In Which I Tell You About That Time I Met ….

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Ransom Riggs!

Before before I jump into that story, let me tell you another one.

A few months ago, while road tripping down to North Carolina with two of my closest friends, I had the opportunity to listen to the audio version of Ransom Riggs’ debut YA novel Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I like audiobooks, but I wasn’t one hundred percent certain that this book would work on audio because of all those pictures. But my friend assured me that the audio version was audio.

As I listened, my mind conjured up images of Jacob, of his beloved grandfather, of the peculiar children I knew were lurking in the pages ahead. But what my mind hadn’t imagined was this: the start of the audio book moved at a sluggish pace. Still my one friend assured me it would pick up, and that I would end up falling head over heels in love with Miss Peregrine and all of her peculiar children.

As we listened to the detail and the not so great accents I started to get into the story, even though in my heart of hearts I felt this was a story that I much rather read – physically read, with the hardcover book in my hands. Because my one friend was not enjoying it, we decided to leave it for another time, another trip that we’d be taking just a few weeks after this one.

Let’s fast forward to that trip. Again, a friend and I loaded into my car and started our journey to South Carolina, with the sole intentions of going to YallFest. As we drove along I-95 we decided it was time I revisited Miss Peregrine. And this time I intended on finishing it.

And finish it we did.

Words can’t express just how freaking much I loved Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The writing was stellar. The plot was creep-tastic in the best way possible, and the pictures were simply mesmerizing.

So it was a good thing that I was on my way to YallFest, because then I’d have my chance to meet Ransom Riggs and tell him how very much I loved his book.

Well, that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, he had a bad case of food poisoning, and instead of meeting him, I received a signed book plate – which was awesome, but just not the same.

So, with the approach of Hollow City, I figured he’d be coming around sometime soon. And come around he did!

This past Sunday (January 26th) Ransom Riggs visited the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn – which I really, really liked and thought it was a great venue for such an event – for the Brooklyn launch of Hollow City. To say this was a great event is a blatant understatement.

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This book event was unlike any other book event I have ever attended. And trust me, I’ve been to a lot. He didn’t just talk about his new book, he didn’t simply host a question and answer session. Instead, attendees had the chance to catch a glimpse into his photo collection, we had the chance to watch a some short documentaries on urban exploration and photo collecting. Attendees had the chance to get the know the person who created the books, and that was really cool.

Of course he talked all about both Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and his latest title Hollow City. Of course he answered question after question. And of course he signed books and snapped pictures.

But unlike most of those other events I’ve attended in the past, I left this one feeling a bit different. It left me feeling like I wanted to get out there and explore the world – not just the hidden gems and crumbling buildings, but the whole wide world. It left me feeling like I wanted to discover my own creepy photos – scouring flea markets, antique stores, and thrift shops.

But above all things I left there feeling okay with the fact that like Ransom Riggs, I too haven’t read the whole Harry Potter series! Ha Ha

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In short, it was a great event. If you haven’t picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, you’re certainly missing out!

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Out of Easy

Out of Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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Josie Moraine has tried her hardest to make a life for herself, one that doesn’t keep her in the shadow of her brother prostitute mother. She studied hard at school, read every book she could get her hands on, works hard at her two jobs.

But for the people of the French Quarter, it just isn’t enough. She’s still her mother’s daughter, no matter how hard she tries.

Enter Charlotte, a new friend who has exactly what Josie wants: a way out. Charlotte attends Smith College. And when she tells Josie that she too could apply and attend, Josie jumps on the idea. Exciting by the possibility of getting out, Josie plans.

But what she doesn’t plan on getting trapped, not just in the French Quarter, but in the middle of a murder mystery. No one really suspects Josie, even though she’s found evidence proving that this man didn’t die of natural causes, but rather was mudered. Josie sets out to find the truth, but what she finds is murder, meyhem, and worst of all … her mother.

Will Josie find the truth? Or will she get caught, red handed with a crucial piece of evidence?

Out of Easy, written by author Ruta Sepetys is a work of historical fiction that will transport readers back in time to 1950s New Orleans.

The writing that fills Sepetys second young adult novel, Out of Easy, is award worthy. Her writing is fluid, it’s lyrical, and above all things it’s descriptive, but not overly so. With mere words Sepetys manages to, not only paint a vivid picture, but she manages to make readers feel as if they are at the center of the story — as if they were actually a part of it it, rather than just a witness to it.

I would’t necessarily consider Out of Easy a fast paced kind of book. And in this instance, that’s perfectly fine. Out of Easy is an even paced read that picks up when the story demands, and slows down to let readers saver it at just the right time.

Aside from the writing, what makes Out of Easy such a great read are the characters. Main character Josie is a real spit-fire. She’s everything readers will look for in a tried and true heroine – she’s smart both book wise and street smart, she’s honest and emotional, but above all things she’s a real hustler.

Besides Josie there is a whole cast of characters that will capture and delight. Of all those colorful characters, the most colorful of them all is Josie’s friend, her protector, and her sometimes mentor: Willie.  Willie is a gun toting’ madam who always seems to say just what Josie needs to hear just when she needs to hear them … even if Josie doesn’t want to listen.

Each character plays an important role within the greater story arch. They all work simultaneously together, as a family, to make Out of Easy what it is. It’s that family factor – no matter how dysfunctional it may seem from the outside – that makes this book so real, so honest, and so readable.

I read Out of  Easy a while ago, and to this day, I’m still thinking about the story, the characters, the book as a whole. What I’m saying is this: read it, I promise you it will leave a lasting impression.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things on My Reading Wish List

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(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & The Bookish. The above photo was taken and was altered by me for the purpose of these posts.*)

 

Hello Readers!

And welcome to today’s Top Ten Tuesday. Today’s post will be about all the things on my reading wish list. What does that mean? Well, it means these are the things I wish I found in the books I read – from characters, to time periods, to well … anything.  But not just books, these are things I wish for myself as a reader.

10. I’m a music junkie. So, it’s only natural to wish for more music – centric books.

9.  As a reader, I tend to stick to the kinds of books I know. The kinds of books I’m most comfortable reading. Every so often I want to step outside of my reading comfort zone, and into something vastly different. I wish that genres like fantasy and scifi were a bit more approachable for me, and less intimidating.

8. We all have those characters that have left a lasting impression on us. One of those characters was Eleanor from Rainbow Rowell’s debut YA Eleanor & Park. Eleanor was a character that resonated with me, as I’m sure she did many other readers. Without getting into it all, let’s just say I related to her. I wish more characters were more open, honest, and as relatable as Eleanor.

7. Tone and a books narration are key. I’m a reader who prefers when a book is told in the first person. I however, don’t necessarily like when a book is told from the third person. Why? Mainly because I feel like I can’t connect to them, I feel very detached from the story and the characters. I wish this wasn’t the case.

6. There are plenty of books I’ve read in the past that I felt just dragged on and on. And why? Details. Details can be great, but overly so they could really weigh down a story. For those books that just dragged on and on, I wish  there were less details and more enjoyment.

5. I wish I read a bit faster.

4. I wish there were less books that look so appealing to me, that way my reading list wouldn’t be so daunting. (I’m kinda kidding about that … but not really)

3. I wish there were more road-trip themed books.

2. I’m terrible with series. I normally start them, but rarely finish them. In regards to series, I really wish they were published closer together.

1. Lastly, I wish there were more time in the day to just sit and read.

*The above photo was taken by me, and was altered for the purposes of these Top Ten Tuesday posts. Please do not take or “borrow” it without proper permission. Thank You!)

Take A Stroll on Fear Street

Hello Readers!

In case you didn’t already know, I let you know a fun fact about me: like most people my age I grew up reading R.L. Stine – mainly his goosebumps series. As I grew and matured I found my way to Fear Street. Recently, Mr. Stine posted his favorite Fear Street books on his website. Now, while I remember reading lots and loving lots of those Fear Street books, I didn’t read all of them. With that said, I was a bit saddened to see that my most favorite Fear Street book was, in fact, NOT on his favorite list. You should really check it out, especially if you are or even were a Fear Street fan. (In case you are wondering, my favorite book is One Evil Summer)

As I was recently perusing Facebook a few days back I found that some of my FB friends were taking the What Literary Character Are You Quiz.  I read a lot of Shakespeare in High School, so it’s not quite surprising that I am Juliet (of all the Shakespearian characters I probably liked her most)

Another quiz that I think is fun has absolutely nothing to do with books. It’s a Buzzfeed quiz that tells you What City You Should Really Be Living In.  It was fun, but honestly I don’t believe a word of it. According to this quiz I should be living in Paris. I’ve never even wanted to live in Paris. Now …. London that’s a whole other story.

A former teacher of mine and a friend of mine (Miss Print) posted this interesting Huffington Post Article on Twitter recently. In it, it details the top thirteen YA books that hit on some hard issues.  I’ve only read five of the thirteen titles.

I really, really love my books, but in all honesty I don’t think I could afford one of these fancy bookcases!

I’ve been trying to, slowly but surely, get rid of some books. My good friend Miss Print has been ruthless. But I am not — for many reasons I don’t really want to get into. But I found this post by Jamie over at the Perpetual Page Turner to be quite helpful. Especially those questions she asks herself after reading a book.

And finally, speaking of Miss Print … her birthday is coming up, and to celebrate she’s giving away a book. You should check it out, and definitely enter.

Cherry, Baby, Money

Cherry, Baby, Money by John M. Cusick

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There isn’t much that Cherry wants from her life. She’s perfectly content to live in a trailer in the wrong part of town. She’s completely certain she wants to skip college and marry Lucas, not only the boy next door, but the love of her life. And even though she doesn’t love working at the Burrito Barn, she’s satisfied.

Cherry’s life is simple, and mostly uncomplicated. That is until she meets Ardelia Deen, a top-notch movie star who Cherry just happens to save from choking to death on a piece of burrito. Before she knows it, Cherry is getting carried away in the glitz and the glamour that trails behind new friend Ardelia – the parties, the attention, the beautiful car.

Before long though, Cherry starts to realize that, judging by Ardelia, the Hollywood life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when Ardelia offers Cherry a very special job, Cherry’s life is suddenly changed. Does she take the job, and earn some quick cash? Or does she walk away from it all, and live the life she’s always intended to live?

Cherry, Baby, Money, written by author John M. Cusick is a realistic book that focuses on some tough issues, but ultimately misses the mark.

The writing that fills the pages of Cusick’s Cherry, Baby, Money is good. While the pacing is spot on, the third person telling of Cherry’s life simply does not work.  Because of this third person, I found it particularly difficult to really sink my teeth into this book. Relating to the story and to the characters was difficult, as if they were both kept at an arm’s length.

To be honest the narration frustrated me. But not as much as main character Cherry. Though vividly created, I found Cherry to be rude and unlikeable. Her attitude was bad, and the language that flew from her mouth was worse than her attitude.

I could easily overlook the vulgarity, but what I couldn’t overlook was the fact that that language felt forced, detracting from the catchy and often witty dialog. Readers, from the get go will easily come to understand that Cherry is a tough chick, someone not to be messed with. The language wasn’t necessary.

Even though I personally would not consider Cherry, Baby, Money to be an “issue” book, Cusick covers a fair number of issues. From financial to social issues (and almost everything in between) Cusick masterfully maneuvers these issues making them seem all too real and all too familiar. Beyond that, every issue that’s brought up is handing well, without being heavy handed.

The main storyline of Cherry, Baby, Money is captivating. But somewhere along the way, it simply got muddled. By the end, I felt like I wanted something more out of it, something I could at least relate to. While Cusick’s latest book wasn’t for me, it doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. To anyone who has read Cherry, Baby, Money and loved it, let’s discuss!

It’s HOP Time!

Hello Readers!

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It’s been quite some time since I participated in one of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer’s awesome hops! So, when I saw her e-mail I knew it was time to hop on the bandwagon and link up!

I’m participating in the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. A big THANK YOU to Kathy, for once again, hosting such a great hop!

So, let’s cut to the chase — what’s up for grabs!

For this hop I am giving away two different prize packs. They are:

Prize Pack # 1:

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An ARC (advanced readers copy) of A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron, an Unbreakable Sticker, a Vengeance bookmark signed by author Megan Miranda, and a Wounded Name key chain.

Prize Pack # 2:

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An ARC (advanced readers copy) of Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton, a limited edition United We Spy excerpt, A Wounded Name bookmark signed by author Dot Hutchinson, and a Drake Chronicles pin set.

Now, the fine print….

This giveaway is open from January 15th (at 12 a.m.) and will run until January 21st (11:59 p.m.) to U.S. residents ages 13 years old and older. To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment ON THIS POST. Comment about anything – which prize pack you would like to win, what your favorite book is, etc.. When posting please remember to include a valid e-mail address.

Two winners will be selected via random number generator, and will be informed via e-mail on January 22nd. Winners will have forty-eight (48) hours to respond to e-mail with mailing/shipping information. If response is not received, a new winner will be selected.

Don’t forget to check out all the other blogs that are participating in this hop, all are giving away some really great prizes!

Good Luck! And Happy Hopping!

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Debuts I’m Most Excited About

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Hello Readers!

My TBR (to be read) list is already a bit too long, so it doesn’t really make a difference if I add a few more books. These books are all 2014 debut books that I’m excited to read!

1. Defy by Sara B. Larson

2. Hexed by Michelle Krys

3.  Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

4. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

5. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

6. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

7. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

8.  The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn  Academy by Kate Hattemer

9. Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo

10. Conversion by Katherine Howe