’s ex-bestfriend, her mother is obligating her to go.. even if she really don’t want to. At first, I was a little confused. I mean, if you don’t want to go then don’t. But Aubrey still went home, not for Rachel, but for herself.

Aubrey must be one of the most cold hearted protagonist I’ve ever encountered. But god, my heart breaks for her too. I adore her actually for being so strong and for..surviving her tormentors in her life. I was shocked on how indifferent she feel when she found her Rachel died. And she’s so mean! She drinks a lot and yes, she’s also having suicidal thoughts, Rachel just beat her to it.

This is also one of the best beautifully written book I’ve read that deals with dark themes. Charlee Fam’s words slays. It literally cuts through you and her words just makes you.. feel. It doesn’t even matter what kind of feeling is that, whether its anger or happiness, as long as the protagonist is feeling it and Charlee Fam is describing it, you’ll definitely feel it. Charlee Fam is a brilliant author! I can’t believe this is her debut novel, it makes me excited for her upcoming books.

Last Train to Babylon is a very gritty and heartbreaking novel. Its about a woman’s journey to realizing that your past may not be the most beautiful one out there, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. Past mistakes are made to help us shape who we are right now and yes, whether we want it or not, we are gonna lose some people along the way. Especially if those people are the ones holding you back and reminds you of that past. They’re not helping, so just let them go.

Its beautiful and sad. Heartbreaking and moving. Last Train to Babylon is a wonderful debut novel!
 

 

 

 

 

THE AUTHOR:

 

Charlee Fam ap1

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

 

CHARLEE FAM is a twenty-something novelist living in New York City. A Long Island native, Charlee graduated from Binghamton University in 2010 with a degree in creative writing and several awards to her name. LAST TRAIN TO BABYLON is her first novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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