Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: If Birds Fly Back - Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back
Carlie Sorosiak
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
A sparkling debut about love, family, and the mysteries of the universe. Linny has been fascinated by disappearances, ever since her sister Grace ran away in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. Sebastian can tell you how many galaxies there are, and knows how much plutonium weighs. But the one thing he can’t figure out is the identity of his birth father. They’ve never met, but Linny and Sebastian have one thing in common: an obsession with famous novelist and filmmaker Alvaro Herrera, who went missing three years ago and has just reappeared. As they learn more about the mystery of Alvaro, Linny and Sebastian uncover the answers they’ve been searching for. With humor and heart, debut author Carlie Sorosiak weaves a story of finding people who leave and loving those who stay, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Emery Lord.

I am not even sure where to start with this book. But, the gif above pretty much sums up what I looked like when I finished reading If Birds Fly Back. You know, where you are so happy and emotional, that you are simultaneously laughing and crying. That was totally me.

I immediately fell in love with the characters in this book. Both Linny and Sebastian were so cute and unique. Linny was an aspiring filmmaker, who was trying to come to terms with her sister's disappearance. She felt like her world had dimmed without her sister in it, but Linny just did not see herself the way others saw her. She was vibrant, sweet, and charming. And Sebastian! He was the geek that you could not resist. His mother had finally revealed the identity of his father, and he was in Miami trying to connect with said father trying to solve that puzzle of why his father left him. Sebastian was a lover of astrophysics, who always felt like there was a piece of him that was missing, when in fact, he was a a perfect package of loving son, awesome friend, and quirky genius.  These two were awesome on their own, but even better together.

This story really won my heart, because both Linny and Sebastian were searching for someone, but along the way, they found themselves and each other. This type of story always pierces my heart and brings me joy, and If Birds Fly Back was no exception to this rule. This tale masterfully blends so many themes together. Sorosiak tackles family, first love, identity, and friendship. I obviously latched onto the love story with both hands, as I always do, but it was made better by all the other parts of the story.

Something which enhanced my reader experience was the way Sorosiak told the story. The book alternates between Linny and Sebastian's POV. Linny's chapters contain excerpts from her Journal of the Lost and Found, as well as scenes from her screenplay, The Left-Behinds. Sebastian's chapters contain quotes from A Brief Compendium of Astrophysical Curiosities, as well as his own very well named theories. Each excerpt and quote was used thoughtfully and fit properly in the part of the story it was placed. They provided interesting background information, and also helped me focus on important ideas in that chapter. I especially loved The Left-Behinds. These snippets spoke so much as to the feelings Linny kept deep down inside, and we filled with gorgeous imagery.

This book was the perfect blend of fluff and substance, hard and soft, heavy and light, happy and sad. It took me through just about every emotion, and left me with my heart bursting with joy. If Sorosiak continues to write books like this, I will read every one of them.

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

Sebastian is planning to go to Cal Tech to study astrophysics, and there are a bunch of science references peppered throughout the books. 

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: Coming Up for Air - Miranda Kenneally

Coming Up for Air 
Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie's focus and free time is spent swimming. She's not only striving to earn scholarships—she's training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi's already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it's not until Maggie's away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the "typical" high school experience she's missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?
As an elite swimmer with Olympic aspirations, Maggie's life is pretty much filled to the brim with swimming. After a college visit, she feels like she is missing out on many of the typical high school experiences. She has only been kissed once during a game, and has never had an actual boyfriend. She is hoping to remedy at least one of these situations by propositioning her best friend to "teach" her how to hook up.
"We can't. That's swimcest."
So, my initial reaction to this book:

And I mean "fluffy" in the best possible way. This book just hit the spot. It was sweet and fun with a low level of drama, and it left me with an ear to ear grin.

I really liked Maggie. This is a girl, who dedicated her life almost exclusively to her sport, and the remainder of her free time was spent with her family or her small group of friends. I admired her dedication on all fronts. She may have been immature when it came to physical relationships, but she was faithful to swimming like it was her job. She understood that her dream came at a cost, and she was willing to give up her days to the pool with no regrets or complaints.
"Even though I'm technically almost an adult, I feel like I haven't had any truly adult experiences. ... To be honest, I haven't had many life experiences at all."
I can still remember a little bit about high school (it was a very long time ago), and I remember feeling like I was being left behind as far a physical relationships go. Therefore, I could relate to Maggie's frustrations. I thought the messages that Kenneally wove in there with respect to sexuality were positive, healthy, and nonjudgmental. She did not impose a one-size-fits-all opinion regarding teen sexuality, as this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Rather, many different ideas are presented, with the overarching idea being that it's a personal choice. Kenneally even addresses the double standard that is prevalent in society when it come girls versus boys, and I say - bravo!
"I get what she's saying. There's definitely a double standard. It seems guys can do whatever they want sexually, because boys will be boys. But girls have every right to experiment too. Can't girls be girls?"
I adored the friendship between Maggie and Levi. They had so much history together, and were quite a support system for each other. They had this higher level of understanding, not just because of years and years of friendship, but also because of their shared Olympic goal. I was rooting for this friendship to evolve from the very beginning. I just saw them as perfect for each other, and I experienced a whole lot of different emotions throughout this story overtime their relationship changed.

I have not been involved in any sports since my own high school days, but I love reading sports romances. I especially like, when there are actual sports sequences included, as there are in Coming Up for Air. Miranda Kenneally gave me a great look at what it takes to chase a swimming dream. All the laps, the weight lifting, the carb loading, all the sacrifices - the amount of time that an elite level athlete dedicates to their sport is daunting. She also did a great job getting us inside Maggie's head, including a rival, who was a thorn in her side and a hinderance to her gold medal dreams.

I was already a Hundred Oak fan prior to Coming Up for Air, and I was so excited when I spotted the first cameo from Jordan Wood (book 1). Then, Jordan and Sam pop up again. But, I really lost it all with their appearance in the epilogue. What a gift for the fans! Kenneally deftly brought this series full circle, by giving us a fantastic update on the very first Hundred Oak couple, as well as filling us in on what happened "after" with Maggie and Levi. I won't tell you much, but a few happy tears may have escaped from my eyes.

Overall: A solid addition to the Hundred Oak series. A wonderful friends to lovers story, which is sort of fluffy and left me with a happy heart.

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

Do you like to swim?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: This Is Not the End - Chandler Baker

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

This week I can't wait for This Is Not the End by Chandler Baker.

This Is Not the End
Chandler Baker
Series: N/A
Release Date: August 8th, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Waited on by: Noor

I wonder if for the rest of my life, I’ll be haunted by beautiful days.
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.
The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.
Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.
The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.
Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.
Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can't move on?
There's a few things ~working for me~ here.

  • I like the cover and the title and we all know I'm a shallow homie who loves instant gratification. 
  • I love contemporaries but this is not just contemporaries but like soft sci-fi contemporary which sounds like it could be really cool? Honestly I'm into it. 
  • I have seen pretty mixed reviews about this book and as much as I love to love a book, I also love to hate books, and there's definitely ~negative potential~ here -- how does this resurrection program work? how will the resurrected person react? what are the logistics? is this a romance book or a sci-fi book or both? Lots of variables!!!! 
    • Note: This doesn't mean I want the book to be terrible or I will judge it more harshly or sth! I want Chandler Baker to succeed and be happy and write gr8 books as much as the next person!! There's also lots of ~positive potential~ too which is why I'm reading it to begin with!!
  • It just seems like something really different from what I've been reading lately and like a really nice low-stress book to end the summer with (it releases around the time school starts for me).

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Have Added to My Favorites Shelf This Year

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

Ten Books I Have Added to My Favorites Shelf This Year!

I have read so many wonderful books this year, and want to lavish praise on them all, but since this is top ten Tuesday, I am focusing on presenting 10 of the books I have added to my favorites shelf this year.

Aftercare Instructions: A Novel
Bonnie Pipkin
Series: n/a
Publisher: Flatiron Books

I knew this was going to be an emotional read due to subject matter, but it really hit me a lot harder than I expected it to. It was the story, but it was also the writing. There were passages that where the words and phrasing just perfectly evoked such emotion.

If Birds Fly Back
Carlie Sorosiak
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperTeen

A quote from my own review: "You know, where you are so happy and emotional, that you are simultaneously laughing and crying. That was totally me." I enjoyed every single second of this book. It brought me so much joy!

Everything All at Once
Katrina Leno
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperCollins 

This was such a beautiful story of grieving and healing. It broke my heart, while filling it happiness. This book was filled with some really amazing and beautiful characters, and I loved that little bit of magic Leno put in the story.

Words in Deep Blue
Cath Crowley
Series: n/a
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Cath Crowley won me as a loyal fan with this book. From my own review: "I could never properly explain how beautiful and gorgeous and incredible this book is. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me long for those I lost, and made me want to hold tighter to those I love. Just utter perfection. "

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

Fowley-Doyle really impressed me with The Accident Season, but she blew me away with this one. This is another author, who always delivers such lovely prose, and can expertly create atmosphere. An captivating tale of love, loss, friendship and family filled with an air of mystery and magical realism.

A Million Junes
Emily Henry
Series: n/a
Publisher: Razorbill

There is just something really special about Henry's writing. It's so magical and has this dream-like quality that I cannot get enough of. Couple that with this beautiful tale and it was just an amazing reading experience. If Henry writes it, I will read it.

When Dimple Met Rishi
Sandhya Menon
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse

My heart just exploded when I read this one. It was so cute and fun and I smiled from beginning to end.  A hilarious, adorable, and endearing story of falling in love, and finding yourself in the process.

Alex, Approximately
Jenn Bennett
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse

From my review: "I will be adding this book to my favorites shelf, because it is just a magnificent example of great YA. I experienced so many emotions while reading Alex, Approximately, but most of all, I experience this sort of blissful happiness, that I hope will carry me through this week."

Daughter of the Pirate King
Tricia Levenseller
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King, #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

This book was so much fun. It had great characters, witty banter, a kick-ass heroine, and lot of action and adventure. I was so swept away by this story, and I am super eager to read the next book.

Optimists Die First
Susin Nielsen
Series: n/a
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

This was the first book I added to my favorites shelf this year. It is yet another book about a grieving family (why am so attracted to these books?) This one had me laughing one minute and crying the next. It was painfully beautiful at times and also silly fun. A beautiful story of love and healing, of overcoming great losses and being able to be open to new beginnings.

What have you added to your favorites shelf?
Let us know in the comments!

Blog Tour: Why I Loathe Sterling Lane - Ingrid Paulson

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane
Ingrid Paulson
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn't entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.

Harper was a very complicated girl, who had adopted an astounding 537 rules in order to stay in control of her life. She arrived to classes 30 minutes early to secure her preferred seat, set alarms to remind her when it was time to switch subject while studying. She was a case study in discipline. When Sterling Lane made his appearance, it was immediately apparent, that he was the exact opposite of of Harper. What began as an unlikely alliance, in an attempt to exonerate her twin brother and save him from expulsion, grew and changed both Harper and Sterling.

This was a cute enemies to lovers story. There were parts I loved, parts I liked and wish there were more of, and parts that left me meh. My final impression was good, though, due to the strong and delightful ending.

What I Liked
Harper was rather awesome. She was living by her own rules, and I can appreciate a girl who doesn't let the crowd steer her decisions. She had all these adorable quirks, like how she baked when she was stressed, and her rules, so many rules, which when I learned why she adopted them, sort of tugged at my heartstrings. Most of all, I loved how she grew and changed during the story, but didn't lose herself. Rather, she found a better version of herself.

Sterling was quite the alpha-hero. He constantly challenged any and all rules, but he eventually realized he was doing it for the wrong reasons. It was apparent, that Sterling had a heart of gold from many of his actions (his sister, Cole, his grandmother), but it was buried under all his errant ways. With Harper challenging him, he also changed for the better. He didn't lose all his bad boy swag, but he realized he wanted more for himself and was not going to sacrifice his needs and wants just to be contrary. I also swooned at how he desired Harper's fire. He didn't want her to change, he liked her,  quills and all, and that is a great message.

The romance was so sweet. Both Harper and Sterling would let a little hint slip here and there. They even had their hormonal moments, which sent Harper running. In the end, it was Sterling, who made the grand gesture. He knew he needed to, and I must admit, I wore a huge grin on my face that entire final chapter.

A message of acceptance was all over this story as far as I could see. Both Harper and Sterling were fighting for acceptance from their difficult fathers. In addition, Harper was never really embraced by her peers due to her rigid and quirky ways. What they found, was that they could not really earn that acceptance until they started to veer from their rules. But what drove the deviation from their rule system, was a sort of self acceptance. When they addressed their own needs and desires, thus, accepting themselves, others saw them differently. I can get on board with that message.

What I Found Meh
I was not into the whole Cole plot. I found I had little interest in that storyline, although I believe it is the driving force for bringing Harper and Sterling together. I don't know. I would have liked to have more hijinks. It was not a terrible storyline, and I get why it was there, and it steered the story in a certain direction, but I just wasn't feeling it. Not bad, not good, just there.

What I Wish There Was More Of
I really enjoyed seeing the changes in Harper. Seeing her make friends, and begin to really be part of it all without changing all her core beliefs. I enjoyed Harper's interactions with Kendall so much. Another example of characters bringing out the best in each other! Harper helped Kendall come to some realizations just as much as Kendall helped her. Most of all, Kendall accepted all parts of Harper. It was a very nice symbiotic relationship, and I would have enjoyed more of that. I also found the parts where the whole gang: Harper, Kendall, Parker, and Cole, were all involved to be quite fun. The banter, the pranks, the basic interactions were amusing.

Overall: A cute enemies to lovers story, filled with hijinks, fun, and a great message of acceptance.
**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.





Ingrid Paulson does not, in fact, loathe anyone. Although the snarky sense of humor and verbal barbs in Why I Loathe Sterling Lane might suggest otherwise (and shock those who think they know her best).

Ingrid lives in San Francisco with her husband and children and enjoys long-distance running, eavesdropping, and watching science documentaries. She has always loved books and writing short stories, but was surprised one day to discover the story she was working on wasn’t so short any more. Valkyrie Rising, a paranormal girl power story was Ingrid’s first novel. Expect another humorous contemporary romance to join the list soon.


Week 1:
June 12, 2017 – miracle milli reads – Review & Guest Post
June 12, 2017 – Smada’s Book Smack – Review
June 12, 2017 – Zerina Blossom’s Books – Guest Post
June 13, 2017 – Unstuck Pages – Guest Post
June 13, 2017 – Lovely Loveday – Spotlight
June 13, 2017 – Rachel’s Book Reviews – Review
June 13, 2017 – With Love for Books – Review
June 14, 2017 – The Hermit Librarian – Spotlight
June 14, 2017 – I Read Indie – Interview
June 14, 2017 – Haddie’s Haven – Spotlight
June 15, 2017 – Writing Pearls – Review
June 15, 2017 – Book Briefs – Review
June 16, 2017 – The Avid Reader – Interview
June 16, 2017 – Bookgasms Book Blog – Spotlight
June 16, 2017 – Dani Reviews Things – Review
Week 2:
June 19, 2017 – A Page In the Chapter – Review
June 19, 2017 – Lover of Big Books Cannot Lie – Review
June 19, 2017 – BookHounds YA – Guest Post
June 20, 2017 – deal sharing aunt – Interview
June 20, 2017 – Olivia Chanel’s Galaxy of Books – Review & Guest Post
June 21, 2017 – Radiant Lit – Review
June 21, 2017 – Chapters through life – Review & interview
June 21, 2017 – Airy Reads – Interview
June 22, 2017 – Chapter by Chapter – Guest Post
June 22, 2017 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review
June 22, 2017 – Book-Keeping – Review
June 23, 2017 – To Be Read – Review
June 23, 2017 – WS Momma Readers Nook – Guest Post
June 23, 2017 – Thinking to Inking – Interview
Week 3:
June 26, 2017 – The Crafty Engineer’s Bookshelf – Review
June 26, 2017 – Ramblings From This Chick – Guest Post
June 26, 2017 – KatyaRath – Review
June 27, 2017 – We Live and Breathe Books – Review
June 27, 2017 – Book Lover Promo – Guest Post
June 27, 2017 – Book Wyrming Thoughts – Review
June 28, 2017 – The Lovely Books – Review
June 28, 2017 – Becky on Books – Review
June 29, 2017 – Dual Reads – Review
June 29, 2017 – Book Ballistic – Review
June 30, 2017 – Dog-Eared Daydreams – Spotlight
June 30, 2017 – Magical Reads – Review
June 30, 2017 – Comfort Books – Interview

Do you enjoy boarding school books?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: Who's That Girl - Blair Thornburgh

Who's That Girl
Blair Thornburgh
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?

As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages, and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.
This was a super-cute rom-com that had me laughing out loud and often. I am pretty sure I wore a smile from the beginning until the end of this book. I am of lover of all things fun and cute and this one really delivered.

Things I loved:

  • Nattie was adorable, quirky, a little nerdy, and a bit awkward. I really enjoyed her Lucy-esq antics, and that she was just so normal. Her emotions, fears, and joys were so commonplace. It was easy to relate to her. 
  • Nattie's friends were such a wonderful, eclectic group. I adored listening in on their conversations. There was some great banter going on here, and it was often very amusing. Her squad was very special and as Nattie was dealing with all these emotions, I was glad she had her squad there to support her. They were all special, but Tess stood out, because she played such a huge role in the secondary plot. I liked that Thornburgh made her a little more than a sidekick, and I had a mile-wide smile when her big plot line was fulfilled. 
  • Another wonderful group of people in Nattie's world was her family. The quirky apple didn't fall far from the tree here. We get lots of laughs with each visit to her parents and her "brother", foreign exchange student, Sam. They were all very warm and open, and their home seemed like a lovely place to grow up. I really liked that her relationship with Sam evolved a little over the course of the book, and that it may have been stronger than she had anticipated. Lots of warm and fuzzy feels on the family front here. 
  • The romance was adorable. It was a total slow burn, with one party being totally oblivious to its existence! There were so many times that I wanted to shake some sense into Nattie and tell her to open her eyes. But alas, these things take time, and that just made it so much sweeter when it finally happened. 
I will not lie, the main plot hardly mattered to me, as I was enraptured by this lovely group of people that Thornburgh assembled. Who's That Girl was a fun story of love, friendship, family, and being oneself, which kept me jolly and fully entertained. 

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

There is a lot of baking while doing Latin homework in this book. All the baking sort of made me hungry. I don't really like to bake, but I do like to eat home-baked goods.

Do you like to bake?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Post - June 25, 2017

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where I can share my wrap up of the past week, as well as plans for the current week.

My Week in Review

My current location is North Carolina. Today is the day that my daughter can finally move into her dorm room. I am going to miss the hotel life, but I knew I would have to eventually return to reality. And I cannot lie, I was pretty giddy when I saw this:

On the blog:

What I Read Last Week

With the long driving, packing, and unpacking, I did not read as much as I would have liked to, but I read some good books. I sort of changed up my planned books for a few different reasons. I put Today Will Be Different aside, because of a combination of not stellar reviews, and because I really wanted to read Wild Beauty, and Kiersten wanted to bring it to school with her, so I had to act quickly. I am glad I did. Wild Beauty was my top read of the week. Between the beautiful prose and the great storytelling, I was totally captivated by this book.

What I Am Currently Reading

I am really excited to read the new Kasie West book. I love her so much, and I did not think I was going to get a review copy of this one. When I saw the approval, I almost cried. I started listening to Rules of Contact, and will probably listen to it as I drive from North Carolina back to New Jersey.

What I Plan to Read

I have the drive home on Monday. It took 10 hours to get here, so I don't think there will be much reading, but I may get through an audiobook. 

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Discussion: How Do You Know It's a Spoiler?

Confession: I struggle with writing reviews. I am always worried about trying to do the book justice or of properly trying to express my feelings and opinions of this work, but I also struggle because I strive to keep my reviews spoiler free.

I very rarely read reviews prior to reading the book. I will go to GoodReads and check the overall rating, maybe see if anyone I am following it has shelved the book, but I tend to stay away from reviews. I do, however, love to read reviews after I finish a book. I like to see what we agree or disagree on, or to see if they gleaned any addition meaning from the text than I had. Often I find myself shaking my head, because I see spoiler after spoiler in the reviews. At first I was frustrated. How dare they spoil the story for the next person. Then I took a step back, and thought, perhaps, they don't think that is a spoiler.

For instance, I read Lessons in Falling, and after I finished the book, I reviewed the synopsis and was shocked to find a plot point revealed, which I felt was sort of spoiler-like. I then took it upon myself to research spoilers, and I found this great poll on WIRED  discussing possible indicators of spoilers.

I also had what I considered a spoiler, revealed to me during the Cassandra Clare panel at BookCon. When the moderator let this one loose, you heard a collective gasp from over half the room. Now, this is not necessarily a plot point, but it was something major about a character in the book. I felt betrayed, angry, and as if I was robbed of the experience.

When I write a review, I always re-read the synopsis to try and gauge if what I want to say could possible be construed as a spoiler. It is therefore obvious that I consider information beyond the synopsis to be in the spoiler zone. I also asked myself, if this "thing" was surprising, an important catalyst for events that transpired in the book. This bit of information could be something that contributes to the shape the story takes or expose too much about the ending. I try really hard  not to reveal too much, and that is the biggest challenge for me when I try to formulate my thoughts in a review.

I want to know what you, readers and bloggers, think about spoilers.

How do you classify a spoiler? 
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mini Review: Empire of Storms - Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms
Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #5
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I feel like at this point there's no reason to write reviews for the Throne of Glass series - by now, pretty much everyone has decided whether or not they want to read the series. But while reading Empire of Storms, I felt compelled to write a little bit about it.

One thing that Sarah J. Maas never fails to include in her books is strong female characters, and these strong female characters come in many different forms. There's Aelin, who I can't even really begin to explain her strength because it's on all kinds of levels; there's Manon, who is a ferocious, wyvern-riding witch; there's Elide, who isn't ferocious or magically powerful, but is decisive, smart, independent, and fiercely loyal; there's Lysandra, who can shapeshift and who throws herself into danger to protect her friends; and there's, a fairly new character, Ansel, who is a trained assassin.

Sure, it's impressive in and of itself that Sarah J. Maas is able to build these strong characters, but what's more noteworthy to me is that all these powerful women support each other - rather than being pit head to head (although there's been a little bit of that throughout the series because of obvious plot reasons), we get to see these women banding together. Paired with how territorial and ridiculously some of the men behave in the books, and it's just wonderful.

Anyway, I am definitely a lover of the Throne of Glass series, and if you haven't decided if you want to read it or not yet, I'm Team Read TOG because these characters are so fierce and wonderful. And, I mean, the rest of it is good too.

Who's your favorite strong female character?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Trusting You & Other Lies - Nicole Williams

Trusting You & Other Lies
Nicole Williams
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams delivers a seductive summer romance worth swooning over. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins.

Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years--do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?

On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum--the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out--and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

This one really ticked off all the right boxes for me. It was such a sweet romance/coming-of-age story, and there were so many things I loved about this story.

  • I was sort of won over with the whole family summer camp thing. It was a great setting for this story, and I thought Williams used it brilliantly. This was a story of a broken family in need of healing. Phoenix's father had lost his job two years prior, and had not been able to get his mojo back. That, coupled with her parents constant bickering, and both of them being so closed off from the rest of the family really warranted this off-site setting. The family was forced to spend more time together, and this proximity was bound to result in them actually talking and working through their issues. 
  • Harrison, aka Harry was a little packet of awesome. This kid played true to age, but he was also so astute and often the voice of reason. I loved the bond he shared with Phoenix, and could not help but cheer for him with each small success he enjoyed. 
  • Callum, *sigh*. I wore a smile on my face almost every time he was on page. I adored this rugged, manly-man, who was trying to rise above his circumstances. He had a good heart, even if some of his decisions were not always right. 
  • You knew it was coming, the romance! Callum and Phoenix were great together. Their relationship was so honest, and they were able to connect and share things with each other, that they had previously not shared with anyone else. They listened to each other, had some really mature discussions (Bravo Ms. Williams!), and most of all, forgave each other when they made mistakes. 
  • Speaking of forgiveness, there are a lot of characters in this book, who needed forgiving. I love that this theme was explored, because it's realistic. People make mistakes and disappoint us, but because we love them, we will forgive them. 
  • Another HUGE theme in this book is lying. Williams puts the characters in several different types of situations, where they omit facts or lie. Sometimes the lies are for a good reason, sometimes they aren't. I liked the way she explored this grey area in this story, because it really worked in this case. We lie to protect someone, we lie so as not to hurt their feelings, we lie because we don't accept the truth. There are so many reasons why we lie, and Williams really gave me a lot to think about with respect to this issue. 
  • This book is about heavy things, but it's a rather light read. I am a fan of the fluff. This one is not too fluffy, it has plenty of depth, and angst. Phoenix is angsty, but it's just the right amount of drama for me. Williams balanced out the happy with the sad, the deep with the shallow. I felt plenty of emotions without falling into the emotional abyss. 
  • Growth, there is so much growth. I don't know if there were any main players who left Camp Kismet as the same person they were at the beginning of the summer. Phoenix, Callum, Harry, heck, even mom and dad all grew and changed. I always find it a positive thing, that when a character must suffer some pain in their life, they are made better from the experience. 
  • A good epilogue goes a long way. Williams wrapped this one up in a bow with a lovely epilogue, which left me feeling happy and satisfied. 
Overall: This was lovely story of love, family, and forgiveness. 

**Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

This book takes place at a family summer camp. The characters engage in running, hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, and of course, arts and crafts. 

What is your favorite summer camp activity?
Let us know in the comments!