Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

The Becoming of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions, #1)

Jacque's Review:

The Becoming of Noah Shaw is the first book in the Shaw Confessions series, which is described as a companion to the Mara Dyer series.  To me, a companion novel or series can be read independently, which is not the case with this book.  The story picks up after the end of The Retribution of Mara Dyer and assumes the reader has a considerable amount of knowledge of events that took place in that series.  Any of the events that were vital to this story were briefly touched upon to refresh the reader, but I would not recommend reading this book if you haven't already read the Mara Dyer series.

I will be the first to admit that Noah Shaw is one of my all time favorite characters, so I was ecstatic when I heard there was going to be another series from his point of view.  He is just as charming as ever, but we get to see first hand how his "gifts" are impacting his life.  He can not only heal himself and others, but he is able to see the pain and suffering of other "gifted" individuals as if he were in their bodies at the time of the incidents.  There is a sudden increase in the number of apparent suicides of "gifted" teens, so Mara, Noah and their friends begin working with some new gifted characters that are introduced in this book to bring the violence to an end.

Noah and Mara's brother Daniel refuse to believe Mara is involved in the deaths, but another character insists she is behind it.  They not only need to stop the deaths, but also clear Mara of these accusations.

Overall, I thought this was a great start to the new series.  I had no idea what to expect and I was shocked by many of the revelations.  There is a major event that takes place at the end of the book, which completely changes the game for the gifted.  Their lives have been irrevocably changed and I can't wait to see how things will unfold in the sequel.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Audiobook review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Book Summary
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Flo's Review
I'd read this book as a child, but I all I remembered about it was that I loved it. Since the movie is coming out in a few months, I wanted to remember the story, so I did a re-read. Or a listen, if you will. I was excited to see that the audiobook is narrated by the author herself, so I that's the route I chose.

Let's start with the unfortunately...if you have read any of my reviews before, you know that my, reading pet peeve (I guess you could call it) is when I don't like the main characters. And, guys? I just couldn't with Meg. It was okay that she was stubborn and impatient....but she was also so whiny and she wanted everybody to do things for her, fix things for her. Now, this is part of her character growth by the end of the story and also she has a good excuse for her behavior toward the end....but that didn't make it any easier. And reading someone whining as opposed to hearing it is probably a little better. Unfortunately, in this instance, Mrs. L'Engle did such a great job as a whiny Meg that it made a lot of the audiobook kind of a "suffer through" experience. But enough of the 'dark planet' type talk (tee hee hee)!

I am glad I did a re-read because I am pretty sure that I did not pick up on all the religious elements in the book as a child. I won't describe them here in case they could be considered spoilers, but I am interested to see how they will be handled in a secular movie.

Speaking of the movie -- the re-read accomplished what I hoped it would. I am now even more excited for the movie! I can't wait to see Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. I can't wait to see how they portray all the different worlds. I can't wait to see if they did a Maze Runner type thing where the main character in the book is annoying, but in the movie is perfectly fine. March 9th can't some soon enough!

How about you? Did you read this book as a child? Are you excited for the movie?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched, #2)

Jacque's Review:

I really enjoyed Matched, the first book in the series, and gave it 5 stars.  This book, however, seemed to have a much slower pace.  It took forever for things to really pick up, which could cause some readers to lose interest.  I will tell you, the ending was definitely worth plugging through some of the slower parts.

Ky and Cassia alternate telling the story, so we get to see what is happening to both of them through out the book.  Ky was sent to the Outer Provinces, essentially to die, because he is an "Aberration".  Cassia is sent to a work camp to train for her new job assignment, but escapes to look for Ky.  In the process, she meets Indie and learns more about the rebellion.

Ky is leery of the rebellion because his father was one of the leaders.  It ended up getting both of his parents killed, but he no longer wants to live under the control of the Society. He meets another boy who is interested in the rebellion and they decide to escape, taking a young boy named Eli with them. 

Throughout the journey we learn more about the rebellion and how it has infiltrated all levels of the Society.   Xander even makes a surprise appearance and we learn one of his secrets, thanks to Ky.  He doesn't tell Cassia, because he doesn't believe it is his secret to tell, but it could make a drastic impact on how things turn out in Reached.

Overall, I enjoyed Crossed and look forward to seeing how the series will conclude.  I'm not sure Ky is really the best choice for Cassia, so I hope she keeps her mind open to the possibility of Xander.  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

One Paris Summer

Goodreads Overview:

Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become  the best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

Jacque's Review:

Sophie grew tremendously as a character throughout this book.  She started out as a teen who was afraid of everything.  She was in a foreign country where she couldn't speak or understand the language, which was definitely a disadvantage.  Add in the wicked step-sister, Camille, who repeatedly set her up for failure and it was destined to be the longest summer in history.  

On the plus side, she was in a beautiful city full of places to explore.  I went to Paris a few years ago and loved reading about many of the places we visited.  The catacombs, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and Versailles... just to name a few.  

When she meets Mathieu she hopes her luck has finally changed.  Unfortunately, she discovers he is one of Camille's friends, who were all instructed to make her life as miserable as possible.  Fortunately, Mathieu is not under Camille's spell and offers to help her learn French.  He even offers to let her use his piano to practice.  A cute love story develops between the two, but Camille is determined to sabotage any thoughts Sophie may have of wanting to move to Paris permanently.  

Overall, this was a fun summer read with an entertaining YA love story.  I loved Sophie, Mathieu, and Sophie's brother Eric, but Camille and Eric's friend Dane were obnoxious.  I can somewhat see where Camille was coming from, but I felt like her actions were well beyond realistic.  I detested both of those characters and often wished I could delete them from the story.  I think the overall impact would have been much better without some of their antics, but I still enjoyed the story.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book review: The Anthology Part 1 by Garth Brooks

Book Summary
The first five years were filled with high adventure, with dreams coming true, with new friendships beginning and old friendships growing. Most of all, though, the years were filled with music being made. We thought about songs night and day, chased the things. I was surrounded by songwriters, musicians, producers, engineers, managers, by people who lived to make music, and we got to see the world through songs. There were a lot of firsts, one after another: First time leaving Oklahoma for Nashville, first time hearing one of our songs on the radio, first time hitting number one. We won’t ever get to go through all those firsts again, but this book is my chance to get together with the people who shared the experiences and together remember how it all went down. This book gathers what comes to our minds when we think of the first five years and the songs that came to life during that time.
Inside these pages you’ll find the music that got released in those first five years, five CDs of it. But you’ll also find a few recordings that we’ve never shared, some of my favorites. You’ll find photographs that have never been made public, behind-the-scenes images from before the first record and others from during the journey. There are artifacts from the vaults, things I’ve saved myself, bits and pieces of this history that mean a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to bring people closer to what I saw, what I experienced. This feels like the closest I’ve come to doing just that. 

Flo's Review

I love Garth Brooks. Love him. I have for years. He has so many songs that make up the soundtrack of my life: "The Dance" and "Standing Outside the Fire" to name a couple. So when I saw this book at the library, I knew I had to read it. This is a classic coffee table book. It takes the reader through the first five years by going through his first five albums and talking about several songs from each album. Every so often, Garth shares a little story or reflection on his life/his music. 

This book was a lot of fun. I went through reading about the songs I knew (admittedly, there are several that I didn't) and I really enjoyed learning about how they came into existence. The writers for each of songs were identified and often contributed to the stories. My favorite parts were the ones where Trisha Yearwood shared her experience, because I love her and I love them together. 

If you are a Garth fan, I think you'll enjoy giving this a read or a skim. I think there is going to be Part 2 coming, and I look forward to reading that one as well.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, New Books!

Happy New Year! I am so excited for 2018 and all the good books coming out!! Let's dive right in with three titles I am looking forward to in January.


Mez's Magic (The Lost Rainforest #1) by Eliot Schrefer - publishes January 2, 2018
The Lion King meets Wings of Fire in the magical rainforest kingdom of Caldera in this new middle grade animal fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer.

Caldera has forever been divided into those animals who walk by night and those who walk by day. Nightwalker panthers, like young Mez and her beloved sister, have always feared daywalkers as creatures of myth and legend. Until the eclipse.

Now Mez has discovered that she can cross the Veil and enter the daylight world. Her magical power has unknown depths, but she must rush to discover it after a mysterious stranger arrives at her family’s den, bearing warnings of a reawakened evil.

Saving Caldera means Mez must leave her sister behind and unite an unlikely group of animal friends to unravel an ancient mystery and protect their rainforest home.

Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer - publishes January 9, 2018
Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history—and her own—the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz - publishes January 30, 2018
Frankie knows she’ll be in big trouble if Dad discovers she secretly posted a dating profile for him online. But she’s determined to find him a wife, even if she ends up grounded for life. Frankie wants what she had before Mom died. A family of three. Two is a pair of socks or the wheels on a bicycle or a busy weekend at the B&B where Frankie and Dad live. Three is a family. And Frankie’s is missing a piece.

But Operation Mom is harder to pull off than Frankie expects. None of the Possibles are very momish, the B&B’s guests keep canceling, Frankie’s getting the silent treatment from her once best friend, and there’s a maybe-ghost hanging around. Worst of all, Gram and Dad are definitely hiding secrets of their own. 

If a smart cookie like Frankie wants to save the B&B and find her missing piece, she’s going to have to figure out what secrets are worth keeping and when it’s time to let go.

What books are you most looking forward to in January? Let us know in the comments.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Book review: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Book Summary
Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We're still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

Flo's Review
This book was simply adorable. It's composed entirely of emails and text messages. That, plus the ease of Ava and Gen's banter, made it a quick and simple read. I finished it in two sittings. 

Writers are always being coached to, "Show, Don't Tell." Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin did a great job establishing the relationship between their characters through the chosen electronic media. I felt the deep bond and love between the friends from the very beginning and throughout the book. 

I also felt that I Hate Everyone But You did a great job of talking about a variety of timely and important social issues in a way that they would come up for a young adult reader. There was no making a point one way or another, honestly, that I took away -- even though Gen and Ava often had different experiences and points of view on these issues. Instead, it was just these two girls talking about mental health, transphobia, and other things as they came up for them.

My only one thing with the book was that I felt it could have been a little shorter. The email/texting format is a hard one to hold attention for an extended number of pages. I Hate Everyone But You succeeded, but I don't think it would have had it been any longer. 

If you are lucky enough to have a friend who has been with you through many years of your life -- as you have left home, experienced new things, changed and adapted accordingly -- then you are blessed indeed. I am lucky enough to have relationships like this, and this book celebrates them. I love it. Romance is nice, but it's so nice, honest, and refreshing to read a book where the most important relationship is between besties.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

GIVEAWAY: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

Book Summary
Seventeen-year-old Greer, a scholarship girl at a prestigious private school, St Aidan the Great School (known as STAGS), soon realizes that the school is full of snobs and spoilt rich brats, many of whom come from aristocratic families who have attended the institute throughout the centuries. She's immediately ignored by her classmates. All the teachers are referred to as Friars (even the female ones), but the real driving force behind the school is a group of prefects known as the Medievals, whose leader, Henry de Warlencourt, Greer finds both strangely intriguing as well as attractive. The Medievals are all good-looking, clever and everyone wants to be among their circle of friends. Greer is therefore surprised when she receives an invitation from Henry to spend a long weekend with him and his friends at his family house in the Lake District, especially when she learns that two other "outsiders" have also been invited: Shafeen and Chanel. As the weekend unfolds, Greer comes to the chilling realization that she and two other "losers" were invited only because they were chosen to become prey in a mad game of manhunt.

The Giveaway!
Please visit our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages to see your 3 chances to win. Good luck! 

Book review: Don't Cosplay With My Heart by Cecil Castellucci

Book Summary
When Edan Kupferman dresses up like her favorite character, Gargantua, she feels tall and powerful. That's important right now, because her family is a mess, her best friend is gone for the summer, her crush is confusing, and Edan's feeling small and not sure which end is up. 

When Edan's cosplaying, she can be angry, loud, and not the good girl everyone thinks she is. And when she's at conventions, she feels like she's found her own Team Tomorrow. But when her personal life starts to spiral out of control, Edan has to figure out whether she needs a sidekick, or if she has the strength to be the hero of her own story.

Flo's Review
I love me some nerdy love! I am a big nerd myself (my hubby and I just went to see Star Wars and he's totally bragging because he got a Barnes and Noble gift card this year but I didn't), so these are my people. I've been on a "love at con" kick this year, especially after reading Geekerella, The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, and Queens of Geek. So when Scholastic sent this book my way, I was excited to dive in.

It look me awhile to get into this one at first. I wasn't connecting with Edan. Yes, she is going through a hard time, but when we meet her she is still in the "feeling sorry for myself" phase, and that is fun for nobody. However, I kept on going and I'm so glad I did. For the last 100ish pages, I stayed in bed reading because I just didn't want to put this down.

I liked how the story was set up -- there are four sections, each revolving around a con, from small to large (starting with Los Angeles and ending with San Diego.) There was a definite theme here with the idea of "good guys versus bad guys" and how that is clearly not black and white. For example, Edan's dad could technically be seen as the "bad guy" in this scenario. But he's a man who made mistakes and has people who love him. 

There was also a definite "girl power" theme here, from the character of Gargantua -- whom Edan idolizes -- to her relationship with Yuri and his friends. This one felt a little bit forced, so at times it was like, "Yes, girls are powerful, girls can do anything, I get it, I get it..." type thing. But I guess if you are doing to beat an issue to almost death, girl power is a good one to choose.

And finally, Kirk. I adored Kirk and can see why Edan did as well. 

Don't Cosplay With My Heart publishes January 2, 2018.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Audiobook review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Book Summary
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Here's my reppin'' with my Warcross shirt!
Flo's Review
Ooooh man! I finished this audiobook right before I arrived home, and I immediately wanted to sit down and write this review while everything was still churning in my mind. It's now a few hours later (domestic duties called), but I'm pretty much still reeling.

I am the reader who never gets the twist and is always surprised. So I was completely floored with the last few chapters of this book. I was listening to it on audio, so I kept saying to my CD player, "What?!?! Wait a minute!!! What?!?!" 

But the ending wasn't the only engaging part of this story. Warcross started strong and kept the momentum throughout. There was never a lag or a dull point at any part in the story. The world building in this book is incredible! Marie Lu put so much imagination into creating a world where anyone can create worlds. That is the thing about this novel -- it seems so fantastical, but also so realistic at the very same time. The bridges, the steps that it would take to get from our world to the world of Warcross do not seem very far at all. But seriously. I loved seeing Tokyo through the neurolink lenses. I loved the idea that you can save your memories and enter into them -- and that you can bring other people into them with you. I was intrigued with the way that Hideo communicated with Emika by pulling up a screen and showing her things, instead of just describing them with words.

There were a few circumstances that made me go, "Really though?" Emika kept bailing on her teammates and the scene would shift before we, the reader, got to see anything else about it. 

Hideo is such a complex character. Emika makes a comment at the end of the book about how she is still trying to figure him out -- and I am, too! I have some more to say about that and about Sasuke (and Tremaine), but I will do it under a spoiler tag on my Goodreads review, so as not to spoil the book here for anyone who hasn't read it. Side note: I definitely would have been pronouncing Sasuke wrong if it wasn't for the audiobook. The reader, Nancy Yu, read it as SAS-EW-KAY.

Nancy Yu did a great job narrating this audiobook. I felt all of Emika's emotions as she was reading them -- the drive, the nerves, the anger, the disbelief, and everything else on the spectrum. 

I've had several people tell me how good this book is, and I have to agree. I am eagerly awaiting the second installment and will be adding this book to the top of my Recommend Reads list.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Book review: Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

Book Summary
From the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of "Me Before You" and "After You," a sensational collection featuring the title novella and eight other stories. Quintessential Jojo Moyes, "Paris for One and Other Stories" is an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart. 

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away to anywhere before. Everyone knows travelling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their romantic mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone including herself wrong. Alone and in Paris, Nell uncovers a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, "Paris for One"is vintage Moyes as are the other stories that round out the collection."

Paris for One
Between the Tweets
Love in the Afternoon
A Bird in the Hand
Crocodile Shoes
Last Year's Coat
Thirteen Days with John C.
The Christmas List

Flo's Review
I love to travel. So I was absolutely delighted by the idea of a weekend jaunt to Paris. (Oh, to live in Europe and be able to do that!! But I digress...) As always happens when I read about Paris, I fell in love a little more with the city as I read about it. Moyes descriptions feel alive: Paris is living, breathing, feeling. In a Q&A at the end of the book, JoJo Moyes talks about living there and visiting every few months, and her knowledge of the area shines through in her prose.

Nell was a hard character to relate to at first because she is so timid, structured, and reserved. But it was a delight seeing her come out of her shell as she experienced everything. Her personality made the situations seem all the more risyk and adventurous, which read more powerfully. It was fun rooting for her at the end of the story, as you hoped she would do what you wanted her do, and as everything transpired.

I really enjoyed the Q&A at the end, because it gave me some insight into the short story process for Moyes. She explained how each one took her about a month and how each one had some kind of twist. Also, Moyes talked about how writing short stories is harder for her than novels because you have less time to convey a lot of information; thus, every word counts especially. And though the stories all had similar themes, that wasn't planned. Finally, Moyes said this about travel:

"'s the one thing that allows you step outside your own life. I have the clearest view of may own life when I'm thousands of miles away from it. In certain circumstances, people can always be someone else, too, freed from the constraints of what everyone around you already knows about you."

The short stories were nice, because I could read one really quickly here and there. The aforementioned general theme around the collection was women who had been married awhile and were dissatisfied in their relationships. While I understand that this is inevitable, this was not the best collection of stories for me to read as a newlywed. It was story after story of women who were unhappy with what their lives had become. I'm still in "just married" bliss and want to foolishly believe as long as I can that my entire life will be one "happily ever after." This is saying nothing negative about the stories, but is a reason I tend to fantasy, dsytopian, sci-fi, etc. stories as much as I do: they are more escape than reality.

The twists in all the stories were very creative. The end of Between the Tweets had me going, "Oh my gosh!" Last Year's Coat had a reference to "a resurrected boy band last popular fifteen years ago," which, as a hardcore New Kids on the Block fan, I loved. In Holdups, the main character says, "I realized pretty quickly I couldn't marry a man without a bookshelf," which is my #truth.

My favorite of the short stories was Crocodile Shoes. It reminded me of a song I love, "Red High Heels" by Kellie Pickler. The feeling of putting on a pair of shoes that make you feel more powerful is one I can definitely relate to.

I had fun with Paris for One & Other Stories, and I think that you will as well.

Thank you to Penguin Books for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Top: My original version, published in 1981.
Bottom: The new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, published November 2017.

I love Anne of Green Gables. It's such a sweet story, full of light, fun, and the feeling of home. I remember reading it as a child and soaking it up. I remember watching the original movies and loving them, too. And, more recently, I have been enjoying the Netflix version, Anne With an E.

So when I discovered that Penguin Classics was publishing a new edition, I was pretty excited. And with good reason! Look how adorable this is:
I love the bright colors, the drawings, and all the quotes. This cover truly captures the essence of Anne Shirley.

The new edition includes: a foreword by the New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan (Maine, Commencement, The Engagements) and an introduction by L.M. Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre. This new publication also features reviews and a selection of early writing by Montgomery about the process of creating the book, along with stunning cover art by Siobhán Gallagher, whose artwork has been featured in US Weekly, Lenny Letter, Bustle, and more.

I love this new edition and am so glad to have it. If you want to have your own #throwbackthursday, be transported back to your childhood, or discover this great story for the first time, I encourage you to open up this book and take a journey to Green Gables.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Excerpt: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Book Summary
Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

About the Book

Book Excerpt
I open the door and jump out of the plane as soon as we land on the narrow strip. The concrete shocks my knees and I stretch in the freezing cold air. I expect to find Mr. Henderson’s 4x4 waiting for me, or Sheriff Flynn, maybe. Instead, a lone figure stands against the rising sun. With the light at her back, I can only see her silhouette—-a tall, gangly figure whose long hair dances in the wind. She raises a hesitant hand.
My heart skips a beat. Kyra. Without thinking, I start toward her, her name on the tip of my tongue.
Then the light clears. Her nose is smaller. Her hair lighter.
And the shout of recognition dies in my throat.
Piper Morden.
Not Kyra.
I forgot. Now I ache to forget again.
Behind me, the pilot disembarks. He grabs my backpack and hands it to me. “Your return flight is booked. Be here on time. See you in five days.”
So little time, but it has to be enough. “I’ll make sure of it. Thank you.”
The man hesitates, then says, “Be careful in Lost Creek. Not everything is as it seems here.”

Read the rest of the excerpt after the page break:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review and Trailer: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Book Summary
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Flo's Review
5 out of 5 Double Stuff Oreos for this book! I was seriously thinking to myself, "Awww!" pretty much the entire time I was reading this. It is adorable. Becky is adorable, and Simon is adorable, and Blue is adorable, and this book is adorable. I just love it so much! I am left with all the warm fuzzies after reading this one. (As you can tell. I just finished it today and so far instead of giving a "review" of it, I've just been gushing. Let me try to say something other than, "I loved it so much!!" But I did, though. Love it so much.)

Who is Blue?!? For a good chunk of the second half, I was literally suspecting every single person mentioned. Lol. I was happily surprised with how it all turned out. 
Of course this book is adorable, because Becky is adorable!
One thing I really liked about this book was the role of Simon's family. In that, they were main characters. They weren't background, secondary, or just around in the beginning or when Simon was at home. They were an integral part of the story and of how Simon acted and reacted to things. Which is real. So real. I love it! 

This story takes place in Atlanta, which was fun for me because that's a city that I have spent a lot of time in and know well. So the roads and places mentioned were familiar and therefore easy to picture.

I listened to this one on audiobook, and the narrator was fantastic. He sounded exactly like I would imagine a 17-year-old boy sounding. He sounded exactly like I would imagine Simon sounding. I made sure to finish listening to it today because the audiobook was due back to the library -- but little did I know that today was also the day that the first trailer for the movie based on the book was revealed.

Love, Simon comes out on March 16, 2018 and here is the trailer that was released today:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Book Summary
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

Me and the completely lovely author, Nic Stone
Flo's Review
Now this is a book that I would definitely recommend to a reluctant reader. The chapters are short and the writing is straight and to-the-point. It reads so easily, you can reach the end of it and not even realize that you actually just did read a full book.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nic Stone at YALLFEST, and I read this one in various lines throughout the day. All day I had people asking me about it, because they'd heard about it and wanted to read it. I enthusiastically recommended it to all of them, and I will enthusiastically recommend it to all of you.

There was so much #truth laid out in this one, in a clear, simple, and direct way. It takes a complicated topic and explores it deeply, but not in a way that bogs the reader down. It encourages the reader to think about how he or she would react in a situation and what his or her opinions on different topics are, but it doesn't do it in a way that feels like a college lecture class.

I found myself underlining and highlighting several passages in the book. 

Justyce was open, honest, and relatable. He felt like someone you could just hang out with and play video games (if that's your thing) or just chill and chat somewhere. SJ is my favorite. She is awesome and just very real. Not pretty and perfect, but she is a woman who has beliefs and convictions and practices what she preaches. 

The end of Part One of the book completely took me by surprise! I was so not expecting that, and did the reading double-take, where you go back and re-read the last few sentences like, "Wait...did that just happen....? Does this mean....?"

In conclusion, go read this book! It's a powerful one, and I'm so glad I read it. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Audiobook review: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Book Summary
Love hurts...

Makani Young thought she'd left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She's found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn't far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Flo's Review
This is going to be an interesting review to write, because my thoughts on this book are not completely in line with each other. I think the headline is that I liked it, and it's a good book, but I didn't love it only because it's not really a genre I usually and thoroughly enjoy? It was clever and I had fun talking about it with my friends, but I definitely didn't love it.

Let's start with the romance. Makani and Ollie are perfect for each other. Both are broken, but they are similarly broken; and their cracked and hollow spaces are filled by each other. Stephanie reassured her readers that this was still a Stephanie Perkins book, with all the romance involved, and she was right. Ollie is no Etienne St. Clair, but let's be honest -- no one can compare to Etienne St. Clair. (Rhyme on purpose.)

The mystery was laid out in a interesting way. I don't want to spoil it, but Stephanie set it up the plot line uniquely, and I respect that. It worked. It definitely threw me off and had me questioning. Actually, she did that twice. You go, girl!

It's weird, even though it starts off with the action right away, I still felt like it took awhile for me to get into. I felt like there was such a gap between the first and second murders. I understand that you needed some context and story building ... but maybe because I was listening to this on audio, it felt like that part went on a little long.

Makani has a secret of her own in this book. When I finally learned what it was, it felt a little....anticlimactic. But literally as I am typing, I am realizing that it's supposed to be that way. The whole 'how you see yourself versus how other people see you' thing, and the ensuing character growth for Makani.

So...yeah. I probably wasn't going to read this one on my own, so I am happy that I listened to it with friends while road tripping to YALLFEST. If mysteries are your thing, you should definitely give this one a read.