Friday, November 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi + Giveaway

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 1 comments
Title: Whichwood
Genre: Fantasty Middle Grade
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton
Publication: November 14th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading Format: Hardback

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi is the story of Laylee and her cleaning dead bodies business, Alice and the task she has been assigned and finally Oliver and whatever it is Oliver does. The book is actually equal parts Laylee and Alice. Where their worlds intertwine and where they don't. We get to see the story from all sides and I think that made the book the amazing work of art that it is.

Laylee is a new addition to our little Furthermore group. Alice retook her Surrender and got tasked with Laylee. Alice's magic is meant to help Laylee out but Laylee is too stubborn and scared to admit that she had a problem. And what might that problem be? She is losing herself, in all ways possible. She has a buttload of other problems too, but Alice was only sent to help with one, but we all know Alice can't just do the one task she was given. Alice has such a pure heart that she wants to help Laylee in any way possible. 

The Furthermore books take place in magical worlds so of course Laylee has to have some kind of magical ability. Laylee is a Mordeshoor. That pretty much just means she is a mortician. All the dead people of her town, Whichwood, are sent to her so she can clean their bodies, do some ritual and then shove them in a coffin. She is only thirteen years old but she is alone in doing this task because he mother has died and her father is... absent, although she sees he frequently, you can figure this puzzle out by reading the book. Aside from this horrible job, she can also SEE spirits and that causes a lot of problems for her, as you can imagine. Her job and these spirits are draining the life from her and Alice has been sent to help. But Laylee is a very stubborn girl and she always thinks someone has ulterior motives so Alice has one heck of an adventure ahead of her.

One thing this book has that the first book didn't is romance. I don't think it can be truly called romance as the protagonists are still kids but attachments and bonds and feelings start to become real. It was kind of strange seeing something as normal as a crush happening in this book that is full of craziness. Nothing about this book is normal but love still found it's way in. There was love in Furthermore, of course, but not this kind.

The author does an amazing job at making this vibrant, magical world come to life. The world building must have took forever to get just right and the character development was beautiful. Alice and Oliver both changed and grew. It was nice to see that the characters didn't just stay the same. They aged so their personalities and such changed and the author did a great job of showing that. 

In the end, I found that I liked Whichwood a little bit more than Futhermore. I can't really explain why. I really loved Furthermore so maybe it's not that I like this book more but maybe it's a different kind of like. Both books are insanely abnormal and full of craziness but Whichwood had a more serious tone to it. As serious a tone as a book like this can have. I do hope to see some more books set in this insanely creative world some day. I am finding that I will miss Alice, Benyamin, Laylee and Oliver.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

REVIEW: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi - 5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Furthermore
Genre: Fantasy Middle Grade
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton
Publication: August 30th 2016
Cover Rating: 100/5
Reading Format: Hardback

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi is the story of Alice Alexis Queensmeadow and her journey to find her father who disappeared more than two years ago. She lives with her mother and brothers on the outskirts of a town that highly values magic and colors. Alice was born with no color at all so she is shunned and she pretends that she doesn't have any magic but she does and her magic is the one thing that might be able to bring her father back.

Alice is such a fun,delightful and slightly sad character. She lets the fact that she was born colorless interfere with her happiness and it leads to a lot of problems in her life. Her mother also adds to to Alice feeling like she isn't worth much. The only person in her world that ever understood her was her father and he vanished without a reason. This hurls Alice head-first into a lot of self-doubt and pain until Oliver shows up and 'saves the day'. If you want to know what I mean by he saves the day then you really need to read this book. 

I loved this book so very much. I loved that it was an Alice in Wonderland inspired retelling and I loved how the outside world was just as peculiar as the wonderland-esque world. The story was so rich and unique. I loved the adventure Alice and Oliver had to go on and I loved the people/creatures they met along the way. I was kind of hoping the little fox would have become like Cheshire and been Alice's guide, I think that was the only part that made me a little sad. But regardless of that, I highly recommend this book for any middle grade reader who loves odd-ball stories. If I was asked to compare this story to something else I would say it is The Pagemaster meets Alice in Wonderland. It was fantastical to the extreme and so much fun with a nice ending.

In the end, the story about Alice's father and how he ended up where he did was so beautiful. I'm not going to spoil it and say WHY he did what he did but you will absolutely adore it once you get to that part. The ending with her mother is also very tear-worthy. This book was just very wholesome, aside from the crazy adventure Alice and Oliver went on.

Overall, I have the book 5/5 stars.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Author Spotlight: Now is Everything by Amy Giles + Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Amy Giles is an award-winning copywriter and young adult author. She lives on an Island that is Long with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog.

Title: Now is Everything
Genre: YA Contemporary + Abuse
Author: Amy Giles
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: November 7th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

Now is Everything by Amy Giles is the story of Hadley and her impossible situation to please her father while protecting her sister. She is in a very abusive home with her father being the abuser. Hadley has to perform adequately at lacross to appease her father and she also has to get in to a certain college or all hell will break lose.

Hadley is a very complex character. But, if you really think about it, she isn't. She is pretty much a poster child for living in an abusive situation. She wants to protect her little sister and try to keep the peace. Then enters Charlie. Hadley isn't allowed to date. EVER. So once Charlie is added to the mix things get a little wreckless and ugly and Hadley starts using him as her sort of safe haven. She doesn't seem to realize exactly what this will cost her. But it does cost her. Greatly.

There were other characters in the book, Hadley's best friends, her mother, sister, grandmother and some school teachers. Everything felt or knew there was something wrong but with how perfect Hadley had taught herself to act no one really questioned anything. This was a case where daddies money was used to keep people quiet. During the book, her father abuses her mother a lot, treats her horribly and doesn't even come home from work half the time. The whole town knows about his extracurricular activities it seems, just not about the abuse. Her mother puts up with this because she would rather be abused and rich than happy and poor.

At the end of the book we find out something that really made me question a lot of things. What was her fathers life like when he was a child? Are his parents dead or does he just not have a relationship with them? He was a control freak, that much was obvious, but what lead him to be this way. You could tell that he sometimes didn't like what he did. If the end result would have been different, if he would have lived, would he have changed? No, I don't think he would have but I also think her mother would have kept letting everything continue to go the way it has been. I feel like Hadley had no true way out of this. At least not a way that would end with her still being in her sisters life.

I really love and appreciate how the author went about writing this book. She made certain aspects very clear, like the CPS situation. No one's situation is black and white so please don't pretend to know things or think you are doing good or helping. You have to understand what could be lost. If I had called CPS I would have lost my mother, brother and sister. I could have been thrown into another abusive situation at the hands of people I don't know. There are so many things to take into consideration when trying to help. If the person hasn't reached out for  help on their own then there is ALWAYS a deeper reasoning. Yes, a lot of times a child truly does just need to be saved but sometimes that is not the case. I don't know what I would have done without my mother and siblings. 

In the end, this book made me cry. The ending was bittersweet and I don't think Hadley is going to have a very easy road ahead of her. I hope she will at least learn to let people love her. She does deserve to be loved and she needs to stop pushing people away. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



1) How does it feel knowing your baby is out in the world right now?
WEIRD! I’ve had two years to prepare for this, yet I feel completely unprepared! The first year or so felt like this was all happening to Amy Giles in a parallel universe. It’s just now starting to feel like it’s really happening to me. But I’m so excited that the book will now be in readers’ hands.

2) What was your inspiration behind Now Is Everything?
A few years ago, a small plane crashed. Everyone on board died, except this one little girl. She was about seven. She had to crawl out of the wreckage, leaving her family behind, and walk for miles to find a house. I thought about that little girl for a long time, about the hell she went through to survive. And then I thought, what if? What if she was older? What if surviving a plane crash was the least of her problems?

3) Please tell us 5 random facts about yourself:
1) I used to work for HarperCollins many years ago (in the college textbook division. Completely different, but still!). When the offer from Harper came in to publish Now Is Everything, it felt like a homecoming.

2) Like Hadley in Now Is Everything, I love disaster movies. It’s all about the special effects for me. The cheesier the better!

3) The worst job I ever had was when I was in college, mopping floors in a dining hall. I was written up for mopping around a slice of bacon three days in the row.

4) Both of my parents are from Greece. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a documentary, for real. I’ve been to the Acropolis no less than 5 times and the Grand Canyon 0 times. This was a bone of contention for me as a kid. I desperately wanted to go on “American” vacations, but we always went to Greece to visit our relatives. Now, I wish someone would send me on an all-expense-paid trip to Greece!

5) Reality TV and any kind of live programming stresses me out. I had to leave the room during the Cirque Du Soleil performance at the Oscars.

4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write because you love it. Because you have to. And read, read, read!!!

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
My next book, That Night, is coming out in the Fall of 2018!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Author Spotlight: Alone by Cyn Balog + Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments
Cyn Balog is a normal, everyday Jersey Girl who always believed magical things can happen to us when we least expect them. She is author of young adult paranormals FAIRY TALE (2009), SLEEPLESS(2010), STARSTRUCK (2011), TOUCHED (2012), and her most recent release: DEAD RIVER (2013).e. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters.

She also writes under the pen name Nichola Reilly. Nichola Reilly is Cyn Balog's post-apocalyptic fantasy-writing alter-ego. The first book in her series, DROWNED, will be releasing from Harlequin TEEN sometime in 2014, followed by a sequel, BURIED, in 2015.

Title: Alone
Genre: YA Horror/Thriller
Author: Cyn Balog
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: November 7th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading Format: Physical ARC

Alone by Cyn Balog is the story of Seda, the twin she absorbed in the womb, her 4 siblings(2 sets of twins), her mother and the murder mystery mansion her mother inherited. Throw in some stranded High School kids, fake blood and yummy brownies and you've got yourself one hell of an interesting sounding book, right?

Seda is a very complex character. She is obviously mentally disturbed but she was handing it pretty well before her mother inherited this creepy murder-mystery mansion from family members and then had to move from her home in Boston to some no-reception mountain in Pennsylvania in order to help her mother sell the mansion. After arrive, though, it appears that her mother might be changing her mind about selling the mansion and they end up staying at the mansion far longer than anticipated. This stay also prompts her father to leave her mother because he is tired of the situation. With no electronics or even a house phone, Seda is left alone with her snowglobes and her thoughts. Oh, and her twin brother, Sawyer. This can't end well.

The story progresses and we end up with four stranded High School aged teenagers coming to stay with Seda and her family. With these four enters a love interest for Seda and things get a bit weird with that and the creeptastic who-dun-it hunt her mother set up for her birthday. Things get VERY screwed up during the hunt and fake blood turns into real blood. First kisses turn into fake advances and four friends slowly turn into one. And let me just say, I did not like Heath. He was UGH!

The concept and plot of this book is so different and interesting. I have never read anything like this before and I want to thank the author for having such a creative mind in the horror world. It was also super fun stopping to look up all the different historical deaths and things that were included in the book.

In the end, the book concluded with Cyn Balog's usual twist and turn. I always know her books are going to end with some sort of mindf**k and I love it. What started out as The Shining with a bunch of teenagers turn into something VERY different but VERY amazing. I just can't help but wonder if his body will ever be found.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.


1) What was your inspiration behind Alone
Well, it started out as The Shining for teens. That was how we pitched it. My idea was that the mother would eventually have gone crazy, killed the entire family, and her 16 year old, whose life had somehow been spared, was living there alone, going nuts, believing that her family was still alive. But eventually, it morphed into its own thing, and because there are so many horror movies I love, I wanted to bring in little snippets from all of them. I also love the idea of murder hunts, and I've always wanted to go to a murder mystery hotel. So it all came together in ALONE!

2) Out of all of the amazing books you have written, which one is YOUR favorite?
Ack! I hate them all. I can't bring myself to read them after they're done, because when I do, I usually see what I'd change. Do I have to pick? Probably TOUCHED. I don't know why. The cover's pretty.

3) Please tell us 5 random facts about yourself:
Hmmm okay!
I eat a bowl of ice cream every night.
My favorite method for coming up with book ideas is by taking one nugget of an idea and combining it with one or more idea nuggets.
I wrote my first book when I was 5, and it was called THE SEED.
I watched my first horror movie when I was 3 and it was about zombies on a train, and it gave me nightmares.
Growing up, I was a horrifically bad softball player, and pretty terrible at all sports (Still am).

4) What made you decide to write Young Adult books and why did you pick Horror/Thriller as your sub-genre?
I wrote my first book when I was really young, and it was a children's book. Then, as a teenager, I wrote young adult books. When I became an adult, I tried writing adult books, thinking that was what I "needed" to do as an adult. But I quickly realized I'd had way more fun writing for young adults. I love all those "firsts" that they go through. So, though I dabble in the odd adult book, I concentrate on YA. And I found horror writing as a detour. Though Stephen King has always been my favorite author, my first books were paranormal romance, because that's what was selling back then. As I've gone along, though, I've been able to write more and more of what I personally enjoy and would like to read, which has brought me through urban fantasy, to dystopian, to thrillers, and finally to horror.

5) Are you currently working on any new books or have any new ideas floating around?
Yes! I just sold a new thriller to Sourcebooks about a girl whose perfect boyfriend commits suicide, and a year later, she finds evidence that it could be murder. I'm also working on several other ideas, both thriller and horror. I never have a shortage of ideas, just time!!


Friday, November 3, 2017

REVIEW: The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
The Lake Effect
by Erin McCahan 
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Dial Books
(ISBN13: 9780803740525)
 Checked Out From Library

About: 
It’s the summer after his senior year, and Briggs Henry is out the door. He’s leaving behind his ex-girlfriend and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches, working a summer job as a personal assistant, and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the shore. It’s the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents one day when he’s a multi-millionaire. But then he gets there. And his eighty-four-year-old boss tells him to put on a suit for her funeral.

So begins a summer of social gaffes, stomach cramps, fraught beach volleyball games, moonlit epiphanies, and a drawer full of funeral programs. Add to this Abigail, the mystifying girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms just won’t work, and “the lake effect” is taking on a whole new meaning. (Goodreads)

Rating:


Rules: 
Always carry an emergency $20!
Do not leave your phone on at a funeral!
Do not stick your hand down you pants at a funeral!
Make sure to use the bathroom before sitting down at a funeral!
Make sure you read an obit closely before attending a funeral???
All of those will make sense if you read the book ☺

The perfect summer read, especially for those graduating High School. The Lake Effect was a well written and thought out story about friendships, life lessons, chronic illness, and death throughout one summer. 

One summer can change your life forever. Our characters all find this out through a series of life lessons. 
They also learn: 
Both good and bad changes can suck, but you learn and grow from them. 
Go out and live the way you want and be happy. 
And most of all relationships (family, friends, significant others) are all work, that’s what makes them worthwhile. 

All the “lessons” are subtle and are not shoved into the face of the reader like “Here! You Must Do This To Be Happy”. 

The characters were all likeable and kept me laughing both at them and with them throughout the book. Mrs. B. was a hoot and a holler! There’s so much to be learned from her and her broken English added the much needed break in the serious topics touched upon in this story.  We must have attended “her funeral” at least 5 times throughout the story. (Read the book to find out the humor in that sentence).  I can see myself being like her when I’m that age. Our main character Briggs was a breath of fresh air in a sea of crummy male YA characters lately. He is the kind of realistic guy I’d want to be friends with and maybe by the end of the book even date. He’s driven, charming (but not in a bad way), intelligent, and funny. He respects and cares for his elders. I have to agree with Taylor’s mom when she says “He’s a real catch”. I also enjoyed they mysterious Abigail. I’m so glad that even though there is a bit of romance in the story, it didn’t over shadow the importance of everything else. The characters seemed to have more sense than to forcefully have summer flings (even though it seems like an option more than a few times throughout). 

There is some drinking in the book and some kissing. Not much more than that. Mature Jr. High teens might  enjoy it if they can get past that stuff. (I have a lot of 6th and 7th graders who tell me they want nothing to do with either of those things). I can see High Schoolers and Adults really enjoying it.

Overall, I loved this quirky read. It’s not a book that teens will necessarily find on their own, but I hope librarians and teachers find it and recommend it to them.  It’s a great book to read while you’re at the beach!


“Over and Off Briggs Baby!“

*Book photo and review are owned by Erin. To see her personal blog click her signature above^*

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

REVIEW: Eleanor + Park by Rainbow Rowell - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Rate:
3.5/5

Goodreads Description:
Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
 

Review:
I wasn't promised a happy ending but what the fuck man!
That was depressing! Just when I am getting into the story, BAM rip out your feelings. "Smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts" Okay, I see you ! But

SPOILER ALERT !

They cut each other off almost completely, after everything that they went though and having to break up because of other circumstances, not because they had a fall out and still, she ignores Park, thats fucked up. I liked the story for the most part but the ending made me so mad.
Everyone , not really but it seems like it, is so freaking in love with this book, dressing it up as all lovely dovely and all that jazz but its like... WHAT IS THIS! THIS WASN"T LOVELY! It had funny parts and stuff but so much angst and
ugh
I just
cant
with
this
book
I
don't
even
know
what
to
say at this point

There is no recommendation comment today

Friday, October 27, 2017

REVIEW: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee 
Hardcover, 513 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN (ISBN13: 9780062382801)
Received In Owlcrate Book Box

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

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

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

Rating:



Where to start…..
Well we have an 18th century European tour (road trip) taken by Monty, his best friend Percy (who he has a major crush on, and yes they’re both boys), and Monty’s little sister Felicity. On their tour they lose their chaperone, get attacked by highway men, steal something valuable, get kidnapped by pirates, and learn more about themselves and each other that bond them for life.  At first I didn’t think I’d like this book. I don’t think I would have picked it up myself if it had not come in my book subscription box. I’m glad I did read it though. The book is fast passed, light, and silly. It’s full of drunkin shenanigans, adventure and growing up. There is gay romance, which you don’t see often in books set during this time period. There is a young girl who decides to go against the norm of society and learn about things she shouldn’t. The book touches on the topics of homophobia, epilepsy, racism, PTSD, alcoholism, and parental abuse. Bet you didn’t see all those coming! At first I really disliked our main character, Monty. He was obnoxious, self-centered, a drunk, and a flirt. As the story went on though you find out more about his backstory and you watch him grow up. He is a very different character at the end of the book, which I loved. Percy is hiding a dark secret that also comes into play with Monty changing. I loved tough little Felicity. I hear that the second book in this series is going to be centered around her. 


This book is filled with adventures, complex relationships, and a lot of sass. The characters are flawed but more realistic that way. It’s a silly book but if you suspend your disbelief a little I think most people will enjoy the ride. 

*Book photo and review are owned by Erin. To see her personal blog click her signature above^*

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