BLOG TOUR(REVIEW): WHAT MAKES US by Rafi Mittlefehldt

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (October 15, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763697508
ISBN-13: 978-0763697501


Praise for WHAT MAKES US


What Makes Us is a heart-stopping, heartbreaking read — a book full of heart. Mittlefehldt’s thoughtful, nuanced exploration of identity pulled me in from the very first page, and I could barely put it down. Eran’s story takes a universal coming-of-age theme — finding out your parents aren’t who you thought they were — to a tightly wound and thrilling extreme. Most important, this book provides satisfying, much-needed representation of a contemporary, complex Jewish teen and his family. ―Lisa Rosinsky, author of Inevitable and Only

Provocative. ―Kirkus Reviews

A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving him to reckon with his heritage, legacy, and identity in this fiery, conversation-starting novel.

Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest.

But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently.

Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.

You can purchaseWhat Makes Us at the following Retailers:
       
MY REVIEW
I received a copy of WHAT MAKES US by Rafi Mittlefehldt by the publisher for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.
What can I say about this book? This is one of those reads that I was pulled in and devoured. I was enthralled with the story. I was angry with the story. I loved the story. So many emotions and just not enough words to properly place my review.
Eran is a teenager with teenager emotions (extreme. Go ahead and fight me on this one, but come on, teens are a bit extreme). He is passionate and wants to do what is best for the world and in doing it, he jumps at the chance to speak every chance he gets. Okay… let me just backtrack on this.
To properly grasp this book, you need to look at society as a whole. What are we? What, as the title states, makes us? We are opinionated. We are passionate. We want change. But, do we pause and think before we act?
This book is about a teenager who learns something about himself because he acted without thinking first. It is about a woman who was forced to speak and take on the actions of a man she loved because no one bothered to think before acting on their pain. It is about a young girl who has always thought before acting and is pushed to act once she is pressured by outside forces and her internal ones.
We all act without thinking. And this book, as much as it is a story about a young boy learning about himself, is about how we all need to start thinking. We don’t need to stop acting, but we should still think and care. Our actions may not hurt us, but it could hurt others.
And this may seem philosophical and not to the point of the story, but as I’m sitting here and really think about what I’ve read (a beautiful book, mind you), I’m forced to make a literary comment on it. I’ve read other reviews talk about the individuals, but not the actual emotional impact they have felt upon reading the book. And this, this is my emotional take.
Mittlefehldt is a great writer. He is a great storyteller. I was talking to my best friend last night about how I was pulled away from the story not because the writing didn’t flow, but because they matched so well that I felt I was with the characters. I was angry with them. I wanted to be there, to hold them, to yell for them. I wanted to act. And even at the start of this review (which I am leaving unchanged because I feel it shows exactly what the book was intended for), I was acting before actively thinking about what I wanted to say.
And now that I am thinking, I’m seeing more than just the story given. I’m seeing me. I’m seeing you. I’m seeing Rafi Mittlefehldt. I’m seeing how there are always going to be differing opinions, but not enough quiet to actively just discuss.
Okay, in terms of story, you can guess that this book truly hit me. I wasn’t sure at first because I was worried this was a more politically leaning book. It isn’t and I’m glad about that because I honestly don’t want to ever air out my own personal politics online. But, once I really got into the book (which did not take long, probably around the five percent mark), I was in. I would read passages out loud. I would fan over the way Eran’s mom lived her life (seriously, this woman is goals. I need to be more like her).
The writing is . . . I don’t want to say normal . . . it’s how you would think life would have been written. Like, would you want your life described in flowy language or would you like the truth right there in your face? I personally like the truth. And though the story is told in a first person point of view (for Eran), I didn’t completely feel it was unreliable. I felt that for him, this was his truth, just as for the other points of view was theirs.
Honestly, I feel everyone should read this book. And, Mr. Mittlefehldt, thank you for writing it.
As I said before, this book isn’t just about a teen going through a discovery that nearly destroys his world. This book is about how we should all learn to pause, breathe, ride out the currents, or even just think before we act.
Final Rating: 5/5 (seriously, everyone needs to read this).
P.S. Mr. Mittlefehldt, you have a new fan. Hi, I’m that new fan.

WHAT MAKES US BY RAFI MITTLEFEHLDT EXCERPT
II

My mom’s hair is all curls. They wiggle when she shakes her head, even a bit. It’s a big bushy mass, jet black, a bird’s nest. I’d have to get close to see the roots, the tiniest bit of brown, probably not even a quarter inch. Eema will dye it again tonight. She won’t let more than a couple weeks go by.

“Why do you do that?” I asked her once. I’d watched her as she unwrapped her towel turban, quick but careful, practiced but vigilant, a ritual I’d seen millions of times but never thought about.

When I finally did, it occurred to me how weird it was. Eema’s not one to care about appearances more than is absolutely necessary. She’s not sloppy, not untidy; she just has no interest in cosmetics. If it’s not practical, it’s not worth doing. I’ve never seen her wear lipstick.

She paused in the middle toweling off her hair, as if she had never considered the question. “I prefer black,” she said. That was that.

I watch her now as she reads the Chronicle, curls shaking to tiny eruptions. The actual print version, no quaint. I look for the steam above her coffee and don’t see it. She almost never finishes her coffee, lets it cool half-full, but still complains about how expensive chicory is.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Rafi Mittlefehldt

Photo Credit: Damien Mittlefehldt

Rafi Mittlefehldt is a writer who has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance theater critic, and children’s author. His debut novel was It Looks Like This. Rafi Mittlefehldt lives with his husband in New York City.

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Shortly after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, I read an article that mentioned one of the bombers having left behind a wife and three-year-old daughter. It was a throwaway line, but it stuck with me — I couldn’t stop thinking about that girl, who was too young to understand what had happened. When would she find out who her father was, and how would she process that? How would others react to learning about her family history? Would she keep it a secret? Would her mother?

What Makes Us began very simply as a story exploring those questions. But as I fleshed out the two main characters, Eran and Jade, their personalities took the story deeper, toward matters that are personal to me but relatable to so many. Eran’s volatility and tendency to react instinctively force him to confront issues of impulse control and anger management. And both characters’ uncertainty regarding their own pasts compels them to wrestle with self-determination and to ask, What makes a person? As the novel switches between Eran’s and Jade’s perspectives, we see them reluctantly frame and then try to answer this question, all against the backdrop of a community on the brink of chaos.

       
WEEK ONE
OCTOBER 14th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 15th TUESDAY Book Queen Reviews REVIEW
OCTOBER 16th WEDNESDAY BookHounds YA INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 16th WEDNESDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW
OCTOBER 17th THURSDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
OCTOBER 18th FRIDAY Kait Plus Books FILL IN THE BLANKS
OCTOBER 18th FRIDAY Novel Lives REVIEW & INTERVIEW
WEEK TWO
OCTOBER 21st MONDAY Insane About Books REVIEW & EXCERPT
OCTOBER 22nd TUESDAY A Dream Within A Dream EXCERPT
OCTOBER 23rd WEDNESDAY Wishful Endings INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 24th THURSDAY Little Bookish Thoughts REVIEW & INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 24th THURSDAY The Phantom Paragrapher REVIEW
OCTOBER 25th FRIDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW & EXCERPT
OCTOBER 25th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

 

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BLOG TOUR (REVIEW): THE RIFT by Rachael Craw

Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press (October 8, 2019)
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Language: English

ISBN1536211281/9781536211283
Young Adult Novel/Hardback



Praise for THE RIFT

“Thrilling … A fresh and original story; a standout in the fantasy genre. The romance between Cal and Meg blends envy, desire and uncertainty with a potent authenticity. Written with a sparse lovely poetry, The Rift demands an immersion that is intoxicating. I can’t recommend this enough.” ―Isabelle Carmody, author of The Obernewtyn Chronicles and The Gathering

“Gripping, brutal, tender. You won’t be able to put this book down.” ―Michael Pryor, author of The Laws Of Magic series and Gap Year in Ghost Town.

“Beautiful, dark and deliciously tense – an astonishing world that will hold you in its finely wrought claws.” ―Alison Goodman, author of the Lady Helen series and the Eon series.

“Masterful and brilliant! Beautiful world building, stunning writing, a cracking plot, perfectly paced and hot romantic tension. Craw has outdone herself.” ―Fleur Ferris, best-selling author of Risk, Black, Wreck and Found

Storylines Notable Book Award, 2019
Finalist, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2019

As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two young friends must try to protect the precious Old Herd — and their island itself.

For generations, the rangers of Black Water Island have guarded the Old Herd against the horrors released by the Rift. And Cal West, an apprentice ranger, fights daily to prove he belongs within their ranks. But even greater challenges await with the return of his childhood friend Meg Archer and the onset of a new threat that not even the rangers are prepared for. Now Meg and Cal, while struggling with their mutual attraction, must face their darkest fears to save the island from disaster. In a possible near future where Big Pharma is pitted against ancient traditions and the supernatural, Rachael Craw’s gripping and brutal tale, inspired by Greek mythology, will immerse readers and leave them intoxicated by its richly imagined world.


You can purchaseThe Rift at the following Retailers:
       

MY REVIEW

I want to first thank the publisher for my copy of the book. What follows is an honest review and my opinion alone. There was no compensation given for this review.

What instantly pulled me into this book was the blurb. It seemed so different and interesting that I wanted to crack this book open. What kept me going was the ambiance and the world. I’m not sure if the Pacific Northwest was an inspiration for the book or not, but I got some serious PNW vibes with Black Water Island. And to top it off, I also got some Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle vibes. So, I was very much on board with this book.

In terms of story pacing, the story itself is a bit slow in the beginning. More so because you don’t really get what is going on in the Island and how Meg and Cal fall into the world. It’s not slow in the writing, just in the mental execution as a reader. That said, once you hit about 80 pages, you should know whether or not you are in for the story. I was in.

I absolutely loved Cal and Joss. Joss for his perky sidekick ways of doing things. He had a whole bunch of personality and just not enough time to keep him going. There is no restraining that boy and I would love to see more of him. As for Cal, he had that big broody kind of attitude with him. The silent type who won’t speak unless it’s very important. And I was very into it.

Note, it is rare for me to “fall” for a character and I definitely fell for Cal. I wanted to cuddle him and just hiss at all the others (except Joss, he can stay).

Meg wasn’t a bad character. She grew on me as the book progressed and I do like her as a character. The way she and Cal worked against or with each other was well done. She and the other characters had a great chemistry.

The world itself is so expansive that there doesn’t seem to be enough to talk about it. Even though this book is written as a standalone, I can definitely see the story and world progress. There is so much left to understand. Like the Rift, Fallon, the Hounds. . . so much more I want.

The story wasn’t predictable, but I can see where you would be able to guess what is going on. In my case, I was too inside the world to really try to theorize or guess what was happening. I just wanted to be immersed and stay in there for a little while. And, on a huge plus, I was able to read the book in three days (I’ve been having a big reading problem lately so this was a big win for me). I didn’t want to put it down!

Final Rating: 4/5

P.S. Ms. Craw (if you happen to read this), I would love more. I know you don’t have anything planned, but there is just so much with the world and how you set up the characters. Come on, you know Joss needs to be out more. Okay, I’m done being a bother, but really, I am definitely going to need more of your writing (though I still say more of the rangers please!).

Photo Content from Rachael Craw

Rachael Craw began her working life as an English teacher after completing a degree in Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury. She dabbled in acting, directing and writing for amateur theatre productions and small independent film ventures. Her passion for dialogue and characterisation finally led to long-form writing with the Spark series. Rachael’s enthusiasm for classical heroes, teen angst and popular culture informs much of her creative process. She enjoys small town life teaching, writing and mentoring at the top of the South Island of New Zealand where she lives with her husband and three daughters.

 
       
WEEK ONE
OCTOBER 7th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 8th TUESDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
OCTOBER 9th WEDNESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books TENS LIST
OCTOBER 10th THURSDAY BookHounds YA INTERVIEW 
OCTOBER 10th THURSDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW
OCTOBER 11th FRIDAY TTC Books and More EXCERPT
OCTOBER 11th FRIDAY Wonder Struck REVIEW
WEEK TWO
OCTOBER 14th MONDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 15th TUESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW 
OCTOBER 16th WEDNESDAY Gwendalyn’s Books REVIEW
OCTOBER 17th THURSDAY A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW & EXCERPT
OCTOBER 17th THURSDAY The Moonlight Library REVIEW & GUEST POST 
OCTOBER 18th FRIDAY Insane About Books REVIEW 
OCTOBER 18th FRIDAY On My Bookshelf REVIEW & EXCERPT
 
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

 

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BLOG TOUR (REVIEW): Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

Print Length: 364 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 125031772X
Publisher: Tor Teen (May 7, 2019)
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Sold by: Macmillan
Language: English

Praise for DARK SHORES
“Richly-woven, evocative, and absolutely impossible to put down―I was hooked from the first lines! Dark Shores has everything I look for in a fantasy novel: fresh, unique settings, a cast of complex and diverse characters, and an unflinching boldness with the nuanced world-building. I loved every word.” ―Sarah J. Maas, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The book grabs readers from the beginning with its stellar worldbuilding and multidimensional characters, and the mythical elements are truly believable within the constructs of the story. The perspective shifts between the viewpoints of Teriana and Marcus from chapter to chapter, offering readers greater insights into each. …A gripping introduction to a new series.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“This is a lush, imaginative world, and as the focus shifts between Teriana and Marcus, it becomes clear that the readers are only getting a glimpse of its complicated history and mythology. …Their secrets don’t, of course, stop Teriana and Marcus from embarking on a steamy romance, and fans of Rutkoski’s sighworthy The Winner’s Kiss and the high-stakes sea adventure of Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King will want to know where Marcus and Teriana journey to next.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

You can purchaseDark Shores at the following Retailers:

MY REVIEW
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd for an honest review. There is no compensation for this review. What follows is my opnion and mine alone.
Okay, I actually was hesitant about reading this because the blurb had said pirates. I’ve never read a pirate book and I wanted to try one out, but I was nervous. Note. This is not a pirate book. Get that out of your head. It’s not a pirate book. However, that did not ruin this book.
Dark Shores is a fantasy with a Roman Empire inspired country out for further expansion. There are rumors of another continent on the other side of the world, but the seas are endless and the Empire is not equipped for that length of travel. Enter a deep lore, a very devote group of people, and a kickass female protagonist who is trying to save everyone she cares about at the expense of her soul.

Sounds good, right?

I was hooked by chapter seven and didn’t want to put it down. And once you hit that 25% mark, the book is fast reading. It has everything you could want in a fantasy: magic, political intrigue, and colorful cultures. It was like watching a movie or tv show.

I will definitely be reading book 2 when it comes out. The only downside is waiting for it to come out.

Final Rating: 4/5

Photo Credit: Katherine Calnan Photography

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Novels: Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress, Warrior Witch, and The Broken Ones, as well as The Bridge Kingdom (Audible Originals). Her latest novel, Dark Shores, will be released by Tor Teen in May of 2019. She lives with her family in Calgary, Alberta.

WEEK ONE
MAY 27th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
MAY 28th TUESDAY Bibliobibuli YA INTERVIEW
MAY 29th WEDNESDAY A Court of Coffee and Books REVIEW
MAY 29th WEDNESDAY TTC Books and More EXCERPT
MAY 30th THURSDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
MAY 30th THURSDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
MAY 31st FRIDAY A Bookish Dream REVIEW
MAY 31st FRIDAY Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews REVIEW & GUEST POST
WEEK TWO
JUNE 3rd MONDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW & INTERVIEW
JUNE 3rd MONDAY Cover2CoverBlog REVIEW
JUNE 4th TUESDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf REVIEW
JUNE 4th TUESDAY Random Bookish Banter REVIEW
JUNE 5th WEDNESDAY A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
JUNE 6th THURSDAY Wishful Endings REVIEW
JUNE 7th FRIDAY My Bookish Escapades REVIEW & EXCERPT
JUNE 7th FRIDAY Lauren’s Bookshelf REVIEW
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

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Book #31: Fallen by Lauren Kate

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart. 

Get ready to fall . . .

I read Fallen with a friend for a buddy read. Apparently, this is the year of buddy reads. That said, I honestly think it could have been better.

I feel that this book wasn’t as good as it could have been. The story itself is slow and the writing is pretty simple. Not in a bad way, but… just not engaging. I did like the setting and some aspects of the story but, again, it didn’t engage me.

I can see where people like to compare this to Twilight and though it is about angels, I found myself doing the same. Unfortunately, Twilight was better for me. That said, I am going to eventually continue with the series. I hope that this is just a case where book one is just not as good as the rest.

I can’t really go into detail with what I liked or disliked because they are spoilers. That said, I’m planning on buddy reading the rest of the series with that friend.

Final Rating: 3/5

BLOG TOUR (REVIEW): Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (April 16, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763697567
ISBN-13: 978-0763697563



Praise for STARWORLD

An unlikely friendship blossoms between two high school seniors…in the deft hands of co-authors Coulthurst (Inkmistress, 2018, etc.) and Garner (Relative Strangers, 2018, etc.), the well-realized main characters and deeply insightful descriptions of complex emotions combine into an unusually thoughtful novel…Readers seeking characters facing challenges with honesty, bravery, and kindness will appreciate this book with its reminder that our outward lives often don’t reflect who we really are. ―Kirkus Reviews

Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?


In a novel in two voices, a popular teen and an artistic loner forge an unlikely bond — and create an entire universe — via texts. But how long before the real world invades Starworld?

You can purchaseStarworld at the following Retailers:
       
MY REVIEW
First, thank you to the publisher and Jean Book Nerd for the copy of Starworld. Second, there was no compensation in the making of this review and everything that follows is my opinion and mine alone.
Oh. My. God. Hardly ever is there a YA contemporary that pulls me in every direction, where I can relate to almost all of the characters. I believe the one last year was Eliza And Her Monsters. This year though has to be Starworld.
Starworld is a book about two girls who hide from the world in their own way and collide to make a world of their own that brings out a deep friendship and personal growth. But, this book has more than that. It deals with anxiety, OCD, the feeling of being alone, disabilities… the whole kit and caboodle.
I was glued to this book. I also had to put it down. I was pulled everywhere. Like Zoe, I had personal pressure to try and be the best person I can. Not for personal growth but because I was afraid people would hate me (technically I still deal with it). I also have a brother who is disabled.
Like Sam, I say the weirdest things and because of it, I tried to keep my mouth shut for a good portion of my teen life and well, I still kind of do it. Her brain was beautiful and it made me giggle because that’s my brain too! Minus the math. I can’t math.
She also had to deal with a mother who has OCD. I don’t have a mother who is OCD, but I have a grandmother who is a hoarder and… with my own anxiety, I am scared I will become that or ritualistic in some way. If anything, reading the progression of this aspect in the book opened my eyes to wonder why my grandmother is so anxious. I’m still scared I will become something akin to it, but I am more open to being compassionate about it instead of the anger and hurt that comes with fear and misunderstanding.
There is so much more to the book than what I’ve said. I could go in depth, but then you wouldn’t want to read the book. I was smiling, I was rooting for both girls, and I was scared because I knew what was going to happen and I didn’t want either of them to get hurt in the fire.
This is a beautiful book. It sticks with you and keeps you going. I hope to god these two work together again and craft another amazing work.
Final Rating: 5/5
Note: May I add that my Whovian self was very giddy through all of Sam’s mentions of the great scifi show and others? Seriously, I love her. I love Zoe. I love them so much.
Note Note: I also love that there are resources available for all the things mentioned. It shows to me that you guys not only want to help spread the compassion to the readers who don’t understand, but you also want to help those who have nowhere to go. It’s awesome.
Photo Credit for Audrey: Evrim Icoz Photography

Paula Garnerspends most of her time writing, reading, or making good things to eat and drink. She is the author of YA contemporary novels Starworld, Relative Strangers, and Phantom Limbs, which was a 2017 Illinois Reads selection for grades 9-12. Follow her on Twitter at @paulajgarner.

Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.

Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

WEEK ONE – INTERVIEWS/EXCERPTS

APRIL 15th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
APRIL 16th TUESDAY Pages and Pugs EXCERPT
APRIL 16th TUESDAY Tara’s Book Addiction TENS LIST
APRIL 17th WEDNESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
APRIL 18th THURSDAY TMBA Corbett Tries to Write INTERVIEW

APRIL 18th THURSDAY TTC Books and More EXCERPT
APRIL 20th FRIDAY Pages Below the Vaulted Sky INTERVIEW
APRIL 20th FRIDAY Kelly P’s Blog EXCERPT


WEEK TWO – REVIEWS
APRIL 22nd MONDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf REVIEW
APRIL 22nd MONDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
APRIL 23rd TUESDAY Insane About Books REVIEW
APRIL 23rd TUESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
APRIL 24th WEDNESDAY A Bella Fairy Tale REVIEW
APRIL 24th WEDNESDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW
APRIL 25th THURSDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW
APRIL 25th THURSDAY Port Jericho REVIEW
APRIL 26th FRIDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW & INTERVIEW 

 
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

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BLOG TOUR (Review): Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok



Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher:
Tor Teen (February 12, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765399687
ISBN-13: 978-0765399687

Praise for SPECTACLE
“Clever and full of murder, Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Spectacle had my eyes glued to the pages as the body count rose, and mystery stacked upon mystery as our heroine closed in on a killer who seemed miles ahead of the Parisian authorities. Fans of serial killers and criminal investigations will find much to love, and fascinating passages about morgue tours will appeal to the morbid rubbernecker in us all.” ―Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series
“With a fierce heroine, grisly 19th-century murders, and a mystery that left me on the edge of my seat, Spectacle is an immersive, Parisian, YA From Hell that I absolutely devoured!” ―Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten and #MurderTrending
“Zdrok explores the universal fascination with death, set among the darker corners of 1887 Paris, and the very idea of the morgue viewings (to which parents brought their children) is chilling…Grisly, plot driven―and very creepy. Fans of historical thrillers that invoke the enduring spirit of Jack the Ripper will have fun.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Hints of the murderer’s identity are subtly and intriguingly folded into the story, and unresolved plot threads pave the way for future cases, during which Nathalie can discover more about her powers. The blend of history, mystery, and fantasy makes this debut novel a good pick for fans of Libba Bray’s Diviners series or William Ritter’s Jackaby books.” ―Booklist
“The book seamlessly brings several threads together: the mystery of the murder and the horrors of the killings themselves; the beauty, bustle, and darkness of nineteenth-century Paris (the killer’s pursuit of Nathalie through the catacombs is thrillingly described); the bizarre but historically based practices of morgue viewing and blood transfusions for magic; and the destructive nature of family secrets and their generational effects. …the tension amps up to a gasp-worthy climax.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Zdrok has concocted an ambitious Victorian-era story. …Intricately plotted, the story’s pace burns slow before racing ahead to set up and topple assumptions about the true identity of the Dark Artist.” ―School Library Journal

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

You can purchaseSpectacle at the following Retailers:

MY REVIEW
I received a copy of Spectacle from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd for an honest review. This is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

The quickest way to my reader desires is to set a book in the 1800s and have a serial killer. It’s safe to say that I jumped at reading this book. As soon as I heard about Spectacle I was anticipating a good read.

I was not disappointed.

Spectacle follows the footsteps of a teenaged girl who is breaking the glass ceiling and working in the “man’s world” of journalism. On top of that, Nathalie Baudin is reporting the unidentified dead inside the morgue. She’s going against the grain and in the process learns something about herself, her family, and the serial killer who finds her interesting.

Historical fiction is not one of my top fave genres but I felt this book had a good balance of historical detail while still holding the attention of a modern reader. It was interesting seeing how the process of body identification was, like a macabre art gallery of the dead, both a process for the police and a form of entertainment for the public.

There is also a hint of something supernatural that only strengthens the story and suspense. You will not know who The Dark Artist is right away. You will not know the full truth. And like Nathalie, you will be questioning everything. This is a definite read for the thriller lover both for young adult and adult readers.

Final Rating: 4/5

Photo Content from Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

WEEK ONE
MARCH 25th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
MARCH 25th MONDAY Sophie Reads YA REVIEW
MARCH 26th TUESDAY Bibliobibuli YA INTERVIEW
MARCH 26th TUESDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
MARCH 27th WEDNESDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW
MARCH 27th WEDNESDAY Wonder Struck REVIEW
MARCH 28th THURSDAY My Bookish Escapades EXCERPT
MARCH 29th FRIDAY Wishful Endings GUEST POST
MARCH 29th FRIDAY Adventures Thru Wonderland REVIEW
WEEK TWO
APRIL 1st MONDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf REVIEW
APRIL 1st MONDAY A Bookish Dream REVIEW
APRIL 2nd TUESDAY A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW
APRIL 2nd TUESDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW & INTERVIEW
APRIL 3rd WEDNESDAY Random Bookish Banter REVIEW & INTERVIEW
APRIL 3rd WEDNESDAY Bookish in Texas REVIEW
APRIL 4th THURSDAY A Court of Coffee and Books REVIEW
APRIL 4th THURSDAY TTC Books and More EXCERPT
APRIL 5th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

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Blog Tour: The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons

 

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (February 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250175798
ISBN-13: 978-1250175793
Praise for THE DECEIVERS
“Brilliantly plotted, tightly paced, and intensely smart. The Deceivers is the perfect con, full of clever characters, untrustworthy romance, and lie after lie after lie, with just enough truth tossed in to make you question everything. Kristen Simmons is a deceptive genius. I could not devour this book fast enough.” — Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval
“Beneath its quick and clever dialogue, The Deceivers examines the moral grey area between good and evil. Lying has never seemed so much fun.” —Katharine McGee, New York Times bestselling author of the Thousandth Floor Trilogy
“Masterful, suspenseful, and brilliantly executed, The Deceivers is the perfect con. Kristen Simmons is an outstanding storyteller, and this is her best yet.” —Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae and These Broken Stars
“Addictive and delicious, The Deceivers will keep you turning the pages well into the night!” —Katie McGarry, critically acclaimed author of Pushing the Limits“Brynn is a sharp, analytical thinker with a soft heart – the exact kind of protagonist I love rooting for, especially as villains and heroes creep out from places I don’t expect…Even the prerequisite romance was a pleasant surprise as Brynn and her love interest show complete respect for one another, giving enthusiastic consent the front seat it absolutely deserves and yet feels underrepresented in young adult literature. I devoured this book in one big gulp because I couldn’t wait to see what twists and turns were ahead.” —Kelly Morton, Joseph-Beth Booksellers
“The Deceivers is a perfectly paced, high stakes read that is honestly super fun for the reader. Don’t plan on putting it down in the middle to do other things, you’ll want to keep reading. Simmons has outdone herself with this incredible new story about con artists and a girl trying to find her own path.” —Rachel Strolle, Teen Librarian, Glenside Public Library District

Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.

You can purchase The Deceivers at the following Retailers:

MY REVIEW
I received a copy of The Deceivers from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made in the making of this review.
The idea of a good con-artist/heist fiction is what originally drew me to this book. I haven’t had much experience in this type of fiction but I love suspense, intrigue, and a good heist movie. So, fiction was the inevitable leap I would make in this genre of entertainment.
That said, I was a bit hesitant about a school of con-artistry. I mean, come on, there are a ton of school settings in YA fiction. You have your modern contemporary high schools, your magical high schools, the high schools for royalty, and the schools for the more criminal in mind. Most follow the similar formula of the new kid being brought into school (can we say: “You’re a wizard, Harry.”) and being thrust into a world of the school’s special parameters and… well… school education.
It can be a bit boring depending on how the story begins, the characters, and the world it is set in.
For The Deceivers, this interaction of the formula is a bit different. We aren’t even brought into the school until about 25% in and the whole set up of the main story is closer to the 50% mark. It is like how one character states,
“The long con is about rapport”- Mr. Moore, The Deceivers Kristen Simmons. About 40% into the Kindle book.
This book is written like a long con. It pulls you in with the lead role and sucks you in piece by piece with each of the following characters. Your hunger for more information is only satisfied in increments. All the while, you are presented with the main plot that is slowly unweaving but yet tightening as the story progresses.
I think you can guess that I like this book. I do. I like the characters and how there is only a subtle reveal of a little bit of information, making you suspect some characters but still unsure if you can dislike them. And really, I can’t. I actually like all the characters and how the story unfolded.
All in all, this is a good beginning to a series and I look forward to reading more. I love the snark between the teens and they each have their own personality that makes the story more interesting.
Final rating: 3/5
Photo Content from Kristen Simmons

KRISTEN SIMMONS is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, and METALTOWN. She has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma as a mental health therapist, taught Jazzercise in five states, and is forever in search of the next best cupcake. Currently she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, where she spends her days supporting the caffeine industry and chasing her delightfully rambunctious son.

GIVEAWAY!!!
Giveaway is open until February 25, 2019
It is open internationally.
Must be 13+ to enter
10 Winners will be chosen

WEEK ONE

FEBRUARY 4th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
FEBRUARY 4th MONDAY The Eater of Books! INTERVIEW
FEBRUARY 5th TUESDAY MetalPhantasmReads REVIEW
FEBRUARY 6th WEDNESDAY We Live and Breathe Books REVIEW
FEBRUARY 6th WEDNESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
FEBRUARY 7th THURSDAY Book Rambler REVIEW
FEBRUARY 7th THURSDAY TFAULC Book Reviews EXCERPT
FEBRUARY 8th FRIDAY LILbooKlovers REVIEW
FEBRUARY 8th FRIDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
WEEK TWO
FEBRUARY 11th MONDAY A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
FEBRUARY 11th MONDAY The Candid Cover REVIEW
FEBRUARY 12th TUESDAY Wishful Endings REVIEW & INTERVIEW
FEBRUARY 5th TUESDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW
FEBRUARY 13th WEDNESDAY A Court of Coffee and Books REVIEW
FEBRUARY 13th WEDNESDAY Literary Meanderings EXCERPT
FEBRUARY 14th THURSDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW
FEBRUARY 15th FRIDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf REVIEW
FEBRUARY 15th FRIDAY Carina’s Books REVIEW

 

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

Book #66: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

I read this book for a club read a previous month (I know, I’m slacking in my reviews). It was a big deal in the club. Most of them were excited about the contemporary book. Add that the MC is of Indian descent and it is an instant hit with the club I’m in.

I have to say that this book was okay. I’ve been reading more and more contemporary lately and yet I can’t say that the genre itself is a favorite. There are hits, misses, and “eh, it was okay.”

For me, Twinkle was an “eh, it was okay.” I honestly didn’t care for the MC as a person, though I could definitely relate to her. It was one of those cases of hating something you are. Needless to say, I could see my own negative traits in her and it bothered me.
For that, I do think the book was interesting. It made me do some introspective thought. But, for a story as a whole? Eh, it was okay.

I did, however, like the love interest. He was adorable, down to Earth, and the kind of guy I would have probably dated after getting to know him. I loved the references to old school horror films and the concept of teens making a movie was good. Though I wish there was more of the filming process than what was given.

All in all, for the contemporary reader, it is decent fluff. For me, it was okay.
Final Rating: 3/5

Book #35: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Ace of Shades is the first book for my book club this month. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to read this. I didn’t own it and I wasn’t going to buy it. My library was taking a bit of a while getting it and it was on hold from others by the time they did have it out. Luckily, they were able to set up the audiobook too. And so, I listened.

The first thing I should say is that some of the people in the club found the book to be a bit boring in the beginning. I would have to agree, it is slow paced. I probably would have stopped reading the book if I didn’t have the audiobook.

However, the narrator was good and it brought to life the world Foody created. It’s an interesting world; gritty and full of magic. I’ve read some disapproving opinions about the created swears (in this case, “mucking”) and the information about the world right in the beginning. Honestly, neither bothered me.

It was really just the pacing of the book that I found difficult. The book is separated by days with alternating chapters of Levi and Enne’s point of views. So, with that in mind, it isn’t until about Day Four that the book starts picking up speed. Even then, it doesn’t really get moving until Day Seven.

That said, I did enjoy the audiobook. And, so did my brother. In fact, he got upset with me for listening to another audiobook when he thought I was listening to the sequel. I guess I will be buying the audiobook for him.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #32: Cakespell by Gaby Triana

15-year-old Rose Zapata is an aspiring professional baker (with a secret crush) who’s only seen love in the movies. But all that changes when she discovers her late grandmother’s vintage baking tools in her grandpa’s closet. Along with a family secret: Rose is a witch–a kitchen witch. And after accidentally releasing her nana’s matchmaking “Cakespell,” Rose is the only one who can wield its power. 

When news spreads about Rose’s love-infused goodies, classmates, teachers, and even her crush, Caleb, flock to her door. As business booms, fame does too. Principal O’Dell enlists her in the school’s Battle of the Bakers, everyone wants a taste of Rose’s cake magic, and even her overprotective mother begins to feel the Cakespell’s sweet effects. 

Can Rose whip up some love for herself before she drowns in orders, or will the Cakespell overtake her life? A story about family and friendships, Cakespell will have you believing in love, magic, and the power inside us all.

Cakespell is like birthday cake. Everyone needs a good birthday cake. It’s a cake that brings on a new year and celebrates life and love. It’s a cake that is needed in everyone’s life. Cakespell is a birthday cake.

Triana’s writing instantly pulled me into the story of Rose Zapata. Rose loves baking. Her dream is to one day own her own shop and spread love to the people who buy her baked goods. As a baker, I love this. I try to have the same happy mindset when I’m baking and it really is important in the food that is made, even if you don’t believe it.

With Rose though, the magic is real.

After a birthday cake sprung a proposal for marriage, Rose goes on a mission. A mission to see if Cakespell is the real deal, a mission to find love for herself, and a mission to bring her bakery dream a reality.

This is a confectionary filled fun book that had me smiling and crying with Rose. I loved the dynamics of the characters and the amount of love put into their relationships with Rose. This is definitely a book I recommend for my contemporary reading friends and the friends who love a bit of magic with their romance.

final rating: 4/5