We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

19401576_977403645109_55861277_oI have been wanting to E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars book for a while, and finally I did because I am going to an author signing with E. Lockhart tomorrow evening! I am so glad I finally came up with an excuse to finally pick it up and read it because its actually REALLY GOOD!! Well, I thought so at least.

I started out listening to the audiobook and wasn’t digging it. There are several parts throughout the book where Lockart exaggerates her writing and its hard to tell that its an exaggeration until the story really moves on. As an example, in the second chapter, Cady’s father is walking out on her and her mother and Cady tells the story as “Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened up wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed….” The scene goes on for a couple more sentences. I’m reading this like ‘what?! How did you survive?!’ Well, that’s only what it felt like. Duh. There are a few more scenes that are similar to this where she describes painful scenes in violent ways, but really they aren’t happening. She just feels like they are. It really makes you reality check yourself and the book and by the time you get to the end it sort of all clicks but as you’re reading it you’re just thinking ‘wait, what?!?!?!’ (yes, all of that punctuation is necessary).

So what else happens in this book? Well “the liars” are four cousins, basically, who visit the family island each summer. I really can’t say very much more without giving away very much. The book actually is much more of a mystery/thriller than I thought that it would be. It involves a lot more beach and summer island sun than I realized as well, plus summer love, and its pretty short–I finished it in just 2 days or so–so I would recommend it if you’re looking for an edge-of-your-seat summer read. Like I said, the book really kicked my book and was not what I expected and I really liked that so if you’re up for something a little off the beaten path, give this a go. I think you’ll enjoy it. Happy reading!

Listening to: “Sunset Lover” by Petit Biscuit

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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This is not my image. I borrowed this from @momstimeoutshelf on Instagram.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book that centers around in-the-closet gay Simon. An email confessing his sexual preference is intercepted by a somewhat jerky classmate named Martin. What does a jerk do with Simon’s news? Blackmail. Make life that much more difficult. Meanwhile, Simon continues his email relationship with this mystery schoolmate who he calls “Blue.” The two grow comfortable with each other as friends, but eventually find that their struggles with homosexuality and coming out are similar with their families and friends as well.

The entire book is relatable and easy-going, even to someone like be (straight and female). The story doesn’t fully revolve around being gay, and it doesn’t have to, but rather it has more to do with Simon’s personal growth and his relationships not just with Blue, but with his parents, siblings, his friends, and his ‘rival’ in Martin. There is that moment towards the end where Simon thinks that there’s a reason Martin was acting so harshly towards him about the email in the beginning. Well, there was and it wasn’t quite what he suspected, and I’m glad we found out in the end. (I tried really hard not to spoil that for anyone!) There is also some other high school friend drama, some literal drama (a high school musical), family drama, and it all gets balanced out with Simon’s wit and pop culture references.

So overall I think that this falls into a good subgenre of YA fiction that needs to be out there right now. The book is never preachy, never boring, never harsh. It is exactly what it needs to be–entertaining, sweet, funny, but still real. Goldilocks, how about that!

Listening to: “Georgia, Georgia” by Elliott Smith

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Moment of truth: When I first read the synopsis for this book, I had zero interest in reading it. Looking at the cover did not make me want to read it and the title did not feed my interest either. I ended up reading this book simply in order to give an honest review of it, and I did so by listening to the audiobook.

Going into the book, I felt like I still didn’t really know what the book was going to be about. I was ready to read it and get it over with. I was not expecting to really enjoy it or engage or relate with the characters in any way. Boy, was I wrong.

320756711The Hate U Give centers around 16 year-old Starr Carter, who is the only witness to her unarmed best friend Khalil’s murder at the hands (gun) of a police officer. This happens within the first few chapters, so the majority of the book focuses on Starr struggling with when, how, and how much to tell her friends, family, the police, and the courts. The book deals with a contrast between Starr and her siblings living in a low-income, violent neighborhood where rival gangs show their colors and riots break out nightly, and them attending a nice suburban prep school over an hour away where diversity is rare. Starr strives to live two lives but the situation escalates as everyone wants to know the truth of what happened that night.

“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared.” — T.H.U.G. by Angie Thomas

This book hit me hard. Hopefully it will hit everyone hard. I read on Goodreads that this book sparked a bidding war between 13 publishing houses! That’s how powerful this book is. Its soon to be made into a movie, but don’t wait for that. Read it now.

“That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” — T.H.U.G. by Angie Thomas

Of course, there were times in the book where you want to shake the main character and say “COME OUT AND TELL THE TRUTH!!” But then again, you think of the consequences of telling the truth. Will the gang lord come after her parents? Will she be able to go outside at night? What are the consequences? There are also times when I yelled out “AMEN SISTER!!” in the middle of the book. Literally! I scared the crap out of my dog. T.H.U.G. has laugh out loud moments, cry out loud moments, shout and yell and be shocked and outraged moments….seriously, there is everything here. I always say I know I can give a book a solid 5-star rating (and I don’t normally give “1-5 star ratings”) if a book makes me feel the full spectrum of emotions AND I can tell it is a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. This is one of those. I am changed, at least a bit, because of this book. Thanks, Angie Thomas. Power to ya, girl.

Listening to: “Definition of a Thug” by 2Pac

EpicReads Author Signing

swagToday was amazing! I was SO jealous of seeing all the buzz from bookcon in NYC over last weekend. All the swag, all the meetups with fellow bloggers and bookstagrammers, all the epic author signings….JEALOUS!!! Well, get a load of THIS you crazy New Yorkers. I got to meet up with authors Julie Murphy (Dumplin’ and Ramona Blue), Evelyn Skye (The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate), Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing and Dividing Eden), and Kim McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia and The Outliers).

authorsHighlights of my little Epic Reads adventure included: talking opera with Joelle Charbonneau!! Plus she’s also from Chicagoland so she went to school around here so it was really easy to talk to her about local music and it was so fun. She is really quirky and silly…absolutely a singer. Next time we meet, we’re going to since. We are both Lyric Soprano’s, just in case anyone was wondering. Next, I got to talk to real life people about books. Not just my screen or myself because I don’t get to talk to my fiance or my friends really or anything. So that was so refreshing!! And finally, all of the swag pictured above! I love swag and new books and autographs and all around good stuff. The event was held at Anderson’s Bookstore, which has locations in Naperville, LaGrange, and Downer’s Grove. This shop is really neat–it has not only an awesome stock of book, but a great selection of gifts (I bought a Father’s Day gift, and an early Birthday present for my mom too).

I highly recommend looking up and reading these books if you’ve ever even considered any of them. These authors are great people and their books deserve your attention.

Listening to: “No Vacancy” by One Republic

“Carnivalesque” by Neil Jordan

34432289“Carnivalesque” is a fantasy book about a boy named Andy who enters Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors at a travelling circus. He becomes trapped in the mirrors and an identical-looking stranger exits the hall and goes home with his parents. Thus begins the tale of Andy/Dany.

This book is a little difficult to rate. It started off reading like an old classic or fairy tale. Think Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland. “The boy did this and then he went to wherever and the boy was sad. But the boy’s mother held his hand and entered the carnival where the air smelled of caramel and candy.” bla bla bla. We literally do not find out “the boy’s name” until about page 75. Then the writing style completely changes to a more contemporary feel for most of the book and then the last 75 pages or so is back to the classic/fairy tale feel again.

The middle part of the book has some interesting action. In the middle of the action, there is a ton of written word. Most of it is history, and some of it seems slow, and some of it seems a little irrelevant or maybe just out of order. I enjoyed hearing a new perspective on carney mythology and most of all, this legend of ‘Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors,’ which is really how the whole Andy/Dany duology originates to begin with. Some parts of the book are fun and fantastical, while others are freakish and almost scary. I like the polar opposites and think that every fantasy needs some of that. It gave the book depth, whereas the wordiness robbed it right back.

So for these reasons, I had to go with a middle of the road rating for this book. Loved the cover and the concept, but several things fell short. I like a good carnival book but this does not come close to the top for me.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Listening to: “Half Jack” by The Dresden Dolls

“Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault” by Candace Robinson

c_-w5rluiaaya_eVery late last night, I finished a creepy upper YA book entitled Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. The book begins in a small town in Texas with two best friends and cousins, Perrie and Maisie. All is not serene in the town, however, because for the past several weeks, people have been going missing. One day on their way home from school, Perrie, Maisie, and their mutual friend (and Perrie’s crush) August, notice a strange sight: a huge, creepy, dark mansion/museum that was never there before but that claims to be hiring. Maisie takes interest and the day after going in for her first day of work work, goes missing. Perrie and August go looking for her and the rest is a horrific history.

I think I would rate this at a really, really high 3.75 stars that I’ll round up to 4 because I LOVE the cover and there are just so many retellings–both classic and fairy tale–that its just so cool. Plus the characters were pretty decent so overall, I dug the book. Plus, its set up for a sequel so…I need to read on!

The biggest thing that ruined the book for me was the ending. ((Spoilers ahead so readers BE WARNED!!!)) Specifically how Perrie ‘gave herself’ to August and then he wasn’t who he thought she was. In my opinion, that is especially awful considering that this is a YA book. Maybe in an adult book it would be a little more acceptable but I would hike up the rating a bit.

Overall, this book is definitely in the horror genre. The cover looks beautiful but it is bloody and there is some gore and graphic descriptions. I like that type of thing though, but just a heads up.

Also, as I alluded to before, the book does end on a big of a cliffhanger. In my opinion, the book is really half of a book. The Kindle edition is only 168 pages and the paperback is 242. For a YA book, that’s pretty short. The author could have just kept writing and finished it out I think. Maybe there is much more to the story and it would have tipped the scales as a door stopper to put 2+2 together? But right now its pretty darn short. Even as it is, I felt there could have been a few more details in the book. It felt pretty thin.

Things I really did like though: I keep raving about the cover art so that’s huge. I love the retellings. We’ve got everything from Sleepy Hollow to Rapunzel so there is literally something for everyone. I think there are five or six total in the book? Plus references to a few more but they travel through five or six worlds so that’s pretty cool. The characters are interesting and no one drove me crazy so that was good.

Listening to: “Sweet Satan” by Beck