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

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DNF ARC Review: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle ModestoAuthor: Michelle Modesto

Genre: Young adult, western, fantasy

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

384 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Balzer + Bray for letting me read this!

I had to DNF this one, you guys. I tried. I really did. But it just has too much going on. I spent almost all of the time I was reading confused, and that does not make for a good book for me. Before I wrote this full review, I posted this GIF on Goodreads in an attempt to sum up my feelings and it still stands true.

What is going on gif

There is so much going on right away – you’re just thrown into this world of vampires and mechanical human parts and all kinds of stuff – but you don’t really know why the world’s like this. It’s just a weird and unsettling world that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And most of those things don’t seem to add much to the story, if I’m honest.

I do want to point out that I know A LOT of people really loved this book, and I’m mostly in the minority here. I do think there are people who will love this story (and the premise was really cool), but in the end, it just wasn’t for me.

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

Waiting on Wednesday: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff GarvinPublisher: Balzer + Bray

Author: Jeff Garvin

Release date: February 2, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Why I’m excited: This book kind of sounds like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda but about a gender fluid person, and you guys know how much I loved Simon vs. Riley sounds awesome and smart and I’m looking forward to meeting them. I really appreciate how many issues are being covered these days in YA lit, and though I think we always need more, I’m glad Balzer + Bray is publishing this one. I hope we get a mixture of narrative and blog posts – give me those alternate storytelling methods!

Waiting on Wednesday: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle ModestoPublisher: Balzer + Bray

Author: Michelle Modesto

Release date: February 2, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Why I’m excited: I’m not usually a huge fan of historical fiction, unless it’s the type that blends a different element (magic, fantastical creatures, etc.) into that historical time period. So the idea of magic + the Wild West sounds freaking brilliant to me. Westie sounds like an AWESOME character, and I can’t wait to meet her! Not going to lie, her “foul-mouthed tough exterior” is one of the selling points, for sure.

Waiting on Wednesday: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Dumplin' by Julie MurphyPublisher: Balzer + Bray

Author: Julie Murphy

Release date: September 15, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Why I’m excited: I’ve only read the synopsis for Dumplin’ and I can already tell I’m going have my heart stolen by this book, just like it says. I love the body positive message and I think it sounds absolutely adorable and wonderful and everything I want in a book right now. I was sadly declined for an ARC of the book on Edelweiss, but that’s okay because I’ll be buying it as soon as it comes out! I think that Will sounds like a brave, strong, beautiful, amazing character, and I cannot wait to meet and connect with her. GO BIG OR GO HOME. P.s. Balzer + Bray has been putting out so many amazing books!

Book Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above by I.W. GregorioAuthor:  I.W. Gregorio

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

352 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

None of the Above is incredible. I finished reading it more than two weeks ago and I still can’t quite figure out how to properly tell you why you should read this important, incredible, entertaining, beautiful book.

Kristin is in her senior year of high school and she’s the star of her track team and loved by both her friends and her boyfriend. But when Homecoming night doesn’t really go the way it should, she makes an appointment with an ob-gyn and finds out that she’s intersex. Her life, identity, and world are completely turned upside down and she must figure out who she really is while everyone else does too.

Like a lot of people, I didn’t know much about what being intersex meant. I had a general idea, but this book taught me so much (I love when I can learn about something real when reading). This book is so important for that very reason – not only is it a well-written, entertaining, heartbreaking, uplifting story about a fictional character, it’s also a book about a real condition and realistic reactions to it. None of the Above is exactly what a book about diversity should be. Yet another book I wish I could make everyone read.

Something that has come up in conversations recently (I posted about books that feature characters with mental illnesses which sparked conversation in the comments but also with friends) is a certain lack of empathy that some people have, which is disheartening in a lot of ways, but that’s not the point. I’m bringing this up because I am not intersex. Nor do I know anyone that is (as far as I know). But I connected so well with Kristin because of her struggle with identity throughout the book. Her identity (as a woman, as herself) is challenged several times throughout the novel. (Quick note to say how heartbreaking it was to read the sections in which Kristin is bullied, which felt so, so realistic; I hated it, but I’m glad that nothing felt exaggerated nor sugar-coated). Kristin no longer knows who she is (her doctor tells her that she is a woman, but is she when everyone tells her she isn’t? When she has male chromosomes?). Is she Kristin because of her chromosomes? What makes you you?

The bottom line: None of the Above is important, and you really don’t want to miss it, not only because it will teach you more about something you may or may not be familiar with, but because everyone can relate to Kristin’s struggle to figure out how she is. We all deserve to be reminded that we can get through anything.

The Great Simon Oreogasm (OREOOOOS + Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda GIVEAWAYS!)

Blog Tour - Oreogasm

Hi, lovelies! Welcome to my stop on the tour for Becky Albertalli’s incredible debut Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. In case you missed my review, you can check that out if you’re so inclined. (SPOILER: I LOVED IT). I’ve also been pretty much constantly tweeting about it or talking about how much I can’t wait to meet Becky on the 11th! If you haven’t seen these tweets, you obviously don’t follow me on Twitter. If you’re somehow unsure if you want to read this book, you can read the first 75 pages on the Epic Reads website!

Since I loved this book, I am super excited to be sharing how I eat Oreos and the THREE ways you could win a copy of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which you really, really want to do.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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

Published: April 7, 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Find it on Goodreads.

Pre-order the book – B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

OREOGASM

I’m not going to lie, I love Oreos. Only crazy people don’t like Oreos, in my opinion. I like all Oreos (I don’t discriminate between fillings), BUT regular ol’ stuffing Milk’s Favorite Cookie are my favorite. I eat Oreos in a variety of ways, but since I’m putting this post together in the morning with a cup of coffee, we’re going to go with that.

Other ways I eat Oreos:
With Peter Pan Peanut Butter
Dunk them in milk
The traditional way – peel them apart, eat the filling from one cookie, eat that cookie, eat the filling from the other, eat that one. See visual below.
DSCN0047

I want to try eating them like Aimee at Deadly Darlings does, with marshmallows! Yummm.

THE AUTHOR

Becky AlbertalliBecky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers; some of these experiences inspired her debut novel. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. These days, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons, and writes very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction.

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter (She’s pretty much the coolest, and you definitely want to follow her)

Simon giveaways

I have THREE ways for you to win a copy of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

Simon wants to know: how do YOU eat your Oreos? Starting March 31st, use the #SimonVs hashtag to:

  1. Describe how you like to eat your Oreos.

OR

  1. Show us a picture!

On April 6th, two Oreo lovers from the hashtag will be chosen at random to receive signed, personalized hardcovers of SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA (one from Twitter, and one from Instagram, open internationally).

And if we reach fifty entries on the hashtag? Epic Reads will unlock a never-before-seen email exchange between Simon and Blue!

For the third way to win, click on the picture below to head to Rafflecopter and enter to win a copy of the book and a package of Oreos!

Giveaway Enter Go forth and spread the Oreo love, friends! 

Excerpt Tour | Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I am so very excited to be kicking off the excerpt tour for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli! Before I give you the excerpt, let me tell you a little more about the book and where you can pre-order it. Trust me, you want to read this one. Check out my review to see just how much I LOVED Simon

About the book:

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens AgendaSixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Pre-order the book – B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

READY FOR THE EXCERPT? Here we go!

FROM: hourtohour.notetonote@gmail.com

TO: bluegreen118@gmail.com

DATE: Oct 30 at 9:56 PM

SUBJECT: Re: hollow wieners

Blue,

I guess I never tried to pull off something truly scary. My family is really all about the funny costumes. We used to get competitive about whose costume would make my dad laugh the hardest. My sister was a trash can one year. Not Oscar the Grouch. Just a trash can full of trash. And I was pretty much a one-trick pony. The boy-in-a-dress concept never got old (until it did, I guess—I was in fourth grade and had this amazing flapper costume, but then I looked in the mirror and felt this electric shock of mortification).

Now, I’ll say I aim for the sweet spot of simplicity and badassery. I can’t believe you’re not dressing up. Don’t you realize you’re throwing away the perfect opportunity to be someone else for an evening?

Disappointedly yours,

—Jacques

Head to Don’t Mind the Mess tomorrow for another excerpt from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and go ahead and place your pre-order. You don’t want to miss this one.

About Becky:

Becky AlbertalliBecky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers; some of these experiences inspired her debut novel. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. These days, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons, and writes very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction. Visit her at www.beckyalbertalli.com and on Twitter: @beckyalbertalli.

ARC Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli’s debut novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a wonderful, real, and epically beautiful book. It deserves to be read.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaAuthor:  Becky Albertalli

Genre: Young adult, contemporary

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

320 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

When one of Simon’s emails to Blue – an anonymous and not openly gay (like Simon) boy from his school – gets into the wrong hands, he’s blackmailed into helping this bully get the girl or his sexual identity will be out in the open for everyone. Even worse to Simon, Blue’s identity could be exposed to the school. Basically, Simon’s junior year is turning into a complicated disaster. Simon hates change but he has to find a way to adapt before he’s pushed out of his comfort zone.

I loved Simon. So much. He’s my kind of person – nerdy, funny, smart, sweet, and he’s got this brilliant dry sense of humor that had my “giggles keep escaping around the edges (ARC 237).” What a great quote, right? He doesn’t understand why white and straight are the defaults in our society. Why shouldn’t everyone have to come out – straight, gay, asexual, whatever. He just wants to be happy. I was rooting for him so hard the entire time. I wanted Simon and Blue to live happily ever after. I know nothing is that easy, but I wanted it for him. That’s how real he felt. A favorite quote from Simon:

I fall a little bit in love with everyone. (ARC 32)

Blue and Simon have been getting to know each other through emails for most of the school year. They don’t know who the other is, just that they are gay and not out. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about how much I love books with letters or emails or other forms of communication before, so you can imagine how much I adored Blue and Simon’s emails. They get steadily more flirtatious as the book goes on and it was so cute to see how much they liked each other. Then when we finally get the big reveal and they meet each other? SWOON. I had been hoping most of the book that Blue was who I thought he was. I was SO HAPPY about it.

Other things I loved: realistic friendships that were supportive even through issues and change, Simon (yeah, I already mentioned him but I had to again), Simon’s parents, Simon’s outlook on life, Blue.

One thing I didn’t like: I wish we’d had more time with Blue and Simon after they meet in real life. I want to swoon over them some more.

The bottom line: Everyone needs to meet Simon. He’s so human that I feel like everyone would be more human after having met him. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but, basically, this book deserves to be read. It’s such a wonderful love story and it’ll make you feel all melty on the inside. I honestly can’t believe this is a debut.

Rating:  9 – practically perfect

Want to learn more about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? Come back tomorrow when I’ll be kicking off the excerpt tour!