I really loved the original Coraline -Check out this, other reviews, and more fun bookish things on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I really loved the original Coraline - I'll admit that I saw the movie before I read the book, but the movie prompted me to buy and read it, and I guess over the years I have read Coraline so many times it's got to be in the double digits by now.
I also didn't realize that a graphic novel adaptation of Coraline existed. I'm not sure how I didn't know this, but I didn't. I managed to come across it on Goodreads one day when I was browsing graphic novels, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. I purchased it the same day, and waited rather impatiently for my two day shipping from Amazon Prime. When it finally got here, I read it all in one sitting. And then I read it again.
"Spiderwebs only have to be big enough to catch flies."
Coraline and her family buy part of a big house and move in - in the flat below live two elderly women who used to be actresses, and in the flat above lives an elderly man who is busy training a mouse circus. The flat next to theirs is still empty.
Coraline feels bored often - there aren't any other children and school didn't start up yet, so she finds herself wandering the house and the ground, exploring and entertaining herself. When she comes across an old door in her flat, she wonders where it goes, only to find out that it is old and bricked up, going nowhere.
Except one day, the door isn't bricked up, and Coraline ventures through - only to find the world quite like her own, but incredibly different. Her parents aren't there, but her Other Mother and Other Father are - and everyone has button eyes. Things seem better there at first, but then Coraline realizes that it's a true nightmare, and she tries to escape from the Other Mother's clutches, only to find that she has kidnapped Coraline's real parents in an effort to make Coraline stay with her forever.
Coraline fights for her parents back, because she wants to leave this place with the Other Mother and go back home.
The novel Coraline is incredibly different from the movie, and I honestly thought it was much creepier. The graphic novel? Even creepier. The way that the illustrator, P. Craig Russell, has depicted the Other Mother and Other Father, as well as the decaying "other world" that the Other Mother created, is, to be frank, downright terrifying. But I loved it (as did my daughters, who frequently borrow this book).
The story is fully laid out, illustrated in a charming and colorful way - it's such a great graphic novel adaptation of one of my all time favorite reads. The illustrations depicting the Other Mother are hair-raising; the way the amount of detail is put into every character in the book is amazing. The story itself is not only gripping, but it's the original story, not just a random adaptation. I love that so much - my favorite quotes and parts of the book were all there.
I bought the hardcover format of this book (it's also available in ebook and paperback), and it's so gorgeous. There is a dust jacket with the book, and the cover under the dust jacket features the same art. The inside is just as beautiful, the glossy pages really add to the reading experience.
I can't get over how beautiful and detailed the artwork is and how it really complimented the story. I wasn't sure what it would be like, and if it would ruin the way I feel the characters look when I read the original Coraline, but if anything, I believe that it only enhanced the way I saw everything in the book when I read it. It was definitely a great companion to the novel.
Here's a bonus: if you haven't read Coraline or saw the movie (which doesn't do the original book or this graphic novel justice, in my opinion, because it's so different), you will definitely be fine with picking this one up, because it follows the novel perfectly. It's essentially the Coraline novel, only fully illustrated.
My older daughter, who is about to turn nine, is a bit of a reluctant reader, and I'm trying to get her to read new books. She loves anything with pictures, and she is obsessed with Coraline after seeing the movie, so she loves this book, as well. I have to recommend picking this up if you're a fan of Coraline, or even if you've never heard of the book before and want something that will add a bit of adventure to your bookshelf....more
You know, I love books that give me thCheck out this, other reviews, and more fun bookish things on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
You know, I love books that give me the unexpected when I read them. I love books that are completely unlike anything else I've read, books that completely bend my mind into thinking other ways and give me a great story that I am hooked on from the very first chapter.
The Good Demon is one such book - it is a book that I had no idea would be written the way it was, with so many interesting elements and plot twists throughout the whole thing. I had no idea that I was going to be so enthralled with the book. The Good Demon was a book I hadn't even heard of until an ARC of it showed up in my mailbox (thank you, Amulet Books!). I put off reading it for a while, figuring that it was going to be good, sure, but I wasn't sure it was going to be something that I would want to finish all in one sitting, quite like it was. I wished I hadn't put off reading it as long as I did, though, because The Good Demon is seriously one of the very best books that I have ever read, hands down.
"She was just a voice inside my voice, a body inside my body, a spirit inside my spirit, my demon. When she spoke I heard Her in my blood, and when She moved I felt Her in my bones."
Clare is not your typical southern girl living with her mother and stepfather - no, in fact, she is quite different. For years, Clare has kept a secret - she has had a demon living inside her. Only this demon isn't an enemy and doesn't hurt Clare. In fact, Clare has come to love her demon, because she keeps Clare safe and is her friend. She can calm her when she is stressed, she is always there when she has had a bad day, and she talks to her when she feels lonely. Clare loves her demon.
Then her father calls the preacher and has an exorcism performed on her, causing Clare to lose her demon. She feels lost and alone without the company of the companion she has always known and loved. She wishes she had a way to bring her back, to set things right and get things back to the way they were, but she has no idea how to go about doing that.
And then, she discovers a clue that might really help her bring her demon back, but it's quite vague, and Clare is left to decipher what it could mean.
"Be nice to him June 20 Remember the stories"
Clare starts off by reading into the clues left for her, starting with befriending the preacher's son. She figures that "Be nice to him" must mean she should be nice to the preacher's son, so she does so - and then she starts off trying to figure out the remaining clues.
Soon Clare is sneaking out at night, trying to figure out what the other clues could possibly mean. She wonders if she is on a wild goose chase, and if her demon must not have had any idea what she was talking about, but eventually Clare figures it out - and it's a true ride for her.
The Good Demon was such an interesting read. There was huge twist at the end that I didn't see coming, and while I don't know how much I really liked the ending (I was kind of hoping it would have ended differently), I was still surprised. It wrapped things up nicely, and really wasn't the way I expected at all. It was amazing though, and it really completed the story - like I said, plot twists are so much fun.
Some of the chapters in this book are flashbacks to times that Clare spent with her demon, such as times that her demon took control of her body and helped her or went around doing this and that. Those chapters are pretty interesting, too, and I think they add so much to the story. The other chapters are kind of like present day, and together both sections really pull the story together and make it complete.
Clare's character is interesting. The way she talks on the phone to the preacher's son (their conversations were about deep topics), the way she thinks - it's all different from what we're used to and I think it made Clare seem a lot more realistic as a character. Clare really wanted to get her demon back, and she was willing to do pretty much anything at all to make that happen.
I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed The Good Demon. I thought it was really well written and it flowed nicely, so I was able to enjoy it. I read this book rather quickly, honestly - like in a single night - because it was the kind of book that kept me on the edge of my seat and wouldn't let go until I finished it.
There wasn't a dull moment in this book. If you like your books full of important things going on all the time, and a mystery that you want to try to solve along with the main character, this is the book for you. There are some semi-creepy parts (but with a book with a title like The Good Demon, it's kind of to be expected, right?), but overall this book is about the power of a friendship, even an unlikely one that others don't understand.
After I read this, I immediately ordered the hardcover because it's such a beautiful book and I can't wait to read it again.
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!...more
I'm somehow getting incredibly lucky wCheck out this, other reviews, and more fun bookish things on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I'm somehow getting incredibly lucky with all of the great books that I've been reading lately. To be honest, I hadn't expected this one to become one of my favorite books, mostly because I really didn't know much about Wonder Woman going into this - then again, I've just recently started falling in love with superheros, plus with how amazingly well this book was written, how could I not love it, right?
While I haven't read any other books by Leigh Bardugo (yes, I have all of her other books, but I haven't read them yet. I know, I must be crazy not to have), I saw nothing but really awesome reviews for this book and I wanted to read it. While I typically stay away from really hyped up books because I never really love them as much as I hope I will, this is one of those times where I kind of threw all caution to the wind and bought this one, and read it as soon as it came in.
First off, that cover is freaking gorgeous.
Second? The story is freaking amazing.
This is probably one of the best books that I have ever read, and I loved it so much I actually started reading it again as soon as I finished the first time around.
The origin story created for Wonder Woman in this book was so amazingly done that I honestly can't imagine not having read this, now.
"You dance differently when you know you won't live forever."
Diana is an immortal from the island of Themyscira, where she is part of a women's only community known as the Amazons. They are secret from the outside world, and one of the biggest rules that Diana and her sisters and friends are to follow is that no matter what, they may not bring mortals onto the island. It is a big rule, and Diana is about to break it.
During a race, Diana notices an explosion on a ship on the coast of her island, and finds herself dropping out of the race in order to help survivors - which it turns out, there is only one - Alia. Alia is a teenage girl who was on board an expedition with some of her peers and her teachers, and Diana brings her back to the island and hides her in a cave while she consults the Oracle about what to do. In that time, the island starts to suffer the effects of a human being brought onto it, and both Alia and the island (as well as some of the women on the island) begin to fall ill and feel the effects of what Diana has done, even though none of the others are sure what exactly it is that is happening.
When Diana learns what Alia is thanks to the Oracle, she vows to get her off the island and to safety. Alia is a Warbringer - a powerful person who can cause anger, fighting, and wars to break out, especially if she isn't "cured" or killed by a certain time - in fact, she can bring about total destruction. While Alia doesn't believe this, she entertains the fact that she must accompany Diana to a special spring in Greece and bathe in its waters so that she can be cured. Yet, when Diana uses her Heartstone to imagine the two of them leaving the island and heading for Greece, she is surprised to find that Alia was thinking of her home in New York, which is where they end up.
From New York, they must try and find their way to Greece in order to help Alia and cure her of the Warbringer destiny she was born with. When Alia's brother, Jason, shows up, he isn't interested in having Alia go to Greece at all, but with the girls' constant insistance that they go, he finally relents, and together with other friends Theo and Nim, the five of them start off on a trip that will take them to Greece.
"'We can't help the way we're born. We can't help what we are, only what life we choose to make for ourselves.'"
When the five of them arrive in Greece, they work hard against outside forces to get to the spring, but eventually they discover inside forces and that there is evil among them that is trying to prevent getting Alia to the spring in time to stop all war.
I fell in love with Diana's character from the very first chapter of this book. She was dedicated, she was an outcast on her island, and she was loyal to someone she made a promise to, even if there was a risk that she would be exiled from the island that was her home. Since she lives on an island where there are no outside forms of technology such as cell phones, and she doesn't understand the humorous meaning behind the term "kick their ass" and instead takes it literally, it's amazing watching her learn all of these things that we take for granted every single day. Leigh Bardugo really did a fantastic job writing her character. The amount of development that Diana goes through in this book is incredible. It's not just Diana, either - the other characters in this book change and grow and really make this stand out from other books in its genre for that fact alone, without even taking the amazing world building, story lines, or antagonists into question.
The world building in this book is among the best that I have ever seen in a fantasy novel. The way the author describes the waves crashing up on the rocks on Diana's home island of Themyscira, to the way she describes the area in Greece and even how she talks about New York, I have honestly never seen such amazing world building in a novel like this before. I would recommend this book for the world building alone, if I am being totally sincere.
Even Alia, Jason, Nim, and Theo were all fleshed out and had different personalities that brought so many new things to the story line. I never once felt bored reading about these characters, and over time, I felt like they became very dear to me as the reader.
I loved the twist at the end - to be honest, I never would have seen that coming and I had no idea it was going to get so dark. It was a really great and fitting ending to the novel, and I can't think of a way it could have went any better.
If you are a fan of fantasy, superheroes, or are looking to check out the new series of DC Icons, this is such a great start. While superhero novels aren't really my cup of tea (usually), I was so blown out of the water by Wonder Woman: Warbringer that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it up and read it again. As someone who has never gotten into Wonder Woman, I feel like this novel was a total game changer for me....more
Another 5 star review - I'm so excitedCheck out this, other reviews, and more fun bookish things on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
Another 5 star review - I'm so excited to be coming across so many amazing books these past few weeks!
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was nothing like I was expecting, and I'm not even entirely sure what that was. But what I got while reading? Nothing like I thought this book would be, especially with how hyped up it was. I have to say, this was one of the best fantasy books that I've read in a really long time - it really just swept my off my feet.
If you think the cover for this book is beautiful, just wait until you get to the story that lies within the pages of this gorgeously written novel. The characters are so perfectly written and each add so much to the story, which is rich in imagination, setting, and has the ability to both captivate and shock.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was so much darker than I had anticipated...in fact, I had to stop reading several times and just think "what the hell did I just read?" Don't get me wrong, though - I don't mean this in a bad way. I love dark retellings and dark fantasy novels, so this really jumped out at me as being incredibly different, unique, and just downright fun.
“I want to mean something to a great deal of people. I am tired of being no one. As Empress, I would have the right to choose for myself. Guma could not command me, and Wei would not own me.”
Xifeng is a truly beautiful eighteen year old girl who has always been told by her aunt that she was destined for a life in the royal palace, and for as along as she can remember, she believes she is destined to be Empress. She has watched other girls be selected to become new concubines for the Emperor, and she holds on to her beauty as though it is her one and only ticket to getting into the palace. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get there, including giving up the only home she has ever known, as well as Wei, the man she wants to fully fall in love with but won't allow herself to do so because there is no way she can be with him and still fulfill the destiny the cards have shown her.
However, once she leaves home and gets away from the cruel attitude and beatings she receives from her aunt, she makes her way with Wei and several other travelers to the palace, where she attempts to secure both her and Wei a place in the palace and in the army, respectively. Although she loves Wei and he loves her, she cannot fight what she believes waits for her, so she turns down his proposal of marriage one last time, and gives up true love to become a lady-in-waiting to the Empress herself, where she will become close with her and hopefully become important to the Emperor.
However, once she gets into the palace, she finds that there are obstacles that she never imagined having to face - including Lady Sun, the Emperor's favorite concubine, and her instant hatred for Xifeng. Xifeng is certain that she must do what she must to get Lady Sun out of her way, so that she can become important to the Emperor, even if it means doing something horrible.
“She was a monster, a bride of the darkness, and she rose to face her destiny as though it were the blood-red sunrise of a new day.”
Other obstacles present themselves to Xifeng, including the fact that the current Empress wants to be close to Xifeng, treating her like the daughter she has been trying so desperately to have to over the years.
As time goes on, Xifeng learns what it is like to live in the palace and try to get everyone under her thumb and rid herself of obstacles holding her back, all while dealing with a snake-like creature that lives inside her, telling her to do evil things in order to rise to the top. It leads Xifeng to come to the realization that she is definitely not who she once thought she was - and that maybe Wei had almost been right about her allowing Guma's evil inside her all this time.
There are so many dark parts of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, including dark magic that really makes this book feel more realistic and exciting. I have to admit that the lengths that the author takes this to to at a few points in this book are almost shocking, but shocking in such a good way.
From the beginning of the book I can't say that I cared all that much for Xifeng's character - she was incredibly vain and the way she treated others really grated on my nerves, but in a good way. I'm tired of seeing innocent, sweet heroines in novels, and sometimes it's just so much fun to come across one with a bit of an evil side. Once I realized that I might not find Xifeng's character to be the most respectable, I instantly started loving her.
The world building in this book was freaking awesome. I got lost in the story, with the descriptions of the palace and the secret tunnels and the hot spring - everything. Julie C. Dao has such a knack for taking a reader to a brand new place, and I honestly can't wait to see where she takes us next.
Speaking of, this was such a solid debut novel, not to mention such a great start to a new series. I read most of this book in a single sitting, because I simply refused to walk away from it (and okay, I may or may not have lost all track of time and the real world around me because I loved this book so much).
Normally I love fantasy novels, but have a difficult time falling in love with the characters, the setting, or just the drive to sit and finish a book in the genre in a single sitting, but I could not stop reading this. The setting was beautiful. The characters all had such amazing personalities that really had the chance to shine through. And the plot? It was such a well thought out and and unique read.
I honestly don't know how I'm going to wait so long for the next book!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!...more
Earlier this year I read my very first Kasie West boCheck out this review and more fun stuff over on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings
Earlier this year I read my very first Kasie West book, By Your Side. I fell in love with that book from the very first page, and I instantly knew that I would read anything Kasie West wrote from that point on. So when the awesome folks at Scholastic sent an ARC of Lucky In Love my way, let me just say that I really did jump up and down with excitement. This was one of my most anticipated reads for summer, and it definitely did not disappoint.
First off, look at that cover! The cover alone promises the perfect contemporary summer romance - there is even a heart shaped balloon there - how cute is that?! Couple that with the great sounding plot and you have such an exciting sounding book that would be great for the beach, the park, or just a cozy day in front of the air conditioner.
Maddie lives for her job at the zoo - it helps her escape the stress of being a perfect student, her parents arguing, her brother at home because they can't afford his tuition, and the family money problems. At the zoo, she can be herself around the animals - and her crush, Seth.
On the night of Maddie's 18th birthday, she is supposed to be having a small party with her two best friends - only neither of them show. So she gets in her car and drives to the convience store to get some candy for herself, and instead finds herself being talked into purchasing a Powerball ticket. Maddie isn't one for taking chances with such high odds, but she figures why not? She buys a ticket, goes home, and goes to bed, without ever giving it another thought.
The next day, when she hears that the winning ticket was sold in her area, Maddie gets curious.
She decides to check and see if she won anything, and to her absolute surprise, finds out that she wins the jackpot of about fifty million dollars - and she can't believe it.
"I checked them again and then a third time, just to make sure. Was this really happening? Had I just won fifty million dollars? This felt like some sort of joke. I checked the heading of the site again - Powerball. And my ticket heading, same.
I won the lottery. I just won fifty million dollars."
She figures that all of life's problems are solved. She gives a million each to her mom, dad, and brother, and pays for her brother's tuition to get him back to school. Then she spends a little on herself - she buys some things for college, she buys herself some new clothes, and a brand new car - she spends a bit more than she had planned on, but she figures she will still have enough for herself.
Then news gets out that Maddie is the girl who won the lottery - and suddenly she has people talking to her that never gave her the time of day before. Popular kids are coming to her all the time, and Maddie tries to enjoy the new attention, but when the news is leaked online that Maddie isn't spending the money in a positive way ($20,000 for a yacht party?), she has to figure out who talked to the reporter and why.
In the meantime, she is still dealing with her parents arguing, her choice of college hanging in the air, her brother's newfound gambling problem, and the fact that Seth doesn't know she won - she hasn't told him, because she doesn't want another person to like her only for her money. However, when things start to get serious between them and an actual relationship seems very possible, she can't seem to find the right way to tell him, either.
Can Maddie deal with everything she is dealing with, find the right way to come clean to Seth, and figure out her friends and family without losing her mind?
Kasie West has delivered yet another sweet, fun filled contemporary romance that will make you swoon. Maddie's character is so fun and relatable, and I love how loyal and sweet she is. Sure, she does go a bit overboard with some things (designer clothes and a super pricey car), but then again, who wouldn't? At the same time, she is trying to bail her brother out of his situation and doing what she can to help make her parents to stay together and happy. Maddie has such a great heart, and I think that's why I loved her character so much.
I even loved Seth's character - especially at the end of the book. He doesn't know that Maddie won the lottery since she doesn't want to tell him, but he seems like the kind of character who wouldn't care either way. I love how things turned out for both Seth and Maddie in the end - the two of them just seem to go perfectly together.
Kasie West's writing style is so easy to get into and really enjoy. I love the dialog between characters and how none of the relationships (both crushes and friends) seem forced. Everything flows so nicely and makes for a great story.
Whether you are a newcomer to Kasie West's work (kind of like me, haha), or you've been reading her books for a while, this is definitely not one to miss. If I could pick the perfect book for summer, Lucky in Love would definitely be it! I am giving this one a rare 5 star rating, and I seriously recommend this book to everyone!
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!...more
"The Thing I Wish I'd Known: -I love you doesn't come with aCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
"The Thing I Wish I'd Known:
-I love you doesn't come with any guarantees."
Aftercare Instructions was one of those books that I went into expecting to like, but not love as much as I did. It was probably one of the best books that I've read in 2017, and maybe one of the most emotional novels that I've read to date. It's not the kind of book that had me crying the entire time that I read it, but it was one of those books that made me actually feel throughout every single chapter - from sadness to happiness to anger and back again, all while throwing in a bunch of other emotions, too.
The main character of the story, Genesis, finds herself at a family planning clinic with her boyfriend, Peter, with the intention of terminating a pregnancy that neither of them wanted or were ready to face. Peter has always been wonderful and loving toward Genesis, and she felt that she needed him and would be with him always - that is, until he leaves her there while she is having the procedure, which causes her to need to find her own way home and to deal with the abortion by herself, as well as the after effects and emotions that she would be faced with.
Not only does Genesis already have the reputation of being "troubled," she now has to face that reputation alone with only her best friend for guidance - and she finds herself having to deal with the breakup with her and Peter, even though she is in no way ready to move on.
"There aren't any instructions anywhere on what to do when your dad dies like he did and then your boyfriend leaves you at Planned Parenthood while you're getting an abortion. Where are those instructions?"
Perhaps one of the neatest things about this book is the fact that during all of this, there is also a four act play going on in between the chapters of the book (which are actually titled by "aftercare instructions" themselves). During the acts of the play, we get to revisit some of Genesis's most precious memories, which make up her entire relationship with Peter, from the first time they met onward. This part of the book is creative and full of vital information for the reader, as it allows you to really get inside Genesis's head and see what makes her character tick. I think this interesting part of the book was probably my absolute favorite aspect, as it's rare to see books written this way and it's a creative way to incorporate memories.
Another thing I loved about this book was Genesis's character herself. She is full of emotions and she tries her hardest to be a good person, despite all of the stuff that she's been faced with over the years. I can't imagine having what happened to her happen to me, and I honestly thought she was a strong character. Genesis is someone to look up to, and I hope others who read her story can think of her that way, too.
I didn't care too much for Peter's character, as it was obvious that he only thought of himself and what he wanted, but it's obvious why his character was written the way that he was, and I think the author did a splendid job tearing his and Genesis's relationship apart, and then allowing the reader see it develop through the memories. It was a creative way to weave all of the parts of the story together.
"No one will hurt us. This is the most bullshit advice adults ever give. There's so much that will hurt us; it's how we take care of ourselves afterward that matters. The aftercare."
I love that Aftercare Instructions doesn't focus on making things better magically or making it seem as though these things don't actually happen to real young adults (and older adults, too!) everywhere. Instead, it brings to light the things that really do happen, and that while it can feel quite emotional at times (or all the time, in the case of this book), things do happen, and they do need to be dealt with. Giving positive messages that essentially, everything negative does eventually pass, is a great way to help others through some messy situations that they may feel alone in.
I can't praise this book enough. I know some people will dislike it and refuse to read it because it deals with abortion, but you have to realize that it deals with SO much more than that. Sure, the main character has an abortion in the beginning of the book, but that isn't the main focus here. The main focus is what happens afterward. After the procedure. After the character's relationship falls apart. After she is betrayed and has to learn to trust again. After she has to figure out who she is and what her place in the world will be.
Aftercare Instructions is amazingly written, heartbreaking, beautiful, and one of the most gripping books that I've read this year.
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!...more
The One Memory of Flora Banks is probably one of the best booksCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
The One Memory of Flora Banks is probably one of the best books that I've read to date - it was deep and told such an incredible story that was both heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time.
The One Memory of Flora Banks starts off with our main character, Flora Banks, at a party that her best friend is throwing for her boyfriend, who is leaving to go study in Svalbard, Norway. It might not seem odd for any other teenager - a fun party at a beach house, with friends gathering to say their goodbyes and wish someone good luck. There's the typical activities - drinking, dancing, and of course, everyone is having fun. Except for Flora.
Flora, who had suffered, but recovered, from a brain tumor when she was ten, does not have the ability to make new memories ever since she had the tumor removed. While it was removed and she survived, she can no longer remember new things - her mind essentially resets itself a few times a day, and she doesn't remember anything that happened. She does, however, remember things from before the tumor took her ability to make new memories - including her family, the town she lives in, and her best friend. The best friend who is saying goodbye to her boyfriend, Drake, who is leaving for Norway.
Drake, who Flora finds herself sitting on the beach with and kissing.
Of course, Flora writes down what happened that evening, as she does with everything, she doesn't forget. She writes on her arms, she writes in a notebook, and she writes sticky notes and leaves them around, so she can remember things. So she does this so that she can remember her very first kiss with this boy that she finds herself having feelings for.
But the thing is, the next morning, Flora does not need these notes - she remembers being on the beach with Drake. She remembers the kiss. She doesn't understand how - this is the first thing she has been able to remember since the brain tumor was removed, and she isn't sure how to deal with it.
"I can remember it. I remember things from before I got sick, and now I remember kissing Drake. I know, now, that I am not a little girl, because I kissed a boy on a beach, and he asked me to spend the night with him. I am not ten. I am seventeen. I can remember it. The stone, or Drake, made me remember. Perhaps this is what it is to fall in love."
When Flora's parents leave to go to Paris to tend to their son, Flora's brother, who is terminally ill, they leave Flora in the care of her best friend, Paige. But her friend has seen the writing on Flora's arms, and the notes in Flora's bag, and she knows that Flora and Drake kissed. So to punish her, she leaves her alone.
Alone for days, Flora takes care of herself by writing reminder notes to herself - things like her parents are in Paris, things like she should clean up, and she manages to keep herself going. Her parents aren't aware of the falling out she has had with Paige, and they think that she is there taking care of Flora, as planned. But Flora is by herself, and she hides this well.
While she is home alone, she begins talking to Drake through e-mails, telling him that she remembers the kiss and she wants to be with him. The two of them e-mail back and forth, which warms Flora's heart, and she slowly starts falling in love with him. But when he decides that maybe things won't work out because she isn't in Norway, she sets off on a journey that will take her there, in order to surprise Drake and show him how much she cares.
The journey to Norway is a difficult one - after all, Flora can't remember things past a few hours, so she will forget names, faces, and where she is, unless she continues to keep notes and review them. Even with that, the journey is unlike anything she has ever been through - all in the name of love and the kiss from a boy that she can't forget.
“I am really here. Yet I know I am not. I am inside something that must be buried in my head. I am layers deep in my own brain.”
This is such an amazingly written book - since Flora is our narrator, we more or less get to hear her thoughts and see the world how she sees it, including the difficult things, like forgotten memories, not knowing who people are, and the overwhelming desire to find Drake.
This book is powerful and tells a story of what great lengths that the human heart can go to in the name of love.
I haven't read anything quite like this - I have read books that deal with memory loss and amnesia, but nothing quite so in-depth and focused like The One Memory of Flora Banks. This book is really amazing, and obviously well researched, and I think the author did a superb job of writing Flora's character.
While I guess the ending hadn't really been what I was expecting, it wraps up the book so nicely and makes the story feel complete. So many things in this book are depressing, but at the end of the book, there is a new hope given to both Flora and the reader, which I loved.
Flora's character is written so well - I found myself really loving her and hoping for her throughout the entire novel. While she did develop a quick love for Drake, it's because she believes that the reason she can remember the kiss from Drake is because he must certainly be the one - they must be meant to be together. The journey that she sets off on in order to find him is amazing. It shows just how strong and determined that Flora is.
Paige's character, on the other hand, is pretty much a jerk, and I found myself disliking her from the very beginning. Ditching out on something important like watching over Flora because Flora kissed Drake was kind of immature - seeing as how their relationship wasn't going to work out anyway. The way she spoke to Flora and didn't want to help out with keeping her safe while her parents were away was selfish and hurtful to Flora, regardless.
With an engaging story and a determined character who is willing to go to great lengths to get what she wants and hold on to a single memory, The One Memory of Flora Banks is the kind of book that you won't want to put down until you've finished it completely, and even then you're going to want to read it again!
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
If you liked reading my review for The One Memory of Flora Banks, check out my Flora Banks inspired cupcakes on my stop on the blog tour for the book!
Check out this and other reviews (as well as more fun bookish things!) on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
As a reader who is incrediCheck out this and other reviews (as well as more fun bookish things!) on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
As a reader who is incredibly fond of YA thrillers, when a copy of Nemesis fell into my hands, I was beyond excited to start reading. Having never read anything else by Brendan Reichs, I wasn't sure exactly what I was in for, but once I started reading, I knew there was absolutely no way I was putting this book down until I finished it!
"The sun rises. But not for me. I know what day it is. Will he come sooner, or later? I don't know, but it doesn't matter. He'll come. And when he does, I'll die."
Min has been dealing with a horrifying ordeal ever since she was eight years old - every other year (even ages - her 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th birthdays) a man in a suit and silver sunglasses shows up and kills her. The method in which he kills her is always different - pushing her over a cliff, shooting - it varies each year, but the outcome is always the same. Min is killed, and then she wakes up in the middle of a clearing in the woods, completely fine, without a scratch on her.
As Min goes through her everyday life, she makes sure not to tell anyone what happens to her - after all, no one believed her as a child, so why would they believe her now? But she's still stuck dealing with the confusing situation that she finds herself in every other year - the man in the suit and glasses shows up and kills her. While she has been seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication for this for years, she definitely knows that all of this is real, even if no one else believes her.
When things start to get a little strange, she gets her best friend, Tack, to help her break into her psychiatrist's office, only to find out some weird stuff on Project Nemesis - a strange thing that she is part of, along with the rest of her class. She finds out that her psychiatrist has a special file on her, though, along with another student in her class - Noah.
Noah and Min don't really talk, as they run in different social circles (well, to be honest, Min and Tack hated Noah's group, because they were the jocks and cheerleaders that treated the two of them like trash), so when Min decides to talk to Noah about what's going on, she isn't surprised that he doesn't really want to talk to her. However, after a while, when weird things start happening with him, too, he's more than willing to talk to Min to try and get to the bottom of things. After all, the man in the suit and glasses shows up every two years to kill Noah, too - and he and Min share the same birthday.
So what is Project Nemesis? And who is the guy who has been murdering both Min and Noah every other year on their birthday?
"The world might be about to end, but what did I care? My world ended all the time."
Together Min, Noah, and Tack work to get to get to the bottom of Project Nemesis, and what they uncover is something that will change their lives forever.
Nemesis is a dark and moody thriller that I thought was exceptionally enjoyable. I loved the characters - even the popular kids like Ethan and Sarah, who made Min and Tack's life miserable in school, because they were the "rich" kids and Min and Tack lived in a trailer park. Tack was such a great best friend, and he wasn't your typical "cookie cutter best friend" character like you see in so many books. He actually had a really great personality that added a lot to the book.
Nemesis is told from two different viewpoints - Min and Noah. The first section of the book is told from Min's point of view, the second is told from Noah's point of view, and the rest of the book has alternating chapters between the two. This was such a great way to write the book, because it gives us a deeper look into both Min and Noah's worlds, allowing us to see the common ground that connects them. While their personalities seemed somewhat similar, I had no problems figuring out which character's viewpoint I was reading.
The book ends with an explosive conclusion that doesn't really answer many questions at all, which leaves plenty of room for the story to continue in the next book. The mystery will hopefully unravel itself a bit more in the next book, and I really do hope that all the characters from this book will be back, and that it will continue where it left off. The answers that we did get I honestly didn't see coming.
In terms of YA thrillers, Nemesis is probably one of the best that I've read to date. It not only brought me out of a reading slump, but I think it may have put me back in one because it was so amazing! I rarely rate a book 5 stars, but I can't recommend this one enough!
Before I started reading this book, I knew it was going to be poCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
Before I started reading this book, I knew it was going to be powerful, but nothing prepared me for just how powerful and important that this novel is. This is one of those books that I think should be mandatory reading among high school kids, because it is proof that no matter how low you might feel, and how you may be accustomed to believing that you can't amount to anything, you can, if only you believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, and make something out of the life you were given.
"The only thing fancy about me is my name: Jade. But I am not precious like the gem. There is nothing exquisite about my life. It's mine, though, so I'm going to make something out of it."
Jade isn't thrilled with where she lives - and she longs to get out of there, go away to an amazing college, and make something of herself, so she isn't just your average black girl living in a poor neighborhood, like she knows all of the rich kids who go to her school probably think of her. After being awarded a scholarship to this private school, which happens to be mostly white except for a few kids, she feels out of place, and she misses her best friend, Lee Lee. Jade feels like she has nothing in common with these girls, except skin color. They don't even live in the same area, and when they find out where Jade lives, they try to hide their surprise that she doesn't come from money, like the rest of them.
While Jade feels alone for a while, she meets up with Sam, a new girl who takes the same bus she does, and goes to the same school. When she and Sam start talking, she feels happy to know that she has another friend who she can relate to.
When Jade is called into the office at school one afternoon, she hopes it has to do with the school's study abroad program - after all, she has decent grades, and this is the year that students get nominated. But when she is told that she has been chosen to be a part of Woman to Woman, which is a mentoring group for students who are "at risk" she is disappointed - especially when she finds out that the program is mostly for black girls.
Jade's mother encourages her to go, and Jade agrees, mostly because those girls who complete the two years of the program will be awarded a scholarship to college. Jade knows that she doesn't have the money to get there on her own, so she agrees to stick with it, even if her mentor, Maxine, stood her up the first time that they were supposed to meet, and spends most of her time on the phone with her ex-boyfriend (who also happens to be Jade's uncle's best friend), and ignoring Jade or bailing on her.
Although, as Jade sticks with the program, she tries to get what she can out of it - the group takes the girls on trips to the Oregon Symphony, art galleries - all of which Jade does find herself enjoying. Since Jade likes art, and creating things, she feels at home.
When Sam gets nominated to go to Costa Rica for the study abroad program at school, Jade is furious, and she makes sure that Sam and her teacher know. Since she and Sam have been a little on edge (Sam doesn't know how to react to the racism that Jade faces, or the instance of police brutality that occurs with a local teenage girl), so the two of them have a falling out.
When Jade decides that she wants to do something worthwhile in order to raise funds and bring recognition to the police brutality that the local girl has had to deal with, she works to organize an event that will help raise money for her goal.
"'You have to believe you are worthy of life, of happiness. That you are worthy of your wildest dreams coming true.'"
This book is absolutely necessary. It deals with difficult topics, such as issues involving race, police brutality, and privilege, and does so in a beautiful and important way. Piecing Me Together tells not only the story of Jade, but the story of millions of girls who want to make a difference in their world, but because of many circumstances, believe that they aren't worthy of making their voices heard.
Jade's character is so easily likeable, and the friendships that are explored in this book are vital. The friendships that Jade had with Sam and Lee Lee were inspiring, and I loved the fact that this book doesn't focus on romance at all. It's such a refreshing change of pace. The relationship that Jade has with her mentor, Maxine, is also interesting, because you get to see how at first, Maxine wasn't quite interested in the program, and how it changes and she eventually starts spending more and more time with Jade, encouraging her.
Jade grows so much as a person throughout the pages of this book, especially when she starts learning to stand up for what she believes in and what she wants. She is so determined to go to college and contribute to the world, and she isn't afraid to chase her dreams. She tries her hardest to move forward with them in order to get what she wants. She focuses on education and bettering herself, and the overall theme of this book is a powerful and inspiring message to not only teens, but adults as well.
The powerful message within the pages of this book is a message that every girl and boy, young or old, needs to be reminded of.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!...more
I have heard nothing but good things about Kasie West books overCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I have heard nothing but good things about Kasie West books over the years, and while I have a few, I've never managed to find time to pick one up and read it until now. After finishing it, I have to ask myself why I waited so long to read one of her books - it was one of the best love stories I've read in such a long time!
I was drawn into this book by the synopsis - Autumn, the main character, gets locked in a library for an entire weekend with the high school's bad boy, Dax. Right away, I knew that I was going to love this book - locked in a library for a weekend, with the promise of a blossoming relationship? Yes, please!
Autumn Collins has a group of great friends, an almost boyfriend, Jeff whom she adores and can't wait to spend more time with, and a family who loves her. However, when she and her friends are on their way to a cabin to have a fun camping weekend, Autumn gets left behind in the library by accident. When she tries to get out of the library, she realizes that she's been locked in - all of the locks are in place, the lights are out, and to top it all off, she left her bag - complete with cell phone - in Jeff's trunk. She figures she will wait a few minutes, and someone will come and rescue her.
So she waits.
And waits some more.
Only no one comes. Autumn is alone, and locked in the library.
Only, is she alone? No, she discovers that she is locked in the library with the school's bad boy, Dax. While at first, Dax doesn't really want anything to do with her, Autumn doesn't really want to be locked in the library for three days with someone without talking. So she tries to make the best of it.
Together the two of them look for food, try to stay warm, and come up with entertaining ways to keep themselves sane while stuck there. They figure that if they can stick it out, they'll be fine, and Autumn will only have to deal with worried parents. So the two of them watch TV, scrounge for leftovers in the library staff's kitchen, and play games, all while slowly getting to know each other.
"'So, do you want to play for something?' I asked, meeting his dark eyes. 'We already established that you have nothing,' he said. 'We could play for secrets. Questions.'"
However, their time at the library can't last forever, and when it's almost time for the library to re-open, Autumn and Dax see something shocking on the library's television that sends Autumn into a full blown anxiety attack, and Dax has to act fast to help her.
When Autumn is released, she has a choice to make: Does she try and make things work with Jeff, and see where they go, even though she doesn't really believe he, or the rest of her friends, actually knows the real Autumn? Or does she try and make something of her and Dax, who she knows she has feelings for, despite the fact that everything tells her she shouldn't, and she might lose her friends?
"Possibilities don't hurt as much as realities. Possibilities are exciting and endless. Realities are final."
And since Jeff is in a pretty bad position now due to an accident that happened that weekend, does she have it in her to risk breaking his heart, too?
I'm really not one for love triangles, as you all know, but this was just so tastefully done and actually added to the book, instead of making it unbearable. It made the story so much more interesting, and I actually found myself trying to figure out which guy would be better for her. Of course, it's kind of predictable how it will end, but it doesn't mean it's a bad thing!
While only the first 40% of this book is about Autumn and Dax's adventure in the library over that weekend, that part of the book was by far my favorite. The remainder of the book is about Autumn and Dax's interactions outside of the library - at school, at parties, etc. At the same time, Autumn is dealing with the fact that the guy she is almost kind of dating, Jeff, is having some problems, and she simply isn't sure how she is supposed to act around any of them at this point. Does she spend time with her old friends and try to make something out of her and Jeff, or does she stay true to what her heart is telling her, and go after Dax, aside from the fact that she believes her friends and Jeff will all hate her for it.
I really liked both Autumn's and Dax's characters, and I felt like the chemistry between them was real, and not forced for the sake of the book. It felt like a true romance was blooming between the two of them, and despite the fact that they were stuck in a library over a three day weekend, they really got to know each other and made the best of it, even if Dax was rather reluctant at first.
There were a lot of things going on in this book, so if you think it's a slow paced romance, and that's it, you'd be wrong. It also deals with issues like drug use, family struggles, severe anxiety, and a car accident. It's a pretty strong novel, and wow, did Kasie West do an amazing job fitting all of this in here. It was such a great read - I read it over the course of a single night because I simply could not put this one down.
The only real issue I had with this book was, seriously, how Autumn got left behind in the library in the first place. How could her friends not realize she wasn't with them? And what the heck took them so long to realize she wasn't with them? The book offered several explanitions as to how it happened the way it did, but I guess I just think her friends were a tad neglectful.
This is seriously one of the best books that I have read in a long time in terms of romance! While I try to shy away from romance in general, because most of the romance novels in YA that I've read just seem quite...cliche and overdone (not to mention being full of insta-love and love triangles). But I knew I had to read this one, and I'm so glad I did. Yep, I'm definitely off to binge read all of Kasie West's other novels now!
Note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, HarperTeen!...more
This is the first book written by Ellen Hopkins that I have hadCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
This is the first book written by Ellen Hopkins that I have had the chance to read, and let me start this review off by telling you that it definitely won't be my last.
Sometimes it can be hard to write a review for a book that I really like, let alone love with all of my book obsessed heart. This is one of those cases where I read the book quickly, and I've been sitting on a review for a bit, because I'm having a hard time composing my puddle of feelings to write something that will encourage you to read it.
If you've read other books by Ellen Hopkins, I'm sure you're going to love this one. If you haven't read other books by Ellen Hopkins, like me, you shouldn't miss it, either. It's powerful, it's raw, and it's full of real emotions that haven't been doctored up to fit what society wants to hear. It's a book that will throw you for one hell of a loop, and you might find your heart a little shattered and yet somehow even more whole for having read it.
The You I've Never Known is written in an interesting way that I didn't realize when I first picked up the book - it is written in both verse and prose, and I think that really added a bit of something extra to the novel. At first, when I saw that it was over 600 pages, I felt a bit intimidated at first, but I read this in just a day, because it goes by so quickly.
Ariel and her father have always been together - just them against the world, for as long as Ariel can remember. It's always been new towns, new homes, and new schools, and while her father originally tried to make it sound like an adventure, Ariel just wants a home. She tries not to settle down and make friends, but now, at 17, Ariel is craving the ability to have some real friends, maybe someone to love, and to put down her roots and make a life for herself.
Her father, an alcoholic who spends more time with women, using them for whatever he can, than he does with his own daughter, claims he has tried to do what's best for Ariel, even if it doesn't seem like anything he is doing is in her best interest. After leaving the army, he's never quite been himself since, but Ariel makes the best of her situation.
When Ariel realizes that she just might be falling in love with one of her best friends, she doesn't really know what to do - her father would kick her out and never speak to her again, because he would never understand. Try as she might to keep her emotions hidden, Ariel has to struggle to come to terms with who she is, as well as confront her past, which is full of surprises that she hadn't expected.
On the other hand, we have Maya, a teenage girl who lives with her strict Scientologist mother. Maya feels like she needs to get out of her bad living situation, so she does what she can: she meets an older guy in a bar while using a fake ID, and and gets pregnant with his baby. Thinking she can trust him to take care of her, she soon learns that the plan she had might not have been the one that would save her after all.
Ariel and Maya eventually come together and both of their worlds are turned upside down.
Ariel's story is told through in verse, which added such a lovely touch to the book. It was easy to follow along with, and it really added an extra touch to the book. Maya's are told in prose, and through journal entries which add plenty to the story.
The You I've Never Known is one of those books that I really believe could have had a better worded synopsis to prevent any spoilers, and I'm definitely not going to talk too much on the actual story part, because I hate spoilers. Honestly, I knew exactly what was going to happen with Ariel and Maya from the synopsis of this one, and while it didn't ruin it for me because the book was so darn amazing, I can see how it could have ruined it for a lot of other people.
The writing in this book was both real and poetic, and it was so easy to get lost in the author's words. I haven't read a book that spoke to me quite like this one in a very long time, and it was nice to really and truly devour every line. The story was absolutely gripping, and the author's note in the back of the book left me heartbroken.
The relationship that blossoms between Ariel and her best friend is one of the most beautiful and honest relationships that I've seen in a long time, and it really made the book feel complete. Not only is Ariel struggling to come to terms with who she is while growing up with a father who has no acceptance for her or her choices, she finds a love that feels perfect and right, and that love helps her pull through some of the darker times she ends up going through.
If you're looking for a fabulous contemporary, I can't recommend The You I've Never Known any more without actually tossing this one at you. It's such a perfect book and will ignite so many different feelings while reading it. The character development (especially with Ariel) is absolutely phenomenal, and the supporting characters in the book are written just perfectly to make you really enjoy each and every one of them (well, except Ariel's dad, because he's a jerk).
Even the pacing was great with this one, not too fast and not too slow. I felt like the first half of the book was spent helping us get to know the two characters that the book follows, and this was nice.
Although a bit predictable, it was one of the best books I've read in all the years that I've been reading, and I know I'll read this one over and over again.
Note:I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!...more
I am a true sucker for middle grade books. Not only are they reaCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I am a true sucker for middle grade books. Not only are they really great reads, but they are full of raw emotion that creates these heavy stories that are written with real heart and feelings, that sometimes can't quite be captured in YA or adult novels because of all kinds of other things going on.
Also, it's rare for me to give a book a 5 star rating, but The Haunted House Project deserves more than 5 stars. It deserves to be on every shelf in every library, school, and middle grade (and adult!) bookshelf. This book will teach you to appreciate what you have, and remember that your loved ones matter more than anything else.
The Haunted House Project doesn't try to be upbeat, and it doesn't try to cover up emotions with other things that are going on in the book. Instead, it allows the main character, and her family, to experience the pain and grief that accompanies loss. In this book, you're going to experience these emotions right along with Andie - sadness, anger, desperation, confusion, and loneliness.
Andie is a thirteen year old girl who lost her mother. When her mother died in a car accident, her entire family and world fell apart - her big sister had to start taking extra shifts at her job as a waitress in order to help make ends meet and give Andie money to buy lunch in school, while her father is either absent most of the time - losing jobs left and right, gambling, and drinking away his emotions. The three of them feel completely lost without the glue that held the family together - and they begin to fall apart, both alone and from each other.
While she usually finds solace by being around her friends, she even notices herself drifting away from them. The things that they care about and that are important to them aren't the same things that are important to Andie anymore - after all, their families are still the way they always were, and they're slowly getting tired of dealing with Andie being depressed and lost without her mother.
"I'd be happy to have my mom back in any form. She doesn't have to be a dog, even. She could be a rat, and I'd let my ghost rat follow me around. She wouldn't have to defend me or scare people with her beady red eyes. She'd just have to hang out and whisper words of encouragement sometimes."
When Andie pairs up with the class nerd, Isaiah, for a science project, they decide to work together on a project based on paranormal activity. This allows Andie to step outside the ghost novels she loves to read, and try to bring her family back together by convincing them that her mother's ghost is still around and watching them - wanting them to stop living their separate lives and become a strong family again. So Andie gets to work - she sprays perfume, puts sunscreen on her sister's purse, and even leaves messages in the steamed up mirrors in the bathroom, just so that her family might realize that they need her mother around. Andie is crushed without her...and she is tired of suffering alone...so she does what she can to make sure that her family remembers, and that they come together again.
When Andie's friends start making fun of her for wanting to spend time with Isaiah, and their friendship deteriorates even more, Andie has to learn who her true friends are, and what's really important to her in life. Meanwhile, Andie finds comfort in other friends - friends who care about more than just trivial things.
This book made me cry in several spots, I'm not going to lie - it's achingly beautiful and heartfelt, and the author definitely has a flair for writing. Watching a young girl painfully deal with the loss of her mother, and without her father or big sister around most of the time to grieve with...it's no wonder she decided to try and bring her family close together again by pretending to be her mother's ghost and remind her family of what's important.
In this book, Andie also comes across her mother's journals, which allow her to get to know her mother on a more personal level. Of course, this is a bittersweet discovery for Andie, and while it is painful to read her mother's thoughts, she also realizes that she doesn't want to stop reading them, because it's like she's spending time with her mom, even though she's gone.
(Seriously, some heartbreaking stuff here, right?)
If you're going to read a middle grade novel this year, let it be this one. It's sweet and full of raw emotion, and it will make you appreciate the family that you have.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Horror is a complicated genre to write - you have the ability toCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
Horror is a complicated genre to write - you have the ability to not add enough terrifying elements to the story, but at the same time, you have the ability to add way too many different elements that will completely ruin it. Yes, it is possible to add too much gore to a novel. It's also possible to add too many unbelievable things that will just make the reader think you are adding them for shock value, instead of adding anything substantial to the story. It's a really difficult thing to balance, and a lot of horror writers, especially those who write young adult horror novels, seem to have difficulty with. I can count on one hand the amount of young adult horror writers that are so incredibly skilled that I will buy pretty much any book they write.
Dawn Kirtagich is number one on that list. I adore her writing, her style, and her ability to take a story and add so many crazy twists and creepy elements that will leave you sleeping with the lights on for weeks. The Dead House, which captivated me with it's clever story and interesting way to tell the story, is sitting on my bookshelf in all of its beautiful, creepy covered glory, and this amazing book is right next to it.
And The Trees Crept In is one of those novels that I honestly can't tell you very much about without ruining the twist at the end, because once you read it, you can't unread it, and it changes everything about the story. Since I try my hardest to write reviews that contain absolutely NO SPOILERS, I will give you the best review of this book I possibly can without ruining any of it for you. Also, I'm giving this book 5 stars, so that should tell you something - 5 star reviews are really hard to get from me!
"Hello, Aunt. We've come to live with you."
And The Trees Crept In tells the story of Silla and her little sister Nori. They arrive at their Aunt Cath's mansion - a mansion that they've heard about from their mother. After having gotten away from some serious trouble at home, the girls quickly embrace life at La Baume Manor...after all, Cath is kind of like the mother that they always wanted - doting, loving, and full of stories. Eventually, though...things start to get a little strange, especially Cath. The area around the manor begins to seem sinister, and some of Cath's stories have gotten downright terrifying...not to mention that it's beginning to feel like the entire land has a mind of it's own...
"We are alone. I am alone. La Baume is wrong and Python Wood is watching."
When a mysterious stranger starts to come around, claiming to have lived there with their aunt Cath back when the manor was an orphanage, Silla is reluctant to trust him...after all, why should she? Nothing at La Baume is what it seems...
I can't even imagine going through the same terror as Silla and her sister Nori, and as the years go by with the two of them slowly losing their grip on reality and watching aunt Cath's stories start to come about with life of their own, it gets creepier and creepier until you hit that stunning conclusion that will chill you to the bone and make you look at the entire book in a different light.
Throughout the book there are flashbacks to three small girls and the things that they did that set about the chain of events in the present. These brief pieces of information are scattered throughout the novel, helping you piece the story together little by little.
Told in a similar style as The Dead House, with journal entries and other random writings, such as notes and letters, And The Trees Crept In is a work of literary genius. The sheer terror that this book brings about with it doesn't just make your spine tingle, but it makes you question your own sanity - not just the characters in the book. This type of writing makes for a captivating novel that you can't put down. Even if you didn't enjoy The Dead House, if you are a fan of horror, I do urge you to give this a try. It's part psychological thriller and part horror, and both elements really shine through, creating an original and beautiful work of young adult fiction. This is probably my absolute favorite horror novel, and I know I will be rereading this many more times in the years to come.
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Middle grade fiction has a tendency to be more powerful and honeCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
Middle grade fiction has a tendency to be more powerful and honest than young adult or even adult fiction, and the stories you find within the middle grade level can be stories that stay with you throughout your lifetime. This is how I felt about The Last Cherry Blossom - it's a powerful, heartbreaking novel that tells of one girl's story before and after the Hiroshima bombing. The interesting (and even further heartbreaking) thing about this book is the fact that it is based on true events - not just the bombing, but the girl in the novel and the things that she had lived through even beforehand. It is the recollection and experiences of the author's mother, which makes the book even more powerful, because the characters that lie within the pages are not fictional characters. They've lived their lives and told stories and experienced things that no one should have to experience.
Yuriko is a young girl who lives with her father, with whom she has a close relationship with. They live together in Hiroshima, with Yuriko's aunt and her little cousin, who annoys her to no end, but she still loves him. While her aunt isn't her best friend (or even close to it), she finds herself still happy to be a part of the family. When Yuriko's aunt begins talking about getting married, she believes that the home will be a bit crowded...and isn't too happy when her father announces his plans to marry the woman he has been dating, either. While Yuriko is a bit bitter about the news at first, the events happening in Hiroshima and around the world take precedence over her worrying about trivial things, and the light of how bad things have gotten has shed itself over the town in which Yuriko and her family reside.
"He squeezed back and said, 'But this is how live is, Yuriko-chan. In our lives we must experience both beginnings as well as endings. It is like the season changing after the last cherry blossom falls.'"
The Last Cherry Blossom has so much raw emotion within its pages that it is impossible to sum up in a simple review. The first thought I had upon finishing this book was "This is for MIDDLE GRADE readers?" Most middle grade books that I read have very deep storylines, but go about telling the story in a much more casual way. However, The Last Cherry Blossom is one of those books that doesn't sugarcoat what is going on - it tells the story with all of its blunt honesty, those emotions spilling over the pages.The Last Cherry Blossom made me smile, it made me cry, and it taught me a lot about what living in that time period and location was like.
"'Would you please sew on a stitch for my husband?' she asked. 'Yes, of course.' I bowed and sewed an uneven red stitch on her thousand-stitch belt. These belts were given to a person's loved one before they left to fight for the Emperor. The belt encouraged the soldier, because he would know that one thousand women had faith in him to lead Japan to victory."
There are so many interesting aspects and tidbits of information in this book that make it impossible to put down. I'm not a history buff, and I don't pretend to be. I know basics about quite a few things - the stuff they teach you in school. But The Last Cherry Blossom goes where those history books can't - it lends a personalized story to events that happened, and will make you look at things a lot differently. I have learned so much since I picked up this book, and it's haunting story and message have stuck with me even still, over two months since I've finished reading the novel. It has become one of the most treasured novels on my shelf, and I hope it finds its way into the hands of children across the world.
This book is like a history lesson about a dark period, yet told in a hopeful light that you want to share with everyone you meet. This is the perfect book to encourage young readers to learn a little about a historical event that changed the world. The back contains a VERY helpful glossary, and the terms used in the book are clearly defined for younger readers and adults alike.
This is the kind of book that I want to share with my daughters when they are older. It's the kind of book that I believe should be mandatory reading in middle schools to accompany any units or lesson plans that discuss the bombing of Hiroshima. It adds an emotional and personal spin on the events, and is the perfect explanation of how violence can change the world of the people that are affected.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Suzanne Young is one of those authors that I will read pretty muCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
Suzanne Young is one of those authors that I will read pretty much any books she writes - she has a way to create amazing stories that not only pull you and make you forget everything else going on around you, but she has a way with writing characters that are deep and easy to connect to. That was the reason that I fell in love with Hotel Ruby from the very first page, and that's the reason I fell in love with All in Pieces. When this showed up in my mailbox (thank you, Simon & Schuster!), I was beyond thrilled and pretty much dropped everything to read it.
All in Pieces is a young adult contemporary masterpiece. It's so full of heart and feelings that you'll be convinced that there's simply no way that this is only a story. In fact, All in Pieces is the kind of young adult novel that the world needs.
This book does have drug use in it, and since that can be a trigger warning for some, I just wanted to make sure that I mention this before continuing. It also has abuse and sexual assault in the later parts of the book, so I would recommend caution if it is a problem.
Savannah has anger issues. At least that's what they said when she stabbed her ex-boyfriend with a pencil. Yep, a pencil. He mocked her little brother, Evan, because he has a disability, and she drove it right through his hand. Of course, it wasn't taken kindly to, and she got sent to an alternative high school for kids who have caused problems or have gotten into serious trouble. So when Savannah gets sent to this alternative high school, she tries to make the best of it.
Savannah doesn't have a very happy home life - her father is usually drunk and wants nothing to do with her, and never even buys them groceries - instead spends his money on alcohol, never really caring what's going on with her or her brother, Evan. Their mom left, leaving Savannah to spend most of her time caring for Evan on her own. Sometimes the biggest accomplishments of her day are getting Evan to eat his dinner, especially if it isn't his favorite, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. Evan has meltdowns and needs constant care, which is hard for Savannah, who has to spend all of her time with him. While Evan does see their aunt a few days a week, when he is at home, Savannah is all he has.
Savannah has friends at her new school, even though she doesn't particularly enjoy it there. They more of less help and look out for one another, and Savannah doesn't know what she would do without them.
Then a new kid, Cameron, starts at their high school, and Savannah finds herself trying to avoid falling for him, but not really being able to stay away, despite how hard she tries. She vows not to let Cameron, who seems like he has it all - parents who love him, money, a nice house and car - see exactly how she lives. Poverty, an alcoholic father, absent mother, and run down house, aren't exactly things that she can be proud to show off to him.
"Sure, Cameron called me interesting, but he doesn't know me or my life. He's never seen Evan melt down or my father scream. And I won't let him. I'll never let him see that part of me."
The two of them form a friendship, and Savannah slowly begins to open up and learn more about Cameron in the process, as well.
And then the unthinkable happens - Savannah's aunt wants to take full custody of Evan, and the mere thought of losing him is unbearable for Savannah. He is all she has family-wise, and she doesn't know if she will be the same if she takes him.
At the same time, Savannah's ex-boyfriend begins harassing her, and it causes her fear every time she leaves the house. Due to the fact that the cops who were called on her about the pencil incident are going to be the ones she talks to if she does call the police, she knows nothing will come of it, so she doesn't call them. It's really heartbreaking to see what kinds of things that he can get away with.
This book was such a powerful, emotional read that I honestly spent days just thinking about it after I had finished it (which, by the way, was pretty much the same day I started it, it was so good). I really felt like I could relate to Savannah, and I have to say, as a parent who has taken care of a special needs child, I can't imagine being a teenager and being in her shoes. It's the kind of book that everyone needs to read - it will not only take you through a very accurate day with a special needs child, but it will also show you what kind of effect those rough days can have on the caregiver.
The relationship with Savannah and Cameron wasn't an insta-love situation, so no need to worry about that if insta-love isn't your thing. It's more of a slow burn type of relationship, and in fact, the majority of the book is about the two of them being friends more than anything else. It's just perfect.
Since one of Savannah's friends is into drugs, there is a moment that's kind of scary, and honestly had me wanting to cry, but it has its purpose in the book. The abuse that Savannah suffers late in the book at the hands of her ex-boyfriend is terrifying, and it honestly had me disgusted that she could be treated this way.
This is probably one of my favorite books of this year, as you can probably tell by the rare 5 star rating that I gave this one. I don't remember the last time I felt so many emotions over the course of a single book. I have a feeling I'll be reading this one again, and very soon!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I’ve found myself really drawn into YA spy thrillers ever sinceCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I’ve found myself really drawn into YA spy thrillers ever since I read They Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan a while back. Before reading that, I hadn’t really been interested in spy thrillers/action novels, but that really changed me. I feel like I discovered this whole other world of awesome books now – and I have to say, Crossing the Line is one of the books in that world that I am so happy to have had the chance to read.
Crossing the Line is the first book in the new series, The Raven Files. I fell in love with the cover and description before even reading the book, and I found myself promised an awesome novel with tons of action and a kick-ass heroine that will pretty much knock my socks off. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed in the slightest.Crossing the Line truly does deliver on the action, adventure, and kick-ass heroine (not to mention the nifty little spy gadgets), and it delivers it over a story line that reads like one hell of a thrill ride.
Jocelyn Steely is a seventeen year old girl who was taken from her home in the U.S. by a North Korean spy agency, back when she was a little girl. Trained to do all the things she needs to do – sneak, steal, and even kill, Jocelyn has worked against other agencies, including an agency in the U.S that her parents used to work for. When sent on a mission to act as a double agent inside that very agency, Jocelyn doesn’t hesitate – but not for the reasons you would think. She comes clean to the director of the U.S. agency and tells them what’s going on – including the fact that she is addicted to the horrible drug Gerex, which has been used as a reward and punishment system in the North Korean agency for as long as she can remember.
When she decides to come back to the U.S. side, she also has to keep feeding the North Korean agency information (provided by the director in the U.S.), in order to keep them from becoming suspicious. She’s made a part of the agency – after her detox from Gerex (which was absolutely painful to read), she is given a room, allowed to attend classes at the academy, train with the other students and agents, and is even put on missions after a while. There’s just one major problem – the other agents don’t trust her – and some even go as far as to absolutely hate her. When another agent, who happens to essentially be Jocelyn’s nemesis, is given the task of keeping an eye on her, and everyone else throwing snarky remarks at her and just being horrible to her, she has a bit of a difficult time fitting in.
Not only is this book full of action, it has the beginnings of a friendship between Jocelyn and another agent, as well as a partnership between Jocelyn and her “nemesis,” whose code name is Scorpion. I love the interactions between those two, and I especially love how Jocelyn doesn’t take anyone’s nonsense and isn’t afraid to stick up for herself. At the beginning of the book, there’s a bit of it devoted to her drug withdrawal, and like I mentioned earlier, it was kind of hard to read. There are plenty of other places in the book where her use of Gerex is mentioned, including the cravings and the need to see the doctor to manage them.
The characters in this book were perfectly written…I really liked them all. They were full of personality and incredibly interesting, and I hope that future books give them the chance to develop even further. Jocelyn really is a no-nonsense type of character that you can easily end up liking – while she’s done some horrible things in her life, she also is trying to make up for what she was forced to do.
The missions the agents are sent on are completely pulse-pounding and exciting. There is so much going on at all times, and the pacing is quick and intense.
While the book doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger, it does leave plenty of room for the story to continue, and I can hardly wait to see what happens next!
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Check out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, my link text
This book gets a rare 5 stars from me, because it was just that absolutely fCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, my link text
This book gets a rare 5 stars from me, because it was just that absolutely fantastic that it has earned a special place on my "Will probably read again like 20 times this year" shelf.
I haven't seen much hype about this book from other bloggers, and I've never watched Marzia Bisognin's YouTube channel, so I honestly had no idea what to expect when I picked this up. But, as you all know, I'm in love with the horror genre, and I never pass up a potentially awesome novel that falls into that category. Plus, once I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it something I absolutely HAD to check out!
Dream House starts off with what feels like one mission: to absolutely confuse the reader and lull them into a nice suspense filled cocoon. And what a mighty fine job it does. I spent the first few chapters wondering what was going on...we don't really know anything at all about our main character (except that her name is Amethyst, and we pretty much only know that because the description tells us what her name is). Amethyst stumbles up to this house, and instantly knows that it's the house of her dreams - it's beautiful and everything she's ever wanted in a home.
"I somehow have the strangest sensation that this is all I have ever dreamt of, ever since I was just a little girl - of owning a modest yet exquisite house, a house like this, surrounded by fields and the odd neighbour."
So she stands there, pretty much staring at this beautiful house, until a kind couple opens the door and invites her inside to get out of the rain. She accepts, and that's when things start to get weird for her.
Soon the man and woman disappear - Amethyst has no idea where they have gone or when they are coming back, yet she keeps telling herself that she has to stay and thank the couple for their hospitality. She meets Avery, who lives next door, and the two of them manage to strike up a friendship, so she at least has that. However, she starts having dreams of a little girl living in the house, saying the creepiest things, and an old woman coming to the door and insisting that she leave the house, or she will be stuck there forever.
Doors open and close on their own, she hears noises and people whispering, and Amethyst swears she knows someone else is in the house, even though no matter how hard she looks, she can never find anyone else. After a few days, she meets Alfred, the gardener, who seems a little grumpy and strange, and even when she asks Avery about him, all he can say is that she should probably stay away from him.
As the dreams get more vivid and more weird things begin happening, such as the refrigerator magnets moving themselves around to spell out messages for her, Amethyst starts digging in order to solve the mystery that's going on.
Dream House is set up so the chapters reflect each day that Amethyst spends in the house. I thought this was a really cool way to set up the book. Watching Amethyst solve the mystery about the house and herself is addicting - I finished this book in one sitting and wanted more instantly. Sure, it was confusing in the beginning, but by the end of the book, all of your questions get answered (and I even got a case of the super-feels at the end). There are a lot of creepy psychological elements to this book, which really add to the suspense. While I didn't have a hard time figuring things out once I got halfway through the book, it still was shocking at the end when everything was revealed (and it's done so in a way that makes the entire book add up).
Dream House was beautifully written and a wonderful addition to the YA horror genre. Marzia Bisognin needs to write more horror novels - she has an incredible talent and I'll definitely be picking up anything else she writes!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
The Serpent King deserves way more than five stars. This book isCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
The Serpent King deserves way more than five stars. This book is YA perfection - I seriously wish you luck trying to find a more well written YA contemporary than this one, because I really don't think it's out there. Writing this review is going to be difficult, because this book has left me with so many different emotions that it's going to be difficult to sort through them all. But here we go!
The Serpent King is told from three perspectives - Dill, Lydia, and Travis. All three of the characters have so much depth and feel so realistic that during the hours I spent reading this book, it felt like they had been brought right off the page and had become my friends, too.
Dill doesn't really have that great of a life going for him - his father, a preacher at a church in town, was arrested and is now in jail. Dill and his mother both end up working in order to pay back their debt - and Dill's mother insists he goes full time at his grocery store job as soon as he graduates high school. College is not an option, according to his parents, who believe that Dill must do the rightful thing by God and stay with his family, even if he doesn't see why he should suffer for his father's mistakes.
Lydia is an only child, spoiled and loved by her parents, and she dreams of getting out of their backwoods town and on to bigger and better things - such as college in New York. Having made a name for herself online in the blogging community (she started up a fashion blog and is incredibly popular), she spends her time working on her blog, filling out college applications, and hanging out with Dill and Travis.
Travis loves to read. His favorite book series is the Bloodfall series, which is full of fantasy - an escape from his troubled home life, where his brother had died while in the army, and his father is abusive toward him and his mother. Spending days working hard at the lumber yard and with Dill and Lydia, Travis is also building a relationship with another Bloodfall fan, Amelia, and plans to meet her soon.
The three of them are forced to deal with their own problems, and they also have to figure out what is waiting for them after they graduate high school. Lydia can't bear the thought of Dill and Travis being left behind when she goes off to college, so she's always on them about trying to make their own plans.
When tragedy hits and not only tests their friendships, but their faith in themselves, as well, they must figure out what their futures really hold for them, and that maybe the should go after the things they really want before it's too late.
The Serpent King is full of witty, fun dialogue that really makes the book feel complete. You know how some authors just don't seem to get how teenagers talk to each other? Not the case here. Lydia is smart-mouthed and fun and isn't afraid to stick up for herself or what she wants (she's pretty bad-ass and I love that about her). Dill is focused on taking care of his family, and for the most part, he is willing to put aside everything he wants to help them out, which is kind of sad, but understandable. They don't treat him all that well, though, and it's nice to see Dill eventually start to get fed up with it. Travis just wants a nice quiet life where he can work, read, and be happy - and his father doesn't want him to have that quiet, happy life. The abuse that Travis suffers is heartbreaking, but his happy, upbeat attitude about everything else made him my favorite character.
The development and growth the three of them go through in this book is phenomenal - it was amazing watching Dill, Lydia, and Travis grow and make choices for themselves. They essentially discovered who they are and what they want out of life, and Jeff Zentner did this is in such a way that easily made you love all three of them.
I can't even put into words the amount of emotions I felt while reading this book. I laughed, I cried (okay, so I did a whole lot of that), and after I was finished, I felt like I came away changed. The trivial things in life no longer mattered, and I appreciated the amazing family that I have. The Serpent King is one of those books that I will always have a special place for in my heart, and I will definitely read it again.
If you haven't picked this one up yet, you really need to read this. You won't regret it - the writing is beautiful, the characters are among the best I've encountered while reading, and the way the story unfolds is just amazing.
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Before I say anything else, I have to tell you...The Way I UsedCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
Before I say anything else, I have to tell you...The Way I Used to Be is one of the most powerful, gripping books that I have ever read - it is full of raw, painful emotion that will make you smile, cry, love, and hate - often at the same time.
The Way I Used to Be tells the harrowing story of one girl's life while dealing with the aftermath of being raped by her brother's best friend - someone she thought she could look up to and trust. Told in four parts - Freshman year, Sophomore year, Junior year, and Senior year, this novel explores Eden's downward spiral as she is forced to continue her day to day life while dealing with the horrible events that occurred when she least expected it - and from someone she never even considered might hurt her.
The book opens right after the incident happens - and we instantly are drawn in - feeling every emotion that Eden herself feels. She is scared, no - terrified, and she doesn't know what to do. She knows she should tell someone - but who? Her family idolizes Kevin - her brother's best friend, and she doesn't believe that they would even hear her, let alone believe her accusations. She doesn't want to tell her brother - he seems like he can't be without Kevin these days, so that would be a mistake. So she does the only thing she thinks of - tries to pretend it didn't happen. Only, it did, and those actions have forever rips Eden from being a smart, quirky, loving girl, and thrusts her into a lonely existence of keeping a secret that is slowly destroying her. As her life continues through high school - from the moment it happens in her freshman year until her senior year, everything about Eden changes. She starts drinking, smoking, partying, and sleeping with as many guys as she can just to try and numb her pain. When she finally meets someone who she genuinely cares about, she cannot bring herself to tell him the truth or even be the type of girlfriend he deserves.
As Eden continues her descent into a painful, lonely life, she begins pushing away everyone, including her very best friend, Mara. As Mara begins dating a boy they met in their freshman year, Eden feels even more lonely, and begins making even worse decisions on her own, losing the only friend that she ever really had.
The Way I Used to Be was such a hard book to read. The emotions in this book, along with the ones you will inevitably feel, are all over the place. One minute you'll feel like everything might work out for Eden, and the next minute, you'll find that you're watching her fall apart and exhibit even worse self-destructive behavior than she did the year before. It's depressing, it's horrifying, and it's so well written that you won't put this book down until you finish reading Eden's story. And after you've finished, you'll think about all the young women that have had similar experiences and felt those same emotions, and it will make your heart hurt even worse.
Amber Smith did such a wonderful job bringing Eden's character to life, and you can see how she changes from year to year. In her freshman year she is a bubbling young girl who is eager to start a lunchtime book club with her friends, but by her junior and senior years, she is out all night, partying, sleeping with a lot of guys, and completely losing herself. Her character is one that you can't help but feel a connection with instantly, and this amazing writing lasts throughout the entire book as we watch Eden develop from a girl into a young woman. With the amount of character development and changes that happen in this book, you're going to be blown away by the fact that this is, indeed, Amber Smith's debut novel. Can we please take some time and give this amazing new author a big round of applause for approaching such a sensitive subject and tackling it in a way that is meaningful, important, and so incredibly well written?
I'm not going to lie - you're going to be feeling A LOT when you read this book. Arm yourself with tissues, because it will make you cry, there's no way around it. It's going to make you angry, as well, so be prepared. I don't read a lot of books that deal with really deep emotions like this one, but it's worth it. You're going to want to block out a good period of time to read this, because there's no way you'll be able to just set it aside after a few chapters - hours will pass, and you'll find yourself lost in Eden's world.
Also an interesting part about this book, and something that makes it completely different than other books dealing with this subject, is the fact that it details Eden's life after it occurred, instead of the events that led up to it happening. It didn't go into detail (at least not right off the bat, but some flashbacks provide insight into the night it happened) about the event as it happened, but we got to see how it changed Eden - and just how badly it damaged her self esteem, her happiness, and her life.
If you read one book this spring, let this one be it. If you don't mind emotional stories that deal with important, meaningful issues (that should really be talked about more), than please don't let this be one that you miss.
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I've always loved gymnastics. Well, watching gymnastics...you knCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I've always loved gymnastics. Well, watching gymnastics...you know, at home, in my pajamas, with a milkshake or a slice of pizza.
I binge watched Make it or Break it more times than I can count. In fact, I think I'm due to re-watch it again. And I've always enjoyed watching gymnastics during the Olympics.
So when I read about this book, way before it came out, I was so excited to read it. I knew I was going to love it, and when I received a copy of it from Penguin (thank you!), I can't even begin telling you how thrilled I was (it was a lot!).
I never really find myself reading a lot of sports books, but I fell in love with this one before I even read it, and it just got better and better with every page.
The first thing I love about this book (aside from the synopsis that really makes it sound like a thrilling few days in the world of gymnastics) is the cover. It's simple, but it's really pretty, and it did a great job connecting with that was going to happen with the story.
The entire book spans over the course of two days - the Olympic Trials that will lead to the decision of which five girls (and three alternates) will be selected to compete in the Olympics. It begins at the start of the Olympic Trials, on day one, with all the girls who are competing. We only get to really know five of them - Grace, Leigh, Camille, Wilhelmina, and Monica. During each of their sections, we learn their secrets, their motivation, their personal lives and problems, and relationships as they compete on beam, floor, bars, and vault to see which of them will be achieving their dreams of going to the Olympics. All the while they find themselves wondering whether or not their dreams are worth not only giving everything else up for, but working so hard and possibly not getting there anyway.
Grace is an overachiever who focuses on nothing except gymnastics. She is homeschooled, and her father is her coach, which allows her all the time she needs to focus on her dream. Her father constantly ridicules her and points out everything that's wrong with her gymnastics (even tiny things), and he never offers her words of encouragement. Dealing with a horrible secret that she's been keeping to herself, she isn't afraid to push everything (and everyone) aside to win.
Leigh is Grace's best friend, and while she goes to public school and has other friends, she knows that she's a great gymnast, but she's dealing with her own things while working as hard as she can to get to the Olympics. She's much friendlier than Grace, for the most part, but she is terrified of everyone finding out about her secret, so she tends to keep people at arm's length. Leigh is also the National Champion.
Camille had her chance at the Olympics four years ago, but a car accident ruined things for her, so she is back and trying to get there again. Being the oldest girl out of the five that the book focuses on, we hear about her struggles as being "Comeback Cammie" - and that maybe she is still competing to make her mother happy, when she isn't sure that's what makes her happy anymore. Deep down she wants to focus on college gymnastics instead, but she isn't sure what she's going to do.
Wilhelmina is almost as old as Camille, and since her birthday fell at a time that wouldn't allow her to go to the Olympics four years ago (only by a few months), this is her first time trying and she's dedicated to living out her dream, even if she's afraid she might not make it.
Monica is the girl that everyone just dismisses. While she is a rising talent, no one feels threatened by her until this meet, when she blows them away with her amazing moves. However, Monica has absolutely no confidence in herself, and is constantly putting herself down.
Tumbling is a bit difficult to keep up with at first, because there are five different viewpoints, with each character having a section during the "chapter," or rotation. It has a roster in the beginning of the book of all the girls who are competing, along with their ages, heights, etc. Trust me when I say, this will be really helpful, especially in the beginning of the book when you're just getting to know the characters. I found myself referring to it multiple times. But once you get used to them and their individual personalities, it's easy to keep track.
The book is broken up into the two days of the Olympic Trials, and the chapters being the 4 rotations (vault, beam, bars, floor), with each girl's turn, is a really nice touch. There are also sections after the first day's events (evening limbo) and prior to the second day's events (morning limbo) where we get to know the characters on a bit of a personal level, which I thought was a great addition.
If you're worried about the pacing being slow (over 400 pages and a story that only stretches over two days), don't. It's not slow in the slightest - it not only has a lot of awesome gymnastics going on, it is also peppered with little stories from the girls' past that help you get a better understanding of their personalities.
Also, if you aren't familiar with gymnastics, you won't really be left out - there's a glossary of gymnastics terms in the back of the book, and it's really descriptive. I read through that a few times, as well, but I already knew what a lot of the words meant. Either way, you won't be lost. It was really fantastic for the author to include that.
I do hope there's going to be a follow up or something to see how the characters do in the Olympics, because it ended quite shortly after the Olympic Trials. I would love to see more about these girls and how they do after.
I rarely rate a book 5 stars, but this one deserved it. It was beautifully written, and you can tell that a lot of work and love went into writing this book. It's easily become one of my favorites, and I'm already planning on re-reading it very soon.
Even if you aren't that big on sports, give this one a go! Check it out of your library if you're worried about not liking it - it's worth the read. It's more than a book about gymnastics - it's a book about friendship.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
This book was featured on my blog as a Waiting on Wednesday pickCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
This book was featured on my blog as a Waiting on Wednesday pick a while back, because as soon as I had heard of it I had the feeling I knew it was going to be my new favorite contemporary romance. I was kind of impatient for this one, and I want to take the time to give a huge thanks to Simon & Schuster Children's for sending a copy of it my way.
I essentially devoured this book in one sitting, because there was no way I could put it down for even a minute. I walked around the house with the book glued in front of my face (and yes, perhaps I stumbled into a door a few times in the process), and just kept reading. And reading. Until the very last page.
And what can I say now that I've finished it?
Dear Meg Leder - your new YA novel stole my heart and made me believe in love all over again.
The Museum of Heartbreak is perfect. In fact, it could also be called The Museum of Feels, or perhaps even The Museum of Such a Perfectly Written YA Debut that I'll Sit Here and Impatiently Await More Heartfelt Novels from This Author. Well, okay, so that doesn't have a very nice ring to it, but you get what I'm trying to say.
This is one of those cases that I closed the book after I had finished and instantly wanted to throw a copy at everyone I know who loves YA books. The Museum of Heartbreak charmed me from the very first page, and through the powerful yet sweet story, it made me feel such a complex range of emotions that include some I wasn't even sure existed.
Alright, let's move onto the book itself, shall we?
Penelope Marx has suffered a heartbreak on a few different levels. She suffered from the "my best friend has a new best friend" heartbreak. She suffered from the "my other best friend has other things going on" heartbreak. The guy that she has a major crush on played around with her heart, destroying her feelings and causing her a ton of pain, so her there's that kind of heartbreak, as well. Penelope isn't having the best year.
So what does she do? She collects small trinkets, notes, jewelry, and other items that mean something to her, or did at one time, and have brought her to the point in her life that she's currently at. Each item in the "museum" is labeled with the name, information about it, and where she acquired it - such as a Santa figurine - a gift from her best friend Eph. Every chapter in the book features that item, how it came to be in her possession and what it means to her, all leading through the events that bring her to present day.
Penelope's best friend, Audrey, seems to be getting distant - and it doesn't help that one of the most popular girls in the school, Cherisse (who pretty much despises Penelope), seems to be replacing her in Audrey's life. Since she feels left out, she starts spending more time with her other best friend Eph. Eph practically has girls falling all over him, and they do tend to get in the way of their friendship from time to time, which does make Penelope feel left out with him, too.
To top it all off, Penelope is crushing on the new boy in the class - Keats. Keats doesn't seem like her type - in fact, Cherisse seems like she is staking her claim when it comes to him, so when Penelope receives an invitation to a party that Keats is throwing, she is over the moon. She is even more thrilled when the two of them have an actual conversation at the party, and start to meet up for dates. Cherisse isn't too pleased by these developments, and because of it, the rift that seems to be forming between Penelope and Audrey is widening even more.
Now that Penelope is actually dating Keats, though, she is faced with a new dilemma - is he really everything that she had always dreamed of in a guy...or does she know for a fact that she deserves better?
I love how each chapter in this book starts off the way it does - introducing the object that will be added to Penelope's "museum" and mentioning where it came from and what it means to her. That adds so much personality to the book and makes it unique.
As for characters...I absolutely loved Eph, and my love for his character only progressed as the book went on. The way his character and Penelope's character were written were fantastic...their personalities really lit up the book and made it such an enjoyable read. Keats, however, was just a butt, and I honestly found myself wondering what Penelope sees in him.
As for how this book made me feel while I was reading...and especially at the end? Oh my goodness, it's been a really long time since I've had so many different emotions come out over the course of one book. But this is definitely the kind of book that will make you feel Penelope's heartbreak and happiness right along with her, and I loved every second of it. It not only gave me the happy "warm and fuzzy feelings" kind of feelings, but it did make me cry once or twice (okay well the second time was because I was so incredibly happy with what was going on, I couldn't contain those warm and fuzzy feelings anymore).
Definitely read this book! It's an amazing summer read! It isn't all that long, either, so it would be perfect for a nice rainy day when you're stuck at home (or a nice day at the beach, or a camping trip...you get the idea). If you love YA romances, don't miss this!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
This is one of those books that I wish I had read while I was inCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
This is one of those books that I wish I had read while I was in high school. While I read a lot during those years, I didn’t read much YA, and books featuring m/m or f/f relationships were far and few in between (okay, I’m not that old, but that was like eight years ago already, and YA has come a long way since then!).
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel is a breath of fresh air for YA readers questioning their sexuality and their identity as a whole person. While light-hearted and, in parts, hilarious and entertaining, this book is deep and inspiring…exactly the type of book that can make a difference in someone’s life.
Leila is a fun main character. The way Sara Farizan has written her makes her seem real; she is down to earth, witty, and awkward. As an Iranian American, she knows she has her differences already, but when a new girl, Saskia, moves to town and starts at her school, she realizes that she has a huge crush on her. She finds her alluring, gorgeous, and brilliant. While she isn’t ready to come out of the closet (she doesn’t believe her family would approve of her liking girls), she falls more and more for Saskia.
Saskia can tell that Leila has a crush on her, and uses it to her advantage – holding Leila’s hand, sneaking kisses in the dressing room…but does she really return the feelings? After all, Saskia is beautiful, popular, and fun…while Leila hangs around with a different crowd and spends her time working on the school play with some of her classmates who are no where near being in that same crowd. So when she starts to feel like the attraction between them is mutual, Leila doesn’t know that she’s in for an emotional rollercoaster ride, and maybe not always a good one.
My favorite part about Leila is that she isn’t afraid to be herself. She states in the book that she isn’t skinny, but that she’s happy with how she looks. This type of portrayal of positive body image in YA is exactly what we need to be seeing. If more people read books where the main character is happy with who they are, despite their flaws (heck, even while embracing their flaws), it could do wonders for self-esteem. So a big thank you to Sara Farizan for promoting this type of message. I have so much respect for this!
Plus, not only is Leila confident about herself (appearance-wise), she’s adorable. The things she says and does in this book are so awkward (and come on, let’s face it, easy to relate to), and some of it tends to be pretty amusing at times.
“‘Look at how pretty you are!’ Mom exclaims. ‘You should straighten your hair all the time!’ Well, I guess that’s one thing I can straighten about myself.”
While coming out is a big issue for Leila throughout the book, it is an important part of the novel and one that makes it feel even more real. She is concerned about what her family will think, since they are Persian and it isn’t really acceptable for her to like girls. She even points out that friends of her parents kicked their son out for coming out, and she is afraid they might react the same way. So she struggles throughout the whole novel to figure out who she is, and what she wants, and she does so alone for the majority of it. But as she begins making friends with her classmates who are working on the school play (the girls who handle the technical parts, and Thomas, who is gay and already out), she begins to realize that maybe she really does have friends who won’t judge her, and maybe coming out wouldn’t be the worst
This is the type of book is the type of book we need to see more of. It has the perfect balance of humor, romance, and a twist at the end that wraps the book up so nicely. As soon as I put this one down, I wanted to read it again, and I know it’s going to be one that I recommend often (and it’s definitely going on my favorites shelf!). While I haven’t read Sara Farizan’s first book, you can bet that I’m going to pick it up as soon as I get the chance!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
This is one of those books that is written so beautifully and thCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
This is one of those books that is written so beautifully and thoughtfully that by the time you finish it, you wonder how this could possibly be Jamie Kain’s debut novel. This book provides the reader with a powerful, thought-provoking experience that will leave you wondering until the very last chapter. The characters are so well-written and developed, and you can tell that a lot of care was put into crafting their personalities and contributions to the story. Even the dialogue between the characters is stunning and enjoyable to read, and it takes readers ever deeper into the story page by page.
Sarah, Rachel, and Asha are sisters, and while they love each other, their relationship has often been strained…and by strained, I’m talking way more unsettled than your typical “sister-drama” kind of relationship. Sarah, the oldest, has spent a lifetime battling cancer, going into remission and then relapsing, and having to go through the pain and suffering all over again. Asha, the youngest, is the sister who has the compatible bone-marrow, so she is able to donate it to Sarah, to help her get well. Rachel, being the middle sister, neither the daughter who is sick or the daughter who can help, is often nudged aside and forgotten, and because of that, she develops a lifetime of bitterness and resentment.
Now, Rachel lives her life by working as a waitress at a diner, going through boyfriends and not taking anything seriously. Asha is becoming a rebel, drinking, getting tattoos, and spending all of her time with her best friend, Sinclair. Their parents are living separate lives now; their father took a new job and rarely ever sees his girls, and their mother has a new boyfriend and a new wardrobe and just about a new everything else.
However, when Sarah dies, Rachel and Asha are all each other has left, along with a bunch of unanswered questions. Did Sarah really fall off that cliff while hiking, or did she jump? What was going through Sarah’s mind during those last few weeks before her death? What was she hiding?
“Life, it turns on a complicated array of gears we cannot see. A heart that beats can go still in the space of a moment. Breath can vanish before we’ve had a chance to say good-bye.”
Sarah, however, wakes up somewhere in the afterlife, and can see the things going on in her former life. She can see her mother and sisters going about their lives. She sees her memorial service. She watches from afar, and wonders where exactly she is. She tries to deal with what has happened, and what is yet to happen, while helplessly watching her family carry on their lives without her.
Without Sarah, the girl who had once held the family together, they all must struggle to stay afloat, and Rachel and Asha try to figure out their lives. When Asha discovers Sarah’s devastating secret, she really begins to wonder if her death was really an accident, or if there was more to it.
This book is as powerful as it is beautiful, as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It was a stunning debut novel that tells a story of a sister that might not have been as perfect as everyone once thought. It is one of those books that makes you look at young adult fiction in a whole new light – definitely something different and easy to get lost in.
Don’t even get me started on the amazing character-development that happens in this book, either. While reeling from Sarah’s death, it’s natural that everyone is going to have a difficult time with it, and the different reactions from each character are fully explored and made for a deeper, richer reading experience. The way the characters change from the start of the novel to the end is interesting…if you’re big on this kind of development in a book, instead of just flat characters with no personality, you definitely need to check this one out.
I can’t say enough great things about this book. It had such a mysterious edge to it that kept you guessing about Sarah’s death to the very end, and Sarah’s parts in the novel were a nice touch, as well. It was interesting to read about things from her viewpoint, even though she was in the afterlife.
The Good Sister is definitely one of those rare books that are making it to my “must read again soon!” shelf.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
This review has taken me a while to write because I’ve been at aCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
This review has taken me a while to write because I’ve been at a loss for words to even tell you how amazing this book is. It’s a rare 5-star for me, and I already wanted to start reading it again the second I finished the last chapter. It really is an amazing novel, and I think that anyone who has ever questioned who they are or what they are looking for is in need of this beautifully written, inspiring story.
Not having read anything by Shaun David Hutchinson prior to reading We Are the Ants, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After I finished and closed the book, I realized that I would have been correct to expect a fantastic YA novel that not only plays with your emotions throughout its entirety, but also gives you a glimpse into the life of a teenage boy trying to find some good in the human race, even when he’s having a difficult time finding a reason why he should even continue looking.
Henry has been abducted by aliens multiple times. No one believes him, but when he comes home randomly after missing for a few days (also usually in his underwear), people start to talk. His mother and brother think he’s a little troubled. The kids at school find him…strange (they call him Space Boy). Needless to say, he feels rather lonely. His boyfriend Jesse committed suicide, not leaving behind a note or any definite reasons why he would take such drastic measures, leaving behind an absolutely heartbroken Henry. Since Jesse was Henry’s first love and entire world, he doesn’t know what to do with himself, especially since he has no idea why Jesse would leave him behind. Audrey, the best friend of both Henry and Jesse, is also heartbroken at their loss, and she disappears for a while after, leaving Henry completely alone. This causes a strain on Audrey’s and Henry’s relationship, with Henry not feeling like he can trust Audrey to be there and be his friend now. However, Audrey doesn’t hesitate to stick up for Henry when he is provoked by classmates, and she also knows some of Jesse’s secrets, and she is dealing with her own grief from losing him.
Since Henry feels so alone, he starts spending time with popular jock Marcus, who is nothing but mean to Henry when he is in front of his friends (giving him the nickname Space Boy and insulting him as often as possible), and yet being sweet to Henry when they are alone – spending time hooking up and having serious conversations. Because Henry feels so alone, he deals with the emotional abuse Marcus dishes out – just for those moments where he can feel appreciated and needed, even if it’s in secret.
During all of this, Henry is abducted by aliens again, and this time, he is faced with a decision. They show him a big red button, and let him know that unless he pushes the button, the world will be destroyed on January 29th, 2016 – giving him a limited number of days (144 to be exact) to decide if the human race is worth saving.
While Henry is trying to make that decision (and of course, being abducted multiple times and having to trek across town in his boxers in the process), a new student comes to the school – Diego. At first, Henry isn’t quite sure what to make of Diego – he is different and isn’t very open with his past. However, Diego seems to believe Henry about the alien abductions, and eventually the two form an interesting relationship. Diego tries his hardest to help Henry through the grief he feels from the loss of Jesse, the alien abductions, and the horrible, cruel treatment of Marcus. He wants him to see the good in the world so that he will press the button.
I love everything about this book (well, except Marcus, I hated Marcus). I loved how carefully crafted the story was. I loved how well rounded and thought out the characters were. This book made me feel like I was drawn into a young adult version of the X-Files! The science fiction aspect was played up perfectly without overdoing it, the way that some novels have done. The relationship between Jesse and Henry was beautiful (told in flashbacks, but still, you can put together the amazing thing they had together), and it was nothing short of heartbreaking to see Henry struggle to recover after the boy he was in love with committed suicide, without leaving any clues for Henry as to why he did it. The whole issue with Marcus was painful and make me sick, because what they do to Henry in the book is terrible. At the same time, you feel a bit bad for Marcus, because he clearly cares about Henry and is worried about others finding out who he is and who he’s in love with.
Henry’s character is so well done. He has a great sense of humor, and as the narrator of the book, it’s bound to bring you a few laughs. His personality is really interesting and you’ll go through all of his heartbreak, losses, and happy times along with him. And you will spend the entire book asking the same question over and over again…will he push the button and save the world?
This book tackles so many major issues that it’s pretty difficult to label it exactly. There is so much going on throughout the story, and there were so many emotions that you would be laughing during one chapter and crying at the start of the next. If you like a book that forces you to think, you need to read this one.
If you pick up one book in 2016, let We Are the Ants be it. You will not be disappointed!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I'm taking a break from my usual young adult genre reviews to review a book thatCheck out this and other reviews on my blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I'm taking a break from my usual young adult genre reviews to review a book that has been a favorite of mine for years.
Ever since I was little I had a strange obsession with horror movies, and as I got older, I realized that while horror movies are a treat, books in the horror genre are always twice as good. When I stumbled upon Bentley Little's strange and twisted talent many years ago, I felt like jumping for joy - here was a fantastic writer with quite a talent for embracing the strange, creepy, and downright terrifying in a way that makes you wanting more.
The first day of summer is always enjoyable for both children and adults alike...and in a small town in Arizona, this is no different. However, a horrible tragedy strikes, leaving the town without a mailman - until the new one shows up. A bit strange in appearance and personality, the residents of the town don't think much of it - until odd things begin happening. First, the people in the town begin getting letters from people they haven't heard from in years. Then mail begins getting mixed up - and letters with some not-so-nice contents end up causing arguments among the recipients. Bills stop being delivered - and this results in power, water, and phone lines being shut off. Finally, some of the residents of the town notice some very strange things being sent to them via the mail...and they have had some bizarre interactions with the mailman that will make you want to leave the lights on if you're reading this book before bedtime.
The plot of The Mailman seems kind of simple, but there is so much going on in this book that there isn't a single moment of boredom. The pacing is pretty fast, and it's one of those books where you will keep saying "Just one more chapter!" and find yourself still awake at four in the morning reading. It's just so easy to become absorbed in this nail-biting, truly chilling
I have read this book so many times...at least seven or eight now, and it never gets old. I'm pretty sure the first time I read this I was like ten or eleven (and had probably read a great deal of the books already on my mom's bookshelf), so of course, as I got older, I had to own a copy of it for myself (I have the paperback and Kindle versions of it). For a while, this book was kind of tough to track down. It was originally published in 1991 by Signet, but had been out of print for a while before Cemetery Dance Publications picked it up again. I have the original version, of course, but the newer version has a nice, spruced up cover that looks pretty nice. It's pretty cheap on Kindle, too...so if you're reluctant to try out his writing, that's a great way to give this fantastic author a chance!
Bentley Little is truly a master of horror. He knows how to write deliciously terrifying stories that would make other writers cringe at the mere thought of. Out of all of the Bentley Little books I've read over the years (and there are a lot), The Mailman remains a personal favorite (as well as The Association and The Store - check those out, too). Just keep in mind that this isn't YA horror in the slightest...and it isn't for those with a weak stomach, either.
Sure, it deals with some twisted content (actually, some downright messed up stuff), but if you aren't one for minding this type of writing, and you like horror, than this is one that you absolutely need on your shelf....more
"'Hate is a powerful demon that worms its way into the hearts ofCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings
"'Hate is a powerful demon that worms its way into the hearts of fearful men.'"
Hanalee Denney does not have the easiest life. She lives in Oregon in the 1920's with her mother, a white woman, and her stepfather. Her father, Hank Denney, was an African American man, and since his relationship with Hanalee's mother was pretty much forbidden, Hanalee knows what hatred feels like. She experiences it every day when she hears about how she has no rights in her state. She feels it every time she goes to church and the ladies ask her mother to consider bleaching Hanalee's skin. She deals with it when she sees signs in windows stating that the owners have the right to refuse service to those they choose. And then there's the Ku Klux Klan - something Hanalee lives in fear of, despite the fact that she's been reassured that they're only doing good things for the community. Hanalee feels a horrible amount of grief since the death of her father, especially since her mother quickly remarried the town's physician, and seemed able to move on with her life.
When Joe, the boy accused of killing Hanalee's father is released from prison, Hanalee plans on confronting him - until he tries to tell her that he wasn't the one responsible. Even though Hanalee isn't convinced that Joe is telling the truth, she starts to think differently after she speaks to her father's ghost one night (yes, she talks to her father's ghost, and those scenes are truly heartfelt and emotional). He tells her the truth, and she and Joe set out to try and figure it out together. Meanwhile, Joe is dealing with his own demons...and reasons why people in town want him gone.
This is probably one of the most powerful and impressive books that I have ever read. Hanalee Denney is definitely the most kick-ass female lead I've come across yet - she's strong, she stands up for herself and those around her who deserve it, and while she is not fearless, she isn't afraid to do what's right. She does what she has to do to make a difference in the world. While she is independent, she knows when she needs help, and she seeks it out.
Hanalee Denney is a female lead that all girls and young women should admire.
The supporting characters were also great - including Joe. Joe has his own problems to deal with, and he does so while helping Hanalee - and the two of them end up developing an amazing friendship through it all. The way the two of them work together to try and solve Hanalee's father's death is quite memorable.
There isn't any ridiculous romance going on in this book, and I love that about it - it sticks to the main plot and while there are a few things going on in the background, it isn't hindered by an unnecessary romance that just makes the story seem less believable. Instead, you are given a heartbreaking look at what life was like in the 1920's in Oregon for people who had a different background, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, or even association with anyone different.
Included in the book are photographs, as well as an interesting timeline that goes over changes to Oregon's laws after the story took place. This truly is a well thought out and researched novel, and even more than that, it's an important work of literature that reminds us of how far we have come since those awful days - and how far we still have to go.
If you've read other books by Cat Winters, definitely make sure that you don't miss this one. If you haven't read anything else by this exceptional author - let this be the one that makes you a fan!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I don't read as much middle grade fiction as I should, and reading this book did well to drive that point home. I was torn when I stumbled upon this bI don't read as much middle grade fiction as I should, and reading this book did well to drive that point home. I was torn when I stumbled upon this book, because while middle grade fiction isn't a genre I usually read, this book was something I felt I really had to change that for. From the beautiful cover to the heartwarming story line, this book really reached out to me.
To start off, we have Jackson, who at one point in his life, had an imaginary friend named Crenshaw. Crenshaw was a little cat who could talk and loved purple jellybeans. Crenshaw came to Jackson at a time when things weren't going so well for his family - they had to move out of their house and live in their minivan for a while, because his parents weren't making enough money to pay the bills.
One day, Jackson stumbles upon a surfing cat with an umbrella, and while it looks like Crenshaw, Jackson decides to chalk it up to it being his imagination, and goes home. While playing a game with his sister, purple jellybeans mysteriously appear, which makes Jackson curious (since Crenshaw's favorite jellybeans are purple). That night, Jackson hears strange noises in the bathroom while everyone is asleep - and when he investigates, he finds Crenshaw in the bathtub, taking a bubble bath.
Crenshaw is back - with intentions of helping Jackson through this difficult time (his parents are again short on money and trying to figure out how to make ends meet, and are talking about moving again). While Jackson doesn't quite welcome Crenshaw at first, he warms up to the idea of having him around, because right now, he really needs a friend - even if it's a huge, talking, imaginary cat.
This story is is captivating and sweet. Jackson's struggle is heartbreaking, but at the same time, it's amazing to see a family stick together through all of it. Jackson's parents are in love and their love their children. They're working as hard as they can to give them the life they deserve, and while it's rough at times, Jackson and his little sister have a pretty positive outlook on things. Crenshaw is a light in the dark for Jackson, and the author has written all of these characters perfectly. I loved how much personality the characters had - it was so easy to get drawn into. This story is such an amazing story that manages to get its points across in a unique way - family really is the most important thing, and having a great imagination is a truly wonderful gift....more
I heard about this book back when it first came out, probably abCheck out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
I heard about this book back when it first came out, probably about a year ago now, and I while I was intrigued, I don't read as much middle grade fiction as I do young adult, so I never really bothered to pick a copy up until I saw it was on sale for $2.99 on Amazon for Kindle. When I saw that, I wasted no time grabbing my copy of it, and instead of being one of those books that I let sit in my Kindle library and end up forgetting about, this one nagged at me until I decided to read it.
Let me stress that while this technically is a middle grade novel, I believe that it is a novel that everyone should read. It's sweet, it's funny, it's heartbreaking, and it's thought provoking. It will make you go back to your own childhood and wonder what you would have done if you were in George's shoes, or her friend Kelly's shoes.
“George stopped. It was such a short, little question, but she couldn't make her mouth form the sounds. Mom, what if I'm a girl?”
George is a girl in middle school who is struggling with her identity - she knows who she is, but she can't tell anyone - including her mother, who she doesn't believe would understand. So she hides in her room, looking at magazines that she's found over the years, full of make-up tips, hair advice, and models that she refers to as her friends. She keeps them hidden inside a denim bag in her closet so that no one can find them. To her mother and older brother, George is just George - a son and a little brother. George's father rarely sees her, so she doesn't feel the need to even consider discussing it with him. But when George is alone, she refers to herself as Melissa, which is the name she has picked for herself.
School isn't easy for George, either. While she does have her best friend, Kelly, she is bullied and made fun of. When try-outs for the school play, Charlotte's Web, start up, George doesn't know what to do - she desperately wants the part of Charlotte, the spider who can spin words into her webs, but only girls are allowed to try out for the part. So what is George to do? Face ridicule and read the lines for Charlotte's character anyway, or play it safe and audition for a boy's role?
When conflict arises and George feels like everything is falling apart for her, she isn't sure where to turn, so she turns to her friend Kelly, who is supportive, caring, and compassionate with George. She doesn't judge or care about what others will say - she encourages George to be herself.
“She looked in the mirror and gasped. Melissa gasped back at her. For a long time, she stood there, just blinking. George smiled, and Melissa smiled too.”
George is a beautiful novel, and honestly, I think everyone should have to read this book, both middle grade kids and adults alike. There are several important lessons to learn from this book.
In the book, George's best friend Kelly is not only accepting of George, but she doesn't even care that George is a girl, and not a boy like everyone else believes. It doesn't change how she feels about her, and it doesn't change their friendship. As adults or teenagers, how many people can honestly say they have friends like this? A very select few, I'm sure. Imagine if we, as adults, could live by the message that this character sends? There would be much more love in the world, and a lot less hatred and violence.
Also, George is encouraged by Kelly to follow her dreams and go for what she wants, even if no one else is keen on the idea. This is beautiful - and what we should all be encouraging each other to do.
George is struggling silently with her identity for a good portion of the book, and she feels she must do this alone, because no one, not even her mother, would understand. This broke my heart, because as a mother myself, I know that if one of my children were feeling the emotions that George felt throughout this book, I know I would want them to come to me. I think that more parents need to be open and willing to discuss things with their children in such a way that makes them feel loved and accepted, no matter what. It saddens me to the very bottom of my heart that some children feel they cannot go to their parents and that they have to struggle through things like this alone - that should never be the case.
I read this book through in one sitting - it isn't long or anything, but the messages that it delivers are so powerful that you won't be able to forget for a long time (if ever) after you're done reading. In fact, that's a good thing - I think that this book could inspire a new generation to learn to be more open-minded, compassionate, and loving toward one another, ditching the hatred and the animosity that is filling our society.
Please, read this book. I'm sorry I waited so long to get a copy for myself, and I feel like everyone simply needs this book in their lives.
Ryan Graudin has spun a creative tale about heartbreak, revenge, and what it means to find yourself, even if you feel you've been lost for a long time.
Yael has had her fair share of suffering. As a child, she was placed in a death camp with her mother, and was forced to undergo cruel genetic testing that gave her the ability to change her appearance to anyone she chose. After losing her mother and others she was close to, she managed to escape from the death camp and build herself a new life as part of the resistance against the government and Adolf Hitler.
While Yael grew up, she trained and awaited the day she would be given an assignment and chosen to do her part in the resistance. Because she had the ability to change her appearance, the task she is given would be impossible for anyone else, but is sure to make a change.
Yael's task is to participate in the Axis Tour, which a popular motorcycle race that draws Adolf Hitler out in public to attend the Victor's Ball - which is where Yael can get close enough to kill him.
In order to participate, Yael must study up on the previous year's winner - Adele Wolfe, and learn as much about her as she can in order to impersonate her and join the race. After kidnapping Adele Wolfe, Yael uses her abilities to make herself look just like Adele, and takes her place in the race. Since this is only the first year that girls are permitted to race (Adele pretended to her her identical twin brother in order to win the previous year's race), there is only one other girl for Yael to race against - and quite a few boys. During the race across multiple continents, Yael must act as though she is Adele Wolfe, even if it means something different than she herself had planned on. Struggling to win and complete her task the resistance has given her, Yael struggles to be Adele Wolfe, and herself at the same time.
The story mostly takes place during the race, but there are some chapters and sections of chapters that focus on Yael's struggles while in the death camp and after she escaped. I enjoyed the flashbacks in this book, even though they were heartbreaking, because they allowed me to understand how Yael became the person that she is during the race.
Wolf by Wolf is a spectacular, original novel that will be different from any other book you've read. While there are so many dark, heartbreaking elements in this book, it has such an amazing, well thought out plot that is simply incredible. Ryan Graudin truly is a fantastic author and has such a talent for creating a well researched and yet imaginative story that will stick with you for a long time. I fell in love with this book from the very first page, and I couldn't put it down until I had devoured this amazing story.
Note: This review is based on an ARC version of the book....more
This review is going to be very difficult to write. Not because the book was bad,Check out this and other reviews on my blog, Here's to Happy Endings!
This review is going to be very difficult to write. Not because the book was bad, or had anything wrong with it (in fact, I hadn’t come across a single problem with this book, which is rare), but it’s difficult to write because this book is perfect. Yes, it really is.
This book is absolutely beautiful. From the cover, to the pages, to the chapter titles, to the story itself, everything about this novel is completely stunning and delightful. I can’t remember the last time that I sat down to read a book and was so captivated by the story like I was with The Weight of Feathers. The characters are so well written and well developed, and they actually show personality (which is something that characters in a lot of YA books, especially romance books, are lacking).
We have our two families – the Palomas and the Corbeaus. They have been enemies and feuding for a very long time now, and their children have been warned to stay away from the others. They are both performing families; the Paloma females dress in beautiful mermaid tails and frolic in the water for the local audience, while the Corbeaus wear gorgeous wings and leap around in the trees. They have rules against touching members of the opposite family – they have their beliefs about the horrors that touching them will bring…except for fighting. They are allowed to hurt members of the other family through physical fights, because this will not cause any harm to the person inflicting the damage. So the families tend to stay away from each other, except for the few times that they try to hurt each other – the Palomas putting petroleum jelly on the tree branches before the Corbeaus’ show, for instance, and the Corbeau family placing nylon nets in the river for the mermaids to get stuck in and cause them to not be able to resurface for air during the shows.
One night, one of our main characters, Lace Paloma, gets stuck in one of these nets during a performance. Because she is stuck in the net and struggling to get out, it takes her longer to get out of the water, so she doesn’t hear the warning sirens from the adhesive factory nearby, which has had a malfunction and causes chemical rain to come down upon everyone in town. This chemical rain causes severe burns on Lace’s body, until she is saved by our other main character, Cluck Corbeau. Neither of them are aware who the other is, and Lace doesn’t find out until later, when she is in the hospital. Because she comes back from the hospital, she has a feather-shaped burn on her arm from Cluck saving her, her family turns their backs on her and tells her that she needs to leave. Lace sets out to get Cluck to “remove” the burn from her arm with his forgiveness, so she agrees to work as a makeup artist in the Corbeau’s family show. Since no one knows she is a Paloma, she and Cluck start to fall for each other. But eventually they will find out who Lace really is, and then they need to make a decision as to whether or not their love is worth fighting for.
While I can’t say I have read The Night Circus, which is what this book is compared to, I can say that it has a very Romeo & Juliet feel to it, and this might be why I adored it. It isn’t fluffy or cute, the way that a lot of romance novels are, but it is deep and meaningful, and full of beauty and love. This isn’t just a romance novel – it’s a novel about acceptance. From one fantastic chapter to the next, we learn about how important it is not only to accept yourself and the things that make you unique, but to accept others who are different. We learn not to judge those who feel hatred for others, but to try to enlighten them on how important it is to see the good in everyone. This book is a powerful, moving piece of literature that I believe everyone who enjoys YA should read.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more