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Thursday, July 12, 2018

FREE AUDIOBOOKS: How To Hang a Witch & The Scarlet Letter!

It's you're weekly AudiobookSync reminder — one more week to go!
This week's titles are v. witchy, which would make me incredibly happy if one of the books wasn't the bane of my existence... Although maybe if I'd had it on audio the THREE FREAKING TIMES I'd been required to read it in school, I would have enjoyed it.

This week's books are:

by Adriana Mather | Read by Adriana Mather
Published by Listening Library

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

by Nathaniel Hawthorne | Read by Donada Peters
Published by Listening Library

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is “the herald of the modern heroine."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SPILL ZONE: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld, art by Alex Puvilland

Note: today's review is a sequel, and though I do my best to avoid spoilers for the entire series, if you're afraid of having elements spoiled, you may want to wait to read this review!

Today's review is part of the blog tour for Spill Zone: The Broken Vow, the second in a duology helmed by YA powerhouse Scott Westerfeld! To see what other readers thought, make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! Full list at the end of this post! =)

Spill Zone: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld
Art by Alex Puvilland
Graphic novel / science fiction, 240 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by First Second
All hell breaks loose in the second volume of New York Times–bestselling author Scott Westerfeld's visionary graphic novel duology.

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Strange manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. Addison got close enough to the Spill Zone to touch it, literally. She survived the encounter, but came back changed.

It turns out she's not alone. North Korea has its own Spill Zone, and a young man named Don Jae is the only one who made it out alive. Alive, but changed. Now Addison, Don Jae, and, curiously, a rag doll named Vespertine, share an unholy bond and uncanny powers.

From Scott Westerfeld, the inspired imagination behind the New York Times bestsellers Uglies and Leviathan, comes The Broken Vow, the second volume of our highly anticipated new graphic novel series.

The Broken Vow is the follow-up and conclusion to 2017’s Spill Zone [REVIEW], a trippy little sci-fi-ish story of a girl doing what she has to to survive and care for her little sister, Lexa, in the wake of a catastrophe that wiped out her city (sort of) in some rather inexplicable ways. The beauty of Spill Zone was in the discovery — in seeing how Addison’s world has changed; in the little discoveries of this weird remainder of a city, that only she sees; in the general world-building and stakes-setting of Addison’s life and what it means to do what she does. This tends to be true of firsts in a series, and is maybe part of why seconds aren’t normally as successful or satisfying as that initial exposure to the world; the exciting discovery phase is over, and now you have to go about the business of setting things to rights, and that’s just never as fun.

In some ways, I think this is true of The Broken Vow. Most of the world-building is over, and though there are still some discoveries to make, the shine of a new world has begun to wear off. I still tore through this volume, and still enjoyed it, but where I feel like Spill Zone stuck with me for quite some time after reading, and I was eager to get back to the world with book 2, The Broken Vow has faded from memory so fast that I was struggling to remember what had happened when I sat down to write this review, even though I only just read it a short couple of weeks ago.
New cover style for the book 1 rerelease!

This is not to say that it’s a fail. I still enjoyed the story, and getting back to this world. I find Addison an intriguing, strong character, and I enjoy the relationships and dynamics that have been built. But something about The Broken Vow feels a bit off, and a bit rushed – and maybe it was? I was hoping it'd be a longer series, with a slower reveal, and part of me wonders if maybe it was intended to be. There were a lot of things I liked, like the slow reveal of Addy’s little sister's role in everything, and the development of the relationship between her and Verspertine, her creepy af talking doll, or the further reveal of the role the Korean spill survivor, Don Jae, has to play, and how he expands the world for Addison. But in some ways these things only emphasized that there was something missing from this book. Don Jae is a good example of this, actually, as I did feel he fell by the wayside, and didn't play as important a part as I would have expected from book one. Again, this goes back to it feeling like it was being wrapped up too quickly -- I almost had the impression that there was more intended for his character, but the series was curtailed and they had to just tie up strings. That feeling was a bit of a bummer. It also spilled over into the resolution of where the beings came from, how the spill happened, etc -- that could have been delved into SO MUCH, could have been stretched over a longer series in a slower, anticipation and tension -building reveal, and maybe even had some scenes from before, flashback-style, but there just… wasn’t much of anything. It was just a quick reveal, this is what it is, this is what happened and why, and okay, now I guess everything’s fine?  Even though I liked the story and the whys of it all, it feels like a lot of promise unfulfilled.

I said in the review for book one that the art is not for everybody, which is certainly true, but it is exceptionally well-suited to the story. The chaotic nature and hyper-color of it really adds to the story, giving an excellent example of how art and story go hand in hand in a comic -- the story would have worked fine with different art, sure, but this art (which probably wouldn't have worked for just any story) adds another layer of its own, making the world more fully-realized and distinct. The whole thing is a bit more on the older-YA, adult side as well, so bear that in mind when buying or recommending for younger kids. The bright colors may fool you, but the suspended reanimated bodies and abundance of ..."colorful language" mean that it's definitely not ideal for you seven year old, ya know?

So, I know I've given some serious criticisms here, and I stand by them, but I have to be clear: I still really enjoyed The Broken Vow, and the Spill Zone duology as a whole. And who knows, my opinions may get a little rosier in hindsight, after I've had time to sit with the story for a bit; I was less than glowing in my review of book 1, too, even though I later considered it one of the graphic novel highlights of last year. As a whole, the duology has a world that stuck with me, and characters I found interesting, and it's not really like other things out there, especially in the sort of neon acid-trip art. Like a stern parent, the reason I'm hard on it is because I liked it.

Tough love, darlings.

Curious what other readers thought? Check out the rest of the stops on the Spill Zone: The Broken Vow blog tour! Or pick up a copy of The Broken Vow, which landed in stores yesterday!

7/8 Novel Novice http://www.novelnovice.com/
7/8 Undeniably Book Nerdy http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com/
7/9 Bookcrushin http://bookcrush.in/
7/9 Hit or Miss Books https://hitormissbooks.wordpress.com/
7/9 Bookling Critics https://booklingcritics.wordpress.com
7/10 Seeing Double in Neverland http://seeingdoubleinneverland.blogspot.com
7/10 WhoRuBlog http://www.whorublog.com
7/11 Here's to Happy Endings http://www.herestohappyendings.com/
7/11 The Book Rat www.thebookrat.com &mdash YOU ARE HERE!
7/12 Miss Print http://missprint.wordpress.com/
7/12 Bookstore Finds Www.instagram.com/bookstorefinds
7/13 Teen Lit Rocks teenlitrocks.com
7/13 Adventures of a Book Junkie https://www.toofondofbooks.com/
7/14 Novel Reality http://novelreality.blogspot.com
7/14 Flavia the Bibliophile http://flaviathebibliophile.com/
7/15 Haku & Books https://www.hakuandbooks.com/
7/15 Emily Reads Everything    www.emilyreadseverything.com
7/16 YA Book Nerd http://yabooknerd.blogspot.com/
7/17 Take Me Away to a Great Read https://takemeawaytoagreatread.com/
7/18 Bumbles and Fairy-Tales http://bumblesandfairytales.blogspot.com
7/18 Pink Polka Dot Books http://www.pinkpolkadotbooks.com/
7/19 Folded Pages Distillery www.foldedpagesdistillery.com
7/20 Book Nut Booklovingnut.com
7/21 The Life of a Booknerd Addict http://www.booknerdaddict.com/

About the Author:
Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and his next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.

His book Evolution's Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier's Award and both Leviathan and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won Aurealis Awards. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.

Disclosure: The book was sent to me by the publisher for review consideration purposes; all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.
Affiliate links are used in this post -- thanks for helping supporting this blog!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik | review

It will come as literally no surprise to any of you who saw my Favorite Books of 2018 (so far) video, but this review is about to be a rave. And it hits stores today!

Hardcover, 480 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2018 by Del Rey
A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted, which was hailed as “a very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic” by The New York Times Book Review.

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

Spinning Silver is just… it’s so beautifully complex. It builds on itself in ever-expanding layers in such a strong, smart way. If it had started out with as many pov characters as it has (and it has more than I was expecting), it could have easily been overwhelming or confusing. Instead, each character is added in as needed, at interesting times and in interesting ways, expanding the story and playing their part, without bogging it down. My one note would be that a couple of the characters' voices (the two main, actually) do sound pretty similar, and that's mostly in the fact that they both sound very reserved and cold*. But in some ways, I think they both are very reserved and cold, and each have their reasons for it; the important thing is that, as they grow and change, their voices do a little bit, too.

The story – a retelling of Rumplestiltskin -- works really well as a fairy tale retelling; one of the better, actually, imo, because it feels so rich and fully-realized. But it is so much more than that, and works so well as a story on its own, independent of the fairy tale. It doesn't rest on the laurels of the tale, but it also doesn't dismiss the fairy tale, or use it as a bare framework only in name, as so many “retellings” do. It very much IS Rumplestiltskin, and it very much IS its own thing. Of course, because I loved it, and loved the main characters, people are going to call it slow. I already know. I already know! But I loved these characters and found it really brilliantly paced. There is a sense of time passing, so that it moves quickly when it needs to, but doesn't feel rushed or glossed-over, and I feel like that exact thing — the sense of time being a real thing that people have to live with and go through — is something that's ignored or even intentionally abused in books nowadays. The trend is all for flash-fast and uber "readable," leaving a lot of books feeling rootless and easy to forget, which is patently not true of Spinning Silver.

I don't recall this from Uprooted [review], though maybe it's a known strength of Novik's, but in Spinning Silver, at least, Naomi Novik does gray SO well. There are levels to villainy, to victimhood, to strength, to family. It deals with racism and abuse very well, both in the framework of the story, and as a general, non-didactic approach, again adding more layers to the delicious, elaborate cake that is this book. Everything is so, so complex. I know I've already said that, but it bears repeating -- there's a lot to sink your teeth into here, and I feel like further readings would just uncover more and more. And I do want to reread this. I want to reread it and I will reread it. Absolutely beautiful.

* And yes, of course, this made me love them even more. Reserved, cold characters are Misty catnip!

Disclosure: I received this book for review consideration; Amazon Affiliate links are used in this post. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own, and you guys: I loved this book.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Backlist Love (6)


Lemme know some of your unsung faves in the comments!


THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst
My coverage of The Lost can be found here.

Award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst has been praised for her captivating novels that merge the darkly imagined with very real themes of self-discovery and destiny. In The Lost, we'll discover just what it means to lose one's way….

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassible dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing—and what she's running from—before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found….

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey…and her quest to find her fate.

My coverage of I Stop Somewhere can be found here.

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn't the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it also reminds us what it is to be human.

(On the) JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
My coverage of Jellicoe Road can be found here.

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award * ALA Best Book for Young Adults * Kirkus Best Book

Jellicoe Road is a dazzling tale that is part love story, part family drama, and part coming-of-age novel. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “a beautifully rendered mystery” and by VOYA as “a great choice for more sophisticated readers and those teens who like multifaceted stories and characters.”

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs, the boy who might be the key to unlocking the secrets for Taylor’s past, is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her; Hannah finding her; Hannah’s sudden departure; a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear; a boy in her dreams; five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago; and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does.

If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she just might be able to change her future.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though The Lost & I Stop Somewhere were originally sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Feed Your Reader: July 7, 2018

Summer reading must be in full swing, because today's post is bananas! This is seriously the best Feed Your Reader lineup even, and I'm v. sorry for your pocketbook.

But straight to the deals! Make sure to click through to see them all, 'cause there are a lot, and I wouldn't want you to miss out.  There are some personal faves in here, guys (in fact, one you'll be seeing again in just a couple of days), so jump on 'em while you can!

and this post does use Amazon Affiliate links. Thanks for helping support my site!

Award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst has been praised for her captivating novels that merge the darkly imagined with very real themes of self-discovery and destiny. In The Lost, we'll discover just what it means to lose one's way….

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassible dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing—and what she's running from—before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found….

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey…and her quest to find her fate.

#1 New York Times Bestseller * An Amazon Best Book of the Year

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters and a fearsome heroine. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in the And I Darken series.

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

The highly anticipated, mind-blowing New York Times bestselling sequel to Kiersten White’s New York Times bestseller, AND I DARKEN—the series that reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire.

Lada Dracul has no allies. No crown. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares cross her. She storms the countryside with her men, but brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed, the defiant Ottoman sultan, brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

Lada needs the support of her diplomatic younger brother, Radu. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. And for the first time in his life, when Lada asks him for help, he refuses . . . leading his sister to make the darkest of choices.

Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, Radu knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, would Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT won’t want to miss this riveting and gorgeously written novel—the second in the And I Darken series.

I loved The Darkest Corners, you guys.
For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.
Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.
Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn't exactly feel like an accident.
But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.
Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

Friday, July 6, 2018

FREE AUDIOBOOKS: The Invisible Girls & Girls Like Us!

We're almost to the end of this summer's AudiobookSync program! *ugly cry*
But this week's titles both look excellent, so we'll just have to make do...

They are:

The Invisible Girls
by Sarah Thebarge
Read by Kirsten Potter

A girl scarred by her past. A refugee mother uncertain of her future. Five little girls who brought them together. After nearly dying of breast cancer in her twenties, Sarah Thebarge fled her successful career, her Ivy League education, and a failed relationship on the East Coast and started over in Portland, Oregon. She was hoping to quietly pick up the pieces of her broken life, but instead she met Hadhi and her daughters, and set out on an adventure she’d never anticipated. Hadhi was fighting battles of her own. A Somali refugee abandoned by her husband, she was struggling to raise five young daughters in a culture she didn’t understand. When their worlds collided, Hadhi and the girls were on the brink of starvation in their own home, “invisible” in a neighborhood of strangers. As Sarah helped Hadhi and the girls navigate American life, her outreach to the family became a source of courage and a lifeline for herself. Poignant, and at times shattering, Sarah Thebarge’s riveting memoir invites listeners into her story, finding connection, love, and redemption in the most unexpected places.

Girls Like Us
by Gail Giles
Read by Lauren Ezzo, Brittany Pressley

A 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner! With gentle humor and unflinching realism, Gail Giles tells the gritty, ultimately hopeful story of two special ed teenagers entering the adult world. We understand stuff. We just learn it slow. And most of what we understand is that people what ain’t Speddies think we too stupid to get out our own way. And that makes me mad. Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought—and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward.

Don't forget, you can download both of these books FOR FREE, no strings attached, to keep forever (see why I love this program?), until next Thursday morning. So get them while you can!

BOOKISH GRWM: Beast: A Tale of Love & Revenge by Lisa Jensen

I had some thoughts, man...
BEAST hits stores on July 10th, FYI


Filled with magic and fierce emotion, Lisa Jensen's multilayered novel will make you question all you think you know about beauty, beastliness, and happily ever after.

They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier's cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.

On My Face:
at first:
hyaluronic acid from a Korean brand whose name escapes me at the moment, and I've thrown the package away...
stila illuminating foundation in '20 watts'

and then:
benefit stay flawless primer stick
rimmel match perfection foundation in 'classic ivory'
tarte energy noir palette
maybelline master smoky shadow pencil in 'blue blaze'
physicians's formula shimmer strips kohl kajal (from a trio, it's the blue one)
almay shadow in 'midnight sky' (i think?)
pop beauty sunkissed bronzer
jouer cheek and lip tint in 'honeysuckle'
rimmel brow in 'dark brown,' which is a lie
elizabeth arden grand entrance mascara
clinique mega melon chubby stick
benefit watts up cream highlighter stick

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though this book was provided by the publisher for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Amazon Affiliate links used where possible (as relates to books. I'm not linking all that makeup, buy from an actual store where you can trust the sellers, guys!)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga | review & excerpt

This book! I have thoughts.

Excerpt starts at 1:20
Review starts at 6:26

Excerpt copyright Lindsey Duga & EntangledTeen, 2018

about the book:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IIElqC
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32173635-kiss-of-the-royal

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links used in this post.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


The 5th round of the 30 Day Book Binge has begun in earnest, and with it comes a brand new set of FREE printables!
In this round’s offerings, you’ll find old standbys like a daily tracker, a weekly log, and a monthly wrap-up, as well as a brand new hand-sketched July calendar and three new printable bookmarks, all on a succulents & houseplants theme!
These are great for all you bujo-ers out there, but even if you’re not the tracking type, anyone can use a bookmark, right?You can get a preview of the printables below, and when you’re ready, hop over to the 30DBB folder and download or print one or all of the printables for free!


Let me know your thoughts on the printables in the comments! And if you find the July calendar too busy for your actual use, let me know, and I’ll upload a clean version, without the doodles in the background of the actual day boxes. Just because I love you like that. 😘

Don’t forget to hop over to the #30DayBookBinge printable folder and download your free printables before they’re gone!

Friday, June 29, 2018

HUGE June Book Haul!

Yes, I know this is a little out of hand.

Sorry for the link messiness. I don't have time to embed so many links right now!
Forgive me.

THE BOOKSGlory O'Brien's History of the Future: https://amzn.to/2MqkTBg
Imposters: https://amzn.to/2yHKlA9
Spill Zone: https://amzn.to/2tt3MYb
Spill Zone: The Broken Vow: https://amzn.to/2tJTC55
Delilah Dirk & the Pillars of Hercules: https://amzn.to/2MXnzat
Star Talk w/ Neil deGrasse Tyson: https://amzn.to/2KkxoO2
Between Frost & Fury: https://amzn.to/2tzcT8U
When Life Gives You Demons: https://amzn.to/2tuVIGl
Kiss of the Royal: https://amzn.to/2tHGJZg
Dive Smack: https://amzn.to/2Km2BR1
Dear Heartbreak: https://amzn.to/2yRLF3B
Attucks!: https://amzn.to/2IrbDu1
The Boneless Mercies: https://amzn.to/2KkJFVW
Saving Montgomery Sole: https://amzn.to/2N1NY78
Baker's Magic: https://amzn.to/2tvYv2b
Love & First Sight: https://amzn.to/2K7XgR6
Everland: https://amzn.to/2yH6fU1
The Just Men of Cordova: https://amzn.to/2MVaApE
Extraordinary Means: https://amzn.to/2MXo18B
My Name is Not Friday: https://amzn.to/2N0rTpl
Come August, Come Freedom: https://amzn.to/2yHN1xH
Doctor Cerberus: https://amzn.to/2MXnraV
Openly Straight: https://amzn.to/2yJXGrA
When Dimple Met Rishi: https://amzn.to/2tv8Nzx
Dance of Thieves: https://amzn.to/2tCbMpi
Toil & Trouble: https://amzn.to/2MZOVNl
Tell Me No Lies: https://amzn.to/2txAEyi
Supergirl: Being Super: https://amzn.to/2tCnfVO
Smothered: https://amzn.to/2MqyIj5

Spill Zone review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2017/05/recent-comic-reads-review.html
Austen in August: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/austen-in-august-2018-invitation.html
Tony Cliff in AIA: http://www.thebookrat.com/2013/08/coming-to-my-senses-and-sensibilities-tony-cliff.html
Amid Stars & Darkness review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/02/bad-romance-tropes-and-amid-stars-and.html
Kiss of the Royal post (live on 7/3!): http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/07/kiss-of-royal-by-lindsey-duga-excerpt.html
Supergirl review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/giveaway-review-supergirl-being-super.html
Tell Me No Lies impressions: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/tell-me-no-lies-by-adele-griffin.html
Saving Montgomery Sole & Baker's Magic review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/audiobook-freebies-reviewed-study-in.html

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though many of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links used where possible.


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