Blog Tour: The Hometown Hazard – Review + Author Playlist

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The Hometown Hazard by Dawn Lanuza
Published on January 29, 2016

Genre: New Adult, Romance
Goodreads | Amazon | Buqo

Jules Coronado has been away from her hometown for almost a decade but when an intruder breaks in to her childhood home, she finds herself coming back. Changes evidently took place in her small town, including her childhood best friend’s younger brother, Kip – now tall, slightly scruffed, all grown up and caught climbing into their garden wall.

Kip Villamor has a mission and despite Jules’ doubts, they team up: going on fieldtrips, tackling unsuspecting men, and trespassing offices to dig up dirt. But Jules has secrets of her own, one that might be exposed – unless she keeps her walls up. But climbing walls are Kip’s forte, remember?

Will her secrets keep her on his side, or will it force her to disappear again?

TheHometownHazardEbI wasn’t completely sure what to expect with Dawn Lanuza’s The Hometown Hazard, except that it was romance because it seemed like it. I read and enjoyed Dawn’s first book, The Boyfriend Backtrack, and I love spin-off stories, so when the blog tour came up, I signed up immediately.

This was different, definitely. Like I said, I came in expecting romance – and there was romance, definitely – and finished the book finding more. The Hometown Hazard had a small town, childhood friends, secrets, and a mystery that will keep you on your toes, wondering if there is really something in what Kip and Jules were following.

First, the mystery: what fun. I liked how Jules’ small town came alive in this story, and how all the people that the duo contacts rises from the pages, too. It was easy to imagine why Jules left without really finding out why because if you’ve been in a small town for so long, it’s just natural to go to the city, right? But don’t take my word for it, because there’s more in the main character Jules, and even more in the lead interest Kip. The mystery was unveiled skillfully, and like any good mystery, it makes you want to reread to get the clues again.

And of course, the romance: oh, Kip. I think anyone who’s read this will agree that Kip is his own character, totally different from the other boys that Dawn wrote about in The Boyfriend Backtrack. Kip was charming and adventurous and I totally get why one would want to follow him around. In some ways, I felt that the romance didn’t really take centerstage here, but I didn’t mind because it played off great with the other aspects of the book.

The Hometown Hazard has great pacing, lovely characters, and an adventure you wouldn’t want to miss. It’s the kind of book you’d want to bring home to a trip to the province…and then you’d end up wishing there’s a Kip wherever you’re staying. :)

Favorite quotes:

I think it’s possible for you to love someone but not necessarily like them at times. Do you get that?

If I haven’t forgiven myself, I wouldn’t be strong enough to love someone this much.

“How do you undo a ghosting?” Leslie asked.
“You make an appearance,” I laughed. “And stick around.”

Check out The Hometown Hazard playlist:

About the Author:

Dawn Lanuza started writing stories when she was just a kid (they weren’t good or even finished). She works for the music industry by day and writes meet cutes and snappy comebacks by night. ‘The Boyfriend Backtrack’ is her first book. She currently lives with her family and an adopted dog.

Author Links: Amazon / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook


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Blog Tour: Songs of Our Breakup – Guest Post and Excerpt

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I love books with songs. Books with Japanese actors, not so much, because I never really got into the Japanese thing even if I love the country. But I was willing to try this, and I wanted feels, so. You can read more about what I thought about this book in my review! :)

So, break-up songs. Or heartbreak songs, when it’s not really a break-up. when I went through something similar (but also not really, haha, long story) to Jill, my best friends supplied me with an entire playlist of sad/heartbreak songs to help me cope. I had them on repeat for weeks, because of course you need a soundtrack when you suddenly burst into tears in the shower! Or when you’re walking! Or…all those things! :D Some songs on my list: Breathe Again by Sara Bareilles, Call It Off by Tegan and Sara, Wanted You More by Lady Antebellum, and Out of My Head by Ben Rector. </3

So today I have Jay E. Tria, author of Songs of Our Breakup, on the blog to talk about her heartbreak songs. Check out her list below!

Top 5 Breakup/Heartbreak Songs

When I was tasked to choose a guest post topic, I jumped on this one figuring it would be easy. I mean people carry heartbreak songs around with them all the time. My karaoke roster for one is usually 80% heartbreak songs, and those are the best ones to sing!

But when I tried to compose the list of my top 5 songs of sadness, I sat there and watched the cursor blink a few dozen hundred times, my head a blank space. I remembered that I haven’t really been keeping up with new releases, relying solely on the millennial magic of Spotify. But I guess that shouldn’t matter much. Breakup songs usually endure.

So here it is: the list of my favorite songs of heartbreak, no recent hit in sight, in no particular order. Hit play, click shuffle, maybe feel a few things, and repeat. Breakup not required.

The Script, Breakeven

  • Why it hurts. Because it’s a truth universally acknowledged that love is not given in equal measure, and thus when it is broken, the divide is unequal too.
  • The lines that got me. ‘Cause I’ve got time while she’s got freedom /Because when a heart breaks it don’t break even.

Sandwich, Masilungan

  • Why it hurts. I like my Sandwich served raw—simple words and a lazy tune that builds into a violent barrage of feelings as Raimund Marasigan screams the gigantic question of why into my ears. Even the video by Quark Henares is awesome in its simplicity too. Shots of faces, profiles, and movement, proving that you don’t always need tears to evoke sadness.
  • The lines that got me. Wala natayo/Wala natayo/Bakit wala na tayo?

Ed Sheeran, Photograph

  • Why it hurts. You can argue this isn’t technically a sad song, but to me the words are asking someone to hold on to a promise, a blind hope. It makes me think that hope, while a positive thing, can be even sadder than a clean break because it leaves you hanging.
  • The lines that got me. We keep this love in a photograph/
    We made these memories for ourselves/ Where our eyes are never closing/
    Hearts are never broken/And time’s forever frozen still.

Arctic Monkeys, The Bakery.

  • Why it hurts. Alex Turner is a fricking lyrics genius. I’d like one hour to see a normal, everyday scene through his eyes. Here he makes the bakery seem like the most romantic setting for a boy pining over a girl. The line that killed my heart is actually the last one, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself. The following were heartbreakers too.
  • The lines that got me.The more you keep on looking/The more it’s hard to take/Love, we’re in stalemate/To never meet is surely where we’re bound.

The Smiths, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

  • Why it hurts. I can’t make a list of the best saddest songs without including the Smiths. Morrissey’s MO seemed to be to wrench sadness from the depths of broken hearts and make the display seem like the most beautiful thing. This song is short and simple in the wretchedness it brings, because hasn’t everyone had this dream?
  • The lines that got me. Last night I dreamt/ That somebody loved me/ No hope, but no harm/ Just another false alarm.


Songs of Our BreakupSongs of Our Breakup (Playlist Book 1) by Jay E. Tria
Published on August 22nd 2015
Genre: New Adult Romance/Chicklit
Goodreads | Amazon

Every breakup has its playlist.

How do you get over a seven-year relationship? 21-year-old Jill is trying to find out. But moving on is a harder job when Kim, her ex-boyfriend, is the lead guitarist of the band, and Jill is the vocalist. Every song they play together feels like slicing open a barely healed tattoo.

Jill’s best friend Miki says she will be out of this gloom soon. Breakups have a probation period, he says. Jill is on the last month of hers and Miki is patiently keeping her company.

But the real silver lining is Shinta. Having a hot Japanese actor friend in times like these is a welcome distraction. This gorgeous celebrity has been defying time zones and distance through the years to be there for Jill. Now he is here, physically present, and together he and Jill go through old lyrics, vivid memories, walks in the rain, and bottles of beer. Together they try to answer the question: what do you do when forever ends?


Continue Reading →

Raw Blue

Raw Blue by Kirsty EagarRaw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Publisher: Catnip
Number of pages:  288
My copy:  paperback, from Book Depository

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

* * *

I’ve heard of Raw Blue several times from friends who raved about it, and said it was exceptionally good Aussie fiction. Of course, as with most of these good Aussie fiction, it was kind of hard to acquire a copy, so I was really, really glad when this was picked up by a UK publisher so it was available via Book Depository. I picked up Raw Blue because I was headed for a trip to the beach with my colleagues, where there were chances to surf (which we didn’t really do). Plus I have been craving for some good contemporary YA book from all the serious, adult books I’ve been reading back then.

Carly quit university to spend her days surfing in the morning and working as a cook in a cafe in the evening. She keeps to herself, and to her surfing, because it was the only thing that could help her forget about what happened two years ago in school. Then Carly meets Ryan, who seems to be attracted to her. She finds herself drawn to him, but her past is stopping her. Can she let go of all the pain from what happened to her and move forward, if it means being truly happy?

Carly was kind of hard to get into because she’s so…rough. So angry. So alone. For all the good reasons, too, because of what happened to her. But that’s it, she’s so rough. And in pain. I think in the course of Raw Blue , I felt more sympathy for the people around her who tried to reach out to her – Danny, Hannah and Ryan. They seem like truly good people, and the ones that you would want to have when you’re stuck in darkness and would bring you out only if you let them. I thought Danny was especially endearing, with his synesthesia and how he just assumed he was friends with Carly from the start.

Ryan was just as rough around the edges, and it took me a while to figure out if I liked him or not. I thought Janice‘s description about hm and his relationship with Carly was described perfectly: “…and then there’s Ryan, who looks at Carly and thinks she’s a good thing.” I think that’s what we need sometimes — someone who looks at us and sees us as something good, even if we cannot see it for ourselves.

There were some stellar lines in the book, too. Some of my favorites:

My happiness is crunchy. Snapping, crackling and popping in the sun. (p. 143)

I didn’t pick them, they just turned up in my life, and I’m really glad. I think this and I’m suddenly struck down with gratitude for all the things this place has given me. The break, the ever-changing moods of the ocean and the best surfs I’ve ever had. Tonight my world is a bubble. Clear, round, perfect and fragile. (p. 154)

You just have to see those times for what they have – a chance to look down at your life. And when you do, you see it’s a skin made up of shiny little moments. (p. 288)

I liked Raw Blue. Perhaps not with the same intensity as other readers did, but I liked it. When I finished reading this, I was a bit “meh”, but now that I revisited it to write this review, I realized that I did like it more than I thought I did. :) This is good contemporary YA (or really, not so much YA since the characters are a bit older), and I’m really, really glad this is easier to get now than before. I look forward to reading more of Kirsty Eagar’s books. :)

Rating: [rating=3]

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Janicu’s Book Blog


Flat-Out Love

Flat-Out Love by Jessica ParkFlat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 400
My copy: ebook review copy from the author

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

* * *

Flat-Out Love surprised me last year because it just started popping up on friends’ blogs and Goodreads profile around the same time. It took me a while to get myself a copy (because I was hoping someone would buy me the ebook for Christmas, LOL) and I finally took the initiative to request for a copy when people started putting this book in their Best of 2011 lists. What is up with this book that everyone seemed to love it?

Julie Seagle is excited for college, but her excitement was dampened because of a little housing hijinks. But the Watkins came to the rescue after her mom calls her old friend and soon, Julie moves in with them, up until she finds a new place to live. The Watkins family seem like any other normal family in Boston, except for the presence of Flat Finn, the cardboard cutout version of the eldest son who said to be traveling all over the world. But there seem to be something off everywhere, and Julie being the fixer that she is, wants to find out what. And if it includes falling in love with the real 3-dimensional Finn who’s currently traipsing all over the world…then why not, right?

So, I was surprised by Flat-Out Love. Yes, even as I was reading it, it kept on surprising me. It was a bit longer than I expected, but it was hardly boring. The characters felt real and their banter genuine. Julie was very easy to relate to, and like her, I loved and enjoyed my college years. Reading the book made me miss my own college years — choosing classes, meeting new people, studying for class and writing papers. Julie’s relationships with the rest of the Watkins family was so fun to read, especially her friendship with Matt and Celeste. Celeste was an odd girl but I thought she was a darling. Matt was your typical geek, but it wasn’t the only reason why I liked his character. Like Julie, he has a very distinct voice and character, and yes his defining moment in the book made me shed some tears, too.

The secret wasn’t really hard to guess. I already had a guess about it early on, and I was wondering if my hunch was wrong. I wasn’t. I’m sure other people would also be able to guess, but don’t stop reading there. It’s so easy to get invested in everyone in the story and I wanted to know what exactly happened, why the secret was such. That, and because I really like everyone already, I just really wanted everything to work out for everyone. It’s like I’ve become friends with all of them and with good friends, you just want the good for them.

And since there’s love on the title…how about the romance? Well, the previous ravers reviewers of Flat-Out Love were right to rave about it. The fun conversations, the “moments”, the slow and steady and delicious burn…awesome. It had all the good romances in it — even the ones that didn’t work out. Reconciling everything after all has been undone ((I apologize for the vagueness, if I say anything more it would be spoilery. But those who’ve read this would understand :D)) was kind of a challenge, and I couldn’t really wrap my head around it for a bit. Still, it doesn’t make the novel less enjoyable. I had a big smile on my face when I got to the last page. I meant what I said on Twitter when I finished this novel: What a deliciously satisfying read. ♥

Oh and did I tell you this book is indie? :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Required Reading 2012: January

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Janicu’s Book Blog

More information: Flat-Out Love website / author blog