DNF Review: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion

Little & Lion by Brand Colbert

August 8, 2017- Little Brown

327 pg. – Fiction, Young Adult, contemporary

Purpose: Random TBR

Source: Library

If you want to read what this story is about, click here.

There will be spoilers!!!

Okay, so this is a book that I have been wanting to read since it came out. In fact, when random.org picked this for me to read this round I was super excited. It wasn’t the first book that I picked up only because I had to wait for the library hold to come through.

This isn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. And I have no interest in what it is. I thought that this was supposed to be about a brother and sister learning to deal with the brother’s mental illness.  And while there is that, it is mostly about the girl, Little discovering her sexuality. This is YA so there is drama and angst, and I’m just not interested in reading about it.

The writing was fine, and even pulled me in. But there’s a love triangle (possibly square) and I hate love triangles.  Especially ones that I don’t think are done right.  Little (Suzette) comes back from her boarding school (she was sent there so her parents could focus on her brother’s developing mental illness without having to deal with her. <Another issue that I have with the book.) where she was in a relationship with her roommate. I’m not sure if it’s over or on pause since she is spending the summer at home. She doesn’t go back so I’m thinking something happened, but she keeps bringing Iris up so I’m thinking that maybe it’s not completely over.  Her first day back she sees her old friend Emil, who is attractive and she would date except it’s what her parents have wanted to happen for so long.  Then she goes to a welcome home party and finds a girl attractive there. Based on the synopsis,  Little falls for the girl but so does Lion.

I particularly didn’t like this love triangle because it’s messy. She obviously didn’t resolve everything with Iris. She’s interested in Emil, and he’s interested in her. The only reason that they didn’t get together was because it’s something that their parents have wanted (and that’s her reasoning not his). And the girl? Well, being interested in the same person as your brother is awkward at best.

To be honest, I didn’t make it very far into this book. I am assuming that a love triangle develops with Suzette (but hey maybe one develops with the girl between Little & Lion). And hey maybe I’m wrong (If I am, please tell me so I can go back to it). But, I’m also a little concerned that Little believes it’s up to her to save her brother. He is bipolar not dying.  And did I mention that I think that their sibling relationship reads a little weird?

I didn’t want to wade through a messy love triangle just to get to sibling relationship story. So this was a pass for me.



Featured Post: Series to Complete- Jasper Dent

This is a series that my nephew told me about.  I read the first one  a long time ago, but I remember really enjoying it. I didn’t continue with the series because I had to wait for the next two books to come out.  But, now that I own all three I will be reading this series in the next couple of months.

This series is about a kid who’s father is a serial killer. Everyone looks at him as if he is going to be a serial killer, and Jasper carries that fear with him. When a new serial killer is discovered, Jasper gets involved to clear his name.

I’ve Read:

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)

Click image for Goodreads Summary.

I still need to read:

Game (Jasper Dent, #2)

Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent, #3)

Have you read this series? If so, should I move this trilogy to the top of my pile?

Always Shine!

Feature Post: Books Similar to Dear Martin

This month’s featured book is Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I have already shared my thoughts about this book. While I thought that the book needs a lot of work, I also believe it is an important book to read. I think that it is a great way to get the conversation started. To continue the conversation, I have found books that were similar to Dear Martin in content. I have not read these books yet, but I do plan to get to them before the year is out.  I will be sure to share my thoughts here about each one.

How It Went Down

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon 

October 21, 2014 -Henry Holt and Co

In this story, 16 year old Tariq Johnson is killed by two gunshot wounds. Tariq is black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.  This is written from the perspective of the community trying to understand what happened.  (Goodreads Summary paraphrased by me. )

All American Boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 

September 29, 2015 –  Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Book

Rashad is a black student, who is known for his graffiti art, is accused of stealing. He is brutally beat by a police officer. Quinn, a white student and the best friend of the cop’s younger brother witnesses this. Quinn has to decide what to do when the story is bogged down and twisted with various opinions and agendas. (Goodreads summary paraphrased by me. )

The Hate U Give

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas 

February 28, 2017 – Balzer + Bray

Starr Carter is 16 and attends a fancy prep school while living in a poor neighborhood.  She has to balance these two worlds, and this becomes even more difficult when her friend Khalil is fatally shot by the police. This makes national headlines and upsets her local community.

Again, I haven’t read any of these books. But I am interested in them, interested in what they say and the perspective that they share. Dear Martin is not original in the subject matter that it tackles, but it is part of the conversation that we all need to participate in.

Featured Review Post: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone 

October 17, 2017 – Crown Books for Young Readers

Purpose: Review, Black Writers Matter

Source: Publisher, by request

I was given a copy of this, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

2 Stars 

Goodreads Summary 

I have a lot of feelings about this book, I requested it because I knew that this was going to be an important book. I still believe that this book is an important book and I would still recommend that people read this, be a part of the conversation. was

Initially, when I finished reading this book my instinct was to separate my feelings from the review of the book. At that point, my rating was 4 stars.  I wanted to do this because I felt that my reaction to the book was not being fair to the intent of the book. I wrote out a review that stood in contrast to my reaction. A small part of this is simply because I felt bad, and uncomfortable. After the warm welcoming of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  Dear Martin will either be rolled into this avalanche of praise or it will be rejected as a knock off.  I’ve already seen positive reviews of this book, and I can understand it. But, in truth, I think this book is very one-sided and slanted which makes it very dangerous.

I know and believe that the author has every right to write the book any way that she wants to, especially since it is a work of fiction.  I think it is dangerous because of the times we are living in today. The racial climate is tense, divisive at best and simmering at worst.  Now that I have made all of those disclaimers, on to the review. (I am going to bypass talking about what the book is about, if you don’t know you can click the Goodreads link.)

Justyce is the main character, and he is someone who doesn’t fit in completely at school or in his neighborhood. In his neighborhood, he is rejected because of the school that he attends- a private school usually reserved for the well off. In fact he lives on campus and occasionally comes home. He doesn’t fit in at school, because he is one of the few black students in a predominately white school, and I believe that he is there on scholarship.

There is a lot of discussion about race, thanks to the socio-something class that they are in, the only class that they attend since they never seem to go anywhere else.  There is also the fact that friendships are also racially charged, and up until the ending you’re convinced that most of them were for social reasons.  I think that it’s great that the book is dripping with all of the racial discussions; how race plays into friendships, how race plays into the police interactions, how race affects education etc….  All of these things are important and worthy to be discussed. My issue with the discussion is that they are one-sided. Even the opinions and thoughts that were supposed to come from the white characters sounded as if it was what a black person thinks a white person would say.

Friendships in this book came in all varieties. Some got more attention than others. Some were better developed than others. As someone who grew up being the only black person in groups of white people, almost everywhere I went, I have a problem with the friendship between Manny and Jared.  See, being one in minority in a group it is easy to know who is your real friend and who isn’t. You learn the ins and outs of that person and where you stand with them. It seems that Manny and Jared were friends for a long time, long enough for Manny to know that Jared was or wasn’t the real deal. I get that we weren’t supposed to know that in the beginning. But, it appears that even Manny doesn’t know it. He was easily persuaded by Jus, when in reality Jus is an outsider to Manny and Jared’s friendship.

I wanted to like the relationship between Jus an SJ, I really do. But in truth, this is a relationship that is filled with issues that should have been worked out beforehand for it to be successful. I was optimistic about it, until a comment SJ made at the end.

These are the most glaring issues that I have with this book. The rest are mine and can be summarized with me saying that I wanted more.  There wasn’t enough to fully flesh out the discussions or the relationships. Everything stayed just around the surface, and I wished that Stone had dug just a bit deeper.

While this book is excellent as a conversation -starter, it shouldn’t be the only book read for this purpose. This book is like trying to build a bridge. Instead of both sides working together, it’s one side building on one side and then running to other side to work on it. That’s a lot of work for one side to do, and it’s not fair. This book is dismissing those from the other side who is willing to together to build the bridge. The racial issues may have begun from the wrongs of one side, but it continues and perpetuated by both sides.

And before someone comments about how I just don’t understand- I am black and I am in an interracial relationship. I get it. Jus’s story highlights issues that are way too common and is a story that is hauntingly familiar. It is one that hits too close to home, one that must be told.  But this is not the overall black experience, and cannot be viewed as such.  But it is also a story that can’t be dismissed. While I am not sure of the author’s intent and I would not dare say that she was attempting to reveal what’s behind the curtain of the black experience. I will say that this is a great way to begin discussing issues and thoughts. I think it’s a great tool to use to be reflective of our own ideals and beliefs.

Honestly, I am not sure if I was clear with all of my thoughts. I enjoyed this book, I think being inside of Jus’s head gave the story a unique perspective with its own set of challenges and limitations. But, even so I found that it wasn’t an original story and it left me wanting more – so much more. But it also made me feel a lot of different things while reading it and that shouldn’t be discounted.  I think in the moment, people are going to feel a lot and that may cloud their judgment of the book in both positive and negative ways. But we can’t stay there in those moments. It’s not healthy or productive. I know that the feelings that stayed with me were the strongest feelings that I had while reading. I had issues, but I also enjoyed the story. Maybe it was because of the seeking, or the desire of Jus’s to understand and to grow.  Whether you agree or disagree, like this book or hate it. I hope you see how important  this book is.

Always Shine!

Scion of the Fox Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Blog tour graphic_Scion

Hi all! Today I get the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for Scion of the Fox, and I have to say, I am really excited about that! Below you will find a guest post by the author, S.M. Beiko, info on the book and the instructions and link for the giveaway.

S.M. Beiko is here to talk to us about her writing process!

Author photo_credit Teri Hofford Photography

Hey, you know what’s not stressful at all? Leaving things to the last minute! Put off today what can be done tomorrow! I do my best work on the fly! The purest writing comes from the moment. I’ll know what happens in the story when I get there!

Just writing that gave me a migraine.

But this is how I used to be. Laissez-faire, the work will do itself attitude. Know what that got me? A bunch of unfinished, unrealized projects, the years flying by and dust collecting on ‘books in the drawer’. I worked organically—only when the ‘inspiration’ struck, working things out in my head instead of having a plan. Never making the time to write, only ‘getting around to it’ with months between writing bouts, a few words at a time.

We call this approach pantsing—when you’re even writing, that is. For some people it works, but only with discipline. You’ve got to throw yourself into the bit if you’re going to get that cart to the finish line.

I’ve only been seriously writing for maybe twelve years. I never took an objective look at what worked for me, writing-wise; I pursued a career in publishing, spending about seven of those twelve years helping others massage their own work for publication. Focusing on my own was never a priority. So just shrugging my way through seemed an okay approach.

But all that changed, rather quickly, and rather recently. A three book deal is a definite boon and has its benefits, but there are schedules. Deadlines. You can’t just shrug when your publisher says, “Hey, it’s April, but can you hand in your sequel mid-May? Even though Book 1 won’t publish ‘till October.” You know what you say? “Oh sure!” Even though inside your procrastinator soul is writhing over the house fire of your own making.

I’d written the first 10,000 words of Children of the Bloodlands, but its prequel Scion of the Fox was 127,000 words. Could I get there in thirty days when Scion took me a year and a half? I was about to find out.

I had a vague idea of plot, themes, character arcs. There was already a lot to juggle, and I knew I had strengths as a pantser, but I had to invert those for plotting. I didn’t use any special software—a lot of people love Scrivner but I haven’t tried it yet. I just got out pen and paper, and wrote down what I ‘knew’ of the plot. Longhand, essay-style like a book report. After I had this down, I already felt better. Then I grabbed note cards, wrote down fake chapter titles. Scion of the Fox was split into 5 parts, so I emulated this format, named each part, and wrote the events of each chapter on the back of the cards. I moved them around on the living room floor manically while my dog looked on with concern.

After that, I got to work.

I had word count goals per day. I got up early to meet them so I could do my day job at the same time. In the end, Children of the Bloodlands is a 130,000 word behemoth, complete, and is currently being edited. It took discipline, time management, and planning. Having a deadline was a good incentive, but I learned a lot about myself as a writer that’s for sure. I was open with myself about my strengths and my process, didn’t put too much pressure on making it perfect (because the first draft is never what the final published version is!) and kept reminding myself to enjoy the ride.

Most of all, knowing I’m capable of finishing projects has changed my creative perspective entirely. The motto I’d like to shout from the rooftops is FINISHED NOT PERFECT—Past Sam would’ve definitely benefitted from that. See? Migraine alleviated.

Since then, I’ve finished drafts on three other novel projects using these simple methods—this year alone. Plotting gives you a map to refer to when you’re stuck, which is key when you don’t have time to be stuck.

Do I still procrastinate my own stuff? Oh yes. Old habits and all that, and I’ve still got that day job. But now that I’ve got the confidence to buoy me forward, I think I’m a plotter ‘till all the stories in my well dry up…which, happily, won’t be any time soon.

Interested in what Scion of the Fox is all about? (Yes, you should be!)

Cover image

Scion of the Fox By S.M. Beiko

The Realms of Ancient, Book 1 

Available: October 17

Buy links:


Barnes & Noble



About the book: Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.

About the author: S.M. Beiko has been writing and drawing strange, fantastical things since before she can remember. She currently works as a freelance editor, graphic designer, and consultant and is the co-publisher of ChiZine Publications and ChiGraphic. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book as well as the 2014 Aurora Award. Scion of the Fox is the first book of the Realms of Ancient trilogy. Samantha lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 Social networking links:

Website: https://www.smbeiko.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SMBeikoAuthor/

Twitter: @SMBeiko

 Praise for Scion of the Fox:

“A thrilling tale underscored by excellent, deep, and unique world-building.” — Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A smart, complex, animal-based fantasy.” — Kirkus Reviews

“S.M. Beiko’s Scion of the Fox is the thrilling first installment in what will surely be an exceptionally imaginative trilogy. Roan Harken is an instantly relatable heroine, a girl with guts and moxie in spades, and Beiko moves her story from hilarious to heartbreaking with true literary grace. Evocative prose and crisp, crackling dialogue perfectly define this rich fantasy world. I can’t wait for Book Two!” — Charlene Challenger, author of The Voices in Between and The Myth in Distance

“In Scion of the Fox, S.M. Beiko introduces us to Roan, a wry, fierce young woman whose world changes in the blink of an infected eye. She’s more than she has ever imagined, and there’s enchantment everywhere — flying, running, and swimming around her — transforming everything and everyone she has ever known. Beiko’s magic-steeped Winnipeg is a marvel, and Roan is a delight. I look forward to following her into her next adventure.” — Caitlin Sweet, author of The Pattern Scars. 


 Want to win a copy of the book, Scion of the Fox and this signed Print? Click here! The contest ends on OCTOBER 21!!!!



Always Shine!



Blog Stop: Ferocious by Paula Stokes with a Giveaway


Ferocious by Paula Stokes 

Vicarious #2

August 15, 2017 – Tor

4 stars 

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

The Link for the giveaway is at the end of the post.  Do you like book trailers? You’re in luck, there a Book Trailer for FerociousBook Trailer for Ferocious!

Today is my stop for the blog tour, if you want to check out other stops click here!


Paula Stokes returns to the world of Vicarious in this sequel, a high-action psychological thriller with a protagonist out for vengeance.

When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter―finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.

Things get increasingly dangerous once Winter arrives in Seoul. Aided by her friends Jesse and Sebastian, Winter attempts to infiltrate an international corporation to get close to her target, a nefarious businessman named Kyung. But keeping her last remaining loved ones out of the line of fire proves difficult, and when all seems to be lost, Winter must face one last devastating decision: is revenge worth sacrificing everything for? Or can she find a spark of hope in the darkness that threatens to engulf her?

Praise for VICARIOUS

“Combining elements of sci-fi and mystery, Vicarious is an expert blend from an author gifted with the ability to jump genres and stick the landing every time.” ―Paste Magazine

“A total mind-bending thrill ride, with a heroine who’s as smart as she is strong. Readers will love Winter!” ―Lindsay Cummings, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zenith and The Murder Complex

“Reading Vicarious is like tiptoeing across a field of landmines. Blindfolded. Stokes delivers enough adrenaline to make readers beg for mercy.” ―Victoria Scott, author of Titans and Fire & Flood“An action-packed thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end–I couldn’t put it down!” ―Kristi Helvig, author of Burn Out and Strange Skies

“Vicarious by Paula Stokes is a fast-paced thriller that grabs your attention on page one and doesn’t let go. The main character is a fresh take on the usual heroine in YA novels.” ―Julie Bond, Sales &Marketing Manager/YA Specialist, Read Booksellers

“This is the thrill ride you’ve been waiting for all summer.” ―PopCrush

“Pulse-pounding adventures and high-tech blend masterfully with romance, intrigue, and current issues, making this book completely captivating for any audience.” ―VOYA, starred review

“Stokes delivers fans of suspense a story full of twists and turns…The author admirably handles graphic and disturbing material in a subtle way.” ―School Library Journal

“A powerful kick-ass girl caught up in a high-tech, twisty mystery…Buckle up, this thrill ride travels at breakneck speed.” ―Justine Magazine

“Smart twists and turns…smart sci-fi worldbuilding. Complementing the mystery is a slow-burn love story between Winter and Mexican-American Jesse Ramirez, a fellow stunt artist. Their relationship is tender and complicated, with enough tension to sustain itself and enough heat to pop when things pay off.” ―Kirkus Reviews

My Thoughts:
I am not sure what I was expecting or hoping would happen. But, I can say that I got more than I expected.  And I am not sure what I can talk about without giving anything away.  So, I will do my best to be as thorough as possible, but really you should check this series out.
Book 2 picks up right where the first book left off. Winter is still trying to deal with everything that happened and all of the new information that she got-literally pages from the end of the first book. So, I am very glad that I already had the second book and could jump right in.  This new information takes her from St. Louis to Los Angeles to Seoul.  Along the way Baz and Jesse join her, and offer her their assistance in her mission.
Man, it so much harder to not give things away than I thought that it would be. I enjoyed this book so much more than the first one. The stakes were raised immediately from the beginning and that tension was well-maintained throughout the story. I like Winter in this one, she is more real. She struggles trying to figure out who she is in this world now that she knows that what she thought was true isn’t. The attraction between her and Jesse is cheesy at times, but for the most part it is stuttering and awkward -as it should be.
Thought the content of the books make it weird to say that I enjoyed it, I did. And I will be keeping my eye out for more from Stokes.
Always Shine!

Paula Stokes is the author of several novels, most recently Vicarious and Girl Against the Universe. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Photo Content from Paula Stokes

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

– 10 Winners will receive a Copy of FEROCIOUS by Paula Stokes.



Featured Book Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

Featured Book of the Month: Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

August 8, 2017 – Amulet Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

 5 stars

Goodreads Summary

I was given a digital copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Genie Lo is your typical seventeen-year high school student. She studies extremely hard and is doing everything that she can to ensure that she can go to a top-tier school and get herself out of the Bay area. Then she meets, Quentin, a very strange new student who has set his eyes on her.  And the multitudes of demons that are trying to overtake her town. Quentin than begins to clue her in that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Okay, so the premise of a teen suddenly discovering that they have powers and are expected to become the savior of the world is not all that original. Do not let that deter you. Because this book is so much more than that. This book had me laughing out loud while reading this. Even if I was in public. Genie Lo is, by far, one of my favorite characters this year.  Her biting humor pulled me into her orbit, making me wish that she was a real person. Then there is Quentin, the monkey king has returned to Earth because of the increase of demon activity in the Bay Area and because he recognizes Genie Lo’s aura. This story is steeped in Chinese folklore and culture. Sometimes discussing the culture, or the stereotypes of the culture with humor.  Genie Lo bumbles around destroying demons as she re-discovers her powers. Quentin is awkward initially, but we soon see it’s just a ruse.  Genie’s interactions with Quentin were hilarious and warm, like joking around with a long -time friend. He’s an awful teacher, but a pretty decent friend. Even if he is a bit stalker-ish and creepy at times. It’s okay because it’s Quentin, and as you get to know him, this explanation makes sense.

In this story, the side characters had their own distinct personalities and added their own bits of humor.  They flow in and out of the story the same way that they flow in and out of Genie’s life. But they are no less important. They make this book, Genie’s purpose, a little more grounded.

This is one of the few books that impressed me and made me want to read it over immediately.  I wish that I had so many copies of this books so that I can hand it out to everyone I encounter. I am looking forward to this release so that I can add it to my own collection.

Since this is August’s featured book, there will be other posts inspired by and related to Genie Lo. So stay tuned for those.

Always Shine!