Tag Archives: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

ARC Review – The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

26871765Title: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.  Future? A top-tier medical school. Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

After all the crumminess in my life as of late, it makes me so excited to have a book like The Unexpected Everything pop up and be exactly what I want it to be. Morgan Matson has this knack for writing contemporary stories that I love to read — the kind that focus on harder realities and how we choose to deal with those difficulties. While her books often offer an element of fun, whimsical teen spirit, they are also parts tough issue novels that are full of heart.

I loved Andie and I could easily relate to her in a lot of ways. I love being in control of situations, and when I want control it’s done in a very specific way. Even though I’ve recently lost my mother, it’s one of those things where no matter how much control you want to take in a situation, life truly has other plans and sometimes you have to find a way to make backup plans when you didn’t think you’d need one. Andie is one of those girls, and when her summer starts to fall a part because of her plans, she gets scared, frightened, like there’s something wrong with her. But she also picks up her boot straps and find a way to get her life back on track. I LOVED that she was a dog walker, and I loved how she went from being someone who didn’t think she could do the job and then she pulls through.

I also loved the romance in this book, but much like Matson’s other novels, she’s one of the few writers where she gets me to enjoy romance in the first place. I adored Clark, I loved that he wore his geek flag loud and proud, and I adored that he was simply himself. He had a lot of insecurities and discomfort in being himself, but he also wanted to embrace it as well. I thought Andie’s group of friends were fantastic, and if I’m being frank, Matson knows how to create great friendships for her characters in a way that a lot of authors tend to make friendships feel so secondary. Palmer, Bri, Toby, I loved them all.

The Unexpected Everything is a book I unexpected loved and came at the right time for me. While things do get tied up fairly easily in the end, I still loved the story and its characters. Matson just knows how to get her readers cuddled into her stories, and they are often so much fun to read, but so thoughtful and smart as well. I need to work on checking out the other two books of hers I haven’t read yet and get on those stat!

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SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – October Edition Reviewed

 

This month our dear friend, Melissa Giorgio, challenged River and I for SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! with a favourite contemporary novel of hers, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Well, October is almost over, so it’s time for River and I to reveal our thoughts,

Melissa’s Pick:

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

River’s Thoughts: I really liked this book, but I’m not sure why. While I was reading it I kept getting kinda bored and then BAM something crazy would happen. It happened like three times. I guess it was just that there were sections where I’d get lulled into Ari’s life and then SLAM something big would jerk him (and me) out of it.

I really loved Dante though, I just wanted to hug him so many times.

The themes of friendship and family were both so well done in this took. The ending, when his parents basically push Ari into it… that was beautiful. Beautiful.

Sam’s Thoughts: Ever read a book and you love it though it’s difficult to describe? That is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe for me. The writing in this book is gorgeous, but when you think of the book on a whole, not a lot really happens.

There’s a lot of anger, aggression, finding yourself, seeking your identity, longing to matter, and all these themes are mish-mashed together. This book is emotional overload in a lot of ways, and yet for me it worked quite well. I loved the gradual relationship between Ari and Dante, I love that they both in many ways had something to prove to themselves, and I loved that self-discovery was a huge part of them coming to terms with themselves. Seriously, this book is beautiful, touching, and there’s a rawness in the simplicity of the story that works so well. I really enjoyed this book, but it did make me emotionally all over the place!

River’s Quickie Review #5

18805916Title: Sublime by Christina Lauren (October 14th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Synopsis: When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…

River’s Review: Overall I enjoyed this, but I wasn’t sure about the ending. I loved the writing and the setting, but wasn’t really fond of the characters. There were some awkward moments between the two MCs and the whole ‘I’m going to almost kill myself so we can have sex’ part was a bit wtf for me. I understand that they were in love and wanted to be able to touch each other, but man… that was just a bit too much.

But I really am not sure what to make of the ending. 3.5/5 Stars.


21081693Title:  Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks (February 3rd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Synopsis: When Tuesday McGillycuddy and her beloved dog, Baxterr, discover that Tuesday’s mother—the famous author Serendipity Smith—has gone missing, they set out on a magical adventure. In their quest to find Serendipity, they discover the mysterious and unpredictable place that stories come from. Here, Tuesday befriends the fearless Vivienne Small, learns to sail an enchanted boat, tangles with an evil pirate, and discovers the truth about her remarkable dog. Along the way, she learns what it means to be a writer and how difficult it can sometimes be to get all the way to The End.

River’s Review: Ah, this book is SO CUTE! Basically anybody who loves reading or writing should read it. It’s a magical story about the magical land where stories are created. Tuesday gets sucked into it when she goes looking for her (world famous novelist) mother. And she takes here cute little dog (doggo!) Baxterr (double rr) with her.

The writing in this is divine. I actually just finished THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR and was finding it difficult to get into something but this was just what I needed.

Seriously, check this out. Even if you aren’t huge into middle grade (I’m not) you’ll love this! 5/5 Stars.


21469068 Title:  I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios(February 3rd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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.

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. 5/5 Stars.


Huge thank you to Simon and Schuster BFYR, Henry Holt BFYR, Edelweiss and Netgalley for these books.

ARC Review – 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

20493997Title:  100 Sideways Miles

Author: Andrew Smith

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Huge thank you to Simon &​ Schuster and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I had a hard time with Grasshopper Jungle when I tried to read it earlier this year. It struggled to keep me engaged and I felt so lost reading it. However, I didn’t want to give up on Andrew Smith’s books because I’ve heard so many amazing things about his work and characters, and I’m happy to say that 100 Sideways Miles may have been the right book for me to start with.

I loved Finn’s narration throughout the story. He had such a genuine tone of voice and he’s very sweet and dweeby. Furthermore he always tries to be a good person even when things go sour, and he gets a lot of my sympathy considering the variety of embarrassing situations he faces throughout the story. His feelings for Julia were also so sweet and boyish, and I think that’s why I loved his character so much. He is very much what you expect from a teenage boy and he felt real despite this novel having moments that felt like the film “Stranger than Fiction.”

Cade Hernandez was also an amazing character and some of his moments really tugged my heartstrings. Smith has a way of making these wonderfully realistic characters who are easy for the reader to cling to (particularly in this story) and I was so invested in everyone’s storylines. I was so sad when Julia moved away because it was like you could see the cracks in Finn’s heart! I just found myself loving a lot of how these characters were thinking and feeling throughout.

This is a book made of feelings, and it’s amazing because of it. It’s hard not to be emotionally and physically invested in this book. These characters really share themselves with the reader in ways some YA books just don’t understand or do. You want to care about these characters, you want to hope for the best for them, even when life is shit.

This book is something I feel like a lot of people will connect with, even unexpectedly. I had such low expectations and I was worried I wasn’t going to enjoy this book at all, so I was so happy to be wrong in this case because these characters are just so memorable that after I finished it, I was sad to let them go.

ARC Review – The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

18108651Title: The Edge of Falling

Author: Rebecca Serle

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

River’s Review:

Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this. Writing this honest review to say thank you

This book is sad and beautiful. Caggie’s struggling with the loss of her sister (who died under Caggie’s watch), the loss of her boyfriend (who broke up with her after he didn’t know how to help her anymore), her brother (who spends his summer away at the beach house where the sister died), her father (who’s always away on business) and her mother (who’s distanced herself from everybody and busied herself with pointless things like redecorating the house). So when Caggie meets Astor, the dark, brooding, understanding boy who is also suffering, the two of them envelop each other with their grief, suffocating and drowning together in it. Caggie feels safe with him, but she doesn’t know anything about him. And she’s happy that way. She begins to distance herself from her remaining friends and doesn’t even care. She stops being interested in things she once loved.

The romance between Caggie and Astor is scary. It’s so clear to everyone around her that there is something wrong, that they aren’t good for each other, yet she sees them as the wrong ones. And who wouldn’t. She’s so lost in what happened, what she almost did on the rooftop of a classmates house (which earned her hero status that wasn’t justly deserved) that she just dives in deeper. Until she discovers just how gone Astor really is.

The darkness in this book is so sad, and the grief these characters suffer is unbearable. I can’t totally see why Caggie did what she did, but I’m also so glad that she was able to overcome her grief. I love how the issues were dealt with in this book and how the relationships were handled. And the writing~ it is so beautiful.

Fans of contemporary YA will love this for sure.

ARC Review – Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne

18332010Title:  Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
Author:  Emma Trevayne
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.

Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.

Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.

Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.

The Gearwing grants wishes. Or it did, before it was broken. Before it was killed.

But some things don’t stay dead forever.

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for this advance reader copy.

When it comes to Middle Grade fiction, I have a strong love for the ones that incorporate parallel universes or cities for the sake of providing strong character growth. Emma Trevayne’s Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times falls perfectly into my favourite type of middle grade novel, as she uses an alternate London (Londinium) to provide the backdrop and growth for her protagonist, Jack, a young boy who simply wants people to accept him for who he is.

This novel is very easy to gravitate towards. It has the right amount of action, two strong antagonist (if you can call Lorcan an antagonist, he’s a tricky fellow to pin-point), and a main character who is easily likable and you understand his decisions. Jack’s behaviour is so idealistic and innocent, but when he is forced to face reality, he learns his harsh lessons and attempts to grow from them rather than throw a fit. He’s lucky too, he gets a clockwork dragon as a companion, which I am horrifically jealous of!

There’s a lot to love about this alternate London that Trevayne has crafted. It’s a vibrant and vivid world, so it’s easy to imagine. Middle Grade often can have this problem that if the world isn’t easy to imagine or participate in, it can be difficult to keep interest, and I feel like Trevayne just makes everything feel so effortless — she knows her audience and creates an engaging world, one that is insanely active and easy to just fall into. When we follow Jack, we aren’t just seeing the world through his eyes, and when we are, it’s truly a joyous experience.

I really adored all the characters in this story. Beth made me smile because although she is a character who has had a lot of suffering, she doesn’t let it destroy her. I LOVED Lorcan, even if a few times I wanted to punch him in his book balls for hurting Jack. His motivations were fabulous, a bit cheeky, and he was easy to engage with. I especially loved how subservient he was to The Lady. I could go on and on about these characters, but then I’d be spoiling the novel.

This is my first book by Emma Trevayne, and it definitely will not be my last. While I’m disappointed my digital ARC did not have the illustrations, I can only image how perfect they probably are when coupled with the story. It’s a shame this novel isn’t releasing until May of next year, because it’s hands down one of the best Middle Grade adventure novels I’ve read in awhile, and it’s a book I know I’ll be buying for everyone. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times asks for so little of its reader, but packs such a meaty punch in its storytelling, that it’ll be perfect for even the pickest reader.

Seriously, pre-order this book now. You will not be disappointed.

River’s Review: 

Coming Soon.