This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg

I mean, when you are obsessed with DNA stories, love Young Adult Fiction, AND love Thrillers, how could you NOT pass this book up?!

Thank you Flatiron Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: The Winslow family lives by five principles:

1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

Poppy doesn’t know why her family has been running her whole life, but she does know that there are dire consequences if they’re ever caught. Still, her curiosity grows each year, as does her desire for real friends and the chance to build on something, instead of leaving behind school projects, teams, and crushes at a moment’s notice. When a move to California exposes a crack in her parents’ airtight planning, Poppy realizes how fragile her world is. Determined to find out the truth, she mails in a home DNA test. Just as she starts to settle into her new life and even begins opening up to a boy in her math class, the forgotten test results bring her crashing back to reality. Unraveling the shocking truth of her parents’ real identities, Poppy realizes that the DNA test has undone decades of careful work to keep her family anonymous—and the past is dangerously close to catching up to them. Determined to protect her family but desperate for more, Poppy must ask: How much of herself does she owe her family? And is it a betrayal to find her own place in the world?

This was a super fun read for me. It was a drama-filled story that kept me wanting to come back for more. I read it in one sitting – like I was watching a movie shoving popcorn in my face the entire time. Yeah, some parts weren’t as riveting as I had hoped for, but the writing is excellent and the characters were so well developed, it was worth every moment. With an ending such as this one, I’m hoping we get to hear more from this family in the future!

4.5/5 Stars

All The Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle

As soon as I see a book that features a chronic illness that I personally have, I’m all OVER it!

Thank you Margaret K McElderry Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Cara Hawn’s life fell apart after her father cheated on her mother and got remarried to a woman Cara can’t stand. When Cara accidentally posts a rant about her father online, it goes viral—and catches the attention of the TV producers behind a new reality dating show for single parent families. The next thing Cara and her mother know, they’ve been cast as leads on the show and are whisked away to sunny Key West where they’re asked to narrow a field of suitors and their kids down to one winning pair. All of this is outside of Cara’s comfort zone, from the meddling producers to the camera-hungry contestants, especially as Cara and her mother begin to clash on which suitors are worth keeping around. And then comes Connor. As the son of a contestant, Connor is decidedly off-limits. Except that he doesn’t fit in with the cutthroat atmosphere in all the same ways as Cara, and she can’t get him out of her head. Now Cara must juggle her growing feelings while dodging the cameras and helping her mom pick a bachelor they both love, or else risk fracturing their family even more for the sake of ratings. Maybe there’s a reason most people don’t date on TV.

This was so adorable, I loved it. I was shocked to see that the story was more about the relationship between mother and daughter, but it struck a lot of chords with me between being a high school teacher and a mother of a daughter myself. I’m blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my mother, and this book really reminded me of that. I normally would say that a lot of young adult books really seem to focus on either mother/daughter or father/daughter relationships too much, but this particular book fit the trope so well, I really can’t complain. More romance next time? Yes! But for now, this will be a top loved book of mine, for sure!

4.5/5 Stars

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich


What do you do when your two favorite young adult authors come together to write a new book? You freak out and read it all in one sitting!

Thank you Wednesday Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heart-breakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet. On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

As expected, I absolutely loved this book. These authors are phenomenal and work together so beautifully. This book mimics the rumors about the band members from One Direction, so if you are aware of those, you will love this book too. Honestly, if you are a fan of boy bands in general, you will also love this book. I really appreciate how inclusive this book was which makes me recommend this for all readers even more. Enjoy the adventure these boys go through and watch them grow and learn in front of your eyes. It’s the best!

5/5 Stars

Roxy by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

This dynamic team of father and son never disappoint! I’ve had my eyes on this book for a long while, and I’m excited to share it with you.

Thank you Simon Teen for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: The freeway is coming. It will cut the neighborhood in two. Construction has already started, pushing toward this corridor of condemned houses and cracked concrete with the momentum of the inevitable. Yet there you are, in the fifth house on the left, fighting for your life. Ramey, I. The victim of the bet between two manufactured gods: the seductive and lethal Roxy (Oxycontin), who is at the top of her game, and the smart, high-achieving Addison (Adderall), who is tired of being the helpful one, and longs for a more dangerous, less wholesome image. The wager—a contest to see who can bring their mark to “the Party” first—is a race to the bottom of a rave that has raged since the beginning of time. And you are only human, dazzled by the lights and music. Drawn by what the drugs offer—tempted to take that step past helpful to harmful…and the troubled places that lie beyond. But there are two I. Rameys—Isaac, a soccer player thrown into Roxy’s orbit by a bad fall and a bad doctor and Ivy, his older sister, whose increasing frustration with her untreated ADHD leads her to renew her acquaintance with Addy. Which one are you?

This is a deep story. If you struggle with drugs or are affected by someone who does, let this be a warning to you. I can see how this book can affect people from all walks of live who have dealt with OxyContin and/or Adderall. I think this is an incredibly thought-provoking story and really unique in it’s plot. It brings to light a lot of societal issues that really do need to be addressed. While I have seen reviews from people who are concerned about the way Adderall is expressed in this book, I didn’t find offense to it or think it was not shared in an appropriate light (and this is coming from someone who has taken this medication on and off in my lifetime to treat my ADD). I think the character development and relationships shared in this story really are what make this read all worth while.

4/5 Stars

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman


This book has been staring at me on my kindle for quite some time. I’ve been so anxious to read it, but I wanted to wait until the spooky season to get into it. Here we are just a day before it’s publishing birthday to share the tale!

Thank you Tor Teen for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins. Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death. The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted. This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story. But this is a story that must be penned in blood.

You know that feeling when you pick up a book that seems familiar and you start to get a little nervous about it? Is this something I’ve read before? Will this live up to the hype? These feelings were strong with this read, and it really came out strong on the other side! I really enjoyed this one! I loved how this book mashed magic, fantasy, mystery, and adventure all into one. It really is Hunger Games meets the world of magic. It’s intense and jaw dropping – it’s wildly entertaining! The worst part about this read? It leaves you hanging on a vine. It sets-up for the next book in this new series, but it left me really wanting more. I wanted just a tad more of a pretty bow-type ending, but I guess I just need to wait to see what’s coming next!

4/5 Stars

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao


I’d been hearing so much hype about this book from the beginning of this year, I’m excited to finally get a chance to dive right in!

Thank you Wednesday Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone. In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

Unfortunately, this one did not live up to my expectations. I was shocked at how uninterested I became so early in the story. I think the story was supposed to be full of emotion, and the only emotion I got was confusion. I felt there were so many missing pieces that were left unresolved for most of the book. I also didn’t really get this raw emotion from Julie that I would’ve expected from how the story started off. The writing was jumbled and the pace was too. A nice premise for a popular trope, but not a great execution.

2/5 Stars

Bright Burning Stars by A K Small

Are you a fan of reading books before the movie, or vice versa? I got the chance to read this book before watching the movie version of it, “Birds of Paradise” on Amazon Prime Video.

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure. But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

Think Black Swan, but for teens. This was such an intense read! I’m not much into the ballet scene, but I somehow get swept off my feet every time I read about it or watch something of it. A lot of the pros and cons of the ballet scene were addressed in this book, and I think the author did a really good job with it. If you’re into drama, you will love this book. It’s got a great pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Honestly, this was the perfect set-up for a movie and I’m excited to be able to dive in and see how well they do with it!

4/5 Stars

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen


I’m so excited to be featuring Margaret’s newest series, Little Thieves! If you haven’t read her previous novels, The Merciful Crow series, then you have a lot of fun books to catch up on!

Thank you Henry Holt and Company for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself. The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed. Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

I love how magical Margaret’s writing always is. You can really tell wonderful her talent of writing truly is. I think it’s so great and really unique to have a villain as our main focus in a novel and actually love everything that happens with that character. Even though this is a retelling of “The Goose Girl”, I think it really stands out from other re-telling young adult novels. I really enjoyed this book, and honestly anything by Margaret!

5/5 Stars

Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi


The Gilded Wolves was a hit novel by this author which lead me to following to see what awesome tales she comes up with next!

Thank you Sourcebooks Casablanca for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose and a princess named Imelda who loved each other…But alas, no more. “What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!” their friends and family warn. They resign themselves to this loveless fate…A year and a day pass. And then their story truly begins...Embark on a perilous journey with Imelda and Ambrose as they brave magical landscapes and enchanted creatures on their quest to reclaim their heart’s desire… But first they must remember what that is…

If you are big fan of classic fairy tales, this book is just for you! There are multiple classic tales in this book (ie. Sleeping Beauty and Twelve Dancing Princesses vibes) and I think that’s what makes this such a unique book! The author did an amazing job of intertwining these fairy tales together without completely overdoing it. It’s an adorable story and folks of all ages will enjoy reading this one. This is a second chance romance story which is my absolute favorite tropes. This one comes highly recommended this fall season (a perfect time to read it)!

5/5 Stars

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

Since living in Asheville for about 11 years, I’ve come to fall in love with local author Stephanie Perkins. She’s well known for her excellent young adult romance, but did you know she can write horror too?

Thank you Penguin Teen for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest. Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

I give all the props to Stephanie – to be able to write such opposite genres (horror and romance) takes true talent! While this wasn’t my favorite book by her, I thought it was an enjoyable read. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but I really liked the young adult aspect to it. I think if this was an adult horror novel, I would’ve thought less of it. I really liked introducing a character with an Indian background and thought she did a really good job with it. On the other hand, I think the book was filled with a bit more drama than needed to be. I want a horror novel to sneak up on you. This had a lot happening all at once. Not a bad read, but not something I would read again.

I did have a wonderful time with Stephanie and Malaprops Bookstore celebrating her book being published this week!

3.5/5 Stars