Clean Getaway

Reviews


Title
: Clean Getaway

Author: Nixmc Stone

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:

When G’ma picks Scoob up in a green RV, he’s game for whatever adventure she’s about to take him on. Especially if it means he’s getting out of his grounding.

As Scoob travels alongside G’ma, traveling the same route she travelled many years ago with her husband (Scoob’s G’pa), he’s excited to learn, not just about G’ma but about history – his family’s history and the county’s history as well.

But the more he learns, the more he realizes that something just isn’t right. G’ma has secrets, and the history he’s learning isn’t only scary, but it’s incredibly unjust.

Will Scoob uncover G’mas secrets? And if does, do those secrets come with a cost?

What Didn’t Work:

In all honestly, I loved Nic Stone’s middle grade debut, Clean Getaway. Every aspect of this book genuinely worked for me.

What Did Work:

Nic Stone’s Clean Getaway is a fantastic book, and there are many reasons why. Let’s start at the beginning ….

Stone’s writing is strong, smart, and engaging. Readers of all ages will quickly love the story she crafted.  As an adult reader, I truly appreciated how her writing makes, not only Clean Getaway’s intended audience think, but all readers. I also appreciated that she clearly recognizes and appreciates how smart kids are.

Then there are her main characters and their relationship. G’ma and Scoob are complex characters that, I feel, are easy to relate. Scoob is smart, funny, and above all else lovable. G’ma is a real character! She’s got spunk and energy, and from my perspective has a whole lot to offer, not only Scoob but all readers.

The dynamic between these two characters, isn’t only rare, but it’s also special. I love how much they truly love each other, and I couldn’t help but think of my own relationship with my own grandmas.

Both G’ma and Scoob have secrets – secrets that will fill the plot with twists and turns that readers won’t see coming. But that’s not what makes Stone’s Clean Getaway was the history found within the pages. Important moments in our history are present throughout the book. But fear not! This book doesn’t read as a history text book – it reads like a great story full of important historical places and moments.

Obviously, I could go on and on about Clean Getaway! I truly loved this book!

Recommendation:

Most definitely!

Similar Books to Read After:

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemienhart.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The Fresh New Face of Griselda by Jennifer Torres

 

(Cover image from GoodReads)

American Royals

Reviews

Title: American Royals

Author: Katherine McGee

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:

Princess Beatrice has always known that someday in the far future she would be queen. When she was little, it was daunting, but she had time to wrap her head around it, time to let her nerves settle, and lessons that would prepare her.

But now, she’s older, all the lessons have been learned, and she still isn’t ready. But when her parents, the King and Queen of America, tell her it’s time to find her a king, Princess Beatrice resorts to picking the most bearable bachelor of the bunch. After all she’s marrying out of necessity, not love.

If she were marrying for love, she would have chosen someone different. She would have chosen the man she’s in love with. The man, that no matter how much she lives, she could never ever matter.

As much of a problem this is for Beatrice, it’s also a problem for her younger sister, Princess Samantha. You see, the bachelor that Beatrice is set to marry, also happens to be the guy that Princess Samantha is in love with!

Will these two Princess’s find a solution that makes everyone happy? Or will they be forced to live in a love triangle for the rest of royal lives?

What Didn’t Work:

When I started American Royals by Katherine McGee, I went into this book thinking this was going to be a five star book. After all, it’s a book featuring a royal family! And I like -scratch that – I love books about Royals and Royal families.

But what I found was a book about a royal family, set in the U.S, with no backstory so to speak.

Author Katherine McGee did a great job at imagining what an American royal family would look like – the pressures, the expectations, the life of the Royals behind closed doors, but for me, the backstory and the altered history wasn’t fleshed out. Without that, I spent a lot of time trying to fill in gaps. This aspect took me out of the story, and made it harder for me to really sink my teeth into this book.

Besides this I found that there were several big plot points that were very predictable. And some of these predictabilities were right off the bat. Basically, what I’m saying is that I figured out what was going to happen before it actually happened.

What Did Work:

American Royals was a fun read, even if it did fall short for me. I thought author MCGee’s writing was solid, and imaginative. Besides that, she excelled at showing readers, not just telling. Her descriptions were vivid, and truly helped readers fully engage with the story.

What made this book for me were the characters. Main character Beatrice, who is set to be the future queen, was realistic, strong, and best of all grew from the start of the book to the end. I really felt like I got to know her, and that’s not just because she’s a fleshed out character, but also because author McGee did a really good job at giving the characters complex backstories and even more complex emotions.

But Princess Beatrice wasn’t the only great character. I personally like all of the characters. They were all complex, layered, and flawed. Qualities that I feel make for relatable characters.

Even though, as I mentioned before, the plot was predictable, I personally enjoyed seeing how the story played out.

Recommendation:

Yes. Ultimately I enjoyed this book enough to finish it. And I’m even excited to see what happens in the second installment.

Similar Books To Read After:

  • Royals by Rachel Hawkins
  • Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
  • Belles by Jen Calonita

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

Faith Taking Flight

Reviews

Title: Faith Taking Flight (Faith Herbert Origin Story 1)

Author: Julie Murphy

Format Read: Physical Book, ARC (Release Date:

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Summary:

Faith Herbert’s life is far from exciting. When she isn’t hanging out with her friends, she’s busy doing one of three things: watching her favorite television show The Grove, writing about The Grove for her fansite, or working at the local veterinary clinic.

The most exciting thing about her life right now – besides the fact that she can fly – is the upcoming fair. While she loves the fair for what it is – the rides and the food – she’s exciting to have the chance to find a forever home for some of her favorite orphaned animals.  

Not only does she manage to find a home for one of her most favorite dogs, but she manages to find him a home with Dakota Ash, who just so happens to be the star of The Grove. And Faith’s celebrity crush.

From the moment Faith meets Dakota she’s immediately taken with her. But surprisingly, Dakota also seems interested too. In her, Faith Herbert. 

But something strange is happening in Faith’s small town. Something that coincidentally started when Dakota came to town. When her and the rest of The Grove crew showed up, many animals and people go missing. 

Faith may be able to fly, but will she possess enough super powers for figure out this mystery?

What Didn’t Work:

Faith Taking Flight was a book that I wanted to read mainly because Julie Murphy wrote it. And truth be told, her books are near perfection for me. And this, her upcoming book, was not surprisingly, near perfection. 

But there was one aspect that I struggled with while reading. Even though, in the end I truly loved this book, I found that there was a lot of build up to the action, and that build up was a bit slow paced. Once things got going though, they were off with a bang. 

What Did Work:

There was a lot that I loved about this book. So much so that I feel like I could easily gush. First and foremost, I loved author Julie Murphy’s writing. While the build up was slower than I would have preferred, the writing itself was strong. More than that, it was descriptive. I had no problem “seeing” the story unfold. Faith Taking Flight is a multilayered story. To say the least there’s a lot going on. But each plotline is thorough, and they all flow seamlessly into on story. Murphy truly is a master of her craft.  

Then there were the characters. I loved them. Each character was well crafted. They were diverse and realistic – had passions and flaws – that made them easy to relate to. And above all else they were strong – the kind of characters that you just know are going to come out on top, even when the tension gets so high it’s hard to see past it. 

Faith seriously is a superhero. Not because she possesses some a really cool super power, but because of her ability to love – love her family and her friends, her favorite television show, the animals she takes care of at her job. She’s the kind of character that readers will easily root for and will easily look up to. 

And still, I loved how different this book felt from Murphy’s other books. I felt it truly showed her range and her talent.

Recommendation:

I couldn’t recommend this book enough. If you are a fan of Julie Murphy, it’s a must. If you are a fan of superhero stories, it’s a must. If you just love a really great book, it’s a must.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

The Mall

Reviews

Title: The Mall

Author: Megan McCafferty

Format Read: Ebook, advanced copy (Release Date: July 28, 2020)

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Summary:

After suffering from a terrible case of mono, Cassie is ready! She’s ready to spend the summer with boyfriend Troy. She’s ready to start working at the local mall.

But what she isn’t ready for is finding out that Troy has been cheating on her, nor for the imminent break up that follow. And she definitely isn’t ready to work alongside Troy either.

Forced to find a new job, and come up with a new plan, Cassie takes to the mall. And while she does find a new job at a clothes boutique, what she doesn’t expect to find is a new friend and a surprising adventure.

Through her new job, Cassie not only rekindles her friendship with former best friend Drea, but together they set out to find treasure that has been buried somewhere in the mall.

Will finding the treasure solve all of Cassie’s problems? Or will it cause more problems that she isn’t ready to deal with?

What Didn’t Work:

There was a lot that worked for me. The only flaw, if you would consider it a flaw, is Cassie’s boyfriend, Troy. He was a read dud. I didn’t like him as a character, but then again I don’t think you were supposed to like him.

In regards to Troy, I also didn’t love how he was the catalyst for Cassie’s change and growth. Yes, I thought it was great that she found herself, and grew into the person she wanted to be, but I wanted her to do this because she wanted to, not because of a guy.

What Did Work:

Megan McCafferty’s upcoming book, The Mall, is a really fun read. Especially if you are like me, and are from New Jersey.

McCafferty’s writing is strong, but possesses a real ease. As a reader I was quickly engaged in the story, and invested in the character outcomes. And for me, that says something. Most books I read take a while for me to sink into.

I loved (mostly) all of the characters. But my favorite was main character Cassie. Cassie was a strong character — stronger than she realized. She’s smart, motivated, and honestly flawed. I personally appreciate a flawed character mainly because I find that they are easy to relate to.

Another aspect of Cassie that I loved (even though I didn’t love the catalyst for this) was how much she grew and changed throughout the book.She truly found herself.

Drea was another character that I really liked. Not only was she the embodiment of NJ teens in the 90s, but she was full of surprises. At first, she comes off as superficial, but as the book progresses you find that she is a layered character who added a whole lot of fun, to the book and to Cassie’s life.

For me, the main appeal of The Mall for me, was the entire premise of the book. It was an ode to both 90s and New Jersey mall culture. I grew up in the 90s in NJ, so it was really fun to reminisce about hair schrunchies, and buying cassette tapes at the local Sam Goody store.

Recommendation:

Yes!!! This was a fun, quick read that I think will appeal to a lot of readers.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
  • Tithe by Holly Black
  • Ms. Marvel, Vol.1 by G. Willow Wilson

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

Freebie Friday: It’s Giveaway Time!

Contests, Freebie Fridays, Reviews


The above image was created on Canva for the purpose of this post.

Hello Dear Readers,

And happy Friday! Since I was on a hiatus for some time, I wanted to celebrate my blogging comeback with a giveaway for all of you.

So let’s jump right in!

What’s up for grabs?

The BookBandit Blog will be giving away a Leigh Bardugo prize pack containing:

  • A hardcover copy of Ninth House
  • A paperback, chapter sampler of The Language of Thorns with an accompanying Mermaid button
  • A Briarwick candle in the scent of Go Away, I’m Reading (orange scones and cinnamon buns scent)
  • And a Tor Teen Flaunt Your Fandom tote bag

How to Enter:

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents, 13 years old and older. To enter, leave a comment on THIS post telling me what the last book you read and loved was.

One winner will be selected via random number generator, and will be notified via email. If a response is NOT received within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected and notified.

This giveaway is open until 11:59 pm on May 15th. Anyone who comments after that date/time will be disqualified.

Please note that I received this copy of Ninth House at a library conference. The Briarwick candle was purchased on Etsy by me for the sole purpose of this giveaway.

Good Luck!

 

Belles by Jen Calonita

Reviews

Title: Belles

Author: Jen Calonita

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:

Isabelle “Izzie” Scott’s life is far from perfect. Bit it’s her life, and she loves it. She loves living in Harborside where she’s minutes away from her beloved ocean and community center. She loves living with Grams in their old house. She loves her friends, the ones who are more like family rather than friends.

But life is getting tougher and tougher each day. Money is tight. Grams is forgetting more and more. And with  forgotten memory, most of the adult responsibilities fall to Izzie.

While things aren’t great, they’re fine. That is, until Izzie finds out that Grams is going to live in a nursing home and she is going to live with some long lost uncle.

With a new family comes new challenges. Challenges Izzie can handle, it’s the newfound enemies that may destroy her. Will Izzie survive her new life?

What Didn’t Work:

There was a whole lot that I really enjoyed about Belles by Jen Calonita. But there was one very minor detail that bothered me. While I feel that author Calonita excelled at crafting this story, there were moments of predictability. There were quite a few twists that I saw coming a mile away. Even though there were predictabilities, I feel that they didn’t detract from the book.

What Did Work:

Going into this book, I was a blank canvas. I had no expectations. But I quickly found that I was immediately engaged and immediately invested in the going ons of the book.

Calonita’s well crafted story was also relatable. And her writing is rock solid. But where she really excels is in her characters and her her dialog.

What made her characters so great is that they are realistic. As are their problems. Each character has a personality all of his or her own. Some readers will easily click with, and others readers will clash with — just like you would find in the real world.

Belles is a rags to riches story. But instead of focusing on the parts where where the character thrives in his/her new environment, Belles focuses on the struggles, and the drama of it all.

I read the audiobook edition of Belles. I personally love it, and loved narrator Julia Whalen. I feel that her narration added an additional layer of personality to this story. Her tone and inflections were on point, and best of all, was her subtle Southern charm and twang.

Recommendation:

In all honesty, I picked this up on a whim. I based my decision to read this one based on the narrator. And I am really glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So, yes! I would recommend it to you, dear readers.

Similar Books to Read After: 

  • Royals by Rachel Hawkins
  • People Like Us by Dana Mele

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

Reviews

Title: Gem & Dixie

Author: Sara Zarr

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Summary:

Sisters Gem and Dixie don’t have a lot. They live in a small, run down apartment with their checked out mom. When there is food, there isn’t enough of it. And even though Dixie always manages to find a way to buy food and clothing for herself, Gem doesn’t possess the same talents. She relies on asking people to borrow money, and thrifting when she does need something new.

But the one thing that they’ve always had is each other. Gem can’t remember a time when they weren’t close, when they didn’t take care of each other. Even though they are opposites and sometimes argue, they’ve got each other’s backs.

That is until their absentee father shows up. And with him a bag full of money. Literally. Gem and Dixie have never seen so much in their lives.

This money could really help. It could fix all of their problems. But what would taking that money cost them?

What Didn’t Work:

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr was not my favorite. I wanted to love it, but found that in the end I had too many issues with it. Issues that I just couldn’t love.

Main characters Gem and Dixie were the main issue for me. Even though they were fleshed out, and authentically realistic, I personally found that they weren’t likable. Because of that I found it hard to relate to and sympathize for them. Even though I didn’t love these characters, I can easily say that I appreciated the growth I saw in them throughout the book.

While I could put aside my dislike of Gem and Dixie, there was one other aspect I just couldn’t get past. And that’s the plot. Like most books there was a problem and by the end, a solution to said problem. In the case of Gem & Dixie, I feel that not a lot happened. Sure there was a problem, but there wasn’t a solution. The whole plot fell flat.

What Did Work:

The main selling point of Gem & Dixie is author Sara Zarr’s writing. She is a master of her craft. The writing is strong and concise. She doesn’t waste words, and because of that the book’s pacing is spot on.

But above all else, what I enjoyed about this book was the sense of hope I felt as I read. I was hopeful that the characters would grow, hopeful that everything would work our in the end.

Recommendation:

Yes, because I firmly believe that, even though this book wasn’t for me, that you, dear readers, should give it a shot. You may love it.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

 

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Reviews

Title: Because of Winn-Dixie

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:

India Opal Buloni just wants to make friends. Little did she know she would find her best friend at the local Winn-Dixie grocery store.

Opal only went to buy a box of macaroni and cheese, some rice, and two tomatoes. But what she came home with was … a dog. A rather ugly dog that she saved from being hauled off to the pound. A dog she named Winn-Dixie.

Together, the unlikely duo befriend various people in Opal’s new hometown. They befriend the local librarian and the local witch (well, that’s what the Dewberry brothers call her). They befriend Otis at the pet shop, and even thumb sucking Sweetie Pie Thomas.

While they are busy befriending everyone they can, Opal soon realizes that she isn’t just looking for a friend, but she’s looking for family. A family to fill the void her mom made when she left.

Through her new found friends, she finds exactly what she’s looking for? But will it be enough to fill that void in her heart?

What Didn’t Work:

I truly loved Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie. But there was just one tiny aspect that bothered me. And that aspect was: there wasn’t much resolve for me. Honestly, I think it bothered me because I am an adult. I don’t necessarily think kids who read this book will be bothered by it at all.

What Did Work: 

Kate DiCamillo’s writing is simple but strong. But as much as I loved the writing and the way she crafted such a special story, what I loved most was the varied cast of characters.

Opal was my absolute favorite. I loved how open and honest she was. And the fact that she was such a relatable character. Seriously, as an adult I saw a lot of myself within her. Besides that, I felt like I learned a lot from her as well.

And of course I loved Winn-Dixie. Most animal charachters I’ve met fall flat, they never seem to have a personality. But not Winn-Dixie! He’s spunky, full of life, and brings a bit of magic to this already magical book.

But the aspect that I loved the most were the relationships and friendships portrayed. Each felt real and authentic.

Recommendation:

Most definitely yes! I really loved this book.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Reviews

Title: Starry Eyes

Author: Jenn Bennett

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:

Once upon a time Zorie and Lennon were best friends. But that was before. Before Lennon’s moms opened a sex shop next door to her parents business. That was before the disastrous homecoming dance.

Now, their parents are feuding – well, it’s more like Zorie’s dad is feuding with Lennon’s entire family. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Zorie and Lennon are practically enemies, only speaking on a need to basis.

And even though that this kills Zorie, she knows this is the way it has to be. She can never forgive him. So when she finds out that Lennon is going on the same camping trip she is, things go from awkward to downright doomed. Will Zorie make it out of the woods alive?

What Didn’t Work:

As a reader, Starry Eyes biggest floor was it’s characters. While I felt that they were fleshed out and often times very relatable, I found both Zorie and Lennon to be unlikable in their own ways.

I found Zorie to be rigid, so much so that I felt that it was hard to really get to know this character. On the other hand there was Lennon. He should have been a character that I loved. But I found that I was really bothered by the fact that he was … typical. Why does it seem that any character who listens to alternative music or dresses differently from his/her (in this case his) peers is automatically goth? For someone who was described as unique, I found he wasn’t.

What Did Work:

There was a lot that I enjoyed about Starry Eyes. First and foremost, I enjoyed and appreciated author Jenn Bennett’s writing. It was detailed, descriptive, and engaging. I found that once I sunk my teeth into the story I was fully absorbed.

I also found that she had a real knack for dialog. The dialog between all of her characters was authentic and it naturally flowed. It didn’t read as stiff or unrealistic, making this book one I think readers of all ages will like.

As strange as this may sound, I truly appreciated the book’s pacing.  While it wasn’t an action packed kind of book, I continually found myself wondering what twist was coming, and found that I was looking forward to the impending action. Pacing can make or break a book fo me. In the case of Starry Eyes, it made it for me.

While I didn’t love the characters I recognized that they grew from start to finish. This made me like them just a tiny bit more.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this book to readers. I’d recommend it because it was a fun read that is full of smart writing.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
  • Royals by Rachel Hawkins
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

(Cover image from GoodReads)

Jackaby by William Ritter

Reviews

F5F5F4FA-31E0-4DC1-8244-69E79DA0DDD3

Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:

Abigail Rook Is looking for adventure. That’s why she boarded the ship, carrying her far away from home and closer to a new and exciting life.

While she knows nothing of New Fiddleham, New England, she’s hopeful that she’ll find, not only lodging and work, but a home. But luck doesn’t seem to be on her side. While she has a room to stay in, finding work is proving to be a difficult task.

So when she finds an ad for a detrctive’s assistant at the local post office, Abigail has nothing to lose.

When she arrives at the address, she finds Jackaby – the man she had a strange encounter with when she first got into town. Not exactly sure what the job entails (or if he would even give her the job) she trails along on an investigation.

Before she knows It, Abigail finds herself in the middle of an unexplained and very grisly murder mystery.

Will Abigail crack the case before it cracks her?

What Didn’t Work:

Jackaby was a near perfect book for me. While I enjoyed it, there was one aspect I didn’t love. Leading lady Abigail is strong and independent- which is refreshing and something I genuinely love – but I couldn’t help but feel that author Ritter was continually trying to work in a live interest for her. My first thought was why? Why does she need a love interest. Because of that the attraction between her and a young police officer felt forced. Admittedly though, I was relieved that she didn’t fall for her boss Jackaby.

What Did Work:

For the most part I really enjoyed Jackaby. As a reader I tend to shy away from mysteries. Why? Because I ask myself too many questions (questions that aren’t always answered) and because I’m more interested in learning why the character did whatever it was they did rather than figuring out whodunit.

But Jackaby was different. Yes, I had questions, but I found I wanted to know who the murderer was. I wanted to know who first rather than why.

This surprised me. I knew in that moment that Jackaby was a well crafted book. The writing was strong and descriptive. I had no trouble envision what was going on. Oftentimes i felt like I was investigating alongside Jackaby and Abigail.

But as great as the writing and the mystery were, what really drew me in were the characters. Abigail is smart, strong, and determined. Jackaby was charmingly smug, and most of all added a heavy dose of comedy.

Jackaby was well paced. It was action packed, and best of all there twists and turns that I didn’t see coming.

Recommendation:

Yes! If you like mysteries full of snaring s and strong characters, Jackaby is for you!

Similar Books to Read After:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

(Cover image from GoodReads)