Review: Where Are the Love POems for Dictators?

I picked up Where Are the Love Poems for Dictators? at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC. The title absolutely intrigued me, plus the poet, E. Ethelbert Miller is is an African-American poet and literary activist.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum was a such a wonderful museum that really illuminated the Civil Rights movement. The absolutely highlight of the museum was the F.W. Woolworth’s Lunch Counter – preserved in it original location – that was the beginning of the lunch counter sit ins in the US. Hearing the story of the young men and women who spent their days sitting at the lunch counter to demand a change in their country – I left with a sense of gratitude for their work and a heaviness on my heart knowing there is still so much work to be done.

All right, this book. I really enjoyed reading Where Are the Love Poems for Dictators? The first half of the book was really an interesting and challenging read. The second half felt more like I was reading love poems rather than poetry about change in society like the first half. All together, though, I really enjoyed reading this book.

Review: Above and Beyond

I absolutely adored this book and read through Above and Beyond so quickly. Initially I was shocked by how wild the story was, and then even more shocked when I realized I wasn’t reading fiction!

Saskia becomes a private flight attendant for the world’s rich and powerful, and the excess that she describes is astonishing: food, alcohol, women, sex.

I honestly couldn’t believe I was reading a memoir at times with this book, and it was quite interesting to pull the curtains back on this industry. Not to mention, it was fascinating to travel the world through Saskia’s eyes and this lifestyle.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lume Books for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Hill We Climb

I listened to Amanda Gorman read The Hill We Climb at President Joe Biden’s inauguration and got chills. I knew this poem and this poet, needed to be in my life and my library.

When I saw this beautiful edition of The Hill We Climb on sale at Target I couldn’t add it to my cart fast enough.

While Gorman’s recitation of the poem was absolutely moving, re-reading this Brough those same chills, the same gooseflesh to my arms. The powerful words will definitely sit in the back of my mind for a long time. 

I know this is a poem I will go back to over and over again and I look forward to reading more from Gorman.

Review: You May Kiss the Groomsman

I’m not sure what it was, but something about You May Kiss the Groomsman just wasn’t for me.

To begin with, I didn’t really care for the main female character – Josie. Josie and her girlfriends own Meet me at the Alter – a wedding planning company. And while Josie wants the fall in love, settle down, have babies, etc. She has watched her friends get engaged, married, have babies, but she doesn’t see that happening for herself anytime soon, so she agrees to fake marry her friend Tyler so he can get a promotion at work.

Okay – let’s stop here. I have SO many issues with this. Number one – you can’t plan YOUR life around the milestones your friends are hitting. It’s great your BFF got married. It’s wonderful your sister had a baby! It doesn’t mean you time is ticking to do the same thing.

And number two! (Imagine me wagging my finger at this book!) If your boss requires you to be MARRIED for a PROMOTION maybe you need to revaluate where you’re working. That’s ridiculous for 2021.

Oh, and third – Josie falls for her friend’s brother (love triangle anyone?). However, the only time we see them spending together is with the parents or in bed. I’m not sure you can fall in love with a person if you don’t spend actual, quality time together (outside of the bedroom).

The narrator for the audiobook was good though – loved her!

Thanks to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the ALC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: For All Time

For All Time will be a love story for the ages.

It took me a while to settle into Tamar and Fayard’s story and figure out what was happening. Initially I wanted more nitty-gritty details about the characters in the here and now, but after finishing the book, I’m glad the author didn’t bog down the beginning with details that would have become obsolete later.

The beginning of the book I also felt like the timeline bounced around a little unexpectedly, but at the same time, this puts the reader into the same dream-state unsureness of the main characters.

The romance between Fayard and Tamar is what had me coming back to this book, even when I was frustrated and confused by it. I wanted to know what happened to these two, let’s call them “star-crossed lovers.”

I will say, Shanna Miles absolutely breaks my heart in this book, in the way only a good romance can. But, no worries, there is a happy (but ambiguous) ending.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours, Shanna Miles, and Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers for the advanced review copy and including me on this tour!

SYNOPSIS:

The Sun Is Also a Star meets Outlander in this vivid, utterly romantic debut novel about two teens who relive their tragic love story over and over until they uncover what they must do to change their fate.

Tamar is a musician, a warrior, a survivor. Fayard? He’s a pioneer, a hustler, a hopeless romantic.

Together, Tamar and Fayard have lived a thousand lives, seen the world build itself up from nothing only to tear itself down again in civil war. They’ve even watched humanity take to the stars. But in each life one thing remains the same: their love and their fight to be together. One love story after another. Their only concern is they never get to see how their story ends. Until now.

When they finally discover what it will take to break the cycle, will they be able to make the sacrifice?

BLURBS:

“An unforgettable and artfully crafted romance right down to the very last page.” —Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’

“A romance for the ages. Fresh voices and original predicaments make this one perfect little novel.”

—Stacey Lee, award-winning author of The Downstairs Girl

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Shanna Miles is an author, reviewer and librarian who lives in Georgia with her two daughters, and educator husband and advocates tirelessly for appropriate representation for marginalized people in children’s fiction. Her passion is Paranormal Romance, but she also has a deep affinity for diverse Science Fiction like that of Octavia Butler and Sherri L. Smith. “Willow Born” is Shanna Miles’ latest work.

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781534485976

Review: Shipped

Shipped by Angie Hockman was the perfect summer read – especially for a summer when my travel plans aren’t exactly what I had in mind.

Marketing manager Henley is competing for the promotion of her dream at the cruise line she works for, however, she is competing for the position against her work nemesis, Graeme. The twist? Both Henley and Graeme are being sent on a Galapagos cruise and tasked with drafting a digital marketing proposal for the Galapagos cruises.

I really saw myself in Henley – working all of time, taking work home while also taking classes for her master’s degree in the evening and not getting anywhere in her career.

However, Henley frustrated me while she is on the cruise. She’s in the Galapagos, surrounded by the beauty of nature and in a place that people save for their entire life to experience. But she would rather sit in front of her laptop and work rather than experience it.

Once Graeme opens Henley’s eyes and gets her to loosen up a little bit, she’s a bit easier to accept as a person.

Here’s the thing to remember readers: at your job, you are replaceable, at home, you’re not. Work-life balance is extremely important – you’re given vacation days, paid time off, personal time, etc., as part of your job’s compensation package…USE IT. (Sorry, rant over.)

I really liked the slow build romance between Henley and Graeme. The cruise ship is a fun setting for this romcom.

Review: Tiny Travelers Teasure Quest

The Tiny Travelers Treasure Quest series are search and find books for children that whisk them off on an adventure to China, Puerto Rico or Mexico. These picture books are full of fun facts and beautiful illustrations that children and parents will want to revisit over and over again.

The Treasure Quest series includes Tiny Travelers China, Tiny Travelers Puerto Rico and Tiny Travelers Mexico. Having traveled to all three destinations, I was excited to explore these books and see what adventures and fun facts were highlighted in these picture books. (I have included some photos from my own travels to each of these destinations at the end of this post – scroll down to check them out!)

According to the Goodreads description of this series, “the Tiny Travelers ‘Treasure Quest’ Series takes its readers on a fun-filled journey to discover what makes each country special.”

These children’s books are filled with full page spreads of detailed illustrations that highlight a particular part of each country’s culture. Each page has a cultural item for young readers to find, as well as a fun fact. Some of the fun “Did You Know” facts were even new to me! Like, in Tiny Travelers Mexico, one “Did You Know” fact was, “There are three different colors of corn tortillas: yellow, red and blue.”

I really enjoyed the way Tiny Travelers used foreign languages throughout these books. In Tiny Travelers Puerto Rico, Spanish is included in the rhyming story, and in Tiny Travelers Mexico and Puerto Rico, the location names are used with the pronunciation written in next to the bolded Spanish word. Similarly, in Tiny Travelers China, Cantonese words, written in both their English alphabet and in their traditional Chinese letters are included next to their English word.

The final page in all three books is a map of the world and the country from the book is highlighted, which is a great way to put in perspective how big and connected our world is to children, as well as teach them where these countries are in the world.

The Tiny Travelers Treasure Quest series is definitely a fun series for small children who will enjoy the search and find aspect of the books, as well as learning about other countries and their cultures. Older children might enjoy this series when paired with the National Geographic Beginners World Atlas. Younger children may enjoy this series paired with Around the World in 18 Ways, which teaches children to say hello, please, thank you and good-bye in 18 different languages with gorgeous illustrations.

Review: The Introvert’s Guide to Online Dating

I honestly thought The Introvert’s Guide to Online Dating was going to be a super cute romcom with fade-to-black smutty scenes. Oh boy, was I wrong. Let’s just say, the audiobook for this may be a little NFSW. 

The opening scene is Tori visiting her grandmother at her retirement home. The seniors are participating in a pottery class that has gone off the rails, with the seniors sculpting suggestive body parts with the clay. Honestly, I was laughing so hard that I’m sure my coworkers were wondering what was happening in my office. 

Then readers meet Colton, whose grandfather also lives at the same retirement home. Colton is also visiting and as the two walk out of the pottery class, it’s quickly evident that the two are more than just acquaintances. (Like, oh my god, can you hear what they’re saying through my headphones? Face aflame. Maybe I should listen to this at home, type of conversation between Tori and Colton.)

However Colton’s sister sets up an online dating profile for him and Tori’s friends set her up on a date. Only as they start to see other people do they come to realize what they’re actually looking for in a relationship and love. 

I did expect more online dating or first date scenes, based on the title, but I truly enjoyed Tori and Colton’s story!

The Introvert’s Guide to Online Dating was cute, and hot, and steamy. And thank goodness my office is further away from everyone else at work because I’m sure my face was flushed more than once while listening to this!

Thank you to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, and NetGalley for the review copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Review: To Bleed a Crystal Bloom

I almost, almost, DNF’d this book. However, I’m so glad I didn’t! While the beginning of To Bleed a Crystal Bloom was slow and really had me questioning what I was reading, about half way through the action picked up and I could not put this book down! (Seriously, I would fall asleep with my glasses on and my Kindle in my hand!)

Orlaith was the soul survivor of a massacre that killed everyone else – being a 2 year old, she was rescued by Rhyodan, kept in a tower in his dark castle.

To Bleed a Crystal Bloom picks up with Orlaith 17 years later.

The first half of this book was spent setting up Orlaith’s back story, the world, and making the reader understand Orlaith’s emotions. However, it was a little slow for me and some parts felt unnecessary or left me with more questions than answers.

However, at about the 55 percent mark on my Kindle, the action picks up. There’s the Tribunal and the ball, and Orlaith learns more about what is happening outside of her Safety Line. 

The time and detail the author spent in the beginning to describe the world for the reader paid off to make the second half of the book move quickly.

While I did anticipate the one final twist, there are still so many unanswered questions that I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.

Thank you to author Sarah A. Parker and Turn the Page Tours for the copy of To Bleed a Crystal Bloom in exchange for my honest opinion.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Up for grabs, we have a $50 Amazon Gift Card. This giveaway will be open INTL and will run from August 28th to September 5th at 11:59 PM CST. One winner will be chosen. To enter, click the link below!

Rafflecopter Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d50/?

TITLE: To Bleed a Crystal Bloom

AUTHOR: Sarah A. Parker
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
RELEASE DATE: July 24th, 2021

GENRES: ADULT FICTION—Dark Fantasy, Romance, Retellings > Rapunzel
BUY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Bleed-Crystal-Bloom-Sarah-Parker/dp/B09B2CJ6XJ/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1627495687&sr=1-1

SYNOPSIS:

“What a pretty flower to keep locked in a big, rocky tower.”

Nineteen years ago, I was plucked from the heart of a bloody massacre that spared nobody else.

Small. Fragile.

An enigma.

Now ward to a powerful High Master who knows too much and says too little, I lead a simple life, never straying from the confines of an imaginary line I’ve drawn around the castle grounds.

Stay within. Never leave.

Out there, the monsters lurk. Inside, I’m safe … though at a cost far greater than the blood I drip into a goblet daily.

Toxic, unreciprocated love for a man who’s utterly unavailable.

My savior. My protector.

My almost executioner.

I can’t help but be enamored with the arcane man who holds the power to pull my roots from the ground.

When voracious beasts spill across the land and threaten to fray the fabric of my tailored existence, the petals of reality will peel back to reveal an ugly truth. But in a castle puddled with secrets, none are greater than the one I’ve kept from myself.

No tower is tall enough to protect me from the horror that tore my life to shreds.

To Bleed a Crystal Bloom is a dark Rapunzel reimagining full of immersive imagery and breathtaking angst. A unique new fantasy series perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer L. Armentrout, guaranteed to grip you from the very first page.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Sarah A Parker

Sarah is an international bestselling author who also writes under the pen name S.A. Parker.

She lives in Australia with her husband and children, and spends her days with her nose in a book or her mind in a world of her own creation.

Her genre of choice is epic fantasy romance, and she thrives off dreaming up complex characters and immersive worlds to get lost amongst.