Waiting on Wednesday: Flame in the Mist

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Summary:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known

Why I’m Excited:

First…can we talk about that cover??

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It. Is. Gorgeous.

Renee is lucky in having some of the most beautiful covers ever. I loved the looks for her two previous books and this may be even better.

Now…a take on Mulan.

Sign. Me. Up.

I enjoy Japanese culture and I think Mulan is a highly underrated film in the realm of Disney, so I’m excited to see her get some attention even if it isn’t directly.

Flame in the Mist sounds amazing and we always need more hardcore, kick butt female leads in YA.

Bring it on in May!

-M

Waiting on Wednesday: Ramona Blue

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Summary:

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

Why I’m excited:

Dumplin’ was the first book that I read from Julie Murphy and I loved way more than I even anticipated. The same can be said about Side Effects May Vary.

Most importantly though, Ramona Blue deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, something that was a HUGE part of my high school experience as a junior in 2005. I’ll likely share more about that when I read the book and then review it, but I’m excited to see a book that looks at the storm, but years later since Ramona was a child when the storm happened.

I can’t wait for Ramona Blue as it’s sure to be just as great as Julie’s other two books.

-M

Love for The Hate U Give

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

My Thoughts:

    I don’t even know where to begin with THUG.

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I read THUG late last year, I believe in early November. I was already excited for it after hearing author, Angie Thomas, read from is at Mississippi Book Festival in August. I was sold and knew this was a book that I wanted to read.

Boy, was I….RIGHT.

I was completely blown away  by Starr and her situation. The writing was real and I could easily (I say easily lightly, because painfully is a better word.) see the story play out. I couldn’t quit reading because I had to know what was going to happen next in Starr’s world.

More importantly, sure, the book is great and  teens (EVERYONE) will love it for what it is, but it is so TIMELY and important with the message it sends out.

The biggest part is that it helped me further understand the kids that I work with everyday. I’m in a small town, yet urban setting with lots of low income families. I graduated 10 years ago from a high school about 30 minutes where I’m now a high school librarian, but 2017 in my school’s community is a whole other world from 2007 in the school and world I graduated in. It honestly helped me “get” where some of these kids are coming from and to understand some of their actions that I see on a daily basis.

That’s because of just how real the writing it. It’s also why I feel like young adult literature NEEDS more own voices books. Kids need to be able to see themselves and their communities. I didn’t intend to write this review on the day that I did, but the need for diverse and own voice books has especially hit me today because a Hispanic girl came to return a book today RAVING about how much she adored what she’d read because “It was so different. So many books are about pretty, white girls- and that’s okay too, Ms. Hays, don’t get me wrong!- but it was neat to have something different even if it wasn’t a Hispanic girl in this book.”

That kid struck a chord with me like she wouldn’t know because the importance of DIFFERENCES is one thing I try hard to push for the kids in my library so often. Sure, read the stuff that’s popular. That’s awesome, but read diverse books and see yourself, your peers, and other aspects that you don’t typically see.


This ended up going on way longer than I intended, but, honestly, I cannot speak highly enough over this book at all. I can’t wait until I’m able to order more books for my library next school year so that I’m able to share Starr with the kids in my school. They’ll love knowing that Starr was living in a neighborhood based on one not too far from where they live.

February 28…GO GET IT. You will not be disappointed in the slightest!

-M

Waiting on Wednesday: Lucky in Love

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Summary:

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Why I’m excited:

Kasie West quickly became on insta-buy last year with her most recent releases, PS I Like You and By Your Side. I devoured both books though, to be honest, I still haven’t gone back and read her older books- I plan to soon though!

This book sounds adorable and right in line with her other books, so I can’t wait. It doesn’t release until July 25, but I’m definitely ready for it as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!

Get Lost in Lost in Scotland

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Summary:

Just when you think you’re lost, you might end up falling in love. Sam Farouk is having a bad year. Things went down the drain ever since she found her boyfriend cheating on her at the Golden Globes. An unfortunate turn of events forces her to trade sunny Los Angeles with the rainy, chilly highlands of Scotland. She has the chance to work as one of the makeup artists on a new TV series based on a fantasy saga everyone is bananas about, but she can’t help feeling lost and a little bit homesick. Until she starts falling for Hugh MacLeod, the actor set to impersonate the titular role of Abarath, dragon slayer and part-time Casanova. Hugh MacLeod is ready for his big break. After more than a decade taking every possible acting job just to stay afloat, he can finally show his range in a series to be proud of. Hugh’s commitment to his career comes before anything else, and that’s part of the reason why he hasn’t had a serious relationship in a while. But the more he’s around Sam, the more he knows he’s in deep, deep trouble. How is he supposed not to fall for the sexy, mysterious brunette who works all over him every single day? Every touch, every look is torture. Getting lost in each other might be wrong, but it could end up being just what they need.

My Thoughts:

If you’ve followed my posts, then you know that I’ve shared lots about Hilaria Alexander’s books in the past.

Y’all…I’m SO iffy about self-published books. That’s not to say anything negative about them, but there’s so much out there that just…isn’t…that…great.

Well…that is NOT the case with Lost in Scotland! I absolutely loved it and this is easily my favorite book that Hilaria has put out so far. I was easily able to picture the gorgeous Scotland backdrop and the characters were great.

If you’re looking for a quick, escape book then this is the romance you want. I read it while traveling on vacation in December and hated when I had to put it down because I had to know what was going on with Sam and Hugh. Speaking of Hugh…he’s perfect, ladies. Then again, I’m not sure it gets more perfect than a gorgeous Scot anyways.

Lost in Scotland is currently on .99, so be sure to pick up a copy today!

-M

New Release Highlights!

Happy February!

As I’ve already posted a full review of another release from this week (Kasie West’s By Your Side) I thought I’d give a shoutout to two other releases this week. Both of these books have full reviews coming soon (Lost in Scotland on the 3rd and Be My Galentine on the 6th), but I wanted to go ahead and give them some spotlight!

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Summary:

From Girl Squads to Galentine’s Day, female friendships have reached a new level of awesome. Gone are the days of competition and backstabbing (well, mostly)–female empowerment is in and it’s here to stay! This illustrated book aims to highlight the positive nature of friendship between women with a little bit of charm, and a whole lot of sass, and offers fun extras like recipes and themes that can take your girls’ dates to the next level! Celebrate your best friends, your soul sisters, your gal pals, your partners-in-crime with this humorous gift book, and make every day feel like Galentine’s Day! Because let’s face it, fabulous friendships deserve to be celebrated all year round!

My Thoughts:

This book is the PERFECT gift idea! Next week I’ll share my experience in making either a recipe or face mask  from the book to show you how fun it is. Definitely get a copy for your friends!


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Summary:

Just when you think you’re lost, you might end up falling in love. Sam Farouk is having a bad year. Things went down the drain ever since she found her boyfriend cheating on her at the Golden Globes. An unfortunate turn of events forces her to trade sunny Los Angeles with the rainy, chilly highlands of Scotland. She has the chance to work as one of the makeup artists on a new TV series based on a fantasy saga everyone is bananas about, but she can’t help feeling lost and a little bit homesick. Until she starts falling for Hugh MacLeod, the actor set to impersonate the titular role of Abarath, dragon slayer and part-time Casanova. Hugh MacLeod is ready for his big break. After more than a decade taking every possible acting job just to stay afloat, he can finally show his range in a series to be proud of. Hugh’s commitment to his career comes before anything else, and that’s part of the reason why he hasn’t had a serious relationship in a while. But the more he’s around Sam, the more he knows he’s in deep, deep trouble. How is he supposed not to fall for the sexy, mysterious brunette who works all over him every single day? Every touch, every look is torture. Getting lost in each other might be wrong, but it could end up being just what they need.

My Thoughts:

I’m going to be 100% real with y’all and say that self-published books, especially romance books, are extremely hit or miss with me.

That said, I loved Lost in Scotland and can’t recommend it enough. I read it on the plane to and from vacation in December and hated to put it down when I had to.

More on Lost in Scotland coming at you on Friday (Feb 3).

-M

By Your Side- a dream in theory…

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Summary:

An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

My Thoughts:

PS I Like You was my first Kasie West book early last year as an ARC. I immediately fell in love with that book and was ready to read my next book from her. I have her back list, but then I heard about this one and got an ARC.

First things first…the concept of getting locked in a library. SIGN. ME. UP.

That idea sounded perfect to me from the beginning, but I immediately felt bad for Autumn because where were her friends? Why didn’t anyone come for her? (Spoiler: We learn that later.) I think I maybe even spent too much time wondering where the heck her friends were and why they didn’t come back for her.

I do think I enjoyed the library parts more than the middle of the book just because some of the middle was lots of back and forth and got frustrating at times.

I will admit, that there were parts that dragged for me, but for the most part, I zoomed through the book. There was lots of back and forth with Dax, yet it also was understandable for his character and situation.

Overall, this is still a classic Kasie West book. It isn’t my favorite, but it is still a cute, fast read if you’re looking for a contemporary romance. By Your Side releases next week, January 31, so be sure to pick it up if this is what you’re looking for!

-M