3 May/June Releases I Read

Summer has been busy and my attention span has been that of a gnat to actually sit down and write a ton of book talk type stuff. So mini review time for some books that were released in May and June that I just really would like to talk about sooner rather than later.

Made You Up Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

About In A Sentence (ish): Alex is starting a new school her senior year after an incident that got her kicked out of her last school. She wants to make it through the year with no trouble which is hard considering she has schizophrenia — something she tries to keep to herself and she’s trying to keep in check until she meets a boy who looks like someone from her hallucinations.

Thoughts: This one was really interesting as the main character is a little bit unreliable to us as readers. She has schizophrenia so as things are happening within the story you are constantly wondering if it is real or not real. I really loved Alex and how tough she was. I could feel how frustrating it must be for her to be unable to always decipher reality from delusion but I loved the ferocity in which she lived in spite of that and how she really tried to take control of it in her own way. I loved her so much and my heart broke for her in those moments where she was so confused no matter how much she tried to manage it. There’s a pretty great cast of characters in general — like Miles, the love interest — and I just couldn’t put it down because of my desire for Alex to persevere and to find out what is real/not real especially with some conspiracies. There is a moment, a thing that I guessed and ultimately turned out to be true, and the realization of that moment just broke me down. Made You Up was just a very fantastic read that I recommend. I can’t say how accurate its portrayal of schizophrenia is but, to me, I found Alex’s schizophrenia to feel so real and like while a big part of her…it didn’t at all DEFINE her.

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Devil You Know By Trish Doller

About (in a sentence-ish): Cadie has spent a lot of her time going to school, working and taking care of her dad and sister so when she has a chance for adventure with two boys she meets at a campfire she takes it. All is fun until it’s not because one of the boys might not be what he seems.

Thoughts: This is the saddest thing — to not mark a new book by a favorite author as a new favorite book — which is not to say I didn’t like it. I loved Trish’s first two books but I didn’t LOVE this the way I loved them. I think it’s more of a “me” issue and my deal with mystery/thriller/suspense kind of books. Unless I’m shocked or the mystery is super elaborate or all sorts of mindf*ckery, it never gets like super high ratings. If I completely guess it without any wavering or found it to be obvious, no matter how objectively good the book is (which I can still enjoy those parts), I have a hard time rating it high because it kills some of the enjoyment for me. While it got super creepy and twisted at times, I didn’t find it to be all that mysterious or hard to crack what was going on. I didn’t feel the suspense or exhilaration to because I was certain what was going on  even though I DID fly through this book. I just kept waiting for something to happen to make me be like WOW OKAY but in the suspense/thriller department it didn’t.  But what it didn’t do for me there,  there was so much GOOD. It had Trish Doller’s signature writing which is always so fantastic and a main character who is just SO complex plus she owned her sexuality and her life choices which I loved. I loved reading about her family dynamics and could feel the weight on her shoulders so I just so understood her desire to just be free and a bit reckless when she gets the chance to do something that ignites the desires of her heart that have been kind of locked away. I’m sad I can’t give this higher marks but it just didn’t make me fall in love like her other books Something Like Normal and Where The Stars Still Shine.  All the things I found great about it are so typical of those books…I think it just comes down to the genre being a hard one for me.

Rating

 RATING-LIKED

 

 A Sense of the Infinite Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

About In A Sentence-ish: Annabeth and Noe have been best friends for years and even have planned their future endeavors together until Noe starts dating a guy and their friendship shows signs of drifting apart at a time when Annabeth needs Noe because her personal life is complicated and doesn’t know what to do without her.

Thoughts: What a great and complicated book about friendship! I’m all about books that have really strong friendships but I also really love ones that explore that fragile nature of friendship and those friendships that slowly start to crumble as two people go in different directions life-wise but still want to hold on for whatever reasons. It was such a great portrait of a friendship breakup, especially a really like exclusively close bff duo, and Annabeth’s story was really compelling to me especially with her family dynamics and secrets. Plus Hilary T. Smith’s beautiful prose strikes again! I loved Wild Awake and I could tell she was a talented writer, and while very different kind of style compared to Wild Awake, it’s equally as stunning. I will probably write a whole post devoted to all the things this book brought up re: friendship soon!! It’s a quieter contemporary YA but it explores a lot of things very poignantly.

 

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller | Book Review

Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller | Book ReviewWhere The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Something Like Normal, Made You Up, The Devil You Know
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!

four-half-stars

 

 

 

Callie has been on the run with her mom for ten years when her mom picked up and left her dad. She doesn’t remember much of her dad and only knows what her mom tells her. Life with her mom hasn’t been at all normal — she never went to a real school, she wanders around whenever she wants, she takes care of herself and she and her mom pick up and leave whenever things go south with one of her mom’s men. When they hit the road again, this time Callie’s mom is arrested for her kidnapping and Callie is sent to live with her dad and his new family. Callie is thrust back into this town she doesn’t remember, a dad she barely knows and a big Greek family she never got to know and she struggles to fit into it all, have a relationship with her dad and let herself love.

I read Where The Stars Still Shine in August and I’ve really struggled to put pen to paper when it comes to this story because it was literally flawless for me. You know I loved Something Like Normal when I read it back in February and I declared Trish Doller a new favorite contemporary author based on that book alone and Where the Stars Still Shine really solidifies that for me. Trish deserves more recognition and if you EVER listen to me when it comes to a great contemporary YA book…PLEASE let it be this one! PLEAAASE!

I knew I was in trouble immediately when early on I started to cry and my emotions didn’t stop there. I kept crying so much that I had to keep dunking myself underwater at the pool so nobody could notice all the tears streaming down my face. Callie’s life is ROUGH and you learn early on that her mom’s irresponsibility and flighty behavior has really affected her. It was so hard to read about her life and everything she’s had to go through and all the things her mom said about her dad. The most EMOTIONAL part for me was definitely when she was reunited with her father and then all the triumphs and missteps in them trying to have a relationship.

The biggest part of the book for me, even though the romance was quite lovely, is all about family. We see Callie’s relationship with her mom at first and her mom is someone you want to hate for everything she’s put Callie through — the lies, choosing men over her and just being altogether irresponsible. Callie’s dad? One of my new favorite parents in YA! There were so many touching moments that included him and I definitely cried a lot on his behalf also. It was so emotional and the way Trish wrote him really made you love him.

Aside from him there was Callie’s cousin and her huge Greek family and I just really began to love these characters so much and wanted Callie to feel accepted and like she was a part of this family. The family aspect of this novel was written perfectly as Trish really contrasts Callie’s life with her mom with this new family. It’s SO easy to see where Callie struggles but as a reader you just want her so badly to accept their love even though you UNDERSTAND her issues.

Callie is a memorable character that I just wanted to hug. I loved her relationships with so many people in this novel — familial and romance. I felt her journey and growth was admirable and I didn’t want the pages to end at all. I wanted to be sure she would be ok because that girl has been through a lot. Her whole journey from the time she set foot in the car with her dad felt believable and I could GET why she had a hard time feeling like she fit into this new life with her dad and his new family after ten years of being with her mom.

Everything about this book was flawless for me. I literally can’t think of one thing about it that could have been better. Trish Doller wrote a story that made my heart explode into pieces so small they shouldn’t have been able to been able to be put back together — but somehow she managed to put them back together with a moving story of family, second chances, love and facing your future despite your past. If you like amazing character development that feels incredibly real and makes you feel emotions so fiercely, pick this book up. The plot was immediately interesting to me and the characters just took it and ran and I didn’t want to pull myself out of the story because I was so immersed in it. Such a COMPLETE story that reminds me of why I love reading!

Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Where the Stars Still Shine? Heard of it? What did you think of it if you’ve read it? Agree/disagree with me?

four-half-stars

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal by Trish DollerBook Title/Author: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publisher/Year
: Bloomsbury June 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Series:  No!
Other Books From Author: Debut title. Her next book, Where Stars Still Shine, is slated for September 2013.

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received Something Like Normal as a gift from a friend.

 

Travis has spent a year in Afghanistan as a Marine and comes home on leave to find that everything is different — within himself and around him. He struggles to adapt to being home with a new perspective and feeling the full weight of the death of his best friend and fellow Marine. He’s haunted by those memories of Afghanistan and is confronted by the changes in his parent’s relationship, his ex-girlfriend dating his brother and the way his life is just so far from normal now and how his time in Afghanistan has changed him. It’s not until he runs into Harper, a girl who he’d wronged in middle school, that he starts to enjoy his time home and starts to face all of the things he’s not allowed to bubble to the surface — the death of Charlie, the cracks in his family and the reality of post traumatic stress.

WOW! Let me just start off by saying…if you are a fan of realistic YA fiction, you MUST read this! It’s an example of what I love in realistic YA and, while I don’t attach stars to my reviews because they are so complicated for me, I can tell you, WITHOUT A DOUBT, Something Like Normal has garnered 5 stars from me! One of the best books I’ve read so far in 2013 and it seriously is a gem! I just can’t say enough good things about this book and I feel like my review will never do it justice.

Something Like Normal had one of the BEST male POVs ever — right up there with Adam from Where She Went. It was so fresh and felt like a genuine male perspective — you’ll want to punch him at times, hug him and probably date him. So many times I’ll read a male POV and feel perplexed because it doesn’t feel like ANY guys I know…especially not a teenager..but never once did I feel like this. Travis’ voice, in general, was just one that is so memorable and I adored him and his story.  I can’t imagine how he felt coming home from Afghanistan and how changed your perspective is from what you’ve seen and experienced — especially the death of a close friend. My only reference for understanding that is after my mom had died. Suddenly I just didn’t see things the same way and it was hard to operate as normal. You start to see things as more/less important than they were. I think Trish Doller did an amazing job showing the difficulty of a soldier coming back into his normal life and it made me care and think a lot more than I ever have about our soldiers to be completely REAL with you.

While a slim book, the story Something Like Normal tells descended into the depths of my heart and I’m not quite sure it will ever leave. The fullness in which I felt every emotion, the intensity of every heartbreaking scene and the pure and true LOVE I had for these completely special yet flawed characters — Travis, Harper, Travis’ mom, Charlie, Charlie’s moms — is not something that is so easily shaken off by starting another book as is often the case for me. I can’t say I’ve read a book that has affected me like this in a while. My heart swells with a myriad of emotions as I think about this book and is a tribute to Trish Doller’s undeniably beautiful words and ability to make a story not just a story but to transcend into an experience. Not just words on a page but that rare experience where those words seep into your bloodstream and circulates the whole of your body leaving no organ nor piece of tissue untouched.

Your heart is in very capable hands, friends. Something Like Normal is, without a doubt, one of the best contemporary books I’ve ever read and one of my favorite romantic relationships ever as it is beautiful but also flawed as it blossoms (and I loved Travis’ relationship with his mom just as much!). Straight up DAMN AMAZING. Travis’ story will move you and will make your heart soar (and your eyes will experience this phenomena wherein they leak water…). Beautiful, honest and a real stunner of a novel. I will not stop singing praises for this book and I am calling it now — Trish Doller is going to be one of THOSE authors who be a staple in the contemporary YA world. Keep your eye on her! I am excited for what is to come based on the special experience that is Something Like Normal.  New favorite author alert for me!

 

For Fans  Of: straight up excellent realistic teen fiction, a great male POV, an “older” YA book, beautiful stories that balance tenderness with the brutal and raw things life throws your way, those “more than real” characters, a romance that is beautiful yet flawed as it blossoms

something-like-normal-trish-doller

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it?  If you read it, did you love it or feel differently than me? I want to know so we can discuss! Did you cry like a baby like I did at a certain PART at the end? And then again at a part with his mom? As a sidenote, I’m curious if you would consider this novel “New Adult”? THIS is pretty much what I envisioned when I heard of NA — before we knew much about it.

five-stars
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