Saturday, April 22, 2017

Blog Tour: The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty


Book Summary
An obstinate girl who will not be married. 
A soldier desperate to prove himself. 
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

Flo's Favorite (Literary) Female Spies!
I was super excited to get my hands on this book as soon as I heard about it, because I really do enjoy a good girl spy story. "Like which ones, Flo?" you ask. Well, let me tell you!


ally carter, gallagher girls

1. Cammie, Bex, Liz, and Macy from the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter: Oh, I love these girls! This is a fabulous series that I completely binged and enjoyed every minute of it. These four girls go to the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, which is a fancy way to say 'spy school.' I really enjoyed how real to the teenage experience this story was. The girls were taking down bad guys and running for their lives at points, but they also had crushes on boys and the usual high school drama. I highly recommend this series.


harriet the spy, louise fitzhugh

2. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: Throwback! My first experience with a female spy was Harriet. I may not remember all the details of the story, but I definitely remember reading it as a little girl and loving it. 


nancy drew, carolyn keene

3. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. From Harriet to Nancy Drew! If Harriet was for the little girl me, Nancy was for the preteen. I had to include this stylish 80s cover, because these are what the versions I read looked like.


you don'w know my name, kristen orlando, black angel chronicles

4. You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando: I simply adored this book. Reagan is kickass as a spy, but also as a friend and a daughter. I really hope to see more of The Black Angel Chronicles.


5. And two more Worth Mentioning: I have also recently read a little bit of the Gail Carringer Finishing School series, and The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom is about a female spy-in-training, if you will.


I think that's all for me! LitReactor has a good little list of YA books with kickass female spies. But who are some of your favorite literary lady spies? Let me know in the comments! 

Oh, and about that Secret Message.... :)


"Had paper scraps with personal information about nobles"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Movie review: Before I Fall

Flo's Review
I love Lauren Oliver. I feel like she has been most well-known for the Delirium series and things after that, but Before I Fall has always, always been my favorite book of hers. I was so so excited when I heard that it was going to be a movie. And then I was happy to see some actresses that I'm familiar with and enjoy cast, like Zoey Deutch and Halston Sage. Life being the crazy thing it is, I was able to just make it to see this one in the theater before it left.

I read the book in 2010, so as you can imagine, I don't remember a lot of exact details. This was nice because it meant I wasn't sitting there in the movie comparing it to the book. I just remembered the general premise of the book and that I absolutely loved it. I was left with a good feeling, and I took that same feeling away from the film.

The actors and the director did a good job in making each day seem very different. I can imagine it would be repetitive to watch the same day over and over, but it never felt like I was seeing the same thing. And like I said, I left with the same feeling of, "Wow..." that I had when I read the book.

If you've read Before I Fall, I'd recommend giving this a watch when it comes out on Digital HD and DVD. And even if you haven't, I still think you'll find this enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book review: Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

alex & eliza by melissa de la cruz

Book Summary
Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

Flo's Review
You know as soon as I discovered that this book was going to exist, I added it to my TBR. I love Hamilton and was really excited about the opportunity to delve more into their love story. My fiance was a history major and always delights in reminding me that everything about the play is not 100% factual. Creative liberties were taken for the sake of the story and the presentation. So it was good for me to read another take, another version of the story. I found myself comparing the differences in this book to the differences in the play, thinking: "That's not how it happened!" But then I would have to remind myself that the play isn't exactly how it happened either. It was an interesting experience and I really enjoyed it.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator takes on a tone of speaking to match the old world style of writing. At first I thought to myself, "I can't do this." Between the audiobook reader's obvious affected tone and the older style of speaking in the writing, I felt like I was listening to a history book. But I kept on listening. I found that I enjoyed Eliza's spirit and intelligence and Alex's endearing character. And the more I listened, the more it made sense to me that the audiobook narrator was speaking as she was. It added an extra layer of seeming authenticity to the story. It still would have worked with someone speaking regularly, but it honestly sounded more realistic in the more formal tone. I appreciate what she did; it really worked for this story.

The end of the story was interesting. I enjoyed how de la Cruz was able to incorporate another famous person into the story that most Americans remember from their history lessons (and pop culture phrasing). But some of it was random. Why all the focus on her mother's thoughts all of a sudden? I feel like this could have ended with the wedding and been wrapped up perfectly, without the extra bed chamber and honeymoon scenes.

Eliza's sister Peggy is hardly mentioned in the play, so it was nice to learn her story and see her personality. We got to really see the Schuyler sisters together; and they fit together so well. The bad guy was baaaad. Well done! I really did not like the guy.

Alex & Eliza is definitely enjoyable for fans of Hamilton, and I think it will be definitely interesting for history buffs. We got a good bit about the war and a very nice feel for what it was like to live during those times.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman

The Black Circle (The 39 Clues, #5)

Jacque's Review:

My son and I have been reading the 39 Clues series together.  The one thing that I have enjoyed about this series is that it that it is historical fiction, so I feel like he is learning something while enjoying the fictional elements of the story.  In the fifth installment, Amy and Dan are off to Russia in search of their next clue.  This time we learned about the Romanovs, which was the Russian royal family.  They focus mostly on the Romanov children Anastasia and and Alexei.  We also learned about Rasputin and his involvement with the Romanovs.

It was very coincidental, but my son was learning about Rasputin and the Romanovs in school while we were reading this book.  In addition, my step-dad suggested that I start listening to these "Remarkable Lives, Tragic Deaths" podcasts.  When I pulled them up, the first podcast was about Rasputin, so I feel like quite the expert after this comprehensive history lesson.

Amy and Dan were forced to work with their cousins, the Holts, in order to accomplish this mission.  The clues were spread out all over Russia and there was no way any one team could collect all of them on their own in the designated time frame.  Amy and Dan continue to receive help from the unknown "NRR" .  We finally find out who NRR really is, which was a major surprise.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but it wasn't who I thought it was all along.

The Kabras trail the Holts and Irina Spasky mysteriously turns up in places Amy and Dan are searching.  She is definitely working against them, but at one point it seemed like she was genuinely concerned about their safety and offered them a warning.  Of course, the kids took it with a grain of salt and continued on with the quest.

Their final discovery appears to be leading them to Australia.  I can't wait to see what we will learn about Australia in book 6.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

Evertrue (Everneath, #3)

***Spoiler Alert...I do not mention any spoilers from Evertrue (book 3 in the series), but if you haven't finished Everbound (book 2) there are some spoilers and you probably shouldn't proceed.*** 

Jacque's Review:

Evertrue is the third and final book in the Everneath series and picks up where book two left off.  Nikki and Jack are now on a mission to destroy the Everneath and restore Nikki's mortality. They have one major problem.  Nikki has to rely on Cole to feed her every night or she will lose her energy and die.  Even that is a short term solution to her  problems.  She has about a week to discover how to destroy the Everneath or she will be forced to choose between feeding on a forfeit for a century or allowing herself to die. They also hove no idea how to defeat the shades and the current queen.  

I was shocked by a major twist that took place in this book.  Cole and his band disappear one evening and their condo is ransacked.  When Cole reappears, he isn't the same.  He is speaking like he is from the early 1900's with an ancient vocabulary and a strange accent.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but Nikki and Jack decide to use this to their advantage.

We see a much different side of Cole in this book.  Personally, I liked the overly confident version of him better.  This version; however, did allow the reader to connect with him on a new level.  Even Nikki couldn't help but feel sorry for him.

Jack, on the the other hand, is now a version of the Hulk... or Hercules if we are going to use the mythological equivalent.  He somehow grew in size and strength when he freed himself from the Everneath.  In addition, he now has a very short temper.  Every time Nikki and Cole were together I pictured him clenching his fists (which is constantly mentioned in the book) and turning into the Hulk before he went into one of his rages.  It came in handy at times, but for the most part he was a bit annoying.  I would have selected the old Cole over him any day.

The ending wasn't much of a surprise, but there were some repercussions I didn't see coming.  I wish there could have been a happily ever after for everyone, but I guess that was never in the cards.  I was satisfied with how Brodi tied up the series and thoroughly enjoyed my time with these characters.



Thursday, April 6, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Gift Set for The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

the dead inside, cyndy etler
The Dead Inside: a true story
Author: Cyndy Etler
Sourcebooks Fire
On-sale: April 4, 2017
Young Adult, Hardcover
$17.99

Description:
For readers of Girl Interrupted and Tweak, Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious "tough love" program the ACLU called “a concentration camp for throwaway kids.”

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”

The Author:
Cyndy Etler was homeless at fourteen, summa cum laude at thirty. In her current work as a teacher and teen life coach, Etler happily teaches teens that books work better than drugs. She lives with her husband and dogs in North Carolina. Find her at CyndyEtler.com.

Social Media:
Author: https://twitter.com/cdetler

GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Got it and so excited!! ALA Midwinter Conference 2016
Book Summary
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Flo's Review
This book was quite the game. Seriously. My journey reading this book had just about as many twists and turns as Scarlett's adventures at Caraval. 

I struggled for the first half to 2/3rds of the book. I just could not with Scarlett. I don't know if I have ever read someone so inside his or her own head. I am sure there are people like that in the world, but it's really a little bit painful reading that character. At times it felt like I was just reading so much of Scarlett's broken record thoughts and not enough of the magic. 

Because the magic is where this book excels! Stephanie Garber's writing is absolutely beautiful. She doesn't just describe things with words -- she sings them, she creates them, she encapsulates them with all 5 senses and then some. 

Another thing I struggled with was Scarlett's and Julian's banter. I think it was supposed to be cute and coy and show the tension between them. But it just seemed to me like they were snipping at each other in many exchanges that went on for far too long. Their bickering exhausted me. 

But now let's bounce back to something else I liked about this book. The plot twists! There were several, and I didn't see any of them coming. I definitely knew that things would not be as they seemed, but it is just so incredibly creative, this story. 

Finally, a note about the audiobook. I think one reason I vacillated with my opinions about this book is because I was so ready to love it. This book was definitely one of the more popular and most anticipated 2017 titles, and that definitely raised the bar. One reason I was so excited for it was because I found out that the audiobook was narrated by Rebecca Soler. She is absolutely one of my favorite audiobook readers! She read the Cinder series, and I listened to all of those with her. So when I heard that she was doing Caraval, I was ready for another journey. Rebecca did not disappoint, and though I have finished listening to the story, the audiobook contains a bonus interview with author Stephanie Garber. I am looking forward to listening to it tomorrow as I drive around! 

So now that I am off of the ride that is Caraval, I will give it a 3 out of 5 stars and add book #2 to my TBR.

Thank you so much to Macmillan Audio for providing me with the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review AND Giveaway: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Book Summary 
Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

Flo's Review
Toward a Secret Sky has many different elements -- fantasy, romance, mystery, adventure. And, of course -- COVER LOVE. Look at this beauty!

toward a secret sky, heather Maclean
So pretty!
I was talking with a friend this past weekend about books that try to be one thing when they would be better as another. This is how I feel about Toward a Secret Sky. The romance felt a little much to me. I struggle with insta-love to begin with, and I felt that so much of this novel was Maren talking about how attracted she is to Gavin. To me, there was almost more about Maren and her feelings for Gavin than about the story line. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. I just feel like it was more a romance story with a fantastical setting than a fantasy story, and I was expecting more of a fantasy story. In the end, despite the fact that Maren is also motivated by her mother and her friends, she really just does everything for Gavin. I wish I'd gotten more personal drive and character growth: I wish she'd more come into her own, so to speak, to where her big decision at the end is motivated by herself and who she has become and not by him.

The story was creative and the scenery sounded absolutely beautiful. I loved reading about Gavin's home and about Aviemore. I also do appreciate that this is a standalone novel, in the world of so many fantasy series. 

Toward a Secret Sky comes out April 4th, 2017.

Thank you to Blink YA for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Now, about that GIVEAWAY
I ended up with two ARCs of this book, so I'll give away one! To enter, leave a comment here (with your email address so I can reach you) for 1 point, follow/RT the contest tweet on Twitter (@booknerdsblog) for another point, and/or like the Instagram (@booknerdsacrossamerica) for another entry. US only and ends at midnight on publication day, April 4th. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray

Don’t Kiss the Messenger Information Sheet:

Book Title: DON’T KISS THE MESSENGER
Author: Katie Ray (pen name of Katie Kacvinsky)
Release Date: 4/10/2017
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Author Email: kaz@uwalumni.com
Author Website: www.katieraybooks.wordpress.com
Author Twitter: @TheWeirdists
Author Facebook: Katie Ray Kacvinsky
Author Goodreads: Katie Ray


~A modern retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac~

Synopsis:

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him. CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate. Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl...

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings them all together. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll fall in love.





BIO:


Katie writes teen and new adult fiction novels. Her latest book, Don't Kiss the Messenger, is published under her new pen name, Katie Ray. She also has six books published under her legal name, Katie Kacvinsky (First Comes Love, Second Chance, Finally Forever, Awaken, Middle Ground, and Still Point).

Her books have been nominated for YALSA awards, and First Comes Love was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She lives in beautiful Ashland, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior, with her husband, two kids, and a very high-energy dog. To find out more about Katie and her books, check out her website: www.katieraybooks.wordpress.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

hunted meagan spooner
Book Summary
New York Times bestselling author Meagan Spooner spins a thoroughly thrilling Beauty and the Beast story for the modern age, expertly woven with spellbinding romance, intrigue, and suspense that readers won’t soon be able to forget.

Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Flo's Review
Happy book birthday to Hunted! This is going to be an interesting review to try and write without giving away any spoilers, but here goes. Hunted is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that is just so creative. Certain elements of the story were pretty much as they are in the fairy tale we all know and love, but some elements were changed to add richness and depth. Even more elements were created to wrap the story into a whole new world (see what I did there?!?) that was powerful, magical, and unique. This story had its own skin around it, and I am really impressed with how Meagan Spooner did that. It made the story more realistic, honestly. Because, as one of the characters tells Beauty towards the end, things do not just have one nature. Okay, let me pull a quote that might help that comment make more sense:

"The world of men is so strange. For you all things have one nature. Winter is cold. Death is a tragedy. But even in the world of men, this is not true. Your warmest memories are of winter, and the times spent near hearth and home. For the sick and the old death can be gift. And yet you insist on seeing only the face of things. I am a woman. I am a dragon. I am these things all the time, and I am never one but not the other."

With this story, there is always the question of Stockholm syndrome, and I love that Meagan actually addressed this question head on in the story. Because for this story to work, we need to believe that the Beauty was not struggling with this condition. Yeva was not. She sees the Beast for what he is and what he did: he treated her wrongly. But she also treated him wrongly. For this story to work, we need to believe that there is a HEA of two equals, and here there is. Yeva and the Beast are the same in a way, in an important way, that becomes clear by the end of the novel.

This was truly an enjoyable read, and I suggest you pick it up if you can!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book review -- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

lean in, sheryl sandberg, facebook, feminism
Book Summary
Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a massive cultural phenomenon and its title has become an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book soared to the top of bestseller lists internationally, igniting global conversations about women and ambition. Sandberg packed theatres, dominated opinion pages, appeared on every major television show and on the cover of Time magazine, and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership.

Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes, but ask the same women whether they'd feel confident asking for a raise, a promotion, or equal pay, and some reticence creeps in.

The statistics, although an improvement on previous decades, are certainly not in women's favour – of 197 heads of state, only twenty-two are women. Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally, and in the world of big business, a meagre eighteen of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.

Flo's Review
Okay, this is going to be an interesting review to write;  I was listening to this on audiobook, and every time I heard something I wanted to comment on I thought, "I need to go home and write this down!" Guess how many times I got home and wrote things down?!? (If you guessed zero, you are 100% correct.) And since I listened to the audiobook, I don't have a physical copy of the book to refer back to. So this review will be commenting on what I can remember. Here goes!

When I first started Lean In, I wasn't feeling it. First of all the narrator was alright, but very intense sounding. Like she read every single sentence as if it was the last sentence and the most important sentence you'd ever hear. I understand why, but it translated as exhausting to listen to. Secondly, this book is very data heavy, and it hits hard in the beginning. I was just hearing a lot of numbers, numbers, data, studies, numbers and they were all just flying around my head and not sticking.

But I didn't stop, and somewhere along the way everything must have started sticking. Lean In is actually one of the books I've had the most emotional and personal response to in awhile, and that is why I giving it 5 out of 5 stars. I got the audiobook at ALA, and kept it among the many other "girl power" books I managed to pick up. 
strong is the new pretty, girl rising, here we are, feminism
Who runs the world? GIRLS.
I moved down to Florida by myself many years ago. Whenever (mostly older) people heard that I was down here single and away from my family, they would ask me with a knowing glint in their eyes, "Oh. Did you move down here for a boy??" That question upset me every time. "No," I would tell them as I tried to remain calm. "I moved down here for my career." Which is true. I moved down here because I got a great job offer. It didn't matter that I only knew one other person who lived down here at the time. (And, no, that person was not a male.) It was what I needed to do to move ahead in my work journey and so I did it. I tried not to be upset by the question because to the people asking it seemed reasonable -- a young girl moving away from her family must be because she is about to start her own family, right? This is exactly the type of built in societal mindset that Lean In discusses and wants to correct.

There were so many good points that I took to heart while reading this. The idea that we are no longer talking about climbing a corporate ladder, but instead making our way up a corporate jungle gym was fantastic. There's no one way to career success, and it doesn't have to be a straight shot. Having been in several organizations that have tried and been unsuccessful in mentorship, I found the chapter about "Are you my mentor?" interesting. The idea with that one was that mentors are needed, yes, but forced mentors won't make or break anyone. Sanberg talks about the idea that if women are going to lean in to their careers, men need to lean in to family and home life: raising the children, doing things around the house, etc. And of course the simple idea that in order to make a work environment that fosters women to grow in their careers, we need women at the top who can understand what women need. Yes and yes and yes and yes.

I did struggle with a few things about the book. Sandberg came across as preachy a lot of the times. She had a lot of "I believe..." statements, but she also had a lot of "We must..." and "This can't happen" statements, too. And a few times she did the thing where she highlighted a problem, declared that it must be changed, but offered no ideas on how to change it. One example that stands out in mind is the idea that companies are often afraid to ask women questions about their family life because they are afraid of getting sued. Sandberg was pretty much like -- and I'm paraphrasing here --, "I don't know how to fix this problem, but it's a problem, and it must be fixed."

My sister is a physician and she always jokes that people never tell her husband, "Wow, you're so lucky, you married a doctor!" Lean In is looking toward a world where women doctors, male nurses, women CEOs, male stay-at-home parents are not the exception, but the norm. I agree with Sandberg that this generation is not there yet. But we will continue to work at it and be an example for our children, and we can hope that the next generation will be closer to this ideal of equality.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)

Three Dark Crowns was one of the books I was really excited to receive at BEA last year.  I did have to wait in a ridiculously long line, but it was well worth it.


Jacque's Review:

I can't say that I have read anything quite like this before.  Every generation there is a set of triplet queens born on a small island.  Each of the girls has a special magical ability, which must be used when the girls come of age to defeat her sisters and inherit the throne.  The poisoners have been in control of the throne for several generations, but the elemental queen, Mirabella, has a distinct advantage this generation.  The poison and naturalist queens appear to have no magical ability while Mirabella is perhaps the strongest elemental in history.

Katharine has been training her body to withstand the effects of poison for years with little to no avail.  The same can be said for the naturalist queen, Arsinoe, who tried to flee the island in an attempt to save her life prior to the start of the book. Her best friend is one of the strongest naturalists in recent memory while she has no ability.  She even turns to forbidden magic, which she feels is better than having no magic at all.  At least she will have something to rely on to defend herself.

The sisters grew up together, but were separated at a young age.  They still have fond memories of each other, so it is going to be extremely difficult for them to kill one another.  This seems to be a much bigger problem than it has ever been in the past, so the leaders begin to plot ways to get around this challenge.  This reminded me a bit of the Hunger Games with the fight to the death orchestrated by the Capital..  None of the girls wants to complete, but they know there can only be one winner, so they must kill or be killed.

As the year long battle is about to begin there is a major revelation that could greatly impact the outcome.  I don't want to spoil it, but it definitely explains the discrepancy in their abilities.  I don't really have a favorite at this point, but I was rooting for Katharine and Arsinoe since they were at a major disadvantage.

The second book in the series, One Dark Throne, is scheduled to be released September 19, 2017.  I have already added it to my TBR and can't wait to find out what will happen next.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton


Jacque's Review:

Everbound is the second book in the Everneath series.  In the first book, Nikki Beckett was saved from the Everneath, but now she needs to rescue her boyfriend Jack who took her place.  Her only hope of finding him in time is to rely on the help of Cole, the Everliving that fed off of her energy for a century.

Cole refuses to assist in Jack's rescue because he is in love with Nikki and wants her to become queen of the Everneath.  He thinks she is special since she survived the feed and may be able to overthrow the current queen.  He eventually agrees to help her find Jack, but his motives aren't pure.

The majority of the book is spent traveling down to the Everneath and navigating through the labyrinth as Cole and Nikki continue their search for Jack.  There is quite a bit of mythology tied into the story, but there are a number of surprises I never saw coming.  We learn considerably more about life as an Everliving, why they have two hearts, and what really happens when you break their surface heart.  It definitely isn't what Nikki and Jack thought would happen.

What should have been a happily every after sort of ending took a very complicated turn.  Of course, I knew there was a third book in the series.  There was no way everything was going to tie together nicely at the end of this book, but I certainly didn't expect the sort of predicament Nikki now finds herself in.  She has a long road ahead of her and I'm pretty sure Cole is going to be even less willing to help than he was in this book.  

This is a highly entertaining series any fan of paranormal YA will enjoy.  I couldn't wait to see how the series would conclude, so I have already started reading Evertrue.  I should have a review for you shortly.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book review: Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg

just another girl, elizabeth eulberg
Book Summary
You resent her. You can't stand her. You might even hate her.

But you don't know her at all.


Hope knows there's only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that's how the universe works, even though it's so completely wrong.

Parker doesn't feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they'd never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn't making it any easier. . . .

In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls -- and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide.

You think you have an enemy. But she's just another girl.

Flo's Review
Ahhh....this review is going to be hard to write because there's not a lot to write without being spoilery. I struggled with this at the beginning because I did not like Hope. But...as a I read more, I saw why Hope had to start off as she did. It was a close call, though -- I almost gave up on the book. I don't really see a way around this set up because we need to see and understand Hope's POV to understand Parker's. Maybe Parker's could have come in earlier? I don't know. At any rate, I decided to push through and I'm glad I did; I adored Parker as I got to know her. Parker is just a really great girl. She always has a positive attitude when she had no reason to, she is a hard worker, smart, independent, and always with a spirit of gratitude. 

I really enjoy what Elizabeth Eulberg did with this story. It illustrates such a good point in a simple way that any teenager can relate to. You always hear the saying about not knowing what someone is going through until you walk a mile in his or her shoes; this book shows a perfect example of that in high school. But even though it's about and geared toward young adults, the same message applies to adults in the work place, and really anyone at any time or place.

Just Another Girl is a quick read with a deep message that was a really enjoyable ride. It will be published on March 28, 2017 by Scholastic and I definitely recommend it!

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Giveaway: Box of Mystery ARCs!

Hi fellow book lovers! The time has come in many a book hoarder's life where she knows that she needs to get rid of some of her current books....in order to make room for more. Lol. Keepin' it real, folks.

In the spirit of book love, I wanted to share these with you, my book people, so it's giveway time!

mystery books giveaway
Here are the mysterious goodies!
The Deets
What: A box of mystery ARCs. All I'm going to tell you about them is that they were all published last year, in 2016.

Who: You!...if you live in the U.S. I'm so sorry international folks, I just can't afford to send this abroad.

When: March! Contest starts March 4th and goes through April 4th.

How: I'm giving you a few opportunities to win! You can...

1 .Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite book of 2016 was and what your most anticipated read of 2017 is. Don't forget to include a way I can contact you in the comment, like an email or Twitter handle or something. Speaking of Twitter....

2. There will be a tweet for you to RT - look for it @booknerdsblog

3. InstaLuv! There will also be a post for you to share and tag a friend. Find it @booknerdsacrossamerica

4. Facebook: There too! If you leave a comment on the post there as well, that's another entry for you!

Good luck!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book to Movie: The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

the shack
I read The Shack a long time ago. Might have even been around the time it first published in 2007, because I cannot find a review for it on the blog -- which means I read it before I started this baby in 2010. I do remember that I enjoyed it, and I do recall being interested in seeing the movie when I first heard about it. That was awhile back, but now the movie is upon us!

the shack movie

SYNOPSIS

Based on the New York Times best-selling novel, The Shack takes us on a father’s uplifting spiritual journey. After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips [Sam Worthington] spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa [Octavia Spencer]. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.

And here's the trailer:



What do you think about this trailer? Have you read the book? Are you going to see the movie? Let us know in the comments.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

Book Summary
When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

Flo's Review
I love audiobooks, so when I was given the chance to review this one, I jumped at it. Then I re-discovered that it was written by this guy. But I decided not to let that affect my reaction to the story itself, and I don't think that I did.

The Cruelty will be a good movie. It has been optioned by Jerry Bruckheimer, so it's on the way. The story is action-packed, and the physical details are very well done. Bergstrom does a great job of really showing us a scene -- Gwendolyn really takes in all the details around her, even before she starts her spy training. The plot moves forward at a good pace and I would bet it continues on a steady beat straight through the end. It's perfect for watching. The people making the movie will have a lot of detail they can re-create. The viewer won't feel that there are any lapses or drags.

But I DNF this book around page 140. The reason, I think, that a lot of people believe the book is better than the movie in most cases is because reading the book allows the author to go into more detail. The reader feels more connected to the characters because she can be inside their heads and know intimate and defining details of their lives. For me, that was missing in this story. I never found a way to connect to Gwendolyn. Yes, she is doing this because she wants her Dad back. Because she feels some sort of fire within her to take risks...but I, the reader, never felt that with her. A story like this succeeds when you want to root for the main character to pull off this crazy thing she's doing, but I honestly felt indifferent toward Gwendolyn. She read like a random person going through motions and not like Gwendolyn Bloom: daughter, brave fighter, driven by determination and fire, etc. The same goes for the secondary characters: Terence and Yael, for example, just feel like plot assists and movers to me; not really like complete individuals.

Also, I got a slight vibe from the story of: "The way to be badass is to completely transform into a fighting machine." I don't necessarily agree with that. Yes, that's definitely part of it. But all the badass female characters I admire in books and movies are not just wicked fighters. They are also passionate. They want to make the world better. They are strongly connected with who they are, and their talents accentuate them and not change them. This might evolve with the story, so it's possible I am not seeing the full picture because I did not finish the book. 

Then there were little things. The first few chapters just felt to me like that one friend who is always name dropping. It was just cities and cities and cities. "Oh this in Paris" and "when I was in Algiers" and "that one restaurant in Nairobi" and etc. And would your high school crush really be convinced to give you his life savings after one date?

As I said above, I think this will make for a good movie. It has the makings of a good screenplay. I just didn't feel it as a novel.

Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with an audiobook copy for my honest review.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Book Summary
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Flo's Review
I actually was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one and have it signed by Victoria shortly after it was published. However, I heard a mediocre review from a good friend and so it fell a little bit down on the TBR. And in my world, if it's not on the top of the TBR, it's kind of out of mind.

...until I discovered that my library had the audiobook on CD. This is my preferred audiobook method, since I don't have an auxiliary cable in my car or space on my phone to download the digital versions. So any book for which I can obtain the audiobook on CD get catapulted back to the top of the TBR. This audiobook was 10 CDs long, or almost 13 hours. I enjoyed the narrator, but ultimately it just felt really long to me. It seemed like I was listening to this story forever, and that affected my feelings toward it.

I thought Red Queen was a good story. I enjoyed Mare, Maven, and Cal, and loved to hate Evangeline and the Queen. There were several moments where I was at the edge of seat and breaking a sweat because I was so nervous for Mare. I'd be sure she was going to get busted or exposed, but then she pulled through. 

I remember hearing Victoria talking about the book and explaining how she crafted it similar to how she would craft a screenplay -- three acts, with definitive things happening in each act. That stuck with me from when I heard it two years ago, and I recalled it while listening to this book because it did feel a little formulaic to me. I figured out one of the plot twists, which made me proud because I never figure that stuff out! (I didn't figure it out because I was clever and saw through it, but only because I've read so much YA dystopian that I know to be skeptical of some things. Lol.) I didn't, however, see the big twist, and when I heard it, I mentally kicked myself. She dropped so many clues and hints, but I didn't put them together. It broke my heart the way it broke Mare's, and that is a sign of a good book right there.

Red Queen is the first book in a series, and while I enjoyed it, I don't necessarily feel like I have to go running to read book 2, Glass Sword. Maybe if I can locate an audiobook CD I'll give it a go.