Friday, 21 December 2018

Review of Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu


Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Published 19 September 2017
by Roaring Book Press


Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.


Better World Books (Hardcover)



My first thought when I read the synopsis (the blurb) for Moxie, was “Wait, so are zines a thing again? Am I that old?” The answer is, zines never stopped being a thing, I just stopped making them, and yes, I am that old. As a 1989 baby, I grew up in the 90s, I didn’t really experience the Riot Grrrl movement since I was a member of the 10 & under crowd. I mean, we had zines as kids. Everybody got into zines in the 90s. I don’t think there was a kid in the 90s who couldn’t make a zine. I couldn’t make a friendship bracelet or braid hair until I was out of high school, but I could make a cootie catcher fortune teller and I could make a zine before I was 6. Because those were important skills to have for a lifetime, right? But for anybody who doesn't really know what a zine is (because I’ve seen quite a few people who don’t actually know) or wants to know how to make one, here's a quick little zine tutorial.
I enjoyed reading Moxie. I read it in one sitting and I own three copies of it. A physical copy, a Kindle copy, and an ebook copy. It has its flaws but I’ve yet to encounter a truly perfect book, not even a favourite book is perfect. I truly tried to keep this review short and sweet and still say everything that I wanted to say, but, three weeks later, I've resigned myself to the fact that that is not going to happen, y'all.
Moxie follows a high school junior named Vivian Carter around for a school year as she goes from being a self-described “good girl” who’s just trying to survive two more years of East Rockport High School’s brand of misogyny to the unmasked mysterious founder of the Moxie Girl rebellion of East Rockport High School. You will laugh, you will cry, you will probably look up Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl before you finish this book. (Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.) Now, make sure you’re comfortable before reading further.
Viv was raised in East Rockport, Texas by her mother, Lisa, a former riot grrrl turned nurse after the death of Viv’s father. She grew up listening to her mom’s old music and making their cat, Joan Jett, dance around to bands like Bikini Kill and Heavens to Betsy. Viv and her mom live right next door to her maternal grandparents who repeatedly praise Viv for being such a ‘dutiful’ good girl – unlike her ‘rebellious’ mother who ‘was always looking for a fight’. Viv’s mom’s riot grrrl days are behind her, packed away in a shoebox in her closet labelled “My Misspent Youth”, and she’s just plain Nurse Lisa now, no signs of the blue-haired hardcore feminist to be seen – except hiding somewhere deep inside of her 16-year-old daughter as we’ll all soon discover.

“I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will, change the world for real.”

- a Bikini Kill zine


I was outraged when I read the opening scene where the new girl, Lucy, is answering a question in Viv’s English class and the jock du jour, Mitchell Wilson, interrupts her to tell her “make me a sandwich” and the teacher admonishes the entire class for acting childish and assigns them grammar exercises for the rest of the period as punishment. Among other things that I’ll leave for you to read about, there’s a March Madness bracket of East Rockport High’s most fuckable girl that everybody in the town seems to know about and fathers even brag about their daughters making it into the top tiers. Which is creepy all on its own, right? The examples of blatant sexism portrayed in Moxie resonated with me as I read Moxie because I actually went to high school with a group of popular guys who wore t-shirts that read “F.B.I. – Female Body Inspector” and “Once you put my meat in your mouth you’re going to swallow” and nobody really called them on it. I don’t know why others didn’t, but I was already getting a lot of flak for being a lot younger than my peers, I didn’t want to be the ‘not-fun one who couldn’t take a joke’. So, I get where Viv was coming from, watching and feeling like she wanted to say something but not wanting to poke the bear. I’m ashamed to admit it, but yeah, I get why it took Viv so long to act. I’d like to think if I’d had a catalytic friend like Lucy, I’d have spoken up back then.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Moxie was how the idea of feminism wasn't an already known concept to every character in the book. Okay, obviously I didn't like it, I'd love if everyone grew up understanding the dynamics of feminism but not everybody has that privilege. Lucy was Viv's Obi-Wan of sorts, guiding her through 'Feminism 102'. Sara thought the Moxie zine was totally what East Rockport High School needed, but had a bit of an 'I'll do it if you do it' vibe at the beginning. Claudia was under the common misconception that feminism was anti-men and didn't want anything to do with the term. Kiera and Amaya wanted to know if Moxie Girls' feminism was inclusive or not. And Emma didn't see a point to the whole thing and spoke against the Moxie thing. But by the end of the book, East Rockport High School had some proud feminists.
My second favourite part of Moxie is the zines. Y'all. Whether you buy the kindle book, the ebook, or the physical book, you get the illustrated zines in your book as Viv publishes them (Yes, I did buy both the ebook and the kindle book to be sure). My personal favourite is the third zine, but I do love them all. The student body's reaction to each zine is different, you can actually see the Moxie Girls movement building up right before your eyes with the students' responses. There's a lot of buzz about the first zine, of course, but not too many girls actually go along with it because "what's the point?" But as the level of misogynistic nonsense rises, the more "Moxie Girls fight back!" becomes more than a phrase on a 'silly' zine sitting on the windowsill of the girls' lavatory.

And my favourite part of this marvelous book? The relationships between the young women of East Rockport High School. Aside from general clique behaviour during the first half of the book which is nowhere near as bad as it was in my high school (huge shout-out to my middle and high Schools where the popular white girls like to set up 'weird' girls to be raped - but there's no bullying there, right, Crisp County?). The young ladies in the book stopped minding the clique delineations and banded together throughout the book and became a powerful force of good. When Lucy and Viv are asked at a Moxie bake sale if the Moxie Girls thing was 'just for white girls', they quickly made it clear that Moxie is for every girl. They kept fighting, together, and that's beautiful.
Now, let's talk diversity since it is twentygayteen and all (that's right, I said it and I'll say it again. TWENTYGAYTEEN!). Moxie has a moderately diverse cast for that it doesn't really involve many people per se. It's a typical small Texas town high school centred around Vivian and her small circle of friends that begins to expand a smidgen as the story progresses. I would have loved to have seen more POC and LGBTQ representation, several of the named characters have Latinx names and Viv's childhood friend on the girls' soccer team, Kiera is black as is her friend, Amaya, I think? I've wracked my mind and my book and I don't even remember a single specially abled (I just heard that term in place of 'disabled' recently and I love it!) person. And as someone with so many 'special abilities', ouch! I've been a huge activist since I was 6 years old when my first grade teacher wanted to put my friend with Rett Syndrome in the corner and have us all ignore her and I went out of my way to include her. As for the LGBTQ community, there’s two ‘possibly’ not-straight guys in the drama department at school (you can cringe there, I did) and a closeted couple that Viv stumbles across towards the end of the book. That’s all the rainbow power there and as a card-carrying member of the Rainbow Society of Supreme Gaydom, I needed more gay in a book centring around the Riot Grrrl movement. The Riot Grrrl movement co-existed alongside Queercore in the 1990s and Heavens to Betsy and Excuse 17 were two bands that were active in both the Riot Grrrl scene and in Queercore. While I was researching the Riot Grrrl movement, I came across a bunch of zines from ‘back in the day’ (I feel so old saying that), and they preached a lot about inclusivity, how Riot Grrrl wasn’t just for white girls or straight girls, and I  But we're reading a book that's bringing up Riot Grrrls which tried to be inclusive in an era that's media was extremely selective of what they covered. And I really wish that Moxie had followed that premise a little better than reiterating 'Moxie is for every girl', I love the sentiment, but I'd have loved to have seen it represented in the story with more diverse characters. Although, definite points for quoting Audre Lorde. If you don't know, Audre Lorde was a poet and a black intersectional lesbian civil rights activist who died in 1992. Many people quote her, but a lot them just know that she's a poet. Hopefully, Moxie works to change that.

"Your silence will not protect you." 
-Audre Lorde

Something that I wasn't too fond of was the Seth factor. Viv did what I see a lot of in relationships. Fight and make-up, over and over again, over the same issue basically. Seth is a moderate feminist, I guess you could say. He tries to be full-throttle, but he does a lot of the 'well, not all of us are like that'. We know it's not all of y'all guys being the problem but it's still the majority, dude... That's why we have to keep shouting. And when someone has a #MeToo moment (slight Trigger Warning for mention of forced groping, BTW), he fails the Boyfriend Test in my book. There's redemption and all, but it just pissed me off that this professed feminist didn't even hesitate on outcry, but pressed the 'how do we know it happened' button. As someone who struggled with her own rape and didn't admit it happened for years because my rapist was someone I hero-worshipped and considered a brother and I never reported it because who would believe me, I cried. I cried hard and ugly and my dogs had to bury me in a dogpile of love and I hate Seth's character for that.
Overall, Moxie made me reflect on current and past events in my life and in the world in general. It also reminded me of why I made the conscious decision to call myself a feminist as a teenager. It had its good points and its not-so-good points, like all books, but I believe it's a great introductory book to feminism for teenage girls. It teaches girls to have autonomy over their own persons and speak up for themselves even when the adults that are supposed to be looking out for them aren't. I know I'll definitely be adding it to the Feminist shelves of my little sister (10) and my niece (2) as they grow old enough to read it. My sister will love it, my stepmom, not so much. Mathieu writes a good book with characters you'll love and characters you'll hate, and moments where you have your 'this is why I'm a feminist' spark. I know it did with me. I wholeheartedly recommend you buy this book, for yourself, for the teen in your life, for the cover, for the story, for the zines.

I'm giving Moxie 4 stars and I hope you'll give it a read. Now before I go, some quick links of Jennifer Mathieu's from her Moxie girls fight back! site. Want to know how to starts Feminist Club like Moxie at your school? Click here! Be sure to listen to Jennifer Mathieu's Moxie Playlist on Spotify.


I'm an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. My novels include THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, DEVOTED, and AFTERWARD.
My fourth novel, MOXIE, will be out in September 2017. It was recently optioned by Amy Poehler's production company for film! It has a special Tumblr I adore that you can check out at www.moxiegirlsfightback.com
All my novels are published by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan.
My favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980s sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. I can basically quote every episode.
I live in Texas with my husband, son, and dog!
When it comes to what I read, I love realistic young adult fiction (duh), creative nonfiction, super scandalous tell-all memoirs and unauthorized biographies, and basically anything that hooks me on the first page.

You can reach Ms Mathieu on her website, her e-mail (jenmathieu@gmail.com) or her public social media.



This has been another review on Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book and as per usual, I'm ending it with a charity I've noticed and a little snippet of life. My 2-year-old niece is pretty obsessed with Manatee the Service Dog and we've started introducing her to the concept of service dogs. She understands Manny has special tricks that help me, but she plays with him and climbs all over him off-duty, so it's important to teach her about how she can't play with him when we're shopping or at Disney or something because it's harder to deal with my health problems out in public. We took her to a no-pets holiday lights show and told her because he's wearing his special vest, he has to focus on helping me and she can't play with him. She was very good about it and even told other kids "Manatee's busy, don't pet." So cute, but so serious about it.
Following that lead, my charity for this post is Canine Companions for Independence, they're pretty amazing if you ask me. A few of my service dog friends have gotten their canine partners through them and they are amazing dogs.
Until next time, darling readers, have a happily ever after, and if you celebrate, happy Christmas!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Review of Total Bravery


Total Bravery by Piper J Drake
True Heroes, Book 4
Published 28 April 2018 
Published by Grand Central Publishing / Forever

True heroes will do anything to protect the women they love...
As the newest recruit at Search and Protect, Raul has a lot to prove. Luckily, he's got the best friend and partner a man could ask for: a highly trained, fiercely loyal German Shepherd Dog named Taz. Together, Raul and Taz make an unbeatable team. But their first mission in Hawaii really puts them to the test when an international kidnapping ring sets its sights on the bravest woman Raul's ever met . . . 
Mali knows her latest job has put one hell of a target on her back. And on this small island paradise, there's nowhere to hide. With a service dog like Taz, Mali feels safe. Sharing close quarters with a smoldering muscle-for-hire like Raul, she feels something else - an unexpected wave of desire. Raul feels it too. But when the kidnappers make their move, he's got to turn that slow-burning passion into hard-hitting action - and save the life of the woman he loves.






Total Bravery was an enjoyable and easy read. I love sitting with my dogs - and my service dog, and reading romances that include dogs - especially working dogs (I haven't found any that have service dogs yet though, just Working Dogs/K9s). In Total Bravery's case, I hung out in the waiting room of my medical centre on a testing day in a hospital gown and pyjama bottoms in corner and read the book whilst waiting for a bevy of new tests. Blech. And I was entertained enough to not go into panic mode but still aware of everything going on around me. For me, that's a plus when out and about. So yay, Total Bravery. If you're looking for the next captivating read that makes you forget to take that casserole out of the oven, this won't be it, but it will be entertaining and mildly spicy.
What I enjoyed most was Mali, she was a different female lead than you get in a lot of romances. She's working in Hawai'i, interviewing sex workers and trying to get information for research purposes on sex trafficking. I also liked Raul's absolute loyalty to his battle buddy, Arin, Mali's sister. When Mali calls, looking for Arin's help, he doesn't think twice, he jumps in to help Mali even though he doesn't know her. He just knows Mali is Arin's sister and that means something to him. It's a bit detrimental in the relationship building but as I'm a lot like Raul in the complete loyalty department, I love seeing it in books.
What I disliked. Well, that's a spoiler. I can't rant about what I don't like without giving it away and there is frustration aplenty about it.
Overall, I'm giving Total Bravery 3 stars. It was a good book to keep me occupied but I didn't fall in love with it. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy I received via NetGalley.





Piper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and day job road warrior. Wherever she goes, she enjoys tasting the world and embarking on foodie adventures. Dogs—and horses—have been known to spontaneously join her for a stroll and she enjoys pausing for a nice chat with cats of all sizes, from domestic to tiger size and beyond.
Piper aspires to give her readers stories with a taste of the hard challenges in life, a breath of laughter, a broad range of strengths and weaknesses, the sweet taste of kisses, and the heat of excitement across multiple genres including science fiction and fantasy.
Come join the adventure with her!




That's all for today, darling readers. Tune in tomorrow for an extremely long review that took three weeks of hemming and hawing. Today's charity to spotlight is Spike's K9 Fund, they raise money for K9 gear in honour of Spike who sacrificed his life to save his partner's.
Until next time, my darlings, have a happily ever after!

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Blog Tour - Release Blitz - Make You Mine




Title: Make You Mine
Author: Tia Louise
Genre: Second Chance Romance
Release Date: December 4, 2018



Blurb

(Second-chance romance, forbidden love, best friend’s little sister)

A promise written on a coaster.
A lost night in a dark room.
Grayson Cole was my brother’s best friend.
He was all of my firsts.
Then he went away…

Drew Harris was just a kid, a senior in high school, my best friend’s little sister.
They said she was too young to know her feelings.
I was too old to have them, so I left to join the military.

Four years passed.
Loss, injury, angry words I can never take back.
I’m home, but I’m not the same.
Neither is she.

Now she’s a woman with flashing blue eyes, long blonde hair, and gorgeous curves.
She’s the same sweet smile, the same sassy mouth…
I could never say No to her before.
I should say No for her sake.
She deserves better than what I’ve become, scarred and damaged.

“They told me to stay away from you.
I went away to try… God, I tried.
Now everything has changed. I’m back, and
I’ll do whatever it takes to make you mine…

(A full-length, STAND-ALONE CONTEMPORARY romance about first love, redemption, and finding your way home. No cheating; No cliffhangers.) 







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Playlist



Excerpt

Gray

“I dreamed about you every night.” My confession makes her smile.

It’s the truth. It’s the only truth I know—if she’s in danger, I’ll carry her out. If she’s crying, I hold her until she stops. If she wants me… I can’t tell her no.

It’s been that way since she was just a cute little kid. It’s been this way since last summer when everything changed. I tried to fight it. She was only seventeen. I was almost twenty-one… Her daddy would’ve shot me dead and buried my body.

I tried to date… One time. It was a fucking disaster. I could only see her, taste her, want her. Only Drew gets me this way.

At night, I’d lie in bed and remember the first time we were together. Two triangles of white fabric covered her small breasts. I could see the curves at the bottoms and sides. They were perfect handfuls, high and pointed.

She looked at me as if she knew what she was doing to me in that white bikini. I’m sure I looked like an awestruck fool.

Then she blinked and tucked her chin into her shoulder, taunting me. Her hair swished down her back, ending at her slim waist. Her flat stomach led to round hips, long, silky legs. Her toenails were painted bright white, and I wanted to put them in my mouth. I’ve never wanted to do that.

I’ve never wanted to devour someone before.

My dick was so hard.

“I dreamed of you touching me.” Her voice drips with desire, and just like that, I have a steel rod in my pants. “Will you touch me now?”

“Drew…” I should tell her no.

Being here with her is dangerous.

If Danny found out… He’d say what I know. I’m too old for her. She’s too young. I should give her a chance to grow up. On top of that, I have nothing, no name, no status. I’m an orphan raised by a nobody.

I’m working to change it, but I haven’t yet.

She takes my hand and places it on the top of her thigh, at the hem of her red dress. “Touch me here,” she whispers, leaning into my ear.

She owns me in this moment, and she knows it.

She knows holding her is the greatest feeling in the world. It’s like coming home.

Her hand guides mine higher, sliding up the smooth skin of her leg. I feel her body tremble, and when my fingers touch the soft folds of her sex, I almost come in my pants. She’s not wearing underwear.

“Drew.” My voice is a hungry noise, the growl of a starving man.

“Yes,” she sighs. “Touch me, Gray.”

Her nails cut into my shoulders as I trace my fingers along the damp slit, teasing the tiny strip of curls, dipping the tip of one finger into her tight, clenching core. One more, and she moans. She’s so wet. I want to taste her.

“Gray…” Her hands go to my waist, pulling at the button on my jeans. She has my pants undone, and my erection is pointing right at her.

“Hang on.” I stand, fishing out my wallet, finding a condom.

I turn to the side to roll it on my aching dick.

As much as I dream of her carrying my baby, I know neither one of us is ready for that responsibility. Hell, I’m leaving for fucking Africa in less than two days. How I’ll survive four years without her, I don’t have a fucking clue, but I won’t do what they say I will. I won’t “ruin her” and run off.

My hands are on her again, lifting her by the ass and carrying her so her back is against the wall. Her mouth is on my neck, her soft tongue touching my hot skin as she kisses her way higher. I’m about to explode.

“I need you inside me.” Her lips graze my ear before she kisses it, and I don’t hesitate.

Lowering her onto my dick, my knees almost give out. My mind tilts at the sensation of her hot, tight, and clenching around my shaft. I have to hold still or I’ll come. Her thighs tense around my waist, and she struggles to move, letting out a low moan.

“Gray…” I feel her tremble, her muscles spasm, and my brow tightens.

I raise my head to find her eyes. “Did you come?”

Her nose curls, and she stretches up and down on me. “I came when you touched me.” She grips my shoulders, pulling up to kiss me. “Do it hard—the way you like it. I want to feel you. I want to remember you were here.”

Jesus. My eyes close, and I lower my mouth to hers. Her lips part, and our tongues curl together. I start to move, a deep thrust, and there’s no turning back.

“Drew…” It’s a ragged groan, and her body breaks again.

I’m relentless, driven by a need that never lets me go. Her small breasts bounce against my chest with every hard thrust. She moans, and her back arches, more clenching around my dick, pulling me further in.

“Oh,” she gasps, and I brace myself.

This is better than any drug. She’s my crack cocaine.

My hands grip her hips, pulling us together again and again, until I break, pressing her to the wall, filling that condom with every pulse, the way I dream of filling her, of putting my baby into her, of having all the things I want with her, a home, a family.

I’m breathing hard. My eyes are closed, and her fingers trace my neck, thread into my hair. She kisses my jaw, my cheek. The sensations consume me, overpower me. I hold onto her as I fumble my way back to Earth. I got lost in heaven.

Mine… Mine… The word echoes in my ears on every heartbeat. What will it take to make her mine?





Author Bio


Tia Louise is the USA Today best-selling, award-winning author of When We Touch, the “Bright Lights,” “One to Hold,” and “Dirty Players” series, and co-author of the #4 Amazon bestseller The Last Guy.

After being a teacher, a book editor, a journalist, and finally a magazine editor, she started writing love stories and never stopped.

Louise lives in the Midwest with her trophy husband, two teenage geniuses, and one grumpy cat. 

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Blog Tour - Release Blitz - Melt With You by JH Croix




Title: Melt With You
Series: Into the Fire #8
Author: J.H. Croix
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 27, 2018



Blurb

Harlow

A wedding, a one-night stand, and no happily-ever-after.
That’s how it all started with Max Channing.
Along comes another cliché – a second chance.
A year later, I’m about to face Christmas alone when tall, dark & s*xy as h*ll Max shows up again.
Our lives are worlds apart. He’s a billionaire tech investor. I’m a hotshot firefighter.
Nothing about us makes any sense.
I never thought I’d see him again after the hottest night of my life.
I was wrong, so very wrong.
When our paths cross again, we break every rule.
And set each on fire.


Max

Harlow May tests every limit I have and makes me want to break every d*mn rule she creates.
She’s a temptation I can’t seem to resist.
She fits no category. She’s strong & sassy and a firefighter to boot.
She fights the fire between us.
Once I have a taste, no one else will do.
I’ll fight for her and for us.
I only want one woman. Harlow.

*This is a full-length, standalone romance with a guaranteed HEA.







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Author Bio


USA Today Bestselling Author J. H. Croix lives in a small town in the historical farmlands of Maine with her husband and two spoiled dogs. Croix writes steamy contemporary romance with sassy independent women and rugged alpha men who aren't afraid to show some emotion. Her love for quirky small-towns and the characters that inhabit them shines through in her writing. Take a walk on the wild side of romance with her bestselling novels!


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