The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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Happy Book Release Day! to How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Thank you again to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.

*title/author link leads to my review of How We Roll*


Image via NetGalley

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating:  4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but because of a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.

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ARC Book Review: How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
How We Roll by Natasha Friend is set to be released June 5, 2018.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating:  4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but because of a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.

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My Review:
In eighth grade, all of the hair on Quinn’s head fell off due to an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata totalis. It subsequently tears down her social life and makes her reluctant to fully engage in a new one when she and her family move from Boulder, Colorado to Gulls Head, Massachusettes. This becomes a chance to totally reinvent herself in a place where the cruel nicknames of the past can’t follow her. Quinn’s voice is very clear and intelligent. She’s the kind of friend you want in your life because she’s incredibly kind and supportive. She does her best to take care of her own problems herself. It’s hard because she fear her wig might fall of at the worst moment and having to deal with an itchy scalp.

Jake’s life has been turned upside down with the loss of both his legs. He’s left angry and alone, finding it difficult to me a part of the world again. Quinn’s friendship is just what he needs because in a way she can understand him – even if their situations may be viewed as apples and oranges. Jake’s kind of moody – which is understandable – so the questions becomes how much will he change within the course of the story. I’m happy with how far he comes by the end.

The teen drama is very much alive in this book. And even in a fictional sense it’s heartbreaking that these kids, so young, would treat each other so callously. Perhaps this was to juxtapose it with what principle characters are going through? I too was wary when Quinn found a new group of friends. They talk a lot and share lip gloss (unsanitary but they seem close enough to do that) but they’re good people, which is what Quinn needs in her life

I like that the difficult situations aren’t sugar-coated. It’s a stark but honest reality: Quinn losing her hair. Jake losing his legs. Quinn’s little brother, Julius, having autism that can’t be clearly pinpointed on the spectrum. Raising a child who has autism.

There were enough lighter, sometimes funny, moments to drive away the sad ones. Quinn and Jake have really good back and forth banter in very few words.

The story is told really well and everything came together rather nicely in the end. I enjoyed reading How We Roll (a fitting title) and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, honest read on friendship, fitting in, trust and understanding, along with a great main character.


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ARC Book Review: Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long

Thank you NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long is set to be released May 28, 2018.

 

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bravo Team WOLF, book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Bianca Devlin’s work is her life. Now, she’s finally taking a vacation…and guerillas hit her resort to kidnap a diplomat’s son. She does the only thing that makes sense—intervene to save the child’s life. Being dragged into the jungle with a scared kid she’s determined to protect was definitely not how she saw this trip ending.

After she returns to Texas, the last person Bianca expected to see was Sergeant Carlos “Cage” Castillo, the member of Bravo Team WOLF that helped rescue her. Nevertheless, there he is, living across the street from the house she just bought. The coincidence is alarming, but she has to admit, his presence isn’t entirely unwanted.

But there’s something off about Cage—the way he can move without a sound or the weird way his eyes seem to almost glow at times. And how can Bianca manage her growing attraction, when everything she knows about him and his reason for being there, turns out to be a lie?

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My Review:
A different kind of storytelling for a paranormal romance novel than I’m used to…but I liked it. A lot.

At first, I requested this title because of the inciting incident described in the summary and the rest of the description seemed to support such an unusual beginning well enough to garner further interest. But it was the characters that kept me reading, which Heather Long does a fantastic job creating to propel the story along.

Bianca is a humanitarian through and through. She’s thoughtful, tough, independent, driven and possesses a great sense of humor. Cage is a dedicated Marine who wants to prove his worth. He’s funny, takes responsibility for his actions, and incredibly caring. I really loved that both characters have dedicated their lives to helping and saving people. They are truly perfect for each other. Also, the dialogue between them is just so on-point and witty.

While Bianca and Cage are terrific characters and romantic leads, I adored their parents. The Devlin’s are also humanitarians who work as physicians for Doctors Beyond Borders. They’re so fun-loving and dedicated to their work and each other. Cage’s father is not a man to be trifled with. But he has this certain appeal and charm about him, an adorable softness when it comes to his pack and family.

It took some time for me to get used to such a character driven story. The majority of the book focuses on the development of Bianca and Cage’s relationship. I kept waiting for some third-party external force to disrupt things since the actual problem would take time to make itself known. It was unsurprising when that crux moment finally occurred but the romance kept me buoyant until then. There was a lengthy explanation about what wolves are, which for me I found boring because I’ve read so many shifter/wolf stories. But I’d say this would be a good starter book for anyone who hasn’t read or is not too familiar with this aspect of the paranormal in fiction and the possibilities to create distinguishable supernatural beings.

The ending was a bit cheesy. I think it could have been done differently – same idea but different material. Or perhaps the final scenes needed more space for more impact. But what happened did its job and there were feels aplenty. Too rushed but okay.

Bitten Under Fire is the first book I’ve read by Heather Long and I think the first military-esque fiction I’ve read – the latter another aspect I loved about this book. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and read book 1 because right now I’m not too interested in Jax and Kat’s story – although I did like their brief presence in this installment so maybe someday. But I would recommend this book regardless. Heather Long is a great writer and storyteller.


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NetGalley Book Review: The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela

Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky for providing me with an e-ARC of the hardcover edition to read and review, set to be released April 3, 2018.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
A heartwarming story about a girl who’s afraid to follow her dreams, and the family who help make them happen.

India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next Bee, India feels nothing but trepidation. She’s sure she’s not good enough – but with the support of her family, India finds the courage to sign up. 

There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, like Summer Millicent Ernestine Beauregard-Champion, a spoiled rich girl who isn’t afraid to step on anyone who gets in her way of winning. 

The whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…

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My Review:
*slightly edited*

Truly The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela is a stupendously sweet and spectacular story.

The story starts during a humble, routine family gathering in front of the television and immediately transforms into an opportunity of a lifetime. And like anyone when faced with such a huge opportunity, India struggles with whether or not to take it. Sometimes it’s scary to take that first step when opportunity comes knocking because we don’t believe ourselves worthy or capable enough to succeed. This makes India a very relatable character for readers of all ages.

I love how she has the complete love and support of her family and the whole town where she lives. As thankful as she is for their support, it’s not convincing enough to settle India’s jumbling nerves. Which is good because it then leaves room for India to grow as a person/character and conquer whatever fears she’s plagued by.

Readers will learn many new, challenging words from this story as each chapter begins with a hard (and telling) word, its parts of speech, definition, and how it would be used in a sentence. A nice structured text for middle graders to follow and learn from.

The illustrations were great and depicted the characters so well, and were spaced out evenly throughout the book.

If you like Middle Grade novels or know someone of that age, I’d recommend this book as your next big read. It’s light, charming, wholesome, and educational.


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Happy Book Release Day! to Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Thank you again to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.

*title/author link leads to my review of Herding Cats*


Image via NetGalley

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Genre: Comics, Graphic Novel
Series: Sarah’s Scribbles, book 3
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Sarah’s Scribbles,  Goodreads Choice Award for 2016:  Best Graphic Novels & Comics

“. . . author Sarah Andersen uses hilarious (and adorable) comics to illustrate the very specific growing pains that occur on your way to becoming a mature, put-together grownup. Andersen’s spot-on illustrations also show how to navigate this newfound adulthood once you arrive, since maturity is equally as hard to maintain as it is to find … “
–The Huffington Post

Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.


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ARC Book Review: Blood Veil by Megan Erickson

Thank you to NetGalley and Loveswept for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. Blood Veil is set to be released April 3, 2018.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romance Fantasy
Series: A Mission Novel, book 2
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
For 18+ readers.

Summary (via NetGalley):
In the midst of supernatural chaos, worlds and hearts collide.

Celia: Having never known my parents, I’ve always felt like an orphan. All I want is a normal life. But after I’m attacked in my bedroom by one vampire—and rescued by another—it’s about time to give up on “normal” once and for all. Idris, the second in command of the Gregorie vampire clan, has come to my aid, but his motives for saving me are unclear. And what surprises me most is my attraction to his heated gaze. . . .

Idris: Terror. Curiosity. Arousal. These are the natural impulses of a human female, not the spawn of the ruthless Valarian king. Is it possible that Celia is unaware of her bloodline—and the power coursing through her veins? As the daughter of my archenemy, she was supposed to be my ransom. But how quickly the heat of desire changes everything. Now the family Celia has always craved is trying to kill her, and it’s up to me to save her again—when all I really want to do is make her mine.

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My Review:
Blood Veil was an okay, quick read. It’s more talking and self-reflection, some tension and action, and less romance. I wish the book could have just slowed down so I could really enjoy, really know more about everything that was happening. Celia and Idris didn’t seem to have a realistic enough time to really fall in love, but I will always root for them.

I do like the (continued) new angle Erickson is taking with vampires. The new concept/lore she’s written is interesting and opens up the possibilities of more unique vampire stories.

I would keep reading this series because of the characters and the vampire world that has been created.


Past Review:
Blood Guard (A Mission Novel, book 1) (ARC)


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ARC Book Review: Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. Herding Cats is set to be released March 27, 2018.

 

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Comics, Graphic Novel
Series: Sarah’s Scribbles, book 3
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Sarah’s Scribbles,  Goodreads Choice Award for 2016:  Best Graphic Novels & Comics

“. . . author Sarah Andersen uses hilarious (and adorable) comics to illustrate the very specific growing pains that occur on your way to becoming a mature, put-together grownup. Andersen’s spot-on illustrations also show how to navigate this newfound adulthood once you arrive, since maturity is equally as hard to maintain as it is to find … “
–The Huffington Post

Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Fantastic. Hilarious. Just what a creative person (and everyone) needs to hear and see. Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen is an art and narrative to be experienced.

The first half of the book contains a series of hilariously quirky, meme-worthy comics that perfectly illustrate the day to day happenings of an artist and introvert. Some jokes flew over my head, but I found myself nodding in agreement with several panels.

The second half gets serious. Still funny. But serious. During which Andersen provides an honest look at the internet of today and how it effects artists (and people in general). It is a narrative whose sole purpose is to encourage those to not give up on their passions in this sometimes scary world.

I think no matter what stage in your creative endeavors you’re at, you’ll learn a thing or two from Herding Cats and be reminded that, at its core, art is fun.