Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- Anticipated 2020 Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (January 14th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020

  • I haven't been a great blogger lately, and I've been wanting to remedy that.  Getting back to TTT is a good way to get into a good blogging routine-- so here I am!!  I missed a lot of good topics in the past few weeks, so when I saw this one from last week, I didn't want to pass it by!! 
  • I love looking ahead to upcoming releases!  It's so fun and exciting to find books coming up by my favorite authors or books about topics I've been wanting for SO LONG.
  • These are my Jan - June releases that are MUSTS:

1.  The Mall by Megan McCafferty- This is the book of my dreams!!  1991??  Mall life??  Megan McCafferty??  I don't see how this could get any more  "me".

2.  All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban- Sounds like Breakfast Club meets Clue.  I like the sounds of it, but it could go really wrong too....

3.  Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis- I will read anything this author writes.  She's so creative and dark.

4.  The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda- Baby Jessica (from the well) meets The Sleepwalker (from RL Stine)-- okay. maybe that's not the tagline Megan would choose....  but I love this author's books.  Every single one of them.

5.  We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian- I love 24 hour books.  Plus, this is a Pittsburgh author and she's super nice.

6.  Again Again by E. Lockhart- I don't even care what it's about.  E. Lockhart is queen 👑.

7.  One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus- I didn't LOVE One of Us is Lying-- but I'm curious.

8.  Goodbye from Nowhere by Sara Zarr- Another favorite author.  Sara Zarr is one of the best storytellers out there.  If you haven't read her books, try one!!

9.  What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel- I've read a few of books by this author and have liked them all.  They weren't favorites of mine, but I saw so much potential in the writing that I am going to continue reading her books.

10.  Clique Bait by Ann Valett- Revenge on the popular clique!!!  I live for books like this!!

What upcoming 2020 books are you looking forward to??

Monday, January 13, 2020

LIE TO ME: Interview w/ Kaitlin Ward + Giveaway!!

Lie to Me

by Kaitlin Ward
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
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Ever since Amelia woke up in the hospital, recovering from a near-death fall she has no memory of, she's been suspicious. Her friends, family, and doctors insist it was an accident, but Amelia is sure she remembers being pushed. Then another girl is found nearby -- one who fell, but didn't survive. Amelia's fears suddenly feel very real, and with the help of her new boyfriend, Liam, she tries to investigate her own horrific ordeal. But what is she looking for, exactly? And how can she tell who's trustworthy, and who might be -- must be -- lying to her?

The closer Amelia gets to the truth, the more terrifying her once orderly, safe world becomes. She's determined to know what happened, but if she doesn't act fast, her next accident might be her last. 


Hi Kaitlin!!  Welcome to the FFBC and my personal blog!!  I'm so happy to have you here!

Can you briefly describe LIE TO ME and the main characters?
  • Lie to Me is about a girl who had a near-fatal fall everyone believes was an accident – everyone except her. A concussion wiped those few minutes from her memory, but she swears she was pushed, and she’s determined to find out who did it. Especially when another girl dies in a similar fashion. As she digs deeper into what happened, she becomes less and less sure who to trust. 
  • Amelia, the main character, is a small-town girl who loves insects, running, and her friends. 

What were your favorite books in elementary/middle school?
  • Basically anything I could get my hands on, really. Some standouts were the Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, the Animorphs series by K. A. Applegate, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Shade’s Children by Garth Nix, and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

If you could go back and tell your YA self one thing, what would it be?
  • Have more confidence! Teen Kaitlin never thought she was quite enough at anything, and if I went back I would point out to her that she’s actually great at a lot of stuff and that she is absolutely enough.

What are your 3 favorite books that you read in the past year? 
  • The Need by Helen Phillips, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo, and The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (I know I picked four – I couldn’t narrow it down!)

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?
  • What came to mind first was Creep by Radiohead, so I’m going with that.

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of LIE TO ME.)
  • #serialkiller #notanaccident #carrionbugs

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read LIE TO ME (specific music, snacks…)?
  • I ate a lot of popcorn when writing this book, so that is the number one snack I associate with it! Spooky lighting and rainy (or snowy) days are also great mood setters for reading Lie to Me. Maybe some gummy worms. And if you’re thirsty, there’s a scene where Amelia’s mother is setting up for a Halloween party and filling up fake blood bags with juice. Having done this personally, I highly recommend.

What’s next for you?

  • I’m not entirely sure yet, but I have a few things in the works. I will say that whatever you see from me next will most likely be at least a little bit creepy, and it will probably have insects in it, because my books always seem to, for some reason!

ME: Oh man, bugs really freak me out!!  I don't know what I will think of a character who loves insects (and running for that matter-- ouch!).  But this book sounds awesome and I look forward to reading it!!  Thanks for being on my blog and sharing a little about you and this book!!

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in a tiny New Hampshire town, the same town where she lives now with her husband and son. She studied animal science at Cornell University and cofounded the well-known blog YA Highway. She is also the author of Where She Fell, Girl in a Bad Place, and Bleeding Earth. Find her on Twitter at @Kaitlin_Ward.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams-- Barely any babysitting, no Coven.

The Babysitters Coven

Esme is just hanging out and doing her babysitter's club thing when weird things start happening.  Things she's thinking start becoming reality and she cannot control it-- disaster ensues.

When new girl Cassandra forces her way into Esme's life, she's kind of taken aback... but then she meets Cass's hot brother.... and finds out that there's a connection between Cass's parents and her mentally-ill mother.

Powers, magic, spells, super-secret organizations, world-saving.  Esme's dull life is about to get wild.

I have A LOT to say about this book, and you may not want to hear it because it's not a bunch of good things.  I had high hopes for this book (I mean, just look at that cover!!) and it just did not live up.

First off, the potential for this story is SO high.  I feel like every reader I know would start salivating over a Baby-sitters Club + Buffy + The Craft mash-up.  Just the idea of it makes me want to get up and do a dance.  And I so wish that I could say this book made me feel that way too, but it just didn't.

The Babysitters Coven is about Esme, who babysits for extra money and may or may not be discovering new powers.  It isn't until a new girl at school comes around that Esme learns what is truly going on-- she has telekinesis!!  And new girl can make fire.  It seems there's a complicated family history that connects the girls-- and they're about the find out that it's so much bigger than just them.  They're being tasked to save the world... and the kids!!

I don't even know where to start with this book, so I think I'll make a list for you:

  • Teen Talk.  It's the bane of my reading existence.  Do author's think that teens actually talk this way??  This book is so full of abbreviations (GTFO, AF, BRB, WTF, IDK...) and they happen during dialogue AND when the character is talking in her own head.  Who actually SAYS GTFO??  Texting-- fine.  But the way this was written it felt like the author was trying to be "cool" and it took me right out of the story.
  • The Outfits.  At first I really really liked this aspect.  After a while though, they got so costumey and over-the-top, that it started to feel like a gimmick rather than a fun part of the character's personality.  It was pretty unbelievable that Esme and her BFF Janis dressed this way everyday and none of the kids at school even batted an eye at it.  Sometimes they dressed low-key, but more often than not they were full on Halloween costuming it.  I tend to think someone who wants to design their own fashion line would have a specific aesthetic and style rather than to just dress up like other people all the time.
  • The 90's.  If you know me, you know I LIVE for the 90's.  BUT-- I kind of hate when I read a YA book and alllll the references are to the 80's and 90's movies and music.  It reeks of an older person trying to write younger people.  I don't think teens today are running around talking about all the stuff that I grew up loving.  Is there a 90's influence today? Hell yes!!  But I think teens have their own pop culture too.
  • Buffy.  I was still with the book until the Buffy-stuff came in.  Unfortunately, this was also about the time that book's action started picking up, so it was a Catch-22.  The thing is, when Esme and Cass find out what they're actually apart of (AKA- the world building), it ends up being exactly Buffy.  Just no.  It can have a Buffy feel, but you can't just legit steal Buffy's world.  That's lazy.  The Watchers, the Council, the training, the Hellmouth-- it's all present and accounted for.
  • BSC. Once we're let in on what exactly this whole Sitter thing is-- the reason behind having them be babysitters became so THIN to me.  There should have been a link to babysitting beyond the name Sitter.  There should have been a club with the connections like the BSC had.
  • The Coven.  Where was it??  They did some spells, and they actually were pretty cool, but it wasn't near witchy enough for me.  I wanted "Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North" and shit.  I wanted there to be 4 girls in an actual Coven.
  • Convenience.  I don't think there's anything I hate more in books than when things happen conveniently.  The character needs to know how to do something??  Oh, here's a book to tell you!!  The book is just full of lists of things and no one really knows how it works??  Well, the character magically just KNOWS what to do with these lists.  I won't even get into how convenient the ending is-- but it's basically ridiculous.
  • Dion.  NO.  Of course the love interest is the most beautiful guy to ever walk the planet.  And the girl is the "I don't know I'm pretty" girl.
  • No Mystery.  I knew who the bad person was.  Everyone who reads this is going to know who the bad person is.

Basically, the only thing I did like was the best friend, Janis.  She was cool and deserved better.  Also, I thought it was super readable-- like even though the bullet list above was happening, I was still flying through it-- so it was doing something right with the writing flow.  And it was rather refreshing for the book to almost feel like a Middle Grade book.  I like edgy, but I think there's a definite place for the younger style YA.

OVERALL: Nope.  So sad to say that I can't do it with this one.  With such HUGE comparisons (BSC, The Coven, Adventures in Babysitting, Buffy), it's going to have to be better than this.  I think I would recommend this to early YA readers.  It skews towards Middle Grade in feel, and that's who I think should be reading this.

Date Published: 9/17/2019
How I got this book: Thanks to Delacorte Press & PRH for providing me with an advanced copy to read and honestly review.
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 2.5/5

Character: Esme & Janis
Book: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

  • Esme and Janis would like and appreciate Lola's style (she liked to dress-up in costumes too).  AND I think they could both use a Cricket in their lives.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen-- I loved the audio of this book almost as much as I hated the mother in it

Saint Anything

Sydney feels invisible.  Her older brother has always been the center of her family, and now he's in prison.  You would think this would give her parents more time to focus on her, but you'd be wrong.  It's still all about Peyton even if he's locked away.

After transferring to a new school, Sydney gets taken in by a group of teens that become her people.  They are her lighthouse in the storm that is her family.  With her mom obsessed with Peyton, Sydney is barely acknowledged.

Will Sydney ever demand to be seen?  Will her mom ever open her eyes and see Sydney for who she really is??

I have been wanting to read the rest of the Sarah Dessen books that I haven't found time for for a while.  Her books all have the same feel, so usually I like to space them out-- however I really spaced them out for a time there!!  I read her newest book (The Rest of the Story) this summer and it made me realize how much I missed the easy way I fall into Sarah's stories.  I also just recently discovered that I love audio books, so when I saw this one was available at my library, I jumped in!!

The heart of this story is about a family dealing with tragedy.  Syndey's older brother Peyton has landed in jail after his antics escalated to a drunk driving accident that left a boy severely injured.  The repercussions are far reaching, and Sydney now has to transfer schools due to the high legal fees her parents have wracked up helping Peyton.

It's at this new school that Sydney really finds her place.  She meets a group a kids that take her in and become a found family for her.  First there is Layla, a girl that might be too good to be true.  She completely sees through Sydney's walls and instantly puts her at ease with acceptance and patience.  Then there is her brother Mac.  He's pretty much one of those YA dudes that don't exist in real life, but I don't mind pretending that he could.  He's perfect and that's all I really have to say about him.

For a book that I really liked, it sure did frustrate the hell out of me.  Mostly because Sydney's mom is infuriating.  I'm used to the mother's in Sarah Dessen's books being insufferable, but this one may be competing for the top spot.  I hated her so much.  Her number 1 concern was for Peyton, and she didn't allow herself to have time or energy for anything or anybody else.  Her daughter was right in front of her, but she barely cared.  Her mind was in prison along with her son.

Sydney was no walk in the park though.  Who even was she?  She had zero backbone, which is super hard for me to relate to.  Stick up for yourself!!  Quit letting life happen to you and lead a life!!  There was a creepy friend of Sydney's brother that kept having around, and her parents kept putting Sydney in situations with him that made her feel uncomfortable.  All she had to say was "Mom, I don't feel comfortable being alone with Ames", and I'm pretty sure even a mega-bitch would listen to that.  Sydney said nothing-- it was perplexing.

Sydney made me realize that a lot of Sarah Dessen books have bland main characters with side characters that breathe life into the stories.  All the side characters in this book were fully developed and interesting people.  I'm not really sure what they saw in Sydney besides the fact that they felt sorry for her.  The brother/sister combo that she meets at school (Mac & Layla) had particular interests and friends that all had particular interests and family that... well you get it.  Sydney didn't have anything except her brother's drama.

I was wary of this book because I know there was a lot of chatter about Sarah Dessen's newer books not really being as interesting as her latter ones.  I didn't find that here.  I found this book to be wholly  compelling-- I couldn't wait to get to the main confrontation because this mother needed it!!  It wasn't completely satisfying to me (but it probably wouldn't have been unless the mom was thrown out on her ass).  I need to remember that whenever I'm feeling lost I should read a Sarah Dessen book-- they center me and make me feel like I'm home.  She's a beautiful storyteller and I hope she never stops!

PS-- Lots of Easter Eggs in this one!!  (I spotted Spinnerbait, Lakeview, Perkins Day, Jackson High, Rogerson from Dreamland, The Arbors, Bendo, Dave from What Happened to Goodbye, and I'm sure many more that I didn't spot).

OVERALL: Sarah Dessen tells stories that make you feel like home.  This one is no exception and you should read it.

Date Published: 5/5/2015
How I got this book: Listened on Audio from Libby
Publisher: Viking/Penguin

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Character: Rosie Chatham
Book: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

  • Another Sarah book... but this one is perfect for an ice skater that is trying to get back into skating after something made her quit.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Across a Broken Shore: Interview w/ Amy Trueblood + Giveaway!!

Across a Broken Shore

by Amy Trueblood
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
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The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.


Hi Amy!!  Welcome to the FFBC-- We're so happy to have you!!

Can you briefly describe ACROSS A BROKEN SHORE and the main characters?

In 1936 San Francisco, eighteen-year-old Willa is bound for the convent. But when she meets a local female doctor, Dr. Katherine Winston she will defy her family and work with the doctor to care for the men building the Golden Gate Bridge. 

What made you interested in the setting & time period?

I read a lot of YA Historical and had never seen a story that takes place in the time between World War I and World War II, specifically The Great Depression. I also thought the building of the Golden Gate Bridge was fascinating, and I knew I wanted to somehow weave it into my narrative. When I came across a story of Dr. Lucy Wanzer, who practiced in San Francisco just before this time period, the story fell into place. 

Can you tell us one interesting fact about the Golden Gate Bridge that you discovered while researching this book?

Men who were working on riveting the metal pieces of the bridge together suddenly started getting sick. Their hair and teeth were falling out and no one could figure out why. They eventually discovered that the men were inhaling lead-tainted fumes created when the hot rivets struck the lead paint of the towers. At that point, they made the men start wearing respirator masks. This is just one of the many groundbreaking safety features that were implemented to keep the men building the bridge healthy and safe. 

What were your favorite books in elementary/middle school?

I was a big Beverly Cleary fan and read every single one of the Encyclopedia Brown books. 

If you could go back and tell your YA self one thing, what would it be?

No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. The people who will become your longtime friends will be the ones who love you for you, not because you are smart or funny, but because they care about you as a person. 

What are your 3 favorite books that you read in the past year? 

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler

The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Weight of Love by The Black Keys

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of ACROSS A BROKEN SHORE or the series in general.)

#FierceGirls, #WomeninMedicine #YAHistorical

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read ACROSS A BROKEN SHORE (specific music, snacks…)? 

I’ve had a lot of people comment that it’s a good fall book. That could be because it’s set in San Francisco and there is a lot of rain and fog. So maybe readers could cozy up with a cup of cocoa next to a fire before they read!

What’s next for you?

I’m currently revising a YA Contemporary and drafting a YA Thriller about a small town with a lot of scary secrets! 

Thanks so much for this!!  We’re really excited to have you in our tours!

Amy Trueblood grew up in California only ten minutes from Disneyland which sparked an early interest in storytelling. As the youngest of five, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite books. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, she worked in entertainment in Los Angeles before returning to work in Arizona. 

Fueled by good coffee and an awesome Spotify playlist, you can often find Amy blogging and writing. Nothing But Sky, a 2018 Junior Library Guild selection, is her first novel.

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