Guest Review: Wanderlost – Jen Malone

Today on the blog we have a guest review done by Sarah (palmys05 on Twitter). Some of you have met Sarah and some of you may know her from social media. When we were at ALA together she mentioned she wanted Wanderlost so I offered to let her read it and review it on my blog. Here I give you here review!

Guest Review: Wanderlost – Jen MaloneWanderlost by Jen Malone
Published by HarperTeen
Published: May 31st 2016
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Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe. A romantic and charming YA debut perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

The lovely Andi asked me to review Wanderlost for her and I was so happy to take her up on her offer. 

Jen Malone’s Wanderlost was a just a feel good read.  It made me wistful and long for my semester abroad days in college.

Due to wacky hijinks, Aubree, a recent high school graduate who is babied by her parental units, winds up spending her summer vacation leading a group of seniors on a bus tour through Europe in place of her sister, Elizabeth.

The set-up to the tour was a bit clunky. After graduation, Aubree was hosting a party that got a bit out of hand while mom and dad were away.   Due to the noise, angry neighbors called the police. Aubree’s overachieving (and overbearing) older sister, Elizabeth, tried to diffuse the situation, which didn’t go over so well! Elizabeth ended up getting arrested and was unable to leave the country to lead the senior tour.  This tour guide position was supposed to be Elizabeth’s in to pursue a career in politics.  To save face, Elizabeth begged Aubree, a self-professed homebody with no desire to travel, to lead the tour as Elizabeth so that she could still get recommended for a desired internship.  WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

I hope I got that right….this set-up to the plot was just SO convoluted and ridiculous.  Anyone with Elizabeth’s smarts would have never gone with this plan or even thought it up in the first place.  I’m so glad I kept reading, but the whole beginning was a major turn-off.  If it had gone on much longer, it probably would have led me to DNF the book. The end result was adorable, but still, I wish the beginning wasn’t so plot pointy.

Now, let me get to the good stuff.  Aubree’s tour group was just delightful.  There was an outspoken couple from Texas who wouldn’t stop making out in the back of the van. Also, Emma and Mary, longtime best friends who wanted to see the world together, and Mr. Fenton, an adorable retired history teacher constantly sharing factoids about every spot they were seeing.   At first, Mr. Fenton seemed like he would out Aubree’s true identity to the rest of the crew, but he quickly befriended her which resulted in some great heart to hearts.  Rounding out the crew was Delores.  From day one, Aubree could tell she wasn’t enthused about being on the tour, but learned quickly that due to her connections, she was the one that needed to be impressed the most.  Aubree’s relationship with her tour group was a delight to read.  She both had to keep up the charade as Elizabeth, and be a responsible leader.  Both being stretches for her. She went from not wanting to leave Ohio to declaring every new city as her “favorite.”

Lest I forget to mention the adorable Sam.  As Aubree’s contact with the tour company in the states, Aubree talked to him on the daily.  This quickly led to phone flirting.  Aubree didn’t think twice about chatting with him as “Lizzie” since he was so far away.  When an emergency causes Sam to join their tour, Aubree must confront their attraction headfirst and wrestle with coming clean with him while lie after lie continues to pile.

I loved Aubree’s growth throughout the book.  She went from being dependent on her family, whiny, and entitled to resourceful, content, and eager to learn from her new surroundings and those around her.   The combination of Aubree’s character growth, her romance with Sam, and her relationship with her tour created a very sweet YA about finding yourself.

 

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Blog Tour – The Mirror King by Jodi Meadow: The ABCs (+ a Giveaway)

 

Today on the blog tour for The Mirror King I have Jodi Meadows guest posting The ABCs for Wilhelmina.  Wil is a pretty straightforward girl that has some items that you know are her as soon as you see them. Welcome Jodi (and by extension, Wil) to the blog.

wil

Accessory: Daggers.
I mean, Wilhelmina already has daggers, but what girl doesn’t need more weapons? Wil’s current daggers are perfectly serviceable, and she’s pretty attached to them, given all they’ve been through together, but if she were to have new daggers, perhaps they’d have fine ebony hilts, some sort of design etched into the tang and up into the blade. It would, perhaps, be ospreys in flight. Oh, and they’d be sharp.

Book: A new blank notebook.
Wil likes to read, sure, but she also likes to write. And by write, I mean she likes to steal handwriting and practice using it. Why not in a nice notebook? But Wil also keeps a diary, and the one she’s been using since she was young is getting pretty full. She deserves a new one after all this time. The main requirement for this is that the notebook have really nice paper. Wilhelmina is definitely a paper snob.

Clothes: A cloak.
So, the cloak on the cover of THE ORPHAN QUEEN was never actually in the book. And on THE MIRROR KING cover there are two cloaks, so in THE MIRROR KING I actually do give Wil a cloak. Clearly she wanted one. But for sneaking purposes, rather than cover purposes, Wil would probably like a black or dark gray cloak. Something to help her blend into the night.

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Blog Tour – The Mirror King by Jodi Meadow: The ABCs (+ a Giveaway)The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen,
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Published: April 5th 2016
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Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

FIND IT: GOODREADS || AMAZON || BARNES & NOBLE || INDIEBOUND || BOOK DEPOSITORY

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About Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).

*A Kippy is a cat.

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There will be a tour-wide giveaway for one (1) copy of The Orphan Queen + one (1) copy of The Mirror King for one lucky winner! The giveaway will be open internationally, as long as Book Depository ships to them.

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Review: The Distance from A to Z – Natalie Blitt

Review: The Distance from A to Z – Natalie BlittThe Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
Published by HarperCollins
Published: January 12th 2016
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five-stars

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year-old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to wear baseball caps and jerseys every day.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between who she is and who he is is worth the risk.

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

I have been waiting a really really long time for The Distance from A to Z to come out. I’m a huge sucker for cute contemporary romances and I was told that this was a mere book by someone that read an early copy. But as excited I was for reading it I was weary when I saw it billed as a book for Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally lovers. To me those are hard shoes to fill. Stephanie and Miranda are two of my favorite YA contemporary authors and people so I did take pause. I knew I was going to read it but I did so with lower expectations. Now I can tell you I was wrong to do that because if you love Perkins and Kenneally you really will love The Distance from A to Z. So fun and fantastic.

I will admit if I was going to mark this book down for anything it was the French. There was a lot but the translations were always there so I couldn’t even fault the story for that. I mean French was a huge ‘character’ in the book so it made sense it was in there. Now the baseball thing in the other hand…give me all the baseball. I’m a huge huge fan on baseball so I loved that that was the thread through the story.

I loved the setting being on a college campus in New Hampshire. There is something about putting high school kids in a setting with less supervision that helps to make stories like The Distance from A to Z work for me. These kids were good and didn’t get into too much trouble so it made it make more sense that they had the amount of freedom they had. Plus I loved the trip that was thrown in. That really added to the story. It all was just written really well and just worked.

Zeke and Abby. Abby and Zeke. I flipping loved these two. They had that kind of friendship/relationship that I love reading about and watching in TV and movies. There was a natural chemistry and push pull. They had things in common but were so different in so many ways.  Because of those differences I fell in love with them. I constantly found myself wanting more of them and when I finished I wanted to know more of their story.

And then there was Alice and Abby’s brothers. They were all parts of the story but in the sidelines. We got to know a lot about them through Abby but I wanted more of all of them. Abby’s family sounded like so much fun (especially as the baseball fan I am) and Alice has a story that needs to be told. I loved her relationship with Abby. As people say soul mates don’t have to be romantic and Abby and Alice proved that.

This book was just what I needed. Actually I have said more than once that I feel like it was written for me. It had everything I love in a book and it left me wanting more. After 300ish pages, which I read 97% in a sitting, I ended just wanting more words. It was fun and emotional and just really well written. I had high hopes when I heard about this one and Natalie Blitt did not let me down. Don’t miss this really great book.

Currently Natalie has a promotion going on for us readers to get #MoreAtoZ. Check out this post to find out how to get an epilogue and a bonus scene!

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Blog Tour: Harper Teen Winter 2016 – The Word for Yes (Epic Giveaway)

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Welcome to stop 43 on the Harper Teen Winter 2016 Blog Tour.  Hannah (The Irish Banana) and Stephanie from Harper have put together a fab tour that is showcasing all of the fantastic books coming out in Winter 2016 from Harper Teen. Along the tour there has been an epic giveaway going on. Be sure to check out the end of the post for details and my secret word. Without further ado I give you The Word for Yes:

Blog Tour: Harper Teen Winter 2016 – The Word for Yes (Epic Giveaway)The Word for Yes by Claire Needell
Published by HarperTeen
Published: February 16th 2016
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fter their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.

Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.

And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.

At once touching and raw, Claire Needell’s first novel is an honest look at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

About Claire Needell

Claire Needell is a graduate of Brown’s MFA Program, a middle school teacher, and the author of two books of poetry. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Sunday Review.

Prizes:

#1 – A Harper Teen Winter 2016 Catalog prizepack of 40+ books*.

*All YA titles in the winter2016 catalog with the exception of The Siren by Kiera Cass, Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard.*

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#2 – 5 Finished Copies from the Harper Teen Fall 2015 Catalog

5 books are: The Lies About Truth, Walk on Earth A Stranger, Dreamland, Dumplin’, and Da Vinci’s Tiger

How to enter:

Collect the daily word from each blog stop during the Harper Winter 2016 Tour (a total of 45). Once you’ve collected them all, email the complete saying to: HarperTeenTour(at)gmail(dot)com

Prize Rules:

1.)    Winner must have a valid US mailing address to receive the prize

2.)    Winner must be over 13

3.)    Only one (1) entry per person for Prize #2 – duplicates will be deleted.

4.)    Only a completed phrase will be accepted as an entry – do not email each word/phrase daily. Wait until you have the complete saying and then email in.

5.)    All email submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST 11/30/2015.

6.)    Winners will be selected 12/1/2015 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another is selected.

7.)    Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.

My Code word…AND

This is a Blog Hop!


 

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Guest Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

I would like all of you ABCers to give a nice warm welcome to my friend Laura.  Laura is a fan of Patrick Ness so I offered to let her read and review his newest book which she was awesome and did like 2 months ago. GO LAURA! Anyway, you can find Laura on Goodreads if you would like to friend her. She is pretty awesome!

Guest Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick NessThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen
Published: October 6th 2015
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four-stars

What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.
Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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

How do you know when you’re reading a Patrick Ness story?  For me, it’s the way he will—without fail—turn literary formulas, ideas, and worlds upside down, inside out, and all kinds of topsy turvey!  Turn my head and heart all topsy turvey!  This book does that and more.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is filled with vampires, gods, chosen ones,  ZOMBIE DEERS!!!, and heroes.  Just not the heroes we’re used to seeing in an end of the world tale.  This story has all the “Oh-God don’t blow up the high school again” mystery-magic, but the focus is on the supposed ordinary kids. The normal teenagers in the background just trying to survive until prom, graduation and college.

“And we dream the same in my town as you probably do in a city.  We yearn the same, wish the same.  We’re just as screwed up and brave and false and loyal and wrong and right as anyone else.”

Meet Michael Mitchell, aka our humble narrator.  He leads us through a tale of unknowns, fear, friends, fun and change.  Mike with his sisters Meredith and Mel, his best friend Jared, and his forever crush Henna try to solve the mysteries of their stories and hearts rather than the weird blue lights killing the indie kids in town.  We follow along through secrets,  “Is it love?” questions, boy band frenzy and anxiety.  The way Ness describes Mike’s anxiety is so relatable.  You will feel it on your own skin.  Feel the pull and power in the words and actions.  Those moments when Mike gets stuck in a loop or can’t make anything feel right made my heart ache.  I cannot emphasize enough how well this issue was described and dealt with here.  And as a narrator, Mike kept me entertained, smiling and involved from beginning to end.  But I’m not sure I liked him through and through or any of the characters for that matter.

Which brings me to one of my true loves and favorite Ness skills.  The man can capture REAL on the page like no other.  I’m not sure I liked these kids or their parents because hell—they all could be selfish and annoying!  These characters are filled with faults and honesty.  Every single one of them was funny, self-centered, intelligent, cute, and oblivious.  Very real!  Their friendships and bonds are what made them stand out in my heart and head though.  My favorite relationship was between the siblings—Mike and Mel and Meredith.  I could feel their love and protectiveness and support immediately.  I just knew from the get-go that they would do anything for each other.

In the end, I guess you could say my love for this book falls not in the story itself, but HOW the story was told.  The idea is brilliant!  So many laughs and jabs and messages in the main story and the background tale shown in short chapter headings and Finns (so many Finns).  🙂 The weirdness in town loomed in the background as something Mike and his friends couldn’t change or learn more about.  They just had to live there with it all going on around them.  They had their own stories to focus on and survive.   But shouldn’t they have found out what was going on in town?  Gotten involved?  Cared more about the kids getting killed?  That is the question that keeps eating at me.  And that is why I read Ness.  That point makes me examine my story, my life and what I focus on.

”Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world.  Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly.  All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.”

Life is (should be) about who you are inside—not age or how cool your name is or what group of kids you’re hanging out with.  We all have our own stories to tell.  We can all be the heroes of our own stories and days.  Go live ‘em and tell ‘em! Just beware of the zombie deers and blue lights in the sky.  😀

There is always magic to be found in a Ness book.  OH!  OH! I almost forgot!  The book’s cover actually GLOWS!  That’s the rumor anyway.  I’m such a sucker for glow-in-the-dark fun.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here may not have shot to the top of my favorites list, but I will and do recommend it.  I closed this book days ago and I’m still wrestling with it in my head and heart.  Patrick Ness never shares a tale and leaves.  His books and words linger.  Questions linger.

Read it.

**Quotes taken from ARC**

Thanks Laura!

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