Review: Buzz Books 2017 Young Adult Spring/Summer

Buzz Books 2017 Young Adult Spring/Summer Book Cover Buzz Books 2017 Young Adult Spring/Summer
Publishers Lunch
January 13, 2017
eARC
Net Galley

Our sixth edition of Buzz Books: Young Adult provides the special excitement of Winter Institute and takes it even further with samples of the best in forthcoming young adult novels months ahead of their actual publication. Publishing insiders— librarians, booksellers, bloggers and reviewers—rely on Buzz Books to survey breakout titles on the horizon. At the end of most excerpts, you will find a link to the full galley on NetGalley!

These substantial pre-publication excerpts reflect a broad spectrum of today’s young adult writing, from fantasy and romance to suspense and humor. You will discover debut writers to put on your radar, while enjoying early samples from some of the biggest authors in the field and even a memoir for younger readers.

Three New York Times bestselling authors share new work: Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger); Cora Carmack (the Losing It series); and Joelle Charbonneau (the Testing trilogy). Ahdieh and Charbonneau are previous Buzz Books authors, so we’re delighted to have them back.

Beyond the boundaries of YA, we also feature two middle grade titles from JIMMY Patterson, the children’s imprint that James Patterson founded to encourage every child to love reading.

Let’s look at another edition of Buzz Books and see which titles I can’t wait to read, and which titles I’ll pass on, thank you.

Can’t Wait to Read
The One Memory of Flora Banks
Piper Perish
This is Really Happening
The End of Our Story
Laugh Out Loud
Geekerella
Definitions of Indefinable Things

Undecided
Flame in the Mist
Dream Me
Future Threat
The Black Witch
Aftercare Instructions
Rebels Like Us
Gem & Dixie

I’ll Pass This Time, Thanks
Roar
Dividing Eden
Spirit Quest
How to Be a Super Villain

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this title through Net Galley and the publisher {Publishers Lunch} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Riley Unlikely

Riley Unlikely Book Cover Riley Unlikely
Riley Banks-Snyder
Memoir
Zondervan
September 22, 2016
eARC
Net Galley

This memoir follows Riley from age twelve, when she first became interested in going to Kenya to help the people there, through today. While her faith is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book, it is not the central focus, the focus is on one girl’s desire to help and the way she went about doing it.

Riley is truly a remarkable woman. As a teenager she saw a need, then went about trying to fulfill it, becoming the head of a nonprofit organization focused on providing the supplies needed to improve education in Kenya when she was just 14. She also focused on helping those in other countries of Africa as well, such as Uganda.

Her story is told in an easy, conversational way; sharing her experiences at home in the US as well as in Africa on her visits each year, and speaking about her organization and the ways in which it has grown and evolved. While Riley’s passion is evident in each page, the book never becomes preachy and Riley never seeks to glorify herself.

If you are looking for an inspiring read, or just to learn about the conditions of some of the villages in Africa, I definitely recommend reading Riley Unlikely.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review through Net Galley and the publisher {Zondervan}. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

March Mini Reviews

This month I am again doing mini reviews of my audio/library books for the month. I ended up with 10 this month {almost 11}.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky Under the Wide and Starry Sky~ 3 stars

For the most part I enjoyed this one, but I felt that it was really long and dragged in certain parts. The best moments were when Fanny and Louis are together. Though this is based on a true story and actual people,  I think the author did a good job of building a story around the known events and filled in the gaps with creative license.

Every Day (Every Day, #1) Every Day~ 4 stars

While my audio copy had a few glitches, I really enjoyed this book and was able to identify with A and with their choices. In many ways I identified with Rhiannon as well, though she had a few whiny moments that kind of annoyed me. I want to find out what happens though, so I really want to read the second book now.

Carry On Carry On~ 4 stars

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this one. I wasn’t sure if it would be a parody on Harry Potter or if there would be any reference to Cath from Fangirl. I found myself rooting for Simon and Baz and laughing out loud at intervals while listening to this one.

Bone Gap Bone Gap~ 3 stars

This is a tough one. While I enjoyed the book, I think I was a little let down by all of the hype surrounding it. So many people kept raving how wonderful it is, and I just didn’t get that same experience. I think is was very well written, had some great characters and good world building, but it left me feeling a little flat in the end.

The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1) The Seeing Stone (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #2) The Spiderwick Chronicles Books 1 &2~ 4 stars

These are incredibly fun! They are written for children and are super quick reads but definitely suitable for an older audience as well. The world building and characters are great and each book is a separate adventure, though they should be read as part of the series since they are so short that the background is only given in the first book. Each book was only about an hour long in audio format {bonus, the audio is narrated by Mark Hamill}. I can’t wait to read the next installments.

Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office Bitter is the New Black~ 4 stars

Jen Lancaster’s debut memoir is hysterical! She takes a lighthearted look at a very serious time in her life and shines through her writing. Be warned, if you are adverse to swearing or easily offended this book {author} might not be for you. But I loved it!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake~ 3 stars

I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I wanted so much more for Rose and from Rose. In many ways I felt her adult self still acted like her childhood self, I felt like there was no real growth of any of the characters… except maybe George. I kept feeling like I was missing something important. Maybe I need to read it in physical form?

Stuart Little Stuart Little~ 4 stars

I remember this book as being much longer when I was a kid. But I guess it felt longer then than it does now. And Stuart is a bit more arrogant than I remembered as well. But still, revisiting this gem from my childhood was a lot of fun.

The Good Luck of Right Now The Good Luck of Right Now~ 4 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one when it started out with a letter to Richard Gere, but I fell in love with the story, Bartholomew, Max, Father McNamee and the whole crew. It was a truly endearing story and a look inside a person who often lives on the outside of society. I even came to enjoy the format of letters to Richard Gere. There is so much hope in every line, and the characters grow so much over the course of the story. I utterly adored it. And I really want to find out more about Cat Parliament!

Review: March Buzz Books Monthly

March Buzz Books Monthly Book Cover March Buzz Books Monthly
Fiction
Publishers Lunch
February 2, 2017
eARC
Net Galley

For more than five years now, passionate readers have relied on our twice-a-year Buzz Books to sample and discover new books from big authors and breakout talents through exclusive and substantial pre-publication excerpts.

Now we are offering the same robust publication in easier-to-digest monthly packages. You'll find exclusive excerpts of six notable books due for publication during the month of March—but first check out our extensive preview of well over 100 new books of interest coming to market in the month ahead. At the end of most excerpts, you will find a link to the full galley on NetGalley!

Then read a haunting World War II tale by Jessica Shattuck, author of New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding. Also included in the sampler is romance author Kristy Cambron’s latest and a “bonus” debut thriller excerpt. Young adult fiction is represented by three debut titles from authors Kayla Cagan, Elizabeth Briggs, and Ashley Poston.

It’s time for another monthly Buzz Books review. As with my February review, I’ll be looking at the excerpts themselves, rather than attempting to review the collection. I found 2 that sound awesome, 2 that are interesting but not quite me, and 2 that just don’t appeal this time around.

Can’t Wait to Read:
Piper Perish  by Kayla Cagan
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Might or Might Not Read:
Future Threat: by Elizabeth Briggs
A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

I’ll Pass, Thanks:
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
The Illusionist’s Apprentice  by Kristy Cambron

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book through Net Galley and the publisher {Publishers Lunch} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Liar’s Key

Liar's Key Book Cover Liar's Key
Sharpe & Donovan
Carla Neggers
Fiction; Romance
Harlequin; MIRA
August 30, 2016
eARC
Net Galley

Emma Sharpe is suspicious when retired Special Agent Gordon Wheelock, a legend in FBI art crimes, drops by her Boston office for a visit. Gordy says he's heard rumors about stolen ancient mosaics. Emma, an art crimes specialist herself, won't discuss the rumors. Especially since they involve Oliver York, an unrepentant English art thief. Gordy and Emma's grandfather, a renowned private art detective, chased Oliver for a decade. Gordy knows Wendell Sharpe didn't give him everything he had on the thief. Even now, Oliver will never be prosecuted.

When a shocking death occurs, Emma is drawn into the investigation. The evidence points to a deadly conspiracy between Wendell and Oliver, and Emma's fiancé, deep cover agent Colin Donovan, knows he can't stay out of this one. He also knows there will be questions about Emma's role and where her loyalties lie.

From Boston to Maine to Ireland, Emma and Colin track a dangerous killer as the lives of their family and friends are at stake. With the help of their friend, Irish priest Finian Bracken, and Emma's brother, Lucas, the Sharpes and Donovans must band together to stop a killer.

This book is actually part of a series, and one that I think you really need to read the preceding books to truly appreciate. Unfortunately, I have not read the previous books in the series, so I was left without much of a background into the characters that were central to the story.

Because I joined the characters mid-series, there wasn’t as much character development provided. All of the relationships were already established, and while there was some background given, I still felt like I was missing key pieces. This is especially true about Emma and Colin and their relationship.

I was approximately half-way through the book when I realized there was not going to be a lot of action. With a book about two FBI agents, I expected it to be fast paced and full of action, but it was more meditative. There wasn’t really even a case until the last 20%, just a lot of questions about a retired FBI agent’s questions and motives.

All that being said, I did enjoy the story, though I usually tend to prefer something a little more fast paced. I think if I had read the books in the series leading up to this one, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book through Net Galley and the publisher {Harlequin; MIRA} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: February Buzz Books Monthly

February Buzz Books Monthly Book Cover February Buzz Books Monthly
Buzz Books Monthly
Publishers Lunch
January 2, 2017
eARC
Net Galley

For more than five years now, passionate readers have relied on our twice-a-year Buzz Books to sample and discover new books from big authors and breakout talents through exclusive and substantial pre-publication excerpts.

Now we are offering the same robust publication in easier-to-digest monthly packages. You'll find exclusive excerpts of five notable books due for publication during the month of February, and at the end of most excerpts, you will find a link to the full galley on NetGalley!

Press Read Now and check out our extensive preview of well over 100 new books of interest coming to market in the month ahead. Then read Elan Mastai’s debut; Christina Baker Kline on Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting; and Pam Jenoff’s World War II tale. Also included in the sampler is romance author Kristan Higgins’ latest as well as the first in a Young Adult series by Jeff Giles.

Because my general opinion of the Buzz Books series is the same, I have decided to do my reviews for them slightly differently from now on {because I do plan to keep reading them, I love them!}. Instead of a general opinion on the collection of excerpts, I will be listing the ones I really want to read, and the ones I will probably pass.

So, here are how the excerpts in the February edition fared:

Can’t Wait to Read:

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

I May or May Not Read These:

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

I’ll Pass on These, Thanks:

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this books through Net Galley and the publisher {Publishers Lunch} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Kisses on a Paper Airplane

Kisses on A Paper Airplane Book Cover Kisses on A Paper Airplane
Sarah Vance-Tompkins
Young Adult
Inkspell Publishing
August 12, 2016
eARC
Net Galley

Drama student Hannah Evans isn't kissing any frogs on her path to find Prince Charming. She's determined to share the perfect first kiss -- with the perfect boy -- in the perfect place -- or she's not kissing at all. When Hannah meets a cute ginger-haired boy in first class lounge in the London airport, she knows he's 'The One.'

Pop star Theo Callahan is on the road to get as far away as possible from his back-stabbing best friend, and the supermodel girlfriend who broke his heart. Until one shy smile from Hannah has him rethinking all of his travel plans.

Theo is smitten with Hannah, but he's worried she's just a groupie in search of the ultimate selfie. Can Theo learn to trust Hannah in time to share one perfect first kiss, or will Hannah be forced to kiss a frog?

This is a sweet and innocent instalove YA romance. Those who are opposed to instalove may not enjoy it, but I am rather partial to it myself.

Hannah is a little naive and shy, and a bit insecure. She falls for Theo before she even knows who he is, but doesn’t think he would be interested in her, especially once she recognizes him.

Theo is also super sweet and very insecure. He is used to being liked for his celebrity and not for himself. He is drawn to Hannah immediately because she doesn’t make a fuss over his celebrity.

Their story takes the usual twists and turns, but I’m sure everyone can predict how things turn out. While the plot does follow the general formula of a YA romance, it does have some interesting moments, and the characters of Hannah and Theo more than make up for it.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book through Net Galley and the publisher {Inkspell Publishing} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

February Mini Reviews

I think my estimate of 2 library/audio books a month is going to need to be updated because I again more than beat that number for February. As I mentioned last month, I’ll be doing a post with mini reviews of all of the library books I read/ listen to each month.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works 10% Happier~ 5 stars

Newscaster Dan Harris shares his journey to mindfulness in a humorous and engaging way. As I’ve mentioned, I read the audio version which was narrated by the author. Mr. Harris shared personal details of his struggle with drugs, faith, and the sometimes cut-throat world of on-air journalism. I was drawn to his experiences with mindfulness and meditation and came to understand myself and my own fledgling practice better through his writing.

Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1) Angels and Demons~ 4 stars

The first of four books surrounding the character of Robert Langdon, a symbologist and historian. While the story takes place in the Vatican and has religious undertones, it does not force a religious message on the reader and explores the relationship between science and church. There are a lot of plot twists and turns and plenty of action in this one.

Ready Player One Ready Player One~ 5 stars

This book is a complete homage to gamers and the 80s. Anyone who loves video and arcade games or grew up during the 80s will love this book! There is a lot of action, a few interesting plot twists, and so much 80s trivia, you’ll be entertained throughout the entire story. It doesn’t hurt that the audio version is narrated by Wil Wheaton either.

Rising Strong Rising Strong~ 3 stars

Following up on her research from Daring Greatly, and continuing into new material on resilience, Brene Brown narrates this work herself. While I still find the information interesting, I was not as absorbed in this book as I was in Daring Greatly.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #1) Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library~ 4 stars

While this is certainly written with a younger reader in mind, I still had a lot of fun with this one! The author introduced library sciences is such a fun way that I think a lot of kids might be inspired to check out their local libraries after reading this one. Of course, they may be disappointed when they discover that their local library doesn’t have all of the technological advances of the one featured in this book {holograms, animatronics, etc.}, but they should at least come away with a love of books and reading!

** All covers link to Goodreads, all titles link to Amazon {affiliate}

Review: Buzz Books Monthly~ January

January Buzz Books Monthly Book Cover January Buzz Books Monthly
Fiction
Publishers Lunch
December 9, 2016
eARC
Net Galley

As with the other Buzz Books collections, this book features excerpts of books that are releasing soon, in this case, books that released in January 2017.

The monthly collections do not feature new works, and instead feature books that were already featured in earlier editions of Buzz Books. I did not realize this before requesting the first three monthly editions, so I had already read part of the January edition.

That being said, I did find some additional books to add to my list. And the duplicate entries were ones I am interested in, so I didn’t mind reading their excerpts again. I still think the Buzz Books collections are a great way to check out upcoming releases.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC through Net Galley and the publisher {Publishers Lunch} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Faultlines

Faultlines Book Cover Faultlines
Barbara Taylor Sissel
Fiction
Lake Union Publishing
September 6, 2016
eARC
Net Galley

I have some mixed feelings about this book. There were parts that I loved and parts that I didn’t. And there was one character I had a really, really hard time with. I’m going to try to write this without spoilers.

What I loved:

Selected characters: namely Sandy, Libby and Jordan- all were well written, flawed, but understandable characters I could relate to.
The plot twist surrounding Huck and Jordan. Huck isn’t likeable, but at least he’s believable.
The relationships between Sandy & Jordan, Sandy & Libby, and Jordan & Libby.

What I didn’t love:

How did Emmett not know? You were gone for months and back for 7 days, and you didn’t figure it out on your own? Really?
What happened with Beck… was it really necessary? I’m not sure how this benefited the book at all.
The town’s reaction to Sandy and Jordan.
Officer Carter’s silence for most of the book. WTH?

And the character I had a real problem with:

Jenna! I had no sympathy for this character at all. She turned on Sandy and Jordan immediately and without concern for Jordan AT ALL. Yes, her situation sucked, but her reactions were out of line regardless of who was responsible. I could not relate to her in any way. Her character was supposed to be tragic, but I felt she was almost evil.

Overall this was a good read, it just had some parts that didn’t work for me.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book through Net Galley and the publisher {Lake Union Publishing} in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.