Saturday, June 24, 2017

July 2017 New Book Releases - Part One


Hi Readers!  You want to know what books are coming out in July - and I am here to deliver!  Here are (just some) of the books being release in July 2017!  Happy Reading!



 

Coming Up For Air - Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 1, 2017



Paper Hearts - Ali Novak 
Release Date: July 1, 2017


The Revenge - Hannah Jayne
 Release Date: July 1, 2017



The Silence - Mark Alpert
Release Date: July 1, 2017


A Void the Size of the World - Rachele Alpine
Release Date: July 4, 2017


Bombshell - Rowan Maness
Release Date: July 4, 2017


Resist - Ilima Todd
Release Date: July 4, 2017


The Bakersville Dozen - Kristina McBride
Release Date: July 4, 2017

 
The Disappearances - Emily Bain Murphy 
Release Date: July 4, 2017



Words on the Bathroom Walls - Julia Walton 
Release Date: July 4, 2017


 
All the Ways the World Can End - Abigail Sher 
Release Date: July 11, 2017


Because you love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy - Ameriie
Release Date: July 11, 2017



Colorblind - Leah Harper Bowrown
Release Date: July 11, 2017




Contribute - Kristy Acevedo
Release Date: July 11, 2017



Dark Goddess - Amelie Howard 
Release Date: July 11, 2017


Forever in Love - Susane Colasanti
Release Date: July 11, 2017
 
 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ramona Blue - Julie Murphy

Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Format: Hardcover

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ramona Blue is a young adult novel that takes place in Eulogy, Mississippi and revolves around the life of Ramona, a teenager who dyes her hair blue (all the time) and works several jobs, even during the academic year.  Also, she likes girls (and identifies repeatedly throughout the novel as a lesbian.)  It's important to know that last part because Ramona develops an attraction to a boy that moves to her town, and also because there is a lot of controversy over this novel.

So, a few things I want to be clear on:

1. I liked the premise of the book, but found myself skeptical of the actual book itself.
2. Yes, it is entirely possible that Ramona is bi or pansexual, BUT, BUT, BUT, she stated herself that she is a lesbian (and the fact that she all of a sudden changes her mind because the right guy came along is such a harmful trope, because, well, you know.  Lesbians actually exist, and not in a "I just haven't found the right man yet" kind of way.)
3. It also really bothers me that so many gay and lesbian folks try to erase the bi identity.  I don't want to turn this into a "but it's possible Ramona could have been bi" or "no way she's a lesbian" argument.  I just want to be clear about the fact that, separate from this book, bisexual men and women are out there, and don't deserved to be erased.  (Bi folks get erased from both sides, just so you know.  So many LGT and straight people treat bisexual people like they are just on the way to coming out as gay.  Stop it.)
4. The fact that the author is changing the jacket description does not erase the fact that Ramona states several times throughout the novel that she is a lesbian.
5. HOWEVER, Ramona is only 17. She is young and still learning about herself.  It is entirely possible that she has identified as lesbian because she has never met a boy she was attracted to.  It is possible that she is bisexual and that she is still learning about who she is.



Now, let's just talk for a minute.


The Characters


I generally liked the characters (except for Hattie's boyfriend, Tyler.  He was an asshat.)  I think the author does a good job of tackling a heavy topic. (Well, kind of.  I should probably amend that, because I found out that even though the author identifies as bisexual, she view being gay and bi as a choice, and is therefore extremely homo/biphobic.) 



The Story
Eh.  The story was alright, but I didn't really feel connected to it like I have with other books.  It was okay, and not poorly written, but it didn't compel me to binge read or anything.  Also, I was tired of reading another book where teenagers just sit around drinking. Where the hell are these teens getting access to all this booze?!  (Yes, I know teens in real life drink.  But those kids parents should be doing a better job of preventing that from happening!  These people are still kids.)

Overall, I think I would rate the book 2 stars. 







Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hag-Seed - Margaret

Title: Hag-Seed
Author: Margaret Atwood
Format: Paperback

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their l
ives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Margaret Atwood's retelling of The Tempest is, at it's core, a delightful book that will leave you wanting more!  From the very first page, I was drawn in to the characters and the story, wanting to find out how Felix's tale of revenge would play out.  I found myself heartbroken upon learning about Felix's wife's death, and then his daughter's death.  He faced heartache and loss that were just horrible.  

Despite the loss that happens in the book, there is humor to be found as well.  I mean, Felix's reimaginings of plays are enough to make anyone bust a gut.  They are weird, and off-beat, but he's a theatre person.  I get the weird!  And I so didn't want him to lose his job over his weird!  But, he moved on - in a sort of wonderful way. (I am probably the only person who will tell you that I loved watching Felix exact revenge on Tony - in the form of teaching a prison class at that.

So, brass tacks.  

THE CHARACTERS: 

I liked Felix - I really did.  I found him and the other characters to be well-written and fleshed out, each with distinct personalities and traits that were unique to them.  The characters fit well together and meshed in a way that really helped move the story along.

THE STORY ITSELF:

How could anyone not love a good re-telling of any Shakespeare play?!  The whole book is just one amazing Tempest trip and you will find yourself drawn into it in the best possible way.  Atwood has done a stellar job of taking a story and updating it for modern times.  The story fell together well and moved along nicely.  Everything fit together so amazingly well, and I found myself wishing the story could go on forever.  It was charming in so many ways.  

Hag-Seed is a 5 star read all the way.  Get your hands on a copy - you won't be disappointed.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from Penguin's Blogging for Books program.




 

Anything For You - Kristan Higgins





Title: Anything For You
Author: Kristan Higgins
Format: Audiobook

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Before you get down on bended knee…

…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it's the perfect time to get married.

When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her.

But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anything For You, by Kristan Higgans, is a perfect "I don't have to think while reading" book.  In this case, that is not a compliment.  I found the book to be problematic in so many ways, not the least of which is the female protagonist had no personal growth throughout the story AND treated her brother like he was completely incompetent.  

The story opens with Connor proposing to Jessica, who turns him down because she has Davey to take care of.  Davey is her brother, and he lives with Jessica because he has fetal alcohol syndrome and lives in a small community where his other living options are limited.  Connor states that this will be the last time that Jessica dumps him.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is, in fact, not the last time that Jessica dumps Connor.  He keeps going back to her despite the fact that they seem to have no future (and aren't really that compatible.)

So let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?

The Characters
Jessica, our heroine, is the most self-absorbed and clueless character I've read all year.  She doesn't realize that her brother is capable of doing things on his own, and she treats him like a baby.  He's in his 20's and doesn't even know how to make toast.  Now, yes, he does have a disability, and that disability means there are things he will never be able to do (like driving a car, flying a plane, becoming president... you get the idea.)  However, someone who is in his mid-20's and holds down an albeit part time job is surely more than capable of making his own toast and cooking other simple meals, at least with assistance.

Connor is just.... well he's kind of an idiot.  He knows that his relationship with Jessica has a limited future, but he keeps going back to her and being her boyfriend despite all the troubles they have.  She keeps insisting that they shouldn't be together, and frankly, I am inclined to agree.  He also has rocky relationships with other people in his life, including his parents.  He struggles to get along with his dad, but isn't willing to take even one step towards repairing their relationship.  The most solid relationship he has is with his twin sister Colleen, whom he calls Collee, and even sometimes dog face.  (Don't even get me started - what kind of woman is going to be okay with anyone calling them a dog?!)

 The secondary characters, including Marcy (I mean, wow) just seemed too superficial.  There was no depth to them, and no real secondary qualities to make you sit up and say Oh!  They were all very one dimensional. 

The Story

The story is about as deep as the characters.  There is no real depth to it.  The whole story is break up, get back together, break up, get back together.  I can't really think of any reason why one would want to finish this book, unless you're like me and you just hate to leave books unfinished.

The Language/Treatment towards people with disabilities
This is a big one for me.  The entire way that Davey was treated by others throughout the whole book was incredibly insulting.  Let's start with the fact that Davey's own father felt that it was okay to call him the R word!  His own father!  (Granted, he was blind drunk at the time, but still.)  Also, there is the problem with the way that Jessica treats him.  She makes it seem like Davey is incapable of doing anything for himself, and I do mean anything.  He is not allowed to visit friends without her going along, he is not allowed to sit outside unless Jess is with him, he is not allowed to be home alone at all (even for 5 minutes.)  Now, based on Davey's intellectual level, I can understand requesting that someone be in the room while he cooks in case he needs assistance, but the sake of all that is good in the world, let the man make his own toast.  Also, Jess needs to stop assuming that people don't want to be Davey's friend just because he has a disability.  (She wrongly assumes that his co-worker, Miranda, wants nothing to do with him just because of his disability.) 

This book is barely worth one star, but I'll give it that because I can't give it zero stars.  Save your time for better books.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June TBR

And now!  For more fun: My June TBR List (It just keeps growing!)







At The Edge of the Universe - Shaun David Hutchuinson

Title: At The Edge of The Universe
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Format: Hardcover

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.

Ozzie doesn’t know how to navigate life without Tommy, and soon suspects that something else is going on: that the universe is shrinking.

When Ozzie is paired up with new student Calvin on a physics project, he begins to wonder if Calvin could somehow be involved. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is for him to deny the feelings developing between them, even if he still loves Tommy.

But Ozzie knows there isn’t much time left to find Tommy–that once the door closes, it can’t be opened again. And he’s determined to keep it open as long as possible.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ozzie is perplexed because his boyfriend, Tommy, has suddenly disappeared.  Not just kidnapping or running away, but literally it is like nobody remembers him - like he never existed.  So, Ozzie is on a mission to prove Tommy is real and that Ozzie is not losing his mind.


At The Edge of The Universe discusses many things, not the least of which is mental health issues in teens.  (It's obvious that Ozzie has some possibly depression issues, and his new friend Calvin has issues with cutting himself.)  It's great that the author doesn't shy away from those issues, too.  A lot of authors are scared to broach the issues of mental health, especially in teens, so it's nice to see an author actually covering those issues.

Things I Liked About The Book:

*The fact that the author actually talked about issues of mental health in teens
*That Ozzie's friend (whose name just escaped me) is gender fluid.  And it's no big deal!  What I mean by that is that when she's appearing with Ozzie, and in the book, everyone accepts who he is without caring that he is gender fluid, and that she decides based on each day which pronouns to use.  That is just the way it should be.
*That this book includes LGBTQ+ characters.  We need more books that show people who are on the spectrum as just the same as straight/cis people!
*The universe is shrinking.  So, this book has a slight sci-fi feel to it in that the universe in Ozzie's world is shrinking every day. 
*The bookstore that Ozzie works in.  I just love bookstores.  So, Ozzie working in a bookstore is just the coolest.

Things I didn't like:

*Really, the only thing that bothered me was that the beginning started out a little slow.  I wasn't sure if I would like this book at first, but once I got a few chapters in, I couldn't stop reading.

The Characters:

The characters are all well-written.  They have a depth that is really important, even in YA books.  I should say, especially in YA books.  I feel like A lot of authors and editors underestimate how smart teens are, and underestimate the fact that YA readers need characters with depth and growth.  This book accomplishes that.

The Actual Story:

While I felt that the story did start out a little slow, it picked up, and things changed. I think the book was well written and the story fits with the characters, and vice versa.  This is a story you'll be able to enjoy until the end.


This book gets 4 out of 5 stars.




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fantasy Favorites

Hey Y'all!

Let's talk about fantasy books!  I love fantasy ~ so today, I am sharing all my favorite fantasy (and sci-fi, and dystopian) books with you!





Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
I hope I don't need to explain why I love Lord of the Rings.  It's amazing - it has orcs, the eye of Sauron, Mordor, wraiths, Legolas, swords, battles - I'll just stop now!  This book is amazing.


The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
Is is any surprise that the Harry Potter series is on my list of favorite fantasy books?  I hope not.  These books are amazing - I won't explain or elaborate!






His Dark Materials Trilogy - Philip Pullman
This series is magical and amazing, and has a knife that can cut into other worlds! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  There are no adequate words to describe how much I love these books - they are just awesome.



 Divergent and Insurgent - Veronica Roth
I loved these books.  They are dark and wonderous and awesome.  (You have surely noticed that I left off Allegiant from the list.  I have read it - I didn't like it.  I found it to be a poorly written and completely disappointing ending to an otherwise wonderful series.  Just read the first two and skip the third.)



The Hunger Games
Trilogy - Suzanna Collins
These books got to me so hard - I read them all in 4 days.  If you don't know why these books are amazing, you've been living under a rock!


A Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin
Yes, dear watchers of the TV show who have never read the books: The series is actually called A Song of Ice and Fire.  And the books are even more amazing than the TV show.  (Don't get me wrong - this is one book to TV adaptation that I LOVE, but the books are better. Read them.)



Monday, June 5, 2017

Frogkisser - Garth Nix


Title: Frogkisser
Author: Garth Nix
Format: Audiobook


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Frogkisser, by Garth Nix, is a perfect middle grade book.  It has giants, talking animals, princesses, and an evil stepstepfather.  How can one have a stepstepfather, you ask?  Well - Morven and Anya's mom passed away.  So their dad got remarried.  Then their stepmother got remarried - so they call Rikard their stepstepfather.  Anyway, you can tell from above what this book is about.  It's basically this: Anya wants to find Morven's dream-prince, who has been turned into a frog, kiss him, and turn him back into a human.

Things you will find in this book:
* A Shallow Princess:  Let's face it - Morven is very shallow.  Very.  Now, granted she's 15, but even for a 15 year old she is unbelievably shallow and vapid.
* A StepStepfather:  Morven and Anya's stepstepfather, Rikard is about as charming as a box of rocks.  His big plan is to marry Morven off to anything - yes I said anything.  At one point in the book, he charms a magpie to make that magpie look human.  The human/magpie then sings to Morven in an attempt to charm her.  See - is Morven marries this magpie, then Rikard can usurp the throne because Morven won't be married to a human....
*  A bunch of humans turned frog: Another of Rikard's plans is to turn all of Morven's potential love interests into frogs so she can't marry an actual human.  (This is why Anya is off frog hunting.  She wants to turn the frogs back into humans.
*  Talking Dogs that live As Long As Humans: I think talking dogs is all I need to say!

I think the characters all fit together well in this novel, and Anya showed enough growth to be a bit more mature at the end.  The story flowed well, and it was enjoyable enough that young readers will want to find out how it ends.

Overall, this book was cute, and totally readable.  I would only rate is 2.5 stars, but that's because it was a bit immature for me.  For the age range it's intended for, this book is perfect.  It's lighthearted, with age appropriate mystery and a good plot that moves along well.  Now, I should clarify something - when I picked up that audiobook, it stated on the back that this book was appropriate for readers 12 to 17.  No 17 year old is going to want to read this book.  This is solidly a middle grade book - it is perfect for readers in the 10 to 13 age range.



Friday, June 2, 2017

June Book Club Picks - Women Authors

This month, my book club picks are all books written by women authors - and bonus: They are all great reads for a day at the beach!  Enjoy

 Belong to Me - Marisa de los Santos

I listened to this on audiobook last summer, and fell in love.  This book is well written and fun, and there are plenty of turns to keep you hooked.  Your book club will love it!

 All Fall Down -- Jennifer Weiner

All Fall Down details a woman's struggle with and admittance of her drug addiction.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll talk forever about this amazing book.

Best Friends Forever - Jennifer Weiner 

Another pick by Jennifer Weiner, Best Friends Forever reunites two best friends who haven't seen each other in years.  They rekindle their friendship amidst some crazy trials for Valerie.  You'll love the whole book.