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.

You'd Be Mine - 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)!

Continue reading “You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – Book Review”

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!

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.

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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”

My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin – Book Review

​Buenos Dias from sunny Progreso, Mexico, folks!

As part of my amazing job, I get the pleasure and privilege of selecting middle grade & young adult books to be featured at the Louisiana Book Festival every year. This past January,  while researching recently published and upcoming books for the 2016 LBF, I ran across a book called My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin. Intrigued by the description, I added it to my list of books to check out.

A wonderful, moving story about being true to yourself, My Seventh Grade Life in Tights is about a boy named Dillon who is part of a dance crew called the Dizzee Freeks.  Unlike his two friends in his crew who have been classically trained in dance, Dilion has had no formal training. His dance style is what’s known among his friends as ‘ninja freestyle’, featuring a series of kicks and punches. (I can’t help but imagine he looks a bit like he’s having a seizure when he dances.)  Dillon is desperate to learn how to ‘properly’ dance so he discovers an opportunity to earn a scholarship to a prestigious dance academy. There’s just one small hitch – dance studios are for sell-outs, at least, according to the rest of his crew.  

Through an ingenious plan (cause you know those always work), Dillon’s crew hatches a plan for Dillon to try out for the scholarship, win, then tell the studio to stick their scholarship where the sun doesn’t shine.

Well you know that’s going to go off without a hitch, right? 😉

Very well-written and perfectly paced, My Seventh Grade Life in Tights  is an encouraging story about ‘finding the moves that fit’.  With a diverse set of characters (yay for diversity!), all with their own struggles and issues, this book will dance its way into the hearts of both kids and adults alike.

Final rating: 5 Sporks

PS: Stay tuned for another author interview!

The Serpent King & Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – Book Reviews

For our first official review, I’m reviewing some of my favorite books of all time (seriously, EVERYONE needs to read these books).

As one of the (many) perks of my job, I get to read a lot of really great books, which leads me to get to meet some amazing authors – one of whom is Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016) and the upcoming Goodbye Days (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017).

I first ran across The Serpent King at the beginning of 2016 while researching YA authors to invite to my state’s yearly book festival. Intrigued by the cover (’cause aren’t those covers GORGEOUS?) I checked out the reviews and upon making a decision to invite the author to be featured at the Festival, I also decided to purchase myself a copy to read.

Am I ever glad I did.

From the first page I was sucked into the world of three small-town Tennessee teens – Dill, the son of a disgraced snake-handling preacher (his father’s in prison on some very creepy charges), Lydia, the upper-middle class fashion blogger, and Travis, the fantasy series-reading, dragon necklace-wearing gentle giant. All very different teenagers but best friends yet the same, they are just trying to survive their senior year of high school.

I picked up The Serpent King knowing zero about the author. After finishing, though, I read his author bio and was not surprised to find out that he is also a musician. Jeff’s writing is so lyrical that it is almost serpentine in and of itself with the way it ebbs and flows. Not only do I care so deeply about the characters (I seriously just want to adopt Dill and protect him from all the awfulness he has to endure) but the writing is also so fantastic that it has spanned generations. Everyone I have recommended it to from teenagers to the ages of 90+ has loved this book.

(Which reminds me – if you ever get the chance to listen to the audiobook (narrated by 3 seriously talented folks – Michael Crouch (Dill), Ariadne Meyers (Lydia), and Ethan Sawyer (Travis), do so. You won’t regret it.)

Jeff is one of those rare talents that only come along once every so often, and Dill, Lydia, and Travis will always have a special place in my heart as some of my favorite YA characters ever created –

– so imagine my delight when I found out that Jeff had another book coming out.

Goodbye Days, releasing March 7, 2017, is the story of Carver Briggs, a Nashville teen who has lost his 3 best friends in a car accident – one that was caused while the friend who was driving was replying to a text that Carver had just sent.

Where are you guys? Text me back.

In order to process through his grief over the course of the year, Carver embarks on a series of “Goodbye Days” with the families of his deceased friends. There’s also some other stuff that happens, but… spoilers. 🙂

I’ve been one of the lucky ones who has gotten a chance to read Goodbye Days early, and it is truly a masterful follow-up to The Serpent King. While not a sequel, one of the characters from The Serpent King makes an appearance in Goodbye Days – so read TSK first or else you’ll hit a pretty major spoiler.

Fair warning as well when reading both The Serpent KingGoodbye Days – have tissues handy. LOTS AND LOTS of tissues.  In fact, Jeff, you might want to buy stock in Kleenex since your readers will be using so many.

Final rating: 5 shiny new sporks each.

Even though we had been Tweeting and emailing back & forth during the months leading up to the Festival, I was fortunate enough to have gotten to actually meet Jeff in person at the Festival and hang out with him and get to know him a little afterwards as well.  Jeff is a super genuine guy who truly cares about his readers, so stay tuned for an interview with him!