Book Review VLOG: A Spark of Light {Jodi Picoult)

I stayed up way too late last night finishing this book and I have so many thoughts…

Here is my (SPOILER FREE!) review straight from my YouTube channel:

**And and always, a very special shout out to YouTube for always capturing the most beautiful images of me for my video thumbnails, lol…**

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:30! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Walt Disney World—I Need To Hear Your Tips!

In a few weeks, my family will be taking our first ever trip to Walt Disney World.  We are all SO excited!

My kids have been asking to go on this trip for years and we finally decided the timing is perfect.  My daughter is princess obsessed, my son is Mickey obsessed, and I have a feeling this trip just might be our best vacation ever. We are doing all 4 parks including 2 separate days at Magic Kingdom. CANNOT. WAIT.

The type A planner in me has been BUSY making sure we have everything we need.  2 card tables have been set up divided into sections of what to pack for each of us.  A notebook has been created broken down into sections of what to buy, what to pack, etc.  Dining reservations have been secured.  Fast passes have been booked.  Magic bands have arrived.  Matching family T shirts are ready.  We are SET.

My Disney Notebook…aka everything we need written down in one place. #typea #soorganized. Also, my son’s pull ups just so happen to be Mickey themed…perfect, lol:

And, as only a true book lover would do…I have timed my library wait list selection so that the books I want to bring with me will be all ready for me just in time to come along to Florida.  I told you…type A here 🙂  You can read more about why I bring library books with me on vacations here.

We aren’t leaving for a few more weeks but I will be doing a recap once we are home.

Magic bands have ARRIVED!

So tell me…what’s your best Disney advice?  Things to pack?  Things to know while we are there?  Best tips?

I’m all ears…mouse ears, that is 😉

Xo,

Jenny

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:30! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

 

 

Book Review: What if it’s Us {Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera}

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

4.5 Stars

I absolutely loved this book.  One of my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2019!

From page 1 I was hooked.  Everything about this book was awesome and REAL.  The sheer amount of storylines and characters in this book was insane…but in a good way.  I truly loved it all and simply couldn’t get enough of this book!  It was funny, heartwarming, sad, uplifting…it was everything.  I found myself smiling while reading though so many parts of this book.

I’m always so curious when books are co-written.  Do the authors take on specific characters to write?  Do they alternate chapters?  Sections of the book?  I had this thought in the back of my mind while reading and it was all written so smoothly that I truly have no idea how it was written by 2 people.  Mind.  Blown.

The only reasons I can’t give this gem 5 stars are because it was a bit predictable at times and the characters were VERY dramatic at times.  I understand that they are teenagers and teenagers are dramatic…but whoa.  Also, I felt that the conversations between them were spot on at times on how teenagers speak and not realistic at other times when they would become so reflective.  I would be curious to hear others weigh in on this topic if you’ve read it.

I also think it’s worth noting that if you haven’t seen Hamilton and HATE reading about any spoilers of any kind as much as I do, you might not want to read this book until you do.  There are A LOT of Hamilton references throughout this book and there is even a part where the basic story of Hamilton is told.  When I saw Hamilton in Chicago last fall, I went in completely blind…I wanted to know absolutely nothing about the story, the songs, etc.  I truly believe my Hamilton experience was better that way (everyone says to listen to the music first…I say do NOT)!  I would have been super annoyed by all of the Hamilton references in this book if I was planning on seeing the play blindly.  However, having already seen the play…I LOVED all of the Hamilton references!  In fact, I am playing the Hamilton Pandora station as I’m typing this because after reading this book, I needed to hear these songs again STAT.

Please, please, please tell me there is a sequel to this book coming out eventually.  I can’t say good-bye to these characters and storylines just yet!  Everything about this book is just begging for a sequel.

This book would also make a fantastic movie…

Bottom Line:

LOVED.  IT.  SO.  MUCH.

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:30! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Judging Books By Their Covers

They say that you should “never judge a book by it’s cover” and I completely, 100 percent believe that to be true.  Unfortunately, the cover of a book is what will initially make you want to pick it up, read the synopsis, and eventually determine if you will spend the time to read the book or not.

When I was a teacher and I would begin to read aloud a book with a torn (or lost) cover, my students were never as excited to hear it as they would have been if the cover were beautifully artistic.  I used this “teachable moment” thousands of time in my 14 year career trying to instill in my students that just because something isn’t beautiful on the outside doesn’t mean that it’s not beautiful on the inside (and yes…I hope that lesson carried over into real life with them and not just books…)

Click the images below to order the books through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Here are a few examples of amazing books with not so amazing covers:

I hate when books ambiguously use real life people on the covers.  Always messes up my image of what I think they should look like as I read.  I feel like I then have to conform my mental images with the ones on the cover…fail.

This book is AWESOME.  This cover is…pretty…but says absolutely nothing about the beautiful book inside?  So misleading…

AMAZING book with a strange faceless woman on the cover.  How old is she supposed to be here???  Says nothing about the book inside.  You can read my review of this amazing book HERE.

Here is an example of a book where the gorgeous cover doesn’t quite match up with the words inside:

I was bored. You can read my review HERE.

Sometimes a book can easily be judged by it’s cover when the cover isn’t great and neither is the story inside:

The story itself was just ok…unforgettable.  The cover?  Not so unforgettable.  In the history of the entire world, I truly don’t believe an uglier cover exists. Holy hell.

This book had so much possibility!  The topic is FASCINATING….the cover (and the writing) is boring.

I absolutely hated everything about this book.  Including it’s ugly cover.

And HERE we have the perfect combination of beautiful covers which also just happen to contain beautiful stories inside:

Bottom Line:

Just like people…some books are prettier on the inside then they are on the outside but you have to read them to find out 🙂

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think?  Can you think of other books with beautiful (or not so beautiful) covers?  Do you allow a book cover to determine if you want to read the book inside?

Still Breathing Giveaway Winner:

Congratulations, Loredana (I’d love to visit Paris, I wish this since Inwas 18 years old, wanted to go there with my best friend after we finished high school, but didn’t make it so far :(. I’m Internationally, also I’m subscribed to your blog. Hugs and kisses from Romania!)

Please email me (bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com) and I will make sure your copy of this lovely book gets sent to you!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

 

***INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY*** Still Breathing {E.A. Fourier}

I am writing from the peace and quiet of my dining room.  I’m ALONE.  I haven’t been alone in a week and a half!  My daughter was on Spring Break and we had the best time.  We spent an entire day downtown, we watched movies, we ate ice cream, we got manicures, we did art projects, we shopped, we played outside, and so much more.  I’m EXHAUSTED but it was so worth it.  I now have a solid 2.5 hour chunk of time while both of my kids are in school and I can relish the sound of nothing except for Michael Buble’s voice from the Pandora station on my phone.  I even have a candle lit as I’m typing this!  Glorious.

In book news…I did somehow manage to read this entire book (full blog review and giveaway coming soon) over Spring Break.   I just started reading this book a few nights ago and I’m LOVING it!

I have a wonderful giveaway for you today!  Have you read this book?

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

stillbreathing

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Newly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.

Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.

Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.

Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.

My Thoughts:

I’ve always been drawn to books which take place in different cultures. I find learning about other cultures and places fascinating and as soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I immediately knew that it was one I needed to read.

I found myself learning and researching a great deal while reading this book which is always such a bonus for me. I love when a book is so well written that it makes me want to learn more about the subject and/or place, and this book is a perfect example.

There were many different characters and storylines and all were interesting. I found myself being able to connect to many of these intriguing characters and truly became immersed into their lives.

My favorite parts of the book took place in Owino Market…what a fascinating place that must be! The descriptions of the market were so rich and colorful that I felt like I was there!

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with E.A. Fournier through social media and email quite a bit and he truly is such a kind person. Always such a bonus to learn that the person behind the words is as lovely as the words  are themselves.

I loved this wonderful book and the ending made me cry. Such a special story which begs for a sequel!

A Conversation with E.A. Fournier, in his own words:

How did you create the idea for your book?
 
I carried the beginnings of Lizzie’s story in my head for years. At one point, I wrote it out as the opening for a screenplay. An older woman sits alone at the bedside of her comatose husband. He comes conscious long enough to apologize for not sharing the major decisions in their life. It’s his biggest regret. He asks her to choose to do something, after he’s gone, that she’s always wanted to do. He slips back into the coma and a few days later he’s dead. I could never quite resolve what the wife would choose to do, so I put it aside.
 
Years later, I challenged myself to write women’s fiction. It seemed to me that the leads in most of that genre were young, smart and lovely. I wanted to feature someone significantly older: a woman with wide hips and grey hair, someone sensitive but not sappy, big-hearted but seasoned. I considered revisiting Lizzie’s story. Since I’m the wrong gender, I wondered if I could pull it off and make her character ring true. I decided I was willing to try. The question that remained was what Lizzie wanted to do. 
 
It turned out that the answer was right in front of me. My small church funded an orphan home in Kampala for street boys. The young founders were my friends. My son traveled there to teach art and make a film. His efforts not only helped the orphans, but won him a lovely Ugandan bride. It seemed clear to me that Lizzie had finally found her unlikely destination.  
 
What audience would be most interested in your book?
 
The special audience I had in mind when I first created Still Breathing was women over forty. At this point in their lives many of them question their own significance. I felt that this group would uniquely appreciate a determined main character like my 69-year-old Lizzie.
 
However, I’ve discovered that the power of the book’s characters reaches far outside my demographics. At one end, my granddaughter, a sophomore in high school, loved Lizzie and her journey. She posted a very perceptive review on Goodreads and promotes the novel to her YA friends. At the other end, my 70-year-old male acquaintance, John, begrudgingly agreed to give my book a chance. He only reads non-fiction. John called me a week later to say he’d finished. He would have called sooner, he admitted, but was crying so much that he didn’t know if he could talk on the phone. I reminded him that it was only fiction. He replied that it sure didn’t feel like fiction to him. 
 
So, the novel seems to be seeking out its own wider audience, despite what I think.
 
Where can your book be purchased?
 
The book’s available in digital, paperback or hardback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
 
It’s also available in digital-only formats from Apple, Google Play, or Scribd
 
In addition, you can find it internationally at these sites: Thalia, bol.de, Angus & Robertson, or the Mandadori Store.
 
 
Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:
 
Fresh
Real
Hopeful
 
Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:
 
Most of the situations and events in the story come directly out of my research and from interviews with former Ugandan street boys, teachers and house fathers. For example, the plight of boys on the street, the scarcity of copper, the way boarding schools work, the corruption of customs officials, the perils of marriage for women, the new method to send money from the U.S.—these all came out of the research. 
 
I peppered the book with accurate local language and flavored it with open markets, tribal clothes and native foods. Many of these elements came directly from my Ugandan daughter-in-law, Diana. Luganda, the language used in the book, is the main dialect spoken in Kampala. Fortunately, most Ugandans also speak English.
 
I tend to write by the seat of my pants and let my characters tell me what comes next, but I’m enough of a plot and outline guy to limit their scope. People don’t understand that there are times when characters talk back, or refuse to say lines, or do the opposite of what you ask. Really. It’s why I laugh when people say a writer’s life is lonely. No, it’s not! It’s stuffed with noisy imaginary people who interrupt each other, argue and laugh and cry, and are certain of their own opinions—just like people in the everyday world.

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

I have 1 autographed copy of to give away (the autographed copy will be mailed to you if you live in the US or you will receive an electronic copy if you are located internationally)! 

To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me one place in the world where you would love to visit.

3. Tell me in your comment if you are located within the US or if you are located internationally.

**You must complete ALL 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will close Sunday (4/7/19) morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Monday’s blog post (4/8/19).

Make sure you check the blog on Monday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Let’s Chat: Do You Treat Library Books Better or Worse Than Your Own Books?

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Last week, a friend of mine emailed me with an idea for a blog post…bringing library books on vacation!  I immediately loved her idea and knew it would make for a great post.  She was packing for an upcoming trip and was unsure if she wanted to risk damaging library books by bringing them on her vacation.  She was nervous about the ocean water, sunscreen, tropical drinks, etc. getting on her borrowed library books.  She asked my opinion and I didn’t hesitate when I immediately wrote her back…

Bring them!

I LOVE LIBRARY BOOKS.  Like…a lot.  And while I’m definitely careful and respectful of borrowed library books, I do tend to not treat them as well than if they were my own.  I find myself resting my coffee mugs directly on the covers, tossing them into my car, etc.

If I spend money on a book, I treat it with much more care.  I would NEVER rest my coffee on it!  Coasters all the way.  I would NEVER throw it into my car!  It would be carefully placed on the passenger seat next to me.

Not to mention, library books DO have that nice protective coating over them sooooo….there’s that.

Having this attitude towards library books means I ALWAYS bring them on my vacations!  They get shoved into my seat pocket on the airplane, thrown into my beach bag, and packed away to return home buried under the souvenirs in my suitcase.  I never worry about damaging them!  In fact, just the opposite…I don’t worry about them at all, lol.

I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never damaged a library book.  I’m quite certain that my opinion and how I tend to treat them would very much change if I ever did…

Until then?  I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that the protective coating over the cover does it’s job. 🙂

Speaking of library books, here’s the one I am currently reading!  I started it last night and am absolutely LOVING it so far. Have you read this one?

I have an awesome book giveaway scheduled for Wednesday…make sure you check the blog! I can’t wait to share this wonderful book with you!

So tell me…Do you treat library books better or worse then your own books?

I’m traveling next month and would love to hear your book recommendations!  What should I pack to read during my trip???  I asked this question on Facebook yesterday and got some fantastic responses!  (If you missed my 2019 Spring Break Book Recommendations, you can read them here).

Do you have any suggestions for future blog posts?  I’d love to hear them and possibly use them!  Please let me know!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:30! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

 

Book Review: On the Come Up {Angie Thomas}

Nobody was more excited for this book to be released than I was.  I waited (not so patiently) for months!   It was finally released last month and I couldn’t get my hands on a copy soon enough.  FINALLY my wait was OVER!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

3.5 Stars

So…It’s not The Hate U Give. I completely understand that I shouldn’t be comparing them because they are stand alone novels…but…it’s not The Hate U Give .

I loved that this book took us back to Garden Heights and I loved the references back to storylines from The Hate U Give . But again…it’s not The Hate U Give. .

The issues that this book discussed are IMPORTANT and truly are ones that NEED to be discussed. Angie Thomas has such a gift of being able to tell a story from a teenager’s point of view while appealing to adults at the same time. This allows everyone to benefit from the lessons and messages that this book tells. Perfection.

And yet…

There were way too many storylines for many of them to be properly developed, just about everything in this book was predictable, and so many of the characters were either completely underdeveloped or just not likable.

The first 200 pages or so were actually pretty boring.  I debated on Instagram if I should have even continued reading or if I should have abandoned the book halfway through!  I WILL say that the last half of the book (it’s 447 pages total) was MUCH better than the first half.  I’m glad I stuck with it and forged though.  If wasn’t that the beginning was bad, it was just…boring.

Overall, I liked this book and I think the messages it delivers are extremely important. Was it Angie Thomas’s best? Absolutely not. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

I truly wonder if I had read this book before reading her first one if I would have enjoyed it more without the comparison?  I wouldn’t recommend doing that, though.  She references the first book a few times and the description of Garden Heights is SO much more detailed in her first book.  It sets the entire tone for this book in terms of the neighborhood’s setting.  I think that without reading the prior description of the Garden there would be a major disconnect while reading this book.

In case you haven’t figured out yet that I loved The Hate U Give so much (it’s is one of the best books I’ve ever read), you can read my review of it here.

Bottom Line:

This book is really good…just not as good as, well, you know 🙂

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:30! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo