Time Traveling With a Hamster Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Time Traveling With a Hamster by Ross Welford

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Rated: MG 12+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Back to the Future meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in this original, poignant, race-against-time story about a boy who travels back to 1984 to save his father’s life.

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine and again four years later, when he was twelve. On his twelfth birthday, Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead father. It directs him to the bunker of their old house, where Al finds a time machine (an ancient computer and a tin bucket). The letter also outlines a mission: travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that will eventually take his father’s life. But as Al soon discovers, whizzing back thirty years requires not only imagination and courage, but also lying to your mom, stealing a moped, and setting your school on fire—oh, and keeping your pet hamster safe. With a literary edge and tons of commercial appeal, this incredible debut has it all: heart, humor, vividly imagined characters, and a pitch-perfect voice.

I love stories about time travel. I love theories that involve time travel. Stuff I can't understand, but stuff that sounds absolutely fascinating. When I got the chance to be part of the blog tour for Time Traveling With a Hamster, I had two reactions:

1) TIME TRAVEL! YAY!
2) A hamster? What????

So of course I naturally had to pick this one up and see for myself. It was a lot longer than I expected, but I really enjoyed this one!

Yay for diversity! I'm loving the growth of diversity of middle grade fiction, because it's a beautiful thing that children should learn about when they're younger. Anyway, I totally didn't know this one was set in the UK either! I mean, it only kind of hit me when they started talking about Geordie accents. Our main character, Al (short for Albert) is half-Indian, half-Scottish. I loved the infusion of Indian culture into British life–there was something quite familiar about it, and I enjoyed reading (and learning more) about the stories and the ideas that Al's super fantastic grandfather talks about.

I will admit, I was a bit surprised at the ending. I won't give too much away, but it most definitely took a path different to what you would expect or, rather, the "conventional" path. It was an interesting twist for sure, and I'm not entirely sure how I felt about it, but it closed the story well, and I was left pretty satisfied with no loose ends.

Fun, quirky and moving, Time Traveling With a Hamster explores loss with a determined young man, time travel gone wrong, and an adorable hamster to top it all off. I whole-heartedly recommend this one: it's funny, it's heartbreaking, and, most of all, it's wonderful.


If you like this, try...


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ROSS WELFORD

Ross Welford was a magazine journalist and television producer in the UK before becoming an author. He lives in London with his young family, a border collie, a hamster and several tropical fish. Time Traveling With A Hamster is his first book. A second book, What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible, will be published in the UK in early 2017.



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Giveaway time!
Enter to win...

A copy of Time Traveling With a Hamster!

US ONLY. 
Check terms and conditions in Rafflecopter.
Enter via the Rafflecopter below!


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Check out the rest of the Blog Tour!

Cracking the Cover  – September 26
Mommy Ramblings – September 27
Comfort Books  – September 28
Oh! For the Hook of a Book – September 29
I'm Shelf-ish – September 30
Mrs. Yingling Reads – October 4
Parajunkee – October 5
Eclectic Bookworms – October 6
As They Grow Up – October 11
Quite the Novel Idea – October 12
The Hiding Spot – October 17
Fandom Monthly Magazine – October 18
YA Books Central – October 20
Swoony Boys Podcast – October 21
The Boy Reader – October 24

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Thank you so much to Kathleen at Random House Children's Books for having me on the blog tour and for sending me a copy for review!

When the Moon Was Ours Blog Tour: Review

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. 

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

After reading McLemore's wonderful debut The Weight of Feathers, I was really looking forward to When the Moon Was Ours. This author has such a gorgeous way with words! Even if I don't like parts of the plot, the writing always overflows my critical thoughts, and I'm swept away in the beauty of the prose. Needless to say, Anna-Marie McLemore's latest novel was fantastic, and, in my opinion, was better than her first novel.



YES TO THE DIVERSITY IN THIS BOOK! Oh my goodness, yes, yes, a million times yes. Wow, I was completely blown away by the cultural references in this book–you have some Pakistani stories come through, and this novel has hints of the La Llorona myth. Our two main characters are a transgender Pakistani boy who paints moons and a Latina who grows roses from her wrist. I mean, you can't get more unique than that, can you? Wonderful characters–even the Bonner Girls are described so beautifully.

However, while this book is brilliant with its descriptions, I felt like there needed to be more action. Sure, there was a really strong story with these characters, and there were secrets uncovered, etc. etc. BUT, I just wanted more. I mean, yes, I would read anything McLemore writes (a grocery list, the phone book–you name it), but I couldn't help but look past the prose now and then, wishing for a little more. The slow pace totally suited the story though, I will give the author that.

A beautiful and strange fairy tale, When the Moon Was Ours will creep its way into readers' hearts. I was shivering with delight while reading this one–McLemore's bewitching work had me spellbound, pulled into the current until the very last word.


If you like this, try...


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ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE

ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine’s cratelit, Camera Obscura’s Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review.

Website Twitter Facebook  Goodreads

Picture credit to J. Elliott.



PRAISE

“With luminous prose infused with Latino folklore and magical realism, this mixes fairytale ingredients with the elegance of a love story, with all of it rooted in a deeply real sense of humanity. Lovely, necessary, and true.” Booklist, STARRED Review

“Luxurious language infused with Spanish phrases, Latin lunar geography, and Pakistani traditions is so rich it lingers on the tongue, and the presence of magic is effortlessly woven into a web of prose that languidly unfolds to reveal the complexities of gender, culture, family, and self. Readers will be ensnared in this ethereal narrative long before they even realize the net has been cast.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

“A love story that is as endearingly old-fashioned as it is modern and as fantastical as it is real.” School Library Journal, STARRED Review

“This is a beautiful exploration of claiming your gender and identity, your body, and your name, and how best to support a loved one going through that process.” B&N Teen Blog, “One of the Most Anticipated LGBTQ YA Books of the Second Half of 2016”

"McLemore dances deftly across genres, uniquely weaving glistening strands of culture, myth, dream, mystery, love, and gender identity to create a tale that resonated to my core.  It’s that rare kind of book that you want to read slowly, deliciously, savoring every exquisite sentence. I adored this book." Laura Resau, Américas Award Winning Author of Red Glass and The Queen of Water

"Lushly written and surprisingly suspenseful, this magical tale is not just a love story, but a story of the secrets we keep and the lies we tell, and the courage it takes to reveal our authentic selves to each other and to the world." Laura Ruby, Printz Award Winning-Author of Bone Gap

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EXCERPT
 
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Thank you so much to Brittani at St. Martin's Press for having me on the blog tour and for sending an eGalley for review!

Passion by Lauren Kate

Passion by Lauren Kate

Release Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Series: Fallen, Book 3
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Read my review of Fallen HERE.
Read my review of Torment HERE.

"Every single lifetime, I'll choose you. Just as you have always chosen me. Forever."

Before Luce and Daniel met at Sword & Cross, before they fought the Immortals, they had already lived many lives. And so Luce, desperate to unlock the curse that condemns their love, must revisit her past incarnations in order to understand her fate. Each century, each life, holds a different clue.

But Daniel is chasing her throughout the centuries before she has a chance to rewrite history.

How many deaths can one true love endure?
And can Luce and Daniel unlock their past in order to change their future?

Despite the fact that Passion is a reread, I never actually wrote a review for this one way back when. I got this book when Lauren Kate came to Singapore for a book signing, and I did read it, but I guess it had been a while since I'd read Torment, which is why I was a little bit confused with the events in the book. Thankfully, with rereading the series, it's now making a LOT more sense. I think this one is my favourite in the series so far. I love the concept behind it–visiting the past lives in different time periods in different places. I love learning about history, and I was excited to learn more about the past while looking at Luce and Daniel's previous relationships.

This was the breakthrough I needed–Luce became a MUCH better character. At the start of the novel she was still kind of her old self, super whiny, clearly not seeing the bigger picture. Later on in the book, she kind of gets it. While I still don't really like her character, I can tolerate her. Here's to hoping that she remains this way (or gets even better) in the last book! I did like the differences between her past selves and her present self. It was cool to see her change with the time period and the area she lands in: China, Mexico and Egypt were really interesting changes of scenery.

I missed the rest of the crew this time round! While we do get to see Daniel in all his glory–as well as the earlier versions of himself–I missed seeing the rest of the angel, demon and nephilim crew on the regular. I mean, you do get glimpses of them here and there (including a very interesting Cam moment in the past), but it just wasn't the same without Arriane's constant snark and Gabbe's sweet nature. There's also an interesting addition to this novel, who throws a complicated twist as Luce and Daniel go back further in time.

Passion delves through rich history and makes for an exciting adventure with several deadly twists and an outcome that could change it all. The last few moments were very interesting, and that has me all set to read the final book in the main series–for the first time. I can't believe I'm finally going to read it after all these years! I'm looking forward to see how it all ends.

If you like this, try...


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Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!
Goodreads ● Website

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him–at least not yet. 

Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.


Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.

I'm a little bit tired of the trope of books being described as "John Green meets Rainbow Rowell," because while they are both excellent authors, it's completely overdone. However, I was still super excited to read Our Chemical Hearts. Koi (maybe?) fish on the cover! A cool and very strange title! A romance with a girl who might possibly (most likely) have a secret! All signs point to me not being disappointed by this book. And–I'm extremely happy to say–I wasn't! This novel was absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with the characters, the writing, and the story.

The characters were a breath of fresh air. Sure, we have the typical lanky, somewhat-confident (and self-proclaimed) nerd stereotype as our main character, but how could you not love Henry??? With dozens of film references to movies that I've actually seen (film and television major over here!), and a sense of humour is hilariously on point, I found myself falling head over heels for him. For me, a male protagonist is either a hit or a miss, and I'm so glad that Henry's character exceeded my expectations. I loved his friends as well! La was fierce and level-headed with an awesome snarky side, while Muz was this loveable Aussie idiot. I mean, I actually burst out laughing during some parts of the book. Observe:

'Mads. Mate. You still date that clodhopper of a bloke that goes there–which is a travesty, but the way–so that means you know a thing or two. Seeta Ganguly. Senior at East River. Suss out the sitch with her love life. Your payment'–Murray slipped something into Madison's jean pocket–'will be lucrative.'
       Madison took out the folded paper and inspected it. 'This is an expired coupon for Pizza Hut.'
       'There's plenty more where that came from.' Murray leaned in and whispered close to Madison's ear. 'Rendezvous tomorrow afternoon at your locker. You know where it is. Oh, and if anyone asks–we were never here.' Murray walked backward into the crowd then, and tried to do one of those Jason Bourne disappearing-into-thin-air tricks, but we both saw him dive into the girls' bathroom.
–p. 91, ARC*
*text is subject to change in the final version

I also really loved Henry's family. His parents are just AWESOME. I mean, their parenting styles are #goals. Sadie, Henry's older sister, is super cool, too. I like it when young adult fiction actually has great families, especially parents who know how to parent (and it also totally helps that they're funny!).

Grace on the other hand... I don't know. I felt like she was supposed to be this typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl, except she wasn't. There was actually a part of the novel where La and Henry discuss whether or not she is an MPDG. I mean, she's kind of got that vibe to her, but I think she's actually the alternative MPDG. Definitely more likeable than one–oh, for sure. So while, I didn't like her "fickle" nature to begin with, it becomes clearer later on in the novel once her story unravels and the small mystery that is Grace is revealed.

What I enjoyed the most about Our Chemical Hearts was the raw and realistic portrayal of love, loss and friendship. There's not exactly a happy ending, and that resonated with me, because life obviously doesn't always have happy endings. I like the growth that all the characters go through, and how things turn out at the end of the story isn't what you would've expected to happen. Excellently written, and guaranteed to make you laugh and cry, Krystal Sutherland's debut is charming, and will enthral you from start to finish. I can't wait to see how they adapt this into a film–I'm optimistic in hoping that it will capture the beauty of the story.


▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

Nemesis Blog Tour: Review + Dream Cast + Giveaway


Nemesis by Anna Banks

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Series: Nemesis, Book 1
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository B&N iBooks
Goodreads Website

The princess didn't expect to fall in love–with her nemesis.

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

I love the trope when two people who are complete opposites and don't get along at all eventually fall in love. I mean, take it a step further–as in, have the trope set in a fantasy world where the two people who do fall in love are from opposing kingdoms–and you have Nemesis. I absolutely adored Of Poseidon, but for some reason didn't finish the series. I did get to meet Anna Banks though at the Boston Teen Author Festival in 2015! She was super sweet and gave out tons of swag. Awesome author aside though, I definitely wanted to read this one ever since I saw the fantastic cover and read the synopsis. This one was wonderful, and I got sucked in right from the start.

Major plus point for the world building–I loved the setting. You have multiple kingdoms, but two are featured prominently: Theoria and Serubel. Talk about extreme opposites! Theoria is definitely based on Ancient Egypt, and then you have Serubel, which reminded me of Scandinavia or the Norse region. They have dragon-esque creatures (serpens) too...How to Train Your Dragon, anyone? Anyway, I loved the interactions with other kingdoms too, and I'm interested to see how it all plays out in the sequel.

First off, I can't help but think of Sephora whenever I see Sepora's name, and I know I'm definitely not the only one. Anyway, I enjoyed Sepora (it's seriously difficult to spell it without the 'h'!) and Tarik's characters. There were some awesome animals and creatures in this book–Patra, Nuna and Dody–that totally deserve a shout-out, too! Sepora was really headstrong, and while I think she has various flaws like being too irrational, I enjoyed her story. Tarik was super attractive (not just in looks!) to the point where I was basically drooling over my kindle, but I felt like I couldn't get to know his character too well, and that's probably because of the novel's narrative.

I don't know how to feel about the switch in narrative perspectives. The two points of view wasn't a problem–heck, you could throw in a few more and it still wouldn't be a problem. Nemesis, however, switches from first-person (Sepora) to third-person (Tarik). While I like that it's a pretty unique way to tell a story, it was just so strange. I ended up preferring Sepora's chapters over Tarik's, just because I felt I could connect to her more.

I also was a little disappointed with the romance. While, yes there were some swoon-worthy scenes here and there, there was a general lack of sparks flying that I oh so desperately wanted. The build-up was great though. I liked the resistance and the hesitance between the two of them to begin with, but just wanted more in the after. The end throws things off-balance though, and has me very curious as to how things will continue on in the second book.

Leaving me thirsty for more, Nemesis was phenomenal. A gorgeous start to the duology, I'm saddened by the fact that the sequel won't be out for a while. Anna Banks's latest novel is magical and captivating–the world-building is beautiful, the characters are unforgettable, and the story is entrancing from beginning to end. 

If you like this, try...


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ANNA BANKS

NYT Bestselling YA author of The Syrena Legacy series: OF POSEIDON (2012), OF TRITON (2013), OF NEPTUNE (2014).

Repped by rockstar Lucy Carson of the Friedrich Agency.

I live with my husband and daughter in the Florida Panhandle. I have a southern accent compared to New Yorkers, and I enjoy food cooked with real fat. I can’t walk in high heels, but I’m very good at holding still in them. If you put chocolate in front of me, you must not have wanted it in the first place.

Favorite Books:

Shatter Me, Cinder, Linger, Shiver, Forever, Pushing the Limits, Unravel Me, Shadow and Bone, Enclave, Divergent, Candor, Graceling, Fire, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Host, Most of James Patterson, and Janet Evanovich makes me laugh through my nose in an unfeminine sort of way.

Visit Anna’s website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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Dream Cast

I had a tough time picturing who could play Sepora potentially, because I was just basically picturing the girl on the cover the entire time, and I finally decided that Britt Robertson might actually be pretty good for the role. She's super pretty, got the blonde hair, she's done pretty well in films (Tomorrowland!), and could pull off the action-y role. I'm just wondering if she can play regal though.


As for Tarik, I can't help but picture Rami Malek, especially since the character is a pharaoh and based out of Ancient Egypt. I know he's a bit old for the part, but LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS FACE! Magic of Hollywood: please make him look younger than his actual age so he can play this role, thank you.


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Time for a giveaway!
Enter to win...

A finished copy of Nemesis!

US only. 
Enter via the Rafflecopter below.


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That's not all! Check out this sweet pre-order deal:

If you pre-order Nemesis from Books of Wonder, you will receive...
An exclusive Nemesis print and a Nemesis bath bomb!

Check that out HERE

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Check out the rest of the tour:

September 28:

September 29:
Wishful Endings - Review
BookHounds YA - Review
Ink of Blood - Review

September 30:
FLYLēF - Review
A Backwards Story - Review + Favorite Quotes
Library of a Book Witch - Review + Playlist

October 1:
BookCrushin - Review + Favorite Quotes
Confessions of a Readaholic - Review + Dream Cast

October 2:
Literary Meanderings - Guest Post

October 3:
Chapter by Chapter - Guest Post
The Book Cellar - Review

October 4:
Fierce Reads - Celebrating the release of Nemesis
Two Chicks on Books - Interview
Kindle and Me - Review + Playlist
Curling Up With A Good Book - Review + Favorite Quotes
The Eater of Books! - Favorite Quotes from Nemesis

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Thank you so much to FFBC Blog Tours and Kelsey at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group!