Sunday, February 18, 2018

Flight Season by Marie Marquardt

18 February 0 Comments
"Lately I've developed a fascination with birds. It started in December, when a lovely little songbird perched above me in the branch of an enormous oak tree and refused to shut up. At the time, all I knew was that it was small and loud and incredibly persistent."

Flight Season by Marie Marquardt
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Format: Hardcover ARC via publisher
Pages: 321
Genre: Contemporary
Star rating: 4/5

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.
As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way. 

Flight Season is a book about grief, immigration, birds, romance, and realizing what's important to you in life.

I figured it would take me awhile to get through this book, but in reality it took me two days, and only because I've been sick and needed sleep was it not done in a day. I could not stop turning the pages to see what would happen next between Vivi, Angel, and TJ.

All of the characters had distinctive personalities. Vivi was melancholic, soulful, and she loved helping others out as much as she could. TJ was quiet and inverted, and insanely romantic. Woo-worthy.
Angel was the glue between Vivi and TJ. He was strong and funny despite his debilitating illness. Always cracking jokes with TJ and knowing Vivi on a higher level, he made the story.

The romance in the book was developed in a natural time and manner. It wasn't insta-love, in fact it was quite the opposite. The fact that the romance wasn't rushed is what made me like it, besides the fact that TJ and Vivi were made for one another.

I've been trying to read about things I don't normally read about, so it was a relief to learn that this book deals with the sensitive topic of immigration and deportation, and what it looks like once those things take place. It certainly draws a light onto how the immigrants are treated. I'm so glad to have had the chance to take a peek into what it could be like for immigrants to the U.S. and I feel like I have a way better understanding of the subject now than I did before picking this book up. The best books are ones you can learn from, in my opinion. 

I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in YA romance, diverse characters, likes birds, or someone who wants a deeper YA novel.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own and are not swayed by any outside factors.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Key to Every Thing by Pat Schmatz

16 February 0 Comments

"Morning sunbeams streamed through the window. Tasha closed her eyes and turned away.
"You up?" Her great uncle Kevin knocked, then opened the bedroom door. "Awake?"
Tasha nodded without opening her eyes.
"Time to get up," said Kevin. "We're leaving in twenty minutes."
He closed the door. Tasha rolled out of bed and got dressed. She kept her back to the window that faced the Captain's Quarters next door. If Cap'n Jackie was watching for a morning salute, she'd have to wait a long, long time."

(First paragraph is subject to change when the book is actually published)

The Key to Everything by Pat Schmatz
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Format: Paperback ARC from publisher
Pages: 198

Synopsis from Goodreads:
For eleven-year-old Tash, Cap'n Jackie isn't just the elderly next-door neighbor — she's family. When she disappears, only Tash holds the key that might bring her back.
Tash didn't want to go to camp, didn't want to spend the summer with a bunch of strangers, didn't want to be separated from the only two people she has ever been able to count on: her uncle Kevin, who saved her from foster care, and Cap'n Jackie, who lives next door. Camp turns out to be pretty fun, actually, but when Tash returns home, Cap'n Jackie is gone. And Tash needs her — the made-up stories of dolphin-dragons, the warm cookies that made everything all right after a fight, the key Cap'n Jackie always insisted had magic in it. The Captain always said all Tash had to do was hold it tight and the magic would come. Was it true? Could the key bring Cap'n Jackie back? In a heartfelt and stunningly written story, Pat Schmatz introduces readers to a tenacious, fiercely loyal girl struggling to let go of the fantasies and fears of her childhood . . . and say yes to everything that lies ahead.

This is the somber coming-of-age story of Tash, who is forced to grow up quickly when her neighbor, one she pens "Cap'n Jackie" breaks her hip while she's away at summer camp.

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING is a quick read at only 198 pages in the paperback. I desperately wanted to know more about Jackie, Kevin, and Tash by the end of it so I could have done with a slightly longer book. It's a middle grade novel, so it's decently short and directly to the point.

This book centers around grief and the subject of death is brought up, but the moral of the story is a happy one. We don't always have to stay sad forever after our loved ones go on, we can find comfort in things eventually if we let ourselves.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon

15 February 0 Comments
"For long minutes, there was considerable doubt as to whether the child would survive to bear a name at all. Although, being born in a workhouse was not the most fortunate of circumstances, in this child's case the alternative would have made for a much different story; likely a very short one."

Publisher: Blink/Harper Collins
Release date: March 6, 2018
Format: Paperback ARC via publisher
Pages: 333
Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.
Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.
Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

I have something to admit...I've never read or seen anything related to Oliver Twist in my life. After reading Langdon's book, I'm definitely going to be finally able to pick up the original book now. Before ever reading the synopsis, I was drawn in by the cover. I felt like it was begging to be read. As soon as I got it in the mail, I cracked the spine and got to reading. And didn't stop until it was finished.

Olivia was born in 1841 in a workhouse. Her mother died, leaving her to fend for herself. She was raised as a boy by her wet nurse, as a girl in that time had no chance of surviving.
Soon, she was stealing from richer people and selling the loot just to survive.

Fast forward 18 years, we see that she is in a much better position. I immediately knew I was going to like Olivia. She was sassy and hard-headed. Two things that were frowned upon by the society of that particular time. Female characters who go against the grain is an aspect of a book that I really, really enjoy.

OLIVIA TWIST is a historical fiction with romance, mystery, and suspense thrown in. I don't normally go for romances because I can't ever seem to connect with the couples, but Jack and Olivia are my exceptions. Jack was insanely swoon-worthy, and has earned the title of my first book boyfriend of the year. They did tend to annoy me with how back and forth Olivia and Jack were, but all of the pleasant moments between them made up for it. They both had their reasoning for how they acted, so I can't judge too harshly on this aspect.

The atmosphere of the story was a good one as well. I've never been super into historical fiction but I've been reading more and more books that deal with it lately and I think it's growing on me, definitely more so now that I've read this one. 

Charming, decently fast-paced, and super interesting! Made for a great read, and will definitely make it onto my list of favorite reads of 2018 at the end of the year.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Knockout by K.A. Holt

12 February 0 Comments

"Who am I?
I am Levi.
I am small
but fast
I am smart
but dumb.
If you move the letters of my name around
you get live.
So here it is.
This is my life.
This is what it's like
minute by minute

match by match

to live a Levi Life."

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Release date: March 6, 2018
Format: Hardback ARC from publisher

    Pages: 339

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Levi just wants to be treated like a typical kid. As a baby, he had a serious disease that caused him respiratory issues. He's fine now, but his mom and overprotective brother still think of him as damaged, and his schoolmates see him as the same class clown he's always been. He feels stuck. So when his dad—divorced from his mom—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. And when he finds out about a school with a killer boxing team and a free-study curriculum, it feels like he's found a ticket to a new Levi. But how can he tell his mom about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?

I don't even recall asking for this book for review, or if it was just sent to me, but I'm so glad it showed up on my doorstep!

It's written in prose, and occasionally scattered throughout are pictures made up of words. Levi and his brother write back and forth to one another in a notebook, so those journal entries are included as well. Since it's written in this form, it's a fast-paced read, but still allows you to get close to all the characters and feel and understand why they do the things that they do.

I got quite annoyed with Levi's father and his brother on occasion, but hatred for characters is what makes a book next to love for them! I ended up really liking his brother, his dad on the other hand...could have used a backhand to the face a time or two.

All in all I really enjoyed this book about a boy trying to find his way after being sheltered all those years. I loved the boxing aspects in this as well, it made me a lot more interested in the sport because if it makes people feel THAT good, I want to see what all the fuss is about as well. Novels that make me want to do new things are always my favorite.

Disclosure: I may or may not have received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Regardless, all opinions herein are of my own and are not swayed by any outside factors.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift

11 February 0 Comments
Montmartre, Paris

The anomaly is waiting is waiting. It has been waiting for a long time, although the anomaly's sense of time differs from a conventional understanding, given the peculiarities of its nature. It does not know exactly what, or rather who, it is waiting for, but it will recognise them when they come. The anomaly is ready. Its hunger grows.

Publisher: Solaris
Release date: February 6, 2018
Format: Paperback ARC via publisher
Pages: 379

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. She falls in with the eclectic expat community as a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge.
Here she meets Gabriela, a bartender who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris.
Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns, as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self. 


This was a slow read for me, but I enjoyed it when I made it to the end. I chalk this up to me not being a big science-fiction fan as opposed to the story being not up to par.

The main character is a girl named Hallie, who's run away from England to Paris to take a year off from university. Soon she picks up a job with an odd group of friends at Millie's.
Soon Hallie is being stalked by a strange bird, then soon, a woman who claims to be the "chronometrist." She then finds that there is what seems to be a time portal in the keg room of the weird bar she works at.
Soon she's travelling back and forward in time to try to make tiny adjustments for the betterment of the world.

The characters in this book are odd, yet satisfying. They all have their own unique personalities that you begin to adore over the course of the book. I felt like I kept Hallie at a distance for some reason, not really feeling like I ever knew her fully at the end of the story.

I preferred the time traveling aspects to the story far more than Hallie's "own time" happenings. I seem to be in the minority of this opinion, and I'm okay with that! I was definitely an odd book, and one I haven't ever read any other like, so I'm more than happy with it.

Highly recommended for anyone who would like to read a book that has sci-fi, Paris, and time-travelling all within it.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ten Cents a Pound by Nhung N. Tran-Davies

05 February 0 Comments
Ten Cents a Pound by Nhung N. Tran-Davies
Illustrator: Josee Bisaillon
Publisher: Second Story Press
Release Date: April 18, 2018
Ages: 7-10 years

"Mama, I see your hands,
Coarsened and scratched,
by the twigs and the bark of trees that grow, row on row,
By the leaves and the berries, picked one by one.
I will stay with you."

A little girl realizes the hard work her mother puts in day to day, making her hands rough, her back stoop, and her feet calloused.

Her mother encourages her to go beyond what she herself settled for and buys her daughter books and paper, and shoes to get herself to wherever she needs to go.

This book truly does show the love and bone between a mother and a daughter, and how a mother wants what's best for her child, even if it means that they both have to make sacrifices in order for the daughter to have a better future.

I love that I found a book written by a Vietnamese author who put an emphasis on education and she showed that there is more to life than what is right in front of us. All we need is a push in the right direction and if we're willing, we'll be well on our way to a brighter future.

The description in this small book is astounding, and I felt both the love and the pain in the exchanges between the mom and the daughter. 10/10 book. Must read for every child.

Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me by David Gutnick

05 February 1 Comments

Mr. Mergler, Beethhoven, and Me by David Gutnick
Illustrations: Mathilde Cinq-Mars
Publisher: Second Story Press
Release Date: April 18, 2018
Pages: 32
Ages: 7-10

"Not long after my family arrived from China, I went to the park with my father, whom I call Baba. Lots of people went there to play, enjoy the flowers, and have picnics. That's where I rode my bike, and one special summer morning, it is where I met someone I will always remember."

A family moved from China to North America, and soon after, on a day that Baba and his daughter took a trip to the park, they met a man who would change her life forever. His name was Mr. Mergler.

Mr. Mergler loved music, and he loved teaching children what he knew. He just knew that he had to have her over to teach her what he knew, and bring her capabilities to live.

We all have people in our lives who've taught us lessons that have stuck with us for years. Mr. Mergler was based on a real man who dedicated his whole life to music and teaching others the value and wonder in it. He passed away at the age of 77, but his legacy lived on through his pupils.

This is a super sweet and poignant story, with intricately drawn illustrations throughout. I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy. I believe this is a children's book that needs to be in all libraries.