If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I’m not just a reader, I’m a writer. I love writing! I’ve authored several books for young readers with subjects ranging from biographies to world cultures to social media trends. Back in March, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Rhys Keller for his writing website, rhyskeller.com.
I love books set in the ‘40s-60s. I prefer Hollywood for the setting, but I’m not too picky. I just love stories set in that era. I lucked out with Brooke Lea Foster’s debut novel, Summer Darlings. It takes place during the summer of ’62 on Martha’s Vineyard. Summer Darlings offers a peek into the lifestyles of the wealthy who summer on the island through the eyes of one wealthy family’s babysitter, Heddy.
Heddy has certain goals for herself and for the summer – mainly to figure out how to pay for college in the fall and how to incorporate herself into this glamorous world by finding a husband. But we all know how the old saying goes about the best laid plans. Heddy soon finds herself thrust into a world of wealth, privilege, movie stars, gossip, love, lust, backstabbing, and scandal.
Real life scandals can provide some of the best inspiration for novels. Admission by Julie Buxbaum draws from the real-life college admissions scandal in which several wealthy celebrities paid to have their kids’ SAT scores changed and fabricated a web of lies to gain entry into top colleges. Admission was intriguing because we’ve all heard about this scandal and can’t help wondering, “What were they thinking?” Well, Buxbaum attempts to reveal what they might have been thinking as she takes a peek behind the curtain of privilege to examine the lives of the rich and famous.
The last couple of weeks have held a lot of uncertainty and I, like everyone, have been adjusting to this new normal. Since I work from home all the time, my day-to-day Monday through Friday routine wasn’t interrupted too much. I do miss going to the gym though as it provides not only a physical outlet for my stress but also gets me out of the house. Social distancing is getting to me, like it is for many, and I’m just so thankful that I have my hubby home with me. I can’t imagine how difficult this time is for those who live alone. One suggestion I can offer for anyone who is struggling with staying in and staying alone is to read.
As Mason Cooley once so wisely said, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” I’ve never felt the truth of this sentence more deeply than during this time of quarantine, isolation, and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of us in the bookish community have taken Mr. Cooley’s words to heart these last couple of weeks and have engaged in binge reading. I read two celebrity memoirs last weekend (see my Instagram for details and mini-reviews!) and read two YA novels last week by Katey Taylor, Inebriated and Neon Nights. These two books were great examples of why I love YA, and I’m excited to share my reviews with you!
We are living in chaotic times right now. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world, and life as we knew it even a week or two ago has changed dramatically. My hubby and I are practicing social distancing, trying to do our part to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and not overwhelm our healthcare system. We are working from home and staying home unless in the event of an emergency. The idea of quarantine initially sounded terrible to me, but truthfully, things could be so much worse. Being at home for a couple of weeks while we work, stream videos, spend time together, and deep clean our house is not exactly a hardship. We can even have groceries and essentials delivered in a matter of hours. We can talk and video chat with loved ones to check on each other and keep our spirits up. And of course, there are books. I just might make a much needed dent in my TBR pile this year after all!
Seriously, though, today is day five of quarantine, and I might be starting to go a little stir crazy if it weren’t for my books. I plan to keep reading and posting reviews because I think we all need a distraction and something to look forward to, like new releases!
If ever there were a time for comfort reading, this is it! I was beyond thrilled to read the newest book from one of my favorite authors, The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin. The book releases June 2nd and is sure to be another hit like her previous nine novels have been. I’ve been reading Giffin’s books since her debut over ten years ago, Something Borrowed. She has become an automatic buy for me, or an automatic request via NetGalley. I was beyond thrilled to receive an early copy of her newest book, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to read a book more than someone telling me I can’t or shouldn’t read it. Maybe this is why I love banned books so much. I just have to know what all the fuss is about! Today’s review is of the newly released Don’t Check Out This Book! by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise from Algonquin Young Readers. The book is an illustrated novel for young readers in grades 3 through 7. As the title suggests, it’s all about fighting censorship and corruption.
Over the last year or so I’ve really developed an appreciation of graphic novels. To be completely honest, I didn’t really “get” graphic novels when I initially discovered them a few years ago. They looked more like comic books than novels and they were packed with illustrations and very little text compared to other middle grade and YA novels. But I’ve come to discover the value of graphic novels on multiple levels.
The fact that graphic novels have less text doesn’t make them any less of a book. In fact, some reluctant or struggling readers who might not pick up a traditional middle grade or YA novel might opt for a graphic novel instead. This is wonderful because rather than missing out on the book altogether, these reluctant or struggling readers can still follow the plot, utilizing the images where the text proves challenging. This is huge because the graphics allow these readers to absorb and learn from the stories and engage in active discussion with friends, classmates, and teachers. Graphic novels also offer the added bonus of visual storytelling. You know that saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, with a graphic novel, the pictures are many and the words are few because the images so beautifully illustrate the characters’ emotions, motives, struggles, and victories.
My 2020 reading challenge is to read 50 books, and I plan to add more graphic novels to my reading list. I can’t wait to discover more new graphic novel authors and illustrators!
Today, I’ll be reviewing a very timely new graphic novel, Go With The Flow by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann.
After enjoying a couple of books for young readers, I decided to change things up a bit and dive into some adult fiction. If you’ve followed the blog or my social media accounts for a while, you’re familiar with my love of mysteries and thrillers, particularly psychological suspense.
My first thriller of 2020 was the upcoming release You Are Not Alone from the dynamic writing duo of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. These two make such an amazing suspenseful storytelling team that their novels have become an automatic read for me. The downside of their efforts is that providing a review for one of their books without giving away any spoilers is always especially challenging; however, I’m up for the challenge!
So far 2020 has brought incredible reading my way. If you missed my review of Cynthia L. Copeland’s debut graphic novel for young readers, Cub, you can go back and read it here. My second read of the New Year, Front Desk by Kelly Yang, has been on my TBR for some time. I am so happy I finally got to read this book and only wish that I’d pushed some others out of the way and gotten to it sooner!
Front Desk is a book I will keep, re-read, and recommend. In fact, I hope everyone reads and recommends this book, especially teachers. Front Desk is a timely tale about a ten year old Chinese girl named Mia who immigrates to America with her parents. Drawn largely from Ms. Yang’s own experiences growing up, Front Desk is an emotionally charged novel sure to tug on your heart strings and get you fired up at the same time.
From the publisher:
“Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?”
A new year means new books, and I’m kicking off 2020 with a stack that I can’t wait to tackle. I have a combination of middle grade reads, picture books, and memoirs. So far, 2020 reading has gotten off to a great start with Cynthia L. Copeland’s first graphic novel for kids, Cub.