Book Talk: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Book Talk: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 2014
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Also by this author: Results May Vary, As I Descended
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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

It’s 1959 and a high school in Virginia is integrating. It’s told from the perspective of two teenage girls — one white and one black — who are in this middle of this fight for integration/segregation. Sarah is a senior and should be enjoying her last year of high school in choir and with her friends but she’s now part of the small group of students that are the first to integrate into the white high school where it’s clear she’s not welcome by all the protests, the assaults and the nasty words being thrown. Linda is also senior and her dad is one of the biggest voices against the integration. The two get paired together for a school project everything they have ever known about themselves and the world feels uncertain.
.

a2My heart. And also, MAN I love historical fiction and want to see even more of it in YA.

a4

1. When I studied history in high school I always wondered what the teens were doing & this book explored that for me: You always are talking mostly about adults in history class but I would always wonder things like, “I wonder what the teens were doing during civil rights or what was it like for them during these wars.” Lies We Tell Ourselves gives me exactly that. Yes, they were being teens and worrying about the dance and relationships and school but they also were very affected and influenced by the current events of the day. We got to see the prejudices they learned from their parents and the media and just how the decisions made by the adults affected them so intensely. I mean, the decision to integrate schools was something that affected the kids more than it did anyone else. They were at the epicenter of that and I loved that we saw just how quizzical teens were and how they explored their own opinions — just as teens do about anything.

2. It broke my heart in a lot of ways and was so hard to read because I knew, while this was fiction, this was a reality: Reading what the black teens who integrated into the white school had to endure just made my stomach hurt and also made me want to hug them all and tell them how brave they were. It’s always hard for me to read about any sort of oppression or injustices in fiction but to read about that 1) REALLY DID HAPPEN and 2) was in recent-ish history and not like hundreds of years ago just killed me. You realize how far we’ve come but also, when I see current events of today, how far we still have to go. Reading the scenes of being mobbed in the halls, having things thrown at them and knowing people wanted you to die shook me up physically. Robin Talley wrote it in such a way where it just reverberated off the pages — the hatred boiling, the fear, the yells echoing. SO real.

3. I really loved watching both characters interact with each other because it felt pretty realistic: You can’t hate Linda — even when she does the wrong thing over and over again and is cruel and obviously racist. At least I couldn’t. So much of coming of age is also figuring out stuff for yourself vs. what you’ve always been told. When your parents believe certain things, they are easily rubbed off on you and that’s what we see with Linda. I loved watching her and Sarah interact and the curiosity that was there in both girls and started crumbling the walls that had been erected by society. Truthfully I thought this was just going to be a novel about two girls navigating a friendship when they weren’t supposed to so I was a little thrown for a loop when I realized it was more of a romantic thing. I think it was a lot to explore in one book considering both prejudices but Robin Talley did it well.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ story, writing, FEELINGS
No real criticism just maybe didn’t feel as head over heels as others despite really liking it.

Re-readability: Probably wouldn’t.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Maybe not for myself because I wouldn’t re-read/it wasn’t a favorite but I want this to be on the shelves of every high school and YA section in the library.

a5fans of historical YA fiction, people looking for fiction dealing with civil rights, readers looking for LGBTQ stories, anyone looking for a powerful story

a8Lies We Tell Ourselves is a powerful story that really reminded me how brave people are and that’s how change happens — standing up for what is right, figuring out WHAT you think is right for yourself and not being afraid to have a voice. Sarah and Linda were two brave characters navigating this battle of civil rights and it really made me wonder about all the real, unknown acts of bravery during this time that helped change happen. I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it!

review-on-post-it

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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 books set in this time period you could recommend me?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Book Talk: Let’s Get Lost by Adi AlsaidLet's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin Teen on July 29, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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
Let’s Get Lost is told from the perspective of four teens who all encounter Leila, a girl on her own journey, in places along her road trip. They all have their separate life happenings and hurts and somehow Leila winds up in their life at the right moment as she’s driving across the United States. She’s kind, is one of those people who shines brighter than the rest, isn’t afraid to get involved in their lives and yet she’s such a mystery. In the process of changing their lives as she’s passing through, the trip she has embarked on just might help her find the answers she’s looking for but in ways she’d never expect.

a2ROAD TRIP NOW PLEASE?

a4Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid was one of my most anticipated 2014 debuts and I’m happy to report that Let’s Get Lost and I were a good match! I look forward to what Adi Alsaid will write next to be honest.

1. This was one of the most exhilarating road trip I’ve been on in a book: It was the type of book where I could feel the wind in my hair, the bass from the road trip tunes buzzing through my body and the open road before me. Lots of adventures, exploring and the adventure of meeting people on the road. Sometimes you had to suspend disbelief but there were lots of crazy shenanigans that happened on this trip and it was EPIC.  It’s the best part of travel — those stories that are of the “totally doesn’t sound true but it really happened” variety and you seriously could relay those stories to the best of your abilities but you’d never be able to convey how you felt when it happened.

2. The way the story was told was just magical: Not only was the prose just delectable but the way it was written was perfect. So we get the POVs of Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia and the main thread is that Leila has met them on her journey and she just jumps into their lives and changes it in her own way. We get about 60 pages or so of their encounter and then the new encounter happens on the road. So we see Leila through their eyes and learn about her through their encounters. But really she’s still an enigma…like we don’t quite have the whole picture. We get bits of pieces of what kind of person she is but we don’t really know anything about her past and what her reason for traveling to see The Northern Lights is especially when she isn’t consistent in her answers. You get to know the other characters, not SUPER well but in the glimpse one would have with someone you might meet on the road, but you know enough to be invested in their story and then we get to HER story. And OHMYGOD. The momentum of the trip and then we learn about her just took my breath away. In my mind I thought I knew something about her story but NOPE. Wrong.

3. This book was thought-provoking as hell: I love books that really make me think about my own life and the world. This one definitely was that kind of book. I have a new mantra to come out of this book (Seize the Tuesday) and I’ve thought a lot about living life actively and what that means vs. what we think it should look like sometimes.

4. My only downfall was the romance and the character attached to the romance: There was a romance and it initially made me go “EH” because it was kind of insta-lovey and I just didn’t GET the attraction so fast — like I could get why he was attracted to her because she shines BRIGHT but I don’t get her interest at all from what we saw. But I’m glad the romance wasn’t the bulk of the story! I will say that this character’s story grabbed my attention the least while the other ones I was SO invested in. (My favorite was a toss up between Sonia and Bree’s stories).

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ beautiful writing, the storytelling, the ability to create this beautiful enigma around Leila and it pays off, FEELINGS, thought-provoking
the romance aspect just didn’t work for me

Re-readability: I would actually…despite knowing Leila’s story. There’s just some really great thoughts in here I want to revisit. Great moments. And I especially want to reread after KNOWING Leila’s story to pick up on things I missed.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? YES!! I need this!

a5people who like road trip novels, people who like thought-provoking and soul searching types of books, fans of contemporary YA,

a8

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid was a journey that left me yearning for my own crazy road trip and doing some major soul searching about Big Life Things all that the same time. Told through snapshots of four people’s encounter with Leila while she passes through town, I found myself desperate to know why Leila’s journey was so important and loved watching how Leila would get entangled in each person’s individual affairs. Like the characters felt the mark of Leila in their life, I found her story to linger well after I finished and I felt so deeply how we are all tethered together in this life and have the ability to make a mark on the people who we encounter — no matter how brief the encounter.

review-on-post-itLet's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

 

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, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* What are some of your favorite road trip books?
* Did you figure out Leila’s story before it was revealed?
* Which was your favorite story out of Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Pawn by Aimee Carter | Book Review

Pawn by Aimee Carter | Book ReviewPawn by Aimee Carter
Published by Harlequin Teen on November 26, 2013
Genres: YA Dystopian
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!

three-half-stars

 

 

 

Kitty Doe lives in a world where a single test determines your rank in life. The lower the rank, the worse the job and life. Kitty receives a III which is not the worst but definitely not a good life and it will send her away from her boyfriend, family and friends. She’s planning on taking matters into her own hands until she’s given an offer — remain a III or take a deal with the most powerful political family and become a VII. The catch? She’ll have to have a surgical procedure, called Masking, that will completely alter her face and she will become Lila Hart — the prime minister’s niece who died, under rather fishy circumstances, and they don’t want the public to know. Kitty will have to become Lila perfectly and learn everything about her to keep up the charade so nobody will suspect that she’s not really Lila. As she learns more about Lila she learns that she wasn’t completely in line with her families political stance and was secretly part of a revolution. Kitty has to figure out whether or not she will go along with the plan she’s been given, and keep her loved ones safe, or go along with the rebellion she really believes in.

I haven’t been reading a ton of dystopian type books recently but I decided I was ready to again so I picked up Pawn by Aimee Carter. I’m happy to report back that it was a pretty strong start to a series — not a favorite by any means but there was definitely something there that absolutely required all my attention and felt like it stood out despite the fact the actual premise didn’t really stand out that much to me and the beginning made me feel like I was right about that. But then surely it developed into one of those twisty, make-your-pulse-race kind of reads with a few shocks along the way.

I thought the world was interesting. You take a test and that determines your class basically and what job you will be given. Unless you are royalty and then you are automatically a VII. Families are only allowed to have a certain amount of children and all the rest go into group homes. People who are born into better situations get better education and in most cases it impacts how you’ll do on the test. You felt that feeling of being STUCK in your situation really easily. I don’t think I was ever super clear on WHY the government was the way it was but I really thought Aimee Carter did a great job creating the political side of things. There was so much corruption and craziness in the political family which made it such a page-turner. Very intense! Seriously, there were crazy things happening — so many attempts on people’s lives, secrets, lies, etc. Definitely the type of read that is the essence of a fast paced read and I felt like I couldn’t figure out who to trust AT ALL.

There was a romance in it and I actually really liked it — they were an established couple so there wasn’t really any sort of drama other than what was happening with Kitty’s test and then the predicament she found herself in. The romance wasn’t the main focus by any means and it just felt natural so I really liked that.

Pawn by Aimee Carter was definitely an exhilarating, twisty read — lots of political craziness, secrets, lies and pulse-pounding action. I liked it, was entertained by it and read it VERY quickly. I can’t explain why I’m not head over heels IN LOVE despite all that but it was a good read and I can’t wait to read book 2 to see where the craziness goes. It stood out enough for me in the genre but I think I needed a little something more for me to be obsessed.

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Let’s Talk: Have you read Pawn? Heard of it/planning to read it? Did you LOVE it? Not like it? Or were you just at a “like” status with it? Did you see ANY of the things coming? Because oh man… me = blindsided most of the time.

three-half-stars

Speechless by Hannah Harrington | Book Review

speechless by hannah harringtonBook Title/Author: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher/Year
: Harlequin  Teen 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series:  No
Other Books From AuthorSaving June

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher at BEA. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Chelsea Knot is popular and she can’t keep a secret — always blabbing everything she knows and spreading gossip around. The last secret she told almost got somebody killed and has turned her into the ultimate social outcast. Trying to learn from her mistake, she takes a vow of silence which alienates her even further at a time where everybody is talking about her and she’s become the target of a lot of bullying. When she meets a girl whom she would never have associated with before, she is befriended despite everything that has gone on, she realizes she might have a chance to be forgiven by people for what she did– if only she could forgive herself first.

This was my pick for book club this month and I honestly didn’t know what to expect but had heard good things about this book and Saving  June. I’m pleased to report that I really liked this book and think it’s going to make for a good discussion! It delved into quite a few issues without screaming “HEY I’M AN ISSUE BOOK” and I felt like it wasn’t a complete “THIS IS WRONG AND THIS IS RIGHT” kind of book either. I felt conflicted sometimes and I liked that.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is your ultimate “popular mean girl gets thrown from her social status and falls hard to the bottom” kind of story. We know the skeleton for this kind of story — the mean girl is cast down from the social heavens and at the mercy of all those people who she treated like dirt or ignored. Chelsea certainly gets that and  more from the people who she used to be friends and with those she ignored — plus, in her  case, the people close with the person who was affected most because of her gossip. I thought Hannah Harrington really made that skeleton of a story into so much more as it chronicles her downfall from queen bee status to biggest social outcast to what she finds out about herself by the end.

The thing that is always make or break for me in these kinds of stories is whether or not I feel like the “mean girl” has truly changed or if she’s just adapted — there’s a difference for me. It’s interesting with Chelsea because it’s easy to hate her early on (I did!) because she’s a serious bitch but I couldn’t help but know I would root for her  at the  moment that she does the RIGHT THING early on — the thing, that for her life, would be the worst thing. Not days or weeks later. Right away. For that, I already felt like I could root for her. You can FEEL how conflicted Chelsea was about her decision after she starts enduring all the harassment and bullying — it WOULD have been so much easier to not do the right thing and she THINKS that. She knows logically she did the right thing but she can’t help but truly wonder. I found that to be incredibly realistic as I’ve been in the same situation knowing that doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest, and doubting yourself, but realizing you had it to it.

I found her whole journey to be believable and real and I really felt her change was authentic — she eventually saw that, at the end of the day, she couldn’t BE like those people anymore if they couldn’t see what was wrong about the situation. Her journey isn’t perfect — she still maintains a lot of her old ways of thinking throughout a lot of it but I saw true growth and could sympathize slowly but surely.  I loved how she saw all of these qualities she wanted to possess, that her old friends didn’t, through this new group of people. Her journey wasn’t easy but I loved taking it with her and watching her grow and realize who SHE is. I REALLY loved the supporting characters she makes friends with as they have so much depth and are just really great characters– Asha and the whole diner crew and of course SAM.

I’ll say I didn’t always quite understand the whole vow of silence and what it meant to her and I wasn’t even sure that she did, but I realized as the novel progressed, that was kind of the beauty of it. I don’t think she set out to do anything profound or enlightening with her vow of silence but she was just processing what happened and was her way of kind of making  a sort of penance and amends even if she knew she couldn’t fix things.

Speechless was a solid read that breathes new life into the “mean girl fall from grace” plot with the way it seamlessly explores the many facets of high school experience — the fickle nature of popularity and social status, the damage of gossip,  the beginnings of finding yourself in an atmosphere that wants everyone to be the same, etc. –and tackles it at a level that goes beyond the superficial surface of it all. The beauty of the novel is that, even far removed from high school, so many of these things that were explored are still so relevant to me and I appreciated thinking about them as I watched Chelsea, a character I didn’t want to like, make this genuine journey — even though the road was quite thorny. Great characters who are full of depth, a story that will captivate and full of really heartfelt messages without beating you over the head with it.

 

 

Speechless by Hannah Harrington review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you feel like her journey was genuine? Who was your favorite secondary character (I LOVE ASHA!!)

 

 

 

 

four-stars

Book Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

Book Title/Author: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry
Publisher/Year: : Harlequin Teen July 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: It’s kind of a standalone but I guess there will be an upcoming novel that continues on with another character becoming the main character from what it seems.
Other Books From Author: None! It’s her debut!

Amazon| Goodreads | Katie McGarry’s Website

The Story

Two troubled teenagers, Echo & Noah, know what it’s like to be on the outside these days. Echo was a popular cheerleader with tons of friends until she came to school mysteriously bearing horrible scars that everybody wonders about but nobody knows what happened — even Echo who has repressed most of the horrible memories from that night that changed her life. Noah has been a ward of the state being bounced around from one bad foster home to the next; separated from his brothers after their parents died.  He’s known as the bad boy who uses girls and he loves to live up to the superlative flashing his bad attitude around school. When the two are forced into each other’s lives by a nosy school counselor, they realize how much they truly do have in common with their haunted pasts and their undeniable, fiery attraction to one another — despite how different they seem to everyone else.

The Review:

I have seen nothing but glowing and dazzling reviews of this book. No really, you’d have to search hard to find a less than stellar review of this heartpounding romance that has set the YA blogging community abuzz. So naturally I had to read it and experience this romance for myself!

This isn’t going to be a “bad” review by any means but I have to be brutally honest that I didn’t fall head-over-heels-doodling-hearts-in-my-notebook-while-daydreaming like everyone else seemed to. I really did enjoy this book — the suspense of finding out the secrets that Echo and Noah harbor, the initial tension and allure of their romantical/sexual tension, the intensity of  Echo’s piecing together of that night but my ONLY PROBLEM was that I was just really not into the romance aspect which is a very, very big part of this book obviously.

Noah made me swoon initially despite the inkling I was getting that this was going to be a “bad boy isn’t really such a bad boy and turns into the majestical Understanding & Sensitive Boyfriend That Was In Him All Along.” I was even down with that. I like a bad boy who just needs the layers peeled back a little bit to realize he’s mostly just misunderstood and broken down. My own REAL love story follows a little bit of that path (not NEARLY as dramatic). It wasn’t that. But here are the two things that made me really just NOT enjoy the romance:

  • Reason 1: GAG. Sorry, I still want to throw up in my mouth a little bit with some of the things that Noah said. I was all into him until he started calling Echo things like “his nymph” (a word I relate too much to Lolita) or “his siren”….I’m sorry, in real life I’d laugh in your face. Maybe Will and I just aren’t big on such mushy pet names for each other so it’s hard for me not to want to crawl out of my skin. I’m aware, it’s probably just a problem with ME. But then he started saying things like this:  “Say the word, baby, and I’ll rock your world.” and many other things that just made me fall out of love with him sadly. It was so corny to me. Too eyerolly for me.
  • Reason 2: Everything just seemed so over the top with them. I liked dramatic love stories but it was just too dramatic  for my liking. It also could go back to how I was already not so smitten anymore with Noah.

Now don’t get me wrong — there are some very good steamy moments and some really cute parts between the two of them but I honestly just wasn’t as invested into their romance as I was their own individual story. I wonder if I would have been had their not been a lot of the corniness and the overabundance of pet names that made me gag.

Aside from the romance, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a quick read with it’s crazy sexual tension and also the riveting unraveling of Echo and  Noah’s past. I LOVED Echo. I really did. And I did love Noah — his story was just so heartbreaking and for the “bad boy” fare in YA he seemed pretty authentic. He just didn’t go changing everything about himself for her — he kept some of those bad habits. And as much as I had issue with his romantical side, I thought he was SUCH a great character. So devoted to his brothers. And Echo’s story was just CRAZY. I was beyond invested in both of them and my heart sunk for both of them in so many places in this book (the mother scene and then again with some of the parts at the end with Noah and his brothers). They were two characters who you easily feel for and who just are more than characters in a story after your done — they really do jump off the pages.

 

My Final Thought

If you like your drama DIZZYING like something off The CW, your boys a little bad and your romance a bit steamier than the usual YA romance…I think you’ll get along quite well with Pushing The Limits. I loved so much about this book (the characters, the INITIAL tension between the two, the way McGarry reveals their past, some REALLY well-done heartfelt moments not even related to their romance) but the romance, and I realize I’m WAY in the minority, was not at all my favorite due to the reasons I listed above and mostly just the first one. I couldn’t get over it. But MOST of the people in the world LOVED it so fear not!

 

You May Also Like: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, The Thing About Truth by Lauren Barnholdt AND if you like the “can’t remember what happened and have to try and remember storyline” — Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (my review) and Forget You by Jennifer Echols

 

Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? What other romances are a little more steamy in books you’ve read lately? I’m dying for some recommendations as most of the romance I read is more on the cutesy swoonworthy side.

three-half-stars
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