Blog tours, Book Reviews

Instructions for Dancing Blog Tour

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Ultimate Tour – Penguin

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

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About The Book

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.

Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.

When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.

For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.

But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?

Praise for Nicola Yoon:

‘Gorgeous and lyrical’ New York Times

‘Powerful, lovely, heart-wrenching’ Jennifer Niven

‘This extraordinary first novel about love so strong it might kill us is too good to feel like a debut’ Jodi Picoult

My Review

When I first started this book, I thought it was just going to a fun YA romcom, and it was that, but it was also so much more. And to be honest, I cried so much when reading this one, and I don’t often do that while reading. But this book was just so good!

I really liked the characters. Both Evie and X were so relatable. Fifi was hilarious, and Martin was an awesome best friend! I also loved the ballroom dancing element – I love watching Dancing with the Stars, and so of course I enjoyed reading about a ballroom dancing competition.

The plot of the story is both gripping and heart-warming. It really captures the spirit of what it’s like to be eighteen and just discovering both the beautiful parts of love as well as the ugly, heart-breaking bits. But you don’t have to be eighteen to enjoy this book. I think anyone who loves romcom books, ballroom dancing, and learning to love life will enjoy this book. If you’ve enjoyed any of Nicola Yoon’s other books, you’ll enjoy this one, and fans of Kasie West and Taylor Jenkins Reid will also like this one.

About the Author

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Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everythingand The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Two of her novels have been made into major motion pictures. She’s also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist David Yoon, and their daughter. You can find out more about her at https://www.nicolayoon.com.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Mirroland Blog Tour

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I’m thrilled to be part of this blog tour hosted by https://www.thewritereads.com/.

Ultimate Tour – Scribner

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

About the Book

Twelve years ago my life began again.

But it was a lie.

With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…

A sharply crafted mystery about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Daphne du Maurier.

My Review

Wow! This book had me on the edge of my seat, and I read it in two sittings. I enjoyed the writing style, and the suspense built at the story progressed, keeping me invested in what was happening.

I really liked the main character, Catriona. I found her relatable, especially with the back and forth relationship between her and her sister. I think anyone who has siblings can probably relate to that on some level. I liked how they created their own fantasy world as children, something that me and my siblings also did when we were young. I loved how the author weaved the fairytales and fantasies into the story and I loved all the references to classic literature.

The twists just kept coming, even up to the very end, and some of them I didn’t see which is unusual for me as I typically have the story figured out before the end. Also, I have to say that ending was very satisfying – something that is not always the case for some books like this. If you enjoy fast-paced, twisty psychological thrillers, you’ll enjoy this one – if you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this one as well.

About the Author

Carole Johnstone is an award-winning writer from Scotland, whose short stories have been published all over the world. Mirrorland, a psychological suspense with a gothic twist, is her debut novel.

Having grown up in Lanarkshire, she now lives in the beautiful Argyll & Bute, and is currently working on her second novel: a very unusual murder-mystery, set in the equally beautiful Outer Hebrides. You can visit her at  https://carolejohnstone.com/about/.

For Writers, Read Write Grow Book Club

Read Write Grow Writer’s Book Club: Story Genius

February’s pick for our writer’s book club was Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I really enjoyed it, and I feel like it ties in really well with our March pick which is Save the Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody.

Here are the discussion questions for Story Genius (You can post the answers here in the comments, on your own blog, or even on the post over on Instagram.):

  1. Did you do some/all of the exercises in the book?
  2. If so, which ones did you find most helpful?
  3. Cron views “plotting” and “pantsing” as writing methods and says they don’t work. What are your thoughts about this?
  4. Which part of the book was your favorite or that you found to be most helpful?
  5. Do you have any other thoughts about the book?

I’ll post my answers/review within the next couple of days, and I’ll try to get the questions for Save the Cat up earlier. I was running behind with these questions. Keep an eye on my Instagram stories, as that’s where I’ll post the poll for April’s book pick.

Happy Reading!

Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog Hop (Feb. 2020)

This is my second time participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (if you missed the first post, you can check it out here). If you are a fellow writer, they have tons of great resources, so you’ll want to check out their site. And you can follow along with the blog hop here.

February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

I have made so many friends through my blog and other social media sites! I have found many supportive writer friends as well as some great writer groups. There are so many it would be hard to name them all, but here are a few of my favorites (some are reading blogs, and some are writing blogs):

L.M. Durand’s Little Book Corner – There is a lot of great bookish content to be found here! 🙂

Fairy Tale Central – This is an awesome site with all things you could possibly want to know about fairy tales, and since I write fairy tale retellings, I use it often.

Tessa Talks Books This is another great book review blog.

The Story Sanctuary – I love all the book reviews on this site, and there is also info about bookish giveaways and contests!

The Geekish Brunette – This is another site with all kinds of bookish content.

Kira Jeanette – This blog has both reading and writing content! 🙂

Mica Scott Cole – This is a great blog for writers with lots of helpful articles on writing!

Ronel the Mythmaker – Ronel particpates in this blog hop as well, and it was through her blog that I found out about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Tons of great stuff on her blog. 🙂

Camilla Tracy – Camilla is part of my wonderful writing group!

Stars, Quills, and Crumpled Papers – This is my sister’s blog, so kind of had to include it. 🙂 She has some great articles with lots of writing tips.

How about you? What are some of your favorite blogs? Let me know in the comments!

Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog Hop

I just discovered this writer’s group – The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. There are all kinds of resources for writers on their website and they have a blog hop as well. (Check out the blog hop and all the participants here.)

The official posting day for the blog hop is the first Wednesday of the month, so my post is late, but it was a fun question to answer, so I decided to just go ahead and answer it! 🙂

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

There are not many things that stop me from finishing a book, but I do get frustrated with certain things:

Killing /cruelty to animals – I absolutely hate this, and it can often be enough for me to stop reading a book. Although many times it happens at the very end of the book, so then I’m angry that I wasted my time reading the book. In most instances, there is no reason for this.

I hate to even have to mention this one, but amateurish writing – writing that overuses adverbs, tells rather than shows, and head hops. And yes, I have read publishing house books that have all these things in them.

Stream of consciousness writing – Sorry, I just can’t get into it, and this is another case where I will often stop reading.

What about you? What’s one thing that will make you stop reading a book?

For Writers, Read Write Grow Book Club

Introducing the Read, Write, Grow Writer’s Book Club

One of my goals for 2021 is to read at least one book on writing per month. To help me reach that goal, I’ve decided to create a writer’s book club – the Read, Write, Grow Writer’s Book Club.

Anyone who is interested can join in, just leave a comment here on my blog or on any of my social media sites letting me know you’d like to participate. Each month, I’ll have some discussion questions I’ll share here on my blog and on my Instagram page, and you can share your answers either on your own blog, your social media sites, or in the comments of my posts. You can tag me @charityrau on IG and @charityrau1 on Twitter and use #readwritegrowbc with your posts.

For February, I’ve chosen the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron since it has been on my TBR for forever. Going forward into the next few months, I’d love to have some input from others about book choices, so if you have a suggestion drop it down in the comments!

Here’s the suggested reading schedule for February:

I’ll post the discussion questions the last week of February so participants will have some time to post their answers before the end of the month. If you don’t finish until the very end of February or even into March, that’s fine. You can still post your answers once you’ve finished.

Want to join in on the fun? Let me know in the comments! 🙂 And if you want to stay up to date on all the book club news via email, you can sign up here.

Book Reviews

My Top Reads of 2020

Despite this rollercoaster year, I managed to read some pretty great books! Here are my top ten of the year:

  1. Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell. Part of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, this is a Peter Pan retelling. Check out my full review here.
  2. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. This was so good, and it’s one of those books I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read. I’m excited to read the rest of the series to see how the three sisters’ stories end.
  3. Finish First by Scott Hamilton. Figure skating is my favorite sport to watch, and Scott Hamilton is one of figure skating’s greatest athletes. He is also an outstanding role model, and all of his books are uplifting and inspiring.
  4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed. This was an unexpected top read. I had heard lots of great things about the book, but the blurb did not really pull me in, and it is not my typical genre. So, I was sort of expecting this book not to live up to the hype. However, it did live up to the hype and made it’s way to my top ten list. 🙂
  5. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. I have enjoyed all of Sager’s books, but this one along with Lock Every Door, are my favorites.
  6. Roaring by Lindsey Duga. I was lucky enough to be on a blog tour for this one. I was really intrigued by the unique blurb, but was not expecting to love it as much as I did. Check out my full review here.
  7. The Companion by Katie Alendar. I read a sampler of this book and was immeditely hooked. I bought the book as soon as I had finished reading the sampler. Check out my full review of this book here.
  8. Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir. I enjoyed this book so much, I’m doing my own spin on the premise of the book in a blog post. Coming soon!
  9. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. This had everything I love in a YA mystery/thriller novel, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!
  10. Atomic Habits by James Clear. As someone who often struggles with forming good habits, I found the tips and strategies in this book to be very helpful. Many of them I will be trying out in the New Year. 🙂

What about you? What were your best reads in 2020? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

But For The Mountains Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

But For The Mountains

by Erin Riha

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Release Date: June 3rd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Bookdepository | iTunes | Kobo

Synopsis:
Arden Thatcher wasn’t meant to be chosen.
But when her name is announced, she’s presented with something she never thought she’d have: a future away from her abuser. Shuttled off to attend the prestigious National Women’s Institute, Arden will receive Nordania’s highest honor, studying with other elite candidates to become leaders, diplomats, and ambassadors on the world stage.
Only, the institute’s not quite what she expected. Paraded around in gown after gown, the tests seem less about educating and more about a different competition, with a very specific prize at stake—the Nordanian Prime Minister’s son. Despite the dean’s protestations that angling for an engagement leads to expulsion, Arden sees the truth. There’s a secret bubbling beneath the institute’s refined surface, and those who refuse to play along may well wind up dead.
With the danger escalating, and the return of her abuser on the horizon, Arden’s shiny future becomes a gilded cage. And this time, she’s going to need powerful allies to escape.
Political intrigue, swoon-worthy romance, and a dash of dystopian flare, But for the Mountains begs the question, how do you change the world when you’re not allowed to try?

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Erin Riha writes young adult fantasy novels about ambitious girls who don’t know they’re not supposed to exceed expectations. She has an undergraduate degree in Political Science, a Law Degree, and a deep reverence for the power of using exactly the right word in exactly the right moment. She lives in wonderfully weird Portland, Oregon, with her super dreamy husband, where they’re raising a future train engineer and a future chicken whisperer. When not writing, she’s a music director for a teen theater company, traveling the world, or dreaming of traveling the world.​Her debut novel, BUT FOR THE MOUNTAINS, was published by REUTS Publications June 2, 2020.

My Review

I was immediately drawn into the story. The story was fast-paced and the stakes were high, both things which kept reading until the end.

Arden was relatable and engaging. I also liked the love triangle aspect in the story. Though I sometimes find love triangles annoying, it worked with this story, and it was well-written.

When I first heard about this book, the title intrigued me. I love that moment when the title finally makes sense, and I loved this particular quote from the book:

“A familiar voice called to her and said, ‘What has taken you so long to find what you seek?’ She replied, ‘But for the mountains I would have found it sooner.’ The voice replied, ‘Look at yourself. Look at the mountain. Look at the crevices, the blood stains, the gashes, the bruises. They are your character, your story. But for the mountains you would not have found yourself.” 

This book will appeal to fans of The Selection (though fair warning, this book is a bit darker than The Selection) and The Jewel by Amy Ewing.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Opal Amulet Blog Tour Book Review

I’m excited to be part of The Favourite Pages Book Club blog tour for The Opal Amulet by Victoria Drozda. Be sure to check out my post on Instagram to get in on the giveaway!

About the Book

The Opal Amulet (The Forbidden Gems of Regalia #1)

by Victoria Drozda

Publisher: BookBabyRelease

Date: October 14th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository | B&N | BookBaby

Synopsis:
Fourteen year old Emberly Tollens doesn’t dream often but when she does its never a good sign, especially when its the same dream. Some nights she would dream of the sweet nothingness of time. Other nights the voices would get louder, the running faster, and the staff colder. Ice cold. But this is just the beginning of her problems.
Things get even stranger when she finds a dangerously beautiful opal necklace lying on the ground at school. Not strange at all. And definitely not strange when your once kind of nice teacher turns into a fire-breathing creature from the past, right?
Now with the help of her hazel eyed friend named Olive and a cute mysterious fire throwing boy. They’re going to discover there’s a lot more going on than what they think.

My Review

First of all, I absolutely love the cover. The cover is what first drew me to this book. The story is interesting and fun. Emberly has a strong voice and is relatable. I liked how she had a good relationship with her mom and a dependable friendship with Olive.

To me, the book seemed like more of a middle grade book than a YA book. Emberly is just a freshman in high school, fourteen, which is young for a YA herione. The story is appropriate for younger readers as well, though older readers who don’t care if the MC is younger than they are would probably also enjoy it.

Fans of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull and the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi would enjoy this book.

Favorite Quotes

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book, were the great descriptions in the book. Here are some of my favorites:

“A lustrous silvery and violet light stemmed from her amulet, disentangled itself from Emberly’s hands, and wove it’s way into the owner’s body.” (Chapter 8)

The castle was a deep midnight blue, with three black towers that had thick silver vines climbing up the dark stones. Tall, illuminated clear windows lined the walls, sparkling like diamonds.” (Chapter 10)

They rode to Max’s house, her phone leading them, the warm fall wind hitting their faces with a strong scent of pine and upcoming rain. Blurry splats of orange, yellow, and red flew past them in a leafy fire of autumn.” (Chapter 13)

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Instagram

Victoria Drozda started The Opal Amulet (book one to The Forbidden Gems of Regalia series) in the summer of 2016 before her freshman year of high school and later finished the book in 2020. She is an upcoming college student and enjoys spending her time reading, drawing, baking and of course writing. She currently resides in California and is eagerly working on the next book in the series.

Readathons, Reading Challenge

October is Readathon Month!

Every year in October, I participate in #scarathlon, a Halloween-themed challenge on Litsy. (If you haven’t heard about Litsy, you can read more about it here. There are two teams, and you receive points for reading books, watching tv shows and movies, and for time spent reading during readathons. And there are a lot of readathons in October. I’ve chosen a few of them to participate in.

  1. #Whodunitathon – Hosted by @whodunitathon on Twitter, this is a month long challenge that you work through in stages:

I have completed Stage 1 – The Premise. My setting is Manhattan (book read: The Midwife Murders by James Patterson). My detective is the police inspector (book read: The Birthday Girl by Melissa De La Cruz). And my sidekick is the unflappable butler (book read: Atomic Habits by James Clear).

2. #Anunfortunatereadathon – Hosted by the @readyreaders on Instagram, this challenge has a bingo board to complete.

So far, I’ve completed Sunny Baudelaire – Monsterstreet: The Halloweeners by JH Richards, Count Olaf – The Midwife Murders by James Patterson, Aunt Josephine – Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, and The Reptile Room – Very Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting.

3. #trickortreatathon hosted by @samanthashares and @heyatlascreative on Instagram.

I’ve chosen the trick path to start with and have read Mike Meyers: The Midwife Murders by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo, and The Sanderson Sisters: The Halloween Queen by Joan Holub.

4. #Thrilloweenreadathon hosted by @readwithalison on Instagram.

So far I’ve read #3 witches – The Halloween Queen by Joan Holub, #5 haunted house – At the Old Haunted House by Helen Ketteman, and #10 thriller book from library – Monsterstreet: The Halloweeners by J.H. Reynolds.

What about you? Are you doing any readathons this month? Let me know in the comments.