Harlequin Blog Tours ARC Review: She’s Faking it- Kristin Rockaway

Title: She’s Faking It

Author: Kristin Rockaway

Publisher: Graydon Press

Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

This is my first book from Kristin Rockaway and I absolutely loved it. Bree Bozeman feels like crap. She has a job at Grubgetter as a delivery driver, she has a crappy car that finally died on her while making a delivery and ignoring her check engine light that started flashing 3 weeks ago, she lives in a crappy space on top of someone’s garage, her last relationship failed, and one of her professors from college said to her that she doesn’t have what it takes for med school. Something that made her leave school. Life is just really hard for Bree and she just wants something good to happen for once.

Her sister Heather, whom has the best of intentions to help her sister, can come off as standoffish, judgmental, and annoying. With her obsessive organizing business and her husband being a orthodontist. Heather doesn’t need to worry about struggling. You have to admire Bree’s tenacity to better herself though. She may hate her job, but she does it so well. After finding out about a social media influencer, she decides to make her own Instagram and finally chase that lifestyle she so desperately was seeking. Her life seems to be going right on track including finding a hunky guy after creating her social media profile, but at what cost? I really enjoyed this beach read and definitely would recommend it. Huge thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Harlequin Blog Tours: ARC Review: Out Now: Queer We Go Again!- Saundra Mitchell

Title: Out Now: Queer We Go Again!

Author: Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 416

Rating: 3/5

I REALLY tried to like this book but I just couldn’t get into it for the life of me. Some stories were good, others lacked. With multiple stories like this, I like for the stories to have some sort of realism to them. I just didn’t get that from this book. I feel like I’m being harsh but, I’m just being truthful. I’ve seen people say the first book to this was better, so I might just give that one a go and see if I like it better. Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Tours and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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.

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.

ARC Review: The Apartment- K.L. Slater

Title: The Apartment

Author: K.L. Slater

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Pages: 266

Rating: 4/5

We meet Freya whose in a pinch at the beginning of the book. Her husband Lewis passed away. She’s paid off all their debt and sold the house they had together. Freya and her daughter Skye need to move out ASAP and look for a new place to stay at. While at a coffee shop one day she runs into Dr. Marsden. Low and behold he has an apartment for rent (how convenient huh?). But rent is based on how much you can pay from what you make…..sounds good right? This is where things turn south.

When Freya and Skye move into Adder house strange things start to happen. Things to start moving by themselves, she starts to feel uneasy living there, and let’s not forget how creepy her landlord is and the uneasiness he brings to the table. Basically Adder house is not what it seems and with a creepy name like that I wouldn’t expect less. The story is filled with twists and turns and lots of tension. I was just as anxious and scared for Freya and Skye as she was. I did however want more of a backstory on Freya’s husband’s death; left me wanting more. I truly enjoy a good thriller and this one didn’t disappoint. Thank you to NetGalley, Amazon Publishing UK, and Thomas and Mercer for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: The Crowns of Croswald- D.E. Night

Title: The Crowns of Crosswald

Author: D.E. Night

Publisher: Stories Untold

Pages: 314

Rating: 4/5

Ivy is 16 years old.
She’s a kitchen maid.
She also loses her job and her house.
She feels awful, because she already feels like she’s not destined to be anything else but a maid. She wishes to attend “Halls of Ivy” which is a prestigious magic school. The school is for royal people and for those who have magical blood coursing through their veins. but something weird and magical happens where she can attend the school and that’s where things start to get interesting and magical. Questionable things start happening within the walls of the magic school. Almost like Ivy is supposed to know about these things. One man comes across her dreams overnight and she wants to know who he is and why she has magical powers. I really enjoyed Night’s attention to detail in the book. She describes everything so smoothly and vividly. I enjoyed learning about the scrivenerist’s and their ability to have photographic memory so they can sketch. This resonates perfectly with Ivy, as she herself loves to sketch. I also enjoyed a few of the characters in the book as well, such as Rebecca and Humboldt. They added a cool aspect to the book. The magical creatures were also a plus. I will agree though, just like most people have stated, the book has major Harry Potter vibes and that’s not necessarily a bad thing to me anyway.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I would consider it a middle grade book so it’s good for the age group of 8-13 year olds. I love the magical journey this book took me on. It’s reminds me of my childhood, and me getting lost in a different world. I think my fave characters was the evil queen and her cloaked brood. I believe I’m a major villain supporter. I wouldn’t mind seeing a book about her life prior to being the evil queen.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Harlequin Blog Tours- ARC Review: Truths I Never Told You- Kelly Rimmer

Excerpt:PROLOGUE


Grace
September 14, 1957




I am alone in a crowded family these days, and that’s the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. Until these past few years, I had no idea that loneliness is worse than sadness. I’ve come to realize that’s because loneliness, by its very definition, cannot be shared.

Tonight there are four other souls in this house, but I am unreachably far from any of them, even as I’m far too close to guarantee their safety. Patrick said he’d be home by nine tonight, and I clung on to that promise all day.


He’ll be home at nine, I tell myself. You won’t do anything crazy if Patrick is here, so just hold on until nine.


I should have known better than to rely on that man by now. It’s 11:55 p.m., and I have no idea where he is.


Beth will be wanting a feed soon and I’m just so tired, I’m already bracing myself—as if the sound of her cry will be the thing that undoes me, instead of something I should be used to after four children. I feel the fear of that cry in my very bones—a kind of whole-body tension I can’t quite make sense of. When was the last time I had more than a few hours’ sleep? Twenty-four hours a day I am fixated on the terror that I will snap and hurt someone: Tim, Ruth, Jeremy, Beth…or myself. I am a threat to my children’s safety, but at the same time, their only protection from that very same threat.


I have learned a hard lesson these past few years; the more difficult life is, the louder your feelings become. On an ordinary day, I trust facts more than feelings, but when the world feels like it’s ending, it’s hard to distinguish where my thoughts are even coming from. Is this fear grounded in reality, or is my mind playing tricks on me again? There’s no way for me to be sure. Even the line between imagination and reality has worn down and it’s now too thin to delineate.


Sometimes I think I will walk away before something bad happens, as if removing myself from the equation would keep them all safe. But then Tim will skin his knee and come running to me, as if a simple hug could take all the world’s pain away. Or Jeremy will plant one of those sloppy kisses on my cheek, and I am reminded that for better or worse, I am his world. Ruth will slip my handbag over her shoulder as she follows me around the house, trying to walk in my footsteps, because to her, I seem like someone worth imitating. Or Beth will look up at me with that gummy grin when I try to feed her, and my heart contracts with a love that really does know no bounds.


Those moments remind me that everything changes, and that this cloud has come and gone twice now, so if I just hang on, it will pass again. I don’t feel hope yet, but I should know hope, because I’ve walked this path before and even when the mountains and valleys seemed insurmountable, I survived them.


I’m constantly trying to talk myself around to calm, and sometimes, for brief and beautiful moments, I do. But the hard, cold truth is that every time the night comes, it seems blacker than it did before.


Tonight I’m teetering on the edge of something horrific.


Tonight the sound of my baby’s cry might just be the thing that breaks me altogether.


I’m scared of so many things these days, but most of all now, I fear myself.






Excerpted from Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer, Copyright © 2020 by Lantana Management Pty Ltd. Published by Graydon House Books.


Title: Truths I Never Told You

Author: Kelly Rimmer

Publisher: Graydon House

Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5

“‘Everything changes’ was his consolation when things were rough. It was his reminder to stay humble when things were good”.
-Beth, Things I Never Told You 

TW/CW: Post-Partum Depression, Infertility
Beth is the youngest of three. She has two older brothers named Tim and Jeremy, and a older sister named Ruth. They lost their mother Grace when they were just kids. Despite everything and the clashing amongst themselves, they were a tight knit family and loved their father, Patrick. Unfortunately, their father’s health is declining because of heart disease and dementia. Beth along with her siblings decide to put Patrick into a nursing home. Beth has taken the grueling task of cleaning her father’s home and trying to sell the house. She’s on maternity leave from giving birth to her son Noah. What perfect time to do it then now. Beth however hasn’t been herself lately. Ever since she had Noah she doesn’t have the patience to deal with him, she doesn’t get good sleep, and she’s constantly giving Noah to her mother in law to babysit to try and get away from him. She’s constantly questioning her motherly skills. Even her family notices this change with her. They always ask her if she’s ok. She says she’s fine but, they all know it’s not true. As a psychologist she knows she isn’t well, but she refuses to get professional help for herself because she doesn’t want her professional career to go down the crapper.

As she cleans her father’s attic she comes across a locked door. She wonders why her father has this locked door and where the key for the lock is at. When she finally get’s a hold of the key she realizes all the things her father has been hoarding including some papers that her mother wrote. Papers that reveal some deep dark secrets about her father and their marriage. Beth can’t believe it. The hardworking and amazing father she knew was different then the young husband her mother married. As a young husband, he stayed out late, didn’t help out with his four kids, was always drunk, and provided no type of income because he spent all his money. There was a whole family that Beth and her siblings knew nothing about, including a aunt that knows the actual truth about Grace’s marriage and death. The book flips in between the 1950’s and the 1990’s. It wasn’t hard to keep up with the story like some other books. 

It was great seeing how both mother and daughter dealt with Post-partum Depression. Grace had a little more of a hard time with it in the 50’s because they just expected you to deal with it. I will say though, Beth was not my favorite. She was a selfish and entitled person and that really turned me off from her as main character. The Truths I Never Told You was a amazing book that tackled serious issues such as PPD, infertility, and motherhood. I would definitely recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Graydon House for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Becoming-Renaada Williams

Title: Becoming

Author: Renaada Williams

Publisher: Andrews McMeel

Pages: 152

Rating: 5/5

Becoming is a collection of short poems by Renaada Williams. The poetry she’s written has themes of heartbreak, mental health issues, being a person of color in America, feminism, and self-love. I can resonate with some of the poems, and I had a few favorites as well. I liked how she broke up the poems into different sections. I’m a huge fan of these types of poems. When I worked in a bookstore they used to shelve them into ‘internet poetry’. It was a fast read so you can definitely finish it in half an hour or less. I felt and understood every poem. Below are 4 of my faves from the different sections in the book.

Heartbreak:
It’s funny
how easily the monster in my head
can cuddle me
so softly
while laying in bed

Mental Illness:
I know what hands clenched to the chest
from crying all night feels like
and I think you do too
-normal

Being Colored in America:
I just want to live in a world 
that I’m not afraid 
to be alive in

Self-love:
You
have to stop customizing yourself 
to fit someone who doesn’t even deserve 
you

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Smash it- Francina Simone

Title: Smash It

Author: Francina Simone

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: N/A

Rating: 5/5

I jumped into this novel without knowing who Francina Simone was. I saw this cover and and the blurb and I knew I had to read it. 
Francina Simone did amazing delivering this masterpiece that deals with major issues that teenagers deal with everyday…especially young adult females. She touches on the topics of body positivity and acceptance, dating, friendships, sex, and being African American in a problematic white society.
I really love Olivia’s character. She decides to make a F*ck it list and vows to make it her year to accept herself, be brave, and just go for things and not be scared anymore. The first thing on her agenda is going to try out for a rap version of the Othello play at her school. Her friendship with her friends was admirable as well. Simone did an amazing job with putting us in the shoes of a 17 year old and having us imagine ourselves being there at that very moment going through everything with her. Thanks to Simone for reminding us that it’s okay to be ourselves and that we shouldn’t be so harsh with ourselves either. Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.