Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Hello TBF readers,

I am here to share with you a book review before Thanksgiving. Take a look at Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

I LOVED Rebel Belle. The first book of this charming series introduces the heroine, Harper Price. She has a lot going for her before the story starts. Harper is participating in a ton of school activities, dealing with the death of her sister, trying to prepare for her cotillion ball and be the perfect girlfriend, daughter and friend everyone expects her to be. Her life is "perfect" which puts her under a lot of stress. Harper's world turns upside down when the school janitor passes his warrior magical powers to her. While getting awesome powers might be a plus, she has to protect David Stark, her least favorite person. I admire Harper's strong personality. She is not a beauty to mess with. Harper is extremely loyal to her friends even to David Stark, who she would love to karate kick to the curb. You can definitely tell Harper is under a lot of stress but she manages it with grace.

Rebel Belle will appeal to fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both Buffy and Harper are very strong heroines who are thrown off their game when stepping into the supernatural world. Also it doesn't hurt when both characters have two guys vying for their attention.

I highly recommend Rebel Belle to readers who love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and enjoyed Rachel Hawkins's other series, Hex Hall. You will not be disappointed! Also check out the next two books in this charming series, Miss Mayhem (Book #2) and Lady Renegades (Book #3). Lady Renegades will be released in Spring 2016!

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more book reviews and author interviews!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Greetings readers! I just finished Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves and it is such a wonderful read and I’m struggling to find where to begin in discussing this fantastic novel!

Talley tackles many current controversial topics of social justice -- but in a historic setting. It's 1959, and Sarah Dunbar will be among the first group of black students to attend Jefferson High School, the local all-white school. Sarah, an honors student and avid singer at her old school, is barred from upper level classes and all extracurriculars. Other students constantly harass her and her friends to no end. But the worst treatment comes from Linda Hairston. Linda doesn't use force like many other students, but as the daughter of a segregationist local newspaper write, Linda follows in her father’s footsteps, writing in the school newspaper against segregation and the NAACP. Sarah and Linda clash when they are paired for a French project. In between working on the project, they argue and blame each other for the tumultuous changes that have been plowing through Jefferson High School, from the delayed start of school to the cancelling of the prom. Sarah condemns Linda for arguing with the “tradition” of segregation while not acknowledging the extensive racism that keeps whites and blacks separate, while Linda calls integrationists, the local NAACP chapter, and Sarah “agitators” for trying to rush change. But they both take the integration a little too lightly, and soon, white students begin to throw more than insults and people start getting hurt. Both Sarah and Linda are shaken up by their year at Jefferson, but they learn about themselves, their families, their community and their lives in the world.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is the beautifully written result of clearly extensive research done by Robin Talley. Her passion for social justice in multiple spheres shines clearly in her work. The time period allows for the discussion of racism, but she expands the novel to cover internal conflict over sexuality, religion, as well as gender roles. Instead of writing a standard black-person-teaches-white-person-about-racism, Talley looks deep into both Sarah and Linda, and delves into their experiences in so much detail in order to discuss so many more issues. They are so realistic and complex, one can only imagine the amount of thought and structure that went into their creation. The side characters are equally interesting and well developed; everyone faces their own struggles and their own growth, even if they aren’t the focus of the novel. I particularly loved Sarah’s little sister Ruthie, who would not shy away from searching for hope and justice in difficult situations.

This novel is simply extraordinary. Talley’s multifaceted approach to so many different issues is extensive and well thought out. I highly recommend this book for readers who want to understand the circumstances of the time better, who are involved in activism, or who simply want a moving read. Lies We Tell Ourselves is such an amazing work and I can’t wait to get my hands on Robin Talley’s next book as well. Happy reading!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Hi readers!  I hope everyone’s enjoying the perfect reading weather we’re having, and if you don’t know what to read, have I got something for you.  A.S. King’s I Crawl Through It is sure to be a definite fall favorite.

Four teenagers, all trying to deal with the memories of their pasts and the stresses of their present, feel like they are about to explode.  Standardized testing, bomb threats, and suspicious neighbors all add to the tension in their lives.  To cope, one lies, one swallows herself, one splits in two and one builds an invisible helicopter to fly away from their problems. However, they soon discover that they must face their problems head on if they truly wish to overcome them.

This book is definitely not a light read.  It is thought provoking and challenges readers to think of the characters and plots in unconventional ways and to question what the narrators truly mean.  Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed that challenge.  This surrealist novel will be something that readers are not used to, so I encourage everyone to stretch their horizons and read with a mindset that is open to new experiences.  From the first page, I was hooked, I Crawl Through It is so different from anything that I’ve ever read and it was quite refreshing to read a story told in such a unique way.
Each character is dealing with challenges that teenagers in real life face.  They are flawed.  They are broken.  They are trying.  Unlike many stories about teenagers today, this one takes teens and puts them in a light that validates every challenge that they face and shows them struggling to deal with the fallout.  King does a wonderful job of creating characters that will resonate with all readers.

This book can start great conversations, not only about the story, but about major issues brought up in the novel, if you do choose to read it, (and I hope you will) be prepared to want to talk about it with anyone who will listen (I certainly did).  Anyone who has enjoyed Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, or any of A.S. King’s other novels will undoubtedly love I Crawl Through It. 

Happy Reading!


Justine Larbalestier... coming to Rochester! She is the author of Magic or Madness trilogy, How to Ditch Your Fairy, Team Human, Liar, Razorhurst and My Sister Rosa     *My Sister Rosa is expected to be released in 2016*

Share your excitement for all the authors coming to TBF using the hashtag #ROCTBF2016!

Check out the blog again for more book review, author interviews and more!

P.S. The Fairport Public Library just reopened after several weeks for remodeling! You should definitely check it out if you live in the area!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

More TBF 2016 Author News

Hello TBF readers!

I am happy to announce three new additions to the TBF 2016 author line-up. Take a look!
  • Anna Breslaw: author of Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here     *This debut book will be released April 2016*
  • K. L. Going: author of Fat Kid Rules the World, King of the Screwups, The Garden of Eve and more!
  • Rachel Hawkins: author Hex Hall series and Rebel Belle series    *The third and final book in the Rebel Belle series, Lady Renegades, will be released April 2015*
That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more book reviews, author interviews and more!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Hi readers! I hope you're staying warm and finding some good books this season! I've been enjoying this fall with Janet B. Taylor's book, Into the Dim!

Hope Walton isn't your typical home schooled teenager. Hope has a perfect photographic memory and a few severe phobias to go with it. When Hope's mother is presumed dead after a horrible earthquake, Hope's carefully built world crumbles out from underneath her. In order to give her time to grieve, her father ships her off to her Aunt's mysterious mansion in Scotland. There, she finds out that her mother is alive and well in the year 1154. Hope finds herself facing her fears as she travels back into the past to rescue not only her mother, but several of her new friends too.

Even if you think you know how time travel works then you still probably find this book refreshing and new. I'll be honest, as a reader I have heard several different theories on the function and effects of time travel, and I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find Into the Dim to be a new and well crafted story. Along with time travel, this book is filled with action, love, and a ton of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat, screaming aloud at the pages when something bad happens and jumping for joy at something good. Not only did Janet B. Taylor have a perfect balance of history and fiction, but she wrote in very real characters that I could understand, relate to, and fall in love with. I can honestly say that there wasn't a single moment where I was bored while reading and I highly recommend that any fans of science fiction or fantasy read this book.

Keep a close out out for Janet B. Taylor's Into the Dim when it officially releases in March of 2016! You won't be disappointed by this novel and I can't wait to share this reading experience with all of you.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Hi, everyone!

It's good to be back and reviewing for you all!

Today's book is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Check it out:

It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.

This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.

Confession time: I haven't seen the movie yet nor did I read the book summary. I went into the book basically blind to any knowledge of what it was. I had heard lots of praise, seen that 30 second movie trailer, and thought I knew what the basic plot of the book was. I was wrong.

I had been expecting some sort of sappy, loving story about losing a friend to cancer-heartwarming, you know? Instead I got this mismatched journal of a hilarious teen named Greg sharing his story of senior year, in which he became friends with a dying girl.

I feel like it's my duty to warn you--there's a lot of swearing and it doesn't follow any certain form of writing. I found it fun though that the narrative parts of the story were broken up by bullet lists and movie scripts. It made it really feel like a film making, regular teenager might write.

There are so many jokes and funny things that go on page after page. I always seemed to laughing or snorting or giggling at something. This book brings the very heavy topic of someone trying to support not only himself, but a friend that has cancer and the way it affects his life with humor and wit and a unique and refreshing point of view. I enjoyed Greg's perspective of this turning point in his life, and how we could still see the deeper emotional impacts on him, despite his reluctance to ever admit to anything less than a joke.

Although I went into this book knowing basically nothing about it and expecting to cry, I'm really glad it turned out to be the complete opposite, making me laugh and showing me a unique compilation-like story of our dear Greg.

Keep on reading! I hope you have a great day!