ARC Review: Breath Like Water- Anna Jarzab

Title: Breath Like Water

Author: Anna Jarzab

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 416

Rating: 5/5

As a person whose only known swimming all her life and wanting to be in the olympics, Susannah fears her body is slowing her down as she gets older. She thinks about the championship she won at 14 years old and if she can reach her potential again. Swimming demands so much out of young people and she’s scared to fail. Two people enter her life that will rearrange her life and career around. A coach that could help her reach that dream and a new fellow swimmer named Harry.

Susannah is such an amazing character. She’s mature, strong, and trying to fight those nagging demons in her head. Harry on the other hand is dealing with his own demons. He’s bipolar. Dealing with constant mood swings and anger throughout his life. He falls in love with Susannah but, he’s afraid his mental condition might scare her away.

This book is far from swimming competitions and the stress from it. It’s about friendship, hope, being opened to new experiences in life and trusting people. I loved how Susannah and Harry connected despite their differences. Sorta hit close to home as my significant other also is bipolar. What an amazing story of two young people and their struggles with life and family. I truly enjoyed the ride this book took me on. Special thanks to NetGalley, and Harlequin Teen/ Inkyard Press for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: As Much As I Ever Could- Brandy Woods Snow

Title: As Much as I Ever Could

Author: Brandy Woods Snow

Publisher: Files Vertes Publishing

Pages: 300

Rating: 5/5

This is my first Brandy Woods Snow novel and I have to admit she’s easily become a fave author of mine now. The story was amazing. Snow is a great writer. Her descriptions throughout her writing were simply invigorating. The characters she brought to life left me speechless and I just wanted to learn more about them. This novel had a little bit of everything to satisfy your needs…romance, humor, sadness and so much more. 

We meet CJ whose gone through a traumatic event in her life. After getting into a fatal car accident that took her mother and sister’s lives, CJ has been feeling pretty guilty because she survived and they didn’t. After that accident she became afraid to drive a car ever again.Her dad also felt some type of way towards her because of the accident, and that just made her feel even worse. As a result, CJ decided to go and live at her grandmother’s home in Edisto beach. A tranquil place to get away. All she wants to do is to be able to heal from the tragedy and finally come face to face with the person who was behind the wheel of the car who claimed her mother and sister’s lives. She meets handsome and dreamy Jett Ramsey who turns her life around and makes her face her fears of being behind the wheel again. After all he is a race car driver.

I really just loved this book. I love CJ’s and Jett’s chemistry. They supported each other in such a beautiful way. It’s amazing how tragedy can bring two people close together, especially when both of those people have experienced it. That love for each other also helped bring down those stubborn walls that they both had put up for so long. Join CJ and Jett on their journey of love, healing, and facing your fears. Huge thanks to Files Vertes publishing and Candace Robinson for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I truly enjoyed it.

Harlequin Blog Tours-ARC Review: Sister Dear- Hannah Mary McKinnon

Title: Sister Dear

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

Publisher: Mira Books

Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

Yet another amazing thriller that I have to add to my physical book library. Eleanor was raised by a toxic mother. She suffers from crappy self-esteem, she’s antisocial, and dislikes her body thanks to all the body shaming her evil mother has bestowed upon her. Eleanor has also lost the only person she’s ever known as her father to cancer. 

As she’s grieving him she finds out that he isn’t her father after all. She finds out her real father is a wealthy business man with a beautiful wife, and a daughter named Victoria. Of course her real father wants nothing to do with her. She’s instantly infuriated. She should should be living that great life, she should be in Victoria’s spot, she should be living that happy life. Instead, she lives in a crappy home with her mother and overall she’s just a unloveable miserable person. After finding out about Victoria, Eleanor vows to share that glamorous life with her sister…after all sharing is caring right?

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I definitely have found another thriller author who I will be reading more from. McKinnon has a way with words. Even though Eleanor was a bit cuckoo bananas you can’t help but feel sorry for her. That’s how well written this book was. Huge thanks to NetGalley, Mira Books, and Harlequin Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Kingdom of Grape- Raimo Strangis

Title: The Kingdom of Grape

Author: Raimo Strangis

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 84

Rating: 5/5

We meet Donnie Drake in the beginning of the story. It talks about the kingdom he’s from: “The Kingdom of Grape”. As with anything, The Kingdom of Grape was separated by wealth and stature. Donnie lost his parents when he was young. He moves into a orphanage and lives his life. As a special young man according to the ladies who gushed to King Earl Grape when he would visit. At the age of 18 years old the King gives the okay for Donnie to become a messenger. Donnie is happy and sets off with his horse Pinot to deliver messages to people’s doorsteps. One of which is Lady Gates. She’s a resident of Grape and holds something special…the ancient seeds of Grape. on his many journeys he also passes by the castle where The King, The Princess, and his son reside. He’s head over heels in love with the princess. She’s kind and treats all her people equally. But, he knows it could never for the princess is due to marry Duke The Red. After the Duke’s father led the army to victory during the Civil Battle. The King and his father made a vow to wed their children. 
After Donnie rescues Lady Gates from a fire and save the ancient seeds, Donnie also has a run in with Duke The Red. That run in completely turns things around for Donnie and The Princess. But there’s two evil people that are ready to do all they have to do to stop the king from making Donnie the next king. Even if it means ending the king’s life himself. 

I absolutely loved this book even though it was a children’s book. The illustrations were so detailed. I loved how the author used the different types of wine names to incorporate them into the story. After all the kingdom produced grapes and wine is made from grapes. It was a cute and heroic story that also focuses on good and evil. Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Beneath The Surface- Erna Grcic

Title: Beneath the Surface

Author: Erna Grcic

Publisher: Self Publish

Pages: N/A

Rating: 5/5

While reading the amazing poetry written on these pages all I can think about is how beautiful and haunting this book was. The poet did an amazing job delivering raw emotions that you the reader could also feel…and that’s the point. I love how she used water as an imagery for all her different feelings. Her writing will definitely tug at your heart strings. There’s just something about a writer who can do that. I, of course, had a few poems that tugged at my heart strings:
-To the Surface
-Worm
-The Clock
-Nightmare
-Mum 
-Parting
-I lied
-Stung
-Imagine
-An Ambitious Kid
-Tears
Another great element added to this book was the amazing illustrations created by: ‘Alen Residovic’. They surely added a amazing element to the poems. Almost putting you in that very moment. Overall, a great book and wonderfully written words. Thank you to Erna for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sneak Peek Spotlight(Blog Tour) Ordinary Girls- Jaquira Diaz

I was very happy to see that I was contacted to take part in the blog tour for Ordinary Girls- Jaquira Diaz (winner of the Whiting Award). I wanted to give you a sneak peek into this amazing memoir. It’s coming out June 16th in paperback edition by Algonquin Books. This book has so many powerful messages. It deals with a young woman and her broken home, hoping for a normal family life, and in the process the same young woman deals with finding her true sexuality.

“In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. As her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was supported by the love of her friends. As she longed for a family and home, her life was upended by violence. As she celebrated her Puerto Rican culture, she couldn’t find support for her burgeoning sexual identity. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz writes with raw and refreshing honesty, triumphantly mapping a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

Reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz’s memoir provides a vivid portrait of a life lived in (and beyond) the borders of Puerto Rico and its complicated history—and reads as electrically as a novel.”

ARC Review: This is How I Lied- Heather Gudenkauf

Title: This is How I Lied

Author: Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5

Holy wow!This the first novel that I have read from Heather Gudenkauf and it will definitely not be the last one. This book really kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t even begin to put into words just how amazing this book was. 

The novel has three narrators throughout the story, and it takes place between two years, 1995 and 2020. The three narrators are Maggie O’Keefe, Eve Knox, and Nola Knox. Maggie O’Keefe is investigating the death of her best friend Eve Knox 25 years ago after the cold case reopens after a kid finds a boot that belonged to Eve O’Keefe. Maggie, super pregnant (after trying so many times with her husband) and dealing with personal issues of her own, decides to take on the case after many of her loved ones including her husband Shaun question her if she’s going to be ok tackling it being as though Maggie cannot go through any stress. Maggie assures everyone that she will be okay and begins her investigation. She also realizes how difficult this will be as many secrets will come to surface as well.

Eve Knox is a 15 year old girl who lives with her hardworking mother at the time and her strange sister Nola Knox. Eve is also in a horrible abusive relationship with a guy named Nick. Eve doesn’t want to admit it but she’s a great danger around Nick. He slaps her around constantly, squeezes her, pinches her, and verbally abuses her as well. Maggie and Nola see the abuse she goes through on a daily basis as well and have advised her many times to dump the scum that is Nick. But, Eve keeps making excuses. The story goes between the year she was murdered and present day to gives a trial of events that eventually led to her death that fateful day. 

Nola Knox is a rally strange girl and I’ve caught myself many times being disgusted and irritated by her. I really wanted to jump through the book and strangle her but, woozaaaa. Nola is a psycho, there’s just no easy way to sugarcoat it. She has a weird fascination with dissecting animals and collecting animal bones etc. During the novel were also given a look into her and her psychiatrists transcript from her appointments. It was advised for her to attend a psychiatrist after her sister Eve has passed away. During these transcripts you really start to think how someone like Nola is out and about in regular society. She was really a cringy character and I was so suspicious of her from the very beginning. 

Throughout the book Heather Gudenkauf leaves you guessing who the killer of Eve was and just when you think you have it figured out she throws major curveballs your way. I must admit she really caught me a few times like that. The book was fast paced and fills you with a high anxiety adrenaline rush in your body. I felt exhilarated! Any author that can make you feel that way is definitely someone I would read another book from. Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This book was written amazingly and not once did I catch myself bored. Go get your copy today!

HUGE thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Park Row books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.