Mailbox 9 3/4, Our FIRST Little Free Library!


I am so excited to finally announce that I'd So Rather Be Reading has opened our first Little Free Library in the tiny Texas town of Vidor. This is the first of three that I have planned and each one will have its own theme and the books will be age specific.

Mailbox 9 3/4 can be found HERE on the Global map (you can find it quickest by searching by our zip code, 77662). This library is obviously Harry Potter themed and is filled with Middle Grade & Children's books!


If you are not familiar with Little Free Libraries, visit HERE. The theme of this wonderful organization is Take a Book, Share a Book. To date there are over 75,000 Little Free Libraries across the globe and now we have one of our very own!

I saw my first #LFL while visiting my SIL in Daybreak, UT a couple years ago (#32633).
I literally squealed and made my entire family trudge through snow and investigate! I was instantly hooked and knew I wanted (needed) these in our hometown. I think I visited that box at least a dozen times. I had drank the literary KoolAid!

I've received a lot of books from publishers and authors over the years and I give a lot of them away but I had always wanted a better way to share a good book. This was it!

When we returned home, I quickly began my Honey Do list-- all my great ideas require extensive Honey Do's. Don't worry, I tell him he's hot stuff and bring him water while he works and makes my little dreams come true.

I had planned to have these up and running quickly. I went around town and scoped out the right spots, got permission and even ordered the official registration plates. And then Hurricane Harvey hit. Our tiny town received over 50 inches, to say it was a tragedy still doesn't do it justice. Our own Macy Kate lost her home and most over her books! So, I shelved the plans until we were rebuilt and ready.  Fast forward two years and...

πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ WE ARE READY! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

And to start off, I have filled Mailbox 9 3/4 with one of my favorite short stories that I read each Christmas, The Gift of the Magi.



_________________________________________________________

Obviously, many of you are not physically close and cannot visit our super awesome library, but you can find one near you and support it! Fill it up, visit it, #hashtag it and post important-- make getting a new book seem like the coolest event ever! There are always people watching you, let them see you excited about reading.
Visit the Map HERE

If there isn't a #LFL near you, consider starting your own. If you need help planning I will help! Send me an email and I will guide you through the process. iwouldratherbereading@gmail.com

A special thank you to: 
  • The Dulaney family for their support! You gave Mailbox 9 3/4 a home and a good start.
  • The Beaumont Enterprise for donating a newspaper stand.
  • All the publishers that send us great stories to share.
  • Ms. Leger for donating LOADS of books.
  • To Tailor Made Stamps for making such an awesome book stamp!
  • To The Bluebonnet Nook for designing our stamp image
  • To JK Rowling for creating one of the greatest escape, the ultimate world of Wizards!
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πŸ“« WATCH FOR OUR NEXT TWO LIBRARIES:
  • FLY GUY to make his debut when we open our Childrens #LFL
  
  • YOUNG ADULT #LFL... we need a location and theme! SHARE YOUR IDEAS!




image sources: littlefreelibrary.org and google.com (fly guy)

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway & Blog Hop


Written with a blend of humor and practical wisdom, The Same Sweet Girl’s Guide to Life by Cassandra King offers inspiration and solid advice to new graduates that can sustain them through life’s inevitable ups and downs.  In this small book you will find advice that will only grow in meaning throughout the years. It can - and should - be read again and again, by thoughtful people of all ages.
 
Review HERE 
 
Enter below for a chance to win your very own copy!
 
❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️🎁❄️
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Book Review: Laugh Out Loud Christmas Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliott


The first-ever Christmas collection from the #1 bestselling author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids is finally here with hundreds of holiday- and winter-themed jokes to make the season bright.


The holiday season just got a whole lot merrier now that Rob Elliott is back with another instant classic full of fresh, frosty fun to bring the whole family together. These pages are bursting with laughter to warm up the fireside, the sledding slopes, and everywhere in between.
 

Why don’t lobsters give Christmas presents?

      
Because they’re shellfish! 
______________________________________________________________

Release Date: September 2016
Age Group: Children, Family
Source:  Gifted
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:

This is a great family funny! I brought this book out at breakfast and read a few of the jokes out loud while my kids were fighting, wailing, gnashing their teeth getting ready for school. It started off with an eye roll and an "it's too early for this" but by the time we were ready to go, I'd gotten a few smirks and a "this are so corny but funny when you get all excited reading them". I'll take it thank you very much!

My first grader thought a few were so great that he tried memorizing a couple to re-tell to his friends at school. He really got a kick out of the knock, knock jokes too. πŸ˜‚  
πŸŽ…πŸ½ What's Santa's favorite candy?
    Jolly Ranchers, of course!

And a little trivia too.
What do you have in December that's not in any other month?
    The letter "D" πŸ€“
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🎁🎁🎁 This little gem is a great gift for: any family, a children's book exchange, teacher gift or even a stocking stuffer. I found it on Amazon for less than $5 (and it's prime)! 🎁🎁🎁



Book Review: The Reader by MK Harkins (The Immortal Series #1)

Summary: Hunted, shot, and without her memory, eighteen-year-old Ann Baker wakes in shallow water on a deserted Pacific Northwest island. She is soon approached by two young men claiming to be her friends. Something isn’t right, but when gunshots sound, Ann is left with little choice but to allow Devon and Archer to help her escape. Soon she finds herself in their North Bend mountain compound, where the higher evolved humans claim to be mind-readers. While Ann heals, she realizes they believe her to be one of the last and most powerful of all – The Lost One.

She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos.

As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.


Release Date: August 2016
Age Group: YA, Paranormal
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I've read several Harkins contemporary books, I like the easy flow of words and the angst she gives her characters when it comes to love. However, the cover of The Reader is what initially caught my attention, the freckles reminded me of our middle grade reviewer Macy Kate. A simple, raw beauty. When I realized that it was Harkins work and her shift into the paranormal/dystopian genre I was interested!

Y'all, THE HOOK! Nothing like starting right off with a little amnesia, hot guys and bullets flying! This is the stuff YA dreams are made of... #allthefeels

At first the world building seemed simplistic and a bit mysterious but it didn't take long to realize that this was headed into a paranormal setting. The premise of genetically superior humans, divided by divine roles felt a tiny, tiny bit mythological/historical and it worked. The hidden city in the mountain was written very vividly and I really could picture the beauty of it all.

Humans with unique gifts, long life expectancy, bad guys, love triangles and mind reading is really what every woman YA teen girl pines for, right?!

The MC, Ann, is both strong and flawed. She isn't too go to be true but relatable... you know, she will scissor kick you in the throat if you cross her yet she can't make a decent judgment on a guy.

Devon & Archer were so Edward and Jacob for a hot minute but it worked. The character development was pretty steady and the plot twists kept making me love someone one minute and hate them the next. Good stuff.

The ending was a bit anti-climactic for me BUT that's because it isn't over yet! This is a duology and concludes with The Jack!

Overall, The Reader is a nice addition to the YA genre and fans of dystopian & paranormal lit. will enjoy its fast pacing and unique imagery.

If you liked: Gameboard of the Gods, Perfected, Uncharted  you will enjoy The Reader.









*I waited FOREVER for book 2... I started to loose hope. But one morning BAM! there it was on NetGalley, just waiting for me to download!-- review coming soon (*spoiler: it was better than The Reader #sorrynotsorry).


Book Review: The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray


I saved this little gem until today, in the Spirit of Thanksgiving, THANK YOU to all the authors, readers and friends who share the love of a good book!
You are special.


Summary:
"Perfect for fans of Margaret Wise Brown and Pat Zietlow Miller’s Be Kind, The Thank You Book explores the many ways of being thankful that can fill a child's day. Timely, wise, and accessible, the poetic text and tender illustrations celebrate the powerful impact gratitude can have on our lives."

Thank you isn't just for learning manners.
It's also for when something wakes a
little hum
a little happy huminside you
and you want to answer back.


The Thank You Book explores the many ways we can be thankful for the pleasures great and small that await us every day. Tender and poetic, it reflects on the role gratitude can play in our lives and celebrates the powerful impact it can have on us.


Release Date:  September 2018
Age Group: Childrens, Picture, Read-Aloud
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
The Thank You Book's target audience may be children but this is such a sweet reminder to everyone to simply be thankful, in all things. 

"Thank You" and "I'm Sorry" are probably two of the hardest phrases for people to express to one another and yet they mean so much. Teaching young kids to say them may start out in an effort to teach a child good manners but it needs to progress into so much more. I think worldwide, we could use a good book full of Thank You's right now. Life is hard but it can still be happy.

This book is a sweet and gentle expression of simply being thankful for the big and little things, the good and the not-so-good times and everything in-between. I loved how the simple pleasures in life that we may take for granted were celebrated. I mean, I am pretty grateful for puddles. They sure brought me a lot of joy as a kid. They have also saved my sanity when all my kids were little and I'd yell "Go play in the puddles!" It's a real game-changer when you tell kids to go and get muddy.

Art.
The illustrations are beautiful and so detailed. I really enjoyed studying the pictures and finding little treasures (like the bear dressed as Harry Potter for Halloween!).

And I have to mention that the physical copy of this book, it is very nice quality! I know I am thankful for the good feel of a book. 

This would be a perfect book to gift for a new mom, preschool teacher, and/or makes a great read for a new Thanksgiving tradition. I paired my book with our Turkey on the Table this year. Even though it's for a much younger audience than I have, it was still fun to read and have the older kids teach the younger ones about being thankful.


Hats off to Mary Ray & Stephanie Graegin for creating such a sweet reminder of gratitude.

Book to Movie Spotlight: Mortal Engines


MORTAL ENGINES – In Theaters December 14

Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path.  Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.

Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong).  Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay.  Visual effects are created by a Weta Digital team led by Ken McGaugh, Kevin Smith, Luke Millar and Dennis Yoo.  The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic. 

On board as producers are Zane Weiner (The Hobbit trilogy), Amanda Walker (The Hobbit trilogy) and Deborah Forte (Goosebumps), as well as Walsh and Jackson.  Ken Kamins (The Hobbit trilogy) joins Boyens as executive producer.  Universal will distribute the film worldwide.  www.mortalengines.com

Genre: 3D Epic Adventure
Cast: Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide and Stephen Lang
Directed by: Christian Rivers
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on the Book by: Philip Reeve
Produced by: Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Executive Producers: Ken Kamins, Philippa Boyens

Watch and share the new MORTAL ENGINES extended look.

#MortalEngines is in theaters December 14.

Facebook:

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/mortal_engines/status/1060336102169399296

BOOKtober: EERIE Non-Fiction that Middle Schoolers will Love!



They Lost Their Heads!: What Happened to Washington's Teeth, Einstein's Brain, and Other Famous Body Parts by Carlyn Beccia 

Summary: From the kidnapping of Einstein's brain to the horrifying end of Louis XIV's heart, the mysteries surrounding some of history's most famous body parts range from medical to macabre. Carlyn Beccia explores the misadventures of noteworthy body parts through history and springboards to exploring STEM topics such as forensics, DNA testing, brain science, organ donation, and cloning. The engaging tone, wonderfully creepy subject matter, and delightfully detailed art are sure to capture even the most reluctant readers.
The famous people and their body parts include:
     Galileo Galilei / Fingers
     Louis XIV / Heart
    George Washington / Teeth
    Franz Joseph Hadyn / Head
    Beethoven / Hair
   Abraham Lincoln / Body
   Chang and Eng Bunker / Liver
   Phineas Gage / Skull
  John Wilkes Booth / Neck vertebrae
  Sarah Bernhardt / Leg
  Vincent Van Gogh / Ear
 Mata Hari / Head
 Albert Einstein / Brain
 Elvis Presley / Wart
Thomas Edison / Last Breath

Release Date: April 2018
Age Group: Childrens, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction
Source: Purchased at a Book Fair
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:

Gross. 
Fascinating. 
Odd. 
Unbelievable. 

I READ EVERY WORD!

This book causes severe "googling" and really brought out my Southern drawl as I kept saying things like: "Oh no they didn't" or "Bless their hearts".

I have also lengthened my bucket list because you know I want to track down Elvis' mole. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I couldn't even type that without cracking up! Dang people are so weird!

If anyone wants my body parts and can sell them for millions, they are yours! I just request that you give my kids at least 33% (I don't want them getting too rich off my parts, they need to work!)



Book to Movie Review: The House with the Clock in Its Walls


I am not sure where to begin... I'll start with two names: Jack Black & Eric Kripke. Now sprinkle in Eli Roth's debut into family entertainment and you have the oddest cocktail ever!

When you set out to scare, Eric Kripke is your man! One, glorious title Supernatural. Ahhhh, the Winchesters. Now combine Jack Black AND Kate Blanchet, pure magic!

I wasn't sure how in the world someone from the realm of Supernatural was going to hone it in for a "family" friendly scare but man did he deliver. The House with a Clock in Its Walls was everything!

Louis was weird and it was a celebration to watch. This movie was jam packed with themes: family loss, bullying, the underdog, persistence, believing in yourself and so on.

I left loving the color purple, wanting a ginormous fireplace, feeling the need to burn all dolls and a little afraid of Jack-o-Lanterns. It was G-R-E-A-T.

πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³
Scare factor according to The Mob

✔︎ Pre-teens: loved it.

✔︎ Middle schoolers: loved it.

𐄂 1st grader: had to sit in my seat and remind me he loved me and thought I "just needed a hug" right at that pumpkin filled moment. No crying. If your youngsters can't handle the Goosebumps flicks, you might want to wait until they are a bit older and desensitized.

πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³πŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ’€πŸ˜³




THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS – In Theaters September 21
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | #HouseWithAClock

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment.  The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart.  But his new town’s sleepy faΓ§ade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.

Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural).  Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, RenΓ©e Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams, Lorenza Izzo and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.

Executive produced by William Sherak, Tracey Nyberg, Laeta Kalogridis and Mark McNair, The House with a Clock in Its Walls will be released by Universal Pictures.  www.housewithaclock.com

Genre: Adventure
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, RenΓ©e Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic and Kyle MacLachlan
Directed by: Eli Roth
Writer: Eric Kripke
Based on the Novel by: John Bellairs
Produced by: Brad Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Eric Kripke
Executive Producers: William Sherak, Tracey Nyberg, Laeta Kalogridis, Mark McNair

Book Spotlight: Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories

If you are in need of a quick classic tale, this is the collection for you! 

This is not a work of Dahl himself but a compilation of some of his favorite ghost stories (and authors). He read close to 800 stories in the late 1950's/early 60's and these are the few that made the cut. Each short story is unique and unexpected. I loved the classic feel of each authors writing-- although I did not love every one I read. 

 

Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl? Of the many permutations of the macabre, Dahl was always especially fascinated by the classic ghost story. For this superbly disquieting collection, he selected fourteen of his favorite tales by such authors as E.F. Benson, Rosemary Timperley, and Edith Wharton

Includes:
"W.S." L.P. Hartley
"Harry" Rosemary Timperley
"The Corner Shop" Cynthia Asquith
"In the Tube" E.F. Benson
"Christmas Meeting" Rosemary Timperley
"Elias and the Draug" Jonas Lie
"Playmates" A.M. Burrage
"Ringing the Changes" Robert Aickman
"The Telephone" Mary Treadgold
"The Ghost of a Hand" J. Sheridan Le Fanu
"The Sweeper" A.M. Burrage
"Afterward" Edith Wharton
"On the Brighton Road" Richard Middleton
"The Upper Berth" F. Marion Crawford


Release Date: October 1984

Spoktacular Giveaway!

πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈCLOSEDπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·


Let's be honest, there isn't anything better than a gift card! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·πŸ‘»πŸ•ΈπŸŽƒπŸ•·
 
 

BOOKtober Fest: Kindle Unlimited Spooky Stories for Beginner Readers


__________________________________________________________________________

Each book has been Monster tested and APPROVED!

{Click titles for KU link to download}
1. Arthur's Halloween by Marc Brown

2.  This Book is Haunted! by Haven Dexter
3. Halloween Hustle by

4. Sammy's Spooktacular Halloween by Mike Petrik

5. Go to School Little Monster by Helen Ketteman
>  Goodnight, Little Monster is also available o KU
6. There Was an Old Mummy Who Swallowed a  Spider by Jennifer Ward 
>  I ended up purchasing a hard copy of this one because we HAD to add it to our "Somebody Swallowed Something" collection. It was less than 5 bucks and totally worth it!










Easy Character Costume: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie




I'm pretty sure reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a rite of passage in childhood; which makes this an easy sell to tweens/teens when trying to get them to dress up! The best part, it is so cheap and quick to throw together, I only had to buy a few supplies for about 10 bucks and BAM props & costume done.

What you need:
  •      Cookie
    • Cardboard box (poster board, old box, whatever you can find that is big enough to make the circle)
    • Light brown paint & dark brown paint (about 97 cents each)
    • Sheet black poster board (cut odd shaped "chocolate chips"
    • Large bowl (to trace perfect circle) 
    • Scissors
  •      Ears
    • Brown headband (I got a pack of three at Dollar Tree)
    • Dark brown felt (33 cents a sheet)
    • Light (or dark) pink felt
    • Craft glue
    • Ear template (the one I used is found HERE)
  • Outfit
    • Overalls
    • White tee
    • A pair of white shoes (Vans, Keds, really any slip-on will work- cheap Wal-Mart pair of Faded Glory will do the trick)
  • Face Paint
    • Black eye liner 




Happy Tricks & Treats Friends!

BOOKtober Fest: 5 Must-Read YA Thrillers πŸ‘€


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Read the Reviews if you must, but a thrill you will find come dusk!

{Click titles for reviews}
1. The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

2. Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong

3. Missing by Kelley Armstrong

4. Need by Joelle-Charbonneau

5. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry









I'd sleep with the light on... and watch your back because you know someone is following you... just sayin' 


 

BOOKtober Fest: You've Been BOO'ed! πŸ‘»


As my 7 year old said to me today, Happy Halloween First

{And tomorrow Happy Halloween Second... you get the idea here- we are pretty excited.}
__________________________________________________________________________

A fun Halloween family tradition that I have shared before is Boo'ing and today you have officially been "BOO'ed" πŸ‘».

You are IT and you must join in the fun! People are counting on you. 
🚨 AND DON'T GET CAUGHT! 🚨

To get a better idea of what Boo'ing entails visit last years post HERE. Honestly, my digital images last year were pretty lame. You can do a quick search on Pinterest and get a lot of fancy (better) printable options. In my defense-- last year we Boo'ed about 30 people and  the monsters even had the unique (and unforgettable) experience of having a gun pulled on them (only once-- good times).

To get the printout for the ghost you have been Boo'ed with click HERE. Caravan Shoppe is one of my absolute favorite digital sites. There are several freebies and this kit is one so hurry over and download all the goodies.
Visit Caravanshoppe.com to download a copy!


Happy Haunting!



Book Review: Freedom Trials by Meredith Tate

Summary: Evelyn Summers is imprisoned for a crime that was wiped from her memory.

In order for Evelyn to be released, she―along with other “reformed” prisoners―must pass seven mental, physical, and virtual challenges known as the Freedom Trials. One mistake means execution and, with her history of being a snitch, her fellow inmates will do everything they can to get revenge.

When new prisoner Alex Martinez arrives, armed with secrets about Evelyn’s missing memories, she must make a choice. She can follow the rules to win and walk free, or covertly uncover details of the crime that sent her there. But competing in the trials and dredging up her erased past may cost Evelyn the one thing more valuable than freedom: her life.









Release Date: October 2018
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
Freedom Trials has a very familiar and identifiable feel to it. It is undeniably the offspring of The Maze Runner & Divergent with maybe The Last Girl as its aunt. YA fans of the dystopian genre are going to either fall in love or outright resent this one. The world and plot are so relatable that you are either going to dive in and be excited to re-enter a familiar world or you are going to just not be interested in a re-run.

With that said, I really enjoyed the ride! The story pace is fast and had a very easy flow to it. I liked piecing things together with Evelyn and the feelings of uncertainty & confusion; the slang took me a bit of time to figure out because there wasn't a lot of explanation to it (hacks, slingers, etc) but it worked out.

Because this is a first in the series there is a lot we just don't know {yet}.
I don't know:
  • how I feel about Evelyn. I hope she gets a bit more Katniss-y.
  • if I like the love interest. Really needs to be fleshed out in the next book with either their history or some serious dialogue. Make me either love him or hate him! Right now I think he is a really cool GI JOE but I don't trust him.
  • who are the "good/bad" guys.
There is a lot of build-up for book two. It is either going to set this series apart from its predecessors or its simply not. I think Freedom Trials is off to a good start. Welcome the Dystopian Family Ms. Tate! Bring the fire in book two, we can take the heat!
________________________________________________________________________

I would recommend this to reluctant teen readers. The style of writing is easy to follow. There are a lot of characters in the prison but forgetting one will not hurt in following the story plot.

πŸ‘‡πŸ½ I would also recommend Freedom Trials to teens who enjoyed the books listed below.πŸ‘‡πŸ½ 

Perfected by Kate Javik Birch {trilogy}
Branded by Abi Ketner {trilogy}
Ignite by Danielle Rogland
Ordinary by Lindy Zart {trilogy}

Book Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Summary: There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.




Release Date: July 2018
Age Group: YA, Dark Thriller
Source: Review Copy from NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I read The Cheerleaders about a month ago and I 've been sitting on the review because I was left uneasy. With that said, it was a good YA thriller filled with mystery and murder but there were two reoccurring issues that were pretty heavy-- suicide & abortion. I wasn't sure how I felt about it when it all ended but now I do and I hated it.
I am a victim, whether or not I feel like one.
It's not that I don't think these two topics are appropriate for YA literature, as a matter of fact, I've read a few that addressed hard issues beautifully: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, The Girl Next Door or Ryan's Bed.

I do believe if you are going to bring the tough stuff in you better take the time to work through each and every detail, really dive into the characters' emotional processes and specifically identify instances that are wrong... DO NOT LEAVE GREY AREA for teens to read and walk away doubting they were victimized.

I never felt any closer, yes the mystery and sleuthing was original and clever but again, there was this whole situation that just kept getting but on the back burner. The continued thoughts of the victim constantly blaming herself for what should have been identified as statutory rape was just sad. Only to be followed by zero parental involvement in the decision of an abortion and not because the mom wasn't present.

It was basically a girl (with a lot of baggage🚨) telling her mom she was pregnant (by someone other than her boyfriend 🚨) and that her mom didn't need to know or worry about "him" 🚨. Followed by said teen making a "quick" decision before she could "think" about it 🚨. WHAT!?!?! Red flags for dayyysssss. 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨 #redALERT

In all honesty, this story would have been better if the abortion was left out, yes it stung hard but it wasn't the real punch to the gut in the overall story arch and it actually caused more harm than awareness. The phrase "less is more" comes to mind.

As far as a dark thriller goes, the mystery was great and unpredictable. There were several plot twists that kept me going and it definitely flowed like an episode of Riverdale. I hung in there until the end but it did feel a bit flat at the conclusion, very anticlimactic. I really wanted it to be so much more.




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Book Review: Courting Carlyn by Melissa Chambers

Summary: Vaughn Yarborough is ready to trade the fame and glory of the international junior pro tennis circuit for college and a more settled life. First stop: spearhead a summer camp for underprivileged kids. The girl who’s agreed to run it with him has Vaughn more intrigued by the minute, but with the strict no-fraternizing rules, he’s got to figure out how not to fall for her.

When the boy Carlyn Sadowski has crushed on for years asks her to work with him for the summer, she has to pinch herself. When his world-famed coach offers her training for free, she can’t believe her luck. He could actually help her follow in her mother’s footsteps by playing college tennis. But when she finds out the catch is she’s got to convince Vaughn to go pro, Carlyn will have to decide between her dreams and the boy currently stealing her heart.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book features a super-hot sports star, the shy girl looking to grow her confidence on and off the court, and late-night shenanigans that would make your camp counselor blush.


Release Date: August 2018
Age Group: YA, Contemporary (clean), Sports Romance
Source: Review Copy from Publisher (Entangled Teen Crush)
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
What can I say, I'm a sucker for contemporary YA sports fiction, who knew! I wish I had this niche of fiction when I was in high school. Maybe it would have made all the broody athletes more tolerable... probably not but I would have enjoyed looking at them a bit more. Ah nostalgia. You seriously couldn't pay me to repeat high school but I do love reading a good coming of age story and Entangled Crush book always deliver! πŸ’―

I was a little hesitant with this one because I have absolutely no interest in tennis. None. Although, I do think the outfits a freaking adorable and I have serious leg envy. But Courting Carlyn was an adorable, sweet romance without being cliche, plus who doesn't love a summer camp romance?

The alternating POV's between Vaughn and Carlyn were entertaining and humorous. I think high school girls will really enjoy the flirtatious banter between the two. Carlyn and Vaughn were really relatable for a teen audience but especially for senior athletes who have to make big choices that will begin to shape their future paths.

I also enjoyed exploring the history that drove each one toward their goals. And of course one of my favorite plot points to fall upon, neither one gave up a dream for love! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ Points for both love & life goals!

Basically, this is a total swoon worthy YA read and it doesn't matter if you know anything about tennis or not. If you need a sweet coming of age romance with a little teen angst and a tennis ball, then grab Courting Carlyn!


X🎾X🎾X🎾X🎾

Book Review: Uncharted by Erin Cashman

Summary: 
Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.

Release Date: September 2018
Age Group: YA, Mystery, Folklore
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I loved Uncharted right from the prologue! It was a unique storyline that did a great job of blending several genres, I actually had a hard time deciding where to "shelve" it. 

The Mystery.
Right from the start my mind was coming up with all sorts of theories, all of which were wrong. I've read enough dystopian and paranormal books that it takes all of 5 seconds for me to turn any character suspicious. Sometimes I feel like I'm re-reading a story plot, like running in a circle, but Uncharted was fresh and new. I kept thinking of mystery islands, every TV show I'd ever watched as a kid that had a treasure map and referenced my crime show toolbox too (I'll always have a little Nancy Drew in me)!

Character Development.
It's rare in a standalone book that I feel like I was adequately introduced to all the characters. But Cashman doesn't waste time and lets you know enough about each person to leave you feeling something-- suspicion, regret, loss, sadness, hope. 

Annabeth was raw and real. I felt for her, was sad for her, cheered for her bravery and was hopeful for her. That's a lot of emotions for one character in 400 pages! I really enjoyed her growth and development; she wasn't perfect and she knew it.

Griffin. He will be a book boyfriend of every teen girl that picks up Uncharted. He was good looking, broody with a tender side and tortured. Just how we like them, right girls?! I would love to read a novella of his back story. *cough, cough hint to Cashman*

Love.
You know I need a little love interest, always. I'm happy to report there was no love triangle or instalove. It was subtle and obvious from the outside looking in but it didn't take away from all the mystery or thrill.

Parents.
I LOVE that this book had two sets of parents that loved their children. They weren't absent or totally aloof to what their kids were doing. There was a protectiveness that I related to with almost all the adults attached to Griffin and Annabeth.

More Please.
So the big question... will there be a book two... or three?! I'm intrigued. I'm invested. I hope it gets weird(er). I want to experience the mystery.