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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Book Review: From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe
Favorite Quotes: “I wanted people to see me, to like me for who I was and what I had to offer. I wanted to use my talent to transform people’s lives and how they saw the world.”

“It’s never happened. But there are people out there, people like me, who need someone to come along and tell their stories. To explore all those different universes for them. So why can’t I be the one to do it?”

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

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

My Review:
This book was a lot to take in and has left me feeling torn about what to make of it.

I picked up this book because it sounded interesting (first book I’ve read of Sandhya Menon’s) and I’d never read a book where the MC was aspiring to become a filmmaker as a young Indian-American woman. I thought that sounded awesome.

In terms of the obstacles Twinkle faces, this is one of those stories where, as the saying goes, things get worse before they get better. And they do get worse and worse. So much that it made me an anxious reader while openly yelling things like “NO!” and “That’s not a good idea!” and “Think. Think. Think!” and “I can’t watch.”

There’s a lot of teenage drama, clicks, unrequited love, and social angst. Twinkle’s dwindling friendship with (formerly sister BFF) Maddie is also a major source of contention. Everything was too much sometimes. Perhaps there were too many issues going on that pulled the reader’s attention every which way despite it all being connected.

I liked how flawed Twinkle (and pretty much everyone else, except Dadi, Twinkle’s grandmother, really) and how strong and direct her voice is. For the teen characters, the biggest flaw is their insecurities: Twinkle feeling invisible and not good enough to be noticed at school and home; Sahil always being compared to his star-athlete star-academic twin brother. I think this heightens what Twinkle seeks to accomplish with her film (and future films) as well as the overall theme of the book about finding one’s voice and being able to share that voice with others (as well as the importance of telling underrepresented voices/stories).

There are times while reading when I was like, “Twinkle seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and is a really passionate person.” Then other times I was like, “Why, Twinkle, why would you do that?”, whenever her rational fled when deeper emotions took over. Also, I thought it ill-advised that she blindly believed that “N” had to be Neil – her crush who she’s had (so it appears) very little interaction/conversation with and knows nothing about. That would have been (reluctantly) fine if she also, logically, thought the email could well be a dangerous stranger on the internet or a troll cat-fishing her. “N” got her email from the school’s directory, so “N” being a student is more likely but still! Not once does she think “stranger danger,” even a little. I find that incredibly impossible. Also, it wasn’t hard to figure out the true identity of “N” but I was somewhat surprised by the why of it.

I like that Twinkle tells the story through letters to her favorite female filmmarkers in diary format. When she’s directly talking to them her passion comes through. I also like that her choice of the film she adapts for the festival, even if I haven’t ever seen it. I’d watch her version of it though.

I loved Sahil. Perhaps too perfect of a character? Maybe – he certainly wouldn’t think so. But he’s just a bright light in this crazy mess of high school drama. And I like that he too takes steps to be seen, to be heard in a way that is unique to him. He does it better than Twinkle by fa,r but everyone takes a different path to get to such a grounded place.

As dramatic as this book was, I think Sandhya Menon is a fantastic writer. There were lots of phrases whose diction was so amazing and seemingly effortlessly written. I thought it genius for her to have Twinkle describe her social status as “groundlings” versus the “silk feathered hats” (aka the rich and popular crowd) from Shakespearean days at the theater. She took something (super) old and made it feel fresh and new. Loved it.

The ending made me kind of emotional and happy. No storm lasts forever. When the clouds finally cleared things felt changed. Maybe a little to sugary sweet of an ending but good nonetheless.

Based on all that, I’m left conflicted about my overall impression of the book. It was too much drama but not bad. Inspiring in many ways at its core. And a talented writer at the helm.


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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.

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

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?

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

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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More 2018 Anticipated Book Releases

Image via Goodreads

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

May 22

Simon Pulse
Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Summary (via Goodreads):
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

[My Thoughts?] I’m immediately intrigued by the book’s description and can relate to the main character who simple wants to share stores with everyone. I also liked that the main character is an aspiring, female filmmaker. However, there is this implication of a love-triangle – a small thing for me but I am still interested in reading this book.


Image via Goodreads

Your Lion Eyes by Christine Warren (Alphaville, book 2)

December 4

St. Martin’s Press
Paranormal Romance

Summary (via Goodreads):
Molly Buchanan is a lioness on the prowl. Unfortunately, since she’s been prowling through the same town for her entire life, she’s down to some pretty slim pickings in the dating department. But the minute she sets eyes on the new bachelor in town, her lioness starts to purr and plans to do some serious rubbing up against Grady Emerson. 

Newly arrived in Alpha, Washington, Grady just wants to settle in and do his job as the town’s newest deputy. But even this rogue-bear sheriff knew Molly Buchanan was trouble the minute he laid eyes on her. She might be smoking hot, sharp as a tack, and funny as hell, but she is also his friend’s younger sister, and there are some things a good man just doesn’t do-no matter how much his bear might want to devour her.

[My Thoughts?]loved the first book. Although the premise for this second installment is something I’ve seen before, I think it’ll still be another good story. Shifter stories are always fun to read. I just wish the publication date wasn’t so far away!


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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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Bookish News: Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel

It was recently announced that the Tony award-winning Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, would be adapted to a novel, to be published October 9, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. It’s written by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul.

Image via Barnes & Noble

I’ve never read a “stage to page” book, I don’t really know of any (if you do, let me know in the comments below). I haven’t seen the show and have only listened to a small part of the soundtrack, but I am interested in reading the novel adaptation.

Summary (via Broadway.com):
 A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: A chance to finally fit in.

Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is the new American musical about life and the way we live it.

I think this story will be able find a home in the YA sphere, with its fans and new readers. I wish I could see the show before the book comes out but I doubt that’ll happen. But one can only hope. I’ll be keeping my eye on this for the time being.


Have you seen Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway or listened to the soundtrack? What are your thoughts on this story and it being adapted to a novel?