08/27/15

Book Review: Everything, Everything

20522640Novel: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon | Goodreads
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

This has been one of my must-reads since I heard about it. I’d been waiting to read it until it was close to release date, and then when Jen told me “READ IT NOW OR ELSE” I had to read it. (Jen is scary when you don’t read something she wants you to.)

Everything, Everything is, simply, everything.

It’s heart-warming, witty, poignant, difficult at moments, emotional, and utterly intoxicating. I loved the use of illustrations and multimedia in the story line – it added to the story in such a new way! Madeline, the main character, is someone who I saw myself in in so many ways. Her love of reading, her love for her mother – I think a lot of other readers will relate to Madeline as well. Madeline kept on surprising me. She was adventurous in her own way, a wee bit defiant, but also had a incredibly strong moral compass, which I adored. I love a character who is realistic – most teenagers I know would never want to purposely defy their parents, and feel horrible when they lie to them. Seeing that is Madeline made me like her even more.

Olly is a completely different story.

He’s kind, compassionate, witty, but also struggling with a lot of family stuff. Yoon touches on abuse in homes in a quiet but also powerful way, by showing how hard it is for families to realize that enough is enough, especially with verbal and occasional physical abuse. But Olly himself was incredible. He helped Madeline to see more of the world, and loved her with no questions. He loved her and didn’t care about her illness, wanting to be with her in any way possible. But he also supported her desire to want more in the world, and when she asked for more, he gave it to her in every way he could. Their relationship, which develops over IM, felt real – although a bit insta-lovey (but nothing I couldn’t handle). I loved how Yoon described the first meeting with people who you’ve developed an online relationship with – as awkward and a bit uncomfortable at first. Seeing Olly and Madeline’s relationship grow over the course of the book made my heart swell.

Do know that although this book touches on a lot of different topics, mainly family, it is in many ways a love story. It focuses on the development of Olly and Madeline’s relationship and how he helps her to see the world in a new way. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t original and completely awesome. Madeline’s nurse, Carla, was one of my favorite characters – her love for Madeline and continued support of her made my heart swell.

Madeline’s illness gave this book a whole new layer. It’s incredibly detailed on how Madeline lives with her disease, and some of the medical issues that she confronts because of it.

The ending, I have to say, was a bit predictable, but no less surprising. Plot-twist central! If you love a great story, an intoxicating romance, and a focus on families, this book is totally for you. (Actually, if you’re human this book is for you.)

 

08/24/15

My Forever Albums

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I have this tendency to listen to the same albums consistently for weeks, months, years even. These albums are like staple pieces of clothing in your wardrobe – I’ll listen to them for forever and never get tired of them. I thought I’d share my list, in hopes that they’ll become some of your “forever albums” too!

The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

This is just… This album is everything to me. My dad played it for me in 2010 when it came out and I just fell in love. I’ve been listening to this album for five years and I still love it just as much. It’s my driving soundtrack, my writing playlist, my blogging music, and my falling asleep tunes.

Some favorites from the album: “The Suburbs”, “Rococo”, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”, “Wasted Hours”.

Goddess – BANKS

If you know anything about me, you know that BANKS is my queen. She is my goddess. I’ve been listening to her for about a year and a half (I was obsessed with her EPs before the album came out) and I still can’t get enough. Her vocals, her lyrics, her sound – it’s just everything to me.

Some favorites from the album: “Stick”, “Fuck Em Only We Know”, “Drowning”, “Beggin For Thread”, “Goddess”.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Obviously Bon Iver is on this list. I’ve been listening to Bon Iver for about four years, and oh have those years been glorious. In addition to his self-titled album, his EP Blood Bank and his earlier album, For Emma, Forever Ago, are also included in this entry. Bon Iver is kind of like Arcade Fire for me – he’s my go to for every situation. Particularly nighttime or rainy days though!

Some favorites from the album(s): Off Bon Iver – “Towers”, “Hinnom, TX”, “Wash”; Off Blood Bank – “Babys” and “Woods”; Off For Emma, Forever Ago – “The Wolves (Act I and II)”, “Creature Fear”, “Team”, “Re: Stacks”.

Continuum – John Mayer

I was introduced to John Mayer sometime around 2009/2010, and I’ve been in love with him since. I own ContinuumBattle Studies, and Paradise Valley, but Continuum is my favorite. This album is such a staple for me, mainly because it has such a consistent sound and is mixed so beautifully.

Some favorites from the album: “Belief”, “Stop This Train”, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”, “Bold As Love”.

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – M83

M83 is incredibly underrated. This album is absolutely incredible, and found on a whim by me in 2011/2012. It’s a lengthy album too, so definitely an undertaking when I had no job and had barely heard any of the music. I was rewarded, though! This album is a killer, and one I come back to consistently.

Some favorites from the album: “Midnight City”, “Wait”, “Raconte-moi une histoire”, “OK Pal”, “Another Wave from You”, “Fountains”, “Outro”.

Soft Connections – Nic Hessler

Where are all the Nic Hessler fans? There need to be more of us. Nic Hessler is a recent discovery of mine, and one I stumbled upon at my local music store. I fell in love with the first couple songs and bought it on impulse. When I listened to the entire album I was so happy I’d bought it. I seriously listened to the first song of the album on repeat for about a half hour once. I love it that much.

Some favorites from the album: “I Feel Again”, “Hearts, Repeating”, “Do You Ever?”, “Expel Me”.

Youth – Wild Cub

Wild Cub got fairly popular after their tour with Vampire Weekend last spring, but I was onto them before that! I’ve been a fan since the fall of 2013, and am still going strong. Wild Cub just have such a great sound. They also do incredible covers, so I’d check out their Soundcloud if you’re a fan of the album!

Some favorites from the album: “Shapeless”, “Thunder Clatter”, “Drive”, “Hidden in the Night”, “Blacktide”, “Lies”.

And the one you all knew was coming….

The 1975 – The 1975

My everything album. The 1975 are my one true loves. This album, along with their EPs, are the soundtrack of my life, and have been for the past two and a half years. I can’t get enough of them. After two concerts and three acoustic shows, you’d think I’d have enough, but not yet! If you somehow haven’t heard of them yet, go listen. Now.

Some favorites from the album(s):Off The 1975 – “The City”, “Talk!”, “Settle Down”, “Menswear”, “Pressure”; Off Facedown – “Antichrist”, “Woman”; Off Sex – “Milk”, “You”; Off IV – “fallingforyou”, “Haunt//Bed”; Off Music For Cars – “Head.Cars.Bending”, “Milk”.


What are your forever albums? Let me know in comments!

And you can listen to all these albums on Spotify below. (It’s 100 songs and six and a half hours, so get comfy.)

08/21/15

Book Review: Anne & Henry (Mini Review)

20522640Novel: Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius | Goodreads
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Note: I don’t usually do mini-reviews, but I didn’t have a whole lot to say about this book, so I’m keeping it brief.

I’m fascinated by Henry VIII, and especially by his relationship with Anne Boleyn. This is why I gave this book a chance (because let’s face it, that cover was not what got me to read it). This reimagining of Henry and Anne’s love story was enthralling and addicting. I loved the first half of the novel; it was inventive, engaging, and drew me in immediately. I wanted to see how Henry and Anne’s love affair turned out – how was Ius going to approach Henry and Anne’s demise?

Sadly, the ending disappointed me on so many levels. The first half of the story was definitely believable, or believable enough for me. The second half was just plain weird. The way the ending was handled felt rushed and confusing and completely out of character. It seemed unrealistic, even for the crazy characters we were dealing with in the first place. I was disappointed by Henry’s character especially, because he had had this great character arc – he was becoming a better person and I loved who he had become – and then he slashed it all to pieces with his actions at the end. I understood that realistically their relationship couldn’t go on, but it felt like such a dramatic and unnecessary way to end the story.

As far as characters go, I enjoyed Anne and Henry. They were refreshing compared to the other flat characters in the book, but I still felt like they weren’t incredibly interesting. I cared far more about their relationship than I did about them as individual people, which is always a big turnoff for me. The novel is basically just about their love story, so I wished there had been some more substance to the story or to the characters themselves to bolster the appeal for me.

All in all, this book was an “Eh” for me. Okay, but not great. Better than the cover led me to believe though! It didn’t measure up to other retellings, and I think that was because Ius tried to stay really close to the actual story of Henry and Anne, but I wish she had taken some artistic freedoms with it and made the story better.

 

08/20/15

Book Review: What We Saw

20522640Novel: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler | Goodreads
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

What We Saw was been of my most anticipated releases of the Fall 2015 catalog, and let me tell you, it’s a show-stopper.

Aaron Hertzler’s sophomore novel brings into question how our society deals with rape cases, through the eyes of Kate, a girl who struggles with her own role in the events. The book opens with Kate attending a party and getting incredibly drunk. Her childhood friend, Ben, who she has only recently started talking to again, takes her home, and a romance between the two begins to blossom. Through her friends and social media, Kate grows to understand that something happened at the party, but she has no clue what exactly it was. People are talking about Stacey Stallard, one of Kate’s former friends, but Kate doesn’t know what to believe. Sure, Stacey may have been drunk and acting crazier than usual, but she wouldn’t do anything stupid.

When the cops arrest a group of her classmates – and some of Ben’s closest friends – for rape and child pornography, Kate has to wonder if Ben was involved. He may have dropped her off, but he went back to the party. Was he involved and he’s just not fessing up? Rumors fly and Stacey is apparently the girl who the boys raped at the party, but the video that will incriminate them hasn’t been found. Kate battles between her desire to reach out to Stacey and the part of her that wants to be like everyone else and brush the events under the rug. Kate’s inner struggle is what drives the novel, because you want to know what she’ll end up deciding to do, and also if the boys will go to jail. As well, you don’t know exactly what happened at the party, so the questions surrounding that are also left up in the air.

Hartzler incorporates social media seamlessly into the storyline, unlike many novels I’ve read in the past. The characters use it in a way that is relatable for most teens, which I think is why so many teens will connect deeply with the novel. I connected with Kate, who when confronted with the opportunity to set things straight, has to decide if she wants to do the right thing and sacrifice her reputation or let the boys get off scott-free.

What We Saw should be read by every teenager, in my opinion. I hope this book will be as ground-breaking and thought-provoking for other readers as it was for me. I’m interested to see what happens because of this book, because it has potential to change the minds of readers everywhere.

 

08/17/15

Wrapping Up Summer 2015

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Summer for me this year has been full of firsts, and has been completely different from any summer before it. I’m going to talk about some stand-out parts of my summer, and a bit of what I’ve been up to!

JOBS

As some of you may or may not know, I was working machine this summer. I’d been working for my neighborhood YMCA branch as a lifeguard since last August, but I’d decided that I didn’t want to spend another summer sweltering in the sunlight. I switched within the aquatics department to be a swim instructor, and have absolutely fallen in love with the job. I get to hang out with kids aged 3-13 all day, with an adult or two mixed in. I’ve met kids who light up my day, who tell me “You’re my favorite swim teacher!” and that makes me GLOW. It’s been especially interesting for me because after being a competitive swimmer for long, I’m finally using the knowledge I’ve gained to help other people. I’ve also learned countless lessons as a swim instructor: patience, how to reprimand kids, how to teach kids social behaviors (like you don’t insult people or laugh at them when they mess up), and that no job is solely the job description. Being a swim instructor is part teaching kids how to swim, part life skills teacher, and part babysitter. But it’s also one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had, and I’ve been blessed with an incredible staff and great kids.

I’ve also been working in my first retail job at Barnes and Noble! It’s been nice to go from the Y, where I’m outside and in a bathing suit, to an indoor air-conditioned building where I’m wearing business casual clothing. My managers and co-workers are a joy to work with and make work way more fun. I’ve been able to sell THREE copies of Jellicoe Road, and a couple other YA books I adore, as well as make multiple staff recommendation cards for the teen section. I’ve learned the skill of using a cash register, how to make small talk, how to deal with customers who complain about store policies, and the beauty of saying “Let me get my manager for you.” I’ve been able to work in the Children’s department and help parents pick out books for their middle school kids, and suggest gifts for people visiting family. I’ve learned what it’s like to work for a national company, and all the benefits it gives you (I can transfer when I go to college!)

But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from both of my jobs has been confidence. I feel like I’ve grown up more in the past three months from these two jobs than I have doing anything else. I feel more confident asking for what I need, sharing my thoughts, and talking to adults than ever before. I’m so thankful I was able to work both of these jobs this summer, and that I’ll be continuing employment with both of these incredible places of work!

LEARNING

I’ve been learning Italian this summer! I was taking an online class from Wellesley College, and although I wasn’t able to finish (I simply did NOT have enough time and they way overestimated how long everything would take) the course gave me a fantastic base in the language. A background in French has been incredibly helpful in learning a lot of the grammatical rules and some nouns, and I’m starting to see how all these languages fit together. Since I’ve given up on my Wellesley class at this point, I’ve started doing Duolingo! If you are interested in learning a language and haven’t checked out Duolingo, I would DEFINITELY recommend it. They have both a web app and a mobile app, and although both are great, the web app is fantastic. There are some more features on it that make the learning experience even better! The way they set up lessons on Duolingo works so well for my brain. You go through mini-modules (pronouns, animals, possession, food, etc) and there are four or five blocks in each module. The blocks only take like five minutes, and you can get through a ton of material fairly quickly, something I adore. You learn nouns in context (there’s never straight vocab) so you get an idea of how to use words, there’s an oral component, translation, and the option to test out of lessons if you already know them.

I’m hoping to take some conversational Italian classes this year outside of school, and study Italian in college – I’m so much more passionate about it than French, which is so weird to me. I’m also learning at a much faster rate, which baffles me. Yay for Italian!

READING & BLOGGING

2015-05-09 19.34.23Sadly, I haven’t gotten as much reading done this summer as I had hoped. I was so busy with work, Italian, and spending time with my best friend before she goes off to Princeton in the fall *sobs violently in the corner* that reading wasn’t on the top of my list. I still read some incredible books though, and even got reviews up! This has made me SO proud – I’ve had at least three posts up EVERY WEEK this summer. GOOOO ME! I’m hoping to keep up my content amount through the year, but I’m thinking it will go down due to my course load. I’d hoped to get some reading and reviews together for the start of the year, but with the amount of summer reading I still have to do *cries* I am not sure it’s going to happen.

(Plus, I reread Jellicoe Road for my birthday. As you do.)

COLLEGE

Since I’ll be a senior this year, I’ve also spent a lot of time this summer thinking about college. I’ve gotten my list down to about thirteen schools (I’m still narrowing it down – don’t worry, I’m not crazy!) and I’m passionate about the schools on my list. I’ve drafted some essays *cough cough* only two *cough cough* and thanks to my incredible school, I’ve already applied to community college and gotten my ApplyTexas and CommonApp applications fairly ready to go! I’m so pumped for the coming year and college application journey.

VACATION

As I’m writing this, I’m getting ready to go to Boston! I leave for Boston on the 13th of August, and come back the 17th (when this goes up). I’ll be visiting four colleges while I’m there, eating pizza and ice cream, and frolicking around museums with my incredible mom. I’ve never been to Boston before, so I’m incredibly excited to see the city!

SUMMER 2015 VS. PREVIOUS SUMMERS

What’s been different this summer? A lot. It’s the first summer where I’ve been able to drive, the first summer in a couple years where I haven’t had club swimming practices every day, and my first summer where I was working the entire time. I’ve spent barely any time at home aimlessly looking at my computer (which I’m proud of) and I’ve been hanging out with my friends more. I’ve been eating healthy, focusing on being happy, and taking care of myself! So, in addition to all the things up above, it’s been a happy summer.

I’ll miss you, summer!


What have you guys done this summer? Share your summer highlights in the comments below – I want to know!

 

08/14/15

Book Review: The Devil You Know

20522640Novel: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller | Goodreads
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it’s just the risk she’s been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

The Devil You Know is a contemporary thriller/romance, and it’s absolutely addicting. I was hooked from page one, drawn in by Arcadia’s desire for adventure, the pair of cousins she meets, and the road trip. The Devil You Know definitely isn’t a “road trip” book, but the plot twist hinges on the road trip, so it’s their time on the road is an important part of the plot.

Arcadia is a character I really related to. Her desire for adventure spoke to me, and I think it will do the same for other teen readers. She’s funny, a bit daring when she wants to be, and just the right amount of rebellious. She wants to experience something new, which is why she goes on the road trip with Noah and Matt, two cousins. This, admittedly, is an absolutely stupid decision, both in the sense that she barely knows them, but also because there are some shady things going on involving the cousins before they leave for the road trip. And then considering the plot twist, probably not a good choice, Arcadia. Despite this, I still loved her as a character. Her sense of responsibility and love for her family made her a well-rounded character.

As far as the thriller element goes, I think it’s a pretty solid plot twist, but it’s one I guessed from the beginning of the book. Not that it isn’t surprising and engaging, it’s just more of the plot twist that will make you go “I knew it!”. I think for Doller’s first thriller, it was a solid one. It kept me reading, and I ended up starting and finishing the book within a couple hours (it’s a short book). I’m in complete agreement with  Aimee from Deadly Darlings on the thriller element!

The romance in the story got me. First off, I seem to have a thing for boys named Noah. (Pushing the Limits, the Mara Dyer Series, The Devil You Know, and countless others? Yep, it’s a problem.) Noah and Arcadia were the kind of match where I completely saw their romance coming, but I still loved it. Noah, despite only knowing him for a day or two, earns Arcadia’s trust and heart, and the fling that follows was sweet and full of love. The end of the book gave their relationship a bit too much of a happy ending for my taste, but I appreciated Doller’s effort at wrapping up their story.

Overall, I think The Devil You Know is a solid thriller that is worth a read. It’s not a mystery, so don’t go in expecting it to be one. It’s a thriller that will keep you reading, and the romance entwined in the story will make your hearts sing. Doller did a great job with this one!

 

08/12/15

Book Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

20522640Novel: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten | Goodreads
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Publisher: SimonPulse
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

Gone Girl meets 13 Reasons Why in this stylish, sexy, and atmospheric story about friendship packed with twists and turns that will leave you breathless.

They say Delia burned herself to death in her stepfather’s shed. They say it was suicide.

But June doesn’t believe it.

June and Delia used to be closer than anything. Best friends in that way that comes before everyone else-before guys, before family. It was like being in love, but more. They had a billion secrets, tying them together like thin silk cords.

But one night a year ago, everything changed. June, Delia, and June’s boyfriend Ryan were just having a little fun. Their good time got out of hand. And in the cold blue light of morning, June knew only this-things would never be the same again.

And now, a year later, Delia is dead. June is certain she was murdered. And she owes it to her to find out the truth…which is far more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

Sexy, dark, and atmospheric, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I was drawn to Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls because of its cover.

IT’S SO DARN BEAUTIFUL. The blue color plus the the matchsticks and the incredible typeface?

I’m sold.

The book is pitched as Thirteen Reasons Why (why is EVERYTHING pitched as Thirteen Reasons Why?! Because this isn’t) meets Gone Girl (which I haven’t read), so the pitches did nothing for me. More than anything, it was the focus on the friendship between Delia and June that I got from the synopsis, plus a good bit of mystery that got me excited. I love a good mystery. I was expecting a thoughtful story on the slightly sad side, with an emphasis on friendship.

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls blew me straight out of the water.

I sat down and read it from start to finish. June’s honest narration made me fall in love with her from page one. You could feel her pain, her confusion, and her regret oozing off the page, and I felt emotionally tethered to her. I was invested in June understanding what happened to Delia, and forgiving herself for cutting off their friendship. June, also, reminded me of myself. She acts differently in different groups of people, but is a bit of an introvert and keeps to herself. She flies under the radar at school, but is smart and works hard. She’s an incredibly relatable character, and this keeps the plot tethered to reality.

Delia and June’s friendship, which we see from short flashbacks that June has, was an incredibly close one. They reminded me of the friendship I have, and have had, with a couple of friends – the kind where you’re so comfortable around each other and tell one another everything. Their friendship, quite honestly, made the book for me.

The plot is twist after twist. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, the story throws you for a loop. The mystery of Delia’s death drives the story, but so do the secrets that June uncovers, not only about Delia, but also about her own life. There is also a lot left unsaid in the story that is left up to the reader to infer, which I always appreciate in a book.

I don’t want to say much more, because I don’t want to ruin the INSANE ending that left my jaw hanging in surprise. But Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls is one heck of a book that focuses on many important issues: sexuality, love, regret, abuse, and suicide. I absolutely adored this book, and hope everyone gets their hands on it and gives it a read!

 

08/10/15

Book Review: Daughter of Deep Silence

20522640Novel: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan | Goodreads
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

You know what’s a bit funny? I completely thought this book was historical fiction.

(Hint: It’s not.)

Rather, Daughter of Deep Silence is about one survivor’s journey to exact revenge and come to terms with the events that happened on a Titanic-like event that shook her life. Everyone thinks the Persephone went down because of a wave, but that wasn’t what happened. Armed men took over the ship, murdering everyone inside. Libby and Frances barely escaped into a raft, and Grey and his Senator father somehow also made it out alive. Libby died only hours before she and Frances were rescued, and Libby’s death plagues Frances to this day.

Except, Frances is Libby. And Libby is Frances. When France’s takes Libby’s identity, her life changes. She suddenly has a family again, she has wealth, she has new opportunities. But she doesn’t have the truth. Frances has lived the previous four years desperately needing answers to not only what happened on the Persephone, but why Grey and his father lied about the nature of the sinking.

Daughter of Deep Silence stunned me in many ways. The concept itself wasn’t remarkable (the ship sinking-girl wanting revenge part) but the execution was impeccable. When Frances goes to stay at Libby’s house on the coast, where her childhood friend, Shepard, now lives, it’s impossible for things not to go a little awry. But combined with the fact that Grey, the boy who Frances fell in love with (and still is in love with) lives there too? Recipe for disaster. Frances struggles to convince people that she’s Libby, and to stay true to Libby and what Libby would’ve wanted. She is battling between her exterior Libby and her internal Frances (a bit Jekyll and Hyde, anyone?). The revenge plot was surprising and gave the story a bit of a thriller element that freshened up the narrative.

The minor characters, Grey and Shepard specifically, were not as developed as I would’ve liked though. I think some more development of both Grey and Shepard could’ve added to story, but I completely understand why they weren’t so flushed out – the book is long already without adding all of that information! There were glimmers of romance with Grey, but I wanted either more or less. I loved that it was primarily a story about Frances, but I craved a but of resolution with the romantic possibility of Grey.

I adored the ending. It’s very open ended, and focuses on Frances figuring out who she is as half Libby and half Frances. There are a lot of subtle messages found in Daughter of Deep Silence of self-identity and I enjoyed seeing those. Ryan did a great job with this book, and despite some of my issues with it, I thoroughly enjoyed it enough to fully recommend giving it a read!

 

08/8/15

Win ARCs of FANS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE and A STEP TOWARDS FALLING

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I have too many books! I have duplicate copies of the ARCs of FANS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE and A STEP TOWARDS FALLING and I want to share the wealth.

The Books You Can Win:

24605853A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern | Goodreads

Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut, Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

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Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa | Goodreads

This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over as a new student at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to act like a normal, functioning human this time around, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with a mischievous glint in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, “Fans of the Impossible Life” is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

If you’re interested in winning a copy of one of these books, then fill out the form below!

Giveaway ends 8/16 and is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY. 

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08/7/15

Book Review: Never Always Sometimes

20522640Novel: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid | Goodreads
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

Adi Alsaid is one of my favorite writers. He writes about being a teenager in one of the most authentic ways I’ve seen, and his characters simply come to life on the page. The first book I read of Alsaid, Let’s Get Lost, absolutely blew me away, so I expected no less from Never Sometimes Always. However, Never Sometimes Always surpassed all my expectations.

Julia and Dave were, in many ways, polar opposites. They start out being incredibly similar – both are uninterested in having the regular “high school experience”, take immense joy in being different, mock many of the “popular” kids and their regular activities, and value one another’s friendship to no end. The book opens from Dave’s point of view, and stays this way until about halfway through the book, something I loved. Being able to only see the events that unfolded in the first half of the book from Dave’s point of view means that you know all about Dave’s love for Julia, but have no idea how she feels until the perspective switches. When Julia was the narrator I learned new things about her, because she is, in many ways, a secretive girl. She doesn’t always say what she means, and she’s dealing with a lot more than she lets on, something I related to immediately.

These two were continually surprising me. Julia was crazier than I was expecting at first, taking the world by storm. She always said “yes”, in many ways. The bigger, the better for Julia. Dave seemed quieter to me. He was the one who reeled in Julia many times, but he also went along with many of her antics, which never failed to surprise me. Dave actually reminded me a lot of myself, who loved being different but also craved some normalcy in his life. The differences between Julia and Dave become more apparent at the book goes on and they cross items off their Nevers list, and they have to deal with some of the issues that come up in their friendship because of these differences.

This book focuses on friendship in a way that few other books do. The ups and the downs of friendship, the concept of growing apart, the prospective of going to college in different places. What do you do when your best friend doesn’t support your choices? When they challenge what you always thought of them? When you feel like they’re slipping away from you? How do you go from being best friends to a couple – and should you? These questions and more are all addressed in Never Always Sometimes with honesty, humor, and inside jokes that made my heart sing.

Alsaid also addresses the infamous senioritis in Never Always Sometimes which is surprisingly absent in most YA set during the final months of high school. Although I haven’t experienced this phenomenon, based on what my friends have told me, I think Alsaid did an pretty great job of capturing that feeling of “what’s the point in any of this?” that battles with “I have a quiz!!!!!! I MUST STUDY” that has plagued me for my entire life, and will probably only grow during my senior year.

Never Always Sometimes is sharp and witty, poignant and surprising, well-written and un-put-downable. (Is that a word? I don’t know. But I’m making it one.) The ending was realistic and left me feeling happy and content in a way few books do. Adi Alsaid has crafted another incredible read that I will be shoving into the hands of everyone I know.