Reading with Finn: Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

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Hug Machine by Scott CampbellRelease Date: August 1, 2014
Age Group: Chidren’s book
Received From: Amazon Vine
IBSN: 9781442459359
Blurb:

Who have YOU hugged today? Open your arms to this delightfully tender, goofy, and sweet tale.

Watch out world, here he comes! The Hug Machine!

Whether you are big, or small, or square, or long, or spikey, or soft, no one can resist his unbelievable hugs! HUG ACCOMPLISHED!

This endearing story encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life. Everyone deserves a hug and this book!

pireviewOh what fun! Hug Machine is a charming little book that my 16 month old and I both enjoy. The story is about a boy who is a ‘hug machine’ and loves noting more than doling out hugs to every thing and everyone.

My son is in a very huggy stage so this book was perfect for him. We often have to pause in our reading for a quick hug. It’s as adorable as it sounds.

The illustrations are delightful and funny. Scott Campbell has written a winner. I can’t recommend it enough!

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Audiobook Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 

Release Date: 2012
Read by: Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott, Owen Lindsay
Age Group: Adult
Received From: Audible
IBSN: 9780670026609
Blurb:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

pireviewWhat the hell? Really, wtf? This is one of those SUPER popular genre crossing books so of course I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Now I’m a little annoyed that I wasted so much of my time on it.

I was actually enjoying Me Before You until close to the end. The story was engaging if somewhat cliched. Everyone likes a good soften-up-the-mad-at the-world character, right? I was happy that Will being an ass didn’t drag out forever. They start to get on pretty quickly, thankfully.

I adored Lou. She was a wonderful main character. She was kind but didn’t take Will’s crap. She was funny and interesting. She has an outrageous fashion sense that made her stand out in the crowd. I also grew to like Will as he opened up to Lou more and more. That didn’t last, unfortunately.

There will be some spoilers ahead so read at your own risk.

Will wants to die. He wants an assisted suicide and really I found it hard to blame him at first. He had had such a rich and adventurous life before his accident. It would be unfathomable to be in his situation. But then he met Louisa. She made him happy. She opened new doors for him, made him see that he could have a full life.  It wasn’t enough. This is where I started to get a little pissed in the story. Will even says at one point that the 6 months with Louisa in his life had been the best he’d ever known. So…something doesn’t add up there. The best 6 months ever, but I still want to die. Yeah, tell me how that makes sense? I just couldn’t make that leap.

One of the things I found most surprising about my reading experience is that I didn’t shed a single tear and trust me, I’m a crier. By the end I really just thought Will was a selfish ass. So I wasn’t really sad to see him go. The way Louisa’s story ended was nice, but we could have had the same outcome in a more logical fashion. (ie Will takes some antidepressants, lives, loves Louisa, and she goes to uni). But whatever.

Don’t take my word on it. The book is wildly popular so I’m certainly the minority.

Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger by Andrew Smith

 

Release Date: May 14, 2013
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Kindle Store
IBSN: 9781442444928
Blurb:

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

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I don’t have the words it’s going to take to convey my love for Winger by Andrew Smith. I just don’t. So take whatever I say and multiple it by 1000 and you’ll see how I feel.

Winger had been on my tbr pile for well over a year. So many of my favorite bloggers loved it, I knew I would too. I finally picked it up and quickly fell in love with Ryan Dean. He’s pretty awesome. He’s hilarious, honest, and just plain likable. Even when he’s objectifying every girl he sees you just want to pat him on the head (he’d HATE that). He’s girl obsessed, smart, and good-hearted. Really, he’s one of the best characters I’ve ever read.

Winger is a coming of age story. I never read the blurb before starting the book. I went into it a little blind and anything I had about it in reviews I had forgotten, besides all the love. The story is pretty much Ryan Dean and his friends day to day lives. That doesn’t sound like it would be super compelling but Ryan Dean’s voice makes it that way.

Since I didn’t know a lot about the book going into it the twist at the end struck me hard. There was lots of foreshadowing but I kept thinking (hoping) that something else would happen, something not so tragic. I’ve been seeing some complaints about the twist, how it comes out of left field. Isn’t that how tragedy strikes, though? You never see it coming. It felt very true to life for me.

So yeah, I loooooved Winger. It was one of those books that I thought about long after I finished. I’m beyond thrilled that there’s going to be a sequel. I need more Ryan Dean in my life. I really can’t recommend the book enough. If you’re a fan of coming of age stories, this is one at its best.

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Looking For Alaska by John Green
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

 

Release Date: May 6, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher
IBSN:9781442435001
Blurb:

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

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Oh, you guys! I’m so in love. So. In. Love. Since You’ve Been Gone was the perfect book to start my summer reading list with and to pull me out of a horrible reading funk. (Thanks April for that suggestion)

I adored Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour just like everyone else, but I had some mixed feelings about Morgan Matson’s second novel, Second Chance Summer. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get with this one. It didn’t take me very long to realize I was falling in love.

Emily was such a fantastic character. Her transformation throughout the story was spectacular. I could relate to Emily so well as I’m a shy person and I often stand back and let others handle situations. It was like looking back a 17 year old me. Her development into the confident person she was by the end of the book felt natural. I loved watching it happen.

The friendships in the book also stood out to me. Sloane and Emily had a wonderful friendship but I liked that it was flawed. All the new friends Emily made over the summer were also excellent. I felt a connection to each one of them; they were so well done.

Now let’s get to Frank Porter, shall we? I haven’t swooned that hard for a fictional boy in a long time. He was just so prefect…sigh. I liked that Emily had a impression of him being some know it all goody goody that she had to get over. I looooved the way they fell for each other, slowly. I love a good slow burn romance. Everything about romance was just spot on.

Since You’ve Been Gone was the prefect example of what I want in a Summer read. So if you don’t already have it on your summer read list (unlikely, I know) add it as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

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Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

 

Release Date: April 1, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Edelweiss
IBSN:9781442439481
Blurb:

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…

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I pretty much adore everything’s I’ve ever read by Jeri Smith-Ready. The Shade series was truly amazing and one of the few paranormal series that I kept up with and still recommend. So, it was just a given that I would read This Side of Salvation even though it’s so different from her other books. So, so different.

The story flashes between the past and present. You get thrown right into the confusion and commotion right after David’s parents disappear. You see the story leading up to how they got to that place in alternating chapters. This way of storytelling made me really anxious to see how it was all going to unfold. It was an excellent tool to keep me on the edge of my seat.

It’s pretty obvious that the book has some religious themes. Honestly, I try to stay away from books like these, but since it was written by Jeri Smith-Ready I trusted that I would not be preached to or insulted, and I was right. She handles what could be a very touchy subject with class and precision. If you’re hesitant because of the religious aspects, please don’t be.

Jeri Smith-Ready has worked her usual magic with this batch of characters. They are all so interesting and super easy to cheer for. David was fantastic and I loved the romance between him and Bailey. He cared about her so much that it made me a bit swoony at times.

This Side of Salvation has some dark points. The death of David’s brother is what started his family on this downward spiral. It was heartbreaking to watch it all unfold but I was captivated throughout.

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Review: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

 

Release Date: April 10, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Author
IBSN: 9781595145147
Blurb:

Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.

 

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I so adored The Probability of Miracles and I’ve been anxious to start Wendy Wunder’s next book ever since then. The Museum of Intangible Things wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it was an enjoyable read.

The book isn’t the lighted-hearted summer road trip book you might be thinking it is. The Museum of Intangible Things is frankly a little odd at times. The story focuses on friendship and mental illness. Zoe and Hannah’s friendship is a remarkable thing. The dynamic between them was great. Hannah just wanted to look after Zoe and make her feel accepted. While Zoe challenged Hannah to step outside her comfort zone.

The romance was more of a side story but I still loved it. They had so much chemistry! I don’t think I would ever get tired of reading their conversations.

Overall I enjoyed The Museum of Intangible by Wendy Wunder things. Some situations were a bit far-fetched but still fun. If you like books that focus on friendships, I would recommend this one.

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The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Golden by Jessi Kirby

 

 

Review: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

 

Release Date: May 1, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher
IBSN:9780803740518
Blurb:

Perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age–a whip-smart, big-hearted, laugh-out-loud love story about sisters, friends, and what it means to love at all.

Can anyone be truly herself–or truly in love–in a language that’s not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue–the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn’t always like, and the best friend who hasn’t said a word–at least not in a language Josie understands

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Do you like books about intelligent girls and out of the norm love stories? Of course you do, what a silly question! Love and Other Foreign Words fits that description perfectly and I think you need to pick it up right away.

I looooved Erin McCahan’s first novel, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else. Really, I recommend it all.the.time. It goes without saying that I’ve been looking forward to her next book for some time. I’m so thrilled to say that it was just as fun and endearing as I wanted it to be.

Josie isn’t just a smart girl, no, she’s a gifted girl. IQ off the charts kind of smart. Her love for her family and friends makes her easy to relate to and it’s easy to join forces with her in hating Geoffrey. Ugh, what a annoying, infuriating guy. There’s lots of characters in the book and McCahan does such a wonderful job of bringing them all to life. I really felt connected to each one. Josie was one of those characters that I wish I could get an update on in 10 years. Just because I know she’d be up to something amazing and fascinating.

Like I mentioned before, this isn’t your typical YA love story. Josie is a little naive when it comes to boys but I enjoyed watching her chart this unknown territory so much. One of the things I loved most about her was her honesty. She never beat around the bush. She told just about everyone exactly how she felt all the time. It was refreshing.

Love and Other Foreign Words was a great start to my summer reading list. It definitely needs to be on your list as well. You can’t go wrong with this one!

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I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George
Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

 

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