BLOG TOUR: A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo [GIVEAWAY]

A Constellation of RosesA Constellation of Roses
by Miranda Asebedo
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Contemporary

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SYNOPSIS: Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.

REVIEW: Man, this book REALLY gave me a craving for some baked good! The pies are obviously the main feature, but I would KILL for some of Mia’s muffins too! This book had a really fun premise where each of the women in this family have a special “gift”. It’s a nice touch of magical realism that weaves its way throughout the book. I liked that the atmosphere wasn’t too dark though it did get a little gritty at times.

Trix was a tough character for me–I didn’t always like her and I felt like she read people completely wrong about 75% of the time. I did, however, really like the rest of the McCabe women and I ended up really liking Trix’s relationship with each of them. I thought this book just had a really great cast of strong women.

A couple of minor plot holes for me…it seems like the McCabes would be really sick of pie at this point? I mean, they have it around all the time and they eat it repeatedly throughout the book. How are they not sick of it by now? Also, because of Ember’s ability, she shies away from everyone. But I wondered why she didn’t just wear gloves? Wouldn’t that keep her from learning everyone’s secrets? Anyway, overall I thought this book was good. I felt like it dealt with some tough topics in a really respectful way. The ending was expected and a tad HEA, but I still liked it.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

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Miranda Asebedo was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal.

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.


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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Apparently, I’m a Seattle snob | Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett [ARC]

Serious MoonlightBirdie and Daniel had possibly the most awkward first encounter of all time (they had sex and then Birdie ran away). Birdie would have been fine to never think about the experience again, except that Daniel is working at the hotel where she just got her first job. Determined to push past their initial encounter, Birdie and Daniel embark on a journey to solve a local mystery.

TL;DR – Not as good as Alex, Appoximately.

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My first problem with this book is the cover. It’s great that they were able to get a model with long hair for Daniel, but where is Birdie’s flower? That’s such a key part of her character and I don’t feel like it would have been that hard to include that in the cover, but whatever. I mean, they’re eating pie, Birdie has a book…how did they miss the flower???

Some of you might remember that I LOVED Alex, Approximately so I was fully prepared to love this book too. Unfortunately, it seemed a little too reminiscent of Alex, Approximately and wasn’t as enjoyable to me. Obviously there were some different plot points, but it was the same formula of “sheltered and somehow damaged girl meets extremely charismatic and attractive boy, boy pursues reluctant girl, girl discovers boy is also damaged, girl and boy get together”. It just felt too the same to me.

Then we get to the setting. I was born and raised in a suburb near Seattle and I just felt like this was a very tourist portrayal of the city. I mean, I guess maybe people who live in the city proper are different? But I don’t think so and I found it detracted from the book for me. I mean, Daniel calls Safeco Field “The Safe”. Literally nobody calls it that. Okay, I googled it and apparently some news stories have called it that, but I have never heard a local call it that. Literally never. Besides, it’s T-Mobile Park now so that “nickname” is already dated. There’s also a line where Birdie mentions that a Fremont Troll sized weight is lifted off her back or something. What. Who thinks stuff like that? It’s literally only in there to namedrop another Seattle landmark. And the weather is mentioned by Birdie way too often. Growing up, I would never think about the weather. If it’s raining, I’d grab my jacket and that was it. I never dwelt on the fact that it was raining in June or whatever. I hardly even noticed if the sky was overcast. Locals also never talk about the “Seattle freeze”. So there we go. Apparently I’m a Seattle snob or whatever. Don’t @ me.

Besides those things, I thought the side characters were okay. I liked Mona, Birdie’s grandpa, and Joseph, but we never really get time to know much about any of them. I thought the setting of the diner was good too (every pie sounded AMAZING). I didn’t love Birdie as a character, however. She complained about her grandmother A LOT and never seemed to really think about why her grandmother was so overprotective–she just kind of complained about it. I also never understood why she was so resistant to learning about and dealing with her narcolepsy? I guess maybe I didn’t realize that there was a stigma around it. Daniel was okay as a character if a little too perfect.

Daniel and Birdie’s relationship wasn’t super compelling to me. There was just too much angst (created by Birdie). It was so obvious the entire book that Daniel was SUPER into her, but Birdie was really hesitant and kind of held back the entire time. Even after she and Daniel “got together” and his mom had told Birdie that he was super into her, she was still really paranoid and doubtful. It just made Birdie not make much sense to me as a character.

Overall, I just didn’t find this book, the characters, the subplots, or the setting as enjoyable as Alex, Approximately. I probably shouldn’t be comparing the two, but I can’t stop myself. I will say, this was a very sex positive book portraying teens practicing safe sex and consent, so it’s got that going for it. I haven’t read Starry Eyes yet, but I’m a little more hesitant to pick it up now.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

Note: I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ANNOTATION: Bird Box by Josh Malerman


Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Genre: Horror

Publication Date and # pages: May 13, 2014; 272 pages

Plot Summary: There’s something out there that’s making people kill themselves and if you see it, you’re dead. Mal doesn’t believe in this “monster”–she thinks everything’s gotten blown out of proportion by the media. But one day she finds her sister lying on the bathroom floor with a pair of scissors sticking out of her chest. Alone and pregnant, Mal answers an ad from the newspaper. She finds herself with a new group of housemates who are just trying to figure out how to survive in this new world. This story follows Mal and the housemates through those first few months and also gives the reader glimpses of what the world will be like five years later.

Characteristics of Horror: Sense of unease throughout, erratic pacing, haunted/vulnerable characters, supernatural monsters, unresolved ending, moments of surprise

Appeal Terms: Sympathetic characters, nightmarish tone, deliberate pacing, violent

Read-alikes: The Silence by Tim Lebbon; Cell by Stephen King; I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

BLOG TOUR: It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J Schmitt (Giveaway)

IAWD coverIt’s a Wonderful Death
by Sarah J. Schmitt
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: October 6th, 2015

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Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

This book was a little different than I expected. I was excited to read a story of redemption and justice. The book did have that, but it had more as well. I didn’t expect to read about relationships and bullying and dealing with death. The author of this book uses superficial characters and sarcastic dialogue to talk about some deep topics like cancer and suicide.

I never really liked the main character, RJ. At the beginning, we’re not supposed to like her. She’s entitled, bossy, and very self-absorbed. She doesn’t give much thought to the people around her, but we can see that there’s some good in her deep, deep down. After her second chance, she’s a better person, but every once in a while she would say something that didn’t quite sit right with me. She was still a little too snarky for my tastes I guess. In some ways she had definitely changed, but in others she seemed like the same, old RJ. I thought the secondary characters really made the book. They were great, well-developed characters and I felt myself drawn to them in a way that I wasn’t quite drawn to RJ.

The plot was good, not great. I was entertained and wanted to finish the book, but I probably wouldn’t reread it. The ending was definitely unexpected, but I also wonder if it was wholly necessary? I think that’s something that each reader will have to decide for themselves. Overall, a pleasant read with a strong moral direction.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

“‘Everything you do has a consequence. Good, bad, indifferent, there is always a price to pay. The question is: who pays? Sometimes making the right choice means you might lose something that seems important at the time.'”

“‘I guess I just got so caught up with being popular. I think, somehow, I lost myself.'”

“‘If I can do that, everything should work out?’ I could really use some reassurance right now.
‘I can’t promise you that.’
Not exactly what I was looking for. ‘But we can hope, right?’
‘Hope is a pretty powerful form of prayer,’ Sal says, his hand on the doorknob.
Absently I say, ‘I don’t pray.’
He pauses before responding, ‘Maybe you should.'”

“‘…But then again, is that not why we exist in the first place? Because we have faith to believe there is something more, something greater than ourselves?'”

“I nod. ‘No, it’s not fair. And you’re right. It totally sucks.’
‘But we’ll get over it, right?’ he says bitterly.
I think carefully about how to answer him. Finally, with a sigh, I say, ‘No. I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. I never got over Grams and she was old. But somehow, in time, we’ll learn to get through it.'”

“I didn’t realize it before, but tears are streaming down my face. Not because I’m sad. I mean, I am, but that’s not why I’m crying. It’s because my life means something. Even in the future, my choices make a difference.”

IAWD giveaway

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Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth ServiceSarah Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback.

Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.



Note: I received this book free from the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Have you done something bad recently? Something REALLY bad? Did you get away with it too? Then you better look out, because the Messenger is coming. He’ll offer you a deal. Play a game or pay the price. If you win, then you get to go free, but if you lose then you’ll have to pay by living your greatest fear. So what’s it going to be? Pay or play?20419044

Okay, so I know this is the third Michael Grant book that I’ve reviewed on this blog, but this was actually the first one that I read. This is the book that made me look up and read the first two books from the Gone series. Let me just start by saying that this book was better. WAY better. I thought the concept was a lot more intriguing and thought provoking. The Messenger exists to create balance in the world. He brings justice to those that did not end up being punished by the world for their crime(s). Throughout the book the main character, Mara, struggles with the ethics of such a task. She finds that she’s been apprenticed to the Messenger, but she’s not sure that what they’re doing is right. It actually doesn’t seem like Messenger’s 100% sure either. That’s what I really liked. You have this really powerful character who’s fulfilling his purpose, even while he’s questioning it a bit. It creates an interesting dynamic and also helps the reader to feel more connected to him even though he’s some otherworldly being.

Mara was a good character. I liked her as a person and I felt my own inner conflict echoing hers. I felt connected to her. That’s why the plot twist towards the end really threw me for a loop. I did not see it coming. Without spoiling it, the twist is such that if the reader had been given this information at the beginning of the book, we would not have liked Mara. In fact, we probably would have hated her. The author did such a good job making Mara likable before dropping that bombshell on us. So even though it’s a pretty bad thing, we’re still rooting for her. Just genius.

This book came out last September and there is a novella called The Snake which I haven’t had the chance to read yet. Now, I believe there will be more books (at least one), but I haven’t been able to find out any information about when it’ll be out. But when I do, I’ll post it!

Note: This book contains some heavier themes including bullying and suicide, both involving teenagers.

Overall Rating: 4
Violence: Heavy. There are a couple of pretty graphic scenes.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Language: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild