Friday, April 29, 2016

Thoughts on Friday: Digital Comics

My desk looks nothing like this, although I definitely wish it did. I have an... "organized mess". We'll just call it that.

It's been a while since I've done one of these types of posts. Where I just ramble on about something that may, or may not, be book related. It's always nice to take a step back, and remember why I started this blog in the first place. It's a space to share all the things I love, with others who have the same kind of passion. Books for life!

Anyway, today I'm rambling about digital comics and my journey from begrudgingly accepting them to actually loving them. Maybe you'll read this as a die-hard fan of digital comics, maybe you'll read it as someone who is dipping their toes in. Either way, I hope you'll share your comments on the matter!

In case you're a new follower, I should share that I'm relatively new to the comics/graphic novel scene. Only within the last two years did I take a peek into the current state of things, and realize that it had become this vibrant, diverse and beautiful space. There are so many good stories being told! Before, I was bombarded with the "capes and tights" set, and I ran away because I wasn't impressed. Now there's so much more out there to enjoy, and I find myself devouring everything I can get my hands on.

I started my foray into this new medium by borrowing physical graphic novels from the library. After all, I've always been a big fan of having something solid in my hands. It seemed like the most logical way to get my stories. Then, I was introduced to Comixology. A whole world of comics at my fingertips. A place where I could get new books, without having to brave the LCS (which, for the record, was not very female friendly). It seemed too good to be true. Could digital comics really be as good as the physical thing?

It took a while for me to warm to them. I wasn't sure how I felt about using guided view, vs. being able to see a whole page at a time. It's hard to read a whole page on a small screen, like a phone. The more I read though, the more I saw the value. In tension filled comics, like Locke & Key, I was able to stop myself from spoiling the next intense panel. In mystery comics, I was able to hold on to that moment where the big reveal happened. Suddenly I really appreciated guided view, and was using it more often.

The truth is, I still read both. I buy certain comics in physical form, and others in digital. Some, I buy in both. It really depends on the story inside. I've come to appreciate both forms of comics, much like I came to appreciate both forms of books after a time. There's really no wrong answer to devouring what you love.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: The Run Begins by J. Frank James

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Run Begins
   *Series: Lou Malloy Crime Series
Author: J. Frank James
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: Kindle; 52
Release Date: August 26, 2013
Source: Author
Genre: Crime / Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense / Action / Adventure

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love a good back story and want to read more in the series

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Lou Malloy is 18 years old and ready for the world. His brother Sam has left and his sister wants to move to Florida with the family. Malloy is having none of it and on a wild moment decides to hop in a railcar going he knows not where. The important thing is that it’s not in Kansas. He has a problem and that problem is money. He doesn’t have any until Henry Lowe, who is in the same railcar, offers Malloy the deal of a lifetime. All he has to do is help Lowe rob a casino in Georgia. With the promise of a big payday, Malloy throws in with the scheme and seal his fate forever…. AND THE RUN BEGINS

Let it be known that this is a prequel to the Lou Malloy Crime Series. I haven't read any of the series but this short little taste makes me want to read more. For fans of the series I imagine this is a great back story on Lou Malloy, the main character.

In only 52 pages, J. Frank James gives us a taste of what life was like in small town Kansas for Lou and his family. Everyone knows everyone in their town and Lou and his brother have a hard time dealing with small town life. They both have big dreams of leaving, and one day, they do.

There is definitely a cliffhanger ending (if you haven't read the first book in the series) so I'd recommend you pick up Dead Money Run so you can jump right in to the story.

All in all this was a well written introduction to the series and leaves you wanting more.

J. Frank James has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thrillers, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation. Jim's experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. He has also traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thrillers from his travels. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with. 

J. Frank James writes crime thriller novels that are gripping and suspenseful. In 2013, he began publishing The Lou Malloy Crime Series, which is expected to span 20 books. The series follows Lou Malloy, a hardened criminal who did 15 years in prison for the theft of $15 million, and his partner Hilary Kelly, a private investigator. The titles include The Run Begins, Dead Money Run, Only Two Cats, Blue Cat in Paradise, Rainbow Games, Two Birds To Kill, Last Flamingo, and Finders, Keepers.  J. Frank James creates all of his own book covers. To learn more,

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, April 25, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (4/25/16)
Click above to join in the fun!

Ah, it's Monday once again. My one solace is that I actually had a really great weekend where I actually finished some books! That's an accomplishment lately, since we've been so busy with other things. The house is coming together, and that means a bit more time for reading.

So as I said, new house is still being unpacked. Which I've kind of slowed down a bit on because, let's face it, it's a daunting job. I've started picking up more short fiction and gone back to graphic novels for my "literary vacations" whenever I can! Let me tell you, Apex Magazine impressed me! I've been looking for a good short fiction magazine for a while. I tried Clarksworld and Lightspeed, but wasn't entirely impressed. Apex changed that. This issue was fabulous!

So I'm still making my way through Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. It's great, but the audio is LONG. I think it's somewhere around 36 hours? I hit the half way mark yesterday, and I'm thinking I might have to read the second book instead of listening, but for now I'm content. Calamity is on the backburner until I finish up Goodkind's book :).

I had started this one day when my Kindle was all that I had around, and it's pretty good so far! I put it on the backburner though, until my audios are done. Am I the only one who loves this cover? It's so intriguing!

That's it for me! What are YOU reading this week? Don't forget to leave a link so I can go and visit you too!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High
   *Series: DC Super Hero Girls #1
Author: Lisa Yee
Publisher: Random House BYR
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Source: Publisher
Age Group: Aimed at MG (8-12) but suitable for teens as well!

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Middle Grade readers who love strong female characters, parent/child read-along groups, anyone at all who loves DC!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
This groundbreaking new middle grade series follows DC Comics' most iconic female Super Heroes and Super-Villains . . . as high schoolers. At Super Hero High, the galaxy's most powerful teens nurture their powers and master the fundamentals of what it means to be a hero.

So, I have a soft spot in my heart for Middle Grade books. I also have a probably not so secret crush on Wonder Woman. Which means, that when you mash those two things together I get very, very excited about it! I'm thrilled that female superheroes are finally getting a chance to be in the spotlight, and that millions of young readers everywhere will have strong female characters to look up to. Wonder Woman at Super Hero High was adorable and, in my opinion, a very much needed book in today's world.

Although this is aimed at the MG crowd, and very well written for that group I might add, there's a lot that older readers will love about Wonder Woman's high school experience. She's an instantly likable character. Plus, she faces a lot of the same trials that all of us did when we were in high school. Mean girls, popularity contests, and trying to find your niche in such a big place all are tackled in this book. If I had to make a comparison, this is kind of a Sweet Valley High meets DC mash up. A little bit of tension, a lot of lessons, and plenty of adorable moments as well.

What I liked most about this book though, and I hope continues throughout the series, is that there is no strong delineation between villains and superheroes yet. Since these characters are still young, and coming into their own, Yee has chosen not to put them into a box yet. I loved that! Harley Quinn, for instance, is a budding reporter who is actually really sweet. As Wonder Woman's roommate, she's actually a fairly big part of this story. As a reader of the DC universe, I kept trying to pin her down as the villain in my mind. Yee kept me from doing that, in the best way possible. Maybe Harley will turn later, maybe not! For now, she's a great example of someone who is still growing.

If I had one complaint, it was that I felt at times that this book put a little too much emphasis on the "cute" factor. Oh sure, I loved the funny classes that our characters had to take, and their general high school banter. What I wasn't a fan of, was that it cut somewhat into the strong nature of Wonder Woman as a character. She was a little air-headed at times, and I'm not going to deny that any time someone called her "Wondy" it made me cringe. I'm an adult, who has read Wonder Woman in many a comic. So I know I'm a little biased in that respect. I just really want young readers to look at these characters and see how amazingly strong they are as women. That's the important part.

That being said, this series has made an very solid start. I see a lot of potential and a lot of love coming from readers of all ages! Anything that puts these super women in the spotlight deserves all the love that it can get. If this creates some new ravenous comic book readers? Well, that's just a bonus.

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, April 18, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Gifted by J.A. George

What better way to start off your week than finding a great book to read? Gifted by J.A. George is an exciting tale of seven characters and their adventures, as told by Ava, the narrator. 

There is no chosen one in this story.

Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day.

Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved.

Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter.

But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her.

However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love.

Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.

Does this have you intrigued? Check out this recently released edition through the links below. 

Get it on:
Well, hello there!

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 before I settled on perhaps the most obvious: writing. I assumed it’d be a bit odd if I’d spoken about something else, like baking, although I love to bake…

Writing a novel takes time, mainly because simply trying to figure out an original plot line is time-consuming as it is, but once I’d decided to write GIFTED, I couldn't stop. Not to say I haven’t had road blocks because I certainly have and it’s definitely not to say I finished my novel in a couple of days - more like a couple of years. But at the very beginning, it was like one idea followed another and then another followed that one, and so on until I had a foundation for a contemporary young adult fantasy novel.

I’ve always loved writing, I think every author says that, 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 kissed goodbye to the idea of having a set future plan, 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 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 on paper with pen before I type, and Gifted has seen me go through five different notebooks so far.

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, a past, and friends, describe their features and explain their personalities, their likes and dislikes, it’s honestly as if they come alive.

As you could probably tell from the blurb, Avery, or as she’s commonly known, Ava, is my main character, and possibly my favourite (it changes every day). She’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself. This published version of GIFTED is my second edition and in my first edition Avery was completely different. In the past, I’ve had problems with writing for other people. All authors want their books to sell and in order to do that, you have to write a book readers will want to buy. The annoying thing is, authors don’t know exactly what readers want. We may know a few things, but not all. In my first edition of GIFTED, I tried to write a novel that would make everyone happy, until I realised that that was impossible. So after two years, I randomly made the decision to write for myself. I am in serious danger of going off on a tangent, but I’ll be putting up a post on my blog about writing for myself if you’re interested in reading about me rambling on about that. Long story short, Ava was a bit boring, in my opinion, because I was trying to follow trends I’d seen before, trying to fit her into too many different boxes. Now, she doesn’t really fit into a box; she’s just…Ava, and I love her. She makes me laugh - a lot. I hope she’ll make you laugh too.

I immensely enjoyed writing Gifted and I hope readers can sense that when reading the book. I loved creating my characters, making up names for cities, building my settings, and coming up with different supernatural talents (as no two are the same), but most of all, I Ioved bringing my little idea to life in the form of a book. 

Thank you, Tina, for allowing me to share my novel with your blog’s readers!

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.
Find her: Website | Twitter 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Ava and Taco Cat by Carol Weston


Today's book is especially adorable, and aimed at those young readers in your life who are looking for their next read. I have a soft spot in my heart for Middle Grade fiction with plucky little girl characters, and Ava absolutely fits that bill. Feast your eyes on Ava and Taco Cat by Carol Weston.

Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday—but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.

When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr—all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr.” What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?

The New York Times called AVA AND PIP “a love letter to language. ” With this second diary, Girls’ Life advice columnist Carol Weston hits another home run.

Does this seem absolutely adorable? Buy links are below, as well as an excerpt for you sink your teeth into and a giveaway! Don't forget to add this book to your reading list!

Add it on:

December 28

Dear Brand New Diary,

I’m really worried. At dinner tonight, Mom said that right before closing, a man came into the clinic with an injured cat. He’d found him shivering in a tree! The cat was scrawny and scared and his neck had a gash and his left ear was bitten up. The man got the cat down and took him to the nearest vet—which was Dr. Gross’s.

“Poor cat!” I said.

“Is he going to be okay?” Pip asked.

“I don’t know,” Mom said. “Dr. Gross stitched him up and gave him antibiotics. If he makes it through the night, we’ll call the shelter in the morning.”

If!?” I said.

Mom nodded. “I think a coyote got to him.”

“What’s his name?” Pip asked.

“No idea. But he’s neutered, so he’s not feral.” Pip and I know that “feral” means wild, and “neutered” means he can’t make baby cats. But does Mom know that stories about hurt cats and dogs make me sad?

“What does he look like?” I asked.

“He’s honey-colored,” Mom said. “But his right leg and paw are white, and he has a white zigzag above his nose.”

“Awww,” I said, trying to picture the cat’s sweet little zigzag.

“No chip or collar or anything?” Dad said.

“No identification at all,” Mom said.

Soon Mom and Dad and Pip were talking about other things, including dinner, which was stuffed eggplant—blecch! (Dad just started a terrible tradition of “Meatless Mondays.” At least tonight he also made plain bowtie noodles for me.)

Well, I couldn’t stop thinking about how lonely that cat probably felt all by himself in a cage at Dr. Gross’s. I wished we could go check on him. But no way would Mom agree to go back to work after she’d already come home and put on her slippers.

I was trying to imagine what it must have been like for the skinny cat when the coyote started attacking him. He must have known it was life or death. He probably thought he was a goner for sure! It was lucky he was able to scamper up that tree, but then he must have been too afraid to come back down. And maybe too weak? I bet he was starving as well as stuck and petrified! Poor little thing!

Suddenly my nose and eyes started tingling. I blurted, “May I be excused?” but it was too late! Teardrops fell right onto my bowtie noodles.

“Are you crying?” Pip asked, surprised.

“Oh Ava,” Mom met my eyes. “I’m sorry I brought it up.”

Dad gave my hand a squeeze, and I ran upstairs and splashed water on my face. I don’t know why I was getting so upset about a lost honey-colored cat. But I was. I am.

It’s just so sad to think of him all alone in a cage instead of a home.

Ava, Upset

Carol Weston has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994. She is the author of fourteen books including the two Ava Wren titles, The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf), three other Melanie diaries, and Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (Harper Perennial, Fourth Edition). She lives in New York City. Find her at
Find her: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Teaser Tuesday (4/12/16)

Good morning, and happy Tuesday, my bookish friends!

I'm in a pretty stellar mood today. We are finally situated enough in our new home, that we were able to stay there last night. It's starting to feel official, and I love it! There's nothing better than a new space, a new vibe, and a new start. 

I've been missing the chance to do memes for a while, and so I thought I'd pick things up with one of my favorites: Teaser Tuesday! Want to participate too? Click the banner. Then go crazy exploring all the amazing books and teasers that people post. Here's mine!

Kindle Edition - 2% mark - The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield

"Downstairs in the hallway he found the front door ajar and the carpet soaked with rainwater. The phone table had blown against the bookcase and overturned, spreading scraps of wet paper all over the walls."

Uh oh. Sounds ominous for poor Danny! His parents have disappeared mysteriously, and things are getting good.

Want to read it too?

Share yours, so I can stop by and say hi!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Book Review: Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge (Singaporean Mystery #3) by Ovidia Yu

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge
   *Series: Singaporean Mystery #3
Author: Ovidia Yu
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 368
Release Date: April 5. 2016
Source: TLC Book Tours / Publisher
Genre: Cozy Mystery

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy quirky characters, with a fabulous cozy mystery.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rosie “Aunty” Lee—feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant—is back in another delectable, witty mystery set in Singapore.

Slightly hobbled by a twisted ankle, crime-solving restaurateur Aunty Lee begrudgingly agrees to take a rest from running her famous café, Aunty Lee’s Delights, and turns over operations to her friend and new business partner Cherril.

The café serves as a meeting place for an animal rescue society that Cherril once supported. They were forced to dissolve three years earlier after a British expat killed the puppy she’d adopted, sparking a firestorm of scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace, but has returned with an ax to grind (and a lawsuit). At the café one afternoon, Cherril receives word that Allison has been found dead in her hotel—and foul play is suspected. When a veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal, is found dead, suspicion soon falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder—and in a tightly knit, law-and-order society like Singapore, everyone is on edge.

Before anyone else gets hurt—and to save her business—Aunty Lee must get to the bottom of what really happened three years earlier, and figure out who is to be trusted in this tangled web of scandal and lies.

Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge is the third book in the Singaporean mystery series. Keep in mind, while reading this review, that I haven't read the first two in the series. I'm also not generally a big reader of cozy mysteries, so this was a bit outside the box for me. That being said, I actually enjoyed this very much! Rest assured that this is an excellent standalone novel.

Aunty Lee is one of those characters who is instantly likable. She's that incorrigible family member that everyone loves, but also has a tendency to be a bit nosy. Which, of course, makes her the perfect character for a story like this. I loved Aunty Lee, and her amateur sleuthing. She was definitely my favorite part of this story. Even though this was the third book in the series, I didn't feel like I missed out on one bit of her personality, which was great.

I can't say the same for the other main characters though. This isn't the book's fault, obviously. Coming in after the initial book is always a gamble. However, that was one of the things that made me a bit wobbly with my foothold in this story. Aunty Lee is an extremely clever, and well drawn out character. So it was just a tiny bit frustrating not to feel that same way about all the characters she interacted with, especially since they were so close to her. The good news is that it makes me want to read the first two!

As for the story itself, it was a perfectly paced mystery. It kept my attention extremely well, throwing out little bread crumbs here and there to keep me following the same path as Aunty Lee. I got a good feel for the way she does things which, well, let's just say that it isn't always exactly orthodox. It was interesting to watch her interact with people, and see the little pieces of her culture thrown in with the standard sleuthing practices.

Overall, this was a pretty solid read! I can attest that this is fine as a standalone, although you'll probably end up like I did and want to go back and catch up on the first two. I enjoyed Ovidia Yu's writing, and I would absolutely come back for more.

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.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Whatever It Takes by Lindsey Pogue

Follow the tour!

Good morning to you, my favorite bookish people!

We're in the midst of moving, so half of our stuff is in one place and half is in another. The good news is, that I still have fabulous content to share with you while I'm too busy to read! This spotlight is no exception, because Lindsey Pogue and Whatever It Takes are in the spotlight today. Let's take a look.

Four years ago, I thought my life was pretty normal for a teenager. Three years ago, my world was shattered, and now I’m just trying to hold the pieces together. But regret and anger aren’t so easy to ignore.

I just need to catch my breath … for it all to go away …

I thought I might finally be ready to move on from that horrible night, but then he decided to come back.

He can’t come back … he’ll ruin me completely.

One horror-filled night changes the course of Samantha’s seemingly normal life. She’s ruined everything. Despite her determination to keep the family ranch up and running, her guilt makes it impossible to completely move on or forget.

Sam takes comfort in her quirky, endearing friends as she tries to balance between the girl she was and the woman she wants to become. Just when she thinks she’s finally making amends with her past, someone she never thought she’d see again returns, and Sam’s life is once again turned upside down. Both her head and her heart want different things, so she’s lost when, once again, she’s forced to make a decision that will inevitably change her life.
Find it:

Whatever It Takes sounds like an intriguing and emotional read. I feel like I already know Sam a bit, and I can't wait to read her story. After all, the choices we make in life dictate everything. Even the tough stuff, which is actually what Lindsey Pogue was kind enough to write a guest post about today. Please enjoy, add this book to your reading list, and then enter to win a copy! Happy reading!

Tackling the tough stuff… Let’s see. Life is tough. Sometimes it sucks and it’s hard to imagine it getting any better. While I’ve always been someone who occasionally enjoys losing myself in a hopelessly romantic story, I also need something I feel I can relate to. (Cue real life struggles and situations). In general, I enjoy books that convey the tough, real-to-life darkness that so many of us deal with throughout our lives, even if we never talk about them. Don’t get me wrong, I always need me some romance and lightheartedness too, but a mixture is nice. I didn’t have the easiest childhood, so perhaps it’s therapeutic in some ways to write characters with real problems. Life is real and gritty and hard and full of tears and anger, so trying to capture that really draws me into a character and the story when I’m writing.

**SOME PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD** Nothing in my stories is cookie-cutter and Whatever It Takes is no exception. Whether it’s death or family dysfunction or self-mutilation and coping, all the characters have some internal struggles beyond unrequited love and that sort of thing. Sure, they smile and play, but when they’re alone in the bowls of their darkest thoughts, they have dangerous desires and fears they have to navigate as well. That’s what I want to capture and explore.

Sam’s story is filled with sunshine and the smell of summertime, of horses and laughter and love, but she harbors a surmounting self-loathing and grinding regret that she can’t escape. There’s so much pain she doesn’t know how to deal with it. She’s self-destructive in many ways, and I hope that readers can appreciate her struggles the way they might empathize with a real person. There are plenty of us that have struggles in our lives, but it’s how we deal with them that make us who we are. The tough stuff might turn some people away from my stories, but I hope that the amount of humanity and heart and good and light that’s in each character will compensate for the harder stuff.

I think what writing for me boils down to is motivation. Motivation to pour myself into a character and story—to learn with them and feel what they feel. I want my characters to convey something real, even if they’re stuck between the pages of a book. Did I achieve that in my story? I don’t know, but if you feel even the slightest twinge of emotion for the characters, then I’ve written something I can be proud of and something that’s helped me grow as a person and as a writer. Oh, I should probably also mention that aside from writing, I work with at-risk youth. So, I have plenty of inspiration and admiration when it comes to young adults finding their place in life.

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Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, wrote her first YA manuscript in high school, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her—whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man.
Find her: Website | Goodreads | 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, April 6, 2016

Book Review: Just Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Just Like Me
Author: Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for true-to-life characters that are dealing with their same issues.

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Who eats Cheetos with chopsticks?! Avery and Becca, my “Chinese Sisters,” that’s who. We’re not really sisters—we were just adopted from the same orphanage. And we’re nothing alike. They sing Chinese love songs on the bus to summer camp, and I pretend like I don’t know them.

To make everything worse, we have to journal about our time at camp so the adoption agency can do some kind of “where are they now” newsletter. I’ll tell you where I am: At Camp Little Big Woods in a cabin with five other girls who aren’t getting along, competing for a campout and losing (badly), wondering how I got here…and where I belong.

Just Like Me chronicles the story of Julia, a girl who is lost in a sea of labels. This story doesn't shy away from the fact that adolescents deal with a lot of this in their lives, even from adults. If Julia was adopted from China, that makes her Chinese. Or at least it does in the eyes of everyone around her. Nevermind that she doesn't feel like that is her heritage, and wants to find her own place in the world. Nancy J. Cavanaugh takes us on a journey of self-discovery, and it's sweet.

I admit, Julia wasn't my favorite character at first. She's obstinate as an adolescent can be, especially when it comes to anything to do with her cultural background. However, as the story went on, I slowly started to see where Julia was coming from. To live in a world that tells you over and over again that you should identify as Chinese, when you were raised as anything but that, is definitely tough. This book deals a lot with the expectations that others push on us, and how they can sometimes feel stifling.

Truth be told, there's a lot of great lessons in this book. It pulls in characters who are adopted, fostered, and even children whose parents have split. I forsee a lot of young readers really connecting with this story. If it seems a bit juvenile in narrative sometimes, it's only because Nancy J. Cavanaugh really channels the adolescent age. A time of growth, and a time of turmoil,

This is a sweet read, that goes by quickly! I see this as a fabulous mother/daughter read too, since there's so much to talk about.

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.


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