Blog Tour & Giveaway: Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray

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Title: Don’t Kiss the Messenger
Author: Katie Ray
Publication date: April 10, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen Crush
Genres: Young Adult, Contempoary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.

CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.

Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings them all together. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll fall in love.

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My Rants and Raves of messenger

Don’t Kiss the Messenger is a gender-reversed, high school retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. It’s a story about disguise, miscommunication, and hidden crushes. Often I find stories about deception frustrating because I am so impatient for the truth to be revealed, but in this book the use of modern technology to disguise flirtation is creatively thought out and well executed. I thought (and loved) that the book gave off vibes that reminisced the classic independent heroine and witty banter that is portrayed in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. 

One of my favorite parts of Don’t Kiss the Messenger was the constant references to Shakespeare. You cannot go into a story focused on disguise and deception without Shakespeare’s works making an appearance. And every time Cece, the main character, quoted a Shakespeare play, I would get so excited. It’s not every day you read a character that appreciates the language of the Bard. 

Not only is Cece a Shakespeare fanatic, but she is also likable, sarcastic, confident, and fierce. Although she faces scrutiny every day from strangers who take pity on her or are awe-struck by the scars on her face, Cece keeps her head up high and tries to excel in every way she possibly can. She tries not to let her flaws define her, but it’s hard because she lives in a world that focuses on perfection as a defining factor. Cece has excellent taste in music, she’s fearless, and I love that she knows that sometimes a good cry is the best medicine.

I also liked Emmett, Cece’s crush. Emmett is not set up as the perfect high school jock. He has a past that is heartbreaking, and a future that needs mending. Emmett might be clueless on a few things, but his interest in literature, music, and defending his friends makes him stand out. 

Cece and Emmett’s friendship and relationship is an emotional roller coaster. And even though they have their twists and turns, the chemistry between these two characters is electric. Their friendship is based on witticism, sarcasm, and laughs. I love how they feed off each other’s energy and their banter is so cute and hilarious. I rooted for them the entire book, even when the disguised messages were grating my last nerve, hahaha.

Although stories that use disguises as a tricking mechanism sometimes frustrate me, the deceiving charade that takes place in Don’t Kiss the Messenger is heartwarming and swoony. Yes, I might have gotten annoyed at times, mainly because I wanted the truth leaked, but deception was perfectly set up as a steady beat throughout the pages and had me hooked to the very end. I highly recommend this book to fans of Shakespeare, literature nerds, music fiends, and anyone who appreciates a good love story. 

star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

♥♥GIVEAWAY♥♥

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Katie Ray

 

About the Author:

Katie Ray (also known by her previous author name, Katie Kacvinsky) writes teen and new adult fiction novels. Her books have been nominated for YALSA awards, and First Comes Love was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her screenplay, A High Note, was a semifinalist in the Austin Screenplay Competition in 2015. She currently lives in Ashland, Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a slightly insane dog.

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Raves & A Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

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Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?


My Top 5 Raves of By Your Side

1.If you’re already a Kasie West fan, you are going to love By Your Side. It’s fast-paced, swoony, funny, and you will definitely fall in love with the two main characters, Autumn and Dax.

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2. Some of you may already know this about me, especially if you follow me on Twitter, but my brother is my best friend. And in By Your Side, Autumn is also very close to her brother, Owen. Their dialogue is witty and hilarious. I adored when these two were together in a chapter. One of my rants about this book is that there was not enough scenes between these two. GIVE ME MORE AWESOME SISTER-AND-BROTHER SCENES, PLEASE!

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3. Kasie’s books always gives me John Hughes’ movie FEELS, and of course I went into this book hoping for inspired The Breakfast Club library scenes. Now, the library dancing and sprinkling of PixieStix on a sandwich didn’t happen, but I think Autumn and Dax handled being locked in a library for a weekend really well. Being locked in a library is definitely a way to challenge yourself, but in this story, it was also a good start to a new friendship. And although Autumn already has some preconceived notions about Dax having a “bad boy” reputation, she finds out that Dax is very resourceful, honest, and trustworthy.

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4. Autumn is a realistic protagonist worth rooting for. She has her flaws, but don’t we all. One of my favorite things about Autumn is that she is not as angsty as many cliché female leads are portrayed in contemporary books. I found Autumn to be strong-willed, caring, and overconscientious. 

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5. Last, I really enjoyed that By Your Side focuses on a multitude of situations: family, friendships, teenage love, foster children, and anxiety. Kasie West doesn’t shy her characters away from making mistakes or misconstruing situations. Instead, the characters use their cleverness, humor, and courage to conquer the world. Give me a Kasie West book any day, and I will always walk away with fluff in my heart and laughter in my soul.

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4 star rating

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

RELEASE DATE: January 31, 2017

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository

Blog Tour & Giveaway: AUTOFOCUS by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title: Autofocus
By: Lauren Gibaldi
Published by: Harper Teen
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Fiction

ABOUT AUTOFOCUS:

Family.

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository


 review in photography

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi is by far my favorite Young Adult Contemporary book I have read this year. Right from page one, the story smoothly unfolds when the main character, Maude, is given a high school assignment: to use photography as a means to define “family.” But for Maude, “family” is hard to define, because she was adopted and her birth mother died from complications during childbirth. Defining “family” is a true crisis of nature versus nurture in Maude’s eyes, especially when her birth mother left no information about herself or her own family for Maude to discover.

footprintGibaldi does a remarkable job depicting a seventeen-year-old that is lingering between the blurred lines of adolescence and adulthood. Maude is one of the most courageous female protagonists I have read in a long time. I often found myself comparing her to Louisa May Alcott’s Jo March in Little Women—a heroine surrounded by family and friends, yet who often shadows herself in a world of creativity as she pleads for life to remain unchanging. Like Jo March, Maude is creative, stubborn, and overall frustrating, especially when she is enamored with concrete and fixed depictions of people. Throughout Autofocus, Maude is often comparing people to who they are now and who they once were, and this leaves her with a mindset that change is hard to accept.

corkboardI mostly liked Maude because she is very determined and fearless. She does not wallow in self-pity; instead, she travels to her birth mother’s hometown, which happens to be the college town that her best friend Treena is attending. While staying at Florida State University for a week, I love that Maude dares herself to make connections with people that once knew her birth mother. And more importantly, I enjoyed that Maude not only discovers the true meaning of family, but she also discovers herself.

blurryUnsurprisingly, I was not a big fan of Maude’s best friend, Treena. I know Treena is in college and she’s going through her own identity crisis, but for crying out loud, her best friend is only staying with her for one week. But without Treena’s slip-ups, Maude would have never met and received help from Treena’s college friend, Bennett. Bennett is by far my favorite character in the book. He’s dorky, honest, caring, funny, and has an eclectic knowledge of pop culture/references. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with having a friend that loves and references Star Wars, Spider-man, and Toy Story, RIGHT?! Bennett is the perfect friend to help balance out Maude’s uneasy and erratic actions during her one-week journey to find information about her birth mother.

spidermanOverall, I really enjoyed Autofocus, and I can definitely see this coming-of-age story being a re-read for me whenever I’m in need of a reading-slump cure. Maude is a dynamic character, and I love that most of her internal dialogue is framed in self-encouraged philosophies. I really appreciated that Maude uses her photography assignment not only as a means to define “family,” but to essentially define herself. In the end, she portrays maturity and understanding that identity is not always a still-frame, but a collection of snapshots that shape who you are.

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star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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about Lauren

Lauren Gibaldi

Public librarian and author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, MATT’S STORY (a Night We Said Yes novella), and AUTOFOCUS (out 6/14/16), all with HarperTeen/ HarperCollins. Fan of dinosaurs and cheesy jokes. And you.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

 

tour schedule

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Note: All photographs were taken by me and edited with an Apple app called Color Card. All quotes featured in the photos are from an e-arc/galley of Autofocus provided by HarperTeen/HarperCollins. A gigantic thank you to Irish Banana Tours for inviting me on this blog tour. 

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ARC Review: Dreaming of Antigone

Title: Dreaming of Antigone
By:  Robin Bridges
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Pages: 304 (Paperback)
Publisher: Kensington 
Format: e-galley/eARC
Source: Netgalley

GOODREADS’S SUMMARY

25852906Every star has its own path…

“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.

Heartwrenching, smart, and bold, Dreaming of Antigone is a story about the jagged pieces that lie beneath the surface of the most seemingly perfect life…and how they can fit together to make something wholly unexpected.


 

MY REVIEW

Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges is a cluster of chaos that unfolds into a mending story of restoration. This story is dark and consuming. As a high school student, the main character, Andria, is not only dealing with failing grades and the fear of epileptic seizures, but she is still grieving for her twin sister, Iris, who died of an overdose six months ago.

I loved the aspect that this story is told in first-person narrative. Andria’s voice is raw, grief-stricken, and utterly straightforward and honest. She doesn’t hold the reader back from her internal thoughts or emotions when it comes to describing her connection with poets, a passion for astronomy, and a grudge against her late sister’s drug addict boyfriend, Alex. As Andria mourns, she also begins to contemplate and understand the sadness, the secrets, and the guilt that the people around her are also battling.

The development that Andria experiences throughout the novel is brilliantly written. Andria’s candid confessions of nightmares, fears, and emotional baggage come from the idea that she honestly believes, “My sister still blames me for her death” (chapter 1). But as she mourns, Andria also willingly adjusts to the unfortunate cards she’s been dealt.

Bridges makes a poignant move by writing a main character that doesn’t lose herself in her grief, but instead portrays Andria as someone that is compliant to accept change. Andria begins to hang out with her and her sister’s old friends again, earn extra credit with her “enemy,” and more importantly, she discovers her sister’s painful secret. Andria’s evolution and progress throughout the novel is not only heartbreaking, but it is wonderfully crafted. Bridges definitely has created a modern day tragedy, but in Andria’s story, the final message is as beautiful as a supernova.

I found Iris’s secret predictable, but only because her secret is a maddening reality that plagues our society daily. If you are a fan of Perk of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Love Letter to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, definitely look into reading Dreaming of Antigone.  Dreaming of Antigone reflects the sadness, misfortunes, pain, and, more importantly, the healing message found in these two books where characters painfully suffer in silence. Additionally, similar to these two amazing novels, Dreaming of Antigone executes a message that sometimes nightmares become reality, but that reality doesn’t always have to be suffered alone.

RANTS and RAVES

RANTS: This story is dark, but Andria’s voice summons the reader to partake in her grief, hate, and understanding. Although the story is  first person narrative (strictly in Andria’s point of view), I would have loved to have heard from Alex Hammond’s, Iris’s boyfriend, point of view. He is dangerous, moody, brooding, but strong-willed. Alex and Andria’s story is quite predictable, but overall, I wish Alex’s perspective was brought to the surface more. His pain is often found in his dialogue and poems, but I would have loved to hear his side of the story.

RAVES: While reading this book, I felt like I was falling in love with a story similar to Love Letter to the Dead all over again. Dreaming of Antigone is a riveting page-turner. Andria’s voice is so direct and captivating. It is hard not to emotionally connect with her sorrow, internal thoughts, and her passion to seek and understand the truth involving her sister’s death. I am a sucker for any story that has characters obsessed with space, stars, and constellations, so I immediately connected to Andria every time she stargazed. Additionally, the novel definitely had some noteworthy quotes. 

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Natalie leaves the remaining cupcakes. ‘Take one a day as needed. With Diet Coke. Repeat in six hours if no results.’ I roll my eyes. ‘What results?’ ‘Mom says cupcakes are the cure for unhappiness.’” (Chapter 29)

“This is Greek tragedy. And I’m as broken as he is.” (Antigone, Chapter 27)

“His kisses are gentle, like a prayer, seeking and forgiving.” (Chapter 30)

“Think about other things, Andria. Like baby pandas. Or cupcakes.” (Chapter 25)

4 star rating

4 out of 5 Stars

NOTE:         I received this e-galley/e-ARC from the publisher on Netgalley for an honest review. All statements and opinions are mine.

 

Dreaming of Antigone is out on March 29, 2016. 

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