Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

Thanks to Netgalley for sending me this copy of Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi. This book was really good and I loved the writing style 🙂

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Synopsis: For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

I reeeeeaaaally enjoyed how this book was written. Each chapter alternated between the two main characters. Their thought processes were very much so how a young 20-year-old would think about and make decisions. And when it came to Penny, she always had a list of options to choose from for situations that were awkward to her. Her brain was like a compendium of pros/cons lists.

Penny was very funny and awkward. She deals with problems in unusual ways which just makes her that much more interesting. Sam has had a hard life and is making the best he can out of what he has. His heart has been broken and he is just trying to figure out how to take the next steps in his life while keeping his head above the water. Also, he is an excellent baker 😛

These two meet each other through a mutual acquaintance and become friends that only text each other but don’t hang out. They are essentially support systems for each other hence the title “Emergency Contact”.

If you want a cute love story set in modern day about two social misfits, then this book is for you. It was published by Simon & Schuster Canada and you can find the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Flow by Clare Littlemore

Another book review was done by @saramact for Flow by Clare Littlemore. This one is a great book for YA readers who are into dystopian futures.

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Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Quin lives in The Beck, a savior society. Her community has risen from the ruins of a land shattered by Mother Nature. But Beck law is tough. Quin knows that the rules must be followed in order to sustain life in a place where floodwaters constantly threaten existence. A single violation could land her in Clearance.

But some laws are harder to follow than others. And as Quin discovers the horrifying truth, she knows she cannot stay silent forever.

This novel is about a girl named Quin who lives in a dystopian society called The Beck. The story focuses on her struggling to survive in the strict society and discovering more about the ways it works, finally discovering its darkest secret.

The story begins with her working in Agric, a group that is responsible for cultivating the food for the entire society, with her two best friends, Harper and Cass. We are shown the strict requirements for maintaining a role as a productive member of The Beck society in their daily life and in their twice-yearly fitness and mental testing. Soon after this test, the three friends are separated – Quin to be transferred to Patrol (a police-like group within the society), and Harper to Clearance, where those no longer deemed fit enough for Beck society are sent, never to return.

This is where the story gets even more intense, as Quin moves to her new training with Patrol and gains more access to information about how The Beck society works. Quin and her new patrol friends attempt to investigate the Clearance section of the society, and soon discover the dark secret they would wish never to have learned.

The novel is well-written with good flow that keeps the story moving naturally. We become attached to the characters easily, and all the twists and turns are well revealed. The novel kept my interest easily, and I was always eager to sneak in a few more pages whenever I had the chance. I love dystopian novels, and this society was just as intriguing as the big hitters in this genre like Divergent and The Hunger Games, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

My only complaint is that the end of the book felt more like the climax one would expect in the middle of the book, with very little resolution – so I’ll have to read the sequel immediately. It’s definitely a cliff-hanger ending, where we only get a taste of the direction Quin and her new Patrol friends must turn to try to improve the horrific society they have found themselves in.

Book Rating: 5/5

Click on the image below to check out the book’s Amazon page 🙂

Disclaimer: We were sent the book by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Supercharge Your Book Sales with Unbiased Reviews by T. Buburuz

This is a short and sweet review for you guys on a helpful book for authors trying to get attention to their books. Supercharge Your Book Sales with Unbiased Reviews by T. Buburuz is a very quick read (25 pages) and has resources to help authors with approaching book bloggers and reviewing sources to get insight and critical reviews on their books.

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Synopsis:

Discover the simple secrets to getting free reviews by the truckload so you can skyrocket your book sales!

This results-driven guide includes:

* how to get your books reviewed for FREE by legitimate unbiased reviewers
* mistakes you want to avoid when contacting prospective reviewers
* how to effectively track your submissions
* why you should never pay for reviews

PLUS

* best practices to use when contacting perspective reviewers
* 55+ reputable book bloggers who review self-published books for free
* additional resources for even more legitimate unbiased book reviewers

You will be delighted to discover how easy it is to get unbiased legitimate book reviews for free when you go about it the right way, and you’ll also be inspired to write even more books when your reviews start flooding in!

I will admit that there is not much content to this book but it gets to the point and one thing that I really like about it is that it highlights different verified book bloggers to approach for a review. Anything that will help bring good attention to our little niche of book bloggers is awesome in my books 🙂

The author also invites book bloggers to contact him if they would like their book blog listed in his reviewer list. I believe his contact info is in the book to do this. The best part is that it is FREE. You can access the book below!

Book Rating: 4/5

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Book Review: Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde

A new review of Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde. This is the first poetry book I have read for review. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily into poetry but this book was actually pretty good.

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Synopsis: This collection of poetry is an ensemble of many themes. Every Watering Word encompasses poetic rumination about women’s self-discovery; stories about coming of age; explorations of sex, sensuality and eroticism; epiphanies gleaned from motherhood and marriage; the structure and impact of racial and gender oppression; the trials, tribulations and triumphs experienced by love; the inheritance of jazz music and honoring the Black Christian tradition while exploring tensions underlying what it means to be African-American and Christian.

This collection of poems was very interesting. It explored a lot of different subjects. Some of them were very intense where others had a softer tone. Some would make you feel like you were in a flashback. It’s hard to capture just one feeling about the book because there are so many stories intertwined with so little pages to capture them.

There was one that stuck with me. It is near the beginning of the book and is about a woman that is being punished for some wrongdoing. The family is actually lighting her on fire to teach her a lesson and show her that the man of the house is the one in control. It was brutal and hard to read but at the same time, this is done to some people and I can’t even imagine living in a situation like that where all you would ever look for is an escape.

The beauty of poetry is that I could be seeing one thing in this poem and someone else could see something totally different. It is pretty much up to the reader’s interpretation of what they want to think it means.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Bookstagram Shoutout

Time for another bookstagrammer shoutout. This week I will be featuring Instagram profiles of people that create and sell really cool handmade products! I will just jump right into it.

First off we have @thecandlecrate ! They make all kinds of cool homemade candles with different scents that sound quirky, fun and delicious. A lot of these would make me hungry, to be honest.

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Then we have @fromthepage who makes homemade book inspired soy based candles, lip balms, beard oils and more! All of the scents I see on this page make me want to know what they would smell like because they are themed like favorite places from books such as Avonlea for Anne of Green Gables or Pop’s Chocolate Shop from Archie Comics. I strongly suggest trying out her stuff 😛

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Something I have always wanted to try but have never done was subscribe to a book box where you are sent a different book each month. @onceuponabookclub is a book subscription box that sends out books to its customers each month and drops hints on its Instagram about what it will be.

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That’s all for this week but if you know someone that deserves a shoutout, hit me up in the comments and I will add them to next weeks post.

Talk to you later bookworms!

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Book Review: Vignettes by Lola Andrews

Well to start off this review, I am pretty pumped to say that I have surpassed 300 followers on Twitter and have achieved 150 WordPress followers! Thank you so much to everyone that takes the time to read my reviews 🙂 I have loved having book discussions with everyone and will continue to do so. Bringing attention to new author’s books is a passion of mine and I am glad people are interested in hearing what I have to say. I give honest opinions about the books I read and I will stay true to that.

So let us jump into this review, shall we! Vignettes by Lola Andrews is a collection of LGBTQ erotic novellas.

Synopsis: Kamila is fighting loneliness, and her affair with a married woman hardly seems like the solution, Lana and Emma don’t know what they want, other than each other, while Eric, Sam, and Tove are just enjoying each other and their shared life. Meanwhile, Mia is just very horny and missing her wife, Clara and Julia are trapped together in a road trip, Linda is blocked and Jaron and Noah are barely holding on to their sanity.

Meet them and many more in this collection of short stories, which hopes to show the beauty of love had, love lost and love kept. Join these everyday heroes, who take chances in the simplest ways, and who, above all, want nothing but love. These stories of LGBTQ persuasion hope to inspire, warm up and enliven your day.

This was my first time reading erotica and I can honestly say that I am not really a fan. Nothing against the author, I just don’t think this genre is for me. However, it has only been my first experience with it so I am open to trying out others to compare.

The book was OK. There were some short stories that I enjoyed but I found that they lacked in a storyline. I think by focusing more on a storyline and building up to the ultimate climax of the actual sex, it could make these stories more entertaining to read. This may be why Fifty Shades is a big success (never read the book or saw the movie so this could be a shady comparison due to lack of knowledge). For me, I like to learn and grow with the characters, to see their stories blossom into something exciting, intense or dramatic but in these short stories, I felt that most of the characters were thrown together just to fulfill the sexual desire and then nothing else.

There was one I rather enjoyed about two women who were past lovers and then thrown back into each other’s lives due to an investigation on some murders. It had a big Supernatural vibe because they were dealing with werewolves and it was like Sam and Dean hunting down another monster (except in this case they weren’t related and were past lovers). So this one I did enjoy.

But then there was one that got a little incestual about a father and son romance and I couldn’t handle this. This was just too much for me. I could tell what was coming and was cringing when trying to read through it.

My rating reflects my honest opinion. I can see this author doing really well in this genre but my criticism would be to add a little more storyline and build a little more on the characters. Once someone falls into the story and likes/dislikes the characters, then the erotic parts will be that much more meaningful and intense. They will bring a reader to their true climax.

Book Rating: 2.5/5

About the Author: Lola Andrews began writing the moment she developed an imagination. Though her skill has changed with time (for the better!), she has always been hungry for new and better stories, and now hopes to add to the LGBTQ community with her humble offerings. When not writing, Lola can be found pole dancing, drinking wine and watching movies.

You can find Lola on Twitter!

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Another Bookstagrammer Shoutout

I have been working on growing my Instagram account and looking for some great bookstagrammers to connect with. There are so many out there that it is hard to choose which ones to feature. In my search, I found some really cool accounts that have to do with bookish items and I figured I would share them!

@booklifesj

She posts a lot of new books she is reading and talks about book events she is going to. I believe she also has a booktube you could check out on her profile.

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@cookie_bookie_

This bookstagrammer posts a lot of photos of their bookshelves and they make me super jealous :P.

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@tumblr.books

I started following her when I saw that we read a bunch of the same books and then just really liked her book photography!

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@sweptawaybooks

This is a fellow Canadian bookstagrammer! She is all the way over in Vancouver though 😛 A lot of her posts usually have a coffee/latte/tea in them and they always make me want to be in a nice warm place reading a book with a cup of some warm beverage. She seems to know a lot of nice reading nooks!

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@kenchireads

Another fellow book reviewer that has read many of the books I have and had similar opinions on them. I also love that they state they are a Ravenclaw in their profile. Anyone in their right mind would be so proud to be a Ravenclaw 🙂

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Those are my bookstagram highlights for this week! I will be sharing more next week about bookish accounts that host subscription boxes, design creative bookmarks (they are handmade) and sell literary scented candles!

Talk to you soon bookworms and if you want to nominate someone to get a shoutout, tell me who in the comments and I will include them in future posts!

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In a galaxy far far away……

*Begin Star Wars Theme Song*

If you like Star Wars and accessories for your laptop, notebooks, or whatever you like to stick things to, then you will love this giveaway. I have a pack of 4 unique Star Wars stickers up for grabs!

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All you have to do is like this post and follow BreakEven Books. That’s it! If you want extra entries, you could share the post. I will be drawing a winner on March 31st.

As for an update, I should have a new review soon for a genre of book I have never read before. It is a collection of erotic novellas so definitely something different from my usual favorite sci-fi books! Keep your eyes peeled for that review closer to the end of the week.

Talk to you later bookworms!

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Book Review: The Aletheian Journeys: The Arrow Bringer by Lisa Mayer

A new reviewer has joined the team! Welcome, Sara to the Breakeven Books team. You can find Sara on her Instagram at saramact! She has reviewed The Aletheian Journeys: The Arrow Bringer by Lisa Mayer.

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This novel is a C.S. Lewis inspired Christian fantasy. Taking place in the land of Aletheian, which is in another world, the two main characters fight against the evil ruler, Kotu, to bring peace back to the land through inspiring the love for an omnipotent and near-forgotten caretaker, the Arrow Bringer.

The plot is long and flows from one conflict to the next, never sticking to a traditional storyline, so you don’t know what’s coming next. The author focuses a lot of the book on the inner turmoil of the main character and narrator, Evangeline, as she works through her issues with her initial turning away from the Arrow Bringer and her responsibilities to the people of Aletheia. The secondary character, Shawn, is also struggling with his own faith, though he is much more confident in his role. Through preparing for an epic battle with Kotu and his followers, the Aletheians must go on a journey assigned to them by the Arrow Bringer to prove their love and faith.
Though I enjoyed the fantasy world Mayer had created, the model has some definite flaws. There are several parts where the story is lacking a certain “flow”, and so occasionally reads a bit rough. For example, she introduced a few characters as if we should already know who they were, or mentioned personal relationships between characters that were not exposed at all before that, and so came across as forced.

Unfortunately, the Christian allegory and allusions are about as subtle as a brick. There is no mistaking this for anything other than a Christian story, and in many parts makes such obvious references and defers from the plot so much that it is very distracting from the story. Eventually, the Arrow Bringer character even takes human form, is renamed Justus, and sacrifices himself for his followers. Though I enjoy a good Christian story, this novel is so blunt about it that I found it very distracting from the fantasy elements of the story, and found it hard to enjoy because of this.

Overall, this book has a good premise, as the idea behind the fantasy elements of the story is entertaining and intriguing. The author fleshes out the characters she chooses to very well, and makes them relatable. I enjoyed reading through Evangeline’s personal journey as she progressed through the story. Unfortunately, the bluntness of the Christian elements detract from the overall story and make it hard to read without feeling like you’re reading the New Testament.

Book Rating: 3/5.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author for an honest review. We have not been compensated in any way.

Find the book on Amazon! Or check out the author’s website. You can also find Lisa Mayer on Twitter.

Talk to you soon bookworms!

Book Review: Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak

Another review for you guys by our one and only Chris Connors of the BreakEven Books team! He took on Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak this time.

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In the 1970s there was a fad among writers to have their book end with a most unexpected ending. Sometimes the ending was ambiguous—no doubt that makes for good classroom discussions on what really happened—and sometimes the ending was “everyone dies”, or at least the raison d’etre of the main character dies; and other times someone dies but it is ambiguous.

This is a book that harkens back to some of that 70s writing. Despite my dislike for that type of book, this is a good book; in fact, it is probably a really good book.

I jumped into this book without reading anything about the book so I enjoyed the adventure as it went along. The author doesn’t lay everything out and doesn’t explain many things, but instead drops hints so that you gradually put together pieces of the puzzle to figure out where things are going. Just the reading itself was like slowly unwrapping a multi-layered gift with each new wrapping revealing something new, but still not fully exposing what is at the heart of the gift.

And, what is quite refreshing is that just as you think you know where this is going the author drops another throw-away line that makes you say, “Wait?! What?”, and you have to go back and reread the preceding paragraph to make sure you’ve read it right.

This book, set in New Orleans, takes you on a journey through some of the seedier aspects of the human condition, the drug wars, gang life, poverty, racial violence while also discussing beginner philosophical and religious tenets, family, and life in general. This journey itself was artfully done. I imagine an English literature teacher in high school would get a few weeks of discussion material (the writing stylings actually reminded me a bit of Timothy Findlay’s The War, that English lit book that was all the rage for so long).

Then just when you think you know where this book is going there’s another big twist that transforms the book completely, and suddenly the whole thing turns almost surreal. It is like reading what you think is a romance novel only to suddenly have a Jason Bourne-like character show up for a big reveal (not that this book is a romance book or has any Jason Bourne character, but the switch is just as big and interesting).

There are a few misused words (“granite” for “granted” e.g., “Taking her family and existence for granite then clinging to both when they were proven as counterfeit”). It would also be easy to criticize the book for the “bad” guys rather convoluted Rube Goldberg way of going about their plans. There were so many different, quicker, cheaper ways of getting to where they wanted. As well, there are many unanswered questions, but the writing skill displayed makes you overlook these things; or at least overlook till the wee hours of the morning when your brain says, “Psst, wake up. Let’s talk about the
novel”.

It seems the book isn’t so much about the storyline, but more about the human condition; the plot itself is of lesser importance than the exploration of the inner workings of people—at least that is my sense after my brain woke me up at 2:40 a.m. and made me type this out.The fact that this book did that indicates just how well-written, and even powerful, it is. A five-star book that will stay with me for quite a while.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in exchange for an honest review.

And if you wish to connect with the author, check out his Tumblr page!