ARC Review: Taproot by Keezy Young

Special thanks to Oni Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Taproot
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication date: 28 June 2022
Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)


Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Taproot by Keezy Young”

Blog Tour Spotlight: Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard

Today I’m shining a spotlight on Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard. This is a historical fiction about a young Jackie Kennedy before she was a Kennedy. Special thanks to Algonquin Books for having me on tour!

Goodreads: Jackie & Me
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 14 June 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1951, former debutante Jacqueline Bouvier is hard at work as the Inquiring Camera Girl for a Washington newspaper. Her mission in life is “not to be a housewife,” but when she meets the charismatic congressman Jack Kennedy at a Georgetown party, her resolution begins to falter. Soon the two are flirting over secret phone calls, cocktails, and dinner dates, and as Jackie is drawn deeper into the Kennedy orbit, and as Jack himself grows increasingly elusive and absent, she begins to question what life at his side would mean. For answers, she turns to his best friend and confidant, Lem Billings, a closeted gay man who has made the Kennedy family his own, and who has been instructed by them to seal the deal with Jack’s new girl. But as he gets to know her, a deep and touching friendship emerges, leaving him with painfully divided alliances and a troubling dilemma: Is this the marriage she deserves?
 
Narrated by an older Lem as he looks back at his own role in a complicated alliance, this is a courtship story full of longing and of suspense, of what-ifs and possible wrong turns. It is a surprising look at Jackie before she was that Jackie. And in best-selling author Louis Bayard’s witty and deeply empathetic telling, Jackie & Me is a page-turning story of friendship, love, sacrifice, and betrayal— and a fresh take on two iconic American figures.

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Blog Tour Spotlight: Slip by Marika McCoola & Aatmaja Pandya

Today I’m shining a spotlight on Slip by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Aatmaja Pandya, as part of the blog tour hosted by Algonquin. This is a YA coming-of-age graphic novel that deals with topics such as suicide, self-harm, and mental health.

Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for having me on tour and for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Slip
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 07 June 2022
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Magical Realism

Right before Jade is about to leave for a summer art intensive, her best friend, Phoebe, attempts suicide. How is Jade supposed to focus on herself right now?

But at the Art Farm, Jade has artistic opportunities she’s been waiting for her whole life. And as she gets to know her classmates, she begins to fall for whimsical, upbeat, comfortable-in-her-own-skin Mary. Jade pours herself into making ceramic monsters that vent her stress and insecurities, but when she puts her creatures in the kiln, something unreal happens: they come to life. And they’re taking a stand: if Jade won’t confront her problems, her problems are going to confront her, including the scariest of them all—if Jade grows, prospers, and even falls in love this summer, is she leaving Phoebe behind?

Continue reading “Blog Tour Spotlight: Slip by Marika McCoola & Aatmaja Pandya”

Book Review: Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Goodreads: Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: 16 November 2021
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on a mission. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

TL;DR: This was a thrilling and tension-filled conclusion to the duology and although it ended up being quite different to what I expected, I still found myself really enjoying it. It was so much fun to buddy read with Leslie and Julie—we were throwing out a lot of wild theories and swooned over the same moments. I’m trying to make this review as spoiler-free as possible for the first book in the series too, so most of it will lean toward general thoughts I had about OVE.

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Blog Tour Review: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: A Little Bit Country
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 07 June 2022
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Emmett Maguire has big dreams. He wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar—a far reach when you’re 17 and living in suburban Illinois. Thankfully, his parents are letting him do the next best thing for the summer: stay with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, and perform at Wanda World—the amusement park owned by his idol, country music legend Wanda Jean Stubbs.

Luke Barnes, a 17-year-old Jackson Hollow resident, has no interest in country music. As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced country singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, the world of country music has only brought his family pain. But as medical bills pile up at home, he’s forced to accept a job in the last place he’d ever want to work: a restaurant at Wanda World.

With Emmett focused on his career, and Luke blossoming in the kitchen, neither boy is expecting to find romance. But sparks fly when they meet and soon the two are inseparable. However, when a long-lost secret about Luke’s grandma and superstar Wanda Jean comes to light, it threatens to unravel everything. Unless the boys can uncover the truth of what really happened, their dreams could be over before they start, leaving their new relationship to go down in history as just another Sad Country Love Song.

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ARC Review: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Special thanks to Clarion Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key Duology #1)
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: 04 January 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good. 

TL;DR: My journey reading this was quite an experience! Although it was a bit of a rough first half, I ended up enjoying this Indian-inspired fantasy and the characters plus the strong focus on family and sibling relationships. We get several POVs but the author does a great job in creating distinct voices for each sibling. The second half was so full of Indian Jones-style mystery adventure and I sped through it so quickly! With the surprising twists and baby-cliffhanger ending, I’m excited to know what happens next and how this duology concludes.

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ARC Review: Everything for You by Chloe Liese

Special thanks to Chloe Liese for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Everything for You (Bergman Brothers #5)
Publication date: 10 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)


Gear up for an all-the-feels, steamy slow-burn in this enemies-to-lovers sports romance about fighting for love when life’s taught you it’s a losing game.

Gavin
We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin. Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me. To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.

‘EVERYTHING FOR YOU’ IS OUT TOMORROW SO…

Continue reading “ARC Review: Everything for You by Chloe Liese”

Blog Tour Review: Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Sofi and the Bone Song
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 19 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.
Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.
Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley”

BBNYA Blog Tour Review: Accused by M.N. Jolley

Hello, hello friends! I’m so excited to be back for another blog tour hosted by @The Write Reads for third place BBNYA 2021 finalist Accused (KC Warlock Weekly #1) by M.N. Jolley. Don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here or click on the banner below! 😍

*Find out more about the BBNYA competition at the end of my post!*

Special thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Accused (The KC Warlock Weekly #1)
Publish Date: 03 November 2020
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy Mystery

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

My name is Levi. I’m a journalist, I’m autistic, I’m bad at magic, and I swear I didn’t kill her.

Research for the paper usually falls into a few basic patterns. Someone in the city says there’s a troll under Buck O’Neil Bridge, or they’ll call just so a friendly ear will listen to them complain about a pixie infestation.
That sort of content carries me through slow news weeks. It’s rare that I uncover a murder.
Being framed for murder, though? That’s a first.

With the Wizard’s Council hunting me for a crime I didn’t commit, I’ve got no choice but to solve the murder and clear my name. If I don’t unravel this case, nobody will, and I’ll go down for it so hard I might never see the light of day again

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Book Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Goodreads: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: 17 November 2020
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

I buddy read this with Leslie @ Books Are the New Black. Click here to check out her review!

TL;DR: It happened! I finally picked up one of the most hyped YA releases of the last few years and I’m glad to say that I get it—I really get it! I’m not a big Shakespeare reader and so I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy an R&J retelling but… With beautifully descriptive writing, the incredible setting in 1920s Shanghai and the added element of a mysterious and murderous monster roaming the streets, this was everything I didn’t know I needed.

Continue reading “Book Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong”