BLOG TOUR: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

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I am so excited to be participating in this blog tour. Thank you so much to St Martin’s Press – Wednesday Books for asking me to be a part of it! 

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Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Author: Candace Granger

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 320

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

Review:

“Naima came into the world the day her mother left it, and that is the very essence of Naima’s heart – existing because of, and in spite of, loss.”

There are no two people less alike than Naima and Dew. Naima’s father, a Marine, has just died in the line of duty, and she’s come back to his hometown for his memorial. She’s also biracial Latinex, bi or pan (it isn’t specified), and has OCD and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), so you could say she has more than enough to deal with. She’s also ferocious and fiery and combative and would rather die than listen to strangers give her sympathy and condolences. She would rather be alone and avoid the rest of the world.

Dew just lost both of his parents as well, and is still trying to process through it all. Lacking friends, he uses a voice recorder to put down all of his inner turmoil. But it’s not enough – he’s determined to find a real friend to help with the bad times and to celebrate the good times – the silver linings. He greets everything and everyone with a positive attitude, all the while pushing his anxieties down to try and keep them hidden.

Maybe Naima and Dew have more in common than they want to admit. And when Dew meets Naima, he’s determined to make her his friend…whether she wants to be or not.

“Find a connection; something similar enough that all the differences bounce off the table completely, like Ping-Pong balls. If we look past things that divide us, humanity will find a way to shine through.”

I really enjoyed this read. The rep alone made it a standout in my mind, especially from a mental health standpoint. In the Author’s Note (one of my favorite parts of this read) Granger makes a point to stay which parts of herself she put into Naima and what she put into Dew. It made the whole story so much more personal, relatable, and I was that much more invested. I especially appreciated the list of trigger warnings she included. This should be STANDARD, people.

My favorite part about this story had to be the characters. I want to put both Naima and Dew in my pocket and protect them forever and ever (but Naima would hate that). I see parts of myself in each of them. In Naima, how hard it is for her to let people in and how ferocious she is; her need to strike out when she isn’t sure why. Even in some of her OCD ticks. In Dew, his anxiety really struck home for me. I felt like I was looking in a mirror. And to me, finding yourself in the pages of a book is what it’s all about.

“Inside the panic I’m not the ruler of my universe, but a prisoner.”

This is such a great look at how teens can struggle to navigate the waters after tragedy strikes. And how important friendship is, even when you may not know it. Above all, it’s such a beautiful story of finding love and learning to let go. While it isn’t a perfect book, people aren’t perfect – and sometimes, those imperfections are the best parts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“If you want to count the time, start with now. It’s all we’re guaranteed.”

Six Goodbyes We Never Said released on Sept 24, 2019.

*All quotations taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication

Review: Undead Girl Gang

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Title: Undead Girl Gang

Author: Lily Anderson

Pages: 305

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

Review:

“You wouldn’t understand. It’s a dead girl thing.”

Not something you’d normally expect to hear, but in Mila’s world, not much is what the rest of the high school considers ‘normal’. For her and her best friend Riley, it’s always been both of them against the world. And with little to do in their small town, they have a lot of time to spend practicing witchcraft. While Mila isn’t sure she believes, Riley drags her along to perform spells and make charm bags. They’ve had each other’s back as long as they’ve known each other – and nothing as small as death is going to get in the way of that.

When two girls from the popular clique at Fairmont Academy die in what appears to be a double suicide, and Riley’s death follows shortly after, Mila isn’t sure what to think – except that she needs Riley back. She’s sure Riley wouldn’t have killed herself, and she’s determined to prove it. So she casts a spell to bring Riley back to life. Much to Mila’s surprise, it actually works…just a little too well. June and Dayton are brought back too.

Unfortunately the girls have no recollection of how they ended up dead, and their second chance at life has a time limit of seven days. The four girls only have a week to find out who’s responsible for their deaths, and how to stop them from killing someone else.

I really enjoyed this book! It was everything I was looking for at the time, and I was so pleasantly surprised. I’m not normally a huge fan of zombie-like books, but this one was so fun! I don’t know how much of a “mystery” it really was…there was only one twist, and you could see it coming. But despite that, I feel like this was the perfect book to read leading up to the spooky season.

“Spells are just prayers with more steps and a name that scares people.”

Despite the fun vibe this book had all the way through, it tackled some pretty heavy topics. Loss, grief, and friendship are pretty front and center, and the author doesn’t shy away from how messy battling these demons can be. This story was witty, hysterical, and heartbreaking all at the same time, and I cannot recommend it enough.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Happy Tuesday friends! Hard to believe that yesterday was the FIRST DAY OF FALL here in the US – meaning it’s a perfect time to take a look at my fall TBR. I’ve been slacking a little bit this month on the blogging/instagramming/reading front, so hopefully a new season means new motivation in that department! So here’s a look at part of my fall TBR, in no particular order:

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My first four books come from FridayFrightAThon, and if you don’t know what that is, check out THIS POST right now! I can’t wait to kick this off with some of my greatest friends on the first Friday of October. JOIN US!

ONE: American Predator by Maureen Callahan

TWO: The Whisper Man by Alex North

THREE: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

FOUR: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

 

I also have some ARCs I really need to get to:

FIVE: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

SIX: Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

SEVEN: Heart of the Moors by Holly Black

EIGHT: Coral by Sara Ella

 

And as for some mood reading, these are the two biggies I REALLY want to hit:

NINE: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

TEN: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

 

And that’s it y’all! which of these books made your TBR?? Are you reading any of them with me?

xoxo

Jen

Down the TBR #38

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Down the TBR Hole was created by Lost in a Story. Its purpose is to help narrow down your TBR list on Goodreads by selecting 5 titles each week and deciding if you want to keep it on your TBR or get rid of it! I was inspired by Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills to start this series. If you haven’t checked out any of these lovely blogs, do it NOW!

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here’s what’s on the chopping block this week:

ONE: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I adored Simon, and already have this book sitting on my bookshelf. I honestly can’t wait to pick it up, as Leah was one of my favorite characters.

VERDICT: KEEP

TWO: Spies, Lies and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

To me, the cover is more appealing than the synopsis no this one. I could see this being a great beachy vacation read, but since I’m not going on one anytime soon, I’m going to put this one on hold for now.

VERDICT: DELETE

THREE: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

I loved the first two books in this series, and I cannot WAIT for the third one to make it’s appearance!

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

I’m such a sucker for Jamie McGuire. It’s like my guilty pleasure.

VERDICT: KEEP

FIVE: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I liked the Girl on the Train, and I’ve heard equally good things about this one. I’ll probably get to it eventually.

VERDICT: KEEP

Oh boy, look at that, another week where I only got rid of one book. Whoops. Have you read any of these? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

Contemporaryathon TBR

Hey everybody! Hard to believe that contemporaryathon starts next WEEK but here we are. I’m (loosely) participating this time around. I’ve compiled a TBR that hits all of the challenges, but we’ll see how many I actually make it to. I’m kind of in a reading slump, so hopefully this busts me out of it! If you don’t know how it works, Contemporaryathon runs from Sept 23-29. Read below for more info!

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THE CHALLENGES:

➽ 1.) Read a 2019 release

➽ 2.) Read a contemporary with yellow on the cover

➽ 3.) Read a diverse contemporary

➽ 4.) Read a contemporary with an illustrated cover

➽ 5.) Read a dark / hard-hitting contemporary

➽ 6.) Read a contemporary with plants on the cover

➽ 7.) A contemporary beloved by a member of the book community (shout out the creator, if you want!)

 

THE HOSTS:

Melanie

Chelsea

Julie

Natasha

If you still need more info, watch these wonderful videos for everything you need to participate!

 

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MY TBR

These are the books I’ll be trying to tackle over the course of the week!

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory (challenges 1, 2, 3) 

Well Met by Jen DeLuca (challenges 1, 4, 7)

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (challenges 5, 6, 7)

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (challenges 2, 3, 4, 6)

Like I said, I’m loosely participating. Hopefully most of them! Are you guys participating?

xoxo

Jen

Down the TBR #37

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Down the TBR Hole was created by Lost in a Story. Its purpose is to help narrow down your TBR list on Goodreads by selecting 5 titles each week and deciding if you want to keep it on your TBR or get rid of it! I was inspired by Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills to start this series. If you haven’t checked out any of these lovely blogs, do it NOW!

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here’s what’s on the chopping block this week:

ONE: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I didn’t get super into the Lunar chronicles, so my first instinct is to take this off the list. HOWEVER I’m a sucker for things like this. A story about the Queen of Hearts…before she was the queen of hearts? Sign me up.

VERDICT: KEEP

TWO: Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

I bought this AGES ago and haven’t read it yet. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually…right?

VERDICT: KEEP

THREE: Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Ditto what I said above. Damn that unread shelf!

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli

This is a no brainer. Of COURSE I will be reading this. Preferably soon.

VERDICT: KEEP

FIVE: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

This honestly sounds fantastic, but it got really subpar reviews. I’m probably going to take it off my (very long) list for now.

VERDICT: DELETE

Oh boy, look at that, another week where I only got rid of one book. Whoops. Have you read any of these? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

September Pick: Book of the Month

Ok, I guess this title is a bit of a misnomer – I didn’t actually pick a book for BOTM. I know – for the first time in a LONG time, I skipped it. WILD. HOWEVER. I did pick a book for my affiliate package for YA BOTM, and it is a BEAUTY.

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alex E. Harrow

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Why I Picked It:

Ok, first of all, LOOK AT THAT COVER. If I have to be honest, at first glance, this was a total cover buy for me. But then I read the synopsis. A book about books? Sign me up. This was far and away the best choice for me out of all the selections.

If you’ve been on the fence about joining, TRY IT! It’s such a good bargain. Brand new hardcover books every month – and no penalty if you skip a month! Use THIS LINK to support me and my page when you sign up, and use the code “GROW” to get your first month for just $9.99!

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: Soul of the Sword

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Title: Soul of the Sword

Author: Julie Kagawa

Pages: 432

Publisher: Harlequin Teen – Inkyard Press

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Rating: ★★★.5

Shadow of the Fox: ★★★★ [See review here]

Goodreads Synopsis:

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

Review:

“All souls have a destiny. Some are simply brighter than others.”

In Soul of the Sword, we pick up right were we left off in Shadow of the Fox. Hakaimono has broken free from Kamigoroshi and has taken over Tatsumi’s body. Yumeko still has her piece of the scroll, and is still determined to make it to the Steel Feather temple and complete her task. But she’s just as determined to try and save Tatsumi, no matter how high the risk.

As high as the stakes seem, Yumeko still has help. Okame and Daisuke (who have a fantastic side story of their own) are by her side, as well as everyone else she’s met and won over along the way.

Hakaimono is determined to make everyone pay for trapping him in a sword, and has joined forces with the Master of Demons, who’s searching for the scroll to gain the wish from the Kami Dragon. As chaos ensues and the danger rises, can Yumeko keep both her promises – keep the scroll safeandsave Tatsumi?

“As I said before, vengeance is easy. One can never be certain with an emotion as dangerous and unpredictable as love.”

While I wasn’t quite as in love with this installment as I was with the first one, it still was almost as fun. There are little mini quests along the way, which you KNOW is my jam. In fact, I even wish there were MORE quests. ALL THE QUESTS!

I also loved watching Yumeko come into her own as a Kitsune. While she’s been taught to deny this part of herself her entire life, it turns out that it’s the one thing that may be able to save them all. Watching her learn about her powers and come into her own was empowering, and she definitely seemed to grow up along the way.

Did I mention that I loved Okame and Daisuke’s side story? Because this was probably the turning point in the book for me. I was struggling a little bit in the beginning, I’ll admit – the pacing was a little slow, and I didn’t love it as much as the first one. But these two (I don’t want to say much because SPOILERS ARE RUDE) were the best part of this book for me, and such a welcome surprise!

“In the best stories, the heroes always give their lives, for honor, duty, sacrifice and the glory of the empire. Anything less and it is not much of a story at all.”

I did have one other complaint besides the pacing, and like I said, I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll keep it pretty vague. Towards the end of the book, Yumeko makes a choice that is so out of character, and honestly it made me super annoyed – that alone is probably the reason for the <4 star rating.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this book, and at the end I couldn’t wait for the third book. I hope it comes out soon, because that cliffhanger is a little brutal. I hope you like this book as much as I do!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Avoiding

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Happy Tuesday everybody! This week’s topic is books on my TBR that I’m avoiding. Man…how long do you have? I have SO MANY books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, that I’m avoiding for one reason or another. BIG YIKES. I’ll try to limit it to the biggest ones:

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

I loved Six of Crows, so I was so thrilled when I heard about this installment coming out. However, the reviews since it was released have been…less than awesome. With so much excitement prior to release, needless to say that after hearing it fell flat, I’m a little nervous to read it.

 

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War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Ok. I swore to myself that after investing so much time in reading this series, I’d follow through to the end. Let me be clear: I didn’t love this series. Mare drove me bonkers. I actually already own this book. But I’m avoiding it…because I don’t want to read about her again. Whoops.

 

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Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Ok I actually LOVED Strange the Dreamer and was so excited for the second book to come out. And everyone I’ve talked to has loved it. But I’m just nervous it won’t live up to the first one.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This is actually on my Backlist reads for 2019 list, so I HAVE to read it before the year is up. And I’ve heard such good things! But…it’s just so long!

 

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I loved Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab, so I should be leaping at the opportunity to jump into another Schwab series. But that’s just it: if I love the first book, I’m committing to a 3 book long series – and that’s a lot of time that I’m not sure I have right now.

How about you? Which books on your TBR are you avoiding? Which of these should I STOP avoiding?

xoxo

Jen

Review: How To Walk Away

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Title: How To Walk Away

Author: Katherine Center

Pages: 302

Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.

Review:

“Dying is easy. It’s not dying that’s hard.”

Margaret has always been afraid of flying. It just doesn’t seem right, that such an enormous piece of metal can be thousands of feet in the air. So when her boyfriend, Chip, asks her to come up in his private plane with him as he shows off his pilot skills, her first instinct is to say ‘hell no’. But here’s the thing: she has the sneaking suspicion he might be proposing to her. So instead, she says yes.

That one decision changes her life forever. Sure, Chip does propose to her while they’re up in the air. But they also crash on the way back down. And when Margaret wakes up after surgery, everything is different – especially herself. And now she has to figure out to move forward when it seems like everything she has ever wanted is far, far out of reach.

“Because that’s all we can do: carry the sorrow when we have to, and absolutely savor the joy when we can. Life is always, always both.”

After really enjoying Center’s latest novel, Things You Save in a Fire, I was really looking forward to trying this one out. It had been sitting on my shelf for some time, but I hadn’t gotten to it yet. So when I finally picked it up, I settled in, expecting a whole lot of swoon with some humor mixed in.

I did get that, for sure. I don’t want to mislead you guys. I did really enjoy the storyline, and Center’s writing was just as witty and adorable as it was in her latest novel. HOWEVER, I did have some major issues with this book – and I’m not even sure that I should have ever picked it up.

Let me rewind a little bit. The first thing you need to know is that I am a physical therapist. And when I read the synopsis of this book, I knew two things: 1. I had to give it a try and 2. I wasn’t all that sure I was going to like it. I was nervous to pick this book up. And while some things impressed me and proved my own inner thoughts wrong, some things gave me the exact feelings I thought they would.

Let me talk about the things I liked first. Like I mentioned above, I loved Katherine Center’s writing. It’s witty and sweet at the same time, and I found myself wanting to laugh as often as I wanted to cry. I alos LOVE her characters. I loved her characters in Things You Save In a Fire, and I loved them in this book. Margaret, her sister Kitty, and Ian were FANTASTIC – they were complex and fierce and loveable and they practically jumped off the page.

“When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else.”

THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS BELOW. So if you want to avoid any and all spoilers, however minor, I’d stop reading here.

Margaret wakes up after surgery paralyzed, and without getting too far into it, most of the medical/anatomical details in the storyline were correct. This is the area that I was super impressed with. Center really did her research here, not just about the physical challenges that paraplegics face and the anatomical results of a spinal cord injury of this nature, but also about the insurance difficulties, hospital systems, and rehabilitation care.

The part I had difficulty with was the nature of Margaret’s relationship with her physical therapist. You guys, having a romantic relationship with a patient is a BIG NO NO. It is so unethical on so many levels, and I honestly can’t even imagine entertaining the idea of a relationship with a patient. I don’t care how cute and perfect this storyline made them seem for each other, I could not get behind these two. I just couldn’t get past it. Without this aspect, it’s probably a 4 star read for me.

HOWEVER. I doubt this will be as big of a problem for others as it was for me. If you’re looking for an adorable romance that also comes with a deeper message and some big life struggles, this book is for you. The book is thoughtful and well written, and the characters were definitely my favorite part. This is a great vacation read, and I hope you all love it! I’m excited to see so many more books from Katherine Center.

“More than anything, I know that you just have to choose to make the best of things. You get one life, and it only goes forward. And there really are all kinds of happy endings.”