Monday, March 12, 2018

Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone and US giveaway of ARC of her book!

Dear Readers:
If you don't know this already, I love Tamara Ireland Stone. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she's a first class person- kind, generous, and just plain interesting. I was thrilled when I got the chance to read and review yet another one of her great books in advance of publication. Not only is this a wonderful book but LOOK AT THAT COVER!!!!

29924360Goodreads Book description: Next-door neighbors and ex-best friends Hannah and Emory haven’t spoken in months. Not since the fight—the one where they said things they couldn’t take back.

Now, Emory is fine-tuning her UCLA performing arts application and trying to make the most of the months she has left with her boyfriend, Luke, before they head off to separate colleges. Meanwhile, Hannah’s strong faith is shaken when her family’s financial problems come to light, and she finds herself turning to unexpected places—and people—for answers to the difficult questions she’s suddenly facing.

No matter how much Hannah and Emory desperately want to bridge the thirty-six steps between their bedroom windows, they can’t. Not anymore.

Until their paths cross unexpectedly when, one night, Hannah finds Luke doubled over in his car outside her house. In the aftermath of the accident, all three struggle to understand what happened in their own ways. But when a devastating secret about Hannah and Emory’s argument ultimately comes to light, they must all reexamine the things they hold true.

In alternating chapters, a skeptic and a believer piece together the story of their complex relationship and the boy caught somewhere in the middle. New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone deftly crafts a moving portrait of faith, love, and friendship.

My rating: 4 couches

My review: I absolutely love Tamara's books, so when I heard she was coming out with another contemporary, I was thrilled! I really enjoyed Little Do We Know! Thanks to Disney for sending this to me for review, and this fact does not change my rating or my review.

Little Do We know stars two protagonists in alternating chapters. We have Hannah, who is a devout Christian, who has never had her faith shaken... until now, and Emory, who lives next door. These two girls have been best friends their entire lives but one night changes everything.

I really enjoyed getting to know both Emory and particularly Hannah, who to me was the more intriguing of the two. I liked reading about someone who is questioning, and seeking, because I feel like blind faith is almost easier than seeking out the truth, pondering, and then making that decision to be faithful even so. Luke, Emory's boyfriend, was another great character and whose arc changes the fates of the two girls. I liked how the story came together, and how Hannah's church and father were shown to be human and three dimensional but still likeable.

I'm not sure how I feel about the big reveal at the end because I see why it was needed at the end, but it almost felt anticlimactic after everything that happens.

Overall, another lovely contemporary written by Tamara Ireland Stone. I will continue to pick up every book she writes!


And now, you get a chance to read this book in advance too! Just enter on the Rafflecopter below!
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Friday, March 9, 2018

Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee, Left Bank Books event and giveaway of the book (US only)

Dear readers:
I'm so excited to introduce this book (and Mackenzi's event at the amazing Left Bank Books), because it's one we sorely need these days. Awesome women have been changing the world for a long time, and Mackenzi is highlighting those women, villains and heroes alike. You probably know her from the adorable Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (if you haven't read it, you should!). Without further ado, here's more about the book and the event!

BYGONE BADASS BROADS: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World
by Mackenzi Lee

Based on Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series of the same name, Bygone Badass Broads (Abrams Image; February 27, 2018; U.S. $19.99; Hardcover) features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world. With tales of heroism and cunning, in-depth bios and witty storytelling, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers. Starting in the fifth century BCE and continuing to the present, the book takes a closer look at bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside the traditional gender roles of their time. Coupled with riveting illustrations and Lee’s humorous and conversational storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us.

About the Author
Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical fantasy novels This Monstrous Thing and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, as well as the forthcoming The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018) and Semper Augustus (2019). She currently calls Boston home, where she works as an independent bookstore manager.

About the Book
Bygone Badass Broads
By Mackenzi Lee
Abrams Image / February 27, 2018
U.S. $ 19.99 / CAN $24.99
Hardcover / 176 pages
6 x 8" / 52 four-color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-4197-2925-6

Stop by Mackenzi's website to see more tidbits!

Details about the event: Left Bank Books presents an event in honor of Women's History Month with bestselling author Mackenzi Lee, who will sign and discuss her new book, Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World!

Based on Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series, Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world. With tales of heroism and cunning, in-depth bios and witty storytelling, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers. Starting in the fifth century BCE and continuing to the present, the book takes a closer look at bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside the traditional gender roles of their time. Coupled with riveting illustrations and Lee’s humorous and conversational storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us.
This event is free and open to the public, but proof of purchase of Bygone Badass Broads from Left Bank Books will be required to enter the signing line. 
Parking: Lot one block north; street parking (meters free after 7pm). For directions and public transportation information, click here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 7:00pm
Left Bank Books
399 N. Euclid Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63108
Buy the book at this link:

Now enter to win this great book!
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Blog tour: Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes, Review of Frozen Tides

Dear Readers,
So excited to get to be a part of the blog tour for one of my favorite series, Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes! It definitely lives up to being the YA answer to Game of Thrones. I'll admit I was kind of waiting to see if I'd love it after the first two books, which were mostly setup of the characters and plot lines, but then once I got to the third book, I was hooked!

I'm thrilled to get to review one of the titles, the fourth book, Frozen Tides, which actually is my favorite of the 5 published so far. This is the book where one of my favorite relationships comes to fruition, and the action ramps up, and relationships get more and more complicated.

Frozen Tides (Falling Kingdoms, #4)
Goodreads Book Description: Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen.

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorcercess has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge.

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred.

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea.

My rating: 5 stars

My review: I am so glad I picked this book to review for the Falling Kingdoms blog tour, because I forgot this was my favorite book in the series (at least so far as I can remember). After three books of buildup in this YA version of Game of Thrones, alliances and disputes are finally coming into fruition. 

To try to sum up the previous three books without too many spoilers, we have the following main players:
1. Limeros- King Gaius is as evil as they come and continues his search for the 4 crystal orbs so he can become all powerful and take over the world. His son, Magnus, who continues to be one of my favorite characters is sort of how I would imagine Snape from Harry Potter if he had a chance to be a main character. Magnus is so interesting and flawed, and the anti-hero and I can't help but root for him. His sister Lucia has also developed... from a simple, sweet princess into a mesh of anger and power.
2. Paelsia- This kingdom has been torn apart and its leaders killed, so now we have Jonah and the rebels. Jonah is seeking justice for his brother who was killed so recklessly in the first book, but now he's realizes that this justice is more complicated than he first thought, and that there are shades of grey of good and bad.
3. Auranos- Where Princess Cleo is from, the land of beauty and plenty! The first book, I remember wanting to slap her, but now she's developed over the last few books, and she is a spitfire and much more interesting than a spoiled princess.
4. Kraeshia- new players have come to town, and Amara is a most interesting villainess. She is complicated and interesting, but relatable.
5. Sanctuary- Immortal beings called Watchers who meddle with mortals.

This book is so amazing from start to finish. We get development into Cleo and Magnus' relationship (which I am such a huge shipper of them). Jonas finally gets a chance to do something, and new alliances are made that are surprising, but make so much sense. As with Game of Thrones, there are unexpected deaths. Lucia becomes a sort of villainess of her own, but it makes sense why she goes there. There are several reveals and plot twists that are just delicious! And Amara pulls some antics that left me gasping. I am so glad I did this re-read because now I can't wait to re-read the next book and am anxious to read the book that is just about to be released this year! Believe me, it's worth the buildup. Pick up this series now!

Thanks for tuning in and don't forget to check out the rest of the tour!
WEEK ONE (Book One: Falling Kingdoms and Two Book: Rebel Spring)
January 8 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Interview
January 9The Book Nut – Review and Playlist
January 10Quirky and Peculiar – Review
January 11I Fangirl About Books – Creative Post
January 12Lovely Loveday – Author Guest Post
WEEK TWO (Book 3: Gathering Darkness)
January 15Glimpses of my Books – Cover Art and Author Gust Post – her inspiration for the character Magnus Damora?
January 16Book Briefs – Book Review
January 17In Wonderland – Review
January 18Star-Crossed Book Blog – Review
WEEK THREE (Book 4: Frozen Tides)
January 22Ex Libris – Interview
January 23Ensconced in Lit – Review
January 24Step Into a Book World – Review
January 25 – Ria Reads – Review
WEEK FOUR (Crystal Storm)
January 29My Friends are Fiction – Author Guest Post
January 30Adventures through Wonderland – Review + Instagram
January 31 – A Thousand Books to Read – Interview
February 1A Page with a View – Review
February 2Never Too Many To Read – Book Spotlight and/or Review

Friday, January 19, 2018

Interview with Gloria Chao, the author of American Panda, and INT Giveaway!

Dear Readers,
One of my favorite reads this past year has definitely been American Panda, which I think is an important addition to the growing YA literature about growing up as an Asian American. I definitely felt kinship to Mei, the protagonist and wish that I had this book when I was growing up!
American Panda
Goodreads Book Description: An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

My rating: 4.5 Couches

My review: I started the wonderful American Panda a day ago and had to stay up last night to finish it.

The book description for me was a bit of a mislabeling and maybe it's because of the personal place I'm reading it from. I didn't think it was a comedy by any means because I identified so strongly with Mei, the way she struggling between two cultures and finding herself when her parents had already found the version they wanted of her, her foot in the mouth comments, and her liberating experiences in college. I just found myself feeling sad and moved at the same time.

Luckily, my experience wasn't the same as Mei's-- she was constrained with every single decision. Fortunately, my parents were more relaxed and understanding (in their own way) of American culture, but some experiences rang exactly the same. I loved and identified with Mei as you can tell. She was a great character, likeable, and relatable. I hope that other people without similar experiences will find her story resonates with them. I hated that her parents were so strict that she felt she couldn't even think for herself anymore. And the risks were high for any sort of disobedience-- being completely disowned and getting money taken away from schooling. Sacrifice and money are the ways that Asian parents show love, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making love feel absolutely conditional. And I know Mei struggled with that daily.

I loved the side characters of Mei's brother, who has already been disowned, Xing, her crush, Darren, who is (gasp!) not Taiwanese, and in particular, Mei's mother, who is a complex and sympathetic character.

Several times during reading this book did I wish that I had this book as a teen. I could have used the knowledge that I wasn't alone, and that there was hope at the end of the tunnel.

Why the dock of 0.5? This is completely a personal thing-- not really a dock on the book, which is wonderful. SPOILER ALERT!!! Don't read this next paragraph as this has spoilers from the end of the book. I just couldn't reconcile my experience with Mei's and her mom's because her mom seemed to understand Mei and transition herself to understanding Mei so fast; she was just much more emotionally intelligent than my experience has shown. There was a lot we didn't see though, like the four years of agony from being separated from Xing, so maybe Mei's mother was in a place where she was ready to understand. But there were decades of cultural brainwashing to get over and it felt very quick to me. Perhaps also part of it was that Mei was so mature with her understanding of what was going on quickly as well.

Overall, I am delighted and honored to have read American Panda, a vitally important book, which really highlights a "hidden" culture that doesn't get talked about enough, and I know a lot of Asian teens will see it as a beacon of hope, and possibly come to a greater understanding about their parents. 

About our Author:
Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. She currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. American Panda is her debut novel, and Misaligned is forthcoming fall 2019.

Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at Twitter: @gloriacchao. Instagram: @gloriacchao Facebook: gloriachaoauthor

American Panda Preorder Links:


Interview with Gloria
1. You've mentioned in other interviews that you wrote this book from your own experiences growing up. Can you speak a little about that and any words of advice to other Asian American teens going through similar trials?
Almost everything in this book is based on either something directly from my own experience, or from someone I know. I worked hard to write the most honest portrayal of a Taiwanese American experience that I could. In particular, Mei’s relationship with her mother and the arc they take is closely adapted from my own experience. Some of the dialogue with the mother at the end of the book is taken word-for-word from real life (but translated from Mandarin). I wrote this to show other Asian Americans that they are not alone, that it’s okay to feel as if you don’t belong, and it can get better. To anyone out there struggling to figure out who they are and where they fit in, you are not alone.

2. What was the easiest and hardest parts of writing this book? 
Mei’s mother practically wrote herself. She’s based on a few people I know (and yes, largely my mother), and once I found the right mix, her scenes were the easiest and most fun to write.

The hardest parts of writing this book were the sections that forced me to work through tough emotions in my own life, mostly regarding my own identity, my career, and my relationship with my parents. However, this also turned out to be the most rewarding because writing about them helped me deal in a way I’d never been able to before. I have grown so much from writing this book, and I’ve learned to communicate with my parents, especially my mother.

3. If you could sort your characters into Hogwarts houses, where would they go? You?
Mei: Ravenclaw
Darren: Ravenclaw
Mei’s Mom: Hat would let her choose between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and she would eventually pick Gryffindor
Ying-Na: Gryffindor
Nicolette: Slytherin
Me: Part Hufflepuff, part Ravenclaw 

4. Any advice for young writers trying to write their #ownvoices novels?
Tell the story only you can tell, and while feedback is important, only you know your story the best. There’s a lot of pressure to “write what sells” and perhaps adapt to what’s out in the market, but sometimes in this process, you can lose what makes your voice unique. Focus on what makes you stand out and own it! There are readers out there who need your story, and publishing is all about finding that right fit, which takes time and patience—just don’t give up!

5. What book changed your life? 
A lot of books have impacted me throughout my life (for example, I was in love with The Baby-Sitters Club as a kid and devoured them over and over), but the two series that got me into writing young adult were Harry Potter and Twilight. I caught onto the young adult genre as it was forming, and it felt like I’d finally found where I belonged. I read widely in the genre through dental school and eventually began writing my own stories.

6. What do you have next on the horizon? 
I’m so thrilled that my next book, Misaligned, will be released fall 2019! The book follows a teen outcast growing up in a predominantly white, small Midwestern town, and when another Taiwanese family moves to town, she’s swept up in a whirlwind romance and down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets. This book explores topics of racism, microaggressions, and not fitting in. 

And now, you have the opportunity to win the pre-order gift for American Panda... without having to pre-order (although you should anyway!). See below for what you have the chance to win! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter and cross your fingers! This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!

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