Author: Tim Federle

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The Great American Whatever Review

February 22, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Great American Whatever ReviewThe Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 29th 2016
Pages: 278
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Flying Lessons & Other Stories
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three-stars
Quinn 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. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything.
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—okay, a hot guy—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually end happily—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.
Tim Federle’s beautiful YA debut is laugh-out-loud sad; a wry, winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories, one unscripted moment at a time.

This is the first full length Tim Federle book that I’ve ever read! I’ve previously read two short stories of his that were published in anthologies, but that’s it. I’m happy that I finally read it, because I’m a big fan of everything that he represents and have followed him on Twitter for some time now. Anyway, this was a nice introduction to him. I’m definitely going to check out his Nate books and whatever he writes next in the future. However, this book simply wasn’t my favorite, which makes me sad. I can’t completely put my finger on what it is, but it was missing something for me. This just didn’t click for me as a whole. I think it was a good book, it just wasn’t great for me. I recommend this if you don’t mind angst and enjoy books that have a snarky/clever protagonist.

Quinn is a pretty interesting main character. I’m always a fan of sarcastic and witty protagonists and Quinn did deliver on this front to an extent. This probably isn’t a fair comparison, but the book in general did remind me a bit of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is one of my all time favorites. I think that Quinn’s personality didn’t stand out in the way that Simon’s did. Quinn was very sarcastic and hilarious in the beginning, but I think he did lose a little of that as the book continued. I know that some of that is due to the rather serious subject matter, but I think that isn’t enough of an excuse to not still have a strong and memorable personality. He was still interesting, but not my favorite.

So there is a romance in the book, but I honestly don’t feel like it’s super essential to the plot. I liked it and I thought that it was a great example of a summer romance. The boys weren’t a couple that I rooted for necessarily, but I think it was still important for Quinn’s general character development. I wanted to focus more on the things that I liked and disliked. So a positive is that I thought the humor was clever and fun. I also felt like a lot of the secondary characters were well developed and complicated. I thought the stories were interesting and layered. There was one storyline in particular that had a twist to it that I honestly didn’t see coming at all. That was a pleasant surprise for me. I thought the romance was relatable and intriguing. The LGBTQ rep was also awesome. Quinn wasn’t out of the closet yet, but his sexuality still wasn’t a huge part of the plot either, it was just a natural part of it. What I didn’t like is that I was truthfully pretty bored. I wasn’t always entertained for whatever reason. Maybe it was the story that just didn’t totally click, but it didn’t work for me. The pace just seemed rather slow as a whole. Like I mentioned earlier, it seemed to be missing something essential. I thought that the concept was interesting, but the execution wasn’t as great as I was anticipating it to be.

My review might sound rather negative, but I don’t mean it to be! I think that it was a solid novel, just not the best. I’m pretty likely to forget about it sooner rather than later. It wasn’t painful to read or anything, I still believe that Federle is a great author and I want to read more from him. He has such a unique and compelling voice as an author and I’m dying to read more of it. I can’t help but compare it to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it just didn’t come close to that. I liked the book, but it wasn’t my favorite. I hope that people read it because it’s still an interesting and important book!

three-stars

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Flying Lessons and Other Stories Review

February 9, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Flying Lessons and Other Stories ReviewFlying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, Jacqueline Woodson
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 225
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, The Great American Whatever
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four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.
From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

I haven’t read Middle Grade in a LONG time. I honestly missed reading it. When I read that We Need Diverse Books was going to be creating a MG anthology, I knew that I had to read it. I actually ended up reading it the day of the inauguration instead of watching that, I felt like picking up this diverse book was a great response to that. Anyway, I thought that this was a wonderful collection. I’ve only read one (maybe two) of these authors previously, but I definitely plan on reading more of them in the future after this awesome introduction. The way this review is going to work is that I’m going to briefly touch on and rate all ten of the stories the best that I can.

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña – 4 Stars

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this author, so I was excited to finally read something by him for myself. I felt like the use of the pronoun “you” throughout the story was a little weird and difficult to follow at times. However, the story itself was still really interesting and enjoyable. I thought that it was so cool how motivated the main character was to play basketball. He dedicated his entire early morning summers to improving his basketball skills. I found his character to be inspirational in general.

The Difficult Path by Grace Lin – 3 Stars

If I’m being honest, this was probably one of my least favorite stories in the collection. It’s really not anything personal, it’s just rare for me to love a fantasy/historical fiction story in an anthology. It’s typically the contemporary stories that stand out more to me, and it was no exception in this case. I thought that the writing itself was pretty good, I just didn’t feel extremely invested in this particular main character like I was hoping that I would be. I’m sure that some people will absolutely love this one because it involves pirates and some history mixed in there for good measure. The message is a solid one, but it just didn’t totally click for me.

Sol Painting Inc. by Meg Medina – 4 Stars

This was a wonderful and heartbreaking story that touches on a young girl who’s father works for a painting business, which she and her brother help out with in the summer, and she gets a big surprise when they get a job at her new school. This story is so important because it touches on the subject of racism in a heartbreaking and honest take on it. Though it touches on a heavy subject, it also had some lovely humor sprinkled in there. It was well written, and I’m going to be reading more from this author in the future.

Secret Samantha by Tim Federele – 3.5 Stars

I’ve actually read a YA short story by Tim in Summer Days and Summer Nights. It was one of my favorites in that collection so I was looking forward to reading this one as well. It was obviously a bit different just based on the genres alone, but it was still pretty good anyway. I personally preferred the YA story because I feel like it was longer and had more character development, but this was still cute and fun in it’s own way.

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist – 4.5 Stars

This was easily one of my favorites in the collections! I looked this author up and it seems like this is the first thing she’s ever written. I find that completely astonishing. This author writes like an old pro writer, and I love it. I can’t wait to read more from them in the future! I think this is such a good book because it’s emotional and touching. I’m always a sucker for a wonderful and heartbreaking story. It focuses on poverty, death, and grief, which are always relevant subjects that never get old.

Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle – 2 Stars

I hate to say it, but this story just didn’t work for me. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it was, it just didn’t click for whatever reason. In my opinion, it was the weakest story in the collection. This is about an uncle telling a legend that’s been within the family for a long time now, and he’s telling the story to his young nieces and nephews. Maybe this particular story was just meant for younger readers and that’s why I wasn’t totally a fan of it.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson – 3.5 Stars

To be honest with you guys, this wasn’t all that memorable to me. I know that Woodson is a treasured author, and I am a fan of her writing and plan to read more from her. But the story itself didn’t completely make an impression on me. It wasn’t bad or anything, it just wasn’t one of the standouts from the collection for me. I do understand why other people have loved it though. I guess it just wasn’t my thing.

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani – 5 Stars

If I had to pick only one, I’d have to say that this was likely my favorite story in the collection. It was filled with such memorable and lively characters, even besides the main character. This is a difficult thing to do in a short story, but somehow the author did it with ease. Nani is one of the funniest supporting characters that I’ve ever read. It’s about a grandma who decides that her grandson needs to have more adventure in his life the way that she does, so she takes him on an exciting trip. I think it’s also important and intriguing because it touches on the issue of sexuality and I believe that’s important to note even in MG books. I know that Tim Federele also does this wonderfully in the genre, but I think there can never be enough voices that are writing these stories. I will say that I was super confused by the ending, but I didn’t let that change my rating since the rest of it was so strong.

Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents by Kwame Alexander – 3 Stars

This was another story that wasn’t a standout to me. It started out pretty strong, and I love how unique the writing style itself is. It’s not written in traditional verse, which is obviously a very different choice to make. However, it got pretty weird around the middle part of it. I wasn’t sure what direction the story was taking at all. In the end, it turned out to be rather entertaining and funny. But it was A LOT longer than basically all of the other stories. I feel like this didn’t need the extra pages the way that some of the other stories really needed them.

Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers – 5 Stars

He’s the only author on here who I’ve read a complete work from. I read Monster and thought that it was just so powerful and striking. This short story followed the similar theme of heartbreaking and touching, like a lot of the stories in this collection have done. It’s such a sad story, but it’s also filled with hope. It was a story that I desperately needed to read right then. I’m not going to talk much more about it because I feel like I could ramble for days about its greatness. I’ll just say that if you choose to read one short story from this collection, it should be this one, if you’re in the mood for something sad but also filled with hope.

All in all, Flying Lessons and Other Stories was such a well written anthology. I’m so glad that it was put together! I think that Ellen Oh has formed such a diverse and lovely group of authors here who contributed such powerful and beautifully written stories. I truly believe that younger readers need diverse stories like these, and I’m so glad that this anthology is out there in the world. I can’t wait to read more middle grade this year, especially from this fabulous group of authors.

four-stars

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Summer Days & Summer Nights Review

May 25, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

Summer Days & Summer Nights ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Jennifer E. Smith
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1), Flying Lessons & Other Stories, The Great American Whatever, You Know Me Well
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three-stars
Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.
Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

I didn’t read the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me, which was also put together by Stephanie Perkins. However, I wanted to read this one because I was in the mood for some sweet summer stories to get me in the mood for this incredible season. Though I was expecting some light fluffy romances, what I really got was actually something much more deeper. Some of these stories are surprisingly sad and deal with some tough topics, but all of them are extremely realistic. If you read only one story, I highly recommend it being A Thousand Way This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith. Anyway, this was a fabulously diverse collection that featured a lot of different genres like: contemporary, science fiction, and fantasy. Unsurprisingly, I personally preferred the contemporary stories, but I’m sure that it will please fans of those genres that they were included here.

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo – 3 Stars

I feel like I’m one of the only people on the PLANET who haven’t read anything by Leigh Bardugo yet. I’ve meant to, but I’m just not a huge fan of that genre and haven’t gotten around to reading anything by her yet. This story had solid writing, I personally didn’t connect too much to the characters like some reviewers seem to have connected to it. I thought that the romance was really adorable, but the twist kind of threw me for a loop and I liked it a little less because of that.

The End of Love by Nina LaCour – 4 Stars

This was an adorable story about a budding romance between two girls. Flora is going through a rough time with her parents divorce and so she decides to escape to a summer geometry class that she had already taken. There she runs into Mimi, a girl from another school who she always had a secret crush on but never pursued anything with. As you might anticipate, Flora finds a romance that she’d be dreaming about for a long time. I liked this one because of the diversity but also because of how well developed it was for a short story.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – 2.5 Stars

So this one started out rather promising, but then it just got weird and I was ridiculously confused about the direction that it went in. I thought that the main character was funny and a bit charming, but then the plot changed. Besides, I wasn’t feeling the romance in the slightest. It all fell helplessly short, in my opinion.

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block – 2 Stars

This one was totally off to me. I’ve never read anything by this author before, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t used to some of the quirkiness of it all. The first really strange thing about it was that all the characters were only known by letters like M, J, L, and I. Did anyone else who read this find that straight up odd or was it only me? Aside from that, I absolutely couldn’t stand the ending. With that being said, the ending was the reason why I disliked the romance. The ending of it all was far from satisfying and just made me angry.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – 3.5 Stars

As I already said earlier, I didn’t read the Holiday collection, and Perkins features the same characters in both. I was told that it was okay to go ahead and read this story anyway. They pretty much recap all the events that already happened in the other story. I don’t think it’s possible for Stephanie to write a BAD story, I just didn’t feel all that connected to her characters as a whole. The story was rather predictable, but I did appreciate that the drama was kept at a minimal level. I enjoyed the story, it just wasn’t my favorite. I think fans of Perkins will be pleased though.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle – 4 Stars

Wow, I was surprised by how much I liked this one! It surprised me because this is a breakup story and I hate those, but somehow, Federale made this work. I felt very connected to the main character, Matt. He reminded me a little of Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, due to how witty and hilarious he is. I loved that he worked at an amusement park, and I loved even more that it took place in Pittsburgh. So Matt works in the souvenir shop at the amusement park, and his summer boyfriend Kieth works as an actor in the show that they put on. They have a breakup date because Kieth is moving away for school and doesn’t want to lead him on. This worked for me because it resembled a real high school relationship, it wasn’t a fairy tale, and I liked that more than I thought that I would.

Inertia by Veronica Roth – 4.5 Stars

Well, this story was definitely something else! In a way, it definitely reminded me of Four and Tris from the Divergent series. But I feel like Roth was still able to create two unique characters and build something real and memorable within these thirty some pages that she had to work with. I feel like some readers might feel differently about the story, but I personally enjoyed every second of it.

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skorvon – 2.5 Stars

Some parts of this book seemed to have quite a bit of potential, but others seemed to be lacking. The narration style was one of the most unique ones that I’ve ever read before, and I did enjoy that, but some of the stories ended up running together. Meaning, the author tries to follow three different couples in this small amount of space. For me, it didn’t end up working so well. I did think some of the lines were rather clever though. All in all, I think that you might be able to skip this one.

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – 4 Stars

I thought this was a lovely story! It seems to be the theme here, but I haven’t read anything by Colbert yet. I was totally impressed by this one. The main character Rashida, is dealing with her cousin (who is like a mother to her) moving across the country to be with her girlfriend. She ends up meeting her girlfriend’s brother Pierre at the going away party and finds sparks fly between them. I loved how openly the two were able to discuss mental illness and their past experiences with it and also with grief. Both of them had experiences major losses in different ways. It was such a heavy but real thing, and I’m glad that Colbert portrayed this in such a classy way.

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – 2 Stars

Clare is an author who I’ve never read before, but her books are very popular. So I say that if you are a fan, you will likely enjoy this story because I’ve read from the reviews that it seems to have similar themes to her other works. If this isn’t your genre or an author you think you’d like, I say that you skip it. It’s basically about a terrifying carnival filled with demons. It wasn’t all that boring or anything, it just didn’t turn out to be my thing personally. The romance wasn’t for me either. It was basically about a slightly awkward yet pretty and cool girl who falls for the broody bad boy, who is her uncle’s stepson.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – 5 Stars

This is definitely my favorite of the stories. It could be that I’m a huge fan of the author’s, but this story just clicked with me on every level. If you’re not a major contemporary romance fan, this might not totally be your thing, but I loved it from the first page. It has the most adorable romance ever. Seriously, the last scene will likely make you melt. I want to read it over again for the first time, it was that cute. The main character, Annie, is a camp counselor to little kids, and one of them has autism and she isn’t sure exactly how to make him feel comfortable at the camp. She has an interest in a boy named Griffin, who turns out to know exactly how to handle the child. It’s difficult to describe, but just trust me, this story will make you feel so many things.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – 2 Stars

Sorry, but this book was pretty boring to me. It just seemed to drag on and on. The premise was like Groundhog Day, the main character lives the same day over and over again. About a month in, he ends up seeing a girl who is out of place and finds out that she’s in the same boat as him. Naturally, he ends up falling in love with her and carrying less about having to live the same day on repeat. This whole time thing just wasn’t for me at all.

 

three-stars

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