Reviews

Review: THE HAZEL WOOD

34275232Title: THE HAZEL WOOD
Author: Melissa Albert
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
ARC?: Yes, provided by a friend!
Release: 01/30/18
TW/CW: Kidnapping, blood, death, violence.
Rating: 3/5

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

If you follow me on twitter, you know that THE HAZEL WOOD has been one of my most anticipated 2018 releases. I probably asked for an ARC more times than anyone can count until someone took pity on me and sent me a copy (thank you, Rachel!).

THE HAZEL WOOD is good, I want to say that first. The writing is beautiful, I loved our main character, and I loved the premise of the book. However, I was also left wanting more… and not in a necessarily good way. I went into this book thinking that the majority of it would take place at the Hazel Wood, Alice’s reclusive grandmother’s estate. Maybe if I didn’t have it so firmly planted in my head that we would get more of that story- the story of Alice’s grandmother and Hazel Wood and Hinterland- I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.

The majority of the book, however, takes place in New York City and then on the road as Alice and Ellery set off to find the Hazel Wood and Alice’s mom, Ella. They keep running into Hinterland’s story characters along the way until Alice finally finds herself in Hinterland and learns the truth about herself, her mom, and her reclusive grandmother.

I think my biggest problem with the book was that I feel I didn’t get enough of the characters to actually care about them. There’s a scene that should have destroyed me (I don’t like when characters get hurt) but I was like “Yeah, ok, are we going to the Hazel Wood now?” We get these little snippets of backstory for the characters but it isn’t enough to make me fall in love with them. I think if we had gotten more of them, more of their story, more personality, I would have enjoyed the book more. But the characters felt super flat and replaceable to me.

As a fan of fairytales, I was just disappointed with the actual lack of fairytale and magic. Most of the book is just Alice talking about how she and her mom moved around a lot. Personally, if the majority of the book had taken place in Hinterland or in the Hazel Wood, I probably would have loved this.

Again, this isn’t a bad book. I enjoyed reading it but I definitely expected this to be one that I instantly preordered… and that’s just not happening.

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Reviews

Review: THE GIRL WHO WASN’T DEAD

1Title: THE GIRL WHO WASN’T DEAD
Author: Samantha Boyette
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Pages: 209
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release date: 09/12/17
TW/CW: Fatphobia, queerphobia, drug abuse, alcohol use by minors, sexual assault, violence, graphic murder (gun), attempted murder.
Rating: 1/5

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

Prom was supposed to be the biggest night of senior year, but for Jenny Lewis it was the night she almost died. The night someone drugged her, loaded her in a car, and dumped her body in the river.

The next morning, her soaked prom dress was found on the riverbank. Her body was never found. People whispered that she’d killed herself or gotten drunk and stupid. People moved on, went to college, and stopped thinking about her. Months later, her ex-girlfriend and three other classmates received a text from an unknown number accusing them of her murder and claiming to have proof.

The text? It came from Jenny, not dead and ready to figure out who tried to kill her. There’s going to be an impromptu reunion and no one is leaving until the would-be murderer steps forward.

The best thing about this book was the summary. It pretty much went downhill from there.

As soon as I started reading, I knew who our would-be murderer was. Actually, I pretty much figured out exactly what was going to happen before I was even 20 pages in and if you read other reviews of this book, I wasn’t the only one. It seems our author watched a few too many episodes of Pretty Little Liars and tried to immolate that… without much success.

Everything in this book screams high school cliché.  There’s the popular jock who is a habitual drug and alcohol abuser. The popular mean girl. The quiet, morally good girl. The best friend in love with the good girl… and is clueless that she doesn’t like guys. The popular girl who isn’t really mean, she’s just trying to survive. And the fat girl who is picked on but miraculously loses weight after she save our Popular Not Mean Girl from a dangerous situation. Seriously, that screams Mona and Ali from PLL.

This book was so gross and terrible. Take away how cliché it is and you’re left with an abusive boyfriend, two boys taking advantage of a drunk girl (they pulled her top down and took pictures of her exposed breasts), and our weed smoking “angry Black boy”. Combined with the terrible writing, this was a book I couldn’t wait to finish. Thank God it was short.

I would not recommend this book in any capacity. Mark this as a “do not touch with a 10 foot pole”.

 

Reviews

Review: GAME CHANGE

33413886Title: GAME CHANGE
Author: Joseph Monninger
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 208
ARC: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release date: 9/12/17
Rating: 2/5

Seventeen-year-old Zeb Holloway is happy to work in his uncle’s auto repair shop and cruise through school without much effort. He’s a quarterback on his high school’s undefeated football team, but he never plays. Why would he when T.T. Munroe—a walking, talking highlight real— is around? That is, until T.T’s injured a week before the state championships.

Now Zeb is starting. As he assumes the role of QB and team leader, the entire town is watching him. And when a college recruiter says Zeb could have a future beyond his small New Hampshire town, he realizes there’s a bigger life out there for him . . . if he can play his heart out.

Full disclosure: I skimmed the last half of this book.

My problems with this book started pretty early. T.T. is the school’s main quarterback and he receives a career ending injury right before the state championship. When Zeb goes to visit him in the hospital, T.T.’s mom tells Zeb that none of the other teammates have come to see him. I had a bad feeling in my gut about this one. I grew up in a rural area where football rules all. It doesn’t matter how unlikable the star quarterback is, everyone is going to love him because of what he accomplishes and when he gets injured, everyone is going to be there. But no, not in this book. Because T.T. is black. Because T.T. is apparently aloof and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. It’s deeply uncomfortable to have a white author writing a black character and having him have his entire life ripped out from under him in order to push a white character into the spotlight.

Then there was T.T’s girlfriend, Stella. The way the other male characters talk about her is disgusting. She is a caricature of the “slutty social climbing cheerleader” and while the author had ample opportunity to prove that she isn’t, he went the other way and had her try to force herself on the new star quarterback, Zeb.

I hated that I hate this book because of Zeb. He might be the only redeeming things about this book.

I’ve heard there was some troubling lines about Natives in the book, but I probably skimmed over those. If anyone else has seen those lines, please let me know.

This book tried way to hard to be both Friday Night Lights and Varsity Blues… and it failed epicly.

Uncategorized

What’s on my NetGalley shelf?

CaptureBack in August, I had planned to completely clear my NetGalley shelf and leave it empty until the first of 2018. Clearly, that didn’t pan out the way I planned. I joked about it on Twitter, but apparently I was sleepily browsing NetGalley and ended up requesting a bunch of titles… and since HMH has always been good to me, I was approved for all of them.

I swore to myself that I’m not requesting anymore until I get this queue completely cleared. So far I’ve kept that promise just by not browsing NetGalley period. I’m hoping to have all of these finished by the end of October, but honestly, that’s probably not going to happen since I’m devoting this week to finishing IT and then I have books I want to read before YallFest in November.

Here’s what I have on my NetGalley TBR!

1. THE LOVE LETTER OF ABELARD AND LILY by Laura Creedle. When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful. When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person? This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

2. STRANGERS by David A. Robertson. When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

3. YOUR ONE & ONLY by Adrianne Finlay. Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?   While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

4. SAVAGE WOODS by Mary Sangiovanni. Nilhollow—six-hundred-plus acres of haunted woods in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens—is the stuff of urban legend. Amid tales of tree spirits and all-powerful forest gods are frightening accounts of hikers who went insane right before taking their own lives. It is here that Julia Russo flees when her violent ex-boyfriend runs her off the road . . . here that she vanishes without a trace. State Trooper Peter Grainger has witnessed unspeakable things that have broken other men. But he has to find Julia and can’t turn back now. Every step takes him closer to an ugliness that won’t be appeased—a centuries-old, devouring hatred rising up to eviscerate humankind. Waiting, feeding, surviving. It’s unstoppable. And its time has come.

5. LILY’S MOUNTAIN by Hannah Moderow. Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.

6. TRU & NELLE, A CHRISTMAS TALE by G. Neri. Young Truman Capote thought life in New York City was going to be perfect, but things didn’t work out as planned. In fact, Tru is downright miserable. So he decides to run away to Monroeville, Alabama, and the only friend he’s ever had, Nelle Harper Lee. But things don’t go well there, either. Bad things seem to happen wherever he goes. The only explanation: he must be cursed.   Christmas is coming, and Tru’s only wish is to be happy. But it’ll take a miracle for that to come true. Luckily, a special feast brings the miracle he’s hoping for. Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale is based on the real life friendship of Truman Capote and Harper Lee.

7. GAME CHANGE by Joseph Monninger. Seventeen-year-old Zeb Holloway is happy to work in his uncle’s auto repair shop and cruise through school without much effort. He’s a quarterback on his high school’s undefeated football team, but he never plays. Why would he when T.T. Munroe—a walking, talking highlight real— is around? That is, until T.T’s injured a week before the state championships.   Now Zeb is starting. As he assumes the role of QB and team leader, the entire town is watching him. And when a college recruiter says Zeb could have a future beyond his small New Hampshire town, he realizes there’s a bigger life out there for him . . . if he can play his heart out. 

8. THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141ST STREET by Karina Yan Glaser. The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.  A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take. 

9. TENTACLE & WING by Sarah Porter. Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes.  There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?

10. FRANKIE by Shivaun Plozza. Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend, or her aunt who’s tired of giving second chances. When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie’s half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn’t want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes, a criminal record, and secrets of his own. Frankie’s search for the truth could change her life, or cost her everything.

11. THE GIRL WHO WASN’T DEAD by Samantha Boyette. Prom was supposed to be the biggest night of senior year, but for Jenny Lewis it was the night she almost died. The night someone drugged her, loaded her in a car, and dumped her body in the river.  The next morning, her soaked prom dress was found on the riverbank. Her body was never found. People whispered that she’d killed herself or gotten drunk and stupid. People moved on, went to college, and stopped thinking about her. Months later, her ex-girlfriend and three other classmates received a text from an unknown number accusing them of her murder and claiming to have proof. The text? It came from Jenny, not dead and ready to figure out who tried to kill her. There’s going to be an impromptu reunion and no one is leaving until the would-be murderer steps forward.

And that’s my NetGalley TBR! I’m excited to read all of these, but I am honestly most excited to read STRANGERS because the author is Cree… and I’m always excited to read stories by other Native and Indigenous authors.

Have you read any of these? What’s your NG TBR looking like?

 

 

Reviews

Review: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

34227894Title- ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A GRAPHIC NOVEL
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Adapted by: Mariah Marsden
Illustrator: Brenna Thummler
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Release: October 24, 2017
Pages: 232
Rating: 4/5

Schoolyard rivalries. Baking disasters. Puffed sleeves. Explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea in this spirited adaptation.

The magic of L.M. Montgomery’s treasured classic is reimagined in a whimsically-illustrated graphic novel adaptation perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan who can help manage their family farm, they have no idea what delightful trouble awaits them. With flame-red hair and an unstoppable imagination, 11-year-old Anne Shirley takes Green Gables by storm.

Anne’s misadventures bring a little romance to the lives of everyone she meets: her bosom friend, Diana Barry; the town gossip, Mrs. Lynde; and that infuriating tease, Gilbert Blythe. From triumphs and thrills to the depths of despair, Anne turns each everyday moment into something extraordinary.

If you’ve followed me on twitter for any amount of time, you already know how much I love ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. I know a lot of people think it’s too outdated but Anne Shirley is always going to be my kindred spirit. Since I was a kid, I’ve collected all sorts of editions of AoGG. Mass paperbacks, special editions, storybooks, movie books… you name it, I want it. So when I saw Dee’s August wrap up and realized there is an AoGG graphic novel coming out, you can be bet I jumped all over it.

It’s the same ol’ story about Anne Shirley coming to Green Gables, the trouble she gets herself into, and the quieter (but still imaginative) young woman she grows in to. What sets this apart, of course, is the artwork. The designs are very simplistic but extremely beautiful and I think the plainness of the art lends itself well to the story. A lot of graphic novels lose their plot because the art just overpowers it but the original AoGG shines through here.

The only reason I couldn’t give this graphic novel 5 stars is that I felt they left out some of the more important aspects of AoGG. It would have been nice to see more Anne and Matthew, and more Anne and Gilbert. While I think it hit the high points of the story, the best parts of AoGG are the little details.

However, if you are an Anne Shirley fan, I definitely recommend this to you!

 

Book Tags

SEVEN DEADLY SINS TAG

Capture.PNGI saw this on a board, but wasn’t sure who the original creator was! If you know (or if it’s you!) let me know so I can give proper credit!

1. Greed. What’s your most inexpensive book? Your most expensive?

10893214I have a lot of inexpensive book (I shop used and library sales) but I know I did get a copy of THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS by Claire Legrand for a nickel at a thrift store in Tennessee. It was in perfect condition so that was definitely a lucky find!

 

 

 

 

8878844Most expensive definitely goes to JOHNNY HALLOWEEN: TALES OF THE DARK SEASON by Norman Partridge. I fell in love with DARK HARVEST and was super disappointed to discover that both DARK HARVEST and JOHNNY HALLOWEEN were out of print. I found DARK HARVEST for fairly cheap but JOHNNY HALLOWEEN was limited to 1500 signed copies… and I found one on Amazon for $30. Steep price for such a small book but I would definitely have paid more for it to complete my collection.

 

 

2. Wrath. What author do you have a love/hate relationship with.

I have a lot of those, to be honest! But in lieu of keeping my petty down, I’m not going to say anything other than there is one particular author whose raven boys I like… but not her.

3. Gluttony. What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

Let’s be real, no one is surprised at this answer. I would read Becky Albertalli’s grocery list. While I haven’t read SIMON but twice this year, I have completely wrecked myself over THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED. Becky just knows how to write a feel good story.

4. Sloth. What book have you neglected due to laziness?

C99O54SUMAAxzp9

I don’t know why I can’t finish this book other than the fact that I am HELLA intimidated by the sheer size of it and there’s only so many reading positions with a book that size. My goal was to finish this before I saw the movie but with 600 pages left… I don’t think that’s going to be happening. I will finish it.

One day.

Some day.

Maybe.

5. Pride. What book do you talk about a lot in order to sound like an intellectual reader.

I haven’t bragged about any books in a long, long time but when I was a kid, I definitely liked to point out that I had read some of John Steinbeck’s most famous works. Even then, I don’t think it was to make myself seem smarter… I just genuinely enjoyed his works and I think adults made a bigger deal out of it than I did.

6. Lust. What attributes do you find attractive in female characters? (The original question said male but… I’m not attracted to men sooooo… change how you want.)

I am definitely attracted to unlikable female characters. And by unlikable, I mean more along the lines of characters who don’t act how we expect them to. I like characters who show that they are hurt, act on that hurt, but also know how and when to apologize. Also, I really love Leah Burke.

7. Envy. What book would you most like to receive as a gift right now?

SO. MANY??? But mainly TIMEKEEPER and THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING (I have an ARC but that hardcover is hearteyes)

And that’s it for this tag!

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: PODKIN ONE-EAR

29361219Title: PODKIN ONE-EAR
Author: Kieran Larwood
Illustrator: David Wyatt
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pages: 256
ARC: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release: 09/05/2017
TW/CW: Abuse, death of a parent (non-explicit), blood, disfiguration.
Rep: Blind (side character who is a warrior), disfiguration (main character).
Rating: 5/5

In a classic fantasy world of anthropomorphic rabbits, three young siblings are on the run from the villainous Gorm tribe who have killed and enslaved their clan. Podkin, once destined to be clan leader, has always been spoiled, but now he must act bravely as he, his older sister, and baby brother flee for their lives.
 
Facing pursuit and treachery, the three collect allies in their search for refuge, until at last they are ready to fight back against the Gorm and attempt to rid the land of an evil scourge.

 

Let’s be honest here. As soon as I saw this on NetGalley, realized it was about rabbits, and was compared to WATERSHIP DOWN, I smashed that request button. Thankfully, HMH has been unbelievably kind to me in accepting my ARC requests and I was approved the next day.

This is definitely a middle grade book. I’ve seen a few reviews on Goodreads that say the book is childish and I mean… yes, it totally is. Because it’s intended audience is definitely in the lower part of the middle grade demographic. However, I enjoyed this book tremendously.

Our book starts out with a bard coming to a warren on Bramblemass Eve. In exchange for room and board, he tells the warren a little known story about Podkin One-Ear. We learn that most stories the rabbits have heard about Podkin have been when he was older and more established as a leader. This bard tells the story of Podkin as a child, before he lost his ear, and before he was the brave rabbit of legend.

Since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed stories about anthropomorphic animals, especially rabbits, and PODKIN ONE-EAR did not disappoint me. I read this one to my godkids and they enjoyed it as well. Larwood does a great job in creating a very diverse cast of rabbits and took pains to show that even good people (rabbits) will do things that are not so good in order to protect themselves. We also get just regular ol’ villians and people who just want to do good, no matter the personal cost. I particularly enjoyed that the hero Podkin seeks out is a blind warrior who is still a great warrior despite being struck blind years ago by a witch.

The villains in this story are truly terrifying. Rabbits who have been taken over by a long forgotten god and are turned into iron clad monsters. Some of the scenes were a little heavy for my younger godkids, so I wouldn’t definitely take care before letting your own young ones read this, especially if they are easily frightened.

The artwork in the book is BEAUTIFUL. There are several illustrations that I would love to have as posters. I think the illustrator did a fantastic job in capturing the different moments shown.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a story with tiny heroes!

Book Haul

August Book Haul!

Capture.PNGAt first, August was looking like a pretty sparse book buying month. I’m trying to cut down the amount of books I buy for the next few months for 3 main reasons: 1) I’m currently providing for me and my Dad while he recovers from an amputation. 2) I want to have some money for YallFest to splurge on books! 3) Christmas is coming fast and I have godkids. A lot of godkids. So, I’m trying to stay away from book buying.

 

BUT.

BUT.

But I stopped at a tiny library one town over and they had a tremendous sale section. I ended up getting 29 book for about $20. The librarian even threw in a free friends of the library bag and a coke! (She said it was because I had a kind face which made me feel pretty dang good).

Without further ado… here’s the EPIC August haul.

1.RISE OF THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste. This is one of my most anticipated MG releases and Claribel was nice enough to snag me a copy (and the next two books as well!)

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.

2. A LINE IN THE DARK by Malinda Lo.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift. As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences. When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

3. THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO by F.C. Yee. I wasn’t expecting to love this book… but I did! You can check out my review here!

Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.
But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches. Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

4. WILD BEAUTY by Anna-Marie McLemore. Easily, easily my favorite magical realism book of all time. This (and the next book) was sent to me by the fantastic Rachel!

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens. The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

5. THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert. Look at that cover!!

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.” Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.  

6.I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE by Maurene Goo. Shenwei was kind enough to send me this!

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

7. THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco. I was sent this and the next one in exchange for a small sensitivity read.

A dead girl walks the streets. She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago. And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan. Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

8. THE DEADLY SISTER by Eliot Schrefer.

Abby Goodwin is sure her sister Maya isn’t a murderer. But her parents don’t agree. Her friends don’t agree. And the cops definitely don’t agree. Maya is a drop-out, a stoner, a girl who’s obsessed with her tutor, Jefferson Andrews…until he ends up dead. Maya runs away, and leaves Abby following the trail of clues. Each piece of evidence points to Maya, but it also appears that Jefferson had secrets of his own. And enemies. Like his brother, who Abby becomes involved with…until he falls under suspicion. Is Abby getting closer to finding the true murderer? Or is someone leading her down a twisted false path?

Now on to the epic library haul. I’ve tried to kind of sort this into reasons why I bought them. (I’m not going to link their blurbs… we’d be here all day)

 

I’ve mentioned before that I am trying to collect up all the books I loved as a kid and I really hit the jackpot with these!

9. THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams.

10. PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie. This one will actually probably go to my niece for her birthday since she love Peter Pan so much.

11. THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE by Beverly Cleary. Here’s a fun fact: this book is actually what got me over my fear of mice!

12. THE JUNGLE BOOK by Rudyard Kipling.

13. BLUBBER by Judy Blume.

14. DRAGONS DON’T COOK PIZZA by Debbie Dadey. I used to love the Bailey School Kids books!

15. MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien.

 

These are books I got to share with my godkids!

16.ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY by Chris Grabenstein

17. THE MEANWHILE ADVENTURE by Roddy Doyle.

18. MAY-BIRD AND THE EVER AFTER by Jodi Lynn Anderson

19. THE SISTERS GRIMM by Michael Buckley

20. SHUG by Jenny Han

21. EGGS by Jerry Spinelli

22. THE VIEW FROM SATURDAY by E.L. KONINGSBURG

23. GIB AND THE GRAY GHOST by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

24. THE WRIGHT 3 by Blue Balliett

These were books I found that I either just thought sounded good or I had read something by the author before.

25.THE YEAR OF THE HANGMAN by Gary Blackwood.

26. THE CHRISTOPHER KILLER by Alane Ferguson.

27. THE PORTABLE PROMISED LAND by Toure.

28. THE SHARP SHOOTER BLUES by Lewis Nordan

29. THE FORETELLING by Alice Hoffman.

30. RANT by Chuck Palahniuk.

I had to talk myself out of making excuses for buying these. Or even just leaving them out. There’s literally no reason for me to explain my reading or book buying habits unless I’m buying problematic books. Every now and then I get intense feels for more “adult” books and I like to have a few of these on hand to kind of quench that thirst when it arises.

31. A TEXAS CHRISTMAS WISH by Jolene Navarro.

32. TRIPLETS FIND A MOM by Annie Jones

33. LOVING WAYS by Gail Martin

34. BETWEEN FRIENDS by Debbie Macomber

35. READY FOR LOVE by Debbie Macomber

35. BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET by Debbie Macomber

And that is officially it for my August Book Haul, thank God!

Did you get/buy any good books this month?

Monthly Wrap-Up

August Wrap Up

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August was a pretty spectacular month for books, all things considered. Between personal and family problems, I honestly didn’t expect to read very much but I managed to start 14 books and finish 11 of them! All of them were ARCs since I was participating in #ARCAugust, and even though my NetGalley account is in worse shape than when I started… I feel pretty accomplished.

Here’s what I read in August!

5

34506912THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang.

This amazingly beautiful graphic novel wasn’t exactly what I was expecting… it was even better.

My full review can be found here.

 

 

 

 

33413915NICE TRY, JANE SINNER by Lianne Oelke.

If you follow me on twitter, you already know how much I loved (and gushed about) this book. Seriously, put this on your TBR right now.

My full review can be found here.

 

 

 

30116958THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO by F.C. Yee.

Full disclosure: I thought I would hate this book. I’m not a huge fan of “action” books and the cover just looked like something I wouldn’t be into. However, I gave this book a chance and I LOVED every minute of it.

Full review here.

 

 

 

33158561WILD BEAUTY by Anna-Marie McLemore.

This has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year since the cover dropped. I was so excited to get an ARC of this from a super rad friend. If you aren’t excited about this book, get excited. It’s that good.

Review here.

 

 

 

4

 

35390279THE NIGHT CHILD by Anna Quinn.

This one was not what I expected and it definitely needed some trigger warnings.

Review here.

 

 

 

 

25844635PRINCE IN DISGUISE by Stephanie Kate Strohm.

If you’re a fan of Hallmark movies and happy endings, I definitely suggest reading this one. There’s nothing better than an actual feel good book!

Review here.

 

 

 

34944590

THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD by D.E. Night.

If you like Harry Potter, dragons, and spunky characters, this one is for you.

Review here.

 

 

 

 

3

 

34014136

I’M THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY by Andrea Jarrell.

I usually feel pretty uneasy about rating memoirs but this one has definitely been marketed as something it’s not.

Review here.

 

 

 

 

20575446IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow

Another one I was disappointed in. The 3 stars is mainly for the art, honestly.

Review here.

 

 

 

 

2

 

34569846AS YOU WISH by Chelsea Sedoti.

It’s clear now that I just don’t like Chelsea Sedoti’s work. Shame when you consider what a beautiful cover this book has.

Review here.

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

35700353T IS FOR TREE by Greg Fowler.

This was my most viewed review this month. Trigger warnings galore, I totally suggest avoiding this book at all costs.

Review here.

 

 

 

 

dnf

 

STARSWEPT by Mary Fan. Honestly, after getting almost halfway through, I just gave up. The book was just boring.

TURTLE ISLAND by Eldon Yellowhorn. I plan to get this at some point. The formatting of the ARC was just so awful that I couldn’t finish it.

THE DAYBREAK BOND by Megan Blakemore. You know what would be awesome? If NetGalley would tell you when something is a sequel. I spent 30% of the book being highly confused until I realized there was a book before this one and I needed to read it to understand this one.

 

 

And that’s my August wrap up! What did you read in August?

Reviews

Review: WILD BEAUTY

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Title: WILD BEAUTY
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Pages: 320
ARC?: Yes.
Format: Paperback
Release: 10/03/17
TW/CW: abuse, violence, blood.
Rep: Bisexual, gender nonconforming, poverty, immigrant.
Rating: 5/5

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Trying to review a book by Anna-Marie McLemore is impossible. It just is. I stumbled and stuttered through my review of WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS and I have a feeling this book review is going to be much of the same. Trying to review her books is a lot like trying to describe to a stranger the girl I have a crush on. I can say she’s beautiful (have you seen that cover? Absolutely gorgeous). I can tell you that she’s smart and kind. What I can’t describe is her laugh and how it makes my insides feel. I could say that her laughter sounds like sunshine and just the thought of her make my insides melt… but if I’m honest, those descriptors aren’t even close to the truth. That’s how I feel about this book. I could break out all the flowery (ha!) language I have in my arsenal and none of that would even come close to really telling you how I feel about this book or how wonderful it actually is.

There are just no words.

This book ruined me. I felt the same way when I finished WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS. It’s not a bad ruin. It’s not a sad ruin. Whenever I finish a book by Anna-Marie, I feel like I have to shake out of her grasp. I feel like she’s ruined all other books for me because none of them are every going to touch those soft spots in my soul the way hers do. It’s frustrating. It’s charming. It’s ruination.

WILD BEAUTY introduces us to the Nomeolvides family, a group of women who grow flowers from their hands. They are bound to their home, La Pradera, and if they love anyone to hard, their love swallows their lover whole.

When the girls try to make a pack with La Pradera to protect Bay, the girl they all love, La Pradera gives them Fel- a boy literally plucked out of the ground wearing outdated clothes and deep scars on his back. As Fel starts unraveling the mystery of his life, La Pradera starts unraveling around them, opening itself up for the girls to discover the terrible truth about the grounds they grow their flowers on.

I want to talk about the rep in this book. The bisexual rep was amazing. I honestly haven’t seen such care and such honest conversation about bisexuality in any other book. My bi heart was overwhelmed. This book also takes a good look at poverty, how immigrants were and are treated, and wealth disparity.

Anna-Marie has a gift for writing main characters. While the side characters lacked a little (I couldn’t keep the cousins straight), Estrella and Fel felt so real to me. I was rooting for them both, for their peace, and when Fel found out his real name, I couldn’t help but cry.

I’ve said this several times but I wish I could go back and read this book again for the very first time. There is magic in those pages.

This review is honestly a sham. I just don’t have the words for this book. Please, put this on your TBR. Discover its magic for yourself.

Let love grow strange things for you, too.