Friday, August 18, 2017

You're Weird: A Creative Journal for Misfits, Oddballs, and Anyone Else Who's Uniquely Awesome by Kate Peterson

You're Weird

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I really do love these hand-lettered books! I love that they are creative in and of themselves and I also love that they encourage creativity. This one is for letting loose your inner oddball and the topics are pretty fun and what you might expect. The pages encourage writing, coloring, and drawing. If you aren't a great artist like myself, I still think you can use this book (and this kind of book) because really it's for you.

Since You're Weird is all about, well, being weird the pages inside encourage the participant to focus on what makes them unique and celebrate it. Some of the topics include thinking about what you do differently than other people, thinking about famous people who are a little different that you admire, picking words that describe you, and reflecting on the events that shaped you into your uniquely wonderfully weird self.

Some of the creative activities include drawing an apple that fell really far from the tree and coming up with a slogan for yourself. There are also some challenges of weirdness to complete.

The book is delightfully hand-lettered and illustrated. It's cute, spunky, and fun. I think it would make an ideal gift for any young person that might be struggling with accepting their own weirdness or rather uniqueness. It really gives you space to celebrate the things that make you different which is needed and important especially at ages where peer pressure is intense, but really at any age. A book like this can be considered a journal and become a respite against difficult times or simply a tool to help you enjoy your unique oddballness even more.

Recommended fun!

I haven't done a Things You Might Want to Know About in ages but I do want to mention the book uses the term "spirit animal" and while I know it's used popularly in the mainstream culture, it has come to my attention that it's cultural appropriation. It's not a term I ever really understood in the pop-culture sense and learning that actually helped make sense of it for me! It's just one page/activity, but it's worth mentioning. If you give this as a gift to your teen you could talk about the use of that word and why other words like patronus are better to use.




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Breakdown by B.A. Parris

The Breakdown by B.A. Parris

I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


I thought BA Parris's first book, Behind Closed Doors, was a good thriller. I'm not going to lie, parts of it forced me to remember it was fiction as certain plot points stretched what I could realistically believe. Even so, it was super engaging and kept me with it and the conclusion was very satisfying and made me glad I read the whole book. Sometimes, coming to an ending can really make the journey worthwhile.

Is it cheating to say I had much the same feelings about her follow-up, The Breakdown? It was a good thriller and it kept me with it even if I could generally figure out how things were going to unfold long before they happened. I thought the psychology of it was good (and I guess I should amend everything I am saying to note that her books really are psychological thrillers). The beginning was so great and pulled me in right away. Because I think it offers so much of the enjoyment of the book I don't want to explicitly spoil it. But it sets up an atmosphere in which the following events can take place. It also forces you to really put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist which might be uncomfortable considering what she does.

A lot of the book focuses on well, the breakdown. Cass doubts everything in her life and is worried she's suffering from the same condition of her mother. The overwhelming sense of dread, fear, and uncertainty really fill the story. Additionally, Cass starts to feel hunted by a murdered but no one in her life will believe her.

Like I said, the book was very engaging and kept me with it. I appreciate that Parris's protagonists feel human and do things that are kind of startling. It makes them interesting. However, I saw where this book was going before we got there and I think it would have been more enjoyable if that were not the case. Still, I will read her next book and I enjoyed this one and recommend it!

It's been fun to discover some new thriller writers in the past couple years. I really enjoy the genre quite a lot as I find the stories generally keep me with them but they have some unexpected depth as well. What is the best thriller you've read recently?


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Text Don't Call by INFJoe

Text Don't Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life by INFJOE

I received a copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher. This post uses Amazon affiliate links.


Introverts! Have you always known or understood your introversion? Aaron Caycedo-Kimura didn't so when he took a test (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and learned he was it was like everything in his world fell into place. Thanks to the glorious marvel of the Internet, he hopped online and began sharing little cartoons about being an introvert and now he has a book! And it's a cute little gem of a book for introverts.

Text, Don't Call's subtitle is: An Illustrated guide to the Introverted Life and that's just perfect. This isn't a book that gets into the deep nitty gritty of life as an introvert, but it does offer a quick run through of what it means to be an introvert and provides many assurances that it's okay to be an introvert. I like how he explains that extroverted qualities are idealized and it certainly makes sense why it's that way given the nature of the personality types. But as an introvert myself, I do think it's important to understand and to learn to accept the particular strengths of being introverted.

Text, Don't Call pokes fun at introversion in a charming relateable way through the illustrations. The comics are cute and in most cases felt pretty spot on! He even captured several little moments you've experienced as an introvert but maybe never expressed before. In addition to the charming illustrations, there are little tips for navigating life as an introvert. Everything from holidays to finding people who understand you, you can find it in this book. He draws inspiration, I think from the hashtag, #introvertproblems which I've never checked out before, but I'm going to have to since I think I'll probably be able to relate to a lot of it!

I think this is a fun read for any introvert but also would make a great gift for a young introvert in high school or college that you know. That's about the age you start realizing who you are as a person and having a fun little book like this would be a great relief and comfort.

Recommended!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

I received a digital galley of this book with no expectations from the publisher, Simon & Schuster. This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.

I loved Ruth Ware's In a Dark Dark Wood a lot and also really liked The Woman in Cabin 10. She has a wonderful style of writing for thrillers, interesting flawed characters who feel relateable, intriguing premises, and a knack of really giving you a sense of empathy for the characters you might not otherwise feel. There's a lingering sadness under the surface of all her stories, every single one! And I suppose that's part of why they are so attractive to me.

So I was excited for The Lying Game. A group of friends get a text that is both chilling and urgent. I need you, it reads. While they were friends in their youth, their adulthood has brought them along mostly separate paths until this point. We enter the story from Isabel's perspective. She's a young mother and full of dread at the prospect of going to meet up with her friends, but she does anyway. She has to. When she goes we learn the history behind the tight knit group of friends, the reason their friend has called them so urgently, the strains in their present life, and so much more.

While the group harbors a secret, I feel that is uncovered fairly early. There's more to the story than that...another dark truth that threatens them all.

I loved it! It's interesting as I was googling in preparation for writing this review I saw glimpses of extracts of other reviews. They were pretty negative, but I actually think it's Ruth Ware's best book yet. There's so much depth to it and the detail of how these women are living their lives and the feelings they experience matter. It's a thriller, yes, but it's also deeply human. This fantastic combination she has of really getting into the skin and heart of her characters and combining it with a mystery is what I love best about her books! The setting is also rich and atmospheric and contributed to my overall enjoyment of the book.

And the story is about so much more than "the secrets." It's about our relationships to one another, growing up, cliques, and the secrets we keep and why. It's a pretty fascinating examination of love, friendship, and family.

So I definitely recommend it, especially if you're read her other books and love them. As I got into this one, I suspected it was going to cement her status as a favorite author of mine and it did just that. So I definitely do recommend it to anyone looking for a good thriller with great characterization, some quotables, some mystery, and a good read.



Monday, July 10, 2017

Interview with Candace Ganger author of The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash

So pleased to share a short interview with author The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash, a book you definitely want to have on your TBR this summer.


What's the appeal in writing stories about first love?


I still remember my first love like it happened yesterday. The feelings are so vivid and raw, it’s a difficult thing to replicate as an adult. I miss the intensity of it all and how, despite the repercussions or consequences, I threw myself into loving that person wholly, without hesitation. With first loves, there’s no other heartbreak to compare. I think that’s the most beautifully painful part. In a sense, it molded my heart for future relationships.

How did you come up with the idea to insert little science lessons at the ends of the chapters?

When I thought of the title, I vaguely remembered a lesson from high school about The Collision Theory and after researching, knew I had to implement it. It was more than a plot device—it’s like a celestial map of Birdie & Bash’s fate.

I found Kyle and Bash's relationship to be achingly realistic. Where did you draw from to write these two characters and how the relate to each other?

I think we’ve all had a Kyle in our lives, haven’t we? However subtle they may be, those toxic people feed off others to get what they want from life draining us of our own energy. They’re true parasites and may not always realize it. Hence, Wild Kyle. I’ve certainly had people like this in my life. No matter how much you want to do the right thing, these personalities use whatever they can to hold you back. Kyle is also, in a form, the darker side of us; an inner antagonist that can’t help but make the wrong decisions—even when we know what’s right.

About the Book: Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

I Read YA Week: #YASTANDSFOR

#YASTANDSFOR
I'm participating in @ireadya's annual celebration of YA literature this week on my social media accounts, Twitter and Instagram. The theme this year is #YAStandsfor and you can also participate by following along with that hashtag.

I won't be posting here everyday about it since it's a social media campaign, but I did want to let you know about the campaign and encourage you to follow along as well! And I wanted to take a moment to talk about #YAStandsfor in a way I can't on limited social media platforms. (they actually are encouraging you to make a video and I might later in the week, but writing is still my favorite!)

For me, there is something special about YA. I find that YA books generally tend to focus on important growth areas in one's life. So for me, #YASTANDSFOR growth. For being challenged, for learning about the world, life, your body, interests, gifts, and weaknesses. All of this is explored in YA. It also stands for empathy. YA books can comfort, help you understand others, and know you're not alone. They have a really special quality of helping you see the world through the eyes of another. And of course YA stands for fun. The stories are fun and imaginative and there is no limit. Comedy, imagination, drama, you can find it all in YA.

I'm looking forward to talking about more specific YA books this week and the ways in which its a great genre. But until then, I'd love to know what #YASTANDSFOR to you!

(@Ireadya is Scholastic's YA reading account Scholastic publishes a lot of my favorite YA books)



Monday, June 26, 2017

Blog Tour: Solveig Leithaug TIME

It has been awhile since I've posted anything about music but I couldn't resist joining in this blog tour for Solveig Leithaug, friend of The Rabbit Room.

I don't often get a chance to listen to new music. Something about aging also made new music less important to me. So you know I was really interested to join in on this blog tour!

The music is very nice, pleasant, and Solveig has lovely vocals that create a sense of wistfulness and longing right along with the music. There are also a nice variety of guest vocalists like Cindy Morgan, Kelly Willard, and Anthony Skinner. I'm pleased to share a music video with you as well as an interview video so that you see for yourself if this is something that you would like!



I'm choosing to share the song "Get Together" with you as I feel it really captures the strife of our times and adds some music to it!



I hope you have enjoyed this music as I did! You can visit Solveig on the web, like her facebook page, and follow her on Twitter. You can purchase the album on iTunes.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee


I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

If you're looking for a sudsy, sexy entertaining summer read, look no further. The Idea of You by Robinne Lee has everything you could want and is a compulsive and addictive read. Solene Marchand ends up taking her daughter and her friends to a boy band concert when her ex-husband backs out on their plans. The girls have a brief meet and greet where they make an impression on Hayes Campbell the young star and anchor of the group. The flirtation continues in a backstage visit and Solene indulges herself a little bit. Yes, she's thirty-nine and he's twenty but what's the harm?

Hayes follows up, though, entering Solene's real life and thus begins an affair. Solene convinces herself it's just physical and she's simply fulfilling some fantasies, enjoying herself, and reawakening a part of her that was lost when she got divorced. But the longer the affair goes on, it becomes harder to deny the real feelings on the sides of both partners. And the longer it goes on, the more Solene puts her personal and professional life at risk.

This book as I said above is easy to read. It's sort of voyeuristic in the sense that it's an interesting idea...the much older woman with the young guy--what would that be like? Also, it's always fun to read stories where money is no object and the characters involved can go on exotic vacations, etc. Toss in the fact that Solene herself is highly educated and hugely sympathetic--an art gallery owner that only features women and people of color and you have the makings of a perfect escapist read. I wouldn't say this book is pure escape, though. It takes a hard look at fan culture as it relates to celebrities. August Moon, the fictional boy band, have a lot of fans that have strong opinions about Solene dating one of their boys. And because Solene has a teen daughter, things extend there as well. But it's still really fun.

I do want to note this book doesn't fade to black, there's a lot of sex and frank sexual language.

I enjoyed it a lot, though, and became very wrapped up in Solene and Hayes story and what would happen to them!

Amy