Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Review: When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

Jacque's Review:

This was one of the choices for my son's 7th grade summer reading, so we both read it.  The book is about a boy name Toby who lives in Antler, TX, which is a small town where "nothing ever happens."  The story takes place during the summer of 1971.  His best friend Cal's older brother is currently serving in the Vietnam war and has been writing each week, so we learn that war is nothing like how they used to play soldiers in the lawn.

The biggest thing to happen to Antler is the day Zachary Beaver's trailer pulls into town.  He is supposedly the world fattest boy and is put on display like a circus act.  People can pay $2 to see him in person.  This would have been a novelty, but Zachary's legal guardian leaves town without him and nobody knows when he will return for Zachary.  The town sort of adopts him and the boys soon realize they have more in common with Zachary than they ever imagined.

Another theme in the story is abandonment.  Not only was Zachary abandoned, but Toby's mother leaves for Nashville to try out in a singing competition.  Toby eventually realizes his mother's dreams of becoming a country music superstar were not being fulfilled in Antler and she wasn't happy here.  He begins to wonder when or if she is really coming back.

This was a pretty fast read with a number of thought provoking topics for young readers.  My son and I both remained engaged throughout the book and enjoyed the characters and their stories.  I would definitely recommend it for middle school children.  There was a lot more substance to this story than your typical middle grade book and it allowed my son to read something a bit different from his typical reading selections.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book review: Be the One by Byron Pitts

Book Summary
Drug Addiction.
Mental Illness.

None of these should be realities for anyone, much less a young person. But for some it is the only reality they have ever known. In these dark circumstances, six teens needed someone to “be the one” for them—the hero to help them back into the light. For Tania, Mason, Pappy, Michaela, Ryan, and Tyton, that hero was themselves. Through stirring interviews and his award-winning storytelling, Byron Pitts brings the struggles and triumphs of these everyday heroes to teens just like them, encouraging all of us to be the source of inspiration in our own lives and to appreciate the lives of others around us.

Flo's Review
Be the One is essentially based off six interviews/profiles by ABC News Correspondent Byron Pitts. I picked up an ARC (advance reader's copy) of this book at ALA Midwinter in January, and it's been my on-and-off purse book for awhile. I finally committed and finished it this weekend. Be the One is good for that because it's six separate stories of a child who overcomes. This is the kind of book that makes you sad and mad that he world is what it is, but also proud that the world is what it is -- because all six of these children overcome. It's a short inspirational read that reminds you that your own life is not so bad, and it really gave me hope for the younger generation and their power to overcome. I will be donating my copy in hopes that it inspires someone else to overcome any and all obstacles that are put in his or her way.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Book Summary
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers' attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger's new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J.K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore.

Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot," "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," "The Warlock's Hairy Heart," "Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump," and of course "The Tale of the Three Brothers." But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we know and love, reading them gives new insight into the wizarding world.

Flo's Review
This was cute. I grabbed it from the library to be my purse read (the book I keep in my purse at all times in case of emergency), and it served the purpose well. I found myself reading wizarding world fairy tales at the car dealership, while waiting for a friend to arrive, and in other random places. I had forgotten that we know the last tale, The Tale of the Three Brothers, from Deathly Hallows, so it was a nice surprise to read that story again.

The other four tales were crafted to sound similar to stories that we Muggle children hear growing up. I thought they were very well done. Of course, I had fun reading Albus Dumbledore's notes and interpretations on the stories as well. These gave this Muggle reader background and context for the Wizard tales, which helped with their enjoyment.

Finally, I love that this book was written as a fundraiser for Lumos. Stories help our children in many ways, and this is just one more. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Audiobook review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Book Summary
Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

Flo's Review
I always know what I'm going to get when I read a Cassandra Clare book. Beautiful, rich descriptions of the characters. So close and so well done that I feel like I'm in the room with them. Like I know them intimately. Moments that are captured so entirely, with all five senses, that I feel like I am living them and not just reading about them. And agony at the end.

Silly me, I was reading the last forty pages or so thinking, "This might end on an alright note. What can possibly happen in just a few pages that will be so devastating?" Silly me. I forgot I was reading a Cassandra Clare book! Needless to say, I finished it a couple of hours ago and my heart still hurts. 

There is no other writer like Cassandra Clare. She has an amazing ability to make me feel like I am in the story, like I know these characters as my close personal friends and not just people I am reading about. I feel everything they feel. Hurt and power and fear and love and anger and injustice and responsibility and love. 

Julian Blackthorn. Daaang. This man was on in this book! Mad respect for that boy! Lord of Shadows felt to me more like Julian's story than Emma's, and I was okay with that. I want him on my side of life. But maybe not as my parabatai? Because I'd probably fall in love with him, too, and that's definitely no good.

Kit Herondale. I also really enjoyed reading his perspective. He went from skeptic to believer, from outsider to insider, and I am so sure he has a big role to play as the story continues. I can't wait to see it. Cristina was also amazing -- knowledgeable and kind. And ooooh the villians! I found Zara Dearborn more infuriating than the sea demons! 

I listened to this one on audiobook. My audiobook CD limit is usually between 6 to 8 discs. More than than is too long. This one was 19. I had to know what happened by the end, so I read the physical book instead of listening to the last disc, but I listened straight through 18 CDs. And I loved every minute of it. I was driving around thinking to myself, "This is a 5 star book. I love this." James Marsters did an amazing job with his reading. It was like I could tell a bit of the character's personality through his voicing of them. This was especially true for Zara, Ty, and others. He read Cristina, Jaime and Diego really well, and then the next chapter he was killing it reading Annabel or Malcolm. There are so many different characters in this book and he somehow made them all sound completely individual.

According to Goodreads, the third book in The Dark Artifices doesn't come out until 2019. Maybe by then I will have recovered from the ending of this one. That also gives you plenty of time to read Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows -- which is no small feat with Lord of Shadows weighing in at 701 pages. But I'm almost sad that I'm done listening to it. I'm not sure I'm ready to leave the Blackthorns yet.

I thought it couldn't get better than The Mortal Instruments. Then there were The Infernal Devices. (Jem! Amirite?!) And now there are The Dark Artifices! So so good. 

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me an audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Book review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Book Summary
Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

Of course this book is adorable! -- look how adorable the author Kasie West is!!
Flo's Review
Aww! I love Kasie West! This book was exactly what I needed today. I was worried in the beginning that I wasn't going to like Maddie, that she might be too rigid and uptight for my tastes, but that wasn't her at all. She was smart, clever, quick, and loving. I admired her tenacity to get what she wanted and her loyalty to her friends.

Lucky in Love felt to me like a very honest and realistic portrayal of the what would happen for a teenager (she just turned 18 when she bought the ticket) who wins the lottery. At first, to quote The Lego Movie, "everything is awesome!" Maddie thinks the money will solve her family's problems, and it does seem to for awhile. She makes some fun splurge purchases. But then the honeymoon ends and the reality sets in. Being a millionaire is certainly awesome, but it also brings its own slew of problems.

And now, for the rest of the review, let's dish about Zoo Seth. What a cutie! A perfect match for Maddie and definitely swoon-worthy, book boyfriend material. I pretty much thought everything he said and did was completely adorable. I had so much fun reading Seth and Maddie's relationship and rooting for them! 

I finished Lucky in Love in about a day. It was bright and happy. So easy to read, and I didn't want to put it down. So I didn't. If you're looking for a book to put a smile on your face, this is the one.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book review -- Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Book Summary
She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Flo's Review
I love me some Leigh Bardugo. Seriously. She is super sweet and smart and her books are amazing. I fell completely in love with the Shadow and Bone trilogy, and I have a Six of Crows poster just above my desk. So of course I was over the moon to hear that she was telling a Wonder Woman story.

And it was so good, guys! Everything that I love about Leigh's writing was in strong showing: the witty banter between characters, the rich world-building, the high stakes of saving the world, the romance. Leigh took a character that I was already familiar with and made me love her even more.

Even though Diana is a powerful Amazon, she was written in a way that made her relatable. I felt I could understand her frustrations in the beginning of the story and the desires that fueled her throughout. I really loved how she looked at the human race and saw the beauty in it.

At one point in the story Diana warily thinks to herself, "This is too easy..." and I was feeling the same doubt and apprehension. And then -- BAM! -- plot twist! I wasn't expecting it, of course (I never do), so I completely blown away.

But Diana wasn't the only wonderful woman character in this story. I would choose Alia and Nim to be my sisters in battle any day! They were fully human, compared to Diana and other characters, but their humanity was their strength. It was really very cool.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer had some jaw-dropping and fun-to-read scenes in New York City and Greece. I cannot rave about this book enough. Just do yourself a favor and pre-order it. Or go out on August 29th and pick up a copy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Author Interview: Alison Gervais Talks About "In 27 Days"

I was happy to get the opportunity to ask Alison Gervais a few questions about her upcoming book In 27 Days, which will be published by Blink YA Books on July 25, 2017. Without further ado:

alison gervais, in 27 days

  1. How did you come up for the idea of In 27 Days?
I have absolutely NO idea where the idea for IN 27 DAYS came from. I was just sitting on a plane on my way home from a youth conference in Indianapolis, and all of a sudden I asked the person sitting next to me if I could have a pen and a piece of paper because I knew I just had to start writing something. That something turned out to be IN 27 DAYS. When I was writing the story, there were bits and pieces of certain scenes that were rather emotional for me. I’ve struggled with depression for years, and I think it always will be an ongoing battle for me. It was difficult not to feel for these characters as their story unfolded because I’d been in some similar situations before.

  1. Has writing the book changed your perspective on suicide in any way? Did you do any research for it, or what did you learn along the way?
I wouldn’t say that writing the book changed my perspective on suicide because I’ve almost always held the belief that it is not the right answer. Making the decision to end your own life can and will irrevocably change the lives of your loved ones and others around you. Suicide was unfortunately a consistent occurrence in my town. I remember when I first started writing the story, we were sat down in class and told that a twelve-year-old boy at one of our middle schools in town had committed suicide, and it just absolutely broke my heart. Unfortunately that’s something we still see today.

  1. What kind of response did you get from the Wattpad community?
I was very surprised by the success of IN 27 DAYS. Six years ago, when it first debuted on Wattpad, the plot was still a bit out there, and you didn’t see quite as many books than you do now, covering suicide and mental health.

  1. Was writing In 27 Days an emotional experience?
When I was writing the story, there were bits and pieces of certain scenes that were rather emotional for me. I’ve struggled with depression for years, and I think it always will be an ongoing battle for me. It was difficult not to feel for these characters as their story unfolded because I’d been in some similar situations before.

  1. What were you doing 27 days ago? What do you think you'll be doing 27 days from now?
Hmm. 27 days ago I was – and I am still! – working full time as a Deaf Services Specialist, a job that I absolutely love. I was beyond excited to be heading to the Book Expo of America in NYC just a few days later. 27 days from now, we’ll be so close to the release of IN 27 DAYS I don’t know how I’m going to handle it!

  1. What advice would you give to a teen (or anyone) who has a friend whom they think might be suicidal?

I’m in no way a mental health expert, but I think it’s important to inform a trusted adult immediately of what’s going on. Don’t think that you have to solve the problem simply by yourself. It is 100% okay to ask for help. I remember discussing this topic in a psychology class I took at my university, and nine times out of ten, that friend who is feeling suicidal will tell you what’s going on if you just ask.

in 27 days

About the Book
Hadley Jamison receives an unexpected shock when she hears her classmate, Archer Morales, committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but Hadley can’t shake the feeling that there was something she could have done to help him. Little does she know, she will actually have the chance. At Archer’s funeral, Hadley is approached by a man named Death who offers her a deal—if she accepts, she will be sent back twenty-seven days in time to prevent Archer from committing suicide.

Twenty-seven days was the length of time it took for Archer to decide to kill himself, and twenty-seven days is all Hadley has to succeed in saving him. Unfortunately, Archer isn’t exactly on the same page. Despite his cold comebacks and aloof exterior, Hadley knows he needs her, and continues to pursue a friendship with him. Archer begins softening up, and Hadley believes that her mission to save him will be a success.

But just when Hadley is beginning to feel confident, a series of dangerous accidents occur. She and Archer are pushed apart, and she must decide whether she is ready to risk everything—including her own life—to keep Archer safe.

Monday, July 24, 2017

San Diego Comic Con 2017 Review and GIVEAWAY

Bookish goodies!
Hi friends!

So I just got back from my very first San Diego Comic Con (SDCC)! What an experience!! I knew it was going to be crazy and geeky and cool going in, but I didn't realize just how much so until I got to experience. It was fun and incredible and I'm so glad I was able to go!

Well, I went into the Con thinking, "I do a lot of book events outside of SDCC, so even though there are book events there, I'm going to stay away and focus on other things."


Nice try, Flo. You can't take a girl away from her books apparently. So, I did attend some great bookish events and get some great bookish things that I thought I'd share with you.

First of all, as soon as I found out that Leigh Bardugo was going to be signing copies of her new upcoming novel Wonder Woman: Warbringer, I was there! I love Leigh and her books so much. Not to mention, Macmillan was also giving away the DC Icons t-shirt that I've been drooling over since seeing people get them at YALLWEST.

Out of Print was selling t-shirts that said, "Fight Evil. Read Books." I. Mean. This was clearly an insta-buy for me and the friend I went with. I was also very excited to pick up ARC copies of The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano (thanks HarperTeen!) and Invictus by Ryan Graudin (thanks Novl!) I hadn't heard of Seventh Decimate by Stephen Donaldson, but it looks interesting, so thank you Berkeley.

It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but I also found a magnet bookmark of Newt from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that I couldn't walk away from.

Finally, I was able to snag a sampler of Children of Blood and Bone by Toni Adeyemi. This one doesn't come out until next March, but looks so good! And this leads us to....

The friend I went with graciously agreed to donate his sampler of Children of Blood and Bone for a blog giveaway. Did I mention that this sampler is signed?! And I'm giving it away to one lucky commentor below. Int'l is OK! Just be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win. Tell me what your favorite reveal from SDCC was. If you don't have one, let me know what your favorite bookish item is that you own, whether you got it at a Con or other bookish event, or if it's something you bought or made. I'll pick a winner Friday, July 28.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review: The 6th Target by James Patterson

The 6th Target (Women's Murder Club, #6)

The 6th Target is the sixth book in the Women's Murder Club (WMC) series.  In this installment Lindsay Boxer, a San Francisco homicide detective, is called to the scene of a shooting on a ferry boat.  Four people are dead and one of the members of the WMC is seriously injured.  There are a slew of witnesses, but the shooter manages to escape.  

Lindsay is also investigating a series of incidents that have occurred in Cindy Thomas's apartment building.  Cindy is a reporter for the local newspaper and one of the four members of the WMC.  She got a great deal on this new apartment, but she is beginning to wonder if this move was a big mistake. 

There is a third case that develops when a child prodigy is abducted along with her nanny at a local park.  The family is very wealthy, so Lindsay assumes a ransom note will soon follow, but the kidnappers never make contact with the police or the family.  When Lindsay discovers this isn't the first incident involving a gifted child and a nanny, she begins to connect the dots.

District attorney Yuki Castellano is called in to prosecute the ferry shooter.  With video footage of the shooting clearly showing the defendant in action, this should be a slam dunk case.  She even has a number of witnesses who can clearly identify the defendant, but she knows she will need to proceed with caution.  She is up against a high profile defense attorney who will leave no stone unturned.

This was another great addition to the series.  I love seeing how the characters evolve and how their combined talents can solve some of the toughest crimes.  The books are action packed and relatively fast reads, but this series is still a major commitment.  There are currently sixteen books available and I'm sure there are more to come.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book to Movie: Love Was Near and Trust Fund

This is not a traditional book to movie, but a related duo. YA novel Love Was Near is a companion novel penned by the writer/director of the film Trust Fund. I think this is a neat idea because the novel gives more depth and back story to the movie. Here is a little bit about both of them.

Trust Fund
Written and directed by Sandra L. Martin and produced by Isaac Alongi, TRUST FUND tells the story of Reese Donahue (Jessica Rothe) a young aspiring writer from Chicago. She’s spent her whole life working hard to keep from working, living the life everyone wishes they had. Until she discovers the secret that forces her to choose between the predestined life that she knows so well and what appears to be the destiny her mother wanted her to have. She’s lured into betraying her father and chasing after a life she dreams is better than the one she already has. When Reese returns home with nothing but regret, the forgiveness of her father teaches her what it means to love.

Click out a clip from the movie:

Love Was Near
In addition to the home video release, Martin wrote the YA novel LOVE WAS NEAR, which gives young adult fans a chance to find out what happened outside the screen and fills in the missing pieces from the film. Readers find out exactly what Reese is thinking in her book as they are transported along on a very personal journey. As she sprinkles in childhood memories with her everyday struggles they will discover what happened in the Donahue family before the movie begins. Reese shares her dreams and confessions, then asks fans to share theirs as they answer questions about their identity, purpose, and life plan. Reese is ready to forget some of the things she’s done, but before she slams this chapter of her life shut, she takes a final glance back and finds she still has plenty to learn about life, love and the risk of trusting others.

Do you plan to check out the movie, the book, or both? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Audiobook news: MINECRAFT by Max Brooks

minecraft, max brooks
You know I love audiobooks, so I was happy to see the news that Jack Black and Samira Wiley (from OITNB) are each narrating the book Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks (who wrote World War Z).

Book Summary
MINECRAFT: THE ISLAND is the first official Minecraft novel with the Mojang stamp of approval. In the tradition of iconic stories like Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island, MINECRAFT: THE ISLAND tells the story of a new hero stranded in the world of Minecraft, who must survive the harsh, unfamiliar environment and unravel the secrets of the island.

Washed up on a beach, the lone castaway looks around the shore. Where am I? Who am I? And why is everything made of blocks? But there isn’t much time to soak up the sun. It’s getting dark, and there’s a strange new world to explore!

The top priority is finding food. Then it’s not becoming food. Because there are others out there on the island . . . like the horde of zombies that appear after night falls. Crafting a way out of this mess is a challenge like none other. Who could build a home while running from exploding creepers, armed skeletons, and an unstoppable tide of hot lava? Especially with no help except for a few makeshift tools and sage advice from an unlikely friend: a cow.
In this world, the rules don’t always make sense, but courage and creativity go a long way. There are forests to explore, hidden underground tunnels to loot, and an undead horde to defeat. Only then will the secrets of the island be revealed.

Audiobook Details
MINECRAFT: THE ISLAND (Narrated by Jack Black)

By Max Brooks, narrated by Jack Black
Random House Audio/ On sale July 18, 2017
Audio DN ISBN: 9780525495734

MINECRAFT: THE ISLAND (Narrated by Samira Wiley)
By Max Brooks, narrated by Samira Wiley
Random House Audio/ On sale July 18, 2017
Audio DN ISBN: 9780525590064

Do you plan to listen to either one, or both? Let us know in the comments.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade

Bitter Pill

Jacque's Review:

Bitter Pill is one of Stacey's earlier releases that was published using the name Stacey Klemstein in 2008.  The book was edited and re-released in 2013 under Stacey Kade.

Rennie Harlow grew up in a small town and moved to Chicago after high school.  She graduated from college, got married, and had a great job.  Life was moving along smoothly until she discovered her husband was having an affair with his paralegal.  She moved back to her hometown and is now living in the apartment above her mother's garage while working as a freelance writer for the local paper.  As if being divorced and returning home isn't scandal enough, trouble constantly surfaces around her.  She has discovered not one, but three dead bodies over the past year and the townspeople are definitely talking.  

At the beginning of this book she finds the body of the local pharmacist.  She arrived early that morning to pick up her mother's medication and became concerned when the store was still dark and Doc Hallacy didn't open the door promptly at 8:00 a.m., which has been his routine for as long as she can remember.  As an investigative reporter she takes it upon herself to assist the attractive young sheriff, Jake Bristol, with the investigation.  Not only does she need to clear her name, but the first hand knowledge will make for a great story in the paper.

This is a light and sometimes humorous murder mystery.  Rennie isn't a skilled investigator, but she is personable and people feel comfortable talking to her.  She also has great intuition and can think outside the box.  That is why Bristol allows her to unofficially assist with the investigation and often invites her along to watch how people respond in various situations.  Being young and naive she finds herself in some dangerous situations and doesn't always interpret the clues correctly.  Especially when the warnings are directed at her.

I have enjoyed all of Stacey's book, but I would have to list this one towards the top.  738 Days is probably my favorite with Bitter Pill a close second.  I would recommend this book to any reader and not just someone looking for a mystery.  I flew through this book in only a couple of days and was definitely surprised by the ending.  It wasn't at all predictable and was highly entertaining from start to finish.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Elegy by Tara Hudson

Elegy (Hereafter #3)

Elegy is the third and final book in the Hereafter series.  I was fortunate to pick up an ARC at the 2013 RT convention.  I kept meaning to read it, but for some reason it never made it to the top of my TBR list even though I read the first two books immediately after they were released.  As part of my 2017 New Year's Bookish Goals I decided it was time to complete some of the series I started in previous years, but never got around to finishing.  My goal was to complete 5 series, but I have already finished 7 with the conclusion of this book.

The Hereafter series is about a ghost named Amelia who is trapped between the "light" and "darkness"...AKA heaven and hell.  There are "Seers" who are humans with the ability to see ghosts.  Joshua is a seer, but he is also a boy Amelia saved from a tragic accident, which results in their ability to physically touch each other.  (Amelia ordinarily can't touch humans without passing through them.)  This is definitely a bonus since Amelia and Joshua have been dating the entire series.  They would like nothing more than to continue their happy existence forever, but the Demons from the Netherwold will not stop until they claim Amelia.

When she refuses to turn herself over, the Demons decide it is time to take matters into their own hands.  When the violence begins to strike a little too close to home, Amelia is forced to make a decision.  She formulates a plan and solicits the help of some unlikely candidates to hopefully end the evil once and for all.

I thought Tara did a excellent job of tying up all of the loose ends in this series, but I was shocked by the lack of detail at the very end.  We can see how things end at the present time, but there are far reaching implications that are never mentioned.  There was an epilogue which tried to soften the ending, but it doesn't really accomplish what most readers were likely hoping for.  A short story or a an additional chapter set well into the future would have been the icing on the cake for me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Review: Ensnared by A.G. Howard

Ensnared (Splintered, #3)

Jacque's Review:

Ensnared is the third and final book in the Splintered series and picks up a month or so after Unhinged ended.  Alyssa needs to figure out a way to save Wonderland from the destruction Queen Red cast upon it.  Without the help of Jeb, Morpheus or her Mother she must enter the looking-glass-world to rescue the people she loves most.  If she can complete this first mission, she plans on defeating Queen Red once and for all and taking her rightful place on the throne.

The love triangle between Jeb, Alyssa, and Morpheus plays an even larger part in this book .  Love triangles aren't usually ideal, but it was an essential part of this story.  The two guys bring out the best in Alyssa in both her human and netherling worlds.  I have been on Team Morpheus since reading Unhinged, but I gained a greater appreciation for Jeb the longer he and Morpheus worked together.  I don't want to give away how this situation plays out, so I will simply say it wasn't at all what I was expecting.  

I was very satisfied with the conclusion of this series.  The magical elements and mutant creatures contained in AnyElsewhere provide the perfect backdrop for this twisted tale.  There is plenty of danger and action mixed with the two love stories to keep the pages turning.  All of the characters have grown by leaps and bounds since the beginning of this series.  It was great to see them working together to reach a common goal.  I would have preferred a bit more detail in the Epilogue, which I was pleased to discover is likely provided in Untamed, the collection of short stories released after Ensnared.  I have already added it to my TBR list and hope to get to it soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

You Say It's Your Birthday!: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey

A very happy book birthday to Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey! This looks like a cute weekend read -- I hope to be able to curl up with it, a blanket, and a cup of tea one day soon!

I'm never going outside again. 

Mallory hasn't left the house in sixty-seven days--since the day her dad left. She attends her classes via webcam, rarely leaves her room (much to her brother's chagrin), and spends most of her time watching The X-Files or chatting with the always obnoxious BeamMeUp on New Mexico's premier alien message board.

But when she's shockingly nominated for homecoming queen, her life takes a surprising turn. She slowly begins to open up to the world outside. And maybe if she can get her popular jock neighbor Brad Kirkpatrick to be her homecoming date, her classmates will stop calling her a freak.

In this heartwarming and humorous debut, Mallory discovers first love and the true meaning of home--just by taking one small step outside her house.

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's 'I READ YA' Week!

I don't know about y'all, but I'm a big YA fan and I'm proud of it! So I love that we are celebrating it this week! Every day starting today and going through next Monday, July 17th, there will be a daily social media challenge. We're going to try to join in when we can and hope you can as well. Here's the lineup:

Monday, July 10: Tell us what you believe #YAStandsFor
Tuesday, July 11: Tell us about the YA book that helped you find your voice
Wednesday, July 12: Give a shout-out to your favorite fictional literary hero
Thursday, July 13: Swap a YA book about the positive power of friendship with your bestie
Friday, July 14: Create a graphic showcasing an inspirational YA quote
Saturday, July 15: Choose a YA book and share 3 important life lessons you took away from reading it
Sunday, July 16: Acknowledge a YA book you believe should be taught in high schools
Monday, July 17: Snap a pic of the YA book you believe everyone needs to read

If you are able to join in, don't forget to tag your posts with #YAStandsFor. See you out there!

Blog Tour: Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season).

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine...before the spark fades?

This is my first K.A. Tucker book and I really enjoyed it. I was impressed that there was an element of surprise in there, slid in. Well done, K.A.! Catherine was a relatable character, a fact which gave this story that much more of the fairy tale appeal. The best thing about Catherine was that people let her down in the past, but she was still a good enough person to help a fellow human being in need. She says that anyone would have done what she did, but that's not true. Would I have stopped and tried to pull a person from a burning car? Maybe? I don't know. But it's definitely admirable.

Though it was frustrating to read her lack of belief and trust in Brett, it was also completely understandable. I think I would totally feel the same way and have the same thoughts she did, and I don't even have her trust issues with men. My heart went out to Keith! K.A., can you give us a Keith story? I'd love to see his H.E.A. Also, Lou and Leroy for the win! Catherine needed an advocate and someone she could trust on her side to make it work. Lou was perfect. Brenna was simply adorable. She's so sweet and innocent, and no matter what she says or does, you can't help but love her. I felt Misty was kind of used as a plot piece at the end, but overall it was nice to have a foil (as far as views on love and romance) to Catherine to balance the story out.

Until It Fades kept me turning the pages as I rooted for the happily ever after ending in this fairy tale story. I'd recommend you pick it up -- you can see the bottom of this post for some links to do so.

Thank you to Atria for sending an me advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.

Atria Paperback | ISBN: 9781501133381 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $16.00
Atria eBook | ISBN: 9781501133398 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $7.99



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Book review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

i believe in a thing called love, maurene goo
Yellow and pink are my favorite colors.
Book Summary
Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

Flo's Review
I Believe in a Thing Called Love was literally the last book I was able to get at ALA Annual this year. I had to leave the show immediately after her signing to make my flight back home, but I wasn't missing it! And since it was on top of my book pile, that made it in the easiest and best choice for my plane read. 

Let's start with Cover Love: this cover alone describes the book. Light, flowery, and fun. The fact that Desi and Luca are black and white also suggests that there is a layer of seriousness and depth underneath, which is true. Desi's mom died, so she was mostly raised by and lives with her Appa (father). This is the basis of Desi's character, as she never wants to worry her Appa because she is grateful for him and never wants to upset him. The relationship between Desi and Appa is fantastic and so fun to read! These two know each other inside out and the ways they interact so well conveys their relationship. 

I believe that I adore these pins!
I loved reading about the K dramas! What a fun, unique concept to base a story around. They sound like they'd be right up my alley. Lots of drama leading up to the single kiss for the lovers you've been rooting for. I could totally see myself marathoning a ton of them. 

There was more than meets the eye to Luca -- he had a depth to him as well, and I really enjoyed discovering it along with Desi. I also enjoyed journeying with Desi through her first love as she experienced everything that went along with it and realized that there was more to love and life than going by the steps. I read the majority it of  on the plane, and it didn't take me long to finish the rest.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a fun and creative story that's well worth your time! I'm looking forward to reading more of Maurene Goo.