Book Review: Stealing Home by Becky Wallace

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Title:
Stealing Home
Author:  Becky Wallace
Publisher: Page Street
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Source: Netgalley e-arc from publisher
Rating: ★★★

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Synopsis:

Fight for your dreams, even if it means breaking a few rules.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Russell has life perfectly planned. If she keeps up her hard work, one day she’ll take over the family business: owning the Buckley Beavers, a minor league baseball team, and become one of the only female General Managers in the sport.

But when the newest member of the Beavers, child-phenom Sawyer Campbell, shows up, Ryan’s carefully laid plans are thrown a major curveball. Sawyer is far more charming than the arrogant jocks she usually manages, his ambition rivals her own workaholic nature—and he’s completely out of bounds. Fraternizing is against every rule in the Beaver’s handbook.

Then Ryan’s divorced parents butt heads over the future of the Beavers, and her mom plans to sell her shares to a business group known for relocating teams. If this happens, Ryan’s dreams of becoming GM disappear. In a bid to save her future, she partners with Sawyer to use his star power to draw in sponsors who will keep the team in Buckley. But the more time she spends with him, the more impossible it becomes to play by the Beaver’s rules, and she can’t afford a strikeout on the path to her dreams.

Full count with two outs, Ryan’s one pitch away from losing the whole ball game. 


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One of my favorite things about summer is reading swoony books, and Becky Wallace’s Stealing Home is a contemporary romance that you do not want to miss. This novel contains the right amount of emotional frenzy and excitement, which create a slow-burn romance blossomed from friendship and commonality. 

The main character, Ryan, is a very driven and focused person. She has dreams and aspirations to follow in her dad’s footsteps, and as a summer intern for her parent’s co-owned minor league baseball team, Ryan is one of the most determined, organized, and follows the rules to the T type of person. Enter Sawyer Campbell, the new baseball player who is also goal-oriented, career-driven, and puts his family first. Both characters are so much alike that it is hard not to root for a love connection between them throughout the book. 

Overall, Stealing Home is a quick and constant page-turner. This novel definitely has its drama and angst, but add in positive friendships, baseball games, and breakfast burritos, and you have a story that hits a home run. Each chapter is a brand new step in helping Ryan and Sawyer fulfill each of the their personal dreams and get the happy ending that they both deserve.

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Note: A huge thank you to Page Street Publishing for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

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Title:
Sorcery of Thorns
Author:  Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Purchased signed copy at Joseph Beth Booksellers
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.


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Well, well, well, it looks like Margaret Rogerson has done it again. GAHHHH! And this time, Rogerson created a world that every Ravenclaw dreams of—a world filled with enchanted books. The whole book is dedicated to loving books, protecting books, and enjoying books. As a novel filled with my favorite Bs: books, banter, and a brooding boy, Sorcery of Thorns had me grasping to every page . . . tightly holding on to the magic of the words and the unforgettable characters. 

Filled with grimoires, demon-infused magic, and a dash of enchanting scenes of frost and snow (I love winter, so these wintry scenes stuck to me like binding glue), Rogerson writes the most beautiful story about love, friendships, and sacrifice. I adored the chemistry and relationships Rogerson scribbles into the pages between her main characters, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas. As a devoted book-lover, Elisabeth has a special connection with books. Like any bibliophile, Elisabeth enjoys the musty, sweet custardy scent of books, and she communicates with them on a level of respect and enjoyment. Oh, and the brooding sorcerer, Nathaniel, definitely had my “Byronic” meter ticking–I fell in love with his stubbornness and moodiness so much. And, last, Silas: Nathaniel’s demon, provided great comic relief and witticisms throughout the pages; I adored him so much.

Along with the well-developed characters, the world-building and magic system were also wonderfully written and descriptively in-depth. It was not hard to fall deeply entranced by Sorcery of Thorns, because it reads and unfolds vividly like a live-action movie. If there is one fantasy book that you should get to this year, I highly recommend picking up Sorcery of Thorns as soon as possible.

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Note: I bought this book with my own funds. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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Title:
99 Percent Mine
Author:  Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Bought e-book on Amazon
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.


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A few weeks ago, I saw the e-book of 99 Percent Mine on sale for $1.99. I have been on a contemporary romance kick since February . . . and you guys, I think I’m addicted to swoons and happy endings . . . it won’t stop and I won’t stop. Anywho, I immediately snagged the deal, because 1) It was $1.99 and I am all about those steals and deals, and 2) I love a good friends-to-lovers story. I crave that slow burn romance, the built up chemistry and angst, and me shouting, “GAAHHHH . . . just kiss already.”

And guess what: after reading this book, enjoying the hell out of it, and then rating it at 4 stars on Goodreads, I was definitely caught off guard by a majority of the low ratings/reviews I scanned over on Goodreads. I honestly felt like I did not read the same book as these reviewers and I am mind-boggled about a lot of their statements. Their analyses of the characters and their love story did not match anything I read. Maybe I was just in the right mood and the story fell at the perfect time in my life, so the book read differently to me. So I am going to tell you now . . . if you adore friends-to-lovers stories, a feisty but all over the place female lead, and the swooniest male lead who has the cutest little dog, then reader, this book is for you. 

99 Percent Mine is not a sugarcoated contemporary romance. It touches upon a lot of serious issues. But even though it is not dripping with sweetness, the relationship between Darcy and Tom was still so romantic and cute. Darcy is flat out honest about everything and has no filter; I thought her defensive and flighty attitude was going to annoy me, but I could honestly relate to a lot of Darcy’s choices. She is not naive and she is in a constant battle with everyone around her trying to protect her like she’s fragile china, but in all honesty, she is a determined hardass. Tom tends to put a lot of people before himself, but he is not overbearing or overprotective–he’s simply cautious. He is often stuck between choosing between two people, particularly Darcy and her brother Jamie. But Tom is a reasonable guy and analyzes every side of a story before he reacts. Yes, these two characters make mistakes, especially when it comes to their friendship or when they are trying to read each other, but in the end, I love that they have a true and meaningful connection. 

Lastly, one of the best parts I loved about 99 Percent Mine was the characters reliving memories of the grandma who treated Darcy differently than her other overprotective family members and made Tom feel like he was part of the family. The grandma instilled life’s magic into a lot of the scenes. She left them this huge project to renovate her home after she passed away, and that type of close proximity worked wonders on making this story truly authentic.

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Note: I bought this book with my own funds. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Romanov

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Title:
Romanov
Author: 
Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling

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Synopsis:

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.


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I have always been fascinated by the history of the Romanov family, and through the narrative of many historical truths with a dash of magic, Nadine Brandes takes her readers on a new journey that explores Anastasia and her family’s lives. From the first page, the main character, Nastya, provides such a captivating voice and point of view that leaves the reader craving more about this mischievous spell caster and her daring trial to survive and save her family.

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Romanov hits a lot of the high points of the Romanov history, but this fictional mouthpiece also provides a unique perspective into one of the most sincerest families. While the Romanovs are imprisoned and hidden from society, this tight-knit group longs for justice, peace, and the chance to truly live again. They are often thrown into such uncomfortable situations but their tenacity, along with Nastya’s fierce but playful attitude, create perfect moments of relief. Every page had me emotional invested and yearning to see hope for Nastya and her family.

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Overall, Romanov is a very captivating story that portrays strengths in themes of forgiveness and love. I really enjoyed the steady pacing of the book, which allowed the book to smoothly flow and unfold. Plus, adding in a dash of magic and young love to a historically well-known story had me ingrained from beginning to end.

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WIN a copy of Romanov by Nadine Brandes (USA only)

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AUTHOR
Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She’s the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

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TOUR SCHEDULE

Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Raves & Craves: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


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That’s right, you guys, it’s my third post regarding Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. Hashtag sorry not sorry! Today I am bringing you one of my favorite blog memes I love creating, the Raves & Craves post, where I always pair a short, raving review with a snack of some kind. And today, we have PIE!

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As I gushed about in several posts before (REVIEW HERE and MOOD BOARD HERE), I adored Serious Moonlight. There’s awkward teenage angst, pie for breakfast (well, basically pie at anytime of the day), a swoony boy, real-life mystery and sleuthing, a murder-mystery dinner date, and so many diverse relationships that make my heart so happy. This book will make your heart ache in the best ways. 

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You guys, this was the first ever pie I made that wasn’t a “frozen pie in a box that you just pop in the oven.” It was so intimidating because I wanted this pie to turn out perfectly. Hopefully, below, I can simplify this pie baking the best that I can, so you don’t have to make everything from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust – I highly recommend using a pre-made pie crust that is already inserted in a pan. Or you can even buy the pre-made roll out pie crusts to save time.
  •  Strawberries (I used one pint)
  • Frozen cherries
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • 2/3 cups of flour
  • A lemon
  • 1 beaten egg

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut up your strawberries into bite size pieces.
  3. Place the strawberries and frozen cherries in a sauce pan and cook at medium heat.
  4. Squeeze a whole lemon into the pan with the fruit and stir.
  5. Once the fruit cooks down, add the sugar, and stir.
  6. Once the fruit starts boiling, I added a 1/3 cup of flour to help thicken the juices. After 5 minutes turn off the burner and let the fruit cool down.
  7. Use the left over flour to help roll out and flatten your pie crust. Don’t make the crust too thin. You do you!
  8. Make sure that you line a pie pan with the crust, if you don’t already have a pre-made pie crust already in a pie pan.
  9. Add the fruit as the filling to the pie.
  10. Then add the top layer of pie crust over the fruit. Be sure to cut slits in the pie for the fruit/pie to vent. Note: When I was rolling out the pie crust, I went ahead and cut out stars in my top layer of crust.
  11. Brush the beaten egg over the top of the crust.
  12. Place the pie in the oven and cook it for 25 minutes or until golden brown at the top.

I call this tasty beauty, the “Best GD Cherry ‘Star’berry Pie”

serious moonlight raves and craves

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Note: A huge thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

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Title:
In the Neighborhood of True
Author:  Susan Kaplan Carlton
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Historical
Source: e-ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.


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“If you want to fly, you have to ruffle some feathers.”

Set in the late 1950s, In the Neighborhood of True is an emotional novel that reawakens the reality of segregation and racism that darkened USA’s past and even haunts today’s America. As a very character-driven story, sixteen-year-old Ruth carries the reader through the heartbreak of losing her father and moving from New York to a Southern state where etiquette is inculcated through a pink book, her classmates fit the debutante mold, the boys are swoony, but her revelation of being Jewish is a dangled secret that puts her at risk from being part of the popular crowd. 

“Be strong when everything is going wrong.”

Ruth is a very quirky girl. She’s smart and straightforward, and the entire book is filled with her determination to be accepted by her pre-debutante-obsessed peers but also finding that strength and balance to honor herself, her family, and her religion. Ruth’s inner and outer dialogue is one of the most captivating mouthpieces I have a read in a long time. Her engaging voice and character development allows the novel to steadily unfold into a story of maturity, first love, and a teenage girl’s bravery to fight for social justice. 

“Imagine it and you can be it.”

In the Neighborhood of True was a constant page-turner of heartfelt characters and a main character that is not afraid to shake up her Southern town. The historical and fist-gripping hatred that is portrayed in this novel is heartbreaking, but like one of the characters points out to Ruth, “when hatred shows its face, you need to make a little ruckus. And you, dear Ruthie, made a very important little ruckus.”

Susan Carlton Credit Sharona Jacobs_HR
About the Author:

Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

 susankaplancarlton.com | Twitter | Instagram

 

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Note: Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me on the blog tour and providing me an e-ARC to read and review All statements and opinions are my own.  Please note that all quoted material is not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Mood Board: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


Mood Board banner Serious Moonlight

I’m back! And it is my second week in a row to gush and RAVE about Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. 

While reading Jenn’s amazing book (you check out my full review HERE), I jotted down a few images, words, and passages that stuck out to me, and voilà: a mood board that conveys my love for Serious Moonlight.

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Note: A huge thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.