Rating System:

For those of you who don't know, I rate books based on their ability to hold my attention. I don't really like to rip apart someone's hard work. If I don't finish a book, then I don't feel comfortable rating it. So you might see a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings. However, if I do have issues with a book, I will always tell you. Enjoy! (:

Monday, December 4, 2017

Life Update: December 2017

Where I've Been

If you follow me on Twitter then this information is not new to you but.... I GOT A JOB! In the middle of October I began work as a special needs paraprofessional at a preschool. I have been pretty absent from blogging and a little absent from social media ever since. I promise I still love blogging and books are a HUGE part of my life. The thing is that I am still trying to find my balance. Right now my life looks like this: wake up, get ready, go to work, come home, eat, do laundry, and sleep. I try to fit some reading in where I can and if I'm honest I usually can't. The days go by so fast. Keeping up with toddlers is hard work. I wouldn't change it though. I love my job and even on days when I don't want to go to work those kiddos put a smile on my face the second I get there. I have never felt more needed and loved outside of my close circle and it feels amazing. I'm hoping to find my groove soon and post at least two reviews a month, but I hope you'll still stick around if that doesn't happen right away. Meanwhile, feel free to leave a comment with other posts you would like to see outside of reviews. I'm completely open to trying new things if you would like to see them. Until then, happy reading!
Xoxo,
Gabriella 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Nowhere Girls ARC Review

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
4.5 Stars

I want to start by saying that I fought hard for this book. I requested it on NetGalley, straight from the publisher, lurked on books for trade and I just could not get my hands on it. So when I saw it pop up in the ARC Adoption program run by Emma at Miss Print I practically begged her for it. I got lucky. It may have taken me a while, but here is my review.

From the minute I heard about The Nowhere Girls I wanted to get my hands on it. If you've been around for a while then you know I feel a connection to certain books about the hard stuff. Some being mental illnesses, some on assault, bullying, and so many more. The Nowhere Girls centers on rape, consent, breaking the silence and the sad norms surrounding such things. For this exact reason I needed it in my life.

To me this book is pretty slow, but very important. The chapters alternate perspectives as a group of girls try to get justice for a fellow teenage girl previously having been violated. She came forward and no one believed her. These girls saw that this was in fact wrong, something worth fighting for. The entire book is kind of about meetings in secret and making change. I'm all about change, believe me. However at times I found myself wishing things would happen faster or be more impactful.

I grew to love our main characters who are actually decently diverse to me. I do not consider myself an expert in diversity though so if that is important to you I would check someone who lives for diverse books. I found myself enjoying Grace and Erin more than Rosie. And while I originally liked Amber, I found myself hating her by the end. Which kind of made me feel a little bitter. All I know is that the guys drove me insane for the most part. There were a few exceptions and I won't spoil who that is for you. You need to get to know everyone for yourself.

One thing that infuriated me to no end, and it was supposed to, was the blog called The Real Men of Prescott. The posts were disgusting and the sad thing is that blogs like this do exist in our world. The inclusion of these posts within the book was actually quite crucial to the story. The provided insight to the other side of things was important and also heartbreaking when you realized who was being discussed each time. I wanted to throw my copy across the room! But I believe that was the point. We need to get mad. To fight. To stand up for victims who seek justice rather than scare them into hiding and giving the assailant a slap on the wrist.

The Nowhere Girls is a very important book that I think everyone should read. I really enjoyed it despite it taking me a while to read. I highly recommend it to those like me who want to read the tough about stuff. Overall the book isn't hard to read. It has it's moments. I cannot wait to see what Amy Reed comes out with next. Thank you again to Emma for allowing me to adopt this ARC. The Nowhere Girls is out now and if you haven't grabbed a copy yet then you should. Feel free to come back here and discuss it with me when you finish! Happy reading!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Debut Author Bash 2017: Stephanie Elliot

Welcome to my second post for the 2017 Debut Author Bash! Today we will be focusing on Stephanie Elliot and her debut novel, Sad Perfect. You can also find information about a giveaway at the end. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

An Essay from Stephanie Elliot
This year, my novel Sad Perfect debuted in the world. It was a thing that started from a little idea, and then it became two words, and then more words, and then there was a book. I got an agent, I got a publisher, I did edits for about two years, and then, my dream came true.

I have a book out there in the world, and yes, it was a dream of mine. It was a dream that I went after, and something I had thought about, wanted to do for a very long time. My dream was accomplished through hard work and determination. I made it happen because I wanted it to happen.

You can make your dreams happen too. You want to be a singer? Practice. Take singing lessons. Learn from other singers. You want to dance in front of filled audiences someday? Practice. Take lessons. Watch other dancers. Learn from them. You want to be a doctor? Take classes, go to school, watch other doctors in action, and make it happen.

You can do the thing that you want most in the world too.

But once it happens, once you have accomplished your big dream, no matter what it is, your regular daily life probably won’t change much. You’re still going to be that same person, you’re still going to have to do the things you did previous to making your dream come true.

And that’s totally okay, and for most dream chasers, that’s pretty standard—to feel the same after you’ve accomplished your dream. I have a book out, which is simultaneously great and also not a big deal. Most days I don’t even think that I am an author. Most days if I meet someone new, I rarely share that I have written a book. It’s not who I am. I wasn’t ever seeking anything greater.

But every now and then, when I’m least expecting it, when I’m not even thinking about it, I might get an email from someone who has read my book. Sometimes these emails are from teens that have read Sad Perfect and connected with the main character. Sometimes an email might be from someone who was in a similar situation, and now, having read the book, she feels less alone. They’ll thank me for my words, for my story, and I am in awe. That’s when I most feel like I have done something good with this dream of mine.

Do something with your dream today, no matter what it is, even if it’s the smallest of steps toward what you most think about, what you most want to do. Do it today, and it will happen for you too.

About the Book
The story of a teen girl's struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that's when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.




About the Author
Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect, which was inspired by her daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines, and is also an editor and book reviewer. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband and their three children.

Where to find her: Website | Twitter | Instagram





Thank you for stopping by and reading our post! You can read my review of Sad Perfect here if you'd like. Stephanie is also giving away one finished copy of Sad Perfect to a lucky commenter. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter and leave your handle in your comment for extra entries. You can also earn an entry by retweeting my tweet with this blog post link found here. Happy reading and good luck!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Friday, December 1, 2017

Debut Author Bash 2017: Kate Hart


Hello and welcome to day one of the 2017 Debut Author Bash! This year I'll be doing a couple of days and today is all about Kate Hart! I hope you enjoy!

About the Book
A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew.

Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother.

The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.




About the Author
After studying Spanish and history at a small liberal arts school, Kate Hart taught young people their ABCs, wrote grants for grownups with disabilities, and now builds treehouses for people of all ages. Her debut YA novel, AFTER THE FALL, was published January 2017 by FSG, and she's a contributor to the 2018 short story collection TOIL & TROUBLE. She also contributes to YA Highway, hosts Badass Ladies You Should Know , and sells fiber arts and woodworking at The Badasserie. Kate is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation with Choctaw heritage, and lives in Northwest Arkansas with her family.

Where to find her: Website | Twitter | Instagram






Now on to the giveaway. The prize is a copy of After the Fall by Kate Hart, it is up to the winner if they want a hardcover or a paperback copy. To enter simply comment on this post and leave your twitter handle. For extra entries you can follow Kate and myself and retweet my tweet about this post found here. You can find the full bash schedule here. Thank you for hanging out and I hope you come back for my next post! Happy reading!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Thursday, September 21, 2017

These Things I've Done Review

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips
5 Stars

Thank you so much to the lovely Eric Smith for sending me one of his agent copies of These Things I've Done for review. I don't know how many of y'all have read the synopsis for this book, but the one line that made me absolutely NEED it was this:
"It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death."
Specifically the part about her role. It had me intrigued. What was her role? What happened? Why did she leave? Why did she come back? I was full of questions just from the simple summary of the book and I had to have answers.

These Things I've Done follows Dara in chapters alternating between her Sophomore year and her senior year in high school. Essentially showing her life before and after the incident that ended up leaving her best friend Aubrey dead. It feels only right to split this review into the before and the after.

Before: Dara and Aubrey are your typical best friends. They share everything and are inseparable until eventually things begin to push them apart. Such is life. Things happen. Boys, school, family etc. Despite these issues these two are a pair and you feel it when they are at odds. Something just feels wrong and I applaud Rebecca for making it so. These chapters provide so much insight into exactly how much this incident has changed Dara and the way she lives her life. The full chapters are so much better than small memories sprinkled throughout as internal flashbacks.

After: In the chapters showing Dara in her senior year we see kind of a dark version of her. She's racked with guilt and kind of feels like she deserves it. We don't know how Aubrey died, just that it has majorly changed Dara. So much that she left for a year and came back. We can see how hard it is for her and how she is kind of punishing herself and we still don't know why. But one bright spot is Ethan. Aubrey's younger brother who used to hang out with them all the time. He kind of represents familiarity for Dara and at the same time she feels she doesn't deserve kindness from anyone. Especially Ethan, but he's my favorite. He's just the best and his growth helps her grow and see things through a new light.

These Things I've Done conquers friendship, betrayal, love, loss, guilt, self discovery, and even a splash of consent. Rebecca did a wonderful job crafting Dara's story as well as Ethan's. Aubrey's as well despite hers being so short. This book was fantastic and I could not put it down. I finished it within 24 hours of starting it and I didn't want it to end. When the reveal of how Aubrey died actually came about I was BROKEN. It was just heartbreaking to actually see and understand why Dara felt the way she did and also why she probably shouldn't. This book will hook you from the very last line of chapter one and it will not let you go.

Grab yourself a copy of These Things I've Done today. You won't regret it. Don't forget to check out Rebecca Phillips on Twitter as well as Eric Smith if you're looking for great recommendations. Do you plan on checking this one out? Let me know in the comments.
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Is Not the End Review

This Is Not the End by Chandler Baker
5 Stars

I want to thank Cassie McGinty from Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me a finished copy for review. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I initially showed interest in This Is Not the End because of the idea that you can bring someone back from the dead. It got me to thinking about if I would use that opportunity if it were given to me. It's really interesting to look inside yourself and question such things.

In This Is Not the End our main character, Lake, will get to resurrect one person on her eighteenth birthday like everyone else as stated by the law. Her birthday is looming and she has already promised her resurrection to someone when an accident takes away two of the most important people in her life. Now she's faced with possibly breaking her promise and the pressure added by others.

When I went in and first learned about the very person she promised to resurrect I was internally shouting NO. I was not a fan at all. I didn't know who I would choose if I were in Lake's shoes, but I certainly knew who I would not choose. The entire book is surrounding this big decision and while it's strictly her decision, a friend comes along for the ride. He goes by Ringo and I love him. He didn't try and pressure her despite his own feelings towards the process of resurrection. But instead was more of a sounding board for Lake when no one else was. I appreciated that. I feel like everyone should have that one person that just kind of listens.

I won't spoil who she chose. Or even who she promised to choose years ago, but I will say that I hated this person. Yet at the end of the novel I gained a tad more understanding and found myself warming up to this person. I really like how Chandler didn't force this change on me. It felt more organic because it does not really excuse the previous behavior and it is still completely acceptable to still dislike this character. I personally don't anymore and I'm proud of the steps that were taken.

Overall this story is very much character driven in my mind. It's a very internal choice and while there is kind of an adventure involved, it is still Lake's journey. I highly recommend giving this a go because it kind of makes you think. Would you resurrect someone if you could? Who would you choose? Do you think they'd be okay with it? Let's talk about it in the comments. Don't forget to order your copy now and check out Chandler Baker on Twitter. Happy reading!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

ARC August & FomoAThon Wrap-Up

Collective Wrap-Up

Arc August:
As y'all know I signed up to do ARC August, an event where all of us try our hardest to read all of our backlogged review copies (advanced reader copies or ARCs specifically). I'm very bad at sticking to TBRs and forcing myself to read when I don't really feel like it so I set a very realistic goal for myself. In August I set out to read one ARC. Yes you read that correctly, ONE. I'm happy to announce that I at the very least reached my goal.

In August I was only able to read one ARC. I was in a major slump and really didn't want to read anything that I felt like I HAD to read. The ARC I chose was to my surprise, one from my TBR. I read and actually enjoyed A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel. This was a book about a girl who was struck by lightning and lost some of her more recent memories and her struggles to try and remember all the changes she had made in those missing periods. I enjoyed it enough. I did get a little frustrated sometimes because we as readers were somewhat in the dark too, but I would read it again. I'm happy with my choice of my singular ARC and I recommend checking it out.

FomoAThon:
Now I have not actually talked about the FomoAThon here on my blog at all. Chelsea from chelseadolling reads actually announced her idea/plans for this only the day before so it was kind of a last minute decision. Basically it was for the people with FOMO (Fear of misssing out) over BookNetFest and I am totally one of those people. This readathon didn't come with any assigned challenges or goals for people to reach. It was very laid back and chill which is exactly what I needed.

Being that there weren't any challenges, goals, or TBRs on my part I was free to read whatever. My first choice was This Is Not the End by Chandler Baker and boy did I love this book. I needed to know what choice Lake was going to make. If you don't know our main character Lake lives in a world where when a person turns 18 they have a chance to resurrect one person of their choice. Lake had already promised her resurrection to someone when tragedy strikes and she suddenly has two more options. Her life becomes one big what if in regards to her 18th birthday which is less than a month away. I knew who I would want her to choose and was waiting to see if she agreed. I just had to finish ASAP. And I love when a book does that to me. I highly recommend this one.

Second, I read These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips. This book. I cried so much. It took me 24 hours to read and fall in love with this novel. I was hooked from the last sentence of chapter one. These Things I've Done is about Dara and her life after the death of her best friend. It's told in alternating chapters between the past and the present each one fitting together nicely. This story, the wreckage that comes with tragedy, it was heartbreaking and written perfectly. Nothing could stop me from reading this one and I'm sad that it had to end. Honestly, grab yourself a copy now if you're a sucker for big events that change a person so much and watching them heal and grow.

Yesterday was the last day for the readathon and I knew I wouldn't be able to finish a third book. I could've read a graphic novel, but let's face it I'm stubborn as hell. So me being me, I started The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed and only got 12 pages in. Which is totally fine by me. I can't wait to finish reading all 404 pages and see what I think of them. So there you have it, my collective wrap-up.

Thank you to Read.Sleep.Repeat. for hosting another great ARC August. Thank you to Chelsea Dolling for hosting the awesome and laid back FomoAThon, I hope to see more readathons like this one. And thank you for stopping by and reading to see what I've been up to. Did you participate in either of these events? Do you hope to in the future? What have you been reading lately? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Friday, August 25, 2017

Forsaken Book Blitz & Giveaway




Forsaken by Connie Ann Michael 
Release Date: May 23, 2017
ISBN: 9780997727890
Eighteen-year-old Oli cannot remember life outside the barrier, a life before the oil spill that poisoned human kind, killing half the population and infecting the other half until they deteriorated from the inside out, forced to walk the earth as Screamers. It’s a dangerous new world in which barely anyone makes it past the age of twenty, and Oli’s time is running out.   Studying the Bible, Oli searches for words to help restore faith in a lost world, and when she receives a message from God telling her to leave the barrier, she knows what she must do. There’s only one problem: Her best friend, Coi, doesn’t believe her, and he’s showing the first signs of infection. But before she can convince him to leave with her, the Governor quarantines Coi and orders his execution. ​ Oli risks it all to rescue Coi, and they set out to find sanctuary away from the safety of the compound, not knowing who or what will get to them first: the Governor, the illness, or the Screamers. When they stumble upon a group of uninfected humans hidden among the rubble of an apartment building, they think they’ve found their salvation. But not everything is as it seems, and their enemies are closer than they thought.    
Book Links:
Anaiah Press: http://anaiahpress.com/forsaken
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Forsaken-Screamers-Book-Connie-Michael-ebook
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forsaken-connie-ann-michael Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/forsaken
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/forsaken-6
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35209907-forsaken?from_search=true  

About the Author: A new resident of Montana, Connie Ann Michael grew up in a close family on the outskirts of Seattle. Drawn to the Lord she’s followed her calling of service and has taught for twenty-six years, currently the fifth grade teacher at Crow Agency Public School, on the Crow Reservation. Connie loves her family and is lucky enough to have two grown boys. Living with her husband and two dogs in Big Sky country, Connie enjoys any activity that takes her outside and is working hard to overcome her fear of being eaten by a bear to enjoy more hiking trips in the mountains.
Website: http://connie-avidreader.blogspot.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/connieannmichael/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/connieamichael


Excerpt:
I’d worked in the garden all day, digging up dry, hard dirt in an attempt to thin out weeds that were indistinguishable from the edible plants. I sat back on my heels and looked around at the others digging with sticks and crude tools bent from scraps of metal. I thought back to a history book I’d found in the school across the street from where our tiny speck of civilization sat. The pictures of the cities were faded, but the grandeur couldn’t be dulled. The sun shone from the great heights of the buildings like stars guiding people through their lives. Lives that were full and held the hope of growth and diversity. Lives that were lost, and lives I would never know. I devoured news from the past. I’d read every book I could find until the day the Governor took over and sent the Guard in to gather them all and burn them in a huge bonfire to show us the past no longer mattered. Only the future mattered now. The future he would make for us. I’d hidden a few of my favorite books and then ripped out pictures that spoke to me of what could be once more. I had them in my pockets until the day one fell out and the Guard, a group of empowered teenagers doing the dirty work for the Governor, found them. My arms were bound to a table in the middle of the compound, and my hands were hit with a switch twenty times before I was left as an example. My transgression—hope—was the first of the rules scratched on to the wall of rules. Of course, it said act of defiance. Defiance of what? Defiance of a rule that took the past and left it there? I kneeled at the table until dusk when my friends, Bliss and Coi, were allowed to release me. I was expected to continue my duties in the garden the next day as if my hands weren’t sore, swollen, and bloody; as if nothing had transpired. Take your punishment and step back into the predictable path of your life. I was much more careful after that and folded the photographs until they were small squares and hid them among my possessions, only giving myself the luxury of carrying one hidden deep in my pocket. After more than ten years behind these fences, we had little to show other than a belief system that was the backbone to salvation slowing being taken from us. Even though I didn’t agree with rules outlined and constantly being revised without question or input from those living under them, this was the only home I’d known since arriving when I was nine. It was desolate and dying a little more every day, but it was a refuge for those of us who refused to give up a chance of survival. We paid for our residence through tedious chores that never seemed to get us closer to breaking the barrier between survival and living. Every day we woke to the monotonous tasks, doing what needed to be done to earn our place and not be forsaken into the abyss of death waiting outside our fences. Most days, I found my refuge in the skeleton of a school just outside the safety zone of the chain link. A place once filled with knowledge and guidance but now a shell of a world left far behind. Dusk had settled, along with a light drizzle. I’d left my tools in the shed after my chores and had spent the last hours of daylight in the school with History books and the Bible I had hidden deep in the bowels of a dilapidated classroom. I’d found loose pages in a pile of trash that listed the nine things needed before a world was considered a civilization; a written language, a belief system, a stable food supply, government, art, ways to improve life, a social structure, lasting settlements, and a trade or economics. If this list was accurate, we had a long way to go before we were considered anything more than a group of young people camping in the middle of what used to be a sports field. I began to cross over the make-shift bridge the Guard had strung between the school and the rickety guard tower they’d erected. I usually slipped through the gate to walk the short distance across the road and through the doors of the school, but I’d waited too long and the path back to the barrier was filled with the infected, the screeching noise of their breathing, earning them the name Screamers, floated up from the road below. I stopped, daring to look down at the small space between my feet and the dozens of clawing fingers reaching up in the small chance they could snag my pants or a shoelace and bring me to my death. I inched forward, hearing the deep rasp of a cough before I saw the figure waiting on the other side of the bridge. I glanced up at the clouds, darkening as they filled with the poisoned rain they would tease us with. A wetness that wouldn’t bring life but instead kill the small plants we nurtured and damage the health of the young who eagerly drank from the barrels before the water was purified. The cough came again, and as I neared the other side, the tall figure of my best friend, Coi, emerged. "Bliss missed her work duty for the day," his words came out quickly. "I’ll find her." I didn’t wait for an explanation, there wasn’t time. I needed to find her before Bliss’s punishment became a new revision on the wall of rules. Coi grabbed my arm, stopping me. "I was sent after her. She’s at the fence but won’t come back with me. I can’t stall the Guard long." "I told you, I’ll get her." I stomped down the stairs and took off at a run. It was her first absence in months, so the punishment would more than likely be a warning. I prayed it would be a warning and nothing more, but I needed to make sure if she was doing anything more than missing work that I got to her before anyone else did. I needed to know she was okay and keep her that way. It didn’t take long to find her. The barrier wasn’t that big. "Missed you at the garden today," I said quietly, walking up behind her. Bliss was eleven, and I’d practically raised her even though I was a kid myself. She was sitting on the ground watching a small group of Screamers milling around a pile of… of something I didn’t want to know what it was. The barrier was surrounded by trees that, at one time, I was sure provided a cool shade from the sun. Now the needles were red with what looked to be the same fate as us. The school we’d settled in was away from a town I assumed lay out past the trees. I’d always thought it was why it was chosen in the early years… for its seclusion. No one alive today had ever gone farther than the school across the broken road. Very few buildings lay further, a long patch of runway from what use to be an airstrip, but legend had it the large metal buildings housed a mass of those who died from infection, and going that far from the barrier was listed on the wall of laws, so no one I knew ever ventured that way. "There’s plenty of people to clean the gardens. You don’t need me," she muttered. Her fingers were laced into the metal links of the fence, her eyes glued to the slumped figures across a small dirt patch. "It’s best we leave them to…" "To what?" Bliss questioned. Her mood concerned me. Bliss was the happy one. The one whose real name I couldn’t even remember. We all called her Bliss because of her never ending cheer. I looked at the ground, the water collecting in rounded mounds over the caked earth, not yet soaking into the tightly pressed dirt, and wondered the same thing. It was best we let them be. It was best we left them to do whatever it was they did without anyone watching. "I don’t know, Bliss, but you don’t want to watch them." Bliss turned to me. "Our existence means nothing if we don’t honor the dead." I tried not to flinch at her words. "Honor the dead?" "They were just like us until their luck changed. I don’t think they mean to hurt us. They want to survive… so do we." I looked at a woman who stood swaying slowly back and forth on the other side of the barrier. Her face was unrecognizable, but even with clothes in tattered strips and covered in mud, I knew who she was. This woman had been the last of what would be considered an adult in our small community of safety. I sighed again and understood what had kept Bliss from her work. The woman had been Bliss’s aunt. I didn’t want to argue the fact that their need to survive was futile seeing as they were as good as dead, infected with a sickness that if there was a chance of a cure, we certainly didn’t have any way of finding it, but I also didn’t want to agree with her. The Governor had been in control for a few short years, and words used when discussing the methods he had for removing those who questioned him had to be chosen more carefully these days. Bliss stared out into the growing darkness. "She didn’t do anything wrong." "She questioned," I said quietly. "And is that so wrong?" I shook my head no, but in my heart I knew it was dangerous to question the Governor and his methods. I understood his need to control us. In the beginning, there was no organization and mistakes were made that we continue to pay for today. "She told the guard she was too sick to work. She snuck out when they were watching the gate." She glanced up at me. "She was with child." Her big eyes blinked and a tear fell. "I would have had a cousin." I opened my mouth to respond, but words had left me. I wasn’t sure where to start on the list of disturbing questions her words put in my head. The biggest being why she thought her aunt had had a choice in her exile. Finally, I said, "I’m sorry." "It was her terms not theirs." Bliss let out a long breath, releasing her negativity. "Tell me something good." She wiped at her cheeks with one hand. Her knuckles whitened as she gripped the fence tighter with the other. I placed my hand over hers. When darkness fell completely and the Screamers became frenzied for food, they would come for something as small as a finger. Even the smallest scratch from their infected nails could cause the infection to spread. "You’re here for a reason. If you weren’t supposed to be here, you wouldn’t be," I said. The rasps of the Screamers were getting louder as the sky became fully dark and the rain began. "Please, Bliss," I whispered. "Please. Come to dinner with me." One of the Screamers came to us, head cocked to the left, jaws chomping at nothing. Bliss took a step back, finally letting go of the fence. The vacant eyes of the walking corpses drew me in. Many called them lost souls, but they weren’t. These were empty shells of people. People who’d been loved. I’d spent many hours looking into the weeping, yellow eyes of the sick, trying to understand. But when there is nothing in them, there’s nothing to find. "Please," I said again. Bliss didn’t divert her eyes from where they stared. "You can go, Oli." "No. Come with me." She turned and met my stare. "I need her to know I’m here. I’ll survive for her, and I want her to get strength from that." I pressed my lips to her temple. "I love you, Bliss. But you can’t be found here. Illness is the only excuse for absence. You can’t stay." Reluctantly, she agreed and returned with me to the large building where dinner was waiting. The Screamers rarely returned to the barrier. Her aunt had slipped away in the morning. Escaped, we told ourselves. Trying to find others and then return with a great flourish to tell us the world had returned just a few miles down the road. It was best we kept those dreams alive. It was better than the alternative, the one where the Guard led her into the vacant world outside our walls without even a simple weapon. No one who left ever returned. The Guard made sure of that, and I highly doubted it was her aunt. This was just a woman wearing the same dress who happened upon us. I looked down at my own clothes and wondered if this was an outfit I wanted to wear while I walked the earth as a Screamer.
The Giveaway: 
Go here for an awesome giveaway!
https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d3e9359422/

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

You Don't Know Me but I Know You ARC Review

You Don't Know Me but I Know You by Rebecca Barrow
5 Stars

First off, I want to thank the kind, Rebecca Barrow for sending me a copy of this book after I won a giveaway. I think I entered quite a few for this book because of how badly I wanted to read it and I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to.

For those of you who don't know, the main themes of this book are teenage pregnancy and adoption. Our main character, Audrey, was adopted and while it's not made to be some big deal, it is something she talks about/thinks about quite often in relation to her own current situation. That situation being a pregnancy. I swear that's not a spoiler by the way, it's in the synopsis. We also get the chance to see a decently healthy relationship between Audrey and her boyfriend, Julian, which I really appreciate.

The thing that made me want to read this book so bad was in fact the pregnancy. I don't know about you, but I don't see a lot of YA books with a pregnancy in them and I find that to be a problem. It's a real thing that happens and every teen should be able to find themselves a book that they can relate to. Does this book glamorize teenage pregnancy? Absolutely not. Does it address tough decisions? Yes. Does it introduce the reality of not wanting to be judged, feeling isolated, letting people down etc? Hell yes. I love the way Rebecca took all of this on and I feel like this book could really help someone with their own decision whether they make the same one as Audrey and Julian or not.

Lastly, I want to talk about the friendships. They were so realistic to me. I mean Audrey is very close with her friends. Tells them everything, but at the same time she also has her secrets and they have theirs. They fight. Not everything is picture perfect all of the time like you might find in some novels. Not to mention the author created such a diverse cast of characters and didn't make it seem unnatural in anyway. Everyone fit together and there wasn't really any focus on their differences. I applaud her.

Do I recommend You Don't Know Me but I Know You? Definitely. I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed being in Audrey's head and I really felt what she was going through deep in my soul. This book will be available on August 29, 2017 and is available to pre-order now. I highly suggest your grab a copy and let me know what you think. There is also currently a giveaway for a copy on Goodreads that you can enter here! What are your opinions on sex and pregnancy in young adult books? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Saturday, August 19, 2017

23 Bookish Facts About Me

Bookish Facts About Me!
Hello and welcome back! Today is my 23rd birthday and so I thought it would be fun to share 23 book related facts about myself rather than the standard 25. I hope you enjoy getting to know me a little bit better!

One: My love for reading was sparked by my love for Beauty and the Beast. I wanted to be just like Belle and she loved books!

Two: My first notable read was Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and my grandma is the one who bought it for me.

Three: My favorite part of second grade was weekly library trips with my grandma. 

Four: I never did the required reading for school. There's just something about having to read that makes me not want to.

Five: My favorite childhood series was Magic Tree House and to this day I still plan to repurchase them all so that my future children can have them.

Six: I started Harry Potter when I was around 18 and I still have not finished. I need to read Deathly Hallows.

Seven: The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer made me fall in love with reading again and I will forever be thankful.

Eight: I am a real sucker for private school/boarding school books. I always wanted to go to a boarding school. I don't know why.

Nine: On average I read about a page a minute, but some books can really slow me down.

Ten: I have never read/listened to an audiobook. I want to, but I can't focus.

Eleven: I put down a lot of books, but I always leave a bookmark inside in case future me wants to continue.

Twelve: I refuse to rate a book that I have not finished. The ending could be phenominal and I wouldn't know!

Thirteen: I despise hardcovers. I only buy them when I'm too excited to wait a whole year for the paperback edition.

Fourteen: Along with that one, I am a total book snob and my books have to match. Cover changes are the bane of my existence.

Fifteen: I don't really utilize my local library. Oops.

Sixteen: I give books for almost every gift giving occasion and if the person isn't a reader, I will honestly buy them at least a coffee table book anyway. Sorry not sorry.

Seventeen: My favorite book is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Eighteen: I keep buying classics even though I know I will probably never read them.

Nineteen: My most awkward author encounter was with Jason Reynolds. I was in line for another author at an event and he came over to tell them goodbye since his signing was over. Well, having not read his books yet or knowing anything about him really except that he was an author, I awkwardly blurted out "I really like your shoes." Which was true, but I kind of inserted myself into a conversation to say it. Yikes. Incidentally this is also how I met Abigail Johnson whom I completely adore.

Twenty: I have actually started and stopped writing my own novel multiple times. I have yet to find something that sticks.

Twenty-One: I DO NOT LOAN OUT MY BOOKS. I have had some traumatic things happen to my precious books and loaning one out basically means I trust you entirely. It's a huge deal.

Twenty-Two: You'll most often find me reading in my bed, but I love almost and comfy reading spot. The number one being somewhere with a view like in the mountains.

Twenty-Three: The last time I counted, I had over 400 books on my shelves. I really hate letting them go and so I rarely do. I want to have a library like Belle's. *Wink wink*

Thank you for sticking with me. Blogging is honestly one of the best things to ever happen to me and each and every one of you make all of this awesome stuff possible. Feel free to leave me a couple of bookish facts about yourself in the comments, I'd love to read them!
Xoxo,
Gabriella


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Star Wars Book Tag

Star Wars Book Tag

I am so late on this tag, but I was also late in my becoming a Star Wars fan so I guess it just fits. I stumbling across this one about a week ago, a few different ones actually. I liked this one the best so I just had to do it. Let's get started!

Oh man, a book that made me laugh? I think I would have to say Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell. I didn't laugh throughout the whole thing, but man did it have its moments. It's about rushing for a sorority and all that comes with it. The good, the bad, and the dirty.

A kickass female character would be Charlotte from Aftermath by Clara Kensie. Some of you may be confused by that choice while others may not be. This girl did what she had to do to survive and after that she did what she could to stay strong, find her new normal, and find the girl who came before her. She did it double and she's amazing for that.

TWILIGHT. We all knew it was Bella and Edward until the end and we had to sit and watch poor Jacob be in love with someone who yes, did love him. Just not in the way that he wanted her to love him. It was almost torture. I love the books, as I've mentioned before they hold a special place in my heart. But I hate that there was that specific triangle because it wasn't even really a triangle.

I could pick so many newer authors that I love. I suppose I'll name a couple because I just can't choose. Abigail Johnson is amazing and her second book, The First To Know, comes out later this year. Lauren Gibaldi also write amazing books. You seriously need to check out Autofocus. Rebecca Barrow has an amazing debut coming next month titled You Don't Know Me, But I Know You.

I'm actually quite thankful that I don't have an answer for this question. I haven't read a ton of series, but I also love pretty much everything that I read. I won't leave you completely hanging though. I started to get a little slumpy once I hit Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I haven't finished the series, but it is my least favorite one so far and it took me over a year to read. I still enjoyed it, just not as much as the other ones.

Most deaths hit me hard. One that hit me very hard was in the book The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. Another one that hit me and several other people was in The Death Cure by James Dashner. That just BROKE my heart. So many tears.

A book with a lot of sass? Hmm. I'm not going to take the obvious root and go for A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. Instead I'm going to go with The Score by Elle Kennedy. I just reread it and Dean is just so sassy and cocky and I love him. If you have a thing for steamy New Adult then I highly recommend.

I think the Harry Potter series has great world building even if other books require more of it. Maybe it's because I saw the movies first, but I can see everything in my mind when I read those books. Hats off to J.K. Rowling! A close second probably would have been The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

The Goal by Elle Kennedy. I mean I had some expectations because it's part of a series that I love. After reading The Score and loving Dean SO MUCH. I wasn't sure Tucker and Sabrina's story would quite cut it for me. Elle Kennedy did not let me down at all. I love them almost as much as Dean and Ally. Maybe more actually. It's very close.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. I really need to reread that one. It taught me a lot about grief as well as other kinds of loss. Finding yourself again and doing what you need to in order to be happy. It also helped me realize that most families are dysfunctional in one way or another, but that doesn't mean that they love each other any less.

I really just want to say Darth Vader for this. I love him. I recently bought the comics that surround his story and I can't wait to read them all. However, for the sake of this tag I suppose I can choose someone else. Can I say Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi? Or is that kind of like choosing Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas? Hmm. Maybe Dexter from the Dexter Morgan from Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, which inspired the television show Dexter if you didn't know.

Thank you for stopping by for the Star Wars book tag. This is quite old, but if you want to do it then I tag you. Be sure to come back and leave me your link so I can see your answers. If you don't want to do the whole tag then feel free to answer a couple of questions in the comments. And thank you to Elisabeth and Joana for creating this tag. Happy reading!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Thursday, July 20, 2017

ARC August TBR

ARC August 2017
As I'm sure you know by now, I'll be talking about ARC August. This is an event hosted by Read Sleep Repeat where we all get together and read our ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies. These can be new ones or old ones. As long as it's an ARC it doesn't matter.

Now this is only my second ARC August and to avoid a slump, I'm giving myself a ton of options. My overall goal is to finish at least two. Which may not seem like a lot, but I also want to read some published books as well throughout the month. Being as July isn't over, I could still get to some of these before August but I'm making my TBR anyway. Wish me luck!

Tentative TBR:
- Submerge by Tobie Easton
- The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
- As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti (I want to read this one around my birthday)
- Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
- Change Places With Me by Lois Metzger
- A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel
- How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes
- Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar
- The Key to Everything by Paula Stokes

Will I stick to this list? Maybe. I have a lot more ARCs in my possession that need to be read. These are just the ones that I have the most interest in at this exact moment. Will you be joining ARC August? A blog isn't required. You can find the info and signup here. Have you read any of these books? Which one should I get to first?
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Blog Tour: This is How it Happened


Hi everyone :) This is Day 2 of my THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED blog tour. You can find the whole schedule of posts in the lead post on my blog right now.


I’m blogging about the different challenges I faced while writing and revising the novel. Challenge #2 was how to best incorporate real settings into the novel. If you’ve read any of my previous work, you might know that THE ART OF LAINEY, LIARS, INC., and GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE are set in fictionalized suburbs of real cities. This freed me up to create my own clubs and restaurants (that have no danger of going out of business and dating my book), as well as my own streets and minor landmarks (that I can put where I need to for story purposes), while still grounding my stories in a world that’s recognizable to most readers. The majority of THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED takes place in Springdale, Utah, which is a small town outside of Zion National Park.


Zion National Park is one of my favorite places in the world, so I wanted to portray it accurately, to share it with people who haven’t been fortunate enough to visit. But if I was going to make Zion real, that meant also making Springdale real, and nearby St. George real as well. Prior to drafting the book, I hadn’t been to Zion or Springdale in several years, and I knew the best way to be accurate was going to be to go back. And of course I welcomed a chance to visit a place that I love so much, but as I mentioned in my post yesterday, I wrote this book extremely fast, and at the same time while I was writing FEROCIOUS. I already had plans to go to Seoul in January and this book has to be turned in by the beginning of March. I didn’t end up making it back to Springdale until the end of March, so I added in a lot of real-world details later in the editing process.


While I was drafting, I tried to use Google Maps and keep things as accurate as possible, but Google Maps isn’t always up-to-date, and even when it is, it’s still possible to make a mistakes. Even just the route Genevieve drives from the airport to St. George to Springdale was questioned by my copy-editor, and they were right—I had messed it up using Google Maps. Awkward.


I also used Google Maps to determine where Genevieve lived in Lake St. Louis (a real place), and where Dallas and Brad lived in Wentzville (a real place) as well as where Brad could have worked if he lived in Wentzville and collided with Genevieve on Highway Z as he was driving home from work. I felt more confident using Google Maps around St. Louis since I grew up there and my dad lived in Wentzville for several years. I even used to drive on Highway Z when I volunteered with an equine veterinarian.


There are a few places in the St. Louis area I fictionalized, mostly for practical reasons. The private school Gen attends is fake, because if I made it a real school I’d feel the need to make how it looks on the inside accurate and I wasn’t going to fly back to St. Louis just to walk through a private school. Plus I figured no one reading the story would really care if the school was made up. I also fictionalized the hospital and the restaurant where Brad worked, the former because an error of sorts is made at the hospital and hospitals (like most businesses) tend to dislike being portrayed in a negative light, the latter for a similar reason, because bad things happen there.


But back to Zion and Springdale—since I spent the time and money to go back there, I tried to make that whole segment as real as possible, from the Wal-Mart in Hurricane to the Zion Canyon shuttle to the menu at the pizza place. The trees are real; the trails are real; even the chipmunks are real! There are a couple businesses that are fictionalized, but that’s because I needed them for the story and they weren’t already there. Oh, and the trail Genevieve and her friends build in front of Zion Lodge is not real, but I used real trail-building facts from when I helped build a wheelchair accessible Discovery Trail with my AmeriCorps Team at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve :)


So maybe you’re a writer and you want to set a book in a faraway place. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:


  • Whenever possible, visit. There really is no substitute for going somewhere, talking to people and watching them interact with each other, feeling the wind off Reykjavik Harbor slice right through your jacket, smelling the sweet hotteok frying on the streets of Seoul, experiencing the hustle and bustle of Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market.
  • Whether or not you are able to visit, also get to a library and check out some travel guides, especially if your setting is in another country. Documentaries set where your book takes place are also good.
  • Recruit some people who live in your setting to help. I had a couple of people in San Diego give me some tips for world-building in Girl Against the Universe. Did you like those California burritos? Thank Stacee at Adventures of a Book Junkie ;) When I found out blogger Serena S. was heading to Thailand last summer, I asked her to verify a few things for me with respect to my new adult novel, The Key to Everything.
  • Make use of Google Earth, Google Maps and similar sites. Zoom in as far as you can to get the most detailed information. Verify your information across multiple sites.
  • Use YouTube when appropriate. (I “rode” the roller coaster in Girl Against the Universe thanks to the magic of YouTube.)
  • Read other books (or watch movies) set in your book’s locale. But don’t use this as a major source of info—there’s no guarantee other people portrayed the setting realistically.
  • Look up specific websites for the places your characters are going to go—use official travel websites, maps and floor plans from tourist attractions, etc. Go through photo albums on Flickr or Trip Advisor. Search images on Twitter or Instagram.
  • Read and research from different sources. This is one way to determine if your information is factual. Don’t just read one guy’s blog about hiking at Zion National Park. Read the official park website. Read blogs from recreational hikers and professional climbers and canyoneers. Read stuff written by rangers and teens and grandmas. Read reviews from multiple websites—the good ones and the bad ones. Look at photos taken by locals and tourists.
  • If you set a book—or even a scene—in a place you’ve never been, it’s a really good idea to have someone who lives there read it and give feedback. This is especially true if you’re writing about a different culture and/or a different country. In that case I would find at least three people to give feedback, because no group or place is a monolith. Finding people might be as easy as asking a friend, joining a writing message board, and/or recruiting someone on Twitter. There are also professional sensitivity readers you can hire. If you go with volunteers, don’t forget to compensate them in some way for helping you. Maybe you can’t pay them, but you can send them some books or do a manuscript swap where you critique something for them.


Those are some of my thoughts on including real locations in novels in general and in This is How it Happened specifically. Do you have more tips about how to world-build in the contemporary setting and make different cities and countries come to life in a respectful and authentic way? Share them in the comments :)

About the Book
When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.







About the Author
Paula Stokes is the author of several novels, most recently This is How it Happened, Vicarious and Girl Against the Universe. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Links:







The Giveaway
Want to win a copy of THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED or any of my novels? Enter the Rafflecopter below. And look for tomorrow’s blog tour stop about the challenge of incorporating the internet and social media on That Book Gal.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gabriella here! Because Paula was lovely enough to send me some photos from Zion, I want to share them with all of you! Maybe it'll get you more in the mood when reading. Who knows? All I know is that it is on my hiking bucket list. Enjoy!
Look at those views! I don't know about you, but I absolutely must go!
 I would have to say my favorite thing about hiking is the wildlife. How lucky are we that we get to witness some seriously majestic creatures in their element? 
I want to thank Paula for letting me part of this tour and for sharing these photos. I also want to thank her for allowing me to read This is How it Happened so early. Look out for my review soon, but heads up, I LOVED IT. I hope you'll check it out and enter the giveaway. I wish you luck and check out Paula's other books as well. Comment something happy.
Xoxo,
Gabriella