Hello to Goodbye Days

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Summary:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?


My Thoughts:

I loved Jeff’s first book Serpent King last year and was still in no way prepared for Goodbye Days.

With that said, I went into this book with HIGH expectations and absolutely was NOT let down at all!

I was tearing up within the first 3 or 4 pages, so I knew I was going to be in for a ride, much like Serpent King was a rollercoaster of emotions.

Most importantly, Goodbye Days has two very important messages in it.

First- obviously- the dangers of texting and driving. Carver’s life gets all mixed up due to sending his friends a simple text. Did he mean for something bad to happen? Absolutely not. But something happened anyways.

Second- Live everyday to the fullest. The people in Carver’s friends’ lives relied on Carver to imagine what they would have done with the deceased friends’ last days. That’s never something a person wants to imagine, but it teaches us to treat each day importantly.

Jeff has a way of creating characters that are real and easy to relate to for any reader. I may be several years older than his characters, but I find myself thinking, “man, I wish I could’ve had friends like this when I was that age.” Heck, I wish I could have friends this fun now even.

Overall, Zentner has yet again knocked it out of the park and I find myself anxious to see what he does next after loving his first two books. He has definitely earned a place as an insta-buy for me.

Goodbye Days is out NOW, so go grab a copy and always make the most of the days you have.

Love for The Hate U Give

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

My Thoughts:

    I don’t even know where to begin with THUG.

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I read THUG late last year, I believe in early November. I was already excited for it after hearing author, Angie Thomas, read from is at Mississippi Book Festival in August. I was sold and knew this was a book that I wanted to read.

Boy, was I….RIGHT.

I was completely blown away  by Starr and her situation. The writing was real and I could easily (I say easily lightly, because painfully is a better word.) see the story play out. I couldn’t quit reading because I had to know what was going to happen next in Starr’s world.

More importantly, sure, the book is great and  teens (EVERYONE) will love it for what it is, but it is so TIMELY and important with the message it sends out.

The biggest part is that it helped me further understand the kids that I work with everyday. I’m in a small town, yet urban setting with lots of low income families. I graduated 10 years ago from a high school about 30 minutes where I’m now a high school librarian, but 2017 in my school’s community is a whole other world from 2007 in the school and world I graduated in. It honestly helped me “get” where some of these kids are coming from and to understand some of their actions that I see on a daily basis.

That’s because of just how real the writing it. It’s also why I feel like young adult literature NEEDS more own voices books. Kids need to be able to see themselves and their communities. I didn’t intend to write this review on the day that I did, but the need for diverse and own voice books has especially hit me today because a Hispanic girl came to return a book today RAVING about how much she adored what she’d read because “It was so different. So many books are about pretty, white girls- and that’s okay too, Ms. Hays, don’t get me wrong!- but it was neat to have something different even if it wasn’t a Hispanic girl in this book.”

That kid struck a chord with me like she wouldn’t know because the importance of DIFFERENCES is one thing I try hard to push for the kids in my library so often. Sure, read the stuff that’s popular. That’s awesome, but read diverse books and see yourself, your peers, and other aspects that you don’t typically see.


This ended up going on way longer than I intended, but, honestly, I cannot speak highly enough over this book at all. I can’t wait until I’m able to order more books for my library next school year so that I’m able to share Starr with the kids in my school. They’ll love knowing that Starr was living in a neighborhood based on one not too far from where they live.

February 28…GO GET IT. You will not be disappointed in the slightest!

-M

Waiting on Wednesday: By Your Side

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Summary:

An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Why I’m Excited:

Four words: Locked in a library.

Say what?!

This sounds like such a fun book and you can never go wrong with Kasie West.

I’m so ready for this one and to get it for my library! My girls at work are LOVING Kasie’s books since I ordered two of them back in the Spring.

By Your Side release January 31, 2017!

That’s a long wait, but I’ve already got it ordered.

5 questions with PC Cast

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Quick note:

I’m SO excited for Moon Chosen, out next Tuesday! I met Ms Cast a couple years ago at RT book convention and she was incredibly nice. I loved the House of Night series when I was in college, so I’ve been excited to see what she’s done on her own.

Thanks to Ms Cast for taking time to answer a few questions for the blog tour!

PC CAST

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  1. What 3 words would you use to describe your book? EXCITING – HEARTWARMING – UNIQUE
  2. What’s in your “Author Survival Kit”? (Pens, Caffeine, iPods, etc?)

My tread desk!  Yep, I walk and write at the same time (it’s actually awesome and easy – google it!).  I write in silence.  Well, except for four dogs and a Maine Coon cat who tend to either sleep like the dead or create chaos.  I brew a big pot of either green tea or herbal tea and get to work surrounded by my fur babies, research books, crystals, and infused candles made specially for me by the wonderful Sage Goddess (you can find her on Etsy).

3. What was the last book you read that you just couldn’t put down?

SCARLET RAIN by my talented daughter, Kristin Cast.  The book rocks!  But that’s not why I couldn’t put it down.  I couldn’t put it down because she based the mom character in the book on me and what happens to “me” in that books is…well…you’ll have to read it to see!

4. What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

Well, I destroy all of Portland’s bridges, so I had to do lots of research about how they were built so that I could properly tear them down!  My father taught biology for about half a century, so being sure my ecosystems work is imbedded into my DNA.  This series merges biology and fantasy, which means I have to be sure the biological foundation of my world is solid so that it can remain believable when I add fantasy.

I also had to do quite a bit of research about treehouses for the Tribe of the Trees.  I even went to Washington state and stayed in a treehouse B&B (it was fantastic!).

5. Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?

From another author – Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series.  From my own books – ClanFinan from the Partholon series: DIVINE BY MISTAKE, DIVINE BY CHOICE, and DIVINE BY BLOOD.

Moon Chosen is out next week!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Caraval

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Summary:

“A spellbinding tale of sisterhood, love, and betrayal.”
―Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Why I’m Excited:

This. Sounds. Awesome.

A mysterious game?

Sisters?

Heartbreak?

Sign. Me. Up.

The hype around Caraval as been HUGE and I think it sounds like it is rightly so.

It releases on January 31, 2017, and I couldn’t be more excited for it to be out in the world.

Waiting on Wednesday: You Know Me Well

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Summary:

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

A book told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

My Thoughts:

JUNE 7!

I’m so excited for this book. I’m excited anytime there is new David Levithan material.

I had the opportunity to meet David last year and he briefly mentioned this book and I’ve been looking forward to it since then.

Plus, alternating point of views are always fun to me!

Be on the lookout for a review next month!

-Melanie

Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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Summary:

The Serpent King is a book you won’t be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page.” —John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.


My Thoughts:

First off—I did really enjoy Serpent King!

Second—I feel like the hype got me way too excited.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great–but I don’t think it’s what I thought it was going to be.

I kept hearing people say they were sobbing and I just didn’t have that reaction at all.

Sure. There was a time or two that hurt my heart, but nothing that full on major.

However…it was still great! Don’t get me wrong there! I’m looking forward to what Zentner releases next because I do think he’ll do some great things.

This one did have the vibe of a debut novel to me. That’s hard to explain really without it sounding bad, but it does.

But the MOST IMPORTANT THING!!!

Are you ready?

These character ARE relatable. I think that’s WHY I didn’t have a “sobbing” reaction. I felt like the three characters actually could be people that I know. That completely made the book for me! Amazing characters and setting!

The only thing I wish is that Dill’s family would’ve had a more concrete resolution. I have questions about what happened next. I honestly want MORE! Again…these characters were AMAZING!

I do suggest Serpent King, especially if you’re in the mood for a contemporary.

Let me know what you think if you’ve read it!

-Melanie