Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Maximum Ride Forever by James Patterson

Book Summary
THE NINTH AND ULTIMATE MAXIMUM RIDE STORY IS HERE! Legions of Max fans won't be disappointed by this encore episode in the beloved series about the incredible adventures of a teenage girl who can fly. As Maximum Ride boldly navigates a post-apocalyptic world, she and her broken flock are roaming the earth, searching for answers to what happened. All will be revealed in this last spectacular "ride"- a brand-new grand finale featuring all of the nonstop action, twists and turns that readers can rely on in a blockbuster Patterson page turner! 

Flo's Review
I'm disappointed :(  I wanted to like this one. Though it had some "ehhh" moments/books, I enjoyed listening to this series on audio. So when I found the audio for this new one, I went for it. I was a little cautious about it because it seems like the series was meant to end with the 8th book. (Without giving anything away, that book ended with a pretty clear ending type event!) Sometimes extra, unplanned series books go well, but a lot of times they don't, unfortunately. It was so obvious that this wasn't meant to be a story. It felt like the author was just making up stuff to have a plot line. In order to accomplish this, he took a lot of things that were resolved by the end of the 8th book and opened them back up again. Resolutions? Nope. Just bring back the same issues for another book. And Max was pretty unbearable in this one. What I loved about the series, what made it dynamic and fun to read was how kick-butt Max was. She was a great leader and a great warrior. She really cared about her flock and I loved to see how that manifested in her adventures. I also enjoyed finding out about her family. Later on in the series a romance element was added. I didn't like it at first, then came to accept it. But that's not what Maximum Ride is about. But enter this book. Max is helpless and depressed and only thinking about herself. There are shades of a love triangle,which groan. This Max wax not the Maximum Ride that I had come to love through the series. 

Combine the unlikeable Max, the useless love story element, the regurgitation of plots that had already been resolved, and the feel that there wasn't really a plot to move this story forward, and that is the experience I had with Maximum Ride Forever. I DNF around 30 percent. It's a shame, and I've decided to just pretend like this book doesn't exist.

Here are some reviews of the earlier books in the series:

The Angel Experiment: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2011/09/maximum-ride-angel-experiment-by-james.html

School's Out - Forever: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2011/09/maximum-ride-2-schools-out-forever.html

Nevermore - http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2012/08/nevermore-by-james-patterson.html

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked by S.J. Goslee

Book Summary
Hilarity ensues when a slacker teen boy discovers he's gay, in this unforgettably funny YA debut.

Mike Tate is a normal dude. He and his friends have a crappy band (an excuse to drink cheap beer and rock out to the Lemonheads) and hang out in parking lots doing stupid board tricks. But when Mike's girlfriend Lisa, who knows him better than he does, breaks up with him, he realizes he's about to have a major epiphany that will blow his mind. And worse--he gets elected to homecoming court.

It's like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin' cheerleaders.

With the free spirit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the raw voice of Winger, and characters reminiscent of Freaks & Geeks, this debut YA offers a standout voice and a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.

Flo's Review
It was interesting that I just happened to read this one so shortly after Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall. The two boys in BHAA are both simply huggable and adorable. I wouldn't call Mike or Wallace huggable or adorable. But what I liked about Mike were his group of friends. They were constant and dependable. Even those that struggled a bit with Mike's news came around in the end. Lisa was interesting. Despite her craziness, you can tell she really does care for Mike. This was an easy and fast read, which I largely completed in the span of a few hours. 

The play on the title is great because at the core level, Mike says "Whatever" a lot. But on the deeper level, this book is a lot about things changing and being able to roll with the punches -- being able to say, "Okay, whatever" and embrace the crazy roller coaster that is emotional, beautiful unpredictable life.

Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Book Summary
Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages--"since before this was even a show," according to Miranda--traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shot.

Flo's Review
My fiance always makes fun of me because I am kinda obsessed with special features on DVDs. I will buy or not buy movies based on what extras they can show me. I just think it's really cool to see the behind the scenes, see the actors as people and not just their characters, see how the world-building translated from book or screenplay, and so forth. So when I saw that there was a book about my new obsession Hamilton, I wanted to read it right away.

I really enjoyed it. There were two elements. First, all the lyrics for the musical numbers were included. But in addition to those, Lin added notes in the margins. It was like reading an annotated book from the author. I was fascinated! I loved hearing more about the history, Lin's thought process, behind the scenes tidbits, and such. The other element was the story of how the play came to be, and more about the actors. These were interspersed throughout the musical numbers, so you never got bogged down in one element or the other. It was set up very nicely and made this big book very easy to fly through. My other favorite part was all the pictures of the play. Having never seen the play, I really liked seeing how things were actually staged and how they appear on stage. I also enjoyed the little surprise that's in the book and play, and not the cast recording CD.

If you are a Hamilton fan, I think you will really enjoy this. And if you are not a Hamilton fan, this could easily become your way in. Either way, it was fun and definitely worth picking up! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

Book Summary
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

Flo's Review
You guys. Can I gush for a few minutes here?! I opened up Been Here All Along after having finished a book I was "meh" about.  And--and--it was like I couldn't read this one fast enough! I flew through about 60% of it, and then forced myself to go to bed because it was a school night. Then the next day (today) I easily finished off the rest. I think this book was just what I needed right now! It was full of so many good feels!! Gideon and Kyle are the cutest boys ever and I just love them individually and together and want to hug and kiss them both! Seriously, though, on the feels. The full range! I laughed at the phrase "Kyle-sexual" and was scared for what I knew was going to happen toward the end. I was nervous when the boys were nervous. They are both awkward and imperfect, but they fit together so well. There were two things I didn't quite jive with, but they are minor -- first, we find out something about Kyle around halfway through that I don't know how it wasn't discovered before. They try to explain, but ehh.... And second, I didn't quite get Esra's role in the story. Did we need to be outside of the Gideon-Kyle-Ruby circle a little? Maybe that was the thought, but I don't think we did. Esra just seemed a little random to get so much space and his own POVs. But, like I said, those are minor concerns. Overall I am sitting here thinking about this book with a huge smile on my face. It is simply ADORABLE.

 Been Here All Along comes out August 30, 2016 and you need to make it happen! There's a giveaway for it on Goodreads - go forth and enter!  

Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with an advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford

Book Summary
When Olivia opens the bathroom door, the last thing she expects to see is her best friend Nicola giving birth on the floor – and to say Nicola is surprised is an understatement. She’s not ready to be a mum, and she needs Olivia’s help. But Olivia has her own problems – specifically her bullying boyfriend, Jonty, and keeping an eye on younger sister Alice. And then there’s Nicola’s friend Ben, who’s struggling with secrets of his own … 

Flo's Review
This was a unique concept. Parents are gone and teenager throws big party at house? Not uncommon. Best friend has baby in your bathroom? Not common! This was a fast read. I read the majority of it in a day. It was light and easy, which sometimes you just need. 

My favorite part of it was the 5 separate POVs telling the narrative straight through. Each of them took a month: Olivia, Nicola, Jonty, Alice, Ben. Instead of having the 5 POVs tell the same story, we started with one and ended with the fifth, five months later. Unfortunately, while the idea was neat, it made the story feel a little disjointed. The different POVs connected, of course, but loosely. I actually kind of feel like it would have been better to hear the whole story from the five different POVs. I also had trouble bonding with any of the five. I don't know....none of them really stood out for me where I was rooting for her or him strongly. I think maybe the actual birth of the baby was the biggest part of the story, and the rest of the it just felt like extended character descriptions. It might actually have played out better to have the five different POV/character descriptions leading up to the party and then ending with the birth. Then some sort of epilogue or "Where Are They Now?" to show us that they've all grown from the experience. 

The Baby releases in the U.S. on October 25th, 2016. Thank you to Scholastic for providing me an advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Summary
For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

Flo's Review
There is always that nervousness that comes with reading the final book in a trilogy or series. Unfortunately, this book can have the power to make or break everything that has come before it. (No pressure! Lol). So I was both excited and nervous when I picked up The Raven King. But I had no cause for worry. Honestly, this book may have been my favorite of the four. I was really into the character's relationships, dynamic, growth. I tweeted Jacque at one point that I had so many feels about this book. I simply loved how the relationships progressed, especially one that I did not see coming. (Even though it was hinted at in the other books. I just missed it.) The end was realistic, painful, and honest; and I appreciated that about it. It was also complete. I closed the book happy to have left everyone in a good spot. (Although one I still hurt about.) Then Maggie tweeted about this coming up:
Eeeep! Sign me up!! 

Overall, I was super impressed with this series. Because when I started it I was like, "It's pretty good, I guess, but a little odd." By this book, I was all in. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, the characters are hopeful and flawed, and there is enough to make the imagination smile. If you are looking for something completely different from anything you have read before, then I'd recommend you pick up this series.

On a side note, if you have read the first three books of the trilogy and just need a refresher before you start TRK, Maggie wrote summaries of The Raven Cycle on Recaptains that are past awesome: 

The Raven Boys
The Dream Thieves
Blue Lily, Lily Blue

And here are our reviews of The Raven Cycle:

The Raven Boys
The Dream Thieves
Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Jacque's Review:

I received an ARC of Katharine McGee's debut novel, The Thousandth Floor, at BEA.  The August 30th release date is less than two weeks away, so you will not have to wait long if you don't already have a copy.

The story is set in New York City in the year 2118.  The majority of the city has been taken over by a MASSIVE tower that is 1000 stories tall. There is transportation within the tower, schools, restaurants, businesses, etc.  The more affluent you are the higher you live in the tower, which brings me to an introduction of the characters.

Avery and Atlas Fuller live on the 1000th floor.  They are siblings by adoption and have just about everything they could ever want.  They are extremely wealthy, attractive, and popular, but there is one think they can't have that could destroy them both.

Eris Dodd-Radson lives on the 985th floor.  She is a social butterfly and is Avery's oldest friend.  Life as she has always known it is threatened by a secret that is revealed early on in the story.

Leda Cole lives on the 962 floor and is Avery's best friend.  They have never had any secrets between them until Leda returns from her summer away from the tower.  The secrets compound throughout the story and neither girl can trust the other by the end.

Cord Anderton lives on the 967th floor.  His parents died in a plane crash, so he lives by himself in the massive apartment until his older brother shows up unexpectedly.  

Watt Bakradi lives on the 294th floor and is a computer genius.  He developed a quantum computer that can hack into just about any system, which allows him to generate some additional income.  His "online services" brings him into contact with some of the upper floor kids previously mentioned.

Rylin Myers lives on the 32nd floor.  She had to quit school to support herself and her younger sister and takes a job working as Cord Anderton's maid.  Their relationship becomes more complicated as they begin to develop feelings for each other, but Rylin still has unresolved "issues" with her not quite ex-boyfriend.

Throughout the book we discover that everyone within  the tower has a secret.  There is a very delicate balancing act that must be maintained or everyone will come crashing to the bottom.  If they do not play their cards perfectly their secret may become exposed and life as they know it will cease to exist.

Katharine told the story from a number of the characters' points of view.  This allowed the reader the opportunity to witness all of the drama as it unfolded from just about every possible angle. If you think the Real Housewives have drama, you haven't seen anything like this.  I can't wait to see how everything will play out in the next book in this series.  

Summer Blog Promo Tour: Wrap Up!

Can't believe this is the last time I'll be uploading this fun little image into a blog post. This was my first time participating in the Summer Blog Promo Tour and I had an absolute blast! I loved the creative ideas that I was asked to write on, and I loved hearing from the other bloggers as well.

I encourage you to visit all of these ladies' blogs, listed here in the order we featured them:

Sunday, July 3rd:

The Cozy Little Book Nook 

Sunday, July 10th:

Perks of Being a Book Nerd 

Sunday, July 17th:

He Said Books or Me 

Sunday, July 24th:

Downright Dystopian 

July 31st:

The Left-Handed Book Lover 

August 7th:

A Bookish Mess 

August 14th:

The Book Bratz 

Until next year!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover


"Colleen Hoover reminds readers that love is a fragile thing, built from courage, hope, and tears. Every person with a heartbeat should read this book."
– Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Visit www.ItEndsWithUsBook.com for teasers, tour dates and more.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

I decided to go into this one blind. I heard that it was a personal book for Colleen, but that was all I knew about it before I started reading. (Well, I mean, besides the pretty cover. Look at that cover! So pretty!!) This reminds me of the time Jacque had the Book Nerds read Bitter End by Jennifer Brown. (My review for that is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/678934731?book_show_action=false). The plots of these two stories were also similar, though Bitter End deals with high schoolers and It Ends With Us has adults. But I enjoyed both the stories for the same reason. The situations were believable: the characters were real and flawed -- not all good or all bad. Colleen did such a powerful job writing this -- I couldn't just see Lily's dilemma and thought process -- I could feel it, too. Which is important. Because if this was all head, the answer and the resulting actions would be easy. But it's not all head. There is love involved. But at the end, the choice Lily made was out of love she had for her loved ones. The supporting characters in this story were phenomenal; I loved Marshall and Allysa. And Atlas? Well, I would scour Boston looking for Atlas! *swoons* I applaud Colleen for sharing this story with us. It's an emotional read, but it's worth it.

....and hey! You can win it after the page break! ;-) (See what I did there?!)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Blog Promo Tour: The Book Bratz

I kind of love that for the last stop on the Summer Blog Promo Tour, we get to feature the gals behind this whole great thing -- The Book Bratz! Thanks so much to Amber and Jessica for coordinating this. It's been so much fun!

One of the beauties of having multiple people at Book Nerds Across America is that we get to share a variety of opinions. I thought it might be fun to extend this out, so I found a book that Jessica and I had completely opposite opinions on and you can read both our reviews side by side. (Or back to back, as the layout is.)

So, without further ado...

We Were Liars 
by E. Lockhart

Jessica's Review
I wasn't crazy about We Were Liars. At all. Which sucks, because I know so many people that said it was a great book, and I was hoping that it'd be a great book for me, too. This book, summed up in a sentence, is about a girl named Cady who comes from this rich, white, perfect American family, except for the fact that all of the mothers are divorced and everyone's racist and crazy and oh yeah, she hit her head.  For the longest time I felt like I didn't feel any sort of plot evolving whatsoever. I felt like I was just following Cady and her crazy family for 227 pages of pure rich-people crazy.

One thing that really, really bothered me was the really random line breaking. All of a sudden
the book
would go like this and
it had absolutely no
rhyme or reason
I couldn't

Like, what? I really didn't understand. There wasn't anything significant about those lines or the specific breaking up of them. It was cut off at random parts. For artistic affect, maybe? But I wouldn't call that artistic. More like mildly irritating.

The end of this book, however, it really screwed me up. Big time. I was left with a giant question mark above my head. I'm a logical person, so naturally I want answers. Things about that ending just didn't make any sense at all. The ending messed with my head a little bit. And totally didn't make sense to me. But like the summary said, I'm supposed to lie about the ending and not tell you anything. All in all, We Were Liars felt like a book with such a small plot to me, nothing important happening and nothing being elaborated. This book just wasn't my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean that somebody else may not enjoy it! I encourage everyone to pick up this book and give it a try. It's gotten raving reviews alongside some "meh" ones. It all depends on where you stand. I'm still glad I picked up this book and gave it a shot. I just wish I felt differently about it.

Flo's Review
It got a lot of pre-publication hype and again -- look at that summary! I knew I had to read it. I loved this book! For one thing, the writing is unique and beautiful ("He is...ambition and strong coffee." I love that description of Gat! I want to meet someone intense like him just so I can describe that person that way.) 

The story struck a perfect balance between keeping you questioning and moving the plot forward. It gave you enough of a story line and enough about the characters that you were invested -- you felt you knew the Sinclairs and enjoyed reading about their summer experiences. But, at the same time, you knew -- as Cady knew -- that there was more that you didn't know. And so I wanted to keep reading to find out the more. Throughout the story, at good intervals, information is dropped in tidbits that makes you realize...whoa. Maybe you don't know the Sinclairs like you thought you did. I was thoroughly impressed because I knew going into the story that there would be a big twist -- that's all you see when you read the reviews. But I had no idea what the twist could be. And throughout the story I was reading, knowing that something was going to happen. But I had NO IDEA what it could be. And then when I got to it? I was FLOORED. I had NO IDEA. I finished this a couple of days ago and am still in book hangover mode. (The only thing I didn't get is why they're called the Liars? Did E. mention that? Or did I miss it?) Anyway, I definitely recommend this one. 

So! What do you guys think?? Did you love it, hate it, or were you somewhere in between??

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Cabin: Win an ARC and Read Chapter 1

Book Summary
There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar and Awake.

When Mackenzie treks to a secluded cabin in the woods with six friends, she expects a fun weekend of partying, drinking, and hookups. But when they wake to find two of their own dead and covered in blood, it's clear there's a killer among them.

As the police try to unravel the case, Mackenzie launches her own investigation. Before long secrets start to emerge, revealing a sinister web of sins among the original seven friends. The killer is still free. Every one of them is a suspect. And Mackenzie starts to realize that no one is innocent…

Win an ARC!
Sounds pretty creeptastic, amirite?! It comes out September 6, 2016, but thanks to our friends at Sourcebooks, we are able to give away an ARC! (U.S. and Canada only) Enter via the Rafflecopter. Contest runs from August 5th to August 12th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read the First Chapter
Want a little more info before you decide if you want to enter? Read the first chapter after the page break.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Goldfish Blog Tour

We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to be the last stop on the Goldfish Blog Tour! If you've been following the Tour the whole time, I hope you enjoyed it! If you are new to the Tour and/or to Goldfish, you can check out a synopsis of the book at the end of the post. But for now, let's talk about...

Synchronized swimming

I realized that I didn't know much about the sport and wanted to learn more, so I consulted the Olympics website for more information. There I found out that at the turn of the 20th century, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman toured the U.S. performing water acrobatics. Then, another lady named Katherine Curtis had the idea of putting the water acrobatics to music. Her students performed at the 1933-34 Chicago "Century of Progress" fair, and their routine was called....wait for it...synchronized swimming. But it wasn't until 1984 that it became an Olympic sport for the first time. And fun fact: rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming are the only exclusively female Olympic sports. (I got all that info here: https://www.olympic.org/synchronized-swimming.)

If you want to follow along with synchronized swimming in Rio, you can do so here: https://www.rio2016.com/en/synchronised-swimming and here: http://www.nbcolympics.com/synchronized-swimming.

Finally, I wasn't able to embed this, but here's Russia's 2004 Olympic Gold win: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDi8J4g-pUk.


Book Summary
Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive… 

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat. 

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.