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Release Day Blitz!!! Giveaway + Review – Home is Where You Are by Tessa Marie



Anna’s life reads like a check list. 
Straight A’s (Check)
Editor of the school paper (Check)
Volunteering time at the local soup kitchen (Check)
Ivy League (So close she can taste it) 
Falling in love with a homeless boy (Not on the list) 

Dean has a plan too. Survive. After being subjected to his foster father’s violent attacks, Dean made the hard choice to leave. Now he lives on the streets doing everything he can to get by, refusing to let people help him. But when he meets Anna, he realizes not everyone is out to hurt him. 

Slowly, Anna and Dean let each other in, blending their two worlds into one. But when a series of events brings Dean’s world into perspective, he pushes Anna away. Not willing to accept the line that divides them, Anna sets out to bring Dean back to her. Her determination and faith in their future puts her on the tracks of danger, and he is the only one who can save her

Home is Where You Are was the type of book that immediately pulls you into an emotional connection with it. I’ve said before that I’m not really a crier, but within the first couple of chapters of this book I already had tears in my eyes. This is a sweet and emotional story about showing courage in the face of adversity and about how love rises above all social barriers.

Dean has been living rough of the streets for years now and has learned to depend on only himself. He trusts no one and carefully guards himself against others, even those who show him kindness. 
Anna’s family were torn about by a life changing event and now Anna spends most of her days working to maintain her perfect grades and fulfill her goal in life of getting into the ‘right’ college. However, she is desperately lonely and only the love of her best friend and her desire to achieve keep her going. 
When Anna and Dean meet at the soup kitchen where Anna is volunteering, they have an immediate connection. They fight it but their pull towards each other is undeniable and eventually they embark on a journey full of heartbreak, hope and love. 


Anna and Dean had the sweetest connection. Their romance was gorgeous, but the thing I loved most about them was their HOPE. They showed amazing strength and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. They definitely had their ups and downs and their moments of doubt but they managed to work things out and together helped to make a better life for Dean.

“There are a few stories where kids have been able to turn their lives around, but the luck shit is once in a blue moon. And my moon has been black for so long its practically dead.”

The supporting characters in this book were wonderful. However, I can’t help wishing we got to explore Deans relationship with fellow street kid, Wanda, a little more. They were both complicated characters but in spite of their issues they were willing to attempt a friendship. Knowing a little more about the dynamics of their friendship would have added a different angle and level of depth to this story.

I absolutely can NOT write this review without giving a little shout out to my favourite character, Marv. What an amazing man. He cared about Dean when it seemed as though no one else in the world did. If only there were more people like Marv around, this world would be a better place.

“You think I don’t lie awake at night, wondering if you got into the Y?” Marv stands, forcing the chair back with his legs. “You don’t think I care if you’re freezing your ass off out there? If you have enough to eat. Terrified that you might not make it through the night.” Tears build in Marv’s eyes. “Because I do. Every damn night.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was original and heartfelt, and kept me glued to the pages. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

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Tessa Marie lives in the same town she grew up in on Long Island, NY with her long 
time boyfriend and their fish. Under her real name, Theresa Paolo, she released her 
debut novel (NEVER) AGAIN, a NA romance, in Fall 2013 with Berkley (Penguin) 
and (ONCE) AGAIN released this summer. She is also the coauthor of the Amazon 
SANDY PATHS, a YA contemporary series. She has a hard time accepting the fact 
she’s nearing thirty, and uses her characters to relive the best and worst years of her 
life. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in 
Marketing from Dowling College. When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera, 
reading, or can be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Book Review – Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

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I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

I loved the sound of this as soon as I saw the cover and the title. The overall effect was a little bit creepy and a lot intriguing! I knew I had to read it. Then the blurb confirmed that not only did I have to read it, but I had to read it STRAIGHT AWAY.

There’s no place like anywhere but here.

I felt like every two sentences I was stopping to highlight a section of the page. Honestly I probably could’ve highlighted the whole book at the rate I was going! Yes it probably was greedy of me but I had to keep as much of the writing as I could to read back on. It was so enchanting, so descriptive so utterly imaginative. I was very quickly obsessed. I haven’t had so many quotes that I’ve loved from one book in a looooong time.

I reached out my hand and let some flakes fall into it. It didn’t melt. It wasn’t snow, I realized. It was ash. I looked up at Nox in surprise. “Your fire burned up the sky,” he explained. For a second, I was disappointed. Show would have been so pure and beautiful. But ash made so much more sense with who I was.

This story follows Amy Gumm, high school student from (yep, you guessed it) Kansas. Trailer park raised by a mother with many issues. Smart-assed, scrappy, angry and lonely. Amy is by no means shiny and perfect that’s for sure, but considering the last seemingly perfect person to land in Oz had turned into its worst nightmare I feel it was fitting that Amy was a little rough around the edges. Sometimes with characters like this, especially in the YA genre I get frustrated with their lack of growth, but by the end of this book she really had developed. She still has a way to go but there was definitely change happening. Thanks to that, not to mention her general kick-butt amazingness I was totally team Amy by the end of the book!

“That girl has more cracks in her than the road of yellow brick”

I loved the liberties the author took with the very well known characters from the very well known tale of Oz. If you’re going to take such well known characters and such an iconic story and absolutely turn it on its head then you really need to commit and go full-throttle. Make an impression and prove to us readers why we should believe in this version of events. Absolutely this happened here. I 100% believed the story that was being told here. The familiar twisted with the dark. Dorothy, The Lion, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, Glinda – all horrifying now in their own way. It’s safe to say I LOVED what was done with these characters.

“Good. Like that means anything around here. I hate to break it to you, but just because someone has pretty hair and good skin tone and a crown instead of a pointy hat doesn’t mean she’s not the baddest bitch this side of the Emerald City.”

“Down is up, up is down. Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good. The times are changing. This is what Oz has come to.”

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, I loved following this book through having no idea where it was going, no idea who was good and who was wicked, so I won’t ruin that possibility for you. All I will say is if you want to read something a little bit different, with a bit of an edge and a lot of weird then you should definitely give this a go. I do read the Fantasy type genre, but I can’t say I’m a big YA fan, however in this instance I loved it. There are more books to come in this series and I will absolutely be reading on, I seriously can’t wait to see what’s in-store for Oz next.

Dorothy Must Die

By Danielle Paige

 photo credit: Lori Joan via photopin cc

Book Review – Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson

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I’m actually jumping the queue with this book review. I have a review that’s been waiting for me to finish up for a while but ever since I read Puddle Jumping I have not been able to get it out of my mind. Massive book hangover. So I’m thinking that if I write up the review and get aaaaall my feelings out, then I’ll be able to move on to other things.

When the dedication at the beginning of a book tugs so hard at your heart strings that it makes you tear up a little, I think that’s generally a pretty good sign that you’re in for a treat. 

“And for Emory.
Someday you will find your own Lilly Grace.
You paint the world in colors I’ve never seen and I’ll always love you blue because you always love me yellow.”

Beautiful. How can you not love this book already? It’s pretty obvious that the author has some personal experience with the subject matter in this book. It’s written beautifully, and from the heart. It never feels fake or forced or overly dramatic.

This is actually the third book I have read this year where one of the main characters has Asperger’s. Before this year I really knew very little about it, other than knowing Asperger’s is on the Autism spectrum. Even though reading these three books was more coincidence than design, the thing I have loved about all three of them is that I have been able to learn something important. While my knowledge on the subject is still very limited, I know a lot more than I did and I think that’s hugely because authors like Amber L. Johnson have done their research. 

Colton was a rich and vibrant character. Even though the book was a relatively short read, we got to know him well and get an inside peek into his life. His condition wasn’t romanticized. It was pretty clear, even at the end of the book, that Lilly Grace and Colton would always have their struggles but that it would be worth it. Although Colton didn’t communicate his feeling in the traditional way, he has his own way of making his feelings clear. 

“There, rounded in each corner, the colors overlapped his brush strokes that bore the words I Love You over and over and over…creating the backdrop of his heartbreak. And mine.”

Lilly Grace was an extraordinary character. She was such a strong and lively person. She tried hard with Colton, to get to know his quirks and the right way of going about things so that they could make a life together. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy but she stuck with it because she loved him for exactly who he was, and I absolutely adored her all the way through for it. 

“But I would never call loving Colton an accomplishment. It was an honor. It changed me. It made me actually become the person I’d tried so hard to be all those years ago.”

Lilly & Coltons story was written in such a way that you couldn’t help but be dragged into it even from the first page. After purchasing this book I thought I would have a quick peek before doing a few jobs then getting back into it in the evening.  Uh, no. That’s not what happened at all. Amber L. Johnson’s writing sucked me in immediately. The world faded away and by the time I read the last page and looked up from my Kindle I realized it was evening and I was sitting in a dark room with an uncooked dinner sitting on the bench.  Needless to say the family had to survive off takeaways for dinner that night. Warning – if you’re going to read this book make sure you have 3 or 4 spare hours ahead of you. You’re going to need it. 

This book was such a gem on a dreary Wednesday afternoon. I went into it with no real expectations and left completely blown away. People with Asperger’s are pretty amazing people. This is going straight on my “Faves of 2014” list. Needless to say, I will be stalking Amber L. Johnson (in a nice way) to make sure I never miss another book of hers. 

“There was a time when I believed I wasn’t going to fall in love. But I did.
This was followed by the thought that the boy I fell in love with could never love me back. But he does. 
And he loved me in the very best way he knows how. “

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Book Review – Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2) by Jessica Park

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Flat-Out Celeste is the second book in this series. The series is about a family and each book (so far) has been about a different family member. The first book, Flat-Out Love was Matts (Celeste’s older brother) and Julies story. Because I’m ridiculous, I did not read the first book. I saw Flat-Out Celeste pop up on my Goodreads feed, and people were raving about it. I clicked on it and read the synopsis and was instantly hooked. I saw the words “stand alone” and dove in head first. And I am in LOVE with this story and these characters.

For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

One of my favorite things in the world is stories that have unique and diverse main characters. There’s actually nothing that thrills me more than jumping into a story and discovering that the characters are incredibly interesting and engaging. No boring clichés, no same-same personalities, no standard hot-guy/good-girl mold. It instantly engulfs me in and gets me emotionally invested.

“We all have something. All of us. Every single person in this world has a quirk.”

I adored Celeste. It was clear that the author had spent a lot of time and energy researching her characters. She didn’t just slap a label on Celeste and run with it. It was all extremely well thought out and portrayed in a thought provoking manner. I actually found myself wondering at times what I would have behaved like if I had come across a “Celeste” at high school. I would hope that I would have spent the time trying to understand her but let’s be honest, most high school kids are pretty wrapped up in their own lives.

The connection between Celeste and Justin made me sigh with happiness. They were so understanding of each other and their individual personalities quirks. If I could clone Justin in real life and keep him for myself I would. He was gorgeous (personality wise, but also physically I’m sure). I relished the slow build of their relationship from friends to romance and I loved the time we got to spend getting to know them. Even though these two put me through a full and varied range of emotions, I was so happy with where their story left us.

“There are battles, some greater than others. But they are worth getting through.”

This book is a must-read. It had me feeling every emotion and the characters are some of my favourite now. Even though I don’t think you NEED to read Flat-Out Love first, I would definitely advise it. I loved Flat-Out Celeste so much that I’m going back to read Flat-Out Love. I’m dying to read about Matt and Julies story from the beginning. I’m not sure if the author has more books planned in this series or if she is moving on to other things but I will definitely be checking out more by Jessica Park. 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”





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