Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Review: The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg

Hey guys! Katie C. is back with another weekly book review. This month, I got to read The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg!

Start at the hot girl. 
Carson Smith isn’t thrilled to be spending the summer with his estranged dad in Billings, Montana. But then he meets Aisha Stinson, the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. And the smartest. And the funniest. They connect like he never has with anyone …
Also, she’s a lesbian. So there’s that

Turn left at the missing grandpa.
Carson’s dad is still bitter about the disappearance of his dad more than thirty years earlier when Carson and Aisha discover a box full of cards from his grandfather, some of them recent, they realize the old man is still out there somewhere. 
What are two bored teenagers in the middle of nowhere to do?

Proceed for 1293 miles. 
So Carson and Aisha begin a journey with no destination to find a man who wanted to be lost, in an unreliable Dodge Neon, with one very prickly mascot. And what comes next is an extraordinary, enlightening, hilarious inspiring, complete and utter mindblower of a road trip that will transform both their lives

You have arrived at The Porcupine of Truth

Ever since Bill Konigsberg came to TBF last year, he’s been one of my favorite authors of all time. I absolutely adored Openly Straight and Honestly Ben, two other books of his, so of course I had to get my hands on The Porcupine of Truth. And boy oh boy did this book exceed all my expectations!

This book follows the adventures of Carson Smith and Aisha Stinson. They just meet each other for the first time at the beginning of the book, but watching them throughout the entire story grow from acquaintances to friends to chosen family is mesmerizing. Despite being on the same road trip, each one is going on a different journey, and through all the puns and fights and deep talks about love and god, they each just so happen to be just what the other needs in order to help them on their way. Another great thing about Carson and Aisha in this book is that they don’t end the book as a couple (obviously, since Aisha is a lesbian), which is so refreshing since there are not a lot of books with a male and female lead that end the book with a strong friendship and nothing more.

In addition to great protagonists, this book explores deep ideas such as the relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and religion and what an act of love truly entails. Exploring these ideas that exist in society that no one feels comfortable enough to discuss is, in my opinion, what made The Porcupine of Truth over the top. Especially since when it wasn’t making me think about different parts of my life that I’ve never examined before, this book was filled with so many incredibly cheesy puns and jokes that were just bad enough to make me laugh.

Overall, The Porcupine of Truth is by far one of the best books I’ve read this year. If you enjoy deep coming of age stories or have enjoyed anything else by Bill Konigsberg, I highly recommend you check this one out as soon as you can.

That’s all for today, you guys! Happy reading! This is Katie C., signing off!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Top 5 Anticipated Books of 2019

Hi friends! Happy March! March may seem to be a bit of a dreary month (at least in Rochester, where the weather is transitioning from cold winter to muddy spring). However, March means that we are one month closer to some fantastic books coming out in 2019. So mark your calendars, because these are five books that you don’t want to miss!

  1. Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi
Have you read the Shatter Me series? If not, you need to go out and get all of the books immediately. Don’t worry, I’ll wait… Okay, now that you have in your possession one of the most beautifully unique dystopian series that I have read, get excited because Defy Me, the fifth book of the Shatter Me series, comes out in a month. Yes, a month! Shatter Me is a series fraught with twists and turns, tears and laughter, heartache and hanging off of a cliff as you wait for the next book to come out. It is a masterfully told tale of a young woman in a dystopian world with an odd power. There is a romance, there is adventure, there is a best friend that lacks no wit: this book series truly has it all. I highly suggest that you read the series. Once you finish, you will realize how exciting the prospect of the next book is. Defy Me comes out April 2. I’ve included a handy link to help you get off that cliffhanger as soon as the next book is released to the public.

2. The Wicked King by Holly Black
I have some good news about this next book: it is a bit of a cheat because it is already out. Yes, you can pick up The Wicked King (the second book of The Folk of the Air) at your local bookstore, no waiting required. And for everyone who has read the first book of the series, The Cruel Prince, you know that this book will be quite a treat. If you have not read the first book of the series, I suggest that you pick up both book and have a reading marathon. Make sure to set aside a few hours to read, because these books are absolutely enrapturing. The first book was fraught with plot twists, intrigue, and hints of forbidden romance. The second book is sure to offer a similar treat. Get ready to be transported to a vivid fantasy world, as this book is sure to be a real treat. I’ve included a link to amazon to make it easier to acquire Holly Black’s next adventure of a novel.

3. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
William Herondale. William Herondale. Does anything more need to be said? Joking aside this continuation of The Infernal Devices series promises to be truly phenomenal. First of all, Will Herondale is back (I love Will… can you tell?). The series follows that children of some favorite characters from The Infernal Devices series and brings back some favorite original characters. The new story is set in the early 1900s, just past the turn of the century. The cover has been released and looks absolutely gorgeous. I cannot put into words how much I am looking forward to getting my hands on this book. I also cannot gush enough about how much I love The Infernal Devices series. If you have not read The Infernal Devices series, go out right now and buy it. Embark on a journey to the Victorian Era and fall in love with the characters like I have. And, when you finish, put down the book and join me in counting down the days until Chain of Gold comes out. Only 255 days left (sigh). I’ve included the link to amazon to make it easier for you to pre-order this wonderful novel and make sure that no extra days are added to the countdown.

4. Finale: A Caraval Novel by Stephanie Garber
The final novel in the Caraval series comes out on May 7, and I absolutely cannot wait. Every book in the Caraval series has managed to be decadant and enticing, with gorgeous imagery and a luxurious plot choked with romance and adventure. The plot twists and turns are certainly sharp, but it is the dazzling descriptions of the world that Stephanie Garber creates that makes this book truly exceptional. I know that May 7th seems like a long time to wait to return to such a magnificently crafted world, but perhaps a reread of the first two books in the Caraval series would be enough to tide you over. I absolutely cannot wait to see how Garber decides to conclude the thrilling trilogy. I’ve included a handy link to make it easier for you to pre-order the wonderful book.

5. Supernova by Marissa Meyer
The final novel in the Renegades series is another book that cannot come out quickly enough, in my opinion. The brilliant way that Marissa Meyer blends the lines between good and evil, with villains can seem sympathetic and some heros that are monstrous, the Renegades series has been a treat from page one of book one. The world that Meyer has created is vivid and complex, something that is truly a treat to be immersed in. This series truly has everything: secrets, romance, and true comradery that is a delight to read. The characters are flawed and complex and certainly people who you root for. The second book in the series was hard to put down, as the world building was so incredible that I didn’t want to leave. I’ve included a handy link to amazon so you can preorder the book and make sure that you can return to the world as soon as the book is released (and the book is shipped to your house).

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Friday Fun Post: Anticipated Books of 2019

Hello TBF readers!

I can't believe it's March! Time goes by so fast! There are several books that are being released this year that I can't wait to read. Be ready to add some more books to your TBR list! These are my most anticipated books of 2019:

Chains of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Anticipated Release Date: November 19

Chains of Gold is the first book in The Last Hours trilogy. I have been waiting FOREVER for this series ever since Cassandra Clare announced it on her Tumblr. This brand-new series will focus on the children of our favorite characters from The Infernal Devices series. I can't wait to be sucked into another Shadowhunter adventure. Not to mention, this series is inspired by Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Pre-order Chains of Gold at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco
Anticipated Release Date: September 10

Capturing the Devil is the last installment of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. What I love about this series is that it follows the Nancy Drew style, where the main character solves a new mystery in every book. Also, I love that the main character encounters pop culture's finest and legendary people such as Jack the Ripper, Vlad the Impaler aka Count Dracula, and Harry Houdini. I am excited to see the epic ending to this series.

Pre-order Capture the Devil at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Anticipated Release Date: February 5--It's out NOW!

I cried happy tears when Robin LaFevers announced two more books in the His Fair Assassins trilogy. I fell in love with this series when I was a teen. What I love about this series is the crazy attention to historical details, the clever and dangerous female characters who happen to be nuns, and the breathtaking romance. I can't wait to be sucked back into this world.

Purchase Courting Darkness at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Better yet, find it at your local library!

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Anticipate Release Date: April 2

This debut novel has been receiving amazing early reviews. This fantasy novel promises a dark mysterious plot, a forbidden enemies-to-lovers romance, and a Russian inspired backdrop. While I love a good fantasy novel, the most intriguing element that I have been hearing is that this book is dark and wicked. I'm so excited to read this book.

Pre-order Wicked Saints at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
Anticipated Release Date: January 29--It's out NOW!

This book easily became high on my radar when it was being pitched as RuPaul's Drag Race meets Ocean's 8. I am SOLD. While this novel is considered a light thriller and mystery, it is by no means less fun. With Caleb Roehrig being the author, I anticipate many great things.

Purchase Death Prefers Blondes at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Better yet, find it at your local library!

What are you waiting for? Get this books on your TBR list!


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Book Review: Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

Hello everyone! You might know Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin trilogy, and if so, you’ll be excited to hear that her newest novel, Courting Darkness, is the beginning of a stand-alone duology set in the same world. And whoa, this book was good on so many levels- the unique backdrop, the political intrigue, the characters...

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

I love the premise of Courting Darkness- it reminds me a little of Kiersten White’s And I Darken in the sense that it explores an era in history not commonly seen in YA fiction (in this case, 15th century Brittany and France) while adding a fantasy twist. As a result, the political drama has a realistic and unique note to it; this is not your standard fantasy monarchy with a tyrannical king and obedient puppet advisors- this book follows the complex political struggle as the duchess of Brittany and her court attempt to maintain their sovereignty from France. Politics play a considerable role in this story, and I found it to be well-written and interesting to follow, especially since it’s based loosely on history.

The author also takes the time to develop all the characters and their relationships so that they are realistic as well. Sometimes the relationships in novels can be a little generic (e.g. the stereotypical father figure or the domineering older sibling) when in real life our relationships (with our peers, family, superiors, etc.) are constantly shifting and are extremely complex, and Courting Darkness depicts this well. I would say the relationships between Genevieve and Margot, and between Sybella and the duchess are especially unique. This novel is also impressive given the number of characters involved and the author’s ability to make each one of them have lives, intentions, and purposes that don’t just revolve around the protagonists. The subtle characterization throughout this novel brings all the characters to life, making you view even the minor ones as individuals rather than just plot devices. In all, there is a definite sense that everyone has a life of their own, as if the novel could easily shift to follow a different character and it would still be a well-rounded and complete story.

Finally, Sybella and Genevieve are such compelling protagonists. While both of them are Death’s daughters, they are very different people with unique backstories and circumstances. Both of them are strong characters who are mature, self-sufficient, and refuse to be reined in by others. They are so well-written, and there are many moments and scenes that make you feel everything from indignation and dread to grim satisfaction.

In all, this novel has so many unique characteristics. If you like medieval fantasy, action, politics, and historical dramas, Courting Darkness is for you!


Find Courting Darkness in the Monroe County Library SystemGoodreadsBarnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Fun Post: Anticipated Books of 2019

Hey guys! Katie C. here with my first post of 2019! Today I'm going to share with you guys some of my most anticipated reads of the upcoming year!

First on my list is On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Normally, I'm not much of a realistic fiction kinda gal. However, after falling in love with Angie's first book, The Hate You Give, I put her next release, On the Come Up, right at the top of my TBR. If it's anything like her first book, On the Come Up is sure to be full of dynamic characters and strong themes that will stick with the reader long after the final page. And the best part about this book? unlike all the others on this post, On the Come Up is out right now! You can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but if you're running low on cash, you can borrow it from your local library!

Next, The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg is one of my favorite authors of all time! So of course, when I heard he had another book coming out this year, I couldn't help but be excited! Last year, when Bill Konigsberg came to TBF, he said that unlike his other books, Openly Straight and Honestly Ben (which he described as coming of age novels), The Music of What Happens would be a rom-com style of book. And if you're like me and can't wait to get your hands on this book, have I got good news for you! The Music of What Happens will be released on February 26th, which is less than a week from when this post was made! it'll be available on Amazon and Barnes and noble.

Next up, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu

Outside of reading, one of my favorite hobbies is drawing cartoons, which is why I'm a huge fan of graphic novels and comics. One of my favorite graphic novels, Check, Please!, originally started out as a webcomic, where I was first was introduced to Bitty and the rest of the Samwell Hockey team.  Over time, Check, Please! gained such a big fanbase that Ngozi Ukazu was able to get a publishing deal! Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the second installment of the series and will be released this coming fall on an unspecified date. However, the first book is currently out, or if you prefer a digital medium, most of the series is available for free on the original website!

(this is the first book cover since 
the 2nd isn't availibe yet) 

Also being released in 2019, The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews

Even before C. G. Drews became a published author, I've been a big fan of her book blog, Paper Fury. Back in 2016 when Drews first started writing this book, she'd talk about The Boy Who Steals Houses on her blog and even share snippets with her followers. the concept of someone breaking into houses while others are away intrigued me even back then and only makes me even more excited now when I know that I can read this book in just a few months on April 4th! Unfortunately, because of the publishing deal, The Boy Who Steals Houses and C. G. Drews's other books won't be available outside of the UK and Australia unless you order it for yourself online from a site like amazon or book depository

And last but not least, Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

I'm not gonna lie; I'm a big sucker for middle school adventure stories. So when I first heard about this book, a story about a girl who has to outrun a shape-shifter to saver herself and her family, I immediately put it on my TBR list. Even better, Race to the Sun is part of Rick Riordan Presents, which is a small branch of Disney-Hyperion Publishing that makes books for fans of the Percy Jackson series. This book won't be out until October 15th, but you can pre-order now on amazon and barnes and noble

That's all for today I'm afraid. I know 2019 has only barely begun, but i can already feel that it's going to be a great year for books! this is Katie C., signing off!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Book Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Happy Wednesday readers! I hope everyone's weeks are going well. For this week I read Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman, and I'm excited to talk to you about it!

TESS OF THE ROAD_FINAL 08.17.17[1] (1)In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.

This book is one that I've been itching to read, and itching to blog about, since it's announcement last year. I initially read Seraphina and Shadow Scale a little while back, Rachel Hartman's first series set in Goredd, and I really enjoyed the world and its characters. I was really excited to revisit Rachel Hartman's world, this time in the shoes of Tess, Seraphina's younger half sister. Through Tess' eyes we're able to see everything through a new perspective. We come to understand Tess as not the troublemaker and a drunk as her whole family believes her to be, but as someone deeply wounded from scars from her past. We also find that there's much more to the world of Goredd than we were able to glean from Seraphina. Tess' childhood friend Pathka, a quigutl, became our unconventional and surprisingly wise guide along the road.

Over the course of our journey with Tess I found myself enjoying the change of pace from the Seraphina books. While Goredd is a land full of dragons and adventure, Tess of the Road is an adventure about healing old wounds, resolving old grief, and "walking on," all while finding a giant magical world serpent along the way. I definitely recommend this book to any fan of fantasy or even anyone who likes a good and uplifting emotional journey. While Tess of the Road is set in Goredd and references people and places familiar to the Seraphina books, that does not mean that you have to read those first, so no worries, if it sounds interesting to you, go read!


Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Fun Post: Top Five Most Anticipated Books of 2019

Hey there TBF fans,
As you well know by now, we are in the second month of this new year-- 2019.
While for some that might mean New Years’ Resolutions still in progress... or the bitter cold of winter, for us book nerds the start of another year means that the amount of days between us and our TBR wishlists are ticking down--slowly, yes, but surely. And while--let’s face it, there are a lot of awesome books coming out in 2019-- everyone’s got a couple of special picks that are close to their heart. I’m no exception-- so here are five of the books I’ll be keeping my eye on this year.
  1. Dig by A.S. King. Release date: March 26th
First off-- if you a.) haven’t read anything by A. S. King yet and b.) don’t mind accepting an unsolicited book recommendation now and then, then I highly advise you dust off your library card and pick up one of her books as soon as possible. Trust me. The best way I think that I can describe them is as mindbenders. The stories take you in weird directions, show you things that don’t seem entirely real... but like any good labyrinth they take you where you need to go. Dig, itself, centers around five teenagers-- The Shoveler, The Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress and First-Class Malcolm (like I said-- the books are mindbenders). Though each has their own problems, their own expectations, they are all connected by one thing-- their relation of Marla and Gottfried Hemmings who, aside from being the descendents of potato farmers, are worth millions. But none of this wealth will ever be passed down to their grandchildren, as Marla paradoxically summarizes “Because we want them to thrive.” Whatever that “thriving” seems to look like. As the darker secrets behind the Hemmings reputation and fortune, finally begin to see the light, the five teens must decide whether price they’re willing to pay for the family name.
Sounds pretty good, right?
  1. I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi. Release Date: October 22nd
Is it weird to admit that I’ve always really enjoyed a good apocalypse story? There’s nothing like the world ending to really see who a character is-- and what they hold dear. And Jesse, Cate and Adeem, the protagonists of I Hope You Get This Message, seem as though they’ve got a lot to do before the final curtain. Cate wants to figure out who her father-- a man known only through the stories of her schizophrenic mother-- really is. Jesse, on the other hand, thinks he’s ready for the end. But as the death date-- when aliens from a far off world threaten to end earth-- looms, he finds he isn’t quite so sure. And Adeem must venture beyond the world he’s comfortable with-- code and computers-- to come to forgiveness.
It’s a lot to ask in eight days. Personally, I can’t wait to see whether these three are up to it.
  1. A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo. Release Date: November 5th
Though I’ll admit that I haven’t yet gotten the chance to read Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots, the more I hear about her sophomore work, A Constellation of Roses, the more the novel seems to draw me in. Almost like ...magic-- which is exactly what the book is about.
Our protagonist, Trix McCabe is determined to survive in a world that does not particularly seem to care whether she does. Her mother left her. Her ability to steal almost anything a stranger fails when she needs it most. And now she’s faced with the choice between time in jail or a visit to her estranged relatives in Rocksaw, Kansas.
Needless to say, Trix isn’t particularly interested in putting down roots. But the more she learns about the unusual women of her family, each with their own special--magical, even--gift, the more she finds herself wondering if she can really find a place in Rocksaw, Kansas.
Featuring some of my favorite tropes-- a hardened protagonist, strong female characters and a world where something magical mixes with reality-- A Constellation of Roses will certainly be on my TBR list.
  1. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. Release Date: February 5th
Though this might be cheating considering February 5th has come and gone, for Angie Thomas I’m willing to make an exception. Chances are, if you’ve been paying attention to the world of YA this past year, you already know this incredible author. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was not only number one on the New York Times bestseller list but also was adapted into a film just last year! And this sophomore novel looks like it has the potential to be just as big.
The story centers around Bri Jackson, an aspiring rapper who’s had her dreams written off time and time again. But she’s got too much riding on them-- a chance at living up to her hip-hop legend father’s legacy, not to mention saving her family’s home-- to give up.
When one of her songs finally goes viral--though not even remotely in the way Bri had hoped or planned-- and she’s labelled as danger not an up and coming talent, Bri is forced to face the truth of what her identity as a young black woman means for her freedom to express herself.
As usual, Angie Thomas does not pick an easy topic to address in her new novel. But if anyone can tell the truth and make a beautiful story at the same time, it’s her.
  1. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia Relase Date: February 26th
Apocalyptic Handmaid’s Tale-esque setting, queer girl romance and Latinx representation? Yes, please!
In the world of Medio, the most a girl can aspire to be is an aid to her husband-- either to run the household or raise children. And Daniela Vargas is nothing if not ambitious.
But her perfect grades hide a dangerous secret-- a past that can never be known and a love for a girl who’s supposed to be her rival.
As Daniela takes the plunge to begin spying for the rebellion in Medio, she’s forced to ask herself-- are these risks worth it? Should she take her place quietly in the background or set the world aflame?
Needless to say, I’ll be counting down the days until February 26th.
And that’s only the beginning of my TBR list-- but since only have finite space, I’ll digress. For now.
But what about you? What books are you looking forward to this year? Feel free to comment with your own top five (or even top ten) list below.
Happy reading,

Kate Giugno