Monday, July 24, 2017

Weird School Books ~ Dan Gutman, art by Jim Paillot reviews [@HarperChildrens @DanGutmanBooks ]

Mrs Master is a Disaster! (My Weirdest School #8)
Harper Collins
June 20, 2017
112 pages
(ages 6-10)
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With more than 11 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!

In this eighth book in the new My Weirdest School series, it s Grandparents Day at Ella Mentry School! Alexia s grandmother Mrs. Master makes weird inventions for a living, but A.J. and the gang come up with the weirdest invention of all. And they re going to make a bazillion dollars from it! Will they succeed? Or will their great big idea be flushed down the drain?

Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman s hugely popular My Weird School chapter book series has something for everyone. Don t miss the hilarious adventures of A.J. and the gang!

My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents and Toilets
June 20, 2017
192 pages
(ages 6-10)
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Think fast with A.J. and Andrea from My Weird School!

Did you know that the word “independence” never appears in the Declaration of Independence? Did you know that soldiers in World War I collected thousands of glowworms in jars to help them see at night?!

Learn more weird-but-true U.S. history facts with A.J. and Andrea from Dan Gutman’s bestselling My Weird School series. This all-new series of nonfiction books features hundreds of hysterical facts, plus lots of photos and illustrations.

Whether you're a kid who wants to learn more about our country's history or simply someone who wants to know how many Americans are involved in toilet-related injuries each year, this is the book for you!

With more than 11 million books sold, the My Weird School series really gets kids reading!

These were the first two Weird School books I read and they were a fun discovery. The My Weirdest School book does seem able to be read individually, out of series order. (Though, other books likely explain some aspects: My Weirdest School #1: Mr Cooper is Super probably explains their teacher dressing like a superhero.) The nonfiction Fast Facts books can definitely be read separately from the Weird School series books.

My Weirdest School #8: Mrs Master is a Disaster! was a cute look at the process of inventing something. The process was definitely simplified and sped up, but included some useful information (you need to think of what people need but don't already have, making a prototype, etc_.

The parts about Grandparents' Day at the school have some bits that parents/older readers will get (one about being at Woodstock) but kids may just miss.

It is a fun, cute story that should be good for young readers.

My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents and Toilets is a nonfiction book with A.J. and Andrea from the Weird School books giving the information. The book does a great job presenting the information at an age-appropriate way. It doesn't stick with what you often learn as a kid: that Columbus discovered America in 1492. Readers learn about how the Native Americans were already here, how the Vikings came, and more, but without certain details that you don't need at that age.

The book had a lot of things I did learn through school, many of which I had forgotten about. It also had quite a few things I had never heard before (things involving oyster ice cream, pigeons in war or the movie Psycho, for example).

The explorers facts transition very well to those about the presidents and the combination seems natural. The inclusion of facts about toilets seems a little odder, but adds a bit of levity, seems to fit with A.J.'s character and might entice additional readers.

There was a joke repeated from Mrs Master is a Disaster but . . . whatever.

The photographs included in the book were of disappointingly low print quality, however. Many of the black and white images didn't have enough contrast, in the printed book, to really be seen. Based on web previews, the ebook versions seem clearer. I also wish they were larger.

Books like this one are ones I would have loved as a kid, with interesting facts put forth in a very entertaining and readable way.

books received from publisher for review consideration

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@JamesENicol @chickenhsebooks]

This week I chose the trailer for  The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol for my post because the beginning of the YouTube description was just too good to pass up: "Every witch has a rough spell, especially when they fail their witch's test!"

Here's the trailer:

A special middle grade debut of magic and courage in a world of witches, written with the charm and enchantment of Circus Mirandus and The Apothecary.

Arianwyn has flunked her witch's assessment: She's doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, she may never become a real witch-- much to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma.

But remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are sighted in the woods, a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town, and a mysterious magical visitor arrives with his eye on her.

With every spirit banished, creature helped, and spell cast, Arianwyn starts to get the hang of being a witch--even if she's only an apprentice. But the worst still lies ahead. For a sinister darkness has begun to haunt her spells, and there may be much more at stake than just her pride . . . for Arianwyn and the entire land.

July 25, 2017 // Chiecken House // Goodreads // Book Depository // Amazon 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday [@JMCwrites ‏@DuttonYR]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


A stunning debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

Joy McCullough's bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia's heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia's most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman's timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

published March 6th by Dutton Books for Young Readers

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


I really love historical fiction and both Artemisia Gentileschi and seventeenth century Rome are new to me. I have read novels with stories of women (both real and fictional) being something other than what was expected of them in Regency or Victorian times, during the French Revolution or the Tudor Court but those are eras we're all more familiar with. I am really looking forward both to learning more about Rome in 1610 and how it is a part of Artemisia's story.

I am incredibly intrigued by the fact that Blood Water Paint is a novel in verse. It is a different style of storytelling and I am curious how it will work with this historical fiction tale.

Blood Water Paint sounds very appealing and I can't wait for its March release.

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bring Her Home ~ David Bell (earc) review [@DavidBellNovels @penguinusa @BerkleyPub[

Bring Her Home
Berkley Books
July 11, 2017
464 pages
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In the breathtaking new thriller from David Bell, bestselling author of Since She Went Away and Somebody I Used to Know, the fate of two missing teenage girls becomes a father's worst nightmare....

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price's fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer's bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer's life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He'll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family...


Bill Price is a recent widower whose teenage daughter Summer, along with her best friend Haley, has been missing for a few days. Now, an early morning phone call tells him to get to the hospital: they've found the girls.

I thought the author did a great job in the very beginning with Bill's portrayal. He seemed to be a great mix of upset, angry and confused, but glad his daughter was alive. He was sort of awkward in what he said or expected, but it worked. As things continued,  did have problems with Bill. He is a very angry person, which I suppose could be largely attributed to his grief (but not entirely as we're shown in some scenes from prior to his wife's death). He also seems to decide things (like what happened to Summer or who did it or why) without much or any basis or evidence. His fervent belief in these things, his overzealous actions and proclamations were just too dramatic.

I think that if there had been more focus on some of the other characters, or they had been more fully developed, I could have liked it more. There were just too many problems with Bill's character, the central one, for it to work for me.

There were small details, that while not really harming the story were distracting for being illogical or not following what had already happened. (Two non-spoilery ones: Bill notices Summer, while in the ICU, is not wearing her bracelet and wonders if whoever took her stole it. Only there's no way the hospital would have left that on her. There was no autopsy when his wife died because it was clearly an accident - except a healthy, young woman dying, alone from an accident seems like it would still require one.)

The language of Bring Her Home could get repetitive (phrases, specific words, even a story from Bill and Paige's childhood) and the twists were almost entirely predictable (the first may have been because I previously read a book, based on something true, where the same thing happened), but something did keep me reading this book. As much as Bill and his actions did not work for me, I did really wan to find out how it all ended. Bring Her Home was definitely dramatic but also very intense and that intensity keeps you pulled in, wanting to know the final whodunit (and why). Give Bring Her Home a try, Bill's character might work well for you.

NB: I checked points of issue against a finished copy and only factored those not changed into my review (some absolutely were removed/fixed).

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, July 17, 2017

Seeker ~ Veronica Rossi review [@rossibooks @torteen]

Seeker (Riders #2)
Tor Teen
May 16, 2017
352 pages
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** My review of Riders (#1) **

When Daryn claimed she was seeing visions during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth.

She wasn’t losing her mind; she was gaining the Sight—the ability to see the future. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.

Until Sebastian.

Sebastian was her first—and worst—mistake.

Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael, the last surviving demon of the Kindred, guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped.

Daryn must rely on instincts, intelligence, and blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil?

The very fate of humankind may rest in the answer.
Just like Riders introduced us to Gideon, Marcus, Jode and Sebastian, four young men who have become the four horsemen of the apocalypse (War, Conquest, Famine, and Death), Seeker gives more of a look at Daryn, their Seeker.

Without reading Riders first, you will be a bit lost in Seeker. The main story here about rescuing Sebastian and some of the characters (beyond the main five) were either introduced in the first book or are the result of how that story ended. You also won't be familiar with who Gideon is, what happened to him or how he came to know Marcus, Jode, Sebastian and Daryn. There are reminders, of course, but it's better if you read the first book, well first.

Seeker does not give us as much about the guys, who they are and what they can do (or why) as the first book but it does give you a fuller picture of Daryn and who she is, what she can do. I liked the focus on her character, her past, and on the characters' different relationships. Now that they know what they are and have spent some time together (some rather life altering time, at that) things are able to go beyond that preliminary, introductory phase.

As a follow-up to Riders, Seeker was a good story. It gave us more of the characters and their relationships and expanded on some things (like where Sebastian was trapped) from the ending of Riders. As the last book of a duology and presumably the last we'll see of these characters and this world, it was disappointing. I wanted more of the big picture, of the future and what them being War, Death, Conquest and Famine was going to mean. I liked the character developments but it was almost a bit of, 'can't see the forest for the trees,' where it focused on the problem of rescuing Sebastian and there wasn't as much of the grand scheme of things stuff I wanted.

Still, it was an enjoyable read and I recommend it to fans of Riders -- and recommend Riders if you have not already read it.

(although if this ends up not being the end to this series, it may change to four stars)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hello, Sunshine ~ Leila Howard (earc) review [@leilahowland @DisneyHyperion]

Hello, Sunshine
Disney Hyperion
July 11, 2017
368 pages
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A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream

Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.
(The description of this book doesn't really fit. About halfway through that second paragraph are things that don't happen until near the end.)

I loved the premise of Hello, Sunshine: Becca Harrington just graduated high school without being accepted to any college, made worse by the fact that (as she says in the proglouge) she went to a school with a '99.0 percent matriculation rate,' While everyone else from her class is off to start college, Becca is going to Hollywood. She's going to make it as an actress.

Or, that's the plan, anyway.

Unsurprisingly to readers but seemingly quite surprisingly to Becca, things are not quite that simple. For a girl already reeling from rejections, it's not that easy to deal with all of the new ones.  She has to not only not give up, but figure out how to live on her own: grocery shopping, decorating, bill paying, making money to pay those bills.

Things are harder than  She faces a lot more setbacks and incurs even more self doubt, but thankfully her new friends are there for her. I really loved Raj's character from the beginning (and only more so as the book progressed) and thought Marisol was great. I liked both who their characters were and who they were to (and for) Becca.

Becca expects. Becca's character was probably my least favorite part of this novel. She was a strange mix of 'I'm-not-good-enough-for-that' and 'I'm-too-good-for-that,' she was somehow not as good as people (to herself) but also better than people, at the same time.

I thought Becca was more naive than made sense for someone who a) planned to move across the country and truly pursue acting and b) whose mother agreed to the plan. She seemed sure that she was this enough or that enough that things would just happen, or people would make exceptions, or , , , something. I did think she was funny and could be endearing and you really do feel for her with each setback and hope she'll get her break, though.

Hello, Sunshine is a fun, cute read with romance and growing up and great friends.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday [@fsgbooks]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

A GIRL LIKE THAT by Tanaz Bhathena

A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved.

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.

published February 27th by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. 

I love that this novel takes that idea - the 'bad' girl, the one who will somehow make you 'bad' just by associating with her - but puts it somewhere where the ramifications of being a 'girl like that,' not to mention the reasons why she would be seen that way, can be very, very different.

That the book is told from multiple perspectives and that it is about finding out how an event (Zarin and Porus in that car) came to be, incredibly appealing.

I am really looking forward to seeing how the setting affects the story and finding out who Zarin Wadia was - both truly and how she was seen by others.

(Plus, I really love the cover.)

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Final Girls ~ Riley Sager (earc) review [@riley_sager @DuttonBooks]

Final Girls
July 11, 2017
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancĂ©, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Final Girls is a novel full of thrilling twists and turns, the unexpected and true shocks and surprises.
Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl, "the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre." But that was ten years ago and she is doing fine now; she has a baking website, a live-in boyfriend, a great apartment. She's moved on.

Or at least, that's what she wants everyone (including herself) to believe.

Though the Pine Cottage Murders are what made Quincy a Final Girl and finally remembering everything that happened may be so important, Final Girls is not a grisly, gruesome, bloody horror novel. Due to Quinn's lack of memory readers only see the before and the after of the murders. As she tries to remember things and as other details are given (through other means) we do get more specifics, but don't not read this because you don't like horror novels.

The more we see of Quinn and Sam, the more we know how deeply their pasts have affected them. Even though Quinn is 'fine' and has moved on, the appearance of Sam causes some cracks to form in that put together image. It becomes only a question of if it's for Quinn's betterment or to her detriment.

There were so many times I questioned Quinn's actions, her decisions, her thoughts on another character ("The only thing Sam lied about was xxx, and I know all about that now." [pg117] Except you don't know something's a lie until told/shown otherwise.) but all of it fit her character. As frustrating as it was, I also understood it - and it all came together fantastically well.

We are given enough to know that all is not what it seems (nor is everyone who they seem) but what makes this such a great thriller and mystery is that we're not sure what - or who - is the truth. When we do finally have it all, when the full truth (and not just this character or that character's idea of it) is revealed it's shocking and startling, even a bit of a betrayal. But at the very end it's all so very satisfying.
Quincy Carpenter's friends are murdered at a cabin in teh woods -
and Final Girls is full of just as much of the unexpected
I am looking forward to more from Riley Sager and absolutely recommend Final Girls.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, July 10, 2017

UNSUB ~ Meg Gardiner (earc) review [@MegGardiner1 @DuttonBooks]

UNSUB (#1)
June 27, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

The serial killer that people had thought -- or at least, hoped -- long gone appears to have returned and the people of the Bay Area are afraid. Perhaps, none more so than Caitlin Hendrix. The Prophet was a part of her childhood, investigating his crimes and trying to find him consumed, and nearly ruined, her father. Now he is back and it is her turn to try to find this UNSUB who seems to be the Prophet.

UNSUB gives readers crimes, both past and present, that are brutal, twisted and frightening but also work into something larger (albeit something brutal and twisted and frightening). I enjoyed that it was not obvious from the start what was happening, what was being worked towards or why. As the investigators worked to piece things together, to uncover messages' meanings, I did, too.

The way that Caitlin has a history with the Prophet's murders and those investigations but not with the detectives she is working with made for some interesting interactions. She was both the new kid, but also , in some ways, the expert. It also let the other detectives be a smaller part of the whole story which actually worked here; any long established friendships between them wouldn't have fit either time/space wise or within the plot.

We don't get quite as much of a connection with Caitlin's character as with other mystery, thrillers I've read with detective/police at the center (ie the Kathryn Dance, Max Revere, DI Helen Grace, or Taylor Jackson series). This was a big case to focus on and it did not leave as much personal/non-work time as there might have been in other books. Caitlin's relationship with her father, the role the Prophet and the cases played in ti and how things change during UNSUB was great, though. With the other characters we met here that are part of her life (Sean, Michele, even Shadow) I have very high hopes for more of a connection with her characters as the series continues.

The crimes, the investigation, how the pieces are put together the false leads and real clues and how the characters are impacted by it all, how they handle things and how they proceed made UNSUB a great thriller. UNSUB seems to be the start to a great new series - and you know you want to read it before the TV show. Book 2, Into the Black Nowhere will be out in January 2018.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@mariekondo @TenSpeedPress]

This week I chose the trailer for The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondo.

I had heard about Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing but the idea of presenting it as a manga seems interesting. Here's the trailer:

about The Life=Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story:

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author and lifestyle/cleaning guru Marie Kondo, this graphic novelization brings Kondo's life-changing tidying method to life with the fun, quirky story of a woman who transforms her home, work, and love life using Kondo's advice and inspiration.

Marie Kondo presents the fictional story of Chiaki, a young woman in Tokyo who struggles with a cluttered apartment, messy love life, and lack of direction. After receiving a complaint from her attractive next-door neighbor about the sad state of her balcony, Chiaki gets Kondo to take her on as a client. Through a series of entertaining and insightful lessons, Kondo helps Chiaki get her home--and life--in order. This insightful, illustrated case study is perfect for people looking for a fun introduction to the KonMari Method of tidying up, as well as tried-and-true fans of Marie Kondo eager for a new way to think about what sparks joy. Featuring illustrations by award-winning manga artist Yuko Uramoto, this book also makes a great read for manga and graphic novel lovers of all ages.

Ten Speed Press // June 27, 2017 // Goodreads // Book Depository // Amazon

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Disappearances ~ Emily Bain Murphy (earc) review [@HMHKids @ebain]

The Disappearances
HMH Books for Young Readers
July 04, 2017
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

The Disappearances was much more of a fantasy than I was (for reasons that make no sense) expecting. Author Emily Bain Murphy had a fantastic premise with Sterling's "Disappearances" but it was how well thought out everything was that really made for a fantastic story.

The novel is set in the early 1940's and that added stressor - the danger, risk of injury or death and uncertainty - not only gives a plausible reason for Aila and Miles to move to Sterling but is something always on Ail'a mind.

The lack of technology also fits the world, Sterling, the Disappearances, who does or doesn't know about them, and the rumors that spread. It is easier to see Sterling as an isolated town and to have Aila more removed from her life back home.

I liked that the Disappearances were a bit of a known entity to those in Sterling, but that they also did not have all of the answers. All of their suppositions and theories and how they involve Juliet and pull Aila into the unknowns of her mother's past, made for a great mystery. It was both a young girl wanting ot find out about the parts of her recently deceased mother (and her mother's past) that she was previously unaware of, but more, too because it was also about solving a mystery.

The literary connections Aila tries to find, the possible clues and links were all very imaginative while also making perfect sense. You can understand both how she's able to find potential answers and how others could have failed to do so.

The Disappearances is a great mystery set at just the right time of real history, with a wonderfully imaginative fantasy world and lovely characters.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@rlynn_solomon @simonteen]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

published January 02, 2018 by Simon Pulse

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


There are a lot of things about You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone that appeal to me. I like that Adina and Tova are twins, I also like that they are twins who do not seem to have much in common That their mother has Huntington's and that it is, at first, an unknown, hanging over their aspired to futures sounds like something that could really bring out interesting aspects in the characters and their relationships.

Then the fact that one twin tests negative and one tests positive - and that we know that already - really adds to how much I want to read this novel, to see how it impacts them and what it means for each of them and their future.

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@themackenzilee @harperteen @epicreads]

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee was released on Tuesday. I enjoyed her 2015 novel This Monstrous Thing (review) and am looking forward to reading the new book!

about The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

June 27, 2107 // Katherine Tegen Books // Goodreads // Book Depository // Amazon

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Right Side ~ Spencer Quinn (earc) review [@atriabooks @ChetTheDog]

The Right Side
Atria Books
June 27, 2017
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Read review (under the book description) first if you want to avoid spoilers . . .

LeAnne Hogan went to Afghanistan as a rising star in the military, and came back a much lesser person, mentally and physically. Now missing an eye and with half her face badly scarred, she can barely remember the disastrous desert operation that almost killed her. She is confused, angry, and suspects the fault is hers, even though nobody will come out and say it.

Shattered by one last blow—the sudden death of her hospital roommate, Marci—LeAnne finds herself on a fateful drive across the country, reflecting on her past and seeing no future. Her native land is now unfamiliar, recast in shadow by her one good eye, her damaged psyche, and her weakened body. Arriving in the rain-soaked small town in Washington state that Marci had called home, she makes a troubling discovery: Marci’s eight-year-old daughter has vanished. When a stray dog—a powerful, dark, unreadable creature, no one’s idea of a pet—seems to adopt LeAnne, a surprising connection is formed and something shifts inside her. As she becomes obsessed with finding Marci’s daughter, LeAnne and her inscrutable canine companion are drawn into danger as dark and menacing as her last Afghan mission. This time she has a strange but loyal fellow traveler protecting her blind side.

Half (at least) of The Right Side takes place prior to  most of the second paragraph of the book description. While reading the novel, I admit, I kept wondering when the dog was going to show up. There is, after all, a dog on the cover, mentioned in the description and it's written by Spencer Quinn (writer of the Chet & Bernie Mysteries). As things progressed, though, I was glad that we got to know LeAnne - both in the present and through peeks at her past - first.

If her meeting with the dog had come earlier, readers would just think she was mean and angry. Coming, as it does, after all that we've already seen and what we've learned of LeAnne it still is those things, but you understand the why better.

There is some great foreshadowing or symmetry or whatever in the beginning:
"Right side taillight still intact?"
"What's intact?"
LeAnne peered down. She had very sharp eyesight, according to Dr Ralpundi, who did the preseason examinations for all the sports teams -- 20/15 in her left eye, even better in her right. "Yeah."
"Break it."
-pg 4
LeAnne is not a happy person. After losing her eye following an attack in Afghanistan, not to mention having friends die, she's at Walter Reed, supposedly receiving care and dealing with things. Except, she's not so much dealing with things as forgetting about them and/or deciding not to deal with them. Her memory is faulty, she's in pain, she's angry and not content to do what others tell her.

The glimpses at who LeAnne was both prior to that last mission and prior to her joining the army not only let us see who she was (and how different and not so different it is from who she is now) but understand some of the decisions she made.

LeAnne is a messed up character, but with some very real, understandable reasons. She is someone you can relate to and empathize with, even if you don't share any of her experiences. The addition f the dog to her life and the story is fantastic. It is not an easy fit (at least not outwardly) but it is perfect. They both have strong personalities and I truly loved their interactions and what they brought out in each other. There was something kind of magical there.
The Right Side is very different from Spencer Quinn's Chet & Bernie Mysteries and readers may be used to his lighter, humorous writing but this novel and character, with their darker, more troubled and pained story are very well written. (That's not to say there's not some humor here, too, but it doesn't have the same tone as Chet's.) The dog is, of course, fantastic fantastic and a perfectly integral character.

digital review copy received, via NetGalley, thanks to publisher

Waiting On Wednesday [@DelacortePress @juliebux]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

WHAT TO SAY NEXT by Julie Buxbaum
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

published July 11th by Delacorte Press

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


I love when something unexpected brings two characters together - and here I know there will be that added layer that the death of Kit's father precipitated everything. I am curious to see how their relationship develops, how the honesty works, their (and everyone else's) reaction to thier newfound friendship, and what it is about he truth of the accident that might end it all.

There's also the fact that David has been counting the number of days he's been in the high school. For whatever reason, I really love that he knows he's been attending Mapleview High for 622 days.

(And the cover is very cute.)

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One Perfect Lie ~ Lisa Scottoline (earc) review [@LisaScottoline @StMartinsPress]

One Perfect Lie
St Martin's Press
April 11, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan's baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

I love that One Perfect Lie does not let readers know all of what it's about prior to actually starting reading it. Based on the description, there will be a lot you don't know ahead of reading. I makes each discovery all the more shocking and confusing.

You do know, from almost the very beginning, that Chris Brennan is not being honest with everyone (or anyone, really) in Central Valley, Pennsylvania. He's hired as the new government teach and assistant baseball coach but you know he's not qualified to be either of those and that he's doing it only for an ulterior motive. It is understanding what that motive is - and if he'll be successful that make the story so startling and compelling.

The teenage boys that seem to maybe, be a part of Chris's plan and their families add some interesting side stories and where each of them is (in their families, with their friends, personally, etc) impacts what Chris is trying to do. I did like that the actual story was not as cozy as the description made it sound. Raz, Jordan and Evan all have something about their family life and their relationship with their fathers (or their lack of a father, for whatever the reason) that make them potentially perfect for Chris's plan.

It was seeing things from Chris's perspective but also the boys' and their mothers' that really made things compelling. The main characters were well written and you felt for them even as you found them frustrating. They are characters you can understand even if you don't always like them.

There were some real surprises in this story yet they all fit with the characters and what we already knew. I loved that things could be taken in a whole new, surprising direction, but still work so well. One Perfect Lie is a story that pulls you in from the beginning, leaves you wondering if that is really what's going to happen . . . no, really?! and the characters and ending are great.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2017 (So Far)

This week's Ten:
Top 10 2017 Reads So Far
(2017 releases but some were read in 2016)

Daughter of the Pirate King (#1) by Tricia Levenseller

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Goodreads // review

Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2) by Nicole Castroman
Goodreads // review

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James
Goodreads // review

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Goodreads // review

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig

Traveler (#1) by L.E. DeLano
Goodreads // review

Right Behind You (Quincy & Rainie #7) by Lisa Gardner
Goodreads // review

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Alone (The Generations Trilogy #3) by Scott Sigler

What can be learned from this list? Apparently I am quite fond of books with pirates in them and, more importantly, 2017 has been a great year for book's with pirates in them!

Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite reads from 2017!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Aftercare Instructions ~ Bonnie Pipkin (earc) review [@bonnie-pipkin @Flatironbooks]

Aftercare Instructions
Flatiron Books
June 27, 2017
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts

Initially, I was not that sure I wanted to read Aftercare Instructions. A book that starts with a girl's boyfriend leaving while she's having an abortion?  It sounded like it might be too . . . something (political? heavy? irreverent even?  I don't know). I am thrilled that I did decide to read it, though. This novel is so, so much more than I anticipated - better, smarter, complicated, thoughtful, even sweet.

Gen's boyfriend Peter abandoning her at Planned Parenthood is the latest 'not-supposed-to-happen' thing to happen to her, but it's nowhere near the only one. Her father died, her mother hasn't yet gotten over that, her sister no long lives with them, the school therapist wants different answers than Gen gives, and she has a 'former' best friend. While her relationship with Peter was unexpected, it was supposed to be what made those other things bearable.

Now, Gen isn't sure how she feels. About Peter. About anything, really.

New experiences - and new people - help her as she tries to understand the past and guess what it means for now.

The way we get scenes from Gen's past told as though scenes in a play, written in script form, work well and fits even better as the story progresses. I liked that we got a fuller picture of who the Gen was at the start of the story, what she'd experienced, what had happened/been done to her, but only later in the story. It lets you get things from her perspective, her interpretation. Readers seem to get a better understanding of things at the same time she does. I loved Gen and her whole journey: the past, the present, what she realizes and pieces together.

It is a small thing, but I loved the reasoning behind Genesis's name. I wondered about it from almost the beginning and liked that we didn't get an explanation until nearly half way through the book. It made the answer more rewarding because we knew the characters and understood how true what Gen said was.

If you are at all one the fence about this book, do yourself a favor and read it. Not only does it approach a topic (abortion) rarely discussed, but it does so in a very skilled manner and all as part captivating and compelling story with a fantastic cast of unique characters and an unforgettable main character. I am very much looking forward to what's next from Bonnie Pipkin.

digital review copy received, from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@harperchildrens @joryjohn]

This week I picked the trailer for The Bad Seed by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald:

about The Bad Seed:
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Goodnight Already! series

This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know?

He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy?

With Jory John’s charming and endearing text and bold expressive illustrations by Pete Oswald, here is The Bad Seed: a funny yet touching tale that reminds us of the remarkably transformative power of will, acceptance, and just being you. Perfect for readers young and old, The Bad Seed proves that positive change is possible for each and every one of us.

August 29, 2017 // Harper Childrens // Goodreads // Book Depository  // Amazon

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Follow Me Back ~ A.V. Geiger (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire @av_geiger #FollowMeBack #EricThornObsessed]

Follow Me Back (Follow Me Back #1)
Sourcebooks Fire
June 06, 2017
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

Follow Me Back does a great job pulling readers in from the very beginning. The inclusion of police interview transcripts that are from interviews taking place after the narrative's present tell us that something has happened, something bad - but not what. That glimpse into the future really increases the tension as Eric Thorn stresses over his safety, and hates his fame and (it seems) his fans.

There is a bit of unknown in Tessa's story, as well. Her severe agoraphobia is due to something that happened to her but readers don't know just what that was. Even as you're drawn into the character's present, the transcripts and Tessa's mentions of New Orleans have you wanting to know their past and future, at least equally as much.

Using tweets and DMs not only fits the story of Follow Me Back - with the celebrity, anonymity, isolation, focus on social media - but help readers connect with the characters more quickly. It gives us an unfiltered look at who they are (or who they're supposed to be).

Some of the secondary characters - Tessa's mother, in particular - were disappointing. They didn't feel like real, full characters and it was hard both to get a handle on who they were and, then, to really see how they impacted the main characters.

I am still conflicted as to how I feel about the novel's ending, or what I think happened. Part of me thinks one thing happened, which would have left some things unresolved. Another part of me thinks something else happened, which I would make me need a bunch of sad face emojis. There is going to be a sequel (or at least a Follow Me Back #2) so I am holding out hope that there will be more answers then.

Follow Me Back is a book that keeps you reading from the very beginning until the very end. Tessa and Eric are unique and compelling main characters and their story had me ready for whatever's to come in Book 2!

Follow Me Back started on Wattpad, preview it there and the go buy it.
Follow Me Back on Wattpad

digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley
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