Saturday, April 20, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: If You're Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser

............................................................................................................................................................


Title: If You're Out There
Author: Katy Loutzenhiser
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 307
Pub Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Book Source: publisher via edelweiss
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Synopsis: After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.
...................................................................................................................................................................................

*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

If You're Out There was an okay read, but I ended up on the fence about this one, as I have with so many books so far in 2019. 

Zan and Priya grew up together, and were as close as two best friends could be. Then Priya moved away to go to a new school, and stopped responding to Zan's emails and messages. Zan is confused as to what may have caused her once-best-friend to ghost her, as she sees Priya posting photos via social media and responding to pretty much everyone but her. Zan doesn't accept this. She begins to think something else is going on; that her friend may be in trouble. Why else would she ignore her like this? Everyone in her life is telling her to basically move on, get over it, right? Not Logan. Logan is a new guy at school and has taken a liking to Zan. Together, the two of them start to piece together what may or may not have happened to Priya.

When I was reading this I had some theories on why Priya may have started to ignore Zan. I wondered if Zan maybe had feelings for her and it wasn't Priya's thing, if perhaps Priya was kidnapped, or maybe she was just a snob—too good for Zan now that she is a California girl. What actually happened was pretty lame, to be frank. It was not what I expected and I was pretty disappointed with the outcome. I was happy with the ending, but the reason behind Priya not speaking with Zan was just silly to me. I don't want to spoil it, but it was this weird out-of-left-field thing and, I don't know, it just seemed far-fetched and not really believable. Meh.

What I did like was how devoted Logan was to helping Zan find her friend. I did enjoy the romance. It wasn't a main story thread, but it was nice on the side. I also enjoyed the friendship between Zan and Priya even though they were separated for most of the book. When the two finally see each other, things are wonderful. I felt the connection regardless of their separation. The author did really good job of making us feel how important they were to each other.

Overall, I enjoyed the contemporary parts of this book such as the romance and Zan's struggle with the loss of her friend, but the mystery was lackluster for me. I feel that it was dragged out much too long, especially considering the actual events leading up to Zan ghosting her friend were not really interesting or believable. It was a fail on that front, but a win with the contemporary. Like I said, on the fence! Great character building, great background information. Inspirational friendship. Slow plot, but overall a good read. 
............................................................................................................................................................

Spotlight: THE MEANING OF BIRDS by Jaye Robin Brown + Giveaway

..........................................................................................................................................................


The Meaning of Birds
by Jaye Robin Brown


Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.

*  *  *
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA+
• Publisher: HarperTeen
• Pub Date: April 16, 2019
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / KoboIndieBound / TBD

..........................................................................................................................................................





Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life--jeweler, mediator, high school art teacher--but is now living the full-time writer life. She lives with her wife, dogs, and horses in a sweet house in the NC woods where she hopes to live happily ever after. She is the author of NO PLACE TO FALL, WILL'S STORY, GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT and THE MEANING OF BIRDS.






..........................................................................................................................................................


Continue on for the giveaway! ~

Friday, April 12, 2019

Spotlight: SERIOUS MOONLIGHT by Jenn Bennett + Giveaway

..........................................................................................................................................................


Serious Moonlight
by Jenn Bennett


After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

*  *  *
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
• Publisher: Simon Pulse
• Pub Date: April 16, 2019
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / KoboIndieBound / TBD

..........................................................................................................................................................




Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of several young adult books, including: ALEX, APPROXIMATELY; STARRY EYES; and SERIOUS MOONLIGHT. She also writes romance and fantasy for adults. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, won Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two dogs.





..........................................................................................................................................................


Continue on for the giveaway! ~

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Spotlight: GIRLS ON THE VERGE by Sharon Biggs Waller + Giveaway

..........................................................................................................................................................


Girls on the Verge
by Sharon Biggs Waller


A powerful, timely coming-of-age story about a young woman from Texas who goes on a road trip with two friends to get an abortion, from award-winning author Sharon Biggs Waller.

Camille couldn't be having a better summer. But on the very night she learns she got into a prestigious theater program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend, Bea, doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made.

Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone . . . and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last-minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.

Girls on the Verge is an incredibly timely novel about a woman’s right to choose. Sharon Biggs Waller brings to life a narrative that has to continue to fight for its right to be told, and honored

*  *  *
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
• Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / KoboIndieBound / TBD

..........................................................................................................................................................




Sharon Biggs Waller is the recipient of the Friends of American Writers award and the author of A Mad, Wicked Folly (Viking) and The Forbidden Orchid (Viking), both of which have garnered multiple starred reviews and awards. Her upcoming novel is a young adult contemporary called Girls on the Verge (Holt, April 2019). She's also a magazine journalist and has written several non-fiction books about horses—The Original Horse Bible (Fox Chapel Publishing), Advanced English Riding (Lumina Media), and In One Arena (Half Halt Press). Previously, she worked as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace. In addition to writing, she is a dressage rider and trainer and Planned Parenthood volunteer. She lives on a ten-acre sustainable farm in the Midwest with her husband, Mark.




..........................................................................................................................................................


Continue on for the giveaway! ~