If it’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: A Review of The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

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Title:
The Map From Here to There
Author: Emery Lord
Publication date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.


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Well, you guys, it’s official, Emery Lord is a contemporary writing queen. Throughout The Map from Here to There, Emery made me swoon, cry, and laugh. My anxiety peeked at the most vulnerable and heartbreaking moments, but in the end, after calming my hammering heart, I highly enjoyed Paige’s story and her ability to battle the stress that ensues during her senior year of high school.

As a sequel to The Start of Me and You, one of my all-time favorite contemporary books, The Map from Here to There will tug at your heartstrings. Lord’s passionate writing gives life to the most realistic and dynamic characters. She immerses the pages with familial dynamics, strong female friendships, and swoon-worthy relationships. Her knack to encompass anxiety, mental health, adolescent decision making,  and the streaming thoughts of panic and worry of a teenage girl’s future endeavors bursts throughout the novel. I could not put this book down.

Although The Map from Here to There is a sequel, the book can be read as a standalone tracing Paige’s journey through her senior year and focusing on big choices regarding college, her future, anxiety, and deeply rooted relationships. This novel is filled with hopes, dreams, struggles, and frustrations; it’s a must read for contemporary bibliophiles. Lord’s writing surrounds you like a comforting hug, as Paige, Max, and her friends deal with life-changing decisions while truly finding themselves one step at a time. 

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Blogger Note: Last year, I received this book as a gift from the author during a book event. I was not asked to review or promote the book. I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All fangirling, statements, and opinions in this review are my own.

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the LUCKY CALLER by Emma Mills Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

Title: LUCKY CALLER
Author: Emma Mills
Pub. Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 336

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

PRAISE FOR LUCKY CALLER
A well-crafted, bittersweet comedy of errors filled with realistically flawed
characters and taut, witty dialogue. – Publishers Weekly Starred Review

raving review

Give me an Emma Mills book and I will devour it within hours. And guess what, Lucky Caller was no exception. Although the novel started off slow, the steady pace allowed the weaving of Nina’s old memories with her current situation as a senior unfold into the happily ever after ending I was hoping for.

Nina is awkward, but her dry, sarcastic sense of humor was the perfect ingredient to add to her radio broadcasting group. While being grouped with fellow flawed and truly relatable students, Nina and her radio group of misfits provide endless scenes of laughter, bickering, and great 90s-themed music. Nina at times seemed stagnant, but with the push of her radio peers, sisters, her mom, and future stepdad, Nina opens up and provides the reader a realistic outlook of teenage life, mixed-family dynamics, and the rekindling of old friendships.

Lucky Caller is more than a contemporary novel; it’s a pages upon pages of pragmatic circumstances littered with familial problems, adolescent issues, bumbling acts of kindness, and high tension of breaking promises and unfortunately making common mistakes. This book ticked all my boxes: a quiet, sweet, and easy to talk to cinnamon roll of a boy; swoons galore; original characters; and a strong sisterly bond. Emma Mills has a knack of crafting the perfect books that effortlessly mingle witty characters into chaotic situations, and Lucky Caller doesn’t lose that representation of flawed characters trying to make sense of the messy world that surrounds them.

about the author
About Emma:

 

Emma Mills is the author of First & Then, This Adventure Ends, Foolish Hearts, Famous in a Small Town, and Lucky Caller. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and has recently completed a PhD in cell biology.
 
 
 
 
giveaway
 
Giveaway Details:
3 winners will win a finished copy of LUCKY CALLER, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
1/6/2020
Review
1/6/2020
Review
1/7/2020
Review
1/7/2020
Interview
1/8/2020
Review
1/8/2020
Review
1/9/2020
Review
1/9/2020
Review
1/10/2020
Review
1/10/2020
Review
Week Two:
1/13/2020
Review
1/13/2020
Review
1/14/2020
Review
1/14/2020
Guest Post
1/15/2020
Review
1/15/2020
Review
1/16/2020
Review
1/16/2020
Review
1/17/2020
Review
1/17/2020
Interview

 

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway of Finding Mr. Better-Than-You by Shani Petroff

Title: Finding Mr. Better-Than-You
Author: Shani Petroff
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: January 14th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

A heartbroken teen, with the help of her best friends, goes on a quest to find the perfect boyfriend, and in the end learns that some things are more important than boys in Shani Petroff’s fun YA contemporary novel Finding Mr. Better-Than-You.

Camryn Roth has it all planned out: a perfect senior year with her friends and then it’s off to Columbia with her boyfriend, Marc. But the first week of school, everything falls apart. Not only does she not have enough extracurriculars for her dream school, her relationship falls to pieces when Marc publically dumps her!

With the help of her two best friends, Camryn is determined to pull her life back together. Step one, more extracurriculars. Step two, get over Marc and find someone better.

Shani Petroff’s newest rom-com is a love letter to friendship: to those who help you find your true self, stand by you no matter what, and support your plans even when they know they’re doomed.

Praise for Shani Petroff:

“Fans of holiday movies, rom-coms, and ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ will enjoy My New Crush Gave to Me . . . Petroff’s festive story will have readers baking gingerbread cookies and buñuelos at any time of year.” —VOYA, on My New Crush Gave to Me

“A worthwhile read. Flirty and fun.” —Booklist, on Romeo & What’s Her Name

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play


raving review

As a very engaging and fast-paced high school romance, Mr. Better-Than-You threw a few curve balls my way. Camryn Roth is ready to rock her senior year of high school. She and her high school sweetheart are deeply in love and they both have the same dreams to attend Columbia for college. But Cam’s world is thrown into a whirlwind after meeting with the school counselor and then later having her heart broken at a local diner. After moping and piecing together her broken heart, Cam takes initiative to improve her college resume, her love life, and even herself.

Cam is a rom-com aficionado. As a dedicated fan of romantic comedies, she lives and breathes romantic tropes. However, when her own happily ever after ending is crushed, she takes matters into her own hands. On a mission to find a boyfriend better than her ex-boyfriend, Cam’s definition of love changes throughout the novel and morphs into self-appreciation and the value of friendship.

One of the most unexpected things about Mr. Better-Than-You is that this book is not your typical rom-com. While dating shenanigans ensue throughout the pages, Cam’s mindset of love is altered and molded into a variety of understandings of “what is love?” As a must-read, I highly recommend this book to readers who are fanatics of watching female friendships blossom and characters who take initiative into finding their true selves through heartache, laughter, and the support of the people around them.

about the author


Author Bio:

Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. Please visit her website at http://www.ShaniPetroff.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

giveaway

Win a hardcopy of Mr. Better-Than-You

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review: Crier’s War by Nina Varela

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Title:
Crier’s War
Author:  Nina Varela
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBT
Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopsis:

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.


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Alright, I am saying this right now, but this might be my favorite book of 2019. I’ve only  had one book this year that I gave 5 stars, and Crier’s War is definitely my second 5-star worthy read of 2019. As a constant-page turner, I often found myself lost in the themes of rebellion, political power, humanity, and elaborate world-building.

Varela’s writing is so engaging, rich, and lush; the characters are so vibrant and dynamic; and the mix of alchemy and machination allows this novel to effortlessly mesh fantasy and science into a world of Automa (artificial intelligence) overruling humans. The author masterfully molds all these complex elements into the most beautiful and enthralling story.

As Varela’s debut novel, and the first book in a duology, do yourself a favor and add Crier’s War to your TBR asap. As an own voices novel with a slow-burn queer love story that had me swooning, Crier’s War flawlessly and emotionally drives her two main characters, Crier and Ayla, into conflict and determination to seek out their own motives–motives and narratives immersed in rage, revenge, vulnerability, epiphanies, an enemies to lovers romance, and surprising betrayals. 

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR for sending me a free copy of Crier’s War to read and review. 

Book Review & Mood Board: Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

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Title:
Butterfly Yellow
Author:  Thanhha Lai
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fiction

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Synopsis:

In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap. 


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Butterfly Yellow is an emotionally driven novel told in multiple POVs; more specifically in the points of view of Hằng and LeeRoy. Hằng is a Vietnamese refugee traveling to Texas in search of her younger brother, Linh, who was taken to America during the Vietnam War. And LeeRoy is an eighteen-year-old whose main aspiration is to be a cowboy. The interactions between this unlikely pair allows the novel to flow so beautifully. 

Determined to find her brother, Hằng internally struggles with her own PTSD and her hard journey from Vietnam to Texas. Not only is she physically exhausted and vulnerable, but she is also conflicted with coping with emotional distress, survival, hunger, and language boundaries.

On his way to meet his rodeo idol, LeeRoy is unwillingly pushed to drive Hằng on her quest to find her brother. LeeRoy’s quirkiness and straightforward attitude provide a comedic relief to Hằng’s feisty stubbornness and her heartbreaking journey. Although the dialogue between the characters is often stilted, it becomes a learning process and a great facilitator that instills the friendship between these two characters.

Overall, the pacing of this novel is wonderfully steady. Each chapter is short and to the point, while the words flow like a beautiful poem. I quickly connected with the characters within a few pages of meeting them, and from there on, I enjoyed their paths that often unfolded into mosaic of heartbreak, love, determination, and the idea of accepting your mistakes and moving forward.

Mood Board Butterfly Yellow

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR for sending me a free copy of Butterfly Yellow to read and review. 

Book Review: A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo

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Title:
A Constellation of Roses
Author:  Miranda Asebedo
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magic Realism
Rating: ★★★

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Synopsis:

Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.


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A Constellation of Roses is a well-developed contemporary novel that hints at magic, but provides a serious outlet and tone for realistic, young adult situations. After her mom fails to come back home one day, Trix takes the matter of survival into her own hands. Trix relies heavily on her gift as a undetected thief to take what she needs to survive. Without giving too many spoilers, Trix’s antics are not unseen and she is sent to live with some unknown relatives. 

Now surrounded by three generations of women who also have their own talents and gifts, Trix puts up a hard shell that’s not easy to crack. As Trix adapts to her new surroundings, makes new friends, and slowly starts trusting her newfound family, she begins to explore the truth about herself and her familial past. More importantly, she begins defining and understanding what family truly means. And as the story unfolds, Trix also begins acknowledging that everyone, no matter how happy they seem on the outside, are also going through their own personal struggles. 

Filled with emotionally-curing pie, a dash of magic, and teenage antics, A Constellation of Roses will have you swimming in emotions of heartache, laughter, tears, and swoons. This novel explores some very heavy issues, which makes these characters so realistic and so easy to connect and fall in love with.

Some favorite quotes:

“Fortune-telling isn’t a science. It’s an art. And sometimes art is messy.”

“Scars tell a story, even when we don’t want them to.”

“You know, there’s an old story that back when they founded Rocksaw, the McCabes were one of the first families here. And their daughters were so beautiful and so strangely gifted that people in Buffalo Hills thought they were witches and wanted to run them out of the area.”

“Love is promising Persian kittens. Love is American slang dictionaries for Scrabble. Love is Coke-and-cherry slushes as midnight. Love is watching the lights come on in town from law chairs on Cedar Mountain. Love is lemon-meringue pie on porch steps.”

“Yes, I have gotten what I always wanted. My deepest secrets. Not a perfect family, after all. But a constellation of women, connected by pie and fortunes and roses. And love.”

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR for sending me a free copy of A Cosntellation of Roses to read and review. 

Blog Tour: Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

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Title: Songs from the Deep
Author:  Kelly Powell
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.


4

Songs from the Deep reads like the steady lyrics of a richly melodic song. Set on an island dependent on tourism and the sea, this novel delves into the a story of murder, mystery, friendship, and deadly sirens.

I found Songs from the Deep to be a constant page-turner. Kelly Powell’s lyrical writing and vivid scenic descriptions, create a very atmospheric setting that makes you want to curl up on the couch and drink warm tea as you read the story’s mysteries unfold. 

I enjoyed reading the reconnection of an old friendship and the subtle love story that unfolds throughout the pages, along with the thrill of the two main characters, Moira and Jude, solving the murders of local islanders. Moira and Jude are the perfect sleuthing pair; they balance out each other’s flaws and secrets, while also using their own ingrained abilities to help save the sirens from being wrongfully accused and then hunted.

As an entrancing novel of unsolved mysteries, dangerous sirens, and unraveled secrets, Songs from the Deep is must read. Along with the small-town lives of the islanders, the steady swooshing of the waves, the enticing song of the sirens, and the scent of the sea, you will easily be bewitched in the dark ambiance of this novel.

3

Moira’s mom is a baker, and throughout small parts of the story, I kept craving yummy pastries. So as a great pairing with Songs from the Deep, I bought some scone mix, and decided to make some “Save the Sirens Scones.”

Because I did not bake these scones from scratch, I made sure to follow the directions on the scone mix bag. Along with the scone mix, I only needed butter and milk. After smashing the butter into the mix and stirring in the milk to make a clumpy dough, I formed the dough into a ball and then spread it out on a greased baking pan. I used a spatula to deeply score the dough into wedges. After baking for 17 minutes at 350 degrees F, I let the scones cool. 

If you decide to bake your own scones, be sure to you make yourself a cup of your favorite tea to pair with the pastry. With a scone and tea at hand, you will create the perfect reading setting to enjoy the mysterious and very atmospheric novel, Songs from the Deep.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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About the author:

Kelly Powell has a bachelor’s degree in history and book and media studies from the University of Toronto. She currently lives in Ontario. Songs from the Deep is her debut novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Simon Teen/ Simon & Schuster for inviting me to host a “Raves & Craves” post on this blog tour and sending me a free copy of Songs from the Sea to read and review.