Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: Miss Mabel's School for Girls (Network Series #1) by Katie Cross

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Miss Mabel's School for Girls
*Series: The Network Series #1
Author: Katie Cross
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 316
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Source: Author/CBB Book Promotions
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy stories about feisty girls and witch schools.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.

Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

So I'm a sucker for all things related to witchy schools and tough female characters. When I read the synopsis of this, it reminded me of an all-girl cast of Harry Potter and, to be honest, that's exactly what hooked me! What's better than a group of tough girls learning magic? Nothing. Which is why I had such high hopes for Miss Mabel's School for Girls. I wanted to get lost in a new world, full of magic and mischief. I can happily say that this was a great introduction!

Things take off at a lightning pace. Bianca was a wonderful character, and one that I instantly saw myself in. A little less than a lady, but full of the type of fire that makes for a one strong protagonist. Watching her set off on a quest that she absolutely knew would be dangerous excited me. See, Bianca was cursed by the very person whose clutches she was now willingly walking into. Such a great premise. To try to prove yourself to the one person who holds your life in their hands.

Which brings me to the fact that there were a lot of things that I did like about this story. Bianca, for one. The fact that Miss Mabel's School for Girls was shrouded in mystery and magic. Even the fact that all of the characters were so strong. It's refreshing to see a book that features a female cast, that doesn't focus heavily on romance. Maybe that's coming in the next books, but in this moment I felt amazed that it wasn't there. No love triangles. Thank you Katie Cross.

What I wished for more than anything though, was more world building and less "telling" rather than showing. There were portions of this story that moved very slowly. A lot of travel was necessary, and those parts tended to drag on a bit. When Bianca was being tested, it was fabulous. When she was lost in her own head, it was a little slow. It wasn't anything overly exhausting, but I would have loved to see a bit more forward movement. I have a very strong feeling that it's coming in the books down the pipe though, so I'm excited about that.

Long story short, this was a book that I enjoyed. It didn't immediately jump to the top of my favorites list, but I also know that this is a series that I plan on continuing on with. I can't wait!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review & Tour: Welcome to Fat Chance Texas by Celia Bonaduce

Media Type: Kindle/Paperback
Title: Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas
Author: Celia Bonaduce
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Pages: paperback, 268
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Source: Author/PUYB
Genre: Contemporary- Fiction/Humor
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy an eclectic group of characters in unusual circumstances.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes

“A fresh, heartwarming voice.” —Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author

For champion professional knitter Dymphna Pearl, inheriting part of a sun-blasted ghost town in the Texas hill country isn’t just unexpected, it’s a little daunting. To earn a cash bequest that could change her life, she’ll have to leave California to live in tiny, run-down Fat Chance for six months—with seven strangers. Impossible! Or is it?

Trading her sandals for cowboy boots, Dymphna dives into her new life with equal parts anxiety and excitement. After all, she’s never felt quite at home in Santa Monica anyway. Maybe Fat Chance will be her second chance. But making it habitable is going take more than a lasso and Wild West spirit. With an opinionated buzzard overlooking the proceedings and mismatched strangers learning to become friends, Dymphna wonders if unlocking the secrets of her own heart is the way to strike real gold.
What a interesting dilemma, give up your current life for 6 months to live with a group of strangers in a ghost town or lose a generous inheritance (and cost the rest of the group theirs). I have to say that people do some strange things when they get a terminal illness, but this was one even I was surprised at. 

Aptly named "Fat Chance", this group of strangers must learn to live with each other and run a successful town for 6 months. Each character is unique in their background and reason for being there and things get off to a very rocky start. I have to admit, I was so enthralled with what was happening I did not want to put this book down. 

Sometimes a large group of characters gets to be too much to keep track of, but Celia Bonaduce does a wonderful job of keeping things interesting and consistent between them so I didn't have a hard time remembering who was who. Each character brought an interesting piece to the story and I really enjoyed all of them for their faults and quirkiness. 

Dymphna is the main storyteller and given her role as observer we get to know this rowdy group and really enjoy the scenery of this run down town. The descriptions of the town when they arrive drew me right in, I could feel the dust settling in my nose. Bonaduce does a wonderful job creating this place and giving the characters real reactions to the chaos that inevitably ensues. 

I really enjoyed everything about this book: strong characters with lots of growth, interesting story line, and of course a bit of romance. It wasn't what I expected when I picked it up, but it was a very fun read and I would highly recommend it. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Don't Vote For Me by Krista Van Dolzer

It's that time again! Time for another book and its amazing author to step into the spotlight. 

Do you know what I love most about these posts? I love the fact that I get to promote books that you might not have been aware of. In this case, Don't Vote For Me may not have been on your TBR but I have sneaky suspicion that it will be after you read this post.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BAM
Veronica rules the school

David’s starting a revolution.

It’s class president election time and no one is surprised when Veronica Pritchard-Pratt is the only name on the list. She’s the most popular girl in school, a social giant who rules the campaign every single year. David, for one, is sick of the tyranny- which he says. Out loud. When Veronica hears about this, she issues a public challenge to David. With his pride on the line, David accepts his fate and enters the race.

But as the campaign wages on, and David and Veronica are also paired up for a spring music recital, David learns this Goliath is more than just a social giant- and maybe deserves to win more than he does…

No matter how old I get, Middle Grade books hold a special spot in my heart. I love transporting back in time, and laughing out loud at the antics of the characters. Most of the time, I even find a character who reminds me of myself at that age. I love it! This book is no exception, and I've already added Don't Vote For Me to my reading list. Have you?

Spencer opened his mouth to answer, but before he could get a word out, his attention shifted to something—-or someone—-over my shoulder. Grudgingly, I turned around. Veronica was climbing onto the populars’ table, giving everyone a look at her signature All Stars. They were in such good condition that they looked brand-new, but I’d been shopping secondhand since Radcliff, one of my brothers, had introduced me to the art nearly six years earlier. Those skinnier toe caps meant that that pair of All Stars was thirty years old (at least). If Radcliff had been here, he probably would have offered her his whole PEZ collection—-not to mention his firstborn child—-for those vintage shoes.

I tried to tell myself that her plans had nothing to do with me, but I still wanted to dash. Except I couldn’t move. Not even the lunch ladies were immune to Veronica’s powers. One of them tried to intervene, but one look from Veronica froze the woman in her tracks.

Veronica surveyed the lunchroom like a queen surveying her kingdom. “It has come to my attention that a certain unnamed someone thinks I don’t have the perspective to speak for this class. Now, I’ll remind this someone that I’ve won the last two elections without breaking a sweat, but in case you think I won because no one ran against me, let me set the record straight. I’m perfectly willing to campaign against anyone—-and I mean, anyone—-who thinks he or she can beat me.” She scanned the crowd with frosty eyes—-until those eyes landed on me. “So by all means, join the race. And may the best candidate win.”

She held my gaze for one more second, then tossed her hair over her shoulder and hopped down from the table. Brady extended his hand, but she paid it no heed. After disposing of her bagel, she swept out of the lunchroom with her nose in the air.

While her friends raced to catch up, I just sat there, stunned. I’d already lost my appetite, but now I was afraid that I might lose my lunch. I wrapped an arm around my stomach and hunkered down behind my lunch box. Maybe if I asked him nicely, the Tick would fight my battles for me.

Riley shivered from head to toes. “What are you going to do?” he whispered.

“What do you think?” I asked. “I’m gonna hightail it to Panama and open up a taco shop.”

“You can’t make tacos,” he said. “And I don’t think they eat them there, anyway.”

“And,” Spencer replied, “you don’t have a passport. I’d let you borrow mine, but you’re pastier than I am.”

Spencer was the only kid in SV who had an actual passport, which he used to travel between SV and Hong Kong. He was born in New Hampshire (or maybe New Jersey), but his parents were Hong Kongans (or whatever you called them).

I knotted my arms across my chest. “Then I’ll just do nothing,” I said.

Spencer rolled his eyes. “You can’t do nothing,” he replied. “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you.”

“Of course I can,” I replied, coating each word with confidence. “I’m really good at doing nothing. It’s one of my better skills.”

Riley snorted, then sighed.

“This will all blow over in a few days,” I said. “You just wait and see.”

Spencer inhaled another wad of French fries. “You don’t believe that for a second.”

Of course I don’t, I almost said, but for once, I kept my mouth shut.

Krista Van Dolzer is a stay-at-home mom by day and a children's author by bedtime. Though she's short like David, she plays the piano like Veronica and lives in Mesquite, Nevada. She is also the author of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING. Visit her at
Find her at: Website | Twitter

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Gifted (The Hayven Series) by J.A. George

Happy Friday, my favorite bookish people! Yes, you've made it through the week. The weekend awaits and, if you're like me, you're probably planning on spending it doing some reading. So, let me take a moment to put a new book on your radar!

Amazon | Goodreads


Today, the spotlight is on J.A. George and her novel, Gifted from The Hayven Series.

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I'm a sucker for Fantasy. Better still, a book that has a gifted, or extra special, main character always catches my eye!

Want to learn more? Scroll on down! J.A. George was kind enough to write up a guest post, and there's even a giveaway at the bottom just for you! Enjoy, and don't forget to add Gifted to your reading list!



My name is J.A. George and I am the author of Gifted – The Hayven Series. It took me a while to decide on what I would write for this guest blog post and I had many different ideas until I settled on perhaps the most obvious: writing.

Once I had decided to write Gifted and I had the basic plot written out, I couldn't stop. It was like one idea followed another and then another followed that one and so on. I’ve always loved writing, I think every author says that, (or they should!) but before I decided to become an author, I didn't see it as something I could do as a future career. Until one day, I sat on my bed, opened up a blank Word document and typed out a few lines. It was after those few lines that I brought myself a black leather journal and properly yet briefly planned out the storyline of all four books in the series. Since then, I've found it better to write before I type and Gifted has seen me go through five different notebooks.

My favourite thing about the entire writing process has to be the building of my characters because, despite how weird this may make me sound, when I write about a character, build their life, give them a family and friends, describe their features and explain their personalities, their likes and dislikes, it honestly is as if they come alive.

Hmmm, I feel like this is a good time to pop in an excerpt; I’ll go with the blurb:

“Why do birds fly? Why do lions hunt deer? Why does the sun shine and the moon glow? Because it must. I wish I could tell you why, I truly do. It mustn’t be easy, such pressure weighted on such young shoulders, but we do not always choose the lives we must lead.”

Avery Gray had no choice but to be different. She was not born that way; she was chosen.

After having met a special, silver-haired woman, and the handsome and enigmatic Theodore-James Connors, Ava finds herself in Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. With Theo, his friends, Hayven, her gift, and the ability to ‘travel’ in different colours, Ava must now accept that she can no longer classify herself as normal. As friendships develop, and Theo and Ava become closer than she anticipated, it turns out her new gifted life comes with a catch. With no choice or say on the matter, Ava must save a city she is starting to fall in love with; a city that has almost begun to feel like home.

As you could probably tell from the blurb, Ava is my main character, and possibly my favourite (honestly, it changes everyday). I wouldn't say Ava is me, as I know some authors like to base their characters on themselves at times but I can safely say that isn't the case with Ava and I. However, one thing I did with Ava that makes her similar to me is her reactions. I try to make my characters as realistic as possible so readers can imagine seeing these people walking down their streets on a regular Wednesday afternoon, so when it came to revealing life-changing news, I had the characters react in a way I believe I would. That’s my main aim for Gifted, for people like you (book lovers) to read it and think that what happens to Ava could happen to you (hopefully only the good bits concerning Ava’s life happen to you!) because if you think about it, nothing’s impossible, right?

I immensely enjoyed writing Gifted and I hope readers can sense that when reading the book. I loved building my characters and making up names for cities, but most of all, I Ioved bringing my little idea to life in the form of a book.

J.A. George

J.A. George is the author of the four-part series, GIFTED: THE HAYVEN SERIES. Jessica spent years of her life reading book after book before sitting on her bed one morning, opening her laptop and typing Chapter One into her word document. Now, not only does she read book after book, she now writes book after book too. When she's not writing, she's trying to break her record of finishing a tub of Oreo ice cream in less than forty-five minutes.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

On the power of the dreaded "DNF".

I've posted about this before, that dreaded DNF, but it's been a while and my opinion on this has actually changed! Let me say that once, when I was fresh and new, I never left a book in DNF status. I always finished everything that I started. I'd wade through books that drove me crazy from beginning to end.

Those were simpler times. Then, I wised up.

Now I understand the power of that dreaded DNF status. It's the power to say "Hey, you know what? This book isn't working for me. There are lots of other things I want to read. Let's move on, ok?" and then you do. Ever since I've learned to embrace the DNF, I've felt so free! I'm not afraid to let go of a book that isn't working for me. This has also taught me the difference between a book that I'm reading at the wrong time (like trying to read comedy when I'm depressed) and a book that just won't jive with me no matter how much I try.

There's power in the DNF. Power as a reader to move on when something isn't making you happy. Power to find something amazing to read.

Do you harness that power?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review: Fat Ballet by T.R. Whittier

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Fat Ballet
Author: T.R. Whittier
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 230
Release Date: June 25, 2015
Source: Author
Genre: Contemporary / Humor

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy books that are sweet, light-hearted, and still deal with real world characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
It’s not easy being Olga Dolovich. Orphaned at a time when she had only just begun to appreciate her parents, tormented by her beautiful-but-bitchy sex goddess of a sister, and doomed to clean the world’s dirtiest bathroom, Olga doesn’t exactly lead a charmed life. But worst of all, at least in her tortured mind, is the fact that she’s fat. Too fat for comfort. Too fat for beauty. And much, much too fat to be a ballerina.

But ballet, unfortunately, is what Olga lives and breathes for. What’s a poor, plump, bathroom cleaner with artistic ambitions to do? Under normal circumstances, she’d have no choice but to watch as her dreams got washed down the drain. But when Harold Pinsky, the eccentric heir to a toilet paper fortune, dances into her life, circumstances become anything but normal. Harold, like Olga, has the right kind of talent, but the wrong kind of body to be a professional ballet dancer. Unlike Olga, however, he’s not about to let some stupid societal convention stand in the way of their happiness.

With the help of a few equally imperfect friends, plus one extremely unexpected supporter, they start The Fat Ballet Company – a dance troupe dedicated to breaking down barriers, crushing conventionalism, and squashing stereotypes. But is the world ready for such an enlightened art form? And is Olga ready to come to terms with her less-than-flawless self? FAT BALLET – Dance Without Discrimination!

*Please note: this novel contains bad language and bawdy humor*

Ballet. Lithe men and women flitting across the stage. Beautiful costumes and music. Everyone stick thin, especially the prima ballerina. There's a stigma that comes with professional ballet, and it's one that haunts our poor protagonist. See, Olga isn't exactly what you'd call thin. For that matter, she's the exact opposite. Olga's world revolves around the dreaded "F-word", and her shame over the way others view her. What do you do when you have a ton of passion and talent for ballet, but aren't given the body to match? According to T.R. Whittier's light-hearted story, you make your own way.

Fat Ballet is definitely best described as light-hearted. It deals with a lot of hot button topics, but it does it in a way that is adorable and funny. Olga is fat. Harold is weak. Fiona is wheel-chair bound. Yet none of these things defines who they are, or what they love. It was nice to see a story that took characters with characteristics that are normally considered taboo to discuss, and put them out there in a situation where they could shine. I loved watching Harold pull Olga out of her shell. Loved seeing her in the spotlight. The word "fat" is always used in such a negative way. I enjoyed the fact that Fat Ballet was trying to embrace that, and change it.

Overall, this story was a quick and rather fun read. I think where it fell short was simply the length. No pun intended. Truly, if there had been more time to dive into Olga's background, and her relationship with her new found friends, it would have been an even better experience. As it stands, this book flies by. This calls for a bit of insta-love, some very quick reconciliations, and a bit of suspended disbelief. Still, if you take it for the ride that it is, this book is a great way to spend an hour or so.

Are you looking for something outside of the norm? Something that embraces passion and talent, despite the outer wrappings of the people it deals with? This is a book for you. Happy reading!


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: The Perfect Bargain (Entangled Lovestruck) by Jessa McAdams

Media Type: ebook (ARC)
Title: The Perfect Bargain
Author: Jessa McAdams
Publisher: Entangled Lovestruck
Pages: ebook, 179
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Netgalley/Publisher
Content Screening: Sexual Situations

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Romance readers who enjoy a man in a kilt

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes

American lass seeks brawny Scot...As if being newly single isn't brutal enough, Sloane Chatfield's friends are getting obnoxious about setting her up. When Sloane insists she's waiting for a certain sexy fictional Highlander to come along, her friends surprise her with a trip to Scotland to find her a new boyfriend. She'd rather have a root canal. But if she can find a Highland hunk to "break her heart" before her friends arrive...
In a remote Highland village, Galen Buchanan is struggling to keep the family pub afloat. Everything is falling apart, he's running out of money, and now there's an opinionated American lass parked at his best table, driving him mad. But then Sloane asks Galen to be her pretend Highland boyfriend...and offers him enough money to save the pub. It's only for a few days, he figures. What's the worst that could happen?

I've been in a reading slump as of late for various reasons, one of them being I am just not loving any of the books I've picked up. Unfortunately this gem is a part of that group. The premise was promising- desperate American girl tries to get adorable Scot to be her pretend boyfriend to appease overbearing friends, what could possibly go wrong?

I enjoyed the banter between Sloane and Galen a lot. Navigating a new relationship that was built out of convenience is never easy, but their lighthearted banter and snarkiness kept it fun. My only complaint is that both characters seemed pretty stereotypical: the "uptight American who works too much" and the "laid back Scotsman who calls everyone lass" is a bit overdone and outdated. I would have preferred a little diversity in the characters, but at least they had chemistry.

Sloane's friends were a bit vapid in my opinion. None of them really seemed to have good intentions and their personalities seemed passed over by the author. It is one thing to try to encourage a heartbroken friend to get back out there, but their motives seemed impure at best. We never really got to know her friends though, so it could be the lack of characterization that made it feel shady.

There were a few unexpected moments that kept the story moving right along and I finished it in one sitting. I recommend picking this up when you're in the mood for a lighthearted romance.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: Awakened (Resilient #2) by Patricia Vanasse

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Awakened
Series: Resilient #2
Author: Patricia Vanasse
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press
Pages: Paperback; 317
Release Date: July 2015
Source: CBB Book Promotions
Content Screening: Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy strong female protagonists and lots of action.

Add it on: Goodreads | BookLikes
Under the control of The Agency, a secret, governmental organization that created genetically engineered teens who posses a combination of extraordinary abilities, Adam is serving the purpose for which he was created while his girlfriend, Livia fights to save him. Manipulated to forget his love for Livia and his past, he lives a life crafted by fake memories that enslave him to a life of following the orders of an organization, whose intentions are unclear. Now Adam battles with vivid “dreams” of a life he does not remember and the strong connection he feels to the girl with familiar blue eyes.

Livia’s desire for vengeance lead her and Daniel on a dangerous race to disrupt the destructive string of events that The Agency initiated seventeen years earlier. As they travel across parts of North America in search of other teens who are just like them, Livia will face an ethical battle over genetics, loyalty, and love. The race is on, and it is up to Livia to destroy The Agency and rescue Adam, but even if she succeeds at saving him, there are no guarantees she’ll be able to save the deep connection they once shared.

Last year, I read and loved Resilient by Patricia Vanasse. It was one of those surprising books. The kind that are a slow burn, but that finish strong. I've been eagerly awaiting the sequel ever since! There were so many questions I had, and the cliffhanger was an evil one. Let's just say that I had very high hopes for Awakened. I couldn't wait to see if everything I wanted was there.

Livia was the same main character that I knew and loved, if a little more tough around the edges. From a girl who wasn't comfortable in her own skin, to a girl who is willing to put everything on the line to do what is right, her transformation was instantly recognizable. My biggest problem with the last book was that Adam seemed to steal Livia's fire. The romance ate away her tough outer shell. This time around, she was once again on her own, and I loved her all the more for it.

Truth be told, I actually enjoyed the characters in this installment much more than the first. There was a lot more depth to everyone who I had already met but, best of all, there were new characters in the mix. I enjoyed meeting each one of them in turn. By the time this motley crew of rebels was assembled, the chemistry between them was perfect and I was lost in it.

Still, there were some things that didn't really click for me in Awakened. The biggest being that this particular book isn't very action heavy. While there is just enough forward movement to keep things fresh, and keep the characters growing, it wasn't as exciting as the first book. I know this is because there's still one book left, but it didn't change the fact that I missed that dynamic. Also, I wasn't a big fan of the ending. It seemed to take everything I knew about these characters, and throw it out the window. Perhaps it's a ploy, and I'll regret thinking that? I just don't know.

Overall, I'd say this is a fairly solid middle book. It gets the job done, especially in the character development department. I'm just hoping the next book is even more exciting.

Patricia Vanasse was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now she lives on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest. She has been through Culinary Arts, Psychology, Law School, and now has finally found her passion in creative writing. She also loves traveling, cooking, and is an avid reader. Her strength- believes that everything is possible.  Her weakness- an obsessive relationship with caffeine.


The author will be giving away one (1) $50 Amazon Gift (INT), Two (2) signed copies of Resilient (US), one (1) e-arc of Against All Odds (INT) to the winners of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends July 28th.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Don't Ever Change
Author: M. Beth Bloom
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: Paperback; 368
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Source: FFBC Book Tours
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy true to life characters, and stream of consciousness in their books.

Add it on: BookLikes | Amazon | Goodreads | B&N
Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can't "write what she knows" because she hasn'tyet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about.

Soon Eva's life encounters a few unexpected plot twists. She becomes a counselor at a nearby summer camp—a job she is completely unqualified for. She starts growing apart from her best friends before they've even left for school. And most surprising of all, she begins to fall for the last guy she would have ever imagined. But no matter the roadblocks, or writer's blocks, it is all up to Eva to figure out how she wants this chapter in her story to end.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell,Don't Ever Change is a witty, snarky, and thought-provoking coming-of-age young adult novel about a teen who sets out to write better fiction and, ultimately, discovers the truth about herself.

So I imagine that if you were to time travel back to when I was a teenager, and somehow write everything I thought down into a book, it would be a chaotic mess. The sheer amount of thoughts that fly through the teenage brain at any given moment is insane. Truth be told, I'm pretty sure my stream of consciousness isn't any better now! It's just a little less focused on boys, confusing friendships, and fitting in. That chaotic mess of thoughts is essentially what this book is. Don't Ever Change is a look at the mind of Eva Kramer, in all its jumbled glory.

See, Eva is a writer. As such, she looks at the world through a different lens than most other people. She wants to live, to experience things that are worth writing about, but she doesn't know how. I'll admit, I have a soft spot for girls like Eva. That's what I was like as a teen. Lost in my own head most of the time. I loved watching her try to get out of her own way, and appreciate the last bits of being a high school graduate, before college and all the new things that it would bring. It's normal to feel afraid, and unsure, before heading off into something new. Eva just took that to the highest level possible, and it may have made her a little spastic at times.

Which, is actually one of the reasons this book started to go a bit off the rails for me towards the end. There is so much good stuff wrapped up in Don't Ever Change. High concepts like real friendship, judging others, and being accepting of your own faults. A lot of what comes out of Eva's mind, and mouth, is pure gold. The problem was that it's all jumbled. The closer it got to the end of the book, the less I was able to keep up with the manic pace that was Eva's stream of consciousness. There came a point where I just had to sit, breathe, and go back a few pages.

The ending itself really felt anti-climatic too. I think I was meant to see growth from Eva's character, but I didn't feel it. Plus, I felt like nothing was really wrapped up. No threads felt fully tied together at the end. It left me wondering if there will be more, or if this was a ploy to make the book feel like the one that Eva so desperately wants to write. A book that doesn't really have an ending, and starts in the middle.

So, overall I can happily give this book a 3-star rating. It's not perfect, but there's a lot about Don't Ever Change that is actually amazing. We need more real characters in the YA world. Ones who aren't afraid to admit that they're baffled by adult life. Because, really, who can blame them?

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review: Bridesmaid Blues by Boone Brux

Media Type: ebook (ARC)
Title: Bridesmaid Blues
Author: Boone Brux
Publisher: Entangled Lovestruck
Pages: Paperback, 152
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Netgalley/PUYB
Content Screening: Sexual Situations

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a light, fun read

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes

A wedding. An ex. And a secret.

Maid-of-Honor Dani Brown can handle anything that comes her way when it comes to her best friend’s wedding. That is, until the bride asks for a huge favor-Dani needs to distract the best man, who happens to be Dani’s ex. The ex she has fantasized dismembering for a year now. The ex she’ll have to suck it up and play nice with if this wedding is to go off without a hitch.
Businessman Jamie Kingsland is back in Seattle for a wedding. There’s just one problem – the maid of honor wants him dead. Except she doesn’t. Even though he knows he broke her heart last year when things got too serious and he panicked and left, she’s being way too nice about it now. And it scares him.
Something is up with his favorite bridesmaid, and he’s determined to find out what…
  If you're looking for a quick, fun, steamy read then this is definitely the book for you. While there weren't any surprises or twists,  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dani and Jamie's relationship.

In typical second-chance-love type stories, Jamie is our "villain" at the beginning of the story. After breaking Dani's heart he comes back into her life due to a mutual friends wedding and of course the usual chaos and chemistry ensues. He is flawed and a bit immature when dealing with his family and job issues, but it gave him room to improve so it worked well for the story.

Dani seems like a typical twenty-something girl who is just trying to get over her ex by not getting over him at all. She is clumsy, funny and real and it was easy to get engrossed in her thoughts. I recommend picking this up when you're in the mood for a lighthearted romance.

Boone is a bestselling author in both fantasy and series romance. She began writing in an attempt to ward of the slow decomposition of her mind while being an at-home-mom of twin toddlers. It soon became clear that storytelling was her true calling.
Her books range from epic fantasy, full of hot heroes and demons, to humorous urban fantasy, where hockey moms are grim reapers and Greek gods live next door. Though she loves writing romance, Boone prefers stories where she gets to blow something up or kill somebody.
She calls Alaska home and lives there with her husband, daughters, rescue dog, Oreo, and Velma Underfoot, a black cat who rules the house.
Contact info: Website / Facebook / Twitter

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review: We Are Watching (Mindshare #1) by M. Stephen Stewart

Media Type: Ebook
Title: We Are Watching
Series: Mindshare Book #1
Author: M. Stephen Stewart
Publisher: Primrose Publishing LLC
Pages: Print; 405
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy science fiction and aren't afraid to explore deep concepts.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon

Henry Malone’s childhood was shattered by the unexplained suicide of his father. Now a teenager, his days are spent studying to become a Neural Implant Technician for Planetary Link Corporation, helping them maintain an iron grip over his walled country and every iota of knowledge contained within—but he leads a double life. Henry’s nights are spent helping his mother wage a cyber war against them in her quest to find the truth behind his father’s death.

He’s managed to keep his two lives separate, a delicate balance that’s endangered after he repairs the neural implant of a stranger. He finds she’s in possession of illegal memories from the outside world, unauthorized knowledge of his father, and a message: speak to me later and tell no one. Henry has a choice to make—ignore the message and maintain his double-life, or answer and risk everything to uncover secrets Planetary Link would kill to keep buried.
Truth be told, I'm on the fence about We Are Watching. I'm not sure whether to blame my recent disconnect with Science Fiction, which I'm trying to fix, or the fact that this wasn't quite what I was expecting. When this book was offered to me for review, I was excited. Anything that has to do with a neural implant, or the idea of living in your own mind, fascinates me. It's almost truth, in a way. Doesn't it seem like that's the way we're headed? I had high hopes for this book.

Be warned that the reader is kind of thrown head first into this story. There isn't a lot of explanation of the world, or of any character traits, at the beginning. Instead, Henry's story is unfolded right from the beginning. I'll admit that it jarred me a lot. I like to get my footing before diving into a new world. I want to know where I am, and associate myself with the characters. I felt lost for a good third of the book, before I was able to finally start to grasp the whole concept of NEX and pLink. 

Luckily, I was drawn in by the action that's present on essentially every page. This story doesn't let up. From the moment the book begins, to the last page, there's always something happening. Although I was still trying to get myself oriented, I still was intrigued. It's what kept me reading on. Especially because the characters never really caught me up. They definitely could have been a lot more fleshed out.

Overall, this was a pretty quick read considering the size. I'll offer up 3 stars.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Twitter Battle and Giveaway: I'm With Cupid by Anna Staniszewski

Well, are you? It's time to show some #reapersrule pride today, as we celebrate the today's release of I'm With Cupid! This book looks adorable, and I'm thrilled to be on the Reapers Team! Read on for lots of goodies, and a giveaway!

Amazon | B&N | BAM
!ndigo | iBooks | IB
Marcus is a Cupid. Lena is a Reaper. Opposites attract in the exciting new Switched At First Kiss series by the acclaimed author of The Dirt Diary.

Dared to kiss the adorkable Marcus Torelli at a party, Lena thinks it’s the perfect opportunity to cross First Kiss off her list of “Things to Accomplish Before I Turn Fourteen.”

It’s only when she gets sent on an assignment the next day she realizes something went horribly wrong. That ZING she felt wasn’t the thrill of her first kiss – she and Marcus have swapped powers! Lena is not your average eighth grader, she’s a soul collector with an serious job to do. And Marcus turns out to be a supernatural matchmaker (like cupid, but without the diaper).

Now logical Lena finds herself with the love touch, and sweet, sentimental Marcus has death at his fingertips. The truth is that Lena should never have taken that dare…because one little kiss has Lena and Marcus in a whole lotta trouble.
Title: I’m with Cupid
Author: Anna Staniszewski
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Series: Switched at First Kiss, Book 1

Meet Marcus! 

1. What’s your favorite color?

This might be pretty predictable for a Cupid to say, but I’m a big fan of red. It’s the kind of color that grabs your attention.

2. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My grandpa always gives the greatest advice. When I told him about a girl I had a huge crush on, he told me: “Stop dragging those oversized feet of yours and do something about it!”

3. Tell us your most embarrassing story!

When I was in kindergarten, I got up to audition for the class play and wound up peeing my pants in front of everyone. Yeah…Not sure I’ll ever be able to look at a stage again without having traumatic flashbacks.

I love making people laugh, and I think sometimes a story can just be a funny story and be wonderfully satisfying. But then again, laughter tends to be even more impactful when it touches on something more serious. That’s why I try to weave in a deeper emotional core into my stories, even though I also want them to be light and funny.

The premise for I’m With Cupid—a girl Grim Reaper and a boy Cupid accidentally swap powers—already brings in the more serious topics of love and death, but the characters are also dealing with more typical tween things like first crushes and first kisses. I wanted to find that balance so that we get to see Marcus struggling with his fear of death and Lena questioning if love is real (or if it’s just a series of chemical reactions in our brains) while also bringing in some G-rate romance, wild hijinks, and familiar middle school drama.

I actually got a little choked up as I was writing a more serious scene later in the book (no spoilers!) mainly because I’d been having so much fun laughing with the characters up to that point that I’d gotten really attached to them. When we’re able to see characters being funny and dealing with crazy hijinks, I think we really empathize with them when they have to deal with more difficult things in their lives. And for me as a writer, it makes those characters, and those stories, that much more interesting.

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and eating far too much chocolate. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series, the Dirt Diary series, and the forthcoming Switched at First Kiss series, all published by Sourcebooks. Visit her at
Find Anna: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


First off, make sure you go support Team Reaper by tweeting the phrase below. The more tweets our team gets, the higher chance we have of getting an extra excerpt! 

#Win a copy of I'm With Cupid by @AnnaStanisz & tweet #ReapersRule to join the Reaper team! @JabberwockyKids

Then add I'm With Cupid to your TBR, cross your fingers, and enter the giveaway. Good luck!

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