2015 Reading Challenge Update

I’ve read 59 books so far this year! I am well on my way to meeting my goal of 200 books. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve read, and in what format:

Picture books: 11

Manga: 14

Graphic Novels: 2

Novels: 26

Novellas/Short Stories: 2

Non-fiction: 3

Other: 1 (poetry collection)

E-books: 11

Audiobooks: 0 (1 in progress)

ARCs: 8

Library books: 41

If you want to stay up to date with what I’m reading, add me on Goodreads! You can also see my 2015 Reading Challenge Books here

Favorites:

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson Unmade by Amy Rose Capetta The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons The Boy with the Hidden Name by Skylar Dorset

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay The Alex Crow by Andrew  Smith Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy The Wild Cat Book by Fiona Sunquist World Trigger, Vol. 1 by Daisuke Ashihara Bloody Brat, Vol.1 by Yuuki Kodama

Citrus, Vol. 1 by Saburo Uta Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio

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The Widdershins Adventures – Review & Giveaway

Thief's Covenant (Widdershins Adventures, #1)False Covenant (Widdershins Adventures, #2)Lost Covenant (Widdershins Adventures, #3)

Covenant's End (Widdershins Adventures, #4)

The Widdershins Adventures  are an undiscovered goldmine in the world of YA fiction. The 4 book series follows the wild and crazy adventures of teenage thief girl, Widdershins, once known as Adrienne Satti. An orphan, whose entire family was murdered, Widdershins roams the back alleys and dark corners of her home city of Davillon. On the run from the human and supernatural forces that want her dead, Widdershins survives by her wit and skill, and more than a little help from her own personal god, Olgun. The pair make an unlikely dynamic duo as they swashbuckle their way into fights and talk their way out of them. 

The world-building is well-conceived, intricate, and very complex, and well-written, especially for a YA novel.  The dialogue, particularly Widdershins talking to herself, to Olgun, and to people she is about to render unconscious, is absolutely hilarious and far more entertaining than anything I’ve read in a YA contemporary book. Widdershins is absolutely relatable, lovable, hilarious, and entertaining. I would have to say that she is an incredibly successful fantasy character. Marmell really knows what he’s doing and appears to be quite the hidden master of fantasy writing. As his only YA series, the Widdershins novels are some of the best fantasy for teens that you could find.

The series comes to a smashing and satisfying conclusion in the final book, COVENANT’S END, which releases today from Pyr Books.


Ari Marmell was born in New York, moved to Houston when he was a year old, moved to Austin when he was 27, but has spent most of his life living in other worlds through a combination of writing and roleplaying games. He has been writing more or less constantly for the last dozen years, though he has only been paid for it the past five. He is the author of multiple roleplaying game supplements including work on Dungeons & Dragons. Ari lives in Austin with his wife, George, and two cats.


Doesn’t this series sound awesome? Check out my Character Appreciation Post for Widdershins, and if you like what you see enter my giveaway to win ARCs of books 3 and 4 in the series!

100 Sideways Miles Blog Tour

 

The Knackery of the Universe Never Shuts Down

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?

Cade 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.

Want to read it? Want to win awesome stuff? Head over to the tour host’s page and enter the giveaway! 


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 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.

STAND OFF, the sequel to WINGER, coming in January 2015, is his ninth novel. Andrew lives in Southern California.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Events | Goodreads

PLAY ME BACKWARDS – For Satanic Young Adults

PLAY ME BACKWARDS by Adam Selzer came out at the end of August this year, and if you haven’t read it yet – you need to. Particularly if you like snarky, male pov, hilarious contemporary fiction.
 Leon Harris is perfectly satisfied being a slacker. In fact, he’s embraced it. But when Anna B. — yeah, that Anna B. — says she might be moving back from England, Leon is desperate to get his act together. Desperate enough to ask his best friend Stan (who may or may not be Satan), for help. Stan’s orders? Listen to the whole audiobook of “Moby-Dick.” Find the elusive white grape Slushee. Join the yearbook committee. And go out with a popular girl. As each strange task takes him further from slackerville, Leon has to wonder if maybe Stan really does have unholy power after all. . .

For fans of Andrew Smith‘s WINGER and GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE comes the latest YA novel by Adam Selzer. PLAY ME BACKWARDS is a hysterical look at the senior year of a slacker named Leon Harris.

The plain and simple truth is, I loved Leon Harris. Yes, he’s the protagonist, and you’re supposed to like the protagonist, right? Well, Leon is a screw-up, a loser, a slacker, a slob, and sometimes a complete idiot. I loved him anyway.

It takes a kick in the crotch from his ex-girlfriend in England to get Leon to realize all of these things about himself. And when he does, he goes to his BFF Stan for advice. Stan gives him a couple of crazy quests, and Leon sets out on a journey to change his life over the course of his senior year in high school. Of course, he really has no idea that anything is going to change.

Slowly but surely, Leon becomes less of an idiot that screwed up his current life and his entire future. Leon still remains very much himself, though. “If I ever stop laughing when people say ‘balls,’ I’ll know my heart is dead,” Leon thinks in chapter 25. I wouldn’t say Leon learns a lot about himself over the course of the story, but he does learn to keep what makes him *Leon* intact in the face of preppy girlfriends, parents threatening to kill you with butcher knives, and the eternal threat of not graduating.

Leon also learns a lot about love and relationships. He’s not the most experienced with girls, and his nervousness with sexual situations is a refreshing change from contemporary YA in which male sexuality isn’t really addressed at all.

“Love is like fitting two puzzle pieces from two different puzzles together.”

This book is the story of Leon trying to fit into puzzles he doesn’t belong in. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, and the too sticky-sweet kind of gross. And you want to read it. Trust me on this one. Or better yet, trust Satan-ahem, I mean Stan.

“You’ll thank me later,” said Stan. “You’ll see. Thus begins the resurrection of Leon.”


Buy PLAY ME BACKWARDS on Amazon or Indiebound

or find at a library near you.

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!

Winger readathon banner


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.

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

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 

Winger readathon banner Winger read-a-thon small


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.