March 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday (112)

This week's topic is about meeting authors.  I'm lucky enough that I live in an area that gets a lot of author traffic.  I've had the luck of meeting so many of my very favorite authors, be it at BEA or random author events.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Holly Black is my favorite.  I've met her I think four times now.  She's the reason I found my favorite indie bookstore and I never get tired of telling her about the 8 copies of White Cat me and my sister have in our house.

Can I even tell you???  The stars aligned at BEA two years ago and I got to meet Meg Cabot.  A kind soul tweeted out that they had a ticket to meet her that they didn't need and I snapped it up.  Then my friend gave me her front of the line pass and I finally got to meet the queen!  I honestly never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever get to meet Meg Cabot.

There was that time I met Rainbow Rowell at BEA and complimented her Fangirl nails.

I think this was my third time meeting Maggie Stiefvater, but it was by far the best.  I went and saw her in conversation with David Levithan after The Raven King came out and got to tell her how much I loved Noah's first line.  (Also how much I love Gansey.)

I stopped in at my local B-Fest and met Sarah Dessen last summer, which was amazing.  I've been reading her books forever and it was great to finally meet her.

Oh, is this not a picture of an author?  James Dashner was there too I think, but honestly the only thing I'd like to thank The Maze Runner for is being able to breathe the same air as this beautiful child.

Oh hey, no big deal, it's just Lauren freaking Graham.  She was in conversation with her editor (Jennifer E. Smith!) at a Random House Open House that I went to before Someday, Someday, Maybe came out.

I've gone to Sarah Maas's signings for every Throne of Glass book except this last one.  It's always lovely to see her again, even if the signing line is hellacious (and it always is).

I first met Lynn Weingarten when I crashed my library's Teen Book Club for Wherever Nina Lies and she was so awesome (and that book is amazing).  We've kept in touch on social media over the years and it was awesome to go to her book launch for Suicide Notes for Beautiful Girls.

And RL Stine!  How freaking cool.  My whole childhood, man.

Who are your favorite authors that you've met?

March 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday (111)

This week's theme is read in one sitting.  My favorite type of book is the one that grabs you and doesn't let you put it down until it's done and then, even when you're done, keeps you thinking about it.  Here are a few that have done that for me:

Well, That Was Awkward - Rachel Vail
Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can't breathe, can't walk, can't anything and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.
It turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie's beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J. s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She's had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best. It s all good. Well, almost all. She's trying. 

Where She Went - Gayle Forman
(2nd in a duology)
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Lovely, Dark and Deep - Amy McNamara
Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone. 
 Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her. 

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
(2nd in a series)
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. 

Wink Poppy Midnight - April Genevieve Tucholke
Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.

Everneath - Brodi Ashton
(1st in a series)
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Black Heart - Holly Black
(3rd in a series)
Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object - including a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?
For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.
The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?
Time is running out, and all Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

Delirium - Lauren Oliver
(1st in a series)
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistake.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the "Wilds" who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

Sweethearts - Sara Zarr
As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.
When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken. 

Fracture - Megan Miranda
(1st in a duology)
By the time Delaney Maxwell was pulled from a Maine lake's icy waters by her best friend, her heart had stopped beating.
But somehow Delaney survived - despite the brain scans that show irreparable damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be fine, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney now finds herself drawn to the dying, and when she meets Troy Varga, a boy who recently emerged from a coma with the same abilities, she is relieved to share this strange new existence. Unsure if her altered brain is predicting death or causing it, Delaney must figure out if their gift is a miracle, a freak of nature - or something else much more frightening...

Do you have any favorites that you've read in one sitting?

March 16, 2017

You're Welcome, Universe - Whitney Gardner

Title: You're Welcome, Universe
Author: Whitney Gardner
Pages: 304
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 

About: When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

I was a little wary after the last art book I attempted was a let down, but You're Welcome Universe was a pleasant surprise.  Julia gets kicked out of her (deaf) school after being caught painting over someone calling her best friend a slut on a school wall.  This means regular school.  It means being surrounded by 'hearies' who don't understand her.  It means having an interpreter following her around to all her classes.  It means her two moms being mad at her.  And, worst of all, it means being locked out of an advanced art class because she switches mid-year.

Once Julia's at her new school, she finds out her best friend Jordan isn't on quite the same friend page as her when she starts dating Julia's crush.  I mean, it was already a slippery slope what with Jordan turning her in to save her own ass.  So, yeah.  That's over.  She starts spending her now friendless free time working on her street art.  She starts small by adding a piece to a stop sign.  Which then gets added to by someone else, effectively calling her out.  Julia's pieces get bigger and more ambitious, and the unknown tagger keeps up, calling her out again and again.  This infuriates her and she becomes obsessed with knowing who this other street artist is.

The best part of the book is Julia's friendship with a girl she dubs 'YP' for the yoga pants she favors.  It was so nice to watch their friendship develop.  At first Julia is very us versus them about the hearies at her new school, but as YP continues to hang around and pick up ASL, they become good friends.  They each get a taste of each other's world and Julia eventually makes it into the art class she was originally shut out of.

I loved a lot of the little things about this book.  I love that there are pictures of Julia's art included in the pages, and I love that one of her moms bought her a wall!

I know, right??

Also I love how Julia's lip reading was notated in the book.  It was super frustrating to read so I can only imagine what it's like to actually have to lip read to understand someone.  I super loved when she found out the little balls inside of spray paint cans make noise.  There was one part of the story that I found a touch unbelievable.  I think you'll know it when it happens, but it's in there to keep Julia inspired and painting so I'll give it a pass.  I just think it's a little too big for this book.

It's the small moments in You're Welcome, Universe that kept me coming back for more.  It's a great story of a deaf street artist and a growing friendship. It's about allowing competition to build yourself up instead of breaking you down and stretching yourself creatively.  I loved taking this journey with Julia.

March 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday (110)

Good morning y'all, it's Spring TBR time!  Now, as I write this we're on the verge of a big snowstorm.  Like, so big I already have a snow day tomorrow, which never happens this far in advance.  Doesn't feel much like Spring, but I'll have to make due.  Here are a few books I can't wait to pick up when the weather (finally!) gets warmer...

Once and For All - Sarah Dessen
Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon
Alex & Eliza - Melissa de la Cruz
Ramona Blue - Julie Murphy
Dreamers Often Lie - Jacqueline West
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Jughead Vol. 1 - Chip Zdarsky

What are you looking forward to reading this Spring?

March 2, 2017

Done Dirt Cheap - Sarah Nicole Lemon

Title: Done Dirt Cheap
Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon
Pages: 336
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 

About:  Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.
Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. 
 But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel. Sons of Anarchy meets Thelma & Louise.

OMG love.  I loved this book.  Love love love.  Heart eye emojis everywhere.  I saw the cover on Netgalley and was immediately like, that one gimmie that one. *grabby hands*  And for once I was completely correct in my gut reaction!

Done Dirt Cheap is about two girls, Virginia and Tourmaline, brought together by circumstance and just a little bit of scheming.  Tourmaline is the daughter of the president of the Wardens, a notorious motorcycle club.  Virginia was sold to a lawyer at a young age to cover her mother's legal debts, where she does everything from pageants to drug dealing.  Now, her boss wants her to get in with the Wardens, and the best way to do that without raising eyebrows is through T.  Meanwhile, T sees V as someone who can help her get contraband to her mother, who T accidentally got sent to prison.

I loved Virginia and Tourmaline both so much.  Virginia has been trying to claw herself out of this deal her mother made for way too long.  She's tough, she's smart...she's in over her head - but she doesn't let that stop her from trying her damnedest.  T is so interesting.  With all the shit in her life you wouldn't think to describe her as naive, but that's what she comes to realize she is by the end of the book.  She's been so protected by her father and the club that she doesn't even know who she is.  She really wants to take control of her own life and what she wants, be it the new hot conscript, Cash, or just riding a motorcycle on her own.  I can't even pick a favorite between these two ladies, I just love them so much.

The best part about their friendship is that, when the bottom falls out, and you know it will, they DEAL with it.  They don't have the time to avoid each other and let it fester and fade away.  They're in deep and these girls are actively taking control of their lives, so they work through their issues in one long night and move on - together.  Ladies, am I right?  "We're friends because when girls are alone in the world, they're easier to pick off." ❤

So not only is there a bangarang friendship in this book, two amazingly built romantic relationships  as well.  Virginia's with (definitely a bad idea) Jason - he's 28, a member of the Wardens, and has some demons in his past, but V will not be swayed.  Is it the most appropriate relationship?  Probably not. But I love T's insistence that V's 18 is not her 18 (and I love that she reminds T of her mother, ready to be a queen of the club).  V and Jason feel like a good match.  It's really lovely to watch the quiet moments between these two people who are usually all distraction and show.  Don't even get me started on T and Cash.  Immediately I'm into it because they shouldn't be together.  She's the daughter of the president of the club that he's conscripted to join.  She's untouchable by club rules, but she can't bring herself to stay away.  He's black, she's white, and it's the South.  But, like, they both understand each other so well.  They're both the kids of club members.  The club is so much of their lives, but they're not quite in it.  SO GOOD.

This book was a wild ride from start to finish.  It is a story of desperation, friendship, hopelessness, and change.  I loved every minute of it, from the complicated lady friendships to the hot hot motorcycle riding men they love.  If you like your ladies of the badass variety, your lawyers and police officers corrupt, and your pasts coming back to haunt you, pick up Done Dirt Cheap.  You won't be sorry!