July 26, 2018

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've raved about Becky's other two books, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited, on this blog before, so I knew I would fall just as in love with her newest release, Leah on the Offbeat. This story is technically a sequel to Simon vs., only focusing primarily on Leah instead.

In this story, bisexual Leah is struggling with her love life. Her head is telling her one thing, while her heart is telling her another, and the outcome could be magical or a complete disaster. As Leah and her friends prepare for prom, graduation, and then college, they all have to make some tough decisions, and the reality that they are all going their separate ways hits them hard.

Leah is actually my favorite person on the planet. Her wit and sarcasm coupled with her hidden insecurities is literally me in fiction form. I really related with how she hid her insecurities with cynicism as it is much easier to act like you don't care than to reveal that you really do. There was one instance of racism in this book, and I appreciated how Leah called it out and handled the situation rather than letting it go. I loved getting to know her and some of the other Creekwood characters more. And the ending of this book was just perfect!

This time I chose to physically read the book, even though I opted for the audio versions for Becky's other books. Not sure why, although I think it might have had something to do with how inviting this cover was, I just wanted to own it! Now I obviously have to pick up physical copies of the other two to have the complete set.

I'm really anxious to know if there will be more books in this series, maybe following Abby, Nick, or Bram. I sure hope there are, because this is a cast of characters I never want to let go of! Also, this better get a movie.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

July 23, 2018

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Looking at this book, you have no idea what to expect. Is it a coming of age story? Maybe a touching book about motherhood? You'd never guess that it's a story about a twisted and terrifying mother-daughter relationship that will give you chills. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is so unlike anything I've ever read, and I am so glad that I experienced this story.

This book follows mom Suzette, dad Alex, and little Hanna. Told from both Suzette and Hanna's points of view, the story opens with Hanna not ever speaking, and her parents being concerned that something is physically wrong with her. She barks like a vicious dog, sets trash cans on fire, and gets kicked out of school after school, so there has to be an explanation. When all the tests come back with no sign of physical causes, everyone begins to suspect that maybe Hanna just doesn't want to talk. But why?

Then, all of a sudden Hanna does start talking. But only to her mother, and not as herself, but rather as a historical witch. Hanna starts speaking terrifying things to her mother, horrifying Suzette. And it only gets worse from there.

Hanna is actually a terrifying character. Her chapters were where you were really able to understand not only how twisted she is, but also how intelligent (which in my opinion makes it even scarier.) I felt so bad for Suzette because all she wanted was a happy and healthy daughter, and understandably the whole situation was breaking her down. Even through struggling with her own illness, she kept trying to do what she thought would help Hanna. Honestly, I couldn't stand Alex though. His blindness to the situation and unwillingness to believe anything negative about his daughter really rubbed me the wrong way.

This was an incredibly disturbing story that made my skin crawl. It was new and inventive and exhilarating until the very last page.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for both an ARC and a finished copy of this chilling and creepy read! Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 17, 2018

Campfire by Shawn Sarles

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Give me a good scary story and I am all in! This book delivered just that. Campfire by Shawn Sarles follows main character Maddie as she goes on a camping trip with her extended family. Immediately, Maddie is attracted to their hot guide Caleb, and conspires with her best friend Chelsea (who has also accompanied them on the trip) to make a move. 

The first few days of the trip go fairly well, with everyone gathering to tell scary stories around the campfire at night. But then a bear scare puts people on edge and everything goes downhill from there. Suddenly the scary stories they have been telling begin to come true, and the fun family trip becomes a fight for survival.

I really enjoyed this book! The scary stories told were actually very creepy, and even though this is YA, I was actually freaked out a little even as a 28-year-old! And horror is my jam, so that's saying something. There were a lot of unexpected twists in this as well that I didn't see coming, and since I can usually predict things pretty well, that was definitely impressive.

I thought the main characters were fine. I didn't love them but I didn't hate them, and nothing really jumped out at me to sway me one way or another. But this was a much more plot-driven than character-driven story, so this was fine with me. I really appreciated how this book didn't paint the picture of the perfect family, but rather showed the tumultuous intricacies that make up real life. This really is the perfect story to sit on your deck with on a summer evening, or even take with you on a camping trip...if you dare.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to JIMMY Patterson Books for sending me an advanced copy of this spooky summer read! Campfire by Shawn Sarles is out TODAY, July 17th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 9, 2018

London Recap

Hello lovely readers! I'm back! I had the most amazing 10 days in England and am excited to recap my trip for you all! 

We went primarily for the wedding of one of my husband's college friends, but stayed around to explore since neither of us had ever been to England before! The wedding took place in Newmarket, but for the rest of the week we mostly hung out in London.

We got to see and do so much on this trip, I'm still in awe of how much we were able to fit in! Major highlights included the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath! We stayed in Pimlico, which was an absolutely adorable part of the city, and we were able to walk to a majority of the things we wanted to check out. It was unusually hot by England standards, but still much cooler than it was back home in Virginia.

Of course, I had to check out some local bookstores while we were there. I loved getting to experience Waterstones, and obviously picked up a few titles. I love that books come out sooner in paperback over there, so I picked up two new releases in paperback: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli and Neverworld Wake (the UK cover for this is outstanding btw!) by Marisha Pessl. I also got a cute little copy of The Wind in the Willows. The table we sat at for breakfast every morning had the text in a poster and I realized I'd never read it!

Regular review posts will resume this week, but I wanted to leave some of my favorite pictures for you all to give you a glimpse into where I've been and what I've been doing in my absence!


Parliament
Stonehenge

Hogwarts Model at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

Roman Baths
Windsor Castle