ARC Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks is the kind of book that will keep you hooked. This story is about a girl who is unable to create new memories and travels to Norway in hopes of restoring her memory. I loved the suspense that comes along with the unreliable narrator and the bond between Flora and her brother. I absolutely recommend this book!

This book has a concept that drew me in right from the beginning. Flora Banks is a girl with amnesia who is unable to create new memories for herself. She has to remind herself who she is and what she’s doing every few hours. However, after kissing her best friend’s boyfriend, she is able to retain that memory, so she secretly follows him to Norway where he is studying. As Flora frequently forgets her identity, she has to give herself reminders often, which took a bit of getting used to. Getting a recap on everything Flora knows about her life does get a bit old. Nevertheless, the content of the book is still amazing, and there are some epic plot twists.

Because of Flora’s amnesia, she is a very unreliable narrator. I love the suspense that comes along with these types of narrators, so I really enjoyed Flora’s character. She is also so determined to find Drake and hopefully remember more about herself, which I admired. I really sympathized with Flora because of her inability to make memories, but also because others know more about her than she does. I can’t imagine a life that resets every day, but Flora is good at enduring that and staying strong. Her personal motto is “Be brave,” and she definitely abides by it during her adventures.

Another aspect of the book that I adored is the bond between Flora’s brother, Jacob, and herself. Jacob is the ideal brother. He is living in another country, but is still so supportive. He is patient with Flora when she forgets who she is and is protective of her despite being severely ill himself. I can’t say much else about Jacob’s efforts to help Flora for fear of spoilers, but prepare yourselves for a super emotional ending.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is a story about a girl with amnesia. The main character is brave and creates so much suspense. I loved the strong relationship between Flora and her brother, as well. This is such an incredible novel that I would definitely recommend, even if it is a bit of a tear-jerker.

Waiting on Wednesday #103: Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

32051720Title: Wicked Like a Wildfire
Author: Lana Popović
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): “Lush. Delicious. Bewildering. And darkly magical. Popovic has created a world that you tumble into from the very first words and wish you could stay in forever.” —Evelyn Skye, author of The Crown’s Game

“Wicked Like a Wildfire was like devouring a succulent fairy fruit—it will rob your time, settle into your dreams, and leave you starving for more.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Timesbestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

Fans of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo will be bewitched by Lana Popovic’s debut YA fantasy novel about a bargain that binds the fates—and hearts—of twin sisters to a force larger than life.

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first in a two-book series. Readers will be rapt with anticipation for the sequel.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Thoughts:

When I first heard of this book, I was immediately intrigued. I love the idea of being able to manipulate beauty, and I can tell that the curse is going to add a lot of drama. Another aspect of Wicked Like a Wildfire that I adore is the sisters. Bonds between sisters is one of my favourite things to see in a book, so I can already tell that I am going to enjoy this one.

Blog Tour, ARC Review & Giveaway: Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi! This is a powerful and well-written book that explores some deep issues. Read on to discover all of the details about the book, the tour stops and enter to win in the giveaway at the end.

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Title: JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY
Author: Kim Turrisi
Pub. Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Pages: 256
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

It’s just a normal Tuesday for sixteen-year-old Kai, until suddenly it’s anything but. She’s received a letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, a letter that begins, My very bestest sister, Kai, if you are reading this, I am already gone. From that moment on, Kai’s life will never be the same, as she is forced to deal with the shock and horror of losing Jen to suicide.

Consumed with grief, Kai looks for answers, lashes out at people who love her and eventually turns to excessive drinking and drugs, all with disastrous results and no relief from her suffering. Struggling with their own sorrow, Kai’s parents realize she needs more help than they can give, and they enroll her in the Tree House, a “grief camp” for children. Though reluctant to go, once she’s there, Kai finally finds others who truly understand her loss. No longer alone, she’s able to begin dealing with her pain. And to see light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Kim Turrisi’s beautiful, wrenching young-adult novel sheds a much-needed light on the subjects of mental illness and suicide. Using the unique idea of a grief camp, Turrisi lays out a process for healing and moving forward for readers who have been touched by loss. But this book’s appeal reaches beyond that. With combined elements of tragedy and romance, compellingly told in Kai’s authentic voice, this ultimately hopeful story will be an unputdownable read for any teen.

About the Author
KimA graduate of Florida State University, Kim Turrisi began her career in film and television. After a year of on-set production (getting coffee, wrangling actors and taking lunch orders) Kim segued to the development side of the business. First working as a development executive at Columbia-Tri-Star and eventually shepherding many projects in family entertainment for Disney, Viacom and Hallmark.

Kim created and wrote an online web series for which she won a Daytime Emmy. She wrote for ABC Family’s webisode series, PRETTY DIRTY SECRETS, an internet companion piece to smash hit PRETTY LITTLE LIARS.

While she’s always been a voracious reader and writer, she never thought about writing for teens until she immersed herself in the children’s publishing world as the Director of Special Projects for the Society of Book writers and Illustrators. There, reading children’s literature is a big part of her job.

Her debut Young Adult novel JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY is loosely based on the author’s own experience, the debut YA novel follows 16-year-old Kai as she struggles through the emotional aftermath of her sister’s suicide. Kai spends a month at grief camp, discovering a roadmap to piecing her broken heart back together.

One of Kim’s favorite parts of the writing process is to create playlists for her characters that she listens to when she writes. When she revises her manuscripts, she’s generally in mismatched plaid and her desk is riddled with junk food. She collects Chuck Taylor’s, Van’s, and has a killer sock collection.

Born in Hawaii, she credits her love of travel to her life as an Air Force brat moving every two years. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found obsessing over her dogs, Riley and Rocco.

Represented by Tricia Lawrence at EMLA

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Review

Just a Normal Tuesday is a beautifully written book that explores the aftermath of suicide. The main character, Kai, is a raw and relatable teen who has to learn to deal with the death of her beloved sister. Turrisi’s message is one that resonates throughout the narrative and really turns it into a guide for grief as well as a story of those who are left to pick up the pieces.

Turrisi’s writing is so captivating and right from the explosive beginning to its heart-wrenching end, the reader will have a hard time setting this one down. One of the wonderful aspects of this story is the way in which the author describes the strong feelings that Kai is having during the book. The descriptions are both vivid and real, drawing the reader into Kai’s mindset while she struggles with her grief, substance abuse, and eventual acceptance.

Kai is a character that is easily identifiable to readers. The fact that she is flawed, gives her a realistic and interesting personality. As the book progresses and Kai starts to discover and understand herself, it is her sense of hope that makes her relatable. She is also quite a resilient character who undergoes so many changes, yet is able to somehow overcome them.

One of the themes that pulses throughout Just a Normal Tuesday is: you are not alone. Kai learns that she has a network of people that she can rely on, such as her friends and parents, as well as those she meets at grief camp. It is this message that sets this book apart from other books for teens that have the theme of suicide. The reader comes away with a message that people grieve differently and there are many ways to cope.

The wonderful writing, relatable protagonist and strong themes make Just a Normal Tuesday not your normal book about teen suicide. Readers will come away from this novel with a set of strategies and a deeper understanding of what it is to grieve the loss of a loved one. Ensure that your box of tissues is nearby when you read this one!


Giveaway Details

3 winners will receive a signed finished copy of JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY & swag including a bookmark, magnet, & temporary tattoo, US Only.

1 winner will receive JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY swag including a bookmark, magnet, & temporary tattoo, US Only.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:
4/24/2017- BookHounds YA– Interview
4/25/2017- The Candid Cover– Review
4/26/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Guest Post
4/27/2017- Angel Reads– Review
4/28/2017- A Gingerly Review– Excerpt

Week Two:

5/1/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
5/2/2017- Margie’s Must Reads– Guest Post
5/3/2017- The Bookworm Central– Review
5/4/2017- Literary Meanderings – Interview
5/5/2017- Just Commonly– Review

ARC Review: Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery
Author: Melanie J. Fishbane
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): For the first time ever, a young adult novel about the teen years of L.M. Montgomery, the author who brought us ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery — Maud to her friends — has a dream: to go to college and become a writer, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Her grandfather has strong opinions about a woman’s place in the world, and they do not include spending good money on college. Luckily, she has a teacher to believe in her, and good friends to support her, including Nate, the Baptist minister’s stepson and the smartest boy in the class. If only he weren’t a Baptist; her Presbyterian grandparents would never approve. Then again, Maud isn’t sure she wants to settle down with a boy — her dreams of being a writer are much more important.

But life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future — and her happiness forever.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

If you are a fan of anything related to Anne of Green Gables, this book is going to take you right back to Lover’s Lane and beyond. Fishbane has created an historical fiction that tells a story of what L.M. Montgomery’s life may have been like and has written it in the style of the infamous Anne books. There are also some interesting aspects to this novel that explore the treatment of the Métis and the last section of the book that describes the extensive research conducted by the author to piece the whole story together.

What is most intriguing about this story is the style in which Fishbane has written it. The whole aura of the narrative is old fashioned and really seems to mimic the way all of those Anne stories feel. There are many heartfelt narratives as well as gorgeous descriptions of the scenery and natural landscape of P.E.I. all the way to Saskatchewan. Also, the humour that is peppered throughout the book gives the reader a sense of how Montgomery was able to laugh even when she faced adversity.

The inclusion of a diverse character, Edie, and the observations that Maud makes about the way the Métis people of Western Canada were treated during her lifetime was a very interesting component of the story. Maud often talks to her friend, Edie, about her struggles and asks her questions about her people. It really gives the reader a mini history lesson, as Maud learns some of the obstacles and harsh treatment of the Canadian Aboriginal people.

Towards the end of the novel, Fishbane gives the reader information on how she conducted her research to write the book and it is quite impressive. There is an extensive reference list that includes various works, people, and places. Fishbane also indicates that this novel is not intended to be a biography, but an historical fiction that is based on L.M. Montgomery’s life and times. The inclusion of information about the time period Maud lived in and what became of her real life friends and family was something I found very insightful.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves the nostalgia of Anne of Green Gables and historical fiction. The writing is reminiscent of L.M. Montgomery and the addition of a diverse character as well as the research information orchestrated by Fishbane makes this one book that is not to be missed.

Friday Reads #5: Textrovert by Lindsey Summers

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Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

30960329Summary (from Goodreads): It’s bad enough when high-school senior Keeley grabs the wrong phone while leaving her small town’s end-of-summer fair. It’s even worse when she discovers that the phone she now has belongs to the obnoxious, self-centered Talon and that he’s just left for football camp … with her phone. Reluctantly, the two agree to forward messages for a week. And as Keeley gets to know Talon, she starts to like him. Keeley learns there’s more to Talon than the egocentric jock most people see. There’s more to Keeley, too. Texting Talon, she can step out of the shadow of her popular twin brother. Texting Talon, she can be the person she’s always wanted to be.
Sparks fly when the two finally meet to exchange their phones. But while Keeley has been playing a part online, Talon has been keeping a secret. He has a different connection to Keeley — one that has nothing to do with phones, and one that will make their new relationship all but impossible. Knowing what she now knows, can Keeley trust him? And can love in the present erase mistakes of the past?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I am enjoying this book so far. The concept of two people who meet by picking up the wrong phones is really intriguing, and I am interested to see how Keeley and Talon’s relationship will play out. This is a pretty short and quick book, so I will probably have it finished pretty soon.

Book Beginning:

Fate had a twisted sense of humour. Either that or it hated her, because there was no way she should have been paired with a twin like this.

Friday 56:

“Never mind,” she said when the silence grew awkward.

“No, it’s okay. I had to think about it for a second.”

“I was just curious,” she rushed to explain.

“I just … I guess I’ve never thought of it before.”

“Because you can’t imagine falling in love?” The question popped out of nowhere.

“No, because I can’t imagine a girl turning me down.”

 

ARC Review: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades by Steven Raichlen

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades–Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too
Author: Steven Raichlen
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Barbecue sauces, rubs, and marinades are every griller’s secret weapon—the flavor boosters that give grilled food its character, personality, depth, and soul.

Steven Raichlen, America’s “master griller” (Esquire), has completely updated and revised his bestselling encyclopedia of chile-fired rubs, lemony marinades, buttery bastes, pack-a-wallop sauces, plus mops, slathers, sambals, and chutneys. It’s a cornucopia of all the latest flavor trends, drawing from irresistible Thai, Mexican, Indian, Cajun, Jamaican, Italian, and French cuisines, as well as those building blocks from America’s own barbecue belt.

There are over 200 recipes in all, including a full sampler of dinner recipes using the sauces. And the book now has full-color photographs throughout. It’s the essential companion cookbook for every at-home pitmaster looking to up his or her game.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I have always enjoyed grilling season, and while I am not the one typically doing the grilling, I thought that this collection of recipes would give me some inspiration. There are so many different types of marinades and rubs in this book that it is actually mind-boggling! If you are in the market for some barbecue ideas or tips, this is the recipe book that has it all.

Grilling season has just barely begun and I cannot wait to try out some of these interesting recipes in Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades. Raichlen has written this book to give help to those who are new to barbecuing and there are so many ideas and how-tos alongside the directions. Important concepts, such as how not to cross-contaminate foods are addressed, yet those more experienced cooks will enjoy the interesting variety of recipes.

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Desserts are not something I would associate with my grill, however my eyes have been opened to new possibilities! I tried the grilled pineapple rub and found it not only tasty, it was simple and easy to put together with just a few ingredients, such as sugar and cinnamon. I really enjoy the simplicity of these recipes and they take ordinary foods and kick them up a notch with an easy to assemble rub or marinade.

chicken

Another recipe that I tried was Raichlen’s, “The Only Marinade You’ll Ever Need.” Well, this simple and zesty Mediterranean marinade is very versatile and can be used for so many different meats. It is essentially an oil and lemon juice mixture that has some added spice to it. I used this recipe to marinade some chicken pieces and it made my chicken flavourful and moist. This is definitely a recipe that I will be coming back to over and over again.

Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades is pretty much your one stop shop for any grilling recipe out there. Along with its tips and ideas for how to handle food, this book makes a great addition to any collection. I am going to be gifting this cookbook to a few grillers on my list this year, for sure!

wkendcooking I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

Waiting on Wednesday #102: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

29935867Title: Midnight Jewel
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Thoughts:

I am so excited that we’re getting a sequel to The Glittering Court! I absolutely loved the first book and I am thrilled that this book focuses on a different character. The world of The Glittering Court is so mysterious and intriguing, and I can’t wait to get back into it. I hope that this sequel will be incredible as the first book!

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Serenade by Heather McKenzie

Serenade
Heather McKenzie
(The Nightmusic Trilogy #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.

Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.

Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…

An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

This was it, now or never.

I gathered every single ounce of energy I had and steadied my mind to ignore the pain in my foot and the dizziness in my head. Then, with everything I had, I turned and bolted toward the dense forest. The darkness instantly enveloped me. I could see well enough not to run into tree trunks, but branches caught me at every turn. My head felt as if it was spinning like a top, but I forced my legs to keep going. I could hear the men’s voices yelling at each other in an organized manner.

I tripped and found myself on all fours. Get up, girl. There’s nothing wrong with you—get up…

I made it a few more steps before my head connected with a blue spruce, and then I collapsed in a pathetic heap. My arms were so wobbly I could barely wipe at the gash across my forehead. My body was completely failing me. I prayed to God that the dog would just snap my neck and get it over with quickly…

Human footsteps approached. I gulped in some air and tried to push myself up, but the world tipped on its side and I fell with it. Within moments, large hands had my wrists pinned to the ground. I struggled and fought with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.

“Stop fighting,” he said.

His voice created such confusion inside me. I kicked harder.

“Stop… please,” he begged.

His body pinned mine to the ground. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“Please, Kaya, trust me. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.” He leaned forward and pressed his sleeve to my bleeding forehead, dabbing and inspecting it closely while I had no choice but to gaze up him. How could this beautiful man be a kidnapper? It just didn’t fit.

“It’s just a scratch; no stitches required,” he said, voice trailing off as his eyes met mine.

We stayed like that for a while: me on the ground, him kneeling over me, and our line of sight only on each other—until an unmistakable sound broke through the tree tops.

“They’ll find me,” I said softly, wondering if Oliver was in the helicopter circling over our heads.

He positioned his arms under my body, and, in one graceful motion, he picked me up and into his arms. “Just don’t run. Promise me that, please. I’ll keep you safe. You have my word. Okay?”

He held me tightly—protectively—waiting eagerly for my reply with turmoil in his blue eyes. My whole body hurt, and admittedly, I couldn’t have walked another inch. The wolves or that beast would have got to me long before Oliver would have. I was at my kidnapper’s mercy, laying helplessly in his arms and falling harder for him by the second.

“I promise,” I said.

Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three, an aspiring painter, and a lover of animals, she is kept grounded by her husband at their home in Edmonton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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ARC Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

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I won an ARC from the publisher in a giveaway.

Title: Fireworks
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Fireworks is the 90s stardom book I never knew I wanted. The hard work and intense training shown in the story is exactly what I love to see, and the main character has a complex backstory and is so likeable. What I especially adored is the female friendship between the two main characters, since it is actually goals. Fans of Katie Cotugno’s previous books will not be disappointed with her latest work!

As a sucker for any book related to the arts, I naturally loved this one. What I especially enjoyed is the fact that this book doesn’t skip over the intense training of the band members and just mention the performances. The story is filled with voice lessons and intense dance practise, which I could never survive. However, there is also a cute boy band included, which I could definitely live with.

I loved Dana’s character. She doesn’t have an easy life and has a hard time fitting in with the other girls in the band. Dana is so considerate to her friends and just wants everyone to have a good time. I sympathized with her because she is such a nice person and has a hard time saying no to the other girls. Her character is also so complex and well-developed, which I always love to see.

One of my favourite things about Fireworks is the strong female friendship. Dana and Olivia have been best friends their entire lives and are basically sisters. Olivia even put an extra bed in her room for Dana to use during their frequent sleepovers. It really hurt to see the pressure of the music world start to come between them and watch them slowly start to drift apart. Even so, I think that the fact that Dana goes along with Olivia to live a dream that isn’t really hers is absolute friendship goals.

Fireworks is a musical book filled with the behind-the-scenes aspects of a rising girl band. The main character is so complex and likeable, and the strong friendship is so adorable. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of 90s music.

Friday Reads #4: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Friday

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book and turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

32934117Summary (from Goodreads): A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I am absolutely loving this book so far! Dimple is so sassy and skilled, and I would totally want to be her friend in real life. The coding and technological aspects of this book are so interesting to me, since I haven’t seen too much of this in books. I am so excited to keep reading, since I have very high hopes for this story!

Book Beginnings

Dimple couldn’t stop smiling. It was like two invisible puppeteers, standing stage left and stage right, were yanking on strings to life up the corners of her mouth.

Friday 56:

“Okay,” Max said. “Now, for the part you’re all waiting for. The grand prize for this year’s Insomnia Con.” He paused, and the entire lecture hall held its breath. “Jenny Lindt will consider partnering with the winning team to make their app market ready and fund the advertising. Your app could go out into the world with the power of Meeting Space, Inc. behind it. Let that sink in.”