The Bridge From Me to You

Image result for the bridge from me to youFirst Lines: The house smells like apple pie thanks to the burning candle on the mantel.  Uncle Josh and my three cousins are outside throwing the football around.  Apparently this small town loves football the way ducks love water.

This was one of the books on my to-read list I was trying to read in an effort to clean up my list.  I’ve read a couple other Schroeder books, which are typically written in verse, and I thought this would be a nice change of pace.

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret.  It’s hard to feel anything but lost leaving behind a home she desperately wants to return to.  Colby, the star of the football team, has a problem.  He dreams of more than playing football for the rest of his life, but no one seems to understand.  But as both of their lives fall apart around them, it seems like they might be the only ones who truly understand each other.

The story is a mix of lyrical poetry and prose, switching between our two narrators. Lauren is poetic most of the time, Colby is our prose. I liked the mix because it felt like we were getting a lot of the gritty details of the story from Colby, but Lauren brought the effective emotion in a very small space.

Lauren and Colby are both in tough situations when they meet. Lauren is living with her aunt and uncle, heartbroken and homesick. Colby is the star on the football team with a secret. It’s kind of cool to see how they meet and keep growing their feelings for each other.

The story is sweet even though it’s also got a lot of real issues the characters are dealing with. Lauren and Colby’s lives are not easy at this moment. Both of them are struggling to put on a happy face and pretend to be normal. I liked that their issues were so real and that there really wasn’t a “right” way to handle any of it.  To me, that’s kind of the mark of a good YA book.

The story was good. Lots of heart and a pretty fast read.

Top Ten Freebie: Covers

Hey guys!  With the freebie this week, I wanted to immediately go with my gut-instinct and talk about this new trend of like cartoonish covers that I really don’t like (like that romance book Red, White & Royal Blue), but since it’s so new, there actually aren’t a ton of them yet.  So I had to come up with a new topic.

I decided to instead go with something positive.  So let’s take a look at 10 books I think have absolutely stunning covers!

Top Ten Stunning Covers

1. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

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2. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

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3. What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper

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4. In Another Time by Caroline Leech

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5. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

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6. Splintered by A.G. Howard

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7. On the Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

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8. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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9. Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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10. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Serious Moonlight

Image result for serious moonlightFirst Lines: He’d probably forgotten me already.  It was a month ago.  Practically forever.  He definitely wasn’t here tonight.

I’ve only read one other book by Jenn Bennett, and I really enjoyed it.  I was looking forward to this one, which was billed as a mystery and a contemporary romance.

Birdie, a mystery aficionado with an active imagination, feels horribly sheltered.  Raised and homeschooled by overprotective grandparents, Birdie feels isolated from everyone else her age.  The summer before college, she gets a job working graveyard shift at a local hotel.  Through this job, Birdie hopes to bloom into an outgoing girl.  Daniel, the hotel’s nighttime van driver, volunteers to help her.  Daniel shares her sense of adventure and knows of a real mystery taking place at the hotel: a reclusive writer, never seen in public, seems to be having secret meetings there.  To solve the mystery, Birdie will need to come out of her shell…and confront her growing feelings for Daniel.

This was really cute, just as I was hoping it would be. Between the mystery and the romance, there was a lot to like.

Birdie is obsessed with mysteries. She basically wants to be the next Hercule Poirot or Columbo. She cannot resist a mystery, especially when her coworker, Daniel, drops one into her lap. She’s an interesting character in many ways, one of which I don’t want to go into detail about because of how it plays into the plot. But it gave her an interesting twist that I’d never read about before. And Daniel is his own kind of interesting, this enigmatic bubbly budding-magician who works as a van driver at the hotel. I found I had a soft spot for him pretty quickly.

The mystery is not the main focus of the story despite how it’s built up, but that’s ok. The mystery was fine and there’s a cool twist with it, but there were times when Birdie’s obsession got a little out of hand. And the romance wasn’t the main focus of the story either. Generally, there’s just a lot going on for Birdie and she needs the time to deal with each thing. So there’s some family drama going on for her as well.

The book is very light and easy to read. I found it enjoyable just to sit and read even just a few pages when I got the chance and not feel like I was missing anything or loosing the flow of the story. It deals with some heavy topics, but it didn’t make the book a downer at all. I liked that balance.

It’s a quirky little story and I liked how it was full of colorful characters, real issues, and good humor.

Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

Hey guys!  So we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday and I like this topic, but I’m going to modify it just slightly.  See, I don’t buy books all that often.  I typically prefer to get my books from the library, considering how quickly I read them.  So instead of talking about my real, actual bookshelf, I thought I’d talk about the ten most recent books I’ve added to my to-read list bookshelf on Goodreads.  I feel like that’s more interesting.

Sound good?  Cool.

Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read Bookshelf

1. Once (Eve, #2) by Anna Carey

I recently read the first book in this series and I liked it enough to want to keep going on the series.  It promises a lot of drama.

2. Walk the Edge (Thunder Road, #2) by Katie McGarry

McGarry has a way of suckering me into her books all the time.  I ended up liking Thunder Road more than I thought I would and I do really want to see what happens next in the series.

3. Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett writes super cute romances and sometimes you just need those, you know?  We meet Josie in this one, an amateur photographer who has bounced around from city to city with her single mom.  Now they’ve returned to the town where Josie spent most of her childhood and she runs into the local bad boy, Lucky Karras…who used to be her best friend.  Maybe both of them are different than they used to be, but how much is still the same after all this time?  Unfortunately, this book doesn’t come out until May so I still have 4 more months to stare at the cover.

4. The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor

This book, unfortunately, is not out yet.  It sounds really cool.  We’re introduced to two girls in this, Alice and Adalyn.  In the present time, Alice is a teenager spending her summer in Paris because her deceased grandmother left her an apartment that no one even knew existed.  It’s been sealed for 70 years and no one knows what’s inside.  She digs through the family mysteries to find out why her grandma had this apartment.  Then we meet Adalyn, who doesn’t recognize France anymore under Nazi control.  She becomes part of the resistance while still maintaining her facade as a socialite.  This promises to be very interesting.

5. You Say It First by Katie Cotugno

I mentioned this in a previous list as a book I’m looking forward to reading once it comes out.  It’s the story of a girl in Pennsylvania who works at a political call center and the boy she calls up in Ohio who tries his best to irritate her every time she calls.  Sometimes the calls are tense, but it also seems like they’re finding a friendship between them.  Premise-wise, it just sounds really different.

6. American Royals (American Royals, #1) by Katharine McGee

I found this one on the Goodreads Awards list a month or two back.  I’m a huge fan of early American history and George Washington is my homeboy.  (I seriously wish I could see your faces as you read that line.)  This revisionist story wonders what would have happened if Washington founded a monarchy rather than a presidency.  (That’s interesting anyway because Washington didn’t have any kids of his own.)  I like that this then starts generations later with Princess Samantha of the House of Washington.

7. How To Hide An Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr

I enjoy a good nonfiction, and this was another one I found on the Goodreads Awards list.  This caught my eye because it’s saying that with all the territories the US amassed in the last century and a half or so that we’re basically an empire, like Britain was back in the 18th through 20th centuries.  I think there’s a lot I could learn from this and I look forward to reading it.

8. The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

Every year in the spring, I teach a Holocaust unit.  It’s really interesting to read about how people survived–and also incredibly heartbreaking.  I actually have to contain all my Holocaust reading to the spring so I don’t overdo it and get burned out.  This book, loosely based on a true story, follows Karl Stern, a boy who doesn’t consider himself a Jew as he’s never set foot in a synagogue, but he’s classified as one under Nazi Germany’s definition.  In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, he learns how to box and becomes a protector for his family.  Sounds interesting to me.

9. Vengeance Road (Vengeance Road, #1) by Erin Bowman

I found this book while looking at some list.  Normally, this wouldn’t have caught my eye.  In fact, I think the cover actually pushes me away from it.  But this setting of Arizona in 1877 (as Goodreads tells me) sounds incredibly interesting.  Gold mines, revenge, it’s got it all.

10. Wait For Me by Caroline Leech

I added this book after reading a different book by Leech, In Another Time.  I thought her writing style was fantastic and stunning in the first book, so I’m excited to read this one (and I currently have it checked out from the library!).  In this book, a Scottish girl meets a German POW who has been sent to Scotland to work.  And she starts to fall for him.  It’s Summer of My German Soldier, but in Scotland, I think.

The Fountains of Silence

Image result for the fountains of silenceFirst Lines: They stand in line for blood.  June’s early sun blooms across a string of women waiting patiently at el matadero.  Fans snap open and flutter, replying to Madrid’s warmth and the scent of open flesh wafting from the slaughterhouse.

I’m convinced that I’ll read anything by Ruta Sepetys.  After the absolute beauty of Between Shades of Gray, she’s won my respect.  So even though I know absolutely nothing about 20th century Spain (which I think is part of the point of writing this book), I was willing to give it a shot.

Spain is hiding dark secrets from the world.  It’s 1957 and General Francisco Franco, the country’s fascist longtime dictator, is doing everything he can to present a beautiful front to the rest of the world while his country crumbles.  Daniel Masterson is an American tourist coming to Spain with his parents for the summer.  Daniel’s father is an oil tycoon and his mother was born in Spain.  With photography as his guide, Daniel tours parts of Madrid looking for a story to tell through the lens of his camera.  Through this he is introduced to Ana and the true cost of the Spanish Civil War.  Backed into an uncomfortable position, Daniel must decide which questions are worth asking when the consequences are dire.

In this story, we really follow two characters: Daniel and Ana. Daniel is the son of an oil baron from Texas, coming to Madrid with his parents for the summer. His mother is from Spain and Daniel is fluent in Spanish and feels at least partly connected with their culture. Ana is a maid at the hotel he says at. Her parents chose the wrong side of the Spanish Civil War and were killed for it, leaving her and her two siblings to scrounge together some semblance of a life.

The characters were interesting in their own ways. Daniel is curious and, as a budding photojournalist, he is interested in people and the stories their actions tell. That quickly lands him in some hot water in Madrid, as the Guardia Civil don’t allow certain freedoms, regardless of your nationality or wealth. I liked that he was so curious and that he was always trying to understand the Spanish culture and the hardships of those in poverty. Ana is clever and starstruck by the extravagance of the hotel she works at. People spend more money on a bottle of wine than she makes in a year! She wants to understand American culture, but America is so different than what she knows. Even ice cubes are a foreign concept to her.

I liked that this book highlighted a recent piece of history that most people probably are not familiar with. For as much as I’ve studied and taught World War II in my class, I almost never hear anything about Spain during that time. And it was interesting to see how dark life was for so many people, how they constantly felt death at their backs for one reason or another.

What I struggled with a little was the story. While I was interested in what was happening, I thought it had a tendency to drag on. There were sometimes things that happened where I was questioning why that mattered. Also, there’s this air of mystery at the beginning of the story that takes forever to start unraveling. It was very drawn out to me.

I still think it’s a solid read and I’m glad I read it.
  The rating from other readers on Goodreads is like, bananas high.  It’s currently at 4.32/5, which is remarkable for a standalone.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries of 2019

Hey guys!  Look, I don’t think I can turn this into a Top Ten list, but I kind of like the topic.  So I figured I’d talk about what I did discover this last year, even if I’ve already done an essayish post on this before.  It’s worth mentioning again.

Look, I’m cheap.  I’ll own it.  I’m a millennial who only last month finally paid off all college loans and I now have a massive mortgage I’m working on.  I want to get books for a good deal and Thriftbooks helps me do that.  But there are some pros and cons.

Pros: Thriftbooks has a pretty wide selection of books.  Hardback, paperback, and even collector editions if you’re interested in that.  Prices most often fall around $4.29 per book if you want it to look newish, but they can go lower than that.

You also earn rewards points as you buy.  When you earn enough rewards points, they let you pick a free book under $5 in value, which is most of their site.

They also have a wish list feature, where if you see something you’re interested in but you’re trying to avoid temptation, you can add it to the wish list for now and decide on it later.  This feature also tells you if the book is out of stock (like if it’s been on your list for a while) and will show you when it’s back in stock.

Cons: For purposes of keeping it cheap, I assume, they ship the books in these bags, not boxes like I was expecting.  That means sometimes your books get a little beat up at the corners before they get to you.  I’m not a big fan of that.

Also, shipping takes an incredibly long time, in my opinion.  My first order took about 10 days to get to me.  Most of my orders take about a week.  I think once it came in 5 days and I was surprised.  And the books typically ship separately, so you’ll get one and then a few days later get more.  (They come from various warehouses, which I understand, but then it’s harder to watch for 3-4 different packages.)

But perhaps my biggest beef is that sometimes I get what I’m not exactly expecting.  I’ve gotten ex-library copies when I specifically tried to not choose those.  It literally tells you when you’re buying it that it’s ex-library and I picked a different version to avoid that.  Nope.  Also, one time they sent me an ARC copy of a book, which you’re not even legally allowed to sell.  That was a shocker, let me tell you.

They do have a return policy, but at the time I received the ARC copy I was unaware of it and missed the deadline for returning it.

Overall: Look, I know I just aired a lot of complaints, but the truth is that I do get a number of really awesome books from there that I have no complaints about.  I got the entire Girl of Fire and Thorns series from them for like $14 total.  I picked up 2 of the Harry Potter books in French for pretty cheap.  I’ve been using the site to try to complete series that I have 1-2 books for but not the other 1-2 books and that’s been working out for me pretty well.

Yes, I have complaints, partly from the fact that I can’t pick the books out myself.  I’m very picky about these things.  But honestly?  The complaints I listed above are the only complaints I have.  Those were my only bad orders and I’ve ordered like 5 times now.