Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review: Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Title: Love and Luck
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Year Published: 2018

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 299
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)Ireland

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt' over-the-top destination wedding and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing that left her miserable and heartbroken--and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn't about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once-inseparable siblings.

But when Addie discovers and unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library,  she's finally able to escape her anxious mind--and Ian's criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie fins herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world's smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute Irish-accented friend Rowen. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother. That is, if they don't get completely lost along the way.

Review: I know that I just read Love and Gelato recently, but I couldn't resist Welch's second novel. I didn't even read a synopsis of the novel before beginning it, that's how sure I was it would be a fun and good read. And I was right.

I didn't connect that the main character, Addie, was Lina's absent best friend in Love and Gelto, but that was fun to have Lina become the absent best friend in this book. Welch has an easy style about her writing that makes the story move smoothly and allows the reader to get to know, and fall in like with, her characters quickly. There is always a sense of exhilaration, fun, adventure about these books and I know that things will work out alright in the end. Perfect for summer!

Instead of learning about Italy as we did in her first book, in this one, Ireland was the setting. By including excerpts from a love-lorn guidebook, Welch teaches the reader all about some of Ireland's most famous castles and tourist spots and that really adds to the experience of reading this book.

Challenges for which this counts: none

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sunday Salon: July 15, 2018

My life in books: 
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann--Fascinating adult non-fiction
  • Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch--Fun YA romance
  • Inquiry Mindset by Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt--a book for work
  • Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson--YA
  • Be Real: Educate from the Heart by Tara Martin--a book for work

Challenges progress:
  • Non-fiction--My goal is 20 books and I've read 34! 
  • Literary Voyage around the world--Read books set in as many countries as possible. I have read in 33 countries so far.
  • Literary Escapes--Track the US states. I have read books set in 23 states so far.
  • Read all of the ALA YA Award Winners--I have already read 6 of these winners.
  • Motif Reading Challenge--The July motif is Travel so I did that with Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.
  • Summer Big Book:  I have read 2 books that are longer than 400 pages so far this summer.
My life outside books:
It's summer break so nothing!

My daughter and I took a last minute trip up to San Francisco for a few days. We went to the Museum of Modern Art (we go every time we are in SF), saw an exhibit about Japanese internment during World War II at the Presidio, viewed the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz, did a little shopping, and basically wandered around the city.

The secret thing we did is got my daughter her first tattoo! I had been thinking about getting her initial or her name for a year or so, occasionally looking at fonts and thinking about where on my body I wanted it. Then she suggested we get matching initials on our wrists. Well, I couldn't resist so I got an S and she got an H.

We also started binge watching the Mindy Project and I find it really funny and quirky. Oh and we're doing our annual Harry Potter marathon. We're watching #4 today.

Review: Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Title: Anger is a Gift
Author: Mark Oshiro
Year Published: 2018

Genre: YA fiction (LGBTQ)
Pages: 456
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Moss Jeffries is many things--considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend, and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else--someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn't become a rallying point for a community because of one night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn't feel so stuck. Moss can't even escape at school--he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. It feels sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals. 

Something needs to change--but who will listen to a group of teens? When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Review: I may have just finished one of my top books of 2018!

This book includes so much good and well done stuff. Stuff isn't a good word for it, but I liked the characters, the setting, and the storyline. And I really like the cover, too.

The storyline covers police brutality, poverty, underfunded public education, friendship, family, and how to find a use for anger. The title really does cover it: anger is a gift. When used as power and to move people to make a difference, anger can propel even the meekest to effective action. I don't want to say anything more because you need to read this book and I don't want to ruin it for you.

The characters in this book will get under your skin and stay with you. They are compassionate, passionate, and just want what they deserve: safety in school and in their neighborhood. I also love that Moss and his friends cover the rainbow (pun intended) of sexual orientation, race, family situations, and religions.

Challenges for which this counts: 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Title: Allegedly
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 387
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (NY)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly. She didn't say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Marty and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn't say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. There wasn't a point to setting the record straight before, but now she's got Todd-and their unborn child--to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary's fate now lies in the hands of the one person she trusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Review: The reviews I have seen of this book have all been good so I was looking forward to reading it. It took me a little while to get into it, but I think that was me and not the book because yesterday I read most of it without stopping, reading way past my bedtime so I could finish it.

This book is intense and take a look at our juvenile justice system as well as social welfare, child abuse, and relationships. Even though the topics are dark and Mary's life is really, really terrible, I didn't feel depressed when I finished. Mary was put in jail (mostly solitary confinement for her "safety.") from age 9 to 15 and when the book takes place is living in a group home. The social workers, women who run the group home, and her probation officer are all awful and overwhelmed with the amount of work they have. The other girls in the home are not nice either. But, through it all, Mary has faith that she is meant for more.

I think what keeps the reader going is that Mary is bright and unfailingly determined to get out of her situation. She has a volunteer job, is studying to take the SATs, and see a future for herself. Maybe it's because she knows she didn't commit the crime for which she is doing time. Or did she? As she says, all the accounts say "allegedly."

I liked the way this story unfolded, bits at a time, with Mary slowly coming into her own.

Challenges for which this counts: none

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Review: Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Title: Love and Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 386
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)Italy

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn't in the mood for Italy's famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She's only there because it was her mother's dying with that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn't around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is go back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina's uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires her, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother's footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It's a secret that will change everything Lina knew about her mother, her father--and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Review: This book seemed like the perfect summer book to read so I took it with me when my daughter and I went to San Francisco for a few days. What a perfect choice!

This book is set in Florence, Italy and it made me have flashbacks (good ones) to my last trip to Florence about 5 years ago. It also made me want to pack my bags immediately and get on a plane to Florence. The descriptions of the sites, smells, and tastes of Italy really made this book come alive.

I also liked Lina. She is spunky, smart, overwhelmed, and falling in like with Italy, her new dad, and a couple cute boys. What more could a reader ask for in a summer YA romance fun book?! I enjoyed reading Lina's mother's journal along with her as the mystery of her parents' relationship unfolded and Lina explored Florence, I liked seeing how she got to know her new Italian friends, and I liked that the characters were (mostly) straight forward with one another.

All in a all a fun read that will do well with teens!

Challenges for which this counts: none