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 ★★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

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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[tour schedule

 

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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TOUR HOST:

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ARC REVIEW: A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold + Review

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A Boy Called Bat

Elana K. Arnold

Published March 14th 2017 by Walden Pond Press

Middle gradeFiction | REalistic Fiction

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD

3 ★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso, A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

1

[tour schedule

 

REVIEW:

When I read the blurb of ABCB, I instantly remembered my younger brother and I want to admit that that’s one of the reasons why I want to read and review Elana’s book. Not only that, I’m an animal lover myself and even though Bat is way younger than me, it was not hard to feel for him while reading. But don’t let Bat’s age hinder you from reading ABCB. This book is genuine and very easy to read. That’s what I like the most. Arnolds writing was not hard to get in to and Bat’s story will make you care.

I also recommend A Boy Called Bat for young readers who are looking for their first read. I would want my kids  to read this someday so that they’ll have their introduction to authentic and diverse characters plus well written plot. This book is not only full of adorableness but full of heart as well. I’m looking forward to more Elana Arnold book no matter what age group she’s writing it for!

AUTHOR:

 Caroline-Patti-225x300 Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse–a gorgeous mare named Rainbow–and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content

 

     

GIVEAWAY:

 

5 Winners will receive a Copy of A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold!

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TOUR HOST:

Jean BookNerd Tours

Paula

ARC REVIEW: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thicker than Water

Brigid Kemmerer

December 29th 2015

Young Adult > Mystery

432 pages (Kindle edition)

eARC via Netgalley

 

3★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasnt been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdads cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that theres any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And shed like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden

 

REVIEW:

I’m here because I’ve been attracted to you since the moment I saw you outside the church.

Yes that totally justifies hanging out with a guy who’s suspected of murder. Come on, he’s cute! Murder? How could he possibly?!

I’m here because you let your guard down around me sometimes, and I don’t think you do that with anyone else.

Seeing as you’re the only one who talks to him, what with him being a murder suspect and all. I can’t imagine anyone else who would willingly offer friendship to him. Well … except for you so yes, maybe that’s why. And also, you’re hot!!11

I’m here because you make me feel like I have something to offer the world, instead of being someone who needs to be sheltered away.

Ugh. 

Basically, what I hated about this book was how Charlotte kept romanticizing Thomas and how the first part of the book mainly focuses on her infatuation towards him that it somehow escaped her mind that the guy who’s making her all tingly inside is also suspected of murdering his mother. No biggie. These two could not be in a room together without either one of them thinking how hot the other is and wanting to tear each other’s clothes off. Like what is even with two of them?

It’s not clear who killed Thomas’ mother. That’s where the mystery begins. What we do know is that he just found her there lifelessly lying in bed. No forced entry. Not even a sign of struggle. Even though Thomas is the main character, I, as a reader, still did not eliminate the chance that he could be the murderer. So yes, I don’t care if Thomas gets Charlotte hot every time they’re near each other, I still think they were being stupid.

But still I trudged on forward even though it took me almost a month to get to the finish line. And wow I was impressed. Not because the mystery was so mind-blowing in the how did it even level. It was a little predictable actually. I was impressed by how this book hooked me and kept me on the edge of my seat for the second half part of the book. To think that just a few chapters ago, I was almost ready to dismiss this book as another careless mystery that couldn’t keep up to the genre (*cough* Never Never *cough*).

I’m no Sherlock and I admit, as soon as bits and pieces of clues were revealed, it was pretty easy to put them all together. But it still kept me wanting more.

All in all, Thicker Than Water is close to being a solid mystery. Like I said, mind-blogging is not what the book is, but what it offered was enough to keep me engaged all the way through the end. I still can’t let go of the characters stupidity though.

MARLAhbt

ARC REVIEW&BOOK PLAYLIST: The Hometown Hazard by Dawn Lanuza + Giveaway!!

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The Hometown Hazard

Dawn Lanuza

Published January 29th 2016 by Indie Sisiw Books

YA/NA > Romance | Contemporary

 

Purchase links: Amazon | Buqo 

 

4 ★★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Jules Coronado has been away from her hometown for almost a decade but when an intruder breaks in to her childhood home, she finds herself coming back. Changes evidently took place in her small town, including her childhood best friend’s younger brother, Kip – now tall, slightly scruffed, all grown up and caught climbing into their garden wall.

Kip Villamor has a mission and despite Jules’ doubts, they team up: going on fieldtrips, tackling unsuspecting men, and trespassing offices to dig up dirt. But Jules has secrets of her own, one that might be exposed – unless she keeps her walls up. But climbing walls are Kip’s forte, remember?

Will her secrets keep her on his side, or will it force her to disappear again?

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[tour schedule

 

REVIEW:

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Yep. That’s just me the whole time. Dawn Lanuza brings out the romantic side of me from my icy and snarky exterior. Well played Dawn! Well played!

 

 

 

 

“You ever felt like there are two versions of you, and they dont exist in the same place.”

 

I have bee a fan of Dawn Lanuza ever since I read her first book, The Boyfriend Backtrack, which by the way is a great life choice because not only did I enjoy that smart and sweet story but I also got the chance to meet our main character in The Hometown Hazard which is Jules. I have to say though, because we’re totally being honest here, that the blurb of this books caused some double taking from me. The girl-being-younger-than-the-love-interest (no matter how much the age gap) is something I avoid aggressively. So. If you’re like me, I’ll tell you right away that THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BOTHER YOU.

The book started off with Jules waking up because of a phone call from her parents saying that somebody broken inside of their house and apparently, the intruder was very interested at Jules’ room. Could Jules know who the culprit is? Jules being the caring daughter decided to go home to her hometown which she left long time ago because of an incident. From here we meet her loving parents and of course the swoony daredevil, Kip. All grown up and enjoying his new hobby: sneaking into offices and running from people. Just like from Dawn Lanuza’s first novel, she made another set of characters that are authentic and fun. They are a bunch to let go. Jules is the definition of a likeable character. I like the fact that she’s matured and her background story agrees with her. I mean, you don’t expect me to like a character who says she graduated from law school but don’t act like it. Stuff like that are very important. You can see though from the first part of the story that Jules’ character is pretty flawed. She have fears and issues that she needs to overcome. Plus the fact that she’s running away from something that happened years ago and it’s affecting her future. And this is where Kip comes in. Kip is.. wow how do I describe Kip? Well he’s my favorite guy by Dawn Lanuza. He’s the right amount of dangerous and swoony. He’s all mysterious but I liked the fact that with every page, the author keeps peeling off a layer from Kips mysterious personality.

The romance is set in a pace that is believable and its just my favorite thing! No instalove. No love triangle. No unnecessary dramas. I think what makes The Hometown Hazard stands out from other love stories out there is that ITS NOT JUST A LOVESTORY. There’s also a mystery that is going on plus a huge revelation about our main characters pasts. It’s truly such an incredible story!

Written in a very easy and witty atmosphere, The Hometown Hazard is written not to only entertain but to tug at your heartstrings. Dawn Lanuza just keeps getting better and better! Hilarious, romantic and real.. Readers need to make room for The Hometown Hazard in their shelf. 

 

BOOK PLAYLIST:

I actually have playlist for the story while I was writing it on Spotify. But these are the top tracks:

The Naked and the Famous – No Way (Quiet)

This is actually the first song that came to mind when I was writing the book. It’s a beautiful track and I think it matches a certain part of the book. If you read the book, I think you’d know where it fits.

Chicago – If You Leave Me Now

This song just reminds me of lazy Sunday mornings and I feel like that’s how Jules pictured her childhood home and her hometown.

Raleigh Ritchie – The Chased

Just because there’s a lot of running and chasing.

Tom Waits – I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love with You

In the book, I made Kip and Jules dance to a James Taylor song but when I was writing it, I was imagining it with Tom Waits’ “I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love with You.”

Tegan and Sara – Drove Me Wild

This is my Kip song. I think about him when I listen to this song.

The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still

This is the song that’s playing in my head when I imagine the beach scene.

Colony House – Learning How to Love

I think this song’s lyrics is spot on with Jules.

Imogen Heap – Entanglement

Last scene. I’ll leave it with that. 

– DAWN

 

 

AUTHOR:

 Caroline-Patti-225x300Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads 

Dawn Lanuza started writing stories when she was just a kid (they weren’t good or even finished). She works for the music industry by day and writes meet cutes and snappy comebacks by night. ‘The Boyfriend Backtrack’ is her first book. She currently lives with her family and an adopted dog.

     

 

 

 

 

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ARC Review: Under The Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland


Under The Dusty Moon

Suzane Sutherland

Published January 23rd 2016 by Dundurn

YA >  Contemporary

272 pages

eARC for Review

 

 2 ★★

 

Purchase links: Amazon | Nook

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

 

She’s with the band, whether she likes it or not.

Victoria Mahler is the sixteen-year-old only daughter of rocker Micky Wayne, whose band, Dusty Moon, took the world by storm when Micky was just a teenager. The band broke up under mysterious circumstances, but, after years spent off the road being a mom, Micky’s solo career is finally starting to take off.

When an offer to tour Japan falls into her mom’s lap, Vic is left to spend the summer under the care of her distant grandmother, and without her built-in best friend. Fortunately, a boy with a secret geek side and a group of feminist game-makers save the season, and Vic starts to see herself as her own person, out from under her mother’s shadow.

But when Micky finally comes home — with a poorly chosen boyfriend in tow — all bets are off. Will Vic be able to maintain her newfound sense of self amidst the building thunder of Micky’s second chance at stardom? And through it all, will Micky still really be her best friend?

 

REVIEW

Under The Dusty Moon was disappointing on epic proportions.  You see, when I first went into this book, what I expected was girl power, plenty of gaming goodness, a protagonist I would love and a parent-daughter relationship that would be eye-opening in its goodness.  What I got—at least after the 35% mark—was basically a disaster in print form.The book follows one summer in the life of Victoria Mahler, a sixteen year old BRAT.  She was the epitome of a kind of girl you would not want to grow up with because damn.  She’s selfish and basically a fool, but the one thing that stood out most about this girl was how jealous she was.  See, Victoria’s mother Micky Wayne was the yesteryear star of Dusty Moon, which was a huge deal.  And the book—and Victoria’s POV—was more than 90% whining about how Micky was so famous, and how she should move on and be a  real mom, and whatnot.  Victoria just wouldn’t move beyond the fact that her mom had a life before her, separate from her, and it was annoying af.  She kept being a brat to her mother, and the entire “best-friends” thing that she had with her fell flat on its face for the very same reason.Micky, Victoria’s mother, was another major reason the entire book failed.  Being a part of a band (that split up years ago, btw) apparently gave the woman free reign to leave Victoria on her own for the summer and go traipsing around the other side of the world. I understand about working mothers who have to travel a lot (I have one), but the entire thing felt like something that normal moms just wouldn’t do.  Her entire character arc felt very confusing, and I couldn’t tell up from down where this woman was concerned.

Under The Dusty Moon started off really well.  For almost the first half, I found myself enjoying the book, its characters, the entire she-bang.  With the benefit of hindsight, I realise that I almost looked over the annoying parts of the book simply because I was way too excited to enjoy the book completely.  But in all honesty, I did not see this book going the way it did.  I thought there would be one pivotal point where the story would pick up pace, and Victoria would become more aware of things besides herself, more mature, but unfortunately, that point never came.  Throw in a best friend who bought the whole gaming thing in for a grand total of 3.67 pages, and a love interest who was as boring as he was flimsy, I really don’t see the point of recommending this book to anyone.

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