Saturday, August 31, 2019

Short and Simple Reviews: When You Reach Me, June Sparrow and the Million-Dollar Penny, & Out of Place

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)

Today I have a group of middle-grade books!

When You Reach Me
This remarkable novel holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late. 
  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

I have been wanting to read more middle grade lately and I realized that as well-known this book is, I had never gotten a chance to read it. Well, I fixed that! I thought this was a fantastic book! I had no idea what to expect from it (I picked it up without even reading the synopsis), but I loved the historical setting, the realism of the book, with the small hints of sci-fi and mystery. You wouldn't think that some of the themes of this book would work together, but they did. I was very surprised by the interesting direction this book went. I know I'm being vague but I want everyone else to be surprised as well! I do wish this book was a little longer. I was getting very much into the book only to find that I ran out of pages. This is definitely a read-in-one-sitting book and I was very busy when I started this book, so it took me two days instead. I do wonder if I lost some of the feeling for this book because I only read it in short bursts. Maybe I could pick this up again one day and read it straight through. 

 I hereby give this book
4 Stars
Meaning: It was amazing!

June Sparrow and the Million-Dollar Penny

A charming, classic middle grade debut perfect for fans of Three Times Lucky and
Because of Winn-Dixie with the most lovable pig since Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web.

June Sparrow and her best friend—a miniature pig named Indigo Bunting—have always been just fine on their own. June is a wealthy orphan who’s lived in New York City her whole life. But on June’s twelfth birthday, she suddenly loses her fortune and is forced to move in with an aunt she’s never even met, in the tiny town of Red Bank, South Dakota, a place so small that it doesn’t even have a traffic light.

Now June has to live on a farm with grouchy Aunt Bridget, who sees her best friend as potential bacon! Then one day, June finds a mysterious Penny Book that her mother used to keep. She is instantly intrigued by what her mother called the Big One, the rarest and most valuable of all pennies. Finding it could be June’s ticket back to New York and her old life. But the only guide June and Indigo have is a cryptic list her mom left behind.

To decode the list and find the Big One, June and Indigo enlist the help of some new friends in Red Bank and turn the town upside down in their search. But the most surprising mystery of all may be what brought June to Red Bank in the first place—and what is most valuable to her in the end.

  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

This was a cute little book and I read it fairly quickly. It's a riches to rags tell (rather than rags to riches) and it features a happy orphan. The plotline is done really quickly, but the major aspect of this book is the characters. I loved the characters. June Sparrow, while rich, is not unbearable. She's trying to get used to living in a completely new environment. I liked seeing her interact with all the people of Red Back and there's Indigo Bunting, of course, her pet pig. The book is really predictable. There's a little plot involving a list June finds of her mother's, and I knew early on what the list was referring to (but I'm an adult so...). The book reminded me a little of a Hallmark movie. You know the ones. Character comes from the big city and finds family in a small town. While predictable, I don't think it's a bad thing. It made for an enjoyable read and I think it's a great middle-grade book.

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

Out of PlaceWhen twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide bullying campaign, she sets out to find a way to leave her home on Martha’s Vineyard for New York City, where her best friend lives. But Cove discovers that friends can appear in the unlikeliest places, and maybe home isn’t the worst place to be after all.

Jennifer Blecher’s debut novel is a voice-driven story about bullying, friendship, and self-reliance that hits the sweet spot for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First

Twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein’s year has gone from bad to worse. First, her best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. Then, without Nina around, Cove became the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible.

But opportunities can appear when you least expect them. Cove’s visit to a secondhand clothing store leads her to a surprising chance to visit Nina, but only if she can win a coveted place in a kids-only design competition. Cove doesn’t know how to sew, but her friend at the retirement home, Anna, has promised to teach her. And things start really looking up when a new kid at school, Jack, begins appearing everywhere Cove goes.

Then Cove makes a big mistake. One that could ruin every good thing that has happened to her this year. One that she doesn’t know how to undo.

Jennifer Blecher’s accessible and beautifully written debut novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. This voice-driven friendship story is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger and Jodi Kendall’s The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City.  

This is a strange but fairly quick read. It took me a bit to get into this book because, at the start, it read like an adult book rather than YA. I am an adult, but I get a bit suspicious when a YA book reads more for an adult audience. One of the MCs, Beth, is dead and is helping her dad solve a case. I think the fact that the book begins with solving a mystery with an adult (as a ghost) did not read YA at first. Especially since Beth had a lot of focus on her dad. As the book continued, it did shift so that Beth became a major focus. The book also has dual perspectives. The other perspective is from Isobel Catching and her entire POV is in verse as she tells Beth and Beth's dad what happened to her. Her story goes into the realm of unusual but it was very interesting. Both main characters are aboriginal and a lot of this book carries inspiration from aboriginal stories which was great. While it did take me a bit to get into this book, the ending was absolutely fantastic and surprising. I think the way this book came together will stick with me.

 I hereby give this book
4 Stars
Meaning: It was amazing!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Cover Lust: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Cover Lust is something that I do every other week where I feature a book cover that I absolutely love!
We Are Okay
From the award-winning author of Hold Still comes an achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship.

"You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother."

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love. 

Why did I pick this cover? 
Again, I really love that illustrated covers are gracing YA books. I love the sketchy art style. I wouldn't normally like this shade of pink, but it looks wonderful with the blue. Overall I think it sets the tone of the book pretty well. 
What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

REVIEW: The Undoing of Thistle Tate by Katelyn Detweiler

The Undoing of Thistle Tate

Famous teen author Thistle Tate struggles to keep her biggest secret: the real identity of the author of her bestselling books. 

Thistle Tate is a glittering wunderkind--only seventeen, and a bestselling author of the wildly successful Lemonade Skies series, with the highly anticipated final book due to publish next year. She has diehard fans across the globe, flashy tours, and steep advances. And now she's finally started to date her best friend and next-door-neighbor, Liam, the only one who knows her deep dark secret: she's not the real author of the Lemonade Skies books.

Thistle's guilt about lying intensifies after she meets the surprisingly charming Oliver, who introduces her to his super-fan little sister--but how can she have friendships based on deception? All she wants is for this last book to be written so she can be done with the ruse for good.

Then with just two weeks left to deliver the manuscript to her agent and editor, a dramatic turn of events puts everything in jeopardy, and Thistle must grapple with her own identity. Is she a victim, a fraudster, or both? On top of that, Liam is increasingly jealous of Thistle's budding friendship with Oliver--a friendship that leaves Thistle more than a little confused about her own heart.

As the book deadline looms closer, the stakes ever higher, a startling family truth comes to light, and it's only a matter of time before something gives--and Thistle's world becomes undone.

For fans of Rainbow Rowell and E. Lockhart, this YA is the perfect summer read for teen bookworms everywhere, with a love triangle, an insider's depiction of the publishing world, and nonstop, page-turning action. 

The premise of this book just immediately caught my attention. I'm a sucker for books about books and this is a book featuring a teen author, except she's not the real writer. It sounded really intriguing, but, unfortunately, not a lot of interesting things happened in this book

At seventeen, Thistle Tate is the bestselling author of the YA series Lemonade Skies. Except, she's not the real author. Only her father and her neighbor/best friend, Liam, know the truth. With the last book set to come out, Thistle feels like she will soon be free of Lemonade Skies. When she strikes a friendship with Oliver, the brother of a superfan, she feels guilty, because he thinks she's a talented author. At the same time, her relationship with Liam is growing to be more.

It's probably not too surprising that I like reading books and books. I obviously love to read. I'm a book blogger, I'm a writer, and I'm just now starting a career in book publishing. All of that was shown in this book. The concept of a teen author not being the real author drew me to this book in the first place. I think I expected more mystery or more drama, but there wasn't really any of that. There was drama closer to the end, but most of the book didn't really have anything to keep my interest. There was so much focus on the love triangle (more on that later) and I just didn't feel inclined to keep picking up the book just for that.

I did like that there was a little focus on family. Thistle has pretty much been raised by her dad and we see some of their relationship, but it has become a little strained thanks to the bestselling author thing. Her dad never talks about her mom, who died when Thistle was little, so Thistle knew nothing about her mom. I liked seeing Thistle try to connect with her mother, but I wasn't sure why it took seventeen years for them to talk about Thistle's mom. I understand why the dad didn't want to talk about it, but it shouldn't have taken that long. Also, the basis of Thistle becoming an author didn't make sense. By the way, we learn really early on in the book who the actual author is: Thistle's father. This is not a spoiler. I understand why Thistle agreed, as they were struggling with money and she wanted to help her dad, but I don't know why her dad thought Thistle's name would get them the money. Maybe having a teenage author would be more of a marketing strategy for the publisher and it helps the book stand out, but it later said that the book would have been acquired even if Thistle weren't the author. Thistle's father didn't know that, he had undergone multiple rejections, but I kind of wondered how his thought process went there.

Okay, now for the romance. Maybe I should have read the synopsis more carefully, but I read the first paragraph and decided I wanted to read this book. If I read further, I would have seen "love triangle". I'm not a fan of love triangles. They're really hard to do well, especially in contemporary. It didn't feel believable in this book and I think it's mostly because this is supposed to be realistic. Every time Thistle was with the other guy and lying, I wanted to ask her "What are you doing???" I actually said "What the hell?!" out loud when she kissed one of the guys shortly after kissing the other. Part of it was also because I didn't feel the romance it either relationship, so whenever it went to kissing, it was a complete shocker. Since this took up most of the middle plot of the book, it really affected my enjoyment of the book.

The ending did add the drama I expected, and that was also when we got to know more of Thistle's mother, but it didn't feel focused and the ending wrapped up too nicely. [highlight to view spoiler] To be perfectly honest, I don't think the book community would completely forgive her, even if she apologizes and explains why she lied. The book community can really hold a grudge. I've never seen a story like this, but whenever a story of an "author behaving badly" comes out, there is a lot of backlash. [end of spoiler]

Overall, this book wasn't what I expected. There are things I liked and things I didn't like, but it overall couldn't keep my interest. I've read other reviews that say that this book might have more appeal to actual teenagers, so maybe others will find it interesting. It also might be more interesting to folks who aren't already aware of what goes on behind the scenes in the book world. Even though this book did not completely wow me, I do have another book from the author on my TBR and I still would like to read it.

I hereby give this book
2.5 Stars
Meaning: I almost liked it, but not quite

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

Waiting on Wednesday (or Can't Wait Wednesday) is a weekly meme, hosted by Wishful Endings, where you talk about whatever book you are IMPATIENTLY WAITING for!

This week I am waiting for...

Beyond the Black Door
Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn't listen ...

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people's souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland's imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai's own soul, but the entire kingdom ...  
Release Date: October 29th, 2019

Why am I waiting?
I first added this to my TBR because the premise sounded so intriguing but then I read further and THIS HAS AN ACE PROTAGONIST!
What book are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Editions I Would Like to Own

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

Today's topic is "Books I’ve Read That I’d Like In My Personal Library". That would be too long of a list for me, so, instead I'm going with specific editions I would like to own. Now, I don't really actively go out and collect all of the different editions of the books I like (although I think it's fine if you do). But I really like some of the different book covers a book will have and if I see a different edition at a book sale or for cheap online, I will add it to my collection. Today I'm going to list some editions I want, whether because I think the cover looks nice or to complete a collection

1. Sarah Dessen Paperbacks
I have an oddly extensive collection of Sarah Dessen books. All in paperback. It is usually easy to find Sarah Dessen books at book sales, but I would like to someday complete my UK collection.

2. Unearthly Aussie Covers
Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)Boundless (Unearthly, #3)
I'm probably never going to own these covers but they're so pretty!

3. New Percy Jackson covers
Image result for new percy jackson covers
I have the original covers, but I also have a copy of The Titan's Curse in the new cover so I would like the rest to match. I mean, look at all those spines together!

4. Hardcover of These Broken Stars
I own an ARC copy of These Broken Stars and I know some folks like to collect ARC copies, I don't (I prefer to collect different covers). Right now it looks really short next to the other books in the series so I would like a hardcover to match them.

5. New Summer series paperbacks
The Summer I Turned PrettyIt's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)We'll Always Have Summer (Summer, #3)
I have the original covers, the UK covers, now I would like these.

6. Sea of Monsters Illustrated
This doesn't exist, but I have the illustrated edition of The Lightning Thief and I hope they continue making illustrated editions for the series!

There are plenty of other books I would like to own, but I could only think of these six right now! When it comes to other editions, it's mostly a scavenger hunt! I'll pick them up when I see them at a used booksale!

What books do you want to own?

Monday, August 26, 2019

REVIEW: Indelible by Lani Woodland

Indelible (The Yara Silva Trilogy, #2)

Yara is beginning to understand just how much her life will change now that her Waker abilities have emerged. She has come to terms with the fact that seeing ghosts is part of her life, but she isn’t ready to let being a Waker dictate her choices. All she wants is a ghost-free senior year with her boyfriend, Brent, and her best friend, Cherie. But Yara soon discovers that there are more dark secrets in her school’s history than just the curse she broke. While an angry ghost makes Yara question everything she thought she knew about spirits, she and Brent learn that there are long reaching consequences to last year’s adventures. As new enemies emerge and old ghosts resurface, Yara finds herself in the center of another deadly mystery, and this time she has to contend with the living as well as the dead.

NOTE: This is the second book in a series and there will be spoilers for book one. Read the review for book one here.

I liked this book, although I think I like the themes in the first book a little better. This one has a lot more of what I expect from a ghosty YA book, but it did add a little more to it.

Yara is back at school after spending a summer in Brazil learning more about her Waker abilities. After she attends a school event full of alumni, she ends up coming home with a seriously pissed off ghost. The ghost thinks that Yara stole something from her. To make the situation worse, a secret society called the Clutch is back on the school grounds and they want Yara and Brent to join them, but Yara doesn't trust them. Except Brett's been making a lot of trips to the hospital lately and the Clutch is promising that they know how to make him better.

A lot more is learned about Wakers in this book. We are introduced more fully to the Clutch and how dangerous they are. It is hinted that there might be more Wakers in America and we get to see a little more of Yara's grandmother. Certainly, a lot happens in this book and while I still think the last book had more unique ideas, it does do a great job of depicting ghosts and adding a little bit of something new.

It should not be a surprise that Yara has PTSD after the events of the last book (although the book doesn't actually say PTSD). I liked the fact that the book showed that she is still dealing with the horrors she encountered from book one because, in reality, we don't just get over near-death (or actual death) experiences. It did bother me that Yara thought that her fear of water and drowning was something she needed to get over. It's not a very good example because plenty of people struggle with PTSD from these kinds of experiences and we really need more books that discuss it more outright and say that it's understandable to have these anxieties. I do understand why she felt this way because she had a terrible support system. Her friends and her boyfriend legit ask her to go swimming and don't notice how scared she is of the water. Honestly, I didn't like Brent very much because he was so oblivious to Yara's fears (in the first book, before Yara drowned and before Brent was possessed, Brent also forced Yara into the water even though she was scared then. So, yeah, he's not a great boyfriend). When the ghost keeps attacking Yara, trying to kill her, Yara's grandmother tells her that she needs to help the ghost and stay at school. [highlight to view spoiler] Yeah, the ghost turned out to be a good person who was severely confused, but [end of spoiler] I didn't understand why, after they almost lost her last year, everyone was so chill about her being put at more risk!

Despite that, the book did keep my interest. I wanted to make sure that Yara would make it out okay I wanted to find out what was wrong with Brent and I wanted to see how the mystery throughout the whole book would get solved. I do think the book ended in an interesting and very climatic way. I will admit, though, that I think I'm done with this series. I have a lot of other books to read and since the only way for me to read the next book is to buy the ebook, I think I'm okay with ending the series here.

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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (August 11th-25th)

Hosted by Tynga's ReviewsStacking the Shelves is where all the booknerds can post about the lovely (or not so lovely) books that we've read, acquired, or discovered in the past week (or so).

I've been catching up on reviews, but I'm still not fully caught up on reading blog posts! It feels odd being back home. I'm home most of the day now instead of going to classes from 9-5 and I feel like I'm not doing enough, even though I'm still doing my internships and I've been looking for a job.

Books I've Read

From the Library

Technically, four of these are preorders that came to my house while I was out of town for a month, but I forgot to list them last Stacking the Shelves!



Short & Simple

New Discoveries
I DID NOT RECEIVE OR BUY THESE BOOKS. I only added them to my TBR list.