Happy Book Birthday Review – 100 SIDEWAYS MILES by Andrew Smith

Finn Easton is a 16 year-old boy living in the middle of no-where, California. Finn never tells anyone how he really feels. He is very good at just “being fine.” He’s okay. Always okay. Except he’s not, really. This is the story of Finn’s becoming more than okay with who he is. The journey of an epileptic, baseball-playing, poetic, never-been-kissed teenage boy. And it is a journey that all boys someday go on: how to escape from the book of their life and write their own story.

By the second chapter I had a crystal clear picture of who Finn Easton was, what he sounded like, and how he felt about everything. This is character building; it is connecting to your reader; it is identifying with a fictional human being. This is great writing. Finn Easton is a poet, and that is the truth. His narrative is a hypnotic, colorful whirlwind of words coalescing into unexpected poetry as it falls from the page into your head.

Finn is a boy with problems. As a little kid his mother was killed by a horse falling from a bridge, and that same horse broke Finn’s back. Finn has epileptic seizures. He lives constantly under the shadow of his father’s most famous book, which features a boy very much like Finn himself. One summer, Finn meets a girl, and he falls in love with this girl. After Julia moves back home, Finn and his best friend Cade go on an unexpected road trip to plan the rest of their lives.

Next, I want to devote an entire paragraph to Cade Hernandez, Finn’s best friend, so I will. Just, Cade, okay?

10492112_10204495095720843_5199053816036509432_nCade Hernandez is a god among boys. He is everything. Confident, attractive, funny, bold, the best friend a guy could ever have. But there are moments, and in those moments I know that Cade is even more than everything. He is loneliness. He is longing. He is the truth about boys and that’s how it is. I love that kid. He reminds me of Conner Kirk from The Marbury Lens, and I love that kid, too. These best friends in Andrew Smith’s book are simply the most well-written characters I’ve ever discovered.

Don’t be afraid of the horse on the cover. You’ll discover something mesmerizing inside. Like all the words in your head just spill right out, until before you know it you’re filled right up with “Twenty miles, twenty miles, twenty miles,” and then you’ve traveled 60 miles sideways across the face of the Earth and you didn’t even know it.

This is a book for every reader. Girls, boys, parents, new adults. Sure, go ahead and recommend it to them. Especially girls who like books by John Green. Boys who don’t like to read, or have a hard time sticking with a book. Anyone looking for a refreshing contemporary teen book that isn’t mired down in love triangles. Yes, you. This book is for you.

P.S. This is a book I was so grateful to not have to wait until release day for. Thank you very, very much (you know who you are, both of you) for the advance review copy.

100 SIDEWAYS MILES releases today! Get your copy now! Check bookstores, libraries, and online


 

Fan of Andrew Smith? Join in the WINGER Read-a-Thon I am hosting! Grab the banner below, use the hashtag #ReadWINGER, and check my WINGER Read-A-Thon post for updates!

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Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger(Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and an ALA Top 10 for 2014) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

Pre-Pub Day Review – TRIAL BY FIRE – 9/2/14

Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy, #1)

TRIAL BY FIRE releases tomorrow! Head over to Goodreads to enter to win a copy before the end of the day.

Lily Proctor knew she shouldn’t have gone out on a Friday night with her best friend, and now boyfriend, Tristan. Lily has powerfully debilitating allergies, can’t handle even a sip of alcohol, and breaks out in hives at the mere suggestion of shellfish. When the vodka slipped into her soda sends Lily into a fever-induced seizure, she is transported into another world, Salem, by an evil version of herself. Salem features Crucibles (witches who control technology) and monsters that haunt the shadows. On the plus side, the protagonist’s severe allergies are suddenly gone. Lily must befriend Rowan Fall, a moody yet irresistible man who becomes her guardian, and train with Rowan and his friends, Caleb and Tristan (an alternate world version of her boyfriend!) to become the strongest witch Salem has ever seen. Meanwhile, the cruel Lillian is doing everything in her power, including murdering innocents, to stop any scientific advances, and will stop at nothing to see the downcast Outlanders that Lily has allied with completely destroyed. Lily, Rowan, Caleb, and Tristan must use magic to stop Lillian, even at the cost of their own lives. Much like Anna Jarzab’s TANDEM and Shannon Delaney’s WEATHER WITCH, Angelini’s latest series opener combines the best elements of fantasy with hints of science fiction, history, and romance. 

-Review originally published in School Library Journal, July 2014. 

ARC August Wrap-Up

Today my ARC August Challenge is complete! Back at the beginning of the month I challenged myself to read 15 ARCs over the month of August. Well, I only got to 7, so I didn’t make it! I set my goal high, and that kept me motivated to read more ARCs than the 3 novels I finished at the beginning of the month. 

The 3 picture books were reviewed for YA Books Central, so check those out!

LOVE IS THE DRUG was my favorite book of the summer. I loved every word. I have never annotated a book like I did this one. The pages of the ARC are covered with my reactions, scribbled notes, questions, and thoughts. At one point Bird asks, “What’s the point of being brave if it destroys you?” and the way in which she answers this question could change your life.

LET’S GET LOST was my second favorite book of the summer! Read it. LET’S GET LOST is just as good as John Green’s road trip novel, PAPER TOWNS. In fact, I liked it better. It’s more realistic, the characters have more depth, and while it isn’t as funny, it’s not meant to be comedic. Leila’s road trip is a serious personal journey of discovery, and I loved being along for the ride.

LOVE, LUCY was sent to me for review by School Library Journal, so look for that review in the December edition of SLJ. I will say that it was a good book, and fans of Rainbow Rowell should get it on their to-read list!

The Worst Princess  Clara and Davie  I Pledge Allegiance

 

Evidence of Things Not Seen  Love Is the Drug  Let's Get Lost  Love, Lucy

MINDWAR

Mindwar (Mindwar, #1)High school football star Rick Dial becomes depressed and immerses himself in video games after a car accident leaves his legs painfully useless. After racking up world-class high schores, the teen is recruited to fight real life baddies in The Realm – a virtual reality world created by Kurodar, a terrorist out to destroy the free world. Rick enters The Realm on several occasions, and each time the missions get more dangerous. He must fight for his life, because what happens to you in this virtual world affects your IRL body. Can Rick defeat Kurodar’s evil Axis Assembly and save not only the country, but his family as well? The novel’s overarching conservative and nationalistic themes turn this seemingly gamer-centric sci-fi series opener into an exposition on faith, forgiveness, family, and patriotism. With quoted Bible passages and casual conversations with God, the author brings to the forefront the importance of religion in the protagonist’s life. Sports commentary and video game jargon are awkwardly integrated into the narrative. Recommended for athletes, young gamers, and readers looking for YA books with a Christian outlook. Published July 8th, 2014. 

-Review originally published in School Library Journal, June 2014

Review: WHERE SILENCE GATHERS

Kelsey Sutton is one of my top 3 favorite authors that I discovered this year. Her debut novel, Some Quiet Place, is one of my favorite books ever, and one of my fave YA of 2014. 

Alexandra Tate has always been able to see personified Emotions, but now she is faced with a Choice. Revenge, her best friend since the drunk driving accident that killed her family, and Forgiveness, a tempting new Choice, compete for her attention. Even six years after the tragedy, Alex struggles with her grief and tries again and again to get justice for her family’s murder. Completing her senior year of high school loses priority as Alex uncovers mysteries about her father’s past, is chased by haunting voices that no one else can hear, and runs from faceless attackers threatening the lives of her remaining family and friends. A poignant, heart-wrenching story of grief, love, and loss, Where Silence Gathers combines an authentic narrative with tantalizing supernatural elements to create a powerful companion novel to Sutton’s debut, Some Quiet Place. It will appeal to fans of paranormal romances like Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Meredith Stoll, and Fallen by Lauren Kate. 

-Review originally published in School Library Journal, March 2014

Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place, #1)  Where Silence Gathers (Some Quiet Place, #2)

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Winger Read-a-Thon!

WINGER is a book about getting punched in the face, about facing your fears, about kissing girls that you don’t love, and fighting for things you may or may not believe in right at the moment. Publishers Weekly calls it a “brutally honest coming-of-age novel.” And you should be reading it.

Winger Readathon

 

WINGER comes out in paperback on September 2nd, 2014. Get your copy, and read along with us! Find it in a library, at a bookstore, or online. I highly recommend the first option, being a librarian myself.

To celebrate its release I’m hosting a WINGER Read-a-Thon! Throughout the month of September I’ll be hosting Twitter discussions of WINGER, live-streams of read-aloud sessions, posting reviews by teen readers, and doing other bookish shenanigans through the Interwebz. Stay tuned for details! 

“And then it’s always that one word that makes you so different and puts you outside the overlap of everyone else; and that word is so fucking big and loud, it’s the only thing anyone ever hears when your name is spoken. 

And whenever that happens to us, all the other words that make us the same disappear in its shadow.” – Ryan Dean West, WINGER

Post in the comments below if you’re going to be participating in the WINGER Read-a-Thon. Grab a button below and post it on your website/blog/fb/etc.

Post your updates, reactions, and progress with #ReadWINGER 

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WINGER synopsis from the author’s website: Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy. With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart. Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.


Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and an ALA Top 10 for 2014) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

Blog in Review – Search Terms

Here is something I have never done before – a review of the search terms used to find my blog through Google. I had no freaking clue that they would be so ridiculous. I fully expected the “libraries and manga”, the “anime club at library” and YA book series searches.

I did not expect the following:

attack on titan love -Love? Just love? Okay.

kill la kill ok for library - Uh, probably not. Sorry.

cat coffee nice day - Cat + coffee = nice day. Enough said.

in the shatter me series wo does juliette get with in the end - OMFG Do you expect me to spoil the series for you?! Seriously. What are you thinking.

anime kanokon sexy anime kanokon sexy – Pretty obvious what this person was thinking. 

chocolate teen male – I can’t even. This is my favorite one. I just. Wut. 

what is unstoppable corn – This is the most recent one, and it seriously made my day. What is unstoppable corn? Read GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE. Find the truth within.

why you should read homestuck - LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOMESTUCK. 

And now for some tame ones. Cause I occasionally run a serious blog:

top 10 books of 2014 – Totally expected. 

how to start an anime club at library – This is totally something my blog answers. Thank you.

librarians and cosplay – Yes, good.

realistic fiction for boys 12 yo – I hope you found some recommendations!

ya books about questioning your sexuality – I should probably write a full blog post on this. Seriously. I wish I had these books when I was a teen.