book review, fiction

Review: Attachments

Every woman wants a man who’ll fall in love with her soul as well as her body.

– Attachments, Rainbow Rowell

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AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell

GENRE: Fiction/Light Romance

FORMAT: paperback

RATING: 4/5 stars

SUMMARY: Think a 90s romantic comedy. It is currently the precipice of the new millennium, and that means the introduction of the Internet and the phenomenon of e-mail. A newspaper hires a thirty-year-old computer specialist named Lincoln to sit in a room at night and read through flagged emails sent by its employees for bad behavior. Lincoln finds himself constantly reading the email chains exchanged between Jennifer and Beth, which are flagged for innocuous reasons. In the process of reading these emails, he finds himself falling more and more for Beth, a girl he has never seen but knows the most intimate details about. Beth is similarly infatuated with a guy who hangs around the office late at night, but who she actually knows nothing about. How will they extract themselves from this seemingly intractable situation?

THOUGHTS: Again, this book was loaned to me by my friend who apparently likes to feed my newborn Rainbow Rowell addiction. Unlike the other books that I have read by Rowell, like Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, this is NOT teen fiction. That means it touches on subjects like pregnancy, and what it really means to grow up and separate from your parents. As someone who is only a year away from graduation, there are many moments in the book that I was more keen to: the decision of Lincoln to move out of his mother’s home, his debate over whether he should continue working or go back to school, his search for when and where his life is supposed to start. Of course, I haven’t gone through these steps yet, but it gives me a nice glance into what the rest of my 20’s will look like.

Lincoln’s introspective and inner struggles to achieve true adulthood are what struck me the most. And of course, there is the cute romantic-comedy element of the book that kept me coming back for more (and didn’t make me as depressed about adulthood). The friendship between Beth and Jennifer is enviable, and both are incredibly smart and witty. The issues that they go through in their respective relationships portray that there’s a lot more to adulthood than career and just finding a partner- there’s all the things that come after too. The possibility of marriage? The possibility of children? And how can you even approach these topics when you are not sure if you want either?

Luckily, the creepy-guy-reading-emails-and-being-ethically-dubious is addressed as well, as it is a very self-aware novel. If it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I never take issue with authors attacking problematic issues and topics as long as they acknowledge that its problematic, but in case you’re the kind of person who can’t get around that sort of thing, then maybe this book isn’t for you. I don’t know if Rowell wanted to address implications of new technology, and how surveillance in an information age could shape the nature of modern relationships, but I would say that a small part of that is at play in this novel as well.

All in all, this is a cute and thought-provoking read. Would definitely recommend.

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book review, fiction, young adult

Review: Eleanor and Park

“You can be Han Solo,” he said, kissing her throat. “And I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.”

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell

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GENRE: Young Adult

WHAT FORMAT: paperback

RATING: 5/5 stars

SUMMARY: Eleanor and Park are two high school strangers turned into almost, but not quite, star-crossed lovers. They meet because they don’t have anywhere else to sit on the bus, crammed with crappy, judgmental high school kids. They soon bond over comic books, good music, and odd fashion choices. However, other people always worm their way into the relationship and test it- this ranges from unwanted, abusive step-parents, loving parents, high school bullies, or personal insecurities. It all makes for a tragedy of two kids in love for the ages.

THOUGHTS: My friend quite seriously told me that if I didn’t like this book, then she would have to reconsider our friendship. This is her favorite book of all time, and after reading it, I can understand why. I sped through this book in a couple of hours, unable to put it down.

I have read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell before, and to be honest, I did not love it. I was surprised by the tone that Rowell had in Eleanor and Park because it was completely different from Fangirl– in a good way, of course. I really enjoyed the contrasting voices of both Eleanor and Park. Beyond the stylistic elements of it, the dual narration also advanced the story quite well since neither Eleanor nor Park offer up intimate information easily.

Rowell’s romantic timing was also superb and perfect. This can be such a fickle thing but the way in which Eleanor and Park come together feels so natural, and there is not one part of their relationship that feels forced. Rowell captures exactly what it is like to be young and in love- it’s awkward, it’s dampened by a lack of communication, it’s passionate, and it’s like nothing else you’ll experience in the rest of your life.

The relationships that Eleanor and Park have with their families are so important as well- the slightly dysfunctional family that only seems perfect on the outside is there, and the absolutely messed-up family that is barely holding together. I love the focus on family because it takes up so much of a young adult’s life and has the power to determine what happens in a young adult’s relationships. It reminded me of just how little control teenagers can have over their own lives, and how frustrating it can be.

Honestly, the only thing that I found fault with in this book is Park’s name. It felt too stereotypical for a Korean American character, maybe bordering on ignorant.

Other than that, this book is everything- it’s cute, it’s angsty, it’s emotional, and it will most likely (definitely) wreck you at the end. It’s really the closest thing we’ll get to the twenty-first version of Romeo and Juliet, in that you know what will happen with these two intense, perfect lovers but it will take you by surprise anyway. So what are you waiting for? Go read this book!!

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book tour

Book Tour: Air and Ash

 

Author: Alex Lidell

Narrator: Kaitlin Bellamy

Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes

Publisher: Danger Bearing Press

Released: Sep. 8, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Master and Commander meets Sarah J Maas in a seafaring adventure of duty, love, magic, and a princess’s quest to protect her kingdom on her own terms.

After a lifetime of training, 17-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission – and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

Air and Ash is the thrilling first installment of the TIDES series. Recommended for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Tamora Pierce, and David Weber.

 

Alex Lidell is the author of Amazon best sellers AIR AND ASH and WAR AND WIND (Danger Bearing Press, 2017) and an Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books.

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Narrator Bio

Kaitlin Bellamy is a freelance performer and acting coach residing in Central Florida, with a theatrical history spanning more than twenty-five years.

Since relocating to Orlando in 2012, she has worked at multiple theme parks and various theatrical venues, in a career style she calls “Buffet Performing:” or, the idea of keeping several jobs active at any given time, so she may pick and choose where to work, and life never gets boring. Her specialties include Shakespeare, Voice Acting, and Puppetry. But above all, she is passionate about the performing arts, and all they stand for.

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Q&A with Author Alex Lidell
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • At the time I was writing AIR AND ASH, no. But now that I am on the third book in the series, having heard Kaitlin narrate AIR AND ASH, I do hear the characters speaking in her voice as I write.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I listed to sample reels of many narrators and then invited Kaitlin to audition. I really like the range of emotions and undertones she has within each character’s voice.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Very closely! I was really shy about sending her an audio file of my voice pronouncing some words, but it worked 🙂 We also have a shared google doc with character descriptions and we spent some time on the phone “auditioning” character voices. It was one of my favorite parts of the process and the reason I SO love working with Kaitlin.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Often by listening to audiobooks or watching some TV shows with the right atmosphere, and then analyzing the story/plot. What did I like about it? Why did I keep watching and listening? How can I apply that fun thing that got me excited to my own writing?
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I’m a HUGE listener. I fell in love with audiobooks listening to Master and Commander, where the narrator helped me understand some of the technical seamanship. My favorite narrator (aside from Kaitlin of course!) is Jennifer Ikeda
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I say Safety First! When I get into a book, I can’t pull away from it – so I end up walking down the street, reading my phone (yeah, i’m one of those horrible people). With audiobooks I can walk and listen!
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I have a habit of traveling to meet people who I’ve e-met during the writing process. After finishing WAR AND WIND (TIDES book 2), I went to see Rachel E Carter in CA. And in October I’m going to go see Kaitlin to celebrate AIR AND ASH audio.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • I think YA fantasy fans are often comfortable with a series – I know I am – and expect it. Other genres have different fan bases. From an author perspective, a series lets me tell more complex overall stories, but makes logistics difficult. IE in book one, the distance between A and B might not matter so I say “umm, half a day by horse, sure, why not”. And then in book 3 it becomes vitally important that it take a WEEK to get from A to B,… and I have to somehow deal 🙂
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Talk to your narrator and make sure you click as professionals. I really lucked out with Kaitlin because of her excitement level and flexibility – but some people prefer to have more “distance”. It was a match with Kaitlin herself, not just her voice, that finally closed the deal for me
  • What’s next for you?
    • WAR AND WIND (Tides 2) comes out in audio in December. SEA AND SAND (Tides 3) comes out in print/ebook in January!

Oct. 18th:
The Audiobookworm

Adventures thru Wonderland

History from a Woman’s Perspective

My Creatively Random Life

Oct. 19th:

Lomeraniel

Jazzy Book Reviews

It’s Novel to Me

Oct. 20th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

Here’s to Happy Endings

Kasia Burlakoff

Oct. 21st:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Turning Another Page

Oct. 22nd:

What Is That Book About

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Lilly’s Book World

Loves Great Reads

Oct. 23rd:

Spunky N Sassy

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Oct. 24th:

My World…in Words and Pages

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Smada’s Book Smack

Zach’s YA Reviews

Pregnant, Barefoot, in the Kitchen

 

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book tour

Book Tour: The Punch Escrow

Author: Tal M. Klein

Narrator:Matthew Mercer

Length: 8 hours 42 minutes

Publisher: Audible Studios

Released: Jul. 25, 2017

Genre: Tecnothriller

It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure… Arrival… Delight!

 

Joel Byram, our smartass protagonist, is an everyday twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre, and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

 

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

 

 

Tal M. Klein was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and currently lives in Detroit with his wife and two daughters. When she was five years old, his daughter Iris wrote a book called I’m a Bunch of Dinosaurs that went on to become one of the most successful children’s book projects on Kickstarter ―something that Tal explained to Iris by telling her, “your book made lots of kids happy.” Iris then asked Tal, “Daddy, why don’t you write a book that makes lots of grownups happy?” Tal mulled this over for a few years, and eventually wrote his first book, The Punch Escrow. It won the Inkshares Geek & Sundry Hard Science Fiction publishing contest, and is the first book published on the Geek & Sundry imprint.

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Narrator Bio

Matthew Christopher Miller, known professionally as Matthew Mercer or Matt Mercer, is an American voice actor involved in English dubs of Japanese anime as well as cartoons, films and video games. In anime shows, he voiced Levi in Attack on Titan, Kiritsugu Emiya in Fate/Zero, Kanji Tatsumi for episodes 13-26 in Persona 4: The Animation and Trafalgar Law in the Funimation dub of One Piece. In video games, he voices Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil series, Jack Cooper in Titanfall 2, Chrom in Fire Emblem Awakening, McCree in Overwatch, MacCready in Fallout 4 and Yusuke Kitagawa in Persona 5. In addition to voice-over, Mercer has developed some live-action web series including a Nintendo character parody called “There Will Be Brawl” and the famous Geek & Sundry and Alpha Dungeons & Dragons gaming session show “Critical Role.” The Punch Escrow is his first audiobook.

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Q&A with Author Tal M. Klein
  • How did you select your narrator, Matthew Mercer?

I always knew I wanted Matt Mercer to narrate my book, the hard part was getting him to agree to do it. Between Critical Role and his various Nerdist responsibilities, he’s also an incredibly prolific voice actor. Recording an audiobook is a serious time commitment! There was also the challenge of getting Audible to agree to having Matt do the book because he’d never done an audiobook before. Ultimately I got lucky in that Matt read my book, liked it, agreed to do the audiobook, and Audible was easily convinced to sign off once they heard his voice acting reel. The rest is history!

  • How closely did you work with Matthew before and during the recording process? Did you give him any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

Matt is a consumate professional. We did one session on pronounciation, but everything else was entirely in his court. I wanted him to make my book is canvas. He did an outstanding job.

  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

The Inkshares community is incredibly supportive, so they are owed a lot of credit, but my wife deserves the lion’s share. She was my rock throughout the writing process and the book would have never gotten finished without her support and enthusiasm.

  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I love audiobooks, though I tend to prefer listening to nonfiction. One of the reasons I was so particular about choosing Matt Mercer to do my book is because I knew he would give each chracter a unique voice. I feel like many fiction audiobooks lose me when they are narrated in monotone.

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Nothing beats Matt Mercer singing Karma Chameleon. That alone is worth the price of admission in my humble opinion.

  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I think the two experiences are distinctly different. As I mentioned, I rarely listen to fiction audiobooks, but when I do it’s usually after I’ve already read the book.

  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

A bottle of expensive bubbly with my family and friends!

 

Oct. 4th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Brian’s Book Blog

Oct. 5th:
Buried Under Books
Lomeraniel
Lilly’s Book World

Oct. 6th:
It’s Novel to Me
Macarons & Paperbacks
The Bookworm Lodge

Oct. 7th:
Book Stacks Amber
Here’s to Happy Endings

Oct. 8th:
Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm
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Oct. 9th:
Canadian Book Addict
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Oct. 10th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews
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book tour

Book Tour: Ballad of the Beanstalk

Author: Amy McNulty

Narrator: Kaitlin Descutner

Length: 5 hours 50 minutes

Publisher: Patchwork Press

Released: Jul. 18, 2017

Genre: Fantasy

As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp, 16-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.

 

Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently writes professionally about everything from business marketing to anime. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

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Narrator Bio

In 2010, I graduated from California University….of Pennsylvania (yes, you read that correctly) with a BA in Theatre and Dance. I have been a professional actress for 7 years in Columbus, OH working in both Musical Theatre shows and Dramatic plays ranging from Classic, Rock & Roll, Modern, British, American Southern, etc. I work as a Children’s Theatre teacher as well as a Commercial Actress where I specialize in voice acting, photo, commercial and tutorial video work. I am interested in new projects and pursuing new opportunities.

I am a big, avid reader, and listen to audio books more than the radio in my car. My favorite genres are historical fiction, fiction, nonfiction and biographies/ memoirs. This is a new endeavor for me, and I am thrilled to explore different characters through storytelling. Reading is a big passion of mine. Bring on the books!

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Q&A with Author Amy McNulty
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
  • I work with a platform called ACX, which matches book rights holders with narrators/producers. I posted my book and Kaitlin Descutner was one of the narrators who auditioned. She’s a professional actress and she brought such life to the story! I loved working with her. She even sings! I sent her the book, we touched base on a few notes, and she produced the whole audiobook from start to finish. I checked it, we tweaked it together, and then it was ready to go!
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
  • Sometimes. Descriptive writing really helps bring a story to life. At the same time, though, I know some people who prefer listening to audiobooks to reading, and it would be a shame if they couldn’t read all sorts of books because some books lend themselves better to audiobooks than others.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
  • I wasn’t thinking about it when writing (which I discovered was an issue during the recording/editing phase, as I didn’t make who was speaking in a scene or two clear to the narrator), but I always try to get my books made into audiobooks once they’re finished just to get them in front of another audience that might have otherwise passed by them.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
  • Kaitlin did most of it on her own. After she finished the first recording, I got back to her with notes and we tweaked it together. But as far as recording and editing goes, it was all her.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
  • I’ve always wanted to write a fairy tale YA book, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it in a way that’s never been done before. Strangely, when I was watching the Rifftrax Live performance of Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny (it had a Jack and the Beanstalk segment in there—don’t ask, ha), I was struck with the idea of doing a prequel explaining where the magic harp came from. (Since it seems to have a human figure/face in some versions.) Jack and the Beanstalk has never even been one of my favorite fairy tales, but I ran with my idea.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
  • I’m actually increasing my writing pace starting this year, so it’s odd that I’m getting less burnt out the more I work. It helped that I transition to editing more than business writing this year as a freelancer, so my creative energy doesn’t get zapped by my work before I can turn around and write. I discovered the joys of writing on a word processor this year, too. I get more words done by working on a non-glowing screen without internet access, so I’m not distracted. Still, it’s important to take breaks and not force myself to write too much every day.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
  • The songs! Music is essential to the story and Kaitlin made up a tune for the lyrics I wrote for a song.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
  • I love period dramas and classic romance books, and I’m a huge fan of fantasy and the medieval and Elizabethan eras. It’d be hard for me to choose, although I know actually living in those eras would be difficult. More likely than not, I’d be a servant or peasant, not the aristocracy that have such compelling romances in these stories!
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
  • Hmm, I’m not sure! My favorite actors and actresses are probably too old to take on the roles. I think I pictured Ezra Miller for Mack, though.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
  • It’s absolutely not! Any way people can enjoy stories is legit. Audiobooks make books more accessible to both people with reading disabilities and busy people.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
  • I usually post a GIF of Kermit the frog waving his arms on social media. That’s how I feel when I finish a book.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
  • Standalones allow you to move on to the next project, but with series, you’ve already done some work establishing characters and the world. Series tend to sell more books because you may have hooked people with the first book, but on the other hand, if that first book didn’t hook many people, there’s almost no point in writing more books. Most of my books have sequel/series potential. Writing standalone is actually hard for me! Ballad of the Beanstalk is probably my first standalone where I really have no intention at all of writing a sequel to or series for.
  • What’s next for you?
  • I’m working on my romance series (written under Joy Penny) and then I have a paranormal YA series I want to publish next year.

Ballad of the Beanstalk Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card

Sep. 27th:
Adventures Thru Wonderland
Lomeraniel

Sep. 28th:
Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
Bookwormerz

Sep. 29th:
Jazzy Book Review
abookandalattee
Sep. 30th:
Hall Ways Blog
Notes from ‘Round the Bend
Turning Another Page

Oct. 1st:
Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Oct. 2nd:
History from a Woman’s Perspective
The Book Junkie Reads . . .

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It’s Novel to Me

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Summer Wrap Up

I read a grand total of 22 books this summer, which is pretty crazy for me! I am only going to be listing the books that I rated 4 stars and up, and then of those, I’ll quickly delve into my top 5 favorites and exactly why they are in my top 5.

Here are all the titles that I rated 4+ stars…

And now for my top five…

This was the first book I picked up this summer and it is Jane Austen at her best. I took a little break from Austen since I found that I did not love Emma as much as I loved Pride and Prejudice but Sense and Sensibility matched P&P for me. Now the question is whether I should read Persuasion or Northanger Abbey next…

This is a book that I should have read a long time ago because I knew from the synopsis that I would end up loving it. I mean, Death narrates the life of a German girl who harbors a Jewish man in her basement and steals books to keep her head straight while living in Nazi Germany…what more could a girl ask for?

This book is on this list for Levithan’s writing style alone. Somehow, he managed to create a third-person narrator that was a collective of men who had passed and it worked beautifully. I think that just speaks to pure talent and plus it’s a portrait of today’s LBTQ youth, specifically gay men, which is just beautiful in itself.

I didn’t give this book the full five stars but I had to include it in my top five because it was so emotionally captivating and I know it’s gonna stick with me for such a long time.

I said this in my review, but this book is the first book that I stayed up unreasonably late to finish (I should clarify, the first time that I have stayed up unreasonably late in my adult lifetime). It is amazing and can’t wait till it comes out so all of you can read it too!

 

What were your favorite summer reads?

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