Posted in reviews

Tiny Ruins by Nicole Haldoupis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman struggles to understand her growing feelings and her identity as a bisexual woman in author Nicole Haldoupis’s “Tiny Ruins”. 

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The Synopsis

“The dahlias on Sara’s dress scrunched and stretched with her body as she spun on the grass and Alana couldn’t understand why no one else was mesmerized.” Tiny Ruins is a coming-of-age and coming out story that follows Alana, as she grows up, discovers, and tries to understand her bisexuality. Small windows offer us a glimpse of Alana’s memories, often fragmentary, fleeting, and touching. When she confides in her sister that she is attracted to girls, she is met with disbelief, and so the secret is kept and Alana continues as the outsider looking in.

The Review

This is a beautiful and emotional novella. The author has crafted quite an incredible and unique tale that comes in the form of snapshots of memories and events in the protagonist’s life. From the ups and downs of childhood to the hardships and struggles those in their teens coming to terms with who they are and the peer pressure to hide from everyone around them and so much more, this novella perfectly captures the growing up experience. 

The snapshot storytelling component really works here. Each page has sections that look like direct dives into the protagonist’s memories, speaking on random events and experiences that somehow come together to tell a cohesive character-driven narrative that captures so many different emotional beats. 

The Verdict

A short yet powerful and emotional read, author Nicole Haldoupis’s “Tiny Ruins” is a must-read novella. The story that evolves throughout the protagonist’s life is memorable and relatable, especially to anyone in the LGBTQ community who has ever had to deal with conflicting feelings and the journey of understanding who they are. From accepting her own sexuality to a conflict-filled relationship with her sister and the long journey into adulthood, this is a fantastic read that is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Nicole Haldoupis is a queer writer, editor, and designer from Toronto. She’s the outgoing Editor of Grain and a co-creator of untethered and Applebeard Editions. Her work can be found in Bad Dog Review, The Feathertale Review, Bad Nudes, and others. Her first book, Tiny Ruins (Radiant Press, 2020), is a novel made up of linked flash fiction pieces. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @nicolehaldoupis.

http://nicolehaldoupis.ca/

https://www.instagram.com/nicolehaldoupis/?hl=en

Posted in reviews

In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl with dreams of becoming a musician must contend with parents who have their own dreams for her life, complex friendships and struggles in school and her journey to discover her place in the world in author Natasha Deen’s novel “In the Key of Nira Ghani”. 

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The Synopsis

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.

The Review

What a remarkable and moving coming of age novel. The author has expertly crafted a narrative that blends the hardships and struggles many young adults face growing up while also incorporating the added element of being in an immigrant household, showcasing the added pressures of having parents with a determined path for their future. 

Character growth is the shining star of this narrative. The author’s ability to create realistic, memorable, and relatable characters is truly incredible. The relationships between Nira and the supporting cast are enough to get the reader invested, but the emotional core of this story is between Nira and her grandmother, two kindred spirits who must navigate the journey of living out one’s dreams. Nira’s evolution as a character is fascinating to see unfold and is reflective of the true nature of a coming of age novel like this one. 

The Verdict

Beautiful, emotional, and well-written, author Natasha Deen’s “In the Key of Nira Ghani” is a must-read YA, coming of age novel. The story is lengthy yet engaging, keeping the reader invested wholly and completely. The shocking conclusion to the story and the journey of Nira makes this novel a one of a kind read, so if you haven’t yet been sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Natasha Deen’s family moved from Guyana, South America to Canada to escape the country’s political & racial violence. She loved growing up in a country of snow & flannel, but often felt out of place. Thank goodness for books that showed her being different could also mean being awesome. Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her family where she spends A LOT of time arguing with her cats and dogs about who’s the boss of the house. Visit her at www.natashadeen.com.

Posted in reviews

Remember, No Matter What; Chin Up, Tits Out by Miranda Oh Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman in love undergoes a life changing journey in author Miranda Oh’s “Remember, No Matter What; Chin Up, Tits Out”.

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The Synopsis

18 year old Hadley has led a charmed life, always knowing exactly what she wanted from it. She’d had her life distinctly mapped out in her head for as long as she remembered, but a chance meeting sends her into a tailspin…albeit a sensationally delicious one.

As she travels halfway across the world to fight for what’s hers, she stumbles time after time. It’s a journey of love, tears and learning; as she fights and attempts to overcome multiple hurdles standing in her way. 

The Review

This short and fast-paced read was engaging and dynamic from the very beginning. The author creates a unique coming of age story about a young woman who has a chance encounter that leads to a love story filled with ups and downs. The character dynamics and growth of the protagonist keep the readers entertained throughout the entire tale. 

While there is some crude language that would make this book more suitable to adults, this only enhances the character development of the protagonist overall. However, the only criticism I would have is in regard to the immigration process and the race relations of South Africa the author touches on. 

While the author does a good job of delving into this touchy subject in the background of the overall story, I would have liked to see a more rounded exploration of the subject from both points of view, to show there is a complex situation in South Africa and no one side is 100 percent right or wrong. However, this is just a minor thing that I personally would have liked to see play out in the larger narrative. 

The Verdict

A fast-paced and whirlwind coming of age story, author Miranda Oh knocks it out of the park with “Remember, No Matter What; Chin Up, Tit’s Out”. The story is unique and showcases the author’s unique tone and voice for storytelling, making this a must-read. Be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Author Miranda Oh Is your typical girl: She loves the sunset, loves long walks on the beach, world travels, and When not playing the corporate part she can be found sipping wine and spending all her hard-earned money on shoes.

Among her friends and family, Miranda Oh is known to be the storyteller of the group, always recapping crazy life stories and situations. Her personal experiences, emotions and fantasies are the inspiration for most of her books, so there is a little bit of her in every story.

“Remember, No Matter What: Chin Up, Tits Out” is the first of many novels you’ll be seeing from Miranda Oh.

Miranda’s work is sincere and heartfelt, sure to keep you up at night in more ways than one.

Make sure to click “Follow” on Miranda’s author page to follow her new releases.

Happy Reading!

XO

Posted in reviews

Longevity: The Wardens of Time by Caleb Smith Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

One young man’s journey of self-discovery leads to a world of magic and danger in author Caleb Smith’s novel Longevity: The Wardens of Time. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Noah Thomas is a scrawny seventh grader who is bullied to the brink in his new town. Friendless, except for sassy tomboy Wendy Sherman, who seems to lend him the confidence he needs to stand up to his oppressors. Upon stumbling into a bookshop one afternoon while on the run from some teenaged tyrants, Noah is hurled into an unexplainable adventure. Noah learns that the bookshop does, in fact, lead to the Akashic Records – a place that holds all spirit lives recorded in tablets of light. With this new found knowledge, Noah begins to grow in wisdom and confidence to face his fears. His biggest challenge comes in the form of five demonic spirits that he accidentally lets loose from a lost tablet. Will Noah succeed with the help of his guardian angel cat he calls Keeper, or will all Hell’s henchman prevail?

The Review

This YA Paranormal/Coming of Age story was an incredible read. The author does a marvelous job of blending the struggles of a young middle school child struggling with his status as an outsider and being bullied with the magical and mythical circumstances he finds himself in throughout the book. Noah is a very relatable and heartbreaking character. In an age where bullying and even cyber-bullying are at an all time high, Noah’s struggle with the bullies at his school and it’s affect on his life was an emotional struggle that readers will be able to hone in on. Meanwhile Noah also struggles with maintaining his first real friendship with Wendy, while also coming of age and discovering his independence while dealing with a worried single mother and no father to help guide him through the hardships of life.

While children will identify with Noah and his adventures, parents will immediately love Noah’s mother and Wendy’s father as they both serve as single parents struggling to raise children on their own. Meanwhile the paranormal element of the story helps illuminate Noah’s real life struggles by giving him a taste of heroism and showing the power that stories and words really have in this world. Delving into the lore of a surprising mythology, the story turns to a classic yet epic battle of good vs evil, and what happens when a small, frightened young boy grows into an adult and becomes the protector he was always meant to be. The writing here was well done, using the mythology told throughout the story to paint a fantastic image of what ancient forces descending on a small town would really look like.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this story. The characters and story really did an amazing job of drawing me into the book and created a fantastic new YA mythology that has the potential for far more stories in the franchise. It’s a story of finding hope, discovering your inner strength and standing up to the bullies and evil of the world around you. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Longevity: The Wardens of Time by Caleb Smith, available for pre-order now and set to release on October 25th, 2018.

Rating: 8/10

Check out the Author’s Facebook page down below, as well as a special giveaway happening for the book on Goodreads!

https://www.facebook.com/calebsmithauthor/ 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_kindle_giveaway/284681?utm_medium=api&utm_source=giveaway_widget