This is My Brain in Love: Review

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

THIS MY BRAIN IN LOVE is told by two POV’s, Jocelyn and Will and set in Utica New York. Joc is the daughter of Chinese restaurant owners, struggling to keep afloat. She crosses paths with Will whom she hires to jumpstart the business, otherwise, her family would have to move. He helps with social media, getting the accounts out of the Stone Age, and narrowly missing death by a Chinese father when he falls for Joc and vice versa.

Joc is a clever and down to earth protagonist that we can all relate to. But she is also a perfectionist and can come across as callous at times. Will, having anxiety himself, recognizes something in Joc that concerns him. Will is an all-around nice guy and is so super sweet to Joc and her family and friends. I loved him as a love interest and protagonist.

Both main characters are persons of color. Will is half Nigerian and Joc is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Together, they were a refreshing pair. Unlike a lot of YA contemporaries, their eventual romance is held back by more than just outside interference. Although we do have the classic, harsh Chinese parents who set restrictions on their relationship. But Will’s habit of not wanting to make people uncomfortable about his condition and Joc’s denial of her own makes for a rocky road.

Joc’s friend, Priya is the best, but I did wish we saw more of Will’s friends. The references to movie culture and food drew me in. I am a sucker for any book set against a restaurant, food truck, ANYTHING WITH FOOD. I am familiar with American Chinese food (my fav!) but I loved learning about Nigerian food and I promptly looked for restaurants in my area!

Against the backdrop of yummy Chinese food and teenage love, is the topic of mental health and the stigma that holds people back from properly addressing their concerns. I think this book hit the mark with how most people feel when faced with the idea that they may have depression, anxiety or any other mental illness. This book will resonate with the YA community for its diversity and realistic portrayal of mental illness.

BEWARE: this book will make you hungry.

The Space Between Lost and Found: Review

THE SPACE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND by the author of EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS hit me right where I expected to. Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for priding the arc of this poignant and powerful book.

Cassie’s life does a complete 360 when her mother is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. She loses touch with friends or focus on art. When the caregiver is not present, Cassie helps her dad take care of her mom by catering to her whims of watching dolphins shows and eating Ritz crackers all while making sure she doesn’t run off and get lost. Or worse. These fears drive Cassie to try to reconnect with her mother by taking a trip to swim with dolphins, which has been her dream and one of the entries on her bucket list. But Cassie soon realizes that her mother will not get better and the road to acceptance is a hard one.

Although I have never been in the position of losing a loved one to such a disease, I could empathize with Cassie. It’s a lot for a twelve-year-old girl to go through and the topic is a heavy one. But heavy topic or not, this novel is important. There are families out there dealing with situations like the one in this book and it would be great to have something for kid’s Cassie’s age to turn to and feel like they’re not so alone.

I won’t sugarcoat it. This is a sad book. I knew it going in because I’d first been introduced to Sandy’s work with EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS. I do remember writing in my review that I could not wait to see what else she had in store for her readers and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. She crafted a heart-string tugging, sad and hopeful book, and I am honored to be able to review another one of her books before their release date.

Faith: Taking Flight: Review

Thank you, Netgalley for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date

The cover is what drew me to this book, the very first chapter completely sold me. This was everything I wanted!

FAITH starts out with 17 yo Faith Herbery being recruited into what she thinks is a school for superheroes. But when things go awry, she escapes the facility and attempts to go back to her old life, her two best friends and volunteering at an animal shelter. Although Faith has the special ability to actually FLY, she’s totally down to earth about it. She lives with her grandma and obsesses over a tv drama called THE GROVE. When the show suddenly relocates to her town, she meets its star, Dakota Ashe, and plummets into a life of camera flashes and brings life to her fantasy. But the possible romance with a celebrity almost overshadows the real-world issues that threaten her existence. Can she hide her powers from her friends and save her town?

Never have I ever read a plus-sized queer superhero book. Ever. But this isn’t just a superhero book. This isn’t even about Faith’s body type or her sexual orientation. In fact, I feel like that was all more of a side note to the real-world issues Faith encounters. She has a case of survivors guilt after her parents died in a car crash and she survived. Her grandmother is showing signs of dementia and all that on top of missing classmates and pets.

I could not put this book down. My husband literally had to pry it from my hands the other night. I showed him dominance by baring my fangs, but alas, I had to sleep at some point.

Julie Murphy brings heart into this story by showing us that life goes on, even though we can fly. Preorder now. Don’t sit on this one, folks.

Above All Else: Review

A huge thank you to Netgalley for the arc!

ABOVE ALL ELSE is one of those rare books that tackle a very difficult subject, especially in YA. Two teens who have been best friends for life, who dream of adding Mount Everest to their checklist of mountains to summit, and fight against past trauma and their growing attraction to each other.

This is the first book besides INTO THIN AIR or ALIVE (can you count that one as mountain climbing? I don’t know. I feel weird adding it to this list, but I’ll do it anyhow) where I’m experiencing what it’s like to scale a big arse mountain. The author did her research and I felt as though I were there in Nepal with Rose and Tate. Although I do not know what about the process of adventuring at Mount Everest, I can tell that Levy did her homework with the detail she added to the story.

I believe what really sucked me into the story was how badly these two kids wanted it. I mean, they’ve trained and it’s taken a grueling cost to their bodies and mind, and even though family issues and relationship confusion sometimes tried to get in the way, they (Rose especially) knew that they had to focus with all of their might to reach that summit and accomplish their dreams. Levi did a fantastic job in conveying that, boys, self-doubt, and other people’s achievements should not overshadow what you want to accomplish. It’s a great message and I love it.

Some people will say that the romance got in the way of the plot BUT I thought it was great to throw in there how addicting new love and sex can be, but when set a scale of your dreams, it does not weigh even an ounce. COuld it have a bit more developed? Sure. Did he affect my rating? Not at all.

I have to say that even though this book has a good ending, it will tear your heart out and stomp on it a few times before flushing it down the toilet. My heart. MY HEART!!!

What I loved most: The setting.

What I disliked most: if I had to choose, it would probably be Tate’s decisions, which I did understand but still made me angry

Warning for semi-graphic sex scenes, language, death

Some Kind of Animal: Review

Thanks Net Galley for the chance to review this title ahead of the release date.

SOME KIND OF ANIMALS delivers on its premise. We have a girl who’s secret sister Lee who lives in the woods, eats animals and talks with one-word sentences, and whom she sneaks out with nightly to run and play with. I mean, how creepy is that? Nobody believes her when things go awry and Lee makes a rare appearance in a public setting and attacks one of Jo’s friends. This brings a downward spiral for Jo when she runs away with Lee, and her friend Savannah, planning on living int the words and protecting her sister forever and ever. A pipe dream that goes terribly wrong.

I love me a good mystery and a good wilding sister living in the woods and being all cryptic and crazy. I live for these types of books. This book packs all the punches. It’s heartfelt and gritty and depressing AF yet there’s still a glimmer of hope when it comes to Jo and Lee that maybe all can be forgiven and all can be all right in the end. I mean, this is a strange book and I roll over for strange books. Now, part of me wanted to believe that Lee wasn’t really real and Jo was having some sort of mental breakdown, but when I was wrong, it made it all the more terrifying.

Looking back at these reviews it looks like I am in the minority here. But it does go to show you that you have to be a certain type of reader for a certain type of book. So, Maria, please do not fret. A book like this is a risk for debut authors and many won’t understand it. I do. Bring me all the creepy and all the weird and add me on Insta or something, yea?

Witches of Ash and Ruin: Review

Thank you to NetGalley for the arc.

With a cover and a title like this, what can go wrong?

A lot.

Five POVs. Subpar twists. Way too much happening for me to focus on one thing at a time. I felt like my brain was knocking around in there and I couldn’t get focused. Nothing truly shocking happens since everything is sort of upfront and in your face. I did not feel connected to the characters or the story. There was so much anger and so much confusion in the characters that in the tiny bits of breaks, it felt forced. Not to mention one POV was completely forgotten by the end of the book as if he didn’t matter, which I guess he really didn’t if I had to choose.

That being said, this story did have amazing Celtic folklore and I loved the setting and the family dynamics. I felt a bit of The Craft and maybe some Sabrina, but we didn’t get too in-depth to feel that connection I did with characters from both of those examples.

This may seem like a scathing review, but it’s not. I don’t think this was the book for me and others may enjoy it immensely.

More Than Maybe: Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title and join the blog tour!

I loved You’d Be Mine so I knew this one wouldn’t be any different. As I expected, I sacrificed sleep to finish this book in less than two nights. I am a diagnosed insomniac and take prescription medication and it seriously didn’t even work when reading this book. Erin Hahn beat out my Lunesta and Trazadone cocktail. Kudos.

This book follows Luke, the son of a punk rocker who runs a podcast with his twin brother in the sound booth of a club run by Phil, Vada’s mom’s boyfriend. A class project brings them together and they discover their long-time crushes on each other are reciprocated in the most heartwarming and mostly uncomplicated kind of way.

The characters:

Vada is music obsessed (with good taste mind you) and loves dance. She aspires to study music journalism and runs her boss’s music blog. The dynamics of her family are a little messy with her dad being estranged and kind of a d%$k, but her mom is supportive and Phil is the step-dad that we all asked for (those with d^%k dad, might I add). her best friend, Meg, is also super supportive of Vada and I want her to have a book of her own!

Luke was okay, a little on the bland side at times and I didn’t quite understand his need to hide his talents. I wanted him to be successful and famous, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw myself in his character. Although he was not my favorite male romantic lead, he did have the qualities that kept him afloat.

The romance was almost actualized and did not have as much tension as I hoped. But it didn’t stop the cuteness overload when these two finally got together.

All in all, I will be a lifelong fan of Erin Hahn is she keeps overriding my sleeping pills this way.

Oh, and can we have a playlist Erin, please??? I’d love to listen to all the songs these two texted to each other as well as everything else.

Blood and Brume: Review

Thank you to The Parliament House Press for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

The story: After an attempted rape by her mother’s boyfriend, Ellie runs off and ends up at a place where she thinks she’ll be safe. But the old, abandoned house is more than dust and grime. She meets two strange men in Victorian outfits who claim the house and evict Ellie to her best friend, Sam’s house. There, she finds peace and safety only to be faced with her past and her romantic and ghostly present.

The writing: I loved the writing and Maki has serious talent. I found some instances in the way Ellie spoke to be sort of…not so modern so it threw me off a few times. Teenage speak is hard, I know. Especially when the lingo changes all the time. She also used a ton of exclamations which made me think she was yelling all the time which reminded me of The Black Canary comic I was reading alongside BLOOD AND BRUME and made me giggle a bit.

The plot itself: It was intriguing because it mixed not only ghosts, but also real-life issues and high school drama. You don’t see a lot of that in paranormal books like this.

The end: HOLY FHINAK$UIOHWNJ#*IJCNLM())_PJDXN I mean, what in the HECK! That was a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers so *fast clap, bows to your audacity* Well played, Maki.

If you’re looking for a ghost story that is not just a ghost story but also packs in some serious issues, this is for you. Also, hot ghosts with hot faces you just want to lick. insert drool emoji also the eggplant one

UNLEASHED COVER REVEAL!

Behold the stunning cover to the final installment of the UNSPOKEN SERIES! This has got to be the best one of the three and my favorite! It embodies everything the last book will be about. I cannot wait for you all to dive in this summer!

Add it to Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50244641-uncaged?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=I2J4CvQ8cy&rank=1

Haven’t read Unspoken yet? Grab it wherever books are sold and keep your eyes open next month for book two, UNCAGED!!!!

The Betrothed: Review

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc to review!

Hollis Brite has just become the object of the young king’s affection, but her eyes have turned toward a foreign boy who reminds her that she is more than just an ornament to the court.

That is the gist of it.

First up is Hollis. She is incredibly boring, but she knows it, which is nice. She has dedicated her life to winning over the king but changes her mind as quick as this book read.

Jameson, the king, is also as dull as a spoon. He feels very dutiful and stoic but is also verytoxicmasculinitycringworthygrossandtedious.

Silas, who has shockingly blue eyes (I’m a sucker for those. I wrote one of those types in my series but mine is a werewolf so…). He too is very toneless, but he can work with his hands and that’s hot, right? Don’t get too attached.

Delia Grace is a two-timing DOB who is only out for herself. That’s just how I feel. You all may have your own opinion, but she is just awful.

On the BRITE side, I went into this book knowing I would not be blown away. I mean, if you’ve read The Selection, you know NOT to expect tremendous amounts of world-building, well-rounded characters, and intellect. I am in it for the trash factor. But what I didn’t expect was that even after all these years, we are still being given these invisible villains and impossibly dull characters. The insta-love was cringe-worthy and so 2006. We need better in YA.

The book read quickly so that’s a plus. Better luck next time.