Simone Breaks All the Rules (ARC) (Review)

Hey, hi, hello! Today I’m featuring a recent release as a part of HearOurVoices’ tour for Simone Breaks All the Rules! This review is going to be super different from normal in that I will be sharing my opinions through the internet’s greatest form of art: the gif. I will also use words at the end to wrap up my final thoughts, so no need to fear.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/stacialovestoread

So just opening the book up…I was like:

Meme Drop - Meme
Found here

But then Simone started talking about the struggles of being Haitian/having very traditional Haitian parents and, while I am not Haitian nor 1st gen-American, I was like:

episode 6, bachelor, the bachelor, same, season 23, thebachelorabc, caelynn  – GIF
Found here
So Brave GIFs | Tenor
Found here



When the HomeGirls decided to devise the Playlist so they could tick some things off their bucket lists before graduation I felt:

…because if you’re like me, Simone, and the rest of the squad and are the child of strict parents, you know exactly how this is all gonna end:

giphy (3) | Diary of A Mad, Interesting Woman
Found here
Raven Chewing Gum GIFs | Tenor
Found here

But. The HomeGirls persisted. And at some point, Kira Airdrops the Playlist to the rest of the girl so they can all have a record of it and I was just:

…because Murphy’s Law is very real, and strikes at the least oprotune times…

However, as the story progressed, I found myself celebrating with the HomeGirls with each tick off the list. Simone Breaks All the Rules is truly a book for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or like they just don’t quite fit in.

Take My Heart GIFs | Tenor
Found here

Debbie Riguad is the author of Simone Breaks All the Rules. A Jersey-girl at heart, Debbie now lives in Columbus, OH with her husband and their two children and family doggo. To learn more about Ms. Rigaud and what she’s up to, visit her online at debbieriguad.com. To purchase your own copy of Simone Breaks All the Rules, you can use my Bookshop affiliate link, or any other bookseller. Simone was released on June 1 from Scholastic Publishing.

The Ivies (eARC) (Review)

In addition to my obsession with Greek mythology and a good fantasy, I love love LOVE a good thriller/murder mystery/whodunnit. Alexa Donne’s forthcoming novel The Ivies filled the bill for a good murder mystery with plenty of plot twists, red herrings, and a rather large frying pan cast iron skillet.

Tour banner, courtesy of Turn the Pages Tours

I am so happy that Turn the Page Tours selected me to join them for a review stop on the tour they’re hosting for this amazing thriller. Put on your school uniform and submit your college essays, we’re going to the ultra exclusive Clafin Academy!

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Avery — The Queen Bee. Assigned school: Harvard University
What Avery wants, Avery gets. Avery is a triple legacy to Harvard via her maternal side of the family. There is a substantial donation made to the University yearly by her mother. Things are perfect, right? WRONG. On Early Decision Day, Avery gets a rejection email. From Harvard. Not a deferment. A rejection. Heads will roll.

Off with their heads | Alice in Wonderland | Know Your Meme
Google really has all the gifs one could ever want/need.

Just like we will see later, Avery appears in the last few chapters of the book during the trial of the deceased. Her cold icey persona has changed COMPLETELY, and she’s softened up a bit, even drops a BOMBSHELL revelation on Olivia about her time at college. We love a nice round character and growth arc!

Sierra — The Hacker. Assigned school: Yale University.
The Ivies were always pulling “harmless” pranks under the direction of leader Avery. Sierra’s specialty was hacking into the school computer systems to get the girls in to the best class times, and with the best teacher each semester. She also hacked the security cameras once or twice but….that part isn’t important (surprise, it is very important).
A time or two, we do get to see a feisty side to Sierra that I personally am THE BIGGEST FAN of. Another character accuses Sierra of getting into Yale because of Affirmative Action (which is a whole other conversation we do not have time for today) and the college in question wanting to meet their quota of Black/non-white students admitted. Sierra promptly gathers that character to inform that yes, she is Black, however, she scored an astronomically high score on her SATs, and got in on her academics and rowing team abilities, not her skin color. Loved that moment.

We also get to see Sierra for a bit at the end of the novel when she testifies at the trial for the murder of [redacted]. She’s a stone cold ice queen, despite having been best friends with the other girls for their high school careers….my how the turns have tabled.

Oh how the tables have turned | Reaction Images | Know Your Meme
gif courtesy of the almighty Google-bot

Margot — The Locked Vault. Assigned school: Princeton University.
Margot is the Ivy who you go to with your secrets; even when she’s drunk, she’s got her poker face on, and won’t crack under pressure. This works wonderfully for her as she is an aspiring actress and didn’t exactly get all her role through her auditions…
I was sad we didn’t see more of Margot, but I understand why. As an author, it’s hard to plot a murder, plan the plot twists, and juggle so many characters without a few of them becoming background noise.
Margot does appear in the closing chapter as well, and she’s even colder than Sierra. It’s moments like these that make it clear that the Ivies were never friends as much as they were people who associated with each other out of convenience. That is a very difficult realization to come to, but….in their case, that how it bees. Margot actually ends up going to the University of Michigan, a very prestigious school, but (obviously) not an Ivy League.

Second Place GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
Google coming in clutch again.

Emma — The Good Girl. Assigned school: Brown University
As described in the early pages of the book, Emma has a “finger in every pie” at Clafin. She’s charming enough to be believed by teachers about tip-offs regarding other students breaking curfew, musically inclined as first-chair flute, butterfly stroke champ on the swim team, and smart enough to (with the help of some plotting from her beloved Ivies) be captain of the school’s FIRST Robotics team. NOTE: the caps make it confusing. This is not the first team the school has had, the FIRST is a designation…like Junior Varsity or Varsity, or something similar. I know, it confused me too at first.
Emma actually gets into [redacted], kicking off the story and causing some drama among the girls. Perhaps she should have stayed in her lane…? Doing too much, my friend. Too much.

Thanks again Google.

…and then there’s the narrator who’s perspective we are in: Olivia — The Journalist . Assigned school: University of Pennsylvania. Olivia isn’t like the rest of the Ivies, and its not just because of her interests…its her zip code. Olivia is at Clafin on a scholarship that covers nearly all of her education. She doesn’t have the newest clothes, or an unlimited bank account like the rest. So for Olivia, getting into college isn’t just about getting into a good school, the school in question has to come through with some amazing financial aid/scholarship award.


Our book kicks off with some background information about our characters and the high school. And then *dun dun dun* someone ends up very much dead. Olivia’s suspicions about the volatile nature that competing for a few spots at hard-to-get-into-schools can bring immediately flare, and she puts her journalistic skills to work.

Investigating your best friends for murder is very much a job for more than one person, so Olivia enlists the help of her co-editor of the school newspaper, Ethan “Canadian Ken Doll” Kendall. Together they piece together holes in the various alibis that have been given, and dig up some dirt from years before to finally corner the culprit at Avery’s annual New Years Eve party. The culprit (who’s identity will remain secret) tries to talk their way out of being suspected by throwing the blame any and every where possible, mostly toward Olivia, the poor, small town girl in the big city with all the rich kids.

There is a trial held, and we get to catch up with our girls: Sierra is the only one who ended up going to her “assigned” school; Olivia ended up having to apply to colleges a year late to work and save money. Margot is colder than cold and doesn’t hesitate to throw shade. The book closes with the murder being taken down, Avery and Olivia being (seemingly) decent friends, and the recording of a documentary special about the whole thing.

Overall, I’d give this book a very strong, very loud 5 stars! I loved all of the plot twists and turns, and the clues that are thrown in to confuse and dissuade Olivia had me reeling too. If you’re a fan of the movie Knives Out, the tv show Pretty Little Liars, or anything by Kara Thomas, or Karen M. McManus, then you’ll definitely love this twisty YA mystery!
Though this is Donne’s first foray into mystery, by no means is she a novice. This book has strong characters, a good amount of *sus* thrown around, and plenty of people to suspect.


Image courtesy of the author’s website.

Alexa Donne is the author of Brightly Burning and The Stars We Steal. The Ivies is her first foray into mystery novel writing as both of her previous releases have been retellings set in space! The Ivies was published by Crown, a division of Random House Children’s Publishing and has just released May 25th! In her free time, Alexa mentors with WriteGirl, runs the Author Mentor Match program, and manages one of the most popular writing advice channels on YouTube. She lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. You can find her online in most places @/alexadonne! You can purchase a copy of The Ivies using my Bookshop affiliate link, or by visiting your favorite bookseller!

Ariadne (ARC) (Review)

Hello, hello, hello.

Today I bring you a review and some comparative titles for the latest book I’ve read Ariadne (ARE-ree-AHD-nee or AIR-ree-AHD-nee, I’ve heard it both ways)! This is Jennifer Saint’s debut novel and is a look at a popular Greek myth: Theseus and the Minotaur. There is, however, another very important player to the story that is often mentioned, but then brushed away quickly: Ariadne. Half-sister to the Minotaur, daughter of Minos, King of Crete; she is often added as an afterthought to this great epic adventure…but what if we gave her the proper treatment? A forethought, if you will. After all, if not for Ariadne helping Prince Theseus, he would have never had the tools to slay the Minotaur and free Athens from the terrible game forced on them by the Island of Crete.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne is a look at the house of Minos with the lens of his oldest daughter in place. Ariadne is always added to the story as a few sentences, or sometimes as a minor character, but honestly, this whole tale is her’s to tell, and she’s the reason we know the name of the Minotaur. Would you like some comparative titles? Cool, cool.

Mythology Fix

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson
This YA novel tells the story of Theseus and the Minotaur but with a twist: social media and a Big Brother-like reality show. I read and reviewed this book previously on my blog, so check out that post if you want more info!
You can grab a copy of this 2019 release using my Bookshop link, or by going through any of your favorite book retailers!

Circe & The Song of Achilles, both by Madeline Miller
Obviously these ones have to be included in any sort of conversation about Greek mythology retellings. They are the most popular and mainstream Greek myth retellings, and for good reason.
Circe follows Circe, a daughter of Helios who isn’t anything like what was expected. She didn’t take after her god of a father, nor her mortal mother. Instead, she’s something completely different altogether.
The Song of Achilles is about the Trojan War and the power that love, friendship, and duty can have to shape a war and an entire civilization’s history.
You can purchase Circe or The Song of Achilles using my Bookshop affiliate links, or any bookseller you choose!

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Norse Mythology explores a pantheon that is unfamiliar to most of us: the Norse! There are many more gods to learn about beside just the popular Thor and Loki…ever heard of Freya? Or Tyr? Gaiman breathes his own special storytelling life into these stories and many more. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite god or goddess after reading this one…
Grab yourself a copy of this book using Bookshop or your favorite retailer.

Strong Women

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Wings follows Rue, a girl from Houston’s East Row. Her mother has been killed, and she’s been whisked away to live with her estranged father in a land brimming with magic and power and secrets. Rue is a selfless heroine, always seeking to do the best for others, even if that means she has to get hurt to do so.
Slide a copy of Wings of Ebony onto your shelf via Bookshop, or any other retailer.

The Belles & The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
Camilla is a Belle, born beautiful and able to give color and life to a world devoid of it. She’s always hoped to be deemed the Favorite of the royal family, but once she is, Camilla learns that there are nefarious forces at work and that maybe the life she has always wanted and aspired to isn’t as sweet as she thought it was…
Purchase a copy of The Belles here, and The Everlasting Rose here.

Meddling gods/authority figures

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
What if people never died? You could live for a hundred year, maybe more. No more disease. No cancer. No sickness at all, actually. The only thing one has to fear is gleaning by a Scythe: a permanent end to life and a means of population control. Everyone knows that their gleaning could be just around the corner, but no one fears it: its a part of life. Everything is going smoothly until Scythe Goddard, a radical, wants to see the ways of the scythe changed.
He faces opposition, of course, but what’s one opponent to a (seemingly) all-power person?
Pick up a copy of book 1: Scythe from Bookshop, or from any other retailer.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Honestly, at this point, who has read or seen The Huger Games? Futuristic society where the world has gone to shambles and is left in 12 districts ruled by a cruel and heartless President. Katniss Everdeen dares to threaten the way things have always been and upset the fine oiled machine that has been running for years before she was even thought of. But can she do it and bring peace to the land?
This link will take you to the 1st book in the series on Bookshop.

Bonus: Podcast
Ms. Saint and Ariadne were actually featured on an episode of Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! LTAMB is hosted by Liv Albert, who just released a book herself just a few months ago. I haven’t listened to the episode yet, but I just know that Liv brought her normal snark and feminist lens to look at this story with. If you buy her book, be sure to tag Liv on social so she can see her paper child in the world!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It made me feel like I was back in college, studying for my Classical Cultures final. If you’re expecting a magical, fantastical retelling, this isn’t the book for you. However, if you’re searching for a (fairly) accurate retelling where Ariadne finally has a voice to tell her side of the story, tuck in and meet me on the Isle of Naxos.


JenniferSaintedit - 1 - Copy.jpeg
image courtesy of jennifersaint.com

Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint studied Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. Ariadne is her first novel, and she is working on another retelling of an ancient myth for her second, revolving around Clytemnestra and her daughter Electra.
Ariadne was released on May 4th (US) by Flatiron Publishing, a division of Macmillan. For more info on Ms. Saint and what she’s up to, check out her website.
I’d like to thank Flatiron Publishing for providing me with my ARC to read and review. If you to purchase your own copy of Ariadne, you can use my affiliate link for Bookshop, or any of the other links here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books-a-Million

Covet (Review) (Spoiler-Free)

Welcome back to another review! Today I’m reviewing the third installment in Tracy Wolff’s Crave series. I also did a decent break down of the first two books Crave and Crush, so be sure to read those reviews before you read this one! Seeing as this book has just released within the past month or so, this will be a SPOILER FREE REVIEW.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/stacialovestoread

Synopsis
I may have reached my breaking point.
As if trying to graduate from a school for supernaturals isn’t stressful enough, my relationship status has gone from complicated to a straight-up dumpster fire.
Oh, and the Bloodletter has decided to drop a bomb of epic proportions on us all..
Then again, when has anything at Katmere Academy not been intense?
And the hits just keep coming. Jaxon’s turned colder than an Alaskan winter. The Circle is splintered over my upcoming coronation. As if things couldn’t get worse, now there’s an arrest warrant for Hudson’s and my supposed crimes—which apparently means a lifetime prison sentence with a deadly unbreakable curse.
Choices will have to be made…and I fear not everyone will survive.

synopsis from goodreads page

We pick up with our squad at Katmere Academy. Grace has missed so much school (saving the world is a task) that she’s gotta jump through hoops while on fire just to have a chance of passing senior year and graduating. The last words we remember hearing from Crush were from Hudson “I’d appreciate it if you’d take your hands off my mate.” So Grace has to navigate being in a relationship with Jaxon while simultaneously being mated to Hudson. Its all very Vampire Diaries, season 2 where the v v British Hudson is Damon (obviously) and Jaxon’s constant angst casts him as Stefan.

The Greatest TV And Movie Love Triangles Of All Time - Zimbio
image found here

Macy is a shell of her former sunshiney self, but who wouldn’t be: the boy she was dating and was very much into, Xavier, was killed and that’s not something one gets over easily. The school is holding a memorial service in his honor, and Macy has to drag herself through the motions of pretending everything is okay.

After having spent at least a month with Hudson in her head, and a bit longer with Jaxon, she’s decided that she wants to break her mating bond (again) so she can be with Jaxon again. But, to do this, we have to make a trip to the Bloodletter: J’s pseudo/foster mother and a scary af vampire.

Keep Calm - Dracula by AngusMcTavish on DeviantArt
image courtesy of google

Pause. I feel like now is the time to state that I am very firmly #TeamHudson for reasons. I can’t go into the specifics of why I am president, founder, CEO, and sole member of the Humans for Hudson Vega Fan Club, but after you read the book, perhaps you’ll enlist too!


Covet has our crew, sans Macy — a junior, in their senior year of high school. Hudson is wanted by his father, Cyrus, the Vampire King, for crimes he’s committed and lives he’s ended. Hudson claims to have turned over a new leaf, but Cyrus isn’t hearing it: he wants blood, and he will get it. Hudson is untouchable for the time being as he is enrolled at Katmere as a student…but graduation is in just a few months, and then its open season.

Adventure, death, the bonds of love and friendship are tested in this high-stakes installment. Who will Grace choose, Jaxon or Hudson? Will everyone live? Does Cyrus get his wish and have Hudson arrested?

Overall, I enjoyed Covet. I liked the way the story gave Grace more of a voice, and made her more powerful as a person. Hudson works through some trauma with Grace’s help, and new alliances are formed.


The closing book to this series Court is set for release in September 2021 from Entangled Teen Publishing. I can’t wait to see Grace (hopefully) be crowned Gargoyle Queen, set up her court, and stick it to Cyrus!

Image - 4.5stars.PNG - ClipArt Best - ClipArt Best

Image courtesy of tracywolffauthor.com

New York Times Best Selling author Tracy Wolff is a lover of vampires, dragons, and all things that go bump in the night. A onetime English professor, she now devoted all her time to writing dark and romantic stories with tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. She has written all of her sixty-plus novels from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family. For more about Tracy’s books and to see what she’s up to, visit tracywolffauthor.com or find her on Instagram at tracywolffbooks!

Crush (Breakdown) (SPOILERS)

….and we’re back for Round 2! This review will contain spoilers for Crave (book 1) and definitely spoilers for itself. Please read the first review, then come back here

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Synopsis:
Everything feels off—especially me. I’ve returned to Katmere Academy, but I’m haunted by fragments of days I have no recollection of living and struggling to understand who, or what, I really am.
Just when I start to feel safe again, Hudson is back with a vengeance. He insists there are secrets I don’t know about, threatening to drive a wedge between Jaxon and me forever. But far worse enemies are at our doorstep.
The Circle is caught in a power play and the Vampire Court is trying to drag me out of my world and into theirs. The only thing Hudson and Jaxon agree on is that leaving Katmere would mean my certain death.
And not only am I fighting for my life, but now everyone else’s is at stake—unless we can defeat an unspeakable evil. All I know is that saving the people I love is going to require sacrifice.
Maybe more than I’m able to give.

Recap:
After the death of her parents in a car accident, Grace is sent to Alaska to live with her only remaining family: an uncle and his daughter, Macy. Grace is now tasked with finishing her last two years of his school at the exclusive and elusive Katmere Academy. While enrolled at Katmere Academy, Grace (somehow) ends up in the path of resident bad boy and untouchable, Jaxon Vega. The two start to talk and spend time together, exchanging terrible dad-jokes and movie references. Eventually, after receiving a very telling gift (a copy of Twilight) from Jaxon, Grace puts the pieces together….

Pin by Twilight Saga on Edward Cullen | Vampire twilight, Twilight, Twilight  pictures
Imagine found here

…and deduces that Jaxon is a vampire. Since the cat is out of the bag, everyone else that Grace has befriended begins to comes clean too: Macy’s a witch, her boyfriend, Cole, is a shifter that takes the form of a wolf (not a werewolf, no full moon required). Flint is a dragon, Uncle Finn is a warlock, and Lia is a witch too.
A botched attempted sacrifice renders Lia dead (good riddance), Jaxon incapacitated, Flint begging for forgiveness, and Grace…encapsulated in stone.


All caught up? Good good. So back to Lia and Flint for a second. Lia was trying to use Grace as a human sacrifice to bring back her smarmy British onetime boyfriend, the UBB (Unknown Big Bad). We’ll eventually learn that the UBB is indeed Hudson Vega — older brother to Jaxon and guy who’s soul has somehow latched on to Grace. Originally, Hudson was supposed to possess Jaxon, but seeing as Grace was the only person awake and retaining most of her mental faculties at the time, Hudson jumped into the wrong body.

Amazon.com: Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter,  Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke,  Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson, Guy Way, Eileen Stevens,  Ellsworth Fredericks,
image found here

Instead of outing Hudson to the masses immediately, Grace listens to the Hudson in her head and keeps him as her little secret. Things are going fine — witty banter between the two of them fills out the bulk of this tome. Jaxon notices something is off about his girlfriend, but he just can’t put his finger on it…

Jaxon and Grace go to see the Bloodletter* and she tells them that the Unkillable Beast is the key to solving all of their current problems. Yay. Time for a road trip. Turns out the Unkillable Beast is a gargoyle, like Grace. She can hear him in her head when she nearby and in danger.

Now, friends, sometime nearish to this point, Grace reveals that Hudson has been co-opting her body since she came out of rock form. Obviously everyone is upset, but Jaxon most of all. He finally understands why Grace has been acting so weird around him, but he’s upset because (in his opinion) Hudson is still a bad guy who needs to be eliminated.

Flint brings word to the friends that this year’s Ludares Tournament is approaching, and hey, there’s enough of us to make a team, so we should totally do that! And so the crew does. The prize this year (offered by Cyrus, the Vampire King) is a seat on the Council of the Paranormals. Since Grace is the first gargoyle born in over 100 years, suddenly the Gargoyle Court can have a seat at the table.

Cyrus is actually the Ultimate Mega Big Huge Bad Guy™. The reason that Hudson killed people in the past was because it was (in his mind) the only way to protect those people and the rest of paranormal-kind from Cyrus’s plans. Not being one to be on-upped or taken advantage of, Cyrus has gathered his own team of Katmere students to play the game of Ludares but with the highest stakes there can be: Grace’s life. Also, Grace has to go against Cyrus’ team alone. By herself. With no help.

High Stakes Event - New Item: Grappler, Wildcard Outfit, and more -  Fortnite INTEL
image found here

Grace, Hudson, and the crew find out a way to extract Hudson from Grace’s body and give him one of his own. Its become too risky for the two to remain entwined in one body. Grace and Hudson know each other so well that they often don’t even have to talk to convey their thoughts, even after Hudson gains a corporeal (flesh and blood) body. They have inside jokes. Cute little friend memories. Jaxon does not approve, especially seeing as Grace is his mate and Hudson should be dead, or at least arrested and brought to the Vampire Court to stand trial for crimes against humanity err…paranormal kind…?

30 Great "High School Musical" Lyrics

Remember that asterisk that was by the Bloodletter? Well, she gave Jaxon a spell to break his and Grace’s mating bond. He was planning to use it, at one point, but after getting to know Grace better, he decided against it and threw the paper with the spell on it in the trash where it was recovered by Cole, Macy’s boyfriend and player for Cyrus’s team.

Long story short, Grace and Jaxon’s mating bond is broken like 2 seconds before she’s set to enter the Ludares arena to go against Cyrus’ cronies. I won’t bore you with details of every single attack that Grace trades with the other team, but (eventually) Main Character Plot Armor™ comes to the rescue and saves Grace from dying. The crew embraces her and Hudson and Jaxon square up over the girl they’ve both come to care for. The book ends with a spectacular cliffhanger line from one of the brothers:

Could you please take your hands off my mate?


Overall, book 2 was just as good as the first! I really enjoy Wolff’s style of writing — there were definitely times I had read over 100 pages in one sitting, and didn’t even notice because the writing is so fluid and smooth. I am a huge fan of the series, and I am waiting with bated breath for the closing installment: Court, set for release in September 2021.

Image - 4.5stars.PNG - ClipArt Best - ClipArt Best

Image courtesy of tracywolffauthor.com

New York Times Best Selling author Tracy Wolff is a lover of vampires, dragons, and all things that go bump in the night. A onetime English professor, she now devoted all her time to writing dark and romantic stories with tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. She has written all of her sixty-plus novels from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family. For more about Tracy’s books and to see what she’s up to, visit tracywolffauthor.com or find her on Instagram at tracywolffbooks!

Crave (Breakdown) (SPOILERS)

Welcome to the 1st of a series of in-depth reviews about NYT Bestseller Tracy Wolff’s Crave series. Released in 2020 by Entangled Teen Publishing, this YA paranormal fantasy has swept the world and brought back the love we all had for paranormal romance in 2008 a la Stephanie Meyer.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Synopsis:

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.
Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.
Which could spell death for us all.
Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

synopsis from goodreads page

Our MC is Grace: recent Alaska transplant who’s parents have just passed away…truly unfortunate start for our girl. She is taken in by her uncle Finn and his daughter Macy who also serve as the principal of the school Grace is to be enrolled in and Grace’s new bestie/tour guide, respectively. As with any good YA protagonist, New Girl Grace is the talk of the school. Well her, and resident mysterious bad boy Jaxon Vega. Tall, brooding, and handsome, Jaxon Vega is not to be messed with or even thought about. He’s all bad.

SEE'S THE NEW GIRL at school* - Willy Wonka | Meme Generator
image found here

That’s fine with Grace, she just wants to survive junior year, get through senior year, and graduate so she can go back to California and be with her best friend, Heather, as they make up for lost time. But, of course, this is a book, and Grace is our MC, so there’s certain to be hijinks and hilarity between her and her goal of graduating.


Characters

Macy
Grace’s cousin, roommate, and guide to the new place that is Alaska. Always down for a good crying session ended by a splitting a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. Honestly, 10/10 for the “best friend” / “constant anchor” character.

Flint
Ah yes, sweet Flint. The first person, aside from Macy, that takes a real liking to Grace. He is a goofy fun-loving kind of guy…but with something darker hidden too.

Lia
A witch, like Macy but M doesn’t like Lia, which should warn Grace that something hanky is going on but alas…

Jaxon
The man of the hour. Vampire prince. Seriously damaged, but is trying to work through his issues.

Unknown Big Bad
We later learn who this person is, but until then, they’ll be known as UBB.
Has the grand plan to take over the world and ruin all sorts of things.


The beginning of the book is full of a lot of day-to-day activity of Grace getting used to Katmere, and Katmere getting used to the presence of an (apparently) extremely attractive person. The middle is pretty filler-y too…UNTIL ITS NOT.

I guess she's pretty..." "Try SUPER MEGA-FOXY AWESOME HOT" | Very potter  musical, Starkid, Quotes

Okay, so turns out that Lia is actually working to bring the UBB back into power. This UBB is so bad and powerful that even Jaxon is afraid of them resurfacing. He now makes it his personal mission to keep Grace safe from Lia because….

The Mating Bond - Moe - Wattpad
image found here

…yes. You heard correctly. A mating bond. Destiny. An unknown but completely unavoidable something drawing these two together. As basic as breathing, and yet just as complex.

More filler, but, Grace & Jaxon are a couple now! She somehow still doesn’t know his biggest secret, and doesn’t think its weird that he never comes in her room when he drops her off after class, but oh well! Also, he seems to appear and vanish faster than HUMANLY possible, but that’s just because he’s in great shape, right?

Somebody's gotta tell her Don't you dare! - frozen gonna tell him | Meme  Generator
image found here

After receiving the most telling book from Jaxon (a copy of Meyer’s Twilight), Grace finally puts things together. Everything is out in the open now, no more secrets. Despite all of Jaxon’s careful planning and surrounding her with his cronies [The Order, as they’re called], Lia still manages to get her hooks in Grace — via Flint. The big dragon has gained her trust, and eventually lures her to her death via sacrifice. Of course, Jaxon comes swooping in to save the day, but ends up getting himself knocked out by fighting with a GIANT FREAKING DRAGON. Anyway, Lia does some magic and things, and brings the UBB back to this side of the veil between life and death. The plan was for him to be placed into Jaxon’s body, but since he’s incapacitated, and Flint suddenly grew a conscience to stop Lia’s plans, the UBB attaches himself to the only other living thing in room.

Who is the UBB you may ask? Why does Jaxon hate the UBB so much? What makes the UBB so dangerous? Well….even paranormals have sibling rivalry.


Overall, Crave is an amazing opener to a new YA paranormal series. Tracy’s writing is fluid, lively, and full of spunk and witty humor. Grace is a likeable MC and Macy is her faithful sidekick. I have read the next 2 books in the series, and I am very much excited for the final installment!

Image - 4.5stars.PNG - ClipArt Best - ClipArt Best

Image courtesy of tracywolffauthor.com

New York Times Best Selling author Tracy Wolff is a lover of vampires, dragons, and all things that go bump in the night. A onetime English professor, she now devoted all her time to writing dark and romantic stories with tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. She has written all of her sixty-plus novels from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family. For more about Tracy’s books and to see what she’s up to, visit tracywolffauthor.com or find her on Instagram at tracywolffbooks!

Fast Five: Prop Shopping

Hi , hey, hello! Today on Fast Five, we’re going to talk about props: what to use, and where to buy! I’m going to have a few higher-end items but mostly some bargain basement low prices. Buckle up and get in readers, we’re going shopping!

Get In Loser, We're Going Shopping – Harebrained
  1. Goodwill

Honestly, it doesn’t get much cheaper than the GW. I have found many a prop at local Goodwill store…you just gotta go in with an open mind, but with a basic idea of what you’re looking for.

Any Goodwill will have waaaay too many glasses, baskets, and picture frames….these can all work to your advantage! Are you wanting to do a set-up (or have theme) of renaissance excellence: the fancy glasses and delicate tea cups? Grab $10 and hit up Goodwill. Wanting something rustic and outdoorsy? There’s wreaths, picnic baskets, flower baskets, I once saw a Moses basket at a Goodwill! I should have gotten it but….regrets are for another day. You can also find random objects that will spark inspiration. I bought a lamp that I thought looked really cool, and after some physical labor from my husband, I ended up with this…

Tah-dah! A marvelous background item 🙂

Dollar Store(s)

Have a few extra bucks lying around? Time to visit the dollar store. I love flowers, but I can’t keep any alive….enter Dollar Store USA! Each store franchise carries different flowers and they’re all of differing quality. However, a good fake flower can put. in. work, if you do it right. See the photo below? Dollar storeee for the wiiin

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Target

A step up price wise, but still not digging too deeply in your fun money is Target. Known for having Starbucks in their stores and being *perfectly* priced, Target is a prop heaven! From gardening items, to lawn gnomes, Christmas ornaments, and all sorts of things in between, you gotta explore further than the clothing racks. Justlikegilmoregirls started a trend a few years back of staging photos in Target and the results are top-notch content.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread
Memes That Are Perfect For Those Who Love Shopping At Target

Bonus: Makers

Oh yes. Makers. People on Instagram and Etsy! There are some seriously talented humans out there making some really cool stuff that you can use as props. Whimsy Mug Topsies makes gorgeous mug toppers and cute little plaster macaroons! There are tons of shops that make pins and prints that are fandom themed, and generally bookish as well! My IRL buddyfriend and leetle seester, Whit, owns and operates The Enchanted Bookshop where she designs, produces, and sells pins, bookmarks, and the occasional coffee mug!

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Michael’s

In my opinion, this is the most expensive of all of the in-person shopping options…but worth every penny. I have 2 wooden palates, one dark and one light, that I’ve purchased from Michael’s and their yarn aisle funded my giant knitting adventure I was on for a month or so. My dear friend thepagemistress has a string of wooden beads that can be made using materials from Michael’s.


Amazon

Ahh yes. The big one. The smile company has pretty much any and everything you can imagine. You want a tarp, got ’em. Cool backdrop? Got those too. My IRL buddyfriend L, got me a super wicked awesome genie lamp from the smile corp. It was about $20, so double win!

Found at Amazon

So, how about you? Do you have any favorite places to shop for props or any favorite props? Let me know, I am in the market for some cool new stuff!

You Are Carrying Too Much

A Better Bad Idea (eARC)

Tour banner featuring the stop dates

Turn the Pages Tours has once again invited me to tell y’all about a super fresh new release, A Better Bad Idea! This thriller is a fun ride, but does contain some sensitive topics such as death of a character, guns/shootings, physical abuse of a minor, toxic relationship, underage drinking, and more. Take care of yourself first.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Laurie Devore’s new YA novel is a searing look at a forgotten girl who has no good choices left, but one better bad idea…

Evelyn Peters is desperate. Desperate for a way out of McNair Falls, the dying southern town that’s held her captive since the day she was born. Desperate to protect her little sister from her mother’s terrifying and abusive boyfriend. And desperate to connect with anyone, even fallen golden boy Ashton Harper, longtime boyfriend of the girl Evelyn can never stop thinking about ― beautiful, volatile, tragically dead Reid Brewer.

Until a single night sends Evelyn and Ashton on a collision course that starts something neither of them can stop. With one struck match, their whole world goes up in flames. The only thing left to do is run―but leaving McNair Falls isn’t as easy as just putting distance between here and there and some secrets refuse to stay left behind.

A reckoning is coming… and not everyone is getting out alive.


Let’s start off with a bang, shall we? From the jump, we’re thrust in to Evelyn’s POV, and her life. She’s stuck in town with no prospects of getting out. Her mom’s boyfriend is abusive to her mom, her younger sister, and herself. Evelyn turns to drinking, skipping school, and hanging out Ashton to soothe her pain.

Reid has died, but Evelyn can’t stop thinking about her…after all, Evelyn’s new drinking buddy, Ashton, was Reid’s boyfriend until her death.

One day while hanging out, the two hatch a plan. It’ll be fun! A little arson never hurt anyone…neither did shooting them.

A Better Bad Idea is a twisty novel designed to make your head spin and ask “well that’s got to be the worst of it all, right?” But it’s not. Oh no. Not at all…..


Image courtesy of lauriedevore.com

Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. After four years in the balmy Midwest, she returned to her home in the south, where she now lives and works in Charleston. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV, and works a “y’all” into every conversation. She is the author of Winner Take All and How to Break a Boy.


Do you want a chance to win your own copy of the book? Following this link to enter!

Sing Me Forgotten (eARC)

Tour banner featuring Sing Me Forgotten

Welcome to the Opera House…

Today I bring you a spoiler-free review of a recent releases Sing Me Forgotten, courtesy of Turn the Pages Tours! This is a gender-bent, Phantom of the Opera retelling with a sprinkle of romance and magic.

Image courtesy of Instagram.com/Stacialovestoread

Isda (Izzy) is our MC. She is the Phantom, but with a special power…she can view and alter memories of those who sing around her. Confined to shadows of the Opera House, she’s never talked to anyone except Cyril, her substitute father and (frankly) scam artist. That is…until Emeric.

Emeric has the voice of an angel trapped in a janitor’s body. Isda takes an interest in him because of him memories…they’re different than other people’s; they don’t affect her the same way.

But just as Isda has her own secrets to keep, Cyril does too. He wants to use Isda’s gift for something big. Bigger than making opera patrons feel good after the show. Bigger than removing a bad song from memory and replacing it with the perfect aria.

Isda wants to make Cyril happy — he’s the only person who cares for her, even after all this time. But something about this secret mission….


Courtesy of jessicasolson.com

Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home, but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her three wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. Sing Me Forgotten is her debut novel.

To purchase your own copy of Sing Me Forgotten, visit Bookshop or the author’s website.

Book Tours: Who is She?

Welcome back to another addition of Fast Five, my series where I pick a topic and give you a quick overview of it using 5 bullet points! Today we’re going to talk about Book Tours. As with anything I say, these are NOT hard-and-fast rules, definitions, or expeditions. I merely speak from my experience.

What is a Book Tour?

A book tour is a way to drum up publicity and internet chatter about a book/series that is being released soon. As reviewers, we aren’t required to give a positive review, but for the case of publicity… you should try to highlight the good things about a book, even if you didn’t like it.

How do I get on one?

Most blog yours are offered through companies that can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’ve had the great fortune to work with some amazing people, such as Turn the Pages Tours, Hear Our Voices Tours, Book of Matches Media, Caffeine Book Tours, and TBR & Beyond Tours. There are obviously SO MANY more, but these are the peeps I’m most familiar with.

Occasionally, a publisher (or more specifically) a publicist, will reach out directly via email and extend the offer for coverage on my social media in exchange for a free copy of the book.

So I Got Picked!

Yay, congratulations! At this point, you gotta do a smidge of waiting. The tour company had a contact at the publisher that will be distributing the book to hosts to read. If it’s an ebook, cool. Download it and start reading. If it’s a physical book, go sleep in your mailbox and wait for the package 📦! In the meantime, share to your followers that you’ve been chosen as host, and your tour date! Add that date to your calendar so you don’t forget.

When the book arrives, via mail or internet, based upon your own personal reading speed, and what day you’ve been assigned to post, start reading. Some tours book a few weeks in advance, and some book months out (I’m on a tour for March that I was accepted for back in December).

They Didn’t Pick Me….

Bummer! It happens. A lot more often than any of us would like. Considering that most tours only have space for about 20 hosts, and there are (on average) at least 50 people that apply, the odds are about 2 in 5 that I’ll be chosen. If not, don’t give up! There will be other tours, other companies, and other opportunities. I’ve even had the rare occasion where someone who was chosen has to withdraw, and I was on the shortlist to take their place.

It’s upsetting not to be chosen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still promote the book! If you happen to have (or buy) a copy of the book, still read it and give it a good review (not “good” meaning positive, “good” meaning thoughtful. Reviewers are supposed to be honest here!). Trust me, tour companies see these posts, and mentally bookmark people they’d like to work with in the future.

Bonus: The Double Booked Book

Also, there are multiple companies that will sometimes have tours going for the same book either at the same time, or maybe a couple weeks apart. Apply for both…hedge your bets. If you book one and not the other: success! If you book both, reach out to both companies and let them know you’re on the tour list for the other. Some companies will ask you to chose which one you want to do, but most (a fair 90%) will be fine with both, as long as you follow the rules/regulations for them while also doing the same for the other. They may even accommodate you as much to put allow your date to match the other so you can do one post. I have done this a couple times, and it’s a lot of red tape in making sure you have all the right hashtags and tags on the photos, but overall, not impossible.

What Do I Do When It’s My Turn?

Just tell your peeps about the book! Even if you didn’t enjoy the book, highlight some positives, or maybe some comparisons to books that people may like. I have had many a book I didn’t particularly care for, but I still made sure to take a bomb photo, talk about the good parts, and do a little comparison.

I know the publicity aspect can seem a bit dishonest, especially since we are promising an honest review…but think about it this way: if someone told you that X book was absolutely terrible, are you going to buy it for yourself? Nope. But. If that same person who didn’t enjoy the book compared it to a series you do like, or highlighted the descriptions the author gives…you may pick it up. That’s all the goal is for tours: they want the book on people’s radars.

Bonusbonus: Double Booked Date

Sometimes, in signing up for multiple tours at once, you’ll end up getting accepted for more than one where you’re assigned the same date to post. Reach out to both companies and let them know you have a second (or third!) post that day. Most will be okay with sharing the day (post one in the morning, one in the evening), or will move you to another date so the other company can have the spotlight that day.

Your companies are ran by regular schmegular people, and people sometimes overextend themselves. Transparency and honesty are the big words here, folks.

So what did we learn today?

1. Getting accepted for a tour depends on the amount hosts allowed, and people that sign up.

2. If chosen, put in work! Read the book, snap a pic, and post on your date.

3. Sometimes you aren’t chosen, and that’s okay.

4. Sometimes you are double (or even triple) chosen. And that’s okay! Be honest and open with all parties, and 8 times out of 10, things will be a-okay.

That’s all I got for you today folks! Leave any questions, comments, or concerns below, and I’ll get back to you!

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started