Another Random Question of the Review to start off with:
What book did you not enjoy the first time, but ended up loving as a reread?
Holes by Louis Sachar
Published: August 20, 1998
Publisher: Frances Foster Books ~ Scholastic for the paperback version
Genres: middle grade
Rating: 4 stars
Recommend to fans of: books for the whole family, life lessons, character growth, redemption
Read with food: a tall glass of ice cold water
A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley Yelnats to a harsh juvenile detention center. While the warden claims that the hard labor that the boys are subjected to is meant to build character, it becomes clear that she is really using the boys to hunt for a fortune buried by a Wild West outlaw. The outlaw’s story and a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather are part of a compelling puzzle that has taken generations to unravel.
Way back in elementary school this book was required reading for me. I absolutely hated the book. I must have understood the general concepts, because I did well on all my tests. Straight A’s, thank you very much. #nerdalert However, I didn’t truly understand the nuances of the life lessons the author was trying to accomplish with the book. So I’m really glad the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 encouraged me to go back and reread this assigned book that I originally hated.
As an adult, I really enjoyed Holes. I’m not really a middle grade book reader, but it’s a book that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from. The relevant concepts introduced are child labor, jails, incarceration, the unfairness of the justice system and world in general, deceitful people, learning, personal growth, precious resources, friendship, and finding strength within yourself to accomplish great things. Wow! That’s a lot of hard hitting, important life lessons al jam packed into a middle grade book. No wonder it’s so popular.
I really enjoyed Holes and recommend you give it a read or reread. If you’re a parent, Holes could be a book you group read as a family, and discuss the relevant topics. Might even help explain some of the things going on in the media today.
Let’s start with the Random Question of the Review:
On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best, how much do you enjoy young adult books?
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Rating: 5 stars
Published: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance
Recommend to fans of: nice teenagers, coming of age books, books that give you all the feels, happy sweet books, sister bonds, Asian character representation
Read with food: mocha sugar donuts ~ featured throughout and so accurately represents the fun and sweetness of the book
Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is an incredibly hyped book in the book community. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I tend to be nervous that overhyped young adult books won’t live up to all of the hype. Not to worry, because the book is fabulous! I so enjoyed reading about Lara Jean that I forgot to write down notes for my book review. For me, that’s the mark of a wonderfully engaging read.
The premise of Lara Jean’s love letters getting mailed to the boys she wrote them about could go either way. It ends up making for a great setup, because she focuses on living her life, not worrying too much about what others will think of her. Lara Jean’s relationship with her father and sisters is a major point of the story. I absolutely loved the importance the author placed on family relationships. It’s okay for teenagers to have strong relationships with their family as well as their friends and boyfriend/girlfriend.
Occasionally I was a bit annoyed with some of the drama and fighting, but that’s to be expected in a character driven young adult novel. The tension didn’t take over the story for too long.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a cute sweet novelthat I can’t get enough of. I’ve already added the next books in the series to my TBR.
Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom for a fun twist!
Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase
Published: July 31, 2018
Pages: doesn’t list
Rating: 4 stars
Recommend to fans of: murder mysteries, Law and Order SVU, books about college faculty
Read with food: pretentious hors d’oeuvres at networking events
Meet Tara Thorpe – she had enough on her plate before a grisly college murder landed right in her lap!
As the sun rises, a young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.
It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.
Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.
Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Clare Chase for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.
Murder on the Marshes is a fast read that pulled me in right from the beginning. The action is written so there’s plenty of it to move the story forward, but not so much to be over the top ridiculous. In general I enjoyed the writing style. The color descriptions and imagery are wonderful. They paint quite a picture.
I also really liked the setting. Many of the main characters are college professors, so it’s set on and near a college campus. There’s something about getting a behind the scenes look at college life through the eyes of the professors. Maybe it’s just me, but these types of books are really appealing. I could read an entire book about this alone, completely taking out the murder mystery aspect. Although that was intriguing as well and gave the plot structure.
I would recommend the book for the great writing, college professor characters, and also the mystery.
Scroll down to the bottom of the review for a fun bonus question. I would love to hear your answers!
The Secret by KL Slater
Published: July 27, 2018
Pages: — doesn’t list (Kindle)
Genres: psychological thriller, suspense, mystery
Rating: 4.5 stars
Recommend to fans of: psychological thrillers, characters with a chronic illness or disability, family drama
Read with food: tea and popcorn ~ tea to relax and popcorn because its like a movie that you can’t stop watching
You turn your back for a minute. And now your son is in terrible danger …
Louise is struggling to cope. As a busy working mum, she often has to leave her eight-year-old son Archie at her sister Alice’s flat.
Alice and Louise used to be close. But there’s a lot they don’t know about each other now – like the bottle of vodka Louise hides in her handbag, Alice’s handsome new friend and the odd behaviour of her next-door neighbour.
Archie is a curious little boy. He likes to play on his own at his auntie’s flat until one day when he sees something he shouldn’t. Now he has a secret of his own. One he can’t tell his mum. One that could put him and his family in terrible danger.
Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and KL Slater for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.
Captivating! Terrifying, in a good way! Can’t stop reading!
The Secret is a book that many people will be talking about for awhile. While taking notes for my book review, I must have written down “can’t stop reading” at least 5 times. There’s not just one good aspect, but various sort of random bits that I loved. So here we go:
– Alice! (the main character) She’s sweet, caring, concerned, the kind of honest person you’d want in your life. – Chronic pain is represented well in the book. #ChronicIllnessWarrior #ChronicPain – Sister relationships as adults ~ very authentic – the suspense – I can’t say too much more without giving it away . . . but read the book! – Alice’s relationship with her young nephew gives you hope.
There were very few parts of the book that I didn’t like. However the ending felt rushed to me. There was maybe 10% of the book left, and so many storylines to wrap up. I wish it was a bit longer to do justice for all the storylines.
And of course there are a lot of love to hate characters that make the book absolutely work. Sometimes I wanted to scream at them. But that’s more the mark of a great book.
So overall, I really enjoyed The Secret by KL Slater. Pick it up for a can’t put down read!
Nobody officially tagged me for this, but a ton of people have said they tag everyone . . . and since I’m a part of everyone, here we go
Best book that you’ve read so far in 2018?
Oooh, this is a tough one, because it’s just way too hard to pick the best book of 2018! Narrowing it down to my top 5 or 10, sure, that I can do. Buuuut, if I have to choose, I would pick:
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Murders, deaths that may or may not be accidental, haunted boarding schools, disturbed teenage girls. What more could a reader possibly want in a creepy, can’t put down book?
2.Best sequel that you’ve read so far in 2018?
Find Her by Lisa Gardner (#8 in the Detective D.D. Warren Series)
First book that I read in 2018!
Lisa Gardner does not disappoint with her jam packed novel, filled with suspense, intensity, and the courageous Detective D.D. Warren. If I’m looking for a good solid mystery/thriller I can always count on Lisa Gardner.
3. New release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?
Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
The cover is gorgeous!
I keep seeing Tell Me Lies all over the book world of social media. So many people have loved it, and I hope it’s worth all the hype!
4. Most anticipated release for the next half of 2018?
So hard to choose. I want to read all the books!
Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar
I know, I know, such a nerdy choice. There’s something about a good medical book, fiction or non fiction, that I absolutely love.
5. Biggest disappointment of 2018?
The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld by T.J. English
So many people loved it. The description made the story seem epic, but I absolutely crawled through every page. Definitely not the book for me.
6. Biggest surprise of 2018?
Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
I went into the book thinking the premise sounded interesting. I was absolutely blown away by the gorgeous writing and storytelling about the spirited controversial Iranian poet. A close second to my favorite book of the 2018.
7. Favorite new (or new to you) author?
She is the romance author I’ve been looking for. I enjoy some romance novels, but am picky about the writing, plot lines, etc. Courtney Milan ended up being the perfect fit for me.
8. Newest fictional crush?
I don’t get fictional crushes on characters. Everyone talks about book boyfriends, and I’m over here by myself like “I don’t get it.”
9. Newest favorite character?
Mikki Lincoln in Crime & Punctuation
Smart, savvy, generally badass ~ and bonus points for a good representation of the 50 plus years characters
10. A book that made you cry?
The Crate: A Story of War, A Murder, and Justice by Deborah Vadas Levison
There are barely enough words to describe how impactful The Crate is on people. Definitely recommend giving it a read!
11. A book that made you happy?
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
The author’s passion for these incredible creatures makes it almost impossible to not experience joy while reading the book.
12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received in 2018?
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
The cover has an ethereal beauty to it, almost as if it’s painted with watercolors. Underneath the jacket cover the spine has a beautiful simplicity to it.
Bonus fact: Love and Ruin is the book I used in my profile photo.
13. What books do you need to read by the end of 2018?
So many! Too many!
Is there a thing as having too many books to read?
I actually stopped requesting books from NetGalley for a bit until I finish reading a few more books, because I was feeling way too overwhelmed.
As of now I need to read:
The Secret by K.L. Slater
A Politically Incorrect Feminist by Phyllis Chesler
When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
From Goodreads Giveaways:
The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
Dead in the Water by Simon Bower
The Fifth to Die by J.D. Baker
Rush by Lisa Patton
Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood
All the Way by Kristen Proxy
Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly
The 1% Rule: How to Fall in Love with the Process and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams by Tommy Baker
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly
And the books I choose for the BookTube-A-Thon. (There’s some overlap from the above lists, but I can’t complete a few of the challenges with my ARC reads.)
Also a few more books to complete the 2018 BookRiot Read Harder Challenge. I’m making good progress on this so far.
Anybody else exhausted by reading the list of books I need to read?
Since I’m probably one of the last people in the book blogging community to complete this tag; I tag anyone else who wasn’t done it yet.
Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance with a twist, complicated characters
Read with food: chocolate cake and tea
Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.
When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.
Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.
Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to the author and publisher as well. As always, an honest review.
I was a bit unsure about Ghosted before I started reading. Contemporary romance books have to wow me for me to enjoy them. And wow me, it did!
Sarah and Eddie meet along a countryside road one day, immediately feel a spark, and spend the next week together. They know they have something special. Eddie goes off on his previously planned vacation. Sarah never hears from him again. And this is where the mystery begins.
The premise drew me in and captivated my attention throughout the entire read. As with many contemporary novels, it was a quick, easy and enjoyable read. Ghosted brought up so many relatable questions. Do you trust your heart? Your instincts? What other people are telling you? Logic and reasoning? Or hold out for hope that the best will happen?
I really liked that a lot of the writing was in the form of letters – both formal and informal. Eddie writing to Sarah. Sarah writing to Eddie. Both of them writing to other people. Except, most of the letters go unread or at least without a response. The unsent letters form a sort of journal of their mental processes through all of this. The writing style works really well and is quite enjoyable to read. I can’t say too much more without spoiling the book. I will say this, when you get to a certain unforeseen twist, everything will make perfect sense.
There was very little I didn’t enjoy. However when Sarah was moping around about missing Eddie, it became a bit redundant and annoying at times.
Ghosted has a little something for everyone. Romance, heartbreak, hardship, caregiving, and mystery. Give it a read!
Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, surviving difficult childhoods, family dynamics
Read with food: home canned peaches ~ commonly made in Tara’s family and even taken with to her journey to college
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.
She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.
As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.
EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
A head’s up from the beginning, trigger warning for abuse and gaslighting.
We are all educated. Many people through formal education in public and private primary schools and then universities across the country. Some are homeschooled, in which the quality of education depends on the quality of the teacher. All of us are educated by our life experiences. Our day to day experiences, shaped by the people who surround us or we choose to surround ourselves with. When we are children our education is largely dictated by our schools, extracurricular activities, various adults in our lives, our friends, but above all else our parents. When our parents don’t believe in sending their children to schools of any kind, choosing to very poorly and infrequently educate the children, you get stories like Tara’s.
Tara was lucky in that she was smart, shown the way to self educate from other family members, and while discouraged, was not denied access to higher education. Her life was anything but easy or typical. She grew up in the mountains with a mentally unstable and abusive father, passive mothers, and siblings. Her childhood was filled with abuse of various sorts and so much emotional manipulation that it took her years to sort it out.
I was absolutely engaged in this book the entire time. Even attempting to read it while I had a migraine, which was probably the last thing I should have been doing. Tara is an inspiration.
There are so many life lessons one can take away from the book. Ignore the toxic people in your life. Get out. Don’t let them dictate what you will or won’t do. Also, it’s okay to ask for and accept help. It means you’re strong. We can’t do it all on our own, and we shouldn’t have to. You don’t need to cover up the abuse that other people did. Share what you feel comfortable, but don’t let the people silence your truth.
Wow! I’ve had a lot to say about Educated. The story is so powerful. I highly suggest that you all read it.
Genres: young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller
Rating: 3.5 stars
Recommend to fans of: dark young adult novels
Read with food: iced frap at Starbucks ~ so many clandestine meetings happened there
There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.
My rating is actually 3.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.
The Cheerleaders is a fun, yet dark young adult novel that captivated me from beginning to end. In the span of a few weeks, 5 girls from the local high school cheerleading team were dead. Murders, accidents, suicides, but is that what really happened?
The book quickly drew me in and held my attention throughout. I absolutely flew through this quick read. Definitely something you could read and still comprehend while tired or in a noisy place. I also enjoyed that the narrator is one of the dead girls’ younger sisters. Monica and her friend Ginny were likable and smart, making the story work well. I find that if I don’t connect with the main characters or at least understand their motives, I rarely enjoy the book. Not an issue at all in The Cheerleaders.
However the plot trope of teenagers trying to solve a crime that the police can’t or got wrong has been done a lot. It’s easy to overlook in this book, but it’s worth noting. Also, every characters has a distinct role in solving the mystery. Which in theory sounds great, but left me feeling as if certain characters were just being used for what they could bring to the solving the mystery, instead of actual relationships or character development.
Overall, The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is worth a read in my opinion. Fun, serious, with a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for those hot summer days when you want to escape into a book for awhile.
Most of you have probably heard of it, maybe even participated in the week long reading extravaganza. Last year was the first year that I had participated as a reader. For years I had seen things about the BookTube-A-Thon on social media and watched videos, but never joined in. Last year, I figured why not? It seems like fun!
I am so glad that I participated. With the BookTube-A-Thon coming up soon, I wanted to share with you all what I learned from my experience participating in last year’s BookTube-A-Thon.
The book community is so nice~ from comments on my bookish Instagram posts to encouragement to meet my reading goals and motivational memes during the late night reading sprints
Social media helps to bring like minded people together, and that’s a wonderful thing.
An honest, heartfelt, positive comment on someone’s photo that they’ve clearly spent time creating means a lot. Take the time to say nice things to fellow readers.
A week of reading and all things bookish is just plain awesome!
Reading challenges are fun, but it’s okay if you don’t complete them all.
I have way more time in my day than I originally thought. ~ I didn’t stop doing everything else in my normal day for the week. It’s about always having a book with you, and also making my free time into reading time.
I felt physically better that week than I had in a long time. There’s something to be said for focusing on fun, positive, relaxing activities for yourself. Ignore the negative people and do what you love! #LifeLesson
Audiobooks, graphic novels and children’s books are your best friend if you want to hit the 7 books in 7 days challenge.
Reach out to other people participating. Interacting with fellow readers is what it’s all about!
Have fun! Be silly! Don’t take it too seriously
To show my true personality ~ I’m fairly serious and plan out what I’m going to say about books, which is good when writing book reviews. But the BookTube-A-Thon Twitter sprints taught me to be fun, not think too much about what I’m posting and even silly at times.
It’s okay for me to take time for me! A week where it’s about me doing what I love, caring less about what other people think, and not putting their needs above my own.
It is possible to read 7 books in one week, but oh my goodness, I thought my brain might fall out of my head.
The BookTube-A-Thon and reading in general has taught me so much more than I thought was possible.
A big thank you to the BookTube-A-Thon, Ariel Bissett, and all the other people who work so hard to make the event possible.
How many of you are planning to participate in the BookTube-A-Thon this year?
What have you learned from the BookTube-A-Thon, the bookish community or reading in general?