New to You (10): April Reviews Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is April from Good Books and Good Wine. I have been suggesting books to April for the past few months (All in Pieces and I’ll Meet You There)  so I was really excited when she signed up. Truth be told I had some trouble deciding which one of my favorites I wanted her to read but I decided it had to be Twenty Boy Summer since it will forever and ever be a top favorite of mine! Let’s see what she had to say about Sarah Ockler’s book that was actually banned in some place(s)!

New to You (10): April Reviews Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah OcklerTwenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
on May 1, 2010
Amazon, Goodreads

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.""Okay.""Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?""Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

Thank you so much, Andi, for hosting me on New To You. This is SUCH a cool feature, and honestly, I am glad you’re encouraging bloggers to read some awesome backlist books. I know that you’ve never lead me wrong when it comes to book recommendations!

The book Andi challenged me to read is none other than Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer. Friends, I have had this book on my Kindle since AUGUST freakin 2011. What even! I cannot believe I slept on this book so long and it took being nudged into by this feature to read this book. I’ll tell you why I bought it — it was one of the BIG books back in the heyday of book blogging. Every other blogger received a copy from this publicity group so it was ALL over. However, like every other reader, my eyes were bigger than my reading time? (Does that even work as a saying?)

H’okay. So. Twenty Boy Summer. This book took me three days to get through. Honestly, that’s not bad considering my life these days. Ockler’s book is a contemporary YA about a girl and her best friend and how they go away for the summer. LOL. No, it is a bit more deep than that. Okay, so, the girl is Anna Reilly. She’s basically neighbors with Frankie Perino who is also her best friend. Anna and Frankie are both grieving Frankie’s brother Matt who died really before the events of this book take place.

Anna, however, is hiding something from Frankie. DRAMA. Basically, Anna dated Matt on the low. Matt wanted to break the news to Frankie himself and make sure she could handle it. So, without this knowledge, Frankie decides this is the summer that she and Anna will hook up with twenty boys. It is the summer where Anna will lose her virginity aka her albatross.

So, Anna and Frankie, and the adult Perinos fly from New York to California to Zanzibar Bay. Bad life choices are made. There’s more drama. And well, okay during the flashbacks I found myself wondering where in Upstate NY they are from, because they mention being an hour from Cornell and Matt has a Syracuse Orange shirt. So a little piece of me likes to think they’re from Syracuse.

Anyways, I mostly enjoyed this book. I found myself getting very reactive though. You see, Frankie’s character just kept irritating me. AND THEN. She does something no good very bad. And well, it was hard for me to be loyal. I was Team Anna throughout the book. And well, Frankie is not a great friend to Anna. That’s all. I think there’s a lot of realism in this book.

Give Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler a read if you want a book that showcases first love, friendship, drama, and ultimately, forgiveness.

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Thanks April for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you trust my recommendations! Next I suggestion you read Second Chance Summer if you want to cry. 🙂

My review of Twenty Boy Summer.

Have you read anything by Sarah Ockler yet? I’m a massive fan of her books and of her (I got to meet her last year and it was the best!).

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The Book Outlet

We all have those books, the ones that we are excited to read, that are coming out and we swear we are going to buy them, and then we don’t. Sometimes it is money, sometimes it is laziness, sometimes we just forget. I have done this more times than I can count and for all of these reasons. I have also read a book on my Kindle or that I have borrowed or is an ARC and I’ve loved it and swear I will by a physical copy and yet I never get around to it. This is when the Book Outlet comes in for me.

Once or twice a month I go and peruse the site and look to see what new books there are or if any books I need to finish a collection or wanted to read have popped up. Last year I even planned out my giveaways for New to You and bought the books I could from Book Outlet. Sure it took time to be planning those things that far in advance, but in the long run it was worth it. Recently I was able to order a book I need for a signing I knew was coming up which was perfect.

The thing about the Book Outlet that I love is the price and the authors that can easily be found there. I did a little search this morning and I found some of my faves (prices and available stock are subject to change):

Kasie West

Pivot Point ($4.29) || On the Fence ($3.79) || The Distance Between Us ($4.29)

Jodi Meadows

The Orphan Queen ($3.19) ||  Incarnate ($4.29) || My Lady Jane ($3.19)

Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin ($5.39) || Empire of Storms ($4.79) || Tower of Dawn ($5.89)

Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids ($3.19) || The Book of Broken Hearts ($2.19) || Fixing Delilah ($.59)

Suzanne Young

All in Pieces ($3.79) || The Program & The Treatment ($7.49) || Just Like Fate ($5.39)

Trish Doller

Something Like Normal ($4.79) || Where the Stars Still Shine ($6.99) || In a Perfect World ($6.39)

Heather Demetrios

I’ll Meet You There ($4.29) || Something Real ($4.29) || Bad Romance ($6.39)

Have you found any good gems on Book Outlet? Do you shop there? Tell me your thoughts below. Let me know if you plan to buy any of these. Remember shipping is free in the US for orders over $35. With these prices, think of how many books you can get for that amount!

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New to You (9): Lindsi Reviews Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Lindsi from Do You Dog-ear?. When she signed up and said she had never read book two in the Lumatere Chronicles I knew what book I was giving her. As someone that almost didn’t read this book I just couldn’t let her get away with it. Let’s see what she had to say about my all time favorite literary character!

New to You (9): Lindsi Reviews Froi of the Exiles by Melina MarchettaFroi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2) by Melina Marchetta
Published by Candlewick Press
on February 12, 2013
Amazon, Goodreads

From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

It has been years since I read the first book, Finnikin of the Rock, but I had no trouble falling back into the beautiful world Melina Marchetta created. It was like I had never left even though the story starts three years after the first one ended. A lot of sequels try to summarize the first book within the second, but that wasn’t the case here. Tidbits of information are dropped throughout, but they were gentle reminders that didn’t take away from the current story.

I don’t really remember how I felt about Froi from Finnikin of the Rock, but I absolutely loved him in this! He’s so devoted to Isaboe and the kingdom of Lumatere. He’s made a home for himself and would do anything to protect those he loves. However, he isn’t expecting to form new relationships when he leaves on a secret mission for his queen and king. He didn’t think anyone could matter to him as much, but he cannot help his feelings or how they develop.

There are not enough words to describe how magical and wonderful this world is. I cannot fathom how Melina Marchetta’s mind works, or how she created something so complex and completely captivating. This book is a beast… like 600 pages, but I never wanted to stop reading. The length of Froi of the Exiles is what kept me from starting this one for so long, and I want to thank Andi for giving me the push I needed to finally commit to reading it.

I like to think I’m pretty good at figuring things out in a book before they happen, but damn… I never knew what was coming, and I was often so surprised I had to re-read a few pages to make sure I really understood what was going on. There are so many things happening at once, and everyone has a secret (or five). It wasn’t until everyone started explaining themselves that a complete picture was formed.

This book also made me feel. They weren’t always good feelings either, because there are things that happen that make me want to be a very violent person. I don’t know how Froi was able to restrain himself at times, and I know his bond had to be strong to keep himself from lashing out and killing everyone. Quintana broke my heart, and what happens to her is cruel and despicable. Gah, I can’t even talk about this without getting worked up.

Quintana was a fascinating character that cannot be easily explained. She’s so much more than people think, and my heart repeatedly broke for her. Despite everything she has lived through, she still remains a fierce force to be reckoned with.

I love all the characters in this book, and it would be impossible for me to list each one and what I liked about them. We see various perspectives throughout the book (though mostly Froi’s), and it was wonderful to watch each of them as the story progresses. I’m so happy Marchetta included everyone from the first book, and that we get to see what’s happening in their lives, too.

Have I said enough? Maybe. Can I say enough? Definitely not. I could go on and on about everything I loved about this book, but I’ll simply ask that you read it for yourself. It’s something that needs to be experienced by you and not just talked about by me. Technically, you could skip Finnikin of the Rock and just read Froi of the Exiles, because they can stand on their own. However, I would recommend reading them both so you can stay in Marchetta’s incredibly enchanting world just a little bit longer.

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Thanks Lindsi for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy I was the push you needed to read this gem!

My review of Froi of the Exiles.

Have you read anything by Melina Marchetta yet?

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Review: Bookish Boyfriends – Tiffany Schmidt {giveaway}

Review: Bookish Boyfriends – Tiffany Schmidt {giveaway}Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt
Published by Amulet Paperbacks
on May 1, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon, Goodreads

In this contemporary YA, a teenager’s favorite literary heroes woo her in real life

The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences. 

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’m going to start by saying I have read a couple of books by Tiffany Schmidt, and I have met her in person. Bookish Boyfriends is probably the most Tiffany book I have ever read. It felt like she was reading the book too me instead of me reading it and it was perfect. I don’t even know how to describe just how perfect it was.

Bookish Boyfriends is the story of Merrilee, a new transfer student (along with her BFF, Eliza and sister, Rory), to Hero High. Having been in all girl school Merri is ready to go to a co-ed school and live out the fantasies she has been reading in books for years. She is ready to hold a breath she didn’t know she was holding, swoon, have her heart skip a beat. She wants it all. But when Merri finds some of her book fantasies actually coming true and things just aren’t as she thought they would be she starts to wonder if life is really better in books.

What I loved most about Merrilee is she is basically every book nerd that has ever lived. She lives with her nose in a book, believes in the magic and power and storytelling of books, and believes that boys in books are just better than real life. She is a dreamer. She felt like a piece of me so she was easily relatable. But she was also a mess and ALWAYS getting herself in trouble because she lead with that dreamer heart and seemed to miss everything that was right in front of her, especially the most perfect guy for her.

Other things I loved (not including the awkwardly, perfect guy)? Merri’s sisters, Rory and Lilly, and her best friend Eliza. These ladies were the perfect counterpart to Merri’s crazy. The 4 of them together, although not in scenes altogether, brought out the best in Merri because they were all so different from her. They were a great supporting cast. They loved her for who she was, dreamer and all, even if they didn’t 100% agree with her.

Sorry if this review is all over the place. When I love a book I have trouble finding the right words. What I will leave you with is that I’m not a fan of Austen books and Pride & Prejudice is a part of this story. But I am a fan of Tiffany and Bookish Boyfriends and I’ll take her version of Darcy ANY DAY! Just make sure this is on your TBR. You won’t be sorry.

Now give me book 2!!!!!!!!!!

Abrams has kindly offered to giveaway a copy of Bookish Boyfriends to a reader of Andi’s ABCs. Giveaway is US only and will end at 11:59EST on May 7, 2018.

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Is Bookish Boyfriends on your TBR?

 

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Review: Doll Hearts – Colleen Clayton {+ a giveaway}

Review: Doll Hearts – Colleen Clayton {+ a giveaway}Doll Hearts by Colleen Clayton
on April 24, 2018
Format: eBook
Amazon, Goodreads

17-year-old Julianne Bell’s life is caving in on her. Literally. Her mother is a hoarder and shopping addict whose retail drug of choice is collectible dolls. She also dabbles in lesser fixations like snow globes, commemorative plates, kitchen gadgets, and never-to-be-used exercise equipment. Their house is not a home but more a bizarro game of Garage Sale Tetris in which flea market finds, Amazon boxes, and QVC shipments are puzzled together in a labyrinth of consumer excess and looming bankruptcy. It’s a situation Julianne has grown adept at hiding. That is, until the day her school cafeteria account slips into the red. Meal-skipping is not an option for someone with Type 1 Diabetes, so when Julianne has a seizure in class, her father claims custody. Living with her dad and annoyingly perfect step-mom is not how Julianne planned to spend her summer, let alone her senior year. Needing fast cash to help her mom avoid foreclosure, Julianne takes a job at an amusement park, and as luck would have it, her former classmate—heartthrob Brandon Wright—also works there. Between sweeping up cigarette butts at the park, racing to solve her mom's personal and financial disasters, a medical condition that needs constant monitoring, and a budding romance, Julianne Bell’s messy life just got a whole lot messier.

Set against a summery backdrop of roller coasters, pool parties, and cute boys, DOLL HEARTS explores issues of obsessive-compulsive hoarding, family bonds, and first love.

I have been a fan of Colleen Clayton since I read her debut, What Happens Next, over 2 days in 2012. There was something about her writing style and storytelling ability that fit well with me. Since then I have been dying for something new from her (I mean What Happens Next is on like 65% of my Top Ten Tuesday posts because I love that book so much). Fast forward to March 2018 when I found out my dreams were about to come true, Colleen was self-publishing her sophomore novel Doll Hearts. Well let me tell you something…it was worth the almost 6 year wait! Doll Heart was just a fantastic book with the same charm as WHN and another cute boy to boot.

Doll Hearts is the story of Julianne Bell, a seemingly average high school student with Type 1 Diabetes. She goes out with friends, she has big plans for the summer, and she knows she wants to go to college. What the outside world doesn’t know about Julianne is that her mother is a hoarder. Her house is literally filled to the brim with gizmos and gadgets of plenty…and lots and lots of dolls.  Julianne goes above and beyond to hind her mother’s illness from everyone until something happens and her father finds out. Julianne is then forced to live with him and her step-mother and living a life she never wanted.

What I loved about Doll Hearts that the romance (even though it was awesome and had a cute boy) wasn’t what the story was about when you get down to it. Doll Hearts was about Julianne learning how to deal with the risks or her diabetes and her mother’s illness. It was about her learning when to let go and how to let people figure out what they need to do themselves. Her story with her mother was so heartbreaking. Julianne wanted to fix her mother so bad, but really she couldn’t. Her mother had to fix herself and nothing Julianne said or did would change that. That was the main point of the book and I think Colleen pulled that off with flying colors!

Doll Hearts was filled with so much emotion and love. It broke my heart and reminded me about what I loved in Colleen’s debut, What Happens Next. Corey Livingston and Sid still have my heart, but Julianne has carved out a nice sliver for herself. Buy this one people, you won’t be sorry! And now I’ll be back to begging Colleen for a 3rd book. 🙂

In celebration of this day I have been waiting for forever, I have some giveaways for you. First up I am giving away 3 Kindle copies of Doll Hearts and Colleen is giving away a Yankee Candle created with a Doll Hearts cover on it. The giveaway is for US ONLY and will end at 11:59pm on April 26th.

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Also as a bonus, if you decide to review Doll Hearts by May 11th, fill out the below form for a chance to win a broad strokes critique on your Work in Progress up to 80k words. All genres are accepted and you will get a 3 to 5 page editorial letter commenting on plot, characterization, pacing, tension, dialogue, setting, etc.. Then marginal notes with sentence-level suggestions. No proofreading! Winner will be randomly selected from all entries and notified on May 14th.

Colleen has an MFA in fiction writing and has taught fiction writing at Kent State and Youngstown State. Her debut novel, What Happens Next was an Ohioana Book Award Finalist (State book award) and earned a Kirkus star.

You can follow Colleen here: Twitter || Instagram || Facebook

This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss!

Click on the banner below to fill out the Google form! This is open internationally. You just need to have an email account!

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