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.

ARC Review: How to Build a Heart- Maria Padian

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5

“You understand that no one is just a color, like crayon”
-Maria Padian, How to Build a Heart

Nice the passing of her father who was a Marine 6 years ago, Izzy and her family have been moving constantly. Each place being smaller than the last.

Things seem to be going okay. She’s going to a good school, she’s part of a popular cappella group, and most of all her family has been selected by “Habitat for Humanity” for a new home. They’re super excited. Being in the cappella group also comes with some extra perks. She becomes friends with Aubrey, whom is a new recruit. Aubrey is also the sister of the super hunk from school, Sam. The boy Roz, Izzy’s friend, has had a total crush on for the longest.

Even though she starts feeling comfy and at home, she doesn’t want her friends, school peers, and even Sam to know that she’s low incomes and needs a scholarship to continue her studies. And most of all, she doesn’t understand why her extended family wants nothing to do with them. Of course, those secrets come out into the light. Follow Izzy on her journey through secrets, jealousy, and friendships. I really enjoyed Maria Padian’s writing. Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine- Maika and Maritza Moulite

Title: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Author: Maika and Maritza Moulite

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 432

Rating: 5/5

When an incident at her school gets Alaine almost suspended, she is told to go back to her country and complete a internship at her aunt’s non-profit organization. Its called PATRONAL, which is an app created to help fund children in need in Haiti. While in Haiti she’s able to learn more about her country, and of course develop a cute crush on one of the interns. The book is full of lots of Haitian history and culture(I would’ve liked if this also talked about beautiful areas in Haiti). She learned quite a bit of her family history as well….especially when there’s a curse involved.

Follow Alaine as she takes you through her island, and some rather heart wrenching moments, especially those involved with her mom. I think it’s so important to see how she dealt with her moms dementia. That was honestly one of my fave parts of the story (not in a messed up way). Another great thing about this novel is that it’s written by two sisters. Kudos to Maika and Maritza Mountie. You created a beautiful story full of representation. Thank You to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I definitely need a copy of it on my shelf.

ARC Review: Tweet Cute- Emma Lord

Title: Tweet Cute

Author: Emma Lord

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 368

Rating: 5/5

Big League Burger was a family owned restaurant that somehow blew up overnight in success. They quickly became popular and they started to open many more locations. Pepper is a normal kid. She goes to school, she’s on the swimming team, and is on social media…but not how some people make think or know about. She’s actually the mastermind behind her parents’s twitter account for their restaurant.

We meet Jack and his brother. Everyone praises Jack’s brother and Jack always seems to be in his brother’s shadow. He just wants to feel special too. He still however helps out his family in their deli. When he discovers that a family recipe for grilled cheese has been stolen by Big League Burger, he gets upset and begins a twitter war with BLB. But, what no-one knows is that Jack has invented an app where he talks to Pepper on and pretty soon….sparks start to fly between them.

It’s a cute read with lots of social media referencing and yummy treats mentioned. I am a total sucker for a good book with yummy treats. It’s pretty cool seeing a book with two restaurants going at it, when realistically you see it in today’s society as well.
Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: The Sound of Stars- Alechia Dow

Title: The Sound of Stars

Author: Alecia Dow

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 400

Rating: 5/5

“If we get separated and you have to choose between life and joining us, choose life, okay? Live. Live for us. Breathe for us. Survive for us.”

Janelle Baker aka Ellie is a 17 year old girl who survived a alien invasion. The aliens are named Ilori. Most of the population is gone. It’s Ellie, her parents, and a select few. Human emotions are nonexistent….and are punishable with execution! Ellie however, is a rule breaker and believes everyone should have access to literature. She keeps a secret library, but when a book goes missing…Ellie fears the Ilori will find it, track it back to her, and she could be killed. 
We then meet M0Rr1s (Morris). Morris was created in a lab to feel absolutely nothing. When he finds Ellie’s lab, her greatest fear comes true. Morris has to take her to be executed. But something remarkable happens. Morris finds himself attracted to music…human music. Their love for art brings them together and embarks them on a journey. A journey filled with music and books. The premise of the book is set in the future. I really dig the banned books theme to it. It reminds me of fahrenheit 451 meets Judge Dredd vibes. Dow did a great job with this book. Thank you to Inkyard press and Netgalley for a copy of this book in a exchange for a honest review.

Review: Dylan McFinn & the Sea Serpent’s Fury- Liam Jenkins

Title: Dylan McFinn and the Sea Serpent’s Fury

Author: Liam Jenkins

Publisher: Liam Jenkins

Pages: 184

Rating: 5/5

“Many thousands of years ago, creatives were considered the most important people in the communities. Stories, songs, poems, and paintings were all considered sacred tools and moral compasses from which people learned and receive guidance. But the importance of creativity has been forgotten along with storytelling and it’s important role within a community”
-Liam Jenkins

Where do I start with this amazing and magical book? The beginning is best. It opens up with little kids gathering around Dylan as a older man, to hear about what happened many years before…when Dylan was just a boy, when he knew he had special powers.
We meet Culburt McFinn aka The Captain. A man with good ole heart that helps everyone around town. After a drunken night at the Neptune’s Tower ( a hangout for sailors). As he takes a dip in the ocean he comes across a lovely face…Varuna. After The Captain goes to hell his buddy Marvin pickup plastic from the ocean, he’s taken down under by Veruna. Many think she’s a mermaid, but she’s a Lapatian. And she’s going to show The Captain a magical place. A place where there’s a whole new world where a great and dangerous secret lies. Lapatia is the underground world Varuna is from. Lapatia was once protected by the sea guardian known as Lapoto, whom was part barracuda part human. He guarded the island and the lapatians. He also made sure the people had a safe passage to the mainland. He was also a whopping 11feet tall. Then there was Kadavul at over 2o feet tall, Kadavul was part man/ part shark and he was jealous of Lapoto and wanted to claim all the Fijan and Samoan Island. One day the two giants collided. As a result the mainland broke off. After Lapoto defeated Kadavul, Kadavul felt bitter and sank the island. Some of the villagers ran away and others stayed and adapted to their new life. Varuna and the rest of the Lapatians vowed to keep the oceans clean, and that’s where The Captain comes in. Varuna explains to The Captain that he needs to stay and continue to help the Lapatians protect their waters…he accepts. 

Flash forward to 14 years later

The Captain and Varuna are married and have 2 boys. Axneus (10) and Dylan (13). Both are characters in their own ways. The Captain decided to take the two boys in a trip to the captains homeland. But things have changed and for the worst after the disappearance of The Captains old friend. While The Captain and his sons explore around the day, Axneus discovers a stone that possesses some secretive powers which will flip this family’s life upside down. 

My thoughts on this masterpiece….it was amazing! Jenkins did an amazing job describing the characters and making them come alive in your imagination. He made you really believe you were there experiencing everything. Axneus was super annoying and may times I wish I could reach through the book and slap him. Dylan was selfless and and not selfish like his younger brother. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in this saga.

January Releases!

Happy New Year everyone!

With a new year comes new books to continue to add to that never ending list …the TBR list. Here are some of the books that I’m looking forward to this month. Some have came out already, but it doesn’t mean I can’t wish for them lol.

January 7th

  1. Woven in Moonlight- Isabel Ibanez
  2. A Heart So Fierce and Broken- Brigid Kemmerer
  3. One of Us is Next- Karen M. McManus
  4. The Night Country- Melissa Albert
  5. Jane Anonymous- Laurie Faria Stolarz
  6. We Used to be Friends- Amy Spalding

January 14

Black Girl Unlimited- Echo Brown

January 16

Dreamland- Nancy

January 2

  1. Tweet Cute- Emma Lord
  2. Not So Pure and Simple- Lamar Giles
  3. American Dirt- Jeanine Cummins

There you have kids. There’s still so many more books that I’m looking forward to. Still have about two shelves of books to be read. Plus a ton of ARC’s as well. I made my goodreads challenge for 50 books….Its a more realistic number than the 100 I put. Let’s get to reading!

ARC Review:Scars Like Wings- Erin Stewart

Title: Scars Like Wings

Author: Erin Stewart

Publisher: Delacorte

Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5

TW: Burn survivor story and flashbacks, Suicide Attempt

Based on her friend who has dealt with what Ava has dealt with, Erin Stewart gives us a glimpse into the life of a burn survivor. Ava has been through a traumatic experience in her life, one that has haunted her since the day it happened. Ava lost both her parents and her cousin Sara in a house fire. Fortunately, Ava made it out alive, however, she had 60% of her body burned which resulted in 19 surgeries. Ava lives with her Aunt Cora and her uncle Glenn. They have provided for Ava and cared for her ever since their daughter Sara died. Ava attends a support group for burn survivors and she meets Piper. They start forming a bond and pretty soon Ava starts school and meets Asad. Ava soon gets wind of drama club and Piper and Asad convinces Ava to join them. After all Ava has an amazing voice and was active at her previous school’s drama club as well. 
Of course, with every new school comes new drama, new romances, and new personalities. Kenzie is your typical drama queen who enjoys being a mean girl to everyone, especially when it comes to Ava and Piper. Ava soon learns that Piper was the one responsible for the car accident that caused Piper to be in a wheelchair because of a drunken mistake. Then there’s Asad whose a delight, and Ava agrees. She realizes she likes Asad and hopes he feels the same way about her. 
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It really is emotional and takes you on a roller coaster of emotions. This book teaches you about empathy, friendships, self-love, and being a survivor.

Finally, thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in a exchange for an honest review.

Review: I Wish You The Best- Mason Deaver

Title: I Wish You All The Best

Author: Mason Deaver

Publisher: Push

Pages: 329

Rating: 5/5

Benjamin DeBacker decided to tell their parents that they are non-binary. As a result of them being honest, their idiotic parents kicked them out of the house and they are forced to move in with their estranged sister (Hannah) and their brother in law (Thomas) that they barely know. Thomas is a teacher and a result was able to help out Ben register for school. Even though Ben isn’t ready and their anxiety disorder is working overtime, and why wouldn’t it? They’re living with a sister and a brother in law they barely know, and they have that worry in the back of their mind that their parents hate them. After Ben has a panic attack, Hannah suggests that Ben go see a therapist. Ben accepts and begins his therapy sessions. 
So Ben, Hannah, Thomas, and Ben’s therapist start this journey and attempt to be low-key about Ben’s issues, but in comes Nathan and disrupts all that (in a good way of course). Even though Ben say’s they don’t want any friends, they can’t help but take a liking to Nathan…and possibly like him more than just friends. With the love of art and the support of Ben’s friends, this book will take you on a emotional rollercoaster. 
I’m so glad Mason chose to write this book, as they too are non-binary. It’s so important to have queer writers write queer stories. Their experiences is the type of representation we need to read and see. There’s so many you people out there who are struggling with their sexuality. Books such as this one teaches them courage, acceptance, among other things. I really wish the book was longer. Perhaps a more in depth look into the lives of the other characters. 

WE NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT BEN’S SISTER!

After reading : “I Wish You All The Best”, I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot about non-binary people. We need more books like this.

Thank you to my bookclub Pages and Prose for choosing this book as one of the reads for the month of July

Review: With the Fire On High- Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: With the Fire On High

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 400

Rating: 5/5

And when he leaves 
all you have is the oversized
empty-the gap in 
your heart where a 
parent should be.

Emoni Santiago is a single mom whose had it pretty rough. Balancing school, work, taking care of a child, and trying to accomplish your dreams at the same time can be very challenging. But with the help of her abuela…she’s not alone. Even with all the stress that consumes her life, Emoni still has her love of cooking. When she is in the kitchen Emoni gets lost in the recipes, the spices, and the different concoctions she comes up with. 
When Emoni starts the first day of school, she gets wind of a culinary class that’s going to travel to Spain for an experience in the cooking world, and Emoni right away feels like it’s a great opportunity, but at the same time it seems like a far away dream. While in her culinary class she meets Malachi. Malachi is a caring young man and warms almost immediately to Emoni, but Emoni doesn’t want any friends and definitely not a guy friend. She doesn’t need any more distractions and besides there’s her baby daddy Tyrone. Honestly this book was an emotional one for me because I used to call my grandmother abuela. Just like Emoni my grandmother raised me and unfortunately passed a year and half ago. I used to love being in the kitchen and watching my grandmother cook (it was so DELICIOUS). I will cherish this book forever because of the beautiful sentiment to it. I really wish she could continue with it and see how her life turns out at her new job and how far her dream of cooking takes her.