Source: Library

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Seven Days of You Review

April 24, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

Seven Days of You ReviewSeven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
on March 7th 2017
Pages: 336
Source: Library
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two-stars
Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.
Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

What is up with me not liking any of these contemporary books here lately? I’m not really sure what my deal is. But I had issues with Seven Days of You. It makes me so sad because I desperately wanted to like this one. I’ve ultimately realized that I’m never fully going to get behind romances that happen in a short amount of time. With this book, they HAD met before, but I still didn’t totally believe in the couple or either of the characters. It had a lot of potential because there aren’t enough books that are set in Tokyo, but it still fell short for me in the end. It was highly predictable, and not enough was done with the setting to truly make it unique. This is yet another recent release that simply wasn’t for me for a number of reasons.

I had a hard time relating to Sophia as a whole. Maybe I’m getting too old for this. But honestly, I’ve only been out of high school for three years now. Sophia didn’t sound like ANY high schooler that I’ve ever encountered. Yes, I did appreciate some of her pop culture references to My So Called Life and other shows that I loved, but that’s pretty much it for being able to understand this character. She was incredibly whiny and selfish throughout the book. And for the life of me, I couldn’t understand her crush on David. In my opinion, it would have worked out a lot better for the book if he was her platonic male friend. Instead he was this complete asshole with literally zero redeeming qualities. On the plus side, his girlfriend was a sweetheart, though I thought it was horrible how Sophia treated her. Putting it simply, she wasn’t a good person. I try to watch myself on judging characters based on likability, but on this case it was extremely difficult not to.

So the love interest here is a guy named Jamie. Jamie was an alright love interest as a whole. I thought that he was a decent enough guy. However, he was seriously way too decent to have to put up with the way Sophia treated him. I don’t blame him for getting mad/jealous of her crush on David back when they were still friends. He’s a nice guy, but that’s truthfully all that I remember about him. So what I’m basically saying is that he’s a combination of your typical YA love interest and nothing about him truly stands out. I know that might sound harsh, but I can be picky about my book boyfriends and Jamie just wasn’t a memorable one for me.

I’m not even going to waste more time talking about the romance when it should already be rather clear that I had issues with it. Instead, I want to talk about her friend Mika. As mentioned, David was a jerk and her best friend Mika wasn’t much better. She was also extremely selfish and I felt like her storyline was entirely predictable. She reminded me exactly of Rayanne Graff from My So Called Life. I felt like her storyline could have fleshed out a little better because it didn’t feel completely developed to me. I was excited that it was set in Tokyo but I felt like the setting and the culture could have been a much bigger storyline than it was. I get that a teenager probably isn’t going to care that much about her surroundings, but it still would have been nice to get more details about it anyway. It also bothered me that she had no Japanese friends and hardly interacted with anyone from Japan at all.

Seven Days of You ultimately didn’t work for me at all. I hate that these recent contemporaries haven’t been working for me lately, but I just guess that’s how it turns out sometimes. On the positive side, it was a very quick read for me. I managed to read it in just a few hours. I was also pretty hooked into it once I started reading, which definitely says something. It wasn’t an awful book, but it didn’t stay with me either. It’s a forgettable book for the most part. I’ve seen comparisons to Anna and the French Kiss, but this book doesn’t even come close to that one in my opinion. Who knows, maybe this one is just the book you’re looking for!

two-stars

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Ghost Review

April 15, 2017 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Ghost ReviewGhost (Track, #1) by Jason Reynolds
on August 30th, 2016
Pages: 192
Source: Library
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four-stars
Running. That's all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race -- and wins -- the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

I haven’t read a middle grade book in what feels like forever. Jason Reynolds is an author that I’ve been dying to read for quite awhile now, so I figured I would give this book a try. It was just as awesome and good as I was expecting it to be! Reynolds is an author that I will certainly be reading more from in the future. He’s done an excellent job at creating a flawed but extremely likable main character. I smiled and cried so much while reading this book. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something short but very meaningful and heartwarming.

Ghost or Castle is a character who I loved from the start. He’s such a hilarious kid and I wanted to give him a huge hug throughout the entire novel. From the first page, you could tell how spirited and funny he was, but then you discover that there’s also a lot more to him than just that. He’s been through quite a lot in his reasonably short life, and his story will absolutely break your heart. We figure this out pretty early on so I feel like it’s not too big of a spoiler. Ghost began running because of the time he and his mom had to run from his drunk dad, who was shooting at them. In addition to all of this sadness, Ghost is such a beautifully well developed character. Some of the things that he said were just so random and fitting. I can easily see a seventh grader actually saying all of this crazy and unpredictable stuff that he says. Look, I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that he is a real and honest kid who will simultaneously break and heal your heart at the same exact time.

I never know exactly how to review middle grade books. This one was even shorter than some of the other ones that I’ve read. But it still managed to have many memorable characters and plots. I loved that track was a focus here. I’ve never read another MG book (or YA) that included the sport. It was also so appropriate and real how Ghost struggled with whether or not this was a sport at all since it wasn’t nearly as popular as basketball. He makes a fair point that you don’t know all that many famous track runners out there, besides maybe Usain Bolt. Anyway, I felt like the execution of the plot was masterfully executed. I hope to read more books in the future that focus on characters who run track. Please point me towards some if you know any YA or MG that do focus on this.

I’m happy that I read this one. It was unique and extremely well written. I loved that Ghost made such great friends on the track team and that they got along so well. There wasn’t any petty drama between them, they had just pure friendship and support for one another. And this is something that I’ve always appreciated and admired about Middle Grade books. So I see where this is planned to be apart of a series, so I look forward to seeing who or what the second book will be about! I’m hoping it will focus on one of his teammates and close friends.

four-stars

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We Are Okay Review

April 5, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

We Are Okay ReviewWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on February 14th 2017
Pages: 234
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, You Know Me Well
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two-stars
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Not going to lie to you guys, I desperately wanted to like We Are Okay. I liked Nina’s book Everything Leads to You. Though I wasn’t a fan of her recent book You Know Me Well with David Levithan, I thought I’d try this one anyway. Sadly, this didn’t work for me to say the least. I don’t know, I was just ridiculously bored. It was a short book, and I felt like nothing really happened. There was barely any character development, which made me sad. Nina LaCour is a great author, and her sentences are extremely pretty. I just wasn’t able to connect with this story on any level. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will like it, I’m not one of them.

Marin is an okay character. I totally feel for her as she struggles with grief over the loss of her grandpa. Her mom died when she was little and her dad was never in the picture, so her grandpa was her family. So yeah, I sympathized with her. Look, this might sound insensitive, but I didn’t really understand why she felt so betrayed by her grandpa. It felt like she was being a little selfish about what her grandpa went through. Like Cait said, maybe I just missed something, but it seemed like a weird thing to be so upset about. I also didn’t get why it was so hard to be in the town again. Like what did EVERYONE in the town do to you? Maybe it was the memories that she associated it with, but I still didn’t fully understand that. I was confused by the whole thing.

Another disappointment was the romance. I guess you could say the love interest was her best friend Mabel, but not really since nothing happens between them in the present. It all happened back before Marin’s grandpa died and she shut Mabel out completely. So she comes to Marin’s dorm over Christmas break because she hasn’t talked to her since she left and doesn’t know the full story. I guess she’s a good friend to Marin for the most part but I just didn’t care enough about it. I was really bothered by the fact that they’d been together in the past, but it was barely mentioned at all by the girls in the present. It would be okay if it was just a one time thing, but they seemed to really love each other, or at least Marin loved her. I’m fine with Mabel being bisexual and having a boyfriend now. I wasn’t alright with how she actually said that she wouldn’t have been with her boyfriend in Marin would have just texted her back. Realistically, it seems like it would have been difficult for them to be in a long distance relationship, she might have fallen for him even if they were still together. It just bugged me that she claimed to understand why Marin shut her out, but still basically blamed her for leading her to Jacob. I wasn’t a fan of how Mabel was pushing her at the end of the book to find a girlfriend. It felt like she was only doing that to ease her own guilt since she knows that Marin still has strong feelings for her. Mabel had very little character development as well.

I’ve seen pretty much all positive reviews about this book. For whatever reason, it didn’t click for me. I didn’t have a strong emotional connection to the characters or the plot at all. I think it could have been a bit longer and faster paced. I found myself very bored and just ready for it to end, which is never a good sign for me. Maybe I’ll eventually end up giving this author another chance, but this didn’t end up leaving a good impression on me personally. I see where people are coming from with all the nice things being said, but I simply don’t feel the same. If you like emotional contemporary reads, maybe this will be your cup of tea. I usually like emotional books, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters or the romance.

two-stars

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Gemina Review

April 3, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Gemina ReviewGemina (The Illuminae Files, #2) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 18th 2016
Pages: 608
Source: Library
Also by this author: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1), Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
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four-stars
Listening time 12 hours 34 minutes
The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Gemina was a decent book, but not nearly as great as the first book. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even realize that this wasn’t directly following the characters from the first book until I started it. Illuminae was such a whirlwind of a novel and so different from what I typically read. Stepping out of my comfort zone to read it a year ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made reading wise. So obviously, I couldn’t wait to read this one as well. I thought that this also had a unique plot and definitely kept you in suspense the whole time. However, some of the plot twists just gave me whiplash. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what to make of the direction that the book was going in. If you like that kind of unpredictable novel though, you’ll likely go for this book. I’m happy that I finally got the chance to read it months after it was released!

Hanna is our main character in Gemina. Her character really comes out through her beautiful drawings and her IM’s. We also see more and more of her badass ways as the book progresses. Seriously though, this girl is the shit. I loved how witty and smart she was. She might have been a bit spoiled, but she still had such a strong and wonderful personality. These authors are seriously the best at creating imperfect but hardcore teenage girls who aren’t afraid to kick some ass when the situation calls for it. I instantly loved this girl and am jealous that I can’t be her.

Nik is our other main character in this one. Oh man, he’s another character that I basically instantly love. I’m not always a fan of the bad boy types, and that’s definitely who he is. He comes from a family of gang members and has been to jail himself. Oh, he’s also Hanna’s drug dealer. But there’s more to him than what meets the eye. So what won me over was really his heart and wit. He and Hanna have the absolute best banter. He might not be the perfect guy, but he’s still a genuine and straightforward one. He’s a pretty great guy underneath it all. He made me laugh out loud so many times. I wanted more and more of him!

The romance isn’t really a huge factor in this one. Hanna has a boyfriend at the beginning, which is something that I usually hate seeing. It actually worked here because of reasons that I won’t say in case you haven’t read it yet. Anyway, the authors made it work in an impressive and convincing way and I’ll leave it at that. Nik and Hanna made a cute couple. I’m always a fan of hate to love and they had this to a degree. They didn’t have many cute scenes since they were busy trying to save themselves, but I still happy with what we did see. Like I mentioned earlier, I adored all of the banter that they shared from the beginning of the novel. Seeing their relationship grow was pretty awesome.

So one of the best and most notable things about this story is the unique format. I’m sure I mentioned this repeatedly in my review of Illuminae, but the format of this book was extremely unique. This book is LONG, it’s over 600 pages. It moves super fast due to all the IM’s, surveillance footage summaries, and drawings. This is a book that you can devour very quickly, and I loved that about it. The format is something that is probably discussed a lot, but I feel as if it’s well deserved.

This wasn’t nearly as good as Illuminae in my opinion. Gemina had A LOT happening in it, and sometimes I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I think that I sometimes got that feeling with Illuminae, but the plot twists seemed even more frequent in this one. I can see why people loved this. It was beautiful and well written. I think that as a whole, I was more impressed and swept away by the previous book. That being said, I still can’t wait to see where this story is going to go next. I’m hoping that the next book will join all four main characters from both books together. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

four-stars

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Big Little Lies Review

March 27, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★

Big Little Lies ReviewBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Published by Berkley on July 29th 2014
Pages: 460
Source: Library
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three-stars
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Wow, so this wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I figured this would be similar to Girl on the Train or Gone Girl since I thought that the book was about a murder that happened, though we don’t know who died or who did it. However, Big Little Lies centers more on three mothers in a little Australian town who all have children that are in the same first grade class. It’s about their lives, and the secrets that they keep. It’s definitely more Women’s Fiction than I thought it would be. I have no problem with Women’s Fiction, I just wasn’t totally anticipating all of these rather heavy personal problems that went down. This wasn’t a bad book, just pretty underwhelming as a whole for me.

Like I said, the story focuses mainly on three different women. Each of them had very complicated lives and secrets that they kept from each other. These women are Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. Madeline just turned 40 years old, and she has a teenage daughter from a previous marriage in addition to two younger kids from her second. She’s dealing with issues regarding her ex-husband and his new wife, they have a first grader who is in Chloe’s class. Madeline was a seriously entertaining character. She had the lightest story of the three women. Madeline was the most dramatic and loves to start stuff with one particular mom. She’s been friends with Celeste for awhile now, but she also takes in Jane, who is new to the town.

Celeste is a heartbreaking character to say the least. I don’t know what I should or shouldn’t say about Celeste. But we find out rather early on that she’s being abused by her husband. It’s particularly touching and hard to swallow because she often blames herself for hitting him back and believes she deserves it. Although I’ve never personally been in an abusive relationship and don’t know many people who have, a lot of cases that I’ve read about were ones where the victims felt like they provoked their partner and deserved it.

Jane was a really well written character as well. She’s new to town for reasons that aren’t fully revealed until later in the novel. She’s a very young mom at 24, she had Ziggy when she was only 18. The father of the baby is far from being in the picture, he was the result of a one night stand. I think it’s extremely commendable that she’s such a fabulous single mom to her little boy. She also manages to work part time on top of all that. Jane is haunted by her past, and has kept it a secret for a long time now.

As you can tell, I liked the characters. I’ve seen some reviews and articles about the characters being unlikable in the TV show, but I didn’t feel that way at all. So what didn’t I like then? I’m glad that you asked! I thought that the random addition of testimony from the parents to the police was interesting but also a bit scattered. There was just quite a lot of parents, many of which I personally couldn’t keep track of. I thought it could have been better organized as a whole. I felt as if the pace was WAY too slow. I felt like a lot of it seemed to drag on. It was a long book, and some of the details probably weren’t necessary. I was seriously disappointed by the ending. I won’t go into details, but I will just say that I felt like it was weak. I get what the author was trying to do, but I felt like it wasn’t fully effective.

Big Little Lies isn’t a bad book and I can see why people enjoyed it. It just wasn’t completely my kind of book. I’m still planning on reading more from this author since I’ve heard such positive things about her work. I decided to read it before I watched the TV show so I’d know what to expect going on. I’m happy that I did. I’m only on episode two right now, but I seriously enjoy it so far, especially the awesome music. I’m glad that I read it, but it wasn’t my favorite.

three-stars

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Fixing Delilah Review

March 20, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Fixing Delilah ReviewFixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
on December 1st 2010
Pages: 308
Source: Library
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four-stars
Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.
She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.
Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?
Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

This is the second book that I’ve read by Sarah Ockler, and I’ve heard nothing but positive things about all of her novels. I have to admit that so far, I haven’t totally loved her books as much as everyone else has, but I do like her so far. Fixing Delilah wasn’t my favorite book by a long, but I still really enjoyed reading it. I thought that it was fast paced and fascinating from the first page. I was completely immersed in the world that Ockler has created here. The characters were all so well rounded, complex, and imperfect. I will admit that Delilah probably wasn’t my favorite, but I loved that she had her flaws and had a lot of character growth as the book progressed. I feel like one of the last people to read this book, I’m still happy that I finally got around to picking it up. Eventually, I’m sure that I’ll manage to read all of Ockler’s books.

As mentioned, Delilah has her flaws, but what teenager doesn’t? I believe that her flaws and imperfections make her all the more complicated, intriguing, and relatable. A lot of what Delilah goes through throughout the novel are many things that myself and other teenage girls also went through, so it’s reassuring and comforting to see this happen here. At the beginning of the novel, Delilah definitely has an attitude problem. Some of her actions did frustrate me at times, but I was also able to understand where she was coming from. She was a lost girl, and she gradually found herself more as the novel went on. Delilah was a beautiful character. I think that a lot of people will really be able to identify with her.

Patrick is seriously my dude. I thought that he was so charming, witty, hilarious, and amazing. He was beyond swoony in literally every single scene that he was in. This dude had very few flaws to him. I loved that he and Delilah shared a history, they were both close were younger and spent their summers together until Delilah was eight. Anyway, he grew into a cute and confident older guy, who is next to impossible to ignore. He’s completely my type: artsy, musician, swoony, he’s basically got it all. I thought he was just such a lovely and fascinating guy. Though I like to think that he’s perfect, he has his flaws as well. At the end of the day though, he’s simply crazy about Delilah and you have to love and respect him for that.

Like I said, the romance between Patrick and Delilah is even more adorable due to the fact that they were friends when they were younger and spent the summers together. Though they spent eight years apart, they’ve come together yet again like no time has passed at all. I found them to be such a great and strong couple. They weren’t perfect, but they were still pretty strong as a whole. I thought that they just somehow worked together. They were able to balance each other out in such a real and relatable way. I wasn’t a fan of all of the drama that went down at the end of the book. I get that there has to be some angst for the couple towards the end, but it still seemed as if this one was out of control and went on about twenty or thirty pages too long.

All in all, I thought that this was a beautiful and well written novel. Was it my favorite? No, it wasn’t. But it still had some beautiful and complicated characters that made me feel such a strong variety of emotions. Although I didn’t have a fabulous experience with Ockler’s book Twenty Boy Summer, I’ve found this one to be pretty great, and plan on reading more from her extremely soon. There was quite a bit of angst in this one, but also a lot of parts that really surprised me and kept me engrossed in the story. I’m so happy that I was able to finally read this one!

four-stars

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Before I Fall Review

March 16, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★½

Before I Fall ReviewBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on October 25th 2010
Pages: 470
Source: Library
Also by this author: Replica (Replica, #1)
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three-half-stars
With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today's foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person's life can affect so many others.
For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.
Named to numerous state reading lists, this novel was also recognized as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Daily Beast, NPR, and Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by Fox 2000 Pictures.
Supports the Common Core State Standards.

Wow, so I’m honestly not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I took such a long time to read it because I wasn’t really sure if this would be my kind of book. I wasn’t sure what to make of the whole mean girl thing or the concept overall. I ended up picking it up because of the recent movie adaptation. The trailer seemed interesting enough so I wanted to give the book a shot before I saw it in theaters. Anyway, this was definitely a unique book. I’ve seen so many people who absolutely adored the book and felt like it was the best thing ever. I didn’t have the same reaction, though I didn’t exactly dislike it either. I think that Oliver has crafted a beautifully written novel, but it still just wasn’t entirely my type of story. So this book has been out for seven years now and so I’m going to have some serious spoilers. I’m sorry if you haven’t read it, but you can just skip this completely if you don’t want to know major details about the ending.

At the beginning of the book, Sam is a total mean girl. She wasn’t always this way, she used to get made fun of herself, but that all changed when one of the most popular girls wanted to be her friend and her popularity automatically rose. So yeah, she’s extremely difficult to relate to and sympathize with for the first couple hundred pages. As she mentions, no one deserves to die, but I still wasn’t a fan to say the least. Thankfully, she became easier to identify with as the book progressed. By the end, you can’t help but love Sam and hope that she’s able to find a way out of reliving her death and figure out how to save herself. I loved that she was able to see her flaws and be able to change that around for the better. She had some of the best character development that I’ve ever come across. However, I wasn’t sure what to make of her complete attitude change towards the end of the book. Like on day six, she was determined to find a way to save herself and Juliet but then on the last day of her life, she had somehow accepted it all. Maybe I missed something, but I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

The main issue that I had with the novel was the mean girls. Yes, Sam does change in the middle of the story, but her friends sure as hell don’t. I get that Sam didn’t want Lindsay, Elody, and Ally to die in the car accident, but I still don’t understand why she would still be friends with them after all the shit she learned. She discovered that Lindsay hated Juliet now, but she actually used to be best friends with her in elementary school. Then Lindsay peed in her sleeping bag on a Girl Scout trip and blamed it on Juliet, leading everyone to call her a horrible name for years. Juliet has a difficult home life and all the terrible bullying obviously doesn’t help matters, which leads her to attempt suicide. After learning all this, how can Sam even look at Lindsay the same way? Even when Sam confronted her about it, she didn’t seem to show that much remorse, not enough to change anything about herself anyway. Who knows, maybe Sam’s death will make these girls better people.

All in all, this wasn’t a terrible book, but it wasn’t my favorite either. I think maybe my expectations were too high going in since everyone loved it so much. The book was also rather thick considering the fact that it only had seven chapters total. I did really enjoy that even though she relived the same day over and over, it wasn’t repetitive. There was always something new going on and different dialogue happening. I thought this was a nice touch that made it even more enjoyable to read. I thought that Kent was absolutely precious. I wanted more and more from him, and wished that her boyfriend (I honestly already forgot his name) didn’t exist at all. I thought the ending was obviously depressing, but also surprising and refreshing. Regardless of some of my mixed feelings, I can’t deny the fact that this book totally makes you think.

three-half-stars

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The Great American Whatever Review

February 22, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Great American Whatever ReviewThe Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 29th 2016
Pages: 278
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Flying Lessons & Other Stories
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three-stars
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything.
Enter: Geoff, Quinn’s best friend, who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—okay, a hot guy—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually end happily—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.
Tim Federle’s beautiful YA debut is laugh-out-loud sad; a wry, winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories, one unscripted moment at a time.

This is the first full length Tim Federle book that I’ve ever read! I’ve previously read two short stories of his that were published in anthologies, but that’s it. I’m happy that I finally read it, because I’m a big fan of everything that he represents and have followed him on Twitter for some time now. Anyway, this was a nice introduction to him. I’m definitely going to check out his Nate books and whatever he writes next in the future. However, this book simply wasn’t my favorite, which makes me sad. I can’t completely put my finger on what it is, but it was missing something for me. This just didn’t click for me as a whole. I think it was a good book, it just wasn’t great for me. I recommend this if you don’t mind angst and enjoy books that have a snarky/clever protagonist.

Quinn is a pretty interesting main character. I’m always a fan of sarcastic and witty protagonists and Quinn did deliver on this front to an extent. This probably isn’t a fair comparison, but the book in general did remind me a bit of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is one of my all time favorites. I think that Quinn’s personality didn’t stand out in the way that Simon’s did. Quinn was very sarcastic and hilarious in the beginning, but I think he did lose a little of that as the book continued. I know that some of that is due to the rather serious subject matter, but I think that isn’t enough of an excuse to not still have a strong and memorable personality. He was still interesting, but not my favorite.

So there is a romance in the book, but I honestly don’t feel like it’s super essential to the plot. I liked it and I thought that it was a great example of a summer romance. The boys weren’t a couple that I rooted for necessarily, but I think it was still important for Quinn’s general character development. I wanted to focus more on the things that I liked and disliked. So a positive is that I thought the humor was clever and fun. I also felt like a lot of the secondary characters were well developed and complicated. I thought the stories were interesting and layered. There was one storyline in particular that had a twist to it that I honestly didn’t see coming at all. That was a pleasant surprise for me. I thought the romance was relatable and intriguing. The LGBTQ rep was also awesome. Quinn wasn’t out of the closet yet, but his sexuality still wasn’t a huge part of the plot either, it was just a natural part of it. What I didn’t like is that I was truthfully pretty bored. I wasn’t always entertained for whatever reason. Maybe it was the story that just didn’t totally click, but it didn’t work for me. The pace just seemed rather slow as a whole. Like I mentioned earlier, it seemed to be missing something essential. I thought that the concept was interesting, but the execution wasn’t as great as I was anticipating it to be.

My review might sound rather negative, but I don’t mean it to be! I think that it was a solid novel, just not the best. I’m pretty likely to forget about it sooner rather than later. It wasn’t painful to read or anything, I still believe that Federle is a great author and I want to read more from him. He has such a unique and compelling voice as an author and I’m dying to read more of it. I can’t help but compare it to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it just didn’t come close to that. I liked the book, but it wasn’t my favorite. I hope that people read it because it’s still an interesting and important book!

three-stars

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Hope Was Here Review

January 29, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Hope Was Here ReviewHope Was Here by Joan Bauer
on June 2nd, 2005
Source: Library
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four-stars
Hope is a 16-year-old girl, living a nomadic lifestyle with her aunt Addie. Addie is a chef and restaurant manager, and Hope works as a waitress. They're always moving from place to place, and the story opens with them up-rooting from Brooklyn, New York. Before she leaves, Hope scribbles 'Hope Was Here' onto the menu board - it's become her motto, a ritual she carries out whenever they have to hit the road - again. Hope's a city girl and she isn't sure how she's going to tackle life in 'cow country'. Things start hotting up for her, though, when she gets embroiled in the local politics of Mulhoney, Wisconsin while working at the Welcome Stairways diner- Soon, Hope is tackling big issues about her own past, while grappling with some surprising developments in her new home town.

This was a wonderfully short yet beautiful novel that I really enjoyed. It only takes you a few hours to read it, which is a definite perk to picking it up in the first place. I’ve only read one book from Joan Bauer in the past and that was Rules of the Road. I found that one to be completely touching and a fun read as a whole. Not going to lie, it definitely made me cry. Hope Was Here also had similar emotions: funny but also sad. Strangely, this one was rather accurate to what’s going on in the world when it comes to politics. Really though, there’s a rather crooked politician who manipulates pretty much everyone in the town except a few good people who are made aware of what exactly is going on. Sounds familiar, right? Anyway, this was a nice read and I’m happy that I picked it up.

Hope was easily the highlight of the book for me. She has a wonderful and fierce personality from the very first page. She just had some of the best and laugh out loud funny lines. She was a character that I was personally able to identify with. Though she could be a little immature at times, she was still relatable and fascinating. She’s one of my new favorite female characters! She’s an inspirational character, and she reminded me a lot of a Sarah Dessen heroine.

There isn’t much romance in this book so I’m not really going to touch on that at all. However, the romance between Hope and a cute cook at the restaurant where her and her aunt worked. That wasn’t really that big of a plot point, but it was still a sweet little side story that went on. A lot of the romance isn’t actually between Hope and anyone, it’s actually between her aunt and the kind owner of the restaurant who is also running for mayor. The main focus of the story is really about non-romantic relationships. Hope doesn’t know much about her mother besides the waitressing tips that she gives her when she visits her every now and then. Her aunt Addie is the one who takes care of her and does everything she can to provide for her. They move to a lot of different places and work at a lot of different restaurants but this place is one of their favorite places yet.

I found Hope Was Here to be a wonderful and charming short little read. I’m happy that I had the chance to read another book from Joan Bauer. She’s written yet another memorable story filled with a fantastic cast of characters. I mentioned it earlier, but this story reminds me a lot of a Sarah Dessen book, specifically Keeping the Moon, which also featured characters who worked in a restaurant. This was a refreshing and enlightening read. Though it was written awhile ago, it still felt just as timely as ever. It wasn’t a perfect book by any means, it could have been a little longer which would have allowed for more character growth. However, it was still pretty freaking good and I look forward to reading more from Joan Bauer.

four-stars

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The Female of the Species Review

January 22, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Female of the Species ReviewThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 20th 2016
Pages: 341
Source: Library
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three-stars
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

So this book was a difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, I really adored the message of this book and basically everything that this story represented. However, I also personally wasn’t completely able to look past some of the plot and characters. In my opinion, this story isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s especially not for people who aren’t into dark books or strong violence. This contains a solid amount of violence, and even some acts against animals, which I think people will likely have the most issues with. I also found myself struggling with the animal violence in the story, which I’ll explain more later on in my review. That being said, this was a fast paced story that was extremely intense, but it was far from perfect. I can’t say that this is my favorite, but I’m still happy that I read it.

There’s three main POV’s in this story. First we have Alex, who’s older sister was brutally raped and murdered years ago and her killer wasn’t arrested. Alex ends up taking matters into her own hands and killing him herself. I don’t consider this to be a spoiler since we learn this very early on in the book. Anyway, we can basically consider Alex to be like a younger Dexter who isn’t really a serial killer, she just believes in getting justice for those who are being wronged. We also have Peekay, which isn’t her real name, but everyone calls her that because she’s a Preacher’s Kid. I liked her, but I wasn’t sure what to make of her views on her parents and religion. She talked a lot about how she no longer believed in religion and said bad things about her parents, but I didn’t really understand why? I did think that she was a strong and powerful character as a whole. She was also a solid friend to Alex, and I enjoyed their friendship. Our final main character is Jack, who I probably liked the least. However, I do think that he evolved a lot as a character throughout the story. At the beginning, he was a major douchebag who only acted on his hormones. By the end of the story, he still was very much dominated by those hormones, but he was still a better person who had changed his way of thinking to an extent.

So one of the problems that I had with this book was the animal violence. Though it wasn’t exactly a major point of the plot, it still disturbed me that it was included at all. In the beginning, I was excited that Alex and Peekay both volunteered at the animal shelter. Though Alex can be a ridiculously violent person, she shows nothing but pure kindness towards animals. There were a few brief scenes that featured some really graphic instances of what happens when the shelter has to deal with dead animals. I think the point of the scene was that it showed extreme violence towards these animals, which brought out some equally violent images from Peekay, who views these as awful and wrong thoughts. Though I’ve tried to justify it to an extent, it still doesn’t make sense to me. I also felt disconnected from the characters a lot of the time. I respected the fact that this was a take on rape culture, but that still doesn’t mean that I really identified with the characters. I also realize that characters being likable isn’t a reason to like or not like a story, in this case though, I just wasn’t able to feel that much of an emotional attachment to the characters, mostly Jack. The ending also caused me to knock about half a star or even a full star off of it. It honestly caught me off guard entirely, it just didn’t feel like an appropriate ending to me!

The Female of the Species is a different kind of book to say the least. I’ve never read anything by Mindy McGinnis before but I’m sure I’ll pick up her stories in the future. This book was pretty well written. I think she did a solid job at making all three of these POV’s unique. That can be a particularly difficult thing to pull off, but the author did this with ease. This was an interesting take on rape culture that I’ve never really seen before. I seriously enjoyed this aspect of the book. There were just some other parts that I wasn’t a huge fan of and so that affected my rating. I do recommend it, but only to those who are okay with a good amount of violence.

three-stars

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