My convention buddy, Jillian, read and reviewed 52 Reasons To Hate My Father earlier this summer. She wrote her review as a list of things she loved aMy convention buddy, Jillian, read and reviewed 52 Reasons To Hate My Father earlier this summer. She wrote her review as a list of things she loved about the book, which is an idea I love (you guys know about my love of lists), so I’m following suit :) You can read Jillian’s review at Heise Reads & Recommends.
Here’s my list of what I loved and why you should read 52 Reasons To Hate My Father (in no particular order):
1. This is probably silly, but I love Lexi’s full name, Lexington Larrabee. It suits her character perfectly.
2. A fun, light, and engaging book is needed from time to time, which is why I loved Jessica Brody’s book. It’s predictable, but in the best kind of way.
3. There’s a message without being preachy or corny. Lexi learns the importance of hard work, family, and raising her expectations for herself.
4. The romance included in the story is sweet and not over the top. It’s not racy by any means, so I think it’d be okay for middle school readers.
5. The minor characters are loveable. I can’t say why really, but I really like Horatio and Kingston. They aren’t involved in the story much, but it’s obvious that they care about Lexi, even when she’s being obnoxious.
6. Lexi has a revelation towards the end of the book about the list and her life which I really liked. To us it’s pretty obvious, but seeing her finally get it was fun to read.
7. Lexi decides that for each job she wants to dress like and be a different person. I love her outfit descriptions and the wigs she wears and names she comes up with.
8. To stay accountable, Lexi has to keep a log of sorts for each job and what she’s learned. For these she creates a video log and we get to read the transcripts. It’s a creative way to see how Lexi is responding to her work.
9. I think my favorite job was when she was working in the funeral home. You’ll have to read it to understand why I like her reaction to that job so much.
10. I’ve always loved the idea of being a florist and many of my reasons match up with Lexi’s experience.
11. Jillian included Rolando on her list and I have to agree with her. I really like his character and wish there was more of him in the book.
12. Lexi’s quick wit and sense of humor had me giggling and snickering many times throughout the book. At one point in the book, Lexi compares her father to Henry VIII because of his many marriages and later thinks to herself that his current fling will probably be found “in the bathroom later Googling Henry VIII.” She’s sarcastic and I enjoyed it.
13. Usually I prefer covers that don’t feature the character, but I love the cover for 52 Reasons To Hate My Father. It’s eye-catching and has just the right amount of attitude and flair. My girls in class are going to be drawn to it.
14. Jessica Brody’s writing is easy to read and get into. I was hooked within the first few pages and wanted to stay up late to finish it.
15. It’s entertaining enough that I’ll be reading Jessica Brody’s other book My Life Undecided. She’s an author I want more from....more
I didn’t know anything about Your Own, Sylvia until I decided to have my upcoming sophomores reading Printz novels as their summer homework. I boughtI didn’t know anything about Your Own, Sylvia until I decided to have my upcoming sophomores reading Printz novels as their summer homework. I bought quite a few of the winners and honor books so my students could borrow them over the summer, so of course I’ve been reading them as well. I’m so, so happy I bought Stephanie Hemphill’s novel.
I haven’t read all of The Bell Jar (I read portions in college), but after reading Your Own, Sylvia I’ll be reading it for sure. I know the story of Sylvia Plath, but Stephanie Hemphill made me feel like I knew Sylvia Plath personally. At times I felt like I was struggling and suffering and rejoicing right along with her. The verse is stunning. Many of the sections of Your Own, Sylvia are written to mimic different poems written by Plath. Another thing I love about this novel is the footnotes which add more information about Plath and her life. The author added an additional twist by writing this book from varying perspectives. Some sections are supposed to be from Sylvia’s mother’s point of view, or a roommates’, or even her husband’s point of view. The reader is given a full-circle view of who Sylvia Plath was. It’s a beautiful portrait of her life and I couldn’t get enough of it. It even brought me to tears. It receives my highest recommendation....more
**Updated--I originally read this as an audiobook, but I read it aloud to a couple of my classes. It's such a good book, but kind of tough as a read a**Updated--I originally read this as an audiobook, but I read it aloud to a couple of my classes. It's such a good book, but kind of tough as a read aloud since D.J. rambles so much. **
After a number of high recommendations from friends, and listening to the sample on Audible, I knew I had to listen to Dairy Queen. What I’m discovering as I continue to listen to audiobooks, is that so many narrators can make or break the book. In this case, Natalie Moore made this book. She is D.J. whether I continue to listen on audio or pick the book up to read. As I’m sitting here typing this review I can hear D.J. voice perfectly. I haven’t listened to as many audiobooks as others, but so far Natalie Moore is the best narrator I’ve heard. She used a Wisconsin accent and everything when reading Dairy Queen! Even better, she never strayed and spoke as other characters when she wasn’t supposed to. That’s something that impresses me, especially during scenes with a lot of dialogue. Since finishing Dairy Queen I’ve listened to the second book The Off Season and I plan on listening to the third book, Front and Center. If you’re new to audiobooks, starting with Dairy Queen is an excellent choice! If you love listening to audiobooks and haven’t read Dairy Queen yet, then listening to this one next is an excellent choice!
One of things I love best about Dairy Queen is that not only is the audio awesome, the story is too. D.J. doesn’t think of herself as especially pretty, smart, or special in any way. She’s a Schwenk dairy farmer and that’s pretty much it. Her brothers are the ones that are special because they’re away playing college football. D.J. begins to think differently of herself when Brian Nelson, a rival high school football player, comes to work on their farm. He needs a better work ethic and as D.J. spends more time with him, she’s forced to think of herself differently. Is she just a cow doing what’s expected of her, or is she going to stand out and do what she really wants? Spending more time with Brian also helps D.J. realize that maybe she needs to be a better communicator, something she and her family don’t practice enough. Dairy Queen is an excellent contemporary novel about the importance of family and following your heart’s desire, whether it’s love or football or both....more
When I was invited to be part of this blog tour I was really excited because the premise for Being Friends with BReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
When I was invited to be part of this blog tour I was really excited because the premise for Being Friends with Boys sounds like a fun summer read. Plus, it’s contemporary which I love, and I haven’t read any of Terra Elan McVoy’s books yet. It’s kind of awkward though when I end up not liking the book as much as I hoped to when I’m featuring it as part of a blog tour. I’ve decided that breaking this post down into a likes/dislikes will probably work best for my review.
What I Liked:
I really like that Terra Elan McVoy decided to write a book about a girl with mostly guy friends because I always found it easier to be friends with guys, and many of the girls in my classes have mentioned this as well. McVoy wrote a pretty accurate representation of what hanging out with guys is like. Charlotte is part of the group, and loves telling jokes with them and watching them play video games, but she also sometimes feels out of place. She’s managing their band and writing the lyrics, but then she’s also the one to organize them and get snacks ready for practice. She’s riding that line between being one of the guys and being “Suzy homemaker” which she’s mentioned not wanting to be, or something along those lines. I like that Char and Trip pass a notebook back and forth to one another about their day, gossip, music, feelings, etc. I had a notebook with my best friend, but I never considered having one with one of my guy friends. I don’t think I really had any guy friends who were the notebook type though either. A big part of the story is Charlotte figuring out who she is and where she fits in. Her mom left their family years ago, her sister is away at college, she’s trying to get to know her stepsisters better, and it feels like the band is falling apart. Charlotte has to learn that she can’t always make everyone happy and sometimes it’s more important to do what’s right for her.
What I Didn’t Like:
From the beginning of Being Friends with Boys it felt like there was a back story I was missing or like this is the sequel to another book about Charlotte and the guys. Readers are instantly thrown into the drama of Trip leaving the band even though we have no real reason why. This sort of expected understanding happened often in the beginning of the book which left me confused and re-reading pages to figure out what I was missing. To top it off, the chapters are incredibly long which almost always irks me. I like a book with drama, but there’s so much drama wrapped into this book that it started to take away from the real meat of the story which is Charlotte’s friendship with Oliver and Trip. At least I think that’s supposed to be the main focus. McVoy wound in all of this extra drama about Charlotte and her (ex?) best friend Lish, her sister being away at college, and her mom not being around anymore. Through most of the book it felt like I was reading a timeline of events that keep happening instead of getting a real in-depth story. The length. Being Friends with Boys is 360 pages long and it should have been 100 pages shorter. If there was more in-depth story and less timeline and telling so much of happening instead of showing what happens, then I think the story could have been shorter. Even if it wasn’t shorter, I think I would have enjoyed it more. The writing is really what turned me away from the book. The ending. After all of this drama, so much was left with loose strings.
Make sure to check out the main page of the blog tour so you can read other reviews of Being Friends with Boys. I’m only one opinion, and many of the other bloggers participating in the tour really liked Terra Elan McVoy’s newest book....more
I’ve read quite a few rave reviews for Trish Doller’s debut Something Like Normal, so I looked it up on NetGalleyReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
I’ve read quite a few rave reviews for Trish Doller’s debut Something Like Normal, so I looked it up on NetGalley to request a copy. As soon as I received the approval email I downloaded Something Like Normal to my Kindle and started reading. If I hadn’t started it while visiting my grandpa in the hospital, I would have finished this in one sitting because it’s that good. If I could get away with writing a review that says “READ IT!” I would just do that because it’s hard to form words for such a wonderful story.
Over the years I’ve learned about myself that if I can’t connect with a character then I won’t enjoy the book. I’ve also learned that I mostly prefer first-person point of view. Something Like Normal fits both of those preferences, plus it features a male protagonist which is something I’m always looking for. Travis is on leave from the Marines and he’s really suffering after witnessing the death of his close friend Charlie. He’s also dealing with coming home to a family that’s been falling apart since his deployment. I really like that Trish Doller wrote Travis the way she did because he’s not written as a hero. He’s written as a suffering young man who’s trying to recover and make amends. He’s trying to become a better man, a man he can be proud of. I can see a number of teenage guys relating to Travis, especially if they’re considering joining the Marines or another part of the armed forces. Many of my seniors that enlist do so because they hope it will shape them into a better person; they hope it will provide some guidance in life. Travis says he really doesn’t know why he joined, but his character made me think of past seniors I had in class that enlisted because they wanted guidance or a sense of direction in their lives. I always appreciate a story with a hero, but there’s something about a story with a flawed character that a reader can’t help but love. Travis’s voice is real and authentic; it’s how I imagine many teenage guys think and feel and act.
I’ve noticed that more Y.A. novels are featuring characters who have graduated from high school. I hope to see more published like this because it’s an excellent way for upperclassman to relate to what’s in their future. It’s also a way to keep teens reading Y.A. beyond high school. Even though Travis is done with school and has been in situations and done and witnessed things most adults never will, he’s still dealing with family drama and common relationship insecurities/dilemmas. I doubt Travis returned home expecting to fall for a girl, especially when his ex-girlfriend has moved on to his brother. His life is complicated, but after running into Harper everything starts to turn around. As I was reading Something Like Normal, I didn’t know what to expect from Harper, but I ended up loving her character. Really, I love Travis and Harper together as a couple. They form the kind of relationship where they work off each other. They mesh in that perfect, awkward, kind of rough around the edges way, but those edges begin to smooth over. Travis isn’t perfect, far from it actually, but his effort to become better is endearing. We see these efforts in his relationship with his mother and with Harper. Both of these women make Travis want to become a better person which is when we see the rough edges smooth over.
Trish Doller includes flashbacks and nightmares in Something Like Normal which give us an idea of the suffering and experiences Travis goes through. I appreciate these scenes for two reasons. My first reason is because it breaks up the family and relationship drama Travis is going through at home. I know many readers enjoy romance and relationship issues in the books they read, but for the readers that want a little less of that, these flashbacks and nightmares will add a welcome break. The second reason I like these scenes is because it gives us a more well-rounded idea of who Travis is and what life is like for soldiers in Afghanistan. I can’t imagine returning home and constantly searching the floor for bombs. Or preferring to sleep on the floor rather than my bed. Or feeling vulnerable without my gun in my hands. These scenes are an invaluable layer to the story.
My only issue with Something Like Normal is that I’m done reading it and I don’t have another book by Trish Doller to read next. I feel like I haven’t expressed enough how completely fantastic this debut is. There isn’t anything I disliked or would change. It’s an engrossing story that I predict will be a huge hit in my classroom. Actually, I wish it released earlier than June 19th so my current students could read it since I don’t have a physical ARC to share with them....more
Prepare for some gushing because I positively loved Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood! I read a number of glowingReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Prepare for some gushing because I positively loved Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood! I read a number of glowing reviews for Jessica Spotwood’s debut, but I wasn’t sure if it would work for me. It’s weird, but even though I have a minor in history, I don’t always enjoy historical fiction. The paranormal twist in Born Wicked really grabbed my interest, so I decided to give it a whirl. I’m happy to say that within the first couple chapters I was hooked!
Jessica Spotswood has written a novel with lush imagery. The Cahill sisters live outside of town in the country. Cate loves to be outside working in her garden, so we get wonderful descriptions of the roses, the trees, and the rest of her garden. Cate and her sisters often practice their magic in the rose garden, so I often felt like the setting was another character in the novel. Much of the story takes place in the fall, but with the girls’ magic it often transformed into a spring garden. I’m always impressed when an author takes the time to describe the setting, especially when this is done without being verbose. I love the late 1800s time period; Cate’s world is one I’d like to spend a day in.
Like I said, I’m not always instantly drawn to historical fiction, but Born Wicked had me captivated. A number of my students really enjoy historical fiction, but it isn’t as popular as paranormal fantasy. The easy blend of these two genres in Born Wicked could easily appeal to both my historical fiction fans and paranormal fantasy fans. I’m actually really considering using this debut in my Young Adult II class which will focus on the study of different genres.
I’ve never read Sense and Sensibility, but I love the movie with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. I bring this up because I kept thinking of this movie while I was reading Born Wicked. The Cahill sisters reminded me of the Dashwood sisters because both sets of sisters are in need of finding a good husband. The restraints are similar in the sense that they need to marry well-off men, appearances are everything, and women don’t hold much power. Born Wicked is similar in this regard, but the added supernatural twist and the lore of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood really add to the plot. Because Cate and her sisters are witches, they are even more intimidated by the Brotherhood because they know they’ll be severely punished if their secret is discovered. It’s not easy being witches, especially since they’ve grown even more into their powers since their mother’s death. There are so many secrets and suspicions that really drive Jessica Spotswood’s novel. Cate doesn’t have many marriage prospects because she’s more concerned with protecting her sisters, but if she doesn’t choose soon she’ll either have a husband chosen for her by the Brotherhood, or she can join the Sisterhood. Because both groups focus so much on religion and are against witchery, neither options are very appealing to Cate. It doesn’t take long for some very interesting options to become available and some very unsettling secrets to be unveiled.
I couldn’t put Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood down, and then when it ended I couldn’t believe it. There’s a jaw-dropping ending that has left me feeling desperate for the second book in the series. The world of YA is saturated with paranormal fantasy, but Born Wicked is not one to pass up or ignore. I highly recommend reading it as soon as possible!...more
This is such a fun book to read. I love the dialect, the pacing, the characters, and even the lack of punctuation around the dialgoue. I would like aThis is such a fun book to read. I love the dialect, the pacing, the characters, and even the lack of punctuation around the dialgoue. I would like a little more from Saba's character. She's awesome and tough, but I didn't feel like I really knew her as well as I should have....more
I still view myself as a new fan of high fantasy, but I know when it’s done right. The Girl of Fire and Thorns byReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
I still view myself as a new fan of high fantasy, but I know when it’s done right. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is high fantasy done right.
Usually when I’m torn over a book I break it into a list of what worked and what didn’t work. I’m not torn about this book at all because I LOVED IT, but I’m going to make this review simple and break down everything that is awesome about The Girl of Fire and Thorns into a list. Sometimes lists are necessary, especially when reviewing a fantastic book.
Everything That Is Awesome About Rae Carson’s Debut:
*The World Building–I think my friend Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts said it best when she said that the world building in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is similar Kristin Cashore’s world building. Her use of imagery makes the world come alive on the page and very easy to visualize. It’s not simple, but it’s not overdone; the reader doesn’t need a map to know where everything is, like in many high fantasy novels.
*The Premise–I know some readers have been turned off by the fact that the Godstone resides in the bearer’s belly button, but it didn’t bother me. I like how original the idea is and how it played out in the novel. I was constantly wondering about the Godstone and what might happen with it, and I was pleasantly surprised at the end. I like that the reader figures this out with Elisa; it engaged me as a reader and made me feel more connected to Elisa. Religion plays a large role in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but it isn’t your average book about faith. Elisa needs to stay faithful and learn to have faith in herself, but the religion is different. It’s written in such a way that those who may shy away from books with religious themes will probably enjoy this. The way magic is mixed in to the story gives this religion a different flair.
*The Characters–Elisa is a breath of fresh air. She isn’t a perfect, beautiful, graceful character. She’s fat, unsure of herself, and in many ways naive which makes her more realistic. The growth of her character is outstanding and so much fun to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her become strong and independent. The supporting characters are wonderful. I particularly enjoyed Lord Hector, Humberto, and Ximena. They’re vibrant and make the story so much stronger.
*The Pacing–Many of the high fantasy novels I’ve read are dense in story, lore, background, mythology, etc. Rae Carson’s novel is lengthy at 424 pages, but it’s fast-paced and easy to read. Many of the character’s names and the different settings are hard to pronounce, but it didn’t hold me back from enjoying and understanding the story. I had a hard time putting this one down, especially since the chapters are short and end in just the right way to keep me wanting more.
*The Ending–No, I’m not going to spoil the outcome of the story. I’m simply going to say that I’m happy about a “real” ending to a book kicking off a series. No horrible cliffhanger that makes you want to throw the book. The ending is perfect because it leaves me satisfied and wanting more at the same time.
If you haven’t read The Girl of Fire and Thorns yet, I highly recommend reading it as soon as possible. I’m teaching this in my YA Lit II class and couldn’t be happier about it; it’s going to work perfectly in my fantasy unit. The good thing for those of us who are just now reading this book is that we only have to wait until September 18th for the sequel, The Crown of Embers, to release!...more
I don't know how many stars to give Where Things Come Back because I don't know how I feel about it completely. More than anything, I really didn't liI don't know how many stars to give Where Things Come Back because I don't know how I feel about it completely. More than anything, I really didn't like it. But then part of me thinks maybe I'm not giving it enough thought. I see how the two parts are tied together, but there are so many other things happening that simply muddle the story. And I'm not a big fan of the writing. It really bothered me when Cullen would say "Imagine one blah, blah, blah" and then we'd get some weird fantasy/daydream of his. So maybe I really didn't like it and there isn't any confusion. I don't know, but I'm not giving it any stars.
Did anyone else feel like this? I never would have chosen it as a Printz contender, let alone winner....more
Kody Keplinger knows how to write engrossing stories. I probably should have waited to read A Midsummer’s NightmaReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Kody Keplinger knows how to write engrossing stories. I probably should have waited to read A Midsummer’s Nightmare until summer break started because I didn’t want to stop reading it! I loved The Duff and really enjoyed Shut Out, but A Midsummer’s Nightmare is now my favorite.
I’m impressed with Kody Keplinger’s ability to take touchy subjects like Whitley’s and handle them with so much care. Whitley drinks and parties too much, and often fools around with too many guys. It’s earned her a reputation. In the beginning of the book, Whitley doesn’t care all that much about what she does or what people think of her. It’s not until she’s spending the summer with her dad and his new family in a new small town that Whitley really starts to second-guess how she’s acting. Kody Keplinger didn’t write a novel preaching to teens about how to behave, but it’s easy to learn what not to do by watching Whitley’s actions.
Whitley isn’t always the most likeable character because she’s so self-destructive, but it’s also easy to see how much potential she has. Is her road to changing her ways an easy one? No, and it shouldn’t be. If Kody Keplinger had written a book where the protagonist becomes a new and better person with the snap of your fingers then she wouldn’t have written a believable book. I know people like Whitley and I know how difficult it was for them to see what they were doing to themselves and change that behavior. I appreciate Keplinger for writing such a real character.
Much of Whitley’s anger and actions stem from the dissolution of her parents’ marriage and her relationship with them since the divorce. I couldn’t stand either of her parents when I was reading A Midsummer’s Nightmare, and I’m sure that was her point when writing this book. It’s apparent that both her mom and dad care about her, but it’s also apparent that both of them are too self-involved to care as much as they should. The sad fact is, there are too many parents out there who aren’t involved in their children’s lives. Kudos to Kody Keplinger for tackling two big issues in one book!
If you haven’t read The Duff or Shut Out yet, I recommend starting with A Midsummer’s Nightmare. Kody Keplinger is a talented young author in the YA world, and her writing is only getting stronger. I can’t wait to read her next book!...more
If you’re looking for a book that will appeal to guy readers, make sure you hand them Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. TReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
If you’re looking for a book that will appeal to guy readers, make sure you hand them Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. This debut has everything a book needs for guy appeal: humor, action, gaming, and more. Even better? Considering this type of book isn’t always my first choice, and knowing how much I enjoyed it, I’m positive girls will like Insignia as well.
Tom Raines’ character is written well and is perfect for this book. At the beginning of Insignia, we find out that he’s conniving and quite the talented gamer. We also find out that his dad is a short-on-his-luck gambler who isn’t really taking care of Tom the way a father should. With Tom being left to his own devices, he doesn’t take school very seriously even though it’s obvious that he’s smart. I think it’s safe to say that if Tom were a real teenager in my class, I’d really like him despite the front he puts up. He’s full of wit and quick humor and easy to like. He’s perfect for this book because he’s not over confident, nor is he too down on himself. He knows he’s talented, but I don’t think readers will find it annoying; I think they’ll connect with him and look up to him, especially if they’re gamers as well.
I’m not a gamer, but I have to admit that the world S.J. Kincaid created is pretty cool. How cool would it be to interact in a virtual reality?! Being a superior war machine really isn’t my idea of a good time (pressure much?), but I sure like reading about them! Kincaid did such a fantastic job creating the setting and the world Tom lives in, it felt like it could be real even though Insignia takes place in the future. Setting and world building is one of the most important features in science fiction and dystopians because so much relies on these two features. If they aren’t written well and with detail, then how am I supposed to buy in to the story, especially when sci-fi and dystopias are supposed to be believable?
I was fortunate enough to read Insignia back in November, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release since then. It’s a page-turning debut that I couldn’t put down, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with other readers. The release of Insignia is especially exciting because I’m using it in my YA Lit II class this upcoming school year. I let a few of my students read my copy early to get a feel from them, and was happy to hear rave reviews. S.J. Kincaid is an exciting new talent in the world of YA, and I can’t wait to read the next book!...more
I’ve read a number of glowing reviews for Juliet Immortal and a couple of my avid readers told me I HAD to read it. I’m glad I took everyone’s adviceI’ve read a number of glowing reviews for Juliet Immortal and a couple of my avid readers told me I HAD to read it. I’m glad I took everyone’s advice because I really liked Stacey Jay’s novel. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical. I loved the many allusions to Shakespeare and his works as well. The twist on Romeo and Juliet really won me over, and I think it will have the same effect on my students. My department is working on adding YA novels to our Romeo and Juliet unit and I definitely plan on recommending this novel. It has plenty of action and romance without being too graphic; besides some language and violence, it’s a clean book. My problem with Juliet Immortal is that towards the second half of the novel, the writing turned verbose and the story became redundant. This is what kept me from giving it 4 out of 5 stars. Other than that, if you enjoy Shakespeare, or a good twist on a classic, I recommend reading Stacey Jay’s novel. ...more
For some reason I’m having a tough time writing this review like normal, so I’m going to try a bullet list reviewReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
For some reason I’m having a tough time writing this review like normal, so I’m going to try a bullet list review today featuring what worked and didn’t work for me.
What Worked for Me:
I like the dynamics in Claire and Loann’s relationship. It’s easy to identify with Loann and understand how disconnected from Claire she’s become. In the beginning of Never Enough it’s hard to say whether Claire feels this way as well, but Loann feels it. She feels awkward and ugly in comparison to Loann, and like she isn’t interesting enough to spend time with Claire and her friends. Claire is set up as this perfect doll who can do no wrong. It’s obvious that Claire isn’t perfect, especially based on the summary, but she’s found a way to deceive those around her. This deception is one of the biggest reasons why Claire and Loann struggle with their relationship because Loann finds that she can’t trust her sister. Loann’s always looked up to Claire, even when her family and friends are constantly comparing her to Claire. They share a tight bond which falters as the story progresses. I like Marcus’s character. He brings out a different side of Loann; he brings out her more confident side. She’s not always confident around Marcus, but she discovers that she can be more than Loann’s sister when she’s around him. As their friendship grows, Loann begins to detach herself from Loann’s shadow, even though she’s still constantly thinking about her and comparing herself to Claire. This is when Loann finds photography and independence. She feels comfortable around Marcus and can be herself. Even though it’s difficult for Loann to stop comparing herself to her sister, the reader can see her character growing and finding herself. When looking for a book dealing with eating disorders, Never Enough doesn’t fall into that usual category since we’re not in the shoes of the character dealing with the actual eating disorder. We’re watching everything through a bystander’s, Loann’s, eyes. We see how it affects her and her relationship with her sister. Denise Jaden has written a book that those who have a friend or relative battling with an eating disorder can read and connect with.
What Didn’t Work for Me:
The pacing and length are off in Never Enough. I had read almost 200 pages and was left wondering when the real conflicts in the story were going to develop. At this point there had been hints about Claire’s eating disorder and a lot of story set up, but nothing major was going on. There is one big development between Loann and another character that shocked me, but that was about it. I wish that either the story moved faster, or that there were less side stories tied in (Marcus’s home life, Loann’s parents’ marriage faltering, etc.) I will say, however, that by the end of the book I could see what Denise Jaden was doing by writing the story this way and I appreciated it. I’m worried, though, that my students might not stick with the book because of the “slow parts” as they would say. Never Enough would probably work better for me if it were about 100 pages shorter. ...more
Have you ever started reading a book and knew right away that you were going to love every single page? That’s hoReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Have you ever started reading a book and knew right away that you were going to love every single page? That’s how I felt when I started reading In Honor by Jessi Kirby. I can’t explain what about a book wins me over when I have this experience, but I’m happy about it nonetheless. I felt similarly when I read Jessi Kirby’s debut Moonglass as well. Her writing draws me in and doesn’t let go until I’ve finished her book.
I love that In Honor starts with Honor describing taps being played and the 21-gun salute. If you’ve been to a funeral when taps has been played and the salute is given, then it’s easy to relive it while reading someone’s experience. It’s an emotional experience which becomes an emotional reading experience. I don’t have an immediate family member serving, but I have former students serving, I have cousins serving, I’ve had friends serving. I may not know what it feels like to lose a brother in the war, but I can certainly empathize with Honor and Rusty as they navigate through their grief. In Honor is an emotional read, but it’s balanced with love, hope, and humor that many readers will appreciate.
The road trip setting gives In Honor a lighter mood despite the circumstances which I really appreciated because it made the emotional scenes even more powerful. Road trip books are entertaining because characters are forced to interact with one another, given the close quarters, which provides more character development and insight. Honor pretty much wears her heart on her sleeve, but Rusty is harder to read. Honor and Rusty don’t get along very well and the tension is palpable, but there’s something just beneath the surface that lets the reader know that there’s more to Rusty than meets the eye. Besides the fact that I had a character crush on him, I really enjoyed watching his character grow and discovering his secrets as their journey to California progressed. He and Honor are learning more about each other, but they’re also learning about themselves through this entire ordeal.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but reading In Honor made me wish I could either live in Texas or at least visit Texas. I love living in Michigan, so maybe I just wish I could have gone to Texas years ago and met a cute guy like Rusty? I don’t know, but the whole southern atmosphere described was alluring. I have been to Sedona (a pit stop Honor and Rusty have to make), so I know how beautiful it is and really want to make a return visit. More than anything, I think this awkward paragraph just goes to show how well Jessi Kirby created the atmosphere and setting of In Honor. So many elements of this book won me over and made me feel like I was there with Honor and Rusty.
If you take anything from this review, know this: In Honor is a book that will resonate with readers. The characters are dynamic and true and ones you’ll wish you could meet in real life. Jessi Kirby wrote a wonderful debut, but her sophomore novel, In Honor, is even better. Without a doubt, In Honor will be extremely popular in my classroom and I really hope you read it....more
I read some mixed reviews for this one, but I wanted to read it anyway, especially after my mom read it and told me how much she liked it. The blurb fI read some mixed reviews for this one, but I wanted to read it anyway, especially after my mom read it and told me how much she liked it. The blurb from Sarah Dessen helped too. I ended up really enjoying Moonglass. It’s a wonderful summer read, full of beaches, lifeguards, etc. Don’t let the beach atmosphere fool you. Yes there’s a budding romance, but Anna is really struggling with the memory of her mother’s death. This challenges her relationship with her father and her ability to grow as a person. It’s an emotional read that I didn’t want to put down....more
And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky is a prime example of great contemporary Y.A. literature. Keek has a true, authenticActually 4.5 stars
And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky is a prime example of great contemporary Y.A. literature. Keek has a true, authentic voice, which I enjoyed immensely. I’m actually struggling right now trying to find the words to write this review because I loved this book that much.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if And Then Things Fall Apart was a book I wanted to read when I first heard about it. I hadn’t read that many reviews, and I’ve never finished reading The Bell Jar, so I didn’t know if it was a book for me. When I was at NCTE, Arlaina Tibensky was signing, so I figured I’d buy a copy and get it signed for my classroom. Since then it’s been sitting on my shelf. Recently I bought a copy of Saving June by Hannah Harrington for my classroom, another book I haven’t read, and one of my freshmen read it. When she finished she told me she loved it and needed another book like Saving June. Since I haven’t read that one yet, I was at a loss, so I consulted Twitter. Thanks to Kelly at Stacked, I had a couple book recommendations for my student which included And Then Things Fall Apart. I didn’t have that in my classroom at the moment, so I gave my student the other recommend book and decided to read And Then Things Fall Apart. I know this is a long-winded story, but I’m SO GLAD I read it! Based on what my student said about Saving June and then Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers (which was the other read alike), I’m almost positive she’ll love And Then Things Fall Apart.
Anyway, back to why I loved this debut. I need to bring up Keek. She’s sick in bed with the chicken pox during summer vacation. Chicken pox become worse with age, so Keek is really suffering. To make matters worse, her mom is out of state, and her parents are about to get divorced, so she’s trapped at her Grandma’s house without any technology to interact with the outside world. But she does have a typewriter and her worn-with-love copy of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. To give herself something to do, she decides to start writing. Arlaina Tibensky’s novel is essentially Keek’s book. She has a wonderful sense of humor that’s made up of mostly snark and wit. Her voice is authentic, so it’s easy to picture Keek. There isn’t much dialogue because Keek is isolated for the most part, but also because she’s a character that really lives in her head. The lack of dialogue didn’t bother me at all, and it wasn’t something that I noticed until I saw some reviews on Goodreads after finishing. Keek, who’s real name is Karina, is very mature for her age in the way that she thinks. But on the other hand, she’ll sometimes act immature when it comes to her boyfriend Matt and her reactions to her parents. Teens that view themselves as being more mature than their peers will really identify with Keek.
While Keek is mature and a deep thinker, she’s inexperienced with boys, which adds to her insecurity with Matt. When she’s confronted with moving forward sexually with Matt, she often consults The Bell Jar for advice. Her virginity is always on her mind, as is Matt. At times Matt drives her crazy and she can’t stand him. Other times she’s thinking about times when she was madly in love with him and her hormones were driving her actions. Keek’s really conflicted; she doesn’t know if her feelings are real and why she’s so scared to have sex with Matt. Some readers might be put off by Keek’s thoughts about sex and her virginity; they might see it as being too mature for some readers. I read Keek’s memories of Matt and her thoughts about her virginity as very real and what many teens probably go through and think about.
The only fault I found with And Then Things Fell Apart, is that sometimes Keek’s voice and thoughts felt off character. She started to sound more like an adult, or like I was reading a non-YA novel. I normally wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, but Keek at times was too smart for her age.
Overall, if you want to read a fantastic example of contemporary Y.A., then I can’t recommend And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky enough. It’s humorous, honest, and just all-around great. I can’t wait to read more books written by Arlaina Tibensky.
P.S. If you’re currently on a budget, you’ll be happy to hear that this was released in paperback....more
**I reviewed this on my blog in NOVEMBER and apparently I forgot to post it here as well. Sorry!**
Prepare for gushing because this novel is beautiful**I reviewed this on my blog in NOVEMBER and apparently I forgot to post it here as well. Sorry!**
Prepare for gushing because this novel is beautiful and amazing. I’ve been a fan of Sara Zarr since a family friend gave me a copy of Story of a Girl as a college graduation present. Story of a Girl has remained my favorite up until now. How to Save a Life is such a strong novel and very different from Zarr’s other novels.
All of Zarr’s novels are strong in story and characters, but there’s a different feel to How to Save a Life. I finished reading it thinking, “Wow. This is her stand out, best book yet.” The two point of views are seamless, dynamic and natural. I could picture Jill and Mandy perfectly, but I could also picture her mom, Dylan and Ravi with ease as well. I finished this yesterday and I’m still thinking about Jill and Mandy; I connected with them on such an emotional level. Mandy is naive and often socially awkward; I often felt awkward for her, especially at the beginning. She is also understanding, compassionate, and true. Jill is grief-stricken and sometimes harsh, but she wants to open up and be a new, friendlier Jill. I couldn’t help but fall for these girls. So often I was willing them to communicate with one another and with the people around them. Watching them develop a friendship and begin to trust others was one of the best parts of the novel. Sara Zarr really did a fantastic job writing these characters.
The story itself is beautifully layered and more than just a story about a girl giving her baby up for adoption. This is a story about the many ways of dealing with grief. Jill has isolated herself. Her friends aren’t easy to get back, her relationship with her boyfriend is strained, and she doesn’t know how to connect with her mother. The relationship between Jill and her mother, Robin, is believable. Sometimes these relationships are exaggerated in novels, but I never felt like either of their interactions or reactions were over the top or unbelievable. And this is a side note, but even though I’ve never met Sara Zarr, I kept picturing her as I read Robin. Maybe that’s weird, but I did. Mandy is of course battling the conflicting emotions involved with giving up her baby. This conflict is made deeper because of her own need for a mother. Mandy’s mother is absent, cold and simply not what a mother should be. She’s still connected to her and often recites her advice, but her need for someone like Robin is obvious. Mandy broke my heart more than once. I love a book like How to Save a Life because I can offer it to more students considering the rich layers. I can hand this to a student looking for a book about teen pregnancy, grief, strained relationships with mothers, losing a parent, finding ways to trust again, and I could go on.
Sara Zarr has written a phenomenal book. I absolutely loved it, and of course that means I’m struggling to write the review. I hope I’ve found the right words to express the awesome that is this novel. How to Save a Life is an emotional novel that will warm your heart....more
Plain and simple, Boy21 is a GREAT book. I was on the search for a quality read aloud for my freshmen English classes, so I picked up Boy21 on a whim. I wanted to read it anyway, but I kept thinking about my 3rd hour freshmen class that’s primarily boys who don’t enjoy reading. Boy21 seemed like the perfect fit for them, so I went with my hunch and started reading it. As soon as I read the first couple chapters I knew I made the right decision.
Finley’s voice really stands out on the page, which is ironic considering he doesn’t like to talk much. He actually reminds me a little bit of Lucky Linderman from Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. Both Lucky and Finley have a sort of innocence about them. They both have trouble speaking up for themselves, and they also want what’s best for those around them. Just like Lucky, Finley is an admirable character.
One of the reasons I like Finley is because he’s so loyal to his friends, coach, and family. When his coach approaches him about helping Boy21 (Russ), Finley doesn’t hesitate to offer his help. He trusts his coach, so even though he worries that Russ could take his starting position on the basketball team, he still tries to make friends with Russ. Russ has an obsession with space and refers to himself as Boy21, but he and Finley pair up well. They’re both amazing basketball players, even though Russ doesn’t show this right away, and they both deal with unfair treatment. They’re both treated poorly for different reasons, much of which is based on race and rivalry, but it still serves as a bond. After a startling and tragic turn of events, Finley really grows as a character. His loyalties are tested and he begins to doubt what’s truly important in his life. He begins to question his life, where it’s going–if anywhere–and what really happened years ago that caused him to be such a quiet, good kid. I love being able to witness this kind of characterization, which is one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed Matthew Quick’s novel so much.
Boy21 by Matthew Quick is a novel that appeals to a variety of readers. My basketball players and sports fiction fans will enjoy the basketball scenes and references in Boy21. My fans of great contemporary realistic fiction will recognize what a superb example this is of that genre. Readers will connect with Finley, Erin, and Russ. They’ll feel the tension and suspense, they’ll laugh out loud, and they might even cry (I did)....more
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams is gripping and intense. On the very first page Hope walks in on her sister LizziReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams is gripping and intense. On the very first page Hope walks in on her sister Lizzie holding a shotgun, her finger on the trigger. Not since reading Burned and Identical, both by Ellen Hopkins, have I read a verse novel so raw with emotion and suspense.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have a sister, but I love reading stories about sisters and their relationships. Hope and Lizzie are as close as sisters can be, so it’s an absolute shock when Hope walks in and finds Lizzie this way. Carol Lynch Williams has done a fantastic job portraying the bond between these two sisters. Hope is slow to realize why her sister wants to kill herself, and part of that reason is because Lizzie has been committed to protecting and sheltering her sister. What I like about Glimpse and the dynamics between Hope and Lizzie is that we see first hand how concerned, conflicted, and confused Hope is about her sister. Hope doesn’t understand what’s going on between Lizzie and her mother, but she knows it’s making her jealous. While feeling jealous, however, Hope gets the feeling that Lizzie is hiding something important from their mother, so she tries her best to protect Lizzie and her secrets. Their relationship rides a fine line, but it leans mostly to the side of caring and protecting rather than jealous and malicious.
I’ve become critical of verse novels, and while some of the free verse felt choppy, the writing as a whole worked for me. Some of the choppy lines came from sections where Hope repeats random sentences or words. I’m sure it’s for effect and drama, but those few lines were more distracting than anything else. The majority of the verse, however, is lyrical and smooth. I say this often in my reviews of verse novels, but I’m so impressed when an author is able to convey strong emotions and paint vivid scenes and characters with so few words. Carol Lynch Williams does an excellent job doing both.
Carol Lynch Williams tackles some mature issues in Glimpse, but she does with subtlety and grace. As I began figuring out what was happening I grew nervous because I was wondering how it was going to be handled later in the story. The revelation is clear, but it’s not overdone or graphic. It’s enough to gain understanding and break your heart at the same time. Glimpse is a powerful book and one not to miss....more
Exciting. Gripping. Thrilling. These are the best words I can use to describe the awesome that is Insurgent by VeReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Exciting. Gripping. Thrilling. These are the best words I can use to describe the awesome that is Insurgent by Veronica Roth.
Let me say first, that if it’s been a while since you’ve read Divergent then I recommend either re-reading the whole book or at least the last few chapters because Insurgent starts right where Divergent left off. There aren’t any recaps either. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Insurgent, but let me tell you I wasn’t disappointed! We’re thrown right back into the chaos we were left with and I couldn’t stop reading. I think I was about 60 pages in and then BAM! Major action was happening all around. It was exciting and non-stop action. I sat there, awe-struck and completely engrossed the entire time I was reading. In some ways Insurgent reminded me of Mockingjay in the way the tone changed from Divergent to Insurgent. It’s not dismal and depressing like Mockingjay was, but Insurgent has more of an intense urgency to it. Thankfully Roth allowed us some breaks from the action and intensity with scenes full of well-done humor and romance.
I positively love Tris’s character, and in Insurgent we see a different side of Tris—a more vulnerable side. She’s still reeling from the death of her parents and suffering over the fact that she killed Will. These deaths haunt her for most of the novel and affect her personality. She’s not as tough, but she’s still stubborn, adventurous, brave, and reckless (reckless according to Tobias). We also witness how loyal she is, even if at times she and others question her loyalty. Tris begins to learn who she really is in Insurgent. In Divergent she was still figuring that out, especially since she switched factions. I often worried about Tris, but ultimately I’ve grown to love her character even more because of her supposed weakness which results in immense character growth. You have to love a protagonist that can overcome her demons.
I don’t want to give anything away, but I can’t write this review without mentioning Tobias. I still love his character, and I still love him and Tris together. All I will say is that it’s rocky between Tris and Tobias and I admire Veronica Roth for how she handled their relationship. She kept it real and didn’t add any extra unnecessary dramatics like so many authors do. That is all :)
It’s been a week since I finished Insurgent, and my mind is still reeling over everything we learn. Tris finds out so much more about what it means to be Divergent, but the ending left me with even more questions when I thought many were answered. But not only am I questioning things about the Divergents, I’m wondering about Amity and Abnegation. Veronica Roth blew my mind with the ending which is the biggest reason I’m reeling and slightly incoherent. I need to know more about ALL OF THE THINGS that I can’t discuss b/c it would spoil the book. But ALL OF THE THINGS are exciting and mind-boggling and discussion worthy. Seriously, read Divergent if you haven’t already so you can read Insurgent and enjoy the awesome!...more