The Friday 56: Geekerella

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“We look alike, from our brown skin to our black hair. But I got my nose from my mom, and apparently my temperament from her father. At least that’s what Mark said.”

Ashley Poston’s Geekerella is a really cute Cinderella retelling that pays homage to all things geek and fandom. You can read my mini-review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.
      Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: N/A
Pages: 394
Publisher: Dial Books For Young Readers
Release Date: June 14th 2012

      “The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
      As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

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“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

It’s almost entirely impossible to truly enjoy a novel where you find the minor characters more interesting than the protagonist. This is unfortunately what I experienced when I picked up Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. Samantha Reed is not used to stepping out of her comfort zone and much of her safe little world has been defined by her overly critical mother. The Garretts next door have always represented what her own family is not. When Samantha meets Jase Garrett and he introduces her to his unstructured family, Samantha begins to fall in love with all of them. But both her worlds are about to collide in the most heartbreaking way and Samantha comes to realize she may not be able to keep both families.

I really wanted to feel invested in Samantha’s story, but in the end, I felt very little for this protagonist. Compared to the larger ensemble of characters, Samantha was bland in comparison. Samantha’s older sister Tracy makes only a couple of appearances, but her willingness to challenge her mother’s impossible standards made her immediately more interesting than Samantha. As a state senator, Samantha’s mother is constantly busy. Much of her energy is focused on campaigning for her next term. She’s judgmental in a way that is hard not to cringe at and if there was a reward for worst mother in YA fiction, she’d probably win. Both these characters evoked more emotion from me than the protagonist. Samantha’s best friend Nan is a hard pill to swallow even from the beginning. I never bought into Samantha and her relationship and their entire dynamic made me wish Samantha had even one positive female relationship. She did not.

I appreciated that Samantha’s love interest Jase was such an individual with unique interests. His family is his biggest cheerleader and he in turn is incredibly devoted to them. That being said, there were times where I would have liked to see a more flawed version of the character. Characters who are too perfect can also feel really flat. Surprisingly, I felt the most invested in Nan’s brother Tim. His sister is meant to serve as a foil to him. In the beginning, I could not stand his character. He’s a completely disaster, but with the help of certain characters, he finds his footing. In the end, I found myself most invested in the budding friendship between Jase and Tim. I will say that Fitzpatrick does do a good job of defining three different families simultaneously, but it’s unfortunate that the Reeds were the family I was the least interested in knowing more about.

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door is almost universally a favorite of YA contemporary fans. While Samantha does show some growth in the end, I never felt invested in her as a character. It also didn’t help that all of the characters in this novel who made mistakes never seemed to actually face any consequences. It made me wonder what the point really was when it came to certain storylines.

2/5

★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Early Blogging Favorites

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Throwback Freebie: Ten Books I Loved During The First Year I Started My Blog, Favorite Books Published 5 or 10 or 15 Years Ago, Ten Older Books I Forgot How Much I Loved, etc. etc. Tweak however you want!” Let me start off by saying that I was tempted to go back and read my reviews for these titles, but instead of torturing myself by discovering I was either a worse or better reviewer my first few months of blogging, I thought I’d just reflect a little on how I feel about these early favorites now. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – This was the first five-star read on my blog. It’s been a long time since I really thought about this one, but it’s one of the few time-travel books that I really enjoyed. I still think this one should have gotten a sequel.

2. In the After by Demitria Lunetta – Before I got tired of the dystopian genre, I picked up this one and its sequel. They are decent books, but now when I look back, I really can’t remember any solid details.

3. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – I’m almost certain I wrote this review after a reread. It’s probably my favorite Jane Austen retelling and I remember the protagonist quite fondly. Maybe another reread is needed.

4. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – Still remains one of my favorite sequels and series. I’m still enrapture over the concept of pulling things out of your dreams.

5. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – Probably the most underrated novel in the Graceling Realm series. I actually think this one was my favorite.

6. Boundless by Cynthia Hand – I can only recall this series and Angelfall as novels about angels that I actually enjoyed. The ship in this series nearly undid me.

7. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – I just have a thing for serial killer books and this one is one of my favorites. Can you believe I don’t own these books? I need them in hardcover because of the fake blood splatter under the dust jackets. Yes, you read that right.

8. Skylark by Meagan Spooner – I still have not finished this series. I meant to pick up the last book, but it’s been so long, I don’t think I could go into it without being very confused.

9. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – I love this series so much and currently have the final fourth book on my shelf waiting for me. I’ve been holding back because I don’t want to say goodbye, but will probably read it this October.

10. Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry – The Benny Imura series remains some of my favorite zombie novels. If you haven’t read them, they are a must.

Have you read any of these novels? What’s the first book on your blog that received five stars? Let me know in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Summer 2017 Comment Challenge: Wrap Up + Newsletter Sign Up

The Summer 2017 Comment Challenge has officially come to an end. Your hosts, Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense are so grateful to everyone who joined us this summer. This challenge has truly been a rewarding experience and we’d like to take a moment to thank every single blogger who participated this summer. You make this challenge worthwhile and fun every time we do it. After some deliberation, your hosts have decided to keep this challenge running during the summer months only, so there won’t be a winter challenge. For those who’ve signed up the last couple of months, you may have noticed the extra question regarding the newsletter. We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to join us next summer, so you can now sign-up for the Comment Challenge Newsletter below.

Comment Challenge Newsletter:

Sign up now! Whether you’ve participated in the past or are just curious about the challenge, sign up for the newsletter and we’ll send out an email reminding you when we bring this challenge back next summer. If you answered yes to this question during sign up this summer, then we’ve already got you on the list. If you’re not sure, feel free to ask. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Thank you all again for a stellar summer and we hope to see you again for the Summer 2018 Comment Challenge!

ARC Review: Odd & True by Cat Winters

Title: Odd & True
Author: Cat Winters
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: September 12th 2017
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not influence my review**

      “Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
      In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

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Cat Winters’s novels are some of the best, but underappreciated historical fiction I’ve ever read. Od and Tru grew up with stories about their mother and her siblings’ bravery. They grew up believing in the paranormal, that monsters exist and it was their family’s responsibility to protect the world from them. But life has taken many things from both Od and Tru. Their father disappeared when they were young and their mother hasn’t been in their life. Even their beloved Uncle Magnus hasn’t been seen for years. After being sent away, Od shows up at her sister’s window, begging her to come away with her and to accept their family’s legacy. But Tru no longer believes in monsters. Still, her love for his sister Odette will take them far from the safe haven of their aunt’s house and into a dangerous, unknown world. Using dual perspectives and shifting timelines, Cat Winters crafts a tale of two sisters whose lives are full of loss, but also perseverance.

At the heart of this story are two sisters who hold very different views of the world. As the oldest, Odette has always felt that she needed to protect her younger sister. Her stories of monsters and the heroes that slay them have been the only way in which she has been able to help shield her sister from the realities of life. What goes unsaid is that Odette is also in need of these stories. Being older has exposed her to the flaws of the adults in her life and it’s been easier to embrace a story about these people than to accept who they really are. Unlike her sister, Tru no longer holds fast to these myths. Ever since her sister was forced to leave her aunt’s home, Tru has grown up to resent these tall tales and the letters from her sister that speak of harrowing travels. While life with her Aunt Viktoria has been stifling, Tru isn’t sure she’s brave enough to step outside into the great unknown. Though she’s suspended any belief in the paranormal, she’s taken to reading tea leaves in secret because a part of her still wants to believe in her sister’s stories.

Odd & True takes its time separating fact from fiction as the girls embark on a hunt for Leeds Devil which has been terrorizing the people of New Jersey. From the cover and synopsis, I expected an action-packed novel about monster hunting, but instead was treated to a slow-paced narrative about a flawed family, two sisters who survive despite injustices done to them, and the power of a story to weave magic if only one takes a leap of faith and believes.

4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56: More Happy Than Not

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“She dropped That Word. Not at me, but about something we’re doing together—she didn’t say she loved me—but still freaking out enough that I almost knock over my mug.”

I finally picked up Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not and it utterly broke me. I don’t even know where to begin, but it’s one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. You can read my mini-review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely. 
      When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
      Why does happiness have to be so hard?