ARC Review: Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

28822458Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

Expected publication: July 25th 2017 by Scholastic

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie.

Wait, no, that’s not how this story is supposed to go. Let’s try again.

Once upon a time, a boy did a horrible job as a sheep-sitter and burned his tongue on stolen pie.

No, children in these stories are always good and virtuous. From the top.

Once upon a time, a king and queen tried to find a princess for their son to marry, and he wound up fleeing from a group of very hairy vampires.

Hmmm…

What about, once upon a time, a bunch of fairy tales got twisted around to be completely hilarious, a tiny bit icky, and delightfully spooky scarytales… in other words, exactly what fairy tales were meant to be. Grab some flaming torches, maybe don’t accept that bowl of pease porridge, and get ready for a wickedly fun ride with acclaimed author Kiersten White and fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before.

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I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This was such a fun read. I really loved the creativity and writing style. The concept was a lot of fun and I think young readers will really enjoy it. The Princess and the…Pea? was probably my favorite of all the stories and I even laughed out loud while reading it.
I don’t know if this really appeals to an older audience but I think middle school and elementary readers would really enjoy this book.

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Review: Unfiltered by Lily Collins

iew32737127Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. by Lily Collins

Published March 7th 2017

In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins—star of Mortal Instruments and the upcoming Rules Don’t Apply—is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and so much more.

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She’s learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.

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Unfiltered has become such an unexpected favorite of mine. I wasn’t very familiar with Lily Collins prior to reading this book but now I’m such a fan of hers.
Lily is very open and honest in Unfiltered and I really appreciate how sincere she is. I was able to relate to her a lot and she also showed me a few new perspectives on things.
Lily talks very openly about her past with eating disorders and I think her story can be very empowering to others who have/are struggling with that disorder and are looking for representation and a voice.
I really loved how Lily talked about normal, everyday things that happen to many people and put an inspirational spin on it. She talks about a few situations she’s dealt with when it comes to her dating life and I really liked how she gave advice after her stories through out the book.

Overall, I really loved Unfiltered and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quick non-fiction read. I think this would be especially great for young girls because Lily is such an inspirational, classy role model.

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Blog Tour: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr + Giveaway

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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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A cross between Memento and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this is a unique, breathtaking page-turner about a girl with no short-term memory and her remarkable journey to find the one boy able to penetrate her fractured mind.
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. She lives under the careful watch of her parents, in a town she is familiar with, among people who are equally familiar with her story. She has not been able to recall any part of her past since she was ten, when the tumor that was removed from her brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this singular memory pierces Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake and their shared kiss are responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step in reclaiming her life.
With little more than the tattoo “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is, how old, where she lives, and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to the land of the midnight sun–Svalbard, Norway. There she is determined to find Drake, and to explore the romantic possibilities and hopeful future that their reunion promises her. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
Rich with psychological twists, powerful moments of hope, despair, and confusion, and a landscape very much a character unto itself, The One Memory of Flora Banks is an emotionally compelling and immersive read that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, the depths of the human heart, and the power of the human mind.

Published May 2nd 2017 by Penguin Teen

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Review

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book made me feel so many different feelings. I really liked it but I was also a bit frustrated at times.

I liked Flora even though she was a little slow at times and pretty naive. I thought she was a very interesting character. I did kind of annoy me that the one thing she could remember was a boy. This book did tend to be more about the boy than Flora and I would have liked it to focus more on Flora and her well being.

The One Memory of Flora Banks reminded me a bit of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver in the sense that it was repetitive. I honestly can’t think of a better way to represent Flora’s disability and situation but if you’re easily annoyed by a tedious plot, you might want to skip this book.

I did really enjoy the writing style. I thought this book was really well written and I also really liked Flora’s friendship with Paige.

Overall, I had some mixed feelings when reading this book but in the end, I enjoyed it. It’s pretty different from most books I’ve read and I really appreciate the originality.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 1, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 22, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 24, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

About the author

unnamedEmily Barr (www.emilybarr.com) began her career as a journalist at the Guardian before realizing that she was drawn more toward books. After taking a year to go backpacking for a column assignment, she returned home with the idea for her first book, the New York Times bestseller Backpack, and never looked back. She has since written 11 additional books for adults. The One Memory of Flora Banks is her young adult debut. Emily lives in Cornwall with her partner and their children. You can follow her on Twitter @emily_barr.

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Taylor’s April Wrap Up | 2017

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I didn’t read as much in April as I had planned and the most of the books I did read didn’t really make their way to my favorites list. But hey, you win some, you lose some. I did read two books that I really loved so it wasn’t a complete loss.

13 books

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz – 3/5 stars

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead – 0.5/5 stars

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – 2.5/5 stars

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul – 5/5 stars

The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester – 4/5 stars

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis – 3/5 stars

Jesus Speaks by Steven K. Scott – 4/5 stars

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley – 4/5 stars

That Summer by Sarah Dessen – 3/5 stars

The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson – 3/5 stars

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – 4/5 stars

Pandora by Victoria Turnbull – 5/5 stars

The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks – 4/5 stars

Favorites of April

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May TBR

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Published April 11th 2017

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

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I’d seen so much hype around this book and I was a little hesitant to pick it up because of that. I haven’t read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I wasn’t familiar with the author and didn’t know what to expect. I tried to not have a really high hopes going into this book but the hype definitely got to me.
I really loved how cute this book was. It was a great mix of fun, cute contemporary and dealing with serious issues. The main character, Molly, has anxiety and I really appreciated the representation. I personally felt like it was an accurate representation and it helped me relate to the main character a lot.
I loved the writing style. I think the writing is my favorite part about this book. There was just something about how Becky described everything that blew me away. It was so wonderfully written.
This is book is also really diverse (anxiety disorder, lots of PoC, LBGTQ) so that was pretty great.
The only thing that hindered me from giving this book 5 stars was the lack of emotional investment I had in The Upside of Unrequited. Even though I loved the writing and liked the characters, I couldn’t really become emotionally invested. I had a hard time loving Molly because the whole thing with her crushes was a little annoying to me. It felt repetitive and a lot like puppy love.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the writing style, diversity, and anxiety disorder representation. And even though I wasn’t completely emotionally invested in the characters, I still really liked them. If you’re looking for a great contemporary, I’d recommend The Upside of Unrequited.

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Review:Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

28226839Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

Expected publication: May 2nd 2017

DOMINO: A runaway with blood on her hands.

CAIN: A silent boy about to explode.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

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I’ve seen almost exclusively positive reviews for Violet Grenade so I feel like I’m the odd one out for not loving it. I’d read one of Victoria’s other books, Titans, and I loved it so I was really pumped to explore her other books.
I can’t really put my finger on why this book wasn’t for me but it just hit me the wrong way. Right away, there was something about the main character and writing that felt off to me. I can’t really explain it but it felt almost… fragmented. Like a rough draft or something. The main character, Domino, was just weird. I couldn’t connect to her at all and she felt unnatural. It was never really acknowledged that Domino seemingly had a mental illness (I thought she had schizophrenia) and her illness was more of a plot device.
The plot was predictable and unengaging to me and I just couldn’t get into it.

Overall, this book wasn’t for me. I’ve seen tons of great reviews for Violet Grenade so maybe I’m just being overly critical. However, if you’re triggered or sensitive to schizophrenia or mental illness not being completely addressed in a book, I would recommend not reading Violet Grenade.

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Review: Road Signs That Say West by Sylvia Gunnery

32171679Road Signs That Say West by Sylvia Gunnery

Publication: May 1st 2017

It’s Hanna’s wild idea, of course: take their mom’s car, pack up the tent, and drive across the country. Just three sisters, one guitar, and the Trans Canada Highway. They can be back in Nova Scotia before their parents are home from Europe. She doesn’t say she wants to forget about what happened in Italy, and at university. Claire doesn’t say she keeps having nightmares about her friend’s recent suicide. Megan doesn’t say much, unless it’s a complaint. But maybe they all feel, somehow, that this is their one chance to do something together, something big, before time begins to scatter them. With empathy and insight, Sylvia Gunnery writes an engaging summer read about three sisters navigating the difficult roads of adolescence, trauma, secrets, shame, and fear for the future. Peopled with chance encounters and warmed with fireside heart-to-hearts, Road Signs that Say West is a compelling ride through real life.

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I really love road trip books but Road Signs That Say West just wasn’t for me.
I thought it was poorly written and I hated how it jumped from perspective to perspective. I felt like Megan was a pointless character and she was even less developed than the other two girls.
I was pretty bored through out the whole book and nothing interesting really happened.
I liked the idea of this book but the overall execution wasn’t great.

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Review: The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

30330916The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

Published June 12th 2016

“You’re off-limits, so why can’t I stop thinking about you?”

Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.

Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.

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I seen The Edge of Juniper as a suggested book when I was browsing New Adult books on Amazon. I assumed that this book was NA because all the other books in the suggested page were so I bought a copy. It’s actually Young Adult, which is fine, but the second I realized that this book wasn’t the genre I was wanting, I was disappointed. That’s 100% my fault for assuming but it still hindered my overall reading experience with The Edge of Juniper.
The main character is pretty young, 15 years old if I remember correctly, so I had a hard time relating to her. She was a nice character, I liked her, but she was also a little plain. She was an average YA character and she was kind of boring. There was a few things she did and said that was cringy and weird but it wasn’t often so it wasn’t that big a deal.
The whole book was actually pretty plain and normal. There was nothing really memorable. I liked the characters, pace, and setting. The writing was good for the most part and I loved the family dynamics.
But overall, The Edge of Juniper was a basic YA read. I liked it but I don’t think I”ll remember much about it in a few months. If you’re looking for a fun, quick read, this book might be for you. But if you’re wanting a book that will blow you away, you’ll probably want to skip The Edge of Juniper.

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Recommendation Friday

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This week I’ll be recommending one of my very favorite books.  This is actually the very first book I read with my friends when we started out book club, Bibliophile Academy. We all loved it and read it within a few days. This book has a very special place in my heart and it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read.

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Wait for You by J. Lynn

Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

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This is such a fun New Adult romance. It’s the perfect mix of fluffy and realistic. Wait for You is honestly one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. The main character, Avery, is well written and has tremendous development. Cam was surprisingly wonderful. He wasn’t controlling, bossy, or even a little bit possessive. I looked long and hard for some sort of controlling or possessive trait but he had not a single one. He treated Avery like an adult, like she was his equal. He let her make her own decisions and never tried to change her mind when he didn’t agree with her. And because of that, Cam will forever be one of my favorite characters in literature. If more male characters were like him, the Young Adult and New Adult genres would be way more advanced.

Wait for You is without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve ever read. I loved every second of it and I highly recommend it.

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Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

104379That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Published January 1st 1996

 

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

 

 

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A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve only read two of Sarah Dessen’s other books so I can’t really rank That Summer but it wasn’t my favorite of the her books I’ve read.
I did really like That Summer though. It was a little slow at first but it’s such a quick, fun read.
I liked the main character, Haven, and I felt really bad for her. She had a lot of difficult things going on in her life that she had to overcome. I couldn’t really find Haven relatable at this point in my life because she’s like 6 years younger than I am but if I had read this book when I was 15-17, I probably would have liked it a lot more.
Overall, I did enjoy That Summer but it wasn’t my favorite Dessen book. It didn’t have a lot of romance and I appreciated how it was more about Haven than her finding a boy. It did have an old school YA vibe, which was kind of fun.
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Enter the #ReadADessen sweepstakes!

Post a photo of your favorite Sarah Dessen novel and tell us why you love it on social with #ReadADessen! You’ll be entered for the chance to win a set of all of her books, plus her new book, Once and For All, which comes out this June!