Sidekicked is a fun adventurous tale of super heroes, side kicks, middle school, and figuring out the difference between right and wrong-and how very...moreSidekicked is a fun adventurous tale of super heroes, side kicks, middle school, and figuring out the difference between right and wrong-and how very many shades of gray there are in between. I was entertained by Drew and his "power". I enjoyed all the different side kicks and their relationship with each other. In this world there are people born with super powers (think Incredibles) and they fight super villains. Drew and his friends are part of a training program for those with powers and are assigned as sidekicks to supers. Anderson explores the darker side of super hero work in this story. It is highly entertaining and thought provoking, two things that are a great combination. (less)
I really enjoyed the concept of The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Four very different girls are forced into a book club together that is the brain child...moreI really enjoyed the concept of The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Four very different girls are forced into a book club together that is the brain child of a post-yoga discussion between their mothers. The first book they read is Little Women because they live in Concord, MA. I loved the setting and the details the author included about it, Alcott, and Little Women. I enjoyed all four girls to and felt that their voices and problems were realistic. This is the first in a series and it is a well-written and fun read to give any 9-12 year old series devourer you know. I would have liked it so much more if not a couple of issues I had. I don't like how the book relied on so many stereotypes to depict the characters. I'm hoping that after this set up and the series continues the characters are developed a bit more in their own rights. I also really didn't like the way the girls were sort of being encouraged by their moms to indulge in petty insulting behavior toward mean-girl Becca and her mom (who she clearly learned the act from). As a mother myself I see how that may be easy to allow to happen, but it still bothered me, particularly as it was concentrated on making fun of the size of her rear end. It seemed they didn't mind their daughters (or themselves) being petty when it came it to dealing with unpleasant people. I found it too annoying to truly love the book.
I AM heartened to see that Becca and her mother are joining the group in the 2nd book, so maybe some of my issues will be put to rest there. I will be giving the series a continued chance, taking that into consideration.(less)
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Laura Florand's books I've read so far, but I truly LOVED this one. Dom and Jaime are both characters that you can re...moreI have thoroughly enjoyed all of Laura Florand's books I've read so far, but I truly LOVED this one. Dom and Jaime are both characters that you can relate too right from the beginning, even if you are nothing like them (which I'm not). I was excited about Dom especially when it is revealed he only uses dark chocolate in his salon. My kind of chocolatier, he is.
One of the aspects I really appreciate about all of Florand's books is the realistic way the protagonists interact. Any misunderstandings are believable in the circumstances (not over dramatic plot devices) and the characters actually communicate. That shown particularly bright in this novel. There are also some truly hilarious scenes in this book.
And I never thought I would say this, but do you know how bad I want a balsamic-vinaigrette caramel with dark chocolate now? Never tried one. Never even heard of one before. Now it is a major goal of mine to find one somewhere somehow.
Content Heads-Up: This is an adult romance novel. It has some sexy times. (less)
I don't think there are enough books out there are that are about wanting to make a hard marriage (is there any other kind?) WORK. There is a lot of l...moreI don't think there are enough books out there are that are about wanting to make a hard marriage (is there any other kind?) WORK. There is a lot of literary fiction about disillusionment with the whole thing, there are books about divorced or widowed people finding new love, and, of course, there are all the books about fresh new love. I love that Snow Kissed is about a couple is married, has problems, and wants to stay married anyway. YAY! It is a lovely story, but also heartbreaking. Anyone who has suffered the same traumas trying to have children that Kai and Kurt faced might have a hard time with it. It is a beautiful story of fighting for a marriage and what love and forever truly mean. There was a teensy bit more of the sexy times in it than I am normally okay with for a book of this length (which is my ONLY complaint and totally a subjective personal thing-It also could have been the mood I was in when I read it.).
Earlier this year I bought The Reece Malcolm List on the excellent recommendation of several people and was thoroughly enamored with Amy Spalding's wr...moreEarlier this year I bought The Reece Malcolm List on the excellent recommendation of several people and was thoroughly enamored with Amy Spalding's writing style. I was excited to discover she would have a second book coming out this year, Ink is Thicker Than Water, and when it showed up on NetGalley I couldn't request it fast enough. I am happy to say that it is another truly wonderful read. It is just so lovely to find an author who can write stories that are real, entertaining, and full of heart all at the same time.
This is Kellie's story, but it is also the story of her whole family and that is probably my favorite thing about Spalding's books so far. They show a greater whole, and I love the way she treats family. Kellie has a lot going on in her life. Many of the relationships that have sustained her and fulfilled her are changing in scary ways and she doesn't know how to cope with it. She often compares herself unfavorably to the people around her and I appreciate how that was done. Kellie's voice is real in a way few authors can get right, vulnerable and confident in turns just as any girl really is. Kellie's relationship and interactions with her family are by far the best thing about this novel for me, and really the heart of what it is about. Spalding portrays the messy chaos and vulnerability that come with loving and living with people we sometimes don't like or agree with. An outsider would say Kellie has a "good" family and she does. Yet all families are messy because there is no other way for a group of individuals so closely tied through history, squabbles, disasters, and triumph to be. Our family sees us at our worst, and that is demonstrated in a very authentic way through Kellie's story. Kellie's relationships with every member of her family and how they affect her and she affects them are integral in the telling of this story. The relationship with her sister was fascinating for me as a reader, and sometimes horribly uncomfortable. I suddenly felt like I was seeing my relationship with my own sister through her perspective. Some of Kellie and Sara's conversations could have come from us when we were in high school (me being Sara) and I sort of felt the need to call and apologize.
Then there was Kellie's romance with Oliver, which I love is not the focal point of the story but still an important part. In many ways he is Kellie's coping mechanism through all of this, and yet I still can't help but root for them.They have a great dynamic and I like that he has plenty of issues of his own, but is also learning to deal with them. I also appreciate the frank and realistic way Spalding dealt with their choices regarding their sexual relationship. Yay for girls having agency, boys respecting that, and couples talking. What I really like about this is that it took them time to get to the point where all three of those were in complete working order. They are still young and learning , but I love how they were trying to do it all right.
This is a book that is not heavy on plot. It is about character and relationships most of all. I love books like this, especially when they do it with realism but also humor and hope.
I have to add that I adored to the core of my being the character of Adelaide, Kellie's new friend. Her email address is a reference to Guys and Dolls, which makes her awesome in and of itself, but she gives great advice too even if she is a little strange and intense.
Amy Spalding has earned a place as an auto-buy author for me now. I will gladly trust her and read anything she has to offer in the future.
I received an e-galley form the publisher, Entangled Teen, via NetGalley. Ink is Thicker Than Water is available for purchase on December 3. (less)
A fun good old fashioned mystery. Some of the attempts at humor fall a little flat and the dialogue is a tad awkward in places, but I enjoyed the char...moreA fun good old fashioned mystery. Some of the attempts at humor fall a little flat and the dialogue is a tad awkward in places, but I enjoyed the characters and story. I will certainly read the next one in the series. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
When reviews started popping up last year for Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard I instantly adde...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
When reviews started popping up last year for Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard I instantly added it to my TBR. I love travel books of any sort and this one looked to be a good one. It is a fairly typical YA contemporary romance, but made even better by the setting and vivid details.
Bria is a girl who is running away from a lot of things, her parents, college, memories of her jerk ex-boyfriend, but mostly she is running from herself. Or more exactly what she allowed herself to become. Enter cool people to change her life forever. It's a fairly familiar story. Hubbard writes it convincingly well. Bria's journey is a believable one. She starts out wanting to break the rules a little, but is afraid too. She takes small steps in the direction she thinks she wants to go, and then realizes she is still moving according to other people's wishes instead of her own. I appreciated how real her journey seemed and how she got to where she was in the end. Rowan is an interesting foil for Bria. He did the bad boy thing, paid some consequences for it, and is trying to form a new life and plan. He and Bria have a lot in common and also much to learn from each other. I liked the way their relationship developed slowly and naturally through the course of the book.
The true main character of the book is Central America though. The setting far outshines everything else the story has to offer. Hubbard is a travel writer, an expert in the countries she is talking about here and that shows. I enjoyed reading about the backpacking experience (even if it is something I can't say I would ever want to do) and the beautiful places they go. Bria is an artist and the book is peppered with wonderful sketches of things Bria sees. The descriptions are so real that I could feel like I was right there with the characters.
One concern I have is that there are a couple of sentences thrown into the narrative that lead me to believe there were far more dire things going on in Bria's relationship with Toby than she ever fully admitted to or came to terms with.
It is a fun read, perfect for a hot humid summer day. If you enjoy contemporary YA romance or travel stories this is a good one to pick up. (less)
It has been a long time since I've found an author whose books I wait for with eager anticipation and plan an entire evening around on the day a new b...moreIt has been a long time since I've found an author whose books I wait for with eager anticipation and plan an entire evening around on the day a new book comes out. It's been even longer since one of those authors has been a writer of adult fiction. BUT THESE BOOKS. They are some of my favorite books of the year, every single book in this series. I love Florand manages to bring a fresh angle to each story even though they have so many similar elements, and each one (except The Chocolate Thief-unless I missed it) she incorporates a fairy tale or myth. I adored what she did with the one she used here. I pretty much adored everything about this story: the interactions between Summer and Luc, both of their characters individually, the glimpse into the workings of a high class hotel, and the themes Florand worked into the story. How real and balanced the characters are in Florand's books has always impressed me. They are not always likable, but the reader is given a clear understanding of WHY they are currently being unlikable. Summer has so many issues and some of her actions spawned by this issues are not at all laudable, but at the same time you can not help but sympathize with her situation. The way both Luc and Summer are worked into their characters in the myth used is also well done here. Luc is a perfect foil for Summer. While he has many issues of his own, his are a good balance for hers. I like the way Florand shows that fitting two lives to gather is difficult and takes work. An added bonus were all the scenes with characters from the other books and the glimpse we get of the couple her next book will focus on. And again, I will be planning an entire evening around it. (less)
This is a well written and heart wrenching account of grieving and the process of moving on from tragedy. It is not happy book to say the least, thoug...moreThis is a well written and heart wrenching account of grieving and the process of moving on from tragedy. It is not happy book to say the least, though it does have its lighter moments and the end is hopeful. It certainly has an effect on my mood when I was reading it, which says a lot for the strength of the writing. It is long and it is very character driven, there is little excitement in the plot. It is about a girl coming to terms with losing her family, being at peace with the person responsible, and making a new life for herself. I can't say I enjoyed it because it made me seriously gloomy, but I appreciate what it for what it is. (less)
This is a quick, sweet, warm-hearted read. Mattie's voice is so engrossing that even though this is a quiet book without a lot of action the reader st...moreThis is a quick, sweet, warm-hearted read. Mattie's voice is so engrossing that even though this is a quiet book without a lot of action the reader stays engaged in the story, interesting in what is happening. This is a wonderful book for seeing what the inner workings of other people's minds might be like, the secrets they guard, and the struggles they have. Even when they seem inconsequential to us, they may mean a major obstacle to someone else. I also thoroughly enjoyed the characterization of all the adults in the novel. Definitely my favorite of Urban's books. (less)
This is a fun mystery that involves old family secrets and following clues to hidden treasure. It is one of those books that I think will be an easy s...moreThis is a fun mystery that involves old family secrets and following clues to hidden treasure. It is one of those books that I think will be an easy sell to kids, but not necessarily one all kids will stick with to the end. I did like the way the mystery unfolded, and it had a lot of humor in it. There is a villain and some mild danger, so nothing too scary. It could easily by enjoyed by more advanced younger readers as well. (less)
Is someone had told me you could take "Beauty and the Beast" and rewrite it as a contemporary realistic romance involving pastry chefs I would have la...moreIs someone had told me you could take "Beauty and the Beast" and rewrite it as a contemporary realistic romance involving pastry chefs I would have laughed. But I'll be darned if that isn't exactly what Laura Florand did. And you know what else? It's wonderful. I loved it, and this is my absolute favorite fairy tale. It is hard to impress me with stories that come from it. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I adored Small Persons with Wings by Ellen Booraem, so when I discovered that Booream had a...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I adored Small Persons with Wings by Ellen Booraem, so when I discovered that Booream had a new book coming out about a Banshee and a trip to the Underworld I was excited as could be. I was even more excited when I won a copy of Texting the Underworld via a giveaway at Charlotte's Library.
Conor is not a kid looking for adventure. He likes his world safe and predictable. And spider free. He is not a coward however, no matter how much he thinks he is (and his sister claims he is). When push comes to shove, he rises to the challenge and I liked him all the more for his certainty that he was not cut out for this. Conor is faced with a crazy situation and a horrifying choice that could possibly break anyone. Watching as he found his inner strength to do what was required was fascinating. He has just the right amount of snarky humor to keep a reader like me smiling all the way through too. I loved Ashling, the banshee, too. She has a job, a reward coming to her if she finishes it, and is being manipulated by the Lady who controls the Underworld (for the Irish). I loved how enthusiastic for life she was and how much she craved the world and all it had to offer. She and Conor made great foils for one another, and a great team.
The story is one that plays with Irish mythology and the idea of reincarnation. There are interesting flashbacks to Ashling's life in the world and how it connected with a past life of Conor. I enjoyed how the story moved between this and Conor's life in the modern world, with its typical middle school problems. I appreciated the interactions of Conor's family, the parents who cared, and the role is grandfather played as well.
Texting the Underworld is a fun adventurous mix of myth, modern technology, humor, and hard choices. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys any of these. (less)
This book is oh so good. I loved the magic and whimsy of La Maison des Sorcieres. The romance is exactly the sort of challenging one I adore too. I wa...moreThis book is oh so good. I loved the magic and whimsy of La Maison des Sorcieres. The romance is exactly the sort of challenging one I adore too. I was really able to relate to Magalie's character and all her issues. Sometimes a little too well, she's very well written. I moved around a lot as a kid too and am in recovery still from a lot of the same issues. Overall, very well done and well written. I'm so happy to have discovered these book. One drawback is that it gave me a ridiculous craving for macarons and there is no place in this small southern town of mine to get fresh macarons. Frustrating. (less)
For the most part this is a fairly typical MG realistic fiction. Anyone who reads often from the genre will recognize all the plot elements and charac...moreFor the most part this is a fairly typical MG realistic fiction. Anyone who reads often from the genre will recognize all the plot elements and characters. There will be no surprises. That is not to say this isn't a lovely book and a good read. It's just not breaking any new ground nor is it written in a way that will make you take a second look. One new and interesting thing about it is that the two main characters have synesthesia, which is an interesting condition most people probably know nothing of. I wouldn't have myself if not for Ultraviolet.(less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
One look at the cover was all it took to hook me in. Then the premise, a boy who carries br...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
One look at the cover was all it took to hook me in. Then the premise, a boy who carries break up messages for a fee, sealed the deal. The Hearbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance is so much fun to read.
Quentin is a delightful main character. He is savvy enough to take advantage of a great business idea, yet so clueless when it comes to understanding relationships. He is not completely in his money making scheme for selfish reasons, but he isn't completely altruistic either. He comes across as genuine. He learns some important lessons about love and the human condition from his encounters with the people he brings his break up messages to. The impact this has on him is believable. Quentin's new business also affects his relationships with his two best friends. I appreciated how the friendships are portrayed, despite it being the oh so typical two boys-one girl friendship that pops up so much in MG books. It is used so much because it works well. Watching Quentin face the truth of his feelings for Abby was amusing and excruciating. Everything about them is so typical of the age.
The different scenarios Quentin finds himself in due to his job are hilarious. I wondered if it would start to get old, but it didn't. Vance wrote each encounter in a fresh way giving life to all of the heartbreakers and heartbreakees. All of them have the humor that comes from Quentin's awkwardness, but each also stresses the reality of how hard relationships really are.
The Heartbreak Messenger will have wide appeal. Boys. Girls. Romantics. Anti-Romantics. There is something here for everyone.
I read a galley made available by the publisher, Feiwel & Friends. The Heartbreak Messenger is available for purchase July 23, 2013. (less)
I enjoyed reading this book so much. I read it all in one delicious sitting. It was more sensual than I was expecting, but so much of that was tied in...moreI enjoyed reading this book so much. I read it all in one delicious sitting. It was more sensual than I was expecting, but so much of that was tied into the food and chocolate rather than just sex. (Though there is some of that too, so be warned if you don't like that in your books.) I loved the main characters, their banter, and the Parisian setting. I'm looking forward to reading the companion novels too.
Warning: This book will make you want to eat chocolate. And not just any chocolate, but QUALITY chocolate. Fortunately I had some handy. (less)
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I'm going to be honest. I was not expecting to like Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange as much as...moreOriginally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I'm going to be honest. I was not expecting to like Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange as much as I did. I read it in my quest to find more books to recommend to my high school students, and found myself completely caught up in the story and characters.
Bullying is the latest "issue" craze in books. I am already growing tired of it, but Lange did not make this a book about bullying. Dane beats up kids, but it is hard to paint him with the bully brush. He is far more complex than that simple word can even come close to conveying. He is not easy to like. He beats up people. He uses words that are not PC. His thoughts and attitude towards girls are not always appropriate or nice. Yet he does have standards. He won't just hit anyone. He loves and protects his mother. He is loyal, smart, and wants something better for himself. In other words he is as typically complicated as any average teenage boy. He's growing up in tough circumstances and has a lot of rough edges. With his sense of humor, sense of justice (distorted though it is), and dreams, I couldn't help but love him. Billy is also not completely likeable. AND I LOVE THAT. I love that Lange didn't try to make him the poor Special Ed kid who brings the bad kid around with all of his sweetness and light. Billy knows how to work his disability. He lies and manipulates. At the same time, he is vulnerable and in need of a friend. He too has a great sense of humor and hopes and dreams for the future. The friendship that develops between the two is a real one, reluctant though Dane is to begin it. They each see the faults and strengths in the other. They both try to be protective and helpful in their own ways.
The plot is not fast paced or adventurous. This is a slower book. One that brings out the boys characters. It does have a puzzle, a mystery, and a road trip. This all revolves around missing fathers. Billy is desperate to find and see his dad again. He hasn't seen him since his mom took him and left. Dane has never known his father, and claims vehemently that he doesn't want to. Both boys are sort of lost, looking for answers and direction. There are so many times when they should have talked to their mothers and come up with excuses for why they shouldn't. Dane especially. Because Lange shows this process, it is believable.
This is a great story that demonstrates the complexities of personality, friendship, and life.
Content: There are some make out scenes, Dane alludes to a few girls in a lewd manner, and strong language used.
I read an e-galley provided by the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, via NetGalley. Dead Ends is available for purchase on September 3. (less)
I usually enjoy Erin Dionne's books more than I did this one. I think my disappointment was magnified because I had my hopes rather high for this one...moreI usually enjoy Erin Dionne's books more than I did this one. I think my disappointment was magnified because I had my hopes rather high for this one and was mostly unimpressed. I can see kids loving it though. It has that sort of kid adventure movie feel to it. Kids versus the mobsters, and the kids actually have a chance of winning. The danger never materializes quite like it would in reality. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could have liked Moxie herself, but I was rolling my eyes by the end of the first chapter. I'm so tired of main characters who are supposed to be unique and special because they like older music and buy vintage clothes. This is so overused that there is nothing unique or special about these characters. It feels like slapping a vintage t-shirt on a character and giving her a playlist her parents would have listened to are acceptable replacements for actual character development. I do like that she was a Math lover though. (less)
On the one hand I really like the portrayal of homelessness and the stark reality of the life too many children in the country are leading. On the oth...moreOn the one hand I really like the portrayal of homelessness and the stark reality of the life too many children in the country are leading. On the other hand I feel the unrealistic aspects of the plot did this sort of a disservice. I found the scenario,the spying,the mystery too wholly unbelievable to take seriously. I doubt kids will have the same problem though and definitely plan to talk this book up. I do love the language and the connections to Langston Hughes. (less)
This is a fun book. It has the element I most look for in romance: witty dialogue between two intelligent protagonists. I also liked that, though the...moreThis is a fun book. It has the element I most look for in romance: witty dialogue between two intelligent protagonists. I also liked that, though the sexy times are there, they are short and kept to a minimum. There were a couple of info-dumps I could have done without, but I certainly was entertained enough that I will read more of James's novels in the future. (less)
3.5 stars because I did really love Cath and Levi.
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I really enjoy Rainbow Rowell's writing, f...more3.5 stars because I did really love Cath and Levi.
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
I really enjoy Rainbow Rowell's writing, from her adult novel Attachments to her YA Eleanor & Park. I just love the way she paints pictures with words and creates characters who are real and easy to relate to. For all those reasons plus its amazing synopsis I was so excited to read Fangirl.
I LOVE Cath. And man could I relate to her. I am a fangirl. I find it far too easy to get sucked into obsessions that have nothing to do with the real world. I completely understood her dedication to her world. I also understood her anxieties and need for space and time for herself. Many readers may find it odd that she avoided the cafeteria at college for so long simply because she didn't know how it worked and didn't want to ask anyone. I got that. In fact so much of Cath's freshman year is equivalent to mine it is scary. I adored this aspect of the book. That here was a deeply introverted character and she isn't presented as weird or strange. She is who she is. She has issues to deal with sure and a lot of room for growth, but her personality was not the problem and wasn't made to be. I also loved the boy. Every little bit of him, their interactions, and the development of their relationship (and that's all I'll say about that).
Rowell's writing style is superb as always, woven with sarcastic humor, deep emotion, and the wonderful way she has of bringing her world to life.
I do feel like there was a little too much going on and as a result not all of it was developed as well as it could be. There were a lot of threads in the story: Cath's writing, the pressure she feels over her writing, her relationship with her manic father, her relationship with her sister (who has a drinking problem), her non-relationship with her estranged mother, the boys. And all of this is interspersed with Cath's own fanfiction writing (which I will admit I skipped a lot of). I think I would have connected to the story more if this had been pared down. Still. It is a fun and engrossing read. Rowell is one of my auto-buy authors now. (less)