Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Posted by Caitie F on April 15, 2014

Title: What I Thought Was True15832932
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Hardcover: 416 pages
Pub Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

Review:

I can’t help but compare every summer romance book to Sarah Dessen. This is just as good as any Sarah Dessen book, in fact, it might be better than many of them.

Gwen is such a complex character. She is really bright and fiercely protective of those she loves. Yet she is also so judgemental of anyone who isn’t from where she is from. Her assumptions close her off to a lot of things that could be really great and it is so frustrating. She lets the fact that they have money cloud what is right in front of her. Yet it also shows that sometimes people let money cloud their judgement and let them treat people who work for them like they aren’t even people.

The rich guy isn’t perfect either, but he is pretty great. He also made some of his own assumptions and had his own complexities. Things aren’t as easy for him as Gwen would like to think.

He really had me when he was with Gwen’s little brother who is developmentally challenged. I don’t think he had autism, he just needs so extra help and time with things. Emory was even a fully developed character, not just a way to show what all the other characters are like, though readers can learn so much from seeing how characters are with him.

There is a secondary love story also, of Gwen’s cousin and best friend who have been together forever and assume they will get married. But not everything is as perfect as it seems and they need to figure out what they want in life too. Sometimes you have to find yourself before you can be the other half of someone else.

There is so much going on in this book. There is a great romance, but it isn’t a light and fun book. There are real struggles with family. Readers will get angry at time at some of the entitled characters. Readers will think about how money – both having it and not having it – changes your life. I read this book quickly, but it stayed on my mind for weeks.

This is one of the best contemporary books i have read this year. I need to go back and read more the author has done. I know I will be passing this on to others.

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The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

Posted by Caitie F on April 13, 2014

Title: The Geography of You and Megeogrpahyt
Author: Jennifer E Smith
Hardcover: 352
Pub Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

Review:

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a good romance. And when I need a good romance, I tend to head over to the YA section. I love to read romances in this age group because when you are a teen all of your emotions are heightened, especially when it comes to love.

Lucy and Owen have a pretty great story. It helps that I love Lucy and feel for Owen. He took a little time to grow on me, but once I got through a few of his chapters, I was on board.

The one reason this didn’t get five stars is that parts of it felt a little like Just One Day. It was about how a short time with someone can change you and it really reminded me of that book, so much so that it felt like I had read parts before.

But this did have a long distance relationship, which is something you don’t see often. It really worked for a story. It had the pain from being away from someone you care about, the awkwardness of being together again, and the absence that doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes the heart forgets or pushes away.

Don’t read this book is you don’t want to dream about traveling. Both Lucy and Owen are on trips and I was daydreaming about travel for the next few days.

This is a fun and sweet romance that I think you will enjoy if you like Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins.

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House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

Posted by Caitie F on April 11, 2014

Title: House of Ivy & Sorrow15728807
Author: Natalie Whipple
Paperback: 352 pages
Pub Date: April 15.2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

Jo Hemlock is not your typical witc. Outside the walls of her grandmother’s ivy-covered house, she’s kept her magical life completely separate from her life in high school. But when the Curse that killed her mother resurfaces, it threatens to destroy not only her life but her grandmother’s too—and keeping her secret may no longer be an option.

Review:

So happy for a fantasy book that has witches…and that’s it. No vampires or werewolves or anything else like that. Just some awesome witches and some evil witches, great friends, and some cute guys. If you are looking for a young adult fantasy book with excitement and a lot of heart, head out for this book today.

I am seriously in love with this book. I adore the way magic works and that all magic has darkness, it is up to the witch to control it. I adore Jo and her grandmother and their relationship. I adore how much they are willing to give up for each other and the importance of family. Yes, there is a guy, but family and friends come first which is SO refreshing.

And these familial relationships and friendships feel so very real. Her grandmother likes to stop the boy from seeing her and puts little curses on him because she is overprotective. One friends gets jealous when she feels left out. Things aren’t always perfect, but no matter what they love each other and get each other’s backs no matter what.

The big bad in this book is also really, really bad, which makes everything more scary and have the highest stakes possible. It made me so angry that it could happen in the community, but it also showed how awesome the Hemlock lines is.

I even like the romantic relationship. It doesn’t feel tacked on and it isn’t insta-love at all. Neither character loses themselves in it or forgets what else matters.

All around, this is a fantastic book that everyone should go get now!

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One Big Damn Puzzler by John Harding

Posted by Caitie F on April 7, 2014

Title: One Big Damn Puzzler465853
Author: John Harding
Paperback: 512 pages
Pub Date: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

On an island paradise somewhere in the South Pacific, Managua—the only native who can read or write—is busily translating Hamlet into pidgin English when a plane interrupts his noble work. Strapping on his false leg, he makes his way to the landing strip to greet the unexpected arrival: William Hardt, a young American lawyer driven by his misguided ambition to win reparations for the island’s inhabitants.

Hardt is not the first white outsider to pay a visit; the British came earlier, bringing their language, the small pigs that run wild in the jungle, and Shakespeare . . . and the Americans followed with guns, land mines, and Coca-Cola. But in this place of riotously logical ritual, Hardt’s determined quest to do good could make him the most devastating visitor of all.

Review:

In my quest to read a wider variety of books, I picked this book up from my husband’s shelf. It looked really intriguing and I had just given up on a classic that I “had to read” and couldn’t get past page 20 because it was so pretentious.

This book was such a better choice. And the funny thing is – it turned out to have similar themes, just minus the whole “aren’t I clever?” tone.

This is a really funny book at times. Laugh out loud funny even! It is also a pretty smart book – it takes a satirical look at Western countries dropping in on other areas in the world when they need to and leaving without dealing with the consequences. It is a book that will make you think, but the story is entertaining too.

The best part about this book are all the twists, surprises, and slowly learning about these fantastic characters, so I won’t spoil it for you.

There were a couple sections that dragged a little and some plot points that felt a little heavy-handed, but overall it is a great book if you are looking for a satire that is a little different.

 

 

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Three Times Lucky and The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Shelia Turnage

Posted by Caitie F on April 6, 2014

Title: Three Times Lucky and The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing 
Author: Shelia Turnage
Hardcover: 312 pages and 368 pages
Pub Date: May 10, 2012 and Feb 4, 2014
Publisher: Dial
Rating: ++++ and ++++

Summary from pub:

Three Times Lucky

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone’s 11737313business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she’s been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her “upstream mother,” she’s found a home with the Colonel–a café owner with a forgotten past of his own–and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

 

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

When Miss Lana makes an Accidental Bid at the Tupelo auction and winds up the mortified owner of an old18079557 inn, she doesn’t realize there’s a ghost in the fine print. Naturally, Desperado Detective Agency (aka Mo and Dale) opens a paranormal division to solve the mystery of the ghost’s identity. They’ve got to figure out who the ghost is so they can interview it for their history assignment (extra credit). But Mo and Dale start to realize that the Inn isn’t the only haunted place in Tupelo Landing. People can also be haunted by their own past. As Mo and Dale handily track down the truth about the ghost (with some help from the new kid in town), they discover the truth about a great many other people, too.

Review:

I don’t often put a review of two books in one post, but these are both so good that I read them back to back and think you should too. So this is a review of both middle grade mysteries.

If you don’t believe me, Three Times Luck got a Newbery Honor, which it completely deserves.. The second book is new, but don’t be surprised if it starts picking up so awards too.

These characters are fantastic. You will fall in love with Mo instantly. Her attitude reminded me a little bit of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Mo is smart, loving, and curious making it impossible to root against her. Dale is another great character. Both of these kids are so realistic. The adults are all great characters too. Readers really get to know the adults as much as the kids.

The setting of the book is wonderful too. I felt like I was in the South as I read. The town feels like it is a character.

The mysteries and intriguing and exciting, perfect for the middle grade readers. There is suspense, but it isn’t scary.

So if you are looking for a good middle grade mystery, go get both of these. You won’t regret it!

 

 

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House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

Posted by Caitie F on April 4, 2014

Title: House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts18090029
Author: Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus
Hardcover: 420 pages
Pub Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

The sequel to the New York Times bestselling House of Secrets is full of even more explosive twists and turns.

Since the siblings’ last adventure, life in the Walker household is much improved—the family is rich and the Wind Witch is banished. But no Walker will be safe until she is found, and summoning her to San Francisco brings all the danger that comes with her and puts the Walkers in the crosshairs of a mysterious journey through Denver Kristoff’s books. As the Walkers travel from ancient Rome to World War II to Tibet, they’ll be tested in ways that cut deeper than before, by Denver Kristoff, the Wind Witch, and each other.

Review:

The first book in this series was a lot of fun to read and the second does not disappoint in that department!

It is as fun and action-packed as the first and the characters stay true to who they are, with some character development as they grow up. I think most readers will relate to one of the three siblings and find annoyances in the others. It makes it a slightly deeper read if you think why you don’t like certain characters or strategies.

Of course, it is all those differences that come together to make a great team and figure out how to survive in three more Kristoff stories.

This series won’t win any awards and isn’t the best series ever, but it is a lot of fun to read and is an ideal series for reluctant readers. It is so creative and exciting – middle grade readers will be asking for more!

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Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret by Tim Kehoe

Posted by Caitie F on April 3, 2014

Title: Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret18051141
Author: Tim Kehoe
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

When his dad’s book turns out to contain deadly secrets, twelve-year-old Furious Jones is thrust into a web of mystery and danger in this gripping page-turner.

Furious Jones, the twelve-year-old son of a famous thriller writer, lives with his grandfather after his mother was mysteriously gunned down right in front of him a year ago. Curious to know more about his estranged dad, he goes to see him speak about his upcoming novel to a packed audience—and to his shock and horror, he witnesses his father get shot as well.

When Furious discovers that his dad’s upcoming novel contains dangerous and fiercely protected secrets, he sets out to discover who killed his father, and what exactly they were trying to cover up

Review:

One genre that has been missing from middle grade books with a young adult crossover is the classic thriller. There are great mysteries, but not many that are more towards the thriller side. Furious Jones fills this gap really well and is a great book for the future fans of Baldacci, Flynn, and the like. Readers who like this will go on to read all the backlist of the most popular thriller writers, or it will remind those of us that are older that popular thrillers can be fun.

That said, there is murder and danger in this book, so know that going into it. It isn’t particularly graphic, but people get murdered by some pretty bad guys and it isn’t pretty. There are also several murders that are made to look like accidents. If a kid has a gory imagination, it could be quite gross. There were a couple images that haven’t left my mind – think Sweeney Todd, but into cat food or hay balers. *shudder*

This is a very fast-paced book. There isn’t much time to hunt down the bad guys and save the  people who spoke out against the organized crime. You will probably read it in one or two sittings.

The side characters aren’t all that well-developed, but it is what you expect in a book like this. If you like thrillers and middle grade books, this is a great choice and a great way to introduce readers to the thriller genre.

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Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Posted by Caitie F on April 2, 2014

Title: Summer on the Short Bussummer
Author: Bethany Crandell
Paperback: 272 pages
Pub Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Seventeen-year-old Cricket Montgomery was born with a silver spoon in her mouth (though Tiffany Platinum would have been preferred). So when her father rips her from her cashmere comfort zone and ships her off to work at a rural Michigan summer camp, she is less than thrilled. Adding to her horror is the arrival of two short buses and the realization that she will be a counselor to teens with special needs.

What puzzles Cricket more than just a world without Vuitton bags and four-star dining, is why these “strange-faced” kids are so happy, despite their obvious differences. But between being force fed a hearty dose of reality (by a very cute co-counselor) and organizing the end-of-summer talent show, Cricket might be able to survive this summer one wheelchair spoke at a time.

Review:

When everyone talks about needing more diversity in YA, I always agree. I really think there need to be more books with young adults with disabilities, when the disability isn’t all the character is. So when I saw what this book was about, I knew I had to read it.

At the beginning, this book is very VERY hard to read. Cricket is not a good person. She is nasty and says incredibly offensive things about the campers. I was so uncomfortable reading it, but I knew that it was set up. It also was how a lot of teens actually feel, which is a problem. While her life has been financially easy, it has not been easy in every way, she lost her mom early and it has been hard on her and explains a lot.

I don’t know if I ever grew to love her, but I thought she was a very realistic character. She didn’t change instantly, but she did so realistically. The kids at the camp were amazing. The kids at the camp were normal teenagers. They had crushes, they made jokes, and they had so much more going on than just their disability. They were so well-rounded and developed.

The other counselors were an eclectic group, but I loved how they stood up to Cricket’s horrible comments, but were still understanding and patient with her. People don’t change their preconceived notions right away, and these characters had way more patience than I ever would have, but they are the kind of people who can help change opinions.

It was a good step in adding some diversity into the YA market and I hope more people read it. I would love to see a book with one of the campers as the main character.

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Top Ten “Gateway” Books in My Reading Journey

Posted by Caitie F on April 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish .They pick awesome things to talk about!

I have always been a reader, so this was a little hard for me. When i really thought about it, I could come up with the books that got me hooked, and the books that got me interested in new genres.

1. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky

29291This was my favorite picture book growing up and it really got me interested in stories!

2. Matilda by Roald Dahl

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Matilda was my first Roald Dahl book and it taught me what it meant to get lost in a book. I had to read more after that!

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

TKAM

I read it for the first time in fourth grade and fell in love. I have reread it at least six times and every time I enjoy it even more. It is one of the most amazing stories ever told.

4. Baby Sitters Club by Ann M Martin

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This was the first series I ever read and it got me hooked. I read every single book that my library had in the series and I loved it!

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

giver

This is the best book I read for school and instilled me with a lifelong love of dystopian books.

6. Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling

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This series had the biggest impact on me by far. I am a HUGE Potter fan and have lots of friends because of it. I am even going to LeakyCon this summer!

7. The Stand by Stephen King

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The Stand was the longest book I had read when I read it and among the first truly adult books I ever read. It got me hooked on Stephen King and books where not everyone gets a happy endings.

8. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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I never really went away from young adult, but at the beginning of college I read less of it. This was the book that really brought me back in and got me into the nerdfighter community.

9. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

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I didn’t read much middle grade until I read my first Wendy Mass. It ioen my reading horizons up to an entire age group of imaginative stories!

10. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

 

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I will never read all 1001 Books. I will be happy if I get to 250. This book has opened up my eyes to so many great books I would have missed without it. There is a reason so many of these books are classics.

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Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb

Posted by Caitie F on March 30, 2014

Title: Rose and the Lost Princess
Author: Holly Webb
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Now an apprentice magician, Rose is asked to help find a very special missing person

Turning the worn pages of her spell book, Rose can’t believe how much her life has changed. Once a poor orphan, she is now an apprentice to the king’s chief magician. But when the country’s beloved princess vanishes, everything changes. As rumors of dark magic fly through the city, the king asks Rose for help. She must find the missing princess, before all is lost.

Review:

I adored the first book in this series, so I was hoping that this book would be just as good. My expectations were a little high for the second book in the series.

It is still very good. Rose is wonderful, the setting is great, and there is still a talking cat. The issue I had was that parts of the book, especially the ending, felt very rushed. The story was still entertaining and I still enjoyed reading it. There is a lot of tension between the magical and not magical and the slow build was perfect, which might be part of the reason other plots felt rushed.

The story is very good, there is a lot of mystery and suspense. This series feels very middle grade, which is not a bad thing. Reading it as an adult, it is easy to figure out what will matter later in the story. I wonder if younger readers will pick up on that so quickly too.

This was a good second book and I will still read the series, but it wasn’t as good as the first. The first was completely self-contained while this felt like it said “to be continued. . .” at the end. .

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