Review

Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Claire L from our Teen Advisory Corps is at it again, with another rave review for author duo Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka and their new release Time of Our Lives, due out in April 2020, so preorder your copy today! Claire says:

Fitz has already decided that he is going to stay in New Hampshire, near his mom, for college. Wanting him to explore his options, Fitz’ mom sends him on a tour of college campuses. Juniper, on the other hand, is greatly anticipating the adventure of college. She has been planning and researching her great college tour for quite a while, and is looking forward to being able to find herself away from her large family. It is while attending the 10 A.M. tour of Boston University that Juniper and Fitz see each other for the first time. However, Fitz’ greater interest in his book than for the tour does not match Juniper’s enthusiasm for learning about the campus. But as their tours continue, they find their itineraries overlap and realize it must mean something. 


As expected from my favorite author duo, I absolutely loved Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka. The connection and relationship that develops between Fitz and Juniper is enjoyable to read. I especially appreciated the way they are able to help each other realize important qualities about themselves. In addition, the elements of family that were incorporated into the story helped to round the characters and reveal their true personalities, as well. I also enjoyed the travel-log of the various university campuses and exploration of the cities that house the universities. This inclusion allowed for me to feel as if I was touring the campuses right beside Juniper and Fitz. Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka was a delightful story to read that allowed me to be hopeful for the future of the characters.

Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire R recently review Rin Chupeco's new fairy tale re-telling Wicked As You Wish. She says:

The beginning was an explosion of facts setting up the story. The book should have had a more gradual set up, because the reader could be confused for the first few chapters of the story. Although after that, the story flowed much better. The characters were lovable and the conflict within them was intense. It is hard to use fairy tales without being cliche, and this story was anything but. I look forward to the sequel, if there is one, and recommend this story for middle school fantasy lovers.

Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Zoe from Teen Advisory Corps loved Wilder Girls by Rory Power - check out what she thought!

Despite its summer release, Wilder Girls is a very dark novel. Rory Power’s story transports readers to shadowy forests where sickness runs rampant. On an isolated island, the surviving students of a girl’s boarding school struggle to survive as disease transforms their bodies. Suspicion runs high as the girls have to decide whether to trust each other, the two remaining adults, and even the government that promises an eventual cure. Here we find Hetty, who gets by with the help of her friends Byatt and Reese. 

If that premise doesn’t make it obvious enough, Wilder Girls is a very addicting read. It’s the type of book designed to be read past bedtimes, although that may not be the best idea considering its eery content. Power really transports readers to the dilapidated Raxter School for Girls, and there’s enough twists and turns that it’s difficult to leave. 

Still, what really draws the story together is the relationships between the girls. The friendship between the three main characters pushes the plot along, and each relationship has a unique and interesting dynamic. They’re not always the most likable people, but that doesn’t make them any less intriguing. 

Though I did enjoy reading about these characters, there were times when I had trouble understanding their decisions. Especially toward the end, I felt that Hetty’s actions and thought processes could have been better handled and explained. Plus, a few reveals felt a little too out of the blue. Even when the chaos was a bit over-the-top, however, it was very difficult to stop reading. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend Wilder Girls. Just be prepared for a lot of daydreaming about different ways to escape from a diseased island alongside your closest friends. Or maybe that was just me.

Review: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Zoe from our Teen Advisory Corps had this to say about Pet by Akwaeke Emezi:

Sometimes seeing the world through the lens of fiction is the only way to understand reality. Stories have the power of distorting facts in a way that makes them only truer, by exaggerating ideas and concepts in order for readers to understand. Despicable human beings are turned into actual monsters. and those who fight against them become angels. And so it is in Akwaeke Emezi’s novel Pet, set in a world that has seemingly eradicated those monsters that are all too human

Or so it seems. The main idea Emezi explores in Pet is the dangers of believing whole-heartedly in a utopian society, of being blind to unsettling truths even as they grow increasingly obvious. Our protagonist, Jam, is forced to confront this dilemma when a creature named Pet calls upon her to help hunt a monster. And though Jam desperately wants to protect others from this monster, whoever it may be, that means letting go of what she’d always held to be true. 

Along with its important theme, Pet is also significant for its diversity. In this world Jam is free to be herself, a transgender girl who prefers communicating through sign language. The discussion of these attributes helps readers better understand others in the real world and could give readers someone to relate to when characters like Jam are infrequently depicted in media. 

Pet isn’t your typical YA novel. It somehow manages to be one of the most relevant and realistic books I’ve ever read in the genre while still including enough fantasy to bring creatures out of paintings. Some may find the themes to be too obvious or even political, but I believe its lessons are extremely important and universal. Pet is a short novel, but its pages just might contain the power to change the world.

True Love and Happily-Ever-Afters with author Jennifer Ryan

We running into National Romance Month with Jennifer Ryan, and getting excited for Bookstore Romance Day on Saturday August 17th. Stop in to see these and more recs from author Jennifer Ryan and our booksellers. 

Something Old

Linda Lael Miller is one of my go-to western romance authors. Since it’s wedding season, I couldn’t help pulling out The Brides of Bliss County and diving into THE MARRIAGE PACT. 

You guessed it, Hadleigh and her two girlfriends make a pact to find a husband – something Hadleigh almost had, if not for Tripp busting in and stopping her wedding. He saved her from a huge mistake - not that she’d tell him that. Ten years later, Tripp is back and his best friend’s little sister is all grown up and he wants Hadleigh to be his wife.

This book is filled with friendship, loss, family bonds, and love that proves life is better when you have someone special in your life.

Something New

Janet Chapman is a longtime author, but she’s new to me, and I’m so glad I read IT’S A WONDERFUL WIFE! Set in beautiful Maine on a private island, this book is filled with humor, scandal, adventure, a bit of whimsy, and a romance that will suck you in. 

Jesse wants a wife like his brothers found with their partners and passel of kids. Cadi is looking for Mr. Right after her fake engagement ends in scandal. Jesse falls hard for the model-making Maine beauty when she shows him the custom house miniature he wants built on his island will only be a real home with her as his wife. All he has to do is keep her safe – and convince her he doesn’t need a New York socialite, but a loving a wife.

Something Borrowed

One of my favorite authors – and friend – Sophie Jordan always brings the sexy romance wrapped in a twisty plot. HOW TO LOSE A BRIDE IN ONE NIGHT is no exception.

She can’t stop thinking about Lisa Berne’s debut novel YOU MAY KISS THE BRIDE…

“…it fully swept me away. The book consumed me. It felt like the first time I read a romance novel and my eyes were opened to the genre. I could not put it down. All the characters felt like family and I can't remember ever being so invested in a hero and heroine's journey. I cared about their romance together but loved them each as individuals, too.”

Something Blue

I LOVE this beautiful Susan Wiggs cover!

Fans of the Lakeshore Chronicles have been waiting for this story, but you don’t have to read the whole series to love this book – though I bet you’ll love the whole series! 

In MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY Daisy has to decide between the two men who have been in her life since she was a troubled teenager. Making the right choice now still isn’t easy – but true love always pulls people together.

This warm, deep, tumultuous story will draw you in and make you feel like you’re part of the endearing family and community. You’ll root for Daisy to get the wedding of her dreams and the man who makes that dream perfect.    

I hope you enjoy all of these recommendations. 

Don’t miss my upcoming women’s fiction novel THE ME I USED TO BE Publishers Weekly called “…an intoxicating blend of hair-raising suspense, betrayal, and true love…”

I hope you enjoy it and all these books. Happy reading!

Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

When the power goes out all across New York City, Lucy and Owen meet for the first time in an elevator. Not having any other plans once they are out of the shaft, they decide to spend the rest of the day together, and end up talking about postcards. However, once the power comes back on, the blackout’s spell is broken and Lucy and Owen return to their routines. A few days later, they both find out that their families are moving in complete opposite directions, and they realize this might be the last time they see each other. But as they continue their new adventures, it becomes clear that they still think about what could have been. Through a series of postcards, emails, and meet-ups, Lucy and Owen find their way back to each other in  The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith.

 

I was drawn to this story because I thought the premise of being stuck in an elevator was creative, and I was interested to see how the story would go from there. The story was well-developed and I felt transported to where the characters were in that point in time. I also really enjoyed the connection the characters shared with getting caught in the elevator during the blackout, and their postcard connection. It was really enjoyable to watch the characters grow and discover themselves, too. For lovers of geography and unexpected meet-cutes, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith combines both in an unforgettable way.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Pre-order Today! Due out July 2019!

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is an enchanting story described as Mulan meets Project Runway, that later develops into an adventure of epic proportions. Filled with trials, romance, and a pair of magic scissors. Maia will take you on her quest to become the greatest tailor in the land.Where you mill travel with her through a beautifully crafted world of war, riches, and natural power; where you will experience every possible emotion. 


If there's not a sequel I will die inside.
 

- Maggie S

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Hugo and his girlfriend Margaret were going to spend the last part of summer going on a train ride across the United States before starting college. At the last minute, Margaret breaks up with Hugo but encourages him to still go on the tour. The only problem being that everything was booked under the name Margaret Campbell. Hugo’s solution is to find another Margaret Campbell who is willing to be his travel companion (solely for the purpose of being the name of the reservation). He gets plenty of responses and in the end he chooses Mae—an aspiring filmmaker who’s looking for an adventure, and a new film idea. At first, their companionship is strictly business, but as the ride continues they realize it may be something more.

 

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is a contemporary approach to the intrigue of the strangers on a train premise. I immediately fell in love with Hugo and Mae, but as the story continued I loved them even more. Both characters are dealing with a sort of pressure that they try to work out on the train—Hugo is expected to go to college on scholarship with his siblings, and Mae was rejected to her dream film program for college. It’s this in common that really brings them together and helps encourage them. You couldn’t help but cheer on Hugo and Mae. In addition, the story was light-hearted making it even more enjoyable to read. You also get glimpses of the two families and what it’s like traveling by train. One of my new favorite romances, Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is a wonderful story of self-discovery on one train ride.

Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle

Kendall and Max haven’t seen each other for a while, but they run into each other when both happen to be in New York City during the winter holidays. Kendall and Max exchange small talk. However, during this exchange, an accident occurs—and none of the bystanders tried to change the outcome. Kendall and Max are unable to forget that evening and feel guilty about not stepping in to do anything. So, when they meet at a diner to talk about it, a waitress overhears their conversation and dares them to perform seven random acts of kindness—one for each witness at the accident—before January 1. At first, they take it as a bit of a joke, but soon realize that maybe it’s a good idea.  


Together At Midnight by Jennifer Castle is a heartwarming story about two teens trying to make a difference. At first, it is about completing the dare, but by the end, it is about doing the right thing from their hearts. Max and Kendall are inspiring characters that made me think about the little moments that we overlook, and how one kind gesture can make a person’s day (or prevent certain outcomes). In addition to Max and Kendall’s perspectives, Castle also includes the perspectives of the people they help. This is a neat inclusion because it allows the reader insight into their situation and an understanding of  how the kind gesture helps them. Together At Midnight by Jennifer Castle is a hopeful book that shares the goodness of people.

Holiday Romance Recommendations from Jennifer Ryan

Something Old

If you believe in fate and soulmates, you’ll love Cathy Maxwell’s A SEDUCTION AT CHRISTMAS. They locked eyes across a ballroom once, but when Fiona Lachlan meets the Duke of Holburn she has next to nothing in this world except her beloved hound Tad – and someone is trying to kill him. If he doesn’t find out who and stop them, he’ll miss his Christmas wedding and a life with the only woman he ever loved.  

Something New

I love discovering a new author. And this debut hooked me.

Carly Bloom’s BIG BAD COWBOY is sweet and naughty, sexy and heartwarming, a thoroughly enjoyable – and a little bit wicked – read.

Something Borrowed

My very good friend and fellow Avon author Lori Wilde writes a Christmas book every year for her fans. This year is no exception - THE CHRISTMAS KEY received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! “The magnetism between Naomi and Mark is breathtaking and real, the magic of Christmas enhances their romance. Readers will cheer for the wounded warrior who may have found a place to call home.”  

So it’s no wonder I asked Lori for her favorite Christmas read…

“I recommend Annie Rain's CHRISTMAS ON MISTLETOE LANE. I love her writing and the book just gives you all the feel-good tingles of the holiday season. It's heartwarming, emotional and sweetly captures the spirit of Christmas.” Lori Wilde

Something Blue

If you want to laugh and have your heart melt, I highly recommend you read a Jill Shalvis book. Once I start reading, I can’t put them down. SWEET LITTLE LIES starts off her Heartbreaker Bay series. San Francisco is the perfect romantic backdrop to this heartwarming friends-to-lovers story. Sometimes your heart’s desire is only a wish away.

Look for my upcoming release DIRTY LITTLE SECRET – book 1 of my brand new Wild Rose Ranch series that’s all about romance and scandal for the women who grew up at the notorious Nevada brothel as they try to make a life outside their mothers’ world.

I hope you enjoy all of these recommendations.

Happy reading!
-Jennifer Ryan
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