Save The Date: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

To learn more about why I created/started doing this Save The Date feature back in 2012 and how it differs from my reviews — go here!

 I received this book for review consideration and that has zero affect on my opinions on it. PINKIE SWEAR.

 

The Serpent King

* Release date according to Goodreads

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Pre-Order It | Add It To Goodreads


What The Serpent King is about:

Dill has always been a little bit of an outcast with a super religious Pentecostal preacher dad whose preaching is a bit unorthodox and extreme — aka his congregation frequently handles poisonous snakes during the sermon. But he fell even further into outcast land, and pretty hard, after his father’s public and awful fall from grace which has affected a lot at home, too. His two best friends, Lydia and Travis, are fellow outcasts in their small Southern town. Lydia runs a very popular fashion blog, dresses quite differently than her classmates and has her eye on moving to NYC as soon as high school is over. Travis, mostly content with staying after graduation, is often lost in a popular fantasy series and its fandom where he finds people who GET him. They’ve always stuck together to survive this town but now, with graduation nearing, the uncertainty of the future and their friendship going forward weighs heavily as plans to leave and stay are made and dreams are becoming realized.

Why You Should Be Saving The Date for The Serpent King:

Do you know that feeling when you read something and you are just like YEP. THAT’S IT. THIS IS PERFECT. THIS IS THE KIND OF BOOK I LIVE FOR”? Pretty much the whole time I was reading The Serpent King I felt like this. It’s this feeling I can’t describe and I wish I had the words for it. It’s just this feeling I get whenever I encounter a new favorite book or a book that just has something special. The Serpent King is both of those things. It was everything. It had all the things I want out of a book no matter what the genre is. I have to be honest — my go-to is contemporary YA — but lately, while I’ve been loving many I’ve read, I haven’t been having those books that just stop me in my tracks as much as I used to. But The Serpent King? Like the venom from a serpent, this book made quick work of coursing its magic through me as I read and affecting every inch of my being until by the end I just was rendered incapacitated and alone in a puddle of book feels with one massive book hangover to which there is no anti-venom for.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa ReichardtUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Farrer Straus and Giroux on January 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Morgan survived a horrible tragedy — one that she feels partly guilty for because of an act of kindness she did that day. Racked with fear and guilt, Morgan has not been able to leave apartment she shares with her mom and brother and truly move forward after everything that happened. She’s lost her friends, attends high school via the internet and her therapist comes to her home once a week to try to work through this with her. And then Evan moves in next door and she’s confronted with the life that she’s missing and his presence starts to stir in her a desire to see the outside world again.

a2Very heavy book, oof. Need something happy next!!

a4

One of the worst feelings is finishing a book and just not really feeling what you know you probably should have. Which is really sad because there were moments in this book that were great and really affected me.   I should be overwhelmed with emotional connection given the content of this novel but I just wasn’t in the grand scheme when I finished. In small moments, yes. I was there. But when I finished I was like I was left wanting more overall.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Book Talk: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth FlynnFirsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Mercedes, the main character, helps guys make their first time with their girlfriend perfect — or at least way better than her first time experience. She gives them tips for creating the perfect night and, well, hands on experience. The catch is they have to be virgins. She’s kept it a secret from her friends, the student body and her mom, who isn’t around much anyways. Soon word gets around a little too much and guys start trying to take advantage of her services — namely her best friend’s boyfriend who isn’t happy when she refuses and threatens to expose her and destroy her reputation.

a2tumblr_mz1ayehIxC1t1onefo1_250

It took me a looong time to process this one after I read it! So yeah….my brain was just cricket noises because it didn’t know what to think.

a4

Woo boy, this book. I have thoughts and feelings. I had to try hard to block out my old lady feels towards what was going on because half the time I was like CHILD NO to many of the characters and situations. Firsts is definitely a honest and provocative book that will make you uncomfortable for sure but I loved the honest and open exploration of teen sexuality in it though I felt kind of conflicted about certain aspects.

[Keep Reading]

What I’ve Been Reading Lately – Mini Book Talks

I read quite a bit in December and have quite the backlog but wanted to at least let you know what I read!

 

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic by Lauren Oliver

About In A Sentence (ish): The two main characters lives intersect as they play, each having their own strong reasons for participating, in their town’s yearly high stakes game called Panic that is judged by two anonymous people and gives dangerous and potentially deadly challenges to complete.

Thoughts: MAN, I love Lauren Oliver. LOVE HER. But this book was not for me at all. It had such a good premise (high stakes game played by high school students!) but the execution lacked for me in many ways. I was bored despite the fact it was high stakes and had mysterious aspects (that I found so predictable). One romances was great and the other was so weird and forced. The characters never felt real to me. I honestly would have quit it pretty early on had it not been a book club book. To be honest, it could be a really cool movie but I just couldn’t get into it in any way. It was a fairly quick read so there was that and probably the only reason I was still reading was to see how one of our main characters would fare and also what kind of seriously crazy challenges the judges would throw out next.

 

Rating:

RATING-Not-a-fan

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Book Talk: Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Published by Spencer Hill Press on November 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Behind the Scenes
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Reagan and Victoria both cannot wait to graduate and leave their small town where Reagan won’t be ostracized because of a past relationship or have to deal with her parents and where Victoria won’t stand out for being Mexican and where she can pursue her dreams to do fashion design. They are in it together and started planning the post-high school life of their dreams by going on a series of college visits to choose together where they will end up. The college visits prove to be interesting. Reagan falls hard for a boy after keeping her heart pretty guarded over the past couple years but it seems like it could end in heartbreak and Victoria starts to really doubt if the path they are choosing is right for her future — something that could change the future of this friendship especially when faced with certain parts of their past they’ve kept from each other the whole time.

a2

7221749

*happy sigh*

a4

I really enjoyed Dahlia’s debut Behind The Scenes but Just Visiting blew me away and is definitely one of my most favorite contemporary YA books I’ve read this year! It’s just such an authentic story about friendship and love and that confusing time when that next stage (post-high school) is staring you right in the face. So compelling and so compulsively readable! I really just want to follow the next few years of their lives if I’m honest!

4 things that made this book such a win for me:

1.Exploring the feeling of approaching that “next stage” of your life: I feel like not enough YA books really get into the nitty gritty of the post high school tornado that happens in junior and senior year. When that next stage of your life is right before you and it’s terrifying because there are all these endless possibilities it seems and you don’t want to make the “wrong” one. Through Reagan and Victoria we see how tumultuous this time can be. Who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want your future to look like? It’s overwhelming and I loved how Dahlia portrayed that through these two most vividly and I almost felt like I was thrown back to 2003/2004  standing on this precipice myself feeling like I’ve been thrown out into the middle of the galaxy without a map. Is college the right choice? Which one? What major? If not college, then what? Stay close? Go far away? ALL THE POSSIBILITIES.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

Book Talk: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki WakefieldFriday Never Leaving (aka Friday Brown) by Vikki Wakefield
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Friday Brown has been used to never have one permanent home as she’s traveled here and there with her mom but she’s always felt like that’s where she belonged — on the road with her mom. When Friday’s mom passes away, she finds herself presented with a new home but she can’t give up feeling like she needs to be on the move. So she leaves the security she could have and decides to go in search of her own place to belong — which ends up being with a group of other street kids who is held together by Arden, a girl who has a strong hold on the group and who likes to play games — especially when anyone challenges her.

a2*adds to list yet another Aussie novel that I love*

a4If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know I love me some Aussie YA (here’s a Aussie YA 101 list to get you started if you don’t know the magic that is Aussie YA). Vikki Wakefield was one of those Aussie authors I’ve yet to read yet so I grabbed Friday Never Leaving (titled Friday Brown in Australia) to give her a try.  The verdict? I was impressed by this quiet yet moving novel! It was a gritty, emotional novel about what makes a home and a family and that never-ending quest to find where you belong.

Some things I loved:

  1. The rag-tag group of street kids: I don’t typically read a lot of books about young adults who are homeless or runaways. I enjoyed learning a little bit about their heartbreaking stories and, even though there were some toxic aspects of their little family they made together, I really enjoyed seeing they came together to make a family and a home out of their situation and how they looked out for each other. The dynamics are complex, no doubt, but I really loved following this group and coming to care about these characters who have slipped through the cracks of society. Their personalities were so distinct and honestly I wish I had some sort of novella followup so I can know what happened to all of them!!
  2. The writing & emotions portrayed: Oh just that Aussie magic that runs deep over there apparently!! There is this paragraph about grief and losing someone that just SLAYED ME.
  3. How it so perfectly balanced character and plot: I love how it flowed  — memories of Friday’s childhood and life with her mom intermingled with Friday’s journey trying to find her own way after her mom passes away. It had all the character-driven qualities I love in a novel and was wrought with emotion and these stirring passages and then there are these super charged and intense situations that had me biting my nails. I felt the intensity of life on the street, the dangers, the uncertainties. I think the plot went places I didn’t expect which definitely upped the intensity and actually was a pleasant surprised though at times I was like WOW IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING.
  4. How home, family and belonging were explored: It’s always been Friday and her mom. The stories she knows are stories told by her mom. All the history she knows from her mom. She belonged — on the road going here and there with her mom. When her mom dies Friday finds herself alone. She has family that she never knew. She could have a home. But her sense of belonging has disappeared. I loved how the book explored this idea so beautifully and emotionally as all these kids, Friday included, are trying to cobble together some semblance of belonging — something they all share.

 

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, plot, characterization, the ability to surprise me
–  nothing really just missing that SOMETHING to make it be a fave


a5Aussie YA fans, fans who like character-driven novels (that still have plot but it isn’t apparent at first), fans of gritty stories, people who like quiet novels

a8Friday Never Leaving was such a gem and I wish it got more love here in the States when it got published. I cared about the characters and couldn’t put it down with the tension and intensity heightened. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful and quiet but the sorrow and grief and loneliness rattled my bones…and the sense of hope I did feel amidst it all sent me soaring.

review-on-post-itFriday Never leaving vikki wakefield

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
What other Aussie gems should I have my eye on??

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperTeen on October 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Emily sees Belinda, a girl from her school who is developmentally disabled, getting attacked under the bleachers and fails to act to help her. But she wasn’t the only one — a football player named Lucas also saw and did nothing to help her. The two are punished by the school when everything comes to light and are required to do community service at a classroom with disabled adults. Meanwhile, Belinda decides to come back to school after staying home for a while after the attack and is confronted by her old classmates and how things have changed in her absence.

a2Well, that was cute and heartwarming. Also, made me think a lot about the kids who I used to work with when I did Best Buddies in high school (is that still a thing in high school today??) and wonder how they were doing.

a4

I though this was really enjoyable and heartwarming for the most part!

What I liked:

  1. Belinda: I LOVED the chapters that were Belinda’s. IMO she WAS this book for me. Belinda is developmentally disabled and I was glad to see her actually have POV in this novel rather than her just be a main character seen through Emily. I LOVED getting to know Belinda — she was definitely one of those characters that jumped off the pages for me which was nice because the other two main characters were a bit bland for me. There was so much I loved about Belinda and I enjoyed watching her learn some important lessons just as Emily and Lucas do. My heart broke for Belinda with everything she had been through and her hurt and confusion after what happened. I hated the microaggressions against her (even by adults!!) and the way she was laughed at by classmates or not given a fair chance because she was developmentally disabled. I worked with Best Buddies in high school and got to know a lot of the students in the special education classes and I wanted to rip throats out to anyone who was unkind to them or tried to get these students to things for a laugh or just didn’t treat them like people. I wish all students were required to spend time with these students so they could see them as PEOPLE.
  2.  The romance was cute: It wasn’t anything spectacular but I tend to enjoy romances where people don’t necessarily like each other at first or have misjudged one another and then SEE each other for who they are rather than who they were thought to be. I liked their conversations and their awkwardness.
  3.  “The message” — I hate calling it THE MESSAGE because like it sounds so cheesy. But I really did love how the story helped the characters learn some important lessons: like how wrong your judgements  about a person can be, to be kinder to those who you presume are different or whom you don’t understand, to stand up for what is right, how dangerous silence can be and how complicit you still are in that, and how important it is to stand with and up for those whose voices are silenced by society, are marginalized or not taken seriously. While sometimes all this was preachy and like HERE IS A LESSON, I genuinely did feel like Emily and Lucas did learn from Belinda and the classroom they had to volunteer in and it was shown in a thoughtful, realistic manner. It was a good reminder for myself to even think about how I treat people and think of people.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Book Talk: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
on September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Side Effects May Vary
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Willowdean has always been the fat girl and she’s always been pretty okay with that despite the normal teenage insecurities. It’s never been a THING for her. Until she gets a job and crushes on one of her hot co-workers who totally ends up liking her back. And then insecurities and what people think get the best of Willowdean and makes her second guess herself and if Bo could really like her. So she decides to remind herself of how confident she is and enters a beauty pageant (that her mother is the coordinator of) — an act that sparks a little bit of a revolution when a couple of other girls, who are inspired by Willowdean’s bravery, to join with her despite them not looking like the usual beauty pageant contestant.

a2WILLOWDEAN, PLS BE MY FRIEND!

a4

This is definitely one of my most favorite books of 2015 and I want everyone to meet Willowdean! She’s definitely one of those characters you want to wish into existence so that you could be friends with her. There are a whole lot of adjectives I could use to describe her but really you just need to meet her. And the best thing about this book? As much as she is this dazzling star of this novel, she has so many other supporting characters in this book that shine equally as much in different ways. It’s just packed with amazing characters — especially females. I loved the girls who do the beauty pageant with Willowdean and I love how they all learn from each other and find friends they didn’t know they needed in their life. One of my FAVORITE scenes involves these ladies and some Dolly Parton awesomeness.

Sometimes it feels as if it’s hard to find body diversity within YA. It’s rare when I come across a ~fat~ main character and even more rare when that book isn’t solely about that person’s struggle with their weight or is trying to lose weight. Those are super important stories. Stories that need to be heard. But it’s really hard to find a fat main character who is fairly confident about being fat/isn’t really looking to change themselves or at least is no more insecure about being fat than about other things we as ladies get insecure about — which is also important and is a voice that needs to be heard. And the one thing about Willowdean in Dumplin’ is that she’s pretty okay in her skin and her being fat isn’t the biggest deal to her. She’s confident yet, like most girls, still has her insecurities and self consciousness that comes with being a teenager. She doesn’t really have a problem being the fat girl (aside from the crap from other people about it). Being fat is just a part of who she is — just a piece of her. Until she gets a boyfriend. A guy she thinks people will perceive is too good for her based on looks alone. And then nagging insecurities come full force and mess with her head threatening to break that confidence.

It is so, so relatable whether or your ~thing~ is your weight or a stutter or a flat chest (hello, me…I’m almost 30 weren’t my boobs supposed to show up by now lols) or a big nose or whatever. We see this vulnerability within Willowdean that shows just how hard it is to be confident of the things you love about yourself when the world makes it so easy to let those self-conscious feelings or insecurities attach themselves to you like a leech that just sucks your confidence blood supply dry and possibly make you feel like you need to CHANGE (because people say you should) or loathe yourself. And I loved how the beauty pageant was her way of proving to herself and others that you don’t have to be a certain way to deserve to be on the stage of a beauty pageant, to deserve love, to deserve to feel beautiful, etc. etc.

God it was just such a great coming of age story that seamlessly delved into so many things in addition to the body positivity and self-acceptance. Willowdean is dealing with the first real loss of her life — her aunt who meant a lot to her and was someone she was closest to. I loved how Julie Murphy portrays a lot of common teen experiences — crushing on someone, falling in love, heartbreaks, shifting best friend dynamics, feeling like your mom just doesn’t GET you etc. It’s just such a delightful and REAL story with strong messages that never feel like they are hitting you over the head. Just straight up REAL TALK through the plot and dialogue that is thought-provoking and I still have a few passages that have stuck with me.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors(+ )characters, writing, storyline, lols, overall message
(– ) Nothing really that I can think of.


a5contemporary YA/realistic fiction fans, readers looking for body diversity & body positivity, readers who want a book that brings the lols and the sentimental feels, readers looking for strong female friendships

a8Dumplin’ was just an altogether delightful read that made me laugh out loud at times and put my hand to my heart and sigh. I enjoyed the ~message~ about loving your body and recognizing how worthy you are of love and feeling beautiful and other good things — no matter what your body looks like. I loved Willowdean and think she’s truly something special!

review-on-post-it

Dumplin' Julie Murphy

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
I’m really looking for more books with diversity when it comes to body type! Any suggestions?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Talk: Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Books For Young Readers on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Madeline hasn’t been able to leave her house for the past 18 years as she has a rare disease that basically makes her allergic to the world. The only people come in her house are her mom, nurse and sometimes a tutor who all have to undergo a long decontamination process. One day she looks out her window to see a family moving in and she makes eye contact with a boy her age. They start communicating from the window and email and she knows she’s falling in love and she knows it’s pretty impossible considering she’s stuck in her house.

a2WOW.

a4

I really liked this one but am having a hard time figuring out just WHAT to say about it. I want you to know that the main character has lived a bubble basically her life. She’s had this really super rare disease that basically makes her allergic to the world because they don’t know what triggers these deadly attacks to her body. She lives in her house with her mom and the only two people who come in besides her are her nurse and sometimes a tutor — and they have to go through major decontamination. I want you to know that she meets a boy that moves in next door and that they start talking via email. And they fall for each other. That’s what I want you to know. I don’t want to give any hints on if they end up together or how they have a relationship given her disease. I feel like any reactions I have will give too much away.

Things I’m willing to say: it’s such a cute and heartwarming book but also it’s deeply heartbreaking in ways. I loved how it explored how, once she tasted what having love and a boyfriend would be like and experienced things she never had, she could never go back to the life she had. I loved watching her trying to wrestle with that even though it hurt my heart — watching her realize all that she has missed out on and FEELING it.  I will also say the writing was excellent and I totally shipped them even though it felt like an impossible ship.

I have some conflicted feelings that I honestly keep waffling back and for towards regarding aspects to the ending but overall really enjoyed this!!

If you’ve read it, here’s what I’m going back and forth over. SPOILERS.

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ plot, writing, romance
–  unsure how I feel about a thing


a5contemporary YA fans, people looking for a romance that is unique

a8Everything, Everything is a book with a unique romance that felt impossible but I still totally shipped. I had a lot of FEELS for the main character and her situation especially as it played out. It was well written and I every much enjoyed that it wasn’t like anything I’ve really read before.

review-on-post-it

Everything Everything Nicola Yoon

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
If you’ve read it, did you expect what happened?? (mark spoilers please)

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Book Talk: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren GibaldiThe Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
Published by HarperTeen on June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Ella and Matt, the new bass player in her friend’s band, meet the summer before her senior year after she’s just been dumped by her boyfriend months before. The night they meet deviates from what it ought have been and turns into a fun and crazy night of “saying yes” with Matt and her best friends. Six months later Matt leaves town and none of them hear from him….until he’s back and standing in front of Ella wanting to explain why he disappeared and wanting to recreate the night they met to show her he’s worth a second chance — something Ella isn’t sure can happen after he broke her heart and just left them all.

a2SUPER CUTE! Also, it would be really fun to have a night of saying yes like they do in the book but I’d be careful who I choose to partake in that hahah

a4This book was so cute & such an enjoyable summer read! I absolutely devoured it!

Here’s what worked for me:

1. The fact that it’s set in that summer after graduation and before freshman year of college: I remember that summer being such a BIG summer for me. It held all these infinite possibilities and your head got carried away with dreaming and planning and imagining. But it also produced so much nostalgia within — even though you hadn’t left already things were starting to look and feel different to you. Everything felt SO significant — this is the last time we would all be here together and doing this before everything changed. There was also fear and anxiety of the unknown. All of this that I can remember so clearly these 11ish years later? This is what Lauren Gibaldi wrote SO well in The Night We Said Yes. I could feel all that pulsing through these characters.

[Keep Reading]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...