A Good Debut // ARC Review: Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

Title: Just Friends
Author: Tiffany Pitcock
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads // Macmillan
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Macmillan Intl (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Amazon US || Amazon UK || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Kobo || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.
Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.
With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.
Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads.
If you don’t already know, Best Friend romances are one of my FAVOURITE Young Adult tropes out there. Or one of my favourite movie/ book/ TV show tropes period.

And so, when I saw the gorgeous cover for Tiffany Pitcock’s debut novel and the title that alluded to this book containing my favourite trope, I KNEW that Just Friends was a book I would definitely read. Then, the lovely humans at Macmillan International approved my request and I was absolutely over the moon.

My Thoughts:

1.       In a nutshell, this book took a little while to get used to. It’s told in Third Person and it switched between the boy (Chance) and the girl (Jenny) and it seems very CHILDISH. Third person doesn’t usually strike me as odd, but something about “Jenny just couldn’t stand it,” and “Chance always screwed everything up,” made the writing slightly strange.

2.       After a quarter of the book, I stopped noticing the third person dialogue that much and begin enjoying the book. Jenny and Chance had this way of getting along with one another like they truly had been friends since they were little and I did like most of the dialogue between them.
3.       Something that annoyed me slightly was the LACK OF ANYTHING PARENTAL. And I mean ANYTHING. Chance’s parents were ALWAYS fighting even though we don’t see them once and don’t hear even a SINGLE ARGUMENT. And Jenny’s mom who was supposed to be around wasn’t ever since she started dating and Jenny and Chance were ALONE ALL THE TIME? I’ve never believed how parents conveniently disappear for the plot to advance because THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE.

4.       Jenny was a CRAP best friend to her “only friend before Chance” in the book – Kesley. They’d been friends since middle school, but Jenny was this self-absorbed little wretch that she dropped her friend AS SOON AS Chance paid the slightest bit of attention to her. I felt even worse when we actually HEAR from Kesley about how she thought she was a “big joke” to Jenny and well, BEING HORRIBLE TO YOUR BEST FRIEND IS NOT COOL.

5.       I pretty much feel like this book had quite a good underlying story, but it was so focused on the ROMANCE it forgot the other EQUALLY important parts like Friendship and Family.

I liked the book but not THAT much. It was a good debut which could have been better. 3 stars. #RespectYourFriends. 
Tiffany PitcockTiffany Pitcock is a young writer from Benton, Ar. She studied English at Henderson State University, but has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. Besides reading, she is a fan of cats, staying indoors, and tv dramas. You can find Tiffany on Twitter

What are some of your Favourite YA Tropes, and which are the ones you hate? 
Are you still in touch with your best friends from High School? Were the friends you made in school better, or the ones in college?
Have you had a chance to read Just Friends? What did you think of it?
I can't wait to hear from all of you lovelies!

Stacking the Shelves #30 - The One Where I'm ALMOST Caught Up With My Review Copies

If you're a blogger you know that your one biggest struggle and happiest part of your life is the SIZE OF YOUR To Be Read Pile. 

As soon as I see mind dwindling, I'm usually composing emails to all the publicists who feed my addiction, requesting more and when some or all of them arrive, I'm always thinking about how I wish I had more time to read the books I actually bought for myself.

The cycle is one of the best and worst things about my life. Anyway, here's my Stacking The Shelves for the last few weeks.

I got even more titles over the last two days but I'll be saving that for next week's STS!


From the Authors:

1. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows (from the AMAZING Jodi Meadows)

I'm a part of the OQSG (Orphan Queen Support Group) on Facebook for lovers of the Orphan Queen series. Jodi, who lets us know pieces on info in advance like the amazing human she is sent ALL OF US ARCs of her latest novel, Before She Ignites and I AM SO EXCITED TO READ IT.

Seriously everybody, Jodi is one of the SWEETEST authors out there and you should definitely check all her books out.

2. The Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome As Me: (From the AMAZING Carrie DiRisio)

When Carrie Ann DiRisio, author of this gorgeous play on YA tropes told from the point of view of a Brooding YA Hero contacted me for the chance to review her book, there was no way I could pass it up! If you're an avid YA reader and haven't seen @BroodingYAHero on Twitter, head there now and prepare for all the laughs.

You can also see my #BroodyBFF Mood Board and Writing Playlist here!

From Penguin India: 

1. Man of her Match by Sakshama Puri: 

I don't read many Indian contemporary romances, but when I saw the synopsis of this book, I knew I simply HAD to have it. I dove into this book almost as immediately as I received it and it was filled with sass, humor and a romance I won't forget for a while! You can read my review here.

From Harper Collins India: 

1. Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstorm: 

I got this book a couple of weeks ago from Harper, and I'm so excited for this book that features a blind MC re-uniting with the boy who broke her heart and it sounds AMAZING to me. Plus, the cover has Braille on it which makes it so much more authentic and I couldn't be more excited.

Maybe I'll start reading it this weekend?

From Macmillan Intl:

1. Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

This is my first book my critically acclaimed Heather Demetrios and I FELL IN LOVE (I've already read it, that's how behind I am on my Stacking The Shelves posts) The cover is gorgeous and the abuse in this book is so well done. It's all about empowerment and what abusive relationships look like and to be really honest, we should be reading more books like this.

You can read my review here

2. In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody: 

Jessica Brody, just like Heather Demetrios is another author I've heard WONDERFUL things about but hadn't read until the AMAZING Macmillan Intl send me an ARC of her book. In Some Other Life was a fun book, and even if it did have a few flaws, it was one I definitely recommend if you're looking for a light contemporary.

My review will be out closer to publication date.

3. Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

I was SO INTRIGUED by the plot of this "fake best friend romance" that I simply had to request it. I came out of it feeling like this book could definitely have been better but I don't regret reading it at all. It could have been more but it was a fun read nonetheless!

My review will be out tomorrow and Just Friends comes out this Tuesday, the 1st of August.

From NetGalley: 

A Short History of the Girl Next Door1. A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

I was so intrigued by this book that I flipped it open on my Kindle reader a WEEK after I got approved to read it! (An Achievement! YAY!) It was a good book, and certainly an intruguing plot but I honestly didn't like it all that much.

I'll share my full review on the blog closer to publication date

Invictus2. Invictus by Ryan Graudin

I first heard about this book in the brunch The Novl hosted during Book Expo America. I loved Ryan Graudin's The Walled City and when I saw this book available on NetGalley I knew I would have to read it.

I'm so excited to read another Ryan Graudin book because I loved the characters and world building in the one book of hers that I have read. SO SO EXCITED.

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies, #1)BOUGHT: 

1. My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand and Brodi Ashton

HOW COULD I NOT BUY this wonderful book that one of my favourite authors, Jodi Meadows co-authored the SECOND it came out in Paperback? I'm so exited for the (not entirely) true tale about Lady Jane.

I honestly can't wait to start this book.
What have you stacked onto your shelves over the last few weeks? Have you already read some of the titles on mine? 
I can't wait to hear from you!

An Immersive Tale // ARC Review: My Name Is Victoria by Lucy Worsely

Title: My Name is Victoria
Author: Lucy Worsely
Publication Date: March 9th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Bloomsbury India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Amazon US || Amazon UK || The Book Depository || Wordery || Flipkart || Snapdeal || Infibeam || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Kobo || Google Books
Blurb Description: 'You are my sister now,' Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. 'Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.' Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V's father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess's safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely, and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence, or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria's childhood as you've never heard it before. 

Short and Sweet: A fun, easy to read take on the young list of Queen Victoria that will have you smiling and desperate for more.

When I got the opportunity to read Lucy Worsely’s debut novel last year from Bloomsbury India, I jumped in joy. While I enjoyed the beginning, and learning all about Tudor court and how it functioned, the latter half of the book dragged a little bit, making me not love the book as much
I guess that’s probably why it took me a little while to pick up My Name is Victoria, because of the slow nature of the second half of the previous book and I really needed to get myself in the mood for it.

My Name is Victoria, however, had none of the problems that I faced in Eliza Rose and proved to be an easy to read and immersive middle grade tale about the era. Let’s go more into detail:


The author is a curator at the Kensington Palace where the young Queen Victoria spent her days in . The story flowed really well, starting from the time Miss V. Conroy is taken to be playmate to a young Princess Victoria and ends during Victoria’s ascension to the throne.
seclusion under the control of her mother and her comptroller. While the idea itself was based on the author’s knowledge of the Queen’s life, with one major change to the storyline, it was still a good read


Lucy Worsely managed to capture the era and the mind sets of the world at that time through a girl of ages twelve to eighteen. As Miss V. Conroy and Princess Victoria grew through the book, the writing grew as well. From play time and dogs to boys, marriage and the throne I loved seeing how the future queen and her friend grew.


While I’m talking about the characters is where the reason that this book isn’t a five star read comes out for me.

While the book constantly had the same entertaining pace, it was the narrator, Miss V. Conroy who I had a slight problem with. There was nothing wrong with her but I just found her lacking a strong personality that I associate with teenage girls. She felt no hurt at being called “a bit boring” and “the little mouse.” She felt like she had to do nothing but care for Victoria and didn’t care about herself.

Her sense of duty and responsibility overpowered everything she could have been and she just felt like too good a character with absolutely zero flaws and it made it slightly annoying and unbelievable.


If you’re into middle grade historical novels, there will probably be none more accurate than My Name Is Victoria! An easy flowing, wholly immersive tale. 4 stars.
Lucy Worsley
 I was born in Reading (not great, but it could have been Slough), studied Ancient and Modern History at New College, Oxford, and I've got a PhD in art history from the University of Sussex.

My first job after leaving college was at a crazy but wonderful historic house called Milton Manor in Oxfordshire. Here I would give guided tours, occasionally feed the llamas, and look for important pieces of paper that my boss Anthony had lost. Soon after that I moved to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, in the lovely job for administrator of the Wind and Watermills Section. Here I helped to organise that celebrated media extravaganza, National Mills Day. I departed for English Heritage in 1997, first as an Assistant Inspector and then as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings; Bolsover Castle, Hardwick Old Hall, and Kirby Hall were my favourite properties there. In 2002 I made a brief excursion to Glasgow Museums before coming down to London as Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces in 2003. Yes, this is a brilliant job, but no, you can’t have it. (Bribes have been offered, and refused.)

You might also catch me presenting history films on the old goggle box, giving the talks on the cruise ship Queen Mary 2, or slurping cocktails.
 Do you read Historical Fiction? What are some of your favourites? I don't read much in that genre, but I'm looking to remedy that and so I'd love your recommendations! 

Highly Futuristic // ARC REVIEW: Redux by A.L.Davroe

Title: Redux (The Tricksters #2)
Author: A.L.Davroe
Publication Date: March 21st 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/2 of the Tricksters Duology
I Got A Copy Through: Entangled Teen via NetGalley (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: The domed city of Evanescence is in ruins. With nowhere to go, prodigy hacker Ellani “Ella” Drexel and a small band of survivors flee to the Undertunnel below their city.To escape the wasteland she unknowingly created.But sanctuary is hard to find. With malfunctioning androids and angry rebels at their backs, the group hopes to press on for the neighboring city of Cadence. But Ella’s chosen path is challenging…life-threatening, even. Worse, the boy she loves is acting distant, and not at all like the person she first met in Nexis.But then Ella learns a secret…and it changes everything.Ella knows she needs to turn back and make a stand to reclaim her home. She’s determined to bring a new—and better—life to all who’ve suffered.Or die trying. 
Nexis, the first book in this Duology, was one of my first five star reads of 2016. It was brilliantly crafted in a futuristic world and the ending had me sitting in the same spot, slackjawed and ready for book two already.

For some reason, despite getting approved to read an eARC of Redux on NetGalley, it took me a really long while to tap on the book on my Kindle app and start reading.

It's been a year and a half and well, apart from the basic story and the main characters, I'd forgotten everyone else. This is why the first 10% of the book saved me as it refreshed my knowledge about this series.

In simple short words, Nexis was better than Redux.

After the first ten percent that functioned like a recap to me, I was so confused by the world. Without a map or clear descriptions that functioned like a map, I had this feeling of being lost in my bookish surroundings that I couldn't take. I had no idea what the plan was - was it to try and go to the NEXT dome (I remember that being the plan from the last book?) And if so, why did they never try and only wanted to go back into the dome the destroyed? How many undertunnels are there? What's the plan? I spent most of the book wondering what everybody in it was doing, to be honest.

Image result for redux a.l. davroe
I can't review this book without spoilers, BUT, despite the death of hundreds of thousands of people at the hands of the “Tricksters” I felt not even a single amount of GUILT or I'M WRONG WHAT CAN I DO from any one of them. They pretty much had made peace with their actions, damn the consequences and moved forward, and were STILL TRUSTED to be leaders of the Rebellion. Or the refugees. I don't know how they were and how NOBODY blamed them but it made the book feel artificial.

Let's also talk about Ella's parents. They were at the top of my list of people who didn't CARE that thousands had died, their “uploaded minds” merely saying “Oh, well, that was only a slight miscalculation” They used their own DAUGHTER to give a face to Rebellion without so much as ASKING her and then made her a Saviour. SIGH.

Apart from that, there were two death scenes where a certain somebody ALMOST died but HAHA HE DIDN'T BECAUSE HE'S THE MAIN CHARACTER AND HOW COULD HE?

I did have a lot of problems with this book, but there was a lot to like too. I still loved the sheer genius of the technology that made up Evanescence. It takes a SPECTACULAR mind to come up with ideas like the one in the book and I loved it. There were also certain gritty and romantic twists that I couldn't see coming but loved when they did because they added a lot to the book.

Mostly, I just wish this book had been better. I wish Ella's parents had asked and not attempt to brainwash an entire population. I wish Ella's wasn't such a NOBLE person and that she wasn't portrayed as a Saint/ Saviour but more like a normal girl.

I love this series, and I definitely recommend it. I just wish that certain elements were better executed. 3 stars. 

A.L. DavroeI write both YA and adult speculative fiction. I'm represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. I've written FOR YOUR HEART; CITY STEAM; NEXIS; and M.I.A.. My latest novel, REDUX (YA science-fiction) is coming out with Entangled Teen in March 2017.

By day, I live in Connecticut with my feline hench-creatures and I make cheese. I'm a terrible blusher, have a weak spot for cuddly animals, love Laffy Taffy and Cadbury MiniEggs, and I'm a huge advocate of alternative healing methods. I wear purple shoes and corsets...Though not always in the same ensemble. I'm a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal. I also suffer from Resting Bitchface Syndrome (RBS), so even though I might look like I'll tie you in a knot if you come near me, I'm more afraid of you than you are of me (see blushing problem above).

 What do you think about Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality Games? 
If you could have ANY piece to future technology (and let's assume everything HAS been invented) what kind of device would you pick?
I can't wait to hear from all of you!

ATTENTION BOOKDRAGONS: Here's Why Julie Dao's Forest of a Thousand Lanterns NEEDS To Be On Your TBRs

I first heard about Forest of a Thousand Lanterns when mentions of the book EXPLODED all over my Twitter Feed. Suddenly, everybody was talking about this book I hadn't heard of and I (virtually) ran the mile towards Goodreads, read this GORGEOUS book's description and hit the Want to Read button faster than you could say "Snow White Retelling."

I requested an ARC of Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns on a whim, sure that a small time blogger such as myself would never get approved to read it. To my completely shock, the lovely publicist at PRH International* said she had an extra copy and sent it my way!

*I would like to take the time to appreciate the WONDERFUL PRH International whose sole mission it is to get books published in the US to readers all over the world. As someone living in India, everything about their existence makes me happy.

I haven't shared my review with you folks yet ( I will closer to publication date) but in short, I LOVED IT MORE THAN ANY OTHER RETELLING I'VE EVER READ and so, I've compiled a list about why YOU NEED THIS BOOK IN YOUR LIVES. 
Quote from Julie C Dao's Website


If you got that Grey's Anatomy reference, you can be my new best bookish friend. I mean it. 

I didn't know what to expect going in with Forest of a Thousand Lanterns being Julie Dao's debut novel. Most of it is set in the palace, filled with politics, ever changing loyalties and characters so deeply explored you'll feel like you've known them your whole life.

This book deals with Fate and Destiny and the lengths one girl will go to to get what she has always been told was hers. I loved all the plot twists, the political backstabbing, the romance - EVERYTHING.


Julie Dao's lush re-imagined fairy tale, that's probably more Grimm than Disney will stay with you for a long time to come. 

Her writing isn't superfluous, but still manages to capture the essence of the world around her. More than ANYTHING, she manages to capture the volatile emotion of all the characters in the book. Whether is was the Empress, Lady Sun, Xifeng, the Emperor or ANYBODY, really, she dove into their minds, and dove deep and made me, one of her biggest fans, get to know when well.

3. #DiverseBooksAreTheBESTBooks:

DON'T YOU AGREE WITH ME? Not only is Forest of a Thousand Lanterns one of the best retellings out there with an anti-heroine as the main character, it's also set in East Asia and it is done GORGEOUSLY. 

From the descriptions of the city and the palace, to the clothes that everybody in court wore, this book captured the essence of a culture without seeming like it was trying to hard too - and that's the best kind of representation.


I'm pretty sure the Snow White from your childhood contained a poison apple, all the happiness, fluffy animals and seven dwarves but this book is nothing like that. It was darker, filled with more character and just plain better. 

Not only did this book take place in a totally different setting, but the entire tone of the fairy tale had changed. There was a desperation to Xifeng, along with a strong determination that she would live the life she'd been brought up told about and that she would make it to the top and I'm pretty sure you'll love all of it.
Board by Heidi Heiling


If you've never heard me say, Give me the worst people in the book and I'll fall in love with them, you have now. Xifeng is one of the BEST anti-heroes or villains that I've read in EVER and the dark, lush nature of this book just made this THAT MUCH BETTER.

If you’re looking for that unpredictable, diverse and dark fantasy book, go throw this book to the TOP of your TBRs and Wish lists. Forest of A Thousand Lanterns will have you spell bound with its intense writing, captivated by its ruthless main character and in love with the world you’ve been transported to.

Title: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
Author: Julie C Dao
Publication Date: October 10th 2017
Publisher: Philomel Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/2 of the Rise of the Empress Series
I Got A Copy Through: PRH International (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon US || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Kobo || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
Julie C. Dao
Julie C. Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

Julie is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.

 Have you heard of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns? Is it on your TBRs?
 Have you already read it - and if so, what did you think of it? 
What are some of your favourite retellings?