Blog Tour Review: Jordie & Joey Fell from the Sky

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An important story about loss, love, and the importance of family.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Judi Lauren for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: MG Contemoprary
Publishing Date: April 19, 2022

Twin brothers Jordie and Joey have never met their parents. Maybe it’s because they aren’t from this planet?

When another kid at school tried to force Jordie to show him the “crop circles” on his back that prove he’s an alien, it was Joey who took the kid to the ground. And when the twins got kicked out of their foster home because Joey kissed the other boy who lived there, it was Jordie who told him everything would be okay. And as long as Jordie and Joey are together, it will be. But when the principal calls their current foster mother about a fight at school, the boys know she’ll be done with them. And, from spying in their file, they also know they’re going to be separated.

Determined to face the world side by side rather than without one another, Jordie and Joey set off to find their birth parents. From Arizona to Roswell to Area 51 in the Nevada desert, the twins begin a search for where they truly belong. But Jordie’s about to discover that family isn’t always about the ones who bring you into the world, but the ones who help you survive it.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Judi Lauren was born in the Midwest and misses those winters. She now resides in an area where the bugs are way too large. She has an unnatural obsession with Chicago, Dean Winchester, and Friends (the TV show.)

Judi is represented by Heather Cashman of Storm Literary Agency, where she writes books for kids and teens about family, friendship, and surviving impossible things.

In her spare time, she also works as an editor at Radish Fiction. You can connect with her on Instagram @judilauren.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this novel. Kids with strange crop circle scars on their spines? Aliens?! I haven’t read too many books about aliens nor watched many movies/shows with them, so it was refreshing to hear more about the history of abductions and sightings. Throughout the book, the readers get several clips of moments from history in the form of blog posts. I admit that I haven’t actually verified whether these sightings and supposed-abductions are from real history or simply made up by the author, but they were a joy to read regardless.

Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky follows the story of two twins (and their friend Nadia) who are on the hunt to figure out who they are. Having been abandoned at one week old in the middle of a crop circle with identical crop circle marks on their spines, Jordie is convinced that he and Joey must have been dropped onto Earth by their alien parents. In an attempt to figure out more about their past and possibly uncover the identities of their parents, the three children travel to Roswell and Area 51 in a hunt for answers.

The overall plot of Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky is very standard and predictable. However, I still thought it was an important read, especially for its target audience of middle school readers. It’s a story about loss, about love, and about the importance of family.

Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky is out now, so if you’re interested, definitely check out some of the links listed above!

Blog Tour Review: The Matchbreaker Summer by Annie Rains

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A coming-of-age novel about the important of open communication

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Annie Rains for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publishing Date: April 5, 2022

A pitch-perfect summer camp rom-com about two teens with nothing in common who come together to help break up a romance and unexpectedly start one of their own

Sixteen-year-old Paisley Manning has been attending Camp Seabrook since she was a little girl, when her parents ran it together. For the last few years, since her father’s death, she’s been the one helping her mom run the camp behind the scenes. This year, however, will be Camp Seabrook’s last hurrah because Paisley’s mom has met a guy online and they’re getting married.

Enter Hayden Bennett, who is working alongside Paisley. Paisley and Hayden are like oil and water. She follows the rules, and he seems to live to break them all. But when Hayden catches wind of Paisley’s predicament, he has an idea. If a matchmaker in some computer algorithm caused the issue, a couple of real-life matchbreakers can fix it.

As they work to break up the happy couple, Paisley discovers that maybe Hayden’s not so bad after all. Has she met her own perfect match in her fellow matchbreaker? Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Annie Rains lives in a small, coastal North Carolina town, full of lovable folks, scenic downtown areas, and breathtaking nature—similar to the towns she writes about in her books. Annie’s love of reading and writing grabbed hold of her at a young age and never let go. Her first book was published in 2015, and she’s been writing heartfelt, page-turning stories ever since. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s reading from her never-ending TBR stack on her bedside table, taking long walks while plotting her characters’ happy endings, and living out her own happily ever after with her husband, three children, feisty rescue cat, and mischievous dog.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

What should you do when your mom is willing to sacrifice everything you know to move with her new boyfriend? That is the question Paisley Manning finds herself forced to answer when her mom suddenly announces not only that her boyfriend is moving, but also that both of them will be going with him. As a result, the camp that Paisley’s late father helped build–and that Paisley loves–will have to be sold to accommodate the impending move.

It’s her last summer at Camp Seabrook (called Camp Starling throughout the novel) and Paisley decides that the best course of action is to team up with rule-breaker Hayden Bennett in an attempt to break up her mother’s happy relationship. No relationship, no move. What could possibly go wrong?

The Matchbreaker Summer is a young adult coming-of-age story that teaches readers lessons about being true to oneself, the importance of honest communication, and the acceptance of necessary change. This novel was a quick and easy read for me, and the overall plot arcs were pretty darn cute. My main complaint is that I think it was marketed to the wrong audience.

The book is labeled as young adult, with the main characters being 16, but both the writing and the story would have much better fit characters who were younger in age. While I could believe that Hayden and the other camp counselors were 16, Paisley’s character struck me as strangely immature. Her motivations and actions didn’t seem aligned with her age, and I kept finding myself imagining she was around 13 years old instead. There are admittedly several times where her more mature aspects come out, but that also happens with younger teens as well, so I do think her character still would have worked better if she were of younger age.

That being said, I very much appreciated the commitment to emphasizing the importance of open communication to avoid/solve problems. The adults in this book (aside from the select few) were actually very supportive and caring, which is kind of unusual for YA contemporary novels. I wish more books had healthier depictions of adult-teen relationships like this one.

The Matchbreaker Summer was just released yesterday, so if you’re interested, definitely check out some of the links listed above!

Blog Tour Review: Ellen Outside the Lines by A. J. Sass

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An incredible coming-of-age story, perfect for anyone looking to understand identity.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and A.J. Sass for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing Date: March 22, 2022

Rain Reign meets Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World in this heartfelt novel about a neurodivergent thirteen-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons.

Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track.  Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.

Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

A. J. Sass (he/they) is an author, editor, and competitive figure skater who is interested in how intersections of identity, neurodiversity, and allyship can impact story narratives. He is the author of Ana on the Edge, a Booklist Editors’ Choice 2020 and ALA 2021 Rainbow Book List Top 10 for Young Readers selection, and Ellen Outside the Lines (Little, Brown, 2022), the co-author of Camp QUILTBAG* with Nicole Melleby (Algonquin, 2023), as well as a contributor to the This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us (Knopf) and Allies: Real Talk about Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again (DK US & UK) anthologies. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Ellen from Outside the Lines was such an amazing story! I’m excited to see how influential this book will be for middle-grade readers who are struggling to understand identity. It also makes for a great and informative read for adults who are looking to learn more about these aspects of life.

The representation in this film was phenomenal. There were several queer characters (from gay to trans to unlabeled) as well as autistic characters, Jewish characters, and characters with ADHD. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different perspectives and experiences that these characters had to offer.

I would have to say that one of the things I liked most about this novel was how it handled conflict. The characters in Ellen from Outside the Lines are far from perfect. They’re young pre-teens and teenagers who are, understandably, struggling to figure out how they fit into the world. Yet, each time one of them makes a mistake to the detriment of others, they are challenged (in extremely kind ways at that) and quickly begin to make amends.

The story has a bit of an open, but hopeful, ending. Not everything in life is going to go the way that you hope, but as humans, all we can really do is try our best.

Blog Tour Review: Lemon Drop Falls by Heather Clark

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A powerful story about love, grief, and healing.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Heather Clark for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Middle Grade General
Publishing Date: February 15, 2022

Brave the sour to taste the sweet.

Morgan is devastated by her mother’s sudden death. Before, Mom’s amazing organizational skills kept the family on track, and her bowl of lemon drops was always on hand to make difficult conversations easy, turning life’s sour into sweet. After, there’s no one to help Morgan navigate her new role caring for her younger siblings, her worries about starting junior high, and her increasingly confusing friendships. All she can do is try to fulfill her mother’s final request: Keep them safe, Morgan. Be brave for them. Help them be happy.

When Dad insists on taking the family on their regular summer camping trip, and Morgan’s efforts to keep her promise to Mom seem doomed to fail, Morgan’s anxiety spirals into a panic attack, and Dad treats her like she’s impossibly broken. Unable to share her fears and needs with Dad, and desperate to prove she’s got the strength to hold the family together, Morgan sets off alone to hike a flooding canyon trail. But somewhere on that lonely and dangerous journey, Morgan will encounter the truth about the final words her mother left her, the power in finding her own voice, and the possibility of new beginnings.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Heather Clark grew up near the Rocky Mountains of Canada, then followed the mountain range south, to her current home in Utah, where she lives with her husband and three children who inspire the books she writes. Heather’s work as a writer, photographer, and teacher helps her see the beauty and unique value in every person. After dealing with her own childhood anxiety and OCD, Heather is passionate about representing neurodiverse children powerfully in fiction. When she’s not working, you can find Heather camping, hiking, boardgaming, or reading and celebrating books at MGBookParty.com. You can learn more about Heather and her books at HeatherClarkBooks.com. LEMON DROP FALLS is her debut novel.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

This book was nothing short of amazing. If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Lemon Drop Falls is an incredibly powerful middle grade novel about a 12 year old girl struggling to survive after the unexpected death of her mother. It has major themes of anxiety, loss, friendships, and grief, so though I would highly recommend this book, I do so with the caveat that you should expect to be emotionally devastated at times, particularly towards the end of the book. (I know I was a hot crying mess towards the end).

There are so many important messages that Heather Clark managed to get across in this novel, but I think the one I loved the most was the emphasis on how a good relationship must involve healthy and open communication. The title and base plot of the story comes from Clark’s own family tradition of sharing “lemon drops”, i.e. difficult conversations with each other that may start out sour, but will ultimately end up sweet. I absolutely loved this idea and can imagine that by adding literal lemon drops to the mix, a good amount of children would probably enjoy it as well! The only way that we, as people, can learn to live harmoniously with each other is if we’re allowed the space to share our experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Lemon Drop Falls does an excellent job at expressing this message.

Back when I was in high school, I read the Christian novel The Shack, a story about one man’s journey to overcome the grief that threatens to drown him after his young daughter goes missing. Lemon Drop Falls had a very similar feeling to it but without the religious undertones. Yes, this is a story about grief and loss, but it’s also a story about perseverance, friendships, and healing.

Blog Tour Review: Christmas at Snowflake Lodge by CP Ward

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A cute and short holiday read.

Foreword

Thank you so much to Rachel at https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/ and CP Ward for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eBook and blog tour media kit!

About the Author

CP Ward is an author from the UK who currently lives and works in Japan. For more information, please visit http://www.amillionmilesfromanywhere.net/cp-ward.html

Social Media Link –https://www.facebook.com/groups/510678469409835

Review

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Plumber Jessica Lemond is determined not to follow in her parents footsteps by living off her famous grandfather’s fortune. However, when the old timer himself elopes to Scotland with suspicions over the recent death of his much younger third wife hanging over his head and a private detective on his tail, it is left to Jessica to follow and clear up the mess. Happy to escape from her nightmarish lodger Doreen, she heads to the remote Snowflake Lodge with her young trainee Kirsten in tow.

However, Snowflake Lodge – with its oddball staff and very dodgy plumbing – is not how it appears in the brochure. Among the beautiful Scottish scenery, and with more hot chocolate and mince pies than she can possibly handle, can Jessica find something she didn’t even know she was looking for?

Review (No Spoilers)

I’ve got another holiday book for you today! Look at how cute that cover is!

I read another Christmas-themed book by CP Ward last year, so I guess I’m starting a new tradition. You can find my review for Christmas at Marshmallow Cafe here.

As with many holiday chick-flick novels, Christmas at Snowflake Lodge is full of drama, laughter, and newfound relationships, both platonic and romantic. The story follows Jessica Lemond, an almost-30-year-old woman who travels to a place called Snowflake Lodge in attempt to find her estranged on-the-run grandfather and escape from her nightmare of a roommate. Cue shenanigans, drama, friendships, and romance.

Despite the short length (around 250 pages), I think the book suffered a bit from trying to do too much at once. There were multiple plot elements including roommate drama, parent drama, workplace drama, detective drama, and romance drama. The inclusion of all of these things in one story sometimes made me feel like I was being mentally tossed around a bit. Certain characters seemed to be exaggerated caricatures at times, and I think this was just for the sake of fitting these multiple plots together. I think if some of these elements were split into two or three different books, it would have flowed much better and have made for a bunch of great holiday novels/novellas.

Regardless, there were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book. The main character annoyed me in the beginning, but she grew on me as the story progressed. At the end of the book, she even delivers a very strong message to the readers about working hard and philanthropy, which I appreciated very much. Several of the side characters were extremely lovable and endearing. I would definitely enjoy reading more about some of the staff members at Snowflake Lodge. It seems like they would have some very intriguing stories to tell. There is little romance in the novel, but I did enjoy the small pieces that were sprinkled throughout. And though I had to suspend my belief a few times in this book, it pulled quite a few laughs out of me. A book that can make me laugh is always a winner.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Christmas at Snowflake Lodge, you can follow along with the tour below. If you’d like to purchase it, you can find it here!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: The Art of Running Away by Sabrina Kleckner

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An MG book that is both inclusive and incredibly valuable for teaching children (and adults) about allyship.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Sabrina Kleckner for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: MG Contemporary
Publishing Date: November 16, 2021

Twelve-year-old Maisie is an artist. When she’s in front of her sketchbook or apprenticing at Glenna’s Portraits, the family-run art shop her grandmother started, the world makes sense. She doesn’t think about Calum, her brother who mysteriously left home and cut ties with her family six years ago, or her parents’ insistence that she “broaden her horizons” and try something new—something that isn’t art.

But when Glenna’s Portraits falls on hard times, Maisie’s plan to take over the shop when she’s older and become a lifelong artist starts to crumble. In desperation to make things right, Maisie runs away to London to reconnect with her adult brother, hoping he might be the key to saving the shop. But as Maisie learns about her family’s past from Calum, she starts to rethink everything she’s ever known. Maisie must decide not only if saving her family’s art shop is worth it, but if she can forgive her parents for the mistakes they’ve made.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Sabrina Kleckner is the author of THE ART OF RUNNING AWAY, a middle grade contemporary novel about family and identity. She began writing at the age of twelve, and is grateful to not be debuting with the angsty assassin book she toiled over in her teens. When she is not writing, she can be found teaching ESL or gushing about her three cats to anyone who will listen.

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

The last tour that I did for TBR and Beyond was for The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller, an inclusive LGBTQ young adult novel that included some wonderful coming-of-age stories as well as many educational/moral takeaways. This week, we have The Art of Running Away which is incredibly similar in theme to The Night When No One Had Sex, just for a younger audience.

This MG novel follows the story of 12 year old Maisie, a young girl whose parents ship her off to live with an aunt whom she’s never met before. When her estranged/runaway brother shows up at her aunt’s house and offers her a chance to finally get to know him after 6 long years of silence, Maisie decides to join him and his roommates in their London flat for the summer. What follows is a heartfelt and enlightening coming-of-age story where Maisie not only learns how to be a better person to her family and friends, but also what it means to be an ally.

Though this book is written for a younger audience, I enjoyed it quite a lot. While it definitely presents itself as an MG novel, there are many lessons that readers of any age will learn from in this book. At times it can come off as a little preachy, but the messages provided through this novel are invaluable. It highlights important issues about homophobia, harmful inaction/action, allyship, trust, and respect.

One of the things this book doesn’t shy away from (and I think that made it all the more powerful) was the idea that real life is not clean cut. The relationships in this book are messy. There are times where they’re uplifting and loving, and there are times where they’re toxic and traumatizing. Parents often try to shield their children from these raw depictions of real life, but children experience these dynamics every single day. We shouldn’t pretend they don’t exist. That type of apathy serves no one.

The Art of Running Away is a powerful MG contemporary that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in reading it. It comes out tomorrow, so don’t forget to grab your copy!

Blog Tour Review: The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A perfect blend of funny and serious. Full of life lessons about the future.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Kalena Miller for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 7, 2021

It’s the night of senior prom, and eighteen-year-old Julia has made a pact with her friends. (Yes, that kind of pact.) They have secured a secluded cabin in the woods, one night without parental supervision, and plenty of condoms. But as soon as they leave the dance, the pact begins to unravel. Alex’s grandmother is undergoing emergency surgery, and he and his date rush to the hospital. Zoe’s trying to figure out how she feels about getting off the waitlist at Yale–and how to tell her girlfriend. Madison’s chronic illness flares, holding her back once again from being a normal teenager. And Julia’s fantasy-themed role play gets her locked in a closet. Alternating between each character’s perspective and their ridiculous group chat, The Night When No One Had Sex finds a group of friends navigating the tenuous transition into adulthood and embracing the uncertainty of life after high school

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Kalena Miller grew up in College Station, TX with her mom, dad, and the most photographed hamster in history. After high school, she moved a thousand miles north to attend Carleton College, where she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Religious Studies. After a brief stint working as a paraeducator in Seattle, Kalena decided she missed school too much, so she spent the next two years pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.

Kalena currently lives in Hopkins, Minnesota with her husband, Kenny, and Toy Australian Shepherd, Toshley. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction and co-authors narrative nonfiction with her mom, Kathy Miller (check out her website here). She loves books that make her laugh and make her cry, preferably at the same time, and she firmly believes all quality novels should feature a cat.

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Told through alternating points-of-view, The Night When No One Had Sex is a YA contemporary novel about a group of teenagers who have made a pact to all have sex on their prom night. Unfortunately, fate has alternative plans for them. Amidst tales of being locked in a closet during foreplay, unexpected hospital trips, desperate scone-making during mental breakdowns, lost cats, dead animal heads, and lupus flares, this group of friends is in for a unique, but decidedly unsexy, night of their lives.

When I first started reading this book, I had a really bad feeling that I was going to find myself quickly exasperated by teen foolishness. There seemed to be so much tension before the night even began that I found myself preparing for the absolute worst. Thankfully, that’s not where this book headed for me.

Although many of the characters have infuriating qualities, there was something about them and the way that they were written that made these qualities somewhat endearing. Whenever they made a decision that was a clear mistake, instead of finding myself frustrated, I found myself lovingly shaking my head in an “oh you silly silly kids” type of manner. They all had flaws, but it was clear that every single one of them following misguided attempts to do what they thought was best. Their friendships and inter-relationships were perfectly beautiful at times and tragically beautiful at others.

On top of having great characters, this book had an equally-lovable plot. There were some things that didn’t make any sense (I’m looking at you, Alex-Leah internet sub-plot) but, once again, I found that I wasn’t at all bothered by it. The story is a mixture of serious life lessons and incredibly heartfelt/hilarious interactions between loved ones. It’s a feel-good novel all around, and I think it will be well-loved by many,

The Night When No One Had Sex was a fantastic novel that I would definitely recommend. It’s out on shelves now, so don’t forget to grab your copy!

Blog Tour Review: Sidelined by Kara Bietz

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A feel-good high school sports romance

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Kara Bietz for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 21, 2021

An emotional YA romance about small town secrets, high school football, and broken hearts.

Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridian, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he’s only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.

Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach’s office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he’s back, sitting at Julian’s grandmother’s kitchen table.

But time and distance haven’t erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he’s not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Kara Bietz was born in New England but currently resides just outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her family. Her first novel, Until I Break, was a Texas Library Association Spirit of Texas Reading Program selection. Her newest release, Sidelined, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
When she’s not writing, you can find Kara hanging out with her family, singing show tunes to her dogs, and adding to her impressive pen collection. 

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Look at how cute that cover is!!!! It’s the first thing that drove me to sign up for this tour. Add the cute cover to the idea of an enemies to lovers/second chance gay romance and I was sold.

The blurb for Sidelined actually makes this novel sound more dramatic than it is—I would say this is a feel-good YA contemporary that proved to be a nice and chill comfort read for me. While there are a few dramatic twists and turns, there were handled fairly quickly and fairly well. To be quite honest, the book was so chill that I worried about so many bad things happening but none of them did—and I’m grateful for that. Sometimes it even felt as if the author had written in more conflict in a previous draft and then decided to remove it in the end while keeping the initial set up. Either way, I wasn’t complaining!

One of the things that I absolutely loved about this Sidelined was that there is practically a complete absence of homophobia. I was worried that it would be a prevalent part of the plot since its a football story that takes place in a small town in Texas, but everything was totally fine. It can be incredibly draining to read contemporary after contemporary where the queer protagonists have to deal with rampant discrimination and bullying. It was nice to have a break from that.

If you’ve read many of my previous reviews (particularly in YA novels) you’ll know that two of my pet peeves are unlikable main characters and lack of communication. While there is a bit of lack of communication in Sidelined, I was actually very satisfied with how well Julian and Elijah seemed to work through conflicts while sharing relevant information. On top of that, I liked both of them despite their individual downfalls, and. I wanted them both to get their happy ending. I was even a huge fan of all of the side characters. I would definitely read a spin-off about Bucky and Camille; there’s so much potential there.

Overall, I was a big fan of this book! If you’re a fan of YA contemporaries with cute romantic sub plots, definitely give this a try!

Sidelined released yesterday! You can grab yourself a copy at any of the purchase links listed above!

Blog Tour Review: It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A complex novel about misunderstandings, sibling love, and misplaced good intentions.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Farah Naz Rishi for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 14, 2021

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.

When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls? 

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Farah Naz Rishi is a Pakistani-American Muslim writer and voice actor, but in another life, she’s worked stints as a lawyer, a video game journalist, and an editorial assistant. She received her B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College, her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School, and her love of weaving stories from the Odyssey Writing Workshop. When she’s not writing, she’s probably hanging out with video game characters. You can find her at home in Philadelphia, or on Twitter at @farahnazrishi.

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Let me tell you something: Farah Naz Rishi has range. I previously read her novel I Hope You Get This Message which was a kind of end-of-the-world sci-fi novel and really enjoyed it. It All Comes Back to You is a contemporary (with romance vibes), and it has become clear to me that I thoroughly enjoy her writing style, regardless of genre. It is easy to read and somehow relaxing, even when you’re reading things that are frustrating.

Writing this review is going to be difficult for me, because I have such conflicted feelings about the plot/characters of this novel. It relies solely on the miscommunication/lack of communication trope, which is something I despise, but I was actually totally okay with it in the beginning. The story has a strong emphasis on sibling protectiveness, and I can admire that, especially when so many YA novels have dysfunctional family relationships between siblings. You often don’t think clearly when it comes to family, so the initial premise made sense to me.

The thing that I had the most trouble with, and the reason I had to rate this three stars, was that I thoroughly disliked Kiran. Without her self-righteousness, almost every problem in this book would have been solved quickly and efficiently. She does completely deplorable things in this book, and I felt like the severity of how terrible she was being was completely downplayed. Even the blurb seems to place the plot-blame on Deen when Kiran was 100% the real issue. The more I read, the less I wanted her to have a happy ending. While I could understand her motivation for wanting to do what she did, her actions were indefensible for me. Instead of having a civilized talk to work things out, she decides that the way to go about things is to lie, cheat, and manipulate. I really wanted her to have more character growth than she got.

Deen, on the other hand, was the perfect foil to Kiran’s character. They both have a strong devotion to protecting their siblings, but they show it in contrasting ways–and Deen’s way was less destructive overall (though very self-destructive). While Kiran is constantly stirring up trouble because she refuses to acknowledge her sister’s autonomy, Deen is just trying to do his best to ensure that he brother is happy. Deen was the main reason I continued with the book despite not liking Kiran. Every time I got to his chapters, it was a much-needed break from Kiran. Deen was far from perfect, but he was much more personable and relatable.

Other things I really liked about It All Comes Back to You were the amazing side characters (I loved Amira and Vinny), as well as the completely adorable flash back texts. They were almost nauseating with how cute they were. I imagine they were the reason this book gets marketed as YA romance when it’s really a YA contemporary. Past Kira and Past Deen were the most charming couple before their relationship fell apart. The present-time anonymous messaging component also added a layer of cuteness to the story, but it was definitely not to the same extent as the text messages from the past.

As I said previously, I very much enjoy Farah Naz Rishi’s writing style. I’d recommend trying this book out (and/or I Hope You Get This Message) if it sounds even vaguely interesting to you, because I think she’s someone who will appeal to a wide range of people. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her next book.

It All Comes Back to You releases tomorrow! You can grab yourself a copy at any of the purchase links listed above!

Blog Tour Review: Down with the Dance by C.T. Walsh

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My childhood self would have loved this book.

Foreword

Thank you so much to Rachel at https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/ and C.T. Walsh for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary physical book and blog tour media kit!

About the Author

Besides writing fun, snarky humor and the occasionally-frequent fart joke, I love spending time with my family, coaching my kids’ various sports, and successfully turning seemingly unsandwichable things into spectacular sandwiches, while also claiming that I never eat carbs. I assure you, it’s not easy to do. I know what you’re thinking: this guy sounds complex, a little bit mysterious, and maybe even dashingly handsome, if you haven’t been to the optometrist in a while. And you might be right.

My goal with my writing is to engage young readers with fun and adventure. With so many competing forms of entertainment available to our kids (and so many of them mindless), I really try to provide a reading experience like no other.

I value the importance of combining fun with learning and life values. My stories are humorous and adventurous with strong characters and solid life lessons with some potty humor sprinkled in. You gotta give the kids what they want…Hey, it’s better to read fart jokes than to play video games, right?

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Review

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Meet Austin Davenport, whose fabulous luck landed him on this earth only eleven short months after his brother, Derek, putting them in the same grade. While Austin’s brain power is unmatched, it appears as if his brother got all the athletic gifts and the family butt-chin, meaning their parents love Derek more than Austin, or so it seems. 

Join Austin on his journey through the tumultuous waters of middle school as he navigates the swampy and undeodorized hallways and explores the depths of the cafeteria’s seafood surprise. 

Oh, and someone is plotting to take down the Halloween Dance, the one that Austin has his sights set on, so he can take Sophie Rodriguez, a girl way out of his league, but who doesn’t seem to know it.  

Can he stay one step ahead of the new principal who has it out for him? Will Austin figure out who the perpetrators are? Will he save the dance in time? Will he wear a diaper on a stakeout?  

This first in a planned series of twelve will have you ROFLing like you never have before.  

The funny and fast-paced nature of this series is meant for middle grade and early young adult readers.

Review (No Spoilers)

Down with the Dance is definitely a book that I would have adored as a kid. It’s got all of the elements that contemporary children/middle-grade books tend to have: exaggerated adult caricatures, a plethora of fart jokes, an awkward protagonist, a peer bully, and an amazing sense of humor.

The book follows Austin Davenport, a middle-schooler who happens to be in the same grade as his evil older (non-twin) brother. His brother is 11 months older than him and I tried to figure out why they’d be in the same grade but then decided that schools are just weird like that and went with it. I have an October birthday and was told that I was lucky I got placed in the “right” grade because of how late in the year it is. One of my friends is 12 days younger than me and was placed in the grade below me. AND YET my cousin who is two months younger than me was placed in the same grade as me. Basically nothing makes sense.

The narration of Down with the Dance is told in first person, something that I thought added much of the humor. Austin is the perfect mix of angst, nerd, and awkward. And he was unexpectedly hilarious. Even though I am a 27 year old adult, I still found this book really enjoyable. It’s definitely not realistic, and the adults annoyed the heck out of me with how irresponsible they all were, but I don’t think the target audience would care about that at all.

Austin’s love interest Sophie Rodriguez was probably my favorite character of the book. She was incredibly kind, understanding, and assertive. Partway through the book there’s the classic misunderstanding trope, but once this is figured out, she is quick to apologize and admit her mistake. I admired her personality a lot.

Austin’s adventures in middle school are far from over! The end of my copy had a chapter preview of the next book and it already sounds like a hoot. Feel free to follow along with the rest of the tour (schedule below) and if you’d like to purchase Down with the Dance, you can find it on Amazon US (affiliate link) or Amazon UK!


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