ARC Review: See All the Stars by Kit Frick

32718970Goodreads/Amazon/B&N

Release Date: August 14, 2018

synvia Goodreads 

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

review3 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley &  Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

I had a hard time rating this book because on one hand, I couldn’t put it down, and on the other hand, it dragged so badly at some points that had I not wanted to figure out what happened, I would have DNF’d and moved on. 

But I needed to know. Despite the blatant toxicity of the friendships in this book, despite so-so characters, and a shrug of a love story, that hint of a good mystery was all I needed to push forward. No spoilers and I should have seen it coming because the book comparisons alone were enough to give it away. Do yourself a favor and DON’T read the full Goodreads synopsis from the top. 

If you read this book for what it’s marketed as, you’ll be disappointed. If you read this book for what it really is, an ode to friendship and a navigating through loss (whether it’s of friendship or tragedy) you won’t be disappointed. 

At its heart, See All the Stars is a gripping mystery that explores the complexity of friendship and how toxic relationships can shape us into who we are and it might not be what you desired for yourself. When you let someone take the reins of your life and lead, you might not be happy where you end up. This book is about 4 friends who are all connected by their fiercely independent and adventurous ringleader, Ret. Ret is the center of their universe and without her leadership, the girls have nothing in common, so you can see where the drama comes into play. Lies, punishment, pitting the girls against each other is all part of Ret’s hold. The story is from Ellory’s POV. She’s really into metalworking and dealing with some stuff. Her world revolves around Ret in a very unhealthy, almost obsessive fixation. She checks her actions against Ret and looks to her to see how she responds. Why Ret has such power over these girls is a mystery. When Ellory starts to pull away things quickly go downhill and in comes the romance. 

As romance goes, this one was kind of bland. There wasn’t any real fire, not even really a connection-it just was. Don’t get me wrong, at times there was really beautiful writing and gorgeous metaphors but the words did not match up with the actual feelings between the characters-or at least, it didn’t read that way. The emotions weren’t there. 

I liked that the story was told between the past and present. Towards the end it all collides and it gets a little confusing. I had to reread one section because I wasn’t sure whether it was in the past. There are flashbacks in the now sections as well. 

There’s colossal build up. Tension is high because as the reader you know something terrible happened but not the magnitude. When you get to the end everything suddenly makes sense with startling clarity. 

Keep reading, 

Jordan

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Spotlight & Giveaway: But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

 

BUT THEN I CAME BACK9780544531260_hresAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Goodreads

Pub. Date: April 4, 2017

 

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Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed? 

authorEstelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

giveaway

3 winners will receive a hardcover of BUT THEN I CAME BACK, US Only. 

Enter Giveaway

Tour Schedule

Week One:

3/27/2017- Literary Dust- Interview

3/28/2017- The Best Books Ever – Review

3/29/2017- Novel Novice- Guest Post

3/30/2017- Portrait of a Book- Review

3/31/2017- Literary Meanderings- Excerpt

 

Week Two:

4/3/2017- YA Book Madness- Review

4/4/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review

4/5/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview

4/6/2017- Just Commonly– Review

4/7/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Excerpt

Keep reading,

Jordan

ARC Review: The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

the-bone-sparrowGoodreads/B&N/Amazon

synSubhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.

review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Disney-Hyperion

Sometimes a great book is balm for the soul, and other times, a book wakes you up. Sometimes the darkness in this world is too much that it’s easy to look away and selectively forget the atrocities that happen every single day to people who seek nothing but peace and a place to call home. The Bone Sparrow reads like a folktale. With a blend of lyrical storytelling, startling bursts of horrific reality, and two children from different worlds even though they live footsteps apart, The Bone Sparrow brings those who don’t have a voice and are cast aside like a dirty little secret to vibrant life. 

Subhi is dreamer. Caught up in his world of stories and a father he’s never met, his hope is a burst of light and longing that fights hard against the injustice that surrounds him. Cushioned by his child-like wonder at the simple magic of dreams, words, and legends, Subhi is a captivating character. His words are innocent and full of loyalty. He holds those he loves so high as protectors and the good. What others see as negative, he sees as okay because he’s never known any different being born in the refugee camp. Kids find truths and say them with such simplicity that it’s both profound and enlightening. So many times, I had to pause and reread. What initially seems light and offhand is actually jarring in its insight. After witnesses something truly despicable and triggering, Subhi’s world is no longer Night Seas and whales who sing to the moon, it’s starvation, pain, and abuse. It’s a letdown he never expected. This awakening is heartbreaking and crushing. This perfect little spirit who lived the world on a cloud and reveled in simple happiness broken and downtrodden. Seriously, it sucks the life right out of you. So powerful and emotional.

Friendship is everything in this story. It’s a hero, it’s a savior, it’s hope and longing and love. This unlikely pairing between a motherless girl with just as much yearning as Subhi, clinging to a past that she refuses to let go, is so special. 

Some parts of this story are graphic and dark. This book is categorized as MG on some sites and I’d really consider it before sharing with young kids. Though the protagonists are 10, the subject matter is more mature. The violence might be a bit much, especially one scene in particular. 

The pacing was so-so. The build up far less and later than I would have hoped for to create the right amount of tension and anxiety. 

Jimme is an outside oblivious to what is really going on behind the fence or to how detention centers work. She’s heard rumors of how lucky the refugees are, how much food they get, and her curiosity makes her fearless. Jimmie doesn’t have a care in the world besides her desperation to preserve the last vestiges of her mother through her mother’s journal. Like Subhi, she doesn’t understand what she’s looking at and no one takes the time to explain. Those who are part of the situation and don’t explain the gravity are just as culpable as those who ignore. Jimmie’s ignorance is hurtful, but full of heart. She adores Subhi and their friendship is cute and full of instance love. Through stories, they grow to trust and rely on each other. 

The story of Burma, the conditions in refugee camps, detainment centers, how those seeking asylum are treated are all brushed under the rug unless it is brought to international headlines and even then it disappears after a while. What happens to these people? How are they living? Who is helping them? Are they getting help at all or are they worse off? These questions and many more are addressed and examined in this book. They shouldn’t be forgotten and unfortunately, it takes perseverance and willingness to care, and compassion to make change. 

Insightful reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: How It Ends by Catherine Lo

22608764Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

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There are two sides to every story.

It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They’re BFFs…until suddenly they’re not.

Told through alternating points of view, How It Ends is a wildly fast but deeply moving read about a friendship in crisis. Set against a tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing, the novel shows what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers

+++Triggers for some adult situations and choices that may make some uncomfortable

How It Ends is a brutally honest look at the many ways that friendships can fall apart. Growing up, growing into your own skin, and learning who you want to be can sometimes sever even the oldest and best friendships. Annie and Jess learn the harsh realities of high school, keeping secrets, and the sacrifices made to fit in. 

PROS:

  • Annie and Jess are opposites and yet startlingly the same. They both have insecurities and issues. Not everything is what it appears on the surface. Annie cannot see her own beauty, she doubts her worth, and Jess feels the same after years of bullying and shaming from people she once considered her friends. This parallel is spot on. It is the epitome of opposite attract. They make each other better, when they’re focused on their friendship, it’s when things expand that everything starts to fall apart. This is a story of friendship, how hard you have to fight when you’re being pulled in 100 different directions, and what losing a friend can do to you both emotionally and psychologically. It hurts to share a best friend. Especially if they make up your whole world. It can feel like a loss, crippling and painful, How It Ends explores those feelings. 
  • The alternating POVs are eye-opening. You get to see how each girl views their friendship, the events that happen, and their position in the high school food chain. Each girl has a strong voice. They hold their own and will have you either rooting for them or wanting to shake some sense into them. 
  • This story deals with relevant teen issues like sex, drinking, partying, bullying, and anxiety. For some, every single time they step into that cafeteria, they feel like an outsider, they shrink away inside themselves and pray that they will remain invisible. That’s no way to live and no one should feel that way. How It Ends does an amazing job getting to the heart of those fears. Every deep breath, every cringe, the hyperventilating, the terror, the way words are phrased to avoid confrontation, it’s like the act of existing is a test. That is spot on throughout. 

CONS:

  • Annie is hard to sympathize with or like. From the first pages it only takes a chapter or two in her POV for her to do a total 180. It’s like she only sees what she wants to and conveniently forgets everything else. She doesn’t give in, she’s stubborn in the worst way, and it takes something really terrible to get her to wake up and face reality. 
  • Some things didn’t make sense. It felt like things were thrown in at the last minute. 
  • The mean girls were typical. The high school scenes were a little cliché. There wasn’t a great balance in terms of their friendship. It made one look more guilty than the other and like a terrible friend, though they both made harsh judgments, assumptions, and mistakes. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

 

ARC Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

the darkest cornersGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: April 19, 2016

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The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

review3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Children’s Delacorte Press.

I wanted to love this story, but for the majority of the book, I was bored. Nothing really happened until the end of the book. The story was about a lie that might have put an innocent man in prison and caused two best friends to be torn apart. 

The main characters, Tessa and Callie aren’t particularly likable. Tessa has absolutely zero value for herself, which, given her upbringing is easy to understand, but after a while, it really grates on you. She’s a downer, but she’s clever. She researches and takes courageous leaps towards finding answers to the questions that plague her, not only about the past-the serial killer-but her family as well. At the same time, it takes Tessa and those helping her forever to figure anything out. They’re stringing things together so slowly that it’s pretty frustrating. Callie is a spoiled, somewhat whiny, angsty teen. She’s rude, likes to party, and has a terrible attitude. Her cold shoulder to Tessa, her former best friend, is not really explained, there’s a slight suggestion that left me feeling unsatisfied. 

Secondary characters like Decker and Ryan, even Nick, were intriguing and had strong personalities that I wish were explored more. It might have added something to the story.

Tessa’s quest to discover the truth about her family, to find out if they truly loved her, and to sift through the lies made me feel for her. Even if I wasn’t her biggest fan, the hurt and heartache she suffered through was definitely moving. 

I got half of the twist right early on, but that second part is crazy. Never ever saw that coming and it is SO messed up. Elaborate, twisted, dark, and brilliantly executed by the villain. 

The pacing is mind-numbingly slow. It’s hard to stay engaged. Even with the prosepect of uncovering the mystery and whether or not the lie will change anything. 

That ending. Wide open for a second. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Mysterious reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Dead Girl-Tessa Marie

DG Final

Goodreads

synIf her mother wasn’t watching, Kylie Presby would punch Queen Bee, Natalie Silvers, in the face -again. But as Kylie wipes her tears away with the layers of toilet paper encasing her car, she knows she can’t retaliate like she did last time. Her dead mother wouldn’t approve. Kylie no longer cares about popularity. Invisible would work just fine.

Then the new kid, Braydon, mysterious, good looking and too clever for his own good, shows up and sacrifices his social status, becoming Kylie’s shield from the front line assault. After enough chocolate ice cream and movies it’s as if they’re best friends. Crazy, since Kylie knows so little about him.

As Natalie continues her relentless attacks on Kylie another person deals with his own line of bullies. Jack Stine was popular until his deepest secret was revealed and his friends abandoned him. Kylie and Jack bond over their tormentors and form an unbreakable friendship.

Three lost souls each with a story that binds them together, but will it be enough when the bullying goes too far and secrets are revealed?

auth

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Tessa Marie aka Theresa Paolo lives on Long Island, NY with her fiancé and their fish. She is the author of NA and YA contemporary romances. Her debut novel (NEVER) AGAIN, released in Fall 2013 with Berkley (Penguin) and the companion novel (ONCE) AGAIN released Summer 2014. Both her books HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE and PROVE ME WRONG are Amazon bestsellers. She is also the coauthor of the Amazon bestselling Beds Series. She has a hard time accepting the fact she’s in her early thirties (very early), and uses her characters to relive the best and worst years of her life. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Dowling College. When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera, reading, watching Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, or can be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour: Sade on the Wall-Kaylene Campbell


Amazon:US/UK/AU/CA/B&N/iTunes syn
Save her friendship, or save her best friend…
Sade and Jackie have been best friends since they were little, but a dangerous habit may drive a rift between them forever. When Sade finds out that Jackie has been attending raves, she doesn’t think it’s a big deal—until she discovers that Jackie has an even bigger secret.

Sade soon finds herself lying to the people she loves most in order to cover for Jackie. Caught in Jackie’s web of self-destruction, she tries to do her best to honor the best friends code of secrecy. As things spin more and more out of control, though, Sade realizes there is only one thing she can do to save Jackie.

Sade on the Wall is a poignant, raw coming of age story filled with suspense, tough choices, and heartache. Delving deep into the world of teen drug addiction, it will strike a chord with both teen and adult readers.

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authKaylene Campbell believes in spreading the message of prevailing hope, even in the darkest times. She writes suspense novels for teen readers that focus on substance abuse and mental illness. Partially based on experiences from her own life, Sade on the Wall is her first novel. Kaylene started writing at a young age, but only recently began pursuing her dream of being a full-time author. Though she has traveled all over New England and the East Coast, Kaylene makes her home in Connecticut with her husband, the mixed media artist Michael Campbell.
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Keep reading, 
Jordan