Source: Library

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The Beginning of Everything Review

August 24, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Beginning of Everything ReviewThe Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Published by Katherine Tegen on August 27th 2013
Pages: 335
Source: Library
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three-stars
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.
No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.
But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?
Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

This book started out really strong and I was sure it was going to end up being one of my favorite books. However, I think what stops it from being so great is due to several different minor details that ended up being a big deal to me in the long run. I recommend reading this one if you want to read something with eccentric characters with a fascinating plot, although things sort of get off track. I found myself really enjoying Schneider’s writing, Ezra’s narration in general was memorable. Anyway, this is a good book, but not a great one.

Ezra believes that everyone has to have a great tragedy happen to them. His childhood best friend Toby got his tragedy in the form of a severed head landing on his lap at Disney World on his birthday one year. Golden boy Ezra got his when he found his girlfriend cheating on him then managed to get in a car crash that ruined any chances of playing tennis ever again, all in one evening. He finds himself reuniting with his old best friend Toby, who now runs with a very different crowd from Ezra, and is also fascinated by the mysterious new girl Cassidy.

Ezra was a charming and lovely narrator. You can’t help but love him and feel bad for him right from the beginning. However, I do feel like Ezra is more than a little bit whiny at times. His best friend Toby is easily my favorite characters. He’s a geek but in the most endearing way. Cassidy was completely annoying to me, I didn’t like her at all. I felt like some of the “mystery” to her was just pointless to the plot.

The reason why this book received three stars from me was mostly due to not connecting with Cassidy. I felt like some of her actions made no sense at all and I just wanted to punch Ezra for not running far away from her sooner. I also wasn’t at all satisfied with the ending. I would have preferred for it to have been wrapped up in a more clearcut way. All in all, I think this is a good book and I do think that most people will enjoy it. It has a lot of interesting and well rounded supporting characters that make you want to keep reading, which is an automatic positive for me. But don’t expect to be completely blown away from this book.      

three-stars

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My Heart and Other Black Holes Review

August 23, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

My Heart and Other Black Holes ReviewMy Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Published by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray on February 10th 2015
Pages: 302
Source: Library
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four-stars
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.
Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

Going into this book, I was expecting something completely and totally depressing. For most of the first half of the book, it’s just that. However, if you’re someone who stays clear of dark books that talks a lot about depression, don’t shut down this book just yet. It’s surprisingly witty due to the narrator Aysel’s sharp sense of humor. This is a different type of book and one that I strongly recommend for a number of reasons.

Aysel is a girl who no longer wants to live. She finally puts her suicide plan into action by going online and finding a suicide partner. She finds Roman, a boy who lives pretty close to her and who is nothing like she pictured once they meet in person. He isn’t a geeky looking kid, he is an athletic and attractive boy who seems to have no reason to want to die. However, a family tragedy haunts him and causes him to be determined that he doesn’t deserve to live. Once the two get closer, Aysel starts to see all of the dark parts of Roman and still likes him anyway. Is that enough for the two to live?

It’s hard to describe it, but Aysel is a one of a kind character. I love how quick on her feet she is, and the way she uses sarcasm and witty comebacks as her weapon of choice. I also loved how the author worked in physics into the plot. Aysel is obsessed with Einstein’s theories and is constantly questioning gravity. I found that to be unique and even though I personally am not a fan of Science, I still thought that it was interesting. Roman is something else completely. I love how real and down to earth he seemed. I also liked that he was into art and him drawing Aysel is one of my favorite scenes in the book. My heart breaks for him in terms of why he wants so desperately to die. I just wanted to give him a hug. I enjoyed his relationship with Aysel and watching it grow, despite both of their objections to let anybody in.

The reason why this book didn’t receive a perfect rating from me is because of the end. I won’t spoil it, but I felt like it wasn’t the right route to go considering how the first part was written. Meaning, it just didn’t seem in character considering all that was developed in the first half of the book. It’s difficult to explain without explicitly stating it, but you’ll know what I mean once you read it. Overall though, it’s a beautifully written debut that really captures the realities of mental illness in a refreshing and real way. I got seriously wrapped up in the main characters and invested in what was going to happen next to them. I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a read that will instantly catch your attention.

four-stars

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What I Thought Was True Review

August 14, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★½

What I Thought Was True ReviewWhat I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers on April 15th 2014
Pages: 422
Source: Library
Also by this author: My Life Next Door, The Boy Most Likely To
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four-half-stars
From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.
Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.
A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

As you can probably tell from my review of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s first novel My Life Next Door, I loved her debut. She continues the trend of solid main characters, strong supporting characters, and a breathtakingly descriptive setting on an island. The book is beautiful and unique to say the least. Although far from being a light read, this makes a great summer read that I definitely recommend.

Gwen is entering the summer before her senior year and she desperately wants to escape from the year that she’s had. Hoping to breakaway from her typical summer of working at her dad’s pizza parlor, she takes on a job of taking care of Mrs. Ellington, an older woman from the island. She then comes face to face with the yard boy: Cassidy Somers, the one boy she’s trying to forget. The rest of the summer consists of Gwen coming to terms with the fact that what she thought was true about the people in her life might not be true at all.

In this book, the characters were one of my personal favorite parts. Gwen was a character that you couldn’t help but sympathize with. She was misunderstood and viewed as “easy” by her peers, but she was simply just misunderstood. It broke my heart that she didn’t see her true value, but she slowly gains more confidence and grows as a person throughout the book. Cass was an amazing and genuine guy, even though I wasn’t sure what to make of him at first. The supporting characters are extremely well developed including her cousin Nic, his girlfriend who is also Gwen’s best friend Vivien, her little brother Emory, and the hilarious Mrs. Ellington. Mrs. Ellington brings humor to the table with obsession with graphic romance novels that she makes Gwen read out loud. All of the characters are complex and easy to relate to.

The book goes through the flashbacks and reveals what really happened between the two very very slowly, but in the end, Cass still redeems himself. The relationship between both of them is obviously tense at the beginning until at least the middle of the novel. However, it does become a lot better and more romantic. I found myself frequently looking back at My Life Next Door and comparing the two main love interests. I didn’t think anyone could be as incredible as Jase, but Cass was certainly just as polite and caring. He treats Gwen and everyone he meets with tremendous respect. He also teaches her little brother Emory, who isn’t autistic but he is definitely different from other kids his age, how to swim which is totally swoonworthy.

What I Thought Was True was a pretty lengthy book, but I found that I absolutely couldn’t put it down. I was drawn in from start to finish. I kept on reading because I wanted to see what it was that Cass did to Gwen that was so bad. I won’t ruin anything, but it turns out that it was more of a misunderstanding than anything else. The flashbacks occurred at random times, some of them seemed rather out of place. All in all, I think this was a brilliantly written book that further proves that Huntley Fitzpatrick in incapable of writing a bad book.

four-half-stars

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Attachments Review

August 8, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Attachments ReviewAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Dutton on April 14th 2011
Pages: 323
Source: Library
Also by this author: Fangirl
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three-half-stars
"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?

Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read and reviewed two of her Young Adult books, Eleanor and Park and Fangirl. Although you’re probably living under the rock if you haven’t heard of those. However, I was a little slow on the uptake when it comes to her adult titles. I didn’t know anything about this book until recently, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a really creative concept and I enjoyed Rowell’s brilliant writing.

Attachments is about Lincoln who is less than thrilled when he discovers that the job as a “Internet security officer” consists of writing up reports on inappropriate company emails. The company is The Courier, a newspaper where Jennifer and Beth work and send personal emails through the company address. These emails are constantly flagged but Lincoln can’t bring himself to write either of them up. Instead, he’s fascinated with their humor and wit, especially Beth’s. Once he discovers that the “cute guy” Beth is referring to in her emails is really him, he starts to believe that maybe they could have a future together. But how could that ever happen when she has a serious boyfriend?

Lincoln is the main character that Rainbow follows. I love how we get to see his infatuation with her gradually grow. We also get to see how sensitive and romantic he is. Beth and Jennifer are also incredibly witty and hysterical characters. I love all of the pop culture references that are in pretty much every email they ever send.

The romance part of Attachments is a little bit weird but unique to say the least. It’s hard to be completely invested in the relationship between Beth and Lincoln when they have very few interactions throughout the majority of the book. However, I did like the fact that they both were immediately drawn to the other for two different reasons. Lincoln was drawn to Beth’s personality before he even saw what she looked like. On the other hand, Beth was drawn to him based on his looks. She told Jennifer that he looked like Jason Bateman, which I found funny and adorable.

This isn’t my favorite Rainbow Rowell book by any means. I found that I definitely prefer her Young Adult books, but she still managed to create a dreamy and swoon-worthy leading male, which I really liked. I gave the book this rating because her writing is so beautiful and descriptive, plus the characters were all instantly likable. While I liked that it was a unique idea, I felt like some of the writing was impersonal and that it was hard to truly get inside the heads of these characters. It was a decent read as a whole and I’m glad I finally read it.

three-half-stars

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My Life Next Door Review

August 7, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

My Life Next Door ReviewMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers on June 14th 2012
Pages: 394
Source: Library
Also by this author: What I Thought Was True, The Boy Most Likely To
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five-stars
four-flames
"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Huntley Fitzpatrick has written a remarkable and much-loved Young Adult Contemporary Romance Novel with My Life Next Door. I’ve been reading a lot of these types of novels lately, but none of them (besides Anna and The French Kiss) have been able to compete with this one. It’s a book that I could read over and over again and still love it just as much. It has a certain charm that’s difficult to fully explain, all I can really say is that it’s a wonderful read.

Samantha is seventeen-years-old and she’s lived next to the huge Garrett family for her whole life. However, she has simply watched them and never talked to them before. Her mom is a politician and has raised Sam to believe that she’s above people like the Garrett family. One day though, she crosses the line and finds her life intertwined with the Garrett’s. Meanwhile, she falls in love with Jase Garrett and the summer holds many adventures and drama.

Part of what makes this story so easy to read is the well developed characters. While Samantha and Jase are at the center of it, all of the supporting characters are entertaining and hilarious. Each of them provides a certain level of funny moments in their own right. My favorite though is Jase’s little brother George, he’s adorable and not afraid to ask Samantha tough questions. There’s just some fantastic moments for this little boy. Outside of the Garrett family, I also love Tim, Samantha’s best friend’s screwed up older brother who also forms a bond with Jase. He’s getting his own story called The Boy Most Likely To, which is featuring Jase’s sister Alice, coming out later this month. In short, this is a book filled with characters that you’ll instantly fall in love with.

The relationship between Jase and Samantha is realistic and incredible to follow. It’s safe to say that I loved every second of it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the drama between them involving Samantha’s mom and her campaign manager, but at least it wasn’t a love triangle! Sam made some stupid decisions and at times I just couldn’t wait for to wake up, but Jase was perfect and patient with her. Don’t get me wrong, both of the characters are extremely well written. The growth of Samantha is quite evident as the book progresses. Jase is one of my personal favorite YA book boyfriends. He’s a total good guy, which is surprisingly rare to find in Young Adult books, a lot of them tend to favor bad boys. I love this couple, definitely one of my favorites.

To me, this book doesn’t have very many flaws. It’s a fast paced read and you instantly find yourself wrapped up in each individual characters and their personal stories. This is aimed at readers who love a good Young Adult book that is sure to make you smile the whole way through.

Quotes:
“Is Jase already gonna marry you?”

I start coughing again. “Uh, No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we’re not engaged. 
“I’m this many.” George holds up four, slightly grubby fingers. “But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family.”
Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. “George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on.”
George backs out of the room but not before saying, “His bed’s really comfortable. And he never pees in it.”

“Why do all the hot girls want the jocks and the good boys? We losers are the ones that need you.” 
“The Garretts were my bedtime story, long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.” 

five-stars
Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: five-stars

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Every Day Review

July 28, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0

Every Day ReviewEvery Day (Every Day, #1) by David Levithan
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on August 28th 2012
Pages: 322
Source: Library
Also by this author: You Know Me Well
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Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

I’ve read a lot of amazing books lately, and this one is definitely one of the best. I think what makes it such an incredible story is Levithan’s talented writing ability combined with this unique concept. It works out to be one of the most mind blowing books I personally have ever read.
Every Day is about A, who has no known gender or identity, but isn’t the devil either. A spends every day in a different body and he/she never finds himself in the same body twice. This means A never develops any relationships, family, or unique memories. Things change when A lands in the body of Justin and falls in love with his girlfriend Rhiannon. Every day A wakes up as someone different, sometimes a girl, sometimes a boy. No matter who’s life A is living, Rhiannon is still who A wants to be near. What follows is a beautiful, tragic, and complicated look at the true meaning of love and relationships.

A is our lovable and insightful narrator. I love hearing things from his point of view because he describes everything that happens on a day to day basis with such careful observation. A is one of the most standout characters I’ve seen in awhile. Our other main character is Rhiannon, who is sort of a tough character to totally figure out. We actually get to see her side of all these events in the companion novel, “Another Day” which is coming out this fall. I actually already have a copy so I will be reviewing it soon! Anyway, A sees Rhiannon as a sad girl who is dating this douchebag who doesn’t treat her right. I think we can tell a lot about her simply by how quickly she trusts A. From what we can tell, she’s a fascinating character and I can’t wait to learn more about her.

The relationship between A and Rhiannon is obviously ridiculously complicated. However, I think it’s still really beautiful how real it seems. They don’t have an easy path, they encounter more road blocks than most, but I like how the issues weren’t your typical YA couple drama. I can’t reveal much else about the relationship itself, but let’s just say that I loved it.

This is such a mind blowing concept for a book and David Levithan executes it in such a natural fashion. Whenever I would attempt to put this book down, I’d find myself thinking about it. Even now that I’ve finished it, I’m still thinking about everything that happened. To put it simply, it’s a great read and I doubt I’ll come across another book that is so unique and haunting in the best way.

Quotes:
“There will always be more questions. Every answer leads to more questions. The only way to survive is to let some of them go.”

“People are rarely as attractive in reality as they are in the eyes of
the people who are in love with them. Which is, I suppose, as it should be.” 

“This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And
when it’s just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be.” 

“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers or the burden of parental expectation. I can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past or motivated by the future. I focus on the present because that is where I am destined to live.”

“It’s one thing to fall in love. It’s another to feel someone else fall in love with you, and to feel a responsibility toward that love.”

 

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