Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Together at Midnight - Jennifer Castle

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 Together at Midnight!

Together at Midnight
Jennifer Castle
Series: n/a
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Waited on by: Sam
What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Am Thankful I Read This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

Books I Am Thankful I Read This Year!

I have read over 300 books this year, and so many wonderful books have found me. There are a multitude I am thankful to have read, because they have given me hope, made me happy, or made me cry, but most of all, they left some sort of impression and I really enjoyed the experience.

The Art of Feeling
Laura Tims
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperTeen

This book was about a family that was lost after their mother's untimely death, and this was their journey towards healing. I liked that it showed how grieving can take many different forms; it's not one-size-fits-all, and I remember loving it so much, I wanted to hug the book.

Monday, November 20, 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

I know, you're thinking, "Sam, it's Monday, not Sunday." This is true, but since I had a blog tour, I just moved my Sunday post by one day. Things will be back to normal next week. This week's discussion was quite interesting. We discussed yet another thing we love to hate: instalove. Most people were ok with the idea that there can be a spark, but people want to see the buildup and the relationship develop, while others were ok with it, especially when the book is a straight romance.

These announcements were EVERYwhere and I was excited:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Blog Tour: Not Now, Not Ever

Not Now, Not Ever
Lily Anderson
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.

Friday, November 17, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

I Never
Laura Hopper
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4  out of 5 stars
Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex.

Inspired by Judy Blume’s classic Forever, I Never features a perfect, delicious, almost-to-good-to-be-true high school relationship . . . and it doesn’t shy away from the details. Destined to be passed from teen to teen, this is a young adult debut that will get readers talking.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Love and Other Train Wrecks - Leah Konen

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 Love and Other Train Wrecks!

Love and Other Train Wrecks
Leah Konen
Series: n/a
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Waited on by: Sam
A twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride to Upstate New York in the middle of a snowstorm

One train ride. Two strangers.

Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s heading back home for one last chance with his first love, whom he broke up with when he went off to college.

Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—her parents being prime examples. She’s escaping from a mom who can’t take care of her to a dad who may not even want her. That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York.

After a train-wreck first encounter between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down due to a snowstorm. Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the whirlwind journey of a lifetime, and over the course of the night they fall in love. But come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst. Can one night can really change how they feel about love...and the course of their lives forever?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Book Legacy

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

My Book Legacy!

This week, we were challenged to think of books we would want our future family members to read. My daughter has greatly influenced my book choices, and I have read many of her favorites, but alas, she has not read any of mine. Therefore, I am making this list for my future grandchildren, in hopes that they will appease their Maw Maw and read a book that was either a favorite or very meaningful to me.

Little House in the Big Woods
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Series: Little House, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins

This is a series that defined my childhood. I read the books. I watched the show. I was enamored with the time period and the lifestyle. When I look back now, I love the things the show represents. It's about family, community, and the resilience of the human spirit. The Ingalls family suffered some major setbacks, but they had their faith and each other.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: Now Is Everything - Amy Giles

Now Is Everything
Amy Giles
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Now Is Everything is a stirring debut novel told in alternating THEN and NOW chapters, perfect for Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Niven fans, about what one girl is willing to do to protect her past, present, and future.

The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret.

Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed.

When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sundays 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

Not much going on this week. I had a day off, because I had three doctors' appointments. I am scheduling a procedure that may help with my dry eye. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I am in the high percentage of people, who enjoy relief from the procedure. Fingers crossed!

Grey's Anatomy showed its 300th episode, and as a fan from the very beginning, I was excited to share this milestone. The episode delivered too. I swear, I cried a bunch of times during the episode. Just loved it. Here's a list of easter eggs that were hidden in the episode.

Friday, November 10, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

Offsetting Penalties
Ally Mathews
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.
I utterly love when a romance forms between an unlikely pair, and when I saw football and ballet thrown into the mix, I knew I wanted to read this book. I am happy to report, it did not disappoint!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Off Topic: Sephora is My Happy Place

Off Topic is WLABBs place for discussing non-bookish things. This week, I am talking about

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Blog Tour: Saving It - Monica Murphy

Saving It
Monica Murphy
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars
Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!
I am a fan of Murphy's NA and adult books, so I was interested to see what she had to offer in the YA realm. I found Saving It to be fun, light, and flirty and I was throughly entertained.

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Forgotten Book - Mechthild Gläser

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 The Forgotten Book!

The Forgotten Book
Mechthild Gläser
Series: n/a
Release Date: January 2, 2108
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Waited on by: Sam

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters with Leadership Potential

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

Characters with Leadership Potential!

Since today is election day, this top ten list will highlight characters from books I read mostly within the past year, who I think could possibly grow into great leaders.

Speak Easy, Speak Love: Beatrice
McKelle George
Series: n/a
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Beatrice was such an empowered woman, with a strong voice, who used her wit and her will to make things happen. There were many times in this book, when she had to wiggle out of some tight spots, and that is a great skill for a leader to have.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

The Hidden Oracle
Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It is no secret that I am a fan of Uncle Rick's work, given that I have written numerous glowing reviews for his work, and The Hidden Oracle is no exception to my love for his books.

The Hidden Oracle follows Apollo (that's right, the actual Greek god Apollo) as he is cast down from Olympus and stripped of his godly powers. Now an awkward, powerless mortal, Apollo must follow the whims of young demigod Meg in order to appease Zeus and restore his godly powers.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sundays 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

All is quiet in these parts. I fell behind on my blog hopping, because I was wrapped up in my books. Today is my dad's birthday, and it's really special, because this time last year, he was in the hospital. They didn't expect him to ever leave, and now, one year later, he doesn't need the oxygen and they found no cancer in his lungs. So, I am very grateful for today.

Friday, November 3, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Lynn Weingarten
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Bad girls get it done.

Sasha’s all-time favorite person is her best friend Xavier. He’s smart, funny, and strange. He’s not just nice but kind. He’s endlessly forgiving, even when maybe he shouldn’t be.

So when Xavier lets his ex, Ivy, slither her way back into his life, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. And not just because she can’t stop thinking about the night she and Xavier almost shared a rum-soaked kiss. No, it’s because Ivy is poisonous. The last time they were together, Ivy cheated on Xavier and he just barely survived.

Sasha has a plan: pose online as a guy to seduce Ivy, proving that cheaters never change. But she soon learns to be careful who you pretend to be—because you can never truly know the darkness inside of someone. Including yourself.

Told in multiple points of view.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Discussion: Cheating - is it a Deal Breaker?

This Week’s Topic: Cheating - Is it a Deal Breaker?

I like to read reviews after I have read a book, and when I was reading reviews for In Some Other Life, I was surprised to see how one plot point basically ruined the entire experience for so many readers. The plot point I am taking about, is the main character's boyfriend and her best friend carrying on behind her back. Yes friends, cheating. I am not a fan of cheating, but it did not spoil the whole book for me. Why? It was a jumping off point. It was that catalyst, that sent the MC into self-examination mode, and precipitated the entire alternate time line portion of the story. There was a lot of other story aside from the cheating, and I was able to enjoy those parts in their separate space. 

Another book, which suffered a similar wrath was 99 days. Although I thought the main character made a poor choice, it was not technically cheating. To paraphrase Ross, they were on a break.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Winner Take All - Laurie Devore

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 Winner Take All!

Winner Take All
Laurie Devore
Series: n/a
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Imprint
Waited on by: Sam
For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win. For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game. They both have everything to lose.

Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.

Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?

Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.
The first thing that caught my attention was the setting. I went to public school, but for some reason, I love books set in prep schools. There is just something about the sort of trouble rich, privileged kids can get into. I was also drawn to the two main characters. They both are driven and want to be number one, so you know this will be a torrid and troubled romance. I often pick the light and fluffy, but a dark romance can be quite delicious if done properly, and this one has the promise of taking me on a wild ride.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on the Darker Side

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a freebie, so I chose..

Books on the Darker Side!

If you asked someone to describe me as a reader, I think the first thing that would come to mind, is my love for the light and fluffy. So, trying to come up with a list of scary books would be difficult for me. Therefore, I am going with books that are a little darker than my normal fare for this halloween top ten list.

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Lynn Weingarten
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse

This was a dark and twisted tale of obsession, and we all know that sort of thing never ends well. Weingarten's writing was right on point, deftly capturing the tone and keeping that black cloud hovering as we waited for the other shoe to drop.

The Accident Season
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Series: n/a
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Fowley-Doyle does a masterful job of creating atmosphere. All the trademarks of fall and halloween ooze through the pages of this tale filled with secrets, mystery, and a paranormal touch.

Book of Lies
Terry Teri
Series: n/a
Publisher: Clarion Books

Teri did a great job setting to mood, with the story opening during a storm at a funeral. The mood was well maintained from there, and the change of scenery really kicked it up a notch in this story of witches and a family curse.

Spellbook Lost and Found
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Series: n/a
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

This is Fowley-Doyle doing what I expect her to do. This story was haunting and mysterious, as we try to distinguish fact from fiction, the past from the present.

Haunting the Deep
Adriana Mather
Series: How to Hang a Witch, #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

This book is not as dark as some of the others, but it has its moments. How could it not. Set in Salem filled with witches, ghost, curses, and spells, it was bound to be a little eerie.

When I Cast Your Shadow
Sarah Porter
Series: n/a
Publisher: Tor Teen

This was my second Porter book, and she puts out some really dark and twisted stuff. Between the ghosts, possessions, and visits to the fringe, I was pretty creeped out.

Tiny Pretty Things
Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton
Series: Tiny Pretty Things, #1
Publisher: HarperTeen

I know, this is a book about ballerinas. They were pink tights and tutus, this is true, but this is a look at the ultra competitive side of ballet. These are some demented little dancers, who will wage mental and physical warfare in order to keep their spot in the company. I thought they were quite terrifying.

One Dark Throne
Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns, #2
Publisher: HarperTeen

The whole premise of this series, is that these sisters must fight to the death for the throne. One throne, one queen, and the sisters were really out to get each other in this book. They were literally hunting each other.

The Graces
Laure Eve
Series: The Graces, #1
Publisher: Amulet Books

The Graces are a family shrouded in secrets and mystery, and River is a creepy stranger with a sordid past, who wants to become part of their circle. Filled with unlikable characters, and a little bit of magic, it's dark from beginning to end.

The Darkest Corners
Kara Thomas
Series: n/a
Publisher: Delacorte

As with any good psychological thriller, this one maintains a darker tone. This was a tense mystery, which kept me on my toes, throwing twists at us until the very last page.

Do you have a favorite dark(er) book?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: My New Crush Gave to Me - Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me
Shani Petroff
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Charlotte Charlie Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He s the school s star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor), and is about to be featured as One to Watch in a teen magazine basically, he's exactly the type of guy Charlie s meant to be with. The only problem he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie is determined to be Teo's date to the Christmas ball. And she has a plan: To rig the paper s Secret Santa so that she can win his heart with five perfect gifts. But to do that she needs help. Enter J.D. Ortiz Teo s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He s easy going, laid back, unorganized, spontaneous, and makes a joke out of everything the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he s willing to provide insight into what Teo wants, so she s stuck with him.

Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

For the second time this year, I experienced this feeling:

So, I had just set aside two books that weren't working for me, and I was worried that I was falling into the dreaded reading slump 😲, and then along comes this wonderful book. Seriously, when I was done with this book, I felt so buoyant, my heart so light, that I wanted to dance atop a mountain while making a joyful noise.

Reasons why I wanted to hug this book
  • Charlie was my type of girl. She was all about schedules and planning and she abhorred lateness (my personal pet peeve). I could totally related to her and her little control freak ways, but I was also pleased to see her grow and change a little over the course of the book. 
  •  J.D. was probably one of my favorite things about this book. I wish I had had a boy like J.D. in my life in high school, because he was something special. He was smart, funny, a little goofy, and artistic. He was also so thoughtful and sweet. I adored his interactions with his little cousin, his parents, and his grandfather, and this boy totally won a place in my heart. 
  • Charlie and Morgan had such an awesome friendship, and I was totally jealous of them. I liked how they shared so much and had each other's backs. Everyone should have a friend like that. 
  • This book really put me in the holiday spirit. Christmas, Christmas everywhere! We got to share in so many holiday traditions, as well as see some old ones evolve with changing circumstances. It was also fun unwrapping all the secret santa gifts. One of my favorite things about the holidays is finding the perfect gift for someone. That was one of the things Charlie and J.D. were trying to accomplish in this book, and I was elated to get to tag along on their search.
  • I always enjoy a good enemies-to-friends-to-more story, and this one did not disappoint. The initial verbal sparring between J.D. and Charlie was quite amusing, but I really liked when their  relationship grew into a true friendship, where they could confide in and rely on each other. 
  • Baking! Charlie and Morgan have a little baking business, and there is a ton of wonderful baking going on in book. I really need to find me a Jim Dandy recipe, because they sound ah-mazing. 

Overall: This book was everything I was looking for and needed at the time. It oozed holiday charm, but also delivered a story filled with love, friendship, and family, which is something I associate with the holidays. I found myself with a severe case of the warm-fuzzies and a perma-smile on my face. 

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

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sundays 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

Another week in the books. The weather is more autumnal, which is good. I am happy to have some sweater weather. I spent most of my week commuting, because of train and bus issues, but at least it gives me plenty of time to read. Lots of time to read, but not so much time to scour the internet, but I did read one notable story this week, which got me all excited. Kristen Bell confirmed that more Veronica Mars is coming!!! Let all the VMars fans rejoice.

On the Blog:

Pretty much bought a bunch of contemporary romances (I just can't help myself!), and I think almost all my ARCs are contemporary romances too. What can I say? I know what I like.



What I Read Last Week

My reading week started off great with The House at 758, but then I thought I had caught the dreaded reading slump, because I have two DNFs in a row. Then, I picked up My New Crush Gave to Me, and all was good in the world again. My top read was New Crush, but The House at 758 and Bad Girls with Perfect Faces were close behind.

  • The House at 758 by Katheryn Berla: I had zero expectations for this book, and it ended up melting my heart. Yes, another grief book, but there were so many great elements in this book, and I loved the way Berla used the grandfather's story as a parallel to what Krista was experiencing. ★ 1/2
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (audiobook): This book was hilarious. I laughed so much. It's so over the top, and I just need to get my hands on the next one, because my library only has book 1 and 3 on Overdrive (????). 
  • In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody: I liked this a lot more than I anticipated. Brody made an odd choice in how far she went with the cheating part of the story, but I still able to enjoy all the other parts. ★ 1/2
  • My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff: This book was so sweet, cute, and Christmasy. My heart was soaring after this one. 
  • The Midnight Star by Marie Lu: I finally finished this series, and although it was not the ending I wanted in my heart, it was sort of beautiful and poetic, and I can get behind a redemption story. 
  • Here We are Now by Jasmine Warga: I struggled with parts of this, but overall found the story quite heartwarming. 
  • Saving Red by Sonya Sones (audiobook): I am a Sones fan, so when I needed a book in verse for a reading challenge, I immediately thought of her. I liked this book a lot. Some very emotional stuff, but balanced out by a lot of fun, light hearted stuff. And that ending! Happy tears all the way. 
  • Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten: Kiersten was a fan of Weingarten's last book, so I jumped on this ARC when I saw the opportunity, and I am so glad I did. This ended up being a great atmospheric mystery, and Weingarten knows how to write an ending too. ★ 1/2

What I Am Currently Reading

I am reading Saving It right now. I was interested in it, because I had enjoyed multiple adult and NA books by Murphy. So far, it's cute, but a little superficial. I will keep reading, because I feel like Murphy will steer it in the right direction and it does have promise. I am throughly enjoying The Wright Mistake, because I love second chance romances, I love that Jules believe in Austin, and Linde always delivers a story that satisfies.

What I Plan to Read

Look at me, finishing series! I had some library loans come through, and am looking forward to finally finishing the Six of Crows duology. I have a few contemporary romances on deck too, because I need them like I need air. The Chaos of Standing Still was one of my CWW picks, so I am hoping it lives up to my expectations.

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

The Memory Trees
Kali Wallace
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Memory Trees is a dark magical realism novel about a mysterious family legacy, a centuries-old feud, and a tragic loss that resurfaces when sixteen-year-old Sorrow returns to her mother’s family orchard for the summer.

Sorrow Lovegood’s life has been shaped by the stories of the women who came before her: brave, resilient women who settled long ago on a mercurial apple orchard in Vermont. The land has been passed down through generations, and Sorrow and her family take pride in its strange history. Their offbeat habits may be ridiculed by other townspeople—especially their neighbors, the Abrams family—but for the first eight years of her life, the orchard is Sorrow’s whole world.

Then one winter night everything changes. Sorrow’s sister Patience is tragically killed. Their mother suffers a mental breakdown. Sorrow is sent to live with her dad in Miami, away from the only home she’s ever known.

Now sixteen, Sorrow’s memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy; even the details of her sister’s death are unclear. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. Why has her mother kept her distance over the years? What actually happened the night Patience died? Is the orchard trying to tell her something, or is she just imagining things?
  • Pro: The writing was so beautiful. Wallace's prose had this magical quality, that fit the story so well. 
  • Pro: I really liked the format. Flashbacks and vignettes of Sorrow's ancestors were intertwined with Sorrow trying to gain clarity about her sister's death. It was interesting the way the pieces fit together, and it added to the tension and mystery of the story. 
  • Pro: I really cared about Sorrow. I wanted her to get the answers she desired in order to get that closure she had been needing for so long. Her pain and frustration just made my heart ache. 
  • Pro: This is a grief story and I love grief stories. This one definitely put the grief and loss center stage, but there were so many other things, such as the way the town isolated Sorrow and her family, the way she lost a little bit of her childhood due to her mother's illness, and the way she had to shoulder so much guilt, because she could not remember the events leading to her sister's death. Let's just say, I felt a lot of feels. 
  • Pro: So many different ideas of family are explored. I was especially fond of the relationship between Sorrow and her step mother. It made me happy to know that Sorrow got to experience that type of relationship, because she had lost her whole world when she left the farm, and I was needed something positive came from that loss. 
  • Con: I could have used more closure with the ending. It was hopeful, but there were some things left open ended, that I would have liked tied up. 
  • Pro: I loved the whole concept of the trees. "Their only ceremony was giving the dead back to the earth and planting a new life to mark its passage." It was a lovely concept and combine with the idea that the trees held their memories, just worked so well in the overall story and enhanced the effect of the magical elements present. 

Overall: A magical journey towards healing after a great loss, filled with a rich family history and a little magic.

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

The House at 758
Kathryn Berla
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult,
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Sixteen year old Krista is still grieving the untimely death of her mother when her father's new girlfriend moves into their home. He's already moved on and wants Krista to do the same, but she's not ready to resume a normal life yet. Distancing herself from those around her, Krista spends all of her time obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758.

When a fellow classmate, Jake, takes a sudden interest in her, Krista feels excited for the first time in two years, but feelings of guilt consume her, and she ends up pushing Jake away. It isn't until her grandfather makes a surprise visit from Venezuela that Krista is finally able to confront her grief and begin to let things go.
  • Pro: Yes, it's another grief book, and the pain in this one was intense. We know Krista is still dealing with her mother's death two years later, but we don't have the full story, and I knew there was more to it, because Berla dropped these little breadcrumbs along the way. My heart cracked in half when I got the whole story. 
  • Pro: Krista was so wounded and consumed by her sadness. She felt alone, but also felt like people handled her with kid gloves, because of what had happened. I really wanted her to find an outlet for her pain, because it was eating her alive. 
  • Pro: Jake! This boy was special. Any guy, who can see past that "meet cute" is a keeper, but he proved himself worthy of Krista's friendship over and over again. I really enjoyed the scenes they shared together, and was keeping my fingers crossed that Krista would be able to escape her fog of grief long enough to enjoy Jake's company. 
  • Pro: I loved my grandparents so much, and am thrilled when they are featured in stories. Krista's maternal grandfather visited from Venezuela, and he really helped Krista with her healing process. We also got to learn about her grandfather's childhood, which caused some tears. I loved the way his story was used to help Krista too. 
  • Pro: It was awesome to see Krista's social circle grow as she started to heal. With each new friend, we saw Krista becoming more and more whole. 
  • Pro: I was really impressed with how much story Berla gave us in so few pages. This is a short book, but it's very complete. I felt like the characters and storyline were well developed. 
  • Pro: Berla didn't go with the miraculous healing angle. Krista suffered a great loss, and avoided dealing with it for two years, so her journey was not over when the book ended, but she was moving in the right direction, and I thought that was realistic. 
  • Pro: It was an interesting choice Berla made with the ending, and the very end. Well, let's just say I re-read it, and I am crying a little right now. It was very sweet. 

Overall: A beautiful and moving story of love, loss, grief, loneliness, family, and healing. I loved every minute of this book, and adored the way Berla had the story unfold.

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

In Some Other Life
Jessica Brody
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.
  • Pro: I am a fan of parallel universe stories, and this one had a little touch of It's a Wonderful Life in how Kennedy's alternate choice affected all those in her world. 
  • Con: I would have been fine with the cheating part of the book, if it had just served as the impetus for Kennedy rethinking her choice, but I just was not a fan of where Brody went with it. I appreciated how she tried to build a case for her decision and direction, but I could not get on board with it. That said, it did not ruin the whole story for me.   
  • Pro: Kennedy grew so much through this experience. She re-evaluated many things she thought were important and also recognized the things that were really important. 
  • Pro: The whole idea of how one decision can have a butterfly effect is quite powerful. 
  • Con: I thought the book could have been shorter. A few things felt unnecessary and at 464 pages for a contemporary, we could have done without them.  
  • Pro: Frankie was so fabulous. He was this little science nerd, and man, I was enthralled when he was talking nerdy to me. I also love strong sibling relationships, and was surprised by this one, because of the age difference, but I adored their interactions. 
  • Pro: I was a total Dylan fan. I liked the verbal sparring between him and Kennedy, and I liked how he challenged her. I greatly enjoyed watching their relationship bloom, and wish we had gotten more of it later on. 
  • Pro: I like most of the ending. If one thing had been omitted, I would have loved the ending. (I know, it's shocking to hear me say such things.)
  • Pro: This was a fun read, and I love fun reads. I enjoyed a majority of the story, and liked almost all the characters. The family focus was a plus too, because it's always great when we meet solid YA families. 
  • Pro: There are a lot of great subtle messages in the story: being true to yourself, doing what you love, forgiveness, looking ahead and not behind. Lots of good take aways. 

Overall: A fun and breezy tale, which asked if you should consider "what-ifs" or appreciate the "what-ares". 

Have you read any of these books?
Let us know in the comments!