Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- Backlist Poll

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 (April 17th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Backlist Books I Own That I Need To Read ASAP

  • So, last month I asked you guys for help picking a backlist book to read (it's my goal this year to read some of the oldies that I own), and I finished the book you picked!!  Now, I need your help again.  Since this TTT is a Freebie, I'm using it to list 10 books that I own and have been wanting to read-- and at the end, I need you to vote on which one I will read next:

1.  Sway by Kat Spears
  • Why it made the TBR: I really liked the other 2 Kat Spears books that I've read!

2.  Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash
  • Why it made the TBR: I like books about the tough stuff.

3.  Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
  • Why it made the TBR: Because YA about COLLEGE!!!  And I like both authors!

4.  And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  • Why it made the TBR: Because Paper Covers Rock was good and I was interested to see what else this author would do.

5.  Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen
  • Why it made the TBR: I like the popular turned pariah trope.

6.  Hello? by Liza Wiemer
  • Why it made the TBR: I had heard good things about it, and then I met the author and she's SO nice.

7.  Get Dirty (Don't Get Mad #2) by Gretchen McNeil
  • Why it made the TBR: I really liked the first book in the series.  It had PLL-vibes.

8.  Hung Up by Kristen Tracy
  • Why it made the TBR: Lost it was one of my FAVE books before I started blogging.

9.  Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar
  • Why it made the TBR: Besides Jellicoe Road (sorry it was too confusing), I haven't read an Aussie book that I haven't liked.

10.  A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
  • Why it made the TBR: Because I discovered the magic of Mindy in 2016 and decided I needed MORE.

I know a lot of these are older & maybe not that popular, but even if you don't know the books vote for which ever one sounds good, or whichever cover catches your eye--anything!! Vote, vote, vote!!

Which backlist book should I read next?

Sway by Kat Spears
Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen
Hello? by Liza Wiemer
Get Dirty (Don't Get Mad #2) by Gretchen McNeil
Hung Up by Kristen Tracy
Raw Blue by Kristy Eagar
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
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Which Freebie Topic did you go with this week?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler-- A very Sarah Dessen-ish book

Fixing Delilah

Delilah and her mother are headed for a summer in Red Falls, Vermont to deal with the death of her grandmother, who she hasn't spoken to in 8 years.  Delilah spent the first 8 years of her life making memories at her grandparent's house by the lake, but a falling out between her grandmother and mom has kept her away until now.

Now, she's dealing with the fallout from a crumbling relationship with her mother, the reemergence of an almost forgotten childhood friend, and family secrets that want to stay buried.

I'm finally starting to work on those backlist books that I've been neglecting (and thanks to everyone who voted for me to read this one).  Sarah Ockler has been one of my favorite authors since I first started blogging, so the fact that I hadn't read one of her earlier books bugged me!!  The problem is, I haven't been in the mood for Contemporary Romance lately (and by lately, I mean the last 2 years).  But I must say, if I was going to read a Contemporary Romance, I'm glad I chose this one.  It was one of those books that I would put up as EXAMPLE A of the genre.

This book had total Sarah Dessen-vibes.  Delilah felt so much like a Dessen main girl-- strained parental relationship (check!), slightly rebellious behavior (check!), touristy location setting (check!), super swoony/patient to a fault boy (check!).  And I mean all of that as a compliment because Sarah Dessen creates stories that you can just sink into and become completely immersed, and this book was very much like that.

Drawbacks: I didn't LOVE Delilah.  She had a tendency to be self-centered and make everything about her.  It was like Patrick (the boy) and Emily (the friend) weren't allowed to have lives and problems because she was GOING THROUGH SOMETHING.  There was also a lot of that kind of drama where if the characters just said 5 words, the misunderstandings wouldn't have happened-- and I tire of that.  TALK PEOPLE, TALK!! USE YOUR WORDS!

In the end, I'm glad I read this, and I had a nice feeling reading it.  It was like going home after I've been away for a while because books like these are my roots.  I will always want to come back to stories that suck me in and aren't super plot driven.  I will always want to read books that combine family and growing up.  And you should too!!

OVERALL: It was so nice to read a Sarah Ockler book after so long!!  This was one I had been meaning to read for years, and I'm glad I finally got to it.  It had major Sarah Dessen-vibes radiating, but that's not a bad thing!!  I liked getting immersed in the setting and characters, but I wished I liked Delilah just a tad more.

Date Published: 1/1/2010
How I got this book: Purchased from the Book Outlet
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 4/5

Character: Delilah Hannaford
Book: Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • Her favorite book is Catcher in the Rye, so I was trying to think of a book with a Holden-esque character.  I don't really think Pudge is LIKE Holden, but he definitely has that whole "life happening to him" thing going on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Letters to the Lost (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer-- You've Got Mail with more substance

Letters to the Lost

After Juliet's mother dies, she continues writing physical letters to her just as she always did.  Only now instead of mailing them, she's leaving them at the cemetery.  When one day her letter gets a reply from someone, she's initially furious.  How dare someone invade her private moments with her mother's memory.  But eventually, she realizes that this person is as lost and heartbroken as she is.  Her communication with this mysterious boy has been the only thing to make her feel connected in a long time.

Declan works at the cemetery doing community service for his latest mistake.  His home life sucks and he's angry all the time, but when he starts talking to whoever left the letter on her mother's grave, it makes him feel like someone understands.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't really want to like this book.  I know that sounds weird, but romance is such a hard genre for me to get down with.  And also, the misunderstood bad boy trope really doesn't gel with me.  But try as I might, I couldn't NOT like this book.  It's so well-written and the characters are so real-- it was impossible for me to keep it at arm's length like I expected to.

This was sort of a sadder version of You've Got Mail.  Juliet and Declan communicate anonymously and fall in love along the way.  But this book is more about grief and family than it is about love.  Both Declan and Juliet are struggling emotionally and when they find each other, it's like a life-line.  It gave each of them someone to talk to anonymously, which gave them a level of safety in opening-up.

One thing I really can't stand in books is the idea that falling for a guy or a girl is going to fix you.  I was concerned that this is where the book was headed, but thankfully it wasn't like that at all.  It was more having someone to confide in helped them move through their grief process, and neither one was completely healed by any means.

The only thing that felt off to me was the final conclusion with the families.  Both Juliet and Declan had major issues with their parents, and I felt like it all wrapped up a little too happily to feel realistic.

A major highlight in this book was Declan's bestie, Rev, and his adoptive family.  I loved their friendship dynamic and how much of a role Rev played in Juliet's development as well.  I'm now super excited to read MORE THAN WE CAN TELL because it's Rev's story!!

OVERALL: I went into it thinking it was a romance, and I came out of it seeing that it was so much more.  I loved a good You've Got Mail story, and this may be the best one I've read so far!!  I so highly recommend this book whether you read Contemporary or not.  The writing, the characters, and the flow of the story all add up to something that will appeal to most readers.

Date Published: 4/4/2017
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 5/5

Character: Juliet Young
Book: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

  • I think Juliet would like reading about how Jude & Noah come to terms with their art and loss-- and both of those things being connected.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: In Her Skin by Kim Savage-- Interview & Giveaway

In Her Skin

by Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
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A dark, suspenseful young adult novel about crime, identity, and two girls with everything to lose.

Fifteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain takes on her biggest heist yet—impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and she hopes to cash in on a little safety, some security. She finds her opportunity with the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family tied to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi’s identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. When hidden crimes come to the surface and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold on to an illusion of safety or escape the danger around her before it’s too late. In Her Skin is Kim Savage at her most suspenseful yet.

I can't believe I was able to ask Kim Savage some questions about herself and her new book, IN HER SKIN.  I've been so excited about this book & I can't believe it's almost time for it to come out in the world!!  Kim, thanks so much for taking the time to do this tour and answer our questions!!


Favorite Book? 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. As a former journalist who now writes fiction, stories about being an outsider, or “the bystander I so essentially am,” as Richard Papen calls himself, speak to me.

Favorite TV show? 

Peaky Blinders.

Favorite movie? 

Memento with Guy Pearce and Carrie Ann Moss.

Favorite Song? 

On My Own from Les Miserables. A lot of people I loved left this world in the last few years. For me, it’s not about lost romantic love, like it is for Jo in In Her Skin. It’s about lost love in all its forms. Also, I love its simplicity.

Favorite Food? 

Is Sriracha a food?

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat. 

Narnia, Sunnydale, Terabithia.

What were your favorite books while growing up? 

A Wrinkle in Time, the Betsy-Tacy books, and the Phyllis Naylor witch books. I longed for a witch to move in next door.

Favorite Quote?

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over?

Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones, everything written by Donna Tartt and Jesmyn Ward.

What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans? 

I loved Tanaz Bhathena’s A Girl Like That.


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about IN HER SKIN?

Fifteen-year-old Jo’s Momma taught her every con—impersonation, swindling, blackmail—but the one thing she didn't teach her was how to live on the street. After Momma’s boyfriend kills her, Jo flees Imokalee and finds herself living in Boston’s Tent City with Wolf. Wolf loves Jo, but he can’t give her what she wants most: the safety of a family. When Jo spots Temple Lovecraft, she considers stealing her identity until she learns Temple’s father is a big local developer: too recognizable, she thinks. Jo finds an article connecting the Lovecrafts to nine-year-old Vivienne Weir, who disappeared from the Lovecrafts’ Back Bay brownstone seven years earlier. Jo decides Vivi is her ticket off the streets, and convinces the police she’s Vivi, kidnapped and held for years. She is taken in as a ward of the Lovecrafts, and life with them is perfect—until clues emerge that the Lovecrafts have secrets of their own.

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 IN HER SKIN.)


If you could check-in with any of your characters (from any of your books), who would you pick and why?

Alice from After the Woods. I’m wondering if she was able to resist telling Julia, “Told you so!”

Your books are twisty in all the best ways.  What’s a memorable book/movie/tv show that had a twist that you never saw coming? 

Thank you! It’s hard to fool me in books. Maybe that’s because I’m constantly deconstructing when I read suspense, so I’m sensitized to clues. I love the movie The Others, with Nicole Kidman as the mother of photosensitive children left alone after her husband doesn’t return from war. It has every element I love in a plot, plus ghosts! I also really like Mother, though I can’t call what happens in that movie a twist, exactly. I’m still not sure what to call it.

Tell us your favorite quote from IN HER SKIN. 

“Every time I switched schools, to avoid getting teased for my backwater accent or my short pants, I’d pick a certain girl—the girl whose laugh could leave you bleeding, the one who moved other kids around like chess pieces, the one teachers let get away with murder. I couldn’t copy clothes, or the smell of clean scalp, or a hard little chin. But I’d get good at the cool rhythm of her speech, her shuffle walk, her nonchalance. Eventually, it wasn’t enough to be on the outside: I wanted in.” 

That quote tells you everything you need to understand Jo.

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?  Or which part was the most difficult to get through?

Gerry’s scenes were tough, because he is based on a friend. Gerry’s past is so painful, and because I know his past intimately from knowing the real Gerry, I had to stay emotionally distanced to allow Gerry to function as a mirror to Jo, and not consume the story, which is not his. 

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for IN HER SKIN– Which one would you pick?

Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift. Think: I don't like your little games/Don’t like your tilted stage/The role you made me play/Of the fool, no, I don't like you.

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read IN HER SKIN (specific music, snacks…)? 

I would recommend doing a walking tour of the cool locations in Boston where In Her Skin takes place: the Boston Public Library, the Granary Burial grounds, the abandoned Steinert Hall under Boylston Street, and the Mapparium at the Christian Science Museum. And if you can’t get to Boston, I’m going to be posting a video tour of In Her Skin locations on one of my favorite Boston-based blogs around release time. Details will be on Twitter @khsavage. 

What’s next for you? 

Thanks for asking! I’m writing two books. One is a straight-up thriller where two girls are about to exact the perfect revenge on a boy. It’s loaded with smart twists, and if you loved After the Woods, you’ll love this. The second is a gothic contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s Richard III, the greatest villain ever written. I’m having so much fun writing it!

I can't believe I've found someone else who liked the Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Witch books!!!  I was OBSESSED with that series-- I so wanted to turn all my neighbors into Mrs. Tuggles!!  Also, I will be obsessively tracking when your next 2 books come out because they sound AMAZING!!

KIM SAVAGE is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods, Beautiful Broken Girls (named by Kirkus as one of the 10 Best YA of 2017), and In Her Skin (releasing March 27, 2018), all with Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey, and have been optioned for TV. Kim presents at conferences and book festivals nationwide; has been featured on NPR, Herald Radio, and on local cable stations; and she reads from her novels at bookstores across the country. A former reporter with a Master degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim's stories are based in and around Boston. She lives with her family near Boston, not far from the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn't.  

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Top Ten Tuesday-- Books I Shouldn't Reread

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 (April 10th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books I Liked But Won't Reread

  • Mostly because I'm scared I won't like them as much now!!

1.  Pushing the Limits (#1) by Katie McGarry
  • I looooooved this book when it came out-- but now it sounds kind of cringey and inst-lovey.

2.  The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
  • Even as I read this, I knew it was a MAJOR exception to all my rules on what I like in a romance.  I mean, the virgin with the bad boy trope is one I usually loathe.  So, I think I better not push my luck with a reread.

3.  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (#1) by Mara Dyer
  • I was ADDICTED to this, but now that I know where it eventually leads, I don't think I'd be down with Mara & Noah all over again.

4.  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • Isla was my least favorite in this trilogy, so I think I would rather just leave this one in my momories.

5.  Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • This was one of my favorite books when I read it-- but I hadn't read allllll that much YA at the time.  Now that I have, I don't know if I would feel as loving about it, so I prefer to just leave it as a fave.

6.  Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
  • This is my FAVORITE Sarah Ockler and I really don't want to mess with that.

7.  Audrey Wait! by Robin Benway
  • I thought this was cute, but I don't know if the substance is there now that I think back on it.

8.  Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1) by Megan McCafferty
  • Oh how I loved this book.  Books 3-5 made me want to scream though, so I think the whole series should just be left.

9.  Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • This was tough to read the first time around, and I've read SO many issues books since, so I don't know if it would still be a fave.

10.  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • Now that I know the big "twist", I don't think it would be as intriguing.  Although, I probably would pick up on clues I missed.....

What books did you really like, but think it's best NOT to reread??