☕ Book Break ☕ | To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

This light fantasy YA novel was a quick read for me. It caught my interest from the first line and kept it throughout the entire story. If I were to pick one book for a teen girl or a preteen girl who is a reluctant reader, this one might be it. The characters are, in my opinion, completely relatable to girls today. It felt a little less intense than Hunger Games or Maze Runner, but had similar elements. Positive messages about following your dreams and fighting for women’s rights to an education. Squeaky clean. 

It wasn’t what I was expecting from either the title or the cover. The main character enters a competition with boys, but there’s an equal focus on her home life and a dash of romance, which rounded the story out nicely for me. I was surprised at how much I liked this book. My feed was flooded with this book several months before it came out, but every time I checked to see if it was available it wasn’t out yet, so it got bumped to the bottom of my list. I’m glad I finally got to it. Recommended for all readers and reluctant readers. 

Positive Message

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Positive Female Role Model

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Entertaining 

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☕ Book Break ☕ |The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds #popsugarreadingchallenge

#popsugarreadingchallenge

A Book With Clothing on The Cover

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Sixteen year old Matt wears a black suit every day, not because his mother dies, but for his job at the funeral home. That and his habit of sitting in on services. He’s looking for a way to deal with his grief, and encounters a girl who might just know the answer. He sure won’t find help from his dad, who seems to be trying to drown his sorrow in a bottle.

My heart broke a little bit with every page. 

The voice and sense of place drew me into his world. I would not hesitate to recommend this for anyone from pre-teens to adults. 

A true page turner. Happy-sad. A bit of romance. Realistic, coming of age.  A perfect book for teens about coming to terms with grief of any sort.

Go get it. Recommended for all.

Characters

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All the Feels

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Relatable

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Storyline

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Engaging

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Well Written

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Gritty Contemporary Christian YA: Interview with Author Brian McBride

 

Haunted by the last question their mother ever asked them, the Greyson brothers struggle to cope with their grief and adjust to life after tragedy.

Semi-popular sixteen-year-old Liam spends his nights performing as the lead singer of his high school indie alternative/rock band, Liam and the Landmarks. But something happened to Liam four years ago at his friend’s house – a secret Liam will take to his grave. But in small towns like Summit, Colorado, secrets always seem to find their way out.

Twenty-four-year-old Ezra thought that he could cure his grief when he left Summit behind for a prestigious art school in Chicago, but things only got worse. Now a college dropout working at a gas station mini mart, he turns to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and meaningless one-night stands. But Ezra can’t run forever – life always catches up with you.

With abrasively honest dual-perspective narratives, Every Bright and Broken Thing illustrates the unbreakable bond between brothers and the power in coming home.

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Bookstagrammer, blogger, and author Sunny Huck shared about Brian’s work on her Instagram and peaked my interest so I had to talk with him.

DJS: Your novels are contemporary and gritty. What drives you to write about the issues you do?

BM: Some of it is personal experience; a lot of the issues I write about are things that myself or others I know have faced. Depression, self-harm, mental illness, sexual abuse and assault, domestic violence, addiction, etc… 

But some of it is also that there’s a severe lack in the YA market – specifically the Christian YA market – of stories that deal with these things. I can’t name even five Christian YA Contemporary novels that could be comparable to, say, the stories John Green, Amber Smith, or Stephen Chbosky write. The Christian Fiction industry seems to think YA Fantasy novels are the only kind worth publishing. I disagree. I doubt I can fill this gap completely by myself, but maybe I can encourage other Christian authors of YA Contemporary to share their stories, too – THEN we’ll fill the gap!

DJS: What has been the most gratifying about writing realistic Christian fiction for young people?

BM: Hearing the stories of how my books have given people a new view of themselves, of the value of life, of faith and hope, and most importantly of Jesus. Hearing all those stories has been the highlight of this experience. 

DJS: Liam and Ezra go through some pretty harrowing times before they begin their healing journey in Every Bright and Broken Thing. Will you write any more of their story?

I don’t have any new stories simmering for Liam and Ezra right now. But I have a short story or novella I may or may not be planning to carry on Lincoln’s story. But anything is possible. If a good idea comes, I won’t say no to revisiting my boys in Summit. 

DJS: Every Bright and Broken Thing is the story of two brothers dealing with loss and how they react. In a few sentences, what would you say to those who want to support families going through grief?

BM: Hold onto them and don’t let go. I remember a time when I was far away from the Lord and was getting into some bad stuff, but my parents refused to let go. Some parents will kind of back off and say, “oh, well they’re adults now. They have to make their own choices.” But my parents weren’t about to let me go. They held on for months and months. I literally would not be alive today if it weren’t for the fierce, fighting kind of love my parents have for me.

In Every Bright, we see Mr. Greyson grapple with his own suffering and even come to realize how he allowed his grief to cause him to not hold onto his sons like he should. Mr. Greyson had to determine once again that he was going to hold onto his boys. In that, we see a father who was broken become strong again.

So, if you know someone who is suffering, hold on and don’t let go. Sometimes that means telling them the hard truth. Sometimes that just means listening and letting them cry on your shoulder. Whatever the case, hold on and don’t let go.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today, Brian. Keep writing. I expect great things to come from your work.

A winner of the 2016 Wattys Award, Brian published the award-winning Young Adult Contemporary debut, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, in 2018.
Born and raised in Oregon, Brian moved to the San Francisco Bay Area at 16-years-old. He’s been writing since he was thirteen-years-old and has been reading for longer. Brian is pursuing a degree in Social Work, which he hopes to use to help rescue children and families. Perhaps he’ll work to better the US’s foster care system? Or maybe he’ll join an organization that fights human trafficking? A fourth generation pastor, he is deeply passionate about the Church and is also pursuing his Minister’s License. It was this passion that compelled him to launch the Pioneer Mvmt, a social-media-based faith movement. Among other things, he is also passionate about iced tea, animals, adoption, and the arts.

#READWHATYOUOWN September Reading Challenge Pick~Rival by Lacy Yager

 

#READWHATYOUOWN September Reading Challenge

Here’s a super easy challenge hosted by @anovelfamily on Instagram this month. Dust those books off that you’ve been meaning to read. I am doing the two book challenge. You can follow @anovelfamily here.

If you are like me, you have stacks of unread books. I am choosing some from my kindle. I have more than I can count on there, and keep having to remove books to add new ones. It’s time I started reading!

I am planning to choose two books from the multitude languishing on my kindle.

I picked Rival by Lacey Yager based solely on the title. That cover, though! She looks fierce.

From the description on goodreads, it is about a teenage vampire chaser. I’m not sure how a vampire story got on my kindle, but I already put Rival on my IG story. I’m committed now. Let’s go.

Emily Santos is a fifth generation vampire fighter, a chaser. Brett Carson and Emily used to be friends. Both have secrets.

This is an entertaining, fast-paced novella. There were plenty of fight scenes, but they weren’t overly drawn out, so I found myself enjoying the story. It’s an action packed teen romance. Violence, swordplay, and blood, but no extreme gore. No profanity. A few kisses. A little humor. It is short, but didn’t feel rushed and the ending was satisfying. If you like action or martial arts with a little romance, this one might be for you.

I was surprised at how much I liked it.

Do you participate in reading challenges?

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Cinder by Marissa Meyer #popsugarreadingchallenge

#popsugarreadingchallenge2019

A book you meant to read last year

That would be a looong list, but I’ll pick one.

Cinder is a book that’s been on my list forever. 

This is an  imaginative retelling of Cinderella with a futuristic setting in New Beijing. Cinder is a hated stepchild and is also a cyborg. Being cyborg is not a popular thing to be, so she doesn’t advertise the fact that she’s a social outcast. There’s a prince, a ball, and an evil queen. A deadly disease strikes Cinder’s stepsister, and Cinder would do anything to save her. There;s a mystery surrounding Cinder’s past, she can’t remember anything from her early childhood. 

Fast paced and easy to read.  Recommended for ages 13 and up.

☕ Book Break ☕ | A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

 

~A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness~

Many things that are true feel like a cheat. Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers’ daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving. Quite often, actually. You’d be surprised.

Coner wakes one night to find a monster peering into his bedroom window, but it’s not as scary as the nightmare he has every time he goes to sleep.

I read this short book in one sitting. Everything else I was doing had to wait while I read this masterfully woven tale of fantasy and a crushing truth that is oh-so-hard to bear. It is a frightful and tender story of grief. Coner has to grapple with his monsters, real and imagined.  Patrick Ness captured Coner’s mixed up feelings and inner turmoil perfectly. This one is going to stick with me for a while. Sweet and sad. The story is fantasy, but the emotions are raw and real.

A story about coming to terms with grief unlike anything I’ve read before.

When I picked the physical book up, it was surprisingly heavy. The illustrations are dark and dramatic, and the story heartbreaking. I felt the combination was artistic and effective.

 

Characters

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Page Turning

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Setting

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Emotion Provoking

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