Review | Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by debut author Joya Goffney is the story of an overly enthusiastic list maker who is blackmailed into completing a to-do list of all her worst fears. It’s a heartfelt, tortured, contemporary YA high school romance with epistolary elements. Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Kristina Forest’s debut I Wanna Be Where You Are will love the juicy secrets, leap-off-the-page sexual tension and the enemy-to-lover romantic arc.

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As someone who to this day carries notebooks around with them (and would be in a panic if I lost any of them) the premise of this one really intrigued me from the start. Quinn’s notebook comes across more as a journal, so that would make losing it all the worse. It’s apparent pretty quickly that Quinn has lots of areas where she could grow, her notebook contains a lot of things she’s scared about, dreams about and more and without it she has to learn how to gain courage and sometimes take chances to face her fears.

There are definite themes of racism, blackmailing, general high school pressures (including those from parents) and more. With everything that was packed into this book I almost felt like the romance wasn’t needed since there was so much more to unpack, but it was still a nice addition. All in all I really enjoyed this debut and would look forward to reading more from Joya Goffney in the future. The writing style flowed really well and made it a fast paced read for me.

Happy reading!

Review | Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Seventeen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was kind of teetering between 3.5 stars and 4 stars for this one, but I bumped it up to a 4 because there were so many things I really did enjoy. First off, I felt we got a really good picture of Mia right from the beginning which was great. I think one of the best aspects of this books was the way it explored more than just her romantic relationship, but also her parental relationship and a friendship. I also really enjoyed all the details that were woven into the different places she went as they really did a good job of painting a picture of the ever romantic Paris. Personally I think me at a younger age would have probably given this book a higher rating, so I think it is perfect for it’s target audience. Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely pick up more of the author’s books as I did enjoy her writing style and pacing.

Happy reading!

Review | Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

First and foremost, this book is not some light and happy story. It’s very heavy and impactful and like me, you will likely have to sit with it a bit after reading it. This is set in a futuristic world where all of the ‘monsters’ have been eliminated, and those who are now technically in power are known as the ‘angels.’

There was so much packed into this book. There was talk about what monsters looked like and how you may not be able to recognize them, talk about race, a ton of diversity and more. It’s really hard to put into words just all this book discusses because of how deep it is. We follow Jam as she meets Pet and the moral conflict that comes from their discussions.

The inclusion and diversity of the book was wonderful to read as such things should become more normalized. These weren’t things added in just to be there, they were integral facets and parts of different characters.

Some of my favorite parts of the book were the conversations Jam would have with Pet and the want they would work through those conversations. Those talks were full of metaphor and morality and really propelled the story towards the end.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa | Review

Wicked faeries and fantastic danger… Welcome to book one of the new trilogy in New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey fantasy series, as infamous prankster Puck finally has a chance to tell his story and stand with allies new and old to save Faery and the world. 

“YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF ME…”

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten. Filled with myths and faery lore, romance and unfathomable dangers, The Iron Raven is book one of a new epic fantasy trilogy set in the world of The Iron Fey.

Buy Links | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | AppleBooks | Google Play

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have not read the other books set in this world, but having loved some of Julie Kagawa’s other books I definitely wanted to pick this one up. It can definitely be read without reading the past books, but I’m sure having them as a foundation would give more oomph to it.

I really enjoyed how fast paced this was, I didn’t really feel like there were any sections that dragged. It was easy to get immersed in the quest that the characters went on and no one really felt superfluous to me. I will definitely be going back and reading the previous books in this world and look forward to any future installments that are coming in the future!

JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria | Review

An Ember in the Ashes meets Mask of Shadows in Emily Victoria’s #ownvoices debut YA fantasy, This Golden Flame, in which asexual Karis, a servant to the mysterious Scriptorium, accidentally awakens long-dormant automaton Alix, initiating an epic adventure full of magic, rebellion, and finding where you truly belong.

Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible – she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father – their nation’s greatest traitor – once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.

BUY LINKS | Bookshop.org | Powell’s | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Amazon | Chapters | Kobo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was not expecting this book to suck me in from the beginning, but it did. The beginning definitely gives a good introduction to Karis and her motivations and it hits the ground running so to speak. I did enjoy the setting and aspects of Ancient Greek that were woven into the world/story. The duel perspectives of Karis and Alix were well played off of each other and it was nice to have a perspective that wasn’t just another human character. I loved the inclusion and diversity of the characters and their orientations without it being a huge thing. Those are my favorite types of inclusive stories, when it’s just normalized within the world. There were definitely aspects where the story could have gone a little farther, but overall I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Even minor characters were given fleshed out identities that were wonderful to read and breathed life to them even as the main characters worked through their adventure. I could see this having a sequel or companion, but I think it’s meant to be a standalone – still, the potential is there.

Emily Victoria lives on the Canadian prairies with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, works at her public library, and has just finished her Masters of Library and Information Studies.

SOCIAL LINKS |
Author website: https://www.avictoriantale.com/

Twitter: @avictoriantale

Instagram: @avictoriantale

Happy reading!

Review | I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have been wanting to pick this one up for a long time, so it’s another instance of kicking myself for waiting so long to read it. I really enjoyed one of Maurene Goo’s other books, so am glad I finally got to this one since it was just a wonderful read. Sure there were parts of it where it was a tad predictable but I absolutely loved all the K-drama references and the nods to Korean culture. I can’t say the route Desi took was appropriate and it was pretty out there – but it made the read fun and hilarious. This was great for a light and fun read and I’m so happy I finally got to it.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor | Review

In this contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma by USA TODAY bestselling author Jillian Cantor, there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born.

George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

BUY LINKS | Harlequin  | Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |
Books-A-Million | Walmart | Google | iBooks | Kobo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Full disclaimer – of all of Jane Austen’s books, Emma is my least favorite. I don’t dislike it, but I have a weakness for being drawn to retellings of it to see if I like a reworking of the story itself. I really enjoyed this take on it and in some ways can completely empathize with Emma’s opinion that math can be easier to understand and communicate with than people. The idea of Emma having to kind of figure out herself after the one person she felt comfortable with, her sister, decided to move away for college was a great starting point. Not only does she not know anything about love, but she doesn’t know how to be by herself and be ok in her own skin by herself. It was a touch predictable who would be end game, but that didn’t effect the reading experience. The romance was slow burn as they moved through the story and the pace of writing made for a quick read. This was definitely a re-working of Emma that I really enjoyed and suited the modern setting.

Jillian Cantor is the author of award-winning and bestselling novels for adults and teens, including In Another Time, The Hours Count, Margot, and The Lost Letter, which was a USA Today bestseller. She has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. Cantor lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

SOCIAL LINKS | Author Website: https://www.jilliancantor.com/ | TWITTER: @JillianCantor | Facebook: @AuthorJillianCantor |
Insta: @JillianCantor |
Goodreads: ttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1651861.Jillian_Cantor

Happy reading!

Review | Lobizona by Romina Garber

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I am so excited about the number of books coming out as of late which are timely and have themes that tie into some of the difficulties people are facing in every day life. Romina Garber tells Manu’s story really well, from the every day challenges she faces in our world to the similar problems she faces in another more magical world. Going into this book knowing very little is better in my opinion as things will have more impact that way.

I really appreciated how Garber addressed and explored different issues such as immigration and gender roles while also including so much culture and folklore in the tapestry of the story. I felt the flow of the writing was paced well, though there were some spots that slowed down, it still kept me invested in the story.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin | Review

Mean Girls meets Siobhan Vivian’s The List in THESE VENGEFUL HEARTS, an utterly addictive standalone YA debut that follows 16-year-old Ember Williams as she seeks revenge against the Red Court, a secret organization of Heller High’s most elite female students that specializes in granting and requesting favors—and which is responsible for the accident that left her older sister paralyzed.

A thrilling novel about a secret society and the dangers that lie in wait for anyone brave enough to join—perfect for fans of Karen M. McManus, Kara Thomas, and Maureen Johnson.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities known only by their leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Now, she’s determined to hold the organization accountable by taking it down from the inside. But will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

BUY LINKS | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Apple Books | Indie Bound | Bookshop.org  | Books-a-Million | Kobo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was really excited to get into this one since I really enjoy stories that include secret societies and someone infiltrating those secret societies for revenge? Sign me up. I did enjoy the read and it’s twists and turns, but some of the twists were a bit predictable to me. To me Ember was a bit unlikable, especially with her waffling back and forth. I understand the conflict the author was trying to inject into the story, but did feel it could have been fleshed out more to really give it the impact it could have had.

I did enjoy some of the side characters and if you’re looking for something very Mean Girls-esque, this will certainly fit the bill. It was an enjoyable read and I am interested to see more from this author as she further refines her writing.

Katherine Laurin lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and tiny dog. When she’s not writing, Katherine enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and listening to true crime podcasts. These Vengeful Hearts is her first young adult novel.

SOCIAL LINKS | Twitter: @writerkatherine |
Instagram: @kl_writerAuthor |Website: https://katherinelaurin.com/

Thanks so much to Inkyard Press for inviting me to participate in the blog tour! Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles | Review

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Buy Link | Macmillan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As soon as I started reading this book I was sucked in by the writing style, it was beautiful and perfectly set the tone of the book. As I delved more into this world I did want a little more world building than there was as there were some blind spots I felt could be filled, but that’s a minor criticism. I also found myself wishing it was a little more mature toned, as there were times it felt immature, but I understand that this is being marketed as YA, so that’s likely the reason it’s a little more younger toned.

Aside from those two points I really enjoyed this story and loved the overall dark and brooding vibe. It fulfilled the feelings of Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge for me and that alone made it a really fun ride. As noted earlier, Janella Angeles’ writing is beautiful and lyrical, perfectly suited to the story she crafted and I will definitely be picking up future books she writes as her writing style alone is enough for me to be sucked in and lose myself in the story. I can’t wait to see what happens with book two!

JANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Social LinksTwitter: @Janella_Angeles | Instagram: @Janella_Angeles

Where Dreams Descend comes out tomorrow, August 25th, so make sure to pick up a copy! Thanks again to Wednesday Books for including me in the blog tour.

Happy reading!