book talk, spoiler free

Harley in the Sky Cover Reveal

It’s been SO difficult to keep this secret the past couple of weeks but as a member of the Harley in the Sky Street Team I was lucky enough to see the cover for Akemi’s newest novel a little earlier and I’ve been in love with it ever since! Harley in the Sky is the next book out by author Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue follows a multiracial teenage girl who dreams of quitting school to become a trapeze artist in her parents’ Las Vegas circus, against their wishes, prompting her to join a rival circus. There, she grows close to a handsome musician and performer—while untangling her family’s complicated past and present.

Would you like to see the cover?

 

 

Are you sure?

 

 

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I love the mix of yellow and bronze, the silhouetted figure, that absolutely gorgeous font and the beautiful stylised pattern in the background that just SCREAMS circus tent to me. You can add Harley in the Sky to your want to read on Goodreads RIGHT NOW. 

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

Summer Bird Blue – Blog Tour

35716237.jpgSummer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Rating: XXXX

Published: April 4th by Ink Road

“Becasue it turns out music isn’t just keeping me alive – It’s keeping Lea alive too.”

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying. What to eat, where to go, who to love. But one thing she is sure of she wants to spend her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea. Then Lea dies in a car accident, and Rumi is sent to live with her aunt in Hawaii. Now, miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, feeling abandoned by her mother, and the aching absence of music. With the help of the “boys next door” teenage surfer Kai, who doesn’t take anything too seriously, and old George Watanabe, who succumbed to grief years ago Rumi seeks her way back to music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish. With unflinching honesty, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.

After reading and falling in love with Starfish and Akemi’s writing last year I have been SO excited to read her newest book Summer Bird Blue, the story of Rumi Seto grieving for her sister and trying to navigate her feelings and learning how to live her life again. I know I always mention this, but I don’t read a lot of contemporary books and was more than happy to break out of my norm to read this. I was lucky enough to be gifted an early finished copy from the lovely people at Ink Road Books and invited to take part in the blog tour 💙

I decided as this is a blog tour post I would spice it up a little so before we get to my review I want to play a little game. In Summer Bird Blue Rumi and Lea love to write songs together so I’m going to show you how to create your own using a book!

1. Pick your favourite book OR count along your bookcase or e-reader library etc until you get to your age and pick the book you finish on. I’m going to use Summer Bird Blue.

2. Take that book and look at the blurb and note down the word of the first three sentences or close your eyes and pick three words at random. This is the title of your song. (If there is no blurb then you can use the first three chapter names or three words to describe the cover perhaps?)

3. Next use your date of birth to choose which pages you’ll use to hunt for song lyrics. You can pick any two lines from each page or the first and last. I.e for me, my birthday is 25/12/1988 so I would use pages, 25, 12, 19 and 88. (Edit: page 12 is blank so going to pick the closest one with words)

4. Write them down in any order you like, it can make as much or as little sense as you like.

5. Your song is now complete! What kind of song do you think it is? A rock ballad? A punk-pop hit? Maybe it has a country feel to it? Let me know in the comments of you try it out! You can check mine about below:

Help Grief Sister

“Happy Birthday,” I say
The only thing dark in Hawaii is me
I feel like I hate everyone
A wish is a wish after all
I’ll never be able to reach her, not really
I’m not sure I understand what any of it means
I almost forgot what this felt like – to be lost in the music
“Is she going to stop?” I ask.

Summer Bird Blue is a powerfully evocative, intensely beautiful and heartbreaking story. At its core it feels a little like a coming of age over the summer kind of story but is so much more and although I am fortunate enough to be unable to imagine anything close to the all-consuming guilt Rumi feels and therefore cannot comment much on the accuracy of those emotions I feel like there are messages throughout this book for everyone, whether they have lost someone or not. It teaches a lot about grief but also mental health, confidence in yourself and others, identity (sexuality or otherwise) and feeling comfortable in your own skin as well as being able to let yourself rely on others and being there for them in return not to mention family, the good and the bad.

Akemi has absolutely hit the nail on the head with her second novel, it’s a brilliant mix of heartbreak and hope. I cried at this book a lot and in under ten pages – this book does not pull its punches. But although I can remember each and every moment that made me cry and hurt for Rumi and her family I can remember so much happiness too. There are some fantastic, organic moments throughout the book that just make it feel so real and make you really remember the good moments in spite of the painful ones and I think it’s an amazing parallel to a great approach to life, things can be bad and painful but we can’t let ourselves forget the good too.

Every single character in this book is memorable and I love them all. Kai is the most perfect male character I think I have ever read. I’m not saying he’s perfect because he’s gorgeous and can do no wrong, he feels perfect because he is flawed and he has problems like we all do and he doesn’t always deal with them in the best ways but that is life and I love him so much. I also love Mr Watanabe, who again I love more because of his flaws, he is quite possibly my favourite character in this book and maybe in any contemporary book I’ve ever read, he is an absolute gem. I also learnt about Hawaiin pidgin which a lot of the Hawaiin characters speak, first of all, I thought it was a written as it sounds accent kind of thing but then looked into further and realised it was its own language of sorts. I stumbled over reading it to begin with but it quickly became second nature and I really loved it.

Considering a fair amount of this book, especially the first half, is rather internal it moves really well. The internal parts are often scattered with memories of Rumi and her sister which helps to break it up some and everything else just moves in such a way that it feels really balanced. I found it really hard to put this book down and read it in about two days which is pretty fast for me and the poor book suffered from spine wrinkles which from me is a sign of an enjoyed book. I feel like I’ve been on holiday to Hawaii for the past five weeks and learned some important life lessons, I think this is definitely a book I’ll revisit in the summer.

Thank you so much to Ink Road books for my gifted early copy in exchange for an honest review and for having me on today’s stop for the blog tour! I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and if you’d like to check out more stops on the tour you can find them all in the graphic below!

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#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Debut books and authors

Honestly, how is it still March? I feel like this month has been ending for months and now we’re finally here with an ode to Debut books and authors. Thank you so much, as always to Steph at A Little But a Lot for the Six for Sunday prompts and happy it’s almost April folks.

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I had missed most of the hype train that preempted Caraval releasing as I had only dipped my toe back in reading YA at this point and hadn’t even considered blogging again yet but was pleased when I found it in my Fairyloot box for the month after having it recommended to me by a bookseller at Waterstones Picadilly while visiting with a friend. I read it in just over twenty-four hours, which for me was unheard of at this point and I just couldn’t put it down. I loved the mystery, the strange setting of the Caraval and the shady story of Legend. I’m sorry to say I have yet to read Legendary despite buying it on release, I think maybe I’m worried I won’t like it as much as the first?

2. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I know this is one of the books I almost always mention but it is one of my favourite debut books and As a result, is now one of my instabuy authors. (Keep an eye out for my Summer Bird Blue review coming Monday 8th April)

3. The Near Witch by V.E Schwab
I’m gutted I didn’t have a chance to read this when it first debuted but so glad I got the opportunity to read it on its rerelease. This book is super spooky and perfectly witchy, a fantastic debut for Schwab’s distinctive style.

4. A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Another of my most anticipated releases to come this year, I was lucky enough to receive a super early ARC at YALC last year and this murder mystery with a dark turn is a must read, it’s full of great tense moments and really keeps you guessing. (Review to come in May closer to release).

5. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
I had expected to like this book because kick-ass girl and dragons but I absolutely ADORED it, another debut that has made this author an instabuy name for me. Before this book, I had grown a little bored of fantasy but The Last Namsara felt like it really gave the genre new life for me.

6.The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
Another book I don’t often stop talking about, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a brilliantly funny and thought-provoking book that really challenges a lot of norms in our society while being fantastically witty and an absolute dream to read. I’m desperate to read the sequel, “A girl called Shameless” which is out now!

 

 

Events

Sunday YA Chat Summer Secret Santa Exchange

Earlier this year those of us who regularly take part in the Sunday YA chat on Twitter created a chat group just for us to chat throughout the rest of the week when we’re not doing SundayYA and it’s been amazing! Its spawned a lot of other chats and has really helped me to feel like a part of the YA and blogger community this year, I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made through it. Mols (@Bibookishbabe) decided to get us all together for a Bookish Summer Secret Santa exchange just before YALC and it was SO much fun being paired up and trying to work out what to get for our Partners!

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I found out me and my partner both love Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman so I decided to ask Jenn (@JennieLy) from Literary Galaxy (@LiteraryGalaxy) to help me out in creating a special Starfish themed bookmark and I loved the finished product so much I may have had to order myself one as well…

As for the book I had chosen to get a copy of Floored as they had done such a brilliant post for the blog tour and had asked for a copy to get signed at YALC. I got everything together but a couple of bits took a little longer to arrive and by the time I had all the bits it was the day before YALC! I had to message my partner in the end and come clean that I was their partner so I could meet up with them at YALC to make sure they got their book on time!

In a funny turn of events it turned out not only did we have a fair bit in common with our book tastes, YALC schedule etc but she was also the one sending to me as well and when I got home from YALC Friday evening I found a box full of wrapped goodies waiting for me!!

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I was completely blown away by the goodies picked out by my swap partner! We’d been asked to give a rough idea of what kinds of books etc that we liked and my partner got it spot on with their choices which I cannot wait to read! They were so perfect it actually made me well up a little at the thought that went into this (Chris was rather confused that I was hugging books but chalked it up to it being YALC weekend an all), not to mention all the other amazing things in my box! (Ravenclaw badge, pin from one of my favourite pin suppliers, black kitty post it notes, owl bookmark AND sweets) I got so lucky ❤

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So thank you so much to my Summer Secret Santa and to Mols for setting this all up! I can’t wait to do it all over again in December!

Events

Day Three YALC Recap

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YALC Day three recap is here! After the huge post from yesterday you’ll be pleased to know Sunday was a much quieter, much less hectic day. I got a lift up with some “non bookish” friends I’d persuaded to join me for LFCC which was fun, even if we did have to take some detours >.< For the most part though the journey was pretty good and not too stressful. I popped upstairs to YALC first for a flying visit as Harper were holding a raffle for unbound proofs of Shadow of the Fox, I waited with Kirsty and was surprised to find out I had actually won a copy! As today was pretty relaxed we had a good look around at the LFCC floors which were much less crowded and stressful then I remember them being last year which was great because I got to pay a visit to my favourite stand at any convention, the lovely people at Cake in a Jar! They’ve just changed their cake recipes so that they’re now plant-based and Vegan friendly, not to mention still delicious ❤ They did so well they sold out twice and I’m so glad I managed to grab a couple of their yummy cakes!

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After a wander around I decided to head up for the Vampire Talk with Paul Wesley and Daniel Giles, I hoped if I got there in good time I might get an okay seat but nearly had a heart attack when I saw the length of the line already. I started to forget getting a good seat and become worried I wouldn’t get one at all. The line was HUGE and spanned a whole side of the gallery. I’d seen the size of the talks area and I had no idea how they planned to fit us all in. My friend spoke to some of the Showmasters crew who told her that they don’t sell more tickets than seats but I didn’t find myself convinced. Eventually the line started to move very slowly and I was horrified that by the time I got to the front of the line the talk had ALREADY STARTED! I was SO angry that I’d paid for this talk and missed almost half of it already! I will say that thankfully what I did see of the talk was FANTASTIC, Paul and Daniel had such great chemistry together and it was a laugh a minute to the point where I’d almost forgotten my annoyance. I did manage to get a seat in the end but only through complete luck as there were a few single seats left but a lot of people were left standing. I really think Showmasters need to think this through in future and maybe get people in and seated much earlier to avoid this in future.

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Next up I rushed back up to the YALC floor for the Akemi Dawn Bowman signing, I had really wanted to make the talk she was in but with getting through the large crowd forming upstairs for some of the big photo ops I just didn’t make it in time. I did manage to find an excited/slightly nervous Charlotte and Lydia in the signing queue which was lovely because I was a bit nervous myself!

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know how I feel about Starfish and I wanted to try to tell Akemi how much her book meant to me. After mocking Charlotte a little for having actual feelings (love you really!) I ended up being the one getting a little bit teary! Meeting Akemi was absolutely lovely and I’m so excited for her new book Summer Bird Blue coming to the UK next year.

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With most of my to do a list for the weekend now over with I took the time to sit and relax with my friends for a bit, we took a picture in front of this years book wall later on we managed to see Jason Momoa walk past multiple times as well as quite a few other people which was pretty cool.

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I went for a bit of a last walk around YALC towards the end of the day and spotted Holly Jackson (author of A Good Girls Guide to Murder, who thanks to Charlotte I’ve come to know as Murder Lady >.<) sitting in the Book of Dust canoe. After speaking to her when Charlotte won a proof Saturday I became really interested in her book and she was pretty awesome to talk to, she’d signed a sampler for me already but I headed over to say hi and she told me she was hiding. Electronic Monkey have been doing a proof giveaway for her book where if you find Holly during certain times she’ll give you a numbered ticket and if you’re ticket matches a proof at their stand you win it! I’d tried Friday and Saturday but hadn’t thought about it on Sunday so when I realised what she meant I asked if it was okay to have a ticket. I’d seen the poor woman get pretty much mobbed on Saturday so didn’t want to seem like I’d just come over for that but seemed pretty pleased to give me one which was lovely. Once I had my ticket the flood gates seemed to open and the masses descended, I thanked her, waved and got out-of-the-way. A little later on once the crowd around the stand had died off I headed over and it turned out I had managed to win a copy of A Good Girls Guide to Murder After talking to Holly I had gotten SO excited for this book so I may have jumped up and down a little bit!

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My new friend from the Sunday YA chat who I’d been hanging out with a bit at YALC who was also excited for the book won one as well which was brilliant as now I could talk to her and Charlotte about the book which is always a bonus!

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Holly was super sweet and signed my book while we had a great chat and then posed for a picture with me and the book. Honestly I think this may have been the highlight of my day! A Good Girls Guide to Murder is next on my TBR and I’m SO EXCITED for it! Not to mention I love (although I’m sure will hate when I get to it) that the publishers ripped out the last few chapters of the book and left a note blaming the murderer at the back with an email we could contact for the last few chapters! I think it’s such a great idea and a really fun little quirk which makes it feel even more special, this was absolutely my favourite ARC I got over the YALC weekend.

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With that and my friends photo shoots done we decided to call it a day and head off. The journey back was a lot smoother and after all agreeing we were hungry and in dire need of chicken nuggets we headed to McDonalds for what was dubbed “Nugfest18”

Although there were definitely some issues over the weekend I had a great time and two weeks later I’m still enjoying reminiscing about the fantastic three days I had. Overall I think a lot of aspects were much better than they had been the year before and I hope they can continue to improve. I hope everyone else had a great time and feel free to drop me links to your YALC blogs in the comments because I’m loving looking back at it all. I’ll be back with my review of The Last Beginning by Lauren James Tuesday so I’ll talk to you all then!

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book reviews, book talk, spoiler free

Starfish Review

29456598Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Published: April 5th 2018 By Ink Road

Rating: XXXXX

“Beauty isn’t a single thing. Beauty is dreaming一it’s different for everyone, and there are so many versions of it that you mostly have no control over how you see it”
Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

This book has a gorgeous cover. That was my first thought when I saw Starfish on NetGalley a little while back, I had a quick glance at it, realised it was contemporary and I already had a mound of books to get through and moved on. A month or so later I came across the author on Twitter and I thought she was (and still is) lovely and that I would share her promoting posts etc because although this book wasn’t for me I wanted it to do well. A few weeks before it’s release Zoe from NoSaferPlace posted a quote from the book about anxiety at a party and it resonated so much with me that I immediately went back to NetGalley and requested it. My request was approved and I devoured this book over the course of a few days and I think it may be the most important book I have ever read.
This book touches on so many subjects, mental health, emotional and sexual abuse, divorce, beauty ideals, racial discrimination, family issues, suicide and the terrifying feeling that you have no idea what to do with your life when things don’t go how planned. I honestly don’t know how to describe the emotion this incredible book is filled with, it manages to somehow be so tender and painfully raw at the same time. Kiko is a character I think a lot of young people (and like myself, not so young) can relate to today for one reason or another and she’s  such an easier character to empathise with because of that.
The writing is a joy to read, it feels like Akemi seems to be able to pluck these emotions right out of our souls and paint them onto the page in the form of words. I laughed, I cried, I was devastated, shocked and proud throughout this book, it completely sucked me in and I was there right along side Kiko watching her learn and grow and I felt like I was learning and growing too. Kiko is a great example of when we know we’re doing something that is detrimental to our health or isn’t good for us but we can’t stop because we rely on it and watching her learn to be strong and do things for herself was eye-opening and heart warming. It made me want to be a better person.
The story itself is balanced well, it doesn’t drown out the important thoughts and choices Kiko has but still keeps everything moving and interesting. There are some great twists and turns hidden away in this beautiful unassuming book with a perfect ending for a stand alone novel. There aren’t many books now days that I will reread, no matter how good they are but this feels like a book I’m going to read every once in a while to remind me of all the lessons is teaches. This has been a hard book to review because it’s one that has felt so important to me and I’ve had trouble trying to find a way to put how I feel about it into words so I’ll close with a few of my favourite quotes
“Beauty isn’t a single thing. Beauty is dreamingit’s different for everyone, and there are so many versions of it that you mostly have no control over how you see it”
“We all have to dream our own dreams. We only get one life to live—live it for yourself, not anyone else.”
“I’ve always felt like I desperately needed to say my feelings out loud – to form the words and get them out of me, because they’ve always felt like dark clouds in my head that contaminate everything around them.”
“I draw a girl without a face, drawing somebody else’s face onto her own reflection.”