Thursday, February 23, 2017

Goodbye Days - Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days 
Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: Alphabet Soup Challenge

They were the "Sauce Crew". A band of talented young men, who shared a bond as thick as brothers. Three of them were lost in a car crash suspected to be due to texting and driving. The other member of the crew being the one who had sent the text.
I watch them lower the third member of Sauce Crew into the ground. I am Sauce Crew now. 
Have you ever lost someone, and wished you had had just one more day? One more day to say "goodbye"? One more day to tell them and show them you loved them? I was really able to relate to this want, this desire to say goodbye.  I lost a very close college friend in a plane crash; we were 31. My last communication with him was a Valentine's Day card he sent me. I never thought I would never see him again. I felt so robbed of the opportunity to make sure he knew I cared, and that I valued him and his friendship. Yes, I could totally relate to this book and the need for a goodbye day.
I guess we'd try to give life to his story for one more day. Pay tribute. Say goodbye.
This book was sad. It really could not have been anything but sad under the circumstances of its premise. I cried so many tears. I cried tears as someone who missed the opportunities to say goodbye. I cried tears as a mother, who couldn't imagine burying her child. I am crying right now as I write this review, because it actually hit me pretty hard.
Penance. Stories. Goodbye days. 
I love Zentner's story telling. The Serpent King was one of my top 2016 reads, and this was one of my top 2017 anticipated reads. He has this ability to craft a story with so much feeling, and  filled with characters that worm their way into your heart and soul. It was so painful being in Carver's head following the accident, and the funerals, and the fallout. I just wanted to reach into the page and hug him so many times. Thank goodness Zentner gave Carver some support in the form of his sister, Georgia (who was pretty awesome), Jesmyn, his very loving parents, Dr. Mendez, and the most awesome character in the book (in my opinion), Nana Betsy.
We build him a monument of words we've written on the walls of our hearts. We make the air vibrate with his life. 
Each goodbye day had a very unique tone, but each was quite painful in its own way. Blake's had some very big reveals for both Nana Betty and Carver. Eli's was tense and awkward, but it also had one of the most beautiful soliloquies from Eli's dad. I think I was bawling at the end of all that. But, the goodbye day for Mars was the most painful. It was tough getting through them.
I never imagined that my history would include the full history of my son, start to finish. But it does now. 

Overall: Another amazing book by the wonderful Jeff Zentner, made my heart swell and my face wet with tears.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Crown Books for Young Readers for the advanced copy of this book

Have you ever wanted to have a goodbye day?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty.

The Traitor's Kiss
Erin Beaty
Series: Traitor's Trilogy, #1
Release Date: May 9,  2017
Publisher: MacMillan's Children's Publishing Group
Waited on by: Sam

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

I have been reading A LOT of contemporaries lately, so I was actively seeking something in the SFF realm, and well - PRETTY COVER! drew me to this one. So, I read on. This book has a sharp-tongued, strong heroine, who is a matchmaker-spy. Color me intrigued!

I dug further to find out more about Beaty. Not only does this book have a heroine who sound awesome, but it is written by an author, who also sounds awesome. I found this article about Erin Beaty, and was really impressed by her resume: degree in rocket science from the US Naval Academy, weapons office for the US Navy. Whaaaa? Makes me think that her background will take the combat and spy sequences to the next level.

This new series sounds very promising, and I am excited to see what sort of world Beaty has created for us.

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Other F-Word - Natasha Friend

The Other F-Word 
Natasha Friend
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017

I feel like I repeat this a lot, but my initial interest in this book was due to the cover and the snappy title. What can I say, I like shiny, pretty things. Then I read the blurb, and thought the concept could yield an interesting read. Lucky for me, the story was not only interesting, but quite amusing as well.
I was conceived in a petri dish.
My father is out there.
I have a half brother.
I was sort of emotionally drained from my last read, and that probably made me more receptive to this book, because it made me laugh, and laugh, and laugh. This is a character driven story told from the POVs of Milo, the boy allergic to the world, and Hollis, the girl who is mad at the world. Milo enlists Hollis on his quest to find their sperm-donor dad, and she reluctantly agrees.
“But this is my quest, okay? I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. And I want you to come with me.”
“On your quest.”
“On my quest.”
“You want me to leave the Shire and go face the freaking dragon with you?”
I greatly enjoyed the interactions between Milo and Hollis. Both were extremely bright and total book worms. Their banter was fun and witty. But I would say Hollis was the more compelling MC. At the onset of the story, Hollis came off as a very angry girl, but as the story played on, we learned that there are multiple reasons for this anger. A major source of her anger is due to losing her other mother to cancer when she was seven years old. She is harboring some serious guilt from her last day with Pam, and it was quite heartbreaking when it is revealed. There are other peripheral issues such as her long undiscussed anger with her ex-friend and the "numbing" activities that she is partaking in. It was Hollis' story that gave the book more emotional depth, and I really loved being there with her while she embarked on this healing journey.

I thought many of the secondary characters were fabulous. The four sperm-siblings were a force to be reckoned with when they started group chats/emails. Each sibling was given a distinct personality, but also had a little piece of each other in them.
JJ Rabinowitz, honorary sperm sibling. 
Then there was JJ. At first, I didn't quite understand JJ's role, but as I read on, I grew to love the big goof ball.  He added yet another perspective on this self-identity issue, as he did not know either of his biological parents. But, he was also a wonderful, supportive friend. He was there for Milo and encouraged him, but also served as the voice of reason when necessary (believe it or not). I thought his friendship with Hollis was adorable, and was glad that he was able to help her work through some of her issues.

I appreciated the way Friend incorporated the issues same sex families faced prior to the marriage equality act. It really broke my heart when both Hollis and Leigh related their stories. And, she contrast that with what Milo's moms had, as they were able to legally marry.
“A good and generous guy gave us some seeds so we could grow you!” The story sounded a lot like Jack and the Beanstalk: mysterious man, magic seeds. A fairy tale. 
Overall: a sweet and funny adventure of sperm-donor siblings trying to find their "dad" where they actually end up finding themselves and each other.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the advanced copy of this book

Do you have any siblings?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. This post is for sharing what I read last week, what I am currently reading, and what I plan to read.

What I Read Last Week

What I Am Currently Reading

What I Plan to Read

What are you reading?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

#SignedBookSunday: The Iron Warrior

The Iron Warrior 
Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin Teen


I guess you already know, that I like to read books, but I also like to bookstagram. I must warn you, though, me bookstagramming is like me singing or dancing. I enjoy it, but I am not very good at it. With that said, I decided I would participate in #SignedBookSunday.

I selected The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa. I got this book signed when I met Kagawa at YallFest back in 2015. When I was reading the inscription, I remembered the conversation Kagawa and I had regarding why I had not yet read this book. I had to admit to her, that I loved the series, and I was afraid of the ending not being satisfying and of leaving the world behind.

When this book came out, I had already read 6 books and 2 novellas set in this world. I was entrenched in the Nevernever. I was invested in the lives of these characters, and then Kagawa tweets about how she killed 2 characters. I couldn't read it. I just imagined the worst and I could not bring myself to read the book. I was so stressed out and worried about her ruthlessly ending the book, that I avoided it.

Julie Kagawa was so sweet, and assured me that it was an ending I could live with, and it was. It wasn't all neat in a bow and whatnot, but it was satisfying and I could live with it. I do miss those characters and that world, but I am grateful for the experience, and well, I could just re-read the books.

Is there a world you were reluctant to leave? 
Do you put off series finales?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Optimists Die First - Susin Nielsen

Optimists Die First 
Susan Nielsen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges:  #ContRom2017, Alphabet Soup Challenge

I knew nothing about this book when Kiersten brought it to me, but the cover was ok and I liked the title, so I said I would read it. I am really glad I made that decision, because this book was wonderful!

A photo posted by Sam Kozbial (@kozbisa) on

Petula's family had experienced a HUGE tragedy, and this turned Tula into a pessimists with a million phobias. Her irrational fear of just about everything had been her coping mechanism until Jacob came into her life. He was this bright ray of sunshine, who appeared severely optimistic and tended to bring out the best in those around him.
I learned some lessons that day:
  1. Life is not fair.
  2. Tragedy can strike when you least expect it.
  3. Always expect the worst. That way, you might stand a chance of protecting yourself and the ones you love.
The blurb on the back of the book pretty much summed this book up for me
One pessimist. One optimist. One love story. Award-winning author Susin Nielsen's irresistible novel is both heartrending and laugh-out-loud funny. 
One minute, I would be laughing because Petula was hilarious, but then I would be crying because it was so tragic, it was all so tragic. The pain was so raw and real. Nielsen did such a fantastic job depicting this broken, grieving family. Petula would often compare the before family to the now family, and it just broke my heart into pieces.
We moved into Arcadia. Just the three of us and our invisible zeppelin of grief.
The heart of this story was Petula and her band of teen misfits. As part of her penance for some heinous acts, Petula had to attend an art therapy group. This group was filled with some interesting and colorful characters. It was not surprising that Nielsen did a great job portraying the flawed teens knowing her background as a writer for Degrassi Junior High. This group was so delightful and authentic, and I enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them.

"Jacob resuscitated you," said Koula.
The love story was quite sweet. It unfolded slowly, and I smiled a lot. As the connection between Tula and Jacob grew,  Petula began to heal, and she began to resemble her former self.

Other things to love:
  1. Catadaptions!
  2. Crafting (I wish I had such skills)
  3. Petula and her mother are readers, and there is a lot of fun bookish stuff in this book
  4. The principal (he really did put the "pal" in principal)
  5. Where the Wild Things Are (*tears*)
Maybe catadaptions looks like this

Overall: A beautiful story of love and healing, of overcoming great losses and being able to be open to new beginnings. 

**I would like to thank Wendy Lamb Books for the advanced copy of this book

Do you have any phobias?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Eliza and Her Monsters

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.

Eliza and Her Monsters
Francesca Zappia
Release Date: May 30,  2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Waited on by: Sam

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums and snippets of Wallace's fanfiction, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

First and foremost, I want to bask in the glory that is the cover of this book.

I was definitely attracted to this book because of the amazing cover. I saw it and I had to know more about it. Then, I saw who wrote the book. Zappia's last book, Made You Up , is such an incredible book, I only had high hopes for this one. Finally, I read the synopsis, and I was all in. 

A shy outsider, who finds her voice online, suddenly finds her two worlds colliding. This can be an epic masterpiece if done well, and I trust Zappia to bring this premise to its fullest potential. And, well, monsters and mixed formats are some of my favorite things. 

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Romances

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Here at We Live and Breathe Books, two of us choose five books each week. This weeks topic is...

Favorite Romances!
Happy Valentine's Day from WLABB, and in honor of this holiday, I am happy to share some of my favorite romance books. I am a unapologetic romance reader. I looked on my Goodreads "read" shelf, and I have over 500 books classified as romance. It was so hard selecting books for this list, but I tried to pick a mix of well loved and less appreciated book. I hope you like my picks. 

Favorite YA Romances

Marie Lu
Series: Legend, #3
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile 

By the time I read this, the third and last book in the series, I was wholly onboard this ship. June and Day had this amazing and epic love, but there were so many things keeping them apart. The ending was tough, but beautiful and so meaningful to me. I thought it was an interesting way for Lu to show how real and true their love was. *sniffle, sniffle* Getting a little misty just thinking about the ending.

We Are Still Tornadoes
Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

This is the third time I am mentioning this book, and I will aver my love for Tornadoes and shout it from the mountain tops. I actually stumbled upon this book. I had gone to a bloggers event and this was one of the ARCs left on the table. It was blurbed by Susan Elizabeth Philips and set in the 80s, so I was in. Best. Decision. This is a friends to lovers story told via letters between Scott and Catherine, and I swear, my heart exploded over and over again. Sweet, funny, charming, heartwarming, smile-inducing -- I don't have enough adjectives to express my love.

Love and Other Unknown Variables
Shannon L. Alexander
Publisher: Entangled Teen

I cried happy and sad tears reading this one. This is not the HEA romance that I typically go for, and it was sort of sad, but there was so much beauty in the sadness. I laughed, I cried, I raged against the universe, but I finished this book with a full and happy heart.

Tell Me Three Things
Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Random House

I was so lucky to get a copy of this at YallFest 2015, because this ended up being one of my favorites. This book falls into the "warm and fuzzy" category for me. It was like a warm blanket on a cold day, and I loved every second of it. Wonderful story + great characters = a happy heart. (I went on to read Buxbaum's adult books, and they were fantastic as well)

This is What Happy Looks Like
Jennifer E. Smith
Series: This is What Happy Looks Like, #1
Publisher: Headline

This starts with a fun premise, an online friendship forged between a small town girl and a movie star via an accidental email. From there, the fun just keeps coming. I have a soft spot for JES, as she knows how to write the type of romances that are adorable and cute and keep a smile on my face from beginning to end. I never wanted this one to end.

Honorable Mentions
There are so many authors that have gifted me with special books that have touched my heart. 
Sarah Dessen
Kasie West
Morgan Matson
Abbi Glines
Katie McGarry

Favorite NA/Adult Romances

Sarina Bowen
Series:True North, #1
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

I really loved the Gravity and Ivy Years, so I went into this series a solid Bowen fan, but still a little skeptical of this book. A hero who's a farmer? That's, uh, different. But you know what? It was fabulous! This is a second chance romance set in beautiful Vermont with great MCs surrounded by a wonderful and loving family, and FOOD! Lots of food. I was so happy out on the Shipley's farm, and the love just continued in book 2. I hope Bowen will add more books to this series, because I don't want to leave VT.

Flat-Out Love
Jessica Park
Series: Flat-Out Love
Publisher: Self published

This was a romance, but it was also a story of a broken family. A family that was so entrenched in their denial, and were functioning at a bare minimum level. This added that layer of drama and emotion that just pulled me in. But all these feels were ok, because Park balanced it out with fun light-hearted moments. The companion books in this series were also wonderful, with Flat-Out Matt filling in some of the gaps in this book.

Neanderthal Seeks Human
Penny Reid
Series: Knitting in the City, #1
Publisher: Caped Publishing

Reid is one of my go-tos for rom-coms, and this is Penny Reid doing what Penny Reid does well. She creates sweet, endearing romances that are filled with whip-smart characters that are hilarious. For the love of Thor! How could you not fall in love with both Quinn and Janie? Janie is so odd and quirky, but so smart and honest. Her awkwardness is what makes her so special and unique, and she won the heart of Quinn - Sir McHotPants, who makes her proclaim such phrases as "It was as if a unicorn had appeared beneath a double rainbow and started tap dancing." *Huge smile*

Jay Crownover
Series: Marked, #3
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

I am a HUGE Crownover fan. The Marked series was my gateway into her world, and I will read every book she writes. This series focuses on a group of tattooed men, who are connected through friendship, family, and the shop. I loved all the Marked books, but this one was, and still is, my favorite. The romance is between Cora, the pink-haired pixie who manages the shop, and Rome, who is slightly adrift after being forced out of the service due to an injury. I re-read my comments on GoodReads, and it was apparent that I loved the high drama in this book, and the MCs. I especially loved Rome, and found that Crownover gave him some of the most beautiful dialogue, internal and external, of all the Marked Men. I sighed, I swooned, I fanned myself.

Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Rainbow Rowell does such a good job of crafting amazing and interesting characters, and she did so, once again with Landline. This is a beautiful story of two REAL people in love, who have to juggle real life along with maintaining the romance. It's a story of woman falling back in love with her husband, and that concept just hit me right in the feels. This book usurped Attachments as my favorite RR book, and that is saying a lot.

Honorable Mentions
Again, I feel as though I could not show my love for some of my favorite romance writers: 
Jay McLean - Where the Road Takes Me
Cora Carmack - Rusk University series
Gayle Forman - Just One Year
Jill Shalvis - all her books

What are some of your favorite romances?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stuffed Animal Saturday: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books to showcase the book we're currently reading with one of our favorite stuffed animals and discuss our stuffed animal's opinion (well, it's really our opinion, but that's besides the point). We hope you enjoy our quirky feature as much as we enjoy writing it!

This Saturday, Pretty Princess and I are reading I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.

Blurb from Goodreads: 
Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

A photo posted by Sam Kozbial (@kozbisa) on

So far:

This month's #MonthlyMotif challenge was to read a book involving spies, detectives, PIs, or a character in disguise. I have to say, it took me a while to find a book we had that fit the bill. I decided on this Gallager Girl book, because we have a bunch of Ally Carter books, and I have been meaning to get to them. *Averts eyes in shame*

So far, I am pleased with my choice. I may have mentioned this before, but I read for escape. I love light and fluffy books without too much drama, and this one is giving me just that. It's a very sweet first romance type book with the added twist of the heroine being a genius spy in training. The concept is fun, and Carter does a great job presenting life as a Gallagher Girl. I find it quite amusing, when Cammie's train of thought seems like any average teenaged girl, but then the next comment shows her spy entrenched side.

Currently, her two sides are warring with each other, as she wrestles with where her loyalties reside. The boy or the Gallagher Girls?! It's a struggle and has just the right amount of drama I am in the mood for today.

Are you and your stuffed animal reading anything interesting? 
Let us know in your own Stuffed Animal Saturday!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beautiful Broken Girls - Kim Savage

Beautiful Broken Girls 
Kim Savage
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary,
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: N/A

The quarry had absorbed the girls, delivering them to a place where they would remain untouched by hands, and unbroken by hearts. 
This book began with the discovery of the Cillo sisters' bodies tangled together at the bottom of the quarry lake, and Ben in a state of denial about their death. Before the sisters excommunicated themselves from society, Ben had had a relationship with Mira Cillo, and now she was reaching out to him from beyond the grave with a series of letters. There were seven letters hidden in locations associated with the seven places Ben touched Mira - Palm, Hair, Chest, Cheek, Lips, Throat, Heart. With the discovery of each letter, Ben came closer to uncovering what drove the sisters to their fate, but he also began to unravel as he worked through his grief of losing Mira (twice) and came to terms with his own painful past.
Was death a germ you could catch
This is my first Kim Savage book, and I found her writing quite beautiful. She perfectly captured the somber tone. This town was plagued by pain and loss. It was clearly conveyed with the backstory provided, as well as through each character's own story. It seemed like everyone in this town was in need of healing. And, YES! I will admit, when I started reading it, Virgin Suicides slipped right into my head. It had a similar aura with the strange, mysterious, tragic, beautiful sisters and their secret lives. It wasn't a bad thing. It was a different tempo for me, but I thought Savage pulled it off quite well. I was invested in this story, which I found more character driven than plot driven. I found myself reading on and on, because I wanted to know what led this girls to end their lives and I wanted to know if Ben was able to find any closure.
Here's what we learned: when you touch things, they can break. 
The story alternates between Ben's present as he is collecting the letters and trying to make sense of this tragedy, and the Cillo sisters' past, as we learn about the events that lead up to their deaths. I thought this construct was quite suited to the story. I enjoyed flipping back and forth with the story slowly unfolding. Savage led me on several different paths, but at one point, I was able to deduce what really happened before it was unveiled. I will admit, I like to work the puzzle pieces in the story, and was not disappointed in figuring it out prematurely. (In fact, I patted myself on the back)
Mira loved him for the damage inflicted on him, the kind of damage that her touch might heal
If you pressed me for one word to describe this story, I would say heartbreaking. As I previously mentioned, everyone seemed so broken, and the calamities just appeared to be piling up as we moved through this book. Then there was the entire concept of touch explored by Savage. There were physical touches (good and bad), there were mental touches, and then there was this spiritual touch. I found it compelling that the idea kept popping up, and enjoyed her examination of the concept.
"You broke us!" it shrieked. "Every single one of you broke us!"
Overall: A heartbreaking and emotional journey in discovering the truth about oneself and those they cared for.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the advanced copy of this book

Do you enjoy books with broken characters?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Upside of Unrequited

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.

The Upside of Unrequited
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Waited on by: Sam

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.


Albertalli dazzled with back in 2015 with Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. She was this fresh voice with so many incredible things to say. The story was honest and real and funny and adorable and charming. I devoured Simon with a HUGE smile on my face, and have been eagerly awaiting new work from her.

Me after reading Simon

When I first heard about Upside, I was excited, simply because it was a new book by Albertalli. Then I read the description, and I got even more excited. This is another story that will be important to many people, and I trust Albertalli to tell it right, just as she did with Simon.

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: The Radius of Us - Marie Marquardt

The Radius of Us 
Marie Marquardt
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #ContRom2017, #DiverseReads2017, #PopSugarReadingChallenge2017, #NGEW2017

If I was pressed to summarize this book, I would pick the following part of the book blurb:
Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor.
There was just so much I loved about this book, I don't even know where to start. This is a love story, a story of redemption, and a story of survival. This is story of gang violence, refugees, and the Central American Crisis. This book hit me on so many levels, and I was all in from the first page.

Both Phoenix and Gretchen were victims. Gretchen had been assaulted, and was suffering from PTSD. Phoenix was running from his gang-life past, and fighting for him and his little brother to stay in the US. These two were able to find solace in each other's company. Gretchen was able to feel safe; Phoenix was able to see a possible future. Both were hopeful, and I couldn't help but be hopeful with them.
Looking at that smile, I feel like I can breathe better, like the air has just changed to pure oxygen. 
Phoenix's story definitely stole the show. My heart ached as I learned about his past. He had experienced so many difficult things in his 19 years, it did not seem quite fair. He made mistakes in the past, but he turned his life around. This idea that one can change, and one does not need to be defined by one's past is so important to me. I want to think that every mistake I make will not haunt me forever. I want to believe that I can overcome my past, and move forward towards good things. I need redemption stories to keep this flame of hope alive, and this book definitely fits the bill.
He's helping me come back alive. He's sort of amazing. 
This book is also packed with great characters. I know many people will mention the diversity present in this book, because there is A LOT of diversity in this book. There are black, white, and Latino characters. Some are straight, some are gay. They are rich, poor, and in-between. They were from all walks of life, and all these different perspectives added to the beauty of this book. But besides being diverse, they were just beautiful characters. Sally and Amanda were the lovely lesbian couple, who took Phoenix into their home and were paying for his lawyer. But they did not just give him monetary support, they gave him genuine affection and support, and served as one of several mother figures in Phoenix's life. There was Bree and Ty Pennington (Trading Spaces anyone?), Gretchen's friends, who were struggling with how to help Gretch after the attack. I really liked that Marquardt surprised me with Ty. He turned out to be so much more than I thought he would be. Sister Mary Margaret, another mother figure, had given a lot to Phoenix, and continued to fight for him from afar. Finally, there was Barbie and Bo, the biker couple with hearts of gold. All were special and really enhanced the story.

I read the acknowledgements, and was not surprised to find that Marquardt is an immigration advocate. Her passion and knowledge is obvious in this story. I found it all quite interesting and heartbreaking. It left me with a lot to think about for sure.

I am getting a little misty just thinking about it, but I. Loved. That. Ending. The epilogue was perfection for me. I am so grateful for that epilogue. It was everything for me.

Overall: A beautiful and emotional story of love and the human spirit, which deeply moved me and left me with many important things to ponder.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the advanced copy of this book

Have you read this book?
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