Giveaway: Splash into Summer

Turn off the alarms it's SUMMER! 
๐Ÿ“–☀️๐ŸŒฎ⛱๐Ÿ“š {Repeat} ๐Ÿ“–☀️๐ŸŒฎ⛱๐Ÿ“š

This giveaway is simple, follow on Instagram and ๐Ÿ’ฅBOOM๐Ÿ’ฅ you might win a cute towel, fun tween read and of course a waterproof tote (to protect the book goods, hold keys and well just keep your life together!)

Our instagram (@idsoratherbereading) is pitiful and we are late to the game, so help us beef up and follow!

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Book Review: Decide to Hope by June Converse

Summary: An unimaginable trauma. A future that seems impossible. When your world shatters, how do you put it back together?

For 950 days, Kathleen Conners has struggled with that choice. Behind a scarf and sunglasses, she hides from the world, from herself, from The Event, from any future with anyone.

After receiving a box of letters from his deceased mother, Matt Nelson is shoved from his predictable, controlled life to a secluded beach in North Carolina. While trying to understand his mother’s intent, he discovers Kathleen. Matt must choose whether to follow the path his mother orchestrated or rescue the woman who has captured his heart.

When the only person Kathleen blames more than herself reappears, can Matt be the strength Kathleen needs to create a new life, or will he be forced to walk away if she decides the climb is too great?

Release Date:  May 2018
Age Group: Adult, Fiction, Tragedy
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Well, this story was a lot to take in, it was not an easy read. Decide to Hope is emotionally draining and sad but sprinkled with flecks of hope.  For over half of the book, I was thinking that this was possibly the worst existence anyone could ever be forced to live... and at the close of the book I still thought that but I was a little bit more hopeful for Kathleen.

Imagine the most horrific events from the news all piled into one woman's awful existence and that would sum up Kathleen. Take a workaholic, middle-aged attorney and that sums up Matt. Their "love" was described as a "gift" and it felt like Matt had an instlove attraction to this broken little bird. I tried really hard to feel invested in his endearment to Kathleen but it was all just too dang fast, sad and just odd. 

For instance, Matt starts to refer to Kathleen as love literally after knowing her for 48 hours... I haven't had near the trauma in my life as Kathleen and if any man started referring to me as love and saying that he was "my gift" I. Would. RUN. ... FAST.

Typically as bits and pieces of a characters past are revealed you build up to the climax and man was her story just savage but in the end it just fell short for me. I wanted to crawl into a ball and weep for mankind.

There is a very specific audience that will just love Decide to Hope and unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I think fans of womens fiction and adult contemporary lit would enjoy this journey of hope and healing.


Book Review: Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong

Summary: Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.

Release Date: May 2018
Age Group: YA, Thriller, Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Publisher/NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

I accepted Aftermath to read solely because it was by Kelley Armstrong and then I read the blurb... I had an "oh crap moment" and was very hesitant to read about a school shooting. I am not usually drawn to books that just make you weep and lose faith in mankind-- that's what I feel every time the news reports such a tragic incident. But as the title implies, this was a story about the aftermath of a dark situation.

What must it be like to be the family of the shooter? All the "Why's" and "What if's" and the "Did they know's" and then the terrible backlash that they must face as simply being family of the shooter. But Aftermath was everything I wasn't expecting-- love, loss, anger, confusion, deceit and redemption all wrapped into a thrilling ride.

The plot doesn't focus on the harrowing details of the school shooting but rather the effects on the family left behind but with a mastermind of a twist, a mystery. The plot was so well calculated that I didn't figure it out until the moment it clicked with the characters. So dang clever.

There is a quiet fondness for both Jesse and Skye who are in opposite positions after the shooting, one convicted & guilty by association and the other the tragic victim, the great loss to suffer. But whose loss is worse? One is allowed to mourn and the other is not.

The characters throughout were so well developed that at times I didn't know who or what to believe, what was truth and where were they headed. At times I suspected every single person! They were all guilty, of what I wasn't sure but they were all suspicious.

Aftermath is a diverse work of turmoil & hope and further proves that there really isn't any genre that Armstrong can't conquer. Fans of YA, Mystery/Thriller will love this standalone!


Also by Armstrong, Missing. A 5-Star Thriller!

Summer Reading Challenge: The Great American Read {sponsored by PBS, encouraged by Goodreads}

It is easy to find a summer reading program at the local library for your kids but what about the tweens and up? I know when mine turn 12 they become way too cool for the library and my super cute book bags. It's always a challenge to cultivate summer reading because apparently reading parties are uncool... pshhhh... amateurs.

So I thought I'd spread the word on the coolest summer challenge to date and what my tween and I will be doing this summer! She is currently very unexcited but I am super persuasive & very charming (and I can take her phone away) so I think we are going to have a fantastic time choosing from the top 100! {read below for details} My goal is to read 5 this summer and she hopes to read 2. #smallsteps

PBS is sponsoring The Great American Read and they have a list of America's 100 Most-Loved Books >>HERE and if you are like me and need a list to check off visit >>HERE to print the checklist.

I was surprised by some of the choices: 50 Shades of Grey ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿผ #hardpass but The Color Purple, Jane Eyre, The Giver... YES! YES! YES!

๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“š ๐Ÿ“– How many have you read?! ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“š ๐Ÿ“–

Our friends at Goodreads are on board too, they have created two exclusive reading challenges {download image HERE} and several reading lists of their own.
Goodreads also has compiled several book lists to make summer even easier! You don't have to search out the next great read, you just choose a list group and go with it! Book lists are the only instances where I am perfectly fine with being told what to do.
The Hottest Books of Summer list courtesy Goodreads

Every Kind of Getaway list courtesy Goodreads


Happy reading friends! May your days be filled with sun, books, giggles and great escapes!

๐Ÿ“–☀️๐ŸŒฎ⛱๐Ÿ“š {Repeat} ๐Ÿ“–☀️๐ŸŒฎ⛱๐Ÿ“š {Repeat} ๐Ÿ“–☀️๐ŸŒฎ⛱๐Ÿ“š

#GreatReadPBS  #goodreads #soratherread

Book Review: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton

Summary: Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.

There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined.

Release Date: May 2018
Age Group: YA, Contemporary
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

I've been sitting on this review for a month because I just didn't know how to write what I felt about it. I'm an ice queen. I can compartmentalize feelings in less than 5 seconds but this book hit the Mom in me. My most cherished role. At the surface this was a crass, funny, coming-of-age story but at the core it dives into the complex issues our youth face each day-- sexuality, socioeconomic distress, religion and uncertainty all mixed with the typical high school experience of being inexperienced. 

By nature I am conservative with flares of liberalism. I am not left. I am not right. I am for the legalization of marijuana (for medical use) and staunchly anti-abortion. I strive for a bit of yin & yang. Let's be clear, I am no saint. I silently judge at Wal-Mart, snarky remarks are my forte and I am opinionated. 

Did I agree with all the views of this book? No. Did I agree with some? You bet. I try to always step back and see situations from others perspectives and sometimes agree to disagree. I'll always love people, even in the crappiest of circumstances. By nature I am a do'er and I try to stay afloat with action. But a lot of times I have to remind myself that people's opinions are like butt-holes, they all stink. 

With that said, I really enjoyed Neanderthal. It was incredibly honest, hilarious, sad, sweet, at times intolerant and still hopeful. The first 5 pages had me laughing so hard that Sweet Stuff actually threatened to kick me out of bed! 15 years and I have never achieved this crowning threat... I seriously couldn't stop giggling. 

Neanderthal (Cliff) was basically written after my brother. If drinking and not careful, the phrases and comments of Cliff would make you spew water. Yeah, no drinking during this read. Cliff was so intelligent and yet a victim of circumstance... sounds like 90% of the youth I interact with. Yet he persisted. 

This is not a clean read, this is a raw read. It has more of a realistic image of what life is like for most teens today. There are foul-mouthed teens, drugs, homophobia, parental abuse, confusion of sexuality and religious instability. My biggest complaint was the overuse of the F-bomb. Seriously NOT.A.FAN. 

Just about every worry I have as a mother popped-up:

Will my kids be confident enough to stand up for what they believe?
Will my kids be confident enough to stand up for those that can't stand for themselves?
Will they remember that it's better to be kind than right? 

Will I eventually want to beat up a child? ๐Ÿ˜ just kidding... kind of... ahhhh, Mom'ing is hard y'all ๐Ÿ’†๐Ÿผ

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe is more than a coming-of-age story, it is a window into our society today as seen by our {confused/misplaced/forgotten/innocent} youth.

Don't read it to agree. Don't read it to disagree. Read it to be informed. Read it to know the struggles of our youth today. Read it to be a better friend. Read it to decide what you can stand for and what you stand against. Most important, whatever you do, do it with kindness and compassion. Don't tear down those that disagree with you. Be the example of what you "preach". And for crying out loud stop saying the F-word! Get a thesaurus and choose another expletive to express yourself.

Book Review: Unraveled (Perfected #3) by Kate Jarvik Birch

Summary: Ella isn’t anyone’s pet anymore, but she’s certainly not free.

After exposing the dark secrets about NuPet’s breeding program, forcing them to repeal the law that allowed genetically modified girls to be kept as pets, she thought girls like her would finally be free. She never dreamed that it would backfire. NuPet may have convinced the public of their intentions to assimilate pets back into society, but Ella knows it’s a lie.

They aren’t planning mass rehabilitation...they’re planning a mass extermination.

Now, with the help of a small group of rebels, Ella and Penn, the boy she’d give up her life for, set out to bring down NuPet for good. But when her group gets implicated in a string of bombings, no one is safe. If she can’t untangle the web of blackmail and lies that extends far beyond NuPet’s reach, she won’t just lose her chance at freedom, she’ll lose everyone she loves.

Release Date: April 2018
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

The covers get me every time! Makes me want to go to a ball... and wait for some Supreme Commander to bust in and make the world all Handmaids Tale'ish... then I would quickly transform into Katniss and shoot a freaking arrow at the Commanders head (it hits the target of course, I'm Katniss) and then we go back to my dang dream ball!

Anywhoo. #coolstorybro The cover art for this series have been exceptional!

I'll be perfectly honest, I was completely unsettled about this book. I've had these great adventures before and then the author freaking ruins my life and DESTROYS the characters and/or plot... I was nervous. Would I have to break-up with Birch? Would I have to award her the #Rothed #hashtag or would she go down as a dystopian prowess? ๐Ÿ’†๐Ÿผ

The wait was so worth it.
 ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅShe killed it people!๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Unraveled started and ended with a bang! It was fast-paced from beginning to end. If I didn't love my ombre nails so much I would have bit them off, instead I settled for LOADS of popcorn and coconut Bai.

It was no surprise that Ella and Penn were drug through one pile of crap to the next. This world was normal yet so abnormal, it felt real. The themes in Unraveled were definitely feminist and politically driven but VERY well done. I loved that Penn followed Ella, a strong, not totally independent, woman driven by a noble purpose-- FREEDOM.

This wasn't a story that wrapped with a pretty pink bow. People died, stuff was always blowing up and the twists and turns kept me on edge. A few of the realities of what enslavement offers to humankind made my stomach hurt. The thought that this was fiction made it a little easier to swallow but then there was the reminder that enslavement is happening in the real world, our world, and that made me sick.

Missy. That girl was a fighter. Her fire and sheer will was so vivid. I felt her rage and defiance. It was inspiring. We need more Missy's, she remains my homegirl.

Bottom line, Unraveled was beautifully written, gritty and inspiring. A fantastic conclusion and a top notch edition to the dystopian family.

Bravo Birch! So glad we didn't have to break-up.


Book Review: Tarnished (Perfected #2) by Kate Jarvik Birch

Summary: Freedom comes at a cost...

Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet—graceful, demure...and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape triggered a backlash, and now no one's safe, least
of all the other pets. But she's trapped, unable to get back
to Penn—the boy she loves—or help the girls who need her.

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she's lucky, she'll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives
of everyone she's tried to save...

Release Date: December 2015
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

For most series, book two sets you up for the big ๐Ÿ’ฅBOOM๐Ÿ’ฅ in the conclusion book and that makes for a strong LOVE-HATE relationship for me. I want more of the story but know what's going to happen... the story is going to literally pause and leave me on a cliff dangling by two fingers! But it's cool, a little torment and anticipation is what makes the conclusion so sweet (unless it's Divergent, in which you regret EVER having started the series #Rothed).

The cover of Tarnished had a Hunger Games vibe to it and was just beautiful but I don't think anything will ever beat the caged dress from Perfected. For a second book, I liked it. I actually felt like the characters were more fleshed out and began to be more relatable. I mean, I was initially just shocked in Perfected with the entire concept of a pet and am happy to report I couldn't relate. 

I am happy to report that the love story has developed a bit more and moved from instalove to more of a Peeta & Katniss situation in Catching Fire (still just a bit off). Ella is actually having life experiences and moving from a pet to an actual human being BUT her emotions are still pretty stunted.

There are several new characters introduced and Missy by far is the fire. Dang she is a fighter. I think a novella about what happened to Missy between Perfected and Tarnished is a must! There is so much unsaid and I really want to know her full story.

The good news is today is the release day of the final book in the series, Unraveled! I have waited a year for the conclusion and I'm ready to kick some butt and blow stuff up! ๐Ÿ’ฃ #rebellion

Book Review: Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi

Summary: Juliette Ferrars thought she'd won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she's still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she's got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

Release Date: March 2018
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Nat


The covers remain epic.

It has all just gone to hell.

I love it.

I hate it.

It better not end like the Divergent series. 

Awaiting Maryn's thoughts...

My feelings when I finished:

Series Review: Hotbloods 1-4 (Hotbloods, Coldbloods, Renegades, Venturers) by Bella Forrest

Summary: One last adventure. That's all Riley wants before heading off to college and parting ways with her two best friends. Spending their last summer together on a Texas farm in the middle of nowhere isn't quite as exciting as they'd planned...

That is, until they stumble upon secrets no human should know.

Men who appear and disappear.

A giant wing hidden in the creek.

Screams in the dead of night.

Every oddity seems connected to their strange--and alarmingly attractive--new neighbors, led by the stormy-eyed Navan. For reasons she can't explain, Riley feels drawn to him and the story of his past.

But Navan has a monstrous side, one that grants him incredible powers that are not of this world...and ashen skin that feels like fire to the touch.

When events take a dangerous twist, Riley is determined to protect her friends at all costs, but as she unravels each thread of the mystery, she finds herself entangled in a supernatural conquest that is far bigger than Texas... and even Earth itself.

A mystery.
A romance.
And a journey that could change the fate of the human race.

Prepare for a unique spin on the lore you love - and an adventure that is as thrilling as it is unexpected. 

Release Date: November 2017
Age Group:  YA, Paranormal
Source: KindleUnlimited
Reviewed By: Nat

I am a devout Bella Forrest fan. Her series are the kind that keep on giving... like a lot... as in 50 books for A Shade of Vampire series... Yes, I've read 

I had to download a series reading order off of Kindle just to keep me straight! These are the books that are my "go-to fillers" between review books. They are easy, quick and I can't guess the plot. #winning

Today, I realized I've never reviewed a single one! Why?!

Because I typically review series when they finish and guess what? THESE DON'T END! Which is a big part of their magic.๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ>insert magical fairy music<๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ

I really enjoy the writing style of Forrest and how she has no problem wrapping up one group of characters and heading down a completely unexpected path with a new, related cast. I like the familiarity of the worlds and how easily I can jump back in at anytime.

So, when I saw that she had a new paranormal series out I drank the KoolAid!

The Hotbloods series may be about vampires but I assure you they are unlike any you have ever encountered (and VERY different from A Shade of Vampire). The world is vicious, galactic and unpredictable. And it takes the idea of a Wicked Queen to a whole new level.

I'm not going to try to describe the twists and turns of each book, it's a waste of reading time. As a matter of fact, you are wasting time now. Go. Shew. Vamos Amigo!

If you are interested in A Shade of Vampire series, HERE is a review of book #1

Book Review: The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt & Adam Rex (๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ“„✂️ )

Summary: You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of how it all began . . .

Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK.

Meanwhile in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was PAPER.

At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, lived a third warrior. They called her SCISSORS.

These three were the strongest, smartest, and fastest in all the land. Time and again they beat the most fearsome opponents they could find: an apricot, a computer printer—even frozen, breaded, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets! But when the warriors finally meet each other, the most epic round of battles begins . . . and never ends. That is why, to this day, children around the world honor these worthy adversaries by playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS!

Release Date: April 2017
Age Group: Childrens, Picture Books, Humor
Source: Purchased at Scholastic Book Fair
Reviewed By:  Nat & The Boys

Playing Rock, Paper, Scissors is a right of passage in life. I mean, I'm pretty sure I've made the challenge in adulthood and thrown my hands up in victory. You know, winning is equivalent to the lottery because you have wagered something B-I-G. Like, who is going to turn off the bedroom light, who is going to pump the gas, who is going to do the walk of shame and drop the kids of tardy??? Who WHO W-H-O. The loser of course. The one that throws down Scissors at the wrong moment. The one who thinks you are always going to choose Rock and shoots down Paper! The Big "L" that's who.

Adulting. It's hard.

In childhood, Rock Paper Scissors determines who's "it" or decides who gets to go "first" or who has to follow through with "the dare". I know my monsters have been posted on our town crime watch thanks to losing a round of Rock, Paper, Scissors... yea, you read that right. They thought ding-dong ditching the grumpy neighbors (with cameras) was a brilliant idea. It wasn't.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors was epic! The Boys thought the images were so strong and cool. I mean, I was a little intimidated by Rock and I wanted Scissors to do my homework (he/she had that nerdy vibe).

The battles throughout were entertaining, hilarious and fun to read aloud. When rock battles the apricot we were cracking up at the fuzzy little butt reference. I mean, what little boy doesn't appreciate butt humor. Adam Rex really knocked it out with the illustrations! ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿฝ

I feel like this picture book needs a warning:

WARNING: This book is guaranteed to result in an epic battle of Rock Paper Scissors. No one is safe. You may be challenged by your toddler or your grandmother. Be cautious when making eye contact, battles can occur at any moment. Take care of those fingers and keep your reflexes sharp.

You've been warned. 
xoxoxo ๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ“„✂️ 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is an excellent gift. It is entertaining and fun to read aloud! Plus, you get to battle when it's over. ๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ“„✂️  #forlife