Why the “spork” review, you ask? Well, like the majestic spork, this blog will be versatile – reviewing movies, books, music, and other things that interest me. The good, the bad, and the sporktastic will all be featured here. So stay tuned for our first review!
Book Review: BREAKING NEWS by Frank Morelli
…Yeah, I’m not even going to attempt to explain my absence. Instead, we’re going to hop right on into today’s review: BREAKING NEWS by Frank Morelli.
“I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Thus begins BREAKING NEWS, an epic middle-grade whodunnit told by 2 rival reporters and the junior sleuth tasked to solve the crime and bring the culprit to justice.
When $1,000 is stolen from a school fundraiser at the Ridgeway Arts & Technical School (known by its students as the RAT), Ridgewood Roar reporter Anthony ‘Tony’ Ravello vows to follow the case every step of the way… except he also finds himself embroiled in a battle with rival reporter Liberty ‘Libby’ Lennon, editor of a new indie ‘zine, the Rebel Yell. Meanwhile, Hunter Jackson, head of the student council, has been tasked with figuring out which student stole the money and bringing them to justice… along with any and all accomplices. (Plot twist! Dun dun dunnnnn!)
I loved how the story was written using primary sources: through journal entries (both written and audio) and news articles from Tony and Liberty and through investigation logs from Hunter. It gave us insight into our three sleuths while also letting readers solve the case alongside them.
What was also interesting was the subtly included commentary on journalistic integrity, with articles from both reporters featuring wildly different versions of the same events until they ultimately decide to work together to take down the thief. It definitely rang true to the journalism of today, with rival “news sources” (and I use that term loosely) spinning the narrative of certain events to fit their agendas and fuel the rumor mill.
BREAKING NEWS is also funny — I frequently found myself laughing out loud at some of the journal entries. The humor was witty and spot-on.
Overall, BREAKING NEWS is a fun, smart mystery perfect for upper middle grade/lower YA readers.
FINAL RATING: 5 News-Breaking Sporks
Book Review: Mission Omega by Jesse Haynes
…And we’re back.
Mission Omega, the first book in the brand-new The Golden Ocelot series by Jesse Haynes, drops March 1st from CastleBuilders Press. Lucky me, I got to read an early copy!
(Isn’t that cover AWESOME?)
Goran Blasnoff is a technological wizard. His studies in robotics are revolutionary and his company, Alpha Industries, constantly pushes the envelope of what should be possible.
Shafer McCartney is a thrill-seeking high school student always looking for his next big adventure.
When Blasnoff invites several teenagers from across the country to move into the Blasnoff Estate for a week as part of a mentorship program called Mission Omega, the opportunity is too exciting for Shafer to pass up.
But the longer Shafer is at the Blanoff Estate, the more questions begin to arise: why can’t the teenagers venture outside past midnight? What are the shadowy creatures lurking in the trees? Why does Blasnoff’s newest robot seem a little too… human?
And, most of all, is Mission Omega the fun mentorship program it seems, or maybe something much, much darker?
Mission Omega is a page-turning thrill ride. Like Die Hard for teenagers, it’s led by a smart, sassy, spunky protagonist who delivers just as many laugh-out-loud quips as he does insane stunts. The book sucks you in from the beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very end — and it leaves you wanting more. The twists and turns keep you guessing right along with Shafer and when the master plan is revealed it leaves you breathless. A perfect read for those wanting a quick, action-packed adventure.
FINAL RATING: 5 Tandem-jumping Sporks
Spider-Man: Far from Home: Movie Review
We’re back today with a brand-new movie review: Spider-Man: Far from Home, which made its theatrical debut on July 2nd.
Directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland in his 5th (yes, 5th) time as the titular web-slinger, this film follows Peter Parker post-Endgame while he tries to juggle being both Spider-Man and a normal 16-year-old kid all at the same time.
If you have not seen the film and do not want to be spoiled but do want to know if it’s worth seeing: Yes. A resounding yes.
Now, for the love of Peter Parker, shoo.
SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT.
(THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK.)
Still with me? Ok, here we go…
20 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2020 (So Far)
Since it’s June, I figured it’d be a good time to reveal the 20 YA books of 2020 that I’m most excited about.
I’ve included release dates when available and Goodreads links for all (so you can check out the descriptions & go add them to your TBRs)!
So without further ado and in order of release date (or at least what’s been declared to be the release date), here are The Spork Review’s Top 20 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2020 (so far):
One of Us is Next by Karen McManus – January 7, 2020 – The sequel to the 2017 hit, One of Us Is Lying. I can’t WAIT to go back to Bayview High.
How to Speak Boy by Tiana Smith – January 7, 2020 – This was pitched as a YA You’ve Got Mail (which is one of my FAVORITE movies ever, but that’s a whole other blog post) so of COURSE I’m hella excited about it.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – January 21, 2020 – I’m so down for ‘anonymous online enemy turns out to be RL friend’ vibe that’s happening here.
The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig – January 28, 2020 – CUTE VAMPIRE BOYS WITH A MYSTERY THROWN IN, YAAAAAAAAASSSS.
Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith – January 28, 2020 – Eric writes such great, strong female characters, and since his MC is a badass gamer girl fighting against online trolls I’m doubly excited.
Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson – February 4, 2020 – Forbidden romance, angst, and even a love triangle (which when done properly and actually ADDS to the story, as it seems to do here, doesn’t aggravate me) make this a very interesting-sounding read.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper – February 4, 2020 – First love among a space mission to Mars? Yes please. (Note: My colleague at work is going to the ALA Annual conference in DC this week and is going to try to get me an ARC. Fingers crossed!)
UPDATE: ARC ACQUIRED!!! *Insert heart-eye emoji*
Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimara – March 3, 2020 – I FREAKING LOVE FIGURE SKATING. GIMMIE MORE YA FIGURE SKATING BOOKS. (Which reminds me, I probably should start watching Yuri!!! On ICE.)
What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter – April 7, 2020 – I’m so in love with the ‘anonymous online friend turns out to be RL friend’ plotline. I NEED THIS NOW. (PS: 3 books on my most-anticipated list release on the same day. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEEE.)
The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund – April 7, 2020 – AWWW YIIISSS This is going to be friends-to-lovers, plus it’s described as a ‘sex-positive, feminist rom-com’ so I’m all in.
Meet Me at Midnight by Jessica Pennington – April 7, 2020 – I love, love, LOVE enemies to lovers. Come on, April!
More than Maybe by Erin Hahn May 12, 2020 – It’s by the author of You’d Be Mine. ‘Nuff said. (Also may this also serve as a reminder plea that I WOULD LOVE AN ARC WHEN THEY’RE AVAILABLE EVEN THOUGH I’M PRE-ORDERING THE SECOND IT’S LIVE, PLEASE AND THANK YOU)
Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass – September 18, 2020 – Gay teen gets sent to ‘conversion camp’ and he and the other LGBTQ+ teens plot to uncover the camp’s ‘dark secrets’. Reminds me of ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’, but I have a feeling it’s just going to make me angry on these kids’ behalf.
Adeline’s Aria by Laynie Bynum (No release date given) – YA books with famous people are my crack. Plus it states “Fans of GEEKERELLA and YOU’D BE MINE will love this Young Adult Rockstar Romance”, so umm… YES, JUST SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY. Geekerella is one of my faves because not only was it a famous-person-falls-for-a-normal-person YA, but it also had so many other things I was there for, and if you’ve read my blog before, you know I absolutely LOVE You’d Be Mine, which so far has been my top read of 2019.
Vampires Never Get Old – edited by Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker (No release date given) – I am so down for the resurgence of vampire YA fiction. Plus this is an anthology that includes many of my faves, so gimmie gimmie.
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee (No release date given) – Hell yes, body-positivity! Plus there’s famous people!
Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett (No release date given) – COLLEGE SECRET SOCIETIES. My heart is racing already.
I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan (No release date given) – A teen launches a podcast in order to anonymously solve missing persons cases but then figures out that a new case is linked to the disappearance of her friend from ten years ago. YES.
Meet Me Halfway by Tom Ryan & Robin Stevenson (No release date given) FAMILY ROAD TRIP TO PRIDE. That’s all I need to hear.
Who I was with Her by Nita Tyndall (No release date given) – Closeted bisexual teen loses her secret girlfriend in a car accident. This is going to make me cry, I just know it.
BONUS 21st Book: Darling by K. Ancrum (No release date given) – Wendy Darling hangs with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys in modern-day Chicago, but it seems like Peter isn’t a good guy in this one? … It’s the Peter Pan retelling I never knew I needed.
So that’s it! Obviously I have certain tropes and genres I like, but are there any 2020 YA releases you’re waiting on? Sound off in the comments!
Author Interview – Jesse Haynes
Happy Tuesday, TSR readers!
Today we’re here with a brand-new interview with TSR fave, Jesse Haynes, who will be returning to our shelves soon with a fiery new trilogy! (I’ve got to tell you, it sounds AMAZING and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.) So without further ado, here we go!
You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – Book Review
Aaaand welcome to our first review of 2019! (Yes, I realize we’re 4 months in. I’ll try to do better at this blogging thing, I promise.)
Today I’ll be talking about a brand-new YA book from a debut author – You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn.
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.
This book was one of my most highly anticipated YA novels of 2019, so did it meet my expectations? Find out below the cut (SPOILERS abound)!
Upcoming 2019 YA Books I’m Excited About
With 2018 winding down, I figured it was time to dust the ole blog off (I’ve really been terrible at this blogging thing, haven’t I?) and talk about some 2019 book releases that I’m super excited about, listed in order of release date. These are all either standalones or the first in a series — I’m not including sequels in this list for the sake of my sanity (because this would be like 100 titles instead of just 20).
So without further ado, here is The Spork Review’s list of anticipated 2019 titles:
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (1/8/2019) – I absolutely LOVED One of Us Is Lying and was thrilled to snag an ARC of this one.
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig (1/29/2019) – Socialite by day, cat burglar by night? Sign me up.
We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott (2/5/2019) – Ok so obviously I have a thing for mysteries. The description sounds SO intriguing though and I’ve loved all of Victoria’s other books.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner (2/26/2019) – If you’re familiar with TSR you know that Jeff Zentner is on my auto-buy list. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one too!
Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds (3/5/2019) – Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl dies. ‘The End’, right? Nope. Has Butterfly Effect vibes that I’m down for.
When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry (3/12/19) – It’s pitched as The Serpent King (one of my FAVORITE BOOKS EVER WRITTEN) meets Stranger Things, of course I’m excited for it.
Internment by Samira Ahmed (3/19/2019) – Timely considering the current political climate. I’m intrigued.
Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris (3/26/19) – I love ‘popular person is forced to work with the nerd and they bond’ books so this is right up my alley.
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (4/2/2019) – Ok so technically I lied, BUT this isn’t a sequel, it’s a companion novel. I loved Geekerella so dang much that this immediately went on my ‘Gimmie gimmie’ list the second I heard about it. Thanks to Quirk I have an E-ARC of this so I can’t wait to dive in!
You’d be Mine by Erin Han (4/2/2019) – I’m a sucker for YA novels with famous people and this sounds SO cute.
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (5/7/2019) – I absolutely ADORED I Believe in a Thing Called Love and The Way You Make Me Feel so this is another auto-read.
Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan (5/7/2019) – Again, I LOVE a good twisty mystery and this promises to deliver.
Fake It till You Break It by Jenn Nguyen ( 5/28/2019) – Fake dating turns into real feelings. Be still my heart.
I Wish You all the Best by Mason Deaver (5/28/2019) –This is the first novel I’ve come across with a nonbinary MC so I’m super intrigued.
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest (6/4/2019) – Road trip with the boy next door? Yes please.
Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman (8/6/2019) – I LOOOOOOOVED Scream All Night, Derek’s debut, and was super thrilled when I heard he had another book coming out. Reading the first chapter’s excerpt just solidified my need for this RIGHT NOW.
EDIT: I’VE GOT AN ARC!!!! Thank you so so much to Jimmy Patterson Books.
His Hideous Heart, edited by Dahlia Adler (9/24/2019) – Edgar Allan Poe retellings. ‘Nuff said.
Gifted by Jesse Haynes ( Fall 2019) – X-Men meets Star Wars meets The Hunger Games with a twist. I’ve already read an early draft of this, and I’m so excited for everyone to meet Marx & the gang.
When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk (No Release Date Available) – I heard Ashley talk about this one at the American Library Association Annual conference in New Orleans in June 2018, and I’m down for it. You rarely see a friendship breakup happen in a book where the friendship takes center stage.
Ten Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (No Release Date Available) – Ashley is another auto-buy for me for her AMAZINGLY twisty mysteries. (Seriously, do yourself a favor and pick up her books.) This, however, is the total opposite of what Ashley normally writes – pitched as The Holiday meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a girl goes through a breakup during the holidays and her family all set her up on a blind date – 10 total over 10 days. Publication is scheduled for Fall 2019 so I’m reallllly hoping there’s ARCs available soon.
And there you have it – The Spork Review’s anticipated 2019 YA reads! Any others that should be on my radar? Sound off in the comments!
Signed, Sealed Delivered: The Road Less Traveled (2018) – Movie Review
Hello again, dear readers!
Today we’ll be talking about the latest installment in my favorite Hallmark movie series ever – Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Road Less Traveled.
If you’re not familiar with the sheer awesomeness that is SSD, check out my review of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground for a #POstables crash course. If you’re just trying to keep the viewing order straight, it’s as follows:
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (2013) – Pilot episode
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (2014) – Television series
Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (2014) – 1st film on the then-newly rebranded Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love (2015)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told (2015)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream (2015)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From the Heart (2016)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: One in a Million (2016)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Lost Without You (2016)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground (2017)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again (2017)
Signed, Sealed Delivered: The Road Less Traveled (2018)
This latest postal mystery takes place shortly after Home Again (which I somehow missed reviewing, although I’ve seen it many times since the premiere last year), and has our intrepid POstables on a road trip.
The Postables take a road trip in an old Winnebago in order to track down a small boy who they fear may have been kidnapped. The discovery of a 1980’s era instant camera and the unusual photographs it contains, send our team on a wild ride across Colorado using the pictures as a guide.
One thing I absolutely LOVE about this series is not only the dead letter (or in this case, camera) mysteries, but the relationships between our core characters. As of The Road Less Traveled, Shane & Oliver are in a committed relationship and Norman & Rita are busily planning their wedding (which will be shown in the next movie, currently being filmed in Canada). Both couples hit a minor speedbump in their relationships (Norman & Rita’s being Norman’s insecurity and Shane & Oliver’s being a secret Shane had been keeping), but through love, trust, & communication resolve their issues well before the end of the film.
Written by Brandi Harkonen, who has co-written & produced many of the past SSD movies with series creator, Martha Williamson, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Road Less Traveled is a wonderful addition to the series beloved by #POstables the world over. There are callbacks to prior films, parallels between the postal mystery & the POstables personal relationships, and many lessons to be learned in each of these wonderful shows & films. For a deeper look at the messages hidden in the film, I highly recommend checking out the Alameda & Downing blog, the ‘official’ source of all things SSD.
FINAL RATING: 4 1/2 SPORKS
The movie that’s currently being filmed is the last one that’s been ordered, so show your support by Follow Martha, Brandi & the cast on Twitter @MarthaMoonwater, @BrandiHarkonen, @Eric_Mabius, @kristintbooth, @geoffgustafson, & @RealCrystalLowe, Tweet along using the hashtag #POstables, and letting @hallmarkmovie, @MichelleVicary, & @billabbottHC that you want more SSD!
A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck – Book Review
I’ve finally got some free time, so today we’ll be diving into a new book review – A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck.
Here’s the description of the book from Goodreads, which mind you is the ONLY description I read before actually reading the book:
The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.
This review contains MAJOR spoilers under the cut, so if you want to read the book not knowing what happens, I suggest you bow out right about now.
Continue reading “A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck – Book Review”
Mazie Meadows Morning Show Revisited – Podcast Re-review
The first time we here at The Spork Review reviewed the Mazie Meadows Morning Show it was still a brand-new podcast with only 2 episodes having been released. Since episode 12 has just been freshly dropped as a special Veteran’s Day bonus, we’ll be making our way back to the Meadows for our very first re-review!
If you’re not familiar with the Mazie Meadows Morning Show, check out my initial thoughts HERE.
This is one active little town! Since we were last in Mazie, we’ve met more residents, stumbled across more dead bodies, (not all of which I believe are TOTALLY dead), had a golf tournament, went looking for Bigfoot in the woods, and as of episode 11, witnessed an amazingly epic talent show. In fact, once you’re done listening to the talent show episode give the 2 original songs featured in the episode a download here. I’ve caught myself humming “A Little While” on multiple occasions, and Uncle Rick’s Chicken Rap is one of the best things I’ve ever heard.
The latest episode, a Veteran’s Day bonus, features the return of Frank Arlo, the founder of the Mazie Meadows Morning Show.
It’s a great bonus episode that has just enough humor sprinkled in with a whole lot of appreciation for all those who have served in our military.
Wise words, Uncle Rick. Wise words.
I didn’t think it was possible, but the show has gotten funnier & funnier with each new release. The townsfolk are all enjoyable to listen to, even the ones you love to hate (I’m looking at you, Zac Verral). The co-hosting chemistry between Charlie and Nick is excellent and the jokes are on point. I’ve had several close calls with beverages almost getting accidentally inhaled or spit out from laughter while listening to a new episode.
The show has definitely managed to hold other listeners’ attention as well: now a top 40 podcast with over a million downloads, several podcast award nominations, and even a section on the MMMS website dedicated to fan art it looks like the MMMS will be on the air for a long time.
Updated rating: Still 5 Medowian Sporks
You can find the Mazie Meadows Morning Show online at https://www.maziemeadowsmorningshow.com/, follow the show, Charlie, & Uncle Rick on Twitter at @MazieMeadowsMS, @CharlieMMMS, & @UncleRickBerlyl and subscribe via either iTunes or Android. Look for new episodes on the 1st & 15th of every month.