Friday, June 20, 2014

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?  (

Oh my.  My new favorite author, people: Jennifer E. Smith.
Looking for a light, happy romance without profanity or sex?  Look no farther.
Jennifer E. Smith delivers everything a romance novel ought to be in her tale of Graham and Ellie.  I loved this book.  I also loved her novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight which I will review later.
There is very little wrong with this book.  Just to cover my backside, I'm going to say there might be a few swear words.  However, I don't remember any.  This is a romance so people kiss.
I'm not going to give you the positive stuff because it would take forever.  Just trust me and go read it!!
Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.
Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, and authentically told from his point of view as a young boy, this is an achingly raw and powerful historical novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. It includes an author's note and acknowledgments from Arn Chorn-Pond himself.
When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever.
Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children dying before his eyes. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers.
This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.  He lives by the simple credo: Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.
Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace, from National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick.  (from inside cover)

I actually hesitate to review this one because I feel like doing so will be an injustice.  It's beautifully crafted and extremely raw - I feel like saying, "Go read it!" and being done.
However, I do want to point out a few things so bear with me as I try not to ruin this masterpiece.
Firstly, I feel it is important to mention that this is a terribly graphic book.  I don't think sugar-coating the reality of what this little boy went through would have been beneficial but I would recommend ages 16+.
There is mention of rape and abuse, frequent uses of "sh*t" and one use of "f----".
If you have the stomach for such a raw, emotional story, Never Fall Down is a tough read, but definitely worth the effort.
Happy reading!