Review: No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky

32309404No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky

Published May 30th 2017

He’s not asking for much. All Gregor Maravilla wants to do is feed all of the starving children on the planet. So when he’s selected to join Camp Save the World, a special summer program for teenage activists from all over the country to champion their cause, Gregor’s sure he’s on the path to becoming Someone Great.

But then a prize is announced. It will be awarded at the end of summer to the activist who shows the most promise in their campaign. Gregor’s sure he has the prize in the bag, especially compared to some of the other campers’ campaigns. Like Eat Dirt, a preposterous campaign started by Ashley Woodstone, a famous young actor who most likely doesn’t even deserve to be at the camp. Everywhere Gregor goes, Ashley seems to show up ready to ruin things. Plus, the prize has an unforeseen side effect, turning a quiet summer into cutthroat warfare where campers stop focusing on their own campaigns and start sabotaging everyone else’s.

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An ARC of this book was sent to me unsolicited by the publisher

I’ve seen a good amount of positive reviews for this book so maybe I’m the odd one out on this but I wasn’t into No Good Deed at all.
I thought the plot sounded really original and it had a lot of potential but the characters prevented this book from becoming likable for me. I was not a fan of the main character at all and because of that, I was never able to get into the book. The main character, Gregor, was so incredibly annoying to me. I also died a few times from second hand embarrassment from Gregor’s awkwardness and sometimes his inner monologue was very strange as well.
I really liked the idea of a teen activists camp but a majority of the kids had a social justice warriors persona and that was not for me.
I did really like how Gregor’s Mexican roots are mentioned early on and had a place in the story. Even if I didn’t really enjoy this book, I really appreciated the diversity.

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Review: The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon

34845313The Queen and the Cure (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles #2) by Amy Harmon

Published May 9th 2017

“There will be a battle, and you will need to protect your heart.”

Kjell of Jeru had always known who he was. He’d never envied his brother or wanted to be king. He was the bastard son of the late King Zoltev and a servant girl, and the ignominy of his birth had never bothered him.

But there is more to a man than his parentage. More to a man than his blade, his size, or his skills, and all that Kjell once knew has shifted and changed. He is no longer simply Kjell of Jeru, a warrior defending the crown. Now he is a healer, one of the Gifted, and a man completely at odds with his power.

Called upon to rid the country of the last vestiges of the Volgar, Kjell stumbles upon a woman who has troubling glimpses of the future and no memory of the past. Armed with his unwanted gift and haunted by regret, Kjell becomes a reluctant savior, beset by old enemies and new expectations. With the woman by his side, Kjell embarks upon a journey where the greatest test may be finding the man she believes him to be.

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An ARC of this book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Dear Amy Harmon, why must you shatter my soul like this?

If you’ve been following me on any of my social media since August, you’ve probably seen how much I’m obsessed with The Bird and The Sword. That book is everything I want in a book and more. I’ve read it six times since August and I’ll still reread my favorite parts whenever I’m sad.
So you can imagine how I lost my mind when I heard there was going to be another book in the series. A book with a focus on Kjell, one of the most infuriating and well written characters I’ve ever read about. I knew I was going to fall in love with this book. I knew I was going to drown in the ocean of feels that Amy had created. And I did drown in the feels.

The Queen and the Cure was amazing. I loved everything about it. It was perfect. Amy creates such amazing characters with a well written plot. The world building is extraordinary and I’ve fallen in love with the fairytale-like setting that Amy has crafted.

Kjell is such a complex, flawed, and wonderful character. I could go on and on about him but I implore you to read this book to experience his story for yourself.
I was not expecting to love Sasha as much as I did. She’s such a well written, empowering character and I loved getting to know her.

Overall, if you haven’t read The Bird and the Sword Chronicles, you should. You need to read these books. If I could only read one series for the rest of my life, I’d probably pick this series.

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Review: Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen

32148009Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen

Published May 16th 2017

A beautifully written food memoir chronicling one cook’s journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the intoxicating world of New York City fine dining and back again in search of her culinary roots.

Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City s finest kitchens for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten she grew up in a northern Minnesota town home to the nation s largest French fry factory, the headwaters of the fast food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking pulsed with joy, family drama, and an overabundance of butter.

Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.

Amy Thielen’s coming-of-age account brims with energy, a cook s eye for intimate detail, and a dose of dry Midwestern humor. Give a Girl a Knife offers a fresh, vivid view into New York s high-end restaurant before returning Thielen to her roots, where she realizes that the marrow running through her bones is not demi-glace, but gravy honest, thick with nostalgia, and hard to resist.”

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A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher

Give a Girl a Knife is probably one of the most surprisingly entertaining books I’ve ever read.
I was super curious about this book when I started it and I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much that I would read it in one sitting.
I loved how well written this book was and Amy was able to give a lot of great insight to restaurant kitchens. I actually learned a lot and learning new things is always something I’m looking for in non-fiction book. I also really appreciated how Amy talked about her experiences a women in a male dominated field.
As a fellow Midwesterner, I was able to relate to Amy a lot and I wasn’t expecting that. I really loved how Amy mixed her Midwest roots with her culinary skills.
I thought reading about Amy’s approach to food and how she builds her dishes was really fascinating and again, I learned a lot.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it has become an unexpected favorite of mine. It’s very well written and educational in the most entertaining way. If you’re looking for an awesome non-fiction read, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of Give a Girl A Knife.

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Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

28458598When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published May 30th 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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Advanced Reader Copy was sent to me by the publisher

This book was so cute and I really enjoyed it. It gave me Kasie West vibes and was perfectly diverse.

I really loved the plot and how Dimple was so driven by her passion. She was very goal oriented, something I don’t see that often in contemporary books. I did really like Rishi as well but I didn’t quite connect to him like I did Dimple. I kind of wished Dimple was a little more open to her fellow girls. I felt like there was some (very slight) girl hate through out the book and I wish there would have been more uplifting and empowering girl friendships.
I also really loved how When Dimple Met Rishi was full of Indian culture and how organically it was incorporated into the story.

Overall, When Dimple Met Rishi was a really great, fluffy YA contemporary. I loved the plot and the writing was awesome. If you’re looking for a cute summer read, you’ll want to pick this book up.

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Recommendation Friday

RecommendationFriday

 

This week I’ll recommending one of the best books I’ve ever read. I rarely read books that I would say are must reads, that everyone should read at least once. But this book is definitely one of a kind and should be on everyone’s TBR.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

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If you read one book in 2017, read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

The Hate U Give is ground breaking, unique, heartbreaking, and honest. It gives a much needed voice to people who haven’t been heard.
The characters are well written and complex. Starr has shown me a perspective I haven’t seen before and I will always appreciate new perspectives.
I also love how much this book focuses on family. I felt like that was such an important aspect of this book and I don’t often see YA books that show such strong family dynamics.
I went into this book thinking it was going to be super intense, super dark 100% of time. And it is dark and tense but it shows other aspects of Starr’s life as well. It shows her friendships and her family. There’s actually some witticism and I felt like it added to the realism of the story.

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Review: Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh

29743029Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh

Published May 9th 2017

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn’t know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie’s life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.

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I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

When I started this book, I was deep in a reading slump and I was having a really hard time finishing books and even finding the incentive to read. Becoming Bonnie got me out of my slump and I never wanted to put it down.
I’ve always liked the story of Bonnie and Clyde so this book was right up my alley. I had pretty high hopes when I started this book and I was pleasantly surprised how Becoming Bonnie not only lived up to my hopes but surpassed them as well. I loved this book so much more than I was expecting.
Bonnie’s character development was awesome. The author did a great job of showing how Bonnie went from someone who would never step foot in a speakeasy to a girl who helped break her boyfriend out of jail.
I thought Jenni did a great job of merging history with fiction and creating such a fun, engaging book.
Overall, I loved this book and I can see myself rereading it in the future. I really enjoyed everything about this book and I cannot wait for the next book.

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Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Published May 16th 2017

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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I was sent an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Flame in the Mist is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It was so original, well written, and I really liked the main character.
It was a little slow at times and I was kind of confused at first but once I got into the plot and understood what was going on, I really liked it. It was very difficult for me to keep track of the characters. A lot of the characters had nicknames and titles and it was all thrown around at the same time. I feel like I would have to read this book a second time to really understand who was who. However, I haven’t really seen anyone else have this issue so maybe it was just me.
The main character, Mariko, was such a badass and I felt like she could totally have her own action movie. She did come across as spoiled at times, which was kind of annoying, but it was definitely because of her upbringing and it made sense.
My favorite things about Flame in the Mist was the plot and setting. The plot was so engaging and captivating. I really liked the Mulan-like elements. I don’t know if this was meant to be a retelling but it definitely felt like one.
The setting was absolutely amazing. The Japanese culture paired with the writing style was a match made in heaven. I loved how much detail there was on Japanese culture from the food to the traditions. Renee’s descriptions of things painted a beautiful picture and I loved it so much.
I haven’t read Renee’s other books so I can’t compared Flame in the Mist to The Wrath and the Dawn but I’ll definitely be picking up TWATD very soon.

Overall, Flame in the Mist is one of my favorite books of 2017 and I definitely recommend it. The writing style, setting, and diversity was amazing and I can’t wait for the next book in Mariko’s story.

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Review: Put Your Warrior Boots On by Lisa Whittle

34237126Put Your Warrior Boots On: Walking Jesus Strong, Once and for All by Lisa Whittle

Published April 1st 2017

You Can Be a Spiritual Warrior.

Does it feel like the world has gone crazy and you’re just along for the ride? From bombings to bullying, the world has us on pins and needles–afraid for our children, fearful for ourselves, worried that we won’t have enough strength to stand our ground. But you don’t have to start brave to stay strong. Inspirational author and speaker Lisa Whittle wants you to experience the joy and release of trusting in your Savior to help you live a God-ignited life. Find the tools you need to… confirm Truth and keep anti-biblical messages from misleading you develop passion for defending your beliefs without letting personal pride interfere outfit your days to support your faith so your dedication doesn’t fizzle

There’s no better time than this moment to put on your warrior boots and discover the fearless life you’ve been called to live.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book but I actually really liked it.
I found it to be super helpful and I loved how it’s geared towards women with busy lives.
The author talks a lot about how when it comes down to it, praying is what will help more than anything else and I definitely needed that reminder.
I loved the questions at the end of each chapter and I think Put Your Warrior Boots On would make a great book for a women’s Bible study or just discussion with friends.

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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Adrift by Sarah Darlington

 Adrift by Sarah Darlington

Release Date: May 30, 2017
Series: Kill Devil Hills #4

 

What happens when the world thought you were dead and suddenly, now you are alive?



Ben Turner is back! Not quite as dead as everyone thought, fresh out of a nine-month stay in prison, and back home in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Having been dishonorably discharged after charges of desertion from the military, this once well-loved local has fallen from the top. With no plans for college or the future, and hated by the town that once loved him, Ben feels like he’s drowning all over again.



Juniper is pregnant, alone, and running from her crazy fiancé. With only enough money for a one-way bus ticket, she heads to Kill Devil Hills, NC, a town she vacationed in as a little girl, a town she knows, come February, will have plenty of beach rentals to lie low in for the next couple months. Except she didn’t plan on getting caught on day one by the man living next door. Ben. He’s a man who has even more problems than she does, but maybe it’ll take a man like Ben to save her life.

**New Adult Romance. This novel is the fourth book in the Kill Devil Hills series, however it can be read as a standalone. Recommended for 18+

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ARC Review: Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

28822458Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

Expected publication: July 25th 2017 by Scholastic

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie.

Wait, no, that’s not how this story is supposed to go. Let’s try again.

Once upon a time, a boy did a horrible job as a sheep-sitter and burned his tongue on stolen pie.

No, children in these stories are always good and virtuous. From the top.

Once upon a time, a king and queen tried to find a princess for their son to marry, and he wound up fleeing from a group of very hairy vampires.

Hmmm…

What about, once upon a time, a bunch of fairy tales got twisted around to be completely hilarious, a tiny bit icky, and delightfully spooky scarytales… in other words, exactly what fairy tales were meant to be. Grab some flaming torches, maybe don’t accept that bowl of pease porridge, and get ready for a wickedly fun ride with acclaimed author Kiersten White and fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before.

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I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This was such a fun read. I really loved the creativity and writing style. The concept was a lot of fun and I think young readers will really enjoy it. The Princess and the…Pea? was probably my favorite of all the stories and I even laughed out loud while reading it.
I don’t know if this really appeals to an older audience but I think middle school and elementary readers would really enjoy this book.

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