For What It's Worth

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: the great american whatever by Tim Federle

25663382Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. ~

Source: Finished copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books at ALA16


The Great American Whatever is a quirky coming of age story that’s often laugh out loud funny, despite all the overwhelming grief the protagonist, Quinn, is feeling.

After the death of his sister, Annabeth, Quinn has closed himself off from school, friends and most importantly his film making. Once an obsession, Quinn can’t seem to finish his screen play without the A to his Q in Q&A Productions.

His best friend Geoff finally drags him out of the house to a college party where he meets the very sexy Amir, forcing Quinn back into the world and to face things he’s been avoiding for years. His sexuality, his self absorption, his future, Annabeth’s death and most importantly what is real vs the script for life he always has running in his head.

Quinn has a way of viewing everyone as as actors and life as a series of acts as a way of seeing the world and people as he wants them to be rather than how they are. He experiences a seismic shift once reality and truth can’t be avoided anymore.

Quinn’s grief is palpable but somehow not overwhelming because of his self deprecating humor. It seems odd to find humor in that much grief but it was this that made me connect to Quinn the most. I just got him – and his coping mechanisms – because that’s what I did when my mother died when I was in HS. You just want to form a protective shield around yourself and not be *that kid that lost someone* and avoid the awkward questions and well meaning conversations that follow. And it’s also difficult to move on and be happy when the person you loved can’t.

The book isn’t perfect. The writing could be a little precious in that way that YA book teens seemingly always have a witty comeback or know loads and loads of trivia but I think it works for Quinn. As a movie buff, I believed that he would be that quirky, awkward, smart and funny.

The book is also rooted in reality. That not everything works out perfect. Sometimes a first love is just that – the first – one of many to come and that’s ok. That maybe your sister was never as high on the pedestal that you tried to put her on. That your mom is flawed but she’s your mom and she’s trying.

There’s a bit of drama with Qunn’s best friend, Geoff, that acts as a catalyst for some things but, to me, opened a whole can of worms that the book didn’t quite have the time to explore fully but it’s a minor complaint.

The Great American Whatever is an easy, breezy type of read that nonetheless contains profound moments. It reminded me of a somewhat more grown-up version of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda with a bit of that John Green type dialogue.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#ala16 book spotlight–the keepsake/special books: Pax and Finding Winnie

It will take me awhile to make my way through reading and reviewing all my ALA16/Orlando books but I want to make sure they still get attention in the meantime.

I spotlighted the creepy books last week and this week I have a few that are special to me.

The first book is Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustations by Jon Kassen. I had heard wonderful things about this book but it was this post by author Tammara Webber that sold me on Pax. When I saw it ALA I was so excited and got in line for the autographing session. Sara was wonderful and signed the book then I was moved down the line and illustrator Jon Klassen started drawing this little fox and I just about melted into a puddle of goo. HOW FREAKING CUTE IS THAT??? It’s probably my favorite book I got at the event. The cover – the autograph – the drawing. Gah! I want to hug it forever!

The next book is Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattic, illustrations by Sophie Blackall. I’m a HUGE Winnie-the-Pooh fan. I have collectibles, clothes, sheets – you name it. So when I saw Finding Winnie – the story of the bear that inspired Winnie I had to buy it! They had an autographing session with the illustrator and I was all over that. Sophie was very nice and chatted to me about how the original Winnie-the-Pooh & friends stuffed animals are going to be restored after years of neglect.




22098550Pax by Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klasses (illustrations)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: February 2, 2016

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax. ~ Goodreads

24819508Finding Winnie: The True tory of the WOrld’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsey Mattick, Sophie Blackall (illustrations)
Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers’
Published: October 20,2015

Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie.
In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.

Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England...

And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin.

Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. ~

Monday, July 18, 2016

Review: nowhere but here (thunder road #1) by katie mcgarry

23492282An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home. ~


I adored Pushing the Limits – McGarry’s debut novel but haven’t connected to another one by her since. I keep trying and kind of decided that Nowhere But Here would be the *decider novel*. If I didn’t like it I would just throw in the towel with this author.

The males in her books are pretty much over protective, arrogant shits that treat girls like glass in need of body guards and that's what has turned me off so much. Even though this is a motorcycle club series, and actually about a guy whose job is to protect the heroine, the men are surprisingly less misogynistic than any of her previous books. The hero, Oz, is a truly good guy who respects Emily, and women in general. I was kind of blown away by and impressed by that.

Emily has a lot of fears and is the your typical innocent McGarry heroine – paired with the more experienced hero but overall, Emily is a well developed character that doesn’t come off as a special snowflake that everyone wants to hit on or deflower. I really liked her. Despite screaming BAD BOY FALLS FOR INNOCENT GIRL tragedy setup, I’m happy to report the romance was good! It’s not at all like the summary suggests. Oz and Emily are probably the two most level headed people in the whole book.

And that’s where things went south for me. *face palm* – the adults in this book have lost their ever loving minds! So many lies and ridiculous cover ups and nonsensical *clues* to chase!

Emily’s whole life  with her mom and adoptive father is a lie. Then another lie brings her face to face with her biological father and his family. Then more lies, meant to protect her, almost get her killed.

Then certain people want her to know the truth. Instead of just telling her – they want her to figure it out on her own - sending her on a wild goose chase that only puts her in more danger. It was just crazy! Stay with your father – it’s safer. Go home to your mother – it’s safer. Make up your f*cking minds already!

I really only hung in there to find out the secret. It is a big reveal but nothing that couldn’t have been revealed over an extended breakfast and an extra cup of heavily caffeinated coffee.

Then there’s the motorcycle club element. McGarry has the characters bend over backwards to explain why this isn’t one of those bad biker clubs and sure they have a legitimate business but that’s a bunch of hooey. It’s a controlling group where you have swear allegiance, need protection, no girls allowed crap, lie to the cops, and get kicked out if you violate any rules. Everyone is always in danger because of their lifestyle. Whatever. It’s just not my thing.

So…I was completely surprised by and enjoyed the hero and romance but the adults and their secrecy made me want to throw things and the MC thing isn’t for me. I think I need to accept that PTL was a one time thing and move on.

Blogger Shame

Nowhere But Here is part of my Blogger Shame review Challenge
hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup to clear out those older books that keep getting pushed aside because...Ooh! New! Shiny!