Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: A Painted House by John Grisham

A Painted House

Goodreads Overview:

Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers — and two very dangerous men — came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world.

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born ... and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives — and change his family and his town forever....

Jacque's Review:

Back in the early 90's I read most of Grisham's books as soon as they were released.  I was in high school then and had plenty of time on my hands during the summer and on school breaks.  I have been trying to catch up, which is an almost impossible feat since I'm in the same predicament with a number of authors and series, but I keep plugging away.

This book was very different from any of his other books that I have read.  It did not involve a lawyer or some epic case that needed to be solved.  Instead, we are taken to a small cotton farm in Arkansas.  The story is told from the viewpoint of Luke Chandler, a seven-year-old boy who lives with his parents and grandparents.  He dreams of one day playing baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and moving far away from the farm, where he spends long hours picking cotton six days a week.  Sunday is a day for rest and worship.  

Luke's sheltered lifestyle takes a real turn in the summer of 1952 when he witnesses not one, but two murders.  As the number of secrets compound throughout the story, it almost becomes too much for him to bear.  He begins acting differently and the adults get suspicious, but he knows he needs to keep quiet to protect himself and his family.

This wasn't my favorite Grisham book, but I did enjoy the story.  He did a great job of taking us back to a time and place most readers have little experience with.  There was plenty of drama, gossip, and scandal to keep the pages turning, but it wasn't the fast paced read I am used to from Grisham.    
  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Book review: She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood

Book Summary
The year is 1966. The Vietnam War rages overseas, the Beatles have catapulted into stardom, and twelve-year-old Rhode Island native Trudy Mixer is not thrilled with life. Her best friend, Michelle, has decided to become a cheerleader, everyone at school is now calling her Gertrude (her hated real name), and the gem of her middle school career, the Beatles fan club, has dwindled down to only three other members--the least popular kids at school. And at home, her workaholic father has become even more distant.

Determined to regain her social status and prove herself to her father, Trudy looks toward the biggest thing happening worldwide: the Beatles. She is set on seeing their final world tour in Boston at the end of the summer--and meeting her beloved Paul McCartney. So on a hot August day, unknown to their families, Trudy and crew set off on their journey, each of them with soaring hopes for what lies ahead.
 

Flo's Review
This book, y'all. It has so many of my favorite things. I can relate to it on so many levels. First of all: the Beatles. My best friend and I became obsessed with them in high school and for awhile, I asserted that they were my favorite band. (Now they tie with New Kids on the Block...more on that later.) But I love the Beatles. When I was in high school, I did my big World History class project on the "Paul is Dead" phenomenon. Around that time they released at least a few Beatles Greatest Hits albums, and I had them all.

Needless to say, I adored the subject of this book. Each of the chapters was named after a Beatles song and I loved it so much. Trudy, the main character, shared random fun facts about them, and it was interesting to read about people's reaction to them during the time they were at the biggest. (Was that really the reaction to the Revolver album when it was released?? Interesting!)

So I loved this book because I love the Beatles. But now I have to talk about fangirling over my (other) favorite band. If you know me (or follow me on Twitter), you are probably aware that I am a HUGE New Kids on the Block fan. HUGE. I started loving them when I was nine years old, so though I wasn't exactly Trudy's age (she's 12), I was in that same age range. My sister and I, along with two of her friends, started a New Kids on the Block fan club. We made and sent out newsletters and everything. So Trudy's Beatles Fan Club? Right there with it! I feel you, Trudy Mixer.

My favorite parts of the book happened near the end. I will be vague, but if you're afraid of being spoiled at all, maybe skip this paragraph.
The scene on the subway with everything singing. YES. I've been there. I know that feeling, and it's incredible. And the scene going into the concert when everyone's arms are linked together. That too. And cheering on the George girl! I've been there. In fact,  the whole fan club plan -- how it is planned and executed -- I have been there several times. This story on some levels is my story of loving a boy band so so much, and I loved the feeling that I got when reading this book because of it. Exhilarated and nostalgic. 
End of kind of spoilery but not really section.

Okay, so the book itself. I actually really enjoyed reading about a young girl growing up in the '60s in America. Are there more MG or even YA books like this? I'd love to read them! I loved that it was a time when you would go to the record store, buy an album, and then come home and just sit there listening to it with your family and/or friends. And Trudy's dad at dinner -- he would ask questions that foreshadowed how things are today like, "What do you think about playing music in elevators?" or "What do you think about disposable diapers?" Those were just fun to read.

This book would have gotten a perfect 5 stars out of 5 stars score from me, except for one thing...I kind of couldn't stand Trudy. I found this little girl to be snobby, entitled, and judgmental, and it made it hard for me to read at times. I loved the story and what was going on, but I really didn't like to hear her thoughts about her classmates or how she seemed to think everyone's world should revolve around her.

But that one dislike couldn't dampen my love of this book! She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) publishes on June 26, 2018 and if you're a nostalgic fangirl like me, I think you might love it, too.

Stay tuned to Book Nerds Across America for more coverage later this month of She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah).


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

Review: United by Melissa Landers

United (Alienated, #3)

Jacque's Review:

United is the third and final book in the Alienated series.  In this installment, the alliance between Earth and L'eihr is being threatened by another alien race.  They demand that all humans and L'eihr's return to their homes or they will destroy both civilizations.  Of course, Cara and Aelyx are not going to go down without a fight.  They are determined to return to the colony and the life they have worked so hard to build together.  

This book was action packed as Cara and Aelyx fight off not only another alien race, but also the hybrids from L'eihr, who are working with the enemy to sabotage the alliance. They recruit Cara's brother Troy, Aelyx's sister Elle, and his best friend Serene, but the odds certainly are not in their favor.  They have already witnessed the power of their competition and both of their governments have agreed that it is in their best interest to terminate the alliance.

Overall, I loved Aelyx and Cara throughout this series, and was happy with how it concluded.  There were a few situations in this book that were VERY far fetched, even for fiction.  Of course, the end result likely gave readers the warm and fuzzy feeling were likely looking for, but you couldn't help but roll your eyes and think... Seriously?  Instead of spending quite so much time on the unrealistic elements, I wish there would have been a larger focus on life on the colony.  After the first two books, I was kind of over all of the drama that was keeping Cara and Aelyx apart.  I would have enjoyed reading more about how the humans and L'eihrs begin working together and seeing the colony flourish.

Alienated was definitely my favorite book in this series, but they were all very entertaining.  I especially enjoyed listening to them on audio.  I read the first book, but listened to the final two.  The narrator did an AMAZING job with the different character's voices.  I especially loved her interpretation of Aelyx's personality.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray


Jacque's Review:

Don't Kiss the Messenger was about a group of athletes at a private high school.  It actually came across as more like a college setting since the students lived on campus and had the intense focus of collegiate sports vs. the more relaxed setting I see in our community high school programs.  The students are recruited, watch game tapes, have two a day practices, study tables, and tutors to make sure they remain academically eligible.

CeCe is the captain of the volleyball team and a star player.  She is well respected on campus, but she is constantly looking down on her appearance because of a scar she received in a car accident when she was ten.  She has a number of guy friends, but doesn't think a relationship is a possibility for her.

Emmett Brady is a senior transfer student and the new starting quarterback.  CeCe meets him in her Shakespeare class when they end up getting paired up together for a class introduction exercise.  She quickly learns there is a lot more to him than football.  He is a gifted music student, intelligent, and extremely good looking.  While she is interest in him, she believes someone like him couldn't possible be interested in someone like her.

Emmett starts dating Bryn, who is a transfer student on the volleyball team.  She is beautiful, but reminded me of Paris Hilton.  Her idea of a deep conversation was "He's Hot" or "You have nice hair."  Emmett would have ditched her after the first date if it weren't for a little scheme CeCe and Bryn devised.  It would be better for Bryn to communicate with him via text and email to break the ice....AKA so she could get CeCe to help her sound more intelligent.  Well...as you can imagine the plan backfires every time Emmett and Bryn are together and she can't string a few words together on her own.

Emmett and CeCe really start to hit it off via email and their friendship is quickly growing from their in class interactions.  They have a lot in common, but will she find the courage to tell him she is really the "messenger."

Overall, I loved reading all of the interactions between Emmett and CeCe.  They definitely had chemistry and were drawn to each other's personality and interests.  I wish their relationship would have been the major focus of the book, but perhaps that is what will take place in the next installment in this series.  I understood the Beauty and the Beast references with the really pretty girl and the scarred girl, but the constant focus on looks was a bit overwhelming.  I was more interested in Emmett's music, CeCe's crazy stunts, and the campus sports scene.  Those are the things I will remember most vs. who was considered pretty and who was not.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Fierce Unboxing!



I received a few upcoming books from Fierce Reads and thought I'd share my fun of discovery about the titles with you. Enjoy! Featured in this video:

Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love by Heather Demetrios
This is a book about the dark side of love: the way it kicks your ass, tears out your heart, and then forces you to eat it, bite by bloody bite. If you’ve felt this way, you’re not alone…

In this powerful collection, YA authors answer real letters from teens all over the world about the dark side of love: dating violence, break-ups, cheating, betrayals, and loneliness. This book contains a no-holds-barred, raw outpouring of the wisdom these authors have culled from mining their own hearts for the fiction they write. Their responses are autobiographical, unflinching, and filled with love and hope for the anonymous teen letter writers.

Featuring Adi Alsaid, Becky Albertalli, Libba Bray, Heather Demetrios, Amy Ewing, Zach Fehst, Gayle Forman, Corey Ann Haydu, Varian Johnson, A.S. King, Nina LaCour, Kim Liggett, Kekla Magoon, Sarah McCarry, Sandhya Menon, Cristina Moracho, Jasmine Warga, and Ibi Zoboi.

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory. Won in a major six-house auction!

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team That Awakened a City by Phillip Hoose
The true story of the all-black high school basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indiana, masterfully told by National Book Award winner Phil Hoose.

By winning the state high school basketball championship in 1955, ten teens from an Indianapolis school meant to be the centerpiece of racially segregated education in the state shattered the myth of their inferiority. Their brilliant coach had fashioned an unbeatable team from a group of boys born in the South and raised in poverty. Anchored by the astonishing Oscar Robertson, a future college and NBA star, the Crispus Attucks Tigers went down in history as the first state champions from Indianapolis and the first all-black team in U.S. history to win a racially open championship tournament—an integration they had forced with their on-court prowess.

From native Hoosier and award-winning author Phillip Hoose comes this true story of a team up against impossible odds, making a difference when it mattered most.

Audiobook review -- Note to Self: Inspiring Figures Write to the Young People they Once Were by Gayle King

Book Summary
Gayle King shares her favorite inspiring letters from the popular CBS This Morning segment Note to Self, in which twenty-first century luminaries pen advice and encouragement to the young people they once were.

What do Congressman John Lewis, Dr. Ruth, Kesha, and Kermit the Frog wish they could tell their younger selves? What about a gay NFL player or the most successful female racecar driver? In Note to SelfCBS This Morning cohost Gayle King shares some of the most memorable letters from the broadcast’s popular segment of the same name. With essays from such varied figures as Oprah, Vice President Joe Biden, Chelsea Handler, and Maya Angelou—as well as poignant words from a Newtown father and a military widow—Note to Self is a lovely reflection on the joys and challenges of growing up and a perfect gift for any occasion.

Flo's Review
This audiobook right here was a conglomeration of so many of my favorite things about books and audiobooks. I love audiobooks. I love autobiographies read by the author. I love the whole 'letter to my younger self' trope. (I'm calling this a trope, because I've seen it done at least two other times that I can think of. What do you think? Do you consider it a trope?)

Anyway, this audiobook takes all of those things and ups the game by about 50. Because this is a combination of a whole bunch of amazing people reading their letters to their younger selves. I love that we get to hear them all. The letters were all fantastic. I was literally teary eyed listening to most of them. So many were sad but also hopeful. So many stories of overcoming. A lot of people with strong faith. These letters, all together, display what it mean to be human -- to doubt, to love, to challenge yourself, to overcome, to learn, to grow. 

The only bad thing about listening to the audiobook as opposed to reading it was that there were so many great quotes that I would have loved to flag, underline, highlight. 

At the end of the book, Gayle King encourages the reader to write her own letter to self. It's a great exercise. I did one for my review of Dear Teen Me and really enjoyed it.

All the hearts and stars for Note to Self!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

YA Prom is TODAY!

"It's prom season! To celebrate this exciting time of year and also to spread the love for A PROM TO REMEMBER by Sandy Hall, Swoon Reads and Fierce Reads are joining forces to throw a YA Prom! 

This will be an online event where we'll be inviting anyone who'd like to participate to share a mood board (or photo collage) on Twitter highlighting their dream YA prom dates, outfit, ride, or whatever else they'd like to share. We'll be encouraging people to share these pics with the hashtag #YAPromToRemember on June 7th!"  --text from Swoon Reads and Fierce Reads

Prom! Oh, how fun! OF COURSE I am joining in! Let's see...what will I have for my prom...


Dress
I actually really like this dress that I've just worn for two weddings in a row now....shh... no one at #YAPromToRemember needs to know!

Transportation


Caguas trolley
Mkt3000 dot com at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
I've most commonly seen these being used for weddings, and I don't imagine that when I was in high school my parents would have been down with renting me a trolley for the night, but for my #YAPromToRemember?! Totally.

Date
Peeta! Peeta Mellark will always be my #1 book boyfriend, and thus is the boy I'd take to my #YAPromToRemember. I'm sure he would get a night off from the bakery to attend prom. 

Search the hashtag #YAPromToRemember on Twitter to see some more prom photos!

Learn more about A PROM TO REMEMBER after the page break.

FURYBORN Spotlight Tour

    
    Book Info:
Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
ISBN: 9781492656623, Hardcover
Release Date: May 22nd, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire


·        Praise for Furyborn
“A page-turner. Readers will find the complex and flawed characters immensely relatable. The two narratives are deftly interwoven, and plot twists will keep teens on the edge of their seats.”                                       
 —School Library Journal, popular pick

“A dark yet rousing adventure story that combines passion and danger at every turn.”
Booklist

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.”
Kirkus

Strikingly vivid prose… the nearly five hundred pages race by in stunning fashion. This is a must-have for fans of Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles (Finnikin of the Rock, or Cashore’s Graceling.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s BooksSTARRED Review

“Beautiful, brutal, heart-stopping, and epic, Furyborn is a world to lose yourself in—just bring weapons. It’s dangerous there.”
Laini TaylorNew York Times bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone saga

Legrand has created magic on every page. Flawed, smart, and fierce heroines kept me dazzled and breathless. Furyborn is explosive and stunning.”
Mary E. PearsonNew York Times bestselling author of The Remnant Chronicles and The Jenna Fox Chronicles

·        Summary:
The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.


·        Book Site Link:

·        Furyborn Video Trailers Link:

·        Goodreads Link:

·        Buy Links:







·        About the Author:
Claire Legrand is the author of several novels for children and young adults, most notably The Cavendish Home for Boys and GirlsSome Kind of Happiness, and Winterspell. Claire lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Visit claire-legrand.com.

·        Social Media Links:

Read an excerpt from the book after the page break!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Book Summary
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Flo's Review
I am super behind on this one. I really enjoyed the first book in this quartet An Ember in the Ashes. (See my review here.) I got this book as soon as it published, but it dropped down on my TBR list. Eventually, I found that my local library had the audiobook, so I grabbed it with the intention of reading it that way. The audiobook is 15 hours long. I've talked before about how my audiobook limit tends to be around 8-9 hours. I thought I would be okay with this longer one, but I wasn't. 

About halfway through, I returned it to the library. That probably would have been that, except I learned that my favorite local bookstore Books & Books will be hosting Sabaa Tahir for her Reaper at the Gates tour. I definitely needed to have Torch finished. I returned to the library for the audiobook and just finished it last week.

I know I struggled with the length of the audiobook, but I don't think that was the only reason. I was also not loving Laia in this book. She's just so annoyingly stubborn. It's a good trait for her, I guess, because it helps her do things. Otherwise, she might be paralyzed by fear. But so often I found myself thinking, "UGH Laia!" as I read. 

Secondly, the books are so....brutal. I mean, it's a brutal world. This isn't a surprise by any means. It's a hard world, and it was a hard world in the first book, too. I don't know if the change is in me? I need a bit more sunshine and less blood. More fluffy romance and less ... Kauf. I pretty much cringed any time I reading about something the Warden was doing.

But there's a lot to love about this book, too. Steve West reads Elias, and as I talked about before, he is quite delightful to listen to. I am forever #TeamHelene. I hate that being the Blood Shrike has to make her so brutal, too. But she stays true to goodness and to herself in it all, and I admire her for doing so. Even though so many of her scenes made me almost physically hurt. Oh Helene! I think of the three main characters, I am most excited to see what happens with her in Reaper.

Whose story are you most excited to follow in Reaper? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

You Say It's Your Birthday! Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton

Happy book birthday to Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton I am currently reading this book. It has received great reviews already, and I hope to add to them. 

Stay tuned for a full review!

Book Summary
Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.

There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Book review: From You to Me by K.A. Holt

Book Summary
Amelia Peabody lives in a small town where nothing changes. And that's just fine by her. After losing her big sister, Clara, a few years ago, Amelia can't handle any more change. But when she starts eighth grade, she accidentally receives a letter that Clara had written to herself. In it, there's a list of things she'd wanted to do before the end of middle school and never finished, like get on the softball team and throw an awesome birthday party on the lake.
Amelia wonders if it's a sign from Clara. Maybe if she completed the list, her heart would stop hurting so much, and she could go back to being her old self. But as she makes her way through, Amelia finds that there's no going back, only forward. And she realizes she'll have to put her own spin on Clara's list to grow and change in the ways she needs to.
K. A. Holt's beautiful new novel is about grieving and growing up, and the ripples loss creates for a girl, a family, and a community.

Flo's Review
I was excited to read this one as soon as I read the summary. The whole "going through [person important to protagonist]'s list and doing everything on it" trope? I'm all here for it. 

Unfortunately...I kind of feel like I was misinformed. From You to Me was a touching story about a girl living with her grief over her sister's death. The characters were great -- I loved Mrs. Grant and all the fun grilled cheeses. Twitch and his friends were also great. And I also loved that Amelia's dad dealt with his grief by quitting his job and starting a food truck. 

But this was not a story about Amelia going through and completing Clara's list. The list is mentioned at the beginning, yes, and Amelia does decide (with her best friend Taylor) to complete it. But, without giving too much away, it didn't really feel to me that she was consciously going through the items on the list. It felt like she was just trying to live with her grief and then if something happened it was like, "Oh yeah, the list -- this was on it? Kinda. Sure. Cross it off." Like, I could almost see if the whole list idea was added onto the story later in a round of edits.

This was not a bad book by any means. I can see it being a great story for a young girl, or a girl Amelia's age, to read who is dealing with something similar. It is real, and that will make it relatable for its readers. I just wish the summary better reflected the contents so I knew what to expect going in.


Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book review: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Book Summary
Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

Flo's Review
It's been a while since I've read a 5 star (out of 5 stars) book, so Bring Me Their Hearts was a welcome delight. I stayed up past my bedtime at the end because I had to see how it would all shake down. Let me do you this public service and inform you that this is the first book in trilogy. You're welcome! So hopefully when you read it you won't be freaking out about the ending as much as I was at the time.

Zera's personality ... it was a little much at times. It's nice to see a character with some snark and sass about her, and especially one in a situation like hers where she pretty much has no choice about what she must do. But at times it went a bit overboard and she grated on my nerves. The flip side of this was that I loved the banter between her and Lucien. The two of them really are such a great pair, and actually similar in a lot of ways. I also really enjoyed getting to know the supporting characters around Zera and appreciate them as she comes to. Except the villain. It was very easy to hate him. 

The author's note I received describes the story by saying, "It's a story of defying that dark inner voice inside all of us -- the one that tell us that we're not good enough, that we can't do the right thing -- and moving forward with our lives." 

Bring Me Their Hearts does really well in so many areas: World-building. Character arcs. Pacing. It publishes Tuesday, June  5th and you should definitely grab it if you can.


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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

You Say It's Your Birthday! From You to Me by K.A. Holt


Happy book birthday to From You to Me by K.A. Holt! I am currently reading this book and thoroughly enjoying it. I like hearing about Amelia's town and the relationships she has. I am looking f forward to see how she goes about crossing things off Clara's list. Stay tuned for a full review!

Book Summary
Amelia Peabody lives in a small town where nothing changes. And that's just fine by her. After losing her big sister, Clara, a few years ago, Amelia can't handle any more change. But when she starts eighth grade, she accidentally receives a letter that Clara had written to herself. In it, there's a list of things she'd wanted to do before the end of middle school and never finished, like get on the softball team and throw an awesome birthday party on the lake.
Amelia wonders if it's a sign from Clara. Maybe if she completed the list, her heart would stop hurting so much, and she could go back to being her old self. But as she makes her way through, Amelia finds that there's no going back, only forward. And she realizes she'll have to put her own spin on Clara's list to grow and change in the ways she needs to.
K. A. Holt's beautiful new novel is about grieving and growing up, and the ripples loss creates for a girl, a family, and a community.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Book Summary
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life. 

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.

Flo's Review
I adored Me Before You. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me question, and it made me cry some more. I would recommend that book to anyone! (In fact, I did -- right here.)

So I went into After You, the second book in the series, cautiously optimistic. I'd seen some of the mixed reviews it received, so I was hesitant, though hopeful. 

I'm sad to report that I did not end up enjoying it.

In fact, I did not finish it. I DNF around page 139. (Read more of my reaction here.)

So when I got the opportunity to read and review the third book, you might think that I would have passed. But I do enjoy Lou as a character. And I thought, "Why not? I'll give it one more try."

Again, I am sad to report that could not finish this one either. I DNF around page 200. It's interesting. It is. Part of me likes reading about Lou's life in New York and experiencing the city through her enthusiastic eyes. 

...but more of me is kind of bored. As with After You, there was nothing that attracted me to the new characters. There was no one I was really rooting for. I mean, Josh seems fun. But I'm not rooting for him for obvious reasons. Agnes and Mr. Gopnik? Ehhh. This book comes off like I'm reading Lou's New York diary. Which is fine. But it doesn't really seem like a story to me? Just like me reading about Lou's experiences. There is nothing in the plot right now that is compelling me to read on. 

And so, I must let it go. I will fondly remember Lou from Me Before You. Maybe I'll even watch the movie this weekend and cry anew. And I'm definitely open to reading more of Jojo Moyes books. (I enjoyed Paris for One -- see?)

Have you read the Louisa Clark books? What did you think of them?


Thank you very much to Viking for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Book review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Book Summary
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Flo's Review
I adored Simon so hard. And I adore Becky Albertalli so hard. But I struggled a bit with Leah, for two reasons: 1) Leah is such an angsty teenager. She has every right to be. I completely understand why she is. But I didn't really have a lot of fun reading 300+ pages of angsty, stuck-in-own-head teen girl. 2) Seriously, everyone at Creekwood has a crush on the one same person?! Like, between the books and movie, how many people have been romantically interested in this one character?! And, yeah, she's cool, but...  I found myself picking this book up every night and telling myself that I just needed to get through it. It felt really long and like I was reading it forever.

Okay, so now let's talk about the good stuff! Simon Spier is my favorite for life! This book had a LOT of Simon and his love interest in it and I was all here for it. That promposal though?! Everything. They are adorable. I love them. One of my friends wrote in her review that she loved all the pop culture references and would just love to hang out with this friend group and I agree! So much Harry Potter love and it was so great. I would have loved to do prom night with this crew.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda review here: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2017/11/book-review-and-trailer-simon-vs-homo.html

Love, Simon movie review here:
http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2018/02/movie-review-love-simon.html