MY READER HEART: A Heart in a Body in the World Review

Summary: After everything has been taken from Annabelle, she’s decides that there is nothing else to do but run. Running from her hometown of Seattle all the way to Washington D.C., Anna begins to run and tries not to think about why. But no matter how hard she tries, she just can’t seem to escape the tragedy from the past year and the person who haunts her. Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and tracked by her self-appointed PR team (her two best friends and brother), Annabelle forms into a reluctant activist as people connect her with her past and trauma. Being welcomed with block parties and being cheered on by crowds as she crosses borders is nice, but Annabelle is unable to leave her guilt and shame behind. Through good and bad distractions, Annabelle is set on running to Washington D.C. and face her past and future.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Deb Caletti’s A Heart in a Body in the World was featured on many 2018 favorites lists this past December. Between the hype and being the contemporary fan that I am, I knew I had to read this book following Annabelle’s run from Seattle and Washington D.C. after a devastating tragedy. A Heart in a Body in the World is a heart-breaking, yet impactful and current read with a fantastic cast and writing style.

A Heart in a Body in the World writing style differs from most YA contemporaries, told in the third person perspective. However, this did not prevent me from connecting with Annabelle and the other characters. From the novel’s start, Annabelle starts to run and makes the decision to run the entire 2,7000 miles to Washington D.C. The tragedy that causes Annabelle to run in the first place isn’t fully explained until the end, but Caletti does provide snippets of her past life and experiences with “The Taker.” This book is very much a feminist YA read addressing toxic masculinity, mental health, violence, and loss. I found myself near crying in both in the novel’s happy and sad moments. The moment when Annabelle crosses into Idaho especially got me.

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NEW AUTO-READ AUTHOR: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Summary: When Sloane moves from New York to Florida for her senior year, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with such a tight-knit group of friends, layered with private tragedies and secrets. Sloane becomes closest with Vera, a social media star with a big heart, and Gabe, Vera’s quiet and serious twin brother. When a painting by Vera and Gabe’s mother goes missing, Sloane makes it her mission to find it, creating a journey that takes her deeper into her, her friends, and surprisingly, her father’s, lives.

Cover Lust: This Adventure Ends cover designer, please teach me your ways! I seriously would love to be able to paint like this. The cover scheme also matches the book really well, giving me both night-sky and ocean vibes.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Emma Mills is a much-loved contemporary YA author among many of my fellow bloggers. My 2019 reading plan is all about prioritizing books and authors that I’ve really been meaning to read. This Adventure Ends, following Sloane’s incorporation into a tight-knit friend group after moving to Florida, met my expectations and more, making Emma Mills a new go-to author for me.

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CAN’T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN: Girls with Sharp Sticks Review

36442895Summary (from the publisher): The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardian, they receive a well-rounded education that promises to make them better. Obedient girls, free from arrogance or defiance. Free from troublesome opinions or individual interests.

But the girls’ carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations Academy will learn to fight back.

 Cover Lust? I need this book cover in poster form ASAP! 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

As many of you likely know, I am a huge fan of books that I simply can’t put down. Suzanne Young’s latest release, Girls with Sharp Sticks, is the type of book that will stick with you during and after putting down this eerie and at times, scarily realistic read. This eye-opening read will resonate with readers who love seeing real world issues in different contexts, from Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury to Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie.

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BEACH & BAKING: Small Town Hearts Review & Recipe

smallheartcoverSummary (From the publisher): Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?

 My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

If you’re ready to trade your winter jacket for your bathing suit and need a book to match the mood, look no forward than Lillie Vale’s Small Town Hearts. Better yet, if you’re seriously in the mood for a dessert (or three), Small Town Hearts is sure to spark the baking (or dessert-eating) within you. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I was totally charmed by this adorable YA summer contemporary following one girl’s summer in her sleep Maine beach town.

Small Town Hearts has everything you need in a summer contemporary: days spent at the beach, working at the local coffee shop, and picking blue berries. There’s also plenty of friendship and romance to go around. Speaking of romance, outside of her amazing baking and barista skills, our main character, Babe, is a unique YA protagonist for her bisexuality. Babe deals with the past when her ex-girlfriend is back in town for the season as she breaks one of her most important rules: never fall in love with one of the summer boys.

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COLLEGE YA FUN: The Dating Game Review

Summary (From the publisher):
When a notoriously difficult class for future entrepreneurs leads to three freshmen developing the next “it” app for dating on college campuses, all hell breaks loose…

Type A control freak Sara lives by her color-coordinated Post-it notes.

Rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb.

Scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop.

When the three are forced to work together in one of the university’s most difficult classes, tension rises to the breaking point…until, shockingly, the silly dating app they create proves to be the most viable project in class. Late nights of app development, interest from investors and unexpected romance are woven into a true-to-life college drama that explores what it means to really connect online and IRL.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Since college YA is one of my favorite contemporary sub-genres, I’ve been highly looking forward to reading Kiley Roache’s books, Frat Girl and The Dating Game. While I haven’t yet read Frat Girl, I will be soon because I absolutely loved The Dating Game!

The Dating Game is one of those books that I absolutely fell into and didn’t want to put down. The Dating Game does depict college culture in most of its stereotypicalness–fraternities, drinking, all nighters, NETFLIX. Nonetheless, it was a fun ride.

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LIVE LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION: Within These Lines Review, Quotes & Giveaway

Summary:

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

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Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill 

Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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FEMALE FANTASY LOVE: Truthwitch & Windwitch Review

Truthwitch Summary:

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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With the latest installment in Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series, Bloodwitch, gracing our bookshelves in February, it was time to redive into the first two books, Truthwitch and Windwitch.

I first read Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch upon its release in 2016. Maybe it was because I hadn’t read as much fantasy as I do now back then, but I had some trouble with the world building. However, I did love the focus on friendship and how well Susan Dennard executed the politics and romance. Looking back on my Goodreads review from 2016, I really don’t understand why I didn’t continue with this series then!

I am completely blaming myself for being a fantasy newbie back then, because the world and world-building in Truthwitch is just that good. I loved learning about the different types of witches and the characters’ backstories, from monasteries to Threadwitch tribes. The female friendship is insanely strong and well-executed. I love how much time Isuelt and Safi do spend together taking on the Witchlands. My favorite duo though? Safi and Merick! I couldn’t get over their quick remarks to one another and loved seeing their relationship bloom.

“When at last Iseult popped out beside her Threadsister, it was just in time to see Safi grab a fistful of the young man’s unbuttoned shirt

“Is this how all Nubrevnans dress?” Safi snatched the other side of his shirt. “These go inside these.” ” (57)

My Rating: 5/5

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Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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Windwitch picks up approximately two weeks after the events of Truthwitch. While I somewhat appreciated the fast-paced atmosphere, I wish we were able to experience what happened in those two weeks instead of just referring to it. This world definitely gets a lot more complicated with the Twenty Year Truce over and our four main leads scattered in the southern Witchlands. I liked being able to explore different characters’ perspectives in each chapters. While there were page breaks, I wish hey would have had their own chapters.

Once again, the world-building as absolutely phenomenal in Windwitch. With the addition of a few new characters, there’s also a ton of character development for our four main leads, Merick, Iseult, Safi and Aeduan. I found myself much more invested in Aeduan’s story in this book, which makes me even more excited to jump into Bloodwitch. While I still have much love for Safi, I’m especially excited to see where Iseult and Merick’s journeys take them.

My Rating: 4/5

Thank you to Tor Teen and Big Hocho Media for providing me with Truthwitch and Windwitch. By no means does this affect my thoughts or opinions.

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Have you read Truthwitch or Windwitch? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!