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An avid reader since the age of three, Heather proudly displays an "ENGMJR" license plate and Sparky the Sun Devil sticker on her car as some proof she graduated from Arizona State University with her B.A. in Literature. When she isn't reading or scouring used bookstores for vintage etiquette books, Heather can often be found watching hockey or baseball, or jotting in one of her many notebooks. A self-proclaimed book addict who will read just about anything (though young adult, literary fiction and memoirs are her favorites), Heather usually carries no less than two books on her person, just in case. Come find her at Changing Hands Phoenix, and she will gladly chat with you about all things book related.
When I read young adult books, I tend to gravitate more towards the realistic side (think Eleanor and Park or If I Stay) of the book spectrum, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read this book. If you love fantasy, this one is for you. Complete with magic, sword fights, and a creatively formed setting, Snow Like Ashes was a fun and fast-paced read. Meira is a feisty, strong female lead reminiscent of Tris from Divergent or Katniss from The Hunger Games, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next installment of this series!
Talk about a book that blew me away! Becky Albertalli's debut novel is so skillfully crafted that both teens and adults will be able to enjoy the story of Simon, a closeted high schooler who is blackmailed by a fellow classmate after his secret correspondence with another boy is discovered. This book often had me laughing and sharing passages with anyone who was around me. In the clandestine e-mails to his crush, Simon isn't shy about sharing his opinions (Why is straight assumed to be the default sexuality? Why do only gay people have to come out?), and by the end of this book, you may be rethinking the day-to-day assumptions you might be making of others.
Admittedly, I was a little behind in reading Brian Lee O'Malley. I read Seconds only after digging my heels into the ground following several recommendations from a handful of people and didn't read Scott Pilgrim until long after it had been made into a movie and became the cult classic it is today. Lost at Sea was the last thing I read of O'Malley's, but it is arguably my favorite. The way O'Malley portrays social anxiety is realistic and far from sugar coated. Rarely do I connect so well with a book, but this is one that has stuck with me, and Raleigh can only be described as a spirit animal of mine.
I was iffy when I picked out this book to read. The terminal illness trope is a common one in young adult literature today. By the end however, I was glad I decided to pick it up. Robyn Schneider imagines a world in which her main characters are diagnosed with a non-curable strain of tuberculosis. Although no such strain exists today, Schneider pulls from real medical research and had me believing that the disease she had imagined could indeed exist. A novel of first romances and second chances, this is a great read for fans of All the Bright Places or Looking For Alaska.
This is the graphic novel for the design enthusiast or those with a creative eye. Spanning millions of years both back into the past and ahead into the future, Richard McGuire examines different happenings that take place in one particular space. With precision, McGuire marries story lines that would never cross otherwise. A man in 1954 talks about a dog barking at the mailman, while a dog in 1986 barks at the sound of a doorbell. A mammoth beast lies on the grass of the forest in 10,000 B.C.E. while a girl lies on a rug reading her book in 1970. This is a fascinating graphic novel chock full of gorgeous art, details and different stories to tell. Read it again and again, and you'll be able to find new details with each visit.
Before The Fault in Our Stars took the world by storm, there was The Probability of Miracles, one of the best books you probably haven't read yet. Our protagonist Campbell Cooper is a little more rough around the edges than Hazel Lancaster, but just as realistic about the cancer ravaging her body. When Campbell's mother hears about a small town in Maine where miracles are often said to happen, she whisks Campbell away, hoping for a miracle of their own. This book is the perfect blend of humor and heartache, and will perhaps serve as an inspiration to make your own miracles happen.
In One Thing Stolen, Beth Kephart manages to create a romantic atmosphere without beating you over the head with a love story. While there is a small thread dedicated to the main character's romance, this story could be more considered a tribute to its setting of Florence, Italy. Kephart uses vivid descriptions that made me feel like I could be right there in the middle of the city. Aside from the gorgeous writing, this the unique story of Nadia, a girl afflicted with a rare neurological disorder that is taking her ability to speak, but emphasizing her ability to create art. One Thing Stolen is sure to take your breath away, and is a story for anyone who perhaps has felt lost and unable to use their own voice.
If you're on the hunt for some honest writing that isn't weighed down with any bullsh*t, Meghan Daum is your woman. In The Unspeakable, Daum takes topics that other people might skirt around, such as the death of her mother, her pregnancy (and subsequent miscarriage), her awkward encounter with Rob Reiner at a party hosted by Nora Ephron, among others, and presents them in ten sharp and concise essays. I wholly appreciated the way that Daum didn't try to make messy subjects into pretty ones, and candidly portrayed her experiences on the page. Add this to your "To-Be-Read" list immediately!
Jennifer Niven has written arguably one of the most realistic and voice driven novels (in young adult or otherwise) that I have read in a long time. All the Bright Places alternates between two narrators: Violet Markey, a girl coping with the untimely loss of her sister, and Theodore Finch, a boy fascinated with death and dying. They begin an unconventional relationship that is sure to tug less than gently at your heartstrings and will have you riding that proverbial emotional roller coaster all the way until the end. Shelve the comparisons to books like The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park that you may hear; All The Bright Places stands tall on its own.
I'll start this review off with a disclaimer that this book is not a pretty one. I flinched several times while reading it, and would absolutely say that Bleed Like Me is only for the most mature of teen readers. With subject matters such as abusive relationships, cutting, and drug use, this book has been described as a "young adult Sid and Nancy." The story itself may be tragic in and of itself, but the writing was what blew me away with this book. Desir's prose kept me hooked and sat with me long after I finished. Reminiscent of books such as Ellen Hopkins' Impulse, Bleed Like Me is a gem and well worth the read if you are up for the challenge.
Ever since the documentary Blackfish, Sea World has been faced with harsh criticism and falling profits. If you watched the documentary, you may recognize this author. John Hargrove was one of a handful of former Sea World trainers featured in Blackfish, and now he is offering a more detailed look at his side of the story. This is more than your typical memoir, however. One of the most experienced trainers working at Sea World at the time he decided to leave the amusement park, Hargrove worked with twenty different whales over fourteen years on two different continents and manages to combine the stories and histories of many of the orcas that he worked with along with his own. Beneath the Surface is filled with ups and downs, and will likely make your heart clench in more than one place, especially if you consider yourself an animal lover in any sense of the word. Put it on your 'to read' list immediately.
In Soviet Ghosts, photographer Rebecca Litchfield captures the broken buildings and abandoned places of a once vast Soviet Union. Combining her striking photographs with essays about the towns and cities that comprised the Soviet Union, Litchfield gives readers a comprehensive overview of how these places have fallen to decay and the purpose they served when the Soviet Union was at its peak. I'd highly recommend this book to those who have a fascination with history, photography, or both!
Need some cooking inspiration? Look no further than A Feast of Ice and Fire. This cookbook was drawn right from the pages of A Song of Ice and Fire, thanks to the meticulous research of the authors. It is George R.R. Martin approved and is broken up into sections and organized by the different lands of Westeros. Whether you have a King's Landing appetite or perhaps a hankering for something from The Wall, A Feast of Ice and Fire has you covered. Many of the recipes come in two different formats: medieval preparation (for the more daring cooks) and modern preparation (for those of us who may be a little more timid), making this one of the more extensive and well put together cookbooks I've come across in a while. Be sure to give this to the Game of Thrones fan in your life who already has everything or add it to your collection!
For as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with abandoned things. I've spent countless hours either watching documentaries or scouring the internet for images of places that once thrived. When I saw this book sitting on our shelves, I knew I had to take a look. Andre Govia's photographs pulled me in and captured my attention. From churches to theaters and mental asylums to mansions, Govia has traversed the planet, taking some of the most haunting pictures I have seen to date. Photography experts and novices alike will be able to appreciate Govia's work and the way he has captured the derelict, yet beautiful nature of the things and places he has photographed.
Have you binge watched your way through the latest Orange is the New Black season on Netflix and are looking for your next fix? Look no further. Co-authored by the show's creator and several of the writers, this cookbook is a perfect tie-in to tide you over until the next season. From Tiffany "Pensatucky" Dockett's Beer Can Bird to Alex Vause's Down and Dirty Margarita, this cookbook is filled with delicious meals, desserts and drinks from Litchfield Correctional Institution's very own. Each recipe comes with a little anecdote from the inmate that it is attributed with, making this the perfect buy for you or the Orange is the New Black fan in your life.
This was the first of Tom Leveen's books that I've read, and I have to say, I'm a bit ashamed I've not read his work sooner. Taking on the hot button issue of cyberbullying, Leveen intersperses Facebook conversations throughout Random in a way that doesn't beat the reader over the head, but rather enhances the story. The most distinct characteristic of this novel, however, was the way Leveen ended each chapter. I know not everyone is a fan of cliffhangers, but Leveen manages to craft his chapter endings skillfully and in such a way that made me want to keep reading. Random is full of twists and turns and will keep you hooked until the very end.
When it comes to the young adult world, there simply aren't enough books that have a strong male narrator. Sutter Keely is my saving grace. He's unapologetic about the way he lives, and his character is so strong that I quickly became engaged with his story. Taking place during his senior year, The Spectacular Now follows Sutter through his triumphs and pitfalls, and his developing relationship with the shy and quiet Aimee. He remains true to himself to the end, which is what made me love this coming of age story so much.
A.S. King has done it again! I love, love, love, this book and everything it stands for. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future offers an all too valid commentary on feminism and women's rights today and gives readers a picture of what the not too distant future could be if extremists were to shut down women's rights as we know them. A freak happening leaves Glory with the gift of being able to see a person's future by merely looking them in the eye. Using her new found ability (albeit a little reluctantly) in the present day, Glory documents her findings of the future to paint a truly horrific picture with the United States' second Civil War and an age filled with rebellion. This book may be classified as young adult, but I can honestly say I'd recommend it to any person looking for a strong, sharp female character who is wholly human.
In all honesty, I am a Chuck Palahniuk fanatic. Fight Club was one of the first books I read in my teenage years, so ever since then, I've been programmed to love Palahniuk's twisted sense of humor, over-the-top satire, and all too valid social commentary that he is so well known for. Needless to say, when I got my hands on a copy of Beautiful You, I trounced through it in a matter of hours. Every minute and all two-hundred and twenty pages of this novel left me in a perpetual state of "what the f*ck." Perhaps one of Palahniuk's most outrageous works in terms of plot (not to give too much away, but flying, flaming dildos do occur within the pages of this book), Beautiful You leaves Fight Club looking like a children's book at times. That being said, this book is a great commentary on how women and their sexuality are often exploited in the media. Beautiful You is definitely not for the faint of heart, but will certainly satisfy even the most avid lovers of Palahniuk.
I can not emphasize what a gorgeous and breathtaking book this is. Seriously, just read it, and you'll understand what I mean. Once I started it, I could not put it down and stayed up until four in the morning just to finish. Without a doubt, it's arguably one of the best coming of age novels you'll ever read. A story tinged with a little bit of magic, both teens and adults will be able to appreciate Astrid Jones' journey as she discovers that conforming into her small town's ideals may not be the best thing. As someone who can wholly identify what it's like to grapple with their sexuality, this book is extremely near and dear to my heart and is easily in my top five books of all time. Don't wait one second longer to read it.
I'll get straight to the point; if you love or even like The Princess Bride in any sort of capacity, you need to read this book. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I mean, seriously, what more could you ask for than a book written by the actor that played the one and only Westley? Cary Elwes gives fans an insider's point of view starting with his casting as The Man in Black all the way through the ups and downs of the production of this now iconic movie. Interspersed throughout the book, other members of the cast and crew, including Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, and Rob Reiner also share their thoughts and insights about the movie and its production, making this a well rounded read.
Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books you used to blaze through as a kid? There was mystery and intrigue with every choice you made--what would happen if you took the door on the right? Would you fall down the hole in the ground or run into a treasure chest? In this new autobiography modeled in the style of those awesome Choose Your Own Adventure books, you are Neil Patrick Harris and you decide what path your life takes. Will you come out or hide your sexuality? Will you audition for one of your now iconic TV roles or will you pursue the theater path? Fans of NPH will appreciate his hilarious style of writing, and will have fun following the life of one of this generation's best loved stars.
Finding a good hockey book in the book realm is like trying to find an ice rink in Phoenix. Your search will be short and yield little results. This book, however, is that diamond in the rough. I came across Derek Boogaard's story while I was reading an anthology of Best American Sports Writing for a creative nonfiction workshop in college and was both intrigued and saddened. This book expands on John Branch's prior examination of Boogaard's life and tragic death as a result of an accidental drug overdose, brought on by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE. Branch's investigative writing might make you think twice about cheering for the enforcers that go out and fight night in and night out at the professional level. I highly recommend this book for not only hockey fans, but for any person who can appreciate an in-depth, journalistic examination of a problem plaguing sports today.
I first became acquainted with Liz Climo's work through tumblr. Every so often, one of her drawings would pop up on my feed, and I couldn't help but laugh and want to go "aww" at the same time. When I saw this on the shelf, I got so excited and couldn't help but snatch it up. My favorite comic made its way into this book (keep an eye out for an orca whale, a penguin, and some panda ears) and there's plenty more goodness to be had. If you're in the mood for some illustrations that are both funny and adorable at the same time, check out this book, for it doesn't disappoint.
I'll be totally honest with you, I'm not sure why I was drawn to this book, especially after I read the inside dust jacket flap. Historical fiction is totally and completely not my thing. That being said, I stayed up several long nights fighting sleep to read this book, sometimes losing that fight. It wasn't because this book was boring. On the contrary, I was hooked from the very first page, and was torn over whether I should devour it or savor it. The main character, Frances Wray, is one that I quickly became enamored with and couldn't stop reading simply because I wanted to know more of her story. There were several scenes that I went back to read multiple times because the writing was that brilliant. The novel itself is smart and cerebral, and will please both those who adore historical fiction and those who are hesitant about it.