Tea & Book Chat: Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland

Personal Thoughts:  As soon as I heard that Leila Howland, author of one of my absolute favorite summer contemporary series, (Nantucket Blue / Nantucket Red) would be returning to writing YA after publishing several middle grade novels, I was ecstatic!  Hello, Sunshine immediately jumped to the top of my TBR / wish list without even needing to know any type of description.  While Hello, Sunshine did end up being a really fun and unconventional read, it didn’t edge Nantucket out for the top spot in my heart.  Anyone who is looking to become an actor is enthralled with the whole process will definitely be addicted to this story!

Plot Summary:  After Becca Harrington gets rejected from every college she applies to, she makes a deal with her mother and moves to LA to try to become an actress.  The deal is that after one gap year, ideally gaining industry experience, Becca must reapply for college and enter in the following Fall semester.  When Becca gets to LA, things are far more difficult than she expected but fortunately, she befriends two other Hollywood hopefuls in her building and they all support each other while they try to navigate the entertainment industry.

Critique:  Hello, Sunshine is a really fun read.  It follows Becca Harrington who takes a much different path than most eighteen year old’s and it was a pleasure to see someone’s unconventional choices play out in a way that proves that there is more than one right way to do things.  Becca is an inspirational character.  No matter how hard things became for her during her journey, she always maintained a positive attitude.  Even as she hits roadblock after roadblock, her first instinct is never to give up and instead to always to find a way around it.  I also love that Becca is a list maker.  The reader gets to see her list of LA goals which she continuously revisits and revises as she works toward becoming an actress.  Reading about Becca learning to become an independent adult is also a topic that I’m sure we can all or will all relate to in our lives at some point.  When you move away from home for the first time, you don’t think about the little things that are suddenly your responsibility or the bigger things like furnishing an apartment (like in Becca’s case).  I also really enjoyed Becca’s friendship with Marisol and Raj, two other Hollywood hopefuls living in the same apartment building.  They all come to rely on each other in different ways and I especially appreciate how supportive Marisol and Becca always are of each other.  It would be so easy to write about two females competing for auditions to land a big role but instead, we get to see a lovely and healthy friendship.  If I had one complaint, it’s that Raj and Marisol seem to have not had much of their own stories going on until they drop everything to take Becca under their wing.  Romance is far from the focus of this story (although it does sneak in there at some points) and it was refreshing to read about Becca achieving her goals independently.  Also notable are the quirky side characters, the shenanigans Becca gets herself into while searching for work and her sweet mother who just wants the best for her daughter.

Do I Recommend?:  I do!  As I stated, Hello, Sunshine is a fun unconventional novel that looks at the road that many do not take.  This novel is definitely a great beach read for anyone looking for something different!

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Kristin

BookExpo / BookCon Recap & Photos!

Hello friends! I’ve had to take a break from my weekly recaps because Andrew and I were away for our anniversary and then the following weekend, I attended BookExpo and BookCon at the Javits Center in New York City.  I have so many wonderful photos to share from the event! I spent the whole convention with Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, following a schedule that we mapped out for weeks beforehand (and updated once we arrived so we could make all the ARC drops).  We kicked off our conventional at NOVL headquarters where we attended a lovely brunch and listened to Ryan Graudin talk about her newest novel, Invictus.  If you watch my vlog below, you’ll actually get to see a clip of Ryan discussing the book (PS she has the most awesome hair I’ve ever seen and I was totally in love with her metallic skirt).  Each table got to complete a puzzle assembling artwork of one of the characters in the book (but we got lucky because ours has two characters!).  You can also hear a bit more about them in the video!  We also did some speed dating with the editors at Little Brown which means that they would spend about 10 minutes at each table, telling us about one of their upcoming titles.  I’m most excited about Fireblood because I’ve been meaning to read Frostblood for a while and now I’m excited to have the opportunity to read them back to back.  Then Alexa and I headed over to the Javits Center and picked up our badges for BookExpo!

Day one of BookExpo was a resounding success! We acquired so many of the books we were looking for but some highlights for me were WarcrossThe Belles and the Harry Potter sampler from Scholastic.  The floor was much different this year than in years past.  There was a much calmer vibe to everything and people seemed generally more polite which was lovely.  We did witness one tug of war over an ARC of Warcross but that was the extent of bad behavior that we saw for the day.  I was also really excited to try out the photobooth Fierce Reads had set up for Language of Thorns.  You were able to choose a background based on the newly renamed Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology or the newest addition to the Grishaverse, Language of Thorns.  I loved that they had the character banners set up with Kevin Wada’s amazing artwork of the Six of Crows gang.  After day one I went to the Gotham Market on 11th Avenue and tried my first and last sushi burrito ever.  It was delicious but WAY too messy.  Then at night, we went to the Big Honcho Media Stay Golden party at The Ainsworth which was so much fun!  I definitely stayed out a bit too late but I was having too much fun to leave!

Then on our last day of BookExpo (the show floor was only open for two days this year as opposed to the usual three) Alexa and I managed to get all of the other books we were hoping for! Despite staying out past my bedtime, I was still able to get to the Javits Center before 8AM.  Our plan was to be there early and head straight to the Disney booth for a copy of Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (while everyone else ran to Penguin for the full ARC of Stephanie Perkins’s There’s Someone Inside Your House which we thankfully managed to get the day before).  It was honestly like kismet.  We met Kerri Maniscalco in the Little Brown booth and she signed a copy of Hunting Prince Dracula for us.  We ran into Stephanie Garber roaming around the show floor and got to gush to her about how much we both love Caraval and need her to do a book tour in NYC so she can sign our copies!  We also stopped by the OwlCrate booth (several times) and we dressed up in their Harry Potter props for some fun photos.  They also did an ARC drop of Lucky in Love by Kasie West and I acquired Top Ten by Katie Cotugno from them the day before thanks to Alexa’s expert wheel spinning skills.  Right before we left the show, we were invited by Lili from Tor to have cocktails with Chad Michael Murray and Heather Graham in celebration of their new book.  We got to take photos with Chad (!) and I picked up a copy of the book for my sister in law, Molly.  I’m still completely amazed that Chad Michael Murray seems to have not aged in the slightest.  He was so charming! Then I dropped my books off at the hotel and Alexa and I headed out the other Ainsworth for the Fierce Reads party.  We met our friends Rachel of Hello-Chelly and Lindsay there and we got to hang out with so many amazing authors.  I got to tell Marissa Meyer how Cress and Thorne are my forever OTP and I joked with Leigh Bardugo about how I got yelled at in LA for crossing the street when the light was red even though there were no cars coming because apparently that’s not allowed in LA and this New Yorker who dodges cars on a daily basis had no clue.  They also gave us a swag bag with a samplers of Meyer and Bardugo’s latest works (Renegades and Language of Thorns) as well as a couple of other titles.

Then bright and early on Saturday morning, me, Alexa, Rachel and Andi of Andi’s ABC’s went to PRINT for the Penguin Teen breakfast! I finally got to meet Chelsea from Penguin in real life and she’s one of the nicest people ever! She also did an excellent job organizing the breakfast and I’m so thankful to have been invited!  We had more speed dating at this event but this time with five amazing authors- Marie Lu, Stephanie Perkins, Julie C. Dao, Kristin Cashore and Peter Bognanni.  Each author sat at our table for 10 minutes to talk to us about their new books and it really got me even more excited about each title.  In fact, I’ve since already read and loved Warcross by Marie Lu.  It’s a new favorite for sure! And I got to take a photo with Stephanie Perkins who is the cutest human ever.  Penguin Teen was nice enough to give us a box set of all the game changing titles they have coming out this fall as well as a posted signed by each of the authors at the breakfast.  Afterward, the four of us headed over back over to the Javits for BookCon.  I have to say that I was really impressed with the way everything was handled this year.  The event was much more organized than in years past and I had a blast walking the floor with my friends.  Highlights from BookCon for me were 1) meeting so many sweet people who came up to me and said they love my videos! I feel so thankful that anyone took the time to say hi to me!, 2) standing directly next to Jenny Han and Morgan Matson in the Simon and Schuster booth and 3) getting an ARC of An Enchantment of Ravens which I am highly anticipating reading!  So overall, this was the best year at BookExpo and BookCon that I’ve ever experienced.  I cannot wait until next year!  Below are videos of my full book haul if you’re interested in viewing it as well as a vlog of the event so you can get a feel for the show floor.  Happy reading!!!

BookTube Videos

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Mini Reviews – Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones & The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #1)

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones captured my interest once I became aware that the story is a loosely based Labyrinth retelling (and it didn’t hurt that The Melting Library created several candles based on the story either).  When I started reading Wintersong, I was initially captivated for several reasons 1) the story takes place in Germany, 2) the main character’s name is Liesl (the same as my grandmother’s), 3) the focus of the story is rooted in music and the writing is quite lyrical, and 4) every time the elusive Goblin King was mentioned my mind immediately pictured David Bowie.  Liesl is a middle child with a strong passion for composing music, but her father only places stock in her younger brother’s abilities while she’s required to work at the family inn.  When Liesl’s sister Käthe is kidnapped by the goblins, she must rescue her from the Underground by playing a game against the Goblin King.  Once Liesl has found her sister, she is still not able to bring her to the world above without exchanging her own life for Käthe’s.  This is when the story started to lose me.  I found the game to find Liesl’s sister intriguing and I loved the sibling dynamic she has with both Käthe and Josef.  Once they were largely taken out of the equation, my interest began to waiver.  It’s as if S. Jae-Jones wrote two novels in one because the story completely changes midway through.  The latter half of the book takes place in the Underground as the Goblin King readies Liesl to be sacrificed to the land while she simultaneously falls in love with him.  While I did enjoy the world building and beautiful writing, I did not enjoy the path the story took overall.  I will be picking up the second book, Shadowsong because I am interested to see how the conclusion of the story plays out but I ultimately ended up being disappointed in the first installment.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen #1)


The Star-Touched Queen is a Hades and Persephone retelling with one of the most stunning fantasy covers I’ve ever laid eyes on.  The ethereal feel perfectly captures the magic and enchantment of Chokshi’s writing style.  The story follows Maya, a girl who’s been cursed by the stars and fated for a marriage that will lead to death and destruction.  After her father arranges her marriage, Maya gets whisked away to Akran by her new husband Amar to a strange world that is full of secrets.  I’ve since heard many complaints about Chokshi’s writing style but I’m pleased to say that her flowery prose really worked for me.  I found myself completely engaged in Maya and Amar’s tale and I was enthralled by the mystery as it began to unfold.  Then, things took a turn for me.  I couldn’t believe how I went from loving the first half of the book to feeling a bit lost and confused in the latter half.  The buildup to the story’s main conflict was much better than the execution.  Chokshi’s beautiful prose is what kept me going until the end, but I wish I had closed the book feeling as excited as I had in the beginning.  I also struggled with believing the romance between Maya and Amar.  I understand that it was fated, but I didn’t feel a strong connection between them.  Despite these complaints, I loved that the story is rooted in Indian mythology and I loved all of the lush descriptions of the world.  I will definitely be reading her next novel, The Crown’s Wish, which is a companion to The Star-Touched Queen, as well as any other novels Shokshi publishes because I’m interested in seeing how her work progresses over time.  I’m hopeful that her storytelling will improve and I know already that her I enjoy her writing style.

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Kristin

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton GIVEAWAY (Signed Copy)!

Hi all! Today I’m hosting an INTERNATIONAL giveaway (yay! I’m so happy that everyone is able to enter this one!) for a SIGNED copy of Jacquelyn Middleton’s novel, London Belongs to Me.  I’ve been really excited about this book because it follows a girl who lives in Orlando, but she picks up and moves across the globe to London because she feels like that’s where she belongs.  Not only does she move to one of the places I want to visit more than anywhere else in the world, but she goes to pursue a career in writing for theater.  Once Alex gets there, things don’t go exactly as planned and she has to reevaluate whether London is actually for her.  If you’ve been watching my YouTube videos, you’ll know that I’ve been searching for some good New Adult books that don’t feature abs on the cover.  Not only does London Belong to Me fit that bill, but the cover is also SUPER adorable! I love the burgundy umbrella against the blue sky and how it’s so reminiscent of the British flag.  Here’s a link to the goodreads page because I’m sure you’ll want to add it to your TBR shelf :-)

Giveaway

  • 1 SIGNED Copy of London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton
  • Giveaway is open Worldwide
  • No purchase necessary

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Personal Thoughts:  I was completely swayed into reading This Adventure Ends for exactly two reasons: 1) the cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever laid eyes on (it’s even quite lovely naked!) and 2) Alexa read it and told me that it’s something I would love (and she was totally right!).  Can we just take another minute to talk about how this cover looks like a palette of paint and the stars are folded into the design? It’s like an ocean / galaxy mash up piece of artwork and I love love love it.

Plot Summary:  Sloane is your average teenage girl living in New York City with her family when they decide to uproot and move down to Florida right before her senior year of high school.  While this might seem like the most devastating bit of life-changing news for any other high school senior who’s spent years building their life and their group of friends, Sloane was completely indifferent and unopposed to the change.  She ends up accidentally falling into a tight knit group of friends, which is something she’s never experienced before and it changes her whole world.

Critique:  I really adored this book!  This is Emma Mills’s sophomore novel and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately ordered her debut upon completing This Adventure Ends.  The most satisfying element of this story is the complex nature of the relationships that Mills builds.  She nails friendship, familial relationships and first love.  Sloane is such an amazing protagonist.  She’s incredibly witty, outwardly self assured and not yet completely aware of just how awesome she truly is.  I loved being able to see the world through her eyes and I felt a connection to her from early on in the story.  One of Sloane’s new friends, Vera, is a social media star who takes Sloane under her wing and inducts her into her group of friends.  Vera is so much more than what she portrays online and the dynamic between her group of friends and her twin will have you flying through the book.  My favorite relationship explored between the pages is the one between Sloane and her father.  He’s a very popular romance novel who’s afflicted with a serious case of writer’s block.  He barely gets dressed anymore but he’s Sloane’s rock through everything.  You can immediately tell that Sloane gets her snark from him and I just loved seeing that pivotal moment in every teen’s life when they realize that their parents don’t necessarily have everything together play out.  Also, Frank is the best and you’ll see what I mean when you read it for yourself.

Do I Recommend?:  Definitely! This is a seemingly light and fluffy contemporary but there’s so much under the surface that it’ll stay with you long after you finish reading.

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Kristin

Blog Tour: The Unlikelies By Carrie Firestone + Giveaway!

I’m so excited about Carrie Firestone’s upcoming book, The Unlikelies! Besides the gorgeous cover which makes me CRAVE summer, the story itself is said to be part The Breakfast Club which appeals to me on many levels! The Unlikelies tackles being internet famous and follows a group of anonymous teens who band together to do good deeds.  I’m lucky enough to have Carrie here today to tell us her favorite things about summer in celebration of The Unlikelies.  Below is an official synopsis of the book and Carrie’s post!

Five teens embark on a summer of vigilante good samaritanism in a novel that’s part The Breakfast Club, part The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and utterly captivating.

Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?

This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.

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Favorite Things About Summer

I am not a summer person. I’m definitely an apple, pumpkin, fall person. But I’ve managed to think of some things about summer that make me very, very happy, Here are ten of them!

  1. We go to a resort in the Adirondacks every summer. I love standing on the dock just as the sun sets over the pristine mountains.
  2. The Unlikelies takes place in the Hamptons. It’s fun to drive on the back roads of the Hamptons on a warm summer night in search of ice cream.
  3. I love sitting under a tree with The New York Times and a giant iced coffee in Central Park or Bryant Park or any park in New York City. There’s no better place for people watching.
  4. Our town has a lake club called Winding Trails. I bring a book, sit in the shade, and watch my kids attempt to kayak around the lake.
  5. I think the reason summer annoys me is I’m a vampire. I’m only happy if I’m far away from direct sunlight.
  6. Fresh corn with lots of butter. Fresh strawberries with cream. Fresh tomatoes with basil, mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Our local shopping area hosts an outdoor movie in the parking lot every Saturday night. We sit in lawn chairs with blankets and plenty of popcorn and watch our favorite kid movies.
  8. Morning hikes followed by a picnic on the mountain near our house.
  9. Eating dinner on our back deck while our neurotic dog barks at the bug zapper.
  10. Of course, more time to READ.

Thank you for this great question! I’m actually looking forward to summer!

About the Author

Carrie Firestone has lived in rural, urban, and suburban places, and, while she currently lives in the suburbs, she is decidedly a CITY person. She loves parties, and all kinds of music, and books about random people doing random things in random places. She loves to travel with her husband, and two daughters, Lauren and Emily. When she isn’t writing, you might find her reluctantly sharing her popcorn at the movies, trying to get people (or dogs) to do a conga line, or adding items to her loose ends list.

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Follow the Tour

  • 3 Finished Copies of The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
  • US only
  • No P.O. boxes
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  • Runs through June 6
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Kristin

Penguin Teen Game Changers: Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni + GIVEAWAY!!!

This fall, Penguin Teen has a five week marathon of exciting book releases heading our way!  These five titles make up their Game-Changers campaign and each day this week, one of those titles is being revealed.  I’m thrilled to be able to reveal the fourth book to be announced, Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni!  To see what other books have been revealed, be sure to visit the sites below, including Forever Young Adult, which will be announcing the fifth and final title tomorrow!

5/15 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Warcross

5/16 – The Young Folks – Jane, Unlimited

5/17 – The Fandom – There’s Someone Inside Your House

5/18 – SuperSpaceChick – Thinks I’m Seeing Without You

5/19 – Forever Young Adult – ?????????

Each novel in the Game-Changers campaign is revolutionary in it’s own way.  There’s such a wide variety of genres being explored in the five novels included and I’m SO excited to get to tell you all about Peter’s novel, Things I’m Seeing Without You, which is a heartwarming contemporary that’s been compared to Six Feet Under, I’ll Give You the Sun and Eleanor & Park.  It explores first love, what it means to lose someone and the grief that comes along with it.  I love that the main character takes an unconventional route and decides to help her father with his alternative funeral business while she’s coping with the loss of Jonah.  I’m basically expecting to cry my eyes out when I read this one and I am so ready for it!  Here’s the official synopsis:

Fans of Eleanor and Park and All the Bright Places will laugh and cry as they read this heartbreaking and life-affirming novel about love after the most profound loss.

Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler has just dropped out of high school. She can barely function after learning of Jonah’s death. Jonah, the boy she’d traded banter with over texts and heartfelt e-mails.

Jonah, the first boy she’d told she loved and the first boy to say it back. 

Jonah, the boy whose suicide she never saw coming. 

Tess continues to write to Jonah, as a way of processing her grief and confusion. But for now she finds solace in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways: by helping her father with his new alternative funeral business, where his biggest client is . . . a prized racehorse?

As Tess’s involvement in her father’s business grows, both find comfort in the clients they serve and in each other. But love, loss, and life are so much more complicated than Tess ever thought. Especially after she receives a message that turns her life upside down.

Funny, heartbreaking, hopeful, and wondrous, in the vein of Six Feet Under and I’ll Give You the Sun, Things I’m Seeing Without You is a beautiful examination of what it means to love someone, to lose someone, and to love again.

Since it feels like the wait for Things I’m Seeing Without You is going to take F O R E V E R, Penguin was kind enough to provide us with a sampler of the story to tide us over until October 3rd! After reading the sampler, I can tell you that I instantly preordered my copy of the book and I can assure you that you will too!

Additionally, I’m going to be interviewing Peter in two weeks at BookExpo / BookCon!!!  Please let me know if you have any questions for him (comment here or tweet me at @SuperSpaceChick) and I’ll be sure to ask him!!

Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the LA Times award for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film.  He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Penguin Teen’s Game-Changers ARCs (ARV: $0).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 22, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 24, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Kristin

#ReadADessen: What Happened to Goodbye Book Look + Giveaway

Note: I was provided a copy of  What Happened to Goodbye by Penguin Teen as a #PRHPartner to read and spotlight this book.

The countdown is winding down for Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, Once and For All, which is being released on June 6th!  I’m so excited for her newest book because wedding planning(!) but in the meantime, Penguin Teen put together a special blog tour, highlighting Sarah’s backlist books and encouraging readers to read or re-read everything during the countdown to Once and For All.  Today I’m posting a Book Look for What Happened to Goodbye.  What Happened to Goodbye is about a girl named Mclean who chooses to stay with her father after her parents go through a very messy divorce.  Because of her dad’s job, the pair move around from town to town and Mclean takes the opportunity to reinvent herself in each school she attends.  Because of the constant relocating, Mclean begins to lose herself and What Happened to Goodbye follows Mclean’s journey to self discovery when she begins to feel comfortable and form attachments in her most recent town.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

 

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen by superspacechick

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Tour Schedule

ALONG FOR THE RIDE
The Lovely Books
Alexa Loves Books
A Perfection Called Books
In Wonderland
Midsummer Reads
The Fox’s Hideaway
Bookmark Lit
Once Upon a Twilight
Booksthetics
WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE
The Book Shire
A Little Book World
Hello Chelly
Nicole’s Novel Reads
SuperSpaceChick
Ex Libris
Xingsings
Lost in Lit
Paper Trail YA

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Personal Thoughts:  Thank you so much to Random House for providing me with a copy of Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley in exchange for an honest review.  Cath Crowley is an Australian author who has been on my radar for some time but until Words in Deep Blue, I hadn’t experienced how amazing her writing is firsthand!  First of all, I was completely sold on this book based on the cover alone (look at all those beautiful, beautiful books! *heart eyes*).  Then when I read the plot and found out that the story is set in an old bookshop, and it has an epistolary element to it, I knew I would instantly fall in love.

Plot Summary:  Words in Deep Blue follows two teenagers, Rachel, a girl who’s been harboring a crush on her best friend, Henry, and she finally gets the courage to pour her heart out to him in a love letter left in his favorite book the day before she moves away.  Henry on the other hand, spent Rachel’s last night in town with Amy, the girl he’s been lusting after and ever since, their friendship has fallen apart.  When Rachel returns to town, a shell of her old self after the passing of her brother, her aunt gets her a job in Henry’s family’s bookshop and she’s forced to confront the things she’s been unable to face since she left.

Critique:  Words in Deep Blue is an absolute must-read for book lovers of all ages.  It’s written more in the vein of literary fiction rather than that of your typical contemporary YA novel.  Henry and Rachel are both very mature for their age and their deepest conversations, written via letters left in books, explore the topics of love, loss, grief and the meaning of life (and they’re not the only characters to communicate through books!).  Reading about Henry and Rachel reconnecting and rebuilding their trust in one another, Henry in Rachel after she started ignoring his letters during her time away, and Rachel in Henry after him ignoring the most important letter she ever wrote, is heartwarming.  If you’re an avid reader, you’re sure to appreciate the references to other books and you’ll also be wishing you were part of Henry’s family who eats dinner together every Friday at Shanghai Dumplings and discusses the books they’ve read throughout the week.  It was so nice to read about people who’s lives are as dependent upon reading as mine has always been.  I particularly loved Henry’s younger sister George who is an outsider at her school.  George is strong-minded and unafraid to voice her opinions.  She’s the victim of bullying but she’d rather spend her time with books and her family anyway.  There were times when I was reading when I wanted to shake Henry and tell him to wake up and see things clearly, but I appreciated the realistic portrayal of his relationship with the awful Amy who is not even close to good enough for him.  I can already tell that this is a story that will stick with me in the long run and I definitely plan on revisiting it in the future.

Do I Recommend?:  I definitely do.  Words in Deep Blue is beautifully written, the story is compelling and the characters are true to life.  I love all of the different emotions I felt while reading and I especially love the inclusion of the bookstore, the stories and the letters.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

Personal Thoughts:  This is hands down my favorite Jenny Han book ever written (I can say that now that I’ve read all of her YA books!).  I am just over the moon about this conclusion to Lara Jean’s story.  The fact that this book even exists at all is something I’m so thankful for since the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series was planned as a duology.  I know I was definitely not ready to let go of Lara Jean and Peter K (and Kitty and Margot and Stormy) so I’m so grateful for these precious extra 326 pages with them.  This book had everything I wanted and more.  There were definitely a ton of moments when I couldn’t hold back tears.  It really made me feel all the things.

Plot Summary:  Lara Jean and Peter K are finishing up their senior year of high school and they’re more in love than ever.  They have a plan for college but when they don’t both get into the college of their choice, things start getting tested.  In addition, Lara Jean’s Dad is getting ready to remarry (his girlfriend from the second book, P.S. I Still Love You) but not all of the Song sisters are on board.  There’s a ton of change happening in Lara Jean’s life and Always and Forever, Lara Jean explores that critical time in a person’s life when they determine what they want to hold on to and what’s best to let go of.

Critique:  As I stated above, I loved this book dearly.  Always and Forever Lara Jean had by far the best character development of any book in the series and it strengthened my emotional connection to everyone.  I didn’t think it would be possible to fall even harder for Peter K and yet I totally and completely did.  The way Peter interacts with Lara Jean’s family, the effort he puts into watching films Lara Jean enjoys and trying to learn how to braid her hair, and the way he is so unaffected by his peers who expect him to act like the typical jock are all reasons why he’s so very close to perfect.  The college factor put a major strain on their relationship and I’ve never wanted something to work out so badly.  This book was just packed with things I love.  There was Lara Jean’s quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, her vision for her Dad’s wedding that she worked so hard on, the way Lara Jean always teases Peter and how gullible he is to it, and of course, her interactions and the love she had for the sassiest of Songs, her younger sister Kitty.  Kitty is eleven years old in this book and she is just bursting with personality.  She’s self confident, intelligent and no nonsense about her opinions no matter who she’s telling them to.  I also really love Kitty and Peter’s dynamic.  I feel like I could go on and on about how much I love this book but I would hate to ruin anything for anyone.

Do I Recommend?:  This is pretty obvious yes.  If you enjoyed the first two books in the series (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You), I guarantee you will LOVE this conclusion<3

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Kristin
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