Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis | Book Review

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnisBook Title/Author: Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher/Year
: Katherine Tegen Books – September 24th 2013
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Series: As of right now, no, but I’ve heard possibly?

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

 

 

 

In Lynn’s world water has been scarce for many years. Her whole life revolves around surviving and defending the pond in her backyard — her source for survival — at any cost. The pond seems to be getting lower and lower thanks to droughts and winters that bring barely any snow and the threat of other people to the pond seems to be incoming when Lynn and her mom see smoke on the horizon and these strangers start to show their intentions.

I LOVED this book — like head over heels, can-I-buy-you-a-drink-you-sexy-thang type love. I’ve been yearning for a really amazing survival-esque story that wasn’t driven by anything paranormal or science fiction but by something that could really, actually happen. And friends, DING DING DING…we have a winner!

Mindy McGinnis did an amazing job setting the scene in this terrifying, dangerous world You can feel all the threats looming around Lynn and her mom as they protect their pond and try to survive — coyotes, strangers who want to overtake them for their pond, purifying water, keeping warm in the winter, etc. The day to day activities that Lynn and her mom had to do EXHAUSTED me. I can’t even imagine having to do all that work all the time and always be alert and on your game to make sure nobody is coming your way. It’s just Lynn and her mom and Lynn’s been taught to kill anybody who comes near the pond. The survival aspect of this novel felt totally raw and I just loved all the detail that went into it. It was all about survival.

I really adore Lynn as a character — she’s got smarts and skills — and she’s one of the truly strongest characters I’ve encountered in a while. There’s another character, Stebbs, that emerges in the novel that I REALLY loved and, as much as I loved Lynn, I loved this character to pieces. There are few characters in this novel but they all make quite an impact.

As much as I loved the characters and the survival aspect what I loved most about Not A Drop To Drink is this exploration of the mentality and the morality between what it takes to survive in this world. We see two very different mentalities in this novel — one person is all about the survival of the fittest and taking care of yourself and your family and then we see another character emerge (my favorite!) who believes that maintaining our humanity and helping one another is how you are going to survive. It was so well done and felt so authentic to what would really happen in this type of situation and made you wonder how you would act in a world like this where not everything is black and white.

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis is a frightening and raw story of one girl’s survival in a dangerous world where water is scarce and it is her job to protect the pond that keeps her alive from those who want to take it away from her — at whatever cost. I’ve been itching for a real, bare bones survival story and Mindy McGinnis all but served it up to me on a silver platter. I loved the exploration what it takes to survive in a situation like this — the mentality behind survival and that morality that makes us remember our humanity. It reminded me a lot of The Walking Dead and how it so aptly explores that very issue with morality, survival and how we keep our humanity.

 

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis book review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis? Heard of it? Did you love Stebbs as much as I did?? I’m curious if you have any other recs that are really great survival type tales?

five-stars

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith | Book Review

Wild Awake by Hilary T. SmithBook Title/Author: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Publisher/Year
: Katherine Tegan May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None

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

 

 

 

Kiri’s parents are cruising around the world for most of the summer — leaving Kiri alone to devote her time to playing piano, practicing for Battle of the Bands and hanging out with Lukas — her best friend and bandmate and maybe something else. Her summer plan is in full swing until she gets a mysterious phone call that brings her into a seedy part of the city to retrieve some stuff that belonged to her older, and now deceased, sister whom she looked up to. Her perfectly planned summer suddenly spirals into something she couldn’t have planned for as she learns the truth about her sister’s life, relives her loss over again and meets someone who helps her to live and learn to be free.

OH MAN. This is easily one of my favorite reads of 2013 and I think it could be a pretty high in the most memorable FOR LIFE category. I read it back in February, did my Save the Date for it and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I just keep longing to reread it so I can just absolutely lose myself in the beautiful prose (and of course Kiri’s story). It’s one of those books that made remember me why I love words. Hilary T. Smith just has this ability to just light them on fire and let them explode in my heart. It’s got the sort of lyrical, dazzling prose that makes me dog-ear pages like mad. (You know dog-earing is my dirty little secret..shh).

quote2

It’s not just that Hilary T. Smith’s writing is something pretty. It’s that she writes in a way that makes you FEEL everything. The writing matches the energy that Kiri exudes. It’s chaotic, frenetic and sometimes deliriously mad. The writing in Wild Awake is vivid and definitely is more of in Kiri’s head and just streams onto the pages from it. Everything Kiri feels is INTENSE — her joy is so high and her sadness just plunges — and that energy just pulses through you and holds you captive. Even the CITY Kiri is traveling around in just felt ALIVE. I noted back in February that her writing reminded me a bit of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, a hint of Jandy Nelson’s THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE and a good dash of some of my favorite Aussies like Cath Crowley or Melina Marchetta.

I feel like I’m talking a lot about the writing in this review but it’s the way it is written that makes Kiri’s story so stunning. The plot itself was quite interesting and moved well enough. I thought it was going to be a very straightforward, cute contemporary novel but this is not what you are going to get, just so you know. As Kiri learns more about her sister she plunges more into her grief and chaos — getting lost in her own head. Her story is electric and the writing is what makes it feel so special.  Written without the sort of qualities Hilary T. Smith infuses, I think it wouldn’t have had SUCH an effect on me. It would have been a good story but the plot is so much wrapped up in the writing and the very unusual and alive Kiri. I loved the people she met along the way on her journey though I can’t say the romance was swoonworthy for me but I really LIKED it in the scope of the novel.

It was a very emotional book in a lot of unexpected ways and in unexpected places. It’s so hard to read sometimes because you feel Kiri and her story weighing on your heart and you are watching her be reckless, obsessive and mad as she is learning the truth about what happened to her sister. Losing a sister is obviously emotional but Wild Awake had quite a few scenes that took me by surprise and were extremely tear inducing for me unexpectedly. It wasn’t obvious but the crying just visceral. That book was like a magnet attracting my tears to it. I also wanted to rage a lot at her parents and sometimes at Kiri herself. It’s intense to read about someone having this breakdown but to really FEEL it while you are reading? WOW.

However, as I noted back in February, this book is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea BECAUSE of the writing. It makes me sad but I accept it to be true. Some people also, as the reviews started coming in after my Save the Date, brought up the use of marijuana in this novel and, I gotta be honest, it didn’t bother me. It felt real, rather than gratuitous or for shock value, and it seemed to me Kiri was just trying to FEEL something other than what she was feeling. I saw some reviews that felt all the “madness” was a result of her being high and I 100% feel differently about that. It goes beyond that.

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is ONE OF MY FAVORITES THIS YEAR!! If you like vivid, dazzling prose that matches the energy the character exudes in all its frenetic and chaotic glory definitely give Wild Awake a chance. It definitely was a special novel to me and not at all what I was expecting which was a cute albeit a little emotional, straightforward contemporary novel about a sister finding out some secrets about her deceased sister. Sure, that’s what it is about but it is SO MUCH MORE. If you loved  The Sky Is Everywhere or the writing style of Aussie authors like Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley etc I’d say you might like this, too!

 

 

 Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
And because this book is just so quoteable another quote:

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Let’s Talk:

five-stars

The Ward by Jordana Frankel| Book Review

The Ward by Jordana FrankelBook Title/Author: The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Publisher/Year
: Katherine Tegen Books – April 30th 2013
Genre: YA Dystopian — I don’t know quite how to categorize it.
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in a series.
Other Books From Author: None.

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

 

 

 

 

Manhattan has been washed out and street racer Ren lives in the Ward, the part that still remains of the underwater city, and risks her life racing to make money to take care of her sister Aven who suffers from the Blight — a horrible disease that came about because of pollution for which there is no cure. When the government asks Ren to go on a mission to find freshwater she puts herself in danger at the prospect of having more money to take care of Aven but what she finds is beyond what she could have ever imagined initially and pulls her into a mystery that could have a significant impact but deadly consequences for her.

This was one of my most anticipated books for the season because of the interesting premise, but I have to be honest, I was overall very disappointed and frustrated with this book. It had SO MUCH POTENTIAL but I spent the majority of the time either confused or frustrated or skimming over parts due to the world building and  the way some things were written — which was really sad because I was so excited and some good friends LOVED it. Within the first 100 pages I was ready to put it down because it wasn’t doing anything for me but I kept going and eventually I was hooked on the storyline and wanting to find out what the heck was going on but I was still weighed down with the same problems the whole way through.

One of the biggest problems for me was that I just couldn’t picture the world at all which is pretty rare for me. I go to NYC frequently so in my head I constructed what I thought an underwater city would look like but there were paragraphs of descriptions and I just really had a hard time SEEING it. There were also times that I just could not envision a specific scene, like a racing scene or an action scene, and it just completely drew me out of the action a lot of times because I felt frustrated that I couldn’t follow along with what was going on. I would read over paragraphs and literally have no clue what happened or feel like I missed something and then I’d read over it again but still felt lost. This is not a problem I typically have — the writing just felt kind of shaky and scenes felt kind of jumbly to me.

The other issue I had was that I didn’t understand the world. I’m a patient reader so I know I’m not going to GET a world right away and I’m good at suspending disbelief but the world building just lacked for me. We got once sentence of WHAT happened that made NYC under water and a little bit of explanation for what the Blight was but that was about it. I couldn’t understand WHY people were still living there if the city flooded? I kept thinking that people wouldn’t be inhabiting this place if something like this really happened so I couldn’t understand the circumstances in which people were living here still and I didn’t see any explanation in the text. I felt frustrated with a lot of questions that didn’t get answered. Part of that could be because maybe they became irrelevant to the plot? I think I expected more of a post apocalyptic sort of novel where we’d get a good sense the world but instead we were plunked into the story in a world with little explanation. I think we aren’t super far into the future but then I see a reference to 2054 and then I see references to boundaries and things that are supposed to be States and they aren’t like our world but we aren’t given any insight to why things were different now. What happened? I could buy it if I understood any of it. There was just A LOT there and little foundation.

Obviously I kept reading  because the plot did really start to get good and I just wanted to know ALL OF THE THINGS. There were some great twists  and a total magical sort of element that I didn’t see coming at all. There were betrayals and secrets and I was genuinely interested because it all became very entertaining. I loved that Ren was badass and a fearless racer with all the guys. I liked her enough and rooted for her and sometimes she made me laugh.  Other times she really bothered me but overall she was a good character. I loved how she cared so much for her “sister.”

 

While action-packed and thrilling with a really fresh and unique world, The Ward by Jordana Frankel unfortunately ended up just not doing it for me. It had a lot of potential but the world-building didn’t live up to what I imagined and the writing seemed kind of shaky and jumbled making A LOT of scenes hard to visualize and made the setting not quite as interesting as it could have been. I’m really sad about this because I was SO looking forward to it and many friends really enjoyed it but, unfortunately for me, the problems I had with it pulled me out of the story A LOT and I often felt frustrated or confused which severely put a damper on my enjoyment of the plot which really went in some interesting directions and kept me furiously turning the pages at points.  I probably will not be reading the sequel unless I hear that the things that bothered me got better because, like I said, the story DID interest me enough.

 

The Ward by Jordana Frankel review

 

Don’t just listen to my opinion! My friend Alexa said The Ward by Jordanna Frankel was “a pretty fantastic debut novel” and Rachel recommends it as well!

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Was I just the only one who could not visualize a lot of scenes that happened or the setting in general? I mean, I honestly would read paragraphs 2 or 3 times and still not feel totally clear and that is NOT USUAL for me. What did you think of the more magical twist that came up in the novel? I initially was not down with it but then it became interesting.

two-stars

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley | Book Review

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz ColeyBook Title/Author: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Publisher/Release Date
: Katherine Tegan Books – March 19th 2013
Genre: YA Mystery, YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author:

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

The last thing Angie remembers is being thirteen and at Girl Scout camp. When she finds herself in front of her house with no memory of why she’s standing there, she finds out from her very shocked parents that she’s actually been missing for 3 years and is no a sixteen year old. Angie has no memory of the last three years at all. She struggles to make sense of what happened and tries to remember and piece together the mystery of her kidnapping and captivity while trying to reintegrate back into her normal life — but her psyche is making that very hard.

I went into Pretty Girl-13 knowing it was going to be a pretty intense book — after all I saw a blurb saying it was reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case and I knew of her story of being kidnapped as a young teen and eventually found so I knew that sort of storyline was going to not be a light read. I was definitely right. Pretty Girl-13 had my attention from the start. Liz Coley immediately begins it in a way that unsettles and intrigues and the questions started flooding to my brain. Who did it? How did she escape? Why can’t she remember? What happened in those 3 years?

I have to applaud the way Liz Coley unraveled this mystery with, what I thought, was perfect execution. The mystery of who abducted her is weaved together with a psychological mystery too — why is her own mind shutting her out and causing her to not remember where she was for 3 years?  We get some pieces here and there and things are revealed in a way that just makes you hunger to know more and turn the pages faster. Sometimes we are learning things along side with Angie and sometimes we are meant to understand and piece things together before she does and have to experience her painful journey to figure out the tidbit we just figured out. It took me a little bit to get into it and figuring out who was narrating because there is the story and then there are these pages in italics but you quickly figure it out and understand what is going on. But even with that..it made me even MORE intrigued and once you start to understand a little bit of WHAT is going on with her mental state it makes a ton of sense and becomes this page-turning mystery that I honestly had a hard time putting down.

I was a little scared as to HOW intense this book would be because I’ve read some kidnapping stories before and, even though they are all equally hard, some are way more graphic and disturbing than others. This one is quite disturbing — there is sexual exploitation — but it never went to the graphic side. All of the sexual abuse that I remember was very much alluded to or “behind the curtain” so to speak. The psychological aspect of this was absolutely fascinating. I don’t want to give too much away (because I think this is a good book to go in somewhat blind to)  but it was absolutely riveting and frightening to me.

Pretty Girl-13 was one of the most gripping stories I’ve read in a while. Angie’s story of being kidnapped and returning home with no memory of the last three years was riveting, chilling and made my heart heavy but also appreciate the ability of the human spirit to triumph and be courageous against all odds. The mystery of her abduction and the psychological state she is in was revealed in a way that made it impossible to put it down! It’s definitely not a light read and will twist your insides around but I really recommend it if you are okay with something a bit darker but not graphic or explicit.

 

 

Pretty Girl-13 Liz Coley Review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Think it sounds like something you’d like to read? What did you think if you have read it? Did you find the psychology part fascinating like I did?  Have you read any other kidnapping stories? They intrigue me but are super hard to read! I can’t imagine being a parent and having this happen or being the child and being ripped away and abused.

four-stars
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