Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan


Henry "Biggie" Abbott is the son of one of his hometown's most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second. At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn't understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. "Forty percent, that's an F in any class," he would say. As Biggie's junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad's footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try.

Published May 15th 2016 by Aw Teen (first published March 1st 2015)

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:

This book follows Henry's journey as he struggles with his identity as a large kid in a small town. Being larger comes with prejudice all its own anyway, not to mention how the taunts and bullying resonate with an individual when there is literally nowhere else to go and when his father's athletic success precedes him everywhere. This story shows a heartwrenching and angering example of how mean and rude individuals can be to someone with a little extra weight. This issue is often approached from the side of how it affects young women, but it also is extremely harmful to boys and young men as well.

What I love about the book, however, is that Henry, "Biggie," does not wallow in his status as the big boy, though it does (for lack of a better term) weigh on him at times. He has decided he is going to do something different and change because of a health scare and because he wants to win the heart of the girl he has always loved. For him, this takes the form of achieving athletic success in baseball, playing the social game the jocks play, and losing weight to be able to do both better.

Through his attempts, Henry learns that nothing can be perfect, no matter how desperately he wants it to be. You can't pitch the perfect game. You don't always get the girl in a story perfect fashion. The person you end up with is not always the one you expect. Even some people you thought were complete jerks end up being decent human beings. I love that the characters had that sort of depth - they resist being demonized, even the guy who gave Henry the name Biggie way back in grade school.

This book will appeal to teens of all stripes. I love that it focuses on a male character dealing with his struggles authentically.

Young Adult Notes: strong language, teen substance use/abuse, mild violence.

Source: Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: Roses and Rot by Kat Howard


Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.


Published May 17th 2016 by Saga Press

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:

This book is a haunting book filled with longing, as the reader is invited into the world of two sisters with a troubled past. Two sisters with a somewhat but not quite rivalry, a distance between then yet a desire for the closeness that their mother always stunted.

The artist community they are both accepted to, Melete, is otherwordly seeming. An idyllic place for artists to work at their respective crafts away from the uninspired world without distractions. Yet Imogen, despite becoming enraptured with an almost perfect boy named Evan, sees periodic warps in the perfect that leave her questioning what her own eyes see, what her own intuition can sense.

As Imogen discovers more about what fuels this artistic community, the reader is likewise drawn in. In a manner almost as archetypal and symbolic as the fairy tales Imogen re-imagines for her writings while at Melete, the sisters are drawn into a heart-wrenching situation where the meaning of true love, inspiration, and art are all called into question.

There are so many echoes of many good, recent stories in this. I want to say more about the type of book this is, but to do so would spoil it for the reader. I was surprised and entranced by the world the author has created and the bond that these sisters hold.

Young Adult Notes: graphic sexual situations, expletive language, and mild violence, and suicidal topics

Source: Thanks to Wunderkind PR for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: We Were Never Here by Jennifer Gilmore


In this exquisitely written, emotionally charged young adult debut, Jennifer Gilmore explores the bond that is formed between a hospitalized girl and the secretly troubled boy she falls in love with.

Did you know your entire life can change in an instant? 

For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses, out of the blue. The next thing she knows she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of. 

But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome, teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him, and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.


Expected publication: June 14th 2016 by HarperTeen

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:

This book is one that has so many heartfelt issues in it, I wish I had written it myself. The pacing and Lizzie's voice keep the reader breathless in that feeling of teenage emotion, experiencing each moment with her as she learns of her diagnosis and meets this beautiful, unbelievable boy.

I love that this book has layers. There is, first, the immediate layer where Lizzie initially perceives everything that is taking place, but there is more below the surface with her and with Connor. Lizzie doesn't want to feel the pain of loss of what she has to give up because of her illness, so she stuff those emotions inside, opening up only for Connor, who seems to be a perfect, shining person to her when he spends time visiting her in the hospital.

But as she attains wellness, she learns that Connors has his own secrets and own sources of pain. The way it unfolds is very organic and at the same time (for me) quite surprising. I was so absorbed in just experiencing things with Lizzie that I wasn't even trying to do the critical reading thing and predict what I thought would happen, so certain events hit me almost as hard as they hit her.

I've seen others mentioned that they didn't feel a connection to either of the characters, but I think they were both displayed with depth and that their actions are very genuine for the things that they experience both together and separately. This is one book I won't forget for a while.

Source: Thanks to Goodreads and HarperTeen for providing a copy of this title through Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for a fair review.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Giveaway: Win a Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Totebag! #5PeculiarYears

Enter to win a Miss Peregrine Totebag from Quirk Books!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Quirk Books is commissioning a limited edition poster composed of fan art and fan-made photos! You can submit by tagging your art on social media with #5PeculiarYears or submit via the widget here.

Everyone who sends in a piece of art will receive this special gift. Only fan-created illustrations and photography (of the book series or series-inspired costumes) are accepted. Additionally, depending on when you submit, you'll be entered to win the following prizes throughout the month of June! The earlier you submit, the more chances to win! 
  • Submit by June 10: Miss Peregrine's T-shirts from Out of Print + What’s Your Peculiarity Totes (5)
  • Submit by June 17: What’s Your Peculiarity Tote + Movie Tie-In Edition of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (10)
  • Submit by June 24: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Calendar 2017 + What’s Your Peculiarity Tote (5) 7/1
  • Submit by July 1: Signed 1st Edition of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children + What’s Your Peculiarity Tote (1)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: National Geographic Little Kids Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes; illustrated by Franco Tempesta


Explore the rain forest, the ocean, and the icecaps with this personalized guide for your animal-lover! National Geographic Little KidsBook of Animals is a colorful introduction to some of the world’s coolest creatures. From blue morpho butterflies and red-eyed tree frogs to tigers and polar bears, this personalized guide is sure to indulge your junior explorer.

Each page features beautiful photos of the animal alongside quick facts about its size, diet, and habitat. Questions like “How fast can you run?” are woven throughout to keep your little one’s interest. 

Personalize this book with your child’s name, photo, and an encouraging dedication message to create a memorable keepsake. For a special surprise, check out the final pages, where your child can mark their favorite animal characteristics, then draw themselves as their favorite animal!


Originally published October 11th 2011 by National Geographic Children's Books

Available to be personalized: Hardcover $29.99 | Paperback $19.99 

Special related giveaway: here

My Review:

This book has all of the quality and factual information that one can expect from all of National Geographic's Books. My son really enjoyed seeing it personalized with his name and picture. He loves dinosaurs as a four-year-old, and he loves more sophisticated texts about them. The fact that this book personally asks him questions by name made him get creative with his answers, more so than if I just read a question that was addressed to a generic reader.

The dinosaurs featured were portrayed in simple, yet very interesting ways with beautiful illustrations that capture the imagination. For example - a dinosaur that had something in common with the mythical unicorn? Sign every kid you know up for that! My son took a stick and held it to his head on our next walk claiming to be the Tsinosaurus!

This is a book I definitely recommend. It is a beautiful gift for any science-minded kid, one that they will come back to again and again.

About Put Me In The Story

Put Me In The Story, the #1 personalized books site in the U.S., creates personalized versions of bestselling books and books where you star alongside your favorite characters. Our gifts capture moments that matter and memories that last. With each touching picture and special dedication message, our readers have become our most dynamic characters.

Put Me In The Story inspires a love for reading, across all ages and generations, through the experience of shared, personalized stories.

Source: I received a copy of this title from Put Me in the Story in exchange for a fair review.