Friday, September 21, 2018

Blog Tour: Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll

Unclaimed Baggage 
By Jen Doll 

Read: September 16 - 19, 2018
Published: September 18, 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Galley from Macmillan (Thank you!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, Southern Towns, Secrets, Lost Luggage, Friendship

Book Description: Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of "Mr. Popular" whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people's lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.


Unclaimed Baggage is an adorable contemporary YA about three teens brought together by a job at a store called Unclaimed Baggage, that resells - you've guessed it - suitcases and bags that were never claimed at airports. 

First, this store sounds amazing to shop at, and even more fun to work at. Liberal-out-of-water-in-Alabama Doris and her two new hires, recently-moved-from-Chicago Nell and football-star-fallen-from-grace Grant, work in the back of the store, opening and sorting through bags in order to determine what should be sold and what should be tossed. All three of them are feeling a little out of place this summer and they start bonding over all the strange things they find. 

That's the second thing I enjoyed about this book: the friendships. Doris, Nell and Grant aren't exactly three people you'd think to put together. Especially the popular football star and the town liberal, but I had so much fun watching them get to know each other. And as they open up about their lives, they form a close bond. I loved both the hilarious moments in this book, and the deeper, more painful ones as they deal with the tough realities of their lives. This book has both an established and a building romance in it. It's so rare to see an ongoing romance and I appreciated that addition. The other is sweet and slow to see develop, but I was way more interested in the friendship between these three and all the ways they stood up for and supported each other. 

This book is light and fun on the surface, but it - and these characters - deal with some tough stuff. Prejudice and race relations, assault, hypocritical members of the church, town secrets, health issues, addiction, mourning over lost loved ones are just a few topics discussed. Like everyone, Doris, Nell and Grant's lives are complex, and I cheered and laughed and wanted to hug and fight for them. I also appreciate the different ways their parents were involved in their lives. My only wish is that not everyone in the church had been seen as negative and hypocritical, though I can certainly agree with the point that you can find bad people there - and wonderful people not. 

I recommend this friendship centered contemporary YA, and now I really want to attend the balloon festival - and shop in that store. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone


About the Author

Jen Doll has written for The Atlantic, The Atlantic Wire, Cosmopolitan, The Hairpin, New York magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Toast, Topic, Vice, The Village Voice, and The Week, among others. She grew up in Alabama and lives in Brooklyn and upstate New York.

Find Jen Doll: Website | Twitter | Goodreads  

Follow the Tour

BlogDateType of Post
The Bookish Photog9/16/2018Instagram and review
Undeniably {Book} Nerdy9/17/2018Review
The YA Book Traveler9/18/2018Review combined with quirky summer job nightmares
Book Briefs9/18/2018Review
Mary Had A Little Book Blog9/19/2018Quirky summer jobs and Instagram
Miss Print9/20/2018Review
Bookish Beagle9/20/2018Review and summer jobs or my unclaimed baggage item post
Novel Novice9/21/2018"Over packing tips" + review
Love Is Not A Triangle9/21/2018Review

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows - Out Now!

As She Ascends
by Jodi Meadows
Read: August 23 - September 1, 2018
Published: September 11, 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: E-galley from Harper (Thank you!)
Category: Fantasy, Dragons, Anxiety, On-The-Run- Sweet Romance, 
Series: Fallen Isles book 2/3


Mira Minkoba is on the run with her friends after a fiery escape from the Pit, where she’d been imprisoned for defending the dragons she loves. And she wants answers. Where have all the dragons been taken? Why are powerful noorestones being shipped to the mainland? And did the treaty she’s been defending her whole life truly sell out the Fallen Isles to their enemies


As her connection to the dragons—and their power—grows stronger, so does Mira’s fear that she might lose control and hurt someone she loves. But the only way to find the truth is to go home again, to Damina, to face the people who betrayed her and the parents she’s not sure she can trust.Home, where she must rise above her fears. Or be consumed.The second page-turning novel in Jodi Meadows’ Fallen Isles trilogy scorches with mysterious magic and riveting romance as one girl kindles a spark into a flame.
NOTE: As She Ascends in the second book in the Fallen Isles series and sequel to Before She Ignites. Click on the title for my review of the first installment - I loved it! 
I have been a huge fan of Jodi Meadow's work since I read her Incarnate series, and that hasn't changed with these new books. I adored Before She Ignites, but As She Ascends kicks everything - including the dragons - up a notch. If you loved Mira and the first book in the series, you're going to love this second installment too. If you were hesitant to pick it up, or weren't sure about it, I urge you to give this book a go. You won't be disappointed!
Here are 5 (plus a bonus!) incredible things you can expect in the pages of As She Ascends: 

1) Lots more dragons - Not only do we find out more about what is happening to them in the Fallen Isles, but we get to know them better as individuals, especially Mira's sweet LaLa. I adore this dragon! 

2) Lots more travel and exploration - We get to know Mira’s island nations, and even travel to several of them, all while outrunning danger of course. 

3) Lots more of Mira’s squad - I love the group of friends that Mira has found. They are all very different, and they don't always get along. After the events of the last book, they have to figure out how to work together - and how they will proceed forward, literally and figuratively. But one of the best parts of this book is seeing the support that they are to each other, and to Mira.

4) Lots more about Mira, including her anxiety - I appreciated so much the look we were given at Mira's anxiety in this book. The ways she has learned to fight through it, and the ways her friends are there for her. Mira is also continuing her evolution in this book, as she stands up for herself and her dragons and starts to get things done. And we get to see more of her magic too. 

5) Lots more about Aaru, especially about his past - I really appreciated the glimpse of Aaru's history and learning more about who he is and where he's come from. It helped me understand him a lot better. We also get some looks at Mira's other friends' histories - Ilina, Hristo, Gerel and Chenda.

6) Bonus!  The sweetest, most gentlest romances with no love triangle - Jodi Meadows excels at this type of love interest, and I loved watching Mira and Aaru slowly open up to each other. These two come from very different backgrounds but they also seek to understand and support each other as much as they can. There's also another side romance that was fun to see too. 

Of course As She Ascends answers lots of questions and leaves readers asking even more. I cannot wait for the final installment of this series!

Love Triangle Factor: NONE
Cliffhanger Scale: Low/Medium - Not the middle of danger, but much more story and revelations to come. 

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