Geekerella by Ashley Poston

I absolutely love fairy tale reworkings, especially in the YA genre, and this one does not disappoint. A retelling of Cinderella, Geekerella reads like the Geek Girls Guide, with a true and complete understanding of the geek fandom lifestyle. Elle and Sage are the perfect team as they go on this adventure together, and the “evil” stepmom and twin stepsisters are fleshed out to not just be flat, mean people, but very nuanced in why they are the way they are. The love story between Elle and Darien builds beautifully and I loved how both characters fumble through it but ultimately prevail. The best part of the book however is how accurately Poston captures what these various fandoms mean to so many people. There were several times that my eyes filled with tears as Elle described how Starfield helps make her feel accepted and understood in the crazy world of being a teen girl.  This book is a fun adventure and definitely one of of my favorite YA Books for 2017!

Waking Gods By Sylvain Neuvel

I was eagerly anticipating this sequel to Sleeping Giants and was so happy to get a ARC of this thanks to NetGalley. Written with the same style of interviews as the first book, Waking Gods reunites us with familiar characters, Rose, Kara, and Vincent as they continue to work with and understand Themis, ten years in the future. But when another alien robot suddenly appears in downtown London, the game changes from research to war. This series is sci-fi blended perfectly with a thriller attitude. Full of new subplots, secret government organizations with mysterious men, and some of the best twists in the series so far, Waking Gods is definitely making me go crazy for the next installment in this exciting series.

Feral By James DeMonaco and B.K. Evenson

A dystopian novel that is scary, creepy and features women kicking butt! From the writer/director of “The Purge” movies, Feral explores what happens when women are left to fend for themselves after all of the men are infected with a genetically engineered virus that makes them violent and blood-thirsty, causing them to hunt women down and slaughter them.

The main character Allie is well developed and an emotional character to explore. Her mental toughness is balanced by the love she has for her sister and her loyalty to the community she is protecting and scavenging for. Each of the female characters add an aspect to the story that makes the whole community work well within the disaster they are living in, and the Sam twist definitely kept me reading. A fast paced read, filled with action, plenty of gore and horror. Although this book is marketed as an adult horror novel, I feel like this falls more into the YA genre and will be very successful with readers who like The Hunger Games and Divergent series.

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

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Tom Grendel and his father, an Army veteran who is struggling with PTSD, are trying to lead a quiet life to allow his father to heal not only from his battle scars, but the loss of his wife and Tom’s mother.  But when a family moves in next door that threatens to upset the quiet neighborhood they all love, adventures ensue as Tom, his best friend Ed, and Tom’s sister vow to end the loud parties that have driven Tom’s dad from their home.  And then there’s Willow…

This book is everything that is right about YA.  I absolutely loved this reworking of Beowulf.  The adventures and plots were fun and crazy, together with the perfect amount of angst, the all important first love, and my new favorite best friend in a YA novel, Ed.  So many laugh out loud moments, but also moments that tugged at your heart and made the characters so easy to relate to and empathize with.  I had more fun with this book than I have in a long time and truly enjoyed every second of it.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

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I was really looking forward to this book as I am a huge fan of “The Rosie” series. “The Best of Adam Sharpe” is definitely a bit different. A story of true love and second chances, the book starts off great, building the story of Adam and Angeline, a love affair over 20 years ago that apparently neither can let go of. The build up of their love is absolutely incredible. Adam is an amateur pianist who enjoys playing at the local bar after work each day. This is when Angelina walks in and changes his life forever. The soundtrack throughout the path of their relationship is beautiful and emotional. Unfortunately her job as an actress and his job as a world traveling IT consultant causes the relationship to end and the two of them to go in opposite directions in life, finding other partners along the way.

An email from Angelina to Adam starts the two of them longing for one another again, and this is where the story takes a turn that ultimately made me dislike both and not want to root for their love anymore. It took all the charm and true love that the book had perfectly built and turned it ultimately into a adulterous mess. The story manages to somewhat redeem the characters in the end, but the damage was done for me at that point. Yes, relationships can be complicated and people are flawed, but from the “lemon tree” scene on, I completely lost interest in the two of them even trying to have a happy ending.

How the Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016 by P.J. O’Rourke

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P.J. O’Rourke is one of my favorite political writers for one reason – his pure and very humorous honesty about the state of politics in America. And this book is no different. O’Rourke takes apart the 2016 election bit by bit and he does it in a way that reflects the crazy and disjointed nature of the whole election cycle. Each candidate is equally criticized and praised, as is the entire election process starting with the primary and caucus process, through the hot mess that was the debates, to the final two choices that literally left the country asking “How the Hell Did This Happen?” Equal parts crying and laughing to help us plow through the next four years!

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

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I absolutely love reading reworks of the classics told from an alternate point of view, and “Mr. Rochester” definitely caught my attention. “Jane Eyre” is one of my absolute favorites and Mr. Rochester ranks right up there with Mr. Darcy as far as I am concerned. “Mr. Rochester” is an imagining of the life of Edward Rochester, from his days as a young boy in boarding school, to his formative years as a young man learning the business world at a mill, to his time in Jamaica running his father’s sugar plantation. I love how Ms. Shoemaker was able to weave in what we know about the Rochester family, his turbulent love/hate relationship with Bertha, and his caring for Adele into his backstory leading up to the arrival of his dear Jane at Thornfield Hall. It was faithful to the tone of “Jane Eyre” and beautifully told, helping us to understand a bit more why Mr. Rochester had so many rough edges that only Jane could smooth down.

24in48 Readthon!

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How’s everyone doing with the #24in48 #readathon so far!  This was the perfect weekend for me to participate in this!  Our newest furbaby, Jyn, was spayed yesterday, so she needs a quiet weekend just as much as I do.  We are readin’, chillin’ and hatin’ on the cone of shame together!  By the way, I am working on an advanced reader copy of “Mr. Rochester” by Sarah Shoemaker.  As a huge devotee of “Jane Eyre”, I am absolutely loving it so far!  What are you reading?  Let me know in the comments!

Infinite Tuesday by Michael Nesmith

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Infinite Tuesday is a deeply personal and introspective memoir by Michael Nesmith. If you are looking for a tell-all about the Monkees, this is not the book for you. Nesmith discusses his family, friendships, marriages, successes and failures, and an incredible spiritual journey. The biggest takeaway from this book for me was his absolute perseverance in life. His desire to find new “bands” to work with, both musical and in the business world, was truly inspiring as he found ways to be creative in the industry. From recording, to inventing music videos, to producing, Nesmith has been on the ground floor of many new forms of media. Nesmith discusses the ups and downs of “Celebrity Psychosis” and the “Hollywood Mind”, giving insight into how you can start to believe your own hype, and how it can both help you and hurt you at the same time. This book felt very much like I had an opportunity to sit down with Nesmith and listen to his stories. His friendships and encounters with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Jack Nicholson, and Douglas Adams truly helped me understand a very important and creative time in pop culture. He really does tell a tale of a complete and interesting life.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

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Special thanks to William Morrow for providing me an Advance Reader’s copy of this novel.

I adore historical fiction, especially during World War II, so when I received this in the mail, I was extremely excited to get a first look at it. It offers a female perspective of World War II which I highly enjoyed. “The Women in the Castle” tells the story of three very unique women, Marianne, Benita, and Ania, who are all deeply affected not only by the war raging around them, but by the losses of their husbands during it. Each woman approaches her struggle in different ways. Marianne looks for the deeper meaning of her husband’s sacrifice and tries to carry on his good work as the war ends and Germany rebuilds. Benita is desperately searching for love that she feels has been denied to her. And Ania keeps everything close to the cuff, until one day her secrets come raining down on her.

The powerful message of this book highlights the bonds of female friendship along with the shared sadness, loss and strength that woman of this time lived through. The ability of these three woman to create their own extended family in the aftermath of the war and keep each other safe was extremely uplifting when the overall tone of Germany at that time was one of defeat.

This novel had five parts and I was so pleased to see that the final part left me with the closure I needed. Seeing each of these women’s stories come full circle in so many ways left me extremely satisfied with the ending and in understanding the effect that they all had on each other and their individual families. For lovers of historical fiction, this one cannot be missed!

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

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This book has been compared to “The Martian” but I don’t think that description does it any justice.  This is a highly introspective look at what it actually takes in order to survive the solitude, isolation, conflict, boredom and stress of a deep space mission.  I loved how all three of the main characters, Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei, deal with their own personal journeys as they participate in a mock (or is it) mission to Mars.  Their relationships with each other, their families, and their own minds are front and center in this novel, allowing you to put yourself into their shoes and try to understand how you would handle an adventure like this.  I also enjoyed how the story explored how far the astronauts were willing to go in order to achieve their dreams of the “Gofer”.   Even readers who are not typical fans of sci fi will love this novel!

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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I was so anxious to read this new book from Jeff Zentner as I completely fell in love with his debut novel, “The Serpent King.”  Mr. Zentner writes his characters with true emotional depth and this book did not disappoint.  Goodbye Days is based around a tragedy that allows the main character, Carver, to explore many difficult topics not only for young people, but the adult characters in the story as well – friendship, guilt, grief, blame, loneliness, choices, love, family, regrets, but most of all forgiveness.  I love “Southern Novels”. and once again, Mr. Zentner captures the atmosphere of the South perfectly, almost as if Nashville, where the story is based, is a character in the book as well.  Yet another phenomenal YA book from Jeff Zentner and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

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This is well executed historical fiction from a YA perspective.  If you love Jane Austen, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, or Ruta Sepetys, you will definitely want to try this book.  A very smart young lady named Leonora, or Leo for short, struggles with a terrible stammer that causes her to compensate by becoming a spot-on mimic of other people’s voices.  Charmed by a seemingly handsome, rich and good Lord, Leo gets swept up into an opium plot that threatens to literally blow up London.  Suspenseful, fast paced, and action packed, this book was a lot of fun to read and kept me guessing, as well as hoping that Leo would find her happily every after.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

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This book is a true coming of age novel that deals with complex topics like family, duty, the immigrant experience, love, loss, faith and temptation. And the beauty of this book is that these issues are not dealt with in a highly dramatic fashion. Eilis perseveres in her work, studies and relationships in such a matter of fact way. She knows what needs to be done and gets to it. Her small life suddenly became my whole world as I read this story. Her grace, wisdom and intuition serve her perfectly and makes Eilis a character I will not soon forget.

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