Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Keep Me in Mind by Jamie Reed

  • Release Date: April 26, 2016
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Genre: Contemporary YA
  • Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
When  Ellia Dawson wakes up in the hospital with a head injury the first person she sees is Liam McPherson, her boyfriend of two years. The only problem ? She doesn’t remember him. In fact, she doesn’t remember anything about the last two years of her life. Now it’s up to Liam to help her remember her past and Ellia to discover if they still fit together. But that gets pretty complicated because it seems like everyone is hiding something from Ellia.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I was just so annoyed by parts it, specifically by Liam who was just  so freaking righteous. I’m going to rant a little here. From the beginning we know he was with Ellia when she was injured and she has some questions, but instead of just telling her what she wants to know she has to wait for him to finish the book he is writing about their relationship because he is such a special snowflake or something.

And then the worst is this scene when Liam sees Ellia walking out of her therapy session with another guy and he just walks up and makes out with her. I was shouting at the page: SHE DOESN’T REMEMBER YOU, BRO GET OVER IT !

That said I liked the character of Ellia, she's an extreme extrovert which is nice change up for a YA female protagonist. Ellia's journey is all about reconciling the person she was with the person she is now. The last thing she remembers is being excited about going to high school and the next thing she knows she’s a junior in high school. This honestly could have been a story on its own without Liam.

One of my favorite podcasts is Read it and Weep and they have this game called No Retreat, No Surrender where they discuss side characters in films they wish they could follow instead of the main character. I wanted to follow Cody, the boy Ellia meets a therapy who  lost his short term memory in a surfing accident. Cody is only in a few scenes but all I could think about what how interesting it would be to have a relationship with where one character can’t remember the past and the other can’t remember the present. I also liked seeing how Cody used technology and other strategies to get through life with no short term memory. I was really hoping he'd take over the plot, but he doesn't.

Keep Me in Mind had an interesting set up, but a romance I couldn't invest in. However it did remind me of how much YA contemporary is my jam and I want to get back into reading more of it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Um… So….This Book....Yeah, I think it’s time to borrow this meme from my Grasshopper Jungle review:

I got this audiobook from my library because I got it confused with some other book and thought it was about Victorian era spies. But, since the audio was only 5 hours I figured I could knock it out in a week.

Wink Poppy Midnight isn’t as insane as something like Grasshopper Jungle but I have no idea where to start with this book. The story was confusing and really bizarre …. it just didn’t feel like YA. I think Tucholke was trying to subvert some Manic Pixie Dream girl tropes but most of this book felt like something  Guy In Your MFA would write. But let me back up.

Wink Poppy Midnight is about three teenagers; Wink, the mysterious loner with a mother who reads tarot cards. Poppy, the gorgeous manipulative mean girl and Midnight, the boy whose attention both of these girls are extremely interested in because of reasons. The summer Midnight moves next door to Wink's family farm, Poppy starts to get jealous and it does not end well and things get weird. Also, I'm still not sure what happened in this book.

This book is paired a lot with The Raven Boys and while there are some similarities with the tarot cards, magical places and things not being what the seem  it lacks all of the charm of The Raven Boys. I just could not with Midnight. He gets most of the narrative but I felt like I didn’t know anything about him as a character.

Part way through I had a feeling there would be a twist, which there was, but it only made me more confused. I actually went deep into the Goodreads reviews to find some answers about what exactly happened and there were lots of different theories. Speaking of Goodreads, this is one of those books that either gets 1 star or 5 stars.

The only thing keeping me going was the narration. I  especially liked Michael Curran who sounds so young and does great job  imitating the other female voices without it sounding weird. Wink's narrator, Alicyn Packard,  had a lot of vocal fry, it made her sound older for YA, but I would listen to her narrate an adult book.

A great performance with a weird story and no payoff. I think maybe my biggest problem with this book is I just didn’t get it.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Feature and Follow Friday

Feature and Follow is the premium BLOG HOP of Book Bloggers. Running for over five years, the Feature and Follow’s goal is to promote the book blogging and author community to join together and support each other – even if it is just through a simple follow. Hosted by Parajunkee and AlisonCanRead

This Week's Featured 

This Week's FF Prompt
What are your favorite Podcasts--Both Bookish and Non-Bookish Podcast ?

I listen to podcasts during all the quiet hours of my day and at work! Here are some of my favorites, I can't wait to hop around and discover some new podcasts and blogs !


Smart Podcast Trashy Books - This funny, insightful  podcast is hosted by romance blogger Sarah Wendell. Every week Sarah interviews  romance authors, academics and readers. Sarah is a wonderful interviewer and has so much fun with her guests. Sometimes "The Bitches" from her blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books get together to talk books !

Scandalicious and The Nerd Herd - I just discovered this podcast by the romance bloggers at Scandalicious Reviews. Scandal and her Nerd Herd pick a topic and go all out. Sometimes they are discussing one novel, personal topics or just shop talk. I like how these ladies can agree and disagree when it comes to books.

What Should I Read Next - In this upbeat and "never judgey" podcast, Anne Bogel asks a guest to name three books they love, one book they hate and what they want to be different about their reading life. Then she analyzes that info and very thoughtfully recommends three books. It feels like Anne has read everything.


Code Switch
- With more media focusing on race and identity I feel like The Code Switch Podcast creates a safe place to explore and asks questions that sometimes get lost in the Twitter noise. It' s hosted by NPR's Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji.

Criminal - Criminal is a podcast that tells stories related to crime. What's great about this podcast (other than Phoebe Judge's soothing voice) is how well they play with and find stories that fit their theme without it being all about murders.

More Perfect - More Perfect is all about the SCOTUS. I know it sounds dull but it's actually fascinating to learn about The Supreme Court history and how it changes people's lives. The Giggly Blue Robot episode had some especially interesting production.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Room by Emma Donahuge

 Since Brie Larson took home an Academy Award for the film adaptation of this book,  I finally decided to give it a read on audio. Room is told from the point of view of 5-year-old Jack, a boy who has lived his entire life in captivity with his mom in a shed.

I did this on audio and at first I was like nope, nope, nope when I heard  narrator Michal Friedman's 5-year-old boy voice. But once you settle into the story-- it works. I think the little boy voice is close to her speaking voice because she has also done some chicklit with a similar tone. She did a great job and her voice is so unique. I was sad to see she died a year after this came out

This audio is a full cast dramatization where each character has their own voice actor . I’ve haven’t heard a production like this before, but it works well since there is so much back and forth dialogue.

While there are some suspenseful and emotional moments in the story it also gets really dull in some places, especially the last 40 percent. Donoghue juxtaposes this terrible thing through innocent eyes--in the book Jack doesn’t realize the full extent of his situation. It was such a smart decision.There were moments when this book was light  and  added some needed levity because woman-being-kidnapped-by-men-and-raped-and-then-forced-to-give-birth-in-captivity is a thing that happens a lot IRL and it is horrifying.

Seriously, why are men allowed to run the world ?

Overall I thought this was good, but not great. I think the reason it gets so much attention is because of how much this topic was in the news between Jaycee Duggard being found and sentencing of Elizabeth Smart's kidnappers.  

I’ve already put the movie on hold at the library and I can't wait to see how it’s adapted. I actually just got the movie off hold but returned it because I haven't been in the mood to re-live this story and I feel like taking away Jack's filter is just going to make this story even more Nightmare Fuel-y.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Tote Bag Giveaway !

Can you believe it's been 5 years since Ms. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children came out ? And that the film is coming out t his year ?  To celebrate the 5th anniversary,  Quirk is letting us host a giveaway this lovely Miss Peregrine's tote bag ! Here's to #5PeculiarYears.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also check out the contest Quirk is running for fans of the series over at http://www.quirkbooks.com/5PeculiarYears. All you need to do is submit your Miss Peregrine fan art, cosplay, shelfies, or selfies to be entered to win a number of prizes ! 

And if you haven't seen it already check out the trailer for Miss Peregrine's !

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Audiobook Review: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

You'd think after reading seven In Death books about the surly and biting New York City detective Eve Dallas that reading about Hannah Swenson, a sleuthy cookie shop owner in a small Midwest town, would be a cake--er--cookie walk

And it is.

 But the more I thought about it the more I realized that Hannah Swenson is pretty scary. Cause when the local milkman is found shot in an alley Hannah (because her brother-in-law is investigating)  gets swept up in the case as she finds clues, makes  connections and solves the murder !

Hannah does all of this on the down low because I guess that's a trope of cozies ? I honestly don't know. I mean it's just kind of strange that she just waltzes around with her bags of cookies and bribes people into telling her their secrets and alibis. People seem to tell her EVERYTHING while she's loading them up with carbs. No one questions why she is so nosy. I'm pretty sure her curly red hair is so big because of all the secrets

Honestly, the book just didn't do it for me plot wise.  It felt like the whole plot was a checklist of ruling out possible suspects with a few "humorous" interludes for transitioning. I got kind of confused keeping track of all the names.

The performance was pretty solid, but the editing on the audiobook was spotty in some places. When I put my earbuds in I could hear the edits and the narrator swallowing.

While this mystery didn't hit my sweet spot I certainly can't wait to try my hand at making some chocolate chip crunches.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

With all the discussion surrounding #ownvoices and representation in publishing I know some readers will be turned off this book because Ben Winters is White and judging by his Twitter feed is like all of this writer's woke ex-boyfriends. That said, I saw Attica Locke praising this book and I thought I’d give it a try.

 Spike Lee has this mockumentary C. S. A , about an alternate future where slavery never ended. Well, Underground Airlines is in that kind of world. It’s the 2010’s and there are still 4 Southern states where enslaving Black people is legal. We meet Victor, a runaway slave living in the North who has been conscripted by the US Marshall Service to locate and return runaway slaves to their owners. His latest mission takes him to Indianapolis, but he soon discovers this case isn't all it seems.

 Winters really built out this world well and there are so many little details about the global effects of slavery in the US. He slowly unravels this alternate history without it feeling plot dumpy--it's kind of amazing. Winter's is known as a mystery writer and he keeps this is mystery noir sensibility as we trail Victor on his latest case. The second half of the novel moves at a thriller pace and I couldn't stop reading.

I think Winters handles race well and I like the way he subverts the White savior trope. Several times characters make fun of  liberal White people for Mockingbirding--trying to save Black people so they can be seen as a good person.

My small complaint is that the plot twists seemed a little random at times and my biggest complaint is Winters can’t seem to write complete or complex female characters. Even in his Last Policeman series, women always end up being moms, or sisters or wives. They are never integral to the plot and don't have (I hate using this word) agency.

This was a tough read for me  because of the topic, but I'll be curious to read this book again in its finished form sometime in the future, it's not the kind of book I can re-read again right away. This was the first time I'd read a galley that was so clearly an in-progress work and I do want to see how final book shakes out.

Overall I thought Underground Airlines was a unique take on the mystery thriller genre with a haunting world that kept me up at night.

So...there is a lot of  speculative race fiction in publishing this year with Blackass by A. Igoni Barret about a Nigerian man who wakes up white and Into The White a YA bout the same thing except with  a teenage girl. I suspect this has to do with a shift away from writing The Struggle and towards dismantling ideas about privilege.

Also, can we talk about how this UK cover feels a little too on the nose ?

*Galley recieved at BEA


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