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Review: The Geography of You and Me

April 18, 2014

The Geography of You and Me

Lucy lives with her parents on the 24th floor of an expensive New York apartment building and Owen lives in the basement of the same building with his maintenance man father.  Owen’s mother has passed away and Lucy’s parents are generally absent.  The two meet when they get stuck in the elevator during a blackout.  They spend a magical evening exploring the city in the dark but go their separate ways afterward, each longing to spot the other.

Their lives take them in opposite directions so it seems like they’ll never be together again but that doesn’t keep them from hoping for a reunion.  In the meantime, they keep in touch through occasional postcards and emails.

I’ve read a couple of Jennifer E. Smith‘s books before so I was really excited to pick up The Geography of You and Me.  As I expected, it’s a sweet, romantic story that was a lot of fun to read.  I enjoyed it but didn’t think it held the magic that made Smith’s  previous books special.

Lucy and Owen are great kids and great characters.  They’re kind and caring and looking for some direction in their lives.  Smith “gets” kids that age and writes with a lot of heart so I felt like I knew Lucy and Owen as I read their story.  I think a lot of teens will relate to them and take comfort in their story.  Girls, especially, will like the romantic elements and the tension they create.

Smith’s books are free of language and sexual situations so even the youngest YA readers can enjoy them.  Even though The Geography of You and Me wasn’t my favorite of her books, I think it’s well worth reading.

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.

Review: Byrd

April 17, 2014


Addie and Roland are great childhood friends but they drift apart late in high school as friends often do.  After they graduate, Addie heads to college and Roland hits the road with his band.  They still think about each other, though, and after she breaks up with a boyfriend, Addie reaches out to Roland.  She visits him in California and returns home pregnant.  Without telling Roland, she decides to give the baby up for adoption even though doing so leaves a hole in her heart.

Addie names the baby Byrd and thinks about him constantly and writes him letters that she can’t mail.  She finally decides to try to find Byrd and realizes she must contact Roland again.  Things don’t turn out the way she plans, though – her decision changes her life and Roland’s forever.

Byrd by Kim Church is a fascinating book about the way relationships and decisions change our lives.  The story is told in the third person through short sketches and Addie’s letters to Byrd.  I have to admit it took me a little while to get used to the narrative but, once I did, I was hooked!  It’s fast paced and I found it compelling.

Both Addie and Roland are very well drawn and I found myself frustrated with them in turn.  They’re not honest with each other and both make poor decisions that come back to haunt them.  They felt very true to life, though, and I felt for them even as I wanted to shake them.

The storyline is terrific too and it made me think about why we make the decisions we do.  There’s a lot to discuss in Byrd, so I think it would make a terrific book club choice.

Review copy provided by Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 16, 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!

It’s been a while since I’ve had to refer to my Word-a-Day calendar but, this week, I’ve had to go back to it.

1. gorgonize – “Dave joked that his boss’s angry glare could gorgonize an employee in mid-complaint.”

Gorgonize is a verb that means to have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect on: stupefy, petrify.


2. kvell– “Critics kvelled over the violinist’s triumphant return to the stage where she had made her debut many years ago.”

Kvell is a verb to be extraordinarily proud: rejoice.


3. argy-bargy– “There’s no mention of the previous argy-bargy and she’s all over me like a cheap suit tonight.” –Irvine Welsh, If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work

Argy-bargy is a noun that means a lively discussion: argument, dispute.   I’m guessing it came from argument.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

We Remember

April 16, 2014

Virginia Tech April 16 memorial

It’s been seven years since a gunman opened fire on Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus, killing thirty-two students and faculty members before turning the gun on himself.  As painful as the memory is, I think it’s important that we always remember those who lost their lives that day.  I hope and pray that we find a way to end tragedies like this.  Lest we forget, the 32 who lost their lives that day are:


Review: Tampa

April 15, 2014


Ever since her first sexual encounter at age fourteen, Celeste Price has only been attracted to young adolescent boys.  Well, not just attracted to – she is obsessed with them.   She has a strong libido and has earned a degree in education just so she can be near young males on a regular basis.  She gets a job as a middle school teacher and begins her hunt for a young man to fulfill her need.

My time as a student teacher had been a wake-up call for how complicated my needs actually were.  Initially I’d hoped that just being around them would be enough — that like coral among anemones, I could glean all needed vitality through their swirling hoards moving past my body in the hallways.  Within a week, I knew this to be a lie.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting feels like a story that was snatched from the headlines and, as a matter of fact, it was based on the Debra Lafave case.  I’d heard good things about the book in spite of its difficult subject matter so I decided to give it a try.  Before I get any further, I must say, this book is very graphic.  Celeste is a predator with a capital p and the story is told from her point of view so readers know her thoughts and actions and Nutting doesn’t water any of it down.  I thought the sex scenes were far more graphic than they needed to be and they left me feeling yucky.  I have a feeling that was Nutting’s intention but I feel like she could have been more subtle and still gotten her point across.

I also found much of the book to be unbelievable.  Celeste was so focused on her hunt for prey that she spent very little time on her career and turned classroom discussions towards sex every chance she got.  I just can’t believe none of her students told their parents.  I also had trouble believing a principal would use a first year teacher like Celeste as a mentor to an older, more experienced teacher.  I felt the storyline was rather convoluted, too, but don’t want to give too much of the plot away.

Tampa felt like erotica to me and the fact that it involved an adult and a minor made it pretty disturbing.   In the end, this book just wasn’t for me.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

April 14, 2014

Mailbox Monday April 14

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.  I’m visiting Carl’s parents this week.  I will have limited access to the internet so you might see me around a little bit.  My focus will be on visiting with them, though, so I won’t be online much.  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox last week: Monday





 Did you find any goodies in your mailbox last week?

Review: Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

April 12, 2014

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Eleanor expects the worse when her parents tell her they have some difficult news.  It isn’t quite as bad as she thought it would be, but she’s still devastated to learn that Bibi, her beloved babysitter, is moving away.  They have a going away party for Bibi but it isn’t fun and everyone cries.  Eleanor says:

I had a bad August.
A very bad August.
As bad as pickle juice on a cookie.
As bad as a spiderweb on your leg.
As bad as the black parts of a banana.
I hope your August was better.
I really do.

Eleanor’s mom takes a little time off to help Eleanor adjust but eventually has to return to work.  Her parents have hired Natalie to take Bibi’s place.  Eleanor’s worried because, “No one in the world is as good as Bibi.”  Eleanor quickly discovers that Natalie is different from Bibi and that different can be good.

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg is a delightful early chapter book! Eleanor is a rising third grader who is upset about losing her wonderful babysitter and the ensuing changes.  With the help of her parents, she learns to deal with loss and also learns that change can be a good thing.

This sweet book is written in verse and is enhanced by the wonderful illustrations of Matthew Cordell.  Early readers are sure to delight in the story while they enjoy the cadence of the words and the great pictures.  It’s obvious Sternberg remembers what it’s like to be young.  I recommend Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie for early readers, especially those experiencing change.

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 Blue Slip Media.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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