AUDIOBOOK REVIEW of THE REPATRIATION OF HENRY CHIN Written by Isaac Ho and Narrated by Anthony Lee – 5 Stars – Speculative Fiction at its finest. MUST READ!!!

Title: THE REPATRIATION OF HENRY CHIN

Author: ISAAC HO

Narrator: ANTHONY LEE

Genre: FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION

Length: 7 HOURS and 41 MINUTES

Publisher: DIGITAL FABULISTS

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: THE NARRATOR

Release Date: JANUARY 19, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Watch the trailer for this book HERE.

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DESCRIPTION:

Amid the growing hostility between the United States and China, an executive order authorizes the creation of repatriation camps to safely secure Chinese Americans. Mild-mannered pharmacist Henry Chin goes on the run with his mixed-race teenage daughter and is relentlessly pursued by an ICE agent who will stop at nothing to capture these potential domestic terrorists.

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MY REVIEW:

THE REPATRIATION OF HENRY CHIN is terrifying in its possibility, especially with someone like Donald Trump in the Whitehouse. Plus, America has already forced one ethnic group into internment camps in the past. Don’t think so? All a person needs to do is look back in American history to WWII when all Japanese Americans, despite where and when they were born, endured “…forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific coast. 62 percent of the internees were United States citizens. These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor…Those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese and orphaned infants with “one drop of Japanese blood” were placed in internment camps.”

(Click here to learn more about this subject)

So, if it has happened once, with a President who was much less volatile and elitist than the current President, why couldn’t it happen again? I don’t think it will take long for the current American racial tinderbox to explode. What that will look like? We have no idea, but Isaac Ho has obviously thought the issue through.

Tackling important issues such as racism and domestic terrorism, this audiobook should be required listening.

Henry Chin is an ordinary guy, in fact, his life would be considered boring by most people. He has Chinese blood, but he is an American and always has been. In fact, eight generations of his family have lived in the United States. Eight generations in America is more than many white people can claim.

With The United States and China on the brink of war, racial divides in America begin to focus on an “Us vs. Them” mentality. On one side of that divide is anyone with even a single drop of Chinese blood and on the other side is the rest of the American citizens. The President decides to place all Chinese people into camps “to keep them safe.”

Henry Chin wants no part of those camps and he and his daughter break out in spectacular fashion.

One gung-ho Immigration Agent decides that Henry must be a terrorist and fixates on capturing the father/daughter team.

Meanwhile, Henry is struggling to bond with his teenage daughter and hiking through a National Park is probably not the best way to do it.

This audiobook takes off like a rocket and the story gets more and more tense until listeners are literally on the edge of their seats.

Narrator, Anthony Lee was a superb choice for this story. His pacing is 100% perfect and his ability to voice different characters with varying accents is unparalleled. It is easy for the listener to distinguish between characters since each voice is unique and distinctive.

I rate this audiobook as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be recommending it to my friends and followers.

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** I received this audiobook at no-cost from the narrator. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion in any way.**

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isaac Ho (何亭) is a graduate of the UCLA MFA Screenwriting program.

Awards include: Winner Asian American International Film Festival Screenplay Competition, Stephen N. Gershenson Scholarship in Screenwriting, ABC/Disney Fellowship semi-finalist, SF Weekly Black Box Award for Best Play and the Asian American Arts Foundation Theater Grant.

Isaac is also a CAPE Foundation New Writers Award Finalist for Television.

Isaac is the writer and producer of the indie film 1,001 Ways to Enjoy the Missionary Position starring Amanda Plummer.

Isaac’s debut novel The Repatriation of Henry Chin tells the story of an Asian American pharmacist and his daughter who go on the run to escape pursuit from the government as terrorists.

He is also the author of Death in Chinatown, a contemporary thriller about a brewing fictional Chinatown gang war.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Anthony Lee has been told that his voice is deep, resonant, smooth, and clear. Yet, it would be years before he would finally embrace that gift and start using it artistically.

A native of California, Anthony grew up with an equal fascination for knowledge and leisure. He would enjoy studying various subjects in school as well as doing fun things in his spare time. His motivation for success and happiness helped him achieve a solid education, a successful job, and a new life to live as his reward for years of hard work.

His decision to try voice acting came after receiving plenty of compliments about his vocal quality over a short amount of time. Whether those words came from friends or strangers, he could no longer deny the possibility that there may be something special about his voice. Hence, from October 2015 to June 2016, Anthony enrolled in night and weekend classes at Elaine Clark’s Voice One Academy in San Francisco, where he trained in the art of voiceover for narrations, commercials, and characters. He thoroughly enjoyed honing his voice for things like audiobooks, technical materials, corporate narrations, e-learning modules, documentaries, commercials, promos, animations, video games, and talking products. Overall, he considers his journey into voiceover to be very rewarding, not just for what he learned but also for the great instructors and classmates he met along the way.

Now with professional voice training, Anthony is stepping out into the world to lend his voice. He loves to take virtually any kind of script and work to deliver the message in a suitable way. His enthusiasm for voiceover makes him strive to be a versatile actor in the craft. Every time he is given an opportunity to provide a voice, he hopes to leave a lasting positive impact.

When he is not doing voice work, Anthony enjoys playing chess, ice hockey, pool, Sudoku, and video games, as well as watching movies, reading about random topics on the Internet, and traveling. He lives in Northern California.

To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

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ACX -Listen to his voice samples HERE

TWITTER

AUDIBLE

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SNOWSISTERS – A New LGBTQ Young Adult Novel by Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick Releases in 8 Days

Title: SNOWSISTERS

Authors: TOM WILINSKY and JEN STERNICK

Genre: FICTION, LGBTQ, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: INTERLUDE PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Cover Art: C.B. MESSER

Release Date: FEBRUARY 15, 2018

ISBN: 9781945053528

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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CONTENT WARNINGS:
***Some of the characters in this book are unreliable narrators. Some have opinions and information about the world which are not well-informed. Others are subjected to that ignorance.***

ADDITIONAL WARNING:

***This book contains transphobic and homophobic language and descriptions of transphobic bullying. It also contains misgendering of a transperson and a description of violent, homophobic child abuse.***

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DESCRIPTION:

High school students—Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, both Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.

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MY REVIEW:

Tess is thrilled when she learns that her application to attend the Young Women’s Writing Conference has been accepted. Tess’s life on a dairy farm in a small town in New Hampshire is a far cry from the life led by fellow conference attendee Sophonia. Soph leads a life of privilege and luxury in New York City. In fact, her parents are some sort of exiled European royalty.

The two young women are almost complete opposites in every way. Tess is straight. Soph is gay. Tess writes anonymous Fan Fiction online and Soph writes rhyming poetry. Tess is an introvert and extremely shy. Soph is an extrovert who is a social butterfly. Tess plans to go into the army while Soph is applying to the prestigious Minerva College.

So, when these two girls are thrown together as roommates, neither one is sure of how to befriend the other, but both are determined to try.

Meanwhile, next door to their room are Chris and Orly. The tension between them is thick enough to cut with a knife. Chris fancies herself a feminist and a journalist, while Orly is planning to write a memoir about growing up in a small town. Chris may believe she is a feminist, but she is NOT. Orly is a trans girl which would not bother any true feminist, but Chris constantly refers to as her as “him.” She wants Orly banned from the retreat and her prejudice and discrimination are horrible.

How in the world are these young women all supposed to get along?

I have read some reviews of SNOWSISTERS in which people are upset by the inclusion of misgendering and discrimination in this story. However, it is the character they should be upset with, NOT the authors. This behaviour was included in the story because, unfortunately, there are still many people in the world that act just like Chris (or worse) when it comes to trans people. It is necessary to inform readers of the existence of this type of prejudice so that we can do everything possible to eradicate it. Tess says it best when talking to Soph: “It’s-it’s a hard world, Soph. It’s hard for everyone in different ways.”

As the Writing Conference progresses, so does the bonding between the attendees. Not only do they learn to improve their writing, they also improve their relationships and some form bonds that may last a lifetime.

This book is a glimpse into the lives of young women struggling with their identities and trying to decide what they want for their future. This applies to every teenager, whether gay or straight. They all need to find their place in the world and to do so while dealing with the massive changes in their bodies and minds that comes with adolescence.

The only issue I had with this story was with Soph’s diary entries. They are written in short verse and they seem very juvenile to me and as if they were written by a younger person. They definitely do not seem like they would have been good enough to gain her admittance to an elite writing workshop. Here is just one example of Soph’s diary entries:

“A powerless night with
three turns messy.
I’m surprised what comes
out with Hennessy.”

I believe that more books discussing being gay, trans, or pan and about coming out are necessary, but I look forward to the day when they are no longer needed. #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks

I rate SNOWSISTERS as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can pre-order this book now by clicking HERE.

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ENTER TO WIN ONE OF FIVE Multi-Format eBook Editions of SNOWSISTERS by Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick + $25 IP Web Store Gift Card Grand Prize

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!!! Hurry! Giveaway Ends February 27th, 2018

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*Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

JEN STERNICK and TOM WILINSKY met in high-school where they started a conversation which, years later, is still ongoing.

ABOUT TOM: Tom lives in New York with his partner and the world’s most beloved orange tabby cat, Newky.

He likes cold weather, anything with zombies in it and old cars. Never has he ever…been picked first for a team in Phys. Ed… used a selfie-stick… gotten Jen to watch an episode of South Park….

ABOUT JEN: Jen lives in Rhode Island with her husband, two kids and a cranky seven-toed cat named Sassy.

She likes live theater, visiting any place she’s never been before, and admits to a mild Twitter addiction. Never has she ever…won a game of Scrabble…remembered the lyrics to the The Big Bang Theory theme song… been able to convince Tom to read a self-help book…

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Interlude Press is a boutique publisher of award-winning LGBTQ fiction. We publish fiction for Young Adult readers through our imprint Duet.

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GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN by Multi-Award Winning Author TAYLOR BROWN is one of the best books I have ever read. COMING SOON.

Title: GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN

Author: TAYLOR BROWN

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: ST. MARTIN’S PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 20, 2018

ISBN: 9781250111777

Price: $26.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In Gods of Howl Mountain, award-winning author Taylor Brown explores a world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets in the high country of 1950s North Carolina.

Bootlegger Rory Docherty has returned home to the fabled mountain of his childhood – a misty wilderness that holds its secrets close and keeps the outside world at gunpoint. Slowed by a wooden leg and haunted by memories of the Korean War, Rory runs bootleg whiskey for a powerful mountain clan in a retro-fitted ’40 Ford coupe. Between deliveries to roadhouses, brothels, and private clients, he lives with his formidable grandmother, evades federal agents, and stokes the wrath of a rival runner.

In the mill town at the foot of the mountains – a hotbed of violence, moonshine, and the burgeoning sport of stock-car racing – Rory is bewitched by the mysterious daughter of a snake-handling preacher. His grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty, opposes this match for her own reasons, believing that “some things are best left buried.” A folk healer whose powers are rumored to rival those of a wood witch, she concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains while harboring an explosive secret about Rory’s mother – the truth behind her long confinement in a mental hospital, during which time she has not spoken one word. When Rory’s life is threatened, Granny must decide whether to reveal what she knows…or protect her only grandson from the past.

With gritty and atmospheric prose, Taylor Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it.

MY REVIEW:

There is something visceral that is felt when reading this deftly-written story set amidst the deep mountains during a period in history when such places were truly hidden. Where “Above it all the sea of night, the strange ornamentation of stars…” dazzle readers and draw them into the lush setting that is Howl Mountain.

The setting and even the name Howl Mountain is perfect for this magical, secret-rich tale that will have readers believing in the possibility that supernatural powers exist even though they cannot be seen or explained.

The characters are so believable that it is impossible to not find yourself invested in their lives and their world. You will wish you could travel back in time to stop some of the hardships heading towards this family before they happen.

The riotous and abundant surroundings of the mountains will have you longing for a simpler time in America. This will be true for all readers, whether for them it is a memory of days long past or just wishful thinking.

Granny May embodies a time when ‘wise-women‘ were both revered as well as feared. Her knowledge of local herbs and lore allows her to eke out a living during a time when people had little or no money to spare. The Dictionary definition of a wisewoman is: “a woman considered to be knowledgeable in matters such as herbal healing, magic charms, or other traditional lore.” Wisewomen were often feared for their knowledge and were sometimes branded as witches and persecuted by those who feared them. Fortunately for Granny Mae, she knows how to take care of herself.

Rory Docherty is Granny May’s grandson. He is a veteran who left for the Korean war as a boy and returned as a man (minus a leg). He used the money he earned in the war to buy a 1940 Ford Coupe. He and a buddy added all kinds of special extras and made some serious modifications to it in order to make it the perfect Moonshine-Runner’s vehicle. This car was a mean looking hunk of metal.

Rory was raised by Granny May since his mother has been committed to an insane asylum and has not spoken a single word in over twenty years.

As Rory makes his regular whiskey drop-offs, he meets the stunningly gorgeous daughter of a fire-and-brimstone-snake-handling Preacher and falls in love at first sight.

It is this one meeting that changes the course of Rory’s life and the lives of everyone around him.

The question is, will the mountain release any of its closely held secrets? Will the families involved be able to continue on as they always have? What about Granny May? Will she survive the evil that is steadily stalking her? Or will she succumb to it in the end?

This is one book that you will wish would never end. From the way that Taylor Brown describes the mountain landscape, it is evident that he has a deep and abiding affection for nature.

If you have not yet had the privilege of reading any of Taylor Brown’s books, now is your chance and it is one not to be missed.

I rate this amazing book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

TAYLOR BROWN grew up on the Georgia coast. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including The North Carolina Literary Review, The Southwest Review, The Baltimore Review, Chautauqua, Garden & Gun, The Rumpus, CutBank, storySouth, and many others. He is the recipient of a Montana Prize in Fiction, and he’s been a finalist for the Press 53 Open Awards, Machigonne Fiction Contest, Wabash Prize in Fiction, Rick DeMarinis Short Story Contest, Dahany Fiction Prize, and Doris Betts Fiction Prize.

He is the author of a short story collection, In the Season of Blood and Gold (Press 53, 2014), as well as three novels: Fallen Land (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), The River of Kings (St. Martin’s Press, 2017), and Gods of Howl Mountain (St. Martin’s Press, 2018).

Taylor, an Eagle Scout, graduated from the University of Georgia in 2005. He settled in Wilmington, NC, after long stints in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of North Carolina. He is the editor-in-chief of BikeBound.com, and he enjoys old motorcycles, thunderstorms, and White Dog Mash #1.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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This book review is also part of the #2018atozchallenge being hosted by GINGERMOMREADS

Award Winning Writer KAETHE SCHWEHN’s New Book – THE RENDING AND THE NEST is coming soon. Check out my review now!

Title: THE RENDING AND THE NEST

Author: KAETHE SCHWEHN

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: BLOOMSBURY USA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 20, 2018

ISBN: 9781632869722

Price: $26.00 USD (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one’s own story.

When 95 percent of the earth’s population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can’t afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira’s best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object–and other women of Zion follow suit–the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn’t return, Mira must decide how much she’s willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others–and within ourselves?

MY REVIEW:

The word that best describes THE RENDING AND THE NEST would, in my opinion, be: Bizarre. But, that isn’t quite fair. To leave that as its only descriptor would be incomplete.

Most post-apocalyptic fiction follows a pattern, a well-used and much-loved formula used by authors that works most every time. In this book, not only is that formula not used, it is thrown off a fifty-foot cliff into an ocean occupied by mutant octopuses. (No, there is no such thing in the book as mutant octopuses… I made that up.)

The idea that an event occurs wherein 95% of the population simply vanishes with no explanation is not new. In fact, Fundamentalist Christians have believed in something called “The Rapture” since as early as the 1830s.

“The Rapture is an eschatological term used by certain Christians, particularly within branches of American Evangelicalism, referring to a purported end time event when all elect Christian believers—living and resurrected dead— will rise into the sky and join Christ for eternity.”
Source: WIKIPEDIA

I am NOT saying this book is about the Rapture, it could very well be that is exactly what happened, but despite a myriad of suggestions as to the event’s origin or meaning, the author intentionally leaves the reader in the same state of curious inquisitiveness as the characters. They want to know what happened and why, and what it all means, but they are left to wonder and to theorize, the same as the reader. All they know for sure is that somehow their world was charged in an instant and most everyone they knew disappeared.

Jumping forward to a few years ‘post-event,’ Mira and the group she bonded with on the day their world was forever changed, are now living in a small colony they dubbed “Zion.”

Mira’s best friend Lana discovers she is pregnant and after nine months gives birth, not to a living baby, but to a plastic object. The shock, grief and incredulity begin to wear off as more “babies” are “born.”

Mira needs to figure out what is going on and how best she can protect those she loves.

When a traveler arrives and tells them about ‘The Zoo,’ their world view shifts.

This book brings up profound questions. Questions that are not only relevant to the characters in the book, but also to the reader and to every single person on the planet:
* What is love?
* What is the point of existence? (In other words; what is the meaning of life?)
* What makes us who we are? Is it our history? Is it our family?
*Who are we when everything is stripped away? Are we the same person? Do we want to be the same person?

If you enjoy books that are post-apocalyptic and/or are outside of the norm, this book is for you.

I rate THE RENDING AND THE NEST as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“To birth a baby is to suffer in a new way.”

“Here is a truth: After you experience the apocalypse, after you are living on the other side of it, falling in love still feels like its own apocalypse.”

“The problem with love is that it craves an outlet. Love is a verb, as my father said, and so love makes us act: notes scribbled, roses purchased, hair brushed, ointment administered. Simple acts and tremendous ones.”

“I fell asleep … A bloody mess curled around a gun. Aching with love I wasn’t sure I’d be able to offer to anyone else again.”

“That’s what being a teenager often is: not so much asserting yourself as trying not to fall through the ice.”

“For a few brief days I’d even been some fucked-up version of a mother.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR – IN HER OWN WORDS:

I was born in Chicago but I’ve lived beside a lake in Minneapolis, on a sleepy street in Indiana, in a rural mountain village in Washington, across from a Mattress Mart in California, upon the side of a volcano in Ecuador, near the coupling of train cars in Montana, and between the dusty walls of a farmhouse in Iowa. Now I live in Northfield, Minnesota where the re-enactment of a bank raid each year is softened with the scent of chocolate breakfast cereal cooking in the Malt O Meal factory down the road.

I studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Montana and earned a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College. I currently teach composition and creative writing at St. Olaf College.

I’m the author of The Rending and the Nest, Tailings: A Memoir, and Tanka & Me. I also am the co-editor of Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts. My poems and prose can be found in journals such as Crazyhorse, Pleiades, jubilat, Witness, Minnesota Review and the anthology Fiction on a Stick. I’ve been the recipient of a Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net Anthology award.

A poem of mine is printed on a sidewalk square in the town where I live. This means that lots of people can read my words or ignore them, decorate them with sidewalk chalk or spill Pinot Grigio into their very crevices. This makes me happy. I think writing belongs in the messy middle of our lives, making us stranger and stronger, word by word.

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VALENTINE’S DAY ROMANCE – 12 Days of Clean Romance Books – Blog Tour & Giveaway

Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy Summer, What’s
in your Heart, Only A Kiss, When Sparks Fly, All That Glitters, and Someday
With You. She has also written several short stories. Among them are “Plain
Vanilla,” “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica:
Love Notes from a Festival, “Things I’ll Never Say,” part of the Summit Books
anthology Coming of Age, and “Before the Sun Rises,” part of the Ateneo
University Press anthology Friend Zones.

She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone
magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher.
She is also a wife and mom who lives in the Philippines with her husband and
two little girls. Her books are available digitally on Amazon and Buqo.ph.

Connect with the Author here:

Twenty-four-year-old photographer’s
apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny
red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to
ever break Lana’s heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he
only has eyes for her.

As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also
finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the
love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her
share of the spotlight, too?

~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~

~ Amazon Canada ~ Amazon Australia ~

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Regina Salvador wasn’t too sure what she
was doing at El Tomador on a work night. She had to be up and on location early
the next morning, which was going to be in, oh, maybe three hours—the Philippine
sun did have a habit of rising before six a.m. But she had promised her best
friend Lana Lucero she’d be there to support her. To support her as she drank
three boys under the table in a freaking drinking contest. Which just so
happened to take place in a dark bar, hidden along one of the shadier streets
of Makati, reeking of smoke and blasting grunge. What was this? A throwback to
their college days?

Through narrowed
eyes, she watched Lana chug down another tumbler of beer, the frothy amber liquid
dribbling down the sides of her mouth, running down her neck, and soaking
through the neckline of her white tank top, probably staining it forever. Why
her friend thought she had to do these things, she would never know. When Lana
triumphantly held the tumbler up and turned it face down to the whoops and
cheers of the thickening crowd, Regina felt someone jostle her arm, causing her
to lose her balance.

“Watch it!” she
snapped, feeling the beginnings of a tirade gathering in the middle of her
chest, just waiting to be released. She was tired and worried about Lana. She
didn’t want to acknowledge it, but she thought she knew why her best friend was
there. Regina didn’t even want to admit it to herself because that would mean
her best friend had it really bad, but at the back of her mind, there was a
nagging voice whining for attention, chanting one name: Ben. Ben. Ben. Ben
Marquez who didn’t call her back after turning her world upside down and making
her believe that she was the one—the one who was going to change him, the one
who was going to make him forget about all the other girls in his life, the one
he was finally going to settle down with—at their ripe old age of twenty-four.
Right.

Regina had no
idea who this Ben Marquez was. She had been out of town on another shoot when
it apparently had all taken place. She was training to be a photographer under
Paulo Javellana, one of the most sought-after lensmen in Manila. When she had
gotten back from a beach shoot in Boracay, a gorgeous island of powdery white
sand and clear blue water that was gaining popularity, Lana was already in
tears. She had fallen in love, she said. She had finally found him. The one.
The guy she was going to give up her wild, carefree days and take up an apron
and a spatula for. Regina was sure Lana didn’t even know what a spatula was.

Lana had met him
at this very bar, El Tomador, where their college friends hung out every
Wednesday night after work. He was someone’s friend from high school and had
wanted a change of scene. They’d had a drinking contest and he’d won. Lana was
smitten. No one had ever beaten her before. That was all it took. She was his.
But a few days later (“Days? How can you know you’ve found forever in a few
days?” Regina was incensed. Her irresponsible best friend had always been
flighty but this was the worst she’d seen her), he was gone. Not a call, not a
text message, not an email. She actually began stalking him, driving by his
apartment and dropping by places she thought she’d find him in. This was one of
those places. And when Regina heard what she was planning to do, she insisted
on coming along. No way was Lana going to make an utter fool of herself without
backup, without someone to take her home at the very least.

So here she was,
ready to snap someone’s head off just because he had bumped into her. “I’m so
sorry. Did I hurt you?” He had puppy dog eyes. Round, dark brown, and piercing.
Regina blinked, imagining herself getting lost in those warm pools, the angry
words fizzling out on her tongue.

“Uh, no, I…” she
stammered, unable to tear her gaze away. Well, he didn’t seem to be looking
anywhere else either.

When he broke
into a relieved grin, she found herself smiling too, the tirade all but a
distant memory. What was wrong with her? She’d seen cute guys before, kissed a
few of them too. But this one’s eyes made her feel as if she weren’t in a noisy
bar worrying about her best friend drowning her brain cells in alcohol.

“Did you want
another drink?” He gestured toward her empty glass. Which had been filled with
water earlier.

Regina twisted
her lips in a grimace. “No, I can’t. I have to be at the bus terminal at five.”

“Five this
morning?” His eyebrows shot up. “That’s like three hours away.”

“Yeah. I like
living dangerously.” She felt her lips twitch.

He laughed. And
she felt as if she had hit all three cherries on a slot machine. She usually
didn’t talk to strange guys in a bar, especially those with eyes that pulled
you in like magnets. But then again.

“I think a cup of
coffee is your best bet.” He didn’t even wait for her to agree. He wove his way
through the heated bodies cheering someone else on and asked the bartender for
the unexpected drink.

Regina watched
him walk away. He was in a long-sleeved blue shirt and dark pants. He probably
worked in an office or something boring like that. She rebelled against what
she called the corporate life. She hated dressing in clothes people wore to an
office. She had no idea what they consisted of anyway, unless Paulo had to
shoot them for a magazine spread. But otherwise, she lived in jeans, oversized
t-shirts, and Doc Martens. With the ease in his movements, this guy looked like
he lived in office clothes. She could easily picture him in jeans and a tee
though. And that made her smile.

“Reg! What are you
smiling at? Why weren’t you watching me?” a slightly slurry Lana yelled in her
ear.

Regina’s smile
dropped from her face and she grabbed her best friend’s upper arms, shaking her
slightly. “Are you okay?”

“God, Reg, what’s
wrong with you? Of course, I’m okay!” Lana swung herself free from Regina’s
grasp. “I won! And you didn’t even see!”

That’s right. She
didn’t. She was too busy being charmed by… where was he anyway? She looked
behind her, convinced that Lana would understand once she met him. But he
seemed to have disappeared. Was she that exhausted that she had imagined him?

“You!”

“Hi, Lana.
Congratulations.”

Regina spun
around to see who Lana was shooting daggers at with her wide, flaming eyes. Her
heart sank to her stomach when she saw who it was. He was smiling at her best
friend, holding coffee in a paper cup.

“Is that for me?”
The anger in Lana’s face was receding, as if she was willing to accept a peace
offering from him. Any peace offering.

But he didn’t
take the hint. Or maybe, wouldn’t.

“No, this is
for…” He turned to Regina and smiled again. “I’m sorry, we never introduced
ourselves. I’m Ben.”

Holy Crap.

“Regina.” She
felt her face closing, her heart shutting its doors. It was just as well. She
didn’t have time or space in her life for a guy. Much less Lana’s one true
love.

Lana was looking
at her as if she’d all of a sudden announced she was going to move to the
far-flung island of Tawi-Tawi. “You know him?” she demanded, her hands on her
hips.

“I just met him
two seconds ago.” But Regina didn’t even try to defend herself. She kept her
voice calm and steady, knowing that none of this mattered. What did matter was
that Lana would now be angry, stop talking to her, and accuse her of stealing
her future husband. It was time to get her home and in bed. No amount of reason
or caffeine was going to fix this. She thanked Ben for the coffee and took Lana
by the arm, dragging her out of the bar.

“Reg! What the—”
Lana tried in vain to yank her arm free but months of hauling heavy camera
equipment gave Regina a strength she didn’t know she had until now.

“We are going
home. I have a five a.m. call time and you don’t need this stress in your
life.” Regina hauled her a few cars away from the busy bar entrance and dug her
keys out of her pocket. She shoved her best friend into the passenger’s seat
and slammed the door. Taking a few deep breaths, she looked up to see a tall,
masculine form waving, walking toward her.

“She forgot
this.” Ben handed her a small, studded black bag. “And this is yours.” Before
Regina could say she didn’t bring anything into the bar but her car keys, he
gently placed the thick paper cup in her hand. Her coffee. “Have a safe trip.”
Then he smiled again. That smile that seemed to reach in and tug at the doors
she had shut on her heart earlier.

As she felt
herself turn toward the car to see if Lana was about to jump out and attack
him, Ben said, “She’s asleep. Too much partying tonight.”

Finally finding
her tongue, Regina blurted out, “Why didn’t you call her?”

His brow furrowed
and he took half a step back. “Call her? When?”

Regina was
confused now too. “When? You just swept her off her feet and then disappeared.
Who does that?”

“Oh, boy.” He ran
a hand through his thick, straight hair, looking away from her. Regina took
this as a sign of guilt and pressed further.

“Why did you make
her believe there was more to your relationship when you didn’t have any plans
of seeing her again? That’s not just despicable, it’s cowardly.” She was on a
roll.

“There was no
talk of a relationship.” Was that a
shudder he gave when he said the word? “That’s the last thing I want.” He
laughed. But this time, Regina didn’t feel as if she’d won a prize. She shook
her head, raised her cup of coffee, and decided she had had enough of him.
“Thanks again for this. Goodbye, Ben.”

“Wait! Can we
just talk a little longer? Hang for a while?” He reached for her free hand.

Regina yanked it
free when she felt a jolt of energy pass through. It wasn’t static electricity
nor was it anything she’d ever felt before. And she could still feel his hand
on hers even if he had already let go. Warm, soft, inviting. Was this how he
reeled girls in? Was this how he had won Lana’s heart? Persistent bugger,
wasn’t he?

“Ben,” she said
with a frustrated sigh, trying to keep her voice level. “I don’t want to talk
to you. I don’t want to hang for a while.
I want to get my best friend home and show up on time for work.”

He nodded,
chastised. “All right. I’m sorry. I thought you felt the connection between us
too.”

What a line.

And she said it
out loud.

His eyes widened
in what looked like slight panic. “No, it’s not, I swear.”

“Well it sounds
like one. And besides,” she threw a glance at her car, “your reputation doesn’t
exactly do you any favors now, does it?” Before her bravado could crumble
against those disappointed dark brown eyes, she spun on her rubber-soled heel
and entered her car.

She stuck the
coffee in the car’s cup holder and pressed down on the gas before she could
change her mind. After a few seconds of staring straight ahead, she allowed
herself to sneak a glance at her side mirror and wasn’t surprised to see him
still standing there, watching her drive away.

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In the soon to be released ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE, Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be. 5 STARS

Title: THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE

Author: ANNE NESBET

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 448 PAGES

Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER ARC

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: APRIL 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8804-2

Price: $17.99 USD / $23.99 CDN

** Also Available as an e-book and in audiobook from Candlewick on Brilliance Audio **

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

When eleven-year-old Augusta Neubronner arrives at her grandmother’s orphanage in Maine with little more than her French horn and all that’s left of a broken wish, she steps right into what her German-born papa (now a fugitive from the law) likes to call “the clear light of trouble.”

With World War II on the horizon, Gusta has to confront classmates’ suspicions and the local mill owner’s greed. And when she blunders into family secrets, Gusta must try her best to put things right. Sometimes it takes a whole Orphan Band to help a girl find her place and her voice.

Acclaimed author Anne Nesbet deftly combines music, family, history, and a hint of magic in this unforgettable read.

MY REVIEW:

THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE by Anne Nesbet is a work of Historical fiction written with middle-grade as the intended readership. It is “… nightingale sweet and honey-smooth.”

Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be.

Eleven year old Augusta Neubronner Hoopes is sent from her home in New York City to stay at her grandmother’s house deep in central Maine.

From the very first chapter we learn that Augusta (who prefers to be called “Gusta”) has a very heavy load on her shoulders.

Halfway through the trip from New York to Maine, her father disappears. It turns out that he escaped just before authorities searched the bus looking for him. Gusta’s father was born in Germany and has been involved with the labor movement ever since arriving in the United States. Now, he is a fugitive from the law.

When Gusta arrives at her grandmother’s house, all she has to her name is a small bag of clothes and her most prized possession – a French horn. That horn is not just decorative. Gusta can play it, and play it well.

Hearing a family legend that somewhere there is a magic wish “…in a box on a shelf…” Gusta would dearly love to find that wish and sets out to ferret out its location.

The longer she lives in the small town, the more problems she sees that need to be set right. Her father always told her that people needed to help each other whenever they could, and Gusta intends to honor his teaching – no matter how much it will hurt her to do so.

I love this. It is so refreshing to read a story in which solidarity is celebrated and where selfishness is discouraged. In today’s world, it is all about “ME”. Too many people worry only about themselves and ignore the consequences to others of their actions. In this regard, going back in time would be wonderful.

Sometimes it is necessary to look at the world through the eyes of a child who has not yet been beaten down by life. It is through Gusta’s wonderfully flawed eyes that adult readers of this novel discover that everything can be boiled down to one of two choices … Right or Wrong. This lesson may be a simple one, but it is one that is often forgotten. I am happy to say that “The Orphan Band of Springdale” has reminded me of that oh-so-true reality.

Anne Nesbet has touched on so many issues worthy of discussion in this book that it is easy to see this book in a middle grade classroom and a lively discussion taking place. I highly recommend this book to teachers of those grades (as well as to everyone else.)

Here is a partial list of some of the discussion worthy topics include:

* Work ethic in the past vs. work ethic in present day
* Hardscrabble lives
* Unions
* Injured Workers
* Patriotism
* Prejudice
* Government & health
* Music
* Money and lack of it
* Airplanes
* Bullying
* Glasses
* German in the USA
* Dairy Wars
* Purity – of milk and of birth
* Orphans
* Family loyalty
* The value of historic writings – such as the sketchbook and journal from the sea captain found in the attic by Gusta
* Selflessness
* Changes in technology from 1941 to present day

* Unplanned Pregnancies
* And much more…

I sped through the reading of this book because I did not want to put it down. In fact, I spent two very sleepless nights devouring the pages and fully immersing myself in Gusta’s world. Author Anne Nesbet has crafted Gusta’s world with beautifully detailed descriptions and characters with such depth that they seem 100% real. It is patently obvious that the author has a distinct love of small-town Maine, and that love has seeped through onto every page of this delectable book.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and am planning to check out previous novels written by Anne Nesbet.

I predict that THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE will find its way onto the Bestseller list shortly after its official release date.

* I would like to thank GOODREADS as well as CANDLEWICK PRESS for providing me with an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anne Nesbet is the author of the novels The Cabinet of Earths, A Box of Gargoyles, and The Wrinkled Crown.

Her books have received starred reviews and have been selected for the Kids’ Indie Next List, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best list, and the Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year list.

An associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Anne Nesbet lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

BERKELEY UNIVERSITY PROFILE

YA BOOKS CENTRAL

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

Other Books by Anne Nesbet:

This book is one of my contributions to the #2018AtoZChallenge being hosted by GINGERMOMREADS

.

The idea of the challenge is to read at least one book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet, so that by the end of 2018 (at the latest) I will have read at least one book for every letter of the alphabet.

#orphanband #theorphanbandofspringdale #annenesbet #arc #readandreview #middlegrade #middlegradebooks #Maine #frenchhorn #music #historicalfiction #candlewickpress #tbr #booknerd #booknerdigans #WWII #unions #labor #labormovement #labourmovement #music #bibliophile #Amiesbookreviews #book #bookblog #bookblogger #bookreview #bookreviewer #2018AtoZChallenge #2018books #newrelease #comingsoon #April2018 #Goodreads

THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN by Lauren Abbey Greenberg is the perfect summer read for lovers of middle-grade fiction.

Title: THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN

Author: LAUREN ABBEY GREENBERG

Genre: FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: RUNNING PRESS KIDS – A Division of HACHETTE BOOK GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 9780762462957

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Twelve-year-old Shayne Whittaker has always spent summers on the Maine coast, visiting her grandmother Bea and playing with her BFF Poppy. Both Shayne and Bea are collectors, in their own ways: Shayne revels in golden memories of searching for sea glass and weaving friendship bracelets with Poppy, while Bea scours flea markets for valuable finds, much of which she adds to a growing pile in her house that Shayne jokingly calls Junk Mountain.

This summer, though, everything has changed. Poppy would rather talk about boys than bracelets, and Bea’s collecting mania has morphed into hoarding. Only Linc, the weird Civil War-obsessed kid next door, pays attention to her. Turns out Linc’s collected a secret of his own, one that could enrage the meanest lobsterman on the planet, his grandpa. What begins as the worst summer of Shayne’s life becomes the most meaningful, as she wages an all-out battle to save her friendships, rescue her grandmother, and protect the memories she loves the most.

MY REVIEW:

Are you looking for a great book for your middle-grade reader to read during summer vacation? Look no further. THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN is the absolutely perfect read for summer (and for any other time of year).

HINT — You might want to buy two copies because you will enjoy this book just as much as your child!!!

Twelve year old Shayne (yes, it sounds like a boy’s name, but it’s not) is spending the summer in her favorite place on the planet … on the coast of Maine at her grandmother’s house, which sits directly on the water.

She had been looking forward to spending time with her “Summer-Sister” Poppy, making friendship bracelets, collecting sea glass and hanging out at the beach.

But, from the moment Shayne arrives, things start going wrong. Poppy has a job at her family’s grocery store and can spend barely any time with her. And, when they finally do get a chance to hang out, all Poppy wants to talk about is boys. YUCK!

Shayne’s grandmother, Bea, is a compulsive garage sale shopper and her house is full of knick knacks and signs and just about anything you can imagine. Shayne has been sent by her mother to help Grandma Bea get organized to sell it all at the local flea market.

To make matters even more complicated, Bea has a new next door neighbor; one who never smiles and always seems to be angry at something or someone – Shayne secretly nicknames him “Cranky.”

To add to this bizarre, but somehow perfect, mix of people, Cranky’s grandson, Linc, arrives. Linc is around the same age as Shayne and is a bit … Odd. He is obsessed with the Civil War and in reenactments. He even wears a Civil War outfit and cap EVERY SINGLE DAY.

He may dress a little strangely (ok, well, it’s actually A LOT strange, especially for at the beach) but he has a great heart and Linc and Shayne become something similar to friends.

The story has multiple twists and turns and has more than one mystery, all of which Shayne somehow ends up in the middle of each one.

A tale of growing up and of beginning to learn there is more to a person than meets the eye and that judging someone by what they look like, or the clothes they wear is NOT right, and usually ends up being inaccurate.

Shayne also learns about friendship and what makes a true friend. Hoarding is also discussed, as is aging, financial hardships, and the lives and livelihoods of fishermen. It is incredible how much knowledge this book contains. The middle grade reader will not realize it, but as they read, they are learning many valuable lessons. Actually, these lessons are also great for older readers to take in as well. They may already know many of the facts, but it is never a bad thing to remind adult readers of the morals this story imparts.

Highly readable, incredibly fun, with compelling characters, THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN is a middle grade Must Read. For that reason I have to rate this superb book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by David Baratz

Lauren Abbey Greenberg is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and has been published in Highlights for Children and Knowonder! magazine. She has also written and produced TV spots for Discovery Kids, educational videos for National Geographic, and a film for Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

She lives in Maryland with her family and has spent summers in Maine for the past twenty years.

This is her debut novel.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

DEGREES OF LOVE by Lisa Slabach BLOG TOUR, REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

Book Details:

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach

Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Bookbaby

Release Date: Dec 1, 2017

Tour Dates: Jan 3 to 31, 2017

Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Book Description:

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She’s just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt’s work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

Praise for Degrees of Love:

“Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers.”

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character.”

Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

“Profound, heart wrenching and very emotional, it is hard to believe that Degrees of Love is a debut novel by Lisa Slabach. This is one of the best novels I have read this year.”

Rabia Tanveer, Readers’ Favorite
To read more reviews, please visit Lisa Slabach’s page on iRead Book Tours.

MY REVIEW:

Lisa Slabach has written a story in which it is easy to see yourself in the main characters. Anyone who has been married for a number of years can understand that sometimes daily life gets in the way of passion. Temptation to feel that excitement of new love can happen to anyone.

The author has deftly captured the imagination of the reader. This is classified as “Women’s Fiction.” There is a very good reason for this. Women can read a book about adultery and not have that translate to their real lives. I am not sure the same can be said about men.

I have to admit that I was utterly absorbed by this book and even though I am 100% against cheating in real life, I couldn’t help but wonder what way the main character would go.

Would she cheat? Would she resist temptation? If she did cheat, would she end up giving up her husband and children?

This book raises other interesting questions, such as:

* How important is your own happiness in relation to the happiness of your children?

* Do you have the right to do something simply to make yourself happy even when you know other people will be hurt by your actions?

I loved the ending of the book and I admit that I was certainly surprised by it.

I rate DEGREES OF LOVE by Lisa Slabach as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* Thank you to iRead Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of this book.

Buy the Book:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~

Chapters-Indigo ~ Powell’s

Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!

Ends Feb 7

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Jan 3 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – book spotlight / giveaway
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A Holland Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 4 – A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog– book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
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Jan 15 – Bookish – review
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Jan 17 – Books for Books – review
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Jan 19 – Truly Trendy – review
Jan 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – review
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Jan 29 – The Booksnake Etc. – review
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The Book Enigma – review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 30 – Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest – review / author interview
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Jan 31 – Amie’s Book Reviews – review / giveaway

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This book review is also part of my #2018AtoZChallenge being hosted by GINGERMOMREADS

REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE by Anna Mainwaring is a delicious YA novel destined to be a Bestseller.

Title: REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE

Author: ANNA MAINWARING

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DIVERSE BOOKS

Length: 216 PAGES

Publisher: KIDS CAN PRESS

Type of Book: ARC – SOFTCOVER

Received From: A YABC – YOUNG ADULT BOOK CENTRAL – GIVEAWAY

Release Date: APRIL 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77138-826-9 (HARDCOVER)

Price: USD $17.99 / CAD $18.99

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS

DESCRIPTION:

Jesobel Jones is bold and brash, the daughter of a hand model and a washed-up rock star. Jess sees no need to apologize for her rambling house, her imperfect family, her single status … or her weight. Jess is who she is. She makes her own cupcakes and she eats them, too. No regrets.

That is, until Own Clothes Day rolls around at school. Jess and her friends dedicate the requisite hours of planning to their outfits, their hair and their makeup for the one day they are free from school uniforms. But a wardrobe malfunction leaves Jess with a pair of leggings split open at the worst spot, and a mean girl calling her the one thing that’s never bothered her before: fat.

The encounter shakes Jess’s formerly iron-clad confidence, and she starts to wonder if she’s been just a little too comfortable in her own skin. When the boy of her dreams invites her to a party, she must decide whether to try to fit in for the first time in her life, or remain true to herself — whoever that really is.

MY REVIEW:

I LOVED THIS BOOK. The main character is a “real” teenager. What I mean by that is that Jesobel or “Jess” is not some perfect specimen of femininity.

Jess has opinions. She has a real body. Ok, she is actually F-A-T, but she owns it. She prides herself on her feminism. She is honest with herself and others. She doesn’t care what others say about her … well, that is until she has a chance at a date with her secret crush. Jesobel proves that no matter how strong a person is, their insecurities often trump logic.

REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE has the potential to be this generation’s BRIDGET JONES DIARY. With irreverent humor and marvelous characters, debut author Anna Mainwaring has accomplished the truly significant. She has crafted a book that will not only entertain young adult readers, but will also enlighten them and make them feel that they are not alone.

It is simple to tell someone that all teen girls have issues with self-esteem, it is quite another to have them believe you. Anna Mainwaring’s talent in understanding the mind of teen girls is unparalleled and shines through on every page of this novel.

Her gift for crafting an unforgettable story while also penning truly realistic and believable characters will have this book in high demand. In fact, I predict it will become a Bestseller. For this reason I rate REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE as a perfect 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to YOUNG ADULT BOOK CENTRAL for running the giveaway and for choosing me as the winner of one of the ARCs of this remarkable book.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anna Mainwaring studied English Literature, which led to a career in banking. She left that career to travel and then to train as a teacher.

Anna took part in NaNoWriMo in 2012, and after endless drafts, Rebel with a Cupcake was born.

When not writing, Anna can be found walking up hills or in cafés.

She lives in Cheshire, England, with her family, including a murderous gold fish called Moriarty.

To learn more about this author, or to PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY of REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

This book review is also one of my contributions to the #2018AtoZChallenge being hosted by GINGERMOMREADS

– This is my 12th Book Review of 2018

BOOK OF SOULS by NADINE NIGHTINGALE – A 4 STAR YA NOVEL COMING SOON

Title: BOOK OF SOULS

Series: GODS OF EGYPT – BOOK ONE

Author: NADINE NIGHTINGALE

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION/ FANTASY, YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 9, 2018

ISBN: 9781979087650

Price: $2.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

They call me Angel of Death, but my name is Nisha Blake. I am Shepherdstown’s living urban legend. My life, a tale of the macabre.

People avoid me like the plague. Well, everyone but my friends. They don’t see the Angel of Death when they look at me. They see poor, broken Nisha—the bully victim, suffering from vicious night terrors and vivid hallucinations.

Things take a turn for the worse when Blaze shows up. He’s a too hot, tattooed, bad-ass MMA fighter from London, hell-bent on getting to know me. Since he walked into my miserable life, my hallucinations graduated to a point where I can no longer differentiate between fiction and reality.

I am insane.
Broken beyond repair.
Or so I think until—

I uncover a secret form the past—a link between all the deaths, my hallucinations, and my night terrors. It’s then I understand I’m not the Angel of Death.

I am something else.
Someone else.

MY REVIEW:

THE BOOK OF SOULS is the first book in a new Young Adult series called; THE GODS OF EGYPT. This is set in the Present Day and features regular teenagers. At least we think they are normal teens.

Nisha Blake wishes she was a regular teenager, one who could fade into anonymity. However, Nisha has quite a sinister reputation. Students and even some teachers and other adults refer to her as “The Angel of Death.”

Why would anyone make up a nickname like that? Well, Nisha has had the unfortunate experience of witnessing multiple deaths, starting from a very young age. This includes the murder of her parents a year before the story begins.

Fortunately, Nisha has a few terrific friends that she can always count on. If not for them, her Aunt and her boss at the local bookstore, Nisha would probably have been committed to the local Insane Asylum.

The story contains: visions, hideous monsters, a super sexy MMA fighter, magical spell-books, murder, nasty teenagers, popularity contests, mob mentalities, a wicked simmering romance, ancient Egyptian artifacts and an epic battle between good and evil.

I enjoyed the story but I have to admit that there were a few things that bothered me:

1. There were multiple typos throughout the book. (Since the copy I received was an ARC – Advance Reader Copy, I am hoping and assuming these will be fixed before the actual release date.)

2. In this age of anti-bullying, I found it difficult to believe that some of the teachers openly bullied Nisha. I am not naive, I know that teachers can be bullies, but they are not usually so blatant about it. In almost every school, a teacher who bullied a student would be fired immediately.

3. This one is probably just me, but each time someone plopped down on a bed, the author said they “plummeted” on the bed. Every time I read that phrase it made me think of someone jumping out of an airplane and plummeting through the sky and landing on Nisha’s bed. Ok. Ok. I know that is weird, but I can’t help what is conjured in my mind when reading.

Other than those few items listed above I enjoyed the story. It starts out quickly and the tension never lets up. Even on the final page, readers will find themselves on the edge of their seat. The ending is a cliff-hanger that will have readers signing up for the author’s newsletter to find out when Book Two of the Gods of Egypt series will be released.

My favorite character is Izzy. Izzy is Nisha’s cousin and they have grown up more like sisters than cousins. In fact, Nisha and Izzy now live together with Izzy’s Mom & her boyfriend in Nisha’s parents house. This arrangement only came about as a result of the death/murder of Nisha’s parents. If I had to choose a single word to describe Izzy, that word would be “loyal.” Izzy is gorgeous, she’s popular, she’s in love with an amazing guy, and yet she always has time for Nisha. Not only does she make time for her, but when someone is bullying Nisha, Izzy’s protective and fierce side comes out. When that happens, it even causes the captain of the football team to take a step back.

To sum up my feelings about this book, I think it was an easy, fun read that teens looking for an escape from reality for a little while will very much enjoy. Not only that, but they will learn about Egyptian mythology along the way.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nadine aka Dini is a Traveler at heart. She considers the world her home and practically lives out of her suitcases. When she’s not glaring at a blank page or abusing her poor keyboard, she spends her time reading, watching movies (preferably horror), pretends to work out, and hangs out with friends and family. Poor girl also suffers from a serious Marvel superhero addiction. So, if you run into her at night, wearing black, know she’s secretly dreaming of being the infamous Black Widow.

Her love for writing started in the sixth grade where she annoyed her classmates with a short story featuring Sailor Moon characters, a cemetery, and creepy ghosts. Yes, she’s always been addicted to the dark side. Nadine writes paranormal romance. Her debut novel “Karma” the first book in her paranormal romance series Drag Me To Hell is published by the Wild Rose Press and was released May 2016. She has a serious girl crush on her protagonist Amanda Bishop.

Nadine has a BA in Comparative Religions and studied Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.

She would love to hear from you. So, if you have any questions about her books, would like to set up an interview, book signing, etc, please use the email address below.

To contact Nadine directly, please email dinilovesh@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Judging people is easy. Trying to understand where they’re coming from? So much harder.”

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This book is also part of the #2018AtoZChallenge being run by GINGERMOMREADS

With this review I have reached a new level of this challenge and am now a FLAMINGO (11 to 15 Books Reviewed in 2018)