Hello! How are you guys doing? Spring has finally arrived in New York, and I’m hoping to spend this Saturday in the sunshine! Yay! Hope you all are doing the same! I have lots of books to talk about today since it’s been so long since I posted a SHELVE IT. It’s bad. But I swear — all the books are good even if my wallet is hurting a little bit. I hope you enjoy the video!
In the video:
There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos — out April 15
The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando — out April 22 (why did I think this was May?!)
The Promise by Robyn Carr — out June 22 (not July)
The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Caminar by Skila Brown
Never Ending by Martyn Brown
The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar (Thanks Ginger!)
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready
Going Over by Beth Kephart
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
A few more books in the mail…
This is the Way by Gavin Corbett — a big kid book!
The Drowning by Rachel Ward — a YA thriller — out April 29 from Scholastic/Chicken House
Used bookstore finds (these were all a dollar each!):
Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
On the blog this week:
Magan RETURNS with a vlog review of the highly anticipated Open Road Summer
Summer Spring I Found You by Jolene Perry — high school senior with a secret + an army vet in need of a life plan
Why we need to pay attention to the old books on our bookshelves
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares — reverse dystopian about saving the world and falling in love
Enjoy your weekend! Buy books!!! Read read read! Tell us what you are loving right now!
And big thanks for stopping by as always!
Howdy, y’all! Man it feels so incredibly wonderful to type these words. It feels so good to be here talking books. And yes, quite literally below, I talk books in my vlog. I’m really wanting to mix things up a bit and as I’m just on an altogether different schedule with a newborn, vlogs seem like the best solution for me right now. My hope is that it’s a) not boring for you and b) fun to watch. I really want your feedback about what you think so if you’ve got some, leave it below in the comments. Okay? Alright, let’s get started!
Highlights of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord:
- Incredible friendships — something I want to see much, much more of in the books I read. I get kind of bogged down by the drama sometimes. Reagan and Dee are friendship gurus.
- Mucho, mucho hotness in the form of Matt Finch. He’ll make you swoon. And laugh. And want to know him in real life.
- A girl who is incredibly relatable because she’s made some stupid mistakes. Who hasn’t done something they regret? * cue the crickets*
- ORS made me feel just about every emotion and made me miss my BFF, Estelle, somethin’ fierce.
A few quotes, as promised:
“He’s kind of beautiful, in an understated, comfortable-looking-way — the kind of guy who doesn’t mind seeing a rom-com with you and gives you his hoodie when you’re cold.”
“We’re saying a lot within the silence: We can’t and I know and But I want to and Me too. The effort of restraint burns in my chest — a physical ache from holding back.”
“Laughter feels like our flotation device — it won’t pull us out of the storm, but it might carry us through, if we can just hang on.”
“If we could capture feelings like we capture pictures, none of us would ever leave our rooms. It would be so tempting to inhabit the good moments over and over again. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who lives backwardly, who memorializes moments before she’s finished living in them.”
And a shameless photo to introduce you, officially, to my daughter Everett:
I spend a lot, lot, lot of time holding this little lady. How could I NOT? Sometimes when I’m really craving some reading time, I rock her and read my book aloud to her. She did, in fact, hear a good chunk of Open Road Summer. I hereby vow to turn this girl into a book-lover. Or try my darnedest.
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The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: army veteran, diabetes, break ups, friendship
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Kate’s longtime boyfriend has broken up with her out of nowhere and her big secret continues to wreak havoc on her life because she can’t get it under control. When Kate meets Aidan, an army vet who lost his arm in Afghanistan, she can’t control her urge to say whatever pops in her head and she feels like they have something in common, and could help each other. While Aidan is unsure of his next steps, he’s surprisingly taken with Kate and welcomes her friendship, especially when he can’t face the tasks he should be focusing on.
I’m going to be upfront and tell you that despite the title (and beautiful cover) this book does not take place during the summer or have a scene that takes places at a beach. I’m not sure whether to call it a marketing gimmick or just a glaring error but without the ocean or a tale of summer loving, Jolene Perry’s book is really addicting, subtly sexy, and filled with two interesting characters.
Told in a dual POV style, we quickly learn that Kate has been diagnosed with diabetes and unless she can keep it under control, the consequences could be fatal. Despite the many warnings from doctors and her parents, this senior in high school continues to ignore the problem. This was just a personal annoyance but because of Kate’s inability to grasp her condition and desire to keep it under wraps from just about everyone, she felt a bit immature to me. I’m not saying this wasn’t a realistic portrayal. I believe it was but I couldn’t imagine being someone who had no after school commitments and still couldn’t find the time to understand her diagnosis. (Stacey McGill fell into some bad habits like this in the Baby-Sitters Club series too.)
In addition to Kate dealing with all of her emotions surrounding diabetes, her longtime boyfriend drops a bomb and breaks up with her out of nowhere. She’s totally heartbroken, even though she knew moving on to college soon would have probably resulted in a breakup anyway but still. I didn’t blame her for being crushed. As a result, her best friend, Jenn, reintroduces Kate to her cousin, Aidan. He’s recently returned from the war where he was severely injured. Now he’s living with no plans for the future, with one arm instead of two, and he’s hiding out in his aunt and uncle’s house.
Aidan’s struggles with life after war felt so real. He’s dealing with nightmares, a list of things he wants to accomplish, and also the stares of people who notice his missing arm and the silence from others who aren’t sure how to breach the subject. So it was actually pretty helpful that Kate would blurt out just about anything in his presence because I think Aidan just needed to be real with someone in order to anchor him to his life.
I liked how Kate and Aidan’s stories mirrored each other (even when it was a little too much) because you got the feeling they understood and could help each other eventually. Not too mention, Aidan thought she was cute and Kate thought Aidan was hot plus Kate kept doing this “omg I really said that, didn’t I” thing that I totally do when I’m flustered and blushing over boys too. But as much as he is confiding in her, she’s still holding back… and, as a reader, you just wonder when that’s going to blow up and change the course of the story.
This book is about a lot more than two lost people coming together… it’s about finding the strength in yourself to make appropriate and necessary changes in your life. To stop avoiding the hard stuff. Perry also does a great job of slipping in family issues and solid friendships; for such a compact book, I had a great grasp on Aidan and Kate’s separate lives and each subplot was given an appropriate amount of attention and detail. I was so invested I actually wouldn’t have minded if the story was a little longer, and certain situations were explored more deeply.
Even so, I was totally smitten.
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Clothes. Nail polish. Books.
What do these three things have in common? They are my greatest vices! I buy them and buy them and buy them and have created such a collection of new merchandise that I have yet to wear, use, or read that things are getting a little ridiculous. This year, I’ve tried to take a page out of my (unofficial) life coach Hannah’s book and stand by her “just because I can buy it doesn’t mean I should” philosophy.
So far, so good. I’ve been tracking everything I buy for myself per month and have also been monitoring my book buying habits. My super long book buying ban from November to February was amazing, but since I pulled off the band-aid, I’ve been a book buying crazy lately. But the big difference this time is that I recognize it and I stop, which means I can spend my time reading books I have bought ages ago and haven’t had a chance to get to know yet. (In the last two weeks, I’ve read books I bought in spring of 2012 and spring of 2013 — yay me!)
Today I want to talk about one of those books because I need you to:
What am I getting all excited about before I even tell you the details? Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick (2011; Henry Holt) — a book I discovered by chance last spring when I was researching authors and whether they “double dipped” in the YA and adult worlds for our Big Kids’ Table feature.
I remember the day perfectly. My husband and I were preparing for our big East Coast road trip, and while I wasn’t in the market for any books I decided to treat myself to Fingerprints of You and Sorta Like a Rock Star. I bought both, read Fingerprints (love it!) and Rock Star stayed on my shelf, occasionally catching my eye as I lazed on my couch.
Finally I gave in. Exactly a year later. I had my doubts — the first chapter was a little hard to get into — but before I knew it, I was totally swept into this story and refused to eat, work, whatever until I was done reading. (Well, almost all of those things.) Here’s why:
- Sorta Like a Rock Star centers around Amber and her mother, both currently homeless and living in a bus after her mom’s latest boyfriend kicked them out of his place. While Amber manages to keep this under wraps for awhile (showering at her best friend’s house, putting on a brave face all the time), she’s about to reach her breaking point. What will happen to her and her mom when she does?
- Amber is probably one of the most memorable female narrators I’ve ever met — her tone is so vivid, so full of this tough chick personality she has going for her and she’s funny! But most of all, she’s a loyal friend, she’s determined to bring joy into the lives of so many, and it’s a beautiful thing. There aren’t many people who would be quite as selfless as Amber when their life is in the shitter.
- The religious angle. Now hear me out. I know this is personal but I’ll say to you that I am not the most religious person but I really appreciated Amber’s belief in God. Jesus Christ is literally a rock star to her, and she doesn’t have to be an avid churchgoer to feel that way. Certain circumstances causes her faith to waver (I don’t blame her) and this journey, while subtle, was so crucial to Amber moving forward with her life.
- Supporting characters that were not only as fully developed as the main one, but also just as diverse. I loved that Amber hung out with an eclectic group of guys at school, cared about the cranky old woman at the senior center, and never gave up on the haiku-writing vet. Everyone has their own story. (Reminiscent of the parable feeling of Holly Goldberg Sloane books.)
- I cried because this novel was happy, it was heartbreaking, but also because it was hopeful. I don’t know if any reader could read these pages and not reflect a little bit about their life and how they handle themselves in their darkest moments; how supporting people and bringing joy into the lives of others means something. It makes a difference.
- And finally: Amber has a rescue puppy named Bobby Big Boy.
Have I convinced you yet?
Let’s talk prices:
Results: Less than 10 dollars for what I would call a 5-star book? (If you know me, you know I don’t hand out 5 stars easily.) It’s a no-brainer!
I know my whole BUY IT NOW thing goes against the “just because I can doesn’t mean I should” mantra I have going on but we all have to make exceptions! And we should make exceptions for amazing books! Right? Right? There are also these important lessons:
- Older releases need love too.
- Your at-home bookshelf is sure to have some hidden gems buried in there. Go find them!
- Finding an awesome book is only made better when you can share it with friends.
Happy reading, all!
Attention, Attention of the past: PERKS | WELCOME, CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE | AUDREY WAIT
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Random House / Delacorte Press
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: semi-dystopian, time travel, romance, secret mission
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley
Summary: Prenna has traveled to the present from the future. Due to the rules she and the rest of her group must follow, life is a little bland except for her friendship (strictly friendship) with Ethan, a kid in her classes. When a strange homeless man warns her about what her people are doing and an upcoming event that will change everything unless she stops it, her doubts about the rules and how she is “living” start to take over. Can Prenna trust Ethan without totally letting her guard down? Most importantly, can they stop the plague from infiltrating the present?
As a long-time fan of Ann Brashares, The Here and Now was one of my most anticipated novels of the year. It’s been just too long since she’s had new work out!
Here are some things I can count on from Ann: beautiful, flowing prose, chemistry between characters, that feeling of not wanting to put down her books for a second, and also, tenderness. I’m happy to say you can find all of these things in The Here and Now. In fact, those qualities were so strong in this book, I stayed up practically all night to finish it.
But. Unfortunately there’s a but: I wanted more.
This problem is kind of a good one to have, if you think about it. I was so invested in Brashares’ future world from the tiny details — how everyone who traveled to present day had bad eye sight and were required to wear glasses, leaders who monitored everyone so heavily, their own medical advancements ignored despite their needs — especially because they came trickling in all throughout the book. But the most heartbreaking was Prenna having to ignore her memories of the people she was living with in present-day NYC. She had to stick to safe conversations about clothes and could never mention her father (who didn’t come with them on the journey) or moments she remembered from her past. That was probably one of the saddest and loneliest circumstances I’ve ever read about. I couldn’t imagine.
Prenna and Ethan’s chemistry was apparent from the beginning but because she was forced to not get intimate with a “time native” their friendship was a tricky one. He was the first to be welcoming to her when she came to school, he had cute nicknames for her, and he took a lot of pleasure in teaching her how to play a card game. (Plus he never made fun of her for not knowing what normal teenagers know.) I didn’t blame her for imagining more with him, and when they are pushed together to stop some huge cataclysmic event, those feelings continue to grow as does their closeness.
He always seems to know so much about her, and he does. But even if they stop horrible things from happening, could they be together for good?
But despite these details I liked so much, the story felt a little thin. I wanted more background on the community, the future, a focus on the gap between Prenna and her mom, and more build up between Ethan and Prenna, but at least there were a few discoveries that make me want to go back and re-read.
I don’t know if any of you read My Name is Memory, an adult fiction book from Brashares that was supposed to be a part of a trilogy that never happened, but even though it’s been forever since I read it, I thought about it a lot while I was reading The Here and Now and I’m curious to re-read it.
To be honest, I’m actually torn over my rating for this one. This is a book that deserved more pages, and more development. The concept was so interesting. Normally, I would” borrow it” but since I have almost all of Brashares’ books in my collection, I’m leaning toward buying it — maybe not ASAP but eventually.
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