Book Talk: No Place To Fall By Jaye Robin Brown

Book Talk: No Place To Fall By Jaye Robin BrownNo Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Amber has always been the good girl — the ones that stayed on the straight and narrow and who was determined to get out of her small town. But she hasn’t always felt really ALIVE until she starts going up to a hiking hangout spot with her best friend Devon where she gets to be whoever she wants and meet people who are just passing through. That feeling from the summer follows her into the school year and she starts to make some choices that make her wonder if she’s that good girl everyone thinks she is. She also pursues an opportunity that would take her out of this town and away from her problems in the form of a music program at a high school for the arts in a big city a couple hours away and the boy who helps her practice makes things even more complicated in her life.

a2That one really grew on me! And awww at the ending!

a4This one grew on me! I was thinking it was alright at first and then I got to a point wherein I’d go to read for 20 minute before bed and suddenly I was done with half the book. Repeat the next night. By the time I finished I could feel my rating meter down below moving up a bit.

1. I loved the small town setting and think the author NAILED it: You might not know this about me but from the time I was born until 7th grade I grew up in a VERY small town in the middle of nowhere, PA and it felt so much like this town. I’m not saying ALL small towns are like this..but this nailed my old town — from the way everyone knows each others business, to the way they speak/some narrow thinking, to the hopeless/stuck feeling one can feel especially when they have bigger dreams, etc. Some of the characters could have absolutely been people I knew. It kind of made me sad thinking about the girls I knew who ended up like Amber’s sister and feel trapped. But as much as it made me feel sad for some of the people who got too caught up in the things of a small town, I love that it gave me the warm and fuzzies about small town livin — I always wanted to get out of there and I felt so superior when I did…and then suddenly as an adult when I’d go to visit my dad I began to appreciate a small town! I really related to Amber in that way and I’m proud of my roots!

2. The romance was so cute: It’s a romance trope I always kind of love when I see it — the best friend’s older brother. Maybe it’s because I totally had a crush on a best friend’s brother? PERHAPS. I loved Will (and hey he shares a name with my husband so even better) and I loved their relationship even though I know that there’s something in this book that might make people not ship them. It’s something I HATE but I don’t know…I think I’m a little more forgiving in high school about it because it’s that time to make bad decisions/mistakes, learn and grow.

3. I loved this exploration of how our mistakes define us: So in this book, Amber makes a BIG colossal, totally not HER decision. She knows it’s wrong and immediately regrets it. But this thing…it makes her question what kind of person she is and if she’s just going to end up destined to become this person she didn’t want to be. I loved that her mistake had BIG consequences and felt like it was handled very realistically. As a reader, you are like WHAT ARE YOU THINKING WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS. It made me think of how many times in my life I’ve had some bad judgement calls that were not in line with who I was/thought I was.

4. FAMILY MATTERS: As someone who has had a semi-dysfunctional family at various points through my childhood and adulthood, I could relate! I loved watching some of the family issues play out even though they made my heart ache. It all felt so realistic and well done!

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+
-

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or I’d reread it, no.

a5readers who want small town settings, readers who like main characters who are into music (lots of music in this book!), readers who don’t mind main characters who are flawed and get into some messy situations, contemporary YA readers who like a balance of cute and serious

a8

While I wouldn’t say it was a book that really moved me, I really enjoyed the ride. I definitely grew to enjoy it more and more as I progressed and the plot really started to come together. I enjoyed the themes present in this novel and the setting tremendously. I definitely thought this one was going to be a bit lighter of a book but it did have some serious elements for sure and I’d say I was happy with what it was vs. what my expectations were.

review-on-post-it

No Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


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Book Talk: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Book Talk: If You Find Me by Emily MurdochIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Griffin- 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: It was her debut novel but she has one upcoming in 2015!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Carey can’t remember much about the life she had before her mom moved them away to a small trailer in the middle of the woods where they have no contact with the outside world, no electricity or running water. All she knows is taking care of her baby sister while her mom comes and goes. This last time her mom leaves she doesn’t come back and the next thing Carey knows is that there are two people showing up at the trailer and the two girls enter the world they’ve been cut off from and thrust into a family which makes her question all she’s ever been told about her life and a secret that Carey has to deal with that has made her sister Jenessa stop speaking.
.

a2HOLY CRAP JUDITH WAS RIGHT. SO GOOD.

a4

Oh my heart. It just ached and also swelled with feelings for these sisters. It’s one of those reading experiences where I realize how lucky I was as a kid because there are all sorts of real life people who endure these things they did. I actually have someone very close to me who experienced what the mom did to these kids (minus like the extreme poverty and such — the taking them away). This was such an emotional and compelling novel that definitely tugged on my heart strings.

1. My heart ached for Carey and Jenessa: It ached for the conditions they lived in with no running water or electricity and a young girl taking care of a baby. The things they saw and experienced and how they had to work so hard to just survive. My heart ached as they are brought back into society and went to live with the father that their mother forced them away from. My heart couldn’t handle the sort of feelings I had as they tried to reconcile who they were vs. the world they haven’t ever really known vs. everything their mom told them. It was in the small things like them experiencing a real shower or a tv but also how they integrated into a real family.They’ve gone from being just the two of them and their mom (sometimes) to living with their dad they’ve never known and his family. Then they are expected to exist in a society they haven’t known — school, lingo they haven’t heard, pop culture/fashion they know nothing about.

2. As someone who has sisters the bond of those two sisters just took hold of me: Carey has basically taken care of Jenessa for her whole life as a motherly figure and really all they have is each other. They’ve been through awful things together and the bond that happens between sisters in all the good, bad and in between moments is so strong in this story. It melted my heart really. Even in the bad situation they were living in, they had their good times because they were together and weathered all the storms together. I thought a lot about my sister and I and how even in the worst times of our life (losing our mom for instance) we’ve always been there for each other.

3. Carey is one strong character: Early on Carey takes on a role that no child that young should have to. But she does it and all the things she goes through turn her into the amazing person she has turned out to be. She is wise beyond her years out of necessity. She takes care of her baby sister. She does the cooking. She is resourceful, thinks quick on her feet and even teaches her and her sister things that the other kids would be learning in school. I was just constantly amazed by her and the kind of person she was really reminded me of someone I know who is young and has had to grow up more quickly than most do.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+
-

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5Basically everybody?

a8If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch was equally as heartbreaking as it was heart LIFTING. It just was the type of story that really got to me emotionally and wedged its way into my heart so much that when I had to put it down I kept thinking about it until I picked it back up…and well after I finished. It was an amazing, beautifully written story about sisters and family and just how the human spirit can just be so so beautifully alive and can triumph even in the worst situations.

review-on-post-itIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
* What are some books you’ve read with strong sister relationships?

 


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Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody KeplingerA Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Publisher/Year: Poppy- 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: The Duff, Shut Out, The Swift Boys and Me
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 Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

 

A1
On the night of graduation, before she gets ready to head to her dad’s house to spend the summer, Whitley has a one night hookup that she thinks she’ll never see again. Imagine her surprise when her dad springs it upon her in the car ride to his house that he is getting married and that she will also be living with her new family which includes and new step-brother and sister. A step-brother who she has TOTALLY seen naked the night before. Her dad is like this new shiny dad she’s never seen and she struggles to feel at home in this new family — with a stepbrother who she is absolutely attracted to.

a2Can’t wait to pick up her other books!

a4This book was super duper addictive. I just FLEW through it. This was my first Kody Keplinger book and it definitely won’t be my last! So, let’s talk about it:

1. The romance was so not typical:  Okay so it had a Clueless thing going on (most of you are old enough to know this movie yes???) for me. I remember even back in the 90’s being like I SHIP THIS SO MUCH (okay maybe I didn’t say ship) but IT FEELS A LITTLE SQUICKY EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT’S NOT? Well, in this book it was the same way. The main character hooks up (yes sex) with a boy randomly on graduation night and then, as she goes to spend the summer with her dad, finds out that he actually is her NEW STEPBROTHER. Ohmygod right? AWWWWKWARD. So, hey-brother-who-I-have-seen-naked can you pass the gravy? I SO wanted them together even though in my head, knowing that there wasn’t anything “wrong” with it, I kept thinking MAN that would be so awkward to date your stepbrother. I LOVED Nathan by the way!! What a great guy!

2. I loved the honesty of Whitley’s voice: I’ve always heard Keplinger just writes with this searing honesty and rawness and I totally agree. Everything written is just so authentic of being teen and Whitley’s voice just really worked for me. There is just that genuine portrayal of being a teen girl in all of its messiness and ugly glory but also in the way that we grow SOOOO much and learn (the hard way a lot of the time). I loved how Keplinger didn’t shy away from drinking and sex and stuff…it felt so seamlessly what a lot of teen experience is. It wasn’t an “issue-y” type of thing ever but you see realistic “consequences” to some of the things she was doing. Nothing preachy or OH THE END OF THE WORLD BECAUSE YOU DID THIS. But just a lot of food for thought.

3. Loved the exploration of family dynamics: Whitley has divorced parents and there is a lot of bitterness there. Whitley has spent every summer with her dad who was like her best friend. This year? He springs the news on her that he’s getting married and…surprise! You have a stepbrother and stepsister! He’s turned into this guy she doesn’t really recognize, she’s thrown into a new family (with a step-brother she hooked up with) and she feels like the odd man out when her dad barely spends any time with her. I just loved how it explored all of it. The feeling of being the old kid in the new family. Having to hear bitter things said from one parent about the other. It was just so perfectly explored because, coming from a divorced kid here, IT GETS COMPLICATED. And as an aside, I LOOOOOVED her stepmom!!

4. I wished for a little bit more depth in some areas toward the end is my ONLY complaint: When it got to some of the things that Whitley was learning, I was REALLY excited to see her think about and put these things together. But it fell a little short for me. The book went RIGHT THERE for me and was so close to having the depth that I needed to make this a WOW read but it never hit that. I don’t know how else to really explain it but with the variety of issues that Whitley was dealing with (especially with her dad) I just wanted MORE in the end I guess. When I reached the end-ish I just felt like it could have been better for me and a little more profound? I don’t even know if that’s the word I’m looking for but I just knew I felt a little disappointed at the end.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ characters, plot, addictive factor, writing
- wanted a little more depth in some aspects

Re-readability: Probably not because I’m picky about rereading but I want to read the rest of her books!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one but I’m probably passing it on bc it wasn’t a fave/I won’t reread

a5contemporary YA fans, people who want authentic voices in YA

a8I couldn’t put this one down! Really impressed with Kody Keplinger and the raw sort of emotions she brings to her teen characters and her ability to tackle some tough stuff. Loved the story and the characters despite wishing for a little depth in some areas. Will definitely be reading more from Keplinger!

review-on-post-it

midsummers-nightmare-kody-keplinger

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Have you read any other Keplinger books? Which one should I read next?

 

 


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Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood
Publisher/Year: Poppy- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Other Books From Author: Six Impossible Things
AmazonGoodreads

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Wildlife is told from the perspective of two girls who are doing a required semester at an outdoors camp. Sib gets a little boost of popularity as she gets her face on a billboard (as well as some scrutiny) right before she comes leave for this semester and finds herself in her first real relationship and navigating some choppy waters with her best friend Holly. Lou is a new student and is thrown into this experience not really knowing anybody and with a heavy amount of grief that is closing her off. She observes her new peers and starts to witness some unraveling in Sib and Holly’s friendship and also starts to feel more drawn in even though she wants to stay an outsider.
.

a2Another Aussie win! Also, I kind of want to go camping or something and get my outdoors on?

a4

I really enjoyed this one!! I’m telling you…I keep waiting for the day that I won’t like an Aussie YA book and today was definitely not that day. Wildlife was just an altogether great read for this contemporary YA lover! Apparently this is a companion novel to Six Impossible Things but I haven’t read that and I wasn’t missing anything (especially since when it was talked about BEA there was no mention of the companion. I do want to read it and read more about Lou even knowing what we learned happened as this novel starts.

So here’s what I liked:

1. The setting : I loved the idea of this semester at an outdoors camp! It’s required so it’s interesting to see everyone adapting to the things they have to do — the chores they are assigned, having no technology, camping and hiking. They had to do this crazy solo hike and camp by themselves which scares the beejezus out of me because 1) obviously and 2) OMG THE WILDLIFE IN AUSTRALIA SCARES ME. I was waiting for her to be eaten alive by some snake or crazy spider. But overall I just loved the outdoors-y element to this and how it contributed to their growth and took a lot of them out of their comfort zone. It sounded like a really GOOD experience to build character and really LEARN about yourself in a different way — minus that solo hike where you camp by yourself in the Australian bush. I would never survive.

2. How it explored friendships: I love reading books about friendships because they are SO complex and honestly such a hard thing to navigate sometimes — especially as you are coming of age and really finding yourself. We see kind of early that Sib and Holly are pretty different in ways and their dynamic is interesting. Sib is just passive and lets Holly be a douche and walk all over her. At first you are like ehh Holly sucks and is kind of mean but then you suddenly are like okay is this toxic? It feels toxic right? I love that it explored how hard it is to be honest with yourself about a friendship that has kind of turned into something not so good — how Sib tries to reconcile the good vs. bad and the memories of Holly and has to decide if the friendship can be salvaged or if, as we grow, that sometimes we have to let people go. But even outside of Holly and Sib there were some other relationships that I enjoyed watching grow and mature! They all just seemed very realistic and had the kind of complexities and messiness I have experienced in my life.

3. The alternating chapters between Sib and Lou: I really liked Sib and watching her grow  and her perspective (maybe because I could identify a lot with her) but Lou was such an interesting character too. She’s a new student and she’s out here with no friends and, not only that, she’s grieving so deeply which makes her even more lonely. Her perspective is truly as an outsider and I loved watching her observe Sib and Holly and everything going down at camp as she keeps her distance but also gets drawn into it all and starts to make connections and open herself up to start to figure out who is after this tragedy.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, characters, themes explored, setting
- nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want one!

a5fans of Aussie YA, contemporary YA readers, people who like boarding school/camp settings, people who like books that explore friendships

a8Wildlife was just a really damn good character-driven story — interesting characters, great setting, thought-provoking and incredibly well written. I loved watching Sib start to, through the outdoor experience and relationship issues, start to really grow and learn more about herself. It was nice to watch her be less PASSIVE and start to learn to be more independent. I loved watching Lou grow from this experience to — to confront her grief and to open up a little bit rather than keep herself so closed off.

review-on-post-itWildlife by Fiona Wood

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
I’m curious if any of you have read Six Impossible things!
*

 


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Book Talk: My True Love Gave To Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

Book Talk: My True Love Gave To Me Edited by Stephanie PerkinsMy True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Press- October 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
AmazonGoodreads

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
This is a holiday short story collection (12 in all)  from some of the best YA authors out there. I’m not biased AT ALL or anything considering some of my all time favorite authors have stories in this.

a2Should I bust out the Christmas music before Thanksgiving?? I want to now!!

 elf gif

a4This is like my dream team short story collection. A bunch of my favorite authors all in one place? HELL YEAH.  I’m happy to report this short story collection, as a whole, is FANTASTIC. Obviously some were better than others for me reading taste wise but I felt like it was mostly wins for me & the GREAT for me balanced out the ones that maybe weren’t my thing — though none of them were enough to make me skip over them.

I think it is the perfect read for the holidays — not just because the holiday stories will make your heart grow ten sizes — but because, I don’t know about you, but my life is so scattered and busy around this time that being able to read a short story when I’m only able to sit down briefly before going to my next holiday event is THE PERFECT SOLUTION. When I try to read long, more involved books during the holidays it can be frustrating because I can’t get immersed into the way I’d like. Holiday spirit + lots of amazing authors + a book that can hold your attention during the holidays? MUST HAVE.

The only problem with this short story collection? The short stories were SO SO SO good that I wanted full books for pretty much ALL of them. But I think that marks a good short story for me. Satisfying but OH MY GOD I WANT MORE PLEASE.

I’m going to give you my thoughts on each story in a sentence or so (My top 5 faves of the collection have asterisks):

*Rainbow Rowell – Midnights: New Year’s Eve swoons! A classic Rainbow Rowell story with that swoon factor that makes your heart melt.

Kelly Link – The Lady & The Fox: Okay so I kind of didn’t understand this one at all but it WAS interesting and I actually REALLY wanted a full book so I could maybe understand it more. There was a paranormal thing going on here but I didn’t GET it?

*Matt de la Pena – Angels In the Snow: One of my all time favorites in this collection! I am definitely checking out his other books based on this short story. AH MY HEART. Can this PLEASE be a whole book?? The main character in this stole my heart.

Jenny Han — Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me: SANTA!! The North Pole! This one made me really feel for a girl who is so out of place as the only human in the North Pole. Kind of sad though in the way that Elf kind of made me sad sometimes (in between laughing a whole lot re: the movie). Enjoyed it so much!

*Stephanie Perkins – It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown: Definitely my FAVORITE of the collection. Stephanie Perkins reminded me that she doesn’t even NEED a full book to make me fall helplessly and head over heels in love. The swoon factor was high here for me and I absolutely NEED a full book for these two. If I were rich I would commission it from her.

David Levithan — Your Temporary Santa: I got to listen to David read from some of this a couple months ago and I was so happy to finish it! It’s typical David in the humor and in the feels! It honestly made me want to cry a whole lot. And then eat Christmas cookies.

Holly Black – Krumpuslauf: This probably has less to do with the actual story but with what I like as a reader but… this just wasn’t my thing but I think Holly Black is certainly talented! I was definitely amused by it though!

*Gayle Forman – What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?: I LOVED this one. Is anyone surprised by this? Gayle just writes characters that interest me and sprinkles humor I love and can whip up a good love story. Very cute and romantic!

Myra McEntire – Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus: I wasn’t super into this one (I feel so bad saying that) but I liked that it centered around a Christmas pageant! More Lifetime holiday movie this one was. I love my Lifetime holiday movies but just couldn’t get into it.

*Kiersten White – Welcome to Christmas, CA: This one made me SOOOOO hungry. And a little teary at the end. A really touching story that warmed my heart like hot cocoa on a warm day.

Ally Carter – Star Of Bethlehem: I thought this one was okay but wish it was a an actual book because it felt really rushed together at the end once we find out something (a something I didn’t expect when I started it).

Laini Taylor – The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer: I really am so interested in her books after this! Very unique and imaginative!

 

a6
RATING-reallyliked
-

Re-readability: Yes I would definitely around the holidays read it again!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5People looking for a great holiday story collection (especially a YA one), people looking for a read during the holiday season when they are SUPER busy and might not get time to devote to full work of fiction, readers who want a holiday collection that is heartwarming and not sappy

a8 My True Love Gave To Me was such a delight and made me so excited for the holidays! It’s the perfect holiday read filled with such diverse stories but they all fit nicely together. I got to read amazing stories from some of my favorite authors and discovered new-to-me authors that I HAVE to check out now. I longed for most stories to be a full book…because they were THAT good and got me very into the story and the characters in just a bite sized package. Buy it for yourself to read for the holidays or buy it for your friends and family…it’s a holiday collection not to be missed!

It’s rare that I will like this high percentage of stories in a short story collection!

review-on-post-itMy True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*Any other holiday novels/collections you can recommend??

 


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Book Talk: Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Book Talk: Even In Paradise by Chelsey PhilpotEven In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins- October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut author!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

When Charlotte finds herself becoming friends with Julia Buchanan — daughter of a former senator and famously rich family with a tragedy attached to their name — she never could be prepared for the real Julia and everything that comes with being a Buchanan. She’s thrown head first into their intense and mesmerizing world as Julia’s new best friend — the parties, the lavish gifts, the larger than life family (and a certain brother she falls for)….and also the secrets below the surface that threaten to unravel them all.

a2OMG I LOVE THIS BOOOOOOK. *tweets incessantly about it*

a4

OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. I loved this book. I freaking loved it and I want to shout it from the rooftops. If you like contemporary YA, you do NOT want to miss this one. My emotions were just overflowing by the end of this book and the last paragraph-ish was EVERYTHING for me. I kind of wanted to tattoo it on my arm.

1. This story staked its claim on me by the first sentence of the prologue: I’m serious. By the time I finished the prologue I was doing a little excited dance on my couch and was strapping myself in because I was READY TO GO after that and I knew I couldn’t possibly prepare myself for what was to come (spoiler alert: I couldn’t at all). I was already so curious about the Buchanan family (who slightly reminded me of the family in We Were Liars as I read on) and, like Charlie, I became so mesmerized and enchanted by them. From the moment Julia and Charlie meet and as she gets deeper into the Buchanan family I wanted to know more and more even when certain things began to seem like red flags and she got so wrapped up in them. I got the same electric energy that Charlie felt by wanting to be around them. There was that allure there to be part of this world that was so unlike her world and I felt it. I get wanting to just be a part of something.

2. THE EMOTIONS: You guys. I bawled at the end of this book. The feelings throughout the book had been bubbling up and just burst forth in the form of tears and it was an obvious reason to cry for me. And the last paragraph. IT WAS EVERYTHING and more. I want to share it but I want you to experience it. It was a rollercoaster of feelings (and not just crying kinds of feelings) and it just, coupled with the plot, propelled me forward. The romance. The intensity of their friendship. The tragedy. The aftermaths. It was SO GOOD GUYS.

3. DOGEAR CENTRAL: I was really, really impressed by the writing in this book. It was so beautiful and there were so many lines that just stopped me in my tracks and made me think or FEEL something. I was dog-earring A LOT with this one which is always a good thing for me. The more I dog-ear, the more I love it. I’ll give you a little taste:

” It’s only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us — the moments when choices between yeses and nos determined the people we became.”

 

a6

RATING-loved-it

factors+ Plot, writing, characters, FEELINGS
- NADA

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

 

a8There are just these books that you can somewhat pinpoint elements that made you love it but overall it’s just this indescribable feeling you get when you are reading that just takes hold of you and sets your heart to beating just a little bit differently. That was this book for me. I can kind of explain to you why I loved it but mostly I can’t. I just know how I felt about it. Chelsey Philpot’s debut was wholly impressive — it was beautiful, enchanting, devastating and altogether bittersweet. A true smattering of emotions but I finished the book hopeful and with my heart on fire.

review-on-post-it

Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate BassettWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Publisher/Year: Flux- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning”

a2MAN, I wanted to connect more so I could have really FELT this emotional story.

a4I’m conflicted about this one because I can’t say I was SUPER drawn into it and it was a bit slow for the first half but it was a beautiful book in so many ways.  I loved the piercing story of grief it told. Anna’s grief is real and alive and she wears it in a way that everyone knows. She’s so inside herself and tormented by her grief that she can’t really let herself live after the loss of her “bruncle” Joe (technically an uncle but more like her brother). She’s the kind of character where you FEEL for her but she frustrates you in the way she does her family members and friends. I FELT THAT.

The “mystery” aspect that comes into play when she finds a note, that suggests she didn’t quite know Joe as well as she thought, didn’t really pick up until the second half and that part REALLY drew me when it finally got somewhere.   I think setting up Anna’s grief and family situation, while important, just dawdled a little bit too much for me and I was just holding on until I got to that element that would drive the plot and Anna forward. I love character driven books but I was struggling with her so I needed that plot to engage me a little more.

As a reader I could just FEEL the holes in the fractured family and I thought the people in Anna’s world were VERY fleshed out which I LOVED. I did GUESS the mystery’s outcome but not in a way that made it a dud for me. This book is quiet in the way it reads but OH THE ACHE IS LOUD AND PULSING and her journey back into LIVING her life was hard yet beautiful to watch. Also, I dogeared a lot because the writing is fantastic. Like really fantastic. I WISH I would have connected a little bit more considering how emotional this novel WAS but this was a good book that I WOULD recommend to people who don’t mind a bit of a slower, quiet novel.

a6
RATING-LIKED
factors+ writing, aching portrayal of grief, the plot
- I didn’t FEEL as much as I should have, some boredom in the first half

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or a reread, unfortunately no.

a5people who like quiet & slower books, readers of stories that deal with grief, fans of a little mystery, people who want beautifully written books, people who like stories about writers

a8I think that what would have made my rating on this one SOAR to the higher scale would have been having some sort of emotional response. I can recognize the emotional nature of the story with Anna’s grief and discovering new pieces to her uncle and SEE that it is written in a way that, at times, did make my heart ache but I never felt that “in my bones” emotional response. The first half was REALLY slow for me too but when it finally picked up for me it was worth it. I loved the exploration of grief and this idea that we only have our own pieces to the existence of someone we love even though it might seem we have seen the whole of them.

review-on-post-itWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

3 Books I Read & Enjoyed In September

I’ve been having a bit of a restless spirit recently and no motivation to write some longer reviews. Also? I’ve been a reading machine lately (for ME) and the books to talk about have been piling up. So (non-spoilery) mini book talk time!! YAYS?

 

Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

Genre: Contemporary YA, Date Published: September 2, 2014
Goodreads// Amazon
* I received for review consideration from the publisher.

Girl Defective Simmone Howell
I LOVED this novel. There was just something so magical about it even though it was an “ordinary life” kind of story…if that makes sense? Another win for the Aussie YA authors for me! SO MUCH HEART in this book and I loved the quirkiness of the characters and just how CHARMING it was. My heart ached for Skylark’s broken little family and seriously loved that storyline so much — her dad who is a functioning alcoholic, her mom who abandoned them and her little brother who I’m pretty sure is supposed to have Asperger’s (I say this as someone who used to work with kids with it). And Skylark…her voice is endearing and I loved her so much. I loved her growth in the span of this novel! One thing I really loved is how ALIVE everything in this book felt — the record shop that her dad owned even when it was always half deserted, the music, the adventures Skylark and Gully had through the streets of her town as they chased their mystery they wanted to uncover. Girl Defective was a quiet gem about a girl trying to find her place in the world that tugged at my heart and made me smile right until the moment I closed its pages.

RATING: RATING-loved-it

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Genre: Adult Fiction Thriller Release Date: 2012
Goodreads // Amazon

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

So I FINALLY read this one! FINALLY. I got scared of the hype, man! But I had been lucky enough to stay spoiler free so THAT was great. I only knew that it was twisted and crazy and lots of opinions of love AND hate for the end. And WELL it was definitely as twisty and messed up as everyone said. It took me a little bit to get completely absorbed in this crazy story but once I was it was just this maddening, furious reading experience. I loved how it all unraveled. I’ll say I completely guessed the big THING but it didn’t put a damper on the reading experience at ALL because I never knew what kind of shenanigans were going to be thrown out after that. I hated almost every character (except Go and the one police officer)…and I’m certain that was intended. I did NOT expect the ending. I’ll say that. I totally pictured it ending different but I will say I thought the ending was very fitting and I liked it. *shivers* MAN, this book was all sorts of messed up but I enjoyed this thrilling ride. Time to read or watch super happy and uncomplicated things next!!

RATING: RATING-reallyliked

 

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Genre: YA Fantasy Release Date: September 9, 2014
Goodreads // Amazon
* I received this for review consideration.

Illusions of Fate Kierstan White

 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. It hadn’t stood out to me when I got it for review but Stephanie Perkins recommended it at her event that was near me so I picked it up. It’s a standalone fantasy novel and, even though I am SO series weary, I was honestly wishing it was a series because I genuinely enjoyed the characters and would love to see more of this world because the magic element and the royal blood line is something I’m sure could be explored more. The world-building was sparse but well set up– it’s a fictional land but it’s very much like our world and honestly the setting reminded me of London in a way and there is magic amongst the “real” world. I loved Jessamin — she’s so smart, sassy and easy to root for as she’s away from the underprivileged island she grew up on and is trying to go to school here where she’s an outcast basically. The romance between Jessamin and Finn is so cute and I LOVED their banter. Their predicament and taking down the baddie made me tear through this book!  If you are looking for a standalone YA fantasy that isn’t too terribly long, I absolutely recommend!

RATING: RATING-reallyliked

 

 Have you read any of these books? Whatta think if you have? I’d love to hear your perspective! If you haven’t, do they look like something you would be into?

That Time I Almost Didn’t Read A Book Because Of The Ratings

Back in May I talked a bit about how social media/the internet can affect me as a reader & one of those things was how seeing ratings and opinions can affect the books I’m considering picking up or starting to read. It’s a struggle for me to pick up books without consulting the internet to check what ratings say. On one hand it’s helpful in weeding out books that probably wouldn’t work for me and finding the books that probably WILL work better for me. But on the other hand? Sometimes I’m not picking up books SOLELY because of poor ratings. I’ve had a book in my hand at the bookstore before and then saw it ONLY had like a 3.4 average rating on Goodreads and put it back. Books that SOUNDED good but I’m like NOPE look at those ratings, look at all the hate.

And that was the case for this book – 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 

I had gotten it for review and was excited about it. And then the reviews started coming in….super negative and the average rating was much lower than it is now (it was like a 3.4 or something I think at one point). Some of the reviews made the book sound AWFUL and ridiculous and I was like NOPE and took it off my shelf and put it into a box to deal with later with my other castoffs. I was so sad about it. But then it caught my attention later because a few people I really trust LOVED it and gave it 4 & 5 star reviews so I was like WHAT EVEN I NEED TO KNOW. So I decided to read it. AND I REALLY LIKED IT.

In this case the SUPER jarring difference in ratings really intrigued me to pick it up. And the things that people who were loving it were saying about it made me realize OH MAN…these are things I WOULD LOVE ABOUT IT and not things that would bother me.

What 17 First Kisses Is About:

So it’s about a girl who has kissed quite a few guys but nothing STICKS really into boyfriend material and guys that she is interested in ALWAYS seem to end up liking her bff. And then in walks Luke. And both girls have their eyes set on him but Claire feels so much differently about him than the other guys…like there’s something real there. So the story goes back through Claire & Megan’s history as friends, all of Claire’s kisses & Claire’s family life but also is at the present where Claire has to choose what to do with her feelings for Luke and her friendship with Megan.

While I felt like sometimes it was a BIT dramatic and the high school hierarchy was exaggerated a bit IMO, I really REALLY liked this book. And the things that made so many people give it 1 stars? Those were things that didn’t bother me personally.

Things That Made Me Enjoy This Book:

+ It was actually a lot “deeper” & emotional than I thought it would be — the summary makes it seem a little more frivolous and fun than it is. Claire’s family is going through some tough stuff and I just thought this book really opened up some interesting dialogue about serious and emotional topics.

+ Family & friendship focuses: Okay so there’s the whole Luke thing but really at the heart of this book is about family and friendships. The friendships painted could have easily been the cliche popular mean girls story but I actually really thought they were well done and the girls were very real to me. I loved watching the friendship between Claire and Megan start and evolve and learn all the inner-workings of the group and those two. There were some not cool things they did to each other but it was realistic struggle and I loved watching them try to sort it out because their friendship really DID matter.

+ the storytelling: It just really worked how everything was revealed and how we learned more and more about Claire.

+ the slut-shaming dialogue: This is where a lot of people HATED this book — all the slut-shaming. BUT MAN did I find it super realistic and reminiscent of myself as a high schooler back in the day. I learned how unhealthy and wrong it was but it took me becoming an adult to realize that. For me, just because I HATE things that are happening in a book does not mean I hate the book. It was hard to read but the thing is IT HAPPENS A LOT and the slut shaming in this book had a point. There are a lot of reasons why I think people slut shame (I think a lot of it is a defense mechanism & insecurity — at least it was for me) and I think that this book really explored those in such an authentic and honest way.

+ the flawed, round characters: Yeah, you aren’t going to like all the things they do and say. The girl hate. The slut-shaming. The mean girl antics at time. The friendship no-nos. But if we laid out the book of MY teenage life (especially my inner monologue)….I guarantee none of you would like ME on paper when you focus on my flaws and ignore the growth (however miniscule) and the GOOD things. I totally dated a boy my sister liked, I backstabbed, I slut-shamed and I did things that 28 year old Jamie is NOT proud of. Sometimes I knew they were wrong and sometimes I didn’t. These characters reminded me of the beauty of this age because of how much you are finding yourself through mistakes and experience (lots of firsts) and how there is SO much room for growing and learning. So that was an aspect that, while I get why others didn’t like these characters, I totally did.

*I had to edit this post, because after I scheduled it, Hannah wrote this AMAZING post and a Twitter convo between myself, Hannah and Rachel prompted another paragraph*

Hannah’s whole point of her post is being true to yourself and reading the books YOU want to read. Obviously we rely on recommendations and blogs  to help us but we shouldn’t forget why WE want to read something despite what ratings and reviews say. One of the things I mentioned while talking to these ladies is how I’ve gone back and looked at ratings for books I LOVED but read before blogging and before I checked ratings obsessively and some of them, if it were NOW, I probably wouldn’t have picked up due to ratings or GR friend’s reviews. I’ve started dipping my toes in the waters of NOT CHECKING GOODREADS when I’m browsing at the library and it’s freeing. And I mean, so what if I read it and the ratings/reviews were right? It was FREE.

I think my experience with 17 First Kisses is one of those things where I learned exactly what Hannah is talking about…to trust my gut because in my heart I knew I didn’t always get bugged about the things that the people giving this 1 stars were bugged about. This experience made me realize I rely too heavily on opinions. I’m not saying I’m not going to stop reading reviews/looking at ratings because it so SO helpful to me but I need to let myself pick up a book I want to even if everyone else says it sucks and not give into all the opinions that are out there.

What about you guys? Have you ever almost not read a book because of ratings/reviews but then read it and were so glad you did? How do you balance reviews/ratings with what YOU want to read? Also, did you read 17 First Kisses….what did you think?

 

Book Talk: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Book Talk: The Piper’s Son by Melina MarchettaThe Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Publisher/Year: Candlewick- March 2010
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock (series), Looking For Alibrandi
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
The Piper’s Son takes place 5 years after Saving Francesca. It’s a companion novel but it can TOTALLY stand alone though I do think reading Saving Francesca is a GREAT idea anyways. It focuses on Thomas Mackee and his family who have endured a tragedy. This tragedy has ripped the family apart and Tom himself has quit all the things he loved and pushed everyone else away and is pretty much at an all time low. He’s forced to confront the brokenness when he gets kicked out of his apartment and has to live with his pregnant aunt and gets a job where a couple of his former friends work.

a2I NEED TO STOP READING HER BOOKS BECAUSE THEY DESTROY ME FOR ALL OTHER BOOKS.

a4

I’ve said it before in my Melina Marchetta reviews but I’ll say it again — there are books and there are Melina Marchetta books for me. I don’t know what energy of the universe she harnesses to write these amazingly perfect books that make you feel like you’ve never felt these feelings before but at the same time they resonate so, so deeply. I DON’T KNOW but, like always with her novels, I’m completely rendered speechless after reading The Piper’s Son and it just keeps simmering in my mind long after I finish.

1. I loved returning to Frankie and the gang: This takes place about 5 years after Saving Francesca and the main focus is on Tom’s life rather than Frankie’s. Some of the group is still around and some of them are off in different places. I loved the bits and pieces we got that filled in the pieces of what went down in those 5 years. Selfishly I wanted more to know every last detail of those 5 years but alas that would be a series now wouldn’t it? Tom has been outside of the group after losing his uncle Joe and has pushed them away and made some really bad decisions. I loved watching the group try to rally for Tom like they did Frankie in Saving Francesca but also show him tough love that he needed. This group has my heart!

2. I loved learning more about Tom Mackee: Oh my god I love him and I was always so curious about him in Saving Francesca as we got to know him. We learn of his romance with a familiar character from the group & we learn what he had been up to when the tragedy happened to his family. We see the effects of all that and how he’s given up everything that made Tom, well, Tom. I loved learning more about his family background and how he saw things from back in the Saving Francesca days and how he interacted with the others/saw the others. I fell in love with Thomas Mackee for sure even when he was unlikable and downright hard to deal with.

3. The brokenness of Tom and his family GUTTED me: The brokenness of Tom’s family was just so heavy on my heart the whole time I read. The tragedy that befalls Tom’s family is one that just collides with their world and shatters everything into a million places. I could feel the weight of this fractured family especially when juxtaposed with all these memories of the family BEFORE. They are THAT family that you wish you could be a part of. So close, so beautiful. I also loved that we got chapters from Tom’s aunt which filled in some of family history but also told of her pain and loss and how it still affects her.

4. I’ve read a lot of books dealing with grief but few come close to the layered and gut-wrenching grief in this book: The layers of grief in this book, man. My heart feels a bit differently after finishing this one because I feel like it was hammered and twisted and punted across a field. Grief is a really, really hard thing to explain, as someone who has grieved a devastating loss myself, but somehow Marchetta just nails it. Just brilliantly and right through the heart.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ EVERYTHING
- NADA. So close to a beyond loved but I’m so very stingy with that rating. It’s SO hovering right on that line.

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Of course.

a5people who read Saving Francesca, fans of Gayle Forman/Trish Doller/Cath Crowley, people looking for a great male POV, people who like books about family

a8The Piper’s Son is yet another Melina Marchetta masterpiece. A beautiful and gut-wrenching story of loss, the enduring bonds of family and friendship amidst tragedy and the kind of healing that can only come with the help of the ones we love. Thomas Mackee, you will not recede back into the pages of the book ever.

review-on-post-it

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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