Review: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

Title: The Voting Booth
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 292 Pages
Published July 2020

Summary: Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She's always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election? Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band's first paying gig tonight. Only problem? Duke can't vote. When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn't spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that's how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva's missing cat), it's clear that there's more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.

Disney-Hyperion was amazing enough to send us a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I'm glad that they did, because I ended up really liking this book. Even though I got the package in the beginning of the summer, I decided to hang onto the book and start it as the election was getting closer, and I'm glad that I did. It made it feel like a much more timely read for me! So without further ado, let's get into my review:

As the summary explains, it's Election Day, and Marva has been waiting her whole life to vote for the first time. Which she gets to do. But on her way out of the polling place, she runs into Duke, who is having issues with his ballot. Very involved in civil engagement and refusing to let Duke's vote go uncounted, Marva takes him on a day-long adventure to get it sorted out, all while also trying to find her missing cat, avoiding red light tickets, skipping school, and a whole lot more.

This was a really good book! I actually really enjoy reading stories that are told in a single day -- this entire novel takes place on Election Day from start to finish! I found myself laughing and gasping along with Marva and Duke as they adventured around the neighborhood trying to get everything handled. Their rapport with each other was really interesting to see, too. I also really liked being able to read the story from both of their perspectives (told in alternating chapters), because they were so different from one another in so many ways, but so similar in others. In terms of characters, my favorite was definitely Duke. He was sweet, sensitive, and maybe a little awkward at times, but all of that made him really endearing to me.

I also really like the fact that a YA book is focusing so much on the political process of voting. I've already voted in 2 Presidential Elections by the time I picked this book up, but the whole time I was reading, I couldn't stop thinking about how awesome it is that there are teens out there who are picking this book up and learning about good civil engagement and how to be an politically active citizen, even at a young age. Marva's dedication to the cause did not go unnoticed, and it left me feeling really inspired. Although I've already sent in my absentee ballot, I definitely checked up with a few friends and family members after finishing this book to make sure that they had their voting plans! 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading THE VOTING BOOTH, especially during this political climate. While the results of our actual election are not very far away now, it's inspiring to see two young characters who are so involved in their communities and what happens to the people around them. This book is filled with feel-good motivations, laughs, gasps, and shocking surprises. I'd definitely recommend checking this one out if you haven't already! 

Psst...don't forget to check out our Instagram page on Election Day...we'll be showing off some pretty cool swag for THE VOTING BOOTH! ;-)

Waiting On Wednesday: I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read! 

I Think I Love You

Author: Auriane Desombre
Publisher: Underlined
Paperback, 320 Pages
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021

Summary: Arch-nemeses Emma, a die-hard romantic, and more-practical minded Sophia find themselves competing against one another for a coveted first-prize trip to a film festival in Los Angeles . . . what happens if their rivalry turns into a romance? For fans of Becky Albertalli's Leah on the Offbeat, full of laugh-out-loud humor and make-your-heart-melt moments.

The second that I figured out that this book involved a rivalry between two characters completing for the prize of a lifetime, and possibly falling in love...I was immediately hooked and added this book to my TBR. March 2021 can't come soon enough!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books As Sweet As Candy


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between! 

This Week's Theme: 
Books As Sweet As Candy

Today's theme is a Halloween freebie, so instead of rounding up our favorite spooky reads (which we will be doing on Saturday!), I decided to gather together ten of my favorite reads that feel as sweet as candy to me, making me swoon in all of their adorableness. So without further ado, here's my list:

1. You At Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

2. Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

3. Beach Read by Emily Henry

4. What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

5. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

6. Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

7. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 
8. Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

9. Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennet

10. Literally *anything* by Christina Lauren!

Those were ten books that feel sweet as candy to me! What are yours? Comment down below and let me know -- and send me your Top Ten Tuesday links so I can look at yours, too! 

Go enjoy your Halloween week -- and be on the lookout for our favorite spooky reads on Saturday! 

Review: Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds & Illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff

Title: Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel
Author: Jason Reynolds
Illustrator: Danica Novgorodoff
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 208 Pages
Published October 2020

Summary: Jason Reynolds’s Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor–winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novel Long Way Down is now a gripping, galvanizing graphic novel, with haunting artwork by Danica Novgorodoff. Will’s older brother, Shawn, has been shot. Dead. Will feels a sadness so great, he can’t explain it. But in his neighborhood, there are THE RULES: No. 1: Crying. Don’t. No matter what. No. 2: Snitching. Don’t. No matter what. No. 3: Revenge. Do.No matter what. But bullets miss. You can get the wrong guy. And there’s always someone else who knows to follow the rules…

I had wanted to read LONG WAY DOWN for the longest (ha) time, because I never got around to it with all of the review copies and new releases that I had to read for the blog. However, as soon as I saw that our local indie bookstore got copies of the new graphic novel version in stock, I made a trip over there to check it out. And let me tell you, I'm so glad that I did, because this book is so incredible and I will be recommending it to everyone for the foreseeable future. 

This book is about a young boy named Will, whose older brother has been shot dead. The entire story is told in the roughly sixty seconds it takes for Will to get from the 7th floor down to the lobby of his apartment building, where he then plans to go avenge his brother's murder by killing the man that shot him. But on the "long way down" to the lobby, Will encounters several different people who join him in the elevator -- none of whom he is expecting. And what they tell him and what he finds out may change Will's decision forever.

This book is a spectacular piece of art. That was my first thought when I sat down to write this review. To be honest, this entire review is probably going to be me saying much of the same over and over again, because that's really how I feel. I've loved a lot of books in my lifetime -- but very few stuck in my mind with the world spectacular. This is definitely one of them. In terms of the story itself, I was hooked. I read almost the entire book in one sitting, and I definitely would have continued to read well into the early morning if I hadn't had to go to bed for work. The people who get on that elevator with Will...I won't spoil anything for you, but all I will say is that their conversations with him really open up more of the story that nobody was expecting to see. By the time I finished this book, I had tears in my eyes. Very few books have ever truly moved me like that, but this was definitely one of them. Jason Reynolds is a master of telling stories in verse, and even with so few actual words on the page, so much is addressed and covered and explored. It was truly, truly beautiful. I don't even have any other words for it.

Being that this is the graphic novel version, of course I have to discuss the artwork as well. This entire graphic novel is done with watercolor artwork, which Danica Novgorodoff truly masters. There are some gorgeous scenes here. Seeing them interact with the words of Jason Reynolds really creates such a beautiful experience. There were some moments where I just stopped reading so I could run my fingers over the images, drinking them in, absorbing all of their pain and their beauty. It's truly spectacular. I shared some of them in one of our Instagram posts if you want to check them out yourself! It really made me wish I had some artistic talent like this, because the graphics truly took my breath away.

Overall, I absolutely loved LONG WAY DOWN. It was gut-wrenching, emotional, gorgeous, and truly just perfect. I think that I made the right choice by opting to read the graphic novel version, because in addition to the brilliant story, I got to see amazing watercolor artwork that really breathed life into Jason Reynolds's words. It's clear to me now, as I had suspected long before this, that he is one of the most incredible writers of our time. I'm truly in shock and awe, and I will be sharing this book with my friends, family, and peers for a long time to come. If this book isn't on your TBR already, then I can safely say that you are definitely missing out. I also recommend picking up the graphic novel version, because like I've said a million times in this review already, it really adds something spectacular to the piece. I hope you love this book just as much as I do!

ARC Review: A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

itle: A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Author: Laura Taylor Namey
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 320 Pages
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020

Summary: Teenage master of Cuban cuisine, Lila Reyes, is eager to inherit her family’s Miami bakery along with her sister, Pilar. But between spring and graduation, Lila’s abuela dies, her best friend abandons her, and her long-time boyfriend dumps her. Fearing Lila’s emotional health, her parents defy her wishes and entrust her summer to family and their Winchester, England inn. Even though she’s given a space to cook at the inn, she longs for Miami, the seat of her Cuban roots. Being a Miami Cuban baker is her glorified past and destined future, forged by years of training by her loving abuela. Days into her stay, Orion Maxwell barges into Lila’s inn kitchen with a delivery from his family’s tea shop. A nuisance at first, opposite ingredients soon learn to blend. Orion befriends Lila, introducing her to his mates and devouring her food––comida Cubana. Orion entertains her with his mental collection of superstitions and sweeps her onto his vintage motorbike. He wraps cold, underdressed Lila in his wool cardigan and becomes her personal tour guide. His mum’s early-onset (FTD) Dementia gives Orion a unique outlook––he never asks too much of the world, accepting what he can’t control. Lila soon discovers this British boy brings empathy to her loss because he’s living his own. Before long, Lila can’t control the route of her own heart as she begins to fall for more than a new love. England has charmed her. And a special opportunity in London tempts her. As her return ticket looms, Lila feels impossibly caught between two flags. Hearts aren’t supposed to split like this––between a beautiful boy and a beautiful family. Between exploring an uncharted future in a rich new place, and honoring Abuela’s treasured legacy.

I received an ARC of this book in preparation for Laura Taylor Namey's upcoming book tour (which isn't today!), and after I finished the book, it was just so spectacular that I couldn't wait to talk about how much I loved it. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Lila hails from Miami but suddenly finds herself stuck in England for the summer when her family ships her out there so she can get over the trifecta of heartbreak that she recently experienced. She's expecting to hate it, and wants nothing to do with rainy, gray England when she longs for humid, sunny Miami, her family's bakery, and all of the delicious desserts that she can dream of creating. What she definitely isn't expecting is to meet Orion Maxwell, the charming, handsome son of the local tea merchant -- and she definitely isn't expecting to like him. But England turns out to be full of surprises, and Lila isn't expecting any of them.

You guys, I loved this book in every single way that it's possible to love a book. I seriously couldn't put it down and I will definitely be singing its praises to everyone and anyone who listens to me for the foreseeable future. I was actually glued to this book and couldn't put it down -- I read it while I was cooking, doing laundry, walking around the house, and even when I was the passenger during a drive. Laura Taylor Namey just has a spectacular way of drawing the reader in with her beautiful, sweet prose and imagery. This book also made me super hungry, because it mentions so many delicious Cuban foods and desserts! It even made me crave tea a little bit, which was interesting to me since I don't actually like tea at all. (I know, I know, that makes me a bad bookworm! But it's the truth.) Regardless, this book was just so sweet and left me feeling all swoony and happy (and hungry)! It's so gorgeous and adorable and I hope that you all love it as much as I did.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Orion. Not only did he seem super attractive (I may have developed a little bit of a crush on him, but he was just so sweet and kind, and really took his tour guide duties seriously when it came to Lila. I've actually never been to England myself, and I was curious about it but never had a burning desire to go, but I think that this book changed that for me! The way he loves his small little town and shows Lila all of these cool and unique things about it made me itch for an adventure like that. And he's just super cute and dorky and sweet and dependable, and UGH, I just love him a whole lot. Easily my favorite character in the book -- I like how his mellowness rounds out Lila's spice, which I also *loved*! 

One of my favorite parts of the book was that "will she or won't she" feeling that I got about whether or not Lila was going to go back to Miami, stay in England, run her family business, etc. I definitely wasn't sure up until the very end about what Lila was going to decide, and without spoiling the ending for you, all I will say is that things end in a way that I definitely wasn't expecting -- but it still made me a swoony mess. I closed this book feeling all of the warm and fuzzy and gushy things. I haven't had a book make me feel that happy and lighthearted in the longest time, and let me tell you, that was definitely something that I needed right now!

Overall, I absolutely ADORED this book, and if it isn't on your TBR already, then I promise you that you're absolutely missing out. If you're looking for a sweet, soft read with delicious pastries and swoon-worthy moments, all tied around family love and food, then look no further. This is definitely the book for you! Hats off to Laura Taylor Namey, yet again -- this is the second book of hers that I absolutely adored, and it looks like I'm signing myself up to be an auto-buy reader for life! 

If you want to check out my review of Laura's debut novel, THE LIBRARY OF LOST THINGS, click here.

And be on the lookout for our tour post interview with Laura, coming November 2nd!