Friday, January 17, 2020

Cover Lust: Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks

Cover Lust is something that I do every other week where I feature a book cover that I absolutely love!

Finding Serendipity (Tuesday McGillycuddy, #1)
When Tuesday McGillycuddy and her beloved dog, Baxterr, discover that Tuesday's mother ― the famous author Serendipity Smith ― has gone missing, they set out on a magical adventure. In their quest to find Serendipity, they discover the mysterious and unpredictable place that stories come from. Here, Tuesday befriends the fearless Vivienne Small, learns to sail an enchanted boat, tangles with an evil pirate, and discovers the truth about her remarkable dog. Along the way, she learns what it means to be a writer and how difficult it can sometimes be to get all the way to The End.

Artist credit: Stevie Lewis

Why did I pick this cover? 
Middle grade just gets the best covers! I saw this book on an MG list and immediately wanted to know more about it because that cover just drew me in! The artwork is absolutely adorable, there's a dog (as much as I have changed since middle school, the fact that I am 120% more likely to pick up a book if there is a dog on the cover has not changed), and the cover just promises an adventure! Now that I have read the book, I can see how much the cover fits the book! Many of the characters in Tuesday's adventure are represented on the cover and there's the hint of writing just behind her! 
What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

REVIEW: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House, #1)
What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book as I picked it up without rereading the synopsis, but I did end up liking this book and found myself intrigued by the thriller elements.

When Ivy was twelve a man murdered her parents and now she has nightmares about the man coming for her. So when she receives an email from The Nightmare Elf, a horror movie franchise, promising to get rid of nightmares, Ivy is intrigued. All she has to do is write an essay about her nightmare and enter it into the contest. Winners get treated to a trip in a Nightmare Elf cabin and meet the famous director, but Ivy does not care about that. When she wins she is surprised, but she, along with six other teens, come together and find that there is more to the contest than meets the eye.

This book follows multiple POVs. I do think following all the different perspectives worked in this book because it allowed up to see their fears from their perspectives and follow them into their fears. I struggled with the characters at first because many of them seemed stereotyped, but as the book progressed we start to see who they really are and what they struggle. There were some characters that I still didn't fully connect to, such as Parker (who is supposed to be Ivy's love interest). While there are many perspectives, Ivy is supposed to be the focus of the book. I didn't quite understand why Ivy entered the contest. The email says that they will take away your fears, but why did Ivy think that would work? She seemed smart, and she absolutely hates horror movies, why would she enter a contest from a spam email from a franchise she doesn't care for? It just seemed odd to me.

Despite my disbelief in why Ivy would enter the contest, the concept of the contest is very interesting. I was intrigued by the horror elements and once the characters just to the house, I did not want to put the book down. The settings are perfectly creepy. We have the classic horror house, which is based on the film the contest is for. This was interesting because most of the winners (with the exception of Ivy) love horror movies and see the house as pretend. It takes them a while to realize that something more might be going on. The other main setting is the theme park which was an absolutely fantastic setting! I have an odd interest in theme parks and theme park history (even though I don't like actually traveling to theme parks), so I found how the theme park was incorporated into the book really interesting. The park is so well-themed and I just kept thinking how much work must have been put into this park and how insane the person behind this has to be to do this much work to [highlight to view spoiler]maybe murder seven people? I guess I'll learn more about the motives in book two! [end of spoiler]. The park is absolutely terrifying, but the idea behind maybe rides based on the fears of others is really interesting. Sure, some thriller aspects of the book were predictable, but I still found myself invested in this story!

Now, as for romance, I just didn't care for it. To be honest, I am very picky about romance in books because it is very difficult to get right and most of the time I think a book could do without romance. This book did not need romance. The romance happens too quickly for me to believe it and Parker is such a flat character. He's an aspiring filmmaker and that's really all we know about him [highlight to view spoiler]besides that he lied on his contest entry, making up his nightmare in hopes that he could meet Justin Blake [end of spoiler].

Overall, while this book has some cliche moments, I still found the thriller elements riveting. I couldn't help but keep reading! The book ends kind of in the middle of things, which was strange, and I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. I do own the next book so I will be continuing the series.

I hereby give this book
3 Stars
Meaning: I liked it

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Waiting on Wednesday (or Can't Wait Wednesday) is a weekly meme, hosted by Wishful Endings, where we talk about the books we're waiting (a bit impatiently) for!

This week I am waiting for...

Tweet Cute

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected. 
Release Date: January 21st, 2020

Why am I waiting?
I had been seeing this around but I never bothered to learn more about it. I like bad puns, but the title made me cringe a little mostly because I am not usually a fan of books featuring a lot of social media. But then I decided to read the synopsis and, let me just say, it had me at "iconic grilled cheese recipe". Is that a weird reason to want to read a book? Maybe, but I love grilled cheese sandwiches and the fact that the rivalry (and later romance) starts with grilled cheese makes me happy. I am also a bit of a sucker for hate-to-love relationships in books. Overall, this looks like a fun book.
What book are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

REVIEW: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Woven in Moonlight

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

This book wasn't even on my radar until I read a short excerpt from the book. I was drawn into the writing, the world, and immediately added it to my TBR!

Years ago, the Ilyacans overpowered the Illustrians, killing Ximena's parents and most of the ruling class. The only one of the ruling class left alive was Catalina, Ximena's friend and her same age. To protect the real Condesa, Ximena pretends to be the Condesa, but it's hard to try to lead her people when they are running out of resources and when her life isn't her own. When Atoc, the leader of the Ilyacans, demands the Condesa's hand in marriage, Ximena is sent. She must travel to the place where she used to live, where her parents were killed. She has vengeance in her heart for the Ilyacans and she is more than ready to find the opportunity for Catalina to come and take back her throne. But while Atoc must be overthrown, Ximena starts to question whether there is a way to end his reign without another war.

The world in this book is so fantastic and what makes it even more fantastic is how it is based on real history. This book is based on Bolivian history and I loved seeing that within the text. I wasn't familiar with Bolivian history and I have never seen it in YA (fantasy or otherwise). It was well integrated into the book. I could see the inspiration and the history, yet it felt like it's own fantasy world. The magic was completely fascinating. Ximena has a magical weaving ability. This allows her to hide messages and more in tapestries, using moonlight (hence the title). The magic in this book is subtle though, it felt like only a small part of the book, which was fine for the book. I actually liked how subtle the magic was because it made it feel like it was just an unquestionable part of this world. I wish I knew more about these abilities though and how they worked because that wasn't really clear.

The plotline of Ximena being a decoy Condessa really intrigued me about this book. At the beginning of the book Ximena struggles with her role because she is not able to be her own person. What she does and what she wants to do are completely different things, she does what the Condessa (or Catalina) would do. But they are two different people, Catalina wants to please her people rather than being real with them and all Ximena has is anger, anger at Ilyacans and anger at hiding who she is. As the book progresses and as she spends more time in La Ciudad, her need for vengeance diminishes and I could see her character changing. I loved seeing her character change and how she grew into her magical abilities.

This book does a great job of showing how there are two sides to a war. Ximena has anger for the Ilyacans for killing her family, but the Ilyacans had anger for years from being controlled by the Illustrians. Everyone was angry and I liked how the book showed Ximena's struggle with whether to act in anger and go into another war (which would surely cause more pain), or to find another way, but that other way would be acting against her Condesa. Atoc is a tyrannical ruler (which the author mentions is also based on history, much of it recent) and it is no question that he needs to be taken off the throne, but as Ximena's talks to others, she learns of their struggles and realizes that there is another way. I loved seeing her interact with the characters and realize that while they are on different sides, they all want the same thing.

As for romance, there is romance in this book. It took a while to show up although you do see it coming. It didn't take up much of the page, but once it appeared it happened a little fast. It was a bit predictable too me.

Overall, I really liked this book and I do recommend it. This was a solid debut and I loved how it incorporated Bolivian history. I do wish some elements were explained more, and some portions happened too fast, but I liked it overall. This is a standalone and I am honestly glad of that because there are so few fantasy standalone! But, there will be a companion book and even though little is known right now, I will be reading it when it comes out.

I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Bookish Sites & Resources

Hosted each week by That Artsy Reader Girl, it's a meme for listing the top ten for everything bookish.

Today's topic is supposed to be Bookish Discoveries of 2019, but I decided to create a list of various bookish websites I have discovered because I haven't gotten a chance to talk about many of these on here! (Of course, I will not be talking about the obvious site, Goodreads)

1. Libib

This is not just a book app/website, but I have found that this is a really helpful app for my books! It is both a website and an app and it is meant to keep track of your media libraries. You simply scan the barcode of your books (or any other media) to put it in your library. I have found it to be very helpful for when I go to booksales because I can simply search the app to make sure that I do not own a book so I do not come home with a duplicate! I have multiple libraries on the app--books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes--but I find it the most helpful for keeping track of my books.

2. Bookish First
I have seen other bloggers talk about this site, but I first heard about it from eavesdropping on a conversation in a bookstore (and they did not mention the name of the site so I had to Google extensively), so in case this is news to anyone else, here we go! On this site, you read early excerpts and review the excerpt. By reviewing, you can enter to win an ARC of the book. Winning the ARC gets you the chance to review and gain points. With enough points, you can claim a copy of a book. So far, I have won two books, Fountains of Silence and Woven in Moonlight. I have yet to claim a book so I am not quite sure how that works, but so far I find this to be an interesting site!

This is another app/website that I need to explore more. I found out about this app through Epic Reads Insiders because Epic Reads gives free ebooks through this app. After keeping those ebooks for a while I decided to read one and found that BookShout actually pays per certain amount of words read. This can be redeemed for ebooks in the store. I have yet to redeem for an ebook, but I find the concept of this site interesting.

I have talked about PaperBackSwap on here a few times before because this is where I get all of my books for trade. I like PaperBackSwap because you get credit for trading books and can use that to get a book from another member. So you don't have to rely on choosing only from one person's trade selection. I used to do #booksfortrade on Twitter and would just get frustrated because people only seemed to ask for really hard to find items like ARCs of extremely popular books (sometimes over a year away and likely weren't even made into ARCs because they were so popular) or hard to find old ARCs from popular authors. Which are fine things to hunt for, but some people would expect to trade non-ARCs and quiet ARCS from 7 years ago for hard to find titles, which was very unrealistic. (There are some really good traders on Twitter, so don't take this as a negative of every trader on there, but I felt like they were hard to find). So, I do my trading on PaperBackSwap and so far I have gotten 241 books from the site (some which I trade back through the site). I will note that the site does not take ARCs, but you can trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and audiobooks (they also have sister sites for CDs and movies).
5. RBdigital

Okay, so this one is connected to the State Library of KS, but I think it also connects to other libraries so it is worth mentioning. I love this site! It's a digital audiobook site and there are so many options! A majority of the audiobooks I listen to come from here and it has really grown the number of books I am able to read!
6. Book Series Recap

This is such a handy website! The site has complete recaps for books so that when the next book in a series comes out you don't have to go into it with your faulty memory! It is a great way to remind yourself what happened in the book and they have a great number of books recapped!

7. Riveted

This is a pretty well-known site, but I still wanted to mention it. It's a lot like Epic Reads (which I didn't list because that one is super well-known) but it is run by Simon&Schuster instead of Harper. What makes this one different is how it offers free books to read every month. In December they even have a free full read every day. Sometimes you have to be careful because some of the free reads are only extended excerpts. I had problems in the past, back when they were PulseIt, where they would label a book as a free full read but it turned out to be an extended excerpt. This confused me more than a couple of times (this was during their December of free reads, too). I do think they are better at labeling what is an excerpt and what is a full read now. It is a great way to get access to some books.

8. NovelKnight's Preorder Incentive List

Okay, so this is a book blog and a bit different from the others I have listed, but this is such a great resource. I preorder books a lot and this is just a handy list to check every so often just to see if any of the books I've preordered have incentives to them.

Well, that's all I can think of for now! Do you have any favorite bookish sites?

Monday, January 13, 2020

REVIEW: We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

We Speak in Storms
A powerful and haunting debut novel about friendship, acceptance, and learning to let go as the balance between the living and the dead is upended, perfect for fans of We Were Liars.

It's been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens -- a whole generation of Mercerites -- dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens' paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward--if only they work together.

A beautifully told, haunting yet hopeful novel about pushing past the pain, facing the world, and finding yourself.

I did not find out about this book until right before it came out (which meant that I did not have to wait long to read it!). I immediately found the synopsis intriguing. I love stories featuring magical realism and midwestern settings! 

Over 50 years ago, a tornado devastated a small town after hitting a drive-in, killing almost an entire generation. Everyone in the town knows someone in their family who died that day and every time the tornado sirens go off, there is that fear that another one will come. Now a tornado has come, on the anniversary of that tornado, and in the exact same spot the drive-in once stood. Old cars that were not there before appear, and three teens each find a stranger in their lives.

This book was wonderfully written. It follows three teenagers, each having their own struggles, but the book also follows the dead of the small town (not just the ones who died in the tornado). They speak as a collective group, but occasionally share their stories, as well as what they have seen. It was a very interesting way to present the book. I did not expect ghosts to be in this book, but the way the ghosts are presented is not in a horror way. The closest I can maybe call it are guardian angels, but they are not really that either. Just that the ghosts are not there to be feared, they are simply a part of the town. The strangers the main characters meet have each experienced something similar to what they are currently facing, so they are there to talk with them. I do wish I heard more stories from the past. As sad as they were, I also felt sad that some stories were not known by the people currently living in the town. 

Despite the small paranormal elements, this book felt entirely real. I am writing this review months after reading this book so it is clear that I am still thinking about it. I hope to read more from Natalie Lund in the future.

I hereby give this book
4 Stars!
Meaning: I really liked this book!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Joining the #StartOnYourShelfathon!

#StartOnYourShelfathon: A 2020 readathon hosted by the quiet pond. read your unread books and collect stars!
The #StartOnYourShelfathon is hosted by The Quiet Pond.

This challenge is meant to help us with our growing pile of unread books sitting on our bookshelves. I wish I could say that I will to READ ALL THE BOOKS I own, but, according to Goodreads, I have 721 books I own but not read. I also have another 184 ebooks that I own but have not read.
So, yeah, I am not going to be able to read all of the books by the end of this year.

But I do want to get a pretty good amount done.

Here are some goals I have! Let's see what I can get done!

1. Finish off the 2013 books
This is my main goal this year. I have 76 books I own but have not read that I added in 2013. A few of these may end up getting removed or might be DNFs, but I want to clear this shelf.
2. Have less than 700 books on my books I own but not read shelf
This may sound easy, but I am still going to be getting books throughout the year. I could put myself on a book buying ban but let's be realistic, that's not going to happen. I am trying to be careful about money, but I actually don't spend a lot of money on books. I go to a lot of used booksales, and that is the real reason why it is hard for me to get under 700. When you go to a sale where a bag of books is $5, you stuff that bag full. I also get books from trade on Paperbackswap but I put stuff on my wishlist far in advance and sometimes I can be waiting years for a book, so when one comes in, I do request it. I do preorder books, but not often and I use giftcards. Preordering does support authors a lot. Speaking of...
3. Read preorders right away (and read previous preorders that I still have not read)
A lot of my preorders are books I am super excited to read so I read them right away, but sometimes they end up getting pushed aside in favor of library books. I am going to try to read my preorders right away, or at least by the end of the year.
4. No Kindle Freebies
Most of my 184 ebooks are ebook freebies. I found that most of the ebook freebies I have are not my kind of books anymore (dystopian or paranormal heavy) and I am more likely to give up on some of them due to the writing. I do find some good books in the kindle freebies sometimes, but I feel like most of the books I get are just meh. So, no more kindle freebies.
5. Get rid of books I don't like
I have a bit of a hoarding problem when it comes to books (as you could probably tell from my large number of unread books). I tend to keep every book I buy or win, even if I don't like them. In some cases, I think I keep them in hopes that if I try again I will like them more (this is especially the case for books in which I am the black sheep and everyone else loves them). Sometimes they are books I won or got signed before I read the book and I feel bad getting rid of them because the authors were so nice. But there is no reason to keep books I do not like, so I will be donating or trading these books. I have been doing this lately, but I want to keep doing this so I am putting this here to remind myself that any books I read in this challenge that I did not like should not go back into my library.
6. Read (or try to read) 2 ebooks a month
This one is pretty self-explanatory. As I kind of mentioned, I used to download so many ebooks just because they were free. I wasn't worried about whether I was going to get to them. Now I want to clean them out. If I DNF some ebooks that's fine, but I just want to try.

That's a lot of goals and some are more like resolutions than goals but I am really trying to clean up my TBR! I am combining this challenge a bit with the Cleaning Out the TBR Closet Challenge on Goodreads. In this challenge, I am trying to read books added to my TBR in 2013-2017.  That challenge includes books I don't own, but I am going to list how many unread books I own per year (as in, year added to Goodreads because I only started keeping track of when I bought books in 2015). I am counting both ebooks and physical books in my total.

2013: 76
2014: 133
2015: 107
2016: 184
2017: 173
2018: 103
2019: 66
2020: 0

I am not going to post a specific TBR because, as you can see, I have a lot to choose from! 
But, I am posting books I preordered and still need to read as well as the ones I am waiting on.


New Releases in YA! (January 12th-18th)

Every week I list all (or almost all) of the YA books (and the occasional MG) that are coming out within that week!
P.S. Click on the book's cover for the Goodreads page!

Did I miss any books?
What books, if any, do you plan to read?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Short and Simple Reviews: Frankly in Love, I Hope You Get This Message, and Wishtree

This is a place for books that I didn't fully review.
Maybe I listed my likes and dislikes, had a little short paragraph, or a few sentences to convey my feelings on the book, but whatever the "review" is, all of them are short and simple. (hence the clever name)

Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1)
High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.
  Goodreads / Amazon  / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

I was really looking forward to this book and after reading it I can say that I did like it. There are parts that I am torn about, but this is a great read. I liked that it showed an experience that is not shown in YA very often and Frank's voice was very strong in the book. The writing reminded me of John Green with its use of metaphors. I expected a feel-good book, but this book discusses a lot of more complicated and difficult topics. This surprised me. What I had issues with was mainly the romance. The fake dating aspect of this book was over very quickly, which was disappointing. [highlight to view spoiler] And there is cheating. Yes, I fully expected from the beginning for Frank and Joy to get together, but I am not here for cheating. Their relationship also happened too quickly for me to really believe it, but that might have been purposeful since they do break up in the end. [end of spoiler] Overall, I did like this book, even though I had some issues. I liked some of the things it discussed and the representation. I will read the next book.
I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing

I Hope You Get This Message

In this high concept YA novel debut that’s We All Looked Up meets The Sun Is Also 
a Star, three teens must face down the mistakes of their past after they learn that life on Earth might end in less than a week.

News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet—Alma—claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their “colony” Earth.

True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.

Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving.

With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart.

  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

The idea behind this book first intrigued me. I love books featuring characters facing the possible end of the world, but focusing on contemporary elements. I was a bit wary because I had been let down by books with this kind of premise in the past. I did find this book to be a promising debut. I liked the three different perspectives and I felt like their voices were authentic. I liked the contemporary focus. There was a mix of sadness and hope in this book and how humanity is portrayed during end times. Some people used the end of days to do whatever they wanted, to create chaos, while others tried to keep hope alive. Two out of three of our main characters were trying to look for family, while another was trying to keep what was left of his family afloat by not exactly truthful means. I did find the ending disappointing. The final ending was not an issue, I liked how open-ended it was, but the entire book builds up to all the characters meeting up and it just did not read as satisfying as I expected it to be. Overall, though, this was an interesting book and I will likely read more from this author.
I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

This was such a wonderful read! I read The One and Only Ivan a few months ago on audio and loved it! I read Crenshaw and liked it, but it did not wow me as much. I am glad to say that Wishtree will become another favorite of mine. Like the previously mentioned books, Wishtree has unique narration. This time, the book is narrated by a tree called Red who has been around for a while and loves to tell stories, but tree rules prevent speaking to humans. I loved Red's narration and how Red sets the story up. It is amazing to say that I really understood Red's character and perspective. Speaking of characters, the cast was fantastic. Red houses numerous animals and it was entertaining seeing them bicker, as well as seeing how connected they all were (and how much they loved Red). I also loved how Red explained the naming system for every species. Through Red, we also see a young girl, struggling with people not accepting her and her family. She takes comfort under Red's leaves and Red feels connected to her story. We see how this new story connects to past stories, and overall, this becomes a story of friendship and accepting others. This was a fairly quick read but even in the short chapters and the different perspective, this became a wonderful story of acceptance and wishes. It carries universal ideas and ones that the trees have seen again and again. But, the ending put a smile on my face. I hope to read more from Katherine Applegate in the future.
I hereby give this book
5 Stars
Meaning: A new favorite!

Friday, January 10, 2020

REVIEW: Unwritten by Tara Gilboy

UnwrittenTwelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.

But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draws herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy tale ending.

I am always interested in reading books about books, so when this one came to my attention, I immediately wanted to read it!

For most of her life, Gracie has known that she was originally a character from a book. She was originally supposed to die, but, along with a few other characters, her mother pulled her out of the story. Gracie's mother always seems to avoid the topic of the story and what Gracie's role in it was. Gracie always gets glimpses of her story, but all she can see is a fire and a dark queen . When Gracie discovers that the author is coming to town for a signing, she goes in hopes that the author will answer her questions. But this act brings all the storybook characters back to the land that they have avoided. Going into the story may give Gracie the answers that she was wanting, but it will be nothing like what she would have hoped for.

The concept of this book is really intriguing. I love the idea of a character, or multiple characters, escaping their story and living in our world. This is especially interesting because Gracie's story was never published. I liked how the book discusses the idea of books being their own dimensions, even ones that were never published (even though the idea of my some of my unfinished book getting its own universe makes me a little wary). I loved seeing the story's world and the limits of the world.

The book also discusses how an individual can change their own destiny. Gracie's character is not a very good person and she worries in the story if she will become that person and if she will do terrible things. She tries hard to make sure that she will not, but she has a hard time fighting the urges. I could understand why she wanted to know more about her past. Her curiosity puts the adventure in motion, but it came from the fact that no one wanted to tell her the truth of her story so she had to seek it herself. She is a strong character in that she goes out to do what she intends on doing, but she isn't always likable. She does not always think of others in her quest. But, her character grows throughout the book and she comes into terms with what was written about her and the kinds of choices she can make.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the story within a story and seeing Gracie fight against what was written for her. I do want to continue the series and I look forward to the next book!

I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing.