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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Book Review: “Don’t Read the Comments” by Eric Smith

[January 21, 2020 – February 4, 2020]

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith is on sale January 28, 2020.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

 

My Review:
Everyone should read Don’t Read the Comments because it highlights issues in the gaming industry, has great characters, and the story is so relevant to today. I loved this book more than I originally thought. The way Eric Smith weaves the story between Divya and Aaron’s POVs was done really well, which made the story richer in idea and (reading) experience.

First we have Divya – D1V as she’s known in the online streamers space – who unfortunately gets targeted for online harassment from an unknown (as usual) trolls. I think they target her because she’s woman commandeering a large following in a “male only space.” Based on what they were saying to her, it also seemed like the trolls used her gender as a scapegoat. Whatever the reason, the story brings up important issues faced by not only women in gaming but also toxic online bullies/harassers/trolls. Like everyone else, she is a person before she is a online personality.

Divya is a very caring and strong person. I loved the ways she tries not to become a victim and how she tries to protect her best friend, Rebekah, from reliving similar horrors. I genuinely love Divya’s character for helping her mom live her dream while they are struggling financially.

Aaron I like yet I felt so bad for him. He doesn’t feel his dreams are being supported by his mother and (kind of in a way) by Jason, the developer he’s “working” for. He doesn’t see his self-worth for much of the story until everything comes tumbling down. I didn’t want it to come to that before he realized things. Through Aaron we also get another issue in the gaming (really any) industry; in essence, copyright and protecting one’s work.

The author packs in a lot of pertinent issues (in work, gaming, home life, etc.) and sometimes that can be cause for confusion while reading. I’m impressed  by the author’s ability to talk about so much but not let the reader feel overwhelmed by it all. And all the issues connect together under the same umbrella.

I felt more connected to both characters – Divya’s noble nature and Aaron writing stories for games. They both stand up for what’s right for the greater good. I’m glad the romance element between the two MCs wasn’t at the forefront of what was going on or awkward. It was a sweet romance that slowly built beneath all the chaos.

Don’t Read the Comments is was really really good. We need this important book in these increasingly advancing technological times. The issues brought up are things many people are facing today, especially with cancel culture and double standards. Don’t Read the Comments is inquisitive and compelling – a must read for 2020.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

Social Links:
Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks 
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites


READ EXCERPT HERE >>> Don’t Read the Comments – Chapter 1.docx


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#PubDay | ARC Book Review: “Feather” by Olivia Wildenstein

Thank you to the Olivia Wildenstein for the e-ARC to read and review!

Image via Goodreads

Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Series: Angels of Elysium #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: It was supposed to be a quick mission. The only thing quick about it was how rapidly I failed.

With only a month left to earn her missing feathers, twenty-year-old Leigh embarks on a trip to Paris to meet her newest project, twenty-five-year-old Jarod Adler, leader of the Parisian Mafia and the worst kind of sinner . . . a Triple.

If Leigh can get Jarod to accomplish a single act of kindness, she stands to win 100 feathers, more than enough to complete her wings and ascend to Elysium, the land of angels.

What she doesn’t count on is Jarod’s dark charm costing her feathers.

She’s dead set on saving him, and he’s dead set on destroying her.

Until he realizes destroying her wings is also destroying her heart.

A heart he longs to hear beat only for him.

 

My Review:
Warning: graphic sexual scenes and a difficult ending. Not recommended for Young Adults.

I absolutely LOVED this book even after leaving me in tears by the end. Feather was captivating and beautifully tragic. A-MA-ZING!

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I couldn’t believe what Leigh (21) had to go through. Leigh is the epitome of faith, courage, and angelic grace. There was a fascinating contrast between Leigh’s character and all the other characters – a surprising mix of angels and demons (by nature not being) among them all. What you expect an angel to be like is turned on its head in the book.

Leigh is a sweet, kind, honorable person. She is brave and determined through thick and thin despite the threat of becoming a Nephilim if she doesn’t gain the 100 feathers needed to ascend to Elysium. I loved getting to know her oh-so flawed character and see how she changed from page one to the end.

Jarod (25) is a more wicked version of Robin Hood. He is a young man tainted by a dark past. At first he does seem irredeemable. Once you get to know more about him you do see there is some good within him albeit mostly covered in sins. His past is a real tear-jerker and it really pointed out a flaw in humanity and angels.

The aspects of angels Wildenstein creates is really fascinating. Included before the story is a very helpful guide to the different levels of angels and what they can and can’t do. The angel hierarchy is interesting but somewhat sad when you really think about it. There is also a glossary of the French words and phrases used.

I did not expect the high levels of tension or the shocking betrayals. I thought there was still a chance at a happily ever after. But no. Instead, you get a soul-crushing ending. I was crying by the end from the tragedy that unfolds and could not stop.

Wildenstein says she had a difficult time writing this book, knowing the ending, and I don’t blame her. But I’m so glad she will be continuing the story because this book was everything and I need to know the consequences for the actions some of the characters took.

Feather is a must-read and a must-have for your bookshelf. The story is so astonishing. It will take you on a roller coaster of feelings. As of now, Feather is my favorite book of 2020 so far. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s worth the read!


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Book Review: “Kamisama Kiss” (Vol. 1) by Julietta Suzuki

Review of Volume 1 only

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Kamisama Kiss
# of Volumes: 25
Rating: 4 out of 5

 

ABOUT: Nanami Momozono is alone and homeless after her dad skips town to evade his gambling debts and the debt collectors kick her out of her apartment. So when a man she’s just saved from a dog offers her his home, she jumps at the opportunity. But it turns out that his place is a shrine, and Nanami has unwillingly taken over his job as a local deity!

Nanami has all kinds of new responsibilities she doesn’t understand, dangers she’s unaware of, and a cranky ex-familiar who’s… actually pretty hot. What’s a new-fledged godling to do?

 

My Review: This was a great start to the story. I’ve only watched the anime so this was a nice re-introduction to the story. Reading was a nostalgic experience.

Nanami is alot different than I remember. She is an eh character as of this first volume but I’m sure I’ll grow to like her character more. She’s vocal when she needs to me. She doesn’t allow Tomoe to walk all over her or scare her.

Tomoe is like any other of my favorite white-haired main character. You can tell how deeply the betrayal has affected him. He doesn’t think much of Nanami because she’s human. But I also think he’s projecting his anger onto her. I like his character the most because of his cool attitude.

I can’t wait for more characters to appear. I think they will add a lot of color and humor to the rest of the story.


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#PubDayTuesday | ARC Book Review: “Blood & Ash” by Deborah Wilde

Happy #PubDayTuesday to Blood & Ash!

Thank you to Te Da Media & NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review!

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Urban Fantasy Detective
Series: The Jezebel Files #1
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

 

ABOUT: Cold-blooded kidnappers. Long-lost magic. When things get serious, she goes full Sherlock.

Ashira Cohen takes pride in being the only female private investigator in Vancouver. With her skills, her missing persons case should be a piece of cake.

She wasn’t counting on getting bashed in the skull, revealing a hidden tattoo and supernatural powers she shouldn’t possess.

Or the bitter icing on top: a spree of abductions and terrifying ghostly creatures on a deadly bender.

And don’t even get her started on the golems.

Reluctantly partnered with her long-time nemesis Levi, the infuriating leader of the magic community, Ash resolves to keep her focus on the clue trail and off their sexual tension because WTF is up with that?

But with a mastermind organization pulling strings from the shadows and Levi’s arrogance driving her to pick out his body bag, can Ash rescue the captives and uncover the truth or will the next blood spilled be her own?

 

My Review:
This was my introduction into a mystery/thrill/suspense-esque type of book. I found Blood & Ash to be an okay book. It helped that there was a fantasy element to the story. The premise made it sound like this would be a good read but I wasn’t blown away by what happened.

Ashira is a very strong character with an incredibly strong voice and personality. I liked that she is trying to diversify the P.I. business in Vancouver, Canada as the only female detective. Ashira distinguishes herself very well in contrast to everyone else. She takes on so much and doesn’t back down. She’s persistent in the conflict from beginning to end. Her sense of humor wasn’t my kind of humor and there was too much sarcasm where there need to be seriousness.

The author creates an unusual world. I get the magic system but paired with the setting it seemed…off? I was a little confused on the state of the world. And it seemed like some countries became territories so maybe this takes place in the future.

The romance was so-so. It kind of took a back seat to everything else but I think that was intentional in order to explore Ashira and Levi’s relationship more as the series progresses.

I liked the way the book ended. It was more satisfying than anything else. I might read book 2.


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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Book Review: “A Love Hate Thing” by Whitney D. Grandison

[December 31, 2019 January 14, 2020]

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison is on sale January 7, 2020.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the affluent coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging in the posh suburb. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the mean streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything. He doesn’t even care how the rest of his life will play out.

In Pacific Hills, image is everything. Something that, as the resident golden girl, Nandy Smith knows all too well. She’s spent most of her life building the pristine image it takes to fit in. After learning that her parents are taking in a teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames. It’s the start of summer vacation, and the last thing Nandy needs is some juvenile delinquent from the ’Wood crashing into her world.

Stuck together in close quarters, Trice and Nandy are in for some long summer nights. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
A Love Hate Thing was really really good, better than I thought it would be. The story and characters were crafted to with grace and precision, detailed and full of fault. There was a quiet realness that I appreciated about the book. A Love Hate Thing was deep, meaningful and passionate. One of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve ever read!

Nandy is a pretty cool person but her initial judgments of Trice without knowing him of the present were rightfully off-putting. But I grew to like her as I learned more about who she really is on the inside, not what people expect her to be.

Trice is the model of perfect main character. I felt such a connection with him. He is kind, loyal, thoughtful, intelligent. He made the story. I was especially invested in the story, compelled to devour and revel in page after glorious page.

This book and Trice make you stop and take notice of your surroundings in a thought-provoking way. The conflict was current and real, reflecting the harsh, cold realities of today. It is voices like Trice’s that push through the noise and make people think about who they are, where they come from, and where they want to be going. I loved that we got all view-points on the issues presented within the story because it allowed everyone to be heard. It created open dialogue, which is important in conflicts and disagreements.

I was about 70% through when I felt like the story was over. I couldn’t guess what more there could be or what ends have been left loose. Well there were indeed much more left. However, the conclusion was gratifying.

A Love Hate Thing is remarkable; I recommend this book for sure. It’s such an engrossing read. I appreciate the author for writing such a sublime book that we very much need in today’s world.


Photo by Jennifer M. Photography

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Whitney D. Grandison was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she currently resides. A lover of stories since she first picked up a book, it’s no surprise she’s taken to writing her own. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers.

Social Links: 
Instagram: @wheadee
Twitter: @whitney_DG


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Book Review: “Bloom” by Kevin Panetta, Illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQIA+ Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band—if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

 

My Review
This story was so cute! I loved every page so much I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) stop reading. The sketch style art is great and I love that everything is in shades of blue , black and white.

Ari is a very relatable character: youthful and dreaming; quirky and unsure. He comes off as winy sometimes but I get where he’s coming from, especially when his dad is so dismissive of his plans.

Hector is a nice, caring person and very sure of himself. But it seems like he doesn’t undergo any change within the story even as his relationship with Ari grows. There wasn’t any conflict for him to overcome. I do love seeing his passion and devotion to baking though. And his friend Meg is so wild and funny and very supportive.

Ari and Hector’s relationship was so beautiful to watch. I adored watching them together, enjoying the moment. But my favorite part of the story were all the full double pages of art. A montage of scenes sweeps across the pages in stunning clarity. And it’s all done in my favorite color – blue!

What a wonderful story that takes place at one of my favorite places – a bakery. This would make a great summer read. Bloom is a sweetly, romantic story. I would read more books with Panetta and Ganucheau at the helm.


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Book Review: “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ+ Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUTParis, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

 

My Review:
What took me so long to read this book?! It’s so good! The Prince and the Dressmaker is a stunningly painful representation of gender identity, familial pressure, and self-love. Add in the romantic fairy tale atmosphere and charming illustrations and you have one powerful and incredible story.

I have no personal experience with what Sebastian is going through but his feelings – the horror-struck, panicked facial expressions at being exposed, the profound sadness of feeling out of place in his own skin – felt intensely real. The pressure to find a wife and become king and live up to society’s expectation gives him anxiety. He doesn’t want to fail his parents but can’t full commit to someone who may not be okay with the real Sebastian.

I could feel Sebastian’s emotions through the illustrations. I could somewhat understand that feeling of bottling up one’s emotions. The fear of failure. These are real things real people are experiencing.

Frances is a dreamer. She wants her work recognized but isn’t able to being the secret designer behind the secret Lady Crystallia. I connected with France on some level Frances doesn’t want to live in the shadows anymore. She’s got real talent and wants to share her passion with the world.

I loved how kind and accepting Frances was about Sebastian’s secret. Some aren’t as fortunate to have someone like Frances in their life, which is sad.

While I loved the art I couldn’t stop thinking about how everyone looked like they were flushed or had a fever or were sleep deprived. It was very distracting.

I can’t say enough good things about The Prince and the Dressmaker. It’s one of the best books I read this year. I highly recommend this delightful and honest book.