Blog Tour: This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston | Review & Giveaway

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Hi, everyone! Today I’m really, really excited to be part of the THIS IS OUR STORY blog tour! I’ve been looking forward to this forever it seems like. My excitement doubled when the absolutely gorgeous cover was revealed, and then I read it. You’ll hear more about that below. But first, let me tell you a little about the book and the author. Plus, stick around to the end for a giveaway!

ABOUT THE BOOK

this-is-our-storyNo one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

MY REVIEW

I really, really liked this book, you guys. This was the first time in a while that I read a book in two days. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time for that, but this book would not let me put it down to do anything else. It grabbed me from the very beginning. The plot is so twisty and every time I thought I had figured it out, something else happened that kept me guessing.

I loved how we got short chapters from an anonymous POV (one of the boys). It was strange and creepy and definitely made my skin crawl a time or ten. And I really liked being in Kate’s head the rest of the time. She’s so smart and hardworking and she just wants to bring the truth – whatever it may be – to light. She wants justice done.

Add on top of all of this some swoony boys, awesome bffs, super interesting secondary characters, and one of the coolest title treatments I’ve ever seen (look closely at the colors of the letters) and you’ve got an incredible book.

Perfect for fans of mystery, prep school boys, kickbutt MCs, and fall (this one was a great one to read this time of year).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ashley-elstonAshley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and the sequel, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, in 2014. Her latest novel, THIS IS OUR STORY, will be published on November 15, 2016.

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GIVEAWAY

3 Finished Copies of THIS IS OUR STORY (US Only)

ENTER HERE 

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Book Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights

Summer Days and Summer NightsAuthor: Stephanie Perkins (and various others – each listed by their story below)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

400 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

After reading My True Love Gave to Me, a collection of short stories edited by Stephanie Perkins, last year, I was super excited to hear that she was doing another collection. Everything from the cover to the list of contributing authors had me looking forward to a wonderfully sweet and fun collections of romance-y stories perfect for summer. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. There were several stories that I LOVED (Leigh Bardugo’s was probably my favorite) but quite a few that I did not like. I’ve broken it down by story below.

“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo: Pretty cool! I like romantic stories that have a bit of fantasy mixed it. I totally love Eli. Bizarre but in the absolute best way. Just further proves how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. What a perfect way to start the anthology.

“The End of Love” by Nina LaCour: Her writing is so wonderful and sweet. This one was lovely. So good to have LGBTQIAP+ representation, but like LaCour’s Everything Leads to You, it’s not an issue in the story. It just is.

“Last Stand at the Cinegore” by Libba Bray: Meh. I wanted to like it more than I did. Kinda cheesy, and not in a good way. The plot is a bit muddled and the humor didn’t make me laugh.

“Sick Pleasure” by Francesca Lia Block: Not really what I was expecting. Not exactly bad either. You feel like you’re in a daze for the whole story and it’s not really all that happy. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing?

“In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins: Obviously cute but rather predictable. I adored North and Marigold in the first book, so I was looking forward to seeing them again, but the story was one of those “Will they/won’t they?” kind of stories, which was pointless. I obviously love Stephanie’s writing, but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

“Souvenirs” by Tim Federle: Sadder than I was expecting but I liked it. Realistic. I’ve decided that I just really like Tim Federle’s writing style. I know a few people who don’t like the way he writes or his characters, but I’m drawn to them. I’m not sure if I can really articulate why. They have a bit of dry humor and personality that I like.

“Inertia” by Veronica Roth: What an interesting concept. It was the only story in the book that was sci-fi, which was cool. I don’t think I really connected to the characters in the way that I should have, but the idea was too cool to not like it.

“Love is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron: Super unique. I could see this as a movie in the vein of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I don’t know if you guys have ever watched that movie or other Wes Anderson movies, but the dialogue and plot are kind of…awkward and strange but in this wonderfully funny way that totally works. At least for me.

“Good Luck and Farewell” by Brandy Colbert: Lots of feels in this one. I liked the diversity, families, and love – both romantic and not. I haven’t read anything by Brandy before, but it makes me want to pick up Pointe.

“Brand New Attraction” by Cassandra Clare: I’ll be honest. I didn’t even finish this story. I don’t know why Cassandra Clare has this weird obsession with incest, but it grosses me out. Direct quote from the story: “He reminded me of a cup of coffee: wet, hot, and bitter. I tried to decide if it was immoral to lust after your step-cousin. I figured it wasn’t. We weren’t actually related. No shared blood.” Just…why?

“A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith: Cute and awkward and adorable. I love Jennifer E. Smith’s books, and I could definitely see this one being an entire novel. I wish it was, tbh. I liked that the love interest was different.

“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman: Unique and interesting. The end wraps up too quickly though. Must like Veronica Roth’s, the idea behind this one made me like it so much because of how unique it was. A cute romance too.

Favorites: Leigh Bardugo’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, Jon Skovron’s.

Least Favorites: Cassandra Clare’s (DNF), Libba Bray’s.

Graphic Novel Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

NimonaAuthor and illustrator: Noelle Stevenson 

Genre: YA, graphic novel

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

266 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I feel like I say this a lot – but how the heck did I not read this sooner? You guys know I love comics and graphic novels, and I’d heard about how amazing NIMONA was from a lot of friends. And yet, I just now read it. BUT at least I finally did because I LOVED it.

This graphic novel is hilarious and weird and dark. It’s super strange but in all the best ways. I love that all of the characters are both good and bad, light and dark, which is how I think all people are. Nimona was a little bit crazy and murder-y but also just wanted to be loved. I loved that instead of wanting to be the hero, she wanted to be a villain. You don’t get that very often, and you guys probably know I’m a sucker for villains. Plus, the actual villain, Lord Ballister Blackheart, was not as evil as you might think. Yes, he wanted revenge, but he was also against killing. Like I said – dark and light.

Nimona is sassy af, and I think this really comes across in Stevenson’s wonderful illustrations. They are deceivably simple – simple line work but lots of details, flat colors but lots of them. I really loved these illustrations. I also loved that Nimona is kind of curvy.

The bottom line: READ IT READ IT READ IT. I’ll definitely be checking out Stevenson’s other comics after reading this (already placed a hold on LUMBERJANES at the library). If you like dragons or sassy MCs or villains or silly names or fun illustrations or science or metaphors, you should definitely read NIMONA.

Book Review: Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

Ollie's OdysseyAuthor: William Joyce

Illustrator: Moonbot

Genre: Children’s fiction

Publisher: Atheneum

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

304 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

What a cute book! I absolutely loved following along with Ollie on his A-venture to get back to his boy, Billy.

Ollie is a Favorite, a super high honor for a Toy. Zozo, a creepy little clown toy, has never been anyone’s favorite, and he and his Creeps (clockwork-esque Toys made by Zozo) search out and kidnap favorites to make them forget their kids forever. One day, Ollie is toynapped at a wedding, and both Billy and Ollie go on their biggest A-venture ever to find each other.

This book would be super fun to read at bedtime with kids – a chapter or two each night before bed. The illustrations are wonderful and really capture the personality of these toys. Plus, Ollie, a Handmade – stitched together by Billy’s mom and resembling a bit of a teddy bear and a stuffed rabbit – is the absolute cutest thing, and I just wanted to reach in and cuddle him.

The bottom line: Highly recommended for kids AND adults. Honestly, I recommend all of William Joyce’s books – if you didn’t know, he’s the writer behind the book that Meet the Robinsons is based on (A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON) as well as Rise of the Guardians (based on his Guardians of Childhood series).

Audiobook Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone GapAuthor: Laura Ruby

Narrator: Dan Bittner

Audiobook length: 8 hours and 21 minutes

Genre: Young adult, magical realism

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (book); HarperAudio (audiobook)

YOU GUYS WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS BOOK?

This book is SO. COOL. I’m really glad that Nic Stone couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved it. I finally checked it out because of her, and it made my trip up to Chicago (for BEA) feel so short. I was completely engrossed in this story.

Bone Gap is super strange. Like, so completely weird. But in the best possible way. It’s magical realism, so there are some scenes that take you by surprise – I know I wasn’t expecting to see Roza in a castle, and it felt a bit weird at first. But mostly I felt like I was dreaming. That’s my favorite part of magical realism – you feel awake and asleep at the same time. Bone Gap was exactly that: I felt like I’d fallen into this strange, beautiful, bizarre dream. I thought the book was really well-written and I loved all of the characters, especially Petey. I will definitely be rereading this one in physical format.

THE NARRATOR: I thought Dan Bittner did a fantastic job at narrating the book. I’ve previously listened to Dan as he is the narrator for Cole St. Clair in the later Wolves of Mercy Falls books by Maggie Stiefvater. I really like his voice, as it’s a bit gruff, so I enjoyed his Bone Gap narration.

The bottom line: READ THIS BOOK, YOU GUYS. I thought it was fantastic and beautiful. I will say that I don’t think this book is for everyone, and if you’ve never read a book that’s magical realism, just be prepared. It’s bizarre at first, but it is so so good.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Book Review: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moscowitz and Kat Helgeson

Gena-FinnAuthor: Hannah Moscowitz, Kat Helgeson

Genre: Young adult, contemporary

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

287 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I’m just not sure what to make of this book. I have really mixed feelings. It was a quick read, so that was good.

I was so invested in this book. For the first half or so. Then there’s a major event, and I felt the transition from the first half to the second was really awkward and not well done in my opinion. I wanted to stay invested because I really liked these nerdy, adorable, smart characters in the beginning. The book went from being really cute to being REALLY serious and dark practically out of nowhere. I think the dark stuff was important too, but the transition was so hard and quick that it could’ve given you whiplash.

I also think that the book was marketed as something that it definitely wasn’t. In my opinion, they made it seem like it would be this epic, adorable LGBTQIAP+ book and while it does hint at that a little bit, the overall story is very heteronormative, especially in the end. SPOILER: The authors had a real opportunity here with how they set up these characters to work with their sexuality, but nothing happens with it. It ended up just being really confusing and weird.

You guys know how much I love books that are made of alternative storytelling methods, and this one has it all – blog posts, texts, emails, fan fiction, and there’s not a single page that has a normal page of text. I loved that format. I also loved the fandom stuff and the fact that they become friends online and then friends IRL.

The bottom line: A cute, fluffy read in the beginning all about fandom and online friends that turns into a dark, serious read very quickly. I liked it overall, but there were some disappointing factors.

Rating: 5 – take it or leave it

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Chronicle Books for letting me read this!

ARC Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

The Great American WhateverAuthor: Tim Federle

Genre: Young adult, contemporary, LGBTQIA+

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 29, 2016

278 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I was initially drawn to this one by the cover and title. I mean, look at it. It’s great! Plus, while I haven’t read the whole thing yet, I’ve heard great things about Federle’s Nate books. I’m glad I checked it out, because while I had some reservations with the story and characters, I enjoyed this book overall.

First of all, it’s hilarious. I think the only way I can really show you this is by just giving you a quote.

If I took out my broken AC and cracked the window, I’d have to confront the reality that I might hear, like, birds, or worse: the merry squeals of neighborhood children. And who has the stomach for that kind of unannounced joy at this hour?

The writing, the symbolism, the movie references were all top notch. In my opinion, the thing that fell flat was the plot. There honestly wasn’t much there. I thought it fell flat. And I also wished I could reach in and just shake Quinn a bit. I wanted to connect with him a bit more than I did. Which isn’t to say I didn’t connect with him at all; it was just difficult sometimes to understand him and connect with his feelings. And you guys know how much I despise insta-love, and there’s a bit of that here.

The bottom line: Funny, smart, and sarcastic. I liked that part of the book a lot. It was a bit hard to connect with the book at times and I wasn’t overly fond of the insta-love, but the book is a quick, fun read, so I definitely enjoyed that!

Rating: 7 – Pretty good

Book Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a BearAuthor: E.K. Johnston

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 15, 2016

248 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I won’t lie – I was first attracted to this book by its title. “Exit, pursued by a bear” is my favorite stage direction EVER, and I was so excited about a book with that title. And then I read it, and WOAH.

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR is so important. The best part of this book, in my opinion, is that it shows a different way to react to, cope with, and live after a sexual assault. There are a lot of different ways to deal with something like this, and it’s good that we’ve got a book here that shows something other than the girl who is completely consumed by what has happened to her. Those stories are definitely important too, but we need books about ALL the ways to react to this situation.

I LOVE best friend stories, and the best friend in this book – Polly – is the best of the best friends. She’s so supportive but also honest, sometimes brutally so (this was one of the instances where I wasn’t quite so fond of the book).

Hermione Winters (I love the allusions to the play that the title comes from – Hermione is a main character in The Winter’s Tale, hence Hermione Winters – but Johnston also updated it and mentioned her dad’s love of HP) refuses to be a victim. She will not quit, and she doesn’t let what’s happened to her define who she will be in the future. And I really, really appreciate this.

The bottom line: A quick, significant, emotional story about an important topic, a beautiful, supportive friendship, and a fierce, strong MC. It’s worth your time.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

 

Mini Review: Illuminae audiobook

Illuminae audiobook

Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Narrators: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, and Johnathan McClain, plus a full cast of 17 more narrators

Audiobook length: 11 hours and 41 minutes

Genre: Young adult, sci-fi

Publisher: Listening Library (Knopf Books for Young Readers – book)

HOLY ****. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME HOW FREAKING BRILLIANT THE ILLUMINAE AUDIOBOOK IS?!?! Like, I’m pretty sure that no audiobook will ever live up to it. Except maybe the GEMINA audio (that’s the sequel to ILLUMINAE). Full cast with distorted voices, PA systems, computer and digital sounds. Everything is perfect. This is hands down the most unique audiobook I’ve ever listened to. There’s a full cast of TWENTY narrators. AND there’s a bunch of cool sounds and such that pushes this audiobook to the top of my favorites list. According to Listening Library’s website, the ILLUMINAE audiobook “also features a special “sound bed“—a mix of droning sounds and effects under certain voices. It’s not just music or sound effects—it’s more like a “sound theme” that ties the audiobook together.”

Highly recommended for a reread of ILLUMINAE or your first time. Either way – you won’t be disappointed. I CANNOT wait to listen to the GEMINA audiobook!!

If you don’t believe me, check out this Storify that Listening Library put together of a bunch of tweets about the audiobook.

Reread/Audiobook Review through Tweets: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I recently reread Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda as an audiobook, and of course, I loved it again. When I was almost done with the reread, I was…inspired, I suppose, to tweet a bit about how much I love the book and why I think Becky is just so good at what she does. And I thought it’d be fun if I just shared those tweets here as a kind of Reread Review through Tweets. 🙂

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky AlbertalliSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Narrator: Michael Crouch

Audiobook length: 6 hours and 45 minutes

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (book) / Blackstone Audio (Audiobook)

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Before I start with the tweets, I want to talk about the audiobook for a second. I need to mention just how FREAKING perfect Michael Crouch is as a narrator. I mean, his voice fits Simon SO well, and I really just want to listen to every single one of his audiobooks and have him narrate everything forever. So if the universe could just get on that, that’d be great. Thanks.

So this was harder than I thought it was going to be because Twitter or WordPress likes to put the previous tweet as well if it is a conversation like this one. But I got it.

The bottom line: Just in case I wasn’t clear, you need to read this book. Get on it.

Find it on Goodreads. Or just go ahead and order the book – B&N | Amazon | IndieBound