Monday, January 23, 2017

Picture Book Review: When You're Feeling Sick by Coy Bowles of Zac Brown Band

When You're Feeling Sick by Coy Bowles, of Zac Brown Band

Review by Lauren 

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummarySneezing? Coughing? Taking a sick day? Don’t worry, you’ll be feeling better soon thanks to this hilarious picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist of the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band. Full of encouraging—and super-silly—rhyming advice on how to face sick days with courage and a positive attitude, When You’re Feeling Sick is just what the doctor ordered! Comes with a sheet of stickers to bring a smile to every sick kid’s face.

Review: When You're Feeling Sick is a really cute picture book for kids who have come down with the flu, the cold, chicken pox, or whatever else may be ailing them! One thing that I immediately noticed and loved is that this book is really diverse when it comes to the children and adults depicted in the illustrations. You have boys and girls, different hair colors. More importantly, you get people that are Black, White, Indian. A lot of different types are included and I appreciate that a lot. I mean, sickness affects us all, right?

As for the actual story, Bowles has written a really cute, silly book that is sure to put a smile on a sick child's face. He lets them know that sickness will eventually go away, even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment. There are also tips on things NOT to do or else really crazy repercussions may occur - like turning your dogs and cats green if you feed them your medicine. It's good advice, obviously, but it also puts it in a really fun, kid-appropriate terms.

I'd definitely recommend this one! It was a delight to read!

Interested in buying When You're Feeling Sick? You can check it out on Amazon here (I'm an amazon associate; any purchase from my links gives me a small percent back. Thanks!)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

If You Love Someone, Online Auctions, and More!

I'll be linking up at a variety of places this week, but some of them are Kristin, Kim, and Jenn.

I've been sick for the past few days, which is never fun and I've mostly been stuck in the house. I have gotten some reading done though, so that's always a plus. I didn't make it to my local Women's March, but I have been sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter and checking out all the fun signs that people made for their marches. I think it's wonderful that so many people came out - all over the world too, not just the U.S. It's a beautiful thing to see. We are all equal. We should all have equal

I was listening to this song today and I thought it was really appropriate for the marches and just the times we are living in right now. The song is "If You Love Someone" by The Veronicas.

The Leave a Mark Auctions have started again. If you don't know, these are online auctions I host where authors annotate (write notes throughout the book) in one of their books and they are then auctioned off. Price starts at $10 and has to go up in $1 increments. All the money goes to a charity. I normally have a set charity for a few months, and then switch the charity, but right now I'm doing author's choice. Auction right now is an ARC of Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley and it ends at 9 p.m. EST Friday, January 27th. Check out the post to see where the money will go and please think about bidding, or at least spreading the word! Follow the blog there for future auctions (and fun giveaways).

I wrote about my new endeavor earlier in the week, but if you missed it, I thought I'd do a brief recap. I'm offering research services for bloggers/authors/etc that may need help. I have a BA in English Literature and an MS in Library Science, and I have years of experience researching for myself and other people. I would love to work with you, so please do get in touch. I have a website with further details about how I can help here so give that a look!

I'd love help spreading the word too, so if you have contact with authors who might be interested, please let them know. Otherwise, I'd love any tweet or mention!

I want to do some fun giveaways in 2017, and the first big one I'm planning involves The Hunger Games trilogy. I don't want to post the actual prize, because I want it to be a surprise overall, but I am looking for other bloggers to help out. I have two people already that are interested so that's three (with me). I'd like at least two more bloggers to be able to help. You have to be willing to donate money to help with the prize, but the more bloggers that can help, the lower the price will be! It won't be over $20 a person - though I hope it will be even LESS than that. Anyway, if you are interested in learning more, please email me: lauren51990 AT aol DOT com. I will let you know the other bloggers and the prize so you can make a decision on if you really want to help out! The idea is that entries will give all bloggers more followers, so bloglovin, twitter, instagram - whatever outlets you really want to grow!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

Review by Lauren

source: copy from the author; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world. 

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special. 

Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do. 

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . . 

Review: When offered the chance to read this book, I was immediately intrigued. Looking at the official summary now, I realize it doesn't give you much to go on about the book, but I think that can be a good thing. The Ugly Teapot definitely kept my interest and I found myself wanting to go back to the story when I wasn't reading, which doesn't always happen - even if I'm enjoying a book.

This book is about 14 year-old Hannah Bradbury whose photographer father died in Baghdad. Hannah is overcome by grief. While talking to her dog Griff one night (Griff can talk back via telepathy), Hannah decides to see if the "ugly teapot" her dad gave her once really is Aladdin's lamp, because she'd like to use one of her wishes to bring her father back to life.

Rubbing that life completely changes Hannah life.

I feel like I could go on and describe more of this book, but I don't want to ruin things. I will say that near the end, you may become a bit confused as to what really occurred, but trust me, it's all worth it to finish the book. This one is labeled Book One: Hannah so I assume the next book will feature a new character, and I'm definitely curious to see what occurs in their story about the ugly teapot.

I'd recommend this one for those 13 and up, if they are mature readers, as the book does feature a lot about death, grief, and those left behind. Besides that, it's a really exciting adventure story!

Interested in reading this book? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an associate, so I get a small percent if you buy from my link. Thanks!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Off Base by Annabeth Albert + Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAfter trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike's flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike's arrival would spark from Zack's teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can't refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won't be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He's an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he's had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can't risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack's restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn't know how to be the man Pike deserves.

Review: If you've read the #gaymers series by Albert, then this book starts off essentially where the last one in that series ended. Off Base starts the new Out of Uniform series, but the couple from the last #gaymers novel does appear in Off Base. I really like how the author created a new series but connected to a previous one, especially since I really loved that series.

As for Off Base, I really enjoyed it too and I can't wait to see what the second book, At Attention, brings. Off Base follows navy SEAL Zack and new professor Pike. These two have known each other for awhile, as their respective best friends are dating. However, while Pike has always had a crush on Zack, he wasn't sure if he was gay for awhile. Plus, Zack didn't really hide that he wasn't much of a fan of Pike. This is mostly due to Pike's forward nature and flirting. While Zack is a hard-working guy and loves his friends, he's hiding his sexuality due to a very conservative and religious family. His brother is a screw up, so his parents are always commenting on getting one son right. Zack knows they won't still think that way if he ever comes out.

While I understood Zack's reason for staying in the closet, sometimes I did want him to think of himself more often. Regardless, you have to love him. Pike too, as he's a really patient guy who wants to show Zack love that he hasn't received from anyone else. The two end up being roommates before anything romantic occurs, and that's how they got to know each other better, and I loved that.

Definitely recommend!

I'm an Amazon Associate, so if you want to get the book from Amazon, I'll get a small percent. Check it out here

Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryLA cop Jericho Crewe got the hell out of Mosely, Montana, when he was seventeen. Fifteen years later, he’s back, and everything is just as messed up as when he left. He planned a quick visit to deal with his injured father, but of course things are never that simple. Family complications, police complications, social complications—and, as always, Wade Granger complications.

Jericho and Wade had been so close, once upon a time. First friends, then more than friends—and then, after Jericho’s escape, nothing. Wade’s magnetism hasn’t been lessened by a decade and a half apart; even when Jericho learns that Wade is the prime suspect in the death of Jericho’s father, the old connection still sparks.

When Jericho’s newly discovered half siblings are kidnapped, he needs to trust someone to help him find them. Wade’s a terrible choice, but Jericho’s never been known for his good judgment. Anyway, he’d rather make a bad decision with Wade than a good one with anybody else.

Review: One thing that you don't tend to get with m/m books is a sequel with the same characters, so I'd like to start this off by saying that Long Shadows has a sequel (not out yet) and I'm so excited. If that doesn't tell you how much I enjoyed Long Shadows, then I guess I'll have to write some more.

Something else that's different from most m/m novels is that there is no physical relationship in this one. It's first and foremost about Jericho Crewe coming back home because he thinks he's father's had a bad fall and he's planning on finding someone to care for him so he can get back to his new life in L.A. Upon his arrival, he realizes that his dad is actually dead and his old friend, and more, Wade Granger is on the top of the suspect list as Wade and Jericho's father did illegal dealings together.

Jericho also learns his father remarried and has two other kids, and they are definitely in danger, meaning Jericho has to stick around and try and keep them safe. He also works with Wade, and another old friend - and new sheriff- to figure out just what happened to his father and why. It's a bit of a mystery, full of suspense and intrigue. It's also about going home to a place you wanted to run away from and wondering if things have changed enough to stay. It's about old friends, and old loves, and trying to make things work. Like I said before, there is no physical relationship, but I have a feeling that might change a bit in the sequel.

Long Shadows is a quick, enjoyable read!

I'm an Amazon Associate, so I get a small percent if you buy from them. Check out Long Shadows here

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Need a Little Research Help?

For those that are new to the blog, hello, my name is Lauren. Back in 2007, I began working with authors to help further promote their books and I still offer these type of services, but I also added something new that I don't think other people are doing. At least I haven't noticed it yet. What would that be? Well, the photo above gives it away but it's Research Help. This offer is for authors, but it's also available for anyone who writes and needs some extra help. I have a BA in English Literature and an MS in Library Science, so I know how to research and I've helped many people over the years.

You can learn more about what I offer by visiting my website here. I decided to create a post on here, however, because I want as many people as possible to hear about my new service. If you are an author - or you know any authors who may be interested - please get in touch.

When it comes to research, the sky's the limit! Need to know a fact or two? Need more intensive research? Want me on hand to help with research over a certain time period? I'm happy to do any and all of these!

Thanks for reading - and please spread the word if you can!

Monday, January 16, 2017

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Review: When I read Adam Silvera's debut novel, More Happy Than Not, I knew I'd found a new favorite author. After checking out his sophomore effort, I am happy to say that I wasn't wrong. Adam is still very much one of my favorite authors. I love that he shares stories that may follow under the LGBT+ umbrella, but they are always so much more than that.

In History is All You Left Me, the book is told in Griffin's point of view. There are chapters marked Today and chapters marked History. Today takes place in 2016 and follows Griff's life after learning that his ex-boyfriend, Theo, has died. He might have been broken up with Theo, but he always imagined them getting back together in the long run. For Griff, him and Theo were end game. The History chapters chronicle various moments before Theo's death, starting with the two of them admitting they like one another as more than just best friends.

This book is why I love contemporary fiction. There are tough issues dealt with, like watching your first love get a new boyfriend, death and learning to go on, but it's also a story of empathy and friendship. Trying to move on from Theo's death, Griff finds himself getting closer to Theo's boyfriend, Jackson. Griff lives in New York and Jackson is in town from California. It makes sense that they would end up in each other's lives, though they fought it when Theo was alive. These are the only two people that loved Theo in the same way and while one was a current boyfriend and the other was an ex, they are still hurting in much the same way. While I liked how they were able to help each other, I also knew it couldn't last. Griff needed to get help beyond Jackson and he couldn't keep pushing away people, especially his and Theo's other friend, Wade, who was left to grieve on his own.

Another aspect of this book was Griff's OCD and it was handled really well. I liked that it showed that not all people who have OCD end up doing or obsessing over the same things. Griff calls it his quirks, as he's not entirely sure in the beginning what it means. He feels like he's going crazy, always wanting even numbers, unless it's an odd number he can handle. He has to walk on the certain side of someone and he won't sit shotgun in a car.

I always appreciate when there are more to contemporary novels than just a romance or just this or just that. I think Silvera handled all of the topics and characters in this novel really well. Throughout the book, I thought that I really got to know the characters well. Everyone felt fully-formed, even the secondary characters, and I appreciated that. It all felt real and brought the story together.

I can't wait for more from Silvera, and I highly recommend History Is All You Left Me!

History Is All You Left Me comes out tomorrow and you can check it out on Amazon now (I'm an amazon associate, I get a small percent if you buy from my link).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jessica Jones: Alias Book Reviews

Jessica Jones: Alias

Review by Lauren

source: copies from library; all opinions are my own

I'm an Amazon Associate (so if you buy through my link; I get a small percent) so check out the volumes here:

JJ Vol 1- link
JJ Vol 2- link
JJ Vol 3- link
JJ Vol 4-link 

Review: You might know the name Jessica Jones from the Netflix TV show. This is how I learned about the ex-super hero too. I haven't finished the first season yet, but I plan to very soon. However, over Christmas break, I decided to give the graphic novels a shot. They are called Jessica Jones: Alias and there are only four volumes, so if you're curious, it won't take you too long.

What I want to point out right away is that these graphic novels are very different from the show. Yes, they are just as dark. Yes, Jessica is an ex-Marvel superhero turned investigator. However, the other Marvel characters play more of a role and Jessica even ends up dating one. Also, Kilgrave doesn't appear until near the end and while his skills are the same, his looks are...not expected.

That's about all I'll say since I don't want to give away things. Half the fun is discovering all these little details. Despite it being different from the show that I'm currently loving, these are still really good stories. I liked the added addition of the Marvel characters, and I liked hearing about Jessica's background as the story goes on. The illustrations are done really well, and it's definitely a graphic novel for adults, which is appreciated. It's not gratuitous, in the sex or the violence, but the themes are there and the language is definitely there. It all works though.

Would I recommend these? Yes, especially if you already watch and enjoy the show. If you do not, then still give these a shot and maybe you will be inspired to check out the show!