Friday, May 25, 2018

Giveaway: The Great American Read Blog Tour and Dover Books

Guys, The Great American Read on PBS is pretty much a bookworm's dream. I am so excited for this show! I have been counting down the days to the premiere and after watching the first episode, I must admit I love it! Did you guys catch the first episode?

I also am inspired to check out some of the books on the list that I haven't read yet.  Did you guys see the official list? Which books are your favorites? Are you surprised by any of the books on the list? I love that this show lends itself to people discussing books and getting passionate about their favorites. In turn, my TBR list is overflowing with recommendations!

I am so, so excited to kick off this holiday weekend with an incredible giveaway! I have partnered with The Children's Book Review and Dover Books to give away  a set of seven titles from The Great American Read list as well as a Five Great English Novels Boxed set. I wish I could enter this giveaway myself!

Two grand prize winners will receive:

  • A set of 7 titles from The Great American Read list:
    • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    • The Story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    • Adventures of Don Quixote by Argentina Palacio
  • A Five Great English Novels Boxed Set:
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    • Withering Heights by Emily Brontë
    • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    • The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Three runner-up winners will receive:

    • A set of 7 titles from The Great American Read list (as above)

How fantastic is this giveaway? These classic novels would look great on any bookshelf.  Please refer to my giveaway rules and the giveaway ends June 22, 2018 at 11:59 PM PST.  This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.  Prizes are provided by Dover Books. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about Dover Books, check out their website or visit them on Facebook.  Also, you can find all the Dover books featured on The Great American Read list right here

Let me know which Dover Books are your favorites and which ones you have been meaning to read. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorites for sure! Are you going to watch The Great American Read on PBS? Let me know in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book Review: August and Everything After by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Pages: 320
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: How My Summer Went Up in Flames
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Summer on the New Jersey shore offers Quinn a new start at life and love, but only if she can come to terms with her past.  Graduation can't come soon enough. Desperate for a fresh start, Quinn is eager to escape to her aunt's house on the New Jersey shore for the summer…away from teenage drama and having to answer everyone's questions about "what comes next" after high school.  Quinn can't bear to focus on the future. She doesn't even think she deserves one—not after her best friend died in a car accident that Quinn feels responsible for. But when Quinn meets Malcolm, a musician who has been trying to escape his own demons, she starts to believe in second chances."

Quinn is dealing with a lot of guilt as her best friend died in a car accident that she feels responsible for.  After a scandal at home involving a teacher, Quinn is spending the summer at the Jersey Shore at her aunt's house and working at the local bar.  She is supposed to be figuring out what is next for her and come up with some sort of plan, but it's harder than it looks.  She is definitely distracted by local musician, Malcom.  He is the quintessential rocker and encourages her to play drums on his demo.  Things progress to something more between the two of them, but she isn't sure this is the type of relationship is exactly healthy as Malcolm is very complicated and his past isn't squeaky clean to say the least.  Can he help her move on from her past or will he complicate her life further? And ultimately this novel examines that big question for many seniors...what comes next?  Jennifer Salvato Doktorski's  August and Everything After is an edgier beach read for mature YA readers all set on the memorable backdrop of the Jersey Shore. 

I thought Quinn was an interesting character in August and Everything After. Her complex past is heartbreaking and I wanted to learn more about her.  I really enjoyed her relationship with her aunt as well as Quinn's interest in music. 

Speaking of music, you can really tell that Doktorski knows music as well as bands. If you like this sort of thing, you will appreciate that the most about this book.  The musical details, band life, demos, playing live in front of an audience, and the idea of going on tour is all explored in August and Everything After.

One of the things that Doktorski does well is depict a summer at the Jersey Shore. You can tell she is well versed in shore life and really brought the small town, the bars, and the quirky people to life very well.  

I also appreciated that Malcolm and Quinn were dealing with grief regarding the untimely death of their friends. This made August and Everything After a more serious type of beach read. Quinn struggles with anxiety on a daily basis due to her complicated past and Malcolm struggles with addiction.  So, obviously, this was a darker read than I anticipated despite the romance between Quinn and Malcolm.

If you enjoy darker beach reads that tackle serious issues that teenagers face everyday, then you'll want to check out August and Everything After this summer, especially if you love all things music.  While this isn't my favorite of Doktorski's novels, I still appreciated the novel's message. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday: When We Caught Fire

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

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen 
Pub. Date: October 2nd, 2018

Goodreads says, "It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed.  As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever."

I devoured Godbersen's Luxe series years ago and I look forward to checking out this new book. I think the setting of the 1870s in Chicago sounds incredible. What do you guys think?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Pages: 432
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.  But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.  What could go wrong?  With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.  And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Zorie Everhart is someone who doesn't normally take chances, but when the opportunity comes to go "glamping" with her former good friend, Reagan, she uncharacteristically takes the chance as she desperately wants to get away from her dad and after her trip, she can meet her real friends at an astronomy get-together on a nearby mountain. Astronomy is her passion and she is excited to see a meteor shower with her fellow budding astronomers.  Meanwhile, it's the summer before senior year and instead of living it up, Zorie spends a lot of her time stressed out, thanks to her father.  Zorie was once really good friends with her neighbor Lennon, but there's a family feud going on currently and her father has forbid her to hang out with him; plus, there's the fact that he broke her heart.  To complicate matters further, she finds out that Lennon is going on this camping trip as well. Awkward much?  Jenn Bennett's Starry Eyes is such a great YA read. Books like this are why I still read YA fiction. 

Zorie is the type of character you might meet in a John Green novel and I mean this as a compliment. She's smart, awkward, quirky, and complicated in Starry Eyes. Her home life, at first, seems idyllic, but once readers scratch below the surface they see who her father truly is.  Even though Zorie has a great relationship with her step-mother, she wants to get away from her father and all the drama that unfolded this summer. Let's just say her father is a real jerk.  So, Zorie takes a chance and goes out of her comfort zone by going on this "glamping" trip to a fancy camping place in Northern California. The problem is Zorie isn't really a camper, a hiker, or even in good enough shape to be doing anything extremely rigorous like that, but her current crush is going on the trip, so she can suck it up, right? 

Enter Lennon. I absolutely loved him in Starry Eyes. He is so interesting and multi-faceted. I enjoyed every bit of this character and found myself wanting to learn more about him.  When Zorie finds out Lennon is also going on the trip, there's a lot of initial awkwardness.  You see Lennon broke Zorie's heart and she isn't quite sure what happened between them; plus, it ruined their friendship.  Zorie hasn't had any closure and there are many questions that she still has about what exactly happened.

The setting of the Northern California wilderness was fantastic in Starry Eyes. I am not a big camper, but I love hiking and exploring, so the adventure side of Starry Eyes really held my interest.  Zorie is a bit of a fish out of water, so I liked her seeing her push herself out of her comfort zone.  Plus, it didn't hurt that Lennon is, surprisingly, an expert outdoorsman.  

So, on their camping trip, there's a ton of drama, which is to be expected amongst high school students, which gives Zorie and Lennon a lot of alone time. I don't want to give too much away, but I loved them getting reacquainted with each other all while exploring nature.  You guys know I am a sucker for the whole friends-to-something more romance, so there was a lot of swoon on my part.

Also, it should be noted that Starry Eyes is for mature YA readers as there's underage drinking, sex, and other serious topics explored like affairs, betrayals, death of a loved one, and divorce.  I thought Bennett covered all of this very well though.

Starry Eyes is going down as one of my favorite YA novels of the year and after reading it, I immediately added Bennett's other novel, Alex, Approximately to my TBR list. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winners (68)

Book Review: The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner
Can't Wait Wednesday: Bellewether
Book Review: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I'll be sharing my thoughts on two YA beach reads this week: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett and August and Everything After by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski.  Starry Eyes is about a friends-to-something more romance and outdoor adventure - it's a fantastic read and one of my favorites of the year!  August and Everything After is a darker beach read with a focus on grief as well as music set at the Jersey Shore.  Lastly, I'm sharing an awesome giveaway with Dover Books and it involves PBS's The Great American Read, which I am BEYOND excited for!


Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson - Thanks to Razorbill
From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon - Thanks to Simon Pulse

The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting - Thanks to Forever and NetGalley

Congrats to Tammy for winning ARCS of Everywhere You Want to Be and It Started with Goodbye by Christina June. I hope you enjoy the books!

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Review: The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

Pages: 334
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Other Books By Author:  The Forever Summer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When a young widow's reclusive life in a charming beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor, she is forced to reckon with dark secrets about her family, her late husband, and the past she tried to leave behind.  Lauren Adelman and her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, are a golden couple. They marry just out of college as Rory, a star hockey player, earns a spot in the NHL. Their future could not look brighter when Rory shocks everyone-Lauren most of all-by enlisting in the U.S. Army. When Rory dies in combat, Lauren is left devastated, alone, and under unbearable public scrutiny.   Seeking peace and solitude, Lauren retreats to her family's old beach house on the Jersey Shore. But this summer she's forced to share the house with her overbearing mother and competitive sister. Worse, a stranger making a documentary about Rory tracks her down and persuades her to give him just an hour of her time.  One hour with filmmaker Matt Brio turns into a summer of revelations, surprises, and upheaval. As the days grow shorter and her grief changes shape, Lauren begins to understand the past-and to welcome the future."

Lauren Kincaid married her high school sweetheart who is an up and coming hockey star.  After dating all through high school and college, they decide to make it official and get married. At this point, Rory, her significant other, is playing professional hockey, but after a few rough hits and some benching he is wondering if there is anything more out there for him than hockey super stardom.  Meanwhile, Lauren is pursing her dreams of being a journalist, but it's hard to do this when she is following Rory around and sometimes she takes jobs that are less than stellar.  To complicate matters further, Rory has confided in Lauren that he wants to enlist and serve his country.  Obviously, this terrifies Lauren as this is not the future she envisioned for herself and her hockey star husband.  When Rory is killed in action while serving in Iraq, Lauren's world is turned upside down not to mention all the media coverage has her freaked out since Rory's was a professional athlete.  She retreats to her parents' shore house at the Jersey Shore and pretty much goes off the grid.  After years of hiding out at the shore, she comes to find out that a filmmaker would like to do a documentary on Rory and despite Lauren's insistence that she doesn't want to work with him, he keeps showing up just about everywhere and has even interviewed her sister and others.  Matt thinks there is more to Rory's story than just a hockey star turned army hero and deep down Lauren knows there are many secrets, some that she isn't willing to tell. Or is she? Jamie Brenner's The Husband Hour is a delightful beach read that not only has the amazing setting of the Jersey Shore, but it also examines grief, family secrets, and essentially the idea of picking yourself up after tragedy and moving on.

Lauren is the kind of character you immediately feel for in The Husband Hour. She has been through a lot and has sort of folded into herself using the backdrop of the Jersey Shore to hide out even further.  I mean the shore in the winter is pretty much deserted, which is exactly what she wants.  Her hermit status falls to the wayside when her parents and her sister decide to spend the summer at the shore house.  What will become of her plans to be isolated with just her memories, her running routes, and her waitressing job?  Also, the arrival of Matt, the filmmaker, also complicates things, especially when he starts digging and doesn't take no for an answer.  

Slowly Brenner shares with readers flashbacks to Lauren and Rory's life as high school students as well as experiences throughout their relationship.  I simultaneously fell in love with their relationship as well as despised it as it evolved slowly into something complicated.  I think Brenner does a good job showing how things aren't always as they seem and relationships, although they appear to be perfect, sometimes aren't.  As we scratch the surface of who Rory actually is, readers can piece together a major issue just waiting to bubble over.   It's sort of heartbreaking actually.

I truly adored the setting of the Jersey Shore in The Husband Hour. You guys know that I have been going to the shore my whole life and I loved Brenner's depictions of Ventnor, Margate, and other shore landmarks.  She truly brought to life a Jersey Shore town and I wanted to hide out with Lauren as well, running on the boardwalks in the early morning with only the sounds of her footsteps, seagulls, and the crashing waves. I loved it!  Also, her flashbacks to Lauren's childhood in Lower Merion also tugged on my heartstrings as I grew up not far from there and was able to recognize many landmarks. Local readers will love this!

I also liked Brenner's portrayal of a family staying together at a shore house all summer long in The Husband Hour. Her parents also had issues they were dealing with along with her super complicated sister and her sister's son. It definitely kept me entertained!

If you like your beach reads filled with family drama and secrets that slowly rise to the surface, throw Jamie Brenner's novel, The Husband Hour, in your beach bag this summer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday: Bellewether

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

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
Pub. Date: August 7, 2018

Goodreads says, "It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story. Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page."

I have really enjoyed Kearsley's novels in the past and can't wait to dive into this one. I love how she combines history, romance, and usually some sort of fantasy, like time-slip, etc. I look forward reading her latest. What do you guys think?

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