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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Monday, November 11, 2019

When the Stars Lead to You: Interview w/ Ronni Davis & Giveaway

When the Stars Lead to You

by Ronni Davis
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love.


Hi Ronni!!  Congrats on your debut book coming out soon!!!  I personally can’t wait to start reading it.  We’re so excited to have you in our blog tour and to help promote this beautiful book!!  Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions.

Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be featured on your blog!

Can you briefly describe WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU and the main characters? 

When the Stars Lead to You is a YA novel about Devon Kearney, an eighteen-year-old aspiring astrophysicist. She’s a biracial scholarship student attending a posh day school, and she’s constantly in this push-and-pull between her scientific logical side and her hopeless romantic side. She’s completely focused on her goals…except she can’t stop thinking about the boy she had a magical summer with until he ghosted her over a year ago. And then on the first day of her senior year, he shows up. 

My other main characters: 
Ashton Edwards—Devon’s love interest. He’s a mysterious boy who looks like he has it all on the outside, but he’s falling apart on the inside. He’s dealing with expectations from his family and fighting his own demons with depression.
Blair Montgomery—Devon’s best friend. She’s an aspiring fashion designer who’s fiercely loyal and also just plain fierce. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

This story came to me in bits in pieces over a LOT of years! I live in my head 80 percent of the time, so I’m always dreaming of characters and trying to figure out what to do with them. I knew that I wanted to write an intense love story, and I knew there had to be big things that they needed to fight in order to be together. I knew I wanted a biracial main character with amazing curly hair who was just trying to study and make it to her dream school and kiss her boyfriend. I found inspiration everywhere, but the main times were during when I trained to be a yoga teacher and when I was in acting school and working on set for various TV shows. Also, songs, names, movies, my own daydreams, my crush on Theo James wait what?

This cover might be the most beautiful one I’ve seen this year!!  What did you think when you saw it and did they keep you in the loop at all while designing it?

I feel so very lucky with my cover! I was pleasantly surprised when my editor asked me what direction I wanted to go for; I know that most people don’t get a say. I sent her a big PDF with covers I loved, fonts I loved, the model I based Devon off of. She also asked me what I didn’t like. I appreciated the chance to be honest about what I wanted in a cover, but I also wanted them to know that I trusted their judgement.

I got to see the some of the steps along the way. I got a mockup in October or November of last year because my editor wanted to make sure I didn’t hate it before they moved on and like, how could I hate it? The model was beautiful, the setting was gorgeous, and she had the curly hair! There were a few touchups and design things they wanted to work on. For example, in the original photo, the model is wearing a bathing suit, but since the book is out in the fall, they didn’t want her in a bathing suit. I was able to tell them that Devon wears yoga clothes when she’s not in her school uniform, and as you can see from the final that’s what she’s wearing.

Most of the bigger decisions were made in-house, but after seeing the mockup, I knew Devon’s story was in good hands. The lettering was done by an artist named Jess Cruikshank, and she’s done the lettering on some other YA books as well. The designer, Marcie Lawrence, seemed to just...get me. If my life is an aesthetic, that book cover is it, hands down. But the cover also captures the book so well. Devon sitting in the “O” in You. Her yoga outfit while she’s dreaming on the beach. The hair. And the little stars and stencils! I got super lucky with my cover and I am so grateful.

What were your favorite books in elementary/middle school?

This is totally going to show my age, but here goes!

Veronica, the Show-Off by Nancy K. Robinson
Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe DeClements
Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You by Barthe DeClements
Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
The Baby-Sitter’s Club: The Truth About Stacey by Ann M. Martin
Amy and Laura by Marilyn Sachs
Why Me? by Ellen Conford
This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger 
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

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

I’m cheating, because I have a few things I want to say to Young Ronni:

Do your work first!! ALL OF IT.
Stop being so boy crazy.
Stop running up your credit cards.
You don’t have to settle. For anything.
Hang in there. You’re going to get to do and see amazing things!

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

This is hard because I’ve read a lot of great books! Can I cheat and do a YA list and an Adult list? This is still going to be hard, but here ya go:

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

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

I don’t have one song, but I do have a playlist, right here! 

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 WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU.)

#whenthestarsleadtoyou (duh)

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU (specific music, snacks…)?

Apparently, this book makes a lot of people cry, so I’m going to suggest tissues. And M&Ms. Ashton loves M&Ms. My playlist can help with the music, but also any music I call lush and atmospheric, artists like Electus, Philter, ODESZA, and the like.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on various things, trying to see what’ll stick. Hopefully something soon!

Thanks so much for chatting with me Ronni!!  I can't even say how much I loved that list of books from when you were growing up!!  Plus, the background on the cover was SO interesting-- I always wonder how the magic happens with those.  Thanks again!

Ronni Davis grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where she tried her best to fit in—and failed miserably. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology, she worked in insurance, taught yoga, and became a cat mom.

Now she lives in Chicago, where by day she copy edits everything from TV commercials to billboards, and by night she writes contemporary YA about brown girls falling in love. When she’s not writing, you can catch her playing the Sims, eating too much candy, or planning her next trip to Disney World.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday-- Fall TBR

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 (September 25th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

  • I'm a tad late with this, but I adore failing at TBRs too much to let this go..... LOL, I just really like seeing the books coming up that I really want to read all in one place.

1.  Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky- I'm slowly reading this, but I'm hoping to finish it by the time I meet him next week!!!  So excited!!

2.  The Grace Year by Kim Liggett- I'm also currently reading this!!  It's SO good.  Seriously, GOOD good.  It reminds me of all those good Dystopians that we've been missing since they went out of style-- MAJOR Hunger Games/Handmaid's Tale/The Forgetting vibes.

3.  The Babysitters Coven by Kate Willams- I've been hearing really mixed things about this book, but obviously it's MUST READ for me.  How can I not read something that's basically BSC + Craft?

4.  10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston- This is a little romancey for me, but it also sounds really fun!!

5.  The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand- For fans of Jandy Nelson & Nina LaCour??  Okay, yes.

6.  The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah- Definitely out of my comfort zone (which could be kind of fun??).  I'm hosting a traveling ARC tour for this one, so I'm looking forward to graffiti-ing it.

7.  Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia- I just recently found out about this book's existence... and call me a sucker for comparables, but Stranger Things meets Buffy???  How could I ever say no?

8.  City of Beasts by Corrie Wang- I was SO in love with this author's debut (The Takedown) that I immediately vowed to read everything she writes.

9.  Suggested Reading by Dave Connis- It's banned book week & isn't this just PERFECT for that??

10.  Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater- I'm in the middle of a Raven Boys reread with my book club, and I pre-ordered this, so I will be reading it in November.

What books are on your Fall reading lists?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley-- An All New Sequel is Coming!!

Circus Mirandus

Goodreads Description:

Do you believe in magic? 

Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&N, iBooksKoboTBD

Note: I was provided a copy of Circus Mirandus by Penguin Random House as a #PRHPartner to read and spotlight this book.

Reading books with my son has really opened me up to Middle Grade books.  I didn't realize how spectacular these books could be before, but the more I am exposed to them, the more impressed I get.  This book came to my attention when Penguin Random House approached me to consider reading this well-loved Middle Grade Fantasy book from 2015 & it's BRAND NEW SEQUEL coming out October 1st!!

Here is what I liked about this one:

  • The cover of the hardback is SO COOL.  It has a cutout in the dust jacket (where the top hat is) and when you take it off, it reveals its own little fantasy land.  I could have lived without the deckled edges though-- personal preference, but I'm just not a fan.
  • In my mind, I just kept coming back to the way this book has the magic of Roald Dahl books. And the villains.  I love a good meanie in kids books.
  • I liked that this book is really about grief and loss.  Most kids will lose at least one grandparent as they grow up, so I think they can totally relate to the quest that Micah is on to try to save his grandfather.  I also liked that his grandfather is the one raising him.  It's always refreshing to see different types of families.
  • The Illustrations.  I wouldn't say there are a lot of them, but the ones that are there are rather childish in the best ways.
  • Jenny.  She became Micah's friend and is there to help even if she herself doesn't believe in what Micah is talking about.  Her belief that he believed seemed to be enough for her & I loved that.  She was my favorite person in this book.
  • It's not a fast-paced book, but I was okay with that.  The story moves along evenly and I think it's underrated when a book doesn't need to over-do the action to tell the story.
OVERALL: I think this is a must-read for 3-5th graders.  It has classic written all over it.

Look for Book 2 in stores October 1st!

The Bootlace Magician

Micah Tuttle--magician in training--lives and works at Circus Mirandus alongside his guardian, the ancient and powerful Lightbender. 

The circus is a place filled with dazzling fire shows, stubborn unicorns, and magicians from every corner of the world. And Micah is doing everything he can to prove he belongs there. When a dangerous enemy from the past threatens his new home, Micah will have to untangle the mystery of his own potent magic, and he'll have to do it fast. With trouble this deadly on its way, every magician will have to be ready to fight. Even the youngest.