My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris

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I really enjoyed My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century! It was lots of fun overall, especially if you like art from Renaissance times. There were some fun surprises in this book related to the Renaissance and things Cat was able to see on her magical trip back in time, and while there was some cheesiness in that “magic,” it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

I thought Cat’s Renaissance family was fascinating and well written, Lorenzo was beyond dreamy, and I loved the clash between modern and Renaissance society as Cat tried to fit in. I actually laughed out loud at some of the situations she got herself into, and some of the modern language she used, that resulted in awkward, funny scenes.

 

Check it out on Amazon (where it’s currently on sale for $.99 on kindle!)or at your favorite book store. :)

Official Blurb from Goodreads:

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze. Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

 

The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

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I am always, always, always up for a good Sherlock Holmes retelling, and Eulberg’s Shelby Holmes story is a perfect middle grade entry into the Sherlock world.

In it, Shelby Holmes is a 9 year old sixth grader with all the brains, sass, and social awkwardness you’d expect from a character based on Sherlock, and John Watson has just moved into the building. John, whose military parents have just gone through a divorce, is in need of new friends and sort of falls into Shelby’s crime solving world when a classmate of theirs discovers that her prize-winning dog has been stolen.

Shelby and John are both well-written characters who work together in their own quirky ways, and they have depth to them that goes far beyond the crime to be solved. With John’s family situation and Shelby’s trouble making friends, there’s plenty here for readers to identify with and cheer the characters through.

The mystery itself is both clever enough to be worthy of a 9 year-old Holmes and solvable enough for a middle grade audience. The Great Shelby Holmes would be perfect for readers as young as 4th grade and I can see its appeal going up through middle school. Also, for those adults (like me!) who love Sherlockian literature, it’s a really fun look into the classic characters as modern day kids. Elizabeth confirmed for me that there will be at least two more Shelby Holmes books, and I’m already looking forward to them!

 

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Confession: I’ve wanted to read Tell Me Three Things for quite a while (because of the heart shaped waffles on the cover, to be completely honest), but it’s one that I wasn’t able to get my hands on in ARC form, so I (stupidly) waited to buy it and now I’m late for the party. If you, like me, missed it when it first came out… you gotta get it now.

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In this, 16 year-old Jessie is trying to figure out life without her mom (she passed away two years ago) and with an entirely new city and step family (her dad moved her suddenly from Chicago to Los Angeles when he eloped with his new wife). On top of all that, Jessie’s now attending a prestigious private school that is beyond difficult to navigate as the new girl.

So, when she receives an anonymous email from a classmate calling himself Somebody/Nobody (SN for short) in which he offers to be a spirit guide to help her adjust to the school, she reluctantly accepts his help out of desperation. When their initial anonymous exchange develops into a friendship, the mysterious SN is still reluctant to meet, even though he clearly knows who Jessie is and they’re developing real feelings for each other. They start asking each other to “tell me three things,” and so these great lists of things are included in their messages back and forth. The identity of SN isn’t revealed until almost the end of the book, and while I did have a good idea of who I hoped it would be, I was guessing until the end just like Jessie was. I was so happy with who it was that I actually went back through the whole book and reread their messages. They just made me happy.

It may sound simple and potentially sad (dead mom, etc.), but Tell Me Three Things is honestly one of the most engaging, emotionally beautiful novels I’ve read this year. It’s NOT sad – Buxbaum’s author’s note made it clear that she wasn’t aiming to write a book about the death of a mom but instead wanted that to be a part of the character’s story – but the way Jessie learns from and deals with her grief is a very real and compelling. The hope she finds in new friendships and eventually in her relationship with her dad is ultimately what the reader feels at the end of the story.

Because I’m a teacher and I can’t turn that part of my brain off when I read YA, I do have to say that I think it’s appropriate for upper high school ages. There’s some language, but it doesn’t feel excessive or showy – it’s mostly coming from grief and truly hard situations. The profanity didn’t bother me in this book like it does in some others. There’s also a significant subplot involving one of the main character making the very grown up decision of whether or not she’s ready for sex. Again, that story line can bother be in some books if it’s not treated with care, but it’s done pretty carefully here, and that’s a topic I wish parents would talk more about with their kids anyway.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a book that has set in and stuck with me throughout several days like this one did. It feels to me like everything that a book written for teens SHOULD be – not cheesy, full of real life situations, hopeful, fun, relevant, and engaging.

Find Tell Me Three Things on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. Enjoy!

Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander

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First, the official blurb:

Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people…

Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.

As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world…and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.

Life after Juliet isn’t sad overall, though it has some sadness in it. Ultimately there’s hope and encouragement pouring out of this. I loved Becca and Max and literally hugged this book to me after I finished it. Life After Juliet is a great book for teens dealing with any sort of loss or sadness that holds them back, and I found it to be both encouraging and challenging for me as an adult, too.

I haven’t read the companion novel, Love and Other Unknown Variables, but I’d like to. After loving this book so much, I’m all in for anything else Shannon Lee Alexander writes! Find Life After Juliet, here on Amazon or order it from your favorite book store. 

No Fair! No Fair! And Other Jolly Poems of Childhood by Calvin Trillin

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I’ve spent this week getting my students excited about our upcoming Scholastic Book Fair, and a book preview video for No Fair! No Fair! has made me (AND every single one of the students who have seen it) chuckle every single time I’ve watched it. The author describes defending his portion of the backseat against his sister’s “expansionist backseat policies” and makes up rhymes about the ridiculousness of having to wear pants to school. I really can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of it, and I can’t recommend it highly enough based on what I’ve seen so far.

You can see the video with the author here. I promise, Trillin’s deadpan reading will make you laugh and, hopefully, it’ll make you want to read the whole thing too. Enjoy!

 

The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle

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The Sound of Us is one of those books that does a great job of encouraging readers to stick with their dreams and stay true to who they are. That’s enough to make me love it – I just don’t think that message can be given to teenagers (or adults, frankly) too much. 

Kiki Nichols is a fun, introverted fan of a popular geeky sic-fi show who also happens to be an aspiring opera singer. She heads off to an exclusive summer camp at a college known for its music program. She has two main goals for the summer: one, be cool and make friends, and two, be one of the top students at the end of camp, which would earn her a scholarship to study opera at the university. But, of course, stuff happens and Kiki’s derailed from her goals a few times… and one big distraction comes in the form of a hot drummer (and fellow sic-fi show fan) she’d like to spend more time with. 

Kiki is a great character, and I love her growth throughout the story. The supporting characters are all really well written and they definitely make the book richer, with the exception of Kiki’s parents and brother who seem sort of one dimensional and annoying (until one conversation at the very end, I guess). A little bit of language and some content would make me uncomfortable with having this in my middle school classroom, but it’s fine for high school. Overall, there are some great messages here for teenage girls (and guys) about being happy with who you are and going after your dreams instead of settling, and I enjoyed reading this one. 

Find The Sound of Us here on Amazon or order it through your favorite bookseller!

Blog Tour: Chasing Truth by Julie Cross, plus a GIVEAWAY!

chasing-truth-coverWhen I saw that Chasing Truth was being compared to Veronica Mars, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I mean, I really loved that show, and most things that reference VM end up being super disappointing. I was beyond pleasantly surprised, though, when I started reading Chasing Truth and LOVED the snark, the suspense, the character quality… everything I’d expect from a story calling on Veronica for backup was totally there. And, Eleanor (Ellie) Ames is a worthy heroine by her own right. The VM reference may have gotten my attention in the beginning, but Ellie held it captive all on her own (well, Miles helped, because OMG). Anyway, you certainly need to read this. Really. You also need to scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post to enter an awesome giveaway. :)

Here’s all the official info:

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Publication Date:  September 27, 2016

Publisher:  Entangled TEEN

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

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Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).

She’s also the author of the Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing cred, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Take a second to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for the chance to WIN a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of another one of Julie’s novels, Whatever Life Throws At You.

chasingtruthtour

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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In P.S. I Like You, aspiring musician and generally awkward Lily Abbott falls into an anonymous pen pal relationship with a fellow Chemistry class sufferer. She and the pen pal hit it off and Lily’s having fun wondering who it could be… if only she could get her best friend’s ex, Cade Jennings, to leave her alone she’d be happy. Somehow they end up in verbal battles everytime they’re near each other. When Lily finally discovers the identity of her letter writer, she’ll have to take a step back and figure out how she really feels about everything. As usual, this book is not JUST a contemporary romance – there are family issues and big dreams and lots of real, relatable themes for teens. 

It’s no secret that I love everything Kasie writes, but I swear she gets better and better with each book she writes. I started reading P.S. I Like You one evening and couldn’t put it down… I did eventually fall asleep, but finished the story quickly the next morning and thought about Lily and Cade all day long.

I found this excerpt on GoodReads and had to share. Enjoy it, and check out this book!

“I nodded toward Cade’s wrist. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fun. I get a man bracelet.”

I smiled. “I don’t think you get to keep it. She’s just using you as her model.”

“Her model?”

“It’s a fact, not a compliment.”

“Because if you gave me a compliment you might have a stroke.”

I laughed. “Probably not a stroke, but my brain would definitely revolt in some way.”

He didn’t laugh along with me, just looked at the cording on his wrist.

“Oh, stop, you don’t need me to tell you that you’re hot to know that it’s true.”

“Are you okay? Did that hurt your head?” Cade asked.

I kicked his foot with mine and he laughed.

“So you think I’m hot?” Cade’s eyes sparkled.

“Doesn’t every girl?”

It surprised me when his cheeks turned a light shade of pink. I wasn’t sure why that embarrassed him in any way. I was positive he already knew it. He ran one hand through his hair. Then he said, almost too quiet for me to hear, “You’re not every girl.”

― Kasie WestP.S. I Like You

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts: Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY!

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First of all, let me just tell you that I absolutely LOVE this book, and so it’s s special honor to be part of its release blog tour.

The Replacement Crush is beyond adorable. I’m such a fan of Vivian, the protagonist, for being all at once admirably fierce and relatably awkward. Her love of romance novels and geek culture work together in the funnest of ways, and her obvious-to-everyone-but-her love interest is the swoon-worthiest nerd there ever was. Because of a few language and content issues (mostly racy romance novel related) I’d be a little uncomfortable with having this in my middle school classroom, but for high school and up this is a sweet, funny, and altogether unexpectedly perfect fall read. ❤️


The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

Publication Date:  September 6, 2016

Publisher:  Entangled TEEN

True love can’t be strategized.

After book blogger Vivian Galdi’s longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe crushes, determined to protect her heart.

But nerd-hot Dallas, the sweet new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission.

Operation Replacement Crush is in full effect. And Dallas is determined to take her heart off the shelf.

———————————————-

Find it on Goodreads, and here’s everything you need to know about where to buy it:

 

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Replacement-Crush-Lisa-Brown-Roberts-ebook/dp/B01BBXSK92

Barnes & Noble Buy Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-replacement-crush-lisa-brown-roberts/1123133026

iBooks Buy Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-replacement-crush/id1080309454

Kobo Buy Link: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-replacement-crush

 

Entangled Publishing: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/the-replacement-crush/


All about the author:

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Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year. This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, four-legged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

Author Website: www.lisabrownroberts.com

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/LBrownRoberts

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorLisaBrownRoberts/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts


And finally, everything you need to know about how to WIN it:

One (1) winner will receive

  • A signed copy of The Replacement Crush
  • Nerd glasses necklace
  • Button
  • Signed poster
  • Bookmark
  • Spock Funko Pop!

Enter to win via a Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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As summer winds down and back to school sales take over the stores, I find myself wanting to cling to summer for as long as possible.

One great YA title that might help us all hold fast to summer days is Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything, a seriously cute and heartwarming novel that showcases everything there is to love about YA literature.

In it, Andie is a teenage girl with a very clear plan for her summer, for college, and for life in general. She’s the daughter of a politician, so her childhood has been lived under public scrutiny, and she strives for perfection. She hardly sees her dad, and since her mom passed away when she was young, she has basically raised herself. She’s fiercely independent and has very little relationship with her father, but somehow she’s satisfied with the way things are. She has her plans for the future, she has her friends, and she knows where she’s going.

But what will Andie do when a very public political scandal sends those plans sailing out the window? How will she deal with her lost summer internship? What will her unexpected summer be like when she had so many clear expectations that just won’t happen?

After she answers a help wanted ad that turns out to be for a dog walking service, all kinds of unexpected things pop up: a dad who’s suddenly in town a whole lot more than usual, a part time job without the prestige of a medical internship, a seriously great group of friends, a cute boy who keeps popping up, and so much more. What I love about The Unexpected Everything is that it’s fun and authentic (the text conversations, complete with emojis, are fantastic), but it still has strong themes of family and friendship and the power of change. We, along with Andie, get to see that sometimes beautiful things happen when life veers off the path we’ve decided it should stay on.

This novel is perfect for teenage girls and grown up women alike, and it’s especially fitting for these days when we’re still sort of in our summer state of mind but also making plans and looking ahead to the fresh opportunities that a new school year brings. Check it out, and enjoy!