This book made me so emotional for a lot of reasons, but the thing I'll always love about this series is how the Naturals become a family. A wonderfulThis book made me so emotional for a lot of reasons, but the thing I'll always love about this series is how the Naturals become a family. A wonderful finale to a series you should read, especially if you love psychology and thrillers....more
adam fucking reynolds is my favorite, and i'm very excited for the rest of the books in this series. if you love feminist romance, read courtney milanadam fucking reynolds is my favorite, and i'm very excited for the rest of the books in this series. if you love feminist romance, read courtney milan's books immediately. ...more
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a master at writing thrillers & twists that make you say, "holy shit." This sequel was even better than the first: if youJennifer Lynn Barnes is a master at writing thrillers & twists that make you say, "holy shit." This sequel was even better than the first: if you love YA thrillers, read this series immediately....more
I really liked this story about a girl having to let go of everything she'd ever known as her town fell underwater. I think the pacing was poor; the bI really liked this story about a girl having to let go of everything she'd ever known as her town fell underwater. I think the pacing was poor; the book is very long, especially in the middle, and the ending (including the end of the romantic subplot) felt rushed. My favorite part of the story was Keeley's tenuous, complicated relationship with her best friend Morgan, which was very heartbreaking. Siobhan Vivian is one of my favorite YA writers. She writes great books about girls coming of age and complicated friendships, and this was another excellent book by her....more
I love, love the Superlatives series. (2 of the 3 girls are WoC, there's so much sex-positivity in these books, and they're hilarious.) Sawyer/Kaye haI love, love the Superlatives series. (2 of the 3 girls are WoC, there's so much sex-positivity in these books, and they're hilarious.) Sawyer/Kaye have always been my favorite of the couples, and I adored their book. I especially liked that we got to see Sawyer's more vulnerable side in this book (especially because in the other books, he was mostly comedic relief) and I really didn't want to say goodbye to the Superlatives gang. (Seriously, I'd read a bonus short story about what goes on at senior prom.) Jennifer Echols's books aren't super well recognized in YA, which is a shame. Overall: if you want to read sex-positive and feminist romantic comedies, read this series....more
my new favorite Sarah Ockler book and one of the best books I've read this year. Elyse's story is a gorgeously written story about the power of mermaimy new favorite Sarah Ockler book and one of the best books I've read this year. Elyse's story is a gorgeously written story about the power of mermaids, community, family, and the ocean. and above all, it's the story of Elyse finding her voice, complete with a beautiful romance, feminist themes, and diverse characters....more
so, so good. (4.5 if you care about stars.) i love books about people finding themselves and others through music, elise's loneliness is really honestso, so good. (4.5 if you care about stars.) i love books about people finding themselves and others through music, elise's loneliness is really honest and well-drawn, and the book does a good job of talking about suicide without romanticizing suicide or suicidal ideation.
cute & I can never resist fake-relationship turns into real relationship stories. I liked the sister relationships, the plot itself was predictablcute & I can never resist fake-relationship turns into real relationship stories. I liked the sister relationships, the plot itself was predictable, and (view spoiler)[ Josh should just be friends with the family and not date any of the sisters (hide spoiler)]. It was a fun read, especially for summer, and I smiled at the ending; I'll read the sequel for sure when it comes out next year.
This was so cute and adorable. I loved the theater references, Nate's relationship with his BFF Libby, and the subtle explorations of sexuality. Is thThis was so cute and adorable. I loved the theater references, Nate's relationship with his BFF Libby, and the subtle explorations of sexuality. Is there some suspension of disbelief needed for this book? Yes, but it's a fabulous ride and I'm eager to read the sequel. ...more
He’s a talented athlete and plays on the varsity tennis team. He’s incredibly popular and has a beautiful girlfriend.Ezra Faulkner is the golden boy.
He’s a talented athlete and plays on the varsity tennis team. He’s incredibly popular and has a beautiful girlfriend. He’s incredibly charismatic and everyone loves him.
Until tragedy strikes.
While at a party, Ezra catches his girlfriend Charlotte with another guy, and out of anger he chooses to leave the party. While walking down the street, he’s hit by a car. The accident injures him, but more importantly, it turns him into a social outcast. Ezra’s no longer the golden boy: he’s now the crippled, injured outcast.
Robyn Schneider’s debut novel The Beginning of Everything is a story about first love and loss. She lays out the thesis at the end of the first chapter: who do you become, and what do you do, after tragedy defines your life?
Because understanding tragedy is important to Ezra. When he was twelve years old, Ezra’s best friend Toby had his birthday party at Disneyland. Ezra and Toby sat in the back of the Thunder Mountain Railroad rollercoaster. In front of them, a Japanese boy stood up while the roller coaster went underneath a tunnel. His head was decapitated instantly, flying backwards – and Toby, one row behind, caught the boy’s severed head. After that trip to Disneyland, Toby was labeled as a social outcast, ignored by his classmates, remembered only as “that boy who caught a severed head.” And after the Disneyland incident, Ezra and Toby drifted apart, as Ezra became popular and Toby faded into social obscurity.
But now Ezra’s the social outcast. His girlfriend’s broken up with him, he can no longer play varsity tennis due to his shattered knee – and because of that loss, he’s lost most of his popular friends, who also played tennis with him – and his classmates ignore him. So Ezra starts his senior year alone.
But he reconnects with his old friend Toby on the first day of school. They mess around and as a result, are kicked out of a pep rally.
And he meets the new girl, Cassidy Thorpe. She’s beautiful and charming and mysterious. She’s just transferred from a prestigious prep school, and she’s amazing at speech and debate – that is, until she dropped out of debate unexpectedly last year.
Ezra also meets Toby’s friends and fellow debaters. There’s Luke, the film nerd; Sam, the future lawyer; Austin, the graphic designer; and Phoebe, the newspaper editor and Luke’s girlfriend. Ezra falls in with their group, eating lunch with them daily, and even joins the debate team.
And soon Ezra’s a part of the group, attending debate meets, going to floating film festivals and flash mobs, sharing inside jokes. He’s happy with his new friends, and he’s attracted to Cassidy.
But everyone keeps warning him about her – she disappears easily, she destroys relationships, underneath that bubbly exterior is a messed up girl. Ezra ignores their warnings, because he genuinely likes her.
Ezra’s old friends, meanwhile, keep inviting him to hang out with them. They say hi to him at In N Out Burger, invite him to Chipotle, to the Halloween party. And he’s torn between these two worlds – his old world, of popularity and parties, and this new world that he’s created for himself, this quirky social group.
But soon things are looking up for Ezra, though. He and Cassidy start dating, sending flashlight messages across to each other and kissing and fooling around. Ezra has great friends, and he doesn’t feel like a social outcast anymore.
But then Cassidy destroys him emotionally, and Ezra’s shattered.
The Beginning of Everything is overall a strong debut. Schneider’s writing is fantastic, and she nails her character’s dialogue. Her depiction of the high school experience is great, with Ezra feeling like an outcast in his school, the teachers sometimes being thoughtlessly cruel, and the social status of high school, with the underclassmen scurrying from class to class, and the importance of popularity to Ezra’s former friends.
But in the end, this novel is weakened by the quirkiness of its characters.
Cassidy is a stock maniac pixie dream girl. This book has been compared in many ways to John Green, and I think the novel sets out to do the same thing that Green did in his book “Paper Towns:” dismantle the idea of the maniac pixie dream girl as being a romantic and healthy ideal.
From the beginning, Ezra’s warned about Cassidy. She’s impulsive and self-destructive and she’s more messed up than she seems, underneath all the quirkiness and charm. Toby and the other debaters wonder what happened to her – she unexpectedly quit debate, even though she was great at it and often won awards, and seemingly disappeared before reemerging in Eastwood.
It was clear from the beginning that there was something wrong with Cassidy, some sort of mystery that had forced her to quit debate, and while the reveal was hardly surprising, I enjoyed how Schneider connected Cassidy’s story to Ezra’s.
(This is spoiler territory, so scroll down if you don’t want to be spoiled.) (view spoiler)[ The car that hit Ezra – and shattered his leg – was driven by Cassidy’s older brother. He didn’t tell anyone about the accident, but he was injured and the effects from the injury later stopped his heart. (hide spoiler)]
But otherwise, Cassidy as a character was pretty stock and predictable for me. She’s the quirky and smart and funny girl who likes to break all the rules (she disobeys the debate team regulations, sneaks into college classes, she sends messages with flashlights, etc), but she has a dark secret. I will admit, I liked how Schneider showed how broken Cassidy was and how she drove Ezra away, but in the end, Cassidy seemed little more than a cliché to me. And I think that John Green, while “Paper Towns” isn’t my favorite book, more successfully deconstructed the maniac pixie dream girl concept in that novel.
The other characters were all so, so quirky (to the detriment of the characters and to the detriment of the book). On the first page where the debate club kids are introduced, they almost ooze with quirkiness. Luke is introduced as a film club nerd who ran an “Auto-Tune the News”-esque blog; Sam is the president of the Future Republicans club (okay, Sam is probably the least quirky of the bunch), Austin is a graphic designer and designs school apparel and yearbooks and ran an online T-shirt store; and Phoebe is the school news editor.
And the activities that the debate club engages in are also quirky. They go to LA to participate in a flash mob; they have monthly “floating movie clubs” located inside the school after hours; it’s mentioned that the last time they went to LA they saw a three-hour musical about “depressed German teenagers,” and they love comics and Doctor Who. There’s an entire conversation that seems ripped from a ‘90s nostalgia blog, or a Buzzfeed post, where the teens listen to a mix tape and nostalgically remember Nickelodeon programs and Furbys and Tamagotchis. They don’t sound like teens; they sound like 20 or 30 somethings.
And that’s the other issue with the debate club kids. They all sound so grown up, so adult, so mature, not like 17-year-olds.
(My favorite of the debate club members was Phoebe. I really enjoyed the scene where she told Luke off and slapped him in the face at lunch.)
My other issue was with the debate scenes. Full disclosure, I’ve been a member of a debate team and attended many debate meets. The actual debate itself was portrayed well in the novel – the anxious air before the meet started, the rivalries between schools, the inside jokes and stories shared between teammates – but I found the scene where they party with the other debate teams to be contrived.
They’re parting and dancing around this hotel room, which one, hotel rooms are usually small, and doing things like eating baguettes and playing drinking games with other debate teams. It seemed unrealistic and ridiculous (and a bit contrived to get Ezra and Cassidy in the same bed – though they just sleep, and don’t have sex).
My last complaint is again a spoiler, so skip down if you want to remain unspoiled. (view spoiler)[ I found the death of the dog at the end to be contrived and unnecessary. Towards the end of the novel, there are lots of coyote sightings around the area, and Animal Control is on high alert. But after a few days, they decide to call off the hunt. Ezra goes on a walk with his dog to Cassidy’s house. The two of them have a confrontation, and as Ezra turns to leave, his dog is attacked by a coyote. Cassidy and Ezra rush the dog to the hospital, but he doesn’t survive. (hide spoiler)]
At the hospital, Cassidy explains what happened to her brother as they wait. The death seemed like a plot convenience, orchestrated so that Cassidy could explain her story to Ezra and say goodbye to him once and for all. While the scene was heartbreaking, it was contrived.
Overall, The Beginning of Everything is a strong debut. I’m interested to read more books by Schneider, as I was impressed by her writing skills and depiction of the high school experience, though I found the characters to be too quirky for my taste and the plot to be slightly contrived. This book is great for fans of John Green, especially those who appreciate Green’s quirky characters/dialogue and his deconstruction of the maniac pixie dream girl archetype. ...more
I really dislike cancer books. To me, many of them are too dramatic and incredibly predictable – for instance, in some of the books, it seems incredibI really dislike cancer books. To me, many of them are too dramatic and incredibly predictable – for instance, in some of the books, it seems incredibly obvious that one of the characters will die due to cancer. While I have liked a few books that deal with topics of cancer, such as Before I Die and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, most books in this genre I tend to avoid.
However, I very much enjoyed reading Send Me a Sign. Why is this? At a glance, it seems like a typical story about a girl diagnosed with leukemia. But really the story is less about cancer than that it involves cancer . Cancer is never really the main point, and while the treatments and such are discussed, the story is more about how cancer affects people.
Mia is a golden girl. She's got a great group of friends – dubbed the "Calendar Girls" – and a boy who's interested in dating her. She gets great grades, has a great family who's proud of her, and is happy in her life. She has a great friend, Gyver, who she's known for years. All she cares about is having a perfect senior year. Until she starts getting bumps on her leg. Until her mother, worried, sends her to the doctor to have her checked. Until the doctor tells her that she has leukemia. Until Mia realizes that her perfect, golden life is slipping away from her.
See, Mia's less concerned about the cancer than she is concerned about her friends finding out about the cancer. She doesn't want the Calendar Girls to know. If they find out, surely they'll end their friendship with her. And then her perfect life will come apart. Mia's mother, wanting her daughter to have a perfect life, comes up with a plan: Mia will hide her secret from her friends and keep up her perfect façade and they'll never know. Except, as Mia starts treatment and starts feeling sicker, it gets harder and harder to hide her secret from her friends.
What I really loved about this book, like I mentioned before, was how it wasn't about cancer and more about how people are affected by cancer. The book shows how people are affected by the cancer, by the issues going on – for instance, Mia's mother becomes overprotective and Mia's father becomes engrossed in all of the facts about cancer. The book also shows how Mia herself deals with the issue, as she wrestles with the fact that she might die, and the fact that her life has truly changed. It also shows how she deals with the fact that she's lying and hiding from her friends.
While, at the same time, showing how people are affected, the author also shows the actual treatment, as Mia goes through chemotherapy. I really loved how superstitions and charms were woven in through the story. Mia is always searching for signs. A necklace on the ground, a piece of paper she finds – everything means something to her. She frequently reads the horoscopes with her friends and wears a good-luck-charm necklace. And when her world gets turned upside down, she is looking for a sign that everything will be alright, be okay. I really loved the aspect of the story.
And as regarding the plot, I liked how it ended up being more about friends and family than cancer. It was a will-she-or-won't-she scenario as Mia decided whether or not she would tell her friends. The book twisted and turned a few times and I didn't find the story to be predictable, and the ending was perfect, leaving open a few loose ends while wrapping the whole of the story together.
If there was anything I disliked about the book, it was mainly based around the characters and the romance. The Calendar Girls were hard to tell apart from one another, but that might have been done purposefully, since they were so close that they had almost all become cutouts of one another in their friendship. The romance – it was easy to figure out the one that Mia would end up with. However, it was a fun journey and the contrast between Ryan, the jock that Mia has wanted (and has been "dating") and Gyver, her old friend, was interesting.
Tiffany Schmidt has really beautiful writing. Her writing is beautiful, easy to read, and sounds like a teenage girl. She manages to keep in her lovely prose while interjecting a strong voice for Mia. I'm very interested to see where she will go next and I'm very excited to read her next book, Bright Before Sunrise
This book will have lots of appeal to teen girls, and people who liked stories like Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty and books like Before I Die and other books with fun stories and some serious elements. People who dislike cancer books will probably really enjoy this one as well, as it twists the tropes of the cancer genre. ...more