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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Blog Tour & Review: "Ace of Shades" by Amanda Foody

I've been dying to read Amanda's Ace of Shades ever since I heard of her debut novel, Daughter of the Burning City. Getting to be on a Blog Tour for a book that I (spoiler) LOVED, is such a pleasure. So, welcome to the ACE OF SHADES Blog Tour Day One, read a little and let me know if you're as big of a fan as I am now...

Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)
Author: Amanda Foody
Published: May 17th, 2018
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I received this ARC in exchange for an impartial review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.

First Thoughts...

Ace of Shades was all over my Instagram, my everything for so long, that I was painfully anticipating getting to hold it in my hands for myself. I thought I'd have to wait until release day with the huge following of Amanda's books, but when HQ YA offered a Blog Tour slot, I jumped, of course. It was never even a question! I started reading this as an eBook and then finished off with the Paperback after it arrived following the Bank Holiday mail delay (can we just have mail every day?!).

My Review...

I haven't read a book quite like this in a very long time, so getting into the Fantasy landscape, introductions to the characters and rules of this new world, took some time. But in that time, I had been pulled into the pages and absorbed by the intricate plot that Amanda had woven ahead of me. Enne, our main character, is what I'd call a proper character, aka totally fancy. She's straight-laced, knows what she's doing, is more or less a lady in all senses. So she shouldn't be in New Reynes, right? It's the City of Sin, so no lady would be there just for the heck of it. But she's on a mission. Her mother has gone missing, and after the allotted time of her anticipated return passes by, Enne knows she has to find her, one way or another. 
But her journey leads her to Levi Glaisyer, a street lord and all-round con man, far from the people she's used to surrounding herself with. Still, they find that they're each other's only hope, sort of. Levi is in a pickle himself, as well, and helping Enne could reimburse him to solve his own problem. But the journey of delving into Enne's mother's disappearance is far from easy, and it's rocky at best. Glamour masqueraded casinos, still cut-throat and on the verge of enemies, their search leads them to an incredible secret that shocks Enne's world to the core, unveiling a piece of herself she didn't know existed. Levi still can't stay out of trouble, though, and it's up to Enne to sacrifice herself and her values to save him and regain the upper hand in the City of Sin.
Overall, Ace of Shades is a rule-breaking, fast-paced read with killer instincts and lively characters, set against a backdrop I could picture and sense from the get-go. Amanda has written such a detailed, gripping YA novel that I just know is going to be loved by every reader it makes a home with. Huge, huge love for this novel. Consider me a newfound fan and anticipating the next installment with an edge-of-my-seat awaiting move. Five stars! What else would I give it?!

You can buy ACE OF SHADES:

Have you read Ace of Shades? Are you looking forward to it?

Check out the other tour dates today and let me know in the comments!

happy reading!
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Sunday, 6 May 2018
Blog Tour & Guest Post: "The Girl In The Broken Mirror" by Savita Kalhan (No Spoilers)

Hello, book lovers! I am so honored to bring you The Girl In The Broken Mirror today. I devoured this book entirely and there's no doubt in my mind you're going to feel the same way. Today on Savita's blog tour, I'll be reviewing the book and sharing a playlist!

Title: The Girl In The Broken Mirror
Author: Savita Kalhan
Published: March 29th, 2018
Publisher: Troika
Rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I received this ARC in exchange for an impartial review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.
Jay's creative writing exercise is to write a fairy tale, to end with they lived happily ever after.
But the way her life is panning out she’s not sure it will ever reach that stage. She and her mother are moving in with distant relatives, and they have super strict rules for girls. Jay is expected to have only Indian friends, if she has any at all. How can she see her school friends, Chloe and Matt? But this is only the beginning of a nightmare for Jay.
When her life implodes, how can she hide the shame and how will she find a way to keep going?

First Thoughts...

When Savita reached out to me with her book, I just couldn't take my eyes off it. I saw the words Harrowing and Touching on the cover, and that just makes me FEEL like I'm in the book. These certain keywords lure me into the book, because who doesn't love a book that makes your heart feel it?

My Review...

Spoiler free. Just a few pages in, and I'm hooked. No. I mean it! I sat down to read The Girl In The Broken Mirror a little after it arrived on my doorstep and opened the cover for a little while and the rest is history. Jay's perspective is so clear-cut, so vivid and open, I felt like she was talking to me. The book deals with some heavy topics, including Rape, and I think that Savita dealt with these topics about shame, finding a place in this world and trusting others, with such grace and delicate consideration.
Jay, our main character, gets a creative writing assignment to write a fairytale, you know, with the whole happy-ever-after and etc. But the thing is, Jay can't imagine it. Her life isn't what she wants it to be, feeling overshadowed by what her Mother thinks her life should be. When they move in with distant relatives, it's worse. They're strict, especially when it comes to girls. She's not supposed to have any friends that aren't Indian, but that doesn't stop her from wanting to be with her school friends, Matt and Chloe. Her life starts to spiral after events that halt her existence, and she's forced to watch her life implode, while trying to gather the courage to move forward.
Overall, The Girl In The Broken Mirror was a breathtaking YA novel with so. much. emotion. I found myself tearing up for Jay, her story tugging at my heartstrings. I'm actually at such a loss for words. I've recommended this book to three of my friends so far, and I don't just hand out recommendations like it's nothing. If I say it's good, I mean it, it's that good. Savita has quickly climbed a list of Authors to Watch for me, and I can't wait to see what she writes next. Huge five-star novel.

About The Author:

Savita Kalhan was born in India, but now lives in the UK and studied at the University of Wales. She has travelled extensively, and lived in the Middle East for several years, where she taught English. She is keen on tennis, boxing and running. She is an avid allotmenteer and somehow manages to fit in some writing, reading and blogging too! She now lives in North London with her husband, her son, and her lion of a cat, Marley.

Her new YA book - The Girl in the Broken Mirror will be published on May 1st by Troika Books

Soundtrack to The Girl in the Broken Mirror

Hi Becca, thank you for inviting me on your blog today! It’s so exciting to be here, to have a book out there in the world, in readers’ hands! And to top it – I got to compile the soundtrack for it, too. So here it is - the soundtrack to The Girl in the Broken Mirror. It’s a mix of songs that feature in the book, and songs that Jay loves, her parents used to play, and the music played at her uncle’s party.
Have a listen and then when you get to the end, you’ll see I’ve set a little challenge for you all. . . I’ll give you a clue: it’s about Matt, Jay’s best friend in the book.

I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free by Nina Simone
Jay loves Nina Simone because it reminds her of her dad, who died almost three years ago. She plays I Wish I Would Know How it Feels to be Free when she’s trying to do her English homework – a creative writing essay with the title – ‘Once Upon a Time...’

Rolling in the Deep by Adele
Jay loves Adele. If she was allowed to go to a concert, she would go and see Adele sing live in a heartbeat. She blasts this song out loud on top volume after her mum has given her the terrible news that they are moving in with her uncle and aunty in 42 Primrose Avenue. Jay knows her life is about to change forever – and not in a good way. Her aunty is super-strict and very traditional, which for Jay spells bad news. She’s about to lose all her freedom.

1942 A Love Story. This song is considered to be one of the most romantic love songs in Bollywood. It was Jay’s parents’ song. Jay’s mum Neela doesn’t play it after her husband’s death because it brings back too many memories of her husband, of the time when she was the happiest.

The Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, from the soundtrack of Rocky. Deven plays this song when he is working out in the gym. It’s a favourite amongst some Asian men. It’s not mine! In fact I don’t like it all.

Jai Ho by A R Rahman. Since the release of Slumdog Millionaire, this song has become iconic. It’s played at most parties and weddings, and has everyone on their feet.

Apna Punjab Hove by Gurdas Maan. This is classic Punjabi Bhangra music.

Thori Thori by PBN and Raj Bains – the boys always hit the dance floor when this is played!

Someone Like You by Adele. The ultimate break-up song. If Jay was playing music when she saw Matt and Chloe together, this is the song she would have played.

Anywhere by Rita Ora. Sitting in the basement room of No.42 Primrose Avenue, this is the song that Jay thinks of as her and Matt’s song as she dreams of a living far away, living a different life.

Here’s the challenge to all your readers – what would Matt’s top five songs be? If you’ve read the book then you’ll know what Matt’s like, but basically, he’s pretty cool!

I’d love to hear of any other songs that your readers think would fit in with the book?

Please write them in the comments section below – or tweet me @savitakalhan with the hashtag #thegirlinthebrokenmirror #mattssongs.

Becca, thank you so much for having me here – it’s been so much fun! I hope you all love the book!

It's been amazing! Have you read The Girl In The Broken Mirror? 

Let me know in the comments, or join in the conversation on Twitter!

          happy reading!     
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Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Blog Tour & Review: "The Leavers" by Lisa Ko

Title: The Leavers
Author: Lisa Ko
Published: April 26th, 2018
Publisher: Dialogue Books
Rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I received this ARC in exchange for an impartial review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Add To Goodreads
Winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction.
One morning, Deming Guo's mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon - and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he's ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents' desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It's a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

First Thoughts...

I don't typically read books in the same genre as The Leavers, but lately I've been loving testing out different genres within the Adult and YA world and getting to have a fresh perspective on a new favourite or maybe, stumble upon something I wouldn't have read in the first place. When I was offered the chance to be on the tour, I jumped at the chance. I love getting to celebrate an authors hard work and spread the word when I've loved a book. And did I love The Leavers? Read below to find out... (hint: it's good news)

My Review...

One morning, when Deming Guo's mother, who is a Chinese immigrant and also happens to be undocumented, goes to work, she never returns and can't be found anywhere. He feels lost in a world where his Mother isn't in it. She's the only person he's been that close to, and without her, the pang of loneliness kicks in from the get-go. He doesn't understand why she's left, so he tries to change himself, hoping she'll return...but she never does. In her absence when the people that Deming and Polly, his mother, lived with, can't look after him anymore, he is renamed Daniel Wilkinson and adopted by two white-American professors, moving from the Bronx to a town upstate. He's only human, but he understands the world around him far better than his Mother, Polly. She was alone when she came to America with her son, and in a world where he understands it more than her, she's lost as well. Deming thrives in a way that she struggles to in a new country, and the two stories that The Leavers weaves for us couldn't be more different and alike at the same time.
I was stunned by just how fast I turned the pages of The Leavers. I didn't think I'd connect with the characters because of our vast differences in age and upbringing, but somehow, I felt a part of myself resonate with them so clearly through the pages. The pain of not fitting in, of having to sacrifice a part of yourself and the sense of trying to find a place you belong in a big world...I nodded so many times and felt myself feel for the characters.
Overall, The Leavers is more than a novel. It's a gem. It's a story of loss, love, belonging, loneliness, family and borders. There's so much beneath the surface of pain and love, from the backstory of Polly to the current day of Daniel. Lisa has written a rare find that I absolutely loved. This will tug at your heartstrings all day long. Huge four stars!

Have you read The Leavers?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter using the hashtag #TheLeaversTour! 

happy reading!

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Saturday, 21 April 2018
Weekend Whispers: Self-Care & Tips

I know what you're thinking. Becca is doing another meme on her blog? Yes, but for a good, really good, reason. It occured to me while I was reading my millionth book this week that I don't take enough time to care about me. Or my needs or what I want to do. And I think that a lot of people are in my shoes, too. We care so deeply about others and making our careers, social lives and relationships so bright and beaming that we forget about little old us.
So I've made this new meme, WEEKEND WHISPERS, just for you. For me. For anyone who needs it. Every weekend (or every other, I haven't decided yet) I'll write a blog post about self care, tips and tricks and hopefully some things that will help you to take a moment to breathe and do something for you.

1. Take A Moment

It isn't as simple as it would look. Sometimes it's really hard to get a few moments to yourself in the day to relax. But I can't stress how important this is. You might think that ten minutes in a day isn't enough, but sometimes it's all you need to recharge your system. I like to do this midday on the weekends or before bed in the week. Here's what I do:

Put in your headphones (distracts from noises, blocks out world). Play your favourite instrumental piece of music (something calming and resolute). Lay down (or sit) and close your eyes. Breathe in for four seconds and out for seven. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
You can set a timer on your phone or an egg timer to have a set amount of time, but I take roughly around ten minutes (or more or less if I think I need it).
When you're finished, take a few deep breaths to reintroduce yourself to the world.  Know that your mind is refreshed, your body is recharged and you're calm. 

2. Delete

When your mind is busy, your subconscious always eager to get on social media and keep up with trends, you can start to feel a little deflated. Social Media can have that affect on you hugely. There's competition, the need to keep up, replying to can get stressful. So once a day, or whenever you feel like it's needed, pretend that you've deleted your accounts. I know, shocker. I'd probably lose it if I had to actually delete them. But if you pretend that social media doesn't exist, that there's no need to tweet or take gain something called freedom. Ditch your phone, take a walk outside (while it's still sunny out there) and just be. I know it's hard. I really struggle to do this sometimes but it's so needed! I can't recommend this tip enough. I usually do a two-hour detox from social media around 6-7pm to 8-9pm, just to give myself a breather. I think I'd struggle without that slice of freedom from the social norms. 

3. Vent 

It's debatable, but venting? It's pretty much the only thing that will unload all of that stress that the day can put on you. There's a few ways you can deal with venting. Some people like to write it in their journals, write it on paper and then burn it, tell their troubles to someone in their lives that they can trust and vent to. But the majority of people actually don't vent at all. They keep all that tension pent up in their system and it's bound to unleash on a poor soul who gets on your nerves. The best way to avoid a massive blow-out, is to pick a way to vent. I've tried talking it out but honestly, that only works for me some of the time. I like to write anything that has stressed me on a little notepad (it doesn't matter what it is, just some lined paper and a good pen) and write away my troubles. I don't look back on them (you should never look back on things that have stressed you out because they're bound to return if you do) so they end up in a neat little notepad I can throw out at the end of the year or stash at the back of my desk. 
What's your favourite way to vent? If you have a different suggestion, let me know in the comments or via my Contact Me page! I'm always looking for new ways to unleash your stress responsibly. 

4. Don't be too hard on yourself

Real talk time: I have CFS/ME. If you don't know what it is, that's okay! Not a lot of people do. You can read all about it here. It's basically something that I've had since I was around fourteen years old. It affects my immune system, my whole body and my brain. For the most part, I can live a normal life. But I have severe pain and sometimes memory problems that can push my limits. But within myself, I really want to just be normal. I'm not saying that I'm not "normal" or that anyone with a condition isn't normal. But you know what I mean. I want to be ordinary, live a pain-free life. And sometimes I can be really hard on myself, when in reality, I can take it slow. I can go easy on myself because I'm only human. I know that everyone can feel this way sometimes. Like you've beaten yourself down...but you don't have to be hard on yourself. Trust me. You're doing great. You have people that love you and I promise, if you're going through something, there is brighter things coming for you. Don't be hard on yourself, because you're pretty darn magical.

5. Self care is important

Whether it's painting your nails, watching Netflix, listening to music, baking, reading...self-care is important. You could start a bucket list, lay on the grass and watch the sky, talk to a friend for hours on the phone about old times. Whatever feels to you like taking care of yourself, then that is self-care. It's important to take self-care seriously. It's totally valid to have a hard time doing it, but it's worth it, by making yourself happy. 
To celebrate self-care and putting you first, I'm giving away a self-care kit full of happy items and things that you would love. If you'd like to be in with a chance, just fill in this form below and tell me about you. I can then personalize your self-care kit if you win! This will end in May (around the middle) and is open Internationally. Click HERE to enter.

Happy Saturday. Don't forget to take care of yourself, today.

happy weekend!
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Thursday, 19 April 2018
Book Review: "A Thousand Perfect Notes" by C.G.Drews
Title: A Thousand Perfect Notes
Author: C.G.Drews
Published: June 7th, 2018
Publisher: Orchard Books
Rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I received this ARC in exchange for an impartial review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Add To Goodreads

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.
Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music - because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.
When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

First Thoughts...

I was so freaking excited to read A Thousand Perfect Notes that I actally asked BKMRK for an ARC. I'm pretty sure I did a happy dance when they said yes! Cait has long been one of the best bloggers I know and her tweets are literally *exactly* how I'm feeling 100% of the time. She just gets it, you know? If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out her perfect tweets right here. 

My Review...

The story in itself is quite unique. Beck is this painfully beautiful character created by Cait, who pretty much hates his life. But more importantly, his evil mother. She's violent and aggressive and makes him play the piano for hours on end until the cycle repeats, and he hates his life over and over again. His mother can no longer seek her own dreams of playing the piano, since illness has struck her career down the drain, but she was once world renowned for her talents. So the energy that she has, that passion for playing, she's forced on her son, Beck. I truly felt for his character, having to suffer in the shadow of his mother. All he wants is to compose his own music, but even the minor mention of doing so is ended with clap-back from his mother, often violently and hurtfully. Throw in the fact that he wants to protect his younger sister from secondhand violence, and you have a reason for Beck to continue the torturous playing over again.
Beck soon meets August (can I just say, I ship these two SO MUCH, it's insane!), a girl with this spark that follows her wherever she goes. She's got this special kind of soul, full of smiles and love and something within her dwells perfectly with Beck. Her family needed more scenes! I truly, truly loved how their kindness was the complete opposite of Beck's family. The more time he spends with August, the spark between them developing into a loving bond, the more he can finally see a future without his Mother's violence ruling his life with an iron fist. The romance is slow-burn, but I mean, that slow-burn could light up fireflies. It's so precious and just effortless.
Overall, A Thousand Perfect Notes is in a word, perfect. Everything boils down to an epic finale and it really surprised me! I didn't see it ending in that way...or that conclusion, but it makes sense. It makes perfect sense. The musically-fueled pain reeled me in, but the healing when Beck met August kept me reading, turning the pages faster than I could blink. I was in awe at just how beautiful Cait has made these characters and made me connect on such a deep level to them, Beck especially. This beauty isn't out until June, but ohmygosh, if you don't read this when it's out: you're missing out on one perfect note of a story (couldn't help the pun). Five cats!

Have you heard of A Thousand Perfect Notes or read it?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments, on twitter @LittleMemoirs or on Facebook!

happy reading!
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Rating System

5 Cats: An incredible novel all round!

4 Cats: Amazing. Really enjoyed it!

3 Cats: It was a good read, but maybe it's not my type.

2 Cats: I just couldn't connect with it.

1 Cat: Couldn't finish completely. Borrow instead.

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