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Review: Boy 21

August 30, 2014

Boy 21

Finley lives in a rough neighborhood with his father and grandfather.  His saving graces are basketball and his girlfriend Erin.  Erin’s the one with real basketball skills and the two of them have plans for those skills to get them out of Bellmont.  Still, Finley wants to have a great senior season so he and Erin work hard over the summer.

When Boy 21 moves to town, Coach asks Finley to take him under his wing.  Boy 21 has been traumatized and Coach wants Finley to help him out.  The problem is, Boy 21 is a basketball powerhouse who could end up with Finley’s position if he encourages him to play.

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick is hard to describe – it’s a coming of age story that takes on a lot of issues.  Issues like mental health, race relations, love, violence, and loyalty.   It might sound like there’s a lot going on in this book, and there is, but it works so well.  I loved this book!

Told from the point of view of Finley, a self proclaimed “minimal speaker,” the story is tight and fast paced.  I adored Finley from the start and was curious about his story.  When his past is finally revealed, my heart broke for him.  Erin is a great character as well – she’s strong and kind and doesn’t need a boyfriend to have an identity.

I don’t want to say too much more for fear of spoiling things.  Don’t be put off by the basketball background – this isn’t a book about sports.  It’s about a character who happens to play a sport and it made me laugh and cry.

The audio version of Boy 21 is narrated by Ben Lukens and he does an amazing job!  He was absolutely perfect for this book.  I was hooked from the very start and was sad when the book ended.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Giveaway: Madame Picasso prize pack

August 29, 2014

Madame Picasso prize packTo celebrate the release of Madame Picasso by Anne Girard, I have one Golden Experience Prize pack to give away, thanks to the folks at Harlequin.

From page and screen, see the Golden Age come to life! Enter for your chance to win a copy of Madame Picasso plus a film collection including Moulin Rouge, Midnight in Paris, and The Great Gatsby.

That’s right, one lucky reader will win a copy of Madame Picasso plus three great DVDs!


Madame PicassoIn the bestselling tradition of The Paris Wife, Z, and The Aviator’s Wife, Madame Picasso illuminates the untold story of the powerful woman behind one of the most famous men in history. A veteran writer and historian, Anne Girard takes readers from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of history’s most influential artist. Part love story, part history, Madame Picasso is perfect for book clubs and reading groups.


Novelist Anne Girard brings to life the mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

Read an excerpt here.


Anne Girard is a writer and historian with degrees in English literature and clinical psychology. She has spent extensive time in Paris and lives in California with her husband and children.

Visit her official website

Follow Anne on Facebook

To enter to win this great prize pack, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open to those with a US mailing address only– one entry per person, please.  I will use to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EST Friday, September 12, 2014.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

Review: I’ll Be Right There

August 28, 2014

I'll Be Right There

The impending death of a beloved professor makes Jung Yoon recall her college days.  She was deeply saddened by her mother’s death but was determined to finish college and returned to the classroom after a year’s absence.  She became friends with fellow students Miru and Myungsuh.  Together, the three of them explored Seoul and it’s changing landscape during the turbulent 1980s.

Part coming of age story and part historical fiction, I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin and translated by Sora Kim-Russell, is a beautifully written, thought provoking story.  At times heart breaking, I was enchanted with Yoon’s story from the very beginning.  I loved her relationship with her friends and her professor and found the backdrop of a politically turbulent Korea fascinating.

The story alternates between Yoon’s point of view and diary entry’s written by Myungsuh.  Kyung-Sook’s writing is beautiful so it’s easy to get lost in her words.  The story is slow to unravel but the writing is so lovely, I didn’t mind.

The audio version of I’ll Be Right There is narrated by Erin Moon.  It was good to hear the names and places pronounced correctly but, overall, I thought the narration was good, but not great.  The audio version is approximately 10 and a half hours long.

Review copy provided by Lisa Weinert Consulting.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

August 27, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found 3 more words in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon.

1. chunder – “‘The Powder Pig has arrived, but no chunder and no chicken necks, please.'”

The most common meaning for chunder is to be sick but I knew that wasn’t right because they were referring to skiing.  In snowboarding slang, chunder is boulders of ice and snow left behind.


2. megillah – “‘The whole megillah,’ said Abe.”

Megillah is a scroll or volume.  It’s also slang for a long involved story or account, which is the meaning I believe the author intended.


3. swivet – “Before getting in a swivet, they prayed the prayer that never fails.”

A swivet is a state of extreme agitation.


 What words do you want to celebrate today?



Review: Season to Taste

August 26, 2014

Season to Taste

Lizzie Prain decides she can’t take living with her husband any longer so she kills him.  She doesn’t want to go to jail and decides she must dispose of the body, but how?  It comes to her that she should cook him and eat him – after all, she is a great cook.  Lizzie goes about it methodically.

In the meantime, Lizzie meets a new man.  Will he discover what she’s up to?

I went into Season to Taste, by Natalie Young, with high hopes.  I knew it was about a dark and disturbing subject but I thought it would be more metaphorical.  Instead, some of the scenes are pretty graphic and stomach turning – they certainly took away my appetite.

I struggled with understanding Lizzie’s motivation for killing her husband so I never really related to her.   I also found the pacing of Season to Taste to be on the slow side.  In the end, the book was just okay for me.  If you have a strong stomach and enjoy macabre tales, you might like this more than I did.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

August 25, 2014

Mailbox Monday August 25

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   I’m visiting my mom this week so I’ll be talking, shopping, eating, and working jigsaw puzzles and won’t be spending any time online.  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox:






What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: The Magic School Bus Presents Sea Creatures

August 22, 2014

The Magic School Bus

Ms. Frizzle and her students are back with a whole new series of books.  These books feature gorgeous photographs and are meant to be companion books to the original Magic School Bus series.   The Magic School Bus Presents Sea Creatures pairs with The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor and focuses on animals found in the ocean.

The book starts at the beach and tells readers that the ocean covers almost three-fourths of the Earth’s surface.  It goes on to show animals of the sea, from the tiniest plankton to the largest blue whale.  There are many interesting “Frizzle Facts” throughout the book as well as short “reports” by students in Ms. Frizzle’s class.  The book ends with information on ocean related careers and a handy glossary.  With gorgeous photographs throughout, this book is sure to catch the eye of even the most reluctant of readers.

The Magic School Bus interior

I thought The Magic School Bus Presents Sea Creatures was fantastic.  I think the wonderful photographs and the fact based format will attract and inspire many your readers.  I’m sure they’ll learn a thing or two along the way – I know I did!  This book will make a wonderful addition to any home, classroom, or school library!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Scholastic. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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