Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Blog Tour: She Loves You (Yeah Yeah Yeah)

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for She Loves You (Yeah Yeah Yeah) by Ann Hood. I adored this book for many reasons (read my review here), but mostly because I *love* boy bands and had so much fun reading a book about a girl who loves a boy band.

I have been a boy band lover since I was 9 years old. Wanna hear about some of my favorites?! Yay! Here we go:


Favorite band member: Joey McIntyre
Favorite song on most recent album: We Were Here 
Favorite memory: Sooo many. Probably my first New Kids on the Block cruise, which I think was 2010? (Fun fact: That's where I met Book Nerd Jacque!)

Favorite band member: Brian Littrell
Favorite song on most recent album: Show 'Em (What You're Made Of)
Favorite memory: Tie between my first BSB concert, which was the Into the Millennium tour back in 2000 and meeting Brian for the first time five years ago.

Favorite band member: Ooohhh, I don't know if I have a favorite, honestly.
Favorite song on most recent album: Motownphilly isn't on their most recent album, but how can I deny the epicness of that song?!
Favorite memory: When Shawn Stockman threw me a rose TWICE! As in, at two different concerts he threw me a rose!! <3

Favorite band member: Again, I don't have a particular favorite.
Favorite song on most recent album: River
Favorite memory: Probably seeing them at Mixtape festival about three years ago...I had a great spot and that was a really fun day.

Favorite band member: Taylor Hanson
Favorite song on most recent album: I prefer their old stuff, so maybe "I Will Come to You"
Favorite memory: My best friend and I were obsessed with Hanson in high school. It was just fun sharing that fangirl with her.

Favorite band member: Sergio Calderon.
Favorite song on most recent album: Eyes Closed
Favorite memory: Watching the show Boy Band religiously ever week and talking about it on Twitter.

Okay, I could go on... N'Sync, 4th Ave, Take That, O-Town, BBMak, etc etc etc...but then we'd all be here all day. 

I've LOVE to hear about your favorite boy band and why you love them! Tell me all about it in the comments.

Thank you for visiting my stop on the blog tour!

Filled with love, hope, and longing, this is a novel for readers of all ages." - Holly Goldberg Sloan

Bestselling author Ann Hood crafts a funny, heartfelt story of a girl growing up in the heart of Beatlemania.
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 them in Boston during their final world tour--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.

In her signature prose, Hood crafts an extraordinary story of growing up, making unexpected connections, and following your dreams even as the world in front of you--and the world at large--is changing too fast.

Ann Hood is the author of the best-selling novels The Book That Matters MostThe Obituary WriterSomewhere Off the Coast of MaineThe Red Thread, and The Knitting Circle, as well as the memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice and chosen as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. She has won two Pushcart Prizes as well as a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, two Best American Food Writing Award, and a Best American Travel Writing award. A regular contributor to the New York Times, Hood's short stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including PloughsharesTin HouseTravelerBon AppetitOMoreThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe Paris Review, and others. She is the editor of the anthologies Knitting Yarns: Writers Writing About KnittingKnitting Pearls: More Writers Writing About Knitting, and Providence Noir. Hood is also the author of books for children, including the middle-grade novel, How I Saved My Father (And Ruined Everything Else), and the ten-book Treasure Chest series for young readers. Her new memoir, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, will be published in August. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and New York City, and is married to the writer Michael Ruhlman.

June 18 – BookHounds YA 
June 19 – In Wonderland 
June 20 – It’s Just About Write 
June 21 – Dotters Daughters Picks 
June 25 – Ms. Yingling Reads 
June 26 – Sweet Things 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Review: Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic, #2)

Jacque's Review:

This is the second book in the Shopaholic series and it is just as funny and entertaining as the first.  When we left Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood at the end of Confessions of a Shopaholic, she had just worked out all of her shopping difficulties.  She had amounted a large amount of debt, but everything was now on the upswing.  With a new job, a fantastic boyfriend, and most debt...she is determined to stay on track with the help of her flatmate Suze.

It doesn't take long for Becky to start "investing in her career."  She "needs" to have various items to wear on her TV show, or to help her write her self help book, or to take on a weekend holiday.  Before you know it, she is once again over her head.  To make matters worse, she accompanies her boyfriend Luke on a work trip to New York City.  She will get to spend a couple of weeks in the Big Apple hitting all of the glamorous shops and boutiques.  If all goes well, Luke and Becky will move to New York so Luke can concentrate his efforts on his office in New York and she will be a star on American television.  

Everything is on shaky ground with regards to Luke's expansion efforts and Becky's financial troubles soon become public knowledge.  She is humiliated and watches everything she worked so hard for fall apart.  Just when she thinks she will never get a break, she stumbles upon some very useful information that could turn everything around.  She also devises a strategy that just might erase her financial problems.

I absolutely love all of the dialogue and British vocabulary used in this series.  While I can't relate to the woes of a shopaholic, I couldn't help but love Becky.  There are so many laugh out loud hilarious situations that could only happen to her.  It was also funny to see some of the cultural differences and how she integrates into American society.  While I understand the reasons for the plot twists, I wish there could have been more to Becky and Luke's relationship.  Obviously, that is likely what is coming next in Shopaholic Ties the Knot, but it felt like there was constant tension between the two of them.  He was so focused on expanding into the United States that he lost focus on everything else in his life.  The last couple of chapters definitely redeemed him, but it took a long time and a lot of external assistance for him to come to his senses.  

If you are looking for a fun summer read I would definitely recommend this series.  I can't wait to read Shopaholic Ties the Knot and just discovered there is a Confessions of a Shopaholic movie!!  I had no idea.  I'm sure it wasn't an award contender by any means, but it has to be hilarious.  If you have seen it, let me know what you thought of it.  I'm going to see if I can find it on Netflix/Prime ext. for this weekend's movie night.

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. 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...

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!


Caguas trolley
Mkt3000 dot com at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC 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.

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.”

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

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

·        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.