BLOG TOUR: Mayhem by Estelle Laure – Review

Thanks to the publisher Wednesday Books for giving me the opportunity to review this title via NetGalley.

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.


a note from the author

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life
was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to
be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch
the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never
know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to
run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although
girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The
Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the
night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got
me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel
powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And
yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without
thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think
great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my
heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time
I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the
pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands
on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the
shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made
me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also
terrifying.I know I’m not the only one who had a scary
childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to
smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being
hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying
to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate,
I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure


Review + Thoughts

Before I start talking about what I enjoyed about this book I do want to emphasize that this is a heavy and darker read. I’m placing the content warnings that you can read from the author’s website about MAYHEM at the bottom of this review.

With that being said I thoroughly found this to be an excellent and nuanced exploration of these difficult experiences. I could feel the raw emotion in the writing and the anger coming off the pages. Girls being angry is the kind of thing I like to read about and MAYHEM fits so well into one of my super specific favorite genres, that is feminist revenge stories with magical elements mixed in.

I also love that MAYHEM contains complex, messy, and humanized characters. Troubled, messy, and hurt women such as her mother, Roxy, her Aunt Elle, her grandmother Julianna and Neve. Victims of the patriarchy wanting revenge and justice and peace. This also ties into a secondary plot of the story that revolves around the missing girls in Santa Maria.

This book is not for everyone but I think if you’re able to handle the content and want to read a story like this, you should check it out for yourself.


Content Warnings via Author’s Website

Rape: the Brayburn family’s backstory centers around the matriarch’s rape and explores the ensuing generational trauma and its effects on the women within its lineage. The rape is on the page but is not graphically depicted.

Suicide: a suicide takes place off the page.

Drug use: there is one scene in which multiple adolescents take hallucinogenic mushrooms. There is much use of pills and alcohol by one of the adults in the story as a coping mechanism for chronic pain and trauma.

Serial kidnapping and murder: part of the story centers around an active serial kidnapper and killer. There is also murder depicted throughout, sometimes on the page and sometimes off, including the murder of two of the children’s parents, which takes place in dialogue and is not explicitly on the page.

Child abuse: central to the story is a depiction of violence experienced by a child.

Domestic violence, intimidation, and emotional abuse: also central to the story is long-term domestic violence and its attendant cycle. This is mostly off stage, however there are several scenes of emotional manipulation and intimidation, and one scene that contains stalking and breaking and entering and a physical altercation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

Author’s social handles
o Twitter: @starlaure
o Instagram: @estellelaurebooks

BUY YOUR COPY OF MAYHEM HERE: https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/

Out Now: Queer We Go Again! edited by Saundra Mitchell: Blog Tour Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Out Now: Queer We Go Again!
By Saundra Mitchell
On Sale: May 26, 2020
Inkyard Press
YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Diversity & Multicultural | YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Romance/LGBT
9781335018267; 1335018263
$18.99 USD
 416 pages

about the book

A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom…aliens run from the government…a president’s daughter comes into her own…a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer…a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots
and barbershops…skateboards and VW vans…Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page! This essential and beautifully written modern-day collection features an intersectional and inclusive slate of authors and stories.


As we enter the first week of Pride Month 2020, I recommend those of you that want to start reading LGBTQIAP+ books from queer authors read Out Now, which is in fact OUT NOW. This book contains short stories each with their own unique story set mostly in the modern day such as the first story from Candice Montgomery, Kick. Push. Coast about skateboarding, Julian Winter’s Victory Lap about finding a prom date and being on the swim team. Some with more fantastical and sci-fi elements in them such as Caleb Roehrig’s What Happens in the Closet which features vampires, Tara Sim’s One Spell to Many featuring Bi witches running a bakery and Fox Benwell’s Once Upon a Seastorm about trans selkies.

The diversity is a major plus for this anthology. We see teens that are trans, gay, lesbian, ace, bi, pan, demisexual, questioning, non-binary, Black, Choctaw, fat, Taiwanese, Pakistani, Latinx. It’s a beautiful thing to see so much diversity in not only the main characters of each story but the subtle representation of side or mentioned characters. I appreciated to see not only the stories where the characters are PROUD of who they are but also their struggle with their identities. There’s a big emphasis on romance, but also with friendships and family.

As with most anthologies, not ever story is going to be the perfect match. There were a few stories were a bit more fleshed out than others. Some stories i actually wished were full on novels. But I’m overall just satisfied to see these kind of stories in 2020. We need these stories and these authors to be flourishing.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES

Kick. Push. Coast by Candice Montgomery
What Happens in the Closet by Caleb Roehrig
Victory Lap by Julian Winters
Floating by Tanya Boteju
One Spell Too Many by Tara Sim


about the author

Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture deliverer and a layout waxer. She’s dodged trains, endured basic training and hitchhiked from Montana to California. She teaches herself languages, raises children and makes paper for fun. She is the author of Shadowed Summer and The Vespertine series, the upcoming novelization of The Prom musical, and the editor of Defy the Dark. She always picks truth; dare is too easy. Visit her online at http://www.saundramitchell.com.

Social Links:
Author website: wwww.saundramitchell.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saundra-Mitchell/164136390442617
Twitter: @saundramitchell
Instagram: @smitchellbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52172088-out-now

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Out-Now-Queer-We-Again/dp/1335018263
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/out-now-saundra-mitchell/1133810272
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335018267
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Out-Now/Saundra-
Mitchell/9781335018267?id=4861510030088
AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/out-now/id1481649552
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Saundra_Mitchell_Out_Now?id=0SeyDwAAQBAJ


Thanks for reading!

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith – Blog Tour Stop Review

Don’t Read the Comments
Eric Smith
On Sale Date: January 28, 2020
9781335016027, 1335016023
Hardcover
$18.99 USD, $23.99 CAD
Ages 13 And Up
368 pages

SUMMARY

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.


I honestly won’t have too much to say but this book was so delightful and fun!

WHAT I LIKED

  • DIVYA AND AARON – Both of the main characters are truly likable and feel so much like the teen I used to be. Which is super nerdy and trying so hard. I liked that both of their stories centered around these wanting to achieve their dreams but also wanting to support their families because its harder than it looks.
  • Both Divya and Aaron are teens of color (Divya is
  • Divya loves her mom and I do too (love Divya’s mom and my mom that is)
  • I overall just really liked the family element in this story.
  • I also love reading about supportive friendships (my fave being Divya and Rebekah)
  • THE REFERENCES!!! I adored the video game references (shouout to Garrus the Cat!) There’s also references to bookstagram and some popular YA titles! Overall the references were well done, relevant, and not forced.
  • Also shoutout to the author for referencing the very good game Remember Me!!!!
  • Cute romance that isn’t a big focus but it still amused me
  • The conflict between Divya/Aaron and their harassers is well done and important given concern over racism and sexism within the gaming community which is something that needs to be addressed towards teens especially going into these communities and being bullied.
  • The video game itself Reclaim the Sun sounds so cool. It’s this open world sci-fi adventure game. I wish I could play it.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • I can’t play Reclaim the Sun in real life

Anyways that’s my review and if you like video games and want more YA about it, it’s OUT NOW!!!

BUY IT HERE:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Read-Comments-Eric-Smith/dp/1335016023
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-read-the-comments-eric-smith/1131303425#/
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Dont-Read-Comments/Eric-Smith/9781335016027?id=7715580291810
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/don-t-read-the-comments
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335016027
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Eric_Smith_Don_t_Read_the_Comments?id=Go6PDwAAQBAJ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – Blog Tour / Review

Thanks to the publisher for inviting me on this blog tour and to NetGalley for providing the eARC.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Genre(s): YA Contemporary Romance
BUY IT HERE

EARLY PRAISE

Tweet Cute delivers in every possible way: a perfect enemies-to-lovers romance, a whip-smart plotline, and endearingly real characters. I devoured it.” – Francesca Zappia, author of Eliza and Her Monsters

“Sweet and fun! An adorable debut that updates a classic romantic trope with a buzzy twist.” – Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately and Serious Moonlight

“A witty rom-com reinvention for the Twitter age, Tweet Cute pairs delicious online rivalry with deeply relatable insights on family pressure and growing up. This fresh, funny read had us hitting ‘favorite’ from page one.” – Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest 

SYNOPSIS

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. 

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. 

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. 

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.


TWEET CUTE delivers a fresh take on the ever-so classic and swoonworthy hate to love romance trope à la You’ve Got Mail but with Twitter instead of AOL and glorious amounts of mouthwatering descriptions of food. It not only gives us one of the cutest romances I’ve read in a long while, but also delves into the teen sphere of social media and pressures of being in high school expertly.

CHARACTERS

Our protagonists, Pepper and Jack (aka Pepperjack, aka my favorite cheese to put on my grilled cheese btw) are both fleshed out enough so that we are not only invested in them getting together but also who they are as their own people.

Pepper is an overachieving, perfectionist, people-pleaser. But she’s more than just what other people project onto her and what she in turns projects onto herself. Her character arc focus on how her need to fit in kind of stunts her relationships with others such as her mom and her sister Paige and her “rival” Pooja. Jack is the jokester who doesn’t take things too seriously because he expects people not to especially over his “golden son” twin brother Ethan. Both have insecurities as most teenagers do and the relatability of their struggles hits home with me. Pepper’s especially because Much like myself as a teen, Pepper focused hard on extracurricular activities and AP and honors classes despite not knowing what she actually wants to do when she sets off for college. (Fun fact I’m not in college right now because I still don’t know what I want to do).

The other characters are indeed as enjoyable but I wish could have been fleshed out more. Particularly Pooja (Pepper’s rival who actually may have been a true friend to her if she’d realize the truth) and Ethan, who has a boyfriend! Both offer representation that the main characters don’t (Pooja is Indian and Ethan has a boyfriend but it’s not confirmed whether he’s gay/bi/pan). The parents are both intriguing and complex. But I personally loved Grandma Belly. She reminded me of my own grandmother with her crassness.

STORY

Set in a fully realized NYC, there’s three plot lines running through the story. 1) The Twitter War which was fun and added conflict. 2) Pepper and Jack’s blossoming romance in the anonymous Weazel app he created but THEY DON’T KNOW!! 3) Pepper and Jack’s blossoming romance IRL which adds that nice juicy slow burn factor with awkward teenage flirting and communication breakdown.

I was interested to see how these storylines would thread together in what could have been a messy execution but its seamlessly done. It never felt like too much to take in.

I also have to point that this book is FOR TEENS. There are some contemporary YA novels that struggle to capture the modern teen interest but TWEET CUTE succeeds with its use and positive attitude to towards social media and meme culture. Emma Lord understands her audience and its shows.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I highly recommend this if you want to start your year of off with quick, easy to read and devour fluff filled romance.

👍👍👍👍


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

Thanks for reading! Comment down below if you’re interested in TWEET CUTE and please recommend me some fluffy romances you love!

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen Blog Tour / Review + Favorite Quotes + Playlist + Giveaway!

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance,Fiction

SYNOPSIS

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

LINKS

GOODREADS
AMAZON
BOOK DEPOSITORY
B&N
iTUNES
KOBO
GOOGLE BOOKS

REVIEW

An Austentacious romance indeed. Dangerous Alliance caught my eye ever since I saw the Publisher’s Weekly announcement. I love a good regency era romance especially one that is carries the spirit of Austen herself.

Victoria a.k.a. Vicky is a huge Austen fan and her favorite character is Lizzie Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. But she also takes advice from the lessons other Austen characters learned such as in Sense & Sensibility and Emma. Vicky is an enigma of a character, not afraid to get dirty while yearning for more, wanting her life to much like an Austen character’s while also coming to grips with the realities of life in Regency society. Vicky is witty, charming, and just overall a solid main character.

Two big components of an Austen novel are: the suitors and the family dynamic, both which Cohen delivers on. This has childhood friends-to lost friendship-to lovers trope which is a trope I’m not typically fond of but it works so well here because Tom is just as much a part of the story as Vicky. He’s faced trauma and tragedies but so charming and sympathetic. Vicky’s sister Althea was another favorite character of mine. She gave me huge Jane Bennet vibes whom I think is such a great character. I always love the sister characters in Austen’s novel and this one is no exception.

While this novel does follow along with the comedy of manners style that Austen herself is known for, the touches of realism such as divorce, abuse, treatment and expectations of young women to marry added a lot of depth to the story. The novel is well-developed and researched and I found myself fascinated by what I learned.

If you’re a fan of Austen and regency era romances this is one to check out! I sincerely hope that Cohen writes more Regency era romances along the lines of this one. I cannot wait to see this author does next regardless.

FAVORITE QUOTES

Now time to share some quotes that I liked whether they be meaningful or even funny.

“As her sister, Althea, often said: planning was the mark of an evolved individual”

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”

“You’re not like Mr. Darcy. And I wouldn’t have you be. You’re you. And I wouldn’t trade you for a dozen perfect gentlemen.”

“Of the countless embarrassing moments in all her seventeen years, this one secured the prize for most ghastly.”

“She would always love Miss Austen’s stories, but after all that had transpired, Vicky no longer believe life could be summed up by one author’s perspective of the world. For why else would so many books exist if not to impart different truths about life and all its complexities?”

PLAYLIST

Here is my playlist. I decided that this would be a modern twist on what a Regency era teen would maybe listen to while reading or falling in love. There’s some pop and some indie.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

WHERE TO FIND HER

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18001955.Jennieke_Cohen

Website: https://www.jenniekecohen.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennieke_Cohen

Blog: https://www.jenniekecohen.com/blog

Pinterest:https://www.pinterest.es/jenniekec/boards/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennieke_cohen/


Be sure to check out the entire blog tour schedule here!

Thanks so much to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me in on this blog tour and also thanks to the publisher for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Fantastic Flying Book Club

GIVEAWAY!!!

Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of DANGEROUS ALLIANCE by Jennieke Cohen (US Only)

Starts: 27th November 2019
Ends: 11th December 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9681b86433/?

Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger BLOG TOUR REVIEW

I received an eARC copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Many thanks to Wednesday Books for sending me an eARC via NetGalley for my honest review! Quotes are taken from an unfinished ARC and may not match final publication.

Hello fellow book lovers! Join me today as I embark on my FIRST EVER blog tour post. I’m reviewing Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candance Ganger (as the title suggests).

This is an #ownvoices book for the following mental health representation (social anxiety; generalized anxiety disorder; OCD; PTSD) as well as biracial rep. There is also pansexual/bisexual rep but I’m sure whether this part is ownvoices.

CONTENT WARNINGS: death of loved ones (mentioned several times); descriptive details and representation of mental disorders such panic attacks, instrusive thoughts, mention of a suicide attempt, PSTD, grief, anxitey, OCD.

SYNOPSIS

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

MY THOUGHTS

I finally get to read a story where I see several parts of my own mental health experience represented and it felt VALIDATING AS FUCK.

Both our protagonists, Naima and Dew are on the same messy, complicated adventure we call life, but have the downside of dealing with their mental illnesses and grief over losing their loved ones together.

NAIMA

Naima was my favorite character to read about because I felt her frustration/anger and I relate to many of her struggles with mental illness. Like Naima, I also live with GAD, depression, and intrusive thoughts. Reading her thoughts was like listening to myself.

“I’m still learning how to be my own hero. My deepest darkest fear is, maybe I never will”

I like that she has a fiestiness and snarkiness to her, because people tend to believe that the quiet types are the ones with mental disorders, but Naima shows mental health isn’t relegated to one kind of person. I liked that we get to see her flaws or perceived flaws.

DEW

I found a few things in common with Dew, such as his social anxiety and his panic attacks. The first panic attack we see was a difficult part to read for me knowning that I’ve been through that many times before, but it felt great to see it at the same time. I know that’s weird how I explained it, but it just worked for me. I also relate to how he is undecided with his own future.

His description of his panic attacks just hit me with the reality of my own panic attacks I’ve had.

“Nevertheless, my body crumbles in exhaustion. My panic attacks, the conselor explained, may without warning, but the triggers are related to my parents, PSTD…”

I felt a little annoyed with him at first, his behavior towards Naima is a little awkward and creepy (he referes to her as a manic pixie dream girl BUT he did admit its problematic! so we stan I guess?). But I do realize that his way of coping and living with his anxiety is a little different than mine and that’s valid.

SOME OTHER NEAT THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK

  • As stated earlier, I mentioned biracial rep (Naima and Dew are Latinx – Naima is Puerto-Rican and white!!)
  • GOOD GRIEF REP
  • JJ and Kam are excellent grandparents
  • Faith is the best sister who is into WWE like I used to be so that brought some nostalgia
  • Strained relationships with parental figures!
  • NAIMA IS A PANSEUXAL QUEEN

She doesn’t even acknowledge my taste in people-because gender is fluid-and if I were into any person, it sure as hell wouldn’t be that kid.

  • Therapy, counseling, and medication is mentioned which is awesome because it needs to be featured more in stories.
  • Naima and Dew’s friendships is well developed and I just want to see more platonic f/m friendships in YA.

I’ll be honest and admit that this was a difficult read for me because of said mental illness descriptions because its what I go through EVERYDAY. I want to read books about my experience but also not because its like reading your own life.

Naima and Dew’s mental health experiences are not EXACTLY like mine but it doesn’t have to be for me to feel a connection with their collective stories.

So my final message is to let teens (and people in general) with all mental disorders tell their story and let them exist.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Candace Ganger is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Twitter: @candylandgang + @WednesdayBooks
Link to retailers: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250116246

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn: A Country Song in Book Form

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.


Content Warnings: alcoholism, self harm, suicide, substance abuse, death of loved ones, panic attack description

I went into this not expecting to love it as much as I do now but WOW. I’m so blown away by this story and here are some reason why y’all should read it. This book itself is like a country song: full of tragedy, swoon-y and angsty romance and heartbreak and sassy southern attitude.

  • SUMMER ROMANCE – This is a perfect summer read and there’s always about romances that take place during the summer that feel so different
  • MUSIC – A major part of this is about the country music industry and going on tour which is something I’ve been looking to read. I love reading about bands and I wish Under the Willows (Annie’s band with her cousin Kacey and best friend Jason) would actually exist. Also the songs in here are powerful and fun and I hope one day they will actually be performed.
  • ANNIE + CLAY– Annie Mathers is a cinnamon roll who is also sassy and has a lot of agency throughout the book which was very refreshing to see in a romance heroine. Then there’s the bad boy sinnamon roll Clay who is also a sort of cinnamon roll. I love that this book isn’t just about their angsty, swoony romance but also about each of their stories and how they need to look into their past and current selves to be together.
  • SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS – Both Annie and Clay have supportive groups behind them such as Kacey (nice Kacey Musgraves reference!!!) and Jason (one of my favorites) and Clay’s best friend Fitz who has everyone’s back. I would trust that man with my life.
  • TEARS WILL FALL – This book has so many poignant and real and dark moments of vulnerability, tragic backstories, and emotional development. I cried a lot. But that just showed how invested I became in these characters and their lives.
  • DOLLY PARTON CAMEO – I won’t say when she shows up but Dolly is here and of course its a wonderful lil cameo.

One thing I didn’t like: the lack of yee haws in this book. DISAPPOINTED!!!

But seriously this book is AMAZING. Like all the good country songs, You’d Be Mine has crooning lovers, tragic tales, southern sass, and everyone having a good time.

If you are a fan of A Star is Born, country music, summer romances, and just a solid story, read You’d Be Mine which is out now!

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – A Mini Review

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. 

8.5/10 Ravens (4.5/5 STARS)

Featuring one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever graced my eyes upon, An Enchantment of Ravens is an enchanting tale of true love, whimsical faerie antics and the beauty of humanity through art and passion.

While this is a relatively short novel, coming in at 300 pages long, this still gave enough of a story to feel satisfying. I also think that the short-length gave helped its world-building feel less overwhelming to me. There wasn’t too much or too little of it. The writing was also so flowery and immersive. I loved Margaret Rogerson’s descriptions of Whimsy and the seasonal lands of faerie.

I adored the characters in this, especially Isobel and Rook, the main couple of the story. Isobel was a great heroine, with a down-to-earth personality and a passion for art that made her easy to root for. Rook is a typical prince like character, arrogant, charming, and trying to prove himself but he’s also a very sweet, genuine nice guy who respects Isobel.

The side characters were each interesting in their own ways. My favorite was Gadfly for numerous spoiler-y reasons but I appreciated him a lot. I also enjoyed Isobel’s family, her aunt Emma and her goat sisters, March and May (yes goat sisters). They had a mystical charm to the story even without the mischievous and trickster faeries that lurked in the latter half of the story.

I have to be honest and say that Isobel and Rook are indeed very much an insta-love couple, but I can like a cliche such as that when it’s executed well, and it is here. The romance was charming and also one of the healthiest relationships I’ve read in a fantasy novel. There’s a discussion that the characters have about consent that this very nuanced and I appreciated seeing brought up.

The only downsides I had with An Enchantment of Ravens was the pacing and the fact that I wish there was a sequel to this story. (I NEED MORE OF THIS SWEET ROMANCE Y’ALL)

If you want to read a story that involves magical fae and a wonderfully executed romance with autumnal vibes, check this one out!

I can’t wait to read the next book that Margaret Rogerson writes and see what other worlds she comes up with next! 🙂

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill Review

aquicorn cove cover

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

Release Date: October 16th


4/5 Stars

Aquicorn Cove is a whimsical fantasy short graphic novel with a great and relevant message about the sea and protecting the environment and it also deals with grief from losing a loved one and finding the strength to move on.

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One of the main messages this story focuses on is protecting our seas and environment and really looking at ourselves and how we often harm those things even if we can’t see or completely understand it.

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The main character, Lana having recently lost her mother and doesn’t love her new home in the city and misses her hometown on the island with her Aunt Mae. The portrayal of grief and depression is very subtle and nuanced here and I appreciated seeing that.

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There’s a F/F romance between two characters here and its so heartwarming to see. There’s some conflict but they eventually solve their problems together and love prevails!

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Overall, I highly recommend this, for the whimsical art and the important messages that this story gives. I also recommend this for fans of Ponyo, because I got so many Ponyo vibes from this story!!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review

Sav 

On a Sunbeam (DRC) by Tillie Walden Review ~ An Interstellar Queer Love Story

on a sunbeam tillie walden

Release Date: October 2

Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.

Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love—only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.


Content warning: bullying; misgendering (called out as wrong in text)

The 6 Reasons Why I ADORED On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

1. The diverse cast – nearly all of the characters seen in the story are female but there are also non-binary characters; plus there are characters of color! ⭐️

2. A F/F romance that is so adorable and has a happy ending! 🌙

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3. The Found Family trope is here in full effect! The relationships between the group is heartwarming to see. They play a space D&D game together 💜

4. THE ART. The stunning and immersive art! Tillie Walden uses color schemes to differentiate between the two timelines and its works so well. 🎆

5. The phenomenal world-building 🌌

 6. Lux – A fictional sport that they play in this universe. So cool and unique! 🌠


I can’t to read Tillie Walden’s other works and also I hope to grab a physical copy of this gorgeous graphic novel!

Thanks to First Second Books and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sav