Review: Sweet Tea

Have you ever felt like you’ve just read a movie? I listened to Sweet Tea as an audiobook, and it felt exactly like listening to a Hallmark movie.

This was such a sweet, clean romance story. And while the central relationship is Althea and Jack, the healing relationship between Althea and her grandmother is so endearing. I actually loved Granda – she was the sassiest lady and stole every scene she was in.

I do feel like the reason Althea was in the south from New York was forgotten about for a while in the middle of the middle of the book. But I did really enjoy the story.

The feast fundraiser for Milford College was such a fun idea, and I was definitely craving some biscuits and corn bread.

Thank you to NetGalley and Piper Huguley for the advanced listening copy in exchange for my honest opinions.

Review: Call Me Athena

Call Me Athena was such an entrancing book. I absolutely found myself completely enveloped in the story and multiple POVs and the 1930s era Detroit.

This was my first time reading a book in verse and I listened to this one on audiobook, narrated by Gail Shalan, Hope Newhouse and Ramiz Monsef. I honestly wish I had read this instead to enjoy the beauty of the story and verse more.

The other (minor) issue I kept running into in the beginning was names. Once I realized Mary was reading Jeanne and Gio’s love letters, the story really took off. This probably wouldn’t have taken as long is I had been actually looking at the names rather than relying on my memory between chapters.

That said, I absolutely LOVED the love story between Jeanne and Gio. The love letters were both heartbreaking and swoon worthy. This was made even better by the author’s note at the end of the book that noted the story was loosely based on the author, Colby Cedar Smith’s maternal grandmother. 

Call Me Athena publishes on August 17, 2021. Thanks to Andrews McMeel Audio and NetGalley for the advanced review copy.

Book Feature: Eat Your Heart Out

Shaun of the Dead meets Dumplin’ in this bitingly funny YA thriller about a kickass group of teens battling a ravenous group of zombies.

In the next few hours, one of three things will happen.

1–We’ll be rescued (unlikely)

2–We’ll freeze to death (maybe)

3–We’ll be eaten by thin and athletic zombies (odds: excellent)

Vivian Ellenshaw is fat, but she knows she doesn’t need to lose weight, so she’s none too happy to find herself forced into a weight-loss camp’s van with her ex-best friend, Allie, a meathead jock who can barely drive, and the camp owner’s snobby son. And when they arrive at Camp Featherlite at the start of the worst blizzard in the history of Flagstaff, Arizona, it’s clear that something isn’t right.

Vee barely has a chance to meet the other members of her pod, all who seem as unhappy to be at Featherlite as she does, when a camper goes missing down by the lake. Then she spots something horrifying outside in the snow. Something…that isn’t human. Plus, the camp’s supposed “miracle cure” for obesity just seems fishy, and Vee and her fellow campers know they don’t need to be cured. Of anything.

Even worse, it’s not long before Camp Featherlite’s luxurious bungalows are totally overrun with zombies. What starts out as a mission to unravel the camp’s secrets turns into a desperate fight for survival–and not all of the Featherlite campers will make it out alive.

A satirical blend of horror, body positivity, and humor, Kelly deVos’s witty, biting novel proves that everyone deserves to feel validated, and taking down the evil enterprise determined to dehumanize you is a good place to start.

Author Bio:

Kelly deVos is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart, amazing teen daughter, and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a BA in creative writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. She is the author of  FatGirl on a Plane, Day Zero, Day One and Eat Your Heart Out. Visit Kelly online at kellydevos.com.

Author Links:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15236443.Kelly_deVos

https://www.instagram.com/kellydevos/

Review: Dino-Gro

Holy, stinking cute. This children’s book had me giggling and laughing the whole time I was reading it.

The illustrations are adorable and the story is so fun. And perfect for the summer! This would be a great book to read together!

Book Description: 

From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Battle Bunny comes a laugh-out-loud story of a little sponge dinosaur that keeps growing…and growing…and growing….

Cole is very excited about his new Dino-Gro toy. He can’t wait for it to reach its full size! But when Dino-Gro becomes much larger than intended, Cole goes so far as to put Dino-Gro on a liquid-free diet and an exercise regimen, which don’t seem to make a difference! As Dino-Gro becomes so big that he can’t fit in the house, Cole learns that growing up and getting bigger can have advantages too, even if you’re not a dinosaur.

For fans of Tiny T. Rex and We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, this sweet and hilarious read-aloud is fun for kids to learn the importance of growing up big and strong.

Join Author Matt Myers and Learn How to Draw Dino-Gro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-ndT9ssgyk

Author Bio:

Matt Myers is the author and illustrator of Hum and Swish, and the illustrator of many other books for young readers, including the Infamous Ratsos series by Kara LaReau, Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson, and BB-8 On the Run by Drew Daywalt. Matt Myers lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Author Links:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5462873.Matt_Myers

http://www.myerspaints.com/

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55782632-dino-gro 

Book Purchase link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dino-Gro-Matt-Myers/dp/0593179870/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=dino-gro&qid=1623587725&sr=8-2 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dino-gro-matt-myers/1137974710?ean=9780593179871 

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Dino-Gro-Matt-Myers/9780593179871?ref=grid-view&qid=1623587736315&sr=1-1 

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593179871 

Review: Foreverland

This was such a cute middle grade read – I really enjoyed Foreverland.

Margaret runs away from home and hides out in the local amusement park Foreverland. That’s were she meets The Boy Wonder – Jaime – who has also run away from home to live there.

While the two teenagers have fun together, they also share secrets and family drama, and become close friends over the course of two days. Readers can feel the hurt these two are dealing with at home. 

I liked Margaret a lot – I thought she was a fun character to follow as our man character. Timid, and with a “forgettable face” but also brave and smart enough to decide to runaway and hide out at an amusement park without being caught by security.

Jaime was also a fun side kick. I loved the beginning when he was a mystery to Margaret, appearing and leaving notes, doing small things and then vanishing. I also really enjoyed the dynamic between him and the head of security – that was fun and tense!

Overall, this was a fun, fast-paced read. Definitely brilliant for middle grade readers, and readers of all ages who want to be swept up in the fantasy of living in an amusement park – even if only for a few days.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Up for grabs, we have THREE (3) paperback copies of Foreverland by Nicole C. Kear & ONE (1) K’NEX Thrill Rides Shark Attack Roller Coaster Building Set. This giveaway will run from April 26th to May 3rd at 11:59 PM CST and is open to US residents only.

GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d26/?

TITLE: Foreverland

AUTHOR: Nicole C. Kear

PUBLISHER: Imprint

RELEASE DATE: April 21st, 2021

GENRE(S): Middle-Grade Fiction–Contemporary, Adventure

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781250219831

SYNOPSIS:

Margaret is tired of everything always changing. Middle school has gone from bad to worse. Her best friend is becoming a stranger. And her family-well, it’s not even a family anymore.

So Margaret is running away to Foreverland, her favorite amusement park. Hiding out there is trickier than she expects–until she meets Jaime, a thrill-seeking, fast-thinking runaway who teaches Margaret how to stay one step ahead of the captain of security.

At first, this after-hours, all-access pass to the park is a dream come true: sleepovers in the Haunted House, nonstop junk food, and an unlimited ticket to ride. But as the runaways learn each other’s secrets, they must face the reasons they left their normal lives behind. With the Captain closing in and Jaime’s future on the line, can Margaret finally take control?

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Nicole C. Kear is the author of the memoir Now I See You (St. Martin’s Press), chosen as a Must-Read by People, Amazon, Martha Stewart Living, Parade, Redbook, and Marie Claire UK among others. Her books for children include the middle grade novel Foreverland, the chapter series The Fix-It Friends, and the middle grade series The Startup Squad, co-written with Brian Weisfeld (all published by Macmillan Kids’ Imprint). Her essays appear in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, New York, Psychology Today, Parents, as well as Salon, the Huffington Post and xoJane. She teaches non-fiction writing at Columbia University and the NYU School of Professional Studies.

A native of New York, she received a BA from Yale, a MA from Columbia, and a red nose from the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, three children and two teddy bear hamsters.

Review: A Game Like Ours

Wow, wow, wow, what a debut book from Marissa J Gramoll. A Game Like Ours is going to stick with me for a long time.

I truly enjoyed this story, even though it was heartbreaking and tough to read at times. There was so much strife between Bobby and Lexie.

I really felt for Bobby – his secrets and hardships felt so real and honest. His story was heartbreaking and all I anted to do was hug him and try to make his pain easier.

For a romance book, this had a lot of pain and sorrow from both main characters. While the lows made the highs that much sweeter to read, it was a tough read because of all the struggles Bobby and Lexie endured.

BLURB:

To the outside world, Bobby Anderson is an attractive, charismatic baseball star. 

But inside, Bobby holds secrets—including his closeted sexuality—and each secret alone has the power to destroy his carefully-constructed life.

When his best friend Cody dies, Bobby is thrown into the unwitting role of supporter for Cody’s grieving fiancée, Lexie. The issue? Bobby has long-harbored feelings for her that he never allowed to surface. 

Torn between his growing attraction for Lexie and devotion to his deceased friend, Bobby is forced to re-examine his life and concern about divulging his sexual identity. Another secret spoken by Cody during his final moments eats away at Bobby’s conscience, driving the wedge of Cody’s death deeper. 

Once these secrets come to light, will Lexie ever be able to forgive them? Can she accept Bobby for who he is? Will she ever want anything to do with him again?

Review: Flashpoint

I honestly don’t know how to review this book. It was such beautiful story of heartbreak and love.

I was shipping Cole and Natalie hard from the beginning. They were perfect together, even if they didn’t know it yet.

But the surrounding story, of fire and loss was so heartbreaking that it made the love story that much more poignant. 

This is a short (less than 250 pages) romance but one that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

Thank you to author, Skye Jordan for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Trial of Sorcerers

I couldn’t put this book down! I was wrapped up in the trials and Eira’s magic. I enjoyed reading as Eira learned more about her magic and grew into herself. 

I loved the character of Alyss – she was strong and spunky and a good counter character to Eira, who was a little more e insecure in herself.

There were a lot of questions left unanswered for me, hopefully the author addresses them in next book.

BLURB:

Perfect for fans of The Legend of Korra, Truthwitch, and A Sorcery of Thorns, this magical new fantasy will leave readers desperate for more.

Ice is in her blood.

Eighteen-year-old Waterrunner Eira Landan lives her life in the shadows — the shadow of her older brother, of her magic’s whispers, and of the person she accidentally killed. She’s the most unwanted apprentice in the Tower of Sorcerers until the day she decides to step out and compete for a spot in the Tournament of Five Kingdoms.

Pitted against the best sorcerers in the Empire, Eira fights to be one of four champions. Excelling in the trials has its rewards. She’s invited to the royal court with the “Prince of the Tower,” discovers her rare talent for forbidden magic, and at midnight, Eira secretly meets with a handsome elfin ambassador.

But, Eira soon learns, no reward is without risk. As she comes into the spotlight, so too do the skeletons of a past she hadn’t even realized was haunting her.

Eira went into the trials ready for a fight. Ready to win. She wasn’t ready for what it would cost her. No one expected the candidates might not make it out with their lives.

Author Interview: Melissa De La Cruz

Leann Reads Books: What was your inspiration for the world of Never After?

Melissa De La Cruz: A little bit of Lord of the Rings, a little bit of Los Angeles. There are some fun LA jokes in the book, like Jack lives in Vineland which is north of Lankershim, which only people who live in Los Angeles would get. It’s an homage to Piers Anthony’s books where the fantasyland looks a lot like Florida.

LRB: How did you decide which fairy tale characters to include?

Cruz: They just kind of come naturally. I love the story of Schehazerade, and also Ali Baba, so I had to have them. Jack and the Beanstalk, because I love the name Jack. I try to use fairyale characters everyone has heard of so they get the reference.

LRB: Who is Alistair modeled after?

Cruz: Alistair is sort of inspired by a friend of mine in college who was hilarious. 

LRB: What made you want to write a fairy tale retelling?

Cruz: I love fairy tales and I love twisting and retelling them to see how far I can change the story while still remaining true to the spirit of it.

LRB: Do you have any writing quirks? Or any superstitions while you’re working on a book?

Cruz: Not really. I can work anywhere. Hospital rooms. Train stations. Your dining table. 

LRB: What authors or books do you draw inspiration from?

Cruz: Stephen King was my favorite author as  a teen, and just they way he is so kind to his readers, and his worldview in general is so generous, I am very inspired by him.

Book Feature! Like Home

TITLE: Like Home

AUTHOR: Louisa Onomé

PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press

RELEASE DATE: February 23rd, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9780593172599

SYNOPSIS:

Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.

Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.

Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.

Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything⁠—and everyone⁠—she loves.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Louisa Onomé is a writer of books for teens. She holds a BA in professional writing from York University and is represented by Claire Friedman at InkWell Management.

A part of the Author Mentor Match round 3 cohort, she is also a writing mentor and all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, trying to bake bread, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Up for grabs, we have TWO (2) finished copies of Like Home by Louisa Onomé! This giveaway will run from February 21st to February 28th at 11:59 PM CST and is open to US residents only. To enter, click the link below!

GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d22/?