ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: Turning by Joy L. Smith

Book Review logo*ARC copy won in a Goodreads Giveaway
Turning is set to be released March 1, 2022.*

"Turning" by Joy L. Smith (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.

Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Genie was the star pupil at her exclusive New York dance school, with a bright future and endless possibilities before her. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. The only wish this Genie has is to be left alone.

But then she meets Kyle, who also has a “used to be.” Kyle used to tumble and flip on a gymnastics mat, but a traumatic brain injury has sent him to the same physical therapist that Genie sees. With Kyle’s support, along with her best friend’s insistence that Genie’s time at the barre isn’t over yet, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.

But healing also means confronting. Confronting the booze her mother, a recovering alcoholic, has been hiding under the kitchen sink; the ex-boyfriend who was there the night of the fall and won’t leave her alone; and Genie’s biggest, most terrifying secret: the fact that the accident may not have been so accidental after all.


REVIEW: Turning left me speechless. This raw, achingly beautiful story of a promising, black ballerina’s uphill battle to reclaim herself after a fall leaves her paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.

Genie is devastated, angry, and depressed. Dance was her everything. Now, she’s left adrift, lost without her identity, and struggling to come to terms with her new normal. There’s more to her accident that she’s closely guarding that makes dealing with the demons of her past in her present extremely painful.

It wasn’t easy to read this heartbreaking story. Some characters, including Genie, didn’t know how to exist in the After of Genie’s fall. I like that we get a well-rounded view of other characters’ thoughts and feelings. Moreso, major injuries like Genie’s sometimes take a village to recover from. But ultimately, Genie must decide what she wants and who she wants to be going forward.

Genie trying to navigate through toxic intimate and familial relationships were honestly heart-wrenching. You can see clearly how much those relationships have affected her mental health in the past and continue to do so in the present. Many setbacks occur in order to wade through those murky waters and rekindle relations with those who deep down loved and supported her and refused to give up on her.

Genie’s character growth is slow, arduous, and deftly developed. I couldn’t help but feel so proud of all the breakthroughs (mighty baby steps!) she experiences as she begins to heal. To escape the despair, move past the anger, and see that dreams and a future are still possible.

It was hard to put into words everything I thought and felt while reading this amazing book. This review may not do it justice and there’s probably some things I’m forgetting to mention. But I can say without a doubt that I loved this book.

I loved Genie’s character. I especially loved Kyle and the relationship he and Genie built together. And I loved the intensity and joy this remarkable story evokes. Joy L. Smith’s Turning is a must-read, memorable debut!

CW: trauma, toxic relationships

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Books of the Month

[November 2021] Book of the Month: The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

For November’s Book of the Month, I wanted to choose a book that resonated with me. I chose The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison for its realness and the complexity of its characters. I really loved Regan and Guillermo’s characters and how throughout the story they prove they are more than what others perceive them to be. It’s a genuine and amazing story that’s all heart. Without a doubt a must read story.

Cover of The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison. Yellow background with title in blue text. Illustration of the main characters and a dog.Title: The Right Side of Reckless
Author: Whitney D. Grandison
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance, #OwnVoices
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Recommended?: Yes

NetGalley Summary: They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

Book Reviews

Book Review: Let’s Dance A Waltz by Natsumi Andō (Volume 1)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Young Adult Contemporary Romance, Shojo
Series: Let’s Dance A Waltz
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Homely and shy, Himé is burdened by the name her mother gave her, “Princess.” Wanting nothing more than to be unnoticed and live a modest life, Himé gets a jolt of inspiration when she tries a dance class where she meets Tango. Her teacher/dance partner, Tango happens to also be her classmate at school. Unfortunately, Tango is desperate to keep his ballroom dancing a secret, believing it will ruin his cool image if anyone at school finds out. Will Tango quit teaching Himé in order to keep his secret or will he be the partner Himé believes he’s destined to be?


My Review: This story is shaping up to be a light, warm, fun read. I love that it’s about ballroom dancing but also about finding one’s inner beauty and rediscovering one’s passion.

The story in general gives of Ouran High School Host Club / Fruits Basket vibes. There’s also an “ugly duckling” vibe going on, but I’m hoping it’s more than that. There’s typically middle school drama in the background but all my attention was captivated by the characters.

Tango is your basic popular guy putting on too-cool-for-this air but I still like him. His character somewhat reminds me of Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club. Himé is cute and makes me smile. She’s kind of invisible at school but shines when she dances. I also liked Tango’s childhood friends Yūsei and Sumiré.

I really enjoyed Let’s Dance A Waltz and can’t wait to read on in volume 2!

Book Reviews

Book Review: #AllIWantForChristmas by Yesenia Vargas

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance, Novella, Holidays
Series: #BestFriendsForever #4.5
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Five friends. Five Christmas wishes. Five chances for things to go horribly wrong.

With Christmas Eve just around the corner, the perfect Christmas is looking more impossible than ever. Ella’s prince charming is caught in a snowstorm. Lena is SO over the holidays, she should change her name to Scrooge. Harper’s a hundred dollars short of making ends meet for a family in need. Rey’s forever alone while Tori’s more wrapped up in balloon colors than her own boyfriend.

Will their first Christmas as friends end up being a giant flop, or will Harper prove to her friends that Christmas miracles happen in more than just Hallmark movies?


My Review#AllIWantForChristmas is a novella from Yesenia Vargas’s YA contemporary romance series, #BestFriendsForever. I have not read any of the books yet, but didn’t have too much trouble following the different POVs . 

It’s a nice holiday story featuring all the girls – Ella, Harper, Lena, Rey, and Tori – from the series. I liked that the conflicts are unique to each girl. The true meaning of Christmas and remembering what’s important is emphasized by those conflicts.

#AllIWantForChristmas is a light, sweet story that will put you in the Christmas spirit. There isn’t really any character growth but it’s still a likable novella.

Blog Milestones Book Reviews

My 300th Book Review: Recommended For You by Laura Silverman

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…


My Review: Recommended For You is an endearing story full of bookish charm with a hint of romance.

At first, I was worried because I was 70 pages in and was getting a little annoyed by Shoshanna’s childish behavior. But I continued reading thinking maybe I was missing something.

Shoshanna is an energetic bookworm and very impulsive. She will say or do things that get her into trouble, but her actions are usually backed by good intentions. She’s a kind person and I love her deep enthusiasm for all things books. Shoshanna is a real teen with teenage problems. I really felt for her when her problems kept piling up.

The progression of Shoshanna and Jake’s relationship was cute and pleasant. Like Shoshanna, Jake came off as unlikable at first because of his standoffish-ness, but I also grew to like him. He is a real cool guy.

The diverse representation among the characters was great to see. I liked that the story took place during the week leading up to Christmas. It’s one of the busiest times of the year, so that added to the tension and drama escalating between Shoshanna, Jake and other characters.

I would totally recommend this book to others (I am sorry not sorry about that pun hehe!). It’s a quick, light read with a lot of emotional depth and a good story.

Thank you for reading my
300th book review!

I really appreciate it 😊

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay
Bookish Memes Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – 10/14/20

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where you spotlight a highly anticipated book.

Happy Wednesday, Bookworms!

It’s been a couple of months since I did this bookish meme. I’m happy to feature today Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala as one of the books I’m looking forward to reading.

The title and cover for this queer young adult contemporary romance are spectacular. I love that the story involves a fashion competition. Based on the synopsis, this looks possibly be a friends to lovers to enemies to lovers.

I was recently approved on NetGalley for an eARC, which I hope to start reading in the next couple of weeks.

Be Dazzled is set to be published January 2021, from Sourcebooks Fire.

Image via Goodreads

ABOUTWho’s ready to sparkle??

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

As Always, Happy Reading!!!

CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram


#PubDayTuesday: Breath Like Water

Breath Like Water by Anne Jarzab

Thanks again to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review!

Image via NetGalley

ABOUT: This beautifully lyrical contemporary novel features an elite teen swimmer with Olympic dreams, plagued by injury and startled by unexpected romance, who struggles to balance training with family and having a life. For fans of Sarah Dessen, Julie Murphy and Miranda Kenneally.

Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her Olympic dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost–and the beauty–of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

My Review


Buy Links
*all buy links are non-affiliated links*

Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound
Google Play
Apple Books

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ARCs Blog Tours Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

CONTENT WARNING: This story does bring up self-harm, substance abuse, addiction, and suicide. Links to 24/7 crisis help will be listed at the end of this post.

[May 12, 2020 – May 26, 2020]

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review! Breath Like Water goes on sale May 19, 2020.

Image via NetGalley

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


ABOUT: Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.


My Review:
Breath Like Water is a must read page-turner that will take your breath away!

Mental health awareness and sports are a big part this incredibly deep story. In this case, we have a teenage elite swimmer who’s prime goal is to make it to the Olympics. You see how this demanding being an elite athlete affects Susannah in all its good, bad, and ugly glory. It serves as a reminder how important it is we take care of our mental health and be kind to one another.

I really like this book. It’s been fascinating having such an i depth look at the psychological affects of highly competitive sports on young kids who are constantly changing mentally, emotional, physically, and biologically. This book has been really eye-opening.

Susannah and Harry’s relationship is so lovely at its core. They really do bring out the best in each other, which is why it was so hard to watch them struggle internally and externally with themselves.

They’re so used to this one way of thinking that’s dominated how they live their lives that it causes an identity crisis. It’s rough going for these dynamic characters.

I’m not expert but I think the bipolar rep was done well and I loved how the author used it within the story. It really brought home how a mental illness affects a person’s day to day and how that person’s disorder affects familial relationships. It gives you the raw ugliness of it but how hope and change is more than possible.

This story does bring up self-harm, substance abuse, addiction, and suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming themselves or suicide, please seek help. YOU ARE LOVED. There is always someone to reach out to. I’ll leave some links down below.

The ending was bittersweet but I’m happy for where all of the characters end up. Breath Like Water is a great story overall. I think it will help a lot of people who are struggling right now.


Anna Jarzab is a Midwesterner turned New Yorker. She lives and works in New York City and is the author of such books as Red Dirt, All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the Many-Worlds series. Visit her online at and on Twitter, @ajarzab.

Instagram: @ajarzab
Twitter: @ajarzab
Author website:

READ EXCERPT HERE >>> Breath Like Water | Prologue

24/7 Support That’s Here For You

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Trevor Project
TrevorChat available
Text START to 678678

Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741

National Alliance On Mental Illness

To Write Love On Her Arms

Book Reviews

[Book Review] Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

Image via Goodreads

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


ABOUT: Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: She needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal—even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life—and he’s completely clueless.

This book features two best friends, one special-edition Yoda Snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses, and begs the question:

Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?


My Review:
Perfectly titled, teenage angst-filled, an explosion of geeky charm, Adorkable was a delight to read – just in time for Valentine’s Day. Adorkable instantly captured my attention and held on tight. I was sad when it ended and it had to let me go. My copy also came with additional bonus content, which I’ll read at a later date.

Adorkable was an auto-buy for me. I was browsing the shelves in Barnes & Noble, ready to splurge my Christmas money on more books, when my eye caught Adorkables cute cover art. I’ve heard of fake boyfriend/girlfriend stories but had never read one, so I gave this one a try.

The author did a good job pacing the story. I was surprised by how riveting the story was. I was invested in what was at stake. It didn’t feel rushed despite being only 261 pages.

The only character I really liked was Sally. Her mom was so-so but too pushy about setting up Sally with blind dates. Hooker, her supposed best friend, was very unlikable. It seemed like she didn’t care (or refused to care) about Sally’s clearly stated strong desire to not be set up anymore. Becks was also so-so for me. He was sweet at times. Then there were moments when I didn’t like how he treated Sally and took advantage of Sally’s predicament.

Anyway, Adorkable was a great story. Perfect pacing. The right amount of suspense, geekiness and drama. It’s refreshing to read a book that really embodies its title – this was truly adorkable.

ARCs Blog Tours Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR] ARC 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.


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:
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks 
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites

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