I Dare You…Part One #BookTag #TagTuesday

Ali at HardbackHoarder did this tag. Check out her video https://youtu.be/5PF4L6UyyCU

I split it into two parts, cause 19 questions is a long blog post!

⋯ QUESTIONS ⋯

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

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I’ve owned Bridge to Terabithia for about 27 years.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

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Current Read: The Psychology of Time Travel

I’m reading an ARC, this book is set to be published February 2019

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Last Read: Stargirl

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Next Read: The Girl They Left Behind

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

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4.28 average rating on Goodreads…I gave it 2 stars.

Call Me By Your Name…Book Review

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

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This has been on my Goodreads TBR longer than any other. I really should read this. Hmmm…perhaps a New Year’s Resolution – Read the books that have been on my TBR the longest?

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

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LOL

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

I NEVER read the last page first.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

LOVE to read acknowledgements.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

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Cinder. She’s badass.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

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A good friend introduce me to the Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind. During my first year of University in Newfoundland, I fell in love with it and read them one after the other, until I graduated and got busy with work and life. I’d love to re-read this entire series next year.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Ummm…kinda kept a book from the library when I was a kid…and sorta still have it. Ooopsy!

Thanks for stopping by! Drop by next week for Part Two 🙂

Happy Reading!

Amanda

 

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#FridayFeeling #amreading

Feeling very grateful and thankful for being invited to take part in a Blog tour for The Psychology of Time Travel. Watch for a post about this book in December. 🤩 📚

41035725The Psychology of Time Travel

Expected Publication: February 2019 (first published August 2018)
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery
Perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures comes The Psychology of Time Travel, a mind-bending, time-travel debut.

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history.

Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

Traversing the decades and told from alternating perspectives, The Psychology of Time Travel introduces a fabulous new voice in fiction and a new must-read for fans of speculative fiction and women’s fiction alike.“

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli #Bookreview #spoilerfree #MiddleGrade #YA

My favourite “Booktuber”, Kayla from Books and Lala, hosted a read-a-thon called Lalathon, where we read from a list of her most favourite books. During the read-a-thon I started Stargirl written by Jerry Spinelli and narrated by John Ritter.

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Title: Stargirl

Author: Jerry Spinelli

Narrated by: John Ritter

Publisher: Listening Library

Date of Publication: May 2002 (first published August 2000 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Genre: Young Adult

 

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Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.”

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“She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day. She taught me to revel. She taught me to wonder. She taught me to laugh. My sense of humor had always measured up to everyone else’s; but timid introverted me, I showed it sparingly: I was a smiler. In her presence I threw back my head and laughed out loud for the first time in my life”

Sixteen year old Leo is captivated by Susan “Stargirl” the moment she arrives at Mica High. She is what we wish we could be. She notices the little things. She’s not afraid to be different. She’s kind to everyone, even her bullies. 

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”

 

As Stargirl struggles to fit in, Leo is forced to make a hard decision. Stargirl is a timeless classic about individuality, conformity, identity, peer pressure, and first love. I could never tire of reading this book. If I had to read fifty pages a day for the rest of my life I would do it. The narration by John Ritter is perfect.

“The earth is speaking to us, but we can’t hear because of all the racket our senses are making. Sometimes we need to erase them, erase our senses. Then – maybe – the earth will touch us. The universe will speak. The stars will whisper.”

There are only two small things I disliked. The characters feel immature for sixteen year olds, and although I admire Stargirl’s courage, I did find she didn’t take other people’s feelings into consideration.

This book reminded me of Bridge to Terabithia. I definitely recommend Stargirl to all readers, and can’t wait to see the movie.

“Who are you if you lose your favorite person? Can you lose your favorite person without losing yourself?”

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall: 4.6/5 rounded up to 5 on Goodreads.

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When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead.

He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren.
Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his book Maniac Magee. After his high school football team won a big game, his classmates ran cheering through the streets — all except Spinelli, who went home and wrote a poem about the victory. When his poem was published in the local paper, Spinelli decided to become a writer instead of a major-league shortstop.

In most of his books, Spinelli writes about events and feelings from his own childhood. He also gets a lot of material from his seven adventurous kids! Spinelli and his wife, Eileen, also a children’s book author, live in Pennsylvania.”

http://www.jerryspinelli.com/

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The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay #Bookreview #Spoilerfree #netgalley #historicalfiction #france

After giving Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay five stars, and A Secret Kept four stars, I jumped at the chance to request the ARC for The Rain Watcher from Netgalley.

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Title: The Rain Watcher

Author: Tatiana de Rosnay

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: October 30, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction (France)

Page Count: 272 (e-book)

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The Rain Watcher is a powerful family drama set in Paris as the Malegarde family gathers to celebrate the father’s 70th birthday. Their hidden fears and secrets are slowly unraveled as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster. Seen through the eyes of charismatic photographer Linden Malegarde, the youngest son, all members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38232434-the-rain-watcher

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Linden is a famous homosexual Franco-American photographer visiting Paris with his sister, Mom, and Dad. They are celebrating Linden’s father’s 70th birthday and his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. Linden and his sister, Tilia, have left their significant others behind to have some quality time with just the four of them. The rain is pouring in Paris, causing La Seine to overflow.

“La Seine, avec ses larges flaques vertes et jaunes, plus changeante qu’une robe de serpent.”
(The Seine, with its large green and yellow puddles, more changeable than a snake’s dress) –
Victor Hugo

Unearthing family secrets, The Rain Watcher is about family relationships, self-identity, addiction, emotional abuse, acceptance, and forgiveness. The flooding of La Seine reflects the flood of emotions Linden experiences.

Paris itself is an atmospheric setting, and de Rosnay does a wonderful job making you feel like you are right in the middle of one of the worst flood’s in the city’s history. Her writing is eloquent.

“The moon radiates in a freezing blue-black sky, illuminating the swollen watercourse. There is a higher spot at the end of rue Cognacq-Jay, just before the bridge, and they head there. As a step out of the boat, icy waters shoots up to their shins. They wade through it, teeth clenched. The place is completely deserted. The Seine is now drenching the Zouave’s shoulders. The bridge has been entirely closed off by metal barriers and it seems to be poised on top of the river”.

Sadly, I didn’t connect with any of the characters. They felt one-dimensional, lacking personality, desires, or personal growth. Told without much dialogue, I felt like the story was told at me, instead of to me. I think this is what caused the inability for me to connect with the characters.

Portrayed from mainly Linden’s perspective in the present, we get glimpses into his past, and another viewpoint from Paul’s perspective as a child. I quite enjoyed Paul’s flashback narrative, and wish we could have had more of that. The perspective changes are a little confusing, however, I imagine this would be fixed with layout or font changes in the finished copy.

There are pieces of the plot that weren’t completed, and the ending felt unsatisfying. After loving Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept I was excited to read a new novel by the same author, yet, I’m feeling incredibly disappointed.

A slow-building, character-driven emotional journey, I recommend The Rain Watcher to readers who enjoy historical fiction with very little dialogue.

Plot: 2.5/5
Characters: 2.5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Overall: 2.8/5 rounded up to 3 on Goodreads & Netgalley

Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for the complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.

*Quotes taken from an ARC copy and subject to change*

 

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“Tatiana de Rosnay was born on September 28th, 1961 in the suburbs of Paris. She is of English, French and Russian descent.  Her father is French scientist Joël de Rosnay, her grandfather was painter Gaëtan de Rosnay.  Tatiana’s paternal great-grandmother was Russian actress Natalia Rachewskïa, director of the Leningrad Pushkin Theatre from 1925 to 1949. Tatiana’s mother is English, Stella Jebb, daughter of diplomat Gladwyn Jebb, and great-great-granddaughter of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the British engineer. Tatiana is also the niece of historian Hugh Thomas.

Tatiana was raised in Paris and then in Boston, when her father taught at MIT in the 70’s. She moved to England in the early 80’s and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English literature at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich. Returning to Paris in 1984, Tatiana became press attaché for Christie’s and then Paris Editor for Vanity Fair magazine till 1993. Since 1992, Tatiana has published 11 novels in France.  Sarah’s Key is her first novel written in her mother tongue, English.

Sarah’s Key was published in 40 countries and has sold over nine million copies worldwide. Kristin Scott-Thomas stars in the movie adaptation by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (2010). Tatiana published A Secret Kept (also written directly in English) in September 2010 in the USA. Called Boomerang in Europe, this book, written in English, is also an international besteller published in 15 countries and movie rights have been sold. She then published The House I loved, (in English, in 2012) which was also sold to numerous countries. Russian Ink (À l’encre russe) was published in 2013, and sold to 10 countries. Manderley Forever, a biography of Daphne du Maurier was published in France in March 2015 and then in Italy, Denmark, Holland and USA.

Tatiana is married and has two children. She lives in Paris with her family.”

http://www.tatianaderosnay.com/

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End of Year TBR…2018

Here are the books I’m hoping to read before we ring in the new year. I’ve read 65 books so far this year, leaving me with just ten more to reach my Goodreads Challenge goal of 75 books.

Finish the Unfinished

38232434Title: The Rain Watcher

Author: Tatiana de Rosnay

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Historical Fiction (France)

272 pages (e-book ARC)

 

 

41557218Title: City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1)

Author: Victoria Schwab Narrated By: Reba Buhr

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy (paranormal)

5 hrs 2 mins

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Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)

Author: Philip Pullman

Published: May 2001

Publisher: Yearling

Genre: YA Fantasy

399 pages (paperback)

 

 

79420Title: Man Gone Down

Author: Michael Thomas

Published: December 2006

Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat

Genre: Adult Fiction, Cultural (African American)

431 Pages (paperback)

 

 

 

9808741Title: Stargirl (Stargirl #1)

Author: Jerry Spinelli

Narrated By: John Ritter

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio

4 hrs 25 mins

Genre: YA Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

 

Other Books I Want To Read in 2018

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Title: The Girl They Left Behind

Author: Roxanne Veletzos

Published: October 9, 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Genre: Historical Fiction (World War II)

368 pages (e-book ARC)

 

 

 

38087630Title: The Glovemaker’s Daughter

Author: Leah Fleming

Published November 13, 2018 (first published August 2017)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Genre: Historical Fiction, 17th Century, Mystery

432 pages ARC e-book

 

 

38355282Title: Watching You

Author: Lisa Jewell

Expected Publication: December 26, 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Women’s Fiction

320 pages

e-book ARC

 

 

3467Title: The People of Sparks (Book of Ember #2)

Author: Jeanne Duprau

Published: 2004

Publisher: Yearling

Genre: Ya, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fantasy

338 pages (paperback)

 

 

28187230Title: The Woman in Cabin 10

Author: Ruth Ware

Published: July 2016 (first published June 2016)

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

340 pages

 

 

 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White #Bookreview #Audiobook #Classic #Childrens

Charlotte’s Web has a very special place in my heart. It was the first chapter book I read on my own. I remember feeling so proud to be able to read a whole book by myself. In October I signed up for Scribd (awesome deal for audiobooks and ebooks), and so my kids and I went searching for a book we can listen to during our 10-15 minute drive to school. Listening to E.B. White read his book to us was a magical experience.

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Title: Charlotte’s Web

Author: E.B. White (narrated by E.B. White)

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio

Date of Publication: May 2002

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Length: 3 hrs 34 mins

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Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. This edition contains newly color illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E. B. White’s Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, among many other books.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24178.Charlotte_s_Web

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“Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly.”

Fern convinces her parents to let her save the runt of the pig litter, names him Wilbur, and introduces him to the animals at the Zuckerman’s barn. The description of the Zuckerman’s barn and the fair create a clear picture for this wonderful story.

“THE BARN was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows. It often had a sort of peaceful smell—as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world.”

A wonderfully unique tale, Charlotte’s Web is a children’s story with poignant messages about friendship, love, morals, and the circle of life.

“And then, just as Wilbur was settling down for his morning nap, he heard again the thin voice that had addressed him the night before.
“Salutations!” said the voice.
Wilbur jumped to his feet. “Salu-what?” he cried.
“Salutations!” repeated the voice.
“What are they, and where are you?” screamed Wilbur. “Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?”
“Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.”

I love Charlotte’s personality. She always told the truth, put others before herself. She acted like a mother to the other barn animals. She’s the friend I hope I am.

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

My 9 year old, 11 year old, and I give Charlotte’s Web 5 stars. 

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Elwyn Brooks White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist and author of such beloved children’s classics as Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He authored over seventeen books of prose and poetry and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1973.

White always said that he found writing difficult and bad for one’s disposition.

Mr. White has won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, which commended him for making ‘a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.'” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/988142.E_B_White

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater #Bookreview #YA #Fantasy #Paranormal #LGBT

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.”

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Title: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Date of Publication: April 2016

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT

Page Count: 439 (Hardcover)

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All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17378527-the-raven-king

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“It was not that the women in 300 Fox Way weren’t her family – they were where her roots were buried, and nothing could diminish that. It was just that there was something newly powerful about this assembled family in this car. They were all growing up and into each other like trees striving together for the sun.”

I love a book with a fantastic setting. The Raven King takes place in a town called Henrietta. It’s a magnet for the mystical, attracting people who love supernatural objects. Aglionby, the Barns, Cabeswater, 300 Fox Way, they all make me feel like we’re coming home.

He Began To Dream – Youtube Video (music + art by Maggie Stiefvater)

“Outside of Henrietta, nestled on the ley line, something dark watched all of this, everything in the Henrietta night, and said, I’m awake I’m awake I’m awake.”

Slow-paced, incredibly intense, The Raven King is about friendship, destiny, love, secrets, grief, trust, and truth. Stiefvater wrote this book just to break my heart.

“No homework. I got suspended,” Blue replied.
“Get the fuck out,” Ronan said, but with admiration. “Sargent, you asshole.”
Blue reluctantly allowed him to bump fists with her as Gansey eyed her meaningfully in the rearview mirror.
Adam swivelled the other way in his seat – to the right, instead of to the left, so that he was peering around the far side of the headrest. It made him look as if he were hiding, but Blue knew it was just because it turned his hearing ear instead of his deaf ear towards them. “For what?”
“Emptying another student’s backpack over his car. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“I do,” Ronan said.
“Well, I don’t. I’m not proud of it.”
Ronan patted her leg. “I’ll be proud for you.”

The characters are remarkable. We have our core group of Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah, as well as the Orphan Girl, Declan, Matthew, Persephone, Neeve, Jimi, Orla, Maura, Mr. Gray, Gwenllian, Artemus, Greenmantle, Piper, Laumonier, and Henry. With such a big cast you’d think the “B” characters would be flat, but they are all thoroughly written, each with their own ambitions, imperfections, emotions, and personal growth.

Ronan and Adam are definitely my favourites. I want only good things to happen for them.

“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”

The multi-perspective format is great. It’s not confusing at all, and puts the reader in a special spot where we get to know many characters personally. I liked the use of time on the clock, and the echos of earlier books in the series.

“The problem with pursuing bad feelings was that it was always difficult to tell if one was running toward a problem to fix it, or running to a problem to create it.”

The Raven King is a great ending for The Raven Cycle, I recommend this to readers 14+ who like a little paranormal with their fantasy. The Raven Cycle is being adapted to a TV Show. Get updates from https://twitter.com/TRC_Show

Setting: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Ending: 4/5
Overall: 4.6/5 Rounded up to 5 on Goodreads

 

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New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been formed by a desire to leave a mark, resulting in spray-painted cars, sharpie-covered computer printers, ink-splattered walls, and stories told in books, in magazines, and on stages. Maggie Stiefvater lives in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.”

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1330292.Maggie_Stiefvater

http://maggiestiefvater.com/

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Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski #Bookreview #spoilerfree #YA #SciFi

Dare Mighty Things is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. The second book, One Giant Leap, was released last month and I can’t wait to read it.

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Title: Dare Mighty Things

Author: Heather Kaczynski

Publisher: Harperteen

Date of Publication: October 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Page Count: 377 (Hardcover)

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THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29523636-dare-mighty-things

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Dare Mighty Things is a fast-paced story that takes place at the Johnson Space Center twenty-five years from now. Cassie, a seventeen-year-old genetically engineered Indian-American is competing with sixty-two young, smart, and fit young people for a chance to go on a top-secret space mission.

“I wanted to be a pioneer. To dare mighty things. What was out there would forever call to me, and the things I could do for history were more important than my one little life.”

The diverse cast is refreshing. Emilio is latino, Hanna’s German, Mitsuko is a married Japanese-American bisexual. Cassie’s biggest competition is Luka, the son of a UN Ambassador. These characters are well fleshed out, with distinct personalities, desires, fears, strengths and flaws. The female rep is fantastic – strong, smart, confident.

“I’m so curious about the universe-we know so little and I want to learn it all, see it all-there are so many wonders out there that humans have never dreamed possible. I want to help us get there. I want to discover. I want to know. Don’t you?”

This space story is all about self-discovery, being grateful for our planet, forgiveness, facing your fears and following your dreams.

The romance is not insta-love, which is nice, however, I feel like it was completely unnecessary, especially when Cassie identified as asexual. I don’t know a lot about gender identity, but I feel like if she’s identified herself as asexual there should have been more internal conflict of her feelings towards a certain someone.

Kaczynski is a talented writer, and I’m excited to read more from her. If you liked Cinder, Illuminae, Hunger Games, or Divergent then I think you’d like Dare Mighty Things. A great young adult novel for Sci-Fi fans, but also to those who enjoy a character-driven story with a big twist ending.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall: 4.3/5 Rounded down to 4 on Goodreads

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“Heather writes books for teenagers and other people who like books about teenagers. They’re usually about teenagers saving the world, because she really believes they can.

Heather never got to go to Space Camp, so she had to settle for writing about it. After graduating cum laude with a degree in biology from University of Alabama in Huntsville, she returned to her first love of books, and now works in a library near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and cats named after mythological figures. She’s not nearly brave enough to go into space, but she did twirl a fire baton in high school.”

http://heatherkaczynski.com/

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The Grownup by Gillian Flynn #BookReview #Lalathon #Horror #Mystery #Thriller

I listened to The Grownup audiobook as part of a readathon called #Lalathon (check out the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram). Because it’s so short I feel like it’s best to go into this one without knowing too much, but I have included the synopsis for those curious minds who need to know a bit about a book before diving in.

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Title: The Grownup

Author: Gillian Flynn

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

Date of Publication: November 2015

Genre: Adult Short Story, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

1 Hour 18 minutes (audiobook)

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A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28074530-the-grownup

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I’m not going to give any extra info about setting, plot, characters other than what is stated in the synopsis (above). This is an incredible roller coaster ride of a short story. I’ve never read anything like it before. It’s told in the first person from the perspective of the unnamed narrator. The audiobook narrator, Julia Whelan, is great, I would love to listen to more of the books she’s been a part of. Flynn has a talent for giving accurate, blunt observations about human behaviour, and making me love unlikable characters. Highly recommend this one to fans of intense short stories. The Grownup will leave you mind-boggled, in a good way.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall: 4.33/5 (rounded down to 4 on Goodreads, When will Goodreads let us use decimals?!)

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“Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.

Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.

In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.

Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.”

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2383.Gillian_Flynn

http://gillian-flynn.com/

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore #BookReview #mystery #thriller

I finished three books so far this month, and haven’t written any book reviews…let’s kick things off with a spoiler-free review for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore.

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Title: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Author: Matthew Sullivan

Publisher: Scribner

Date of Publication: June 2017

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Page Count: Hardcover 328

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When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind. Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left.”

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“When she stepped into the Western History alcove, she could feel her eyes trying to shut out what she was seeing: Joey, hovering in the air, swinging like a pendulum. A long ratcheted strap was threaded over a ceiling beam and looped around his neck. Lydia’s body sprung with terror, but instead of running away she was suddenly running toward him, toward Joey, and hugging his lanky legs and trying to hoist him up. She heard someone’s scream curdle through the store and realized it was her own.”

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is about Lydia who works at Bright Ideas Bookstore in San Francisco. One of their usual customers, Joey, hangs himself in the bookstore. He leaves all of his belongings to Lydia, among which include a box of books that have little holes cut out of their pages. Lydia is left wondering if he was trying to leave her a message. With the help of Lydia’s boyfriend David, colleagues, and Raj (a childhood friend from when she lived in Pikes Peak, Colorado), she tries to figure out what the books mean, and why Joey had a picture of her from when she was a kid in his pocket when he died. As they unravel this mystery, Lydia is also facing demons from her past. When ten-year-old Lydia was at her friend’s house for a sleepover a man broke in and murdered her friend Carol and Carol’s parents with a hammer. Lydia managed to survived by hiding in the cupboard under the kitchen sink. The Hammerman was never caught.

“She looked up from the sink and stared at David for a sign that her father had told, that David now knew who she really was: Little Lydia. The bloody-faced girl beneath the sink, the survivor from the evening news. Because no one from her present life knew. No one could know.”

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore talks about family, friendship, identity, suicide, murder, and truth. Some of the characters felt unique, with authentic motivations and emotions. Almost every character had a little mystery to them, and it was really fun finding out more about them. Lydia’s co-worker, Plath, is hilarious! I wish she had a bigger part in the story. Lyle also offered some comedic relief:

“So I put his ashes in a duffel bag and snipped a tiny hole in the bottom and walked the length of the zoo. But I didn’t make the hole big enough so there were these tiny pieces left over in the bag. I shook them into the grass. But then all the geese thought he was bread crumbs and started charging me. Horrifying, Lydia, the way they gobbled him up. A frenzy. Joey would’ve abhorred all the attention.”

Using flashbacks to Lydia’s childhood, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is never confusing, and easy to follow – BUT sometimes not easy to read. With suicide and murder, you can guess that there are some gut-wrenching, vivid scenes that will stay with you.

The murder of Carol and her parents happens early in the book. That chapter is incredibly intense. The image of Lydia squished up in the counter under the kitchen sink, hoping the Hammerman doesn’t find her, is heart-pounding and heart-breaking all at the same time. Why did Joey kill himself? Why did he leave his cut-up books to Lydia? Who was the Hammerman?

I feel that some character actions were unbelievable, in the bad way. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say I don’t understand why the person who knew who the Hammerman was kept it a secret. It was incredibly annoying when Lydia would get hit on by almost every man she spoke with. Also, why was David (boyfriend) even in this story? The ending was a little weak, but not the worst I’ve read.

Dislikes aside, I still highly recommend Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore to readers 16 years-old+ who love a thrilling mystery novel.

Plot 4/5
Characters 3/5
Writing 5/5
Overall: 4/5

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Matthew Sullivan grew up in a family of eight children in suburban Denver, Colorado. He received his B.A. from the University of San Francisco, his M.F.A. from the University of Idaho, and his short stories have been awarded the Florida Review Editor’s Prize and the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he has taught writing at colleges in Boston, Idaho, and Poland. Since 2003, he has been teaching writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in rural Washington State. He is married to a librarian, Libby, and has two children and a scruffy dog named Ernie.”

https://www.matthewjsullivan.com/

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