Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Book Review: Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman

Pages: 288
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Pub. Date: October 12, 2021
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: If I Stay,
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "It’s the summer of 1987, and all ten-year-old Bug wants to do is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out with the locals on the boardwalk. But Danny wants to be with his own friends, and Bug’s mom is too busy, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor Philip’s nephew, Frankie.  Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And as the summer unfolds, they find themselves learning some important lessons about each other, and the world.  Like what it means to be your true self and how to be a good ally for others. That family can be the people you’re related to, but also the people you choose to have around you. And that even though life isn’t always fair, we can all do our part to make it more just.




Bug is a tween growing up in the late 1980s. It's the summer and for Bug, the summer has always been about the beach that is until plans change this year. Normally her brother, Danny, watches her and they go to Venice Beach together, but this summer is different.  Danny is now a teenager and doesn't want to hangout with his little sister day in and day out.  Naturally, he would rather hangout with his friends. This obviously crushes Bug, because not only does she look forward to summer days at the beach, she is also disappointed that her brother has pushed her aside.  Bug's mother has good news though.  Her best friend who lives upstairs has his nephew, Frankie, visiting for the summer and he is the same age as Bug.  At first, things are awkward between Bug and Frankie, but eventually they hit it off.  Together they hope to solve the crime of the Midnight Marauder, a serial killer who has been targeting their area.  However, things quickly go from a more relaxed "investigation" to a more serious once when Phillip, Frankie's uncle, is attacked.  Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman is a brilliant coming-of-age story about two friends with the whole summer ahead of them, but it is actually a lot more than your usual summer reader. Readers will appreciate the subtle messages throughout and Forman's expert way of dealing with difficult, yet timely issues.  Frankie & Bug is such a memorable read.

I really enjoyed Bug from the beginning in Frankie & Bug. Forman has a way of developing characters that readers can connect with and root for. I truly cared for her and was so thankful when she met Frankie as Bug really needs a good friend.  I really loved their friendship and how it evolved.  At first, they are both into discovering who the Midnight Marauder is, but then that all changes when Phillip is attacked. As they look into what exactly happened to Phillip, they learn the truth surrounding many family secrets and just how unfair life can be at times.

Forman keeps things light enough throughout Frankie & Bug that the story never feels too heavy, but she somehow still addresses such important issues, such as racism, LGTBQ issues, skinheads, and common prejudices.  Without giving too much away, Frankie is a trans youth and Forman dives into this topic expertly and carefully.  I think Frankie's story can be appreciated by so many middle grade readers and some may relate to it.  Bug is also a female of mixed race and Forman highlights how physical appearances can sometimes play into prejudices as her brother Daniel looks more like their father from El Savador and Bug looks more like her white mother.  There are many heavy topics explored, but Forman covers it all in such a way that it's part of the story and not preachy. 

Simply put, Forman is an expert writer and one of my favorites. Her writing is so accessible and I think this middle grade debut is an important one and I'd love to see in every middle grade school library.  

So, are you a fan of Gayle Forman? Is Frankie & Bug on your TBR list? Do you enjoy middle grade fiction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Book Review: Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Genre: Adult Fiction/Audio Book
Pub. Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Normal People
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?"




Eileen and Alice are old university friends and now they are in their upper 20s navigating adulthood.  Eileen works at a literary magazine in Dublin and Alice is a famous novelist.  Things haven't been easy for Alice though. She had a nervous breakdown and is now finding solitude on the west coast of Ireland.  They keep in touch through long-winded emails that describe everything from who they are dating to the state of the world. Regarding their love lives, Eileen has harbored strong feelings for her childhood crush, Simon, and they are on and off again. Then there's Alice who has met Felix, the warehouse worker. He is pretty much the opposite of her, but perhaps this is what she needs? Felix isn't quite sure how to take her fame though.  The novel examines modern romance in a sense and the trials and tribulations of women dating in their 20s during a difficult political and social climate. In classic Sally Ronney style, she accomplishes that and more in Beautiful World, Where Are You.

Eileen and Alice have a friendship that has spanned many years and I enjoyed them in Beautiful World, Where Are You.  Both are smart, bookish, and have their struggles with dating. They rehash their issues in emails back and forth to one another trying to navigate and reflect on things.  Rooney captures social awkward situations and characters so well. I really could feel the drama and the angst permeating off the page much like in Normal People. Both characters don't fully communicate and consequently this impacts their lives. 

The one issue with Beautiful World, Where Are You is the fact that I didn't feel connected to Eileen and Alice as I did with the characters in Normal People. Rooney made me curious about Alice and Eileen, but I wasn't overly invested. I was merely observing them in a sense and I think that may be a byproduct of the way it was written as a lot of the character development is done via emails. Their emails are long and at first I thought who would write such a long email about really nothing? But then I was hooked. The emails were like mini essays about everything from the use of plastics, to the political climate, to the fate of the world. This is where Rooney excels and in turn it morphs into such a smart read and not your typical run of the mill romance.  

I listened to the audio version of Beautiful World, Where Are You and it was outstanding. I thought the narrator captured the Irish brogue without it being too grating or too difficult to understand. She brought the characters to life, especially the parts where she read their emails. Beautiful World, Where Are You is one of my favorite audio books of the year.

While I liked Normal People a bit more than this angsty and brooding novel, I still think Beautiful World, Where Are You was smart, well written, thought provoking, and interesting.  I'd recommend it to fans of Rooney as well as fans of John Green. So, is Beautiful World, Where Are You on your TBR list? Have you read it already? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Can't Wait Wednesday: Every Summer After

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating! 


Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Pub. Date: May 17, 2022


Goodreads says, "Five summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.  A magazine writer has to make a choice when she returns to the lake she grew up on, and to the man she thought she’d never have to live without, in this sweeping and achingly nostalgic romantic debut.  They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser that has felt too true for the last decade, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart. Until the day she gets a call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek."


I'm starting to hear more and more about what books are coming out in the summer of 2022.  I love the sound of this one and added it to my TBR list immediately. What do you guys think?


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Book Review: No Words by Meg Cabot

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: October 12, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review 
Other Books By Author: Insatiable,  
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Welcome to Little Bridge, one of the smallest, most beautiful islands in the Florida Keys.  Jo Wright always swore she’d never step foot on Little Bridge Island—not as long as her nemesis, bestselling author Will Price, is living there.  Then Jo’s given an offer she can’t refuse: an all-expense-paid trip to speak and sign at the island’s first-ever book festival.  Even though arrogant Will is the last person Jo wants to see, she could really use the festival’s more-than-generous speaking fee. She’s suffering from a crippling case of writer’s block on the next installment of her bestselling children’s series, and her father needs financial help as well. Then Jo hears that Will is off-island on the set of the film of his next book. Hallelujah! But when she arrives on Little Bridge, Jo is in for a shock: Will is not only at the book festival, but seems genuinely sorry for his past actions—and more than willing not only to make amends but prove to Jo that he’s a changed man. Things seem to be looking up—until disaster strikes, causing Jo to wonder: Do any of us ever really know anyone? "


Jo Wright is a well-known author of a children's book series called Kitty Katz, Kitten Sitter.  She has successful wrote many Kitty Katz novels and has many adoring fans, except now she has hit a slump.  It's a big one.  It all started when author Will Price, a Nicholas Sparks type, bad mouthed her books in an interview to none other than the New York Times.  This has messed with her head and has had a serious case of writer's block since.  She's got bills to pay and a deadline to make, so when she is offered the opportunity to attend a literary festival in the Florida Keys, she takes it; plus, she gets a $10,000 stipend to attend.  Normally she would never go to a festival in the Florida Keys, because Will Price lives down there, but she happens to know he is abroad during the festival.  Think again. Once she gets there, she realizes that Will is not only attending the festival, but he has helped to plan it and is a major donor.  Now she must face Will even though she would rather not see him again. What could go wrong? Meg Cabot's rom-com, No Words, is a fun romance, especially for fans of the enemies to lovers trope.

I really liked Jo from the beginning in No Words.  Despite her penchant to use annoying phrases from her Kitty Katz series, I still really enjoyed her and was rooting for her. I really wish Cabot would have fleshed out why she let Price get to her so much, but nonetheless, Cabot convinces the readers that Will is an all-around horrible human.  However, once Jo gets to the Little Bridge Island's literary festival, Will seems just the opposite.  He has been really nice and accommodating to Jo, so readers end up questioning what game he is playing.  Slowly, we realize what's going on and I really enjoyed the ride and watching Jo, eventually, let down her walls.  

The setting of a literary festival was so much fun! It was like having a behind the scene glimpse into what it's like to be an author at one of these events. Jo, along with her author friends, were hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud at certain points.  Plus, the setting of Little Bridge Key in the Florida Keys was outstanding. Cabot, who lives at Key West, really knows how to bring the Keys to life. I felt like I was there and my only regret is the fact that I wasn't able to read this book on the beach. 

There's a lot of drama in No Words. Some of it was a little over the top, but it was all very entertaining.  If you are looking for a palate cleanser in between more serious reads, I recommend No Words. It was a light rom-com and I mean this in the best way possible.  Sometimes it is exactly what you need and who doesn't love a good enemies to lovers story set a beautiful destination....plus, a literary festival! It's a winning combination.

So, are you a fan of Meg Cabot? Is No Words on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Stacking the Shelves (142)


Book Review: The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

What I'm Reading Next (49)





Coming up, I'll be sharing my thoughts on The Last Debutantes by Georgie Blalock, which was about the last generation of debutantes before the war. Also, I'll be reviewing No Words by Meg Cabot, which very much felt like a beach read despite the fact that I read it at the beginning of fall.


Last Dance on Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird - Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan - Thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley




A Man of Honor by Barbara Taylor Bradford - Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley

Violeta  by Isabel Allende - Thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley




Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman - Thanks to Simon and Schuster

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver - Thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley





Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner - Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley 

The Lifeguards by Amanda Eyre Ward - Thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley




The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery - Thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley

Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo - Thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley


Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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