Friday, March 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Title: Yes Please
Written by: Amy Poehler
Published: October 28, 2014 by Dey Street (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy's one-liners? 

If your answer to these questions is "Yes Please!" then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend," "Plain Girl Versus the Demon" and "The Robots Will Kill Us All" Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

I have been a fan of Amy Poehler since her SNL days. I feel like her humor just hits me in all the right places. Plus Parks and Rec is one of my all-time favorite shows. I kind of feel like I live that show in my current job as a community organizer for an environmental non-profit. It's been super surreal sometimes. Anyway, when I had heard she had written a memoir I knew I wanted to read it. And despite picking up the audiobook awhile ago, I never got around to reading it or listening to it. But as I was thinking about needing a book for the Rock My TBR challenge and wanting an audiobook I came across this one and I'm so glad I did.

For one thing this book reminded me just how much I love celebrity memoirs. A few years back these were some of my favorite things to read and listen to especially when it came to the ones by funny ladies like Tina Fey, Mindy Kalling, and Sarah Silverman. I very rarely read non-fiction but if I loved these kinds of books. I think I like them because you can see an actress or comedian and see yourself a little bit in them. They can be likable and relatable in an interesting way. But nothing backs that up more by hearing their real life stories and finding yourself in them.

That's exactly what happened here. Now obviously I cannot relate fully to Amy Poehler when she shares stories of motherhood, divorce, or working on SNL but there is still just something so relatable about her. But there is just something so fantastic about Amy's sense of humor. It's a little spastic and in your face while also being silly and intelligent. I'm not sure I laughed out loud at times like I have for some of these memoirs but I was thoroughly entertained.

Particularly I loved Amy's stories about her career. She talked a lot about her early standup days, how Upright Citizen's Brigade was founded, her time on SNL, and of course her work on Parks and Rec. I loved hearing each and every story. The stuff on SNL was so interesting because Amy definitely didn't hold back. She shared some of her best stories and things she is proud of but also some really embarassing moments. I definitely felt like she showed what it was like to be a part of all of that. I also really enjoyed her stories about Parks and Rec. There was a great chapter where she talked about the creation with Mike Shur and where she went through each of the actors on the show with her and sharing info and stories about them. As a big fan of the show it was worth the read just for that.

And of course I have to talk a bit about the audiobook. I listened to this instead of reading it and I think that was absolutely the right way to go. Amy narrates it herself with the help of people like Seth Meyers, Mike Shur, her parents, and even Carol Burnett and Kathleen Turner. It is definitely amazing in this format. You get the humor and emotion so much more when you hear Amy tell the story of her life. I know her from her acting and so hearing that voice just added so much more familiarity and fun to the book. Plus it was just amazing as an audio. If you are looking for something for a road trip I would definitely suggest this.

I give Yes Please by Amy Poehler 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you like celebrity memoirs especially those from funny ladies you should totally read this. And I would without a doubt recommend it to fans of Parks and Rec or Amy Poehler on the whole. The audiobook is fantastic and the memoir is fantastic. I really wish I didn't wait to read this but I'm glad I took the time.

Have you read Yes Please? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Discussion Posts: What Makes You Comment?

Hi Everyone,
When thinking about what to write about in my monthly discussion post I had one idea. I've been thinking a lot about blog comments lately. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel like the comments over here have been down lately. Now don't get me wrong, I never did get a ton of comments but I could usually count on each post to get one or two and if I was really lucky four or five. But these days I feel like I am lucky if I get two comments on my posts. And it doesn't matter if it's a review, a discussion post, or a meme comments are down.

One thing I want to say before I go any further is that it's not like I expect comments. There is nothing that mandates people comment on my post. I mean there is nothing saying that people have to read my posts. It's nice when they do one of those things but it's especially nice if you do both. Seeing comments is the best way to validate that you read and liked a person's post. It shows them that "I was here and something resonated." So even though I know there is nothing saying people have to comment I can't help but feel like maybe my posts aren't as good or maybe people aren't reading them as much. I know that's not true and I'm a Ravenclaw and therefore a logical thinker so let's break it down to make me feel better.

Why Do I Comment?

I have to take a second to think about the reason that I might comment on a post. And there are any number of reasons why I might comment on a post. By far I think the posts I comment most on are memes like Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday. I think this is normal. The whole point of this is to connect people throughout the blogosphere and it definitely does. Then I think I am more likely to comment on reviews for books that I have read. I think when I read a review of a book I have read there is a tendency to add something akin to "me too." I want to add things like "I also found the pacing slow" or "I know they didn't work for you but I liked the characters."

I also tend to comment on the posts written by my blogger friends. There are just some blogs that you read every day or every time that they post. Maybe it's because you really like what they have to say or maybe it's because you really like them as people. I know cliches are bad but friendship is good, right? Over the years I've developed some good relationships with fellow bloggers. These are often the people whose blogs I like and reviews I trust. So when I see that they have a new post I will definitely read it and I want to support them by adding my two cents.

I will also sometimes comment back to people who commented to me. Now admittedly I am not very good at this. If I see someone has commented (whether they are an old follower or a new one) I usually forget to check out their site and to say something. And sometimes I will go to their site and not have anything to comment on. I can comment on anything but as statated above, I prefer to comment on books I have read so I can say "me too" instead of saying "I want to read this, it sounds really good." Which to be entirely honest is stupid. Some of my favorite comments are people saying that I convinced them to read the book I was reviewing. I should try to be better about this.

Why Wouldn't I Comment?

Well, again there are a few reasons why I might not comment on something. For one I think you have probably figured out that I wouldn't comment on a post if I have no interest in reading the book. We all have different tastes which is totally fine. It's one of the best things about this crazy blogosphere that you can find all kinds of different people and reviews. But if I see a post from someone that is about like an adult romance I am not going to read it and therefore not going to comment.

But the weirdest reason is if I haven't read the book but want to. These are often reviews I will read but not comment on. Maybe because I think I have nothing meaningful to say. Like often I will read multiple reviews for the same book, especially if it's a hyped up book just to see what different people are saying. Because as stated, different people have different opinions. But you can only say "I can't wait to read this book. Great review!" so many times.

I also read recently that the amount of engagement matters, I can't remember who wrote a post talking about this. It's frustrating me because it's one of the reasons why I decided to do this discussion. But last week someone said something about people are least likely to comment on posts with a lot of comments or ones with no comments. And this I think is true for me. When a post already has a ton of comments I think that I can't add anything else and I don't comment. But at the same time if there are no comments I don't want to be the first. But isn't that a thing on YouTube. People are always trying to be the first to comment. We should get more like that.

What About People Commenting For Me?

Well, if I am operating under the assumptions that people comment similar to me than I can come to a few conclusions. For one, I need to explore more and comment more. The best way to get comments and expand the interactions is to make the first move. I'm definitely not very good at this and should get better. I also would like to start finding some more blogs. When I first started I was all about finding that awesome new blog that could share some insight I didn't have and talk about books that I also loved and hated. I've gotten away from that.

I also think that other that that there isn't much else I can do. I know that reviews never get that many comments. I shouldn't really be upset if a review doesn't get any comments. But I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong. If people are like me and they prefer to comment on books that they have read and/or are new to them then I guess I could share some different books with people. But honestly there have been some books that I thought would be really popular like The Song Rising, To All the Boys I Loved Before, and A Conjuring of Light that didn't get many comments. But maybe I could read some different kinds of books that are either really popular or new to people.

But for the most part I'm just curious about what makes you comment on a post? What would encourage you to comment more? What about your posts? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Crown of Wishes Blog Tour: Interview with Author Roshani Chokshi

Hi Everyone:
I am so excited to be sharing with you my stop on the second blog tour of the week. This one is for A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. I really liked The Star-Touched Queen but I wanted more from the world so I was pumped to see that there was more coming in this companion novel. I'm currently reading the book and loving it so far. Look out for my review on Friday.

But first I have an interview with the author, Roshani Chokshi. If you were around last year you may have listened to my podcast interview with her back when Britt and I were still trying out or podcast. If you haven't listened to it, check it out here. I asked some similar and follow up questions so definitely check that out, plus it's a longer interview.

But before that, let's get into the this book and the interview...

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Written by: Roshani Chokshi
Published: March 28, 2016 by St Martin's Griffin (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. 

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. 

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire. 

Interview with Roshani

1. Can you describe A Crown of Wishes book in 10 words or less?

Roshani: Enemies-to-lovers romance with a dash of magic.

Sounds good to me.

2. How was writing A Crown of Wishes different than writing your debut

RC: Writing under a contractual deadline vs. “letting a story simmer and roll around in your thoughts for 4+ years” is bound to be a VASTLY different experience. I treated my outline religiously with ACOW. The editing process with my first book taught me to reconsider everything I knew about storytelling—when to hold back, when to give a little, when to move on. I think the main difference with ACOW was its forward sense of momentum. I’d never cried over scenes until I wrote ACOW. I mean, I’d cried in the sense of frustration, but not in the sense that a book’s character had put me through the emotional wringer because of their situations. To me, Gauri and Vikram became people that I could spot in a crowd. They became family.

That's really interesting. I guess the more time you spend with a character the more connected you get with them. It's been two books with Gauri and Vikram so maybe you are more connected. Or maybe they go through more intense experiences. I'll have to read to find out.

3. This book is a companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen. Are you as excited to return to the world of that book as us readers are?

RC: Of course! It’s always incredible to dive back into a world one thought was old only to discover that it is, in fact, new.

I thought you would say something like that. I'm sure it was exciting and like riding a bike again.

4. A Crown of Wishes is about Gauri. Did you always know you'd want to tell her story, or did something about her story feel untold to you after you finished writing The Star-Touched Queen?

RC: Yes. Gauri’s story had always had a special place in my heart. I left her story purposely unfinished so that I could follow that emotional thread in ACOW.

Cool! I'm excited for you to finish her story. I found her so mysterious and fascinating in The Star-Touched Queen so I'm excited to learn more.

5. Do you have a favorite scene? One that you are excited for the readers to experience? (No spoilers, of course).

RC: I have a tiny gender-swapped beauty and the beast nod in a particular scene that I’m very proud of. I hope readers find it as entertaining and grisly as I do!

That sounds fun. I was actually just thinking how I wanted a gender-swapped Beauty and the Beast. Now I'll need to hunt for the reference. ALSO, super hoping that the female in question is Kamala because I love her!

6. This book is about wishes so obviously I have to ask, what would you wish for if you won the Tournament of Wishes?

I would wish for no need of wishes, with the condition that I’m not killed or incapacitated. 

7. Which of your characters would you want trapped on a deserted is and with you?

RC: Amar…(spoiler for TSTQ, but Death is an omnipresent thing, so I think he’d be able to whisk me out of a deserted island pretty quick)

Amar would be good for the whisking. I'd probably pick Kamala because she's fun. But if things don't go well she might end up eating me. (Kamala is a demon horse who threatens to eat people in case you didn't know).

8. What are you working on now? What's your next book going to be about?

RC: My next YA project is THE GILDED WOLVES. It’s a dark, sultry, ish-heist story set in the glamorous La Belle Epoque era of Paris. I love it to pieces, and I can’t wait for readers to meet the characters and world!

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed that.  Make sure to come back on Monday when I review the audiobook for A Crown of Wishes. Also, doesn't The Gilded Wolves sound amazing? Dark, heist story set in La Belle Epoque Paris. I want to read that real bad.

Are you excited about A Crown of Wishes? Have you already read it? What did you think? Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blog Tour: Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky Review & Giveaway

Hi Everyone,
I'm really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Night Witches. I actually first learned about this book when I got the email about the tour and my first thought was "HOW AM I JUST LEARNING ABOUT THIS BOOK!" I absolutely knew I needed to read it. So I was incredibly excited to be selected to be on the tour and for the opportunity to read and review the book. So, let's not waste any more time and tell you about the book and share my thoughts.
About the Book:
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 224
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

From bestselling and award-winning author Kathryn Lasky comes an explosive adventure following the teen girl fighter pilots who took on Hitler's army . . . and won.

Fifteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She's a pilot who's always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya's been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches -- a brigade of young female pilots.

Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches' base . . . and that's when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they'll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they'll face death . . . or even worse horrors.

Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war's unsung heroes -- daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country -- in an action-packed thrill ride that'll leave you electrified and breathless. 

My Review:

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

When I first learned about this book I knew that I needed to read it. It's totally up my alley. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and I love unique kinds of WWII stories and books set in Russia. I got all of these things in the course of this book. It was everything I hoped it would be and a really fantastic and engaging read.

Part of what I really liked about this book was the fact that it's a book about World War II that felt both unique and familiar. Most books I have read about WWII take place in Germany, France, or Poland. I don't think I've ever read one set in Russia and I really enjoyed that. It showed a different side of a familiar period in history. It felt exciting and new while adding complexity to something I feel like I know about. And that to me is exactly what I want in historical fiction. I learned something and I was entertained. The author did a great job in establishing the setting and immersing the reader in it.

But World War II wasn't just the setting for the book, it was also the plot. And I really enjoyed the plot as well. It's definitely a story about war as the character is taken from her home to become a soldier. It's a book about fighter pilots and soldiers. That in and of itself was interesting with plenty of action and daring battles. Plus this book doesn't hold back when it comes to portraying war. It definitely shows some of the more brutal aspects not only for those who are fighting but also for those on the homefront. There are some brutal moments in this book and they helped to establish the setting as well as the plot.

It's also a really fast-paced story. It's short and doesn't take long to read (I finished it in a day) because you do become invested in the story and don't want to stop reading. But you also can really power through it. I usually prefer my books to slowly build to a thrilling conclusion and while there was an exciting ending here it didn't slowly build. It had a handful of smaller climaxes that felt connected but still independent of one another. There is no specific plot and at times it does make for a story that felt a little disconnected but for the setting and plot that did kind of work. When you're dealing with a war, it's not just one thing, it's a one thing right after another.

I also enjoyed the characters here. The main character of Valya was incredibly likable and easy to connect with. For a lot of the book she is constantly underestimated and incredibly determined to fight for her homeland and to be useful in a way she knows she can be. I really liked that about her and it made her a great protagonist. There were also plenty of great secondary characters. I particularly liked the relationship Valya had with her sister Tatyana. You can tell they cared about one another but they still argued in a very sisterly way. I also liked some of the other Night Witches like Valya's friends Mara and Galya. Many of the characters weren't huge parts of the story but I still became emotionally attached to them and found myself concerned about what would and did happen to them. It's a good sign when you connect with a character without even realizing it. (Also, shout out to there not really being a romance!)

All in all, Night Witches was a really good historical fiction young adult novel. It had a setting that was engaging and interesting, a plot that was full of action and adventure, and characters you can connect with.

I give Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would absolutely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction especially if you like books set during World War II. But even if you aren't a fan of the genre the book is still engaging and interesting.

About Kathryn:
Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.
She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

Book 15,  The War of the Ember, is currently the last book in the Ga'Hoole seriesThe Rise of a Legendis the 16th book but is a prequel to the series. Lasky has also written Guide Book To The Great Tree and Lost Tales Of Ga'Hoole which are companion books.

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of NIGHT WITCHES, US Only.

Rafflecopter code:

Rafflecopter Link:

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
3/20/2017- The Best Books Ever - Excerpt
3/21/2017- My Thoughts LiterallyReview
3/22/2017- Wandering Bark BooksGuest Post
3/23/2017- La La in the LibraryReview
3/24/2017- YA Books CentralInterview

Week Two:
3/27/2017- QuartzfeatherReview
3/28/2017- BookHounds YAGuest Post
3/29/2017- Under the Book CoverReview
3/30/2017- Bibliobibuli YAInterview

3/31/2017- History from a Woman's PerspectiveReview

Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for having me on the Blog Tour for Night Witches. Have you read Night Witches? What did you think? What are your favorite books set during World War II. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, March 20, 2017

ARC Review: Girl in Disguise by Greer Mcallister

Title: Girl in Disguise
Written by: Greer Mcallister
Published: March 21, 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not. 

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation. 

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can't. She's a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she's been assigned to nab. 

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

How could I not be super excited about reading a book about the first female Pinkerton detective? Answer, I couldn't. So I requested a copy of this on Netgalley and was excited to read when I got approved. And while it was an interesting read, it didn't totally blow me away.

One thing I did love about this book was the historical fiction aspects. I love my historical fiction to take real life people who are lesser known and fill in the details with interesting experiences and historical figures we do know. This story was primed for that as Kate Warne interacted with many well-known people and events. Not to mention that this very much felt like a historical fiction book about the American Civil War. The author definitely did her research into the period, especially what it was like for Pinkerton detectives. From a historical fiction standpoint this was great.

However, this is a book about detective so I went into the book expecting there to be a really good mystery. I expected to be along for the ride as Kate went to solve some cases. And we were song for the ride but the book took place over a very large span of time and it rushed through the cases too much for my liking. I like that we got to see every aspect of Kate as a Pinkerton detective from her training, to her cases, to her teaching and recruiting fellow females but it was a little much. I would have liked there to be more time spent on a specific case. It would have made for a much more engaging and mysterious plot to me.

I also think that the plot development and the fact that the book took place over a large period of time impacted the pacing. This is one of those stories that moved really fast but still feels confusing and a little slow. I think it just felt a little surface level to me and I wanted to see more detail. Sometimes more is less and that's what I felt like with this book. This is the second book by this author I have read and I'm realizing that is just her style. When she is telling a story she gives you a lot of little details about what is happening. It's not my favorite style but it isn't necessarily bad.

But I did however like the characters. I think perhaps this was just more of a character driven story then I was expecting. It wasn't about Kate as a detective, it was about Kate the detective. It was the story of her experience and she drove the story along. Which was okay because Kate was an interesting character. She was resourceful, intelligent, and resilient which is everything you want in a detective and a strong female protagonist. She was also complex. You got to see her mess up and get herself and others in trouble. It made her more relatable and likable. My only issue however was when they brought a sudden romance in about two-thirds of the way into the book. I could have done without that really. But all in all there were good characterizations here.

Despite some things that I didn't enjoy, Girl in Disguise was a really interesting piece of historical fiction. It had an engaging setting, complex characters, and an interesting enough story that surprisingly character driven.

I give Girl in Disguise by Greer Mcallister 8 out of 10 stars 

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. While this didn't quite live up to my expectations it was a good read. If you like historical fiction then pick this up but if you are looking for a complex mystery this is probably not the book for you.

Have you read Girl in Disguise? What did you think? Leave me with a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, March 17, 2017

ARC Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Title: Queens of Geek
Written by: Jen Wilde
Published: March 21, 2017 by Swoon Reads (Macmillan

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever. 

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought. 

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own. 

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I knew this was going to be the kind of contemporary that I knew that I would really enjoy. It's a cute and quick read full of adorkable characters and fun romances that I finished in a day. It's light-hearted and engaging with a coming-of-age story and a great setting. It's everything I hoped it would be.

Firstly, I really enjoyed the setting of this book. It takes place at SupaCon which I assume is meant to be ComiCon. It was such a great setting for this book. And while I've never been to ComiCon it definitely gave me BEA feels. It perfectly captured the overwhelming but exciting feeling of going to a huge event for the first time and what it's like to meet people and stand in crazy long lines to meet an author (or celebrity) that you love. It made for a really interesting setting and you can tell that the  authoris coming from a real place of love when it comes to Cons.

And I think the setting also lended it so well to the coming-of-age plot that this book had. Much of this book was about the characters breaking out of their comfort zone and doing things they had never done before. Going to SupaCon was just the tip of the iceberg for that. I loved seeing the characters try different things and honestly grow and develop by the end of the book. It wasn't a huge change but it felt realistic in the challenges that they faced in just a few days out of their lives.

Plus I'm a huge fan of books that involve geeky or nerdy characters, especially when it involves some part of geek culture and that is exactly what Queens of Geek had. The book alternates perspectives between Charlie and Taylor. Charlie is a YouTube star who just did a movie and is doing publicity for it. Taylor is just along for the con and is trying to meet her hero, the author of her beloved Queen Firestone series. While Charlie's story is easier to describe, Taylor's is easier to connect with. I really loved Taylor as she dealt with her anxiety and the excitement and then disappoint that came from the events of the book. They're both really likable but I saw more of myself in Taylor.

Both girls also had some pretty cute romances. Charlie is dealing with a very public breakup from her costar and then learning that her crush on a fellow YouTube celebrity is returned explores that in a way that I liked. Alyssa was really sweet and I liked that there was a mutual appreciation and that the two related to each other so well. I would have like Alyssa's character to be flushed out a little bit more and I did think that things moved too fast for my liking but it was cute. Taylor's romance however I did enjoy. Jamie was a great character and I liked the way the friends to more relationship developed.

But I think my least favorite thing about this book was the pacing. I've read plenty of books that took place over a day or a few days that felt natural and made sense but here it just felt like a lot and a little at the same time. In some respects it was hard to suspend disbelief that so much was happening in a day but in other ways it felt like nothing was really happening. It was very weird and hard to explain. I think that it was because this is a very short book. It's under 300 pages and it definitely reads quickly. It took me a day to read this and I honestly finished it without even realizing. You can just fly through this book because it's not super complex. But that is sometimes a good thing. A fast and cute read is sometimes just what we all need in our lives.

On the whole, Queens of Geek was a good YA contemporary. It was a bit basic when it came to the plot development but it had a great setting and likable characters as well as an interesting coming-of-age story that I think a lot of people will enjoy and relate to.

I give Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Buy. This is the perfect palate cleanser read I would say. You can definitely read it in a day and it will cheer you up and keep you reading. If you like books about nerdy characters and are looking a quick and entertaining read with relateable characters and cute romances then definitely check this out.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ARC Review: You're Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

Title: You're Welcome Universe
Written by: Whitney Gardner
Published: March 7, 2017 by Knopf (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti. 

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural. 

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up. 

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war. 

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

You're Welcome Universe is a really cute and nice Young Adult contemporary. I usually read more genre fiction but every so often I like to read a contemporary and this was the perfect one to pick up for me.

One of the things I liked about this book was the characters. They are likable and complex diverse characters which are always my favorites. The main character Julia is Deaf and a lot of the book effortlessly showed what it was like to be Deaf. You got to see her interact with the hearing world in different ways and it was really interesting. From the attempt to read lips, to the texting or writing to communicate, even sign language I liked seeing it all and learning about that aspect of the culture. But the best part about Julia was that she isn't just about being deaf. She is also a street artist and just a generally sassy teenage character. I liked seeing Julia at her best and her worst throughout the book.

And when I say best and worst, I mean that. Much of the plot was a coming of age story. I love those kind of contemporaries where the characters learn about themselves and their place in the world. You're Welcome Universe was a really subtle kind of story in that way but it was a part of the plot and characterizations that I enjoyed. As I said, it's about someone trying to find out where they

But my favorite thing about the plot was the mystery elements. I didn't expect there to be a mystery in this book but there totally was. The graffiti war was a really cool aspect of the story and it lead to some interesting questions about who the other artist is and what they were going to do next. And then when we got the big reveal I loved it. It wasn't a total surprise but it was still a fun and unexpected turn which lead to even cooler character development.

One of the things that I did like about the book however is one of my criticisms though. It's a very fast read with an interesting format. I mean really fast. I know that should be a good thing. I basically read this book in a day, something I almost never do, but it wasn't really because I couldn't put it down. It was just kind of a basic read. On top of all that, the book was even shorter because there was the art dispersed throughout the book. We got to see all of Julia's tags, the street art that was created, and even some of her art projects for school. It made for an immersive reading experience and it shortened the book even more. It's short and not very complicated but not very complicated and that's kind of a good change and something that I needed right now.

You're Welcome Universe was an interesting and fun YA contemporary. It's fast and engaging with likable diverse characters and an interesting storyline. If you are looking for a palette cleanser read with some diversity to it, check this book out.