Monthly Archives: December 2014

Sam’s Bookish Resolutions for 2015

First some housekeeping: River and I decided December was a free month and both of use managed to not get to our December SDSURT! PIcks, so we are moving them into January! Also, both of us did well on our @HolidayReadingMadness Challenge, but neither of us finished! (Though we were pretty darn close). We’ll be sharing the results of that very soon. 🙂 Couple more 2014 related features in the works too, even though the year ends… tomorrow! (Yes, we are super on the ball here at Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup! …or not.)

Any ways, 2015 is ushering its way in, and 2014 is leaving. Did you all get any awesome looking books from the holidays? I know I did! I may have also went to the library (which is always a big, wonderful, mistake for me). So lemme know what you got in the comments.

Anywho, let’s turn to 2015 for a second, shall we? I thought I’d share some of my bookish goals, since I have quite a few!

1) Buy less books. This one always seems to be on the list, and I can say in 2014 I did in fact buy less books. I did some book bans, which were really tricky, one which was super successful, and one that was… not. The husband keeps pointing at the Shelf of Shame, so my goal is to continue to buy less books (minus the stuff I pre-ordered, he didn’t stop me from that). I am going to try to see how many months I go without buying any new books. Wish me luck on this!

2) Donate and Unhaul Books. Since this ties into goal number one, I feel like I have some real explaining to do. As someone who collects books, for the longest time I simply kept everything, even if I didn’t like it. I need to be okay will pulling stuff off my shelf that I am no longer interested in reading, and donating it to someone else you might want to. I own too many books (more than 400+ unread), so if I am not interested anymore, I need to be okay with setting it free.

3) Read Books From My Shelf of Shame. The main goal of 2015 is to read what I already own. I say this every year, but my husband has been super cracking down on me with the book buying, and I need to abide by his wishes. Finding space is getting trickier, so I need to read, read, read!

4) Love the Library. I adore my local library and its selection that it offers. I love it so much that when I go in there I come home with more than I should. I am okay with this, since the books do not live in my house afterwards. Just for a little while!

5) Read Whatever I Want. I hate being tied down to a schedule, and with the amount of ARCs that River and I receive, we do our best to tackle as many as we can. That being said, my own books take too much of a backseat. I need to be okay with the fact that when it comes to my eARCs that I can take my time and read them whenever I want. Paper ARCs, however, will always take a priority and be done on time. Publishers took the time to mail me an ARC, it will be read and reviewed. I pride myself on keeping great relationships with publishers I deal with!

6) Try to read some longer books. I find the over 500+ page books intimidating, usually because they often feel padded as opposed to fulfilling. Then there are the books that are over 500+ pages and stuff is constantly happening. I need to read more of these.

7) Complete All Bookish Challenges. I tend to set yearly challenges for myself, and I’ve actually failed every single one. I still set up some yearly challenges for myself, such as the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge and my Month by Month Challenge, so I’d like to complete these. But if I don’t, that is okay too.

8) Finally, blog more, comment more, and be more active. Yes, I mean that. 100%.

What are some of your bookish resolutions? Let us know in the comments.

River’s 2014 End of Year Book Survey

2014-end-of-year-book-survey-1024x984Well well well. Look who just finished their 2014 goodreads challenge of 150 books. (Look who also has to do laundry and figured this would be a good way to kill time during the spin cycle). Yes, I did it. A week ago I didn’t think I was going to make it. But I DID IT I DID IT! And I figured that now would be as good a time as any to fill this out! So let’s get crackin!

2014 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read:
150

Number of Re-Reads:
2

Genre You Read The Most From:
Young Adult

Best In Book

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Afterworlds

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Afterworlds (baaaaaad way)

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
The Raven Boys etc.

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
After the End/ A Handful of Dust / The Retribution of Mara Dyer

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Katrina Leno 

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
#GIRLBOSS 

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
20601687

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Can I choose Gansey again?

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Althea & Oliver 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
All the Bright Places

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
The Beginning of Everything

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
GANSEY FANCY FACE *
*loosely ininterpreted quote

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?
Longest: Afterworlds 640 pages
Shortest;  Annie & Fia 34 pages 

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Afterworlds (at how AWFUL it was!)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Adrian & Sydney!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Noah and EVERYONE in The Raven Boys 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Blue Lily, Lily Blue 

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Gone Girl

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Sorry, nobody beat Gansey. 

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
The Half-Life of Molly Pierce 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Salvage

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Audrey, WAIT!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Rain Reign 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Althea & Oliver

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
All The Bright Places 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Rain Reign

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Afterwolrds (and it means I HATED it)

Blogging/ Bookish life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
Ummmmmm

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
My Blue Lily, Lily Blue Review. Hahaha. 

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
SDSURT

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Rainbow Rowell at Harvard Bookstore omfg she was AH-MAY-ZINGGGGGG!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Getting responses from publishers when making my first physical ARC requests :3

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
No clue, too lazy to check. Sure it was a book event one.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
All of them?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
My employee discount? Does that count? Hahaha. Um, winning $80 from my work to basically buy books from my work? No srsly though, not really a ‘discovery’ but just being able to access books and events now that I’m back in the USA has been fucking AMAZING.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
YES! I finished my goodreads goal and kept up with my ARC schedule.

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
Dreams of Gods & Monsters

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
THE LAST RAVEN BOYS BOOK OMFG

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
My Heart and Other Blackholes

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
THE LAST RAVEN BOYS BOOK OMFG 

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Blog and review more in general

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
All the Bright Places

River’s #Holidayreadingmadness

Hey guys! Sammy Mc Sam Sam and I are hosting #holidayreadingmadness with our friend Katharine over at Ventureadlaxre and I’m here checking in with what I’ve managed to read so far! Sadly I haven’t read as much as planned due to husband being done with his first semester (!!!!!!!!!!!!! can you believe it!?!?!? Last year we were JUST finding out that he’d even gotten IN to MIT) so we’ve been watching a TON of movies (X-Men: Days of Future Past,The Giver, The Maze Runner, Mud, & Horrible Bosses to name a few) and TV (True Detective & Attack on Titan). But I AM on track for my goodreads goal of 150 books and I HAVE knocked out quite a few #holidayreadingmadness challenges!

So here are the books and challenges that I’ve done so far!

coeChallenges: 11) Read a book featuring cultural diversity
12)  Read a graphic novel or a book with pictures
14) Read an award winner (okay, this isn’t really an award winner, but it WAS banned, so I’m going to fudge it a little)

heroChallenges: 7) Read a book that has animals in it, either as a protagonist, side kick, or as a huge focal point
8) Read a middle grade novel.

vaultChallenge: 3) Read a book that has been signed by an author.

hereChallenge: 9) Read a book that has travelling.
10) Read a novel with a green cover or has green in the cover.

coldChallenge: 2) Read a book with winter in the title, as a theme, or as a main setting.
17) Read a retelling of some kind

lamentChallenge: 4) Read a book that has been gifted to you.
15) Read a self-published book or a book from an independent publisher.
18) Start a new series!

polarisChallenge: 19) Read a middle book in a trilogy.

So that’s what I’ve read so far! I’m planning on reading DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS to knock out challenges number one (Read a book that exceeds 450-500 pages), thirteen (Read a book a friend has always nagged you to read.) and twenty (Read the ending of a series/latest installment of a series).

And that leaves me with challenges five, six, and sixteen! Which is not bad at all!

#HolidayReadingMadness UPDATE!

Hi peeps! So  is moving decently over here (not sure how River is doing! We should check in with her!). I’ve actually been including every book I read in December on a Goodreads shelf just to see how many books I can complete in the month really. Not every book has really fit a challenge, so those haven’t been included in any way.  deceere’s my challenges I’ve completed with the book attached. If a book is in italics, it means I’m still workin’ on it. 🙂

Completed Challenges: 16/20

1) Read a book that exceeds 450-500 pages. – The Ruby Airship by Sharon Gosling (496 pages)

2) Read a book with winter in the title, as a theme, or as a main setting. — The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire, My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

3) Read a book that has been signed by an author. (if you don’t have any, read a book by an author you’d love to meet in person) — Indigo Springs by A.M Dellamonica & Dinosaur Comics, fig. e: Everybody knows failure is just success rounded down. By Ryan North

5) Read a book that you’ve had on your shelf for over two years. — Thirteen Orphans by Jane Lindskold

7) Read a book that has animals in it, either as a protagonist, side kick, or as a huge focal point (examples: Black Beauty, Rain Reign). — Thirteen Orphans by Jane Lindskold

8) Read a middle grade novel. — Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

9) Read a book that has travelling. — Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (Protagonist travels to a different part of her state!)

10) Read a novel with a green cover or has green in the cover. — Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

11) Read a book featuring cultural diversity (see We Need Diverse Books campaign for more information). –– Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

12) Read a graphic novel or a book with pictures. — Dinosaur Comics, fig. e: Everybody knows failure is just success rounded down. By Ryan North

13) Read a book a friend has always nagged you to read. — Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

15) Read a self-published book or a book from an independent publisher. — A Promise of Magic by Melissa Giorgio (Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing) & The Ruby Airship by Sharon Gosling (Switch Press)

17) Read a retelling of some kind (ex. Cruel Beauty is a retelling of Beauty & the Beast, Great is a retelling of the Great Gatsby). — Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepard (Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde)

18) Start a new series! — Indigo Springs by A.M Dellamonica

19) Read a middle book in a trilogy. — Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepard

20) Read the ending of a series/latest instalment of a series. — The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #8), Transcendent by Lesley Livingston (Starling #3)

Challenges Still Needing Completion: 

So I have tons of choices to choose from. The problem? I have tons of choices to choose from. 😛

4) Read a book that has been gifted to you by a friend. 

I have so many options for this challenge it is insane. Waffling between Drowned Vanilla by Livia Day (which was given to me by Katharine @ Ventureadlaxre), The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O’Brien (given to me by Melissa!) or The Body Electric by Beth Revis, which was gifted to me by River!

6) Read a book-to-film adaptation (no you do not need to watch the film for this to count, just needs to be a book that has been turned into a film). — Looking at either Marley & Me by John Grogan or The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, OR From Russia With Love by Sir Ian Flemming.

14) Read an award winner (any award winner, can be Goodreads Choice Award, Giller Prize, Printz, Mann Booker Prize, anything, but state the award the book is from!) — For sure I will be reading Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian because it needs to go back to the library and it was a William C. Morris YA Debut Nominee and it won the Minnesota Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2014).

16) Read a book inspired by fandom OR read a book of non-fiction. Likely this one will be either The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs or Marley & Me by John Grogan, though I do have other non-fiction options and fandom options… I still have some Dragon Age and Mass Effect novels I could read. 😛

How goes your challenge? Share with us in the forums and help me narrow down my final picks!

ARC Review – I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

21469068Title: I’ll Meet You There

Author: Heather Demetrios

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Huge thank you to Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review: 

This book was difficult to read at times. I will not sugar coat that this book does not sugar coat anything. War, poverty, double standards, alcoholism. It’s all in there, it’s all real, and it’s sometimes difficult to read about.

I think something that I really love bout Demetrois’s writing is that she pushes the envelope, just enough. You feel uncomfortable and question things and just think ‘how can this be real life?’ but it IS. And that’s what this book was about. Her letter at the end almost made me cry because it was just so damn real.

This is the story of a girl who falls in love with a boy. And not his dreamy eyes or his rock hard abs. She falls in love with HIM and all of the pain that followed him home from the war.

Sam’s Review:

This book completely destroyed me.

Every page I turned, every word I read, this book just left me emotionally drained. Demetrios never shies away from tough topics, and this book has numerous issues, each handled in such a realistic way. This book deals with PTSD, poverty, family issues, double standards, alcoholism, war, and it wraps all these issues into one very compact story.

I was heartbroken reading this novel. Skylar is someone who knows exactly who she is but cannot seem to find her place in the world, while Josh, an ex-marine, comes home only to feel completely displaced by the very people he fought to protect. Josh also is missing a limb, suffers from PTSD, finds himself constantly reliving battles, and has lost emotional stability. Dammit, he tries SO HARD and yet he’s constantly pushed aside because people are afraid of him. All, except Skylar.

I’m not saying Skylar is the special snowflake who breaks through his walls, it’s more that Demetrois juxtaposes the two characters in such a way where they struggle to connect because they both have issues that feel beyond them. Yet, when they finally breakthrough to each other, it’s not fluffy or romantic, but almost cathartic in ways.

I’ll Meet You There is one of those rare, raw and emotional reads that leaves you thinking well after you’ve completed it. A lot of the subject matter is tough to read and hard to turn away from and yet you want to get to the end, you want to see how Skylar and Josh break free from their chains. They are also such fantastic leads, and they were supported by an even stronger secondary cast who were just as memorable. I may have felt emotionally destroyed at the end of this book, but it’s easily one of my new favourites that I hope you’ll consider checking out when it releases in February 2015.

 

#TBTBSANTA

SecretSanta55This year I participated in The Broke & The Bookish Secret Santa. This was a first for me and I was really excited to try something new and to hopefully make some new friends in the book blogging world.

My Santa was Heidi from YA Bibliophile and OMFG SHE WAS THE BEST SANTA EVER!!!!!!!! Look at the amazing that she sent me!

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5Sorry (not sorry!) to brag but omggggggggg she hit it all on the nose! I got swag from some of my fav authors and some of my fav books and then she COMPLETED MY MAGGIE COLLECTION!!! (With SIGNED books!)

Major thank you to Heidi for being so awesome and Jamie from The Broke and The Bookish for pairing us up!!!

Also, Sammy McSamSam the BEST COBLOGGER IN THE UNIVERSE made this happen when she met Maggie last month.

photo

Best. Present. In. History.

Anyways, just wanted to blog about SOMETHING because I’ve been awful about updating over here and I’m going to make a real effort starting in the new year to update and blog more. I really want to get more serious about reviewing and just making this blog more interesting. I want to get more into the book blogging world now that I’m back in the USA and can attend events and just do MORE. So stay tuned for MORE, I guess!

ARC Review – The Ruby Airship by Sharon Gosling

cover52176-mediumTitle: The Ruby Airship

Author: Sharon Gosling

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: In this sequel to The Diamond Thief, trapeze-artist Rémy has left the circus and her life as a thief, but she doubts that detective Thaddeus Rec will ever truly trust her. Feeling torn between her new life and her old, Rémy decides to return to France and her old circus with Yannick, an old friend who unexpectedly appears.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus is sure that Yannick is up to no good. He’s determined to find them and win Rémy back, even if he must risk a journey by airship to do so.

Huge thank you to Switch Press and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I love a good steampunk story, but unfortunately, I was a bit lost in this one. Admittedly, it was my own fault — I didn’t realize this was a sequel, and requested it any ways. I figured I’d be able to read it on its own, and while that was somewhat true, I still found myself a bit lost in terms of what was already known about the characters.

Having a sense of being lost, it’s not fun. I had a hard time connecting to all the characters in this story, perhaps its because their relationships were mostly defined in the previous book, or it could be I just could make a solid connecting because I felt like I was missing something. It’s hard to say, but I found myself struggling to care about what had been happening to the characters in this story.

The other issue: a lot of the time I was bored reading this. It would have moments where it would peak and be engaging, but then it would move back into being a lot of exposition, then peak in the action factor, and then back into slugging through exposition. I suppose I’m a reader who needs a bit more consistency, but the pacing really didn’t work for me. The writing is good, don’t get me wrong, but it failed to keep me wanting to read more than a few chapters at a time.

I did finish the book and I thought the ending was all right considering the events that have taken place in this book. I don’t know if would go back and read the first book, I just feel like there’s better steampunk out there. That being said, I do think there’s an audience for The Ruby Airship, because it’s not a bad book by any means, it just wasn’t for me.

ARC Review – Transcendent by Lesley Livingston

22042962Title: Transcendent

Author: Lesley Livingston

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:  On a terrace high above the streets of Manhattan, Mason Starling kneels beside her beloved Fennrys Wolf, who lies in a pool of blood, his life hanging in the balance. Even if he lives, their future is far from certain as chaos swirls around them. Has this unstoppable heroine-smart, savvy, deadly with a blade-reached the limits of what her sword can vanquish and her soul can survive?

Huge thank you to HarperCollins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am so sad this series is officially over! However, it really did have quite a hell of an ending, if I must say. Transcendent is a book that keeps you entertained from the get go and it immediately begins where Descendent left off. Mason is now a Valkyrie, and she must learn to harness her new found, if super sucky power (though personally, I think it’s kind of nifty, if morbid). Mason gets a ton of growth and what I enjoyed about her in this particular instalment is that she gets crap done.

Was this last book perfect? No, it definitely has a few problems. There were so many mythologies crammed into the story, and I wished that story had main focused on one or two. I mean, I get that it’s an epic battle of the gods, but it did become a bit overwhelming at times to keep all the names straight. Still, this is a long sequence of battles, chaos and absolutely craziness, with many of the characters facing tough decisions and attempting to figure out what is truly “right and wrong.”

Poor Fennrys Wolf though, he takes quite the kickin’ in this story, and I really felt for him at times. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did. I don’t really want to embark on spoiler territory, but this book packs continuous punches, each more furious as the story progresses. Plus, the writing is snappy and it’s so easy to just become absorbed in this world and the story being told. I’m said this trilogy is over, but I cannot wait to see what new shenanigans Lesley Livingston will come up with next.

 

Book Review – A Promise of Magic by Melissa Giorgio

21899003Title: A Promise of Magic

Author: Melissa Giorgio

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 / ★★★★

Synopsis: As a child growing up in California, Evan Underwood only has a basic knowledge of Silver Moon, the organization that keeps the world safe from demons. After accidentally setting his parents’ house on fire with magic, he’s sent to the New York Silver Moon HQ to learn how to control his powers. Frustrated by his teacher’s refusal to show him anything beyond magical theory, Evan decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands. But teaching himself magic isn’t as easy as Evan imagined, and it’s during one of these practice sessions that he’s discovered by Alexandra Chen, a strange girl Evan finds both frustrating and alluring. Making a promise to show Alex magic, Evan is determined to live up to her expectations, even if it means breaking a few rules in the process. But when things backfire, Evan must rely on his friends to help free him from the clutches of a new, sinister character.

River’s Review:

WELL THAT WAS FUN. And steamy! This is by far Giorgio’s sexiest book. Buuuuut it is mainly about Evan (who isn’t even the one getting the most steamy parts!) soooooooooo yeah.

So I liked this, I really liked this. It was really fun getting so much back story, seeing wittle Rafe & Evan becoming BFFs and all that. BUT I MISSED GABI SASSY PANTS OKAY. The feelings I got from just even reading the last story (the giddiness, the awwww, the hilarity) just weren’t quite there when I was reading the other two. There’s just something about Gabi’s voice! (And now I’m dying to read the last book. HURRY UP AND GIVE IT TO MEEEEEEE.) And her interactions with Rafe… PRICELESS.

But like I said, I really enjoyed getting all that backstory. Evan and Alex’s relationship was very sweet (and violent!) and I am looking forward to seeing what Collins’ deal is (expecting him to be a major player in the last book).

And Phill & Kain’s story was just. Damn. Steamy. Sexy. Hot Hot Hot. Like I said… sexiest book yet! (Now we just need Gabi and Rafe to get it on HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah right, maybe when they’re 35!)

Also this is my favorite cover so far! LOVE IT! (SHE LOOKS SO SASSY!)

Sam’s Review:

Holy steaminess, Batman! There be some sexiness in this book and it was won-der-ful. I loved all three of the stories in this collection, and it’s easily the sexiest of Melissa’s books to date, but such a fun, fun story.

Evan’s story was great and I loved the balance of humor and sadness within the story. Giorgio pulls no punches when it comes to the feels in this novella collection, and Evan’s story has it in spades. Also having all the scenes with bitty Evan and teenie Rafe just made me giggle! They are so cute and their relationship and how it blossoms is just really quite darling. It’s great to see different sides to both these characters, and having that look into their home lives was both depressing as it was interesting. Poor, poor Rafe!

Admittedly though, there was something that drew this back from being my favourite and that was the glaring absence of Gabi. Yes, she appears in the last story, but she’s a huge part of what makes this series as charming and entertaining as it is. Her sassiness was greatly missed and thee just wasn’t enough of it. Though any time a Gabi story starts in the Convenience Corral, you know it’s going to be a lot of fun.

This is a great collection for those loving <i>The Silver Moon Saga</i>, particularly those who adore Evan and Alex. Since I love all the characters there was a lot of enjoyment to be had, but the lack of my favourite girl made me sad. However, learning more about Evan? Pretty awesome. Check it out along with the rest of the series. It’s delightfully charming!

ARC Review – Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

22546133Title: Stella by Starlight

Author: Sharon M. Draper

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Stella lives in the segregated South; in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community – her world – is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.

Huge thank you to Atheneum Books for Young Readers & Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I adored this book. Stella was such a fantastic and methodical protagonist to follow around, and I loved her sense of curiosity, especially given the time period this novel focuses on. This book is insanely thoughtful, and it’s definitely one where you’ll find yourself nodding along to the story and having your heart captured by Stella and her wonderful family.

This story is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. It’s story that deals with the KKK and issues of segregation. There’s a lot of hard emotions, and Stella’s community is some easy to fall in with that the hardships and racism that they face is extremely heartbreaking. Draper writes this novel with such honesty, and it’s really quite lovely in parts. I found myself tearing up or raging during parts of this novel, because dammit, I cared about this community of people, I cared about Stella’s family, I cared about how they were being mistreated.

Move over, this is a novel that has a lot of charm outside of the tougher topics. Stella writes her own newsletter and it’s completely full of heart (and spelling errors). I loved these very personal moments in the story, and I loved the level of depth we get from her as our heroine. Her desire to know and to understand is really what makes her a truly wonderful character, and I loved her move from innocence to experience. It was simply well done!

Stella by Starlight is a wonderful read, and a somewhat timely book given some of the issues within the news. There’s intense, very beautiful story telling, and I love that Draper never avoids the tough topics or dumbs them down for the reader. This book is meaningful and difficult, but it reminds us of a horrific period in time, and brings these issues into a context that a middle grader could understand. Stella by Starlight is simply something special, and worth the read.