Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

I Am Leon

Finished I Am Leon by Kit De Waal. I received a copy for review. 

This book should come with a warning label because it will break your heart. 

Leon is the greatest big brother. His little brother Jake is a baby but Leon is almost nine. And when their mom won’t get out of bed, he takes care of Jake. 
But when people learn about this, the boys are separated. Jake’s a baby and gets adopted quickly; Leon’s older (and black) and doesn’t. He has a good foster mom but she’s also sick. 
Leon decides he needs to do what he needs to do to get back to Jake. 
It’s so good, guys. And so sad. (And also happy, at least in parts.) I love Leon and I won’t forget him. Highly recommended. 

A World Without You

Finished A World Without You by Beth Revis. I received a copy for review. 

Oh, this book broke me. 

It’s about a group of teens who are at a special school. Depending on who you listen to, it’s either for kids who have mental illness (serious mental illness, to the point where they can’t live at home anymore) or who have special powers (telekinesis, the ability to become invisible, things like that).
Bo believes he has the ability to alter time, which is helpful because he accidentally lift his girlfriend back in the 1600s. But the school is under investigation (they say Sofia is dead but she’s really just missing) and everyone else denies the special powers. 
This book kept me off guard but I fell for the characters. I was scared for all of them but especially for Bo. 
The premise is weird, I know, and I think Beth Revis is the only one who could pull it off. 
Recommended. 

How to Hang a Witch

Finished How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. I received a copy from the publisher for review. 

This is a smart novel about the Salem witch trials set in present day Salem. The twist: the main character is a descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the villains in said trials (as is the author herself). 

That’s not the only twist, of course, but it’s the least spoilery one. 
I feel like there’s this huge fascination with the trials, and we feel like that could never happen again…except it totally could. We have a major tendency to rush to judgment and while we may not literally kill people for their (real or imagined) transgressions, we certainly can metaphorically do it. 
This was just an incredibly fun read and I hope there are more thrillers to come. 

Revolver

Finished Revolver by Duane Swierczynski.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Three generations torn apart–by bullets fired fifty years ago.

Philadelphia, 1965: Two street cops–one black, one white–are gunned down in a corner bar. One of the fallen officers, Stan Walczak, leaves behind a 12-year-old boy, Jimmy.

Philadelphia, 1995: Homicide detective Jim Walczak learns that his father’s alleged killer, Terrill Lee Stanton, has been sprung from prison. Jim stalks the ex-con, hoping to finally learn the truth.

Philadelphia, 2015: Jim’s daughter Audrey, a forensic science student, re-opens her grandfather’s murder for a research paper. But as Audrey digs deeper, she comes to realize that Stanton probably didn’t pull the trigger–and her father may have made a horrible mistake…”

This is the 150th book I’ve read this year, and it is by far the best I’ve read this year.  I’ve read a lot of fantastic books, but if you’re only going to read one, it should be this one.

As further backstory, I’ve loved Duane Swierczynski’s books for years and every time I get a chance to read a new one, I am very excited.  He’s one of the authors where I know that a five star read is guaranteed.  This is his best book yet.

This story covers three generations of the same family, and spans from the 1960s through today (well, technically last year).  There are a lot of parallels between the 1960s segments and now—riots and racial unrest—but even beyond that, this novel is…there are actually no words to do it justice.  “Gripping” doesn’t even come close.

To put it simply, if you like novels about family secrets, police investigations, racial unrest, deeply flawed people or even just amazing books, this is for you.

Highly recommended.

The Season

Finished The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

She can score a goal, do sixty box jumps in a row, bench press a hundred and fifty pounds…but can she learn to curtsey?

Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her in the 2016 Dallas debutante season, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. When Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.

The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.”

You guys, I am totally obsessed with this book.  It’s incredibly smart and funny and also pretty sweet.

It’s being billed as an updated Pride & Prejudice, and believe me, I understand if that makes you roll your eyes.  I rolled mine too, and honestly, I probably wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t for the blurb from Jojo Moyes.  I’m so happy I did because this book is AMAZING.

I’m more than a little in love with Megan.  She’s sarcastic and super smart and obsessed with soccer.  She is NOT a debutante…until her mom secretly signs her up and her dad asks her to go through with it.  She’s not thrilled for herself, but she’s willing to go through with it for his sake.  Given her own choices, though, she’d be happy to let her twin sister handle it.

This book could’ve been horrible.  It could’ve been a YA version of Miss Congeniality, but instead it’s just perfection.

Highly recommended.

Boy Meets Boy

Finished Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.”

This is now my second favorite book of David Levithan’s, behind Every Day.  I loved Paul and I wanted him to be able to work things out with Noah but even more than that, I wanted everything to be okay for Tony (whose parents are super religious and very strict and who are not at all good with having a gay son).  And I wanted Paul to make up with his best friend Joni.  (Basically, I wanted everyone in this book to have a happy ending.)

Everything David Levithan writes is gorgeous.  And everything he writes must work wonders to convince gay kids in high school that everything will work out for them.  We need more books like this.

Recommended.

Two Boys Kissing

Finished Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.”

This is an excellent book but the best part about it is the fact that it’s narrated by gay men who died of AIDS.  That lends such a poignant touch to the novel and makes it feel almost like the end of Our Town.  (You know, the part after Emily dies and she comes back and relives a day of her life and is horrified to see how nobody treasures their lives while they’re living it?)

But there’s a lot of other things to notice and appreciate it.  David Levithan shows us the gamut of gay lives: those recently out, those who aren’t out at all; newly-coupled, recently broken up, contemplating suicide—everyone is represented here and everyone will find at least one character to identify with.

David Levithan is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and I have one more unread book of his, so check back tomorrow for my thoughts on Boy Meets Boy. :)

Recommended.

Wide Awake

Finished Wide Awake by David Levithan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“I can’t believe there’s going to be a gay Jewish president.”

As my mother said this, she looked at my father, who was still staring at the screen. They were shocked, barely comprehending.

Me? I sat there and beamed.

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan’s life: The candidate he’s been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is with him to celebrate. Love and kindness appear to have won the day.

But all too quickly, things start to go wrong. The election is called into question… and Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship is called into question, too. Suddenly Duncan has to decide what he’s willing to risk for something he believes in… and how far he’s willing to go to hold on to the people we hold dear.

Perfectly weaving together a heartfelt love story and a possible political future, David Levithan has crafted an insightfully drawn novel that reminds us how history is built – one action, one person, and one belief at a time.”

I very much enjoyed this novel, one that really shows that line about the personal being political is very much true.

This is set in the not-too-distant future, and things are much better then (although they got much worse before reaching that point).  The country’s elected its first gay and Jewish president, and things are awesome.  Except that there are still a lot of hateful people, and those people are reluctant to give up their power, so they claim that one of the states that President-elect Stein won (Kansas) was via cheating and there will be a recount.  So everyone from both sides descends on Kansas to see what will happen next.

It’s political but it’s also very personal and about how all of us have the power to make the world better (or worse), as we choose.

Recommended.

If I Was Your Girl

Finished If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.”

I got a copy of this book at ALA on the first day.  The second day, I ran into Meredith Russo while she was in line for Beast and I was on my way to somewhere else.  I am so happy that I hadn’t read this book when I saw her, because I already fangirled plenty.  (“I GOT YOUR BOOK YESTERDAY I AM SO EXCITED TO READ IT”)  She gave me a hug, but if I had already read it, my level of enthusiasm would’ve gotten me a restraining order.  I am not even kidding or exaggerating.

I knew when I started it that it would become one of my favorite books.  I immediately loved Amanda, even though my heart absolutely broke for her.  (And she’s lucky, comparatively speaking! Her mom is supportive and so is her dad, even if he’s incredibly overprotective*; she’s conventionally pretty and can afford surgery and also can pass as a girl.)  But I spent the entire book scared that her secret would come out and that she’d be hurt.  Although, to be fair, I ALSO spent the entire book incredibly proud of how much she was blossoming in her new town—making friends and getting a sweet boyfriend.  (Team Amanda!)

Highly recommended.

* = Which he has to be because, statistically speaking, Amanda is much more likely to be beaten or killed, just for being transgender.