THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME by Jessica Verdi

image001The Summer I Wasn’t Me
Sourcebooks Fire, April 1, 2014
ISBN 9781402277887

Lexi has a secret…

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen year old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi- she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feeling is harder than she thinks. And when she falls head over heels for Carolyn, one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

In The Summer I Wasn’t Me, Verdi writes with raw honesty and an open heart, asking the hard questions and exploring emotional depths and difficult truths in her character that no YA author has done before.

Praise for The Summer I Wasn’t Me

“A powerful indictment of reparative therapy- a sweet love story- and an unforgettable main character!.”

– Nancy Garden, author of Annie On my Mind

 

My Review

Owl Rating:

five owls

 

You need to read this book. That could honestly be my entire review.

I finished The Summer I Wasn’t Me in two days. Two because I couldn’t finish it in one because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to read any further. In actuality it only took me a few hours to read the book.

When I was done I gave it to my friend. She was interviewing me for a project on children’s literature and I mentioned it as an example of books, like Speak by Laurie Hale Anderson, that empower teens to act, to speak out, to be the person they want to be, even if others don’t approve. She asked could she borrow it and I gave it to her. She finished it in a few hours, giving me a play-by-play the entire time. Her words, “Oh my goodness, the feelings, it was amazing.”

You see Jessica Verdi has this amazing talent. She’s able to thrust the reader directly into the characters in this way that feels so close up you don’t even realize you’re falling before you’ve fallen and the next thing you know you’re squeezing your childhood stuffed animals for any source of comfort.

You need to read this book.

This book affected me so much. I know my younger self, who was dealing with some of the same things as Lexi, would’ve loved this book. I mean, I’m still dealing with it and having Lexi, no matter how fictional she is, is a godsend.

You will fall deeply in love with these characters. They will become your siblings and you’ll want to protect them from all the bad. Unfortunately you won’t be able to and it will rip you apart but it is so worth it. I often speak of reading as a cathartic experience, this is one of those books that produces that.

There’s a conversation going on now/been going on for years about why we need diversity in children’s literature. We need it because we need more books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me. As Christopher Myers spoke about and as an author I love recently posted about, publishing is a business and as such it pays attention to The Market. If the Market, if the sales don’t show, books like Jessica Verdi’s won’t continue to be published and then where will teens like my younger self be? Alone. When they feel like they can’t talk to anyone else, like no one understands them they won’t even have the characters in the books that helped me get through some rough patches. Not if we don’t show The Market that we, the consumers, want books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me.

So please go out and buy it for your library, gift it to the teens in your life, order it from your indie bookstore, this is a book that will change your life.

Oh, and my interview with the author is definitely worth your time 🙂

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

 

WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren

Hello readers, I hope your Monday is off to a great start! Today I have my review of WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren up (my first MG on the blog!) and a giveaway. Enjoy!

what the moon said

WHAT THE MOON SAID
Hardcover, 224 pages
Publication Date: February 20th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
ISBN: 0399163522

Book Blurb:

Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

Add to your Goodreads to-reads!

Buy Links: IndieBound | Amazon | B&N | Signed Copy from A Room of One’s Own

My Review

Owl Rating

five owls

It seems these days I’m giving a lot more 5 owls than I used to…keep the good books coming, y’all!

A while back, I had the honor of connecting with author Gayle Rosengren, thanks to Dahlia Adler! When Gayle received ARCs of her MG book, WHAT THE MOON SAID, she sent me one.

I was apprehensive at first about reading this book. It’s not the type of book I’d normally pick up these days, but on the back cover it said that fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder would love it and her books were some of my favorite books growing up–so much so that I found & bought a set of classic paperbacks–so I said, what the heck and started reading.

After part of a flight and a bus ride later, I’d finished reading WHAT THE MOON SAID. I have to say the ending brought tears to my eyes and had me underlining so many sentences because they were beautiful and rang so true! WHAT THE MOON SAID is one of those books that sneak up on you. At first, it was kinda slow, not really but as someone who reads mostly speci-fic MG when I do read MG, there wasn’t a big beginning. In fact, I had to stop at one point and recalibrate myself so to say as a way of “getting in the zone” because I was reading something different and I didn’t want to discredit the book because it didn’t fit into a genre it never promised to fit in to. After that, I was hooked.

Esther, the protagonist, deals a lot with her not believing that her mother loves her for she doesn’t show the same affection that she sees other mothers showing their daughters. When I was little, I used to think my mom hated me…that something was wrong with me because I felt she loved my younger brother more, other moms would kiss and hug their daughters and mine didn’t. Until I realized, one day, that she really does love me it’s just that as the oldest daughter she put a lot of stress and expectations on me because she wanted my life to be easier than hers was. Like Esther, I was the child who was most likely to not listen to her, I was the mischievous one. It wasn’t until I accepted that my mom would never be like other moms and those other moms weren’t as perfect as they seemed that I was able to see the many ways that my mom loves me…and though she still isn’t one to declare her love every day like I do, we’ve gotten closer because of it.

That’s what drew me to Esther and her story. It was so much like mine and I was so sure children would relate to it because childhood is that time during which we wonder things like that because we’re so raw and open. It’s beautiful in some weird way and Gayle managed to capture that with her book. The end was so satisfying because though I found myself wondering what would happen to Esther, I was comforted that she’d turn out all right because I did.

Also, the wanting a dog bit…so my life, my dad was actually the anti-dog one. I had one when I was little, but he ran away (my mom thinks my dad let him out). Now that my dad has a farm out in “Texas farm country” he has two, LOL. And I LOVED reading about Esther’s love for Louisa May Alcott’s books, favorites of mine, and the Nancy Drew series, another favorite, which were just coming out when Esther was little!

I wanted to leave you with this quote from Esther. It’s one of those things that everyone has to learn sooner or later:

Home was more than a place. Home was family.

And with that, I hope you’re always able to find or build a home for yourself as Esther’s story truly does prove that home is everlasting as long as you’re with the ones you love and that love is more than just saying I love you, the actions of those around you, not the words, are what’s most important.

**I received the book to read & review from the author, Gayle Rosengren (thank you!!). This is a 100% honest review.**

Because I loved WHAT THE MOON SAID so much (& because my ARC has my scribbles everywhere) I’m giving away 1 hardcover copy of WHAT THE MOON SAID.

It’s open to U.S. & international residents (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country)

ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

About the Author

gayle-b

Gayle grew up in Chicago.  Like Esther, she enjoyed school, was an avid reader, and loved dogs and horses.  She attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where she majored in Creative Writing and was the editor of the literary magazine. Gayle never outgrew her passion for children’s books, and she worked as a children’s and young adult librarian at a public library for several years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, enthusiastically sharing her love of books with young people.

Also like Esther, Gayle eventually moved to Wisconsin, but by then she was a mother with three children.  She worked in the reference library, and later as a copy-editor, at American Girl.  During this time period she published short stories for children in CricketLadybugJack and Jill and Children’s Digest magazines.

Now Gayle writes full-time in her home just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, Don, and slightly neurotic rescue dog, Fiona.  Gayle is living her dream, she says, writing books she hopes will make the same difference in children’s lives as her favorite books and authors made in hers.  What the Moon Said is her first novel.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Esther loves to read Louisa May Alcott’s books & the Nancy Drew series, what’s your favorite childhood book(s)?

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Blog Tour: TWELVE STEPS by Veronica Bartles – Book Review

twelve steps banner

Happy Thursday!! Today I’m participating in the blog tour of TWELVE STEPS by Veronica Bartles! My review is below as is the link to the giveaway. Enjoy!

twelve steps cover

Twelve Steps

by Veronica Bartles Genre: YA Contemporary Romance Publisher: Swoon Romance (25 March 2014) Book Summary: Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. There in Laina’s shadow, Andi’s only noticeable feature is her pretty awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else. When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina. After all, great hair must count for something. Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks. OK, maybe that’s two steps in one. Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities besides great hair. There have got to be at least three good qualities, right? Step 7: Demand attention for more than just her shortcomings, and break out of her shell. Easier said that done, but worth the effort in the long-run.  When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi finds that her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and realizes she may need a new program–perhaps with less steps! As cracks in Laina’s flawless façade begin to show, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

Add to Goodreads!

Buy Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo | iTunes

My Review

Owl Rating

five owls

I absolutely adored this book! I first heard about TWLEVE STEPS during Pitch Wars when the book’s author, Veronica Bartles, shared, via Twitter, the story of how she ended up getting published and got her agent. It’s story of a girl living in her sister’s shadow drew me in not only because of the girl’s humorous yet practical approach to dealing with her problem (aka her twelve step program), but because I’m the older sister and my siblings are always saying things like, “I’m not you, Patrice.”

That being said, I’m not Laina, maybe my siblings see me as that, but I strongly identify with Andi: her feelings of being lost and wanting to be something more than who people see you as, especially. And I LOVE theater…I actually recited a monologue from Our Town during a UIL competition senior year of high school & I love Cinderella so that only brought back great memories…Also, in musicals I NEVER got the part I wanted (plays were my strong suit) so, like Andi, I had to learn how to steal the show “from the shadows.”

There were so many great lines in the book. It read so well, I could easily see this staged, as a play or movie. I think it’s the theater person in me + my junior year of AP English during which my teacher made me fall in love with sentence structure that had me highlighting lines. Here are a few of my favorites from Andi (I picked them from early on so as to not spoil anything):

  • “It isn’t as easy as you’d think to keep up the “I am who I am, and I don’t really care what you say about me” act, but what other choice do I have?”
  • “They believe me, because they want to.”
  • “You never have to actually answer most questions. You only have to make people think you did.”

I resonate so much with these lines. I like to think I’m a reformed manipulator and I can definitely say that acting like you don’t care is often much harder than letting your emotions show.

I focused a lot on the sister-sister relationship 1) because you don’t see a lot of that in YA and 2) because that’s what really drew me in, but the romance is equally as good. It’s sweet, bittersweet at first, but all’s well that ends well! I love how Andi gets to see that Laina isn’t as perfect as she thinks she is. I try to be very honest with my siblings about that, even though it’s hard to let those who look up to you know that you have made (& make) mistakes.

It’s a fast read that’ll have you laughing during one chapter and crying during the next, but it leaves you feeling refreshed and so much more content with yourself. I’m definitely going to give this to my little sister(s) to read when they’re a bit older (my brother would likely say, “ugh, I already know I’m awesome, duh.”…completely missing the point, LOL.) It’s $2.99 so you should definitely go buy you a copy, it’s worth every penny!

**I received this book from YA Bound & Swoon Reads to read & review for the tour. This is a 100% honest review.**

 About the Author veronica bartlesAs the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.   When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.  TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles’s first novel. Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

***GIVEAWAY***

 1 ebook of Twelve Steps & $10 Amazon gift card (INT) Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bounk Tour Button

YA Bound Book Tours

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Blog Tour: Review of ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin

AllThatGlows

Good morning, readers :) Today I’m participating in the blog tour of ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin. Enjoy (my review is below & there’s a giveaway)! Also, isn’t the cover gorgeous!!

AllThatGlows pb cTitle: ALL THAT GLOWS

Author: Ryan Graudin

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 480

Pub. Date: February 11, 2014

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

My Review:

Owl Rating

 When I started reading this book, I was immediately drawn in by the author’s rich writing. Graudin is masterful at weaving setting and with a book set in London, mastering the setting is key. Not to mention, it’s a book about faerys and I LOVE faerys. I love the twist Graudin brings to the table. A faery godmother who, while being very old, doesn’t walk around with a magic wand, etc…but is a guardian and looks like a teenager. The worldbuilding is well drawn out, especially when it came to faery lore or instances like spellcasting, I felt like I was in the book wit goosebumps appearing on my arms.

The contrast  between Richard and Emrys is hilarious. From the very beginning she’s unhappy about guarding this party animal of a prince (I would be too) then she starts to like him and that’s when things really get interesting. Not to mention Richard surprised me. I thought he would be this pompous A-hole but he’s sweet and caring and smart, even if he does like to party and drink a little much he wins you over from the beginning.

I was surprised I liked this book as much as I did. I’m not a huge romance person however I think it was because from the beginning, I knew the romance would play a large part. My only thing is I found Emrys’s characterization at times to be a bit irrational, maybe? Because for a thousand year old Faery she sure was overly careless at the beginning nor does she act as mature as I would expect one of her age to however I think that’s mostly because as a reader, you have to remember that while she’s old in human years, she’s a teenager in faery years.

All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone whose a fan of popular fairy tale books like Holly Black’s Tithe but wants something with a bit more romance and a little less dark (writing wise both are amazing).

RyanAbout Ryan:

Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at http://www.ryangraudin.com.

Her work is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

2 signed copies OF ALL THAT GLOWS and two tins of tea! US/Canada only.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Tour Schedule

Week One

2/3/14- Fantasy Book Addict– Review

2/4/2014- Crossroad Reviews– Review

2/5/2014- Whimsically Yours Review

2/6/2014- Step Into Fiction– Interview

2/7/2014- Book Whales– Review

Week Two

2/10/2014- Fiktshun– Guest Post

2/11/2014- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post

2/12/2014- All Things Urban Fantasy– Guest Post

2/13/2014- Kindle and Me– Excerpt

2/14/2014- IceyBooks– Interview

 

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

 

Blog Tour: AVALON by Mindee Arnett (Book Review)

avalon banner

Good morning, readers 🙂 Today I’m participating in the blog tour of AVALON by Mindee Arnett, a book I’ve been wanting to read practically since was announced. Enjoy (my review is below & there’s a giveaway)!

avalon cover

Title: AVALON
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 432
Pub. Date: January 21, 2014
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound

Book Blurb:

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon’s cult hit show Firefly.

My Review:

Owl Rating

I’d never seen Firefly when I first started reading AVALON. I know, I know, it’s my dad’s favorite show, I thing Joss Whedon is brilliant (& definitely on to some gov’t conspiracies…Dollhouse anyone? *(too real)). But, I’ve never had time to properly indulge & I hate shows canceling early (Dollhouse, Lie to Me…every one of my favorite shows). But, after reading AVALON now I have to.

The more I write, the better writer I become I start to study the books I read more. Every book becomes a mini-lesson. If I love it, I want to know what it did well. In AVALON’s case other than the ah-mazing brother/sister relationship (I’m a big sibling and I’m a sucker for those in books), it was the characterization of every person in it that won me over and made me give it 5 owls (also the world building & evil corporations…love that stuff). Every book I’ve loved has not only had great main character but secondary characters. While reading AVALON I wanted to get to know everyone, especially Celeste more because she seemed like a boss. I wanted to know the man on the bench, Hammer, his guard’s…I did a lot of acting and when I’m reading sometimes I see things being staged, from the moment each character in AVALON “stepped on stage,” they played their part well.

I will admit, I didn’t like the book at first. I’m a Sci-Fi person and the first ten pages were very I’ve seen this before, too much backstory, not grabbing me. But, give it time. Have faith. Yes, Jeth is bit of a…bootyhead (as my ten-year-old sister likes to say), but seeing him care for his sister gave me a reason to root for him. Also, like Harry Potter, who is one of the most unlikable protagonists (especially in later books), he’s an orphan and he “belongs” to a disgusting man. Like wait until you get to the part where Arnett describes Hammer *shudder* (that was good). You HAVE to root for Jeth and his crew, you’d be cruel not to.

Oh, and the twists. Oh, they’re there. I guessed half of it, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. There’s also romance which I liked, but didn’t think was necessary not that it was bad but the book was amazing already without it. This was my first time reading anything by Arnett (I’m buying The Nightmare Affair today though because I’m hooked), and huge kudos for straddling the line well between world building overload and not enough. I know it’s hard with Sci-Fi, info dumps are annoying, but if you don’t paint a good enough picture, people are clueless. It’s for this reason that I’d recommend AVALON for fans of Sci-Fi (depending on how big of a fan you are you might find it too light) as well as those who have never read it before, especially those who have never read it before as it’s a great first.

I hear this is the first in a series 😀 I’ve been waiting for the “rise of YA Sci-Fi,” and this was my first recent foyer into it. I’m looking forward to reading more. I’m so pleased that I loved every book I’ve picked up this year (5 so far?). I’ve always had good taste in books, haha, *hair flip* but even I’m surprised.

You can find AVALON at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

**This is a 100% honest review. I received a copy of the book from the publisher to read & review.**

About the Author:

mindee arnett

Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Giveaway Details:

2 Signed copies of AVALON (International)

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/13/2014- IceyBooks– Interview

1/14/2014- Word Spelunking– Guest Post

1/15/2014- Fantasy Book Addict- Interview

1/16/2014- Falling For YA- Review

1/17/2014- Whimsically Yours- Review

Week Two:

1/20/2014- Such a Novel Idea- Review

1/21/2014- The Eater of Books!- Interview

1/22/2014- Bewitched Bookworms- Guest Post

1/23/2014- NerdophilesReview

1/24/2014- The Irish Banana Review– Guest Post

Many thanks to Rockstar Book Tours for having me as a host, Happy Friday everyone!!!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC