Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
"Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last."- summary from Amazon

Dessen's latest novel is another engrossing, heart-wrenching and hopeful read. Sydney is definitely a character I feel most of us can relate to at some point or another in our lives. There are times all of us feel invisible to others, whether for a time here and there or for most of the time like in Sydney's situation. I enjoyed reading Sydney's journey throughout the book- being with the Chathams and their friends, working on herself and her family, and becoming more confident. The scenes I enjoyed the most were the ones with Layla, Mac and their friends as well as Sydney and Mac by themselves slowly turning into more than just friends, which Sydney tries to refrain from for most of the novel.

Overall, a fantastic new addition to Dessen's collection of works.

FTC: Borrowed book from local library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
"Here’s a list of things Pip Bartlett can talk to:

Miniature Silky Griffins
Basically, all magical creatures

Here’s a list of things she can’t talk to (at least, not very well):

Basically, all people

Because of a Unicorn Incident at her school (it was an accident!), Pip is spending the summer with her Aunt Emma at the Cloverton Clinic for Magical Creatures. At first, it’s all fun, games, and chatting with Hobgrackles, but when Fuzzles appear and start bursting into flame at the worst possible places, Pip and her new friend Tomas must take action. Because if the mystery of the Fuzzles isn’t solved soon, both magical and unmagical creatures are going to be in a lot of trouble."- summary from Amazon

I've been looking forward to this book for ages. Both of these authors are favorites of mine, and this seemed like such a clever concept for the two of them to work on together. This was such a fun book to read and the illustrations and pages from the Official Guide with Pip's own notations were very cool to see too. The central mystery of the Fuzzles as well as the witty prose propelled me through the book very quickly and made sure it was difficult for me to put it down. I'm extremely excited to read the next book in the series (which was supposed to be out this April, I think, but now has been pushed back to October sadly) and any future books. This is an inventive and interesting story that should delight anyone.

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard
"The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says. Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in an aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them, Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your work boots at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared.

School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp. With the help of new friends, he begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. Then Caleb notifies the family that the time has come for final preparations: digging in their backyard canyon at night. Every night.

As the hole gets deeper, so does Jory's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the real reason for their digging becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following behind Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see."- summary from Amazon

This is a crazy book to read. Hubbard creates such a suffocating atmosphere whenever Jory is home under the watchful eye of his father Caleb and a freeing, curious atmosphere at school and with his new friends. It's so weird knowing that families and larger cults like this exist in the world. It's an interesting journey too following Jory along as he sees the outside world, learns more about it, and opens his mind to the rational. The climax of the book is suspenseful and unexpected, pulling the reader quickly along to see how the confrontation turns out.

Overall, a very good, insightful book and I can't wait to read more from Hubbard.

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

One by Sarah Crossan

One by Sarah Crossan
"Tippi and Grace share everything—clothes, friends . . . even their body.

Tippi and Grace. Grace and Tippi. For them, it's normal to step into the same skirt. To hook their arms around each other for balance. To fall asleep listening to the other breathing. To share. And to keep some things private. Each of the sixteen-year-old girls has her own head, heart, and two arms, but at the belly, they join. And they are happy, never wanting to risk the dangerous separation surgery.

But the girls' body is beginning to fight against them. And Grace doesn't want to admit it. Not even to Tippi. How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?"- summary from Amazon

I haven't read Crossan's prose novels yet but I'm really enjoying her verse books (The Weight of Water and Apple and Rain). This was such an interesting book to read as well as a heartbreaking one, and the verse format really hits that note so well. The succinct language gets to the heart of the joy and pain that these conjoined twins are going through, especially as they face this new obstacle. It's a fantastic, page-turning read and one that will stick with you for a while.

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
"Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all."- summary from Amazon

I loved Murphy's debut (and it came at a good time for me, going through chemo just like the main character) and was so excited to read her follow-up novel, especially after hearing so much buzz about it. This book did not disappoint- it is heartbreaking, beautiful, funny, emotional, empowering and so many other things that you would want in a novel. Willowdean is a wonderful main character for anyone to read about, root for, and empathize with; we all have our own insecurities, whether by ourselves or when we find ourselves navigating a new relationship like Willowdean does.

Overall, this is a fantastic new book from an emerging talent. I cannot wait to see what Murphy does next!

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

City Love by Susane Colasanti

City Love by Susane Colasanti
"In this first book of a captivating new series by bestselling author Susane Colasanti, three girls share a Manhattan apartment the summer before college begins. City Love captures the essence of summer love, self-discovery and sisterhood, a perfect fit for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Jennifer E. Smith.

This summer will change everything for Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna. Sadie is all about dreaming big and following her heart, hoping her soul mate is right around the corner. Darcy wants a summer of boy adventures with New York City as her playground. Rosanna is running from dark secrets of her past, desperate to reinvent herself. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.

Told from alternating points of view, City Love resonates with the moments when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once...in a way it will never be again."- summary from Amazon

I love Susane Colasanti's books and this one is no different. I'm excited to be reading this new trilogy from her and spending three whole books with these characters, though it does mean some cliffhangers happen in the end which leaves me eagerly anticipating Book 2. The perspective changes each chapter and rotates between the three girls; most of the time, they do seem to be apart and doing their own thing, but sometimes Colasanti shows more than one interpretation of an interaction between the three of them, which is interesting to read.

This is such a fun, breezy novel to fly through, though there are some serious and adult themes going on, being that they are all going into college and on their own for the summer. Starting to navigate an adult life is difficult and things pop up that you've never had to deal with before on your own. Colasanti does a great job bringing these situations in to her three characters and seeing what happens. I'm quite excited to see what happens next in Book 2.

Overall, a great start to a new contemporary trilogy (you don't see much of those) and I highly recommend it.

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