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I’ve got four reviews for you today: a YA contemporary, a MG contemporary fantasy, a YA fantasy and a memoir. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!

The Truth About Leaving by Natalie Blitt
Published by Amberjack Publishing on March 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 234
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Themes of death)
My rating:

Lucy Green thought she had her senior year in the bag. Cute boyfriend? Check. College plan? Check.

But when her boyfriend dumps her the week before school starts and she literally stumbles into Dov, the new Israeli transfer student, on her first day of school, Lucy’s carefully mapped-out future crumbles.

Determined to have a good senior year, and too busy trying to hold her family together while her mom is across the country working, Lucy ignores the attraction she feels to Dov. But soon, Lucy and Dov’s connection is undeniable. Lucy begins to realize that sometimes, you have to open yourself up to chance. Even if the wrong person at the wrong time is a boy whose bravery you admire and who helps you find your way back to yourself.

 

Lucy has spent her whole life living for other people: when her mom moves for work, she sacrifices her own time and energy to help take care of her little brothers; when it’s time to think about college, she doesn’t consider anywhere but where her parents want her to go; when her boyfriend wants more of her time, she quits dance, her one true outlet. She doesn’t know who she wants to be because she’s never given herself a chance to think about it—she just fills whatever roles are “assigned” to her in life. This book is about Lucy finding herself in a sea of other people’s expectations. 

When Lucy meets Dov, her perceptions of the world start to change. This is a boy who knows what he wants, and he will fight for it. His strength of purpose starts to make her realize that she has choices, and that only she can determine her true calling. She also discovers that her “calling” might not be so easy to pinpoint, and she might need to give herself time to get there.

I loved the romance between Lucy and Dov. It was quick to spark but slow to develop, which I appreciated. They came from such different perspectives, so they helped each other see the world in a different way. I also appreciated that the characters discussed sex in a healthy way. I’ll confess that occasionally Lucy felt a little bit whiny to me, but she is a teenager after all—show me a teenager that doesn’t get this way from time to time and I’ll … well, you can’t, so I won’t bother coming up with what I’d do. I also thought Lucy became a tad bit hypocritical at a couple of critical points in her relationship with Dov, but these were blips on the radar of a book that I otherwise truly enjoyed. I love books that challenge me to look at the world through the eyes of someone completely different from me—and Dov’s perspective as an Israeli citizen definitely fit the bill. I recommend the book for that reason alone.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Series: Cassidy Blake #1
Published by Scholastic Audio on August 28, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 304
Narrator: Reba Buhr
Length: 5 hours and 2 minutes
Source: Library
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence, Ghosts)
My rating:

From number-one New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab comes a sweeping, spooky, evocative adventure, perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn't like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead...and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.

So things are already pretty strange. But they're about to get much stranger...

 

This book was super cute, which I actually wasn’t expecting from Schwab. I think I was expecting a much darker middle-grade read, but this book did a fantastic job of balancing the creepiness of ghost stories with a lighter tone, which I think will make it really appealing to readers in this age group. I also loved that Schwab managed to nail a younger voice without sacrificing higher level vocabulary—this isn’t a book that’s “dumbed down” for middle graders. I adored the friendship between Cass and Jacob, the ghost boy who pulled her back from death (and led to her being able to experience the world behind the veil). The story has a decent amount of set-up at the beginning, but it really picks up after Cass learns something crucial about herself and her ability (maybe halfway through—I was listening to the audiobook and didn’t make specific note of the time).

Speaking of the audiobook, this book was wonderfully narrated by Reba Buhr, who captured Cass’s youth and energy perfectly! I definitely recommend this book for middle grade readers.

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #3
Also in this series: The Eternity Cure
Published by Harlequin Books S.A. on November 17, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Narrator: Thérèse Plummer
Length: 12 hours and 22 minutes
Source: Purchased
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, Violence)
My rating:

Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

Monster.

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions - her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost - the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

THE FINAL HUNT IS ON.

 

***NOTE: This review is for the third book in a series and it WILL contain spoilers for the first two books (but no spoilers for this actual book).***

I finally finished this series!!! I adored the first two books (I considered it one of my favorite series of ever), but then … never read the final book in the trilogy. Sigh. So, I decided to do a reread via audiobook (they’re only available via Audible). First off, let me say that Thérèse Plummer is a fabulous narrator—she especially nails the emotional parts of the story and she kept me emotionally engaged with these characters the whole way through (and she does a great job with the voices—I always knew who was speaking because she made them all so distinct). So, I enjoyed listening to all three of these books.

Now, I will say that the final book of the trilogy is my least favorite—which is always a fear of mine with series and one of the reasons that I think I avoid finales. I felt like too much time was spent traveling at the beginning of the book, and it felt a little bit like filler to me. I did like that Allie truly struggled with her darker nature at first. The whole book actually had a darker feel than the rest of the series. (There’s also suddenly a whole lot of swearing in this one, which is fine—and it really fits with Jackal’s character, who does most of the swearing—but it threw me a little bit because I didn’t notice him swearing at all in the first two books and suddenly he was spouting the f-bomb left and right. It felt a little bit like someone told Kagawa her books weren’t “gritty” enough so she suddenly added in a bunch of swears to make up for it—but maybe she just wanted to give readers a warning, since the characters also have sex in this one, and it includes bloodsucking—definitely a bit darker than earlier books.)

Anyway, when Allie met up with Zeke, things went in a pretty predictable direction for a while. The story really picked up when they got to Eden. From then on out it was fabulous, with lots of action and sacrifice and Jackal (because, let’s face it, Jackal’s snarky I’m-an-evil-vampire-but-somehow-you-still-totally-love-me attitude is the absolute best!). The ending was incredibly satisfying, so overall I was very glad I finally picked up this final book, even if it did take a little bit of time to ramp up.

Educated by Tara Westover
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on February 20, 2018
Genres: Adult, Memoir
Pages: 352
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 12 hours and 10 minutes
Source: Library
My content rating: Adult (Written for an adult audience, but there's no sexual content; Some violence, including domestic abuse)
My rating:

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

 

I’d been seeing this book everywhere (since I don’t live under a rock), and the whole wide world was raving about it, so I figured it was worth listening to, even if non-fiction isn’t usually my thing. This is the perfect type of non-fiction for me because it practically reads like fiction. Heck, Westover’s life growing up often seems completely unbelievable and more than a little crazy. Remember that post I wrote on how life can be stranger than fiction? This is the perfect example—if you tried to write a fiction book with these “characters,” they would seem WAY over-the-top and unbelievable. But, yeah, they’re real people. Westover’s life was fraught with drama and pain (lots of actual, literal pain—you’d never imagine how one family could have so many accidents!), and it’s hard to imagine actually living in her circumstances. And yet, she also has fond memories of her family and her life, even as backwards as it all was. She had a very hard time breaking away from a very unhealthy situation because her family’s beliefs were so deeply ingrained in her. You can still feel that pull in her writing, even after she’s separated herself from the family and realized that her upbringing was toxic in many ways. This story will make you angry and break your heart and give you hope for the resilience of the human spirit. I highly recommend that you read it for yourself.

That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?
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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on my blog and share news about what’s coming up in the week ahead.
This past week on FYFA (and in my life):

This week felt like a bit of a whirlwind. I ended up taking on another editing project. I had stopped editing for the past several months because I wanted to focus on writing, but I’ve been spending a lot of money on writing conferences and such lately, and I had just recently decided it might be a good time to jump back into editing. Well, this job fell into my lap shortly thereafter. It was far too perfect to pass up. (I also have another editing job in the pipeline that I’ll probably start in June. I don’t really believe in coincidence–I’m very thankful for these opportunities popping up at the right moment.)

School is coming to a close. My oldest finished finals this past week, and my younger daughter has her finals coming up this week. My youngest graduates eighth grade the day after Labor Day. Hard to believe we’re jumping into summer!

Here’s what you may have missed on the blog since my last Sunday Post:

Book Blogger Birthdays and Blogoversaries:

Here are the birthdays and blogoversaries for this week! I hope you’ll go wish these bloggers well on their special days! Make sure you check out the calendar to see what you might have just missed or what’s coming up. (If you want to be added to the calendar, it’s easy! Just fill out the birthday/blogoversary form.)

Book Haul:

For Review:

I received a few surprises in the mail this week (along with a pre-order and a couple of review books for tours), but I didn’t have time to take pics, so you’ll see them next week!

 Great Discussions/Goings On Around the Blogosphere: Pre-order Campaigns

Listed in order of release date. Any new deals that I just added to the list this week will be denoted with a *** so you can easily find them!

Please note: Almost all pre-order giveaways run “while supplies last,” so I can’t guarantee that they’ll be open until the date listed. Pre-0rder early for your best chance to get all the goodies!

More Awesome Giveaways:

Lots of good stuff! Have any giveaways or great discussions happening on your site right now? Feel free to share them in the comments!

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When I was younger, I LOVED going to the movies. I went often, and I especially loved Disney movies and the iconic teen movies that came out at that time (10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, Say Anything…, Heathers, Can’t Buy Me Love, Sixteen Candles, She’s All That, etc.).

As I got older, my movie watching habit slowed WAY down. A lot of it just had to do with how much it cost—it always seemed like there were better ways to spend that money, and we’d occasionally rent something but it got harder and harder to find movies that everyone wanted to see (or even that my husband and I were both really interested in). When my kids were little, we often went to see the newest animated features, but other than that, my movie excursions were rare.

Lately, I’ve started watching more movies again. It started because of all the book-to-movie adaptations that have been happening. I wanted to see some of my favorite books onscreen. Then I was also trying to rent some other popular movies that I’ve seen people talking about.

Only problem is, I’m finding that I don’t love movies the way I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still like them, but I just don’t love them. For instance, I just recently watched A Star Is Born, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Captain Marvel. They were all really good. I liked them; I didn’t love any of them. And that’s been pretty par for the course lately.

I started to wonder why. When watching Miseducation, I remembered that it was based on a book. I haven’t read it, but I found myself thinking that it probably worked much better in that format. The film is about a girl who’s sent to a Christian conversion camp when she’s found with another girl. That has the potential to be a heartbreaking movie, right? But the plot is slim and the methods used by the staff at the camp are (for the most part) subtly unsettling rather than blatantly abusive. The story really focuses on the emotional journey that Cameron goes on. See, and this is where I’ve been spoiled by books: In a book, I’d be able to intimately know all of the main character’s thoughts and feelings. I would have felt Cameron’s pain right along with her. Even though I thought that Chloë Grace Moretz did a fine job with her role, I still missed knowing exactly what was going on in the character’s mind. I wanted to know how her experiences were affecting her (and those around her), and I feel like I only got a hint of that. In fact, when the big dramatic moment happens near the end of the movie (I won’t spoil what that is), I was a bit blindsided because I hadn’t really felt enough tension along the way to get us there.

This is often true with books that are turned into movies. I definitely enjoy them more if I’ve read the book first because I can fill in the emotional journey in my head since I’ve already experienced it. But even with movies that aren’t based on books, I’m wondering if this missing connection to the inner workings of the characters is what holds me back from truly loving them. I think I’m used to going on that inner journey with a character, and two hours just isn’t long enough to really replicate that in movie form. TV series are much more successful for me because I have a lot longer to get to know the characters and grow attached to them.

I’m not sure if this is truly why I don’t enjoy movies quite as much as I used to, but this is my suspicion.

Does this theory make any sense? Do you think that reading a lot can make watching movies less enjoyable? Do you have any recs for absolutely fabulous movies that will make me change my mind? I want to know!

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Shipwreckers: The Curse of the Cursed Temple of Curses - or - We Nearly Died. A Lot. by Scott D. Peterson, Joshua Pruett
Series: Shipwreckers #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 21, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fantasy, Action & Adventure
Pages: 336
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
My content rating: MG (MG-level violence)
My rating:

When Dani and her big brother Mike find themselves aboard the ill-fated river expedition of careless adventurer, Captain Kevin, they must work together to save themselves and the captain from all manner of deadly trials and traps.

Complete with treacherous temples, ancient idols, and plenty of explosions, Shipwreckers is a big adventure that brings humor along for a dangerous and thrilling ride up the Amazon. In a place where laughter meets non-stop action, you'll find Shipwreckers and its cast of soon-to-be fan-favorite characters.

 

This book is a hilarious and perilous adventure, filled with action, goofy puns, and a nice helping of heart. When I read the author’s bios and saw that they write for kids’ TV, it all made so much sense–the book reads like an animated movie. It’s full of larger-than-life characters who make you laugh out loud (Captain Kevin Adventureson is incredibly clueless and yet full of himself, but he still manages to be lovable at the same time) and the kind of hold-your-breath swashbuckling adventures that keep you turning the pages. I promise you will never get bored when you read this book. But it doesn’t feature all that action at the expense of character development–I especially loved Mike’s journey toward understanding that it’s okay to take risks sometimes. He’s always been cautious and overprotective of his little sister Dani, especially since she got hurt when he was supposed to be watching her (he was only eight at the time). Dani, on the other hand, is a little reckless–she’s used to having her big brother around to watch out for her. Both of these kids learn lessons about life and family during their adventure. The emotional story is weaved into the action seamlessly, though, so you’re always looking forward to what disaster will befall the group next (there are a lot of them!).

If you’re a fan of humorous kids’ adventure stories, you can’t go wrong with this book!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About The Author

About Scott:

Scott Peterson (aka Scott David Peterson) is currently the Executive Producer and Showrunner of the upcoming Netflix animated series, “The Last Kids on Earth.”

Scott was nominated for a primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for writing Nickelodeon’s “Escape from Cluster Prime” and for an episode of Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb.”

He has worked as a writer for Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon, among others, for the last decade. Most recently, Scott has been a story editor for Disney TV Animation on “Milo Murphy’s Law,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “Kick Buttowski,” “The Replacements,” and “Emperor’s New School.” He has also written for such series as “Brandy and Mr. Whiskers,” “Danny Phantom,” “The X’s,” “Robotboy,” “Tutenstein,” and “Pet Aliens.” Oh, and “The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries.” Remember that one?

Scott is also the author of many top-selling children’s books including “Phineas and Ferb’s Guide to Life,” “Agent P’s Guide to Fighting Evil,” and “The Book of Doof.” He recently co-authored his first novelization of the recently released Disney live-action feature of “The Jungle Book” and signed with Disney Hyperion to write his original middle-grade novel “Shipwreckers” with writing partner Joshua Pruett. He also pens multi-page comics for Nickelodeon and Disney.

He has written for every genre and media imaginable including video games, live action features, IMAX 3D films, interactive internet projects, amusement park venues, instructional DVD’s, hotel comedy wake-up calls, and perhaps most importantly, for the Weekly World News.

He lives in South Pasadena with his beautiful wife and two occasionally adorable children.

Website | Twitter | IMDB | Goodreads

About Joshua:

Joshua Pruett is a Primetime Emmy Nominated writer and human-author-person who splits his time unevenly between Gallifrey and Los Angeles with his incredible Wife/High School Sweetheart/Knitter/Singer Amanda and their boy and girl-shaped children. He is currently living out a dream come true, writing dialogue for Weird Al Yankovic’s mouth on Disney XD’s MILO MURPHY’S LAW (2016).

As a Writer/Artist, Joshua has over a decade of experience inflicting laughter on others, with credits on the history making Kickstarter relaunch of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (coming to Netflix in early 2017), PHINEAS AND FERB, and the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON franchise. He has worked as a storyboard artist, writer and creative consultant for Disney TV, DreamWorks Feature Animation, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks TV, Awesomeness TV, Sprout/NBC Universal, Disney China/Beijing, Zombie Bake Shop, Netflix and Paramount Feature Animation. Most recently, he developed THE HAUNTED MANSION for Disney TV with his friend and writing partner, Scott Peterson.

His first novel, THE JUNGLE BOOK: THE STRENGTH OF THE WOLF IS THE PACK, with Scott Peterson, adapts the 2016 live action feature film into a fun for all ages novel for young readers.

Joshua is also internet famous for getting a WIN on failblog (just type “EPIC WIN DAD” into Google Image search — he and his daughter’s award-winning Halloween costume is the first photo to come up).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | IMDB | Goodreads

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of SHIPWRECKERS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

5/13/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

5/14/2019- Wonder Struck– Review

5/15/2019- Feed Your Fiction Addiction– Review

5/16/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Review

5/17/2019- 4covert2overt ☼ A Place In The Spotlight ☼– Excerpt

 

Week Two:

5/20/2019- BookHoundsya– Review

5/21/2019- Two points of interest– Review

5/22/2019- bookish bibliophile– Review

5/23/2019- Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers– Review

5/24/2019- AURELIA LEO– Interview

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on my blog and share news about what’s coming up in the week ahead.
This past week on FYFA (and in my life):

I’m getting this post out very late today because I didn’t manage to get it updated before I had to meet family at church. Sometimes life just gets in the way. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! We are spending the day with family, celebrating Mother’s Day and my daughter’s birthday. She’s been baking up a storm–she decided she wanted to make lemon bars for her birthday, and then she decided she also wanted to make an apple cake. And oatmeal cookies. (And caramel.) Yeah, she’s crazy, but it’s all very yummy!

My husband ordered me an adorable steampunk fox pin from Etsy (I’ll show a picture later–it’s still coming since the person who made it is in Russia). And my kids were sweet—they all made me cards. My oldest created a book for hers. It was a “picture book” that showed me following a trail of books into a cage—showing I can’t escape her love. But she pointed out that it’s just fine with me to be held captive as long as I have a book. LOL! And my younger daughter made me this amazing picture with pastels:

Here’s what you may have missed on the blog since my last Sunday Post:

Book Blogger Birthdays and Blogoversaries:

Here are the birthdays and blogoversaries for this week! I hope you’ll go wish these bloggers well on their special days! Make sure you check out the calendar to see what you might have just missed or what’s coming up. (If you want to be added to the calendar, it’s easy! Just fill out the birthday/blogoversary form.)

Book Haul:

For Review:

I actually got Hope and Other Punchlines (Punch Lines? I’ve seen it written both ways) just before my last Sunday Post, but I didn’t have time to add a pic since I was at the SCBWI writing conference. I’ve already written my review for this one (click on the title to see it).

From NetGalley/Edelweiss:

I couldn’t resist when I got an email with auto-approval for Storm and Fury and The Evil Queen. And I signed up for the tour of The Wise and the Wicked. (I really need to start reading like crazy because I’ve been requesting/accepting way too many books lately!!)

Purchased:

My mom and I attended Jay Kristoff’s tour for Aurora Rising, and I got my pre-order of the book!

And I bought a couple of books at the SCBWI conference: See You in the Cosmos and The Passion of Dolssa.

 Great Discussions/Goings On Around the Blogosphere: Pre-order Campaigns

Listed in order of release date. Any new deals that I just added to the list this week will be denoted with a *** so you can easily find them!

Please note: Almost all pre-order giveaways run “while supplies last,” so I can’t guarantee that they’ll be open until the date listed. Pre-0rder early for your best chance to get all the goodies!

More Awesome Giveaways:
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Planet Earth Is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
Published by Wendy Lamb Books on May 14, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Pages: 240
Source: Blog Tour
My content rating: MG (Deals with themes of death)
My rating:

A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger--it's the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.

While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can't express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova's new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she's counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she'll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, "No matter what, I'll be there. I promise."

 

Planet Earth Is Blue is a heartwrenching portrayal of a little girl who can’t tell the world who she truly is. The book is set in the 80s and starts ten days before the fateful launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The story centers around Nova, a non-verbal autistic girl. She struggles to show the world that she is more than they think she is—that though she can’t speak well, she is intelligent and curious. It’s a portrayal of profound autism that we don’t typically see, and one that would help any reader to understand someone who is different. Nova doesn’t think like the average 12-year-old; she can’t always respond the way a typical 12-year-old would respond; she can’t do everything her peers can do, but she is still a vibrant and worthy human being. I think anyone could benefit from seeing the world through her eyes. The author is on the spectrum herself, and she worked with autistic children, and you can tell that she brings her own love, strength and compassion to Nova.

Nova’s foster family loves her and believes in her in a way that the “system” has never been able to do, but Nova still yearns for her older sister, who has told her that she will return for her for the launch of the Challenger, no matter what (Nova’s sister shared her love of space exploration with Nova and fostered that love in Nova herself). The book is a countdown to the launch in many ways—and a countdown to Nova’s emotional breakthrough (prepare to be heartbroken for her!).

I highly recommend this book to anyone—adults and children alike will learn from Nova and her story of strength and resilience in a world that doesn’t understand her.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About The Author

Nicole Panteleakos is an author, playwright, thespian, and Ravenclaw. Her debut novel PLANET EARTH IS BLUE (Wendy Lamb Books, Penguin Random House) will be out in bookstores nationwide on May 14, 2019, with a second middle grade novel to follow in 2020. She is represented by agent Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates and belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: Metro NY. She is also a Lifetime Member of the VFW Auxiliary and National Home for Children, a godmother of three, and a regular contributor to Nanny Magazine. When not writing, she can usually be found reading fanfiction, playing board games, doing community theatre, or adding to her Alice in Wonderland coffee cup collection.

Author Links:
  

3 winners will receive a finished copy of PLANET EARTH IS BLUE, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

5/6/2019- Lifestyle Of Me– Review

5/7/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Review

5/8/2019- Beagles & Books– Review

5/9/2019- Book-Keeping– Review

5/10/2019- Feed Your Fiction Addiction– Review

Week Two:

5/13/2019- BookHounds YA– Review

5/14/2019- Bri’s Book Nook– Review

5/15/2019- The Layaway Dragon– Review

5/16/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

5/17/2019- Novel Novice– Excerpt

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Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on May 7, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: Blog Tour
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some drinking, Themes of death and illness)
My rating:

The New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next delivers a poignant and hopeful novel about resilience and reinvention, first love and lifelong friendship, the legacies of loss, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.

Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka "Baby Hope") wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She's psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it's a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

 

Buxbaum is a genius at contemporary storytelling, and this book is no exception. She manages to pack so much into 300 pages without ever making it feel overwrought or unrealistic. You would be hard-pressed to read this book and not come out of the experience thinking about 9/11 differently.

What Fed My Addiction:
  • Opposing goals. Abbi wants to move on with her life and get past the one thing that has always defined her. She wants to ignore the possible repercussions of that day (which I can’t talk about because it would be a spoiler). Noah wants to understand the day that took his father away–he needs to know what happened to him. I ended up loving both of these characters so much that I was rooting for both of them. But these two opposing goals are impossible to reconcile and they make for a great conflict.
  • 9/11. I’ve only read one other book about 9/11, and it was a middle grade that tackled the subject in a more classroom-type setting. This story was fictional (the picture that the book is based on and the characters portrayed are not real) but the scenario that Buxbaum creates is intensely personal, which makes the tragedy of 9/11 itself more personal. This isn’t a discussion of the motives behind the attack but instead examines the lives of those left behind. I did learn a few things about 9/11, though—I didn’t realize that so many people suffered from illnesses due to the chemicals in the air. For most of us, 9/11 is a bad memory (or, for teens, not even that), but there are still many people living with the repercussions today.
  • Fleshed out secondary characters. Buxbaum is amazing at this. I felt like I knew every single character in this story, even if they were very minor. Each person was three-dimensional and knowable (and likable, at least in some ways–even those you weren’t sure about). From Jack, Noah’s best friend who plays a key part in the story, right down to Brenden, Jack’s love interest with a tiny role in the book, you learn details that made you feel like you know them!
  • Noah’s comedy. How to write a book about 9/11 that isn’t depressing? Make one of your main characters love comedy. Noah and Jack were a hilarious duo, and Abbi herself managed to be funny when she was around Noah (a fact that surprised even her). Who doesn’t love snappy banter? (Without having snarky characters–a balance that’s unusual and hard to achieve.)
  • Slow-burn, adorkable romance. The romance in this book doesn’t develop overnight. No love at first sight here. Instead, Abbi and Noah have some definite friction at the beginning. The other thing I LOVED about this book was that Noah and Abbi aren’t all suave and passionate–they felt like two real teens, and often their relationship was strained and awkward and goofy. Such a breath of fresh air!!!
  • Family! Abbi’s relationships with her parents and grandmother are center stage in this book (and they’re SO positive). Noah’s relationships are slightly more complicated, but they’re not full of the usual YA angst, and we get to see his parents as real people. The family relationships in this book are perfect! (Well, okay, they’re imperfect, but they are portrayed perfectly.)
  • Subplots. I don’t usually specifically note these, but Buxbaum manages to infuse so much into one story without making anything feel ignored or maudlin. Beyond the plotline regarding 9/11, we’ve got a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s, a serious illness, a best friend relationship that’s faded away, and a few will-they-won’t-they romances for the secondary characters. And that’s just what I think of off the top of my head! I have no idea how all of these things are woven into the story so seamlessly and perfectly—it seems like witchcraft!
What Left Me Hungry for More:
  • Bad decision with few repercussions. Abbi makes a very poor decision about her health that just gets a tiny response. I was expecting a bit more consequences—or at least a stern talking-to.
  • No information? There were a couple of times when I wondered why Noah couldn’t find the information he was looking for, considering how much he’d researched things. When it all comes to light, it seems like someone would have talked about it sometime in their small(ish) town.

Honestly, I feel like I could just keep talking, but soon this review would be as long as the book. But that’s the type of read that I love—one that keeps me thinking about it long after I’ve put the book down. As you can see, my negatives for the book were tiny compared to the positives. Filled with humor and heart, Hope and Other Punchlines reminds us of the frailty of life and how we need to hold onto every precious moment, but it also reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About The Author

Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, What to Say Next and the forthcoming Hope and other Punchlines (out May 7, 2019.) She’s also the author of two critically acclaimed novels for adults: The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and more books than is reasonable.

Author Links:
  

3 winners will receive a finished copy of HOPE & OTHER PUNCHLINES, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

5/1/2019- Dani Reviews Things– Review

5/2/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Review

5/3/2019- Lifestyle Of Me– Review

Week Two:

5/6/2019- Jena Brown Writes– Review

5/7/2019- Feed Your Fiction Addiction– Review

5/8/2019- Ex Libris– Review

5/9/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

5/10/2019- Struck by Stories– Review

Week Three:

5/13/2019- Belle’s Archive– Review

5/14/2019- BookHounds YA– Review

5/15/2019- Life of a Literary Nerd– Review

5/16/2019- Savings in Seconds– Review

5/17/2019- Resch Reads & Reviews– Review

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I’m one of those people who pretty much exclusively follows book blogs. I’m not particularly interested in following blogs that focus on something else like travel or fashion or general lifestyle stuff. BUT I’ve found that I actually really enjoy getting little snippets of those things on my friends’ book blogs.

I thought I’d highlight some of the types of non-bookish posts and topics I enjoy seeing on people’s blogs. Not because I’m expecting anyone to specifically create more of these because I like them, but just because I thought it might be fun to feature some of the other types of posts my bookish friends create.

  • Crafts – I absolutely love seeing the crafts that my fellow bloggers have been working on. Whether you’re knitting cool scarves (or cowls–this post was actually inspired when I saw this knitting post at Bookwyrm’s Hoard), or creating pottery (Steph Pajonas makes cool pottery), or creating bookish crafts, I love to see your progress!
  • Artwork – Some of my bookish friends are also talented artists. For instance, Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight makes a lot of digital art (often inspired by her SIMS).
  • Bullet journals – I’m hopeless when it comes to organization and beautiful arty designs, but I can live vicariously through my friends who have gorgeously artistic (and organized!) bullet journals! Annie over at Blossoms and Bullet Journals has a blog that focuses on both books and beautiful bullet journaling.
  • Vacations – I love reading about the trips my fellow bloggers take! (Pictures are a wonderful bonus.) Or even people’s explorations of their own cities/countries. Lauren @ Shooting Stars Mag often does a Local Tourist feature. And I’ve learned some interesting things about Dubai from Gayathri @ Elgee Writes.
  • Movies & TV – I like hearing about my blogger friends’ favorite movies and TV shows. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight writes lots of posts about The 100, and she also does a feature called Sometimes I Watch Shows.
  • General Life Updates – I love reading everyone’s Sunday Posts and Monthly Wrap-Ups, and I especially enjoy reading what’s been happening in my fellow bloggers’ lives lately. Hearing personal stories helps me to get to know the people in the blogosphere in much deeper ways. Other random life-update posts or tags are wins too!

I’m sure there are other topics I enjoy reading about too, but these are the ones that pop into my mind. The funny thing is, even topics I’m not all that excited about normally are much more interesting when they’re shared by a blogger I already know and love. I might not seek out posts about fitness or healthy eating or music, for instance, but I might check them out if it’s someone I know talking about those topics. (And, of course, there are probably other people who specifically like to see those topics.)

The only place I really share any of these non-bookish topics on my own blog is in my Sunday Posts and Monthly Wrap-Ups. But this has made me think that maybe I should pepper in a few of these types of posts. For instance, I just recently used illustrated book pages (from a book my son destroyed) to make origami stars. Maybe I’ll write a post about it!

Do you like to see non-bookish posts on book blogs occasionally? What are your favorite types of topics? I want to know!
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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on my blog and share news about what’s coming up in the week ahead.
This past week on FYFA (and in my life):

Right now, I’m at the SCBWI Marvelous Midwest Writing Conference!! I’ll post an update next week to let you know how it is!

Here’s what you may have missed on the blog since my last Sunday Post:

Book Blogger Birthdays and Blogoversaries:

Here are the birthdays and blogoversaries for this week! I hope you’ll go wish these bloggers well on their special days! Make sure you check out the calendar to see what you might have just missed or what’s coming up. (If you want to be added to the calendar, it’s easy! Just fill out the birthday/blogoversary form.)

Book Haul:

For Review:

I signed up for the tour for Planet Earth Is Blue, which sounds like it’s going to be an incredibly heartwarming read. Watch for my review (and a giveaway), which will go up next week!

From NetGalley/Edelweiss:

Soul of the Sword is the second book in Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox Series. I must read all things written by Kagawa. Secrets of a Fangirl was an impulse download. I saw a post listing the tour schedule for it and noticed Fangirl in the title. I have a Connect 5 that I’m working on about Fandoms, so I went and read the description. The rest is history. 

 Great Discussions/Goings On Around the Blogosphere:
  • I’m afraid I didn’t manage much blog-hopping this week! Next week I’ll be back to it.
Pre-order Campaigns

Listed in order of release date. Any new deals that I just added to the list this week will be denoted with a *** so you can easily find them!

Please note: Almost all pre-order giveaways run “while supplies last,” so I can’t guarantee that they’ll be open until the date listed. Pre-0rder early for your best chance to get all the goodies!

More Awesome Giveaways:

Lots of good stuff! Have any giveaways or great discussions happening on your site right now? Feel free to share them in the comments!

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