Book Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

Summary: The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places' Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.

Release Date: September 2017
Age Group: YA, Contemporary
Source: Review Copy from Netgalley
Reviewed By: Nat

Review: I remember spotting this cover and thinking "yes, I need a good contemporary right now" which translates to I need a break from the paranormal. So, like I always do, I didn't read the synopsis and just dove right in... dang. I was not prepared for such an emotional rollercoaster! Darn you Jared Reck.

As a general rule of thumb I don't read self-help books, autobiographies OR books that make me cry. But sometimes I stumble on one that I think is worth the cry and A Short Story of The Girl Next Door is one.

I really loved the plot twits and turns. I honestly thought I had it figured out with sweet Tabby, I just knew who she was going to choose in the end and I even predicted her moment of realization.

I found that I was siding with Matt and fell right into his thinking that he was the only person worthy of heartbreak. The lesson or theme of this book was just beautiful; we can't simply comprehend the value of a single person in the lives of all the people they knew. I tend to be like Matt and want to shout "I FEEL THE WORST PEOPLE" but we know that isn't really fair and we have to share our grief with others.

The innocence of first love, loneliness and loss hit all of us and this is a great story that forces you to accept the unexpected and cherish what you are given. I would recommend this book to both contemporary and YA fans. I even think this is a god fit for high school literature classes because of the themes that it covers and there are several avenues for class discussions.

If you liked these, then you will enjoy A Short Story of the Girl Next Door.

Unlit Star by Lindy Zart
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

Book Review: The Principals Underwear is Missing by Holly Kowitt

Summary: When you're a sixth-grade nobody, the last person you want to accidentally zonk with a volleyball is Sloan "Selfie" St. Clair--the eighth-grade glamour queen of the school. But that's what happens to Becca Birnbaum, and it only gets worse when she tries to do Selfie a favor. She grabs the wrong shopping bag from the principal's office -- one containing a very personal item. and even that might not be so bad, if only Selfie didn't immediately lose it.

If they don't get it back ASAP, they're toast. They try not to panic--until they hear that the Biggest Prank Ever is about to happen. Can the school's oddest couple stop the disaster of a lifetime?

Release Date: May 2017
Age Group:  Middle Grade
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Maryn

Review: Even though this isn't my typical read, the title was just too funny to pass up. I can't tell you how many funny looks I got for carrying this book around, my copy was an ARC and was titled The Principal's BRA is Missing, how can you not snicker. 

Straight up, this is an easy plot that is silly & exactly the kind of life altering situations that middle schoolers are plagued with; being awkward and trying to find where they fit while getting into one pickle after another.

Becca Birnbaum is a sixth grade girl who has trouble fitting in. Associating with the most popular 8th grader, known as Selfie, was the last thing she could have imagined doing. When the two girls accidentally misplace the principals bra, they are determined to do anything and everything to get it back and it gets silly fast. The relationship between the two main characters was unlikely, but it was fun to see two polar opposite people work together to avoid middle school humiliation.

It made me think of how different two people can be and yet still be the best of friends. There was an underlying theme of friendship and stepping out of your comfort zone. I think this is a fun read for girls entering middle school who might be a bit nervous or timid to change, I know I was nervous.

And I don't want to get anyone too jealous but I have been waiting to get an ARC that made a major change before it published and I finally got it! I have the coolest copy everrrrr.

Book Review & Blog Tour: Mighty Jack & the Goblin King (Mighty Jack #2) by Ben Hatke

Summary: Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility, and it's boring, too, because Maddy doesn't talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk—to tell Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made.

What starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.

This was my first introduction to Ben Hatke's work and I am blown away! This graphic novel series has the recipe for success >>> whimsical, adventurous, fearless characters and imagery that are just so darn vibrant! This series is sure to please middle grade connoisseur's of graphic novels but I venture to say that it will likely catch reluctant readers and even the well weathered book worm too.

The Mighty Jack made me laugh like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series albeit they come from two completely different genres, Jack & Lilly still gave you the deep belly laugh! And some of the situations really made me wince... the rats... ew but it was so awesome.

And we can't forget that Jack has a superb partner in crime, Lilly... Oh Lilly you are just too cool for school! I hope that Lily will eventually get her own adventure but in the meantime these two are a dynamic duo.

It is no secret that I love the feel of an actual book but I would totally recommend this series in a digital format simply because of the beautiful illustrations. This would be an ideal ebook to gift to a teacher or tech savvy middle grader.

I am officially a Ben Hatke fan and you will be too {this is an instance where it is okay to fall to peer pressure, your mom will understand. :)


Want more Jack? Follow along with this blog tour for fantasy adventure you just can’t miss!

 Librarian’s Quest, 8/18
Trisha Jenn Reads, 8/21
Undeniably Book Nerdy, 8/22
Expresso Reads, 8/23
Paperback Princess, 8/25
Books and Ladders, 8/28
Page Turners Blog, 8/29
Reading Nook Reviews, 8/30
The Novel Hermit, 8/31
A Backwards Story, 9/1
Bridget and the Books, 9/4
The Plot Bunny, 9/5 
The Caterpillar Corner, 9/6
Meet Ben! He is the author and illustrator of the New York Times–bestselling Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, the picture books Julia's House for Lost Creatures and Nobody Likes a Goblin, and the graphic novels Little Robot and Mighty Jack. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters.

Back to School Giveaway! Clean Yo Shelves

It's time... for the alarms, the bed-time battles and the tardy slips. But one thing is certain, I will get some of my best reading done the first few weeks of school. How? Well it's simple, as I sit for "don't you dare leave your bedroom" patrol I will have my kindle handy. As my kids fall into their beds the first week begging for sleep, I will be cozy on the couch reading. This is seriously prime time reading people!

But I must purge some of my book stash too. So I am sharing an oldy but a goody copy of Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre {ARC copy}. Participate in as many entries as your little heart desires! I will mail the copy out the day after the giveaway closes.

Review HERE
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to win more?! Visit these other blogs for a chance to win lots of good stuff, we all want stuff (...even though we are claiming to clean our shelves). 

Guest Post: Plot Without a Cause Contest

Imagine a YA publishing process without gatekeepers.  One where editors and agents read the manuscripts that readers love, not vice versa.  One where anyone with a knack for writing, a passion to succeed, and a little flair for self-promotion, has a fair shot at being published.

All too frequently, this isn’t the case.  Books often get rejected for reasons beyond authors’ control.  One editor turned down an ultimately successful book by saying, “The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level.”  The book in question?  The Diary of Anne Frank.  Furthermore, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only about 10% of all YA books accepted for publication feature “multi-cultural content.” Clearly, there are some blind spots that need addressing in the publishing industry.

It’s with this vision in mind that Publishizer is launching its YA book proposal contest called Plot Without a Cause.  Publishizer is a startup seeking to fill a hole in the publishing industry through crowdfunding.  It works like this:

You write the book proposal.  You know the book proposal I’m talking about.  The one you’ve been daydreaming about for years.  The one that just popped into your head last week and you haven’t stopped thinking about since.  The one for the manuscript that’s been dearly loved by you but maybe not so much yet by the publishing industry.  That one.  Then you register (for free!) on Publishizer’s website and post your proposal in the Plot Without a Cause section (again—for free!).

Now this is when you’ll have to start hustling.  Crowdfunding runs on pre-orders, so you had better start promoting that proposal.  Reach out over social media, post on your blog, email your old roommates—whatever it takes to start building buzz.  If you get the most preorders by the time the contest ends, you’ll win $1000 dollars.  And if you don’t have the highest number of preorders, don’t worry—you’ll still be queried to major publishers who fit your proposal.

Previous Publishizer contest participants have gotten interest and landed deals with a variety of traditional publishing companies, including Harvard Square Books, She Writes Press, and Weiser.  Publishizer takes a small commission on pre-orders when you choose a publisher at the end.

Every year, thousands of books are rejected by the publishing world for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the book—they’re too mainstream or not mainstream enough, too similar to books already being published or too different from books already being published.  Or the literary agent just doesn’t stand to make much money on the deal so they pass on a perfectly good book!  Imagine how many brilliant YA manuscripts go unpublished every year thanks to frustrating rejections.  Imagine how many hugely talented authors quietly give up on their dreams, just because the gate to a traditional publishing path isn’t open to them.

With their new YA book proposal contest, Plot Without a Cause, Publishizer is seeking to level the playing field.  Publishing decisions shouldn’t be based solely on a literary agent’s judgement or how many friends you have in the industry. They should be based on quality of writing and how many readers the book attracts.

Great books get overlooked all the time, and this is an opportunity to show acquiring editors that yours is worth paying attention to.  Not to mention the readership and funds you could gain in the process.  Crowdfunding (or crowd-publishing, in this case) is growing in popularity and brings a personal touch back to book sales—for readers and publishers.  Are you in?

Book Review: Fallen Star (The Nocturnals #3) by Tracey Hecht

Summary: In The Fallen Star, Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark awaken one evening to a disaster: all of the forest's pomelos have been mysteriously poisoned! As the Nocturnal Brigade sets out to investigate, they encounter Iris, a mysterious aye-aye, who claims monsters from the moon are to blame. While the three heroes suspect a more earthly explanation, the animals of the valley are all falling ill. And then Tobin gets sick, too! The Nocturnal Brigade must race to find answers, and the cure, before the pomelo blight threatens to harm them all.

Release Date: May 2017
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Review Copy from Author
Reviewed By: Ms. Leger

The Fallen Star is the 3rd installment in The Nocturnals series. This series is one of my absolute favorite middle grade reads, I always learn something new in each adventure. I like how the author focuses on one of the members of the brigade and this time it's Tobyn who happens to be my favorite! I love his personality. The new animal we are introduced to (I don't want to give it away) is a really strange creature I knew nothing about. As usual I had to do some research and was able to enlisted a few student to help. As expected, we had a blast learning about this odd animal.
I just find so many positives about all of The Nocturnals books. Not only am I kept in suspense, I am always surprised by the outcome. Such a great read for not just middle school kids but adults too. I would recommend this series as a family read-along too, I especially think dads would enjoy reading these adventures with their kids.

Ms. Leger

Don't forget to follow the Nocturnals Word Wednesdays & really cool animals facts on Twitter @fabled_films. I know it stretches my vocabulary and I really enjoy learning the unique bits of information about various animals.

Vlog Review: Freckleface Strawberry and the Really Big Voice by Julianne Moore

Strawberry Freckle Face & the Really Big Singing Voice
Academy Award–winning actress and New York Times bestselling author Julianne Moore brings us more adventures from Freckleface Strawberry!

Freckleface Strawberry’s very best friend, Windy Pants Patrick, has a BIG problem. His outside voice doesn’t seem to fit inside of school. From the lunchroom to the classroom, he’s just TOO LOUD! Is there anyplace in school where his big voice can fit? Parents, teachers, and librarians alike will love this light-hearted way to talk to children about when to your their INSIDE voices and when to use their OUTSIDE voices. And young readers will take comfort in knowing that what makes each kid different is also what makes them shine.

Find activities and other fun stuff at!

We are pretty sure that Freckle Face Strawberry has a striking resemblance to our very own Macy Kate and she was pretty darn excited to review a book by Julianne Moore, aka Fellow Red. We are told that Red's have a special bond, maybe even a super power. 

You just might be surprised at Macy Kate's favorite character! Enjoy!

Blog Tour: Comics Extravaganza Featuring Science Comics

Science is where it's at! I really love and appreciate all sciences - mechanical, human, environmental, biological, social... you get the idea. I still get #thefeels at the start of every semester just from the anticipation of teaching a new group.  I love to see the "light bulb" when they start to piece science together.

Now, if you can find a fun, cool way to grab the attention of a young reader (any reader) and get them interested in history & science, you my friend have found a gem! And I think that Science Comics are real gems, who doesn't like a picture version of fun facts. So lets take a few minutes and get to know the author behind the latest Science Comics: Flying Machines, Alison Wilgus.

Hello Alison!

Tell us your first memory of reading a comic or graphic novel.

I was an enormous fan of Garfield as a young child. We owned all of the collections in print at the time, and I would beg the adults in my life to read them to me as bedtime stories.

What's your favorite comic or graphic novel, and what do you love about it?

I love too many comics to choose favorites, but one book I keep coming back to is "The Less That Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal" by EK Weaver. It's a love story that follows two men on a cross-country road trip, and it's hilarious and charming and just an absolute joy to read. The two of them begin as strangers, and EK does a fantastic job of showing us the slow, stuttering process of the two of them getting to know each other. She has an amazing eye for character, how people talk and move and share space with one another, and every time I revisit this story I find some thoughtful detail I'd missed the last time through. "TJ & Amal" was originally serialized online as a webcomic, but it really is a graphic NOVEL in the way it's paced and structured, such that experiencing it as a collected volume for the first time was immensely satisfying, that feeling of reading something as it was intended to be read, drinking it all down in one long sitting.

Tell us a little about your latest graphic novel. 

My latest book is "Flying Machines: How the Wright Bothers Soared," a recent addition to First Second's middle grade Science Comics series. It's narrated by Katharine Wright, sister to Wilbur and Orville, and follows the early years of aviation history as well as the basic physical principles of flight. It's illustrated by Molly Brooks, and I'm pretty thrilled with how it turned out! We wanted to show kids the chain of innovation -- how each new development in technology or knowledge is built on the progress of everyone who came before, and how every innovator exists in a community of their peers. The Wrights were amazing people, but they weren't the only ones doing great work in the pursuit of a practical aeroplane!

Click HERE to see the complete list of Science Comics

If you want to read about more of the latest comic releases, jump on over to one of the blogs listed. Happy Reading Friends!

YA Bibliophile interviews Shannon Hale
Fiction Fare interviews Tillie Walden
A Backwards Story interviews Landis Blair
Bluestocking Thinking interviews Mike Lawrence
Book Crushin interviews MK Reed
Miss Print interviews Scott Westerfeld
Ex Libris Kate interviews Box Brown
Love Is Not a Triangle interviews Nick Abadzis
The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia interviews Molly Ostertag
Adventures of a Book Junkie interviews Nidhi Chanani

Movie Review: 47 Meters Down

I only have two great fears in life. One, I am afraid of heights, like my throat starts to close off and I just want to pee. I know, totally weird response. My second greatest fear is the deep ocean but is so much more detailed.

I love to travel and I have a traveling tribe but we have never taken a cruise. Why? Because I know there is a giant octopus waiting in the deep, beautiful ocean waiting to EAT ME. But here is the real kicker, I love SHARK WEEK on the discovery channel. We have shirts & blankets for it. I.Watch.It.All. I'm beginning to  think I have a very disturbed sense of fear.

Just recently I have gotten the courage to consider a cruise but then I decided to go the movies last night...

I'll tell you how you survive, YOU DON'T CLIMB INTO THE CAGE! I thought Jaws was scary back in the day but 47 Meters Down kept my heart rate at a beat that would be classified at a level of Vigorous-Intense activity, basically my heart freaking ran a marathon for the duration of the movie.

Would I recommend 47 Meters Down?  

Abso-freaking-lutely! I brought 3 of the monsters to see it. I had two in my bed last night afraid of, you guessed it, SHARKS! I bet I never have to worry about any of them asking to go on a cruise again. :) #suckers

The way I see it, 47 Meters Down counts for at least an hour of physical activity for the day. The heart can't lie.

I see you Mandy Moore, I.SEE.YOU
Side note: We have a pond. We will now have an unused, probably shark infested, pond. The End.

image sources: & Mandy Moore Instagram

Book Review: Wildman by JC Geiger

“How can a total stranger understand you better than the people you’ve known your entire life?”
When Lance’s ’93 Buick breaks down in the middle of nowhere, he tells himself Don’t panic. After all, he’s valedictorian of his class. First-chair trumpet player. Scholarship winner. Nothing can stop Lance Hendricks.

But the locals don’t know that. They don’t even know his name. Stuck in a small town, Lance could be anyone: a delinquent, a traveler, a maniac. One of the townies calls him Wildman, and a new world opens up.

He’s ordering drinks at a roadhouse. Jumping a train. Talking to an intriguing older girl who is asking about his future. And what he really wants. As one day blurs into the next, Lance finds himself drifting farther from home and closer to a girl who makes him feel a way he’s never felt before—like himself.

Release Date: June 2017
Age Group:  YA, Contemporary
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Maryn

Lance Hendricks has it all, a bright future all laid out, but he is dissatisfied, unsettled, stuck.

He feels that a direct path has been laid out for him, and he doesn't have any say in his future. When his car breaks down on his way home from an audition, he is left stranded in a sketchy town in the middle of nowhere. And that's where things tried to get interesting.

I really enjoyed the first few chapters of Wildman, but it felt like a chore as I continued reading, the pacing was just too slow. And Lance Hendricks wasn't a very likable character and I had a hard time relating to him. He was very indecisive, and his train of thought was often hard to follow. Basically, he was your typical guy, so I think guys might relate better to him.

I think some of my disinterest was due to the fact that some of the details just didn't relate to the main story and weren't necessary to the plot. It left me bored.

I really enjoyed  the authors writing style and the way he described things in specific detail (when it related to the plot). His detail really added to my imagination and did make parts of the story more vivid and enjoyable. Although I didn't love the book, I feel that it provides a lot of important life lessons and it did make me think of myself in different situations and how I might react. I think this might be a book that guys my age would enjoy, they can definitely relate to Lance better than I can.