Good Books and the Random Movie

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

26 September 2015

Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler is the sequel to Behind the Scenes in her Daylight Falls series based around a new teen tv drama filmed in Los Angeles. Behind the Scenes focused on characters Ally and Liam while the new book alternates between their best friends Vanessa and Josh.

Vanessa Park is the lead actress in Daylight Falls. While she has the talent to the be the lead, her role is unique in that she is the first Korean American to land a lead in a teen drama. She has now been on the show for a year and tries to be a good role model for other young girls to follow your dreams. In that theme, her agent has set her up with a boy band boyfriend.

Josh Chester has a reputation as a bad boy in Hollywood. He is known for his parties but has very few real friends. His best friend, Liam, is the male lead in Daylight Falls. For the last year, Liam's girlfriend Ally has been Josh's personal assistant. But now she leaving for college in New York.

When Ally leaves, both Josh and Vanessa's lives change. Vanessa loses access to her best friend and someone she can talk to about anything. Sure Ally is still her best friend, but she is off in New York studying and finding other friends to hang with. Josh loses the one person in his life who will not put up with his attitude. While both Josh and Vanessa could use a friend, it seems unlikely they will fill that role for each other.

Adler's second book follows two changing lives. Josh has to decide what he wants to do with his life when he has to decide between a pathetic reality show or losing the house he lives in - because his mother owns the house and needs his name to land the show. Vanessa stops pretend dating guys her agent sets her up with and finds the person she never knew she was looking for.

Daylight Falls is a sweet series that will capture readers' hearts.

Adler, Dahlia. (2015). Under the Lights. New York: Spencer Hill Press

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22 September 2015

Wildest Dreams (Thunder Point #9)

Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr is the ninth book in her Thunder Point romance series - set in the Oregon coastal town of Thunder Point. The series follows many characters in town and allow readers to see what previous main characters are doing now.

Lin Su Simmons has been working as a nurse for Winnie Banks for a couple of months. She and her son Charlie almost feel like a part of the family. Lin Su has, as a single mother, done whatever she has to do to make life safe for Charlie. Her life has been devoted to his health.

Winnie and Charlie spend afternoons on the computer together. Charlie, who suffers from asthma, has spent much of his time indoors and feels more comfortable around adults. Over this summer he has met a couple of kids his age and is looking forward to going to school in Thunder Point.

Blake Smiley just bought the house next to Winnie. He is a professional triathlete who competes all over the world. Charlie is instantly in awe of Blake. Lin Su is not sure it is a good idea with Charlie's asthma. When the local doctor, Scott Grant, proscribes working out to strengthen Charlie's lungs and stamina, Blake volunteers to help. Not only is Charlie a great kid, but it will give him more excuses to talk to Lin Su.

Carr has created a lovely romance series around a beautiful small town on the ocean. Her characters are the kind of people you hope to live near.

Carr, Robyn. (2015). Wildest Dreams. New York: Mira.

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21 September 2015

Honor Girl

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash is an autobiographical graphic novel of the summer she figured out that she likes girls - and the first girl she loved.

Maggie spent every summer at Camp Bellflower for Girls in Appalachia. Most of the other girls at the camp are from Kentucky, but her parents drive her from Atlanta. Her mother and her grandmother went to Camp Bellflower and Maggie is sure that nothing has changed in the entire history of the camp.

Each morning the girls start their day with a Civil War reenactment, where they yell Gray and Blue at each other for twenty minutes. The girls are separated by age and choose activities for the summer. Maggie is improving her shooting skills and is one of two girls competing for an award.

Maggie is joined by a cast of girls, from her best friend Shannon, to her new friend Tennis Bethany, to her first love Erin, in this lovely coming out story. Thrash tells her story with wit and sensitivity. Though it has a different feel, fans of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home will delight this novel.

Thrash, Maggie. (2015). Honor Girl. New York: Candlewick Press.

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19 September 2015

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1)

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie is the first book in his Shattered Sea series - about a prince who was never meant to be king.

Prince Yarvi is about to take the test to become a Minister. He has been studying most of his life. As the second son of the king he would not be king anyway, but being born with a deformed hand and unable to yield a sword doesn't help.

A few days before he leaves for the city across the sea where the High King lives, Yarvi's brother and father are killed. Suddenly he is the king of Gettland. His first duties are to bury his family and then lead a raid on the neighboring king who killed them.

His uncle has promised to keep him safe and fight by his side, but it is a set up. The uncle who was always kind is about to kill him and take over the throne.

When Yarvi falls over the side of the tower he is presumed dead. His uncle wants the body to bring back as proof of his death in battle. But Yarvi is not dead. He landed in the sea and somehow survived. Now he is alone in a foreign land.

Abercrombie has created a wonderful character in Price Yarvi. The trials and torture to which he is subjected form a great story and fine beginning to this series. Wonderful read.

Abercrombie, Joe. (2014). Half a King. New York: Del Rey.

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15 September 2015

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a beautiful book of friendship and love - the winner of the YA Printz award for best book and as good at the previous winner Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

It is 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska when Park sees the new girl get on the school bus for the first time. Since the school year already started, everyone else on the bus has already claimed the seat they wanted. And no one wants to share with a new kid - especially one who is dressed oddly. After a moment's hesitation, Park slides over and shares his seat with her. But he doesn't look at her or talk to her. He just didn't want her to make it to the back of the bus to the bullies.

Eleanor just moved back in with her family. Her mom's boyfriend (now husband) kicked her out a year ago. She went to her mom's friend's house to stay for a few days - and stayed a year. She has not seen her four siblings in all that time.

Eleanor doesn't know why the Asian kid moved over for her and then ignored her. But she didn't try to talk to him either. During her first day of school, she notices that he is in a few of her classes.

After a few days sharing a seat on the bus, Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comics while he does. A couple of days later, he brings her one to borrow.

So slowly begins a friendship between Park and Eleanor, one that grows into first love in this amazing novel. Rowell has created great characters in this must read story.

Rowell, Rainbow. (2013). Eleanor and Park. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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14 September 2015


Adrift by Paul Griffin is a survival story about five teen off of Long Island, New York.

Matt and John are working in the Hamptons for the summer. They are from Queens and are trying to save money for college. They both work more than one job.

During their job selling ice cream on the beach, Matt and John meet three rich kids. Driana is from Manhattan and her cousin Stef and her boyfriend Jojo are visiting from Rio. Dri invites Matt and John to a party at her father's house.

Matt is instantly smitten with Driana. John does not want to hang out with them at all, but usually follows Matt.

When they see Dri and Jojo a couple of nights later they are looking for Stef. It seems she has borrowed the neighbor's wind surfing board and is hitting the waves - in the dark. Jojo and Dri are going after her with a small boat. Matt and John join them.

After they catch up to Stef, they are surprised to see how far out they have drifted. Since it doesn't seem like anyone has used the boat for a long time, there is not much fuel. They do not have enough to make it back to shore.

What follows is five teens stranded at sea and the tensions between them. As the story unfolds readers will learn of the character's pasts and the story becomes more complex than a simple boat adrift.

Griffin, Paul. (2015). Adrift. New York: Scholastic Press.

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12 September 2015

American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is the tale of what happens when people move to America, bringing their gods with them - and then, over time, forgetting the old gods.

Shadow is about to be released from prison after three years. He is getting nervous that something will happen to stop him from going home to his wife. He senses a change coming in the air.

On his way home there is a man sitting next to him on the plane. The man seems to know a lot about Shadow and offers him a job. But Shadow had a job all lined up. He was going back to his old job at his best friend's gym. Only now everything has changed.

After getting off of the plane at a stop along the way, Shadow rents a car to drive the rest of the way. When he stops at a bar in the middle of nowhere for food, the man from the plane is waiting for him.

The man, calling himself Wednesday, really wants Shadow to work for him. He is on the road and could use someone to watch his back. By the end of the night, he has convinced Shadow to work for him.

Now they are crisscrossing the United States while Wednesday tries to get an eclectic group of mostly older people to promise to join him. He knows a war is coming and they have to band together to stand against the new order.

Gaiman has written a great story of gods from all over the world and how they are trying to get by in the US without the support of people worshiping them. This is a fun book.

Gaiman, Neil. (2001). American Gods. New York: Harper Torch.

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04 September 2015

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a coming of age story and a coming out story - sparked by blackmail.

Simon Spier is not out about the fact that he is attracted to boys. He has never said the words out loud. But while visiting an online board he found someone else as his school who is gay and not out. Now, using fake names, they have been emailing each other for a while. Simon is relieved to have someone to confide in - someone who understands the fears about coming out. He and Blue have a great friendship online and have no idea if they have classes together during school.

Then his secret email account is discovered. Simon checked his email at school and somehow forgot to log out. Now Martin is blackmailing him. He wants Simon to make it possible for him to hang out with Abby - one of Simon's good friends. Simon has to decide how to react - does he hang out with Martin and Abby so his secret is kept. Or should he figure out a way to come out before he can be outed.

Albertalli has written a moving and funny novel of coming out. She captures the feelings of what it is like to want to come out to the people you love with the fear of rejection. The online relationship gives both Simon and Blue someone to talk to in confidence, discussing thing they never would have the courage to talk about in person. This is a really sweet book.

Albertalli, Becky. (2015). Simon vs. the Home Spiens Agenda. New York: Blazer & Bray.

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01 September 2015

Everything Leads to You

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour is a the story of a mystery in the middle of a Hollywood movie.

Emi and Charlotte are best friends. They are days away from graduating from high school and are already working as interns on a movie. Emi is helping with set design and Charlotte is assistant to the art director.

For the final piece of furniture to complete the room Emi is designing herself, she needs the perfect sofa. Among the many garage and estate sales, Emi finds herself in the home of the iconic actor Clyde Jones - the biggest star of the American Western.

As huge fans, Emi and Char pick out a belt buckle (for Emi's brother Toby) and a Patsy Cline record. When they get back to Toby's apartment to play the record they get two surprises: Toby is giving them his apartment for two months while he scouts locations in Europe with the promise that something epic happens while he is gone. And a letter falls out of the Patsy Cline record.

A letter addressed to Caroline Maddox, in the handwriting of Clyde Jones - to be delivered in the event of his death - sends Emi and Char on a mystery. It will not be as simple as going to the address on the envelope - Caroline Maddox has not lived there for at least three years.

LaCour has created a lovely novel with elements of mystery, romance, movie magic, friendship and more, peopled with great characters. She made a book about LA and Hollywood, neither of which I am remotely interested in, into a delightful story.

LaCour, Nina. (2014). Everything Leads to You. New York: Dutton Books.

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