Hope by Grier Cooper — A Review

26170198Hope by Grier Cooper

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

 

Dudes! Two romantic books back-to-back! What even is my life right now?

Okay, it’s not really a romance like Hate to Want You, but the main character’s feelings do get put through the wringer when a fellow dancer seems to be interested in her. She starts to like him back, and it seems like they may be starting a relationship, but then…maybe not? And this does-he or doesn’t-he nonsense is really the last thing she needs.

Hope is about the lives of teenage dancers, ballet (obvs), and pushing yourself to be your best you, while still being a decent human being to those around you. Indigo is the main character, a teenager who struggled very hard to gain her spot at the New York School of Ballet. This school is just a stepping stone on her way to becoming a professional dancer. Following are her thoughts at the beginning of Hope.

Here’s what I’ve realized in the one hundred and fifty-one days since I first arrived at the New York School of Ballet:  Every second counts. It isn’t enough to work hard and sweat; there has to be something more. Each moment is a new chance to reach just a little further, move one step closer to perfection.

Indigo and her group of friends struggle to maintain the balance between dance classes, high school classes, friendships, and boys. Felipe is the foreign, and super sexy, boy who seems to like Indigo, and then maybe he doesn’t, and then he definitely does, and then he doesn’t again. C’mon boy! Make up your mind!!!! Pauvre Indigo. 😦 At least he’s a first-rate pas de deux partner!

Image result for ballet gif

Anyways, these professional teenagers are under a huge amount of pressure. Their ultimate goal: to get a job dancing for a good company. Remarkably, most of them make it to the final performance, the workshop they’ve all been busting their buns (pun intended) to be cast in, without completely falling apart.

I really enjoyed reading Hope. It is the second book in Grier Cooper’s Indigo Dreams series. I didn’t read the first book, Wish, but I felt okay going into book two without much background information. Currently, Cooper does not have a book three. I really, really hope that she plans to write one!!!! Hope ends well enough, but I want to know what’s next for Indigo. Does she get a job? Does she tank the workshop and have to find an alternate career? I NEED TO KNOW.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy YA fiction, stories about ballet (obvi), stories about friendship, and stories about going for your dreams. I will definitely be seeking out the rest of the series. I just cannot resist a well-told story about ballet and dancing. Who am I kidding, I can’t resist anything ballet! Pretty sure my patronus is toe-shoes. 😉

Image result for ballet gif

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

#TopTenTuesday – 10 Bookish Resolutions/Goals


Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Ten Bookish Resolutions/Goals

  1. Finish Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge.
  2. Finish 75% of my Indie books backlog this year.
  3. Post a review every Thursday (already messed this one up, but I was out of the country so…*shrugs*).
  4. Start posting Sunday quotables again.
  5. Participate in Top Ten Tuesday 😀
  6. Finish all of the series I’ve started.
  7. Read more comics and graphic novels.
  8. Stop finishing books I don’t like.
  9. Only buy more books when I’ve finished the ones I already have.
  10. Organize and clean my library.

Please leave a link to your Top Ten Tuesday in the comments section below so I can check out your picks! 😀

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai — A Review

Sorry for the late posting! I’ve been out of the country on a cruise (no WiFi). 😀

29422692Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

One night. No one will know. Those were the rules.

Hate to Want You has a Romeo and Juliet feel, but with a very modern, exes with benefits, twist.

Two lovers — Livvy (Olivia) Kane and Nicholas (Nico) Chandler — were hot and heavy in their late teens/early twenties, but they were torn apart by their families. The Chandlers and the Kanes had been business partners before two deaths and a shady business deal turned them into enemies, effectively ending the relationship between Livvy and Nicholas. For the next ten years, the two would meet for a single night of unbridled passion. But when Livvy moves back home to care for her mother, their carefully honed pattern is ripped to shreds.

This is the first book in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, and I have to say, Rai has made me re-think my stance on romance novels. Her focus remains on the action of the novel, which you guys know I love, and the steamy, heat-your-cheeks scenes are like icing — they enhance the already delectable story taking place.

I CANNOT stand bodice rippers. Those stale, reusable plots? Ick. Now, this plot is not ground-breaking, or new per se, but I really enjoyed reading it (in only two days!).

I will definitely be checking out the rest of the Forbidden Hearts series, and you should too! IF you like family drama, steamy romance, a hint of chaos, and characters who grow. Probably NOT IF you are at all prudish or dislike tattoos.

fanning myself

If taking part in Read Harder 2018, this checks off #10, a romance novel by or about a person of color, and it could also check off #15, a one-sitting book.

Read Harder stats: 1/24

#TopTenTuesday – Ten Books I Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To

TopTenTuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Ten Books I Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To

  1. A Conjuring of Light
  2. Lizard Radio
  3. Interpreter of Maladies
  4. Cosmos
  5. Talking As Fast As I Can
  6. Tower of Dawn
  7. Scrappy Little Nobody
  8. Ms. Marvel Volumes 3-8
  9. The Black Witch
  10. Lady Midnight

Please leave a link to your Top Ten Tuesday in the comments section below so I can check out your picks! 😀

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Cookbook by Madeline Given — A Review

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Cookbook by Madeline Given

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

Okay, I realize this is an odd way for me to start the year off — with a review of a cookbook, but alas, that’s where I’m at in my queue! You may be thinking, “But Raeleigh, you never review cookbooks!” I KNOW. But recently I’ve been dealing with some pretty severe pain and inflammation throughout my body. It mainly resides in my hands, which totally sucks because I use them for like sixteen hours every day. Ouch. Literally the other morning I was trying to throw together a coffee cake (sticky batter), and I was watching the span of skin between my thumb and forefinger swell and swell and swell, and I’m just standing there, stirring, and crying, stirring, and crying. That was my hit-bottom moment. I can’t stand this anymore. Time to do something about it.

Anyhoo, I picked up this cookbook hoping to find some recipes that might help me deal with some of the inflammation in a natural way, without medication. I was not disappointed. A lot of the recipes in here sound delish (and are delish)! I’m very excited to incorporate them more frequently into my cooking schedule. The beverage and breakfast recipes sound especially helpful — quick, easy, healthy. Win, win, and win.

What I like the most about this cookbook is that every recipe is prefaced with a little information about the ingredients and how they benefit the body. Now, I’m not 100% sure of the food science, but it sounds legit and Madeline Given seems pretty legit so I’m rolling with it! I also love that the author has tried to keep it simple, going off what most people would have in their kitchens — no crazy, never-heard-of-them ingredients, and she offers tips and hints for the things that may be a bit new. There are also some handy technique tips.

Basically, I’m super happy I purchased this! All right, hands! Stop swelling up and looking like catcher’s mitts please!

 

#TopTenTuesday – 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post since 2016! How did that happen!?!?!? Oh, right. Life. Durrr. 😀

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2017

  1. Amy Tan
  2. Neal Shusterman
  3. Zoraida Córdova
  4. Kellye Garrett
  5. César Aira
  6. Noelle Stevenson
  7. Charles Belfoure
  8. R.A. Hakok
  9. Josephine Angelini
  10. Lana Pecherczyk

Please leave a link to your Top Ten Tuesday in the comments section below so I can check out your picks! 😀

Robin Lockslay by Lana Pecherczyk — A Review

Robin Lockslay by Lana Pecherczyk

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

It really saddens me that more people have not read this delightful retelling of Robin Hood. At the moment there are only two ratings on Goodreads and one review (mine). I’m just going to leave a link to it on Amazon here for you. Do with it what you will. (Linking of my own free will. I get absolutely nothing for this.) I mean it’s free on kindle unlimited. I’m just sayin’. Okay, okay, on to the review!

Robin Lockslay is a street urchin. And as many street urchins are, she is an excellent thief. Her thieving leads her into the life of a man she calls Richard Lionheart. Together they spy on Richard’s company to try to keep the bad guys at bay. When Richard suddenly goes missing, Robin and her crew of diverse satellite characters are slung into a chase that leads down some very dangerous paths. Breaking and entering, high-stakes poker, it’s all just part of the quest for Lionheart.

Originally, this was published as a serial, but the author then compiled them all into a novel. So glad she did. This book is such fun! It’s fast-paced, it’s funny, and I just loved Robin! I mean, it’s about time someone rewrote this tale with a female protagonist, amiright!?

One of the challenges for Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge is to read a “one-sitting book”. This totally qualifies! It’s an easy read, and it’s just delightful. I highly recommend it.

I received the first two episodes in exchange for an honest review, and then I went out and bought the darn thing because I liked it that much!

The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach — A Review


The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

MK. I love a book that leads me around by my nose and then suddenly surprises me at the end. BUT, that just didn’t work here.

Madlyn is a recently-fired, recently-dumped, back-home-with Mom, young adult. She takes a job as a reader with a wealthy family, and then something quite unexpected starts to happen with a boy and a novel and a quest to save the world.

It’s a wonderful premise. I love the idea of The Sorcerer’s Garden, I’m just afraid it missed a little on the execution. There is a lot of back and forth between the here-and-now, and the world in the novel Madlyn is reading. Then, things start to unravel. Are we in the novel or are we not in the novel? I just could not figure out where I was for the majority of this book.

If you note my status updates, you’ll see I was incredibly confused. I’m pretty sure that’s because Madlyn was confused, but that shouldn’t spill over into the reader’s mind. Even if the MC doesn’t have a clue, I want to at least have an idea of where I’m at in a book.

Things did become clear at the end, for which I was very grateful. Without that, my rating would have been much lower. Now, let’s highlight some of the positive. The writing is well done, I got a very clear picture of who the characters were as people and what was motivating them throughout the story. However, I have some real issues with Caleb-in-the-novel’s characterization. Can one be both fearless and reckless and yet also afraid of small, dark spaces??? I dunno. I found that a bit odd.

The whole thing left me feeling a little like throwing my hands up in the air.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Blargh! Queries! Warning: Rant Ahead.

<rant>

My darling indies:

I beseech you! Read these lovely things I put ahead of my “query here” box.

How to query.

Check out Query Shark. No, seriously. Give this a read before you fill out the box below.

I promise I didn’t take ALL THIS TIME to post something useless.

I mean, is everyone missing the part where I say, “No, seriously.” Should I put it in huge letters??? GARRRR. I’m so sick of receiving queries along the lines:

Raleigh,

(FIRST OFF YOU SPELLED MY NAME WRONG. Now I really don’t want to continue reading. It’s not that hard to copy + paste. It’s really not.)

I’d really like you to read my book.

No shiz. You’re wasting time. Get to the good stuff. I’m getting bored.

Look at my blog/webpage/author site for the synopsis.

Seriously?! First of all, don’t tell me what to do. Second of all, don’t give me homework. I’ve just sent your request to my “denied review” folder.

Signed,

Writer-who-will-not-be-getting-a-review-from-me.


Now, I’m not saying you have to write me a bleeding love letter. I don’t want flattery or schmoozing or anything like that. But I do need the following:

Step 1:  Raeleigh, or Dear Raeleigh, or some kind of address. I don’t care what it is just spell my name right!

Step 2:  <singing>Hit me with your best shot!</singing> I’m not kidding. Jump right in to your blurb. I don’t want background information or the setting or the time period. I want to know what is at stake! I can get those fiddly details later.

Step 3: Title of Book is insert-genre-here, complete at X words.

Step 4: Now add any other relevant information you think I need. Have you published in the past? Won contests? Had a big publisher/magazine/etc. say something awesome about you? Put it here.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Your Name


I’ve been trying for years now to get people to check out Query Shark. I don’t know why they won’t. She’s amazeballs. (Obviously if you have and you’re querying per her instructions this doesn’t apply to you so stop yelling at me!)

Last thing: I don’t respond if I’m not going to review something. I used to, but now I get too many submissions. I’d be writing, “I’m sorry, but…” emails all day if I replied to everyone. SO, if you haven’t heard from me and it’s been a couple of weeks since you queried, that’s me passing. It could be because your query was a catastrophe or it could just be because I don’t have much time and I can’t accept everything that comes my way.

Keep writing. Keep getting better.

</rant>

 

Taking Stock — An End-of-Year Post

Hello reading lovelies!

As Christmas nears and New Year’s looms, I’m left reflecting on the year’s reading.

I started 2017, as I always do, with a very ambitious reading goal of 50 books + finishing the 2017 Read Harder Challenge. And, as I always do, I gave up somewhere along the way. Ah, well! 😀

In November, ten books behind, I decided to change my goal to 40 books — much more manageable. But now I’m looking at this Read Harder list. I was supposed to read 24 books, each with a different, potentially challenging, requirement. Here’s the list:

  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  12. Read a fantasy novel.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel.
  21. Read a book published by a micropress.
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

Whew!!!!

It’s quite an ambitious list — especially that micropress one. I didn’t even know what that was before this challenge. Anyhoo, as it always does, the Read Harder Challenge got me out of my comfort zone. I typically read A LOT of YA and fantasy, and while the list did allow me to read in those genres, I mostly had to read things I would never have picked up otherwise. Which, of course, is the whole point! I managed to read 17 of the 24 (one of those was a double-up, which, per the rules, is acceptable. Thanks, Harry!).

FullSizeRender

I just could not get through that sports book. Blech! I was ridiculously bored from page one. I’m sad I didn’t get to a few of my other choices, especially Lizard Radio and Interpreter of Maladies. I simply ran out of time. I know there are a couple of weeks left in December, but I have two indie novels I need to finish up and review, so it is unlikely I will have time to finish the challenge books in 2017. Maybe next year.

Probably for the first time in my life, I’m not mad at myself for not finishing this thing I set out to do. I did what I could, and I got to read a lot of really great books I probably would have passed over if it weren’t for this challenge. I don’t know if it’s the whole being-in-my-thirties thing or if I’ve finally accepted I’m not superhuman, or what, but I’m giving myself a pass for not being able to do it all.

I’m excited to see what Book Riot comes up with for the about the 2018 challenge. I may participate, I may not. I haven’t decided yet. What I do know, is I will be reading a ton of books next year, and enjoying every minute of it.

Life is so short you guys! Don’t waste it doing things you don’t love, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always finish the things you set out to do.

Much love to you all, and, as always, happy reading!

xoxo, Raeleigh