Book Review: Surviving Adam Meade by Shannon Klare

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Claire Collins has a plan: get into college and leave North Carolina behind. What she doesn’t have is an idea for how to get rid of the local football star and womanizer extraordinaire—Adam Meade, who she can’t even avoid (despite many efforts), because Claire’s dad is the high school football coach.

Seventeen-year-old Adam Meade never fails. He always gets what he wants… until he meets Claire, the new girl who leaves him unnerved, pissed off, and confused. But there’s something about her that he just can’t resist…

With the bite of lemon meringue pie and the sugar of sweet tea, Surviving Adam Meade is a sexy and compelling young adult novel about two strong-willed people who think they know what they want but have no idea what they need.

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

Biased Texan Clause:
Okay, so this book will be loved by all Texans/Natives simply because it is based on our states mandatory Friday night activity, HS Football or termed FNL= Friday Night Lights.

My kids had 28 tardies at the close of last year. I am chronically late to church each Sunday (which starts at 12:30pm). But this past week I got up at 5am sharp to get in line for our HS football season tickets... I was third in line.

Do I have a kid in HS? No. Can I name anyone on the team? Yes, one. Do I have a child in football? Nope. But I got my tickets (and a few extra because I require extra butt room)! See, we are a strange breed but honest about it.

Surviving Adam Meade was a fun, feel good book and a great contribution to YA contemporary but without the standard guarantee of a HEA, which was killer good build-up for book 2. And that is another bonus, a BOOK 2!

Once I started, I read this sucker in one sitting, wanna know why? Because of page 13 and one snarky reply by the MC Claire: "I'd bring him a special water bottle filled with the tears of my enemies."

I loved Claire! I loved her spunk, her fire and her sassy mouth. She is exactly what I'd expect from a football coaches daughter but with the added bonus of teen heartache.

When Adam was introduced he was the typical jerk-jock and I just knew I was going to hate the guy. But the more he and Claire interacted the more I loved the both of them as a pair. I'm not sure I would have liked them apart, they had a certain fire about them. The kind of fire that screams "I will eat your first born but first KISS ME you fool!"

I also really liked how Adam's story unfolded, his character was the most realistic and endearing. He had real life tragedies and the world on his shoulders (sometimes literally).

The Ex:
The only complaint I have is that I didn't know enough about Seth, the Ex, to really spew hate-fire at the guy. I mean I know we hate him but I needed more backstory besides a break-up. Give me the dirt!

Surviving Adam Meade is filled with all the challenges of Senior year, the odd year between adolescence and adulthood. It is a fantastic debut novel and I cannot wait to dive into Finding Claire Collins.

Book Review: All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman

Summary: A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other's traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

Release Date: July 2018
Age Group: Childrens, Picture Book
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

The illustrations of All Are Welcome is top notch. I love when I get an advanced copy of an unbound book and I really hit the jackpot with this one because several of its pages are poster worthy! The illustrations are beautiful and the attention to cultural detail was beautiful.

I enjoyed reading this aloud and the rhyming text was fun. You can spend as much or little time as you want on each page, again the illustrations are great.The repetition of All Are Welcome Here was such a kind, beautiful mantra.

To preface, here is the cultural learning environment of my elementary children: we live deep in Southeast Texas, we live in a small town of approximately 14,000, our town is at least 80% Caucasian and there are about 50 churches along our main street.

With that said, my children are well traveled and have experienced a lot of different cultures in their young lives. They live in a small Texas town but they live large. When I first previewed All Are Welcome, I quickly identified several culture specific norms that I was sure would be pointed out and followed-up with "why do they...". And it would have been perfect and encouraged because that's how we learn.

But when I read it aloud to my youngest monster (first grader), what I expected him to point out (i.e. the Jewish child's cap or the little girls hijab) just wasn't the case. He was more interested in what the students science experiments were and where the visually impaired child got his sunglasses because "that would have been my friend'' and are the Chinese dances like the Hawaiians?

My older monster, who is in the 4th grade, was a bit more observant and had more detailed questions.
Why was there a LGBTQ flag displayed like it was a country? 
How was the pregnant mom pregnant if she was married to another woman?

Yeah it got real, quick. This is the perfect example of when the phrase "Love is Love" just won't cut it. I honestly wasn't expecting this and it caught me off guard but it made me pause and think a minute.

Alright, I stewed on it for a week. And here were my take-away thoughts:
  1. Prejudices are truly a learned behaviors. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not.
  2. Curiosity begins innocently and we need to be there to cultivate it. Whether you are for or against a cultural norm, you've got to be willing to talk about it. 
  3. I think the flag should not have been included and neither should the pregnant lesbian. It took away from the innocence of the message. 
  4. At the end of the day, All Are Welcome.

With that said, the book sleeve is the real gem. It unfolds into a poster that has each cultural different child represented with the phrase "All Are Welcome" at the bottom. This poster should be mass produced and sent to every single school district in the US.

Download HERE

Follow this link to download free bookmarks from the talented Suzanne Kaufman: HERE

Giveaway! Christmas in July, Merry Bookmas!


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Book Review: An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale: Desiderata (Desiderata #1) by Ann M. Noser

Summary: Prince Bane Baronne has baby fever. He is in search of a wife with the proper mystical bloodline to bear him the heir of prophecy. Anna Leon is chosen, but Bane only pretends to be Prince Charming. When Anna questions his intentions, she vanishes from the castle.

Convinced she is to blame for her younger sister's disappearance, Maria Leon is coerced into the royal marriage instead. She is older, wiser, and should know better—but Bane always gets what he wants. And he is not above using trickery or treachery to do so.

Maria attempts to salvage what she can of a "happily ever after" by working hard to be the best mother and wife. Until the day she learns that every woman who has married into the Baronne line disappears soon after they have produced an heir.

And she is next in line.

Release Date:  February 2018
Age Group: YA, Paranormal/Fantasy
Source: Review Copy from Author
Reviewed By:  Nat

I'll read or watch just about anything with "Grimm" in the title because, by nature of The Brothers Grimm, it's going to be weird. Desiderata is built in a medieval world that is rich in magic, prophesy, wicked kings and "weird".

The tale of the Leon sisters is a roller coaster and I couldn't predict a single thing. Each time I settled on one mystical power, I was introduced to a new dynamic of magic. Noser does a good job of building a very elaborate world where just about anything you dream up can quickly become a reality. The characters and family ties are very important to the story, so remembering who is related to who is important.

The Baronne line of Kings are a vicious, wicked breed. You get a taste of the family history of this blood line but not enough to fully understand what causes such hate and desire for power. I think that these secrets might be revealed in a later book.

An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale is a neat introduction to a truly twisted mid-century world full of evil kings, mystical beasts and shape-shifting nuns. Fans of fantasy and paranormal YA will enjoy Desiderata!

Series Review: Blind Item & Guilty Pleasure by Kevin Dickson & Jack Ketsoyan

Summary: "Summer’s hottest new beach read, a juicy tome inspired by real-life Hollywood stories and scandals.” ―E! Online on Blind Item

Release Date: 2017/2018
Age Group: New Adult, Hollywood
Source: Purchased (Kindle) Blind Item, Received Guilty Pleasure from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

This series can basically be described as the Dummies Guide to Hollywood or How to be Miserable in Hollywood or How to Become a Disney Star & End Up a Drug Addict. You get the idea, it's like the extended release or book version of Perez, E! or Radar online.  Seriously, get the popcorn out because you can't make this stuff up!

Blind Item & Guilty Pleasure center on a fictional relationship of a big Hollywood Star and a Publicist but based on real Hollywood gossip that the authors have either witnessed or reported on. And oh my gosh! Some of these situations are just gross, unbelievable and kind of made me lose a little hope in humanity. LAX is weird y'all!!!!!

Hollywood Glamour is just a cesspool of desire, deceit and a whole lot of scheming. I walked away with the fear that one of my children might either want to be a movie star or  some type of "famous" and it literally made me want to raise them without TV, in a cave in Montana... Almost. #GodBlessTexas

This is seriously a train wreck you can't walk away from! I'll admit that I sat and wondered who some of these people were based on because sometimes I wanted to boycott them in all aspects of life. Other times I wanted to invited characters over for dinner, tell them people suck and find out who I needed to beat up. You know, go all mommy cray-cray and light all the mean peoples cars on fire. 💆🏼 #sorrynotsorry

If you like Hollywood gossip or need one wild ride, then read this series.

*This series is New Adult and has explicit scenes & situations that are not appropriate for young audiences.

Book Review: One Small Thing by Erin Watt

Summary: Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

Release Date: June 2018
Age Group: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat


YA Standalone.
I enjoy the writing style of the duo that makes Erin Watt. I've read their New Adult series The Royals and loved it but didn't review it because it was a bit on the raunchy side of New Adult and too intense for my bookish audience. I read When It's Real, their first attempt in the YA arena, and loved the Young Hollywood vibe. I really felt like Erin Watt's place was leaning more to the YA realm and after reading One Small Thing I know I'm right! Simply put, Erin Watt is at their best in Contemporary YA. They have the ability to allow you to loosely predict where things are headed while withholding all the angst. It's the perfect formula for YA lit, hook 'em quick and reel them in slowly.

I tolerated Beth just like I do all naive, hypocritical, rebellious 17 year old girls... with a whole lot of eye rolls and "bless your little heart" comments. Albeit she suffered a terrible family tragedy, at times I still wanted to choke her and other moments I wanted to help her sneak out. Which leads to her parents. The Parents. Those Parents. 😤😳🤔😖😓 (I could have used 92 emoji's to describe them and it still wouldn't have been enough.)

Seriously. One word, COUNSELING. They are, without a doubt, the poster children of grief. I can't say much more than that. It was just sad, really irritating and would have probably led me to a life of crime.

Chase. Wow. That guy was special. I can't say much more than that without giving away plot spoilers. But his character was written the deepest and with the most growth. A truly tortured soul.

The Message.
I really enjoyed this standalone and when it was all said and done, I was pleased with the ending and didn't feel like I needed more. The theme of "One Small Thing" was clever and beautiful. It's really the mantra we should all live by, after all happiness is a choice.

Book Review: Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari

Summary: Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

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

Blood Will Out started off with a really nice creep factor... a really deep, dark hole where no one can hear your screams. 😱 Creepy right.

The main characters are relatable but I still felt they could have been fleshed out a bit more. Sometimes I thought Ari and her bestie were girlfriends but then they weren't, it was a bit confusing. And I really wanted to think of Stroud Bellows as a super hot swimmer but his name might as well have been Senor Butts.

Overall, I liked the plot and the way the story was laid out. The story is told in alternating POV's, one chapter you are in the killer's journal and in the next you are living a nightmare with Ari. It was clever and brought you into the making and design of a serial killer. The journal entries reminded me of Barry Lyga's Jasper Dent series (which will ALWAYS be the creepiest).

It took a few chapters to get invested in the story but once the pieces started to fall together, I found I was a bit disappointed.  I thought I had it all figured! BAM the killer was this person, duh. I only like to predict plots in my Hallmark flicks and if a thriller is "easy" then it really loses the "thrill" factor. But I was dead wrong! (💀 pun intended 💀)

The twist was really a surprise and didn't come until the last 10 pages! I am really glad I hung in there because my entire mindset on the killer was so wrong. The serial killer fit the description perfectly: someone everyone likes, someone that can go unnoticed, someone you would never suspect... really makes me wonder about Mr. Rogers!

Fans of YA, psychological thrillers and crime shows will enjoy Blood Will Out.  

PS. I caught the reference for the book title but it still seemed odd. 🙎🏼

PPS. I was adding my review to goodreads and WOW some of the reviews were pretty harsh! Bottom line, the writing style was good, the characters were typical of YA and the twist was worthy of RL Stine's approval. #BAM

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STAR YA Thriller's to consider:

Review HERE

Review HERE

Review HERE

Book Review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sarah Wolf

Summary: Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.


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

I am not a huge fantasy lover, in fact I typically do not review them because I feel like it wouldn't be fair to the author or anyone that reads my review. With that said, Bring Me Their Hearts was EPIC! So much so that I went on a YA Fantasy spree, I am a changed woman. CHANGED.

I cannot believe how quickly I was sucked into the world of a Heartless! I mean I still have an unhealthy love for vampires but a Heartless was just so new, fresh and creepy. I'm not sure how to describe a Heartless, maybe a little Zombie'ish with a dash of Vampire and maybe a bit like a living Voodoo Doll of death. Sounds great, right!?

Wolf does an excellent job of world building while not wasting time on unnecessary details. It drives me nuts to read about a field or the color of the sky for 10 pages. But the plot is strategically set-up to reel you in and hook you right from the start. With every detail, both past & present, being placed to simultaneously build the storylines of several characters. This is the type of series that could easily have a spin-off. I also loved the vivid detail of Zera's dresses, the layout & description of the kingdom and even the history of the d'Malvane family. I can't wait to learn all the skeletons in that family line.

Of course I immediately fell in love with Zera. She is sassy, aware of her shell of an existence and completely tormented... kind of reminds me of a menstruating teen-- you love to hate them. Dang, Zera was just so clever and entertaining. 

There of course is a love interest but to say it's complicated would be a gross understatement. There is no instalove, in fact it took some build up to even decide whose heart I wanted to rip out. There are a few characters that I would have liked to have sent as sacrifice to the witches. #theyvolunteerastribute #offwiththeirheads or #outwiththeirhearts

Prince Lucien is so broody and just what makes YA audiences swoon. Of course he has serious trust issues and his own secrets but I don't think we have even scratched the surface of this not-so-charming Prince. I really liked when his tail was bushy, kind of reminded me of my hot husband when he throws a fit. 🙄

That ending tho... well played Wolf! I mean dang that was intense and then it's all drop the mic 🎤 & Bye Felicia 💁🏼 

I have a fair compromise, give us a novella while we wait! Anything. Not picky.

Must-Read YA: Bring Me Their Hearts was such a wild cocktail of magic, fantasy, history & romance all thrown into a beautiful version of a Gollum-like creature that just wants to be free!

Giveaway: Splash into Summer

Winner @teresamauder

Shout Out to everyone that stopped by to visit! Next Giveaway coming soon.

Turn off the alarms it's SUMMER! 
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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.