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A creative space for all things books and writing….

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Happy Book Release Day! to How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Thank you again to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.

*title/author link leads to my review of How We Roll*

Image via NetGalley

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating:  4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but because of a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.


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ARC Book Review: How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
How We Roll by Natasha Friend is set to be released June 5, 2018.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating:  4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but because of a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.


My Review:
In eighth grade, all of the hair on Quinn’s head fell off due to an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata totalis. It subsequently tears down her social life and makes her reluctant to fully engage in a new one when she and her family move from Boulder, Colorado to Gulls Head, Massachusettes. This becomes a chance to totally reinvent herself in a place where the cruel nicknames of the past can’t follow her. Quinn’s voice is very clear and intelligent. She’s the kind of friend you want in your life because she’s incredibly kind and supportive. She does her best to take care of her own problems herself. It’s hard because she fear her wig might fall of at the worst moment and having to deal with an itchy scalp.

Jake’s life has been turned upside down with the loss of both his legs. He’s left angry and alone, finding it difficult to me a part of the world again. Quinn’s friendship is just what he needs because in a way she can understand him – even if their situations may be viewed as apples and oranges. Jake’s kind of moody – which is understandable – so the questions becomes how much will he change within the course of the story. I’m happy with how far he comes by the end.

The teen drama is very much alive in this book. And even in a fictional sense it’s heartbreaking that these kids, so young, would treat each other so callously. Perhaps this was to juxtapose it with what principle characters are going through? I too was wary when Quinn found a new group of friends. They talk a lot and share lip gloss (unsanitary but they seem close enough to do that) but they’re good people, which is what Quinn needs in her life

I like that the difficult situations aren’t sugar-coated. It’s a stark but honest reality: Quinn losing her hair. Jake losing his legs. Quinn’s little brother, Julius, having autism that can’t be clearly pinpointed on the spectrum. Raising a child who has autism.

There were enough lighter, sometimes funny, moments to drive away the sad ones. Quinn and Jake have really good back and forth banter in very few words.

The story is told really well and everything came together rather nicely in the end. I enjoyed reading How We Roll (a fitting title) and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, honest read on friendship, fitting in, trust and understanding, along with a great main character.

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ARC Book Review: Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long

Thank you NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long is set to be released May 28, 2018.


Image via NetGalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bravo Team WOLF, book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Bianca Devlin’s work is her life. Now, she’s finally taking a vacation…and guerillas hit her resort to kidnap a diplomat’s son. She does the only thing that makes sense—intervene to save the child’s life. Being dragged into the jungle with a scared kid she’s determined to protect was definitely not how she saw this trip ending.

After she returns to Texas, the last person Bianca expected to see was Sergeant Carlos “Cage” Castillo, the member of Bravo Team WOLF that helped rescue her. Nevertheless, there he is, living across the street from the house she just bought. The coincidence is alarming, but she has to admit, his presence isn’t entirely unwanted.

But there’s something off about Cage—the way he can move without a sound or the weird way his eyes seem to almost glow at times. And how can Bianca manage her growing attraction, when everything she knows about him and his reason for being there, turns out to be a lie?


My Review:
A different kind of storytelling for a paranormal romance novel than I’m used to…but I liked it. A lot.

At first, I requested this title because of the inciting incident described in the summary and the rest of the description seemed to support such an unusual beginning well enough to garner further interest. But it was the characters that kept me reading, which Heather Long does a fantastic job creating to propel the story along.

Bianca is a humanitarian through and through. She’s thoughtful, tough, independent, driven and possesses a great sense of humor. Cage is a dedicated Marine who wants to prove his worth. He’s funny, takes responsibility for his actions, and incredibly caring. I really loved that both characters have dedicated their lives to helping and saving people. They are truly perfect for each other. Also, the dialogue between them is just so on-point and witty.

While Bianca and Cage are terrific characters and romantic leads, I adored their parents. The Devlin’s are also humanitarians who work as physicians for Doctors Beyond Borders. They’re so fun-loving and dedicated to their work and each other. Cage’s father is not a man to be trifled with. But he has this certain appeal and charm about him, an adorable softness when it comes to his pack and family.

It took some time for me to get used to such a character driven story. The majority of the book focuses on the development of Bianca and Cage’s relationship. I kept waiting for some third-party external force to disrupt things since the actual problem would take time to make itself known. It was unsurprising when that crux moment finally occurred but the romance kept me buoyant until then. There was a lengthy explanation about what wolves are, which for me I found boring because I’ve read so many shifter/wolf stories. But I’d say this would be a good starter book for anyone who hasn’t read or is not too familiar with this aspect of the paranormal in fiction and the possibilities to create distinguishable supernatural beings.

The ending was a bit cheesy. I think it could have been done differently – same idea but different material. Or perhaps the final scenes needed more space for more impact. But what happened did its job and there were feels aplenty. Too rushed but okay.

Bitten Under Fire is the first book I’ve read by Heather Long and I think the first military-esque fiction I’ve read – the latter another aspect I loved about this book. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and read book 1 because right now I’m not too interested in Jax and Kat’s story – although I did like their brief presence in this installment so maybe someday. But I would recommend this book regardless. Heather Long is a great writer and storyteller.

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NetGalley Book Review: Startup Fiancé by Shilpa Mudiganti

Thank you NetGalley and Inkspell Publishing for providing me with an e-copy to read and review.


Image via NetGalley

Genre: Fiction, Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: The Startup Series, book 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Sometimes Love Can Be Arranged.

Arav Shetty had it all. The handsome, self-made billionaire topped the list of New York’s most eligible bachelors and sat at the helm of the city’s biggest tech empire. He also had a plan – buy out the brilliant upstart nipping at his heels, and dominate as the biggest and best tech company in New York.

The strategy had worked for him in the past. He had the resources and skills to pull it off. And, he was determined to overcome his father’s dark legacy, and prove he had what it took to stay on top. Nothing would distract him from his goal. He’d buy out his biggest rival but the company’s owner, Nisha Jain wasn’t the pushover he believed.

Nisha Jain had a plan, too. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, her early years had been a carefully scripted fairy tale. She was determined to make everyone sit up and notice when she achieved stupendous success – without her father’s money or brand influence. She knew she was on the right path when her biggest competitor wanted to meet with her.

But when they met, nothing went as planned.

Neither expected the instant spark of attraction, nor the hurtful words tossed around like confetti. With meddling family members and an arranged marriage thrown into the mix, the fate of both companies – and Arav and Nisha’s undeniable attraction – hung precariously. What was supposed to be a cakewalk became more complicated than either ever imagined.

Compromises needed to be made. But between a billionaire whose life work is on the line and an heiress out to prove her own worth, who would blink first?


My Review:
I absolutely loved this story. Startup Fiancé is a light contemporary romance novel with a captivating plot, endearing characters, and charming love story.

Arav and Nisha are both very similar when it comes to their business, but its the contrasting backgrounds that provides the most contention to war against the attraction they have for each other. There was seemingly no way for their relationship to really thrive when their businesses are in the same field and mean everything to them. I wondered how the characters would handle such an obstacle – because they obviously like each other – and how the author would convince the reader how a love between Arav and Nisha could exist. That obstacle made it hard to see if love was possible but I held out hope from start to finish.

It was all so suspenseful because both characters had much to prove to themselves and others. They would try to talk it out but opposing forces would make themselves known at the worst possible times, hooking me into the story that much more.

In the beginning, I feel Arav’s feelings for Nisha made a complete 180 too fast. I would be reading one section where he was feeling one emotion and then in the next a completely different emotion. The pacing of his emotions threw me off somewhat. The epilogue I liked the very beginning of, but the rest I question. It is either one of two things: a hint at something in the future or an attempt to give everyone a happy ending. I’m satisfied with everything up until that point. I also wish we had some information – even if only a small bit – about the features of the note-taking apps Arav and Nisha built or what about them made them so popular and successful.

I admire both main characters for what they’ve been able to accomplish in life in so short a time. I also enjoyed the cultural aspect and learning more things about Indian culture. This story was just so fun and interesting and delightful. I’d definitely recommend this book.

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2018 Reading Challenge Complete!!!

as of 4/24/18

Earlier this week, I reached my goal of 50 books to read this year as a part of the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I did not expect to finish so soon in the year as it took me far longer last year with a 30-book goal.

The past two months I’ve just been whisking through books one after another in short periods of time. Also, I read a lot of manga of which I devoured three to four volumes in a day at a time. There’s been just so many good reads that have held my attention regardless of the post-read ratings.

Below you’ll find all of the titles I’ve read for the challenge up until the goal reached. This includes book I haven’t official reviewed yet as well as 10 post-read thoughts and review excerpts.



Black Butler by Yana Toboso, Translated by Tomo Kimura
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-18)
(Volume 1 Review)

Volume 1 Image via Goodreads

I am enjoying this manga immensely. I had planned to pace the reading of this out but it’s just too good that I kept checking out volume after volume from the library. There’s just so much…right with this manga and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

Volume 1 Review Excerpt: “I really like this manga. I love each character – the main characters are so charming, especially Sebastian and Ciel! I love all the humor throughout – I laughed a lot. And I was completely surprised at every turn.”


Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, Translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-16)
(Volumes 1-5 combined review)



Baby, I’m Howling For You by Christine Warren (ARC)
Alphaville, book 1

Image via NetGalley

I can definitely get behind this series. Shifters – wolves in particular – are my favorite of the paranormal/supernatural sub-genre. This book was just too too good and I need to read book 2 asap!

Review Excerpt: “First off, I fell head over heels over the fact that Renny is a librarian and Mick is a graphic novelist. *insert book-nerdish swoon* That alone deserves all the stars in the world. But of course, that was the cherry atop the sundae for my love of these two characters.”


Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (ARC)

Fade to Us by Julia Day (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

There’s so much to love and admire about this novel, specifically the sister-sister relationship that develops. Brooke and Natalie make this book: from the conflict with each other to the conflict they have with other people to the conflict they have with themselves.

Review Excerpt: “Great story. Wonderful characters. Pretty cover. Awesome that musical theater was involved. And loved the sister-sister relationship. Fade to Us deserves a standing ovation. Brava, Julia Day, brava!”


Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews, Illustrated by Colleen Madden (NetGalley)

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

For laughs, cats, telling memes, and insightful art, I highly recommend reading this graphic novel. It’s so light and funny but unapologetically serious about the life of an introvert and arts.

Review Excerpt: “Fantastic. Hilarious. Just what a creative person (and everyone) needs to hear and see. Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen is an art and narrative to be experienced.”


Blood Veil by Megan Erickson (ARC review)

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela (NetGalley review)

Image via Goodreads

I think this a novel to be added onto every TBR list if you like middle grade novels. Young readers will learn about perseverance, self-worth, failure, triumph, friendship, and a whole host of new vocabulary words. It’s a great story told really well.

Review Excerpt: “Truly…a stupendously sweet and spectacular story…It’s light, charming, wholesome, and educational”


Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long (ARC Review Coming Soon)
Startup Fiancé by Shilpa Mudiganti (NetGalley Review Coming Soon)



Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Image via Goodreads

The YA narrative version of the song “This Is Me” in a nutshell. The struggles experienced and message that saturates this novel are truths that ring long past the story is over. I can’t help but reflect when I think about this novel: that in-your-face awareness of the flaws you perceived to be true and the flaws others see in you they believe to be true until you reach that moment when you realize you are human. This was just a really poignant YA novel and fantastic read.

Review Excerpt:Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is written with grace and style, creating a daring and enriching story that reminds you that you are wanted.”


Slammed by Colleen Hoover
The Winter King by C. L. Wilson
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The Numair Chronicles, book 1

Image via Goodreads

The nostalgia is real! I am in love with the writing and how the story was told. The author has truly outdone herself this time. I just need to know what happens next now. 2019 (the expected publication year) is so far away.

Review Excerpt: “The story I’ve been waiting to read for years did not disappoint. Nostalgic, exhilarating, tumultuous, and bittersweet; I am left one very happy reader.”

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce
(with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)

Image via Goodreads

I never thought I’d enjoy what is essentially a compilation text book, but this was so captivating to read. I learned so much more about George’s work and the world of Tortall – too much to remember, but still! This was perfect to read after spending years reading all of Pierce’s other books.

Review Excerpt: “But I really enjoyed reading more about one of my favorite fantasy worlds. It was a pleasant and delightful reading experience – so compelling I could hardly put it down.”


Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Image via Goodreads

I went through a back and forth with this book before even picking it up. At first, I was looking forward to reading it, then I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to read it, then I was like I think I do want to read it, and then I was back on the I-want-to read-but-don’t-know-when-I’ll-get-to-read-it phase. It wasn’t until there came a stretch of days where I needed (ahahaha, I always “need” a book to read) a quick read and decided on this. I’m so happy I did because it was better than I thought it was going to be. The book just made my admiration for John Green soar higher. Turtles All The Way Down is an incredibly brilliant story I’d recommend to everyone.

Review Excerpt: “Aza is a fantastic character and individual…Her narrative is incredibly raw and, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what the inside of a truly anxious mind looks and feels like. “


Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan
The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan
The Caldera by John Flanagan


2nd Reads

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 3

Image via Goodreads

This is how you craft an intricate, captivating plot with highly compelling characters smack-dab in the middle of a beautifully created fantasy world where the stakes are higher than ever. I love this series but this book in particular I just love so much.

Review Excerpt:Mastiff is one of those stories that stays with you long after the story is over. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I loved it even more the second time around, though it didn’t make dealing with the conflict of the story any easier. Still, Mastiff is a book that will easily exceed all expectations.”


A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland

If you’ve taken up Goodreads’ challenge, how far along are you currently? What books are you hoping to get through before the year is out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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NetGalley Book Review: The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela

Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky for providing me with an e-ARC of the hardcover edition to read and review, set to be released April 3, 2018.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
A heartwarming story about a girl who’s afraid to follow her dreams, and the family who help make them happen.

India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next Bee, India feels nothing but trepidation. She’s sure she’s not good enough – but with the support of her family, India finds the courage to sign up. 

There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, like Summer Millicent Ernestine Beauregard-Champion, a spoiled rich girl who isn’t afraid to step on anyone who gets in her way of winning. 

The whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…


My Review:
*slightly edited*

Truly The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela is a stupendously sweet and spectacular story.

The story starts during a humble, routine family gathering in front of the television and immediately transforms into an opportunity of a lifetime. And like anyone when faced with such a huge opportunity, India struggles with whether or not to take it. Sometimes it’s scary to take that first step when opportunity comes knocking because we don’t believe ourselves worthy or capable enough to succeed. This makes India a very relatable character for readers of all ages.

I love how she has the complete love and support of her family and the whole town where she lives. As thankful as she is for their support, it’s not convincing enough to settle India’s jumbling nerves. Which is good because it then leaves room for India to grow as a person/character and conquer whatever fears she’s plagued by.

Readers will learn many new, challenging words from this story as each chapter begins with a hard (and telling) word, its parts of speech, definition, and how it would be used in a sentence. A nice structured text for middle graders to follow and learn from.

The illustrations were great and depicted the characters so well, and were spaced out evenly throughout the book.

If you like Middle Grade novels or know someone of that age, I’d recommend this book as your next big read. It’s light, charming, wholesome, and educational.

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Happy Book Release Day! to Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Thank you again to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.

*title/author link leads to my review of Herding Cats*

Image via NetGalley

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Genre: Comics, Graphic Novel
Series: Sarah’s Scribbles, book 3
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Sarah’s Scribbles,  Goodreads Choice Award for 2016:  Best Graphic Novels & Comics

“. . . author Sarah Andersen uses hilarious (and adorable) comics to illustrate the very specific growing pains that occur on your way to becoming a mature, put-together grownup. Andersen’s spot-on illustrations also show how to navigate this newfound adulthood once you arrive, since maturity is equally as hard to maintain as it is to find … “
–The Huffington Post

Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.