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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder

My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder
"Nora loves everything about Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to chocolat chaud. Of course, she's never actually been there -- she's only visited through her Grandma Sylvia's stories. And just when they've finally planned a trip together, Grandma Sylvia is suddenly gone, taking Nora's dreams with her.

Nora is crushed. She misses her grandmother terribly, but she still wants to see the city they both loved. So when Nora finds letters and a Paris treasure map among her Grandma Sylvia's things, she dares to dream again . . .

She's not sure what her grandma wants her to find, but Nora knows there are wonderful surprises waiting for her in Paris. And maybe, amongst the croissants and macarons, she'll even find a way to heal her broken heart."- summary from Amazon

I love reading a new middle-grade from Lisa Schroeder; they're simply the cutest books and she really nails the voice of little girls so well. Plus, there's the exotic, romantic locale of Paris and a middle-grade version of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and you've got yourself an awesome, page turner of a book. Nora is a wonderful main character and she has a clear emotional arc in the book which was wonderful to follow along with.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu
"When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything.

The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist.

As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real."- summary from Amazon

Omololu's third novel is her best yet- a highly suspenseful book full of twists and turns. I could not stop reading this book because Omololu knows how to build the mystery and suspense slowly. Lexi is a great main character and it's interesting to see how she figures everything out. There's some false leads and I was pretty surprised with who the killer actually is, and the reason behind it. And there's a sweet romance that pops up throughout the book which I really enjoyed too.

Overall, such a great book and I strongly urge you all to check it out as well as her other previous books too. Omololu is such a fantastic writer.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton
"When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely ADORED this debut. It was such a quick, engrossing read that I had problems putting it down (a problem when reading it during breaks at work) and flew through it so fast. Walton took a coming-out story and made it different, focusing instead on all the different kinds of love we find in our lives as well as the love we need to have for ourselves and who we are so that we can be our truest selves.

Tretch is a fantastic main character and I am positive many readers will find a bit of themselves in him. The book may focus on a gay teen boy but the feelings, emotions and experiences he goes through throughout the course of the book are ones that are felt by all. Every person has a part of themselves that they hide from everyone else, trying their best to put out what they think everyone wants to see. It may not be as big as homosexuality but it still creates a similar sense of isolation from those around you.

I really enjoyed the parallel too between Tretch's situation and that of Matt's two dads- it provides an interesting contrast and also shows what Tretch is missing. That ability to be open about who you are and being able to share that with someone is magical. It was adorable seeing Matt's dads together whenever they were in a scene. Along with that, it was really cool to see a friendship like Matt and Tretch's- a real, close friendship even though Matt doesn't know Tretch is gay. (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD) The way they interact and hang out together was a bit of an inspiration; I kind of want to read a sequel to see how things are between them now that everything is out in the open.

Overall, I highly recommend this debut and cannot wait to see what Walton comes out with next. Everything about this book- the writing, characterization, humor, insight- was simply superb.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright + Interview

YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright
Srsly Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone
"Imagine: What if those star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet had smartphones? A classic is reborn in this fun and funny adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays!

Two families at war.
A boy and a girl in love.
A secret marriage gone oh-so-wrong.

<3 and h8. The classics just got a whole lot more interesting. ;) tl;dr A Shakespeare play told through its characters texting with emojis, checking in at certain locations, and updating their relationship statuses. The perfect gift for hip theater lovers and teens. A glossary and cast of characters are included for those who need it. For example: tl;dr means too long; didn’t read."- summary from Amazon These were such quick, fun reads and both authors were very clever in rewriting Shakespeare for the modern age and incorporating current slang, emojis, and various smartphone apps/lingo (checking in to places, using the Notepad for soliloquies, etc.) to convey each play. The books are still broken up into 5 acts (and then scenes within each act), just like the real plays so it's easy to follow along. I'm really excited to read the next books in the series and I hope they do well and go through the whole Shakespeare canon. And I also hope that this leads a lot of today's teens to see Shakespeare in a new light and bring them closer to his works. and here's an interview with Brett!:

1) How cool is it to have your name next to William Shakespeare's on a book? Was it hard to re-write the play into the more 21st-century friendly format?

I keep joking, "Take that, high school teachers and college professors!" when I see my name in a byline with William Shakespeare. In all seriousness, I love Shakespeare and it's a ridiculous honor to see my name next to his. I like to think he'd find the humor in this adaptation, and that he'd be excited to see language evolving as writers continue to find new and innovative ways to communicate -- yes, even through emojis! The hardest part of rewriting the play was creatively figuring out how to convey certain actions and emotions that didn't make sense in a text message. Otherwise, it was a blast to imagine these beloved characters with smartphones.

2) You're writing a second book in the OMG Shakespeare series based on A Midsummer's Night Dream (which is my favorite Shakespeare play, so yay to that!). How is that coming along? And do you have any original books that you're writing?

I absolutely LOVED writing A MIDSUMMER NIGHT #NOFILTER even though the play-within-a-play structure made it ten times harder to execute than YOLO JULIET. There were so many characters, settings, and mixed-up scenarios to juggle, but from that mayhem springs the humor at the heart of the play. I work full-time as a children's books editor, so although I'm not currently writing anything wholly original, I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by words and books all the time.

3) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, your favorite snack to have while writing or as a reward for writing?

Blueberry and Buttered Popcorn . . . together! I also find Peach and Lemon Lime irresistible. Actually, just give me the whole bag, sans Licorice. As a special reward, I'll treat myself to a little Ben & Jerry's "Half Baked." And by "a little," I mean a whole pint.

4) You have a day job as an editor. How did you get into publishing, and what is your favorite part of the job? Does being an editor help your writing at all?

My main focus in undergrad was creative writing, but my college also offered publishing courses, so I enrolled in classes like copyediting, desktop publishing, book overview (where I worked on a children's book the entire semester), and before long I was interning in New York after graduation. Some very generous people took a chance on me and I've been working in publishing ever since. The best thing about being an editor is reading something new and connecting with it on a level you didn't even realize existed. Editors read so much that after a while, it can all blend together. Nothing beats being able to help develop and nurture an exciting new voice you can't wait to share with the world. It certainly doesn't hurt having an editorial background when it comes to writing, but it doesn't give me a magical advantage. I understand how important an editor is to the process from taking a good book to a great book, and I wouldn't have been able to do this without that invaluable support.

5) What book(s) are you currently reading, or are about to start? Any upcoming books you're excited about?

It's been months but I'm still thinking about Jandy Nelson's I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN with its beautiful, poetic language. I'm currently between reading I. W. Gregorio's NONE OF THE ABOVE and Becky Albertalli's SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. One day I'll find time to get to the rest of my list, which includes Adam Silvera's MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, Tommy Wallach's WE ALL LOOKED UP, and Katie Cotugno's 99 DAYS.

FTC: Received hardcovers from publisher. Links above are Amazon Associate links; any profits go toward funding contests.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot
"For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?"- summary from Amazon

I cannot believe it's been 5 years since the last Princess Diaries book, and I did not know how badly I wanted one until it arrived in the mail. I read this a couple months ago, shortly after receiving it (and then read the middle-grade companion book right after), and I loved every single page of it. Mia is still the same neurotic, obsessive person she always is, but she's definitely an adult now, dealing with bigger issues and Cabot made sure to show that she has matured very well in the 7 years that have passed (in the book's timeline). It's a nice change of pace from the teenage Mia, and I could not get enough of her and her friends and family. It's so nice to be enveloped in this world again and catch up with everyone and see how they're all doing. And of course, Cabot's humor is still in full force, eliciting many a giggle from me as I read page after page.

Overall, this is a wonderful continuation of the Princess Diaries series and I hope that Cabot gives us a book every couple years to keep us in Mia's life and see how she's doing.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.