Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Fame, Celebrity, and Romance

When we need a quick, fun read the average girl meets famous boy (or visa versa) story is becoming our go-to genre. We're back with five brand new tales of fame, celebrity, and romance. They are certain to make you smile, and if you need more check out these posts: here and here.

The PA and the Big Star:
In Lauren Morrill’s My Unscripted Life Dee Wilkie finds herself sulking over her rejection from the precollege fine arts program until pop-sensation Milo Ritter arrives in her small town to film his movie. Dee gets hired and secretly hopes to run into/fall in love with Milo. When Dee does finally run into him she's rather unimpressed. Once Dee opens up and Milo’s guard comes down a chance for love seems possible. I enjoyed that despite an unrealistic situation the author made the story so relatable. I felt Dee responded realistically to seeing her celebrity crush. Dee is adorable, quirky, and a fun character. I wanted more Dee and Milo time in the novel. Overall, a very enjoyable fast read. Out October 2016.

The Over-Achiever and the Ex-Boy Band Member: 
In The New Guy (And other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding, Jules McAllister-Morgan is a type-A personality with high expectations for her senior year. She plans on being the editor for the school newspaper and has everything going for her until new boy, Alex Powell former Chaos 4 All boy bander, comes to school. Alex and Jules' relationship takes a romantic turn until Alex betrays Jules. I enjoyed getting to know Jules and her friends, especially her friend Sadie who is very blunt and likeable. Jules’s moms are fun and they love to tease Jules about her liking Alex. The relationship between Jules and Alex is adorable and cute. The New Guy was a very fun read. Out April 2016. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Pop Star and the Townie: 
After a devastating breakup, famous popstar Lily Ross decides to take some time away from stardom. Lily and her two best friends head to a small town in Maine. Lily Ross plans to stay far away from love, but how can she when she meets local boy Noel? Will Lily let her past breakup deter her from finding love? Sing is an adorable love story that also forces Lily to decide what's more important: her fans or her love for Noel? Because come the end of summer, Lily will have to make a decision. Despite this novel being a bit unrealistic, the reactions between the two characters are believable. Also, it's impossible to not want to root for Noel in this fun, delightful read by Vivi Greene. Out April 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Internet Famous:
It was meant to be a joke between Rachel and her best friend, Monique, but when the picture she takes of Kyle goes viral, everything changes for the two of them. Suddenly, Rachel's long-standing crush knows who she is. Maybe together they can cope with their sudden internet fame. Jilly Gagnon created such a fun story. I liked that there were different consequences for Rachel and Kyle because of the picture. I also found the supporting characters to be really interesting. There were times when I wasn't sure who sincerely had Rachel and Kyle's backs. #famous was so fun and sweet--I read it in a day. #famous is out February 14, 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Hockey Player and the Drummer:
Bishop Riley, the drummer for Burn, is sent to Alaska to get his act together. He hates everything about this plan until he meets Penny, a high school hockey player. He can't tell her who he is or why he's there. Out of Play deals with some of the grittier things in life (drugs, dementia) and handles them so well. Penny and Bishop are both such complex and interesting characters, but Gramps is my absolute favorite. The book did have several "will you just talk/listen to each other?!" moments, proving it is not a book about how to have a perfect relationship,but how to work through the imperfections. Out of Play is a lovely collaboration by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry. Review copy from NetGalley.

My Unscripted Life, The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions), and Sing reviewed by Sarah.
#famous and Out of Play reviewed by Paige.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Young Adults Books for Fans of Audrey Hepburn Movies

Last summer Paige and I put together a post that paired Meg Ryan movies with Young Adult books. We had so much fun putting that post together that I knew this movie to book pairing was something we'd have to revisit again.

Stephanie Scott's debut Alterations is a retelling of movie Sabrina. Both the original version with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and the 1995 remake with Julia Orman and Harrison Ford are fantastic. I loved what Stephanie Scott did with this material and how she adapted it for a young adult audience living in the 21st century.

There are so many great Audrey Hepburn movies, and we had a lot of fun thinking of young adult books to pair with each one.

If you love Sabrina try Alterations by Stephanie Scott:
Stephanie Scott's Sabrina character, Amelia Blanco, is an aspiring fashion designer who lives with her mother and grandmother in the service apartment of the wealthy Laurenti family. Amelia's longtime crush, Ethan Laurenti, doesn't notice Amelia until he sees how much she's changed after a summer internship in New York. Alterations is fun update of the classic Audrey Hepburn movie.

If you love Funny Face try Geek Girl by Holly Smale:
Both Funny Face and Geek Girl feature very unlikely models. Funny Face's Jo Stockton works in an obscure bookstore and loves philosophy. She is definitely not looking to become a model. In Geek Girl watch math nerd Harriet Manners take on the world of modeling.

If you love Charade try With Malice by Eileen Cook:
Charade was one of the movies that my mom loved to pull out during slumber parties as an example of a classic thriller. Reggie Lampert's (Audrey Hepburn's character) husband is murdered and Lampert doesn't know who to trust and if anyone is who they say they are. With Malice is a YA thriller where the reader (and the main character) doesn't know what's true and if everyone is who they say they are.

If you love Breakfast at Tiffany's try Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland:
I recently rewatched Breakfast at Tiffany's, the story of Holly Golightly and her new neighbor Paul Varjak. Our Chemical Hearts, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, features a girl with a troubled past and a boy who, despite his best intentions, gets involved with her.

If you love Roman Holiday try Love, Lucy by April Lindner:
There are a whole slew of princess books that I could have picked for this pairing. (If you prefer princes and princess we have some recommendations here.) However, I just love April Lindner's retelling of Room with a View, and it definitely also has a bit of the Roman Holiday vibe.

If you love Wait Until Dark try Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan:
Wait Until Dark was another sleepover classic at my house. The first time I ever watched it was late at night with my friend Megan and my mom. We were at the most dramatic moment of the story when our recording switched to something else. Someone had recorded over the ending! (Ah the days of VHS tapes.) So we had to make a midnight run to Blockbuster so that we could find out what happened. (Ah the days of Blockbuster.) The main character in Wait Until Dark is blind, and her only advantage over her attacker is that she can navigate through the darkness much better than he can. This is also true of Sophie Jordan's main character, who's blindness allows her to navigate the dark world she lives in.

If you love My Fair Lady try The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris:
In the classic updating of Pygmalion, Professor Henry Higgins transforms Eliza Doolittle into a fine lady. In The Fine Art of Pretending, Alyssa Reed, with the help of her best friend Brandon Taylor, attempts to transform herself into someone more dateable. Unforeseen consequences and hijinks ensue.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Reading on a Theme: A Russian Setting

I've been on a bit of a Russian history kick as of late, and so, when I saw that several new books were set in Russian, I knew that I wanted to do a Russian Reading on a Theme. A little reminiscing is in order here because the very first Reading on a Theme we did on this blog was Russian themed. I can hardly believe it was so long ago. Winter is, of course, the perfect time to read a book set in Russia, so grab a cozy blanket before you pick up any of these books. 

Imperial Russia:
I really enjoyed the mix of magic, competition, and old Russia in The Crown's Game. Vika Andreyeva and Nikolai Karimov are the only two enchanters in Russia, but there is only enough Russian magic for one Imperial Enchanter, and so, the Tsar initiates the Crown's Game, an ancient duel of magical skills. To lose means certain death. Evelyn Skye's debut was such a welcome surprise. It is full of elements I love--an alternate history, magic, and a fabulous setting. I'm eager to read the sequel. The magical duel and the complicated feelings of its participants reminded me a bit of The Night Circus, which, in my book, is always a very good thing. I also loved the hints of the cartoon version of Anastasia.

The Russian Empire:
Marguerite's parents are geniuses. Together they invented the Firebird, a device that allows an individual to travel across dimensions. Marguerite's happy life comes crashing down when her father is murdered. In a race to find the killer Marguerite takes a Firebird prototype and hops across the dimensions in hot pursuit. When her Firebird is damages she spends several months trapped in a parallel world where she is a daughter of the Tsar in world where the Russian Empire never fell. I am such a sucker for parallel realities and alternate dimensions, and I loved reading about all the parellel worlds Claudia Gray created throughout this series.

Medieval Russia:
In this highly anticipated debut, Katherine Arden spins a story that blends Russian fairy tales and folklore with history. Vaslisa is a girl with old magic in her blood, and she must save her village by honoring the old traditions. I really loved the feel of this story. It has a mysterious quality to it that reminded me a little of The Snow Child. I also loved how the tale is wrapped in the world of Medieval Russia. The fairy tale aspects and the historical are woven together so well. The Bear and the Nightingale is the perfect winter read, so curl up with a cozy blanket and a warm drink and crack this one open. The Bear and the Nightingale was out January 10, 2016. Review copy from NetGalley. 

The Russian Revolution:
Marcus Sedgwick's Blood Red Snow White is set during the Russian Revolution and the early years of the Bolshevik regime. Sedgwick weaves history and the lives of real historical figures with Russian fairy tales. The writing, the pacing, and the charging Russian bear all lend a fantastical quality to the historical events, yet they remain tragic and bloody, as Russian fairy tales often are. In Parts Two and Three, Sedgwick tells the story of Arthur Ransome, a British journalist working in Russian. A real historical figure and well-known writer, Arthur Ransome published, among other things, a book of Russian fairy tales entitled Old Peter's Russian Tales. I really liked the tone of the book and the mood established by the fairy tale structure.

The Stalinist Era:
Sana Krasikov's debut, spans multiple generations and several decades. Beginning in the 1930s, we see idealistic Florence Fein leave Brooklyn for the Soviet Union. In 2002, Florence's son seeks answers about his mother's life and hopes to convince his son to leave his job in Russia and return home to the United States. Sana Krasikov's story is truly epic, and I was deeply engrossed in Florence's tale in particular. The way Russia kept drawing the Brink men back to Russia was also fascinating. Ms. Krasikov takes her time with the intricacies of the story and the result is a tale digs deep into the trauma of the Stalinist era for one family. The Patriots is out January 24, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

All books reviewed by JoLee.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Interview with Caroline Leech, author of WAIT FOR ME + A Giveaway

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

Publisher / Year: HarperTeen - January 31, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Today I'm so excited to bring you an interview with Caroline Leech for World War II Wednesday. Caroline's debut novel, Wait for Me, is set in Scotland during World War II. It's about a girl named Lorna who works on her father's farm and waits for her brothers to return home from the war. With farming essential to the war effort and farmhands scarce, German POWs from the nearby camp are assigned to help on the farms. Lorna is horrified by the thought of working alongside the enemy, but it turns out that Paul Vogel, scarred and battered, is not at all what she expected. Beyond its great setting and forbidden romance, Wait for Me is a book of humanity and healing. I read it in November and absolutely loved it. We featured it in our most recent World War II Wednesday, and I even sneaked it onto my Favorite Debuts of the Year list! I'm so thrilled to be able to bring you some behind-the-scenes details today!

Wait for Me is a book about Lorna’s life on the home front in Scotland during World War II. I loved the Scottish setting and hoped you could share a little more about how you came to write a book set in 1945 Scotland.

First of all, I should declare that I am Scottish, even though I live in Texas these days, so when I first started working on this story, it seemed an obvious place to set it. The village of Aberlady is about 20 miles from where I grew up in Edinburgh, and I loved daytrips as a child along that stretch of coastline, with its picturesque towns, old harbors and gorgeous beaches (and yes, I liked the ice-cream cones too). My parents have a watercolor of the sands of Aberlady Bay at low tide in their home, but other than that, there was no real reason to choose Aberlady, other than it seemed like the perfect place for a fictional farm. There are two golf courses side by side on the edge of the village, and I decided that their land should become Lorna’s home, Craigielaw Farm. I swear it was only later that I discovered that one of the golf courses would have been a farm in 1945, and that Aberlady’s local stately home, Gosford House, had actually had a POW camp in its grounds from where men were sent to work on the local farms and nurseries, just like in my story. Even later, after the book was finished, I found out about several romances between Gosford POWs and local Aberlady girls. Some things, I suppose, were just meant to be.

One of my favorite things about reading Wait for Me was learning about the factual background that inspired the book. Can you share with the readers some of the research you uncovered in the process of writing the book that led to the creation of the story?

A friend of mine told me, in passing, that her father had grown up on a farm on which German prisoners of war had worked. Until then, although I had read a lot about World War Two, I had never heard of such a practice, so I immediately began to research it. For the first few years of the war, as the men were called up to fight, the hard labor on British farms had mostly been done by men too old or too young to join the military (although farming was a reserved occupation, so any farmer could apply to be exempt from conscription) and also by members of the Women’s Land Army. These were young women, often without any farming experience, who were sent far from home to do tasks which until then had been regarded as “man’s work”. Many of these Land Girls – like my character, Nellie – were from the major cities like London, and had never have even seen a cow before they were expected to milk one. 

However, after the invasion of France on D-Day in June 1944, Britain faced the problem of ever-increasing numbers of German and Italian soldiers, airmen and sailors who had been captured, and who had to be held prisoner until the end of the war. The prisoners were first held at detention centers like that at Kempton Park race course and Hampden Park soccer stadium, where they were deloused, interrogated and graded on their loyalty to the Nazi regime. Many men, some as young as 17, had been conscripted into the military under threat of execution for themselves and their families, so bore no loyalty to Hitler. They were therefore separated from the committed Nazis, and were sent to different lower-security camps. It quickly became apparent, however, that leaving fit and healthy men cooped up was helping nobody, so from the fall of 1944 onward, those prisoners were sent out to work on local farms and in nurseries, though most were taken back to the camps at night. They also worked on road repair and on building sites. “Fraternization with the local population” was strictly forbidden, but not strictly enforced, and many life-long friendships began during those difficult days.

When I told friends about my book, and the history which inspired it, I started to hear stories about their own family members who had known (or even fallen in love with) German prisoners. One friend’s engagement ring was one which had been made for her grandmother by a German POW. Her grandmother had treasured the ring, even after he had been repatriated back to his wife and children in Germany after the war, and her own English sweetheart returned from the Army to become her husband. The family believes the friendship which led to the gift of the ring was simply platonic, but I can’t help but wonder . . . Perhaps that’s just the writer in me, always searching for the most romantic story, even one with an unhappy ending.

Wait for Me is such a great addition to a genre that is just full of terrific books. I always love reading novels about World War II and am always amazed at how many stories there are to tell about that time in history. What are some of your favorite World War II novels and what aspects of the war have they opened your eyes to?

You are so right. I grew up reading classic wartime ‘military adventure’ novels like Colditz, Reach for the Sky and 633 Squadron, as well as stories from the Holocaust such as The Diary of Anne Frank and Fania FĂ©nelon’s The Musicians of Auschwitz. More recently, there have been some truly wonderful books which have featured stories from all the theaters of World War Two, particularly the war in Europe. Here are some of my absolute favorites:

  •  Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman – this book, and its sequel, are actually set in pre-war Germany, the main characters witnessing first-hand Hitler’s rise to power, showing how he persuaded, inspired or terrorized a whole nation into supporting his Nazi beliefs, leading to the invasions of other European countries, and ultimately the Holocaust.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – a truly brilliant, Pulitzer-winning story of a blind French girl and a German boy soldier whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of the war.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – an incredibly moving YA novel which tells the stories of two young women, one a secret agent and one a pilot, and cleverly interweaves their friendship into their devastating experiences.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne – a short but perfectly formed novel told in the voice of a small boy whose family is forced to leave Berlin in 1942 because his father has been given a promotion. We are led through his new world in the countryside gradually, understanding the horror of what's happening around him only by reading between the lines of the story as seen by his own very innocent eyes.
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – a gripping and heart-rending story of a young Lithuanian refugee and her family, arrested by Soviet soldiers and transported to a work camp in Siberia.

There are also some fantastic new novels coming out this year telling stories of those who lived through WW2. My favorites include:

  • That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson (Sky Pony Press, January 24th) -- Set in the south of England in 1940, Peggy’s life is turned upside down by the crash landing of a young Polish pilot, who is injured and distressed, and who desperately needs Peggy’s help.

  • Cold Summer by Gwen Cole (Sky Pony Press, May 2nd) --  A contemporary high school dropout is increasingly unable to prevent the intense time-travel episodes which take him back to the battlefields of Europe in 1945 and leave him with wounds, both physical and mental, even as he returns to his modern life.

  •  Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz (HarperTeen, Fall 2017) -- Inspired by the true story of the Russian airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, this story follows Valka, one of these young pilots, from the thrills of learning to fly to the trauma of dropping bombs on German cities. Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defent the skies she once called home.

I know that you plan to visit the World War II era again in your writing. Can you give us any (tiny) hints about what other aspects of the war you will be exploring?

I am currently working on a second novel for Harper Teen which is due out in 2018. It’s also set in Scotland during World War Two, though it’s not a sequel to WAIT FOR ME. I can’t say too much about it yet, but it follows a teenage girl who is determined to do her bit for the war effort, though the work she ends up doing is something quite unexpected.

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Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

Publisher / Year: HarperTeen - January 31, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound 

A breathtaking WW2 romance for fans of Elizabeth Wein’s CODE NAME VERITY and Ruta Sepetys’s BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY. 

Can their love survive a war? It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.


Caroline Leech is a Scottish writer who moved to Texas for an adventure ten years ago. Her debut novel for young adults, WAIT FOR ME, will be published in the USA by Harper Teen on January 31st. Set in Scotland towards the end of World War Two, the book tells the story of a girl’s friendship with a German prisoner of war who is sent to work on her father’s farm. Harper Teen will also publish Caroline's second YA novel in early 2018. Caroline lives in Houston TX with her husband and three teenage children, and she can be found online at and @carolinesblurb.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Story Continues: Lois Lane Double Down and Girl in the Shadows

2016 was a good year for fans of Gwenda Bond's series with new additions to both the Lois Lane and the Cirque American series. And, since we are fans of both series, we decided to bring those new books together in a special addition to The Story Continues feature.

Lois Lane Double Down by Gwenda Bond

Publisher / Year: Switch Press - May 1, 2016

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Source: Review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

The sequel to Lois Lane: Fallout catches up with Lois right after her first big story. She thought the first story would be the hardest, but now she finds herself with something to prove. Why can't all stories be big stories? She agrees to do a human interest piece (grudgingly), but stumbles onto something with big potential in the process. This could be more than news-breaking; it could affect all of Metropolis.

The Lois Lane series is a superhero origin story, combined with a mystery and a tenacious main character. Double Down is a fun read because it in it we get to know many of the characters from the first book even better. We learn about Maddy's twin sister and spend more time with Smallville Guy. The mystery surrounding his identity really deepens in Double Down.

Things get more complicated for Lois in this second installment. The story she's researching affects her friend, Maddy, personally, making the pressure all the more unbearable. There's also a lot going on with SmallvilleGuy. Lois has unanswered questions about their relationship and his identity, and the chatroom is full of confusing buzz that could prove dangerous.

I think the mystery in Double Down is what really kept me reading. I love the feeling of unovering the truth with Lois as she investigates and prepares her story. The reader only knows what Lois knows and it's fun to make deductions along side her.

Lois Lane: Double Down is a fabulous second installment. Gwenda Bond has me eager for more about Lois and her friends in Metropolis.

Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond

Publisher / Year: Skyscape - July 5, 2016

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Source: Review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

Girl in the Shadows is a companion novel to Girl on a Wire, the first book in Gwenda Bond's Cirque American series, and my appreciation of this book was definitely that much greater because I had read and enjoyed the first book. The two books have different main characters, but the setting is the same, and, more importantly, the central conflict in each revolves around the same small magical object. Beyond that it was so much fun for me to visit some old characters, even if they weren't taking center stage this time around. (Hello, Jules! Hello, Remy!) And, I also enjoyed getting to know some of the side characters from Girl on a Wire a little better in this second book. (Dita, darling, you are swell.)

Last year we did a post on Intellectual Recreation featuring books set in circuses and sideshows. In putting together that post, I found that the circus is a setting that really appeals to me, and, I quickly rediscovered that love within the first few pages of Girl in the Shadows. I think I like how circus folk have a life that is so outside the mainstream, and that is definitely the case with Moira. She grew up traveling with her famous magician father and working behind the scenes at his Las Vegas show.

Moira wishes to become a magician herself, and her father is adamantly against this. So, feeling like she has no other option, Moira auditions for the Cirque American. Right away strange things begin to happen, and herein is another reason I enjoy circus settings--they present the perfect opportunity to mingle stage magic with the real deal. Moira's magic, its origins, and her estranged mother play a large role in the mystery of Girl in the Shadows.

Moira truly has a lot on her plate. There's the whole proving herself to her father thing (and who are we kidding, to herself as well), the issue of controlling her newly awakened power, and being on her own for the first time. As if things aren't complicated enough there's this knife-throwing love interest that the reader is not quite sure can be trusted for most of the book. Really, it's a pretty great time. Girl in the Shadows is all the sleight of hand and tricks of the film Now You See Me plus the magical underworld of White Cat. It's a book full of mystery, magic, and suspense.

Lois Lane: Double Down reviewed by Paige.
Girl in the Shadows reviewed by JoLee.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Paige's Favorite Books of 2016

I'm feeling really excited to share my favorite reads of the year with you. I really enjoyed going through all the things I've read and reliving them a little while I compiled this list.

Here's some fun facts about my picks.

Of my 12 favorites:
6 were review copies
2 were audiobooks
6 were fantasy or sci-fi
5 were contemporary
2 were historical fiction or fantasy
3 were middle grade
9 were YA
6 were new-to-me or debut authors

Favorite Book in Verse: Moo by Sharon Creech
I loved this story and way it was told made it even better. The verse enhanced the sights, sounds, and smells of the city and the country. Moo is sweet, sincere, funny, and lovely. I enjoyed every minute of it. (featured here)

Favorite Fantasy: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
The Star-Touched Queen is masterfully written. Mayavati is a strong, fiery character with drive and resolve, and the setting is spectacular. The language and images are beautiful. Inspired by Hindu stories, Roshani Chokshi weaves a world of magic, secrets, and fate. I fell into this book and didn't want to get out. (featured here)

Favorite Book by a Beloved Author: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
I have enjoyed all of Kasie West's books, but this one really captured me. The relationship between our main characters was funny and tender and really fun to watch. Also, the main character is an aspiring songwriter--a girl after my own heart. It is always so fun to read a Kasie West book. (featured here)

Favorite Middle Grade Book: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
This is what a middle grade book should be. The three main characters are ordinary seventh grade girls with ordinary problems that were told in an extraordinary way. I loved following the girls with their individual problems and especially enjoyed the mystery character. What a great way to tell a story and to show the possible future of our girls. (featured here)

Favorite Audiobook: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I completely missed the Fangirl boat, but, when the audiobook was available through my library, I jumped aboard. I loved the deep. involved, interesting characters; the story within a story; and the complicated, but lovely relationships. Listening to it was a treat. The main reader was excellent and I loved the separate reader for all things Simon Snow. (featured here)

Favorite Book Club Book: A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
This story is told in vignettes, which is a favorite of mine, but still had a beautiful character arc. We laughed a lot as we discussed this book and the grandmother's antics. We also enjoyed thinking about the time period and how things have changed and talking about the relationship between the grandmother and grandchildren.

Favorite Parallel Reality: Everything that Makes You by Moriah McStay
Everything That Makes You follows two possibilities and shows that one event can change not just one person, but everyone around her. Moriah McStay takes the parallel realities tale a one step farther as she tells the story of this girl years after a choice split her fate. The whole story was well thought out and detailed. It felt different than most parallel reality books. This is a fantastic debut novel. (featured here)

Favorite Magical Realism: The Lost and Found by Katrina Leno
This book is a great example of magical realism because no one in the world quite believes in the magic around them, even when it stares them in the face. It has a lovely, mystical feel. It was the feel of the book that held me captive as I rooted for the characters. (featured here)

Favorite Historical Fantasy: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
This book is a combination of historical fiction and magical realism. I love the subtlety of the magic Rae Carson includes in this world. I love Lee's tenacity and the people she meets on her journey. Walk on Earth a Stranger is such an interesting and fun read; the perfect blend of history and fantasy. (featured here)

Most Beautiful Read: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
I feel like saying too many words will diminish the beauty of this book, but I will say the images invoked by the words of this story were flawless. The book is beautiful, tender, heartbreaking. Gary Schmidt captures things so perfecting. Truly lovely.

Favorite New Series: The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
As you know, we are fans of Greek and Roman mythology here at Intellectual Recreation, and this book did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectations. There was just something about listening to Riordan's character of Apollo narrating and spending almost a whole book at Camp Half-blood that created a truly wonderful experience. I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

Favorite Series Ending: The Raven King by Maggie Stievfater
This was my most anticipated new release this year. I loved all of the Raven Cycle and was excited and nervous to read its conclusion. But, of course, Maggie Stievfvater did not disappoint. It really was the perfect ending for all the characters. It was satisfying, and heartbreaking, and lovely. It is a series I will revisit over and over of that I am convinced. (featured here)
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