Reviews

All reviews are taken from physical shelf-talkers that I made at Vroman’s Bookstore. They are listed first, by AGE RANGE and then, by TITLE. All age ranges are taken directly from the publisher.

Enjoy!

❤ Jen in the Bookstore

 

Ages 3-8

 

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

Ages 3-6, Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Mixing sweetness with hilarity, Ame Dyckman & Zachariah OHora deliver a book made of pure warmth.In one afternoon, Dot goes from being a content only child, to being a big sister to a wolf pup. A WOLF PUP, can you even imagine? I mean they are BUNNIES for Pete’s sake. As little Wolfie joins their family, Dot tries tirelessly to get her parents to realize their mistake. Will Wolfie grow to be a good little brother, or will they all become his next meal?!

I Love You Already by Jory John

Ages 4-7, Published by HarperCollins

This book makes me smile every time I read it. It perfectly explains the concept of needing time to recharge, while also visualizing the differences between introverts and extroverts. Bear wants to spend a quiet day alone. Duck wants to go on adventures with Bear. Can these friends come to a compromise on how to spend their day? You can read it as a sequel to, GOODNIGHT ALREADY, or as a standalone. Either way, it is sure to warm your heart.

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

Ages 4-7, Published by Chronicle Books

This book is just plain awesome. Stella doesn’t have a mom to bring to her Mother’s Day class party. Because of this, she questions who she can bring and ultimately, ends up bringing everyone she really cares about. I thought this book was great not only because it features an alternative family, but because it raises the problem some kids face when put into situations that they are unfamiliar with. The author gracefully handles this issue with love, raising awareness at the same time.

One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl

Ages 4-8, Published by Beach Lane Books

This is a book that has it all-one filled with how to share, rhyme and count! While reading, you’re sure to have a ball-no other book could amount! I loved this story, oh so dearly and can imagine kids pronouncing words, oh so clearly!

My Explosive Diary by Emily Gale

Ages 6-9, Published by Aladdin Paperbacks

Eliza Boom isn’t just an average kid. She is also an inventor’s assistant and a SPY. Well, at least she hopes to be. With her inventions usually on the fritz, she is eager to make one that finally works. When her dad loses a VERY important, VERY secret object, Eliza steps up to retrieve it… especially since she may have been the person to put it in an evil-doer’s hands.

 

Ages 8-12

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Ages 8-12, Published by Yearling Books

Ever heard of Rumpelstiltskin? Well in this story, his name is Rump and he is fresh out of luck. Born with only half a name he must discover his destiny, before bad luck becomes the least of his problems. This is the true story of Rumpelstiltskin. Every question you’ve ever had will finally be answered. Shurtliff weaves a tale so exciting and rich that not even gold would surpass it.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Ages 8-12, Published by HarperCollins

This book contains two worlds-one a fairy tales and one belonging to their readers. Once a year, the schoolmaster for The School for Good and Evil picks two children from the normal world to cross over into the fairy tale world. Sophie, wanting to be chosen for The School for Good and become a future princess, befriends Agatha, a lonely introvert. Things don’t go quite as she hopes… This intriguing new series delves into what makes someone good or evil and breathes a breath of fresh air into the fantasy genre. Think Wicked meets Harry Potter but with an added twist!

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett & Jory John

Ages 8-12, Published by Amulet Books

Confidence. Mischief. Danger. Those are three things you do NOT want to see in your rival’s smile.  All Miles Murphy lives and breathes are pranks. It’s what he’s a master at. When he moves to the boring town of Yawnee Valley, famous for cows-yes, COWS, he is determined to do what he does best-prank. However, there is already a master pranker in Yawnee. Someone, dare I say it, BETTER than Miles! Miles must figure out who this pranker is, and how to beat him at his game, before Miles’ pranking days are over. This will not be easy, but Miles must be the King of all pranks, once again! You can see Jory John and Mac Barnett in the characters they’ve written here: hilarious, intelligent and ridiculously ridiculous. Loved it!

Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis

Ages 9-12, Published by Capstone Young Readers

When Zinnia’s older brother and best friend, Adam, disappears without a proper goodbye, Zinnia is left feeling very alone. This changes slightly (although not in a good way) when a colony of bees decide that her hair makes for a good temporary home. Told in alternating perspectives, this is a story about finding your home and balancing the feelings of change.

 

Ages 12+

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Ages 12+, Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

In Once And For All, Dessen presents readers with Louna. She is smart and capable, but haunted with a tragic event in her past. While readers are devouring pages of what’s going on in the present, alternating chapters of that tragedy keeps them alert and attentive. I loved looking into Louna and her mother’s world of wedding planning. However, discovering who she was and how her sorrow affected her, was captivating. I think that this is a story that will be around for a while.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Ages 12+, Published by Houghton Mifflin

You know that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” I judged; I thought that The Giver would be boring without actually reading what it was about. When I finally did pick up a copy, I realized how wrong I had been. The characters live in a world of sameness where there is no sun, no colors, and everything is controlled-right up to who you will be and who you will marry. Love is non-existent and pills are taken to calm “stirrings.” The main character Jonas is given the job as the new receiver of memory.  It is this role that changes everything he ever knew and provides him with new secrets that he is bound to keep. This book was mind blowing!

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Ages 12+, Published by Speak

This is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, full of beauty and mystery. The main character, Shahrzad, lives in a land ruled by a murderous leader. Each night the Caliph, Khalid, takes a bride and murders her before the dawn. When Shahrzad’s best friend becomes the Caliph’s latest bride/victim, she decides that she will volunteer as his next and finish him once and for all. What she doesn’t expect, is to uncover knowledge and secrets-making things a little more complicated. Furthermore, as she tells the Caliph stories each night, delaying her death, she begins to feel for the Caliph, in more ways than one-ways that could compromise her mission.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Ages 12+, Published by Ember

When Jo receives word that her father died while cleaning a loaded gun, Jo leaves school to mourn at home.  However, as questions surrounding her father’s death rise to the surface, Jo fervently begins to dig for answers.  It is then, that she meets Eddie, a man who has the job she has only dreamed of- a news reporter. With his help, they uncover more mysteries surrounding her father’s death, which lead Jo down a path that she might not be able to return from. This was an amazing murder mystery, filled with all the twists and turns you would desire.

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

Ages 12+, Published by Razorbill

This book works through some tough issues about how an individual’s actions, decisions and inactions can affect another person. When a set of tapes shows up on Clay’s porch, sent to him by the recently deceased Hannah, the story they contain changes his outlook on life, and how he chooses to interact with the people around him, whether they be close friends or strangers.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Ages 13+, Published by Flatiron Books

Caraval can only be described as the world’s most luxurious game.  Thrown once a year on a mysterious island, Scarlett and her sister Tella finally get the invitation that they have been waiting years to receive. However, with Scarlett’s upcoming nuptials being the much needed escape from her abusive father, she doesn’t know if she can risk participating. When she becomes forced to play when her sister disappears, the once dreamt about game, becomes a thing of nightmares. Welcome, welcome to Caraval!

I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda & Caitlin Alifirenka with Liz Welch

Ages 13+, Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

I’m covered in chills as I write this. This book is the story of an amazing boy, who overcame every obstacle and defeated every odd. It is also the story of a girl, who with one letter changed the course of not only her life but of her friends, family, the boy and his friends and family.  Starting in 1997, this novel covers a 6 year pen pal relationship that turned into a friendship and then family. It is as touching as inspiring and leaves you feeling more knowledgeable about the world and the people in it.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Ages 13+, Published by Harper Teen

In a world where people are separated into casts based on their worth, America Singer resides in the 5th. The casts are ruled by a King and Queen who when their son is of age for a wife, begin The Selection. 35 girls are selected from the different casts to compete for the Prince’s love. America is one of those girls. However, it is not the life she envisioned, not the life she wants. With a broken heart, she befriends the Prince and strikes a deal with him he cannot refuse-if he lets her stay in the competition, she will help him find the perfect princess and wife. I absolutely adored this book!

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Ages 14+, Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

The thing that Finn wants more than anything in the world is to be “normal”. Normalcy is hard for an epileptic, teenage boy, with heterozygous eyes, and a nasty scar on his back due to a horse falling out of the sky. Did I mention that everyone thinks he is the main character of his father’s science fiction novel? Filled with anxiety, first love, unlikely friendship, a road trip and a crazy rescue mission, Andrew Smith writes a humorous and fast-paced read, worthy of all praise.

All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg

Ages 14+, Published by Simon Pulse

When Marion meets Kurt at a party, she doesn’t think much will come of their one interaction. Kurt is popular, & everyone loves him.  He wouldn’t even remember her name. However, much more comes of it than she ever expected. As their worlds collide, Marion fears that her secret, a secret she has held close to her for years will destroy everything. What she doesn’t know is that Kurt has a secret too, one that has kept him an arm’s length away from everyone-even his best friend. As their secrets rise to the surface, Marion and Kurt wonder if they can reveal the things that have caused them the most pain. Ingrid Sundberg creates a tale that is tough and real, but also relieving and strengthening.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Ages 14+, Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Let me start by saying, that I completely misjudged this book. I saw the layout, and thought it looked ridiculous. Now I can say, that I have been corrected. So what is this book about? Well, it is about two teens whose planet was destroyed, who are now seeking sanctuary, millions of miles apart in space, on two different ships. It is a story of survival; a deadly virus has broken out on the ships, people have to be quarantined and everyone is on the run from those who destroyed their planet. Furthermore, there’s a love story that instills hope in readers, as they root for the characters’ survival.  The book is told through multiple documents and files intercepted from the events of, and following the destruction of the characters’ planet. I was wrong in judging this book and I am sure you won’t make the same mistake. If the format really bothers you, LISTEN TO THE AUDIO BOOK! It will be worth it, I promise.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Ages 14+, Published by Speak

Anything can happen in one day. For Allyson, it means abandoning her good-girl self, taking a chance on a boy she just met in London, and embarking on a spur of the moment trip to Paris. Although, that seems like enough, Allyson ends up having the most interesting, unreal, heart-pounding & heart-wrenching 24 hours of her life. Through Allyson, Gayle Forman shows the world a character that loses and finds herself again in the same novel.  I’ve never experienced so much wanderlust in reading a book, as I did reading this one.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Ages 14+, Published by Ember

Tell Me Three Things is about a girl named Jessie, who after her dad secretly elopes with a woman he met online, has to deal with her comfortable world being flipped upside down. This means: 1) new house, 2) new school & 3) a whole lot of problems making friends. However, along with this new life comes a surprising friend in the form of anonymous emails, from Somebody/Nobody (SN for short). SN becomes a constant in Jessie’s life, helping her navigate her new outsiderness, but can she really trust somebody that she doesn’t know? Tell Me Three Things was surprising, suspenseful and relateable. I know it says it everywhere, but I think fans of Rainbow Rowell, Sarah Dessen or Gayle Forman, would find this book equally refreshing.

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

Ages 14+, Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Imagine having one person be the sole reason you are alive; one person, your sole purpose for living. That is what Sedona is to Nemesis. Nemesis is a Diabolic-an enhanced human. From the outside, her actions are robotic-her build, tall and muscular. This is because she was raised to be a predator-to bond with one human and protect them at all costs. Sidonia is Nemesis’ person. She is a Senator’s daughter in the world of Chrysanthemum and anyone who poses a threat to her, must perish.  When Sidonia’s father makes a dangerous move against the Emperor, she is called to Chrysanthemum as tribute. However, it is Nemesis who goes in her stead, posing as the girl that the Emperor wants. Attempting to smooth things over for Sidonia’s family, Nemesis must be believable. No one can discover that she is in fact, a Diabolic. As she takes on this role, she begins to discover things about herself, which she did not expect-things that scare her. These only increase when she finds an unexpected confidante, in the Emperor’s mad nephew. I listened to this story as an audio book and couldn’t put it down. Fans of The Lunar Chronicles, or Illuminae should definitely pick up this title!

 

Adult

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Published by Washington Square Press

It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished this book, but I still feel all of the warmth and joy that I felt when I had turned the last page. Ove is a super grumpy & sometimes mean elderly gentleman, who is grieving after his wife’s passing 6 months ago. He mentions how his life “started when he met her and ended when she died” (not sure if that’s a direct quote, but let’s pretend that it is). Now, he just wants to end his life as quickly as possible, to again be by her side. However, with new neighbors moving in and others trying to disrupt the community he worked so hard to build, he may just have to stay alive a little bit longer. Ove is very blunt, yet he is exactly the kind of person I want to be. I loved this book and am attempting to force it on everyone I know. If you are looking for a book to feed your soul, THIS IS IT.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Published by Penguin Books

Let me start by saying that I was incredibly impressed by this book. As a previous psychology major, I loved seeing theories and studies that were mentioned in my former classes. With the help of sociologist, Eric Klinenberg, Aziz Ansari sets himself on a mission to discover how romance has changed, with the onset of technology. He discusses the history of romance, pros and cons of online dating, how different cultures view monogamy and courtship, and so much more. Along with these explorations, Aziz incorporates his classic humor. This was a thought-provoking and hilariously put together display of research. I would also highly recommend the audio book!

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

Published by Knopf Publishing Group

I loved this book. After the death of her late husband, Dave, Sheryl Sandberg had to experience the aftermath of grief. During which, she found out just how resilient people can be. Together with Professor Adam Grant, composed of interviews and psychological data, they share stories that will resonate with anyone who has experienced loss. It is truthful, smart, educated, and even at times humorous. Furthermore, although a bit different, I feel that anyone who liked Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, or You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero, will find the book equally fascinating.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Published by Gallery Books

I have to admit that before reading this book I didn’t know very much about Amy Schumer. I had seen her movie, Trainwreck and loved it, but that was about the extent of my knowledge of her. By the end of this book I felt like I knew Amy on a personal level-as if another friend was added to my life. I had so many questions I wanted to ask her! The way she described her struggles as a female comedian, her relationship with her father and mother, etc. was inspiring. I think the thing that I took the most from this book, is something that everybody says, but not a lot of people act on. That it’s more than okay to be yourself and to embrace what makes you, YOU, than to conform to other’s expectations. I would highly recommend checking this book out.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Published by Hogarth Press

I am going to be really honest here. When I first saw this cover, I wasn’t really interested. Then, It was featured on a reading list from a website I really like (HelloGiggles) and I thought I would give it a try. From the first few pages I knew I was going to like it. The main character has the sass that I crave in a story. She is independent, and although this is supposedly a retelling of the Taming of the Shrew, I do not feel that this book deserves the same level of controversy. I think that the main character has full control over her life and navigates it with wit and attitude. I really enjoyed it.