Book Talk: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Book Talk: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi KirbyThings We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Published by HarperTeen on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Moonglass, In Honor, Golden
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. 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

Quinn’s boyfriend passed away tragically. Over the past year she’s kind of stopped LIVING life as Trent’s life ended. Trent was an organ donor and one of the things she HAS been doing is making contact with all the people who received his organs. She’s heard from all except the person who got his heart. She does her own research to find who it is and she finds out it is a boy around her age. She decides she just needs to go see him and get some closure. She’s read his story from his sister’s blog and knows a lot about him. She doesn’t plan to talk to him, just see him from afar, but a run-in they have results in them spending time together and Quinn keeps the secret of who she really is despite how close they are growing closer and Colton gives Quinn this vigor for life again as she sees how he approaches life.

a2*gets copying quotes down into quote notebook* GOD HER BOOKS MAKE ME THINK/ARE ALWAYS SO QUOTEABLE.

a4It’s always a little nerve-wracking as much as it is exciting when one of your favorite authors has a new book out. WILL I LOVE IT? WILL I NOT? And Jessi Kirby is one of my favorite authors (you should really check out her books Golden, Moonglass and In Honor). I’m happy to report that we’ve got another book for me to love in Things We Know By Heart.

Let’s talk about some things I really enjoyed about this one.

1. The setting: OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. Jessi Kirby always knows how to write a good setting. All of her books have this atmospheric quality. I mean she really has you hearing the waves and feeling the sand between your toes or taking in the starry sky. This had a beach setting again, like Moonglass, and OH it made me want to pack my stuff and head to the West Coast. Everywhere they went and everything they did…I could just picture it so well. Jessi is one of the best when it comes to creating the setting and it really adds to my reading experience. She transports you in a way that most can’t and did that ESPECIALLY well here in Things We Know By Heart.

2. The hurdles in the romance: I mean, if you’ve read the summary, you know that the dude was the recipient of a heart transplant — her boyfriend’s heart. He LITERALLY has the heart of her boyfriend who passed away  and she falls for him. She knows exactly who he is because she needed to see the recipient of her boyfriend’s heart. She knows she’s crossing the lines when she hangs out with him and then when feelings start to blossom. SHE KNOWS. She feels how weird this is. AND HE DOESN’T KNOW WHO SHE IS AND THE CONNECTION THEY SHARE. I understood her resistance but also how she couldn’t deny a real connection. It’s such a cute romance that is driven by a lot of things but it’s so hard because you KNOW at some point THE REVEAL has to happen in some way. I kept waiting for that moment. It was

3. The exploration of grief: Quinn has really let herself be so consumed with her grief when we meet her. She’s so shut inside of herself and has basically stopped really living and moving forward. When she meets Colton he’s had the exact opposite reaction to that day. He’s finally able to think of a future and he’s really LIVING because he’s been so sick for so long. I loved the contrast of the two who were both impacted by Trent’s death and how Colton’s excitement for life starts to remind Quinn what it’s like to be ALIVE and that she still gets to live. Quinn was hard to connect with for me at first but I really loved watching her want to live life again.

4. HER WORDS: Jessi Kirby writes beautifully and just there are these sentences that are just WOAH. And she makes you think! Beautiful prose in this one as I’ve come to expect! SO QUOTEABLE.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, plot, feels, romance
–  wish I connected a little more with Quinn (and also seen more of her and Trent so I could really feel/understand why her grief was the way it was)

Re-readability: Possibly yes because the writing was so good and the romance was so cute.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes because I want to own all Jessi’s books

a5contemporary YA fans, fans of Jessi’s other books, readers who love Sarah Dessen and want to branch out (my cousin who just rereads SD books over and over listened to my Jessi Kirby rec and loves her books now),

a8Things We Know By Heart was so, so good. It was equal parts sweet and sad and wholly a book that reminds you that, while every day could be your last because life is so fragile, every day is also a chance to live fully in that day and recognize what a gift it truly is. Very life-affirming stuff! Now I need y’all to go buy all of Jessi’s books because they are all worth it!

review-on-post-itThings We KNow By heart by jessi kirby

 

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

Golden by Jessi Kirby | Book Review

Golden by Jessi KirbyBook Title/Author: Golden by Jessi Kirby
Publisher/Year
: Simon  & Schuster May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No!
Other Books From Author: Moonglass, In Honor

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

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

 

ALSO, read the very personal post I wrote inspired by this book!

 

Parker is coming closer to her high school graduation and everything is on track for that next stage in her life. She’s valedictorian, always listens to her mom, is driven but, as her best friend always points out, she rarely takes chances or does the unexpected — despite her best friend’s urging and influence. Her life is shaken when she takes a chance and peers into the personal life that unexpectedly sheds some light on a town legend and tragedy. Everybody knows the tragic love story of Julianna Fernetti and Shane Cruz. Ten years they were the golden couple of the high school and town and ten years ago when a tragic accident on an icy road sent them plunging into the river from which their bodies were never found. The golden couple has been romanticized but Parker finds that things aren’t always as they seem as she reads a sealed class assignment that Julianna wrote 10 years ago and begins to question what really happened the night of their fateful accident.

Honestly, of Jessi Kirby’s 3 novels so far, Golden is undoubtedly my favorite. She’s become an author I don’t hesitate to recommend if you like contemporary YA and placed on my auto-buy list and reading Golden confirmed all these things even  more. Golden is a stunning book with incredible depth, a skillfully unraveled mystery and characters that I really loved. One of those books that absorbs you completely and you find yourself done in a flash and your emotions are all scattered over the place. I was equally enthralled with both the mystery element to this novel as well as the character development and growth of Parker — I really could root for and relate to her.

I really loved how Parker’s story and the mystery of Julianna’s tragic accident were woven together. I felt like I got to know Parker so much through her reactions to reading Julianna’s journal and my heart was in my throat reading Julianna’s tragic story as it was so perfectly revealed. It was one of those tragic stories where your heart just ached and I could feel the intensity and weight that Parker felt for uncovering it all as she read the journal that had been sealed away for 10 years shining a whole new light on a town legend. I loved the adventure that Julianna’s story took Parker and her friends on and how it challenged her with things in her life that she had always struggled with — getting out of her comfort zone, living the life SHE wants etc. It was just a perfect blend of mystery, character growth and one of those books that makes you think and examine your own life. I thought about so many things — how things aren’t always as they seem to be and how they are romanticized sometimes and just how sometimes we get stuck in trap of trying to figure OUT our life rather than living it. I journalled a lot after reading this one.

The mystery thread was SO interesting how it was revealed and kept me on the edge of my seat but not in that thriller kind of way. I kept guessing and speculating. I DID end up making a good prediction and read at a dizzying pace to see if my little hunch was right and it WAS. I love that. Jessi Kirby cleverly unravels things so that you can’t help but start thinking things and questioning things along with Parker. I was reading with a friend and it was hilarious the different predictions we made!

It’s hard to explain, without giving it all away, what is so special about this novel but it’s the whole package — fully developed, interesting characters and dynamics, beautiful writing, thought-provoking and a refreshingly executed plot that practically glues your eyeballs to the pages. I could start spouting off fancy adjectives but you should just probably read the book.

 

Golden by Jessi Kirby was a stirring and beautiful story with depth and emotion and I LOVED IT. I have this desire to reread it already. It was refreshing and one of those books that just is all consuming in the best possible way. I couldn’t stop reading as Parker read the journal of a girl who was the center of a tragic accident and finds her life become intertwined with this mystery — all while watching Parker’s growth. It’s my favorite novel thus far from Jessi Kirby and solidifies her as a go-to author in the contemporary YA genre. Don’t miss this one, friends!

 

Golden by Jessi Kirby

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you guess the mystery or a piece of it??

 

 

four-half-stars

In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Book Title/Author: In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster May 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Amazon
| Goodreads | Author website

I received this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After Honor’s older brother is killed in Iraq, Honor discovers, on the night after the funeral, an unopened letter from her brother  sent before he passed away. Honor reads the final words of Finn and decides to embark on a journey to California that she believes Finn is sending her on.  Standing in her way is Finn’s former best friend, Rusty, who shows up at the house drunk after years of the two not seeing each other after Finn & Rusty’s falling out.  Rusty, who has the tendency to act like an ass & downright piss her off, convinces Honor to let him join her on this journey. Along the way, the two reconnect and help each other cope with this monumental loss and learn things about each other and about Finn — things that help them relive memories & dull the pain, some that help understand past actions & things that downright catch them off guard and make them realize that perhaps everything wasn’t always as it seemed.

Road trip? A quest that a deceased family member sends the character on? A hint of a possible romance with two unlikely and unsuspecting characters? Coupled with the fact that I had previously read and loved Kirby’s debut novel Moonglass? This had all the makings to make me do a ridiculous happy dance when it arrived on my doorstep.  And that I did.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby was a quick read for me as I immediately found Honor’s devastation thrust upon me and then, once the road trip started, I got to  feeling like I had hopped in the car with Honor & Rusty and settled in for the ride with my hair blowing in the wind & singing along to the classic rock.  The road trip has it’s fun moments for sure but this journey you quickly discover is more focused on the emotional one Honor needs to endure full of hard lessons, facetime with her grief, revelations she doesn’t want to here & opportunities to step outside herself and live.

At times my heart just pained for her, and for Rusty, who shares in her grief. Sometimes it felt like little was happening in this book as a lot of it DOES take place in the car and at stops along the way but then sometimes you felt like when it rained, it poured and I questioned how much more could Honor endure (the storm, the whole police incident & then the big reveal).  It was a pretty emotional read though sometimes the beauty in Jessi Kirby’s books are that they aren’t TOO “heavy” to handle. There is still a lighter feel to them despite the grief and the tragedy surrounding the story. I didn’t get this all consuming feeling where I felt I was being suffocated by the grief  just as the character was like in (one of my favorite books) The Sky Is Everywhere. Whereas The Sky Is Everywhere felt like my heart got run over 50 times over by a cement truck, In Honor pierced and at times stabbed my heart. Still heartwrenching but not to the degree that some teen books about grieving are.  Rusty sometimes creates quite some comedic relief and some of the more swoony moments certainly help to distract.

Speaking of Rusty, knowing that Jessi Kirby is a HUGE Friday Night Lights fan (Texas Forever!!) and many people saying Rusty was based on Tim Riggins (ow ow! Man of my dreams) from FNL, I could NOT read this book without picturing Tim Riggins — which I certainly didn’t mind — but I wonder how I met have felt towards Rusty if I didn’t associate him with Tim– knowing the heart behind the tougher exterior. I mean, seriously Rusty can be a straight up douche sometimes that you wonder why Honor doesn’t kick him to the curb but eventually, like with Tim Riggins, you start to see the mess that lies underneath Rusty and realize his hurt and how mangled that is.

As far as the romance goes,  I’m not sure whether I think there is a true connection there or if I think the romantical aspect was an attraction to someone who understands your grief and it makes you feel better. I couldn’t tell. Maybe that’s why I did find the ending so fitting. Maybe that was the point of it. To not really know in the wake of all these crazy emotions and feelings. But I can’t say I was head over heels for the romance element to this book — I appreciated it wasn’t this instanta-love from the moment they got on the road — it was a slow unraveling of affection that hinted at something more. But I also wasn’t sure I saw what suddenly made her go from bff’s little sister to something more. Was it just that she “grew up” and got boobs? I couldn’t get a sense if there had been something always underlying in their relationship.

My big complaint?  While I really felt for Honor, she never really  jumped off the page for me. I couldn’t figure her out. Which also made me feel weird towards the way she responded to a certain revelation. She seemed to bounce right back from something that would have had me huddled in a ball for days feeling guilt upon guilt and what-ifs. And from what I thought I knew of her, I just expected a different reaction.  The ending really was when I started to kinda feel like I understood where her head was and the fact she had no clue who she was after a HUGE piece of her was ripped away. But even then, unfortunately I don’t think she’ll stick with me the way other characters do when I experience their grief alongside them. I liked her just fine but she just wasn’t fully realized for me.

 

My Final Thought: Between Moonglass & In Honor, Jessi Kirby has definitely grabbed my attention has an author whose works I’ll keep buying.  In Honor has realistic characters that are complicated & have authentic voices, really smooth & accessible writing, romance that doesn’t overshadow other really great parts of the story & a journey that had me grabbing for the tissues but also chuckling and just feeling some sort of togetherness with mankind and the resilience of the human spirit. And I have to say, as much as the ending might make some feel unsatisfied, I rather liked it! This is one to pack in the beach bag this summer, friends!

 

Book Review On A Post-It:

 In Honory Review Jessi Kirby

You May Also Like: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

three-stars

Review + Giveaway: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Instead of hanging out with her friends and having a great summer, Anna’s finds herself in a new town as her dad decides to transfer jobs and move he and Anna to live near the beach where he spent much of his adolescence and met Anna’s mother. The thought of uprooting her life and leaving behind her friends is horrifying but pales in comparison to the memories and emotions to be unearthed in a place where her mother, who died when Anna was young, spent her teenage years. Beach life, new friends, cute lifeguards keep Anna busy but can it distract her from the family secrets lingering in her new town?

Let’s just talk about how I’m ridiculously annoyed that when I read this it was COLD and rainy/snowy here in Pennsylvania. I wanted to read this on a beach somewhere because for whatever reason I really enjoy reading books about the beach AT the beach. Weird, I know! Either way, it was a nice vicarious romp through beach life in Cali. I could almost feel my Casper-y winter skin turning crispy under the sun. I felt as though Kirby did a really great job capturing that summertime/beachy feel without being touristy…if that makes sense…just from the lives of people who actually live in a beach town. 


I was nervous to read Moonglass because any book that deals with a daughter losing her mother always hits me pretty hard as I lost my mom when I was in college and the characters grief tends to resonate deep down within me when done well. And Kirby did this well as I found myself really connecting with Anna and the closure that she needed to find in order to move forward. I thought Kirby wrote Anna’s grief and all of the really tough guilt she carried with her with enough layers to seem realistic and she captured some of those inner moments of grief from Anna’s perspective really well.. I thought the interactions between her dad and her and how they dealt with the memories and the grief felt so realistic to me! It was really refreshing to see a parent so invested in their teen in YA lit. I feel like I’m always wondering where the parents are. Her dad had rules…just like my parents did! Imagine that…


And ok, let’s talk about the romance. CUUUUUTE! I loved Anna and Tyler together and the progression of their relationship. It felt realistic and made my little heart pitterpatter and want to start doodling hearts all over my notebook and shoes with my gelly pens. I loved how he was there for her but didn’t try to be her everything, gave her space and actually respected and was afraid of her dad’s rules. It made me laugh because I could so much of that awkward “Oh no, your dad might see us together” stuff from back when I was a teen. There were some definitely swoony (yet realistic) moments in this book.


All in all, I found Moonglass to be an ideal beach/summer read for me. I don’t like complete fluff for a beach read but I’ve also made the mistake of trying to read things that were far too serious on a vacation such as Night by Elie Wiesel. The seriousness of her grief and all the things Anna learns about her mother is balanced well by her relationship with Tyler, some of the really interesting people she meets and the overall setting of a laid back beach life. It isn’t too emotionally draining to read but you do find your heart breaking quite a bit for her at least by the end. I found myself connected to Anna and her story but it did take me a little in the beginning to invest. I think I would have even been more resistant, in the beginning, to care had I not felt a sort of kinship to Anna with the whole bereavement of a mother factor.

Review On A Post-It:

 



And you all are IN LUCK..the publisher is giving me TWO finished copies to give away on this blog right hurrr. You don’t have to be a follower to enter but you must have a shipping address in the US. Please leave a comment below telling me one of your FAVORITE things about summertime and a way to contact you (email, Twitter, etc) and you’ll be entered! Giveaway ends 5/11.


* I received this book for review as part of the Teen Book Scene for an honest review and was contacted by the publisher for the giveaway.

four-stars
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