Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: The Date to Save - Stephanie Kate Strohm

The Date to Save
Stephanie Kate Strohm
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Point
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The word is out...

BROOKS MANDEVILLE, quarterback: Friday is the homecoming game and dance. It is a very big deal.

NATALIE WAGNER, marching band clarinet: Our band's halftime show performances are legendary - even if our football team isn't.

CINTHIA ALVAREZ, Academic Battle team member: Our Academic Battle team has won five years in a row. This Friday, it'll be six.

TANNER ERICKSEN, sophomore class candidate for vice president: Holly has to win the election for class president this Friday!

HOLLY CARPENTER, cheerleader, Academic Battle team member, class president candidate: Friday? Everything is on Friday? How can I be in three places at once?

COLIN VON KOHORN, editor-in-chief of the Prepster: This kind of scheduling incompetence could only have come straight from the top.

ANGELICA HUTCHERSON, reporter-at-large: I talked to everyone and my article is going to crack this story wide open...

This is what happens on the wildest day in the history of high school!
One day, five events

Oh, San Anselmo Prep how I missed you and your quirky student body! It was so much fun to be back in this world, and to have an all new oral history to enjoy.

I was such a HUGE fan of It's Not Me, It's You, so when I heard Strohm was releasing a companion, I sort of danced a little jig of joy.

In The Date to Save, we get to meet the younger sister of Hutch, one of the main characters from the previous book. While working on an article for the newspaper about the Academic Battle, Angelica discovers that there has been a major scheduling mishap. It was loads of fun navigating the ultra-competitive world of prep school, as she tries to uncover how this monumental mistake occurred.
"Sometimes I feel like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Obviously, my problems are nothing compared to what that guy goes through, but I'd love Ellison's take on being black, female, and the younger sibling of San Anselmo's most famous academic overachiever."
I really felt for Angelica, because I totally related to living in the shadow of a stellar older sibling. But now he was gone (or so she thought), and she wanted her shot at being the superstar. However, where he was an academic battle star, she wants to be a literary goddess. Strohm showcased so many awesome sides of Angelica, and I was rooting for her to make her mark. It was fantastic to watch her work through her feelings regarding her family, and along the way, find how to define herself.

I was pretty excited to get to catch up with some characters from the previous book. This is really why I love companion books. Everyone knows I never seem to get enough closure when I read a book, so it's a special treat to get to check in with old friends and see what's been going on in their lives since the last book. I was really pleased with the storyline and amount of time Strohm dedicated to Avery and Hutch. I fell in love with these two in INMIY, and was really surprised how I got to know Hutch so much better in this book, where he was more of a supporting character, than in the previous book. The Hutcherson family was so fantastic and I absolutely wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.
"a complete and authoritative oral history of the craziest homecoming weekend San Anselmo Prep had ever seen."
I adore books that stray from the traditional narrative format, and found the oral history added to my overall enjoyment and amusement. The format is fun and allows a larger number of characters to be involved in actually telling the story.

Quick Summary
  • Fun format
  • Quirky and interesting characters
  • A nefarious plot
  • Lots of hijinks
  • Some mystery and mayhem 
  • A super-sweet-adorable romance
  • Visits from the alumni 
  • Fantastic banter and cultural references
  • Terribly fun, fast-paced with a very satisfying ending

Strohm has wormed her way into my heart. When I need to laugh, I know I can count on her to deliver. 

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

Have you ever had a scheduling mishap?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday's with Sam - The Sunday Post

Sundays with Sam is a combination of Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

My Week in Review

This week flew by, as September winds down, and I begin counting down the days until I see my daughter. I am excited, because I have not seen her since June, and that is the longest I have gone in 22 years without seeing her.

I was super busy this week with family stuff and whatnot, so I did not get to troll the internet too much, but I did see this little post, which made me super happy:

I know I have mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, Legend is one of my favorite series, and it ended in such a way, that you can make a decision about what happened, but you never really knew. Imagine my delight that Marie Lu wrote a short story for us fans. It was a bonus with a Warcross pre-order, but she confirmed in this post that it will be available for purchase at some later date. Yee haw! That makes me happy. 

I am pretty excited about a TV adaptation of the Raven Cycle books. Let's hope they do it justice. 

Also, My mom told me that she bought the book below, because my cousin is profiled in the book, and she is even on the cover. I thought that was pretty cool. 

On the Blog:
Stacking the Shelves

I went a little nuts with romances this week. There were a ton of great ebook sales, and I could not resist. I also had to request the ARCs. I loved Roehig's debut, and am really excited to get my hands on his next book. I am also a fan of Jen Doyle's Calling It series, and squeed when I saw this book. 



What I Read Last Week

So, Tuesday, I was at the bust stop, waiting to ride the bus to the train station. I was so absorbed in A Short History of the Girl Next Door, that when I checked the time, I realized the bus was already 6 minutes late. Then I looked around and I was alone at the bus stop. So, I ran the four blocks back home, and drove to work. This meant I did NOT get the three hours that I normally have to read, and I did NOT get to finish A Short History until the next day, which was a shame, because it was by far my favorite read of the week. (In case you are wondering, the other two women who are always at the bus stop with me were BOTH off on Tuesday, so I don't know if the bus ever came. )

  • Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen (audiobook): This was the final book in the Gravity series, and it was wonderful. The ending was so good and such a gift. 
  • My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella: This was Kinsella being Kinsella. Such a fun and quirky story filled with humor, warmth, and hijinks. I enjoyed it immensely. 
  • A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck: The book! I get really emotional just thinking about it. Wait, gotta dry the tears. There are too many things I loved about this book. I am still trying to write the review, but I am struggling to capture my thoughts properly, while not giving too much away. 
  • Approximately Yours by Julie Hammerle: This series has been really cute. I am a fan of North Pole, and this one had a great Christmas gingerbread competition, and the heroine attempting to complete all the plans her late grandmother had in her day planner in order to honor her memory. You know that got me right in the feels. 
  • Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis: I love Shalvis. I love this series. Some great reveals about Spence in this book, and an ending that left my face hurting from the big smile I wore. 
  • Remember When 2: The Sequel by T. Torrest (audiobook): The first book stood on its own, but Torrest decided to have Tripp and Layla cross paths again. The ending was quite painful, and I just realize Hoopla only had the first two books. DRAT!
What I Am Currently Reading

I am almost finished with Salvaged. It's sort of bittersweet as this is it for the Marked world. I like how Crownover is bringing all the past characters into the story in some way, and how we get to see Poppy heal and take charge of her life. I just started After All, and the beginning was so dramatic! So far, so good.

What I Plan to Read

I have one more library book to read, and then it is all ARCs. I am excited about Haunting the Deep, because I loved How to Hang a Witch so much (and Kiersten said the book is great too).

How was your week?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Discussion: Authors I NEED to Read

As a bookworm, I am constantly struggling with how to choose what to read and when. There are so many fantastic books out there, but alas, I only have a limited number of hours in a day. Therefore, I am forced to prioritize my reading list, and this could lead to fabulous authors slipping through the cracks. So, I made a list of some YA authors I would like to get to know better by reading their books. 

Jason Reynolds
My Intro Book: Miles Morales 

I remember being interested in Reynolds' book, All American Boys, when I first heard about it, but it pretty much sat on my TBR with a lot of other books. However, after seeing Reynolds on a BookCon panel this year, I really want to make sure I read one of his books before the year is through.

Why do I NEED to read his book? When Reynolds spoke at BookCon, I could not help but listen with rapt attention. He was so real and genuine. I loved that we both grew up in the city and found solace in the public library. (Oh, how I loved the Flatbush branch of the Brooklyn Public library!) He also has a lot to say, and (I'm going there) I think it's important for some young adults out there to have someone like Reynolds to tell the stories he tells.

Emma Mills
My Intro Book: First & Then

Emma Mills has been on my radar since her first book released. It always seemed like timing was bad or I didn't have any of her books. But I did it! I finally bought one of her books!

Why do I NEED to read her book? I was totally inspired to finally buy a Mills book, because I read rave, after rave, after rave. I knew I was missing out on something special, and as a contemporary reader, it seems almost a crime that I have not read any books by Mills. The other reason why I really want to read a book by her is because she does science. I was really excited to see that she was pursuing a Phd in cell biology. Although my love is for the physical sciences, I still think it is awesome that she is super smart, and I hope her books show off her level of intelligence.

Jeffery Self
My Intro Book: Drag Teen

I really regret not getting a copy of Self's book sooner, but you know what they say, better late than never. When I saw he had another book releasing, it sort of lit a fire under me.

Why do I NEED to read his book? I first discovered Jeffery Self at YallFest in 2015. He was on one of my favorite panels. The dynamic between all the authors was phenomenal (Loved the dueling Davids!), but Self stood out to me, and I knew I wanted to know more about him. If his books are even a fraction as funny as he is, I will be kept in stitches, because he was hilarious.

Elizabeth Wein
My Intro Book: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity has been receiving a ton of praise. I put it off originally, because I didn't think I was a fan of historical fiction, but then, I actually read some historical fiction, and that pretty much changed my mind.

Why do I NEED to read her book? Wein was also on a YallFest panel. It was an incredible panel moderated by one of my favorites, Rae Carson, and packed with powerhouse female writers. As if I was not already high from all the girl-power in the room, Wein began to speak, and I was instantly captivated. She is just brilliant and off the charts intelligent, and she was sharing things with us that were so interesting, but explaining it so it was easy to understand. If she writes in the same manner that she speaks, I should be able to be entertained as I learn some things.

Now it's your turn!

Are there any authors you NEED to read? 
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: Feral Youth - Shaun David Hutchinson

Feral Youth
Shaun David Hutchinson
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Retelling
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
At Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor education program designed to teach troubled youth the value of hard work, cooperation, and compassion, ten teens are left alone in the wild. The teens are a diverse group who come from all walks of life, and they were all sent to Zeppelin Bend as a last chance to get them to turn their lives around. They’ve just spent nearly two weeks learning to survive in the wilderness, and now their instructors have dropped them off eighteen miles from camp with no food, no water, and only their packs, and they’ll have to struggle to overcome their vast differences if they hope to survive.

Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, Feral Youth features characters, each complex and damaged in their own ways, who are enticed to tell a story (or two) with the promise of a cash prize. The stories range from noir-inspired revenge tales to mythological stories of fierce heroines and angry gods. And while few of the stories are claimed to be based in truth, they ultimately reveal more about the teller than the truth ever could.
"Nothing we did mattered because, to our families, we were only what we'd done to get sent here. It's all they would ever see."
This is their last chance. Each one of these "feral youth" have committed so sort of crime, and have landed themselves on the wrong side of the law. This camp is their chance to "rehabilitate" themselves, and avoid greater punishment. Anthologies are hit or miss for me, but I would put this is the "hit" column for me. This collection was very cohesive, and that common thread is what grabbed me and kept me reading. I liked that this last-chance survival group was filled with people from different socioeconomic groups, with different skin colors, with different sexual preferences, and from different types of families. I liked that diversity, because it showed that we are different, but we are the same. We all make mistakes. We all hurt. We all feel pain and loss.
"Whether a story is true isn't important if you're hurting all the same because of it."
I liked the variety in the storytelling. Some stories read like an oral history. They appeared to be a true retelling of the events, while others hid the truth in fiction behind horror, lore, and mythology. These stories were not realistic, but I could find the "truths" that were concealed within the tale.
"If you keep feeding the fire, it will grow and wait to devour you. You don't realize it until it's too late."
Two stories stood out for me. I found Marieke Nijkamp's story very powerful. It was split in two parts, and after reading the first part, I already knew what was going on in that character's life. The power was in what she said without actually coming out and saying it. It was the feelings she evoked and the sadness that wrapped around me. I also loved Suzanne Young's piece. I think I may have fist-pumped at one point, because she was saying things that I have felt for so long regarding the way young women are treated by society.
"My crime is being female in a place that values male education over mine."
There were many good, even great, compelling tales shared by the different  authors, however, I attribute this really working for me because of the parts that came in-between each story. We had a great narrator, and it was the overarching story, which gave greater meaning to each of the short stories contained therein. These in-between parts are where we learned a little more about each character, and also where we learned more about what really happened. We also saw how the characters were changing over those three days during those connecting parts, and I really believe that is what elevated this anthology for me.
"I don't know how much of what any of them said was the truth, but it doesn't matter because the truth doesn't exist in our words but in the spaces between them."

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

Do you like anthologies?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Ready to Fall - Marcella Pixley

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I can't wait for Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley!

Ready to Fall
Marcella Pixley
Series: n/a
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
Waited on by: Sam

When Max Friedman's mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his head. It's a terrible tenant--isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality. Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet and slowly becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings--until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how important it is to let go of the past.

Yes, I know, it's another grief book. I just cannot resist them! Let's just bullet point some of the things that reached out to me when I was reading this synopsis.

  • Denial
  • Imaginary tumor with symptoms, hmmmm
  • Artsy alternative school setting
  • A steam-punk production of Hamlet
  • A girl named Fish
  • A boy named The Monk
  • Letting go of the past
From this, I gather we will get an emotional, but also a humorous read, filled with quirky and interesting characters. This definitely sounds like my kind of book. 

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!