19 Best Book Deal for 6/20/19: To Best the Boys, Royal Wedding, The Last Lecture, and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!

Above the Star by Alexis Marie Chute

Less than $2

Lifelike by Jay Kristoff

Almost Impossible by Nicole Williams

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Less than $3

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Ash by Malinda Lo

My Mother, A Serial Killer by Hazel Baron

Recommended from this post:

Daybreak is Not Your Normal Summer Camp | The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord [ARC]

The Names They Gave UsLucy is ready for her summer to go exactly according to plan. She’ll be spending the summer at the Christian summer camp that her parents own just like she does every summer. When she gets back, she’ll spend time with her perfect boyfriend Lukas until her senior year starts. Unfortunately, her mom’s cancer is back with a vengeance. Before she knows it, Lukas has paused their relationship and Lucy is headed to be a counselor at Camp Daybreak for the summer at her mother’s request. Lucy is baffled as to why her mom would send her away to a “hippie camp” instead of wanting to spend an entire summer together at their Christian camp. The summer has a lot in store for Lucy and she’ll question her faith while finding that her family’s history isn’t as cut and dry as she once thought.

I keep trying Emery Lord’s books because I hope that something will compare to The Start of Me and You (which I LOVED) but I’m starting to think that it’s never going to happen. Stephanie @Stephanie’s Book Reviews really hit the nail on the head in her review where she talks about feeling like Lord is just trying too hard. For me, I just felt like she was trying to cram in SO MANY ISSUES. First, we have Lucy who’s trying to reconcile her faith with all of the things that are going on in her life. Then we have her mom who has cancer. Then there’s also a transgender character and all of the stuff that comes out about Lucy’s family history…it’s just a little much. I wish that the author had maybe edited some of that stuff out. It was just a little overwhelming as a reader.

Lucy was okay as a protagonist but I had a really hard time with some elements of her character. For example, as I started this book I was super excited because I have been WAITING for an author to give us a portrayal of a normal Christian character outside of Christian Fiction. I really thought Lucy was going to be that character for me, but almost immediately she starts having this crisis of faith which is completely understandable for her situation, but wasn’t what I was hoping for. In addition, I felt like she was just kind of unrealistic? I feel that Christians get a bad rap a lot of the time for being “sheltered” or “naive”. Like, Lucy gets uncomfortable when people around her use Christ’s name in vain, but then she doesn’t blink an eye when a character comes out as transgender. That’s just not consistent! First of all, I don’t think that a normal Christian teenager is going to blink at somebody else saying “Jesus Christ” about something–I know I didn’t. It was just stuff like that…I don’t know. One positive about her, is that in the end I really did like her relationship with her parents.

The secondary characters were pretty good and mostly well developed. Everybody at Daybreak has a past and we get into that a little bit with Jones and Annabelle and others. The one thing I will say is that Jones seemed too good for Lucy and honestly kind of unrealistic. I know he had some stuff in his life that made him more mature than his age, but is any teenage boy really going to act like him? It honestly felt like he was closer to 25 than 17 or 18.

Overall, I thought this book was just okay. I didn’t dislike it as much as When We Collided but it’s nothing compared to The Start of Me and You. Some people have had an issue with the ending, but I’ll go on the record as saying that I didn’t hate it. It was definitely bittersweet, but that’s life, right? Some trigger warnings real quick: this book contains some mention of suicide, physical abuse, and bullying. Probably others too, but sorry those are the ones I can come up with right now.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. Some underage drinking.
Sexual Content: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E Smith (Kirkus Review Style)

So…funny story…I wrote a review for The Comeback Season for a homework assignment before realizing that I had to review an adult book. So then I wrote a review for The Boys in the Boat (see yesterday’s post) and turned that in, but I’d already written this review, so here it is anyway.

the-comeback-season-9781481448512_hrThe thing that Ryan and her father always had in common was the Cubs. Their love for the unlucky baseball team is what Ryan remembers now as she thinks about her father on the fifth year anniversary of his death. This book is about loss and dealing with trials while at the same time preparing to move on. As Ryan mourns her father, her mother is moving on with a new husband and a new baby. Ryan finds solace in a new friend, Nick, who also seems to love the Cubs as much as she does. As they grow closer, Ryan discovers that Nick hasn’t been 100% truthful with her. Together they learn something about luck and what it means to love a team not despite their losing streak, but because of their losing streak. Throughout the book Smith does a wonderful job weaving the magical world of the Cubs and baseball into the narrative of two teenagers trying to figure out life. The ending will leave readers smiling through their tears.

BLOG TOUR: It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J Schmitt (Giveaway)

IAWD coverIt’s a Wonderful Death
by Sarah J. Schmitt
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Book Trailer

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

This book was a little different than I expected. I was excited to read a story of redemption and justice. The book did have that, but it had more as well. I didn’t expect to read about relationships and bullying and dealing with death. The author of this book uses superficial characters and sarcastic dialogue to talk about some deep topics like cancer and suicide.

I never really liked the main character, RJ. At the beginning, we’re not supposed to like her. She’s entitled, bossy, and very self-absorbed. She doesn’t give much thought to the people around her, but we can see that there’s some good in her deep, deep down. After her second chance, she’s a better person, but every once in a while she would say something that didn’t quite sit right with me. She was still a little too snarky for my tastes I guess. In some ways she had definitely changed, but in others she seemed like the same, old RJ. I thought the secondary characters really made the book. They were great, well-developed characters and I felt myself drawn to them in a way that I wasn’t quite drawn to RJ.

The plot was good, not great. I was entertained and wanted to finish the book, but I probably wouldn’t reread it. The ending was definitely unexpected, but I also wonder if it was wholly necessary? I think that’s something that each reader will have to decide for themselves. Overall, a pleasant read with a strong moral direction.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

“‘Everything you do has a consequence. Good, bad, indifferent, there is always a price to pay. The question is: who pays? Sometimes making the right choice means you might lose something that seems important at the time.'”

“‘I guess I just got so caught up with being popular. I think, somehow, I lost myself.'”

“‘If I can do that, everything should work out?’ I could really use some reassurance right now.
‘I can’t promise you that.’
Not exactly what I was looking for. ‘But we can hope, right?’
‘Hope is a pretty powerful form of prayer,’ Sal says, his hand on the doorknob.
Absently I say, ‘I don’t pray.’
He pauses before responding, ‘Maybe you should.'”

“‘…But then again, is that not why we exist in the first place? Because we have faith to believe there is something more, something greater than ourselves?'”

“I nod. ‘No, it’s not fair. And you’re right. It totally sucks.’
‘But we’ll get over it, right?’ he says bitterly.
I think carefully about how to answer him. Finally, with a sigh, I say, ‘No. I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. I never got over Grams and she was old. But somehow, in time, we’ll learn to get through it.'”

“I didn’t realize it before, but tears are streaming down my face. Not because I’m sad. I mean, I am, but that’s not why I’m crying. It’s because my life means something. Even in the future, my choices make a difference.”

IAWD giveaway

Click on the picture above to be taken to the giveaway!

Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth ServiceSarah Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback.

Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.



Note: I received this book free from the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak [ARC]

Stella and Drew would do anything for their sister, Cara. When Cara’s cancer comes back, they decide to get her a birthday present that will blow all other presents out of the water. They decide to get her signed merchandise from her favorite boy band–The Heartbreakers. Stella doesn’t understand her sister’s obsession with the band, but she’s willing to stand in line for hours if it means bringing a smile to Cara’s face. But when Stella is offered a job by the band’s publicist, she’ll have to learn to deal with two things: lead singer Oliver Perry and life without Cara.

I remembered really liking My Life With the Walter Boys, so I was excited to read this new release by Ali Novak. The premise of this book was really light and fun, but I liked the depth that was added by Cara having cancer and just the whole dynamic between the triplets. I liked Drew a lot because it really seemed like he had his head on straight. He’s there for Cara, but he’s also not putting his entire life on hold for her like Stella was. He seemed like a fun brother to have. Cara was sweet and I was amazed by the strength that she had throughout the book. She was always positive and didn’t want pity from others. Compared to her siblings, Stella was just okay. She was really indecisive and a little bland. Honestly, she was my least favorite of the three siblings. I liked when she would talk about photography because I felt like we were getting a better glimpse of who this girl is and what she’s passionate about. Other than that though, she was a little boring and her character doesn’t really stand out. The band members also seemed pretty one-dimensional. The story hinted at there being some depth, but we never really got to see it.

The story itself was okay. I liked it, but there were some things that could have made the book more meaningful. Overall, it just kind of felt like a fluff book. For example, the band becomes friends with Stella and Drew REALLY fast. Maybe they’re starved for friends because they have to keep to themselves all the time, and Drew is really friendly, but I’m just not really buying it. It was just too much, too fast. The other thing was the relationship between Stella and Oliver. I wished that it had moved slower. I really wanted to see them become friends first. As it was, it was more like instant attraction and that made their relationship feel a lot shallower than I think it was supposed to be. It seemed like a relationship that was based purely on looks as opposed to personality, compatibility, and friendship.

The last thing that kind of bothered me was how much Stella hated The Heartbreakers’ music without any concrete reasons. She just kept saying she hated it but…didn’t really talk about why. Overall, though, I did enjoy the book. Probably more than I should have. It was just a fun no-brainer that was easy to relax to between more intense books. My rating is probably a little generous, so I’ll understand if some of you don’t agree with it.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick [ARC]

Beulah Land (like the hymn) got pregnant at 16–to the dismay of her mother and preacher father–and sensing that she was unwelcome at home, moved in with her piano teacher Ginger Belmont. Beulah had been living with Ginger for nine years when Luke Daniels (Preacher Man) comes to town. Her life had been going well, she worked at the local bar playing piano and she took care of Ginger. When Ginger’s cancer comes out of remission, she has one request for Beulah–to take her place as the church pianist. Beulah’s hesitant to return to church where she was so severely ostracized less than ten years before, but she does as Ginger asks. Over time she comes to learn some new things about herself, Ginger, and the people in her small town.51UHxLcC3kL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The book started out kind of shaky for me. It was very hard to tell how old Beulah was until she stated her age. The tone of the book makes her sound really immature throughout (she sounded like a teenager to me). This was mildly annoying at first, but then once we really got into her past, I felt like a lot of things had happened that should have made her seem older than she was, more mature. The fact that she complained and acted like a teenager was distracting and made me not like her as a character.

I liked the other characters okay. The book deals with some pretty deep issues, which I wasn’t expecting, and that brought some meat to the book, but the characters were too shallow to really round out the plot. I just feel like this book was mostly a missed opportunity. Tough topics include sexual abuse, rape, cancer, and dealing with loss.

I feel kind of bad because this is the third NetGalley book that I’ve reviewed and I haven’t really liked any of what I’ve read so far. But I definitely don’t want to give a dishonest opinion. With that being said, I’m pretty excited for the next two ARCs I have lined up. They seem promising. If you’re still interested in this book despite my review, it comes out April 28th and you can pre-order it HERE.

Overall Rating: 2
Violence: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate (see tough topics listed above)
Language: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Heavy. Beulah works in a bar so a lot of scenes are set there with people drinking.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Neverland by Shari Arnold [ARC]

Livy’s little sister Jenna had leukemia. After Jenna passes away Livy, her mother, and her father each choose to deal with it in their own way. Livy spends her spare time at the Seattle Children’s Hospital reading to the kids who are still there. Her mother makes herself busy with a re-election campaign. Her father stays in his office listening to Simon and Garfunkel. They’re each having a hard time dealing with this loss, but when Livy meets a mysterious boy named Meyer, she starts to feel happy again for the first time since Jenna. But he doesn’t always answer her questions and she doesn’t know if she can trust him–even though she desperately wants to.24809194

I’m from the Seattle area (as some of my lovely readers may already know) so I was looking forward to reading a book set near my hometown. The premise of the book was interesting. I usually steer away from books dealing with loss because–I’ll be honest–I just don’t like being/feeling sad. After reading this book, though, I do recognize that there’s something cathartic about reading about that kind of loss. You feel the same things that the characters feel, but it’s not as devastating as it would be if it actually happened to you.

I’m really sad to say that’s about the only thing I liked though. Livy was an okay character, but she seemed really weak to me (and not just because she’s mourning her sister). She just seemed to have a weak mind. Meyer and Sheila could get her to do basically anything that they wanted and she could never stand up to them for long. That’s something that really bothers me about some characters (girl characters in particular). It’s just like…stick to your guns! You know? If you don’t want to do something, just tell them you don’t want to and then DON’T DO IT.

On the other hand, most of my issues are centered in Part 1 of the book. I liked both Parts 2 and 3 much better. The writing seems to come more alive and the characters and plot are more interesting.

Overall, I’d say it’s just an okay book but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some people just love it. I’m willing to admit that this book could just not be my thing. Readers should be aware that while the book is fairly light in tone, it does deal with some heavier issues such as death and managing loss. If you’re still interested in reading this book then head on over to this link to pre-order before it comes out on April 7th.

Overall Rating: 2
Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Language: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. One party scene with teenage drinking.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.