ARC #Review: Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

words onGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

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Fans of More Happy Than Not, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, andIt’s Kind of a Funny Story will cheer for Adam as he struggles with schizophrenia in this brilliantly honest and unexpectedly funny debut.

Adam has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He sees and hears people who aren’t there: Rebecca, a beautiful girl who understands him; the Mob Boss, who harasses him; and Jason, the naked guy who’s unfailingly polite. It should be easy to separate the real from the not real, but Adam can’t.

Still, there’s hope. As Adam starts fresh at a new school, he begins a drug trial that helps him ignore his visions. Suddenly everything seems possible, even love. When he meets Maya, a fiercely intelligent girl, he desperately wants to be the great guy that she thinks he is. But then the miracle drug begins to fail, and Adam will do anything to keep Maya from discovering his secret.

review3/5 Stars 

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

The best way to describe my feelings towards this book is to shrug. This is a solid 3 star read. As much as I wanted to fall in love with this story of a boy dealing with mental illness as he fell in love with his dream girl, I couldn’t connect. Since I finished reading, I’ve struggled with how to put into words why that connection was missing and it comes down to the plot, or lack there of, or maybe just the whole mundane, guy has secret, clichéd bullies, truth comes out, romance. It was all too familiar. And what irked me even further was the title. It’s catchy, it’s clever, it is barely in the story and while there could have been a serious, philosophical moment with the words, it fell flat, despite attempts to tie it in. And on top of that, it made the plot feel thrown together and nowhere near as cohesive or smooth as it could have been, but perhaps that was the point. 

Here’s what I liked: 

  • I’m not a doctor. What I know about schizophrenia is pretty much the tripe, false portrayals in horror films or TV shows that make it seem like a dangerous, and deadly sickness that turns people into serial killers or something. It’s horrible, inaccurate, and even discussed throughout the story. Especially in relation to Sandy Hook. After the shooting, which happened during the timeline of this book, schizophrenia became something to be scared of. Knowing someone with the mental illness made people panic or at the very least feel apprehensive and on guard. Adam reflects on that and it’s a huge part of why he never confides in his friends about his schizophrenia, because he doesn’t want the looks, the doubts, the slow backing away and dissolution of friendships that has happened to him before out of fear. This is poignant and heartbreaking and a reality that needs to be called out and questioned. The stigma around mental illness and how it is perceived needs to be a discussion and unfortunately, like other timely issues, it is not. How schizophrenia is portrayed in the story may or may not be 100% accurate, the author does put a note in the back of the book addressing this, which I appreciated. Adam’s hallucinations are each unique and reflect parts of himself that he’s not in tune with, parts that he’s scared of or tries to hide and they speak to him, try to guide him through hard choices and situations. They pop in and out of the story. They’re memorable, but fleeting, and some are more solid than others. Adam’s emotions and voice were strong. They were all over the place, but he was honest, his voice never wavered, and at times his letters were like a confession to himself. 
  • The structure. I think this is the only book I’ve read where the entire story is told through journal entries to a therapist. Because of the style, it’s introspective, reflective, and full of genuine voice. You really get a feel for who Adam is, what he’s going through, and his humor about the whole situation. 
  • Love doesn’t save the day. So many times illness or some perceived flaw is solved simply by falling in love. It’s become a dangerous trope. I liked that at the end of this story, nothing was really resolved or fixed because mental illness is not something that magically disappears because feelings trump everything. Drugs can help manage, but they fail, they lose effectiveness, and sometimes the side effects are life threatening. Maya is great for Adam, don’t get me wrong. She listens to him. She befriends him when he felt so alone and scared on his journey and she sticks by him when things get weird. What more could you ask for? 

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

  • The pacing, the plot. I was bored and what’s weird is that I shouldn’t have been. So many scenes were of your run of the mill, everyday life and while Adam’s perception and snarky comments were entertaining, the incidents themselves were not. 
  • The enemy. The popular kids. The hot guy. So overdone and while there is some redemption it just didn’t do justice to the story. It was all too predictable. You could see that plot point coming from the moment you met the popular guy with connections because that’s always the choice. I was hoping for something more unexpected because of the subject matter but I guess the popular kids will always be evil bullies. 
  • I wasn’t sold on Maya or Dwight. They were just…sort of there. Dwight especially has few scenes and while those scenes do give you a better picture of him, it feels like filler. For Maya…the emotions were, and this could definitely be because of the style, lacking. Because everything is told from Adam’s POV, how Maya really feels like seen through his gaze and it makes her feel aloof.

Keep reading,

Jordan

 

 

ARC Review & Giveaway: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

FRAGILE CHAOSFragile Chaos_eBook Cover_Amber R Duell_1Amazon/B&N/iBooks/Indiebound/Goodreads

Release Date: July 11, 2017 

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A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

Join the FRAGILE CHAOS Release Day Party on Facebook! Chat with Amber & win prizes!

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and with participation in this tour 

I didn’t realize how much I’ve been missing YA takes on mythology until I picked up this book and could not put it down. Filled with folklore, violence, epic battles, and tons of drama, Fragile Chaos is a gripping thrill ride. 

The mythology. This is a different take on traditional god and goddesses, but still fueled by rivalries, lies, intrigue, and all the competition that comes between siblings. I loved that so much depended on tributes to the gods, sacrifices, and political games. The atmosphere is fantastic. It’s gritty and dark and zealous. The danger is there full force. You’ll feel every bit of uncertainty and adrenaline. It’s awesome. 

At first, it’s a little hard to get into the story. It’s a whirlwind. The story immediately starts without any intro into what is going on. You’re thrown into the middle of the battle. But once you get into it and figure out all the complicated rivalries and the high stakes, it’s kind of addictive. 

The characters are, for the most part, complex, multidimensional, and you want to know more about them. No one is exactly who they appear to be. They have regrets. Gods make mistakes and they’re imperfect despite the immortality and powers. The weight of choice and how hard it is to decide the fate of the world has never been more on point. 

THE ROMANCE. Swoon central. The chemistry is there. It builds to this unquenchable fire. I mean, totally undeniable no matter how how they fight it. And the dueling POVs only adds to the fierce longing and chaotic emotions of the main characters. 

authorAmber (1)

Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany, Maine, and Mississippi as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.

When Amber isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her two young sons. She is a lover of history, a fan of snowboarding, and a travel enthusiast. In her downtime, she can be found curling up with a good book and a cat or two.

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest 

giveaway

1 winner will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card

1 winner will receive an eBook of FRAGILE CHAOS in their preferred format.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

Week One:

7/3/2017- YA and Wine- Interview

7/4/2017- Twinning for Books- Review

7/5/2017- Literary Meanderings – Guest Post

7/6/2017- YA Book Madness- Review

7/7/2017- YABC – Interview

Week Two:

7/10/2017- Quite The Novel Idea- Review

7/11/2017- Margie’s Must Reads- Guest Post

7/12/2017- Wishful Endings- Review

7/13/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

7/14/2017- Rachel’s Book Reviews- Review

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz: The Librarian by Christy Sloat

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Goodreads/Amazon

Release Date: June 16th, 2017

Cover Design: Pretty AF Designs

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He’s from 1892 England, she’s in a small library in 2017. And that’s just the start of their troubles.

Emme never meant to stay in Maine. She’d come only to find a librarian for her Gram’s library, a custodian for the collection of mysterious books she’d promised to protect. On a dark, wintery night, alone in the library, she takes her first glance into one of the antique novels and finds herself transported to 1892 England staring into the eyes of handsome and dashing hero Jack Ridgewell. As each chapter passes she learns you can truly fall in love with a character in a book, that book boyfriends are real and Emme must choose between the real world, and his.

When the last page is read he’s gone and Emme feels the cold loneliness of lost love. Will she find Jack again, or will their love be forever lost? The answer lies within the pages…

authorresizedauthorWebsite/Facebook/Blog/Twitter/Instagram

Christy Sloat resides in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and her Chihuahua, Sophie. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother’s loving support. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. She is the bestselling author of twelve novels including, The Visitors Series, The Past Lives Series and the award-winning Slumber Duology.

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Guest Post & Giveaway: What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

WHAT I LOSTWhat I Lost (1)Amazon/B&N/TBD/iBooks/Goodreads

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What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.

guest

EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENE

We had a new therapist for music therapy on Thursday. Her name was Sunny and she wore a long, drapey skirt made from a blue tapestry and smelled like incense. She didn’t look much older than me and wore at least ten silver bracelets on her right arm that clinked together whenever she moved.

We sat on the carpeted floor as classical music played. I think it was supposed to calm us.

“Okay, guys. Close your eyes and feel the music,” Sunny said, her eyes wide. “What does it bring up? What do you see? What do you remember? Write down anything that comes to you.”  

I looked over at Willa. She was drawing big huge scribbles. She grinned at me and scrawled “Suck suck suck suck suck this sucks” in big angry letters. She giggled. I drew flowers. Perfectly symmetrical flowers. If one wasn’t perfect, I scribbled it out.

 Sunny had turned and was scrolling through iTunes, her back to us. Right when I thought Willa was going to rip a hole in her paper, Madonna blasted through the speakers hanging from all four corners of the room. I jumped.

The music was old, some song from the eighties or nineties where Madonna kept singing “celebrate! It will be all right!” It was the sort of song Mom would squeal over and sing along to. The girls and I just sat there confused. Sunny couldn’t want us to dance, could she?

Sunny spun around, skirt twirling, and saw us sitting there like statues. “Well, move, guys!”

Was this a trap? A way to get us all to drink an Ensure? No one budged. We weren’t supposed to “move.” Anything beyond necessary walking was strictly prohibited.

“Come on guys! Listen to the beat! Move with the music!” She swayed in the front of the room, and every time she waved her arms we could smell patchouli.

I stared at the floor, willing someone else to go first. I did not want to have to drink an Ensure. That’s what happened if they caught you running or exercising around here.

Still, my toes bumped to the beat. Madonna was sort of contagious.

Celebra-ate! It will be all right!

Finally, Jean, who everyone called a “lifer” because she’d already been at the hospital for nine months, stood up and started to wiggle her butt, just a little. Willa jumped up next, and I followed. Soon all eight of us were on our feet, laughing, moving, wiggling, jumping, dancing like—what is that cheesy quote that is always showing up on cards and magnets? —oh yeah, like nobody was watching.  Ally, a girl from Manhattan whose parents visited every week, started to moonwalk. We hooted and cheered. I laughed and felt something inside me crack open. For the first time in a long time, I felt normal, like I could be in my basement dancing with my friends Katrina, Priya, and Shay, like the last few months had never happened.  

And then, without warning, the music disappeared, like a needle ripped from a record. We froze. A disapproving Nurse Jill stood next to Sunny, who looked ashamed, like a kid caught playing in her mother’s closet. We stood there, panting, Ally’s face red from her crazy moves.

“Lunch time,” Nurse Jill said. The frown lines in her already wrinkled cheeks deepened.

giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of WHAT I LOST, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

author0001-alexandraballard-headshots

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master’s from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. What I Lost is Alexandra’s first novel.

OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

Week Two:

6/5/2017- Lisa Loves Literature- Review

6/6/2017- YA Book Madness- Guest Post

6/7/2017- The Cover Contessa- Interview

6/8/2017- Book Briefs- Review

6/9/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

aftercareGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: June 27, 2017

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“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.

review

3/5 Stars 

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

+++Triggers for abortion, suicide, death

This is the first YA book I’ve read that has dealt with the sensitive and extremely relevant topics of teenage pregnancy and choosing abortion. We definitely need more of these heavy-hitting subjects because despite the tendency for society to pretend sex doesn’t happen in high school, it does and a lot. Kids make mistakes, especially when it comes to mixing alcohol and unprotected sex (which is not even the case in this story, the condom actually breaks). This is 100% a story that needed to be written, explored, and experienced. Okay, let me get off of my soapbox about this and talk about the book.

The story centers around a girl who is very much in love with her boyfriend, they have sex, and unfortunately the condom breaks and she ends up pregnant. He comes from a very traditional, upper class, church-going family, and has been raised to believe abortion is the highest form of sin, much worse than the pre-martial sex he indulged in. Gen comes from a broken family. Her father OD’d, her mother is dangerously depressed, and she is left to pick up the pieces after their tragic loss. Their home situations are vastly different and yet, he adores her quirkiness and her big heart. He is compassionate and understands her home life is less than ideal and he’s there for her when some truly devastating and horrific stuff happens. So what’s the problem?

This dynamic is not explored. I loved that they came from families that are basically opposites. That despite everything working against them socially, they inherently understood each other. And yet, the story structure…doesn’t work well with the plot. It’s a series of flashbacks to how they fell in love and the current heartbroken times post-abortion. It’s nostalgic and dreamy and rose-tinted, despite the hospital visits and everything else. The very problematic issue of Peter’s personal, religious beliefs are pretty much glossed over and the catty former friend who wants to sink her claws into Peter is front and center. Why? I don’t understand. Maybe the author wanted to take another route or didn’t want to get too political or preachy or something? I’m not sure. But these extremely important details were not talked about except in minor passing and at the end. I feel like the drama was displaced. I would have liked a little more exploration of these conflicts and it’s just lots of reflection.

The abortion scene itself. There are no words. The emotions, the confusion, the heartbreak, there’s also a weird need to “punish” herself and so that she feels the loss. It’s powerful and hits hard. And what’s worse, what really, truly broke my heart was the betrayal. You need someone to hold your hand. To be there. And for someone to desert you during such a critical time. How can you ever forgive that? 

The plot is all over the place. It’s sporadic and random and then add in the flashback scenes and it felt like the story didn’t know what it wanted to be. I totally understand being confusion, reckless, and the emotional chaos that can cause someone to make bizarre choices but I guess the pieces didn’t fit well together. This book deals with so many heavy themes and it felt…lighter than expected? I mean abortion, drug overdosing, suicide…it’s as hard as it gets. 

However, the story was enjoyable. I liked the weird romance that sprung up out of Gen’s heartbreak. It was uplifting and adorable, and he definitely brightens her life. 

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

words in deepGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: June 6, 2017

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Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

review4.5/5 Stars 

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

This book is beautiful.  

It’s haunting and aching, gut-wrenching and bittersweet. Full of hope, loss, and memories. 

This book will make you laugh. It will also make you cry. But more importantly, it will make you feel. 

I finished this book over an hour ago and I’m still reeling. It’s the kind of book that sticks and leaves an impression. That makes you feel inspired. Those are the best kind. I’ve never felt so compelled to write in the margins. To explore a used bookshop. To confess everything I’ve ever felt about everything to a stranger. 

This book is about what’s lost and what you find when you lose someone and about how you find yourself again when you feel like you’ve been ripped in half. The emotions are poignant, honest, and raw. If you’ve ever lost someone, you will understand this on a soul level. 

This book is beautiful not only for content, but for the words. 

It’s a love letter to books. To words. To how words make you feel and the journey taken on the wings of a story. It’s poetry. The descriptions, the casual and offhand way that things are written about in an entirely new way. You might find yourself seeing the world differently.

Slowly falling in love. Rachel and Henry. The passion. The friendship. The angst. It’s a sweet and funny realization that happens in a blink for one, and has been building for the other. 

There are so many things in this book that are important and cathartic. That will bring comfort to those who are numb or bleeding or lost in memory. 

But mostly, the love just pours off these pages. Those of you who follow my reviews know that I am not a fan of contemporary, but this book makes my heart happy.

My only, only critique is the pacing.  Occasionally the plot is a little slow for my taste and Henry’s obsession with Amy makes you want to shake him. I mean come on, that vapid twit. But he’s mooning, he’s in lust, and it’s incredibly believable. 

I didn’t know how much I needed this book and I can only imagine how much others will appreciate this. So thank you, Cath Crowley. Your letter moved me. Your book is fantastic. 

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

Read this, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Level Me Up by Lauren Helms

 Release Date: June 5, 2017
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The last thing Morgan Lawson is looking for when attending Comic-Con is love. But even prior to exchanging first words, Morgan is drawn to Dex, a drop-dead sexy gamer boy who lives and breathes video games. Before she realizes it, Morgan finds herself caught up in all things Dex.
 
Dex Roberts knows the moment he sees Morgan, he wants more. He falls hard and fast, but isn’t surprised when his job as a professional video gamer takes its toll on their relationship.

Once Morgan decides what truly makes her happy, there’s no time to waste. But without any warning, life threatens to destroy what both Morgan and Dex want most… each other.
 teaser
 author
Author Lauren Helms has been an avid reader from a young age. After starting a book review site, that launched her fully into the book world, she decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. Since she was working for a video game strategy guide publisher at the time, she decided to mix what she knew best, video games and romance. Jumping all in, she joined NaNoWriMo and a month later had a 50K word first draft. Lauren lives in Indianapolis, IN with her video game playing husband, two little girl book nerds, and a little boy who will hopefully be a gamer boy too some day!
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Enter for your chance to win an ebook copy of Level Me Up

 

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Read on, 
Jordan