Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass- Blog Tour

Hi! Welcome to my tour stop for Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass.

Book Purchase Links & About the book

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing date: March 22nd, 2022

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Rain Reign meets Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World in this heartfelt novel about a neurodivergent thirteen-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons.

Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined. . categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track. Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.

Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.

15 Reactions I had while reading Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

.1- I love the friendship between Ellen and Laurel at the start of this story. 

2-Isa seems like they are a fantastic character, and they seem like they could be a great friend to Ellen. 

3-The scene on the airplane made me sad because Laurel could have talked to Ellen about what was going on instead of leaving for her new friends. 

4-I loved how Ellen stuck up for Isa during the room assignments. 

5-While I understand Ellen is upset about the team assignments, this is also an opportunity for her to meet new students and make new friends. 

6-I love Ellen sticking up for Isa. I understand kids can be mean, especially to those they don’t know. I feel like Gib and Andy could still be nicer. 

7-The private text between Ellen and Isa is so sweet, and it makes me happy that Ellen and Isa are forming a friendship, 

8-I love the team bonding more. I was hoping they would, but reading the scenes is so heartwarming. 

9-I love how Gibs stepped in when Ellen needed help. This shows that they’re working as a team. 

10-Ellen and Laurel hanging out together makes me happy. I wish that the two friend groups could combine into one, though. 

11-I love the talk Elle and Laurel have in Barcellona. It was so sweet and showed that the two of them are really repairing their friendship. 

12-Laurel and Ellen having an honest talk about what Ellen feels is one of my favorite moments. I love that both of them are talking about Ellen is feeling honestly. 

13-Ellen’s conversation with her dad is so sweet, and I believe it was exactly what Ellen needed to hear. 

14- The pride parade scene was one of my favorite scenes in this book. I loved how it made the great feel included. 

15-The ending of this book was so sweet, and I love how the story ends on a cheerful note. 

About The Author -A.J. Sass

A. J. Sass (he/they) is an author, editor, and competitive figure skater who is interested in how intersections of identity, neurodiversity, and allyship can impact story narratives. He is the author of Ana on the Edge, a Booklist Editors’ Choice 2020 and ALA 2021 Rainbow Book List Top 10 for Young Readers selection, and Ellen Outside the Lines (Little, Brown, 2022), the co-author of Camp QUILTBAG* with Nicole Melleby (Algonquin, 2023), as well as a contributor to the This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us (Knopf) and Allies: Real Talk about Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again (DK US & UK) anthologies. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook

TBR & Beyond Tours-Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass blog and Instagram Tour Schedule

Blog Tour

March 21st
unconventional Quirky Bibliophile – Review & Mood Board
Kait Plus Books – Review & Mood Board

March 22nd
Sadie’s Spotlight – Promotional Post
Melancholic Blithe – Review, Mood Board
Rajiv’s Reviews – Review

March 23rd
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
The Bookwyrm’s Den – Review

March 24th
Djreadsbooks – Promotional Post
Not In Jersey – Review
Paiges of Novels – 15 Reactions While Reading Ellen Outside the Lines

March 25th
Twirling Book Princess – Promotional Post
Jen Jen Reviews – Review

March 26th
Rampant Reading Reviews – Promotional Post
Boys’ Mom Reads! – Review
LellieReads – Review

March 27th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
the nutty bookworm reads alot – Review
Lily’s Cozy Blog – Review & Tik Tok

March 21st
tbrandbeyond – Promotional Post
quirkybibliophile – Blogger’s Choice

March 22nd
curiouskitreads – Top 5 Reasons to Read Ellen Outside the Lines
fangirlpixiebooks – Promotional Post
rajivsreviews – Blogger’s Choice

March 23rd
rosyreadz – Top 5 Reasons to Read Ellen Outside the Lines
ninebookishlives – Blogger’s Choice

March 24th
djreadsbooks – Blogger’s Choice
notinjersey – Blogger’s Choice
paiges_of_novels – Blogger’s Choice

March 25th
justa.gal.andherbooks – Review
jenjenreviews – Blogger’s Choice

March 26th
mellasmusings – Review & Favorite Quotes
rampant_reading – Blogger’s Choice
lelliereads – Blogger’s Choice

March 27th
writingrosereads – Promotional Post
feliciareads11 – Blogger’s Choice
lilly_sreads – Blogger’s Choice

Good Game, Well Played by Rachel Smith Katherine Lobo, and Justin Birch (ARC Review)

Hi! I grabbed this Graphic Novel from Net Galley Read Now a few months ago.  I really enjoyed the novel, and I found it very fun. 

Title: Good Game, Well Played 

Authors: Rachel Smith, Katherine Lobo, and Justin Birch

Genre: YA Graphic Novel

Add to Goodreads: here

Publication: May 3rd, 2022

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Characters

The characters in this novel were so sweet, and so much fun to read about. They all met while working at a game store, and I just loved the vibes of all these characters. Each character had their own personality and story, which made it easy to follow the story of each character. All the characters had their own demons, and I loved that they could all come together, and they could all help each other. These characters all had a passion for games, and as someone who also enjoys games, I loved reading about characters who enjoy the same thing as I do. The end of the book was so sweet, and I’m so happy with how the story ended. 

Plot

Good Game, Well played had an interesting plot and one that I wanted to know where the story was going to go. I loved the fact that all of the characters came together for something they loved, and how they all worked so well together. There are other elements of the story that I loved, such as the character’s love for video games, and the different family dynamics, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Some of the plots come at the end of the book, and I loved how we got to see the characters later in life and see how their stories ended. 

Writing

Good Game, Well Played had fantastic writing, and it made you feel like you were a part of the story. The heavy scenes were serious in tone, and the light-hearted scenes were more light-hearted in tone. This graphic novel was a journey, and I believe you can see that in the writing. 

Art

I loved the art style in Good Game, Well Played. I don’t read a lot of Graphic Novels, and this art style was not only adorable, but it worked well with the story. Like the writing, the tone of the more serious scenes uses dark colors and tones, and more light-hearted scenes use lighter color pallets and lighter shades. 

Enjoyment/ Recommend for

I really enjoyed this book, and I am so glad I took the chance to read the story. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys Graphic Novels or wants a YA story that is a little off the beaten path.

Every Variable of Us -Blog Tour – 15 Reasons to read Every Variable of Us & Review

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing date: March 1st, 2022

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Synopsis:

After Philly teenager Alexis Duncan is injured in a gang shooting, her dreams of a college scholarship and pro basketball career vanish in an instant. To avoid becoming another Black teen trapped in her poverty-stricken neighborhood, she shifts her focus to the school’s STEM team, a group of nerds seeking their own college scholarships. Academics have never been her thing, but Alexis is freshly motivated by Aamani Chakrabarti, the new Indian student who becomes her mentor (and crush?). Alexis begins to see herself as so much more than an athlete. But just as her future starts to reform, Alexis’s own doubts and old loyalties pull her back into harm’s way.

Charles A. Bush was raised in Philadelphia, and attended Cabrini University before honing his craft at the University of Oxford. In addition to writing young-adult novels, he played professional basketball overseas, spends far too much time obsessing over all things Marvel, has long run out of places to store his mountains of books, and dreams of someday debating literature with Rory Gilmore. Every Variable of Us is his first novel. 

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

1-I love the fact that Alexis describes her style at the start of the book so the reader can envision the character in the clothes. 

2- Alexis seems like a character who knows right from wrong. I feel like she just slips up sometimes, which makes her story authentic because humans also slip up. 

3- Alexis as a character is very bold and matter of fact. I love that so much.

4-I really enjoy Aamani as a character; I’m the kind of person who really enjoys characters who would be described as nerdy because I relate to them. 

5-Aamani is also a bold character but differently from Alexis. She corrects people that make assumptions about her, and I love that about her character. 

6-I felt so bad for Alexis. I know how much she loves basketball, and it’s very upsetting that she can’t play. 

7- I want the relationship between Alexis and her mom to improve. I understand that sometimes parents and their kids don’t get along, but I want them both to agree. 

8- Lex and Aamani are bonding over comic books, games, and the MCU, and I just love seeing them bond so much. 

9- I love that Alexis is starting to make friends, and find her community/ found family with the STEM team. 

10- The observatory scene was so cute. I really loved it, and I loved seeing Alexis and Amani start having feelings for each other. 

11- I was surprised by the choice Alexis made on the day of the last competition for the STEM team. 

12-I really hope this story has a happy ending. I hope the STEM team can make it to nationals. 

13-Alexis helping the team get to nationals seems like they are getting back on speaking terms again, and I love that. 

14- The scenes with the friends towards the end of the novel were excellent, and I just loved them. 

15- The end of the novel was so sweet and so heartwarming and this novel just left me with all the feel-good feelings. 

Rating: (*****)- 5 stars

What I loved 

Characters

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I’m a fan of characters and character-driven stories. I loved the characters in this story because they were flawed, and the characters felt real. I loved how they all had interests in their own things, including Marvel, math, and STEM. The main character Alexis really grew as the story progressed, and I loved seeing her grow for the better, and how she became a better person over the course of the story. Aamani was a supporting character in the novel, and she was another I really enjoyed reading about. The friends will be talked about later in this review, but I really enjoyed their character arcs as well. 

Plot

The plot of this story was a book I very much enjoyed. While this was more of a character-driven story, I still really enjoyed the plot of this story as it was about finding yourself and finding the true meaning of friendship. I love friendship-driven stories, and ones with found family elements, so this story was right up my alley. When the story started, I was not sure where the plot was going to go based on the summary, but I really enjoyed the journey this story took you on. The plot plays a part in every story, and this novel had a fantastic conclusion. 

Writing 

The writing in this story was fantastic, and I loved it. Every Variable of Us was filled with a mix of light-hearted scenes, and heavy scenes, which I loved. All the light-hearted scenes were filled with light and fun moments because of the writing. In a similar way, the heavy scenes, such as the ones with friends, Aamani and Alexis, and Alexis and her mom, were filled with dramatic style because of the writing. 

Romance/ Friendship 

I’m combining these two elements in my review because both played equal elements to the story. The romance between Alexis and Aamani was so sweet, and I just loved the two of them so much. They both had moments of finding themselves and exploring their sexuality in the novel, and I believe there should be more of that in YA. Alexis had two friend groups in Every Variable of Us. In the novel, neither of them interacted. In fact, Alexis was judged by the group she had before the novel for being friends with the second group. I loved the second group of friends because they all supported each other, even if they didn’t agree with the actions that Alexis took over the course of the novel. 

Personal Enjoyment & Recommend for 

I loved this novel so much. It’s one of my favorite novels of the year so far. I recommend this book for those that enjoy LGBTQ+ novels, and novels where the characters grow over the course of the novel.

Check Out the rest of the Tour

February 14th
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post
Pagies of Book – Review & 15 Reactions While Reading Every Variable of Us

February 15th
Melancholic Blithe – 15 Reactions While Reading Every Variable of Us
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review

February 16th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
The Written Journey – Review & Favorite Quotes

February 17th
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Midsummer Night’s Read – Review

February 18th
Writing Rose Reads – Promotional Post
GivernyReads – Review,

February 19th
Inking & Thinking – Review & Playlist
Lily”s Cozy Blog – Review

February 20th
The Book Dutchesses – Promotional Post
Fanna for Books – Review

February 14th
emmreadsbooks – Review
theaterbookgirl – Blogger’s Choice

February 15th
hoardingbooks.herdingcats – Review & Favorite Quotes
popthebutterfly – Blogger’s Choice

February 16th
shereadytoread – Top 5 Reasons to Read Every Variable of Us
feliciareads11 – Blogger’s Choice
thewrittenjourney_ – Blogger’s Choice

February 17th
morningstarlitpages – Top 5 Reasons to Read Every Variable of Us
ninebookishlives – Blogger’s Choice

February 18th
tbrandbeyond – Promotional Post
writingrosereads – Blogger’s Choice
giverny.reads – Blogger’s Choice

February 19th
whisperingprose – Review
lilly_sreads – Blogger’s Choice

February 20th
karendeeandabc – Review
thebookdutchesses – Blogger’s Choice

Sparrow by Brian Kindall -EARC Review

Hi! I got this book as an E-ARC from NetGalley Read Now. It’s been a few weeks since the time I finished reading it because I wanted some time to think about what I thought before posting the review. 

Title Sparrow

Author: Brian Kindall

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

Rating: 3.5

What I enjoyed  about Sparrow 

Characters

The characters in this story were part of the reason I wanted to finish the story. I enjoyed the family relationships and how the characters interacted with each other. There were also supporting characters with interesting interactions that I wanted to read more about. Each character had a story, and this story was revealed as the novel progressed, which I loved, because, by the end of the novel, they answered all the questions I had.  

Writing 

The writing in this story was also well done. This is a story that was a mixture of fantasy and a family saga, so Kindall needed to divide the writing between both of these elements in the story. Sparrow was filled with light-hearted scenes, in which the writing was lighter in tone and a break from the heavy elements in the story. Heavy scenes make the reader feel for the characters and become curious about where the story is going to go. The writing was also one of my favorite elements in the story. 

Enjoyment and recommend for

Despite not being a real hit for me, I still enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed the characters, writing, plot elements that worked for me, and the family elements of the story. I recommend this for fans of Middle-Grade, especially Middle-Grade Fantasy.  

What didn’t work for me?

Plot 

Honestly, I didn’t think this book would be just an average book based on the way the story started. I was enjoying the story and became curious as to where the story was going to go. As the story moved, I was not as interested in the story as much, but I didn’t know if the book would get better. I believe those who don’t mind the combination of Fantasy and a Contemporary story will enjoy this more than I did. 

Pacing

Some of the pacing in this story was just so slow. I was expecting some slow scenes because we needed to find out about the family, and some of the other elements in the story, but I had problems with how slow the story was in places.

Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker (ARC Review)

Hi! I won a Goodreads Giveaway a few months back for this book. I wanted to give a formal review for it, even though it wasn’t required, and the book has already been out for a week. Information from Goodreads!

Title: Waking Romeo

Author: Kathryn Barker

Published: January 4th, 2022, by Flatiron books 

Rating: 3.25 stars (3 on Goodreads)

Add this book to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57693691-waking-romeo

What worked for me

Characters

I’ve been sitting with this book for a few days, and even dropped my rating down. My favorite thing about this book was the characters. Being familiar with Romeo and Juliet, I already knew about them, and their story. Barker does an excellent job of bringing these characters into a new light and giving them a new story. There are new characters in this story as well, and they were fantastic and had interesting backstories. This book lies in the characters, and their banter and interactions, and I’m fine with that because I enjoyed them. I’m not a fan of Wuthering Heights, but I still really enjoyed Ellis as a character. 

Writing 

The writing in this book is good. It works well for the story being told, and I really enjoyed it. I thought that the scenes that were light-hearted worked well because the tone of the book was lighter. The heavier, or more heartbreaking scenes, were a more serious tone, and I think that worked really well for the story being told. 

What could have been better 

Plot

So, here’s where things didn’t work so well for me with this book. I honestly think this could just be a me thing, and others would enjoy the story more than I did. Here’s the thing: as I said above, I’m not a fan of Wuthering Heights. The story of Wuthering Heights confused me, and I was confused by this story as well. There are time jumps in Waking Romeo, and while I understood where they were going, time jumps rarely work well for me because they take me out of the story. The story of Waking Romeo was good, but the time jumps took me out of the story, and I was lost and confused sometimes. I think the plot of this story would work better for people who are used to the Dystopian genre. This was the first Dystopian book I’ve read in about 10 years. There were some elements of the plot I enjoyed. I loved the overall story of waking Romeo and Juliet, living her own life for her. I enjoyed Ellis as a character and his love story with Jules. 

Romance 

The romance in the book could have been better. We all know that Romeo and Juliet are a couple, and I thought it would end this way as well. I don’t want to spoil the book, but I just thought the romance could have been better. I enjoyed elements of the love story, but in the end, I just wanted more.