Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Release Date: September 30, 2014

When I heard about this book at Book Expo America this year, I couldn’t have been more excited.  A young adult novel that deals directly with the idea of desegregation in the south, in addition to the outrageous mistreatment of anyone who was of a different race, sexuality, religion, etc is one I definitely needed to read.  A little background:  I was born and raised in North Carolina, just north of Charlotte, and my parents both remember how their schools were desegregated.  So while I’ve heard stories from them and through my history courses, there’s nothing like reading a story that is based in the true facts and events that other people have written about and conveyed to those of us in present day.

Fact: in Charlotte, North Carolina, there was a single African American woman, Dorothy Counts, that was integrated into Harding High in 1957.  Some of you might even recognize her picture:

She had rocks thrown at her, was spit on by her classmates, had trash thrown at her, and lost her first two white friends because they were taunted and bullied as well.  Robin Talley explores all of these things in her novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves.  

While Talley’s novel introduces seven black characters going to the same school, they didn’t have it any easier than Dorothy Counts just because there was more of them.  The story really delves into the deep racisim that existed blindly in the south for years, and how it affected both a black and white female character.

I think the important part is that these girls not only grow to like one another as people, despite the fact that the white girl was raised to believe that segregation is God’s way of keeping the unfit separate, and eventually begin to have romantic feelings for one another.  Wow.  Talk about some intense narrative.  I won’t go into more details, but just know that the change that both characters make throughout the story really shows off Talley’s story telling ability and it showcases how the desegretation movement really changed history in the south.

5 Bards for Talley’s daring and historically accurate novel.

fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Princess Aislynn knows all about the curse. Its magic is a part of her, like her awkward nose and thin fingers. It’s also something she can’t control. And girls who can’t control their abilities have a tendency to disappear. So for her own protection, Aislynn is sworn into the Order of Fairy Godmothers where she must spend the rest of her life chaste and devoted to serving another royal family.

Tasked with tending to the sweet, but sheltered Princess Linnea, Aislynn also finds a reluctant friend in the palace gardener, Thackery, who makes no secret of his disdain for her former life. The more time they spend together, though, the more she begins to doubt the rules she has observed so obediently. As Aislynn’s feelings threaten to undo the sacred vows she has taken, she risks not only her own life but Linnea’s as well. With the princess engaged to a devoted follower of The Path, there are some who would do anything to keep Aislynn from straying.

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Authors I’ve only read one book from but NEED to read more

1. Jennifer Echols
Such a Rush is on my favorites bookshelf and I own a few more of her books, but I always get distracted reading other books. I need to get on this!

2. Ava Dellaira
-It will be a little hard for me to read another book by Dellaira when she hasn’t published any more than Love Letters to the Dead. But believe that I will be stalking the shelves for another book by her.

3. Markus Zusak
– I think part of my reason for not reading more of Zusak’s work is due to the fact that I love The Book Thief so much, I just don’t want that reading experience and my idea of this author to be tainted if his other work doesn’t measure up.  I need to suck it up and read them anyway.

4. Laini Taylor
– Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of my favorite books the year it came out, and I own the other two books (such is the case for a lot of authors on this list) but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet!

5. Morgan Rhodes
-Oh, Falling Kingdoms, what an excellent example of high fantasy you are in the young adult genre.  I own the second book and already have the third on pre-order. So what am I waiting on?

6. Jeffrey Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides is an amazing novel and it really was the first book I read that showcased what depression and isolation can do.  After TVS Eugenides won a Pulitzer, so I definitely need to read more of his work.

7. Lucy Christopher
-Stolen was an amazing book, and Christopher hasn’t put out a whole lot of work since then, but I need to read her other novels ASAP.  I can only hope they live up to the wonderful story and writing that comprised Stolen.

8. Alexandra Bracken
– I read and enjoyed The Darkest Minds, and I’ve had an ARC of Neverfade since BEA 2013, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. I need to do that since the third one is coming out soon!

9. Jennifer L. Armentrout
– Armentrout is a big deal.  I mean at Book Expo America she had about 4 different signing opportunities, and they were all for different books.  Everyone and their Mom was in line to see her.  So after LOVING Don’t Look Back, I’ve taken it upon myself to purchase more of her books, and I can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about.

10. Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals was by far one of my favorite books of 2013, and I already have a copy of the sequel that comes out in November.  So I will read a second book by her, which I suppose is cheating, but I NEED to read it. Loved this story.

 

What are some of your authors you ABSOLUTELY have to read more of?

Book Review: Sway by Kat Spears

19286535High school senior Jesse Alderman, or Sway as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop.  He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs.  It’s all business with Jesse.  He has few close friends and he never lets emotions get in the way.

But when Ken, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things.  While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s younger brother who’s belligerent and self-pitying after spending a lifetime dealing with cerebral palsy.  Suddenly Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him.  The tinman really does have a heart after all.

 

 

This is one of those books that teachers give to high school students and expect them to learn from it.  It is marketed as a modern day Cyrano De Bergerac with a twist and that description is dead on.  I normally hate books like this, but, wait for it, I loved this book.  Kat Spears does an incredible job writing the story of Jesse Alderman, that I immediately got sucked into the story.

I loved Jesse’s personality and his sense of humor.  He is the kind of guy in high school I would have crushed hard over, but never acted on it.  Jesse has seen some horrible stuff in his short life span and handle’s it the way most teenagers would, by going into complete denial.  And by trying to control everything around him, including his emotions.  They way that Kat Spears weaves his personality and life made me feel like I knew him, that we were best friends.  It was an awesome experience.

I think the best part of the book for me involved Jesse and Pete’s friendship.  Jesse doesn’t treat Pete differently because he has cerebral palsy, he doesn’t make up allowances for him or allow him to be an ass.  That was what Pete needed, for someone to treat him like a normal kid.  I also loved the stories Jesse made up to explain who Pete is and why he acts slightly off.  They were clever and funny and really added some levity to the plot.  I love that you can tell the mutual love and respect those two had for each other (the bromance if you will).

While the plot centers around the love story between Bridget and Jesse, there was so much other plot points and general things going on that the love story takes a back seat.  Don’t get me wrong, the romance is there and it is good, but it is just a small part of the book for me.  I loved reading about Jesse’s struggles to keep his emotions in tact, and the little things he does to help the underdog, and his interactions with Pete and the other misfits he runs with.  Those parts of the book make it a must read for me.  I have to take a 1/2 a point away for the adult content in the book, there was a lot of foul language and mentions of drugs and underage drinking.  Other than that the book was great.

4.5 Bards

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Book Review: Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

20708754#EvilLibrarian He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).

 

I was really excited to read this book, the cover is awesome!  I mean look at it!  So cool.  Anyway this book is really geared towards the younger end of the YA genre.  While to topic of the book seems like it could lead to a very scary or intense read, Michelle Knudsen added such levity to the book that it was a very enjoyable read.

While the story centered around Cynthia and Ryan defeating the Demons the best part of the story.  They were hilarious.  Not at all scary or gross, just plain funny.  I loved that they loved musical theater.  Cyn and Ryan’s story was cute.  Lots of build up with little reward, but the book was geared toward a younger audience so it was appropriate.  I love musical theater so I was delighted that it was such a big part of the book.

The book doesn’t have much substance but it was a great read.  It was funny, and entertaining, captivating, and an all around enjoyable read.  I would recommend it to middle to early high school aged people.

 

4 Bards

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Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 21, 2014

It’s an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp — the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance — and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her. 

Book Review: No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace

20605405Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

First things first, I love the cover. It tells you a lot about this book without giving away much. I could tell it was going to be a LGBT YA book, and there is some sort of love triangle. So naturally I was like yes, I want to read this. And I loved the book.

I loved that I was able to connect to the characters despite not being LGBT. Olivia, on the surface seemed like a spoiled brat, but she is more relatable than she seems. Zoey is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. She is poor, and works hard to get what she and her family needs to survive. Now the idea of a rich person sweeping in to help lift a poorer person out of their personal hell is nothing new, however Amanda Grace gives it a nice little twist.

I thought that having the two come together initially to work on a group project was a cute idea. And then to throw the twin brother as a potential love interest was nice. I liked how the book didn’t address the social stigma of being gay as much as some other books have in the past. There was very little worry as to how society would see them and if they would be accepted. The concern was how do we tell Liam and not lose him as a friend. I love that. I think that really demonstrates how have we as a society have come in the last 5 years in regards to LGBT relationships. I bow down to you Amanda Grace, thank you, thank you, thank you.

The story and the development of the characters was great. I thought it flowed nicely and liked that the attraction was not instantaneous. It is refreshing to read a YA book that the characters do not have that whole love at first sight syndrome. The only negative was that I wanted slightly more from the Liam and Olivia dynamic. It lacked some feeling and depth. But other than that I thought the book was great!

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Book Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
 
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Everything about this novel was fun.  Not that it didn’t have its emotional moments, or it’s romantic moments, but the novel really focuses on a type of modern mystery that leads two brilliant characters together in an interesting and unique way.

I really have to say that I am enjoying the trend in young adult lit that is featuring homosexual characters.  Emi is delightfully normal, she has all the awkward overthinking moments that all of us had as teenagers about relationships.  She is such a strong and wonderfully crafted character who is talented and knows what she wants to do professionally, but not necessarily in her personal life.  I can tell you that most of my friends and I didn’t know either of those things, but we all knew that we wanted an epic love story.

Lacour does an excellent job of crafting a story that, while we all know will have some kind of happy ending, gives us a story that really captured my heart.  I had a hard time putting this novel down.  Not only is Emi an excellent character, but her best friend Charlotte is just about the best friend I can imagine.  She is supportive, motivated, and is Emi’s biggest cheerleader.  Ava, well, it would be hard for me to describe Ava without giving away too much.

You should definitely pick up this story, because it is focused on the relationships between the characters.  The relationships aren’t necessarily romantic, but it is an excellent novel.

4 Bards.

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 9, 2014

Emmeline knows the woods outside her settlement are forbidden. The mysterious enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. 

Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent. When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s a rare opportunity to wash the family stain clean–even if she has eyes for another. But before she is forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her out to the woods, where she finds a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the settlement will kill to protect. Her grandmother went down that path and paid the price.

If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table (you know…back to school theme)

Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis

1. Simon from the Mortal Instruments
I think this one is obvious, I’m casting him as one of my love interests at my lunch table.

2. Morpheus from Splintered
Morpheus would be the more dangerous one in my love triangle of a lunch table.  But don’t worry, I would end up with Simon.

3. Remy from This Lullaby
I am going to need a best friend in this crazy dramatic group of people, so I choose the caustic Remy.

4. Dexter from This Lullaby
I can’t have Remy without her goofy boyfriend.  They will be the Marshall and Lily of my lunch group.

5. Sarah from Lies We Tell Ourselves
Sarah just has the spark of someone we will need at our table to be the alpha female with all the answers!

cath_hufflepuff

Cath from Fangirl

6. Cath from Fangirl
I need someone as dorky as me in my friend group

7. Park from Eleanor & Park
Park is our resident music nerd, and the guy who always introduces us to new bands

8. Jessica from the Jessica Darling series
This one is pretty obvious. There’s always at least two Jessicas in a friend group.

9. David from Rebel Belle
HE LIKES DOCTOR WHO. Enough said.

10. Wes from The Truth About Forever
The artsy kid who melts hearts across school.

 

Who are some characters that you wouldn’t mind spending lunch with?

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