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Henry Hamlet’s Heart | Rhiannon Wilde | Book Review

Henry Hamlet’s Heart is set in Brisbane, Australia and is a beautiful friends to lovers story. It is senior year for Henry and his friends and everything is changing around them. Time seems to just be speeding forward forcing them to make decisions about their future. This brings up alot of emotions especially with the idea of being separated from each other. This becomes very much true for Henry and his best friend Len.

Henry Hamlet is dorky, awkward, and has a tendency to be a total klutz. He avoids all social events and is the total opposite of his best friend Len. Len is part of the social crowd. He is an attractive jock and has charisma for any situation. On the surface, his friendship with Henry does not make any sense but, he helps break him out of his shell a bit. Both characters are attending a party with their classmates and game of truth or dare is started. Len is dared to kiss his dorky fiend and when he does suddenly there are sparks bubbling under the surface.

These sparks are unexpected for Henry.. His is not supposed to have these feelings for his best friend. He tries to ignore them but it becomes very difficult. Everything is now in a completely new lens. All of this felt so real and developed. It really did have this feeling of first love within the walls of the high school. The push pull between Henry and Len is so well done. They have such a deep emotional connection which leads to tension and longing between them. I was so invested in the two of them.

The fact that Henry and Len are opposites really worked for their dynamic. Len provided Henry the support to put himself out there; and Henry pushes Len to break down his walls. Each of these characters help create the tenison between them as both characters have difficulty changing. They had their teenage innocence but also their teenage stubbornness. I really enjoyed the high school setting with Len, Henry, and their friends. It was set during the time when I was experiencing high school so there were some things I could relate to. The group of friends reminded me a bit of mine at the time – each having their own personalities and interests – but all of them having each others backs. There were several laugh out loud moments for me.

Henry’s family is basically the perfect example of what a teenagers family should and could be like in alot of ways. His parents are supportive but also give Henry space to make his own decisions and mistakes. They have taken Len under their wing and treat him like a second son. And when the news about Henry and Len’s changing dynamic is revealed they are slightly surprised but completely supportive. There is no questioning their sons sexuality. In comparison, Len’s family is completely broken. His mother is deceased, his father is never there and when he he’s drunk, and mean, and his older sister is trying to create her own path in the world. His sister tries to be there for him but, it also trying to figure herself out. It makes perfect sense that Len feels more comfortable within the walls of Hamlet household. My heart broke for him whenever their were moments were shared with his father.

Henry Hamlet’s Heart is such a fulfilling young adult story. It has it’s moment of comedy, moments of truth, and moments that are so very heartwarming. I thought it was such a beautiful story of first love, friendship, and character growth. Senior year can be scary but with the kind of support system that is in place within these pages it can be easier to survive. I think this book can provide a safe space for its readers.

Rating: 5 Stars

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

Saturday Movie Review: Hocus Pocus 2

As a 90’s kid, Hocus Pocus was and still is a standard during the Halloween season. A couple years ago there started to be rumors of a sequel. I was admittedly intrigued and kept tabs on the progress. Finally this year Hocus Pocus 2 was released.

Hocus Pocus 2 has all three main witches back and trying to torture children. It was so good to see Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najmy in their roles at the Sanderson sisters. They still had a great sense of sisterly chemistry and were hilarious together. There were moments that were defiant call backs to the first movie. In particular, there was the more modernized way to get around!

The premise of the sequel introduces new characters while also reintroducing an old favorite in Billy. I was so glad that Billy was back and still had some great zingers that made me laugh. You also learn new information about the Sanderson sisters by having Billy in the movie. There is also an introduction that takes you to Salem and allows you to learn the origins of how Winifred, Sarah, and Mary became who they are. I thought they picked the perfect young actresses for the part.

There is also a new group of young girls that inadvertently bring the withes back. Through their storyline, there is a strong sense of their bond and how far they would go for each other. Their friendship is not without its issues but, I think that is actually a positive representation for the younger generation that will be watching. It may be something that they can relate to on a personal level.

Hocus Pocus 2 holds the nostalgia while still bringing something new. It may have a bit of cheesiness but, it also has quite a bit of heart. I felt I could see just how excited Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najmy and Doug Jones were to be back in these classic roles again. The original Hocus Pocus will always hold a special place in the hearts of 90s children but, I think its see was enjoyable too.

Rating: 4 Stars

Stinetinglers |R.L. Stine|Book Review

Growing up, R.L. Stine was the king of scary stories for children. From Goosebumps to Fear Street, my generation devoured his books. I was actually able to meet at BEA which was super exciting. When I saw that he was releasing a new book I was quick to request it on Netgalley. Luckily for me, I was approved for it.

Stinetinglers is a new collection of short stories that were inspired by every day incidents witnesses by the author. There are bugs, giant holes in the ground, ghosts, monsters, doppelganger, and the stoppage of time. Each of these stories are written in the classic style R.L. Stine. A sense of cheesiness but, a full on feeling of creepiness and fear.

Each of the stories has an introduction by the author. It was interesting to learn what type of things inspire him and his process of creativity. Sometimes the simplest of things could be the inspiration for something to fear. It was the perfect way to fond a bit of nostalgia for the reader.

Stingtinglers will be welcomed set of stories for my generation and future generations. Each story is easy to read and hold just the right amount of fear. Everything feels age appropriate and is even good for the young at heart. R.L. Stine still definitely knows how to bring out the scary tingles.

Rating: 4 Stars

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

Those Summer Nights | Laura Silverman | Book Review

Hannah has spent the past year trying to distract herself from life. She has used anything to keep her mind somewhere else. It gets so bad that she is even sent to a boarding school by her parents. Now she is back for the summer and is feeling the pressure to be nothing but good. She gets a summer job at the local entertainment multiplex and it isn’t too long before the days turn into Those Summer Nights.

Bonanza, the local entertainment multiplex, is the summer employment place for many teenagers around Hannah ‘s age. This includes Brie, who was her best friend until she started pushing her away. Hannah and Brie used t be attached at the hip doing almost everything together. They were both on the school soccer team which becomes a main point of contention when Hannah gets injured and has to leave the team. Prior to the injury soccer was her life and her future, and after she pushes everyone involved away.

I really enjoyed the way Brie and Hannah slowly reconnected. You can feel the tension between them but you can also feel the remaining love and support. Bonanza provides a bit of a middle ground for the characters especially once the annual tournament begins. Even though there are multiple activities to assist with somehow Hannah continuously finds herself in Brie’s orbit. Their reconnection felt natural and I appreciated that there seemed to be actual closure instead of brushing everything under the rug.

There are two other characters that Hannah constantly finds in her orbit: Patrick and Ethan. Patrick is hot and flirty and a perfect distraction from everything going trough her mind. For me, I found him a bit cringeworthy. His whole persona is just ick for me. Meanwhile, I adored Ethan. Ethan is Hannah’s younger brothers best friend – and although he has always been around – it seems like he has really grown up while Hannah was at boarding school. He is such a sweet character and the one on one moments between the two of them always made me smile. Ethan accepts Hannah as she is now but also gives her the ability to look back He also has his own issues going on which she is there to support him through. I just really enjoyed the development of their relationship. Although there were a couple of times when both were being slow to see what was right in front of them.

There was one more thing that had caused Hannah to spiral and shut down: the death of her grandmother. Her grandmother was her biggest supporter and to lose her on top of the ability to play soccer was a real punch in the gut. It puts her in a very dark place and she pushes away the rest of her family. Coming to terms with the death and her grief is a key role in Hannah’s story. It’s heartbreaking but also has a feeling of contentment. I though the family dynamic had just the right amount of tension.

Those Summer Night is such a good story of teenage self discovery nd healing. It hits all the components of a young adult book: friendship, romance, hijinks and shenanigans, and some sort of life lesson. It was a little slow to get into but once I did I had a hard time putting it down. The action really started getting a bit more intense when the annual Bonanza tournament starts and it was so much fun to read about. This was my fist experience reading Laura Silverman and I look forward to reading more from her soon.

Rating: 4 Stars

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

We Are The Scribes | Randi Pink | Book Review

Randi Pink has been on my author radar since earlier this year when I read Angel of Greenwood. I was completely captivated by the way that she wrote and knew I wanted to read more from her. So when We Are The Scribes became available on Netgalley, I was quick to request it. The premise of this newest novel is about a teenage girl who is visited by the ghost of Harriet Jacobs, an enslaved woman.

So first of all, I have a confession to make. Prior to this book, I had never heard of Harriet Jacobs. I have already borrowed the audiobook of her autobiography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and am looking forward to listening to it. There are brief snippets of her story throughout We Are The Scribes but, her main focus is helping Ruth find her own voice.

Ruth is experiencing so many different emotions through out this story. First, she is trying to find her way through her grief from the loss of her older sister. Her sister loses her life being a political activist and protesting in the local park. This is a huge loss for Ruth and her entire family. Each of them are dealing with it in their own way and it is creating a break within their family.

As a reader, I could feel the pain coming off the page when the family shares a moment together. This pose is just so good! I empathized with all of characters and took note of all of the social commentary within their words and their actions. The social commentary is intertwined with the letters from Harriet Jackson which brings everything full circle. The families role in politics also allows for some really good social commentary.

We Are The Scribes has so many different levels to it. I really enjoyed how the layers built on one another and helped Ruth find her voice. She found her voice for expressing her thoughts and emotions for the past, present, and future. It really is beautifully done. And the character development is honestly top notch. I look forward to seeing what Randi Pink comes up with next!

Rating: 4 Stars

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Words

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.
This weeks topic is supposed to be all about
my favorite words.
This was such a fun topic to explore!

*Cretaceous
*Copacetic
*Equitable
*Interchangeable
*Bilateral
*Reciprocal
*Oblique
*Divergent
*Intersectionality
*Catty-corner

What are some of your favorite words?

Lost Luggage | Samantha Tonge | Book Review

Lost Luggage is a story of loss, forgiveness, and personal growth. As a reader, I wanted to feel invested in this storyline and characters but, it took me a while to get there. At the beginning, I just felt like things were getting pretty repetitive. I understood that the main character Dolly had experienced a deep loss and had shut herself off from the rest of the world but, sometimes she felt “very woe is me…” to me. It just took me a while to empathize with her as a character.

There were several characters who entered Dolly’s story and played a role in her experiences and growth. These characters are each from different background and influence the story in unique ways. There are older retired characters, young children, young adults trying to find their way, members of the LGBTQ community, and happily married heterosexual couples. As these characters interact, they not only impact Dolly but, they also impact each other. I really enjoyed how diverse this group of characters were. It felt very realistic to me.

There were several twists and turns through this story. Some of these twists I saw coming from a mile away while others honestly surprised me a bit. I think what might have surprised me the most was the impact which each event had on all of the characters. As they began to get closer, everything effected them even if it wasn’t necessarily directed towards them. There is such a strong sense of community through that really started pulling at my emotions.

Lost Luggage is set in the English country side and this plays an important role on how the story evolves. The story takes its time but does wind up having a strong emotional pull. It does depict struggles with grief and struggles with an eating disorder so it may not be for all readers. It is a very character focused story so if that is what you enjoy, you may also enjoy this story!

Rating: 3 Stars

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Going On Vacation

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.
This weeks topic is supposed to be all about books I read on vacation.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of them so I’ve changed the topic just a little bit: Books About Going On Vacation!

  1. The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris ~ Daisy Wood
  2. Find Your Way Home ~ Jackie Ashenden
  3. How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days ~ KM Jackson
  4. Just Haven’t Met You Yet ~ Sophie Cousens
  5. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel ~ Elyssa Friedland
  6. In A Holidaze ~ Christina Lauren
  7. Float Plan ~ Trish Doller
  8. Wanderlove ~ Kiersten Hubbard
  9. The Tourst Attraction ~ Sarah Morgenthaler
  10. Aloha, Babysitters! ~ Ann. M. Martin

What are some of your favorite books about going on vacation?

The Prisoner and the Writer | Heather Camlot and Sophie Casson | Book Review

The Prisoner and the Writer is a new middle grade graphic novel written by Heather Camlot and illustrated by Sophie Casson. It is a story of bias and prejudice within the French political history. The main character is a man (Captain Alfred Dreyfus) who is falsely accused to treason to his country and who is sent away for life even though all the evidence pointed to him being one-hundred percent innocent.

A French writer (Emile Zola) begins to take interest in this case. The more he looks into it, the more evidence he finds that the captain was convicted unfairly and most likely because he was Jewish. It takes him some time to determine if he should fight for his freedom or stay silent and protect his reputation. Ultimately, he chooses to follow his beliefs and fight for a fellow citizen who was wronged by their country.

I found this to be a very interesting story. It was not a topic that was one hundred percent familiar with. Yes, I knew that incidents like this has happened but, this is one of the first I had come across in the form of a middle grade story. I think the way author Heather Camlot writes is easily accessible to the reader. It is mostly in verse format and has an easy flow to it. The illustrations are wonderful and I loved how there was a breakdown of the historical implications of his event at the end of the story.

The advanced copy of The Prisoner and the Writer only contained a small bit of the story. Thankfully when I emailed the publisher (Groundwind Books), they kindly provided me with a more finalized copy. It was nice to be able to read the entire thing and feel like I had gotten the full story. I think that this story is a good example of the prejudices which individuals experienced in the past and honestly may still experience today. It will open the door to more lessons and conversations for young readers everywhere.

Rating: 4 Stars

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Bookstores or Bookstores I’d Love To Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This weeks topic is all about your favorite bookstores or the bookstores you’d love to visit. I decided to do a little bit of both!

  1. Oblong Books (Rhinebeck, NY): I haven’t visited this bookstore in some time but, it remains one of my favorites. Wonderful author event and knowledgeable staff.
  2. Drama Bookshop (New York, NY): I recently visited the new location of this bookstore and it is so welcoming. I really liked the way it was set up. The focus is mainly drama and theatre but, I think all bookish people would appreciate this one.
  3. Books End (Syracuse, NY): This bookstore stole my heart the second I realized that they had a Titanic section. There is alot of variety through out the store – something for everyone.
  4. The Strand (New York, NY): This is normally a must visit when I’m in NYC. I could spend hours simply browsing or hanging out in the rare collections area. So many books – so little time!
  5. Books ETC (Macedon, NY): This used bookstore is a hidden gem. The owner is such a sweet man and there are books everywhere including the bathroom. There are also two adorable cats to help keep you company as well.
  6. Kinokuniya New York (New York, NY): The second floor of this bookstore is focused completely around anime and manga. On the first floor, you will find various types of books from fiction to nonfiction to cooking to romance. The basement is perfect for pen/stationary lovers. This little store has something for everyone.
  7. Bookoff New York (New York, NY): This bookstore is a recent find of mine. The prices seem t be reasonable and they also have a great clearance section. When I went I bought five books for $5.00!
  8. The Only Tome Bookstore (Afton, NY): I keep hearing really good things about this small independent bookstore. Apparently, the book range is from 1804 to current and they have both new and used books. I would love to check it out one day.
  9. Friends of the Library Book Sale (Ithaca, NY): This is another one I’ve heard about and really want to check out. From the sounds of it, there are tables and tables of books throughout this warehouse. Yes please!
  10. Books and Melodies (Syracuse, NY): This used bookstore is one that I want to check out because it combined two of my favorite things: books and music. I tried to visit during a recent girls weekend but, it was closed. Hopefully next time!

What are some of your favorite bookstores or bookstore that you would love to visit?

Chasing the Four Winds

Reading, Writing, Nerding, and Honoring the Oxford Comma Since 1987.

A. A. MacConnell

When you write drabbles, you relieve the pressure of the epic novel expanding in your head.

The Calico Books

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