The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


Leave a comment

ARC Book Review: Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown

Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
Save the date!
Mustaches for Maddie is set to be released October 3, 2017.

 

Image via NetGalley | Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Book Summary (via Goodreads):

Maddie is a normal twelve-year-old girl. Well, except for the fake mustaches she carries in her pocket. She likes to make people laugh and slapping on a mustache, especially a fuzzy pink or neon green one, always gets a smile. Maddie hopes that the class queen, Cassie, will find her mustaches as funny as she does and want to play with her at recess. She’s been self-conscious lately because her right arm only feels normal when it’s curled against her chest and she’s constantly tripping over her feet. But that’s probably just part of growing up and not something weird, right?

When Maddie’s arm continues to bother her, her parents take her to a doctor who gives them a shocking diagnosis: the cause of the abnormal behavior of her limbs is a brain tumor and she must have surgery to remove it. She’s understandably afraid as he describes the procedure, but knows she must find a way to be brave and must face her fears–all of them–at the hospital, at home and at school.

She will need all of her courage not only to face her illness, but also to face Cassie at school. Both Cassie and Maddie are auditioning for the same role in the school play, but when Cassie accuses Maddie of lying about her tumor in order to get attention, Cassie’s bossiness turns into bullying.

And as Maddie’s surgery approaches, she begins to worry more and more about the outcome. What if something goes wrong? What if the doctors don’t get all the tumor out of her brain? What will happen to her family? What will happen to her?

It will take all of Maddie’s vibrant imagination, a lot of kindness-both given and received-and of course, the perfect mustache to overcome the tough stuff ahead of her.

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

My Review:
Mustaches for Maddie is everything: charming, imaginative, funny, beautiful, heartwarming. Based on a true story about the authors’ daughter, Maddie, this novel will give you strength in your darkest times and prove that mustaches make everything better and funnier.

I loved this novel from the start. Maddie is innocent, bright, kind, and has a wild imagination. She wants to be friends with everyone and make people happy, even the most popular girl in her grade who’s not exactly the friendliest. When it’s discovered that Maddie has a brain tumor, she struggles to find strength to overcome this scary monster. It may take more than mustaches to pull through.

Maddie’s voice is clear, distinct, and her personality shines through every line. Her active imagination colors every word and phrase, making the reading experience extremely enjoyable. Her perspective on life made me think about my own, especially when I was her age. I felt included in her world. Maddie is a sweet, admirable individual who anyone would feel lucky to have as a friend.

This story is the perfect middle grade novel that should be included in school curriculum. Not to over-analyze but to teach kids how we should treat each other and to understand that everyone has struggles we may be too afraid to face on our own. And, of course, that mustaches are awesome. I like that there are discussion questions included at the end to help extend and guide the important discussions this novel brings up.

Mustaches for Maddie gets a golden mustache from me. Loved it and need to add this to my bookshelf. One of the best books of 2017 so far, one of my favorite books of 2017 and of all time, and my favorite middle grade novel. This novel is a must-read.


3 Comments

ARC Book Review: All Things New by Lauren Miller

Thank you to NetGalley and Three Saints Press for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review. All Things New is set to be released August 1, 2017.

Image via NetGalley | Published by Three Saints Press

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Book Summary (via NetGalley):
From the author of Parallel and Free to Fall comes a novel about how it feels to be broken and what it means to be real.

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels.

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but her anxiety only gets worse in the wake of the accident.  That is, until she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

All Things New is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.

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

My Review:
Beautiful, poignant, and honestly portrayed, All Things New is an enchanting story that gives hope for a brighter today and an even brighter tomorrow.

I underestimated how good All Things New would be – it was unbelievably fantastic!

The part before Jessa’s accident was annoying and I’m glad the author left that behind and didn’t physically drag it into the rest of the story. Jessa’s accident was heart-stopping and gave me pause. Afterwards, the story picks up and from then on it’s really difficult to stop reading (but why would you? it’s such a great book!).

What Jessa is going through is unfortunately more common than not. How she thinks, feels, behaves, and perceives things is exactly what someone with panic attacks and anxiety experiences. It’s an honest and raw portrayal of teenage mental health issues and mental health in general. She is a very relatable character even if you haven’t fully experienced all that she has.

I love Marshall – he is the bright spot in Jessa’s darkness, a bright spot we sometimes forget we have or feel we don’t have in our lives. Usually, someone with such a sunny disposition is a little off-putting for me in stories. But not Marshall. I think his heart condition, once he began to understand what it really meant, made him have a different, more positive outlook on life – sort of like Chris from the television show Parks and Recreation. Marshall is a great character. Silly, funny, kind. I’m glad that – although this is a love story – the focus wasn’t squarely on him; that he would be the end-all-fix-all – but on Jessa. And yet, I wish there was more development between Marshall and Jessa.

I am so thankful Lauren Miller wrote this story and that it will be shared with the world as it shares an important message. The story and writing is beautiful. The characters are raw and real. You will feel all the feels. 2017 has been a great year for new books so far and All Things New just made it better!


6 Comments

Book Review: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Image via Goodreads | Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Book Summary (via Goodreads):
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

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

My Review:
This is the first book I’ve read by Sarah Dessen and I loved it. Once and for All is a beautiful story of love, second chances at love, and if happily-ever-afters exist.

This novel really pulls at the heart-strings, especially with what incites the conflict and every obstacle that follows. What made me pick up this book was that it involved wedding planning and the premise seemed really interesting. Those two things combined surely would make a great story, right? It did. Also, let’s not forget that the cover is simple but gorgeous.

Every character I loved and had something wonderfully special about them.

I’ve read stories with cynical main characters before but Louna – which, by the way, I love her name – has to be my favorite. There’s just something really likable about her that I can’t quite fully describe. She’s a cynic – and understandably so as you get further into the book – but her character is just so…on point and dynamic that her notions about love don’t deter a hopeless romantic like myself.

Ambrose I have a love-not-so-love feelings toward. I did not care for Ambrose for a majority of the story – probably because of his personality and overly cocky presence. But he’s not all bad. He has his moments. His character in the story is one thing that makes this story so good. In the early chapters of the book, I couldn’t see what effect he’d have on Louna by the end but his influence worked its way in well. Where their relationship ends up by the story’s conclusion I was 90-95% satisfied with.

Natalie Barrett (Louna’s mom) and William (Natalie’s partner at the company) are just darling. I loved them both and their back-stories. I found myself rooting for them as much as Louna. They are three lovable cynics. Louna’s best friend, Jilly, is great – the kind of friend everyone needs – and I love what the author chose as her family background.

I liked that the wedding planning business aspect was present throughout the entire story. I have no experience in that area but the weddings depicted in Once and for All I have no doubt have actually happened in real life. It was like watching an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. The story also flips back and forth between past and present a few times. I really enjoyed (contrary to the feels felt) those chapters that took place in the past and how Dessen placed them within the storyline so perfectly and with great affect.

As stated previously, this is my first time reading a book by Sarah Dessen. I’ve known about her books since (I think) This Lullaby was published and know her and her books are really popular. I never read any of her books way back then was because I was very much enthralled in fantasy worlds and knights and magic and shifters for a very long time (still am).

But I saw Once and for All on NetGalley. The cover looked so pretty so I was curious to see what it was about since I also recognized the author. I was very intrigued by the premise and wanted to read more. I’m glad I did. I have been missing out. Sarah Dessen is truly a talented writer and has a beautiful way of telling a story and crafting characters. Once and for All was a fantastic read and one of my favorite books of 2017 (so far). I highly recommend reading this book. I’m definitely going to check out her other novels.


1 Comment

Book Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Passage: “Words matter, in fact. They’re not pointless, as you’ve suggested. If they were pointless, then they couldn’t start revolutions and they wouldn’t change history. If they were just words, we wouldn’t write songs or listen to them. We wouldn’t beg to be read to as kids. If they were just words, then stories wouldn’t have been around since before we could write. We wouldn’t have learned to write. If they were just words, people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, feel bad because of them, ache because of them, and stop aching because of them.”

 

My Summary:
Rachel moves back to Gracetown where she grew up to live with her aunt after failing Year 12 due to her brother’s death just months before. Getting away should drastic her from the pain of losing her brother. She hasn’t been able to feel but she’s all too aware of the feelings she left behind in a love letter tucked between the pages of a favorite book belonging to her long-time best friend Henry. He never responded. She’d rather avoid him but, unfortunately, she’ll be working with him at his family’s bookstore. Henry’s not fairing so well either. His girlfriend’s dumped him, the bookstore’s in financial trouble, and his family seems to be falling apart at the seams. But love and life and words between the pages of books may offer a kind of solution for Rachel and Henry.

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

My Review:
Words in Deep Blue was okay. I wasn’t blown away by it but it has good qualities.

I first discovered this book on NetGalley but by that time it was not available for requests anymore. Luckily, my local library was ordering a copy and I was happily the first cardholder who got to read it. What made me interested in reading this book was the cover – blue is my favorite color and the book jacket is so pretty and has a unique design. I also liked the premise and, as a self-proclaimed book nerd and hopeless romantic, it spoke to me.

But the book ended up being okay, sadly. The story concept I liked – it’s YA love presented from a fresh angle. Henry’s family bookstore has a section called the Letter Library where you can write or mark the book how you wish or leave notes inside but you can’t take/buy any of the books. I love that idea for a bookstore – it’s got a communal and romantic feel. And throughout the book you get to read some of the letters in between the chapters told in Rachel and Henry’s POVs. I’m not familiar with most of the books being referenced (which is fine) but it did distance me a little (which is not the author’s fault). I was never one for literary novels but I recognize some titles from school. I felt more like a spectator as I was reading. I didn’t feel connected to the story or characters, but I was invested enough to read it in full.

I love YA but the teenage aspect in this book was annoying to me (especially with one character) – this I say as an adult whose teenage years can still be recalled. The characters are (I’m guess here) between 17 and 19 years old (excluding the grown-up characters featured).

Cath Crowley writes wonderfully and I love how she chose to frame the story – a mixture of past and present. I will say that there was too much repeating of what was said in a previous chapter at the beginning of the next chapter going on. Sometimes it was unnecessary or could have been framed better. But the writing is solid. There were many great lines/passages. You get a clear picture of who each character is. They’re likable, each with his or her distinctive challenges being face. They are all effected by something and/or someone in the story.

I think in its own right, Words in Deep Blue is a good book. I just didn’t particularly enjoy as much as I thought I was going to.


Leave a comment

Book Review: The Hunters by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 3
Rating: 4/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

My Summary:
Hal and his crew had finally caught up to Zavac – the pirate who stole the Andomel, Skandia’s most precious treasure – but he managed to slip away last minute. But the members of the Heron haven’t given up the hunt. They’ll need to regroup and try more cunning tactics if they want to finally catch Zavac and reclaim their pride and lost honor.

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

My Review:
The epic adventure of the Heron brotherband continues in book 3 with nearly non-stop action and danger.

Sometimes it was challenging to guess how Hal and his friends would overcome the obstacles in their way – but that’s the fun part of reading any story to challenge the reader and keep them guessing. And, indeed, this was a fun book to read.

Some of the dialogue exchanges between our protagonists were a little cringy and exasperating. As one character points out, “If we’re finished playing All Friends Together, can we get on with it?” Amen, I thought. Hal felt compelled to say something leader-like to his friends since he is the skirl of Heron but, thankfully and quite comically, words failed him. These kinds of moments in stories, for me, tend to feel awkward and cringy for some reason.

I love seeing Hal’s continued growth as a leader and skirl – he’s a natural at both. He knows and will acknowledge his strengths and weakness and will utilize the strengths of his friends to the group’s best advantage. He is a team player of admirable character.

I like the note the story ended on but am sort of wary about what was foreshadowed to come as the series continues. I can’t say what it is without spoiling but I just hope it’s handled a lot better than this type of things was in the Ranger’s Apprentice series.

The epic-ness of the Brotherband Chronicles seems like it’s going to raise in the next book, Slaves of Socorro, so I’m looking forward to reading it really soon.

 

Past Reviews – Brotherband Chronicles
The Outcasts by John Flanagan (book 1)
The Invaders by John Flanagan (book 2)

Past Reviews – Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years
 The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan (book 1)
The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan (book 2)


1 Comment

(NetGalley) Book Review: Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Illustrated Carmen Mok

Thank you to NetGalley, Pajama Press, and Myrick Marketing & Media for providing me with an e-copy (of the ARC galley) to read and review.
Waiting for Sophie was recently released April 3, 2017.
I received an e-copy of this book after its initial publication.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 4/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “I want to smash it to smithereens and flush it down the toilet.”

 

My Summary:
Liam has been waiting a long time for his baby sister, Sophie, to arrive. He couldn’t be happier when she finally comes home. But in no time he starts to become impatient and wishes she would grow up faster so they can play and do more things together. Can Liam learn the virtue of patience?

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

My Review:
A cute story that teaches children about patience. It’s especially perfect for parents to read to their small (only) child when there’s another on the way.

Carmen Mok does a wonderful job with the illustrations and I love the color palette she chose.

I found myself invested in the story, anticipating how Liam would deal with his disappointment about all the things Sophie can’t do. He has a typical reaction to Sophie and I was pleasantly surprised at how adorably proactive he became.

I think my favorite thing about this book was whenever the word “smithereens” was used – it’s such a quirky, funny-sounding word to include in a children’s book. However, I’m really confused about why the grandmother is called “Nana-Downstairs.” Is it that she lives downstairs in the house? I had a hard time getting past the oddity of her name which felt so out-of-place.

Sarah Ellis has a way with words; I would read more books by her.


Leave a comment

Book Review: Ever My Love by Lynn Kurland

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: MacLeod, book 10
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

My Summary:
Emma Baxter travels across the pond to experience the “Scotland in my dreams” and find inspiration to rebuild her jewelry business back up again.

Nathaniel MacLeod is a recluse literally living a double life. For the past five years, Fate it seems has dragged him back and forth through time – between present day and 14th century Scotland – for reasons he cannot begin to fathom.

When the two meet under the most unusual of circumstances, it sets in motion a chain of events and a mystery that must be solved before something more dangerous can happen.

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

My Review:
I always enjoy reading one of Lynn Kurland’s books and Ever My Love was no exception.

The cover is so beautiful and I love the pinks, purples, blues, and whites mingling together, fading in and out of each other to create this mystical, romantic vibe.

A huge pro about this story is the role reversal between genders – if you’ve read any of the MacLeod or de Piaget books you’ll understand this. Yes, these books have a predictable format in the way the story is told. But this one is refreshingly different. There is a better time travel predicament involved.

I found the “antagonists” of this story to be rather weak and think they could have been more…sinister and bigger oppositions. There’s a complete 180 that occurs that I found to be a bit unrealistic and a rush to finish the story.

These books of Kurland’s are lengthy reads so things tend to move at a more moderate pace. But with this story, for me, it took too long to get to the point.

As with any Lynn Kurland book after a certain point in publication history characters from past books appear. So it was, as always, lovely to see some of my favorite MacLeod men in this book.

I liked Emma’s character but boy! was her stubbornness frustrating at times. The hopeless romantic in me loved Nathaniel’s characters – he’s dreamy and noble but almost too perfect.

Ever My Love was a good read and I’m happy I finally got to read it.

 

Past Reviews of Kurland’s Books:
Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland (de Piaget, book 16)
Stars in Your Eyes by Lynn Kurland (de Piaget, book 17)
From This Moment On by Lynn Kurland (de Piaget, book 9)