The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson | Book Review

The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson | Book ReviewThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- January 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Speak, Chains, Fever 1793, Wintergirls, Twisted, Prom, Catylst
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

book synopsis Hayley hasn’t had the most normal of upbringings — she’s spent most of her time at the side of her dad, a veteran,  as he drove his rig for work but also as a way to escape his experience in Iraq. She didn’t go to school but rather learned from her dad and learned things on her own.  When her dad decides he wants to settle down in his old town and expects Hayley to go to high school, she’s cautiously optimistic that she’ll even be able to fit into a normal life and that this decision will help her dad’s PTSD. She finds out that she’s not so great with math and winds up in detention because teachers don’t appreciate her sass in correcting them when they are wrong. But she also meets Finn. And with Finn she has a chance at some semblance of normalcy as things with her dad become even shakier.

good books to readHuzzah! One of my 10 most anticipated 2014 releases delivered!! The Impossible Knife of Memory just solidifies, in my mind, why Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the best. I’ve read her YA and I’ve read her MG and I just really think she knows how to write a damn good story that always leaves an impression and always makes me FEEL something — not to mention that her writing is divine. The Impossible Knife of Memory was certainly no exception.

It’s definitely not a light and fun book as it tackles some difficult things but it managed to be balanced by Hayley’s humor and irreverent nature (seriously, girl is a firecracker!) and one HOLD-ON-TO-YOUR-BRITCHES-LADIES Finnegan Ramos. (I’ll get to Finn later but he’s tres PERFECT and worthy of swoons). It’s wounding to your heart in a subtle way that creeps up on you and then suddenly has you in a full-on headlock but also manages to soothe you with its bits of hope. As you learn about Hayley’s offbeat upbringing and see her dad struggling with his PTSD and drinking it just grips you even harder and definitely DOES NOT release you until the very end — oh GOD those last couple chapters killed me. You feel for Hayley at how she has to take care of him and how she feels so helpless because she knows he’s getting worse — you can just FEEL the burden of all this but also the love and concern and protectiveness.

I love books that have a focus on a a character’s relationship with their parent and typically the ones I point out are strong but this is one of those stories that paints such a real and stirring dynamic that is actually one of my favorites ever despite how hard it is to read sometimes because of the fractured nature of it. You want to shake Hayley’s dad so much because of  everything going on but you know he’s suffering from PTSD and needs help. Most of my emotions from this relationship came from watching Hayley interact with her dad and take care of him. We get these glimpse of her dad’s memories on random pages but honestly I didn’t feel like it lent much to my view of him like some of interactions and memories did. They just kind of left me feeling I could have done without them. Watching the love Hayley has for her dad and realizing that could not be enough to save him PAINED me.

Finn. I don’t really do the whole “book boyfriend” thing but he is the boyfriend I probably actually would have HAD in high school and I’m staking my claim on him now. He’s got that deliciously nerdy but totally cute thing going on, he’s funny and he’s so, so charming and genuinely sweet and caring. I love how he’s able to break Hayley’s walls down in the most charming of ways despite the fight she puts up being typical Hayley. One of my favorite scenes involves a non-date. Finn and Hayley’s relationship is one that I won’t soon forget because they were both two incredible fleshed out characters and from their very first interactions there was just this energy that I loved. It was playful and wonderful.

book reviewsThe way Laurie Halse Anderson delivers this story is just signature Laurie and it hits all the right notes. There’s a reason she’s one of the Queens of YA and I loved The Impossible Knife of Memory so much! It was powerful and stirring as Hayley settles into a huge transition living in one place with her father as he starts to come more undone because of his PTSD. Quiet, explosive and all around a spectacularly written novel. Also, FINNEGAN, YOU HAVE MY HEART. If you are a lover of realistic fiction that has just incredible depth, get this on thy list!

short book reviewImpossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

books you may also likeWhere Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you read it, what did you think? Was Finn not the cutest ever? Did you bawl at that PART ( you know which one!!) like I did?? I honestly did not know what was going to happen at that point. How does this rank if you’ve read other LHA novels?


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??

 

 

Audiobook Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

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Book Title/Author: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Publisher/Year
: Hyperion 2008
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Nope!
Other Books From Author: The Ruby Oliver series, Dramarama, How to Be Bad, Fly On the Wall

Amazon| Goodreads | @elockhart |

Recommended by the girl whose recommendations I take SERIOUSLY


In the summer between 8th and 9th grade, Frankie transforms from cute debate club nerd at her prestigious boarding school to suddenly having guys take notice of her for her new, more adult-like figure and her witty demeanor. She finds herself in the arms of her senior crush, Matthew Livingstone, and ushered into the world of his fascinating and elite group of friends. As she gets closer to Matthew and his friends, she starts to feel excluded from parts of his world that she can’t enter — an all male secret society that she knows her dad was a part of that has Matthew sneaking off in the middle of the night and pranks happening around campus. Frankie thinks it’s crap that, as a female, she can’t be a part of this group when she knows she could think of more genius pranks so she takes matters into her own hands as she hides her knowledge about the secret society from Matthew and his friends.

On the story itself:

I have always had a weak spot for fancy schmancy boarding school stories and have loved the idea of a secret society since my days of binge watching Gilmore Girls with my college roomie and watching all about The Life And Death Brigade that the (smokin’) Logan was a part of. So immediately the setting of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (and isn’t the title just SO intriguing??), along with the premise of this novel, hinted towards a good time for me.

This book was so fun in terms of the plot. These boys have their secret society and their pranks and Frankie decides she can do better and masterminds her own series of elaborate pranks while keeping up appearances with Matthew and her friends. It’s perfectly paced as you get this perfect balance of her scheming and her just being a normal student/friend/girlfriend that’s trying to be a part of her boyfriend’s world and trying to fit in. You can’t help but cheer her on as she masterminds these pranks, feel tense wondering if she’ll get caught and secretly cringing as she maybe starts to take things too far.

Confession time: I was totally a master pranker in college with my guy friends — we put white mice in the girls dorm below us, launched water balloons at people walking, egged the college vans as they drove from campus to the dorms and captured ducks outside the pond and put them in the common area in the dorms. I had to outrun campus security, fall into a pricker bush and got duck poop all over me. Deservedly so. I’m SORRY, alma mater. I am. So naturally, I was giddy about Frankie’s plotting and pranking and her outwitting everyone!

The real make or break deal of this novel lies in if you like Frankie — which I absolutely loved her. The girl wasn’t perfect by any means but I loved how strong she was and how she wanted to just prove that she could be like one of the guys — I could totally relate to that. She didn’t want to be excluded from the boys club because she had a vajayjay.   I loved how she explored what feminism was and what it meant to her and I think that’s important for girls to think about — what feminism is and looks like lived out. I think she made mistakes and had some skewed views but ultimately she learned a lot about herself. I mean, what 15 year old girl can REALLY know exactly what feminism is and what it looks like in your life. I just loved watching her grow and learn — even when it was painful and you wanted to be like “GIRL YOU ARE ACTING CRAY!” Plus she was sassy, strong and had some majorly awesome pranking skills.

On the audiobook:

This was one of the audiobooks I listened to while working out so my experience was a bit choppy because it wasn’t like it was a long car ride or something. I thought it was easy to follow and the plot worked well in the audiobook form. I didn’t feel like I was too lost and rarely did I have to go back to re-listen to something. The only thing I had a hard time was, and I’m quoting my friend Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks on this, is that the narration kiiiind of “makes Frankie sound like a bit of an asshole” and not as endearing, despite her flaws, as I found her to be. So if you give this a go on audio and you find yourself hating on Frankie, try to switch to an actual book. It might help you but if you are still annoyed — you might just fall in the camp that just doesn’t like her as I alluded to before.

I really enjoyed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks! It was a ridiculously fun boarding school story that not only had some serious mischief & pranking involved but also weaved in the story of a girl trying to figure out her place in the world dominated by men and hold on to her feminist ideals. There are plenty of mishaps and cringeworthy moments as to be expected but I loved Frankie, her spunk & sass and watching her grow!

For Fans Of: boarding school novels, snarky and sassy female characters that show strength without being of the literal “kickass” variety, secret societies

 

frankie-landau-banks

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you enjoy it or have a different opinion than me? What was your favorite Frankie prank? How do you think about Frankie’s notions of feminism? Do you feel like she grew in  them?

Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Book Title/Author: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: The World God Made (children’s picture book)

Amazon| Goodreads |Donna Cooner’s Website

 

 

 

Ever is a fifteen year old girl who weighs over 300 pounds. She’s the girl who can’t fit in the desk at school or who can hear her thighs rubbing together. She already knows what everybody thinks of her — her dad, his wife, her stepsisters, the kids at school and her childhood crush — because of the voice, Skinny, who lives in Ever’s head telling her just how disgusted people are with her. After an incident at school Ever decides she is going to undergo gastric bypass surgery so that she can get rid of Skinny for good and become healthier, show everyone how talented of a singer she is in the school musical and get her childhood friend and crush, Chase, to look at her the same way again. The one constant who has been with her through it all has been her friend Rat who helps Ever try to change her life after the surgery.

I’m not going to lie — I didn’t know what to expect with this one but I’m so glad I read it. Even if you haven’t struggled with weight to the extent that Ever has, I feel like it’s not hard to relate to this novel. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to connect with Ever at first but I quickly realized I could. My struggle with weight was different (I was too skinny and got made fun of for that  up until high school where I become a little more normal weight) but I still agonized over my body. Every day. I saw all the flaws. I can’t imagine what Ever must have gone through. But mostly what I most related to was that voice of Skinny inside Ever’s head. The one telling you that you weren’t smart enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough, not talented enough. It just made me really connect with Ever because I know how unwavering and unrelenting that voice can be. I was really happy I connected with her because it made me super invested in her journey.

Ever was an interesting character. You easily could feel bad for her because of how she got made fun of and because of things that happened but at the same time there were points were I didn’t at all. There were times when I just wanted to smack her and be like OMG ARE YOU BLIND?? As a reader you could see just how much “Skinny” had made her bitter and disillusioned and even selfish. You’ll feel frustrated with her sometimes but I think we all can relate to her to some degree. There were moments of definite heartbreak for me — the school assembly scene or just even the moments when she realized how much her life was going to change post-surgery. I rooted for her through it all — that she’d lose weight, that she’d get the guy, that she’d make real friends and show everyone her amazing voice. As an aside, I LOVED the characters of Rat and Briella!

Her journey — both physical and mental — after the surgery was one that I was so invested in. While it may seem like a dream come true to lose all that weight, there were a lot of things that she had to give up and it was hard. I appreciated that Skinny just didn’t “go away” — that she had to realize that as much as this process was physical it was also even MORE mental than anything. You really grow to love Ever and how she starts to reveal her true self — the one that we saw a little bit through her old memories and some of her humorous commentary. There are still moments in her journey where you know she’s not quite there mentally because she is caring too much about the physical changes and all that it has brought her. It truly was a battle and I didn’t want to put the book down. Sometimes I think it did ring a bit predictable and follow the type of teen makeover story you see in so many movies but it was super compelling nonetheless.

My one qualm with Skinny by Diana Cooner was that, while it didn’t portray this surgery as this magical and easy solution because she clearly had to work at it, I just struggled that it seemed like it was her first real solution. The book talks about how she had tried to lose weight but, to me at least, it just felt like it was some half-hearted attempts rather than really seeking some HUGE lifestyle revamp with the help of professionals and work at it consistently. Maybe that’s just me but that’s the impression I got from where she was at up until the event that led to her getting the surgery — eating bad food, eating big portions, no exercising, just really being content with herself. I wanted some other options more explored. I just don’t want teens to think that it’s the BETTER option than exercise and diet/lifestyle changes that should be really the first thing you try. Obviously that might not work for all but this is such a SERIOUS and extreme surgery so I was kind of hoping that it would talk more about the root of her issues too (obviously her grief was a large part of it & then it just spiraled into an emotional coping mechanism). Especially with her being so young.

Skinny by Donna Cooner was a really good read dealing with self image and that nagging voice inside of your head that whispers all of the things that makes you self conscious or feel like you aren’t good enough through the story of Ever — an extremely overweight teenager who undergoes gastric bypass surgery. Ever is easy to connect with in her highs and lows and I found myself easily immersed  in her journey. I do have some reservations with how she so quickly went to gastric bypass and how her situation is portrayed (explained above) but ultimately it was a really good read with a main character dealing with something that I haven’t encountered too often.

 

You May Also Like: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb; Food, Girls & Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff, Teenage Waistland by Lisa Pazer

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Did you connect with Ever? Did you find that you wished that they would have explored her other options or address the emotional component to the reason why she became that obese like I did?

Review Of Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful Jennifer Shaw WolfBook Title/Author: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher/Year: Walker Childrens – April 2012
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None

Amazon| Goodreads | Author website

I received Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf for review by the publisher for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my opinions. They are all my own.

What’s It About: Allie survives a horrific accident that claimed the life of her boyfriend Trip. Her memory as to what happened that night is gone but she knows it’s better to stay in the past because of the secrets she has kept about their relationship that makes grieving for him complicated. When suspicions arise about what really happened the night of their accident, her small town brings in a big time detective to investigate causing Allie to be even more cautious to keep her secrets guarded as rumors start flying about that night. Allie & her close friend Blake (pegged the town’s bad boy because of his troubled past) reconnect as helps her to cope with the accident  which causes the town to talk. For Allie to move on, she knows she must try to remember that night but with that comes dredging up secrets she’s hidden for so long.

Breaking Beautiful was one of those intensely read books where I would absolutely devour huge chunks of it in one sitting — a lot like stuffing my face at Thanksgiving dinner. Jennifer Shaw Wolf holds you captive by slowly revealing Trip & Allie’s relationship and creating a sense of urgency that Allie feels as she struggles to remember that night. The speculation of what happened that night, at times, seems too much to bear and the author really knew where to hook you and keep you reading as Allie is facing these memories and what they mean. Not to mention, the budding romance between Blake and Allie factors in this mental list of “Things I Need To Know RIGHT NOW, Dammit” along with Blake’s involvement of that night.  The tension of finding out the truth of what happened is what kept me reading. It was done really, really well as the tidbits we got about their relationship, about that night, about who else could have been involved were well placed and the memory loss element was done really well. It didn’t seem manipulative in the way I’ve seen in other cases.

However, despite my eagerness to find out what happened & the raving about this book I saw, it just didn’t hold up for me in other places. I really wanted to LOVE it. I thought I would. But there was just something that held me back from it.  I think Allie herself was part of the problem. The girl is a mess and rightly so. She’s been through a horrible ordeal and has been a punching bag for one of the douchiest guys ever and she’s scared.  So scared. And I get that. I do.  Nobody knows Trip the way she does and she probably thinks nobody will believe her. But it just seemed like she put herself in the OTHER situations in the book (not the abuse part) and just was so MOUSY and timid and I wanted to pull her up and say “DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF, ALLIE.” She just seemed so frozen. I think that’s a good word for her — frozen. There just were a lot of places in the book where I didn’t understand her lack of action, her lack of opening her mouth. I just couldn’t fathom it especially when it affects people you love. And then when she DOES decide to do something, at the end of the story, it seems to me to be one of those most overly dramatic, dumb decisions.  I felt horribly for her but I could never fully wrap my head around her.  ALSO..it seemed like anything that could go wrong WENT wrong and I just felt like there was toooo much going on.

The other thing for me, and  I’ve mentioned before that this happens a lot to me, is that I guessed the “twist” part decently early on and was right. I saw it coming a mile away but in talking to others who have read it — they honestly didn’t guess it! I think it’s just a ME problem but it felt so obvious to me and I was mad that I wasn’t wrong. I love when I’m wrong .

  In the end it was a good read. I did enjoy it, loved the pacing of revelations as it kept me wanting more. I found myself lost in the story for large chunks of time without realizing it. It was emotional on so many different levels — in obvious and not so obvious ways. There were some really great secondary characters that made up for my frustrations with Allie. I just don’t think I LOVED this the way that other people did — could have been my frustrations for Allie, could have been how  it DID drag at times, was overly dramatic at others. Not sure what it was — just felt like I should have been feeling more as it concluded. Something profound. But I didn’t.

 

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

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy NelsonBook Title/Author: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Publisher/Year:  Dial 2010
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None

Amazon| Goodreads | Jandy Nelson’s website

Seventeen year old Lennie has her world rocked when her older sister Bailey (who is also her best friend & partner in crime) tragically dies. Still trying to deal with the aftermath, Lennie tries to continue on with life like everything is normal — like she’s still the same shy, bookworm-y, band geek she always was with little to no experience with boys — but she soon discovers that everything is different. In her grief, she finds herself having feelings for two guys. One is her sister’s boyfriend, Toby, who she shares a connection with that nobody else understands. The other is the new guy in school who always seems to show up where Lennie is. Lennie tries to wade through her romantic feelings while dealing with her immense grief and the huge hole of emptiness she feels with Bailey not around.
This book wrecked me! I’m a glutton for punishment and know that I’m going to feel a lot of things reading any books that deal with grief. When done right, I’m a mess and feel like I’m reliving it all over again.  The Sky Is Everywhere is probably the most poignant,  SPOT ON story of grief that I’ve ever read. It pierced my heart and made me feel sorrow but it was balanced by the beauty of Nelson’s words and the journey of healing and of love Lennie also endures. And the thing is, it’s not all doom and gloom like I thought it was going to be but it was quite hilarious at points in times. Some of the things Lennie said, thought and did made me giggle. Case in point:

Joe smiles an embarrassed half smile at Gram and Big, leans against the counter, his trumpet case strategically held over his crotch.  Thank  God I don’ have one of  those. Who’d want a lust-o-meter sticking out the middle  of  their body?

The Sky is Everywhere is probably one of those most lyrical and poetic books I’ve read recently. If you love savoring beautiful passages that make you take pause before you can move on, you’ll love this one.  I will be honest..I don’t often dog-ear books but there were SO MANY passages that I needed to remember that I just HAD TO. They were either just gorgeous and beautiful passages or those types of passages that really put into words some of my own grief. 

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”

 

or
“According to all the experts, it’s time for me to talk about what I’m going through… I can’t. I’d need a new alphabet, one made of falling, of tectonic plates shifting, of the deep devouring dark.”


There were so many fabulous characters in this book and I really, more than the romance aspect of this book, really loved the relationship between that of Lennie, her uncle Big and Gram. They were just some remarkable and memorable characters and I loved some of the really tender moments Lennie shares with them towards the end of the book. I DID like both Toby and Joe Fontaine and her best friend but I really loved Big and Gram.

I’ll be honest, at first, I was really confused by this really quick romance between Lennie and Joe. Not so much on Lennie’s part — grief seems to do some crazy things in terms of emotions as I myself experienced — but I didn’t really get nor believe that Joe saw anything that spectacular in Lennie or really knew anything of her….at least from what we knew of the interactions. Later on towards the book it made a little more sense to me but I was kind of suspect of it initially. I did end up really finding him quite swoonworthy because he seemed so genuine but it took a little while for me to get there. There love was the sort of aww inducing, stand-up-and-cheer-loudly romances that I love watching! Poor Toby. Poor confused Toby. I didn’t hate him at all. I felt sorry for him — he was carrying some mighty heavy things and both he and Lennie just really misinterpreted the feelings of sorrow and loneliness they had for something else. It was sad to me.

My Final Thought: I really enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere! I’d highly recommend it to lovers of contemporary YA who love lyrical and poetic prose that makes you feel ALL OF THE THINGS and then some. You’ll find yourself just stopping every now and then to savor it. I’ve read a lot of books dealing with grief but this one was honestly one of those most true and genuine stories that just pierced my heart and made me experience the same gut wrenching, inner turmoil that Lennie does. I cried a lot during this book, for a lot of personal reasons, but also because I came to care so deeply for these characters and their pain, their mistakes, their sorrow, their bright speckle of hope become my own.

You Might Also Enjoy: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King

Book Review On A Post It:

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Dash & Lily's Book of DaresTitle/Author: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Publisher/Year: Knopf Books for Young Readers/2010
How I Got This Book: Bought it at the author signing for it!
Why I Read This Book– I needed a non-cheesy Christmas book to read and I heard really good things about this one..and about David Levithan in general. Oh and The Strand is involved!!
Rating: 4 stars

Lily, a perky, Christmas-loving optimist, leaves a notebook filled with clues and a challenge for the finder on the shelves of The Strand after her brother and his boyfriend convince her that she needs to find a guy. Dash, our brooding, Christmas-loathing hipster, finds this notebook at his favorite bookstore–The Strand– and accepts the dare. The notebook takes them all over the New York City during the Christmas season as they accept each others dares and create new ones. They end up finding out a lot about themselves and each other but they have to wonder–is the notebook merely a projection of what they want to find or will they really find love during a lonely Christmas apart from their families?

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares definitely met my requirement as a non-cheesy Christmas pick. It was full of hilarity, wit, love and introspection. I loved the concept and I was eager to see where Lily and Dash would send each other next. Listening to David and Rachel read this and talk about their writing process enhanced my reading experience. The book alternates from Lily to Dash and David and Rachel wrote the book the way that Dash and Lily did the notebook. David would write a chapter and then send it to Rachel and then from there she would write a chapter based on what he wrote. You can just imagine them sitting there, “Oh yeah..you sent me to MACY’s..guess where I’m sending Lily next!?”

A really bad pic of me at THE STRAND!

I really liked the characters. Lily reminded me of a less annoying version of perky Rachel Berry from Glee–with a less polished look. Dash reminded me of your typical hipster boy who thinks is way too cool and has exceptional taste in everything. I liked how the notebook allowed each of them to let their guards down and drop the facade. My one gripe with the characters is that Dash just didn’t seem believable to me sometimes. It was some of the conversations he would have–particularly the one he had with Lily’s aunt at her house (or grandmother..I forget?). It just seemed a little too contrived and I couldn’t really see anybody talking like that to an adult–especially a high school boy. However, Dash was always the type of guy I wanted back in the day–intellectual, deep, hip, etc. so I’ll still love him.

I loved that they were opposites because my boyfriend (of four years) and I are totally the same way. We shouldn’t fit together–not at all. Any matchmakers or dating services would have never in a million years put us together. As Dash and Lily learn, it’s not always easy to work through those differences and doubts and sometimes it can become downright frightening to try and figure out how you really feel and what you are looking for. It’s a messy and complicated process. Looking realistically at what they knew of each other through the notebook, I’m not quite sure I believed that they were that invested in each other. It moved a little quick but I can understand how that is. It reminds me of back in high school and early college when you were getting to know a guy and you’d chat until all hours of the night on AIM and you’d analyze everything said and smile and squee when he showed interest or said something cute. You’d feel yourself falling for him in his clever answers to your questions and feel like you knew him SO well. And then, for me, I’d get to know him and he wasn’t that charming or perfect; just really good at writing the right thing. I guess I probably wasn’t either. Anyways, I digress, but their affection for each other came so out of the blue for me but I kind of just equated it to the above experiences. *spoiler-ish* I mean, they came together and realized that the other one wasn’t perfect despite what they built them to be but they were ok with that and started from there.

My final thought: If you want a non-cheesy Christmas book to simultaneously help you release some of that Christmas tension by laughing a lot and thinking about what it is to love, give this a try. It certainly isn’t a mushy romance but I think it captures some of the wading through murky waters you have to do in a courtship. Dash and Lily will be memorable characters that will have you rooting for their love immediately. It will be a story that is as sweet as all that overpriced, commercialized candy will taste on Christmas morning. Hey, I’m just channeling my inner Dash after a long day of Christmas shopping and feigning Christmas cheer as I get bumped around by crazy Christmas shoppers and cranky inhabitants of the long lines.

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