{Blog Tour} Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter

Title: The Sin Eater’s Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter #1)
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date of Publication: February 24, 2015

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Scholastic Philippines for the ARC! Having received a review copy did not affect my opinions of the novel.

I’m not a big fantasy reader. You could say I’m not even a small fantasy reader too because in reality, I don’t read fantasy AT ALL. I’m a very visual person, which makes me question why I came to love reading as much as I do but that’s for another discussion. Anyway, like I said, I’m a visual person so I find it hard to imagine completely new worlds out of just words. That’s why I prefer sci-fi and time travel because anything grounded in science I can manage. That’s why I like dystopia because it’s usually just the status quo but with something amiss or missing and imagining that is easier. The shallowest reason I guess on why I don’t read fantasy is that I don’t fancy reading something where people wear stifling dresses and breeches and court outfits (say hello to the historical fiction nonreader here). But maybe, just maybe, everything has changed because of The Sin Eater’s Daughter. *cue Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran*

This book is the first book I ever finished in my finishing-a-book slump that lasted for 1.5 months. I think that says a lot about this novel. The pages flew by me and I really made time to read it even if I was busy as heck. I never wanted to put it down and I kept on reaching for it to read at all times. One of my colleagues even told me to chill out as I was groaning in despair and shock and excitement in the corner couch after office hours.

So where should I even start? It’s probably safer for my sanity (and ultimately, yours) for me to just discuss aspects of the novel one at a time. So here goes!

Worldbuilding. Shucks, I don’t know if I’m just a fantasy newbie but I was so enchanted and along for the ride with the world Mel crafted for this story. We got a kingdom governed by a queen and a king, who are viewed as the embodiment of the gods. The monarchs in here are divine and thus, their word is not just law, it’s the word of the gods. In this realm, when a person dies, his/her family must prepare a feast that will represent the sins the dead has done in his lifetime. Now, the sin eater must eat this feast and only if all the food have been eaten and the dead spared of his/her sins, only then can its soul leave the realm. Or else, it is destined to roam the forests and it will never be granted peace.

I LOVE THAT. I love all the mythologies incorporated into the kingdom. More than anything, I thought I’d roll my eyes on Twylla having that one special power among all the lands. (I’ve been hating on books with THE PROPHESIED ONE.) But surprisingly, I was so down with it and it was all because of the build-up of everything — the history of Twylla being the sin eater’s daughter then the Daunen Embodied, the explanation, the rules of this realm, our characters, everything! The author surely took her time with teasing us with details. Flashbacks and memories of Twylla are interspersed with the present timeline to give us a deeper look into the kingdom and to the characters as well.

Most interesting of all to me, our heroine. Twylla kills anyone she touches. As Daunen Embodied, she takes a cup of morningsbane every Telling (month) and the poison stays in her body. Anyone she touches will die. Then there’s also alchemy and tales of a sleeping prince. I just love everything about the world, okay?

And while some people found the first parts of the book a bit of an info dump, I never felt it. For me, every detail was delivered at the exactly right time.

Characters. Twylla was such an engrossing character to me. She’s not perfect and more often than not, she forgets that she was once a poor citizen and she forgets to be thankful for all the riches and luxury she has. But make no mistake, she makes mature decisions. That’s why I dig her. I was honestly surprised how I wasn’t irritated with her AT ALL. I also appreciated how she still feels and reads like a teen to me. I found Twylla an interesting character with her motivations, regrets, and her questions. I was just behing Twylla every step of the way. I wanted her to be on top.

Merek, the prince, is betrothed to Twylla. Having spent the last two years learning about other kingdoms, he’s ready to rule the kingdom whenever that time arises. He’s suddenly paying Twylla attention. Is it because he truly finds her remarkable or is it all about politics? But then as Twylla spends more time with Merek, she discovers the boy and not the prince. His fears and problems. The things he hates about being royalty and what he wants to change in his kingdom so it’ll prosper. While kind of boring, Merek as a future king is something I want to read more. He’s very dedicated to his people and he’s very logical and merciful.

Then we have Lief. Everyone in the kingdom fears Twylla and even those who can’t die with her touch (the monarchs) don’t dare touch her or even go near her. Except Lief. He’s her new guard from another kingdom and he’s a skilled fighter. I always ship the guard and it was no surprise that I preferred Lief over Merek and all the upcoming betrothal fiasco. There’s just something that tugs me toward the protector, the one who cares and truly knows the heroine. In this case, Twylla feels free around Lief and they become friends and then more as time goes by.

While the boys aren’t as dimensional as I’d like them to be, Melinda Salisbury blew my fears and reservations out of the water near the end of the book with TWISTS! (And hopefully more characterization in the sequel.)

TWIST GALORE! Oh good lord, I can’t remember how many times I panted and closed the book just to breathe. The twists just kept on giving me shocks and I LOVE THAT. What I accepted as truth was never true in the first place and everything was just awesome. I can’t comment on more because even saying that it is very twisty feels like a spoiler but holy moly, GET ON THIS TRAIN.

Romance. MEHEHE sexy times! While it’s not graphic in any way, thank you so much for sexual tension and sexy times, Mel. HEHEHE I remember tweeting that I need a fic because I NEED MORE OKAY?

The Sin Eater’s Daughter will be remembered as that fantasy book that however improbable, got me out of a slump. Me! The one who doesn’t read fantasy! Oh dear lord, the readability of this book! It was so engrossing and it had me hook, line, and sinker. At first, I was only along for the ride as it was mostly a look into this tumultuous moment in Twylla’s life as a lot of changes are occurring. I was interested in the world and the characters, alright. But at the end of the book, all the twists and turns Melinda Salisbury delivered made me so obsessed with the story that I tweeted nothing but this book. Seriously, I NEED THE SEQUEL. WHAT THE HECK WILL HAPPEN? In the meantime, send fics my way, please!

About Melinda Salisbury

Melinda Salisbury lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England. As a child she genuinely thought Roald Dahl’s Matilda was her biography, in part helped by her grandfather often mistakenly calling her Matilda, and the local library having a pretty cavalier attitude to the books she borrowed. Sadly she never manifested telekinetic powers. She likes to travel, and have adventures. She also likes medieval castles, non-medieval aquariums, Richard III, and all things Scandinavian The Sin Eater’s Daughter is her first novel. She can be found on Twitter at @AHintofMystery, though be warned, she tweets often.


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Accompanying Tweets to The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan: K

kablooey, exclam.:  You and I may end, but we won’t end quietly

kale, n.: “What’s more surprising?” you ask. “That I found you, or that kale is everywhere now? I didn’t anticipate either.”

kaleidoscopic, adj.: Sometimes my fragmentation impedes, but it can also reveal; I see new patterns as the colors inside me crash and crush.

karaoke, n.:  Warning—you’re going to see me roar.

karma, n.:  If you steal the sheets, you are much more likely to fall off the bed.

karoshi, n.:  I hear you typing away, long past midnight, and think nothing but love merits this hour, and you do not love your job.

kayak, v:  The satisfaction of not saying a word, of being at sea but near each other, loosening our thoughts to the subtle tide.

keel, v.:  It’s fine if we rock and we pitch; we just have to make sure the fear doesn’t overwhelm us – only then will we go under.

keep, v.:  In the endless trade of taking and giving away, I want to be the thing that sits off limits, too precious to ever lose.

keepsake, n.: The fake feather that you found, now in my wallet; incomplete creature, completed by memory.

kegger, n.: I try to point out that we’re not in college anymore.

key, n.:  You’re led to believe there’s only one in the world that fits into each lock, when really, few keys or locks are unique..

kibitz, v.:  I can hear the four of you in the other room, the birdsong of your friendship blurring before it hits my ears.

kibosh, n.:  Without discussing it, we entered the stage where big purchases needed to be “discussed.”

kick, n.:  For sure, I get one of these out of you. Sometimes it makes me smile and sometimes it makes me rub my shin.

kickass, adj.: I look to you because you’d climb the tree to save the kite, while I’d stay on the ground, hoping a wind would come.

kickstart, v.:  When I open my eyes in the morning, I need a reason to open my eyes. And most mornings, it’s you.


kid, n.:  Alive, but having no real sense of time.

kidding, v.:  Delivering the candy-coated jibe; easier to swallow, but empty when digested.

kidney, n.:  I’d give you one, but would draw the line at two.

kidult, n.:  If we never have kids, if we never have a mortgage, if our parents never age, do we get to stay like this forever?

killjoy, n.:  I concede that every now and then I’m a speed bump, but I never want to be a brick wall.

kilter, n.:  Stop. Just stop. Breathe for a minute. Let gravity do its job. Settle before you move again.

kin, n.:  You carry your family with you. There is too much of it in your body to ever completely leave behind.

kindness, n.:  The most essential quality, more important, even, than love, because it applies to strangers as well as friends.

kindle, v.:  Yes, the sparks were there from the start, but we’d also put down the right material (our dry, ready hearts) to catch flame.

kindred, adj.:  We were meant to be in love; we were meant to be family.

kink, n.:  We don’t have to share each other’s strange affinities, but they have to at least make us curious.

kiosk, n.: I ran out to get us the Sunday paper and OJ for the first time, and found myself telling the man, “It’s not just for me.”

kiss, n.:  A manifestation of all the ways that give and take can combine to become share.

kitchen, n.:  Every party we’ve thrown gravitates here, our friends unable to get more than a room’s distance from the fridge.

kitschy, adj.:  Kitten + trashy

klaxon, n.: Your blaring harpy of an alarm goes off first, always managing to rip me from sleep before it makes it through to you.

kleptomania, n.:  The desire to make your things mine, as if that would be proof of anything besides theft.

knack, n.:  People who proclaim they are “good at Relationships” always seem a little undone by the plural.

knackered, adj.: Exhaustion that feels like you’re stuck in a comic frame, without the energy to create the bubbles for speech or thought.

knead, v.:  Sometimes metaphor is not enough, and we need to be hands on, tenderly taking the time to work out our knots.

kneejerk, adj.: You need to let me finish the sentence before you add the punctuation of a no.

knight, n.:  You have to know he doesn’t shine that armor himself.

kooky, adj.: I noticed the small initials on each of your walls, and you told me a drunk co-worker of yours once swore it brought good luck.

kowtow, v.:  I’m more afraid of bending to my own self-destructive qualities than to having you ask me to bow to yours.

kudzu, n.:  The element that you innocently introduce into your love that ends up taking it over, e.g. jealousy, competition, lament.

Under the Radar Friday (3): Author Cynthia Sax on Erotic Romances


Under the Radar Friday is a weekly blog feature here at Oops! I Read A Book Again where I invite a person to share five books they think are under the radar. The goal is to promote books we utterly love but are unjustly unpopular. Here’s an avenue to pimp them out! To learn more about this feature, click here.

On our first week, Lisa of Lost in Lit opened with her favorite contemporary NA romances. Last week, Inah of The Bibliophile Confessions shared her contemporay YA romances pick. Afterall, it’s February, and we’re all about love and I try to be inclusive. So this week, I have an erotic romance author who’ll share her under the radar erotic romances because we all need a little bit (admit it: A LOT) of steam at times. Let’s all welcome, CYNTHIA SAX!!!

About Cynthia Sax

Cynthia Sax lives in a world filled with magic and romance. Although her heroes may not always say “I love you,” they will do anything for the women they adore. They live passionately. They play hard. They love the same women forever.

Cynthia has loved the same wonderful man forever. Her supportive hubby offers himself up to the joys and pains of research, while they travel the world together, meeting fascinating people and finding inspiration in exotic places such as Istanbul, Bali, and Chicago.

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Let’s get some recs to get the sizzle and steam on. Take it away, Cynthia!


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#UnderTheRadar Erotic Romances Recommended By Cynthia Sax

I LOVE the idea of #UnderTheRadar Fridays, sharing the delicious reading gems we’ve discovered with the rest of Romanceland. I’m known for picking up erotic romances written by yet-to-be-widely-known writers so choosing only five is extremely difficult for me. 

To make it easier for me, I’m going to restrict it to erotic romances with one male hero and one female heroine. There are so many writers who specialize in M/M, F/F or ménage (plus) erotic romances. I won’t steal their #UnderTheRadar choices.

We’ll start with Fifty Shades Of Grey. Ha! Just joking. You might have heard of that one already.

Here are my choices, in no specific order (and please note that I now consider all of these writers to be friends of mine – I’m a friender. If I like a book, I contact the writer. I also don’t like to recommend a writer unless I know he or she will treat my reading buddies right.)

Red Handed: A Benediction Novel

Red Handed – Shelly Bell 
Themes: Erotic Romance, Suspense, Mystery, BDSM, Contemporary

This is a sexy suspenseful thriller set in the BDSM world. The story starts from the point of view of the baddie (and yes, this individual IS a baddie). That alone makes it different in the erotic romance world. This villain confronts Danielle Walker, the heroine, in her home, tells her she must infiltrate a BDSM club, and follow his subsequent instructions or his men will shoot her stepmother. Cole DeMarco, the hunky hero and all around sexy Dom, owns the BDSM club. Sparks fly. Secrets are revealed. The unexpected happens.    

Bargain with the Beast (Breathlessly Ever After #2)

Bargain With The Beast – Naima Simone 
Themes: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Interracial, Beauty And The Beast, Billionaire 

I’ll share one of my dirty little secrets. I LOVE beauty and the beast stories. I also love Naima Simone’s writing. It always makes me cry and this is no exception. Bargain With The Beast is a contemporary interracial erotic romance between a spunky heroine and a scarred (both inside and out) beastly hero. She needs his help to save her community center. He blackmails her into sharing sexy times with him. In addition to this, they have a heart wrenching history. He is her dead fiancé’s brother. Yep, it has all of the elements for a three hanky read and it doesn’t disappoint. 

Wolf at the Door (Salvation Pack, #1)

Wolf At The Door – N.J. Walters
Themes: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Paranormal, Shifter – Wolf

Being a beauty and the beast fan, I love reading about wolf shifters. N.J. Walters writes some of the hottest wolf shifters heroes on two…or, rather, four legs. I love all of the stories in the Salvation Pack series but I recommend starting with the first – Wolf At The Door. Gwen, the heroine, is a writer specializing in the paranormal. She uncovers the ‘truth’ about wolf shifters (though our cynical heroine doesn’t believe it). Jacque, the strong, sexy alpha of the Salvation Pack, is determined to keep the existence of wolf shifters hidden from the human world. They meet. He recognizes her as his mate. Chaos and sexy times follow! 

Lyon's Price (Zodiac Cyborgs, #1)

Lyon’s Price – Mina Carter
Themes: Erotic Romance, SciFi, Science Fiction, Futuristic, Cyborg

I can’t resist SciFi erotic romances with cyborg heroes. There’s something about a half-human/half-machine hero that really appeals to me. Lyon, from Mina Carter’s Lyon’s Price, is one of my favorites (along with Ice from Laurann Dohner’s Touching Ice – grins). He is angry at the unjust universe and at the judgmental humans in particular. Samara is human and responsible for treating his wounds before he’s sent to be dissected. Both beings come into the relationship with preconceptions about the other. There’s angst and humor and quite a few steamy moments. 

The Lesson Plan (Lords of Lancashire #1)

The Lesson Plan – Jackie Barbosa
Themes: Erotic Romance, Regency, Historical

When I’m not reading erotic romances, I’m reading traditional Regency romances. The Lesson Plan merges my two loves together. Winifred “Freddie” Langston, tomboy extraordinaire, is expected to (finally) join the marriage mart and have her first season. Before she takes this plunge, she wants to have one more mad caper. She plans to visit a brothel to see what this sex business is all about. Freddie’s brother sends his best friend, the hunky Conrad, to stop her. Conrad, who has had the hots for Freddie for years, decides to kidnap her. Yes, tying the woman he loves up in rope and spending every waking (and some sleeping) moment with her might not be the best cure for his desire. The Lesson Plan is fun and sexy and I’ve read it about fifteen times.

Eek! That’s my five. There are so many great erotic romances I haven’t mentioned. Which stories am I missing?

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Thank you so much, Cynthia! I haven’t heard of these books (I don’t read much erotica) but I’m sure some of my readers are glad with these sexy recommendations. Don’t forget to follow Cynthia on Twitter and add her on Facebook. She also has a newsletter (sign up, go!), a blog, and a website. Go click on all the links!

JOIN UNDER THE RADAR FRIDAY!

Do you want to be a part of Under the Radar Friday? Fill up this form so I can contact you and we can start talking and producing high-pitched sounds of rec-ing glee!


Feel free to use the hashtag #UnderTheRadarFriday so we can discuss and chat. Come back next Friday for more book shoving and pimping!

Review: Fish Out of Water by Natalie Whipple

Fish Out of Water

Title: Fish Out of Water
Author: Natalie Whipple
Date of Publication: February 10, 2015

Mika is about to fulfill her dream of working at the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium when her plans are derailed by an unexpected arrival—her estranged grandmother Betty. Betty has dementia, and is no longer able to take care of herself. Betty is in need of her family’s help—and she’s not going to be particularly nice about it.

Mika has to give up her summer internship at the Aquarium and stick to working part-time at AnimalZone in order to take care of Betty. The manager at AnimalZone has hired his nephew Dylan to work there, and Mika thinks he’s entitled and annoying. Or is he just trying to become a better person?

Mika is trying to be as patient as possible with her grandma—but Betty doesn’t make that easy. And neither does Dylan.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Natalie Whipple for the eARC! Having received a review copy did not affect my views of the novel.

I’ll clue you in with the most obvious assurance that Fish Out of Water is a great read, especially for contemporary YA lovers: it is blurbed by Kasie West. THE Kasie West, who made me swear I’ll name my hypothetical son Alexander with Xander as a nickname because of how much I loved The Distance Between Us. Dude, if Kasie West says it’s “fun and flirty but also heartfelt”, believe her because IT IS, OKAY?

And because this book is the kind where all I can do is squeal, I’ll do a list review to lend some coherence to this. So, let’s do this!

Four Reasons Why I Love FISH OUT OF WATER


1. THAT COVER. Let’s just get over the most superficial thing on this list and that is a book’s cover. I mean, a gorgeous cover is SO IMPORTANT to a book because anyone who says they don’t judge a book by its cover is a massive hypocrite. Uhm, guys. I LOVE THIS COVER SO MUCH. The cute fishes that look so in love with each other, the typography, the understated colors, the graphics, EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS PERFECT, OKAY? And it is so apt for the book. I really want it on my shelf so I’ll be getting the hardcover NO MATTER HOW. I will. I will be all mafia don about this.

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty…

2. Characters. I tried typing this sentence 628164 times but I kept on deleting it because I don’t know how to properly describe the characters in this book that will encapsulate their whole being. And that’s a great thing, right? People are complex and Natalie Whipple sure knows how to write these wonderful teens. Let me try again. Mika: biracial (Japanese mother and an American father but born in the USA *sings an off-key Bruce Springsteen*), only child of two marine biologists, works at the pet shop AnimalZone, very passionate and knowledgeable about fishes. Dylan: entitled, rich boy forced to work for his uncle, trying to change, learning the ropes, and by the end. Grandma Betty: racist, has Alzheimer’s, left by her loved ones repeatedly.

Then we have Yumi (Mika’s mother), Stan (Mika’s father), Clark (Dylan’s uncle), Joel (the caregiver), and Shreya and Olivia (Mika’s best friends). I am absolutely in awe how Natalie Whipple crammed so much plot into this novel but without forsaking its readability. True story: I was so busy when I read this book but I still finished it quite fast because I just can’t stop reading it! It was so addicting and I was so invested in Mika as a character that I went wherever the story took me. Not only that but our secondary characters also had their own mini plot arcs and they were not boring and B-plots. Everyone’s story intertwined with Mika’s, which makes the reader invested in them equally. I bow down to Natalie Whipple.

3. Themes. Fish Out of Water doesn’t shy away from tackling issues usually glossed over or just presented. In here, racism is faced head-on because we got Grandma Betty who disapproved of Mika’s parents marriage because Yumi is Japanese and she doesn’t approve of mixing of races. Couple that with her Alzheimer’s where she throws things, says hurtful words, and loses all sense of respect, and this book just established itself as a book that DEALS and TACKLES these issues.

This is my first time reading a book about dealing with a family member who has Alzheimer’s. For one, I can’t even call Betty a loved on because pretty much everyone hates her. But like what Joel the caregiver said, getting to spend time with Betty gave us a whole new outlook on her. Sure, she’s racist through and through but as she unconsciously shares her life story, we get to know what happened to her early on. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, as Dylan points out, but what can you do but try to understand someone you love who’s sick?

I was so astounded by how Natalie Whipple tackled Alzheimer’s and when I reached the acknowledgments of the book, she paid homage to her own grandmother, who she loved. Natalie was telling a story from the heart. Dealing with Alzheimer’s is hard, both for the patient and for his/her family.

Fish Out of Water also got into arranged marriages (Shreya’s strict Indian family), friendships, learning the value of money, how money can’t buy happiness, how everybody can change their ways, being in a serious relationship for the first time, giving your heart away completely and irrevocably to someone you love, death, abandoment, and so much more BUT NEVER BEING PREACHY ABOUT IT. This novel is so jampacked yet I want more!

Guys, really, this novel is gold.

4. Romance. Oi, try not to be giddy and to smile from ear to ear while reading this book, I dare you. It is physically impossible, I tell you. It was so fun to read Mika and Dylan be irritated with each other. THE BANTER, GUYS. Oh yes, have I mentioned that this is a hate-to-love romance? EEEEKKK, I know, right? Dolphin squeals right here. Then, have I also mentioned that it starts with a PRETEND RELATIONSHIP? COME ON. If you’re still not convinced that you HAVE to read this book then I give up. (Not. I will still hound y’all to read this.) Then we get to read Mika and Dylan flirt with each other and deal with the usual teenage romance problems and concerns without too much drama and angst and I AM IN YA ROMANCE HEAVEN.

Seriously. Guys. You need to get on with this book. A fishily cute summer romance mixed in with heavier matters such as racism and dealing with a family member with Alzheimer’s, Fish Out of Water just blew existing contemporary YA novels out of the water with the masterful way Natalie Whipple balanced the fun with the deep. I highly recommend this to EVERYONE but especially to fans of Kasie West and contemporary YA romances because !!!!! (Really, coherence is not my strongest suit.)

About Natalie Whipple

Natalie Whipple grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU, with a minor in editing. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook.

She is the author of the TRANSPARENT series, HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, the I’M A NINJA series, and FISH OUT OF WATER. In addition to that, she is on the writing team for the cRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera that should be out sometime in 2015.

Under the Radar Friday (2): Inah of The Bibliophile Confessions on Contemporary YA Romances + Giveaway



Under the Radar Friday is a weekly blog feature here at Oops! I Read A Book Again where I invite a person to share five books they think are under the radar. The goal is to promote books we utterly love but are unjustly unpopular. Here’s an avenue to pimp them out! To learn more about this feature, click here.


This week, a Filipino (*pompoms*) blogger will share her favorite contemporary YA romances, a genre which I am absolutely gaga over. I am so excited to share her recommendations with you (and to get on reading them as well). Let’s all welcome, INAH OF THE BIBLIOPHILE CONFESSIONS!!!!

First, let’s get to know Inah with a quickfire interview!


A book (or five) you’d want with you if you’re alone stuck in an island?

Umm… Can I please just add two more so I could bring all seven Harry Potter books with me? *winks* Yeah, it would be the Harry Potter series.


Favorite book (or let’s be real, bookS)?


Okay, besides the one’s I’ve mentioned for the feature, here are some others: 


Paper Towns by John Green

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Champion by Marie Lu
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Favorite fictional couple/ship?


I have tons because I also love to watch lots of TV series but in books would be June and Day from Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy.


#1 book boyfriend?


This is getting harder. Hahaha! Okay… Noah Shaw from The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin.


Favorite pizza topping?


I really really love eating pizza, which means I’ve tried different flavors/varieties of it, but for me, a pizza is not complete without black olives.


Celebrity crush?


Chris Evans! 


Most favorite trope (a.k.a. I will like this book because it has my weakness)?


Bestfriend romances! Plus points if the guy is nerdy/geeky and very adorkable! 


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Now that you have an idea on what Inah fancies, let’s hear her picks for contemporary YA romance books that need more pimping! The floor is yours, Inah!


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Waiting For You

Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti. I have only read one Susane Colasanti novel so far but her novels basically scream fluffy and light contemporary romances. This book had me hooked from the first page. I love how adorkable the characters were, especially Nash! Also, Susane has a book to be released this year called City Love, and I’m very much excited to read it.

Synopsis


At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road—including her parents’ unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek—test Marisa’s ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school’s ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is—or does she? In Waiting For You, this third romantic novel from Susane Colasanti, Marisa learns how to “be in the Now” and realizes that the love she’s been waiting for has been right in front of her all along.


Geek Girl (Geek Girl, #1)Geek Girl by Holly Smale. This book is one of my utter faves. I indentified with Harriet so much. The book was out in the UK for years now but it was published in the US this January. I really have to say that this book deserves buzz and the spotlight because it’s not just a cutesy contemporary, it’s a story that can be an inspiration to people with low self-esteem and battling issues regarding oneself.

My review of Geek Girl


Synopsis:


Geek + runway = a hilarious runaway hit! This bestselling UK debut is full of humor and high-fashion hijinks—and now it’s coming to America.


Harriet Manners is tired of being labeled a geek. So when she’s discovered by a modeling agent, she seizes the chance to reinvent herself. There’s only one problem: Harriet is the definition of awkward. Does she have what it takes to transform from geek to chic?


Leaving Paradise (Leaving Paradise, #1)Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles. Simone Elkeles is one of my favorite authors. I love the way she writes and her characters are very dynamic. I loved her Perfect Chemistry Trilogy but this one I loved more. I really think that this book is very underrated and deserves more attention! Not only does this deal with romance and friendship, but also it tackles the hardships of being a teenager and growing up in general, to which I think a lot of readers would be able to relate with.

Synopsis:


Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled.


After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.


Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as “criminal” and “freak.” Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.


Love and LeftoversLove and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay. I have read this book like 3 years ago but I still remember how I felt while reading it. This was the first book I’ve read that was written with the chapters as a “verse”. I truly adored this book but it hasn’t quite reached a lot of readers yet.

Synopsis:


Romantic and bittersweet, Love and Leftovers captures one girl’s experience with family, friends, and love. Dragged to New Hampshire for the summer, Marcie soon realizes that her mom has no plans for them to return to Marcie’s father in Idaho. As Marcie starts at a new school, without her ragtag group of friends called the Leftovers, a new romance heats up, but she struggles to understand what love really means.


How I FallHow I Fall by Anne Eliot. This book was one of my best reads last year. This book is like a needle in a haystack and I have to say that this is definitely a gem. I’m so glad to have discovered this book, thanks to some friends, and even to Anne herself. I love this book to pieces (and um, every other book Anne has written). I’m really happy to share this one and it’s such a great opportunity to give an exposure to a book from an indie author. This is pretty much a fluffy read but the best part about this is that the main character, Ellen, has cerebral palsy and it just shows us how one can be successful despite of their flaws.

My review of How I Fall


Synopsis:


*WHAT IF YOU HAD AN IMPOSSIBLE CRUSH?*

Impossible because she’s Ellen Foster. The beautiful, smart, and possibly fragile photography-girl. You’re Cam Campbell. The guy who plays football 24/7 with no life. But what if during junior year, you decide to finally try for her phone number—until this glitter-crazed new girl ruins your plan. Worse, the girl is Irish, awkward, and insists you and Ellen should become best friends—with her! Only, you don’t want to be friends with a human tornado, and you think Ellen might need to stay a crush. This is because after one interaction you’ve discovered Ellen Foster really is fragile. Your problems and secrets are too big for anyone to understand.

*WHAT IF YOU COULDN’T RESIST?*

But what if the three of you wind up assigned to a group photography project, where rumors are already circling about the new girl being ridiculous? You know she’s nice but very alone, so you convince your crush to help protect the new girl. Suddenly, working on the project makes hanging out, texting, talking—and even high school—seem fun and completely normal when it’s anything but normal. 

*WHAT IF YOU KISS* 

What if you kiss Ellen Foster and it’s perfect enough to make you believe in things you shouldn’t. You tell her secrets and share your dreams. You make the kinds of promises and create plans to be together that might be impossible to keep when you’re only sixteen and your parents control your entire future, 
but…

*WHAT IF YOU HURT HER…*


***


Thank you so much, Inah! You deserve some blueberry cheesecake and pizza (Is that a good combination?!) for all sharing the love for these books and recommending them! Don’t forget to check out (and follow!) Inah’s blog, The Bibliophile Confessions! You can also like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Go do it all!

Giveaway

Just like last week, I want to provide a chance for YOU to read these amazing books. Here are the prizes!


Open worldwide:

One (1) winner of a paperback of GEEK GIRL by Holly Smale
One (1) winner of a paperback LEAVING PARADISE by Simone Elkeles
One (1) winner of e-copies of HOW I FALL, HOW I FLY, and UNMAKING HUNTER KENNEDY by Anne Eliot

Open to US/Can residents only:

One (1) winner of a paperback of LEAVING PARADISE by Simone Elkeles

Thank you to Holly Smale, Nicola Carthy, Simone Elkeles, Katie Mickschl, and Anne Eliot for all these prizes!

Good luck with the giveaway!

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JOIN UNDER THE RADAR FRIDAY!

Do you want to be a part of Under the Radar Friday? Fill up this form so I can contact you and we can start talking and producing high-pitched sounds of rec-ing glee!


Feel free to use the hashtag #UnderTheRadarFriday so we can discuss and chat. Come back next Friday for more book shoving and pimping!

Five Amazing Novels, One Amazing Cause: Sweet Indulgence: A New Adult Clean Steam Collection for ONLY $0.99!


Satisfy your sweet tooth with this limited time collection of clean steam New Adult Novels. “All the heat; none of the nasty.” An indulgence that won’t leave you feeling guilty!

100% Profits to benefit the American Heart Association. 

Five Amazing Novels; One Amazing Cause

#AuthorswithHeart



JELLYBEAN KISSES is the story of Jax and Jacey, two best friends who fake a relationship at the expense of something real. It’s going to take a hurricane, a goose, and a pound of jellybeans to get them to confess their feelings to one other. But can they find the courage before it’s too late?


Flawed Perfection (Beautifully Flawed, #1)

River Alhers is the girl next door to the Beckerson Boys. The two brothers couldn’t be more different, except for one thing: River.

Bobby loved River, River loved Adam and Adam only loved himself–or so everyone thought. Then one night everything changes, and life long friendships will be tested for the sake of love. As the romance threatens to destroy everyone involved, a tragedy strikes that will leave more than just a friendship broken.


American Girl on Saturn (Saturn, #1)

When attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, the guys have to go into hiding ASAP with a secret service agent’s family, which includes two teenage daughters and a five-year-old fangirl. But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what little sister Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth.


To the Sea (Follow your Bliss, #1)

To the Sea is the story of twenty-something Kira, freshly out of college and newly married, when she faces the unexpected loss of her young husband. As grief weighs her down, she uncovers the secrets he left behind. While trying to overcome tragedy, she learns to surf—on a surfboard and the waves in life. She navigates new feelings of lust with Australian hottie Jamie, and the depths of love with soul-surfer Ian, all while discovering her own strength, overcoming loss, and transforming her life.


One Song Away

Sophie-Claire Wright keeps waiting for the lucky break that will launch her songwriting career, but lately her life feels more like a bad country song on repeat. When she moves home and tells a tiny lie–that she has a boyfriend–she turns to an old friend and crush to play the part of her fill-in boyfriend. Soon, sparks are flying between them, and Sophie can’t tell which kisses are real and which are fake. Just as she decides to take a leap of faith, she receives a chance to return to Nashville and the songwriting dreams she left behind. Is the life she wants ONE SONG AWAY or has she already found it in Jake’s arms?

Purchase from Amazon or B&N for only 99c!

Review: Love Hurts by Malorie Blackman

Love Hurts

Title: Love Hurts
Authors: Various Authors (Compiled by Malorie Blackman)
Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Date of Publication: January 29, 2015

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

Purchase from AmazonThe Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thank you to RHCP UK and NetGalley for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

Fresh from the high of My True Love Gave to Me, I was so in the mood for short story anthologies. I never knew I needed them until MTLGTM. So I immediately got to reading Love Hurts and I also dropped it just as fast. It’s just that, it was a mighty disappointment to discover that this is not a short story collection as expected. There are a few short stories in it but it was mostly composed of excerpts (or extracts as the Brits call it) from other books on love. Yes, cue exasperation.

But then, when I got over the conspiracy of screwing my expectations, I found Love Hurts good enough to pass my time. It gave me samples of books I’ve been wanting to read for a while (AND INDEED, I WANNA READ THEM) and it was also nice to read something I’ve read before, just to know which part of those books ended up being featured. But really, I would have rated this book 2 stars but I LOVE most of the original short stories. In fact, that one-star upgrade is all because of Susie Day’s Tumbling. But first, let me talk about everything else before I full-on spazz.

These books/stories I’ve read previously: Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, David Levithan’s Miss Lucy Had a Steamboat, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. When I ended up re-reading a huge extract from If I Stay, I realized that I wasn’t really mesmerized by Gayle’s writing in here… I realized that the reason I rated If I Stay high (4 stars) is because of ALL THE FEELS but it was definitely not because of the romance. However, it’s so much about family as well so good thing. I suddenly understood Miss Lucy better but I’m still not the greatest fan of it. Lastly, MIDWINTERBLOOD AND WE WERE LIARS, CAN WE MARRY THESE TWO BOOKS BECAUSE GOODNESS I LOVE THEM YOU HAVE TO READ THEM.

Onward we go!

The excerpts I really liked and thus, I’ll check out these books: More Than This by Patrick Ness, Trouble by Non Pratt, I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. These books are already on my TBR so Love Hurts didn’t exactly made me want to read them but it just confirmed that I HAVE to read them.

The other excerpts, while unique and interesting, didn’t really grab my attention as much. Now, let’s go to my favorite part, the short stories!!!

Humming through My Fingers by Malorie Blackman (3/5): This story was cute enough but it sounded preachy/cheesy to me? *hides*

Tumbling by Susie Day (5/5): Oh gods, my disappointment over Love Hurts was so completely undone by this short story. IT IS SO GOOD. I LOVE IT. Basically, two teenagers who’ve bonded over Tumblr and Sherlock and these teens speak Tumblr-ese and HELP ME I LOVE THEM. It just PERFECTLY encapsulates people on Tumblr in my opinion that I just full-on spazzed to Susie when I read this. But more than that, it also delves into the self-esteem issues teens usually face and how easier everything is online. Just, SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS ONE.

Gentlewoman by Laura Dockrill (4/5): Every person should read this one. It’s about a boy, Daniel, who feels and thinks that she’s actually a girl, Dani. It was so touching and heartbreaking and moving how much her parents supported her in her transition and while her community is certainly a bit idealistic in here, it was so lovely. Just, so timely and I think in a short amount of time, Laura Dockrill was able to deliver Dani’s story well.

Endless Love: The Valentine of Daniel and Lucinda by Lauren Kate (2/5): I’ve never read any of Lauren Kate’s books and after this, I don’t think I’ll ever read them. Just, meh all around for me.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Johnson (4/5): This one is amazing. I didn’t realize it earlier on but by the end of the story, I just felt so complete yet so incomplete. I wanted more — WHAT HAPPENED AFTER — but it was such a good story that I just let my feelings wash over me. The second person POV was cool and it worked for the story, to keep the narrator unknown and detached. But see, that’s it. The narrator hopes to be detached to this story she tells but she certainly isn’t because EMOTIONS, MAN, EMOTIONS.

The Unicorn by James Dawson (4/5): James Dawson, MY HEART WHAT DID YOU DO? My chest felt constricted by the end but so happy during the good times. The old-man perspective looking back on his days on the Unicorn WWII ship where he loved a fellow Navy? MY FEELS.

Anyway, overall, I wouldn’t recommend buying this book because seriously, I think it would be a waste of money. But, if you can get a chance to read the short stories in it, PLEASE DO. Borrow it from your library or maybe, hopefully soon, the authors will post their short stories in their websites or something. I certainly hope so!

Review: The Kitchen When It Sizzles by Chrissie Peria

The Kitchen When it Sizzles
Title: The Kitchen When It Sizzles
Author: Chrissie Peria
Date of Publication: August 16, 2014
Genre: sexy contemporary romance

Olivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who’s filling in for Olivia’s cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can’t help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | iTunes | Buqo | KoboThe Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Chrissie Peria for my *signed* copy! Having been gifted a copy did not affect my views of the novel.

I read both All’s Fair in Blog and War (linked is my review) and The Kitchen When It Sizzles in one night, right after the other. Chrissie’s stories are just so easy to read and very enjoyable, you won’t realize the time. Like AFIBAW, TKWIS is a sweet contemporary romance novella but with THE STEAM.

Our heroine, Olivia, doesn’t know how to cook and has signed up for cooking lessons. As fate would have it, her cooking instructor ends up replaced by her nephew, the hot hotshot Los Angeles-based chef, Nate. Sign me up for one-on-one cooking lessons with the tattooed sizzling hot Nate, please! Seriously. Or maybe hire me as a dishwasher or a sous chef, ANYTHING. Anything within 10 feet of this hunky guy.
Olivia and Nate obviously had sparks and they also like the company of each other. Who am I kidding? These two can steam up mirrors and glasses with their very hot makeout session in the kitchen. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is that just makes them click but when I was reading TKWIS, I just rooted for them all the way.
The main conflict of TKWIS was Olivia doubting if she should get with Nate. She knows for sure he’s going to leave Manila and go back to the States as that’s what he’s been telling her all along. She didn’t want to fall in love with him and just get her heart broken so she puts all these walls and tries to keep things from happening. But then things happen (HELLO HOT MAKEOUT SESH THAT MADE ME FAN MYSELF) so she ends up being hot and cold to Nate. Poor Nate bb. Aside from that conflict, assumptions and a certain girl out to get Nate are the other obstacles Olivia and Nate (more on Olivia) need to face.

Having read AFIBAW, I couldn’t help but notice that everything could have been solved if our couple just talked with each other. I have nothing against that plot arc (just noticed it) because Chrissie Peria expertly manages to make us invest in her characters and root for them even if normally, you’d want to shake them and make them kiss like your childhood Barbie and Ken. You didn’t do that? O-kay. I just want Olivia and Nate together and it was SO FABULOUS when they did.
Once again, Chrissie Peria being a foodie shines through her work. I definitely drooled over Nate but man, I think I drooled even more with the food. It’s like I can taste them and I absolutely ended up hungry after reading this.

As for the sexy, no worries as it isn’t graphic but it is DEFINITELY hot. I don’t know how I’ll do if I meet Chrissie in real life. I feel like I’ll just smile my freaky smile and snicker at the side. Haha! Guys, the title isn’t misleading because the kitchen and the bedroom and everywhere else are sizzling.

I recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a sweet AND hot short contemporary romance read. It’s extremely satisfying!


About Chrissie Peria

When not obsessing over fictional people doing fictional things, Chrissie obsesses about food: the eating, the cooking, and the procuring of it.

An advertising copywriter in her past life, she now spends most of her time writing, taking photos, cooking, and babysitting a tiny human and a curly-haired dog. She still plays with dolls and she thinks that bacon is the answer. Her first book, All’s Fair in Blog and War, won the Best Romance in English category in the 2014 Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards.

Under the Radar Friday (1): Lisa of Lost in Literature on New Adult Books + Giveaway!



Under the Radar Friday is a weekly blog feature here at Oops! I Read A Book Again where I invite a person to share five books they think are under the radar. The goal is to promote books we utterly love but are unjustly unpopular. Here’s an avenue to pimp them out! To learn more about this feature, click here.

Today is the first ever Under the Radar Friday and I am *so* thrilled to start the recommending and the squeeing! To start UTRF with a bang, I have a book blogger I look up to and whose recommendations I always listen to. Let’s all welcome… LISA OF LOST IN LITERATURE!

First, let’s get to know our guest of honor for today’s UTRF with a quickfire interview!

A book (or five) you’d want with you if you’re alone stuck in an island?

The Harry Potter series.  Though I haven’t completed the series yet (*gasp* I KNOW!!) I plan to this year.  I have a feeling this is a series I could read over, and over… and over again.  

Favorite book (or let’s be real, bookS)?

No, I refuse to answer this.  Not a chance!

Okay… I’ve given it some thought and I’m ready to answer it now.  😉  I’ll stick with books that I could read over and over again, since picking a favorite is always hard for me.  I’ll go with the Anna and the French Kiss series.

Favorite fictional couple/ship?

Lola and Cricket (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)

#1 book boyfriend?

Ben (Five Ways to Fall by KA Tucker)

Favorite pizza topping?

Eggplant – so yum!

Celebrity crush?

Dane Cook That guy is HILARIOUS!!  And easy on the eyes.  😉

Most favorite trope (a.k.a. I will like this book because it has my weakness)?

Best friends to more relationships. I’m a HUGE sucker for childhood friends that grow into something more.  It gets my every time.

 ~~~

Now that you have an idea on what books Lisa loves, let’s hear her picks for books that need more pimping! Lisa initially wanted to share five contemporary YA novels but she ended up doing NA and she’ll tell you why. Take it away, Lisa!


***

So as I started working on this, I realized that there are so many NA books that I just love, but that others have decided not to read merely because of the NA label.  (NA has received a bad rap in the recent past, for some reason)  So here are the 5 NA books/series that I think deserve more attention than they are getting.  🙂
Reason to Breathe (Breathing, #1)
Reason to Breathe (Breathing Series) by Rebecca Donovan
This series I recently marathoned straight through on audio.  It was fantastic!  It had extremely realistic.  Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.  These stories had love and friendship, mixed with heartache, pain, and even death.  These books are sure to leave a lasting impression on you.
Best Kind of Broken (Finding Fate, #1)
Best Kind of Broken (Finding Fate Series) by Chelsea Fine
This series of books remains on my top 5 list of very favorite series.  They are companion novels, all involving a wonderful group of characters that you’re sure to fall in love.  They don’t really need to all be read in order, but if you do read them in order you will enjoy the little cameo appearances of characters from prior books.  This is a fun, heartwarming, and emotional at times, group of books that every NA reader should check out.
Burying Water (Burying Water, #1)
Burying Water (Burying Water Series) by KA Tucker
KA Tucker is most known for her insanely popular series, Ten Tiny Breaths.  And trust me, I totally join in on this fandom.  The Ten Tiny Breaths series is probably my very favorite series EVER!  But this new book by KA Tucker hasn’t gotten the attention I feel it deserves.  Though it’s categorized as NA, it’s has much more of an adult romantic suspense novel, in my opinion.  It’s action-packed and sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as full of swoony romantic scenes that will leave you blushing.  A new series by an amazing author that shouldn’t be missed!
A Little Too Far (A Little Too Far, #1)
A Little Too Far (A Little Too Far Series) by Lisa Desrochers
I read A Little Too Far as part of a blog tour a couple of years ago.  The cover caught my attention and I thought, ehh, why not?  Well, guys, this book was amazeballs!  I was completely drawn to the story and zipped through it so fast.  I think some are hesitant because the hint at a love triangle in the synopsis.  And I guess you would say there is one.  But I didn’t mind it one bit!  It was perfect.  I think many other NA fans would enjoy this book, and entire series, if they give it a chance.
Boomerang (Boomerang, #1)
Boomerang (Boomerang Series) by Noelle August
Ahhh.  This book was such a breath of fresh air in the NA genre.  It was unlike any other NA book I’ve ever read.  It was cute, it was addicting, and it was so much fun!  Another book that has scared people away simply because of the NA categorization.  Ignore that you think it’s an NA, and just go into it expecting an entertaining read, and I’m sure you’ll be as satisfied with it as I was.
These are all books that I rated 5 stars, and books that I think more people should read. Talented authors are far too often overlooked in such a vast community. I’m always looking for recommendations myself, so I’m sure others are looking for recs as well.  These are my top five “under the radar” books in the NA genre that I feel deserve more attention.

***


Thank you so much, Lisa! Let’s all give Lisa hugs and cookies and cake for her wonderful recs! Don’t forget to check out (and follow!) Lisa’s blog Lost in Literature. You can (and should) follow her too on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Giveaway

Lisa just recommended amazing New Adult books to try. Now, I’m providing a way for you to read it ASAP. I have awesome prizes to kick off the first ever Under the Radar Friday post!


Open worldwide:

One (1) winner of a SIGNED copy of REASON TO BREATHE by Rebecca Donovan
One (1) winner of a paperback of BEST KIND OF BROKEN by Chelsea Fine
One (1) winner of a paperback of BURYING WATER by K.A. Tucker
One (1) winner of a paperback of BOOMERANG and an ARC of REBOUND by Noelle August

Open to US residents only:

One (1) winner of a paperback of BOOMERANG

Thank you to Rebecca Donovan, Emily Lalone, Chelsea Fine, K.A. Tucker, Kelly Simmon, Lorin Oberweger, and Megan Schumann for all these prizes!

Good luck with the giveaway! *very envious host in here*

JOIN UNDER THE RADAR FRIDAY!

Do you want to be a part of Under the Radar Friday? Fill up this form so I can contact you and we can start talking and producing high-pitched sounds of rec-ing glee!


Feel free to use the hashtag #UnderTheRadarFriday so we can discuss and chat. Come back next Friday for more book shoving and pimping!

Review: Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Love, Lucy

Title: Love, Lucy
Author: April Lindner
Publisher: Poppy
Date of Publication: January 27, 2015

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


Review

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Thank you to April Lindner for sending a signed copy for review and for touring! Having received a copy did not affect my views of the novel.

Writing this review is one of the hardest things I have to do so far as a book blogger. I debated about posting a review of this one because April is so sweet and she even sent me a signed copy but it felt like I was not being honest with myself if I didn’t. So here I am. (There might be minor spoilers!)

My lack of enjoyment while reading Love, Lucy all boils down to my lack of connection with our main character Lucy. Absolutely no connection. AT ALL. I’m a big advocate of chasing ones dreams and being assertive then here goes our heroine who gave up on her dream of being an actress for a Europe trip. Yeah, her father won’t pay for college if she didn’t take up business but SO WHAT? She should have argued with them and told them what she wants. She should try and support herself through college. Okay, she also felt like she didn’t want to pursue acting anymore because of a bad audition but SERIOUSLY? I don’t know, I just couldn’t get behind a character who says she loves acting more than anything then gives up on it so easily. Sure, you could argue that she’s a filial daughter and I’m such a bad daughter if I wanted her to go against her parents but judge me all you want but your life is your life. You should make your own decisions.


Right off the bat, I know I’m not gonna love this novel but I knew that by the end of the novel, Lucy will stand up for herself so I soldiered on. But I just kept on hitting more and more roadblocks to me liking this one. I try hard on putting myself on the shoes of characters and nowadays, I try to not let how much I like a character dictate my enjoyment of the novel. But the pragmatic and practical Dianne just couldn’t see eye to eye with Lucy or even get to understand her. The novel is told in the third person perspective and I bristle with annoyance every time Lucy’s thoughts are shared.

Lucy’s parents didn’t want her to tour Europe alone so they also paid for a companion, Lucy’s mom’s friend’s daughter, Charlene. Charlene is cool, collected, and pragmatic. She can be blunt with a strong personality (and at times a mood killer) but by the first chapter, it was very obvious to me that I can relate more to her. Judge me all you want that I’m a bitch or that I’m cruel but I absolutely sided with her friend Charlene every time. Sure, Charlene could have been a tad bit nicer and it’s also obvious that she’s just envious of Lucy but there was no denying how Lucy was playing the pity card and that she acts like woe-is-me all the time. Lucy kept on denying that she was spoiled but she is! I guess I’m just no-nonsense like Charlene but REALLY, Lucy was such a bitch to Charlene too so please, she shouldn’t be all pissed and hurt Charlene talking back. The real problem is that they weren’t really friends to start with and that Charlene feels like getting to tour Europe for free means she has to look out for Lucy. Which is actually why she was there and I couldn’t fault her feeling like it’s her duty. I really do tend to side with characters that aren’t rich or are in the other side of the rich spectrum. Then she kept on ditching Charlene and just, I really don’t like Lucy, guys. Nah. 

There’s this bit where I laughed so hard at what I was reading because Lucy said this to Charlene: “I can’t believe how cynical you are. You’re… coldhearted.” Yeap, that is ME. Basically, Lucy just said it herself, I am a cynic so I won’t enjoy her story.

Let’s get away from Lucy a bit and delve into her love interest, Jesse. Now, Jesse was nice and all, but he lacked dimensions. Quirks. He was bland and boring and I don’t see anything in him I’d be over the moon with. There’s this part where Lucy said that the list of things to like about Jesse just keeps getting longer — he plays the guitar, sings, was in a band, can drive a Vespa, knows Florence so much — and WOW, way to be superficial. All the things she mentioned were so surface level that even though I wanted to understand how she ended up loving him, I couldn’t. Sorry. Plus, it all seemed a bit insta-love to me. Lucy hated Jesse the first day because she thought he was rude but the next day, she learned that he’s nice. Then off the romance we go. I know this makes me sound like I don’t have any romantic bone in my body but I just prefer romance that takes time.

Like all vacations, Lucy’s ended and I started to appreciate the story more when she was back in Philadelphia. First, she defied her parents (HA!) by auditioning for plays and starring in them. YAY! I was so happy for her and for myself because here’s Lucy taking charge of her life! We also get to meet a new love interest, who I was so aboard with, until he became a jerk who just wants to have sex with Lucy. Uh-uh. Here I go again with my absolute dislike for supposed love triangles where the other guy is obviously written to be the wrong choice so that whole option is cancelled out. Frustrates the hell out of me. Without Jesse in the picture and with the other half of the novel focusing on Lucy’s college life, her new drama friends, and how she’s dealing with the play and the incoming arguments from her father, I was almost ready to forgive and forget the first half of the book. But then, towards the end, it lost me again.

Most of the negative reviews I read were because this is apparently a retelling of A Room with a View and that it’s SO FAR from it. Now, I haven’t watched the film or read the book so I can’t judge it but for me, even if it wasn’t a retelling, this didn’t work for me AT ALL.

Still, a lot of people loved Love, Lucy so you should still go pick it up, especially if you adore travel romances. I do admit that this novel made me want to travel and experience the world but ultimately, I didn’t even remotely like it. Very unfortunate.

About April Lindner

I’m April Lindner, author of two young adult novels, Catherine, a contemporary retelling of Wuthering Heights, and Jane, a retelling of Jane Eyre, both published by Poppy. A third YA novel, Love, Lucy, is due out from Poppy in January 2015.

I’m also a poet, with two collections in print: This Bed Our Bodies Shaped, from Able Muse Press, and Skin, winner of the Walt McDonald First Book Prize from Texas Tech University Press. I write literary criticism and edit poetry anthologies too.

By day, I’m a mild-mannered English professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. By night, I attend way too many rock concerts and travel wherever and whenever I can. I also lavish attention on my rescued pets–two wonderful mutts and two exciteable guinea pigs. I’m a wife, mother, a lover of all things Italian, and a New Yorker at heart though I haven’t lived there in quite a while.