Even though Second Chance Summer got rave reviews from bloggers that I trust, I was wary of it. Some books that deal with terminal illnesses do an exc...moreEven though Second Chance Summer got rave reviews from bloggers that I trust, I was wary of it. Some books that deal with terminal illnesses do an exceptional job, whereas others make me want to throw breakable objects. When I saw Jordyn with a copy at ALA and she pointed out that Morgan Matson was signing less than five feet away from me, I knew it was time for me to buy the book. About a week before I graduated, I decided that I needed to pick up a summer book and selected Second Chance Summer. Matson wrote a touching, human story that I stayed up until 2 a.m. while crammed in my small bathroom to finish.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes Second Chance Summer such a great book. While I suspected I might like this one, I failed to see how quickly I would connect with it. Matson wrote an exceptional story, and it’s part of what compelled me to read late into the night.
If you haven’t already figured it out, Matson’s sophomore novel left me feeling tight-chested and teary-eyed. I can see where some readers might not connect with Taylor, but I empathized with her, as well as the entire Edwards family. When she was making her decisions, I couldn’t help but think, “I would probably do the exact same thing. And it would hurt.”
I can’t adequately express how much I loved this book. It was precisely what I wanted when I read it and blew me out of the water. Even if this book sounds too sad or too much like a Sarah Dessen novel for your tastes, give it a shot. Second Chance Summer confirms that Morgan Matson is a brilliant writer, and I’ll be picking up Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour soon, not to mention all future works. (less)
If it’s YA fantasy, I am going to want to read it. I was tempted to purchase Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone the day it came out, but held off until...more If it’s YA fantasy, I am going to want to read it. I was tempted to purchase Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone the day it came out, but held off until ALA, where I picked up a signed, personalized copy. Shadow and Bone has received a lot of rave reviews, but this unfortunately won’t be one of those.
Shadow and Bone has good world-building and the writing is fine. Bardugo’s novel is quickly paced and highly readable. Sadly, I think this is where my praise ends.
Alina isn’t the most likable character. She’s self-deprecating and doesn’t put a lot of faith in herself. I don’t think this would have bothered me if these traits lessened throughout the novel, but to me they stayed about the same. I also felt that some of her interactions with the other characters seemed quite juvenile. I realize that Bardugo’s novel is written for teens, but I like my drama written in a way that I can relate to as an adult.
Despite the pacing, I didn’t love the plot. One aspect of the romantic storyline was quite predictable. Towards the end, Bardugo threw in a lot of twists and turns, and it started to feel like too much. I kept thinking that this story needed to find a direction and stick to it. Instead, I felt as though Bardugo was throwing in recent popular tropes in YA in order to appease her reader.
I cannot fairly tale you whether or not Shadow and Bone is a good book or a bad book. My experience with this book was like going on a date where you don’t have much to say to the other person: you start off intrigued, and you keep going because maybe things will turn around, but in the end you find yourself thinking that it was only okay. This book and I just didn’t quite jive with each other. People seem to either love or hate this one, though, so go check out other reviews before deciding for yourself. (less)
Since you can log onto GoodReads and read loads of one star reviews for Why We Broke Up, I’m going to be straight with you: this is a book that you w...more Since you can log onto GoodReads and read loads of one star reviews for Why We Broke Up, I’m going to be straight with you: this is a book that you will either love or hate. Why We Broke Up is rather character driven, and Min is an incredibly distinct character. I am one of the few I know who adored this book.
The concept of Why We Broke Up is quite original. Min is writing a letter to her ex-boyfriend. The letter accompanies a box of objects that Min considered somehow significant throughout their relationship. This isn’t really a book that you read for the sake of the plot, as the title kind of reveals how it’s all going to end. It’s a book you read if you want to get to know two unique characters and see how they unfold.
Min spends a lot of the book referencing film, and I found a lot of her references to be pretty obscure. She’s a very mature and thoughtful character, and I know some people said that her voice didn’t sound like a typical sixteen-year-olds. I honestly don’t see that at all—even as a high schooler and now as an adult, I knew/know a lot of teens who have niche interests and are strikingly mature for their age.
I feel as though a lot of quirky books get mixed reviews because they aren’t for everyone, yet I often find them brilliant (Chime is another example of this). Why We Broke Up is a well-crafted story that will satisfy artsy teen readers. As some bonus material, here is Daniel Handler and Maria Kalman’s Printz award acceptance speech, which is essentially the greatest thing ever.(less)
I had incredibly high hopes for this one. The writing is okay but the story and Allyson drove me crazy because of where I am in my own life. I don't a...moreI had incredibly high hopes for this one. The writing is okay but the story and Allyson drove me crazy because of where I am in my own life. I don't anticipate writing a full review.(less)
Last winter, as Minnesota received roughly eighteen inches of snow over the course of twelve hours, I stayed indoors with my Snuggie and devoured Lily...more Last winter, as Minnesota received roughly eighteen inches of snow over the course of twelve hours, I stayed indoors with my Snuggie and devoured Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray. So naturally, as soon as the cover and synopsis were released for Song of the Nile, I knew I’d have to pick up a copy and find out where Cleopatra Selene’s story went. While I didn’t adore every detail of Song of the Nile’s plot, it’s intricacy and quick pace kept me satisfied.
As the novel begins, Selene is starting a whole new chapter of her life. I loved Selene because as a character, she raised quite a few questions. Are her actions based on her love of Egypt, Helious, Isis or pure selfishness? Dray has created a female protagonist that feels real and three dimensional.
Song of the Nile moves along at a nice pace. The story was packed with action, and even as I turned the pages, I found myself wanting more. I loved the intrigue that filled every page. I will admit that the romantic aspects of the novel struck me as particularly odd, and I’m still not sure what to make of them. I’d be happy to see where all of her characters end up in a third book.
Dray has written yet another novel that has satisfied my desire for historical fiction yet left me wanting more of her characters. I’m eager to share these books with my friends who are intrigued by this particular historical period. If you like intrigue, sex and magic mixed in with your historical fiction, I highly recommend picking up Dray’s novels. (less)
I wasn’t planning on reading Catching Jordan when I first heard about it. It was about football, so I assumed it would all be over my head and uninte...more I wasn’t planning on reading Catching Jordan when I first heard about it. It was about football, so I assumed it would all be over my head and uninteresting to me. Oh, how wrong I was.
Catching Jordan is not all football talk. While the game obviously plays a big role in the plot and there are passages that feature it heavily, it’s also about the life of an athlete. Kenneally talks about the huge amounts of food Jordan can put away, which I can totally relate to as someone who ran cross-country in high school and college. Jordan is a totally relatable character because she worries about her relationships with the guys in her life as well as the mean girls in school. This book also did a nice job of showcasing why being a female athlete wasn’t about to get any easier for Jordan, and I appreciated that. The whole story felt like something that might actually happen o a girl with Jordan’s aspirations.
As for the romance, let’s not deny it: this book is kind of insta-lovey. However, I thought it worked for this story because Jordan’s relationships with these guys were so complex. It was another scenario that felt true to life. It took me a while to see the ending coming, but I really liked it once we got there.
THE FINAL VERDICT: If you like stories about football, Catching Jordan will appeal to you. I really don’t like football (seriously, I like the Super Bowl because I can eat wings), but I flew through this story. Definitely a cute read (less)
I feel like shaking things up a bit for this review, because this is an exceptional book, and John Green’s work is beginning to hold a special place i...moreI feel like shaking things up a bit for this review, because this is an exceptional book, and John Green’s work is beginning to hold a special place in my heart, so I’m going to start by telling you how I came to read The Fault In Our Stars.
1.) Pre-order The Fault In Our Stars in July, despite having not read any of John Green’s books. Justify it by saying that his stuff is supposed to be great, plus all pre-orders will be signed. 2.) Read Looking for Alaska in August and immediately add it to my all-time favorites list. Become ten times more excited for The Fault In Our Stars. 3.) Skip ahead to December. What? B&N leaked several pre-orders so people are getting early copies? Now I’m torn between jealousy and frustration on John Green’s behalf. 4.) The Fault In Our Stars is out! Why oh why did I select free aka slow shipping in this case? 5.) It’s here! It’s here! Why am I swamped with homework? 6.) A few weeks later: I just turned in a major assignment! Time to start The Fault In Our Stars as my reward. 7.) Yet a few more weeks later: oh man, I just endured nine straight hours of class. Time to curl up in my bed and finish The Fault In Our Stars because it’s SO GOOD. Oh, and I need to flag every passage I like, and there’s one of those roughly every 5 pages. 8.) Two months after finishing: time to record my favorite quotes in the quote book! Wow, I loved this book. I love these characters. I love this story. Can I read it again?
There’s a saying in the YA world that once you read one John Green book you’ve essentially read them all. When I thought about that shortly after finishing The Fault In Our Stars, I could sort of see that. Some of the themes Green tackles in his latest work are similar to the themes in his debut, Looking for Alaska. But then I sat down to record my favorite quotes, because I am bizarrely meticulous in some respects. As I thumbed through the pages of my book, I remembered how much I loved Augustus and Hazel. They are both quirky and intelligent, and I loved the way Augustus expressed himself. I remembered that this book is filled with so much intelligent writing, but that the story felt accessible. The Fault In Our Stars made my heart swell and ache. I don’t mean to sound excessively sappy or like a fangirl. I’m saying this because I think the reviews that have the most sway are those that contain genuine emotion, and this is the most honest way I can think of to tell you that I loved this book. I hope you decide to pick it up if you haven’t already. (less)