Book Talk: No Place To Fall By Jaye Robin Brown

Book Talk: No Place To Fall By Jaye Robin BrownNo Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut novel!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Amber has always been the good girl — the ones that stayed on the straight and narrow and who was determined to get out of her small town. But she hasn’t always felt really ALIVE until she starts going up to a hiking hangout spot with her best friend Devon where she gets to be whoever she wants and meet people who are just passing through. That feeling from the summer follows her into the school year and she starts to make some choices that make her wonder if she’s that good girl everyone thinks she is. She also pursues an opportunity that would take her out of this town and away from her problems in the form of a music program at a high school for the arts in a big city a couple hours away and the boy who helps her practice makes things even more complicated in her life.

a2That one really grew on me! And awww at the ending!

a4This one grew on me! I was thinking it was alright at first and then I got to a point wherein I’d go to read for 20 minute before bed and suddenly I was done with half the book. Repeat the next night. By the time I finished I could feel my rating meter down below moving up a bit.

1. I loved the small town setting and think the author NAILED it: You might not know this about me but from the time I was born until 7th grade I grew up in a VERY small town in the middle of nowhere, PA and it felt so much like this town. I’m not saying ALL small towns are like this..but this nailed my old town — from the way everyone knows each others business, to the way they speak/some narrow thinking, to the hopeless/stuck feeling one can feel especially when they have bigger dreams, etc. Some of the characters could have absolutely been people I knew. It kind of made me sad thinking about the girls I knew who ended up like Amber’s sister and feel trapped. But as much as it made me feel sad for some of the people who got too caught up in the things of a small town, I love that it gave me the warm and fuzzies about small town livin — I always wanted to get out of there and I felt so superior when I did…and then suddenly as an adult when I’d go to visit my dad I began to appreciate a small town! I really related to Amber in that way and I’m proud of my roots!

2. The romance was so cute: It’s a romance trope I always kind of love when I see it — the best friend’s older brother. Maybe it’s because I totally had a crush on a best friend’s brother? PERHAPS. I loved Will (and hey he shares a name with my husband so even better) and I loved their relationship even though I know that there’s something in this book that might make people not ship them. It’s something I HATE but I don’t know…I think I’m a little more forgiving in high school about it because it’s that time to make bad decisions/mistakes, learn and grow.

3. I loved this exploration of how our mistakes define us: So in this book, Amber makes a BIG colossal, totally not HER decision. She knows it’s wrong and immediately regrets it. But this thing…it makes her question what kind of person she is and if she’s just going to end up destined to become this person she didn’t want to be. I loved that her mistake had BIG consequences and felt like it was handled very realistically. As a reader, you are like WHAT ARE YOU THINKING WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS. It made me think of how many times in my life I’ve had some bad judgement calls that were not in line with who I was/thought I was.

4. FAMILY MATTERS: As someone who has had a semi-dysfunctional family at various points through my childhood and adulthood, I could relate! I loved watching some of the family issues play out even though they made my heart ache. It all felt so realistic and well done!

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+
-

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or I’d reread it, no.

a5readers who want small town settings, readers who like main characters who are into music (lots of music in this book!), readers who don’t mind main characters who are flawed and get into some messy situations, contemporary YA readers who like a balance of cute and serious

a8

While I wouldn’t say it was a book that really moved me, I really enjoyed the ride. I definitely grew to enjoy it more and more as I progressed and the plot really started to come together. I enjoyed the themes present in this novel and the setting tremendously. I definitely thought this one was going to be a bit lighter of a book but it did have some serious elements for sure and I’d say I was happy with what it was vs. what my expectations were.

review-on-post-it

No Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Book Talk: If You Find Me by Emily MurdochIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Griffin- 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: It was her debut novel but she has one upcoming in 2015!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Carey can’t remember much about the life she had before her mom moved them away to a small trailer in the middle of the woods where they have no contact with the outside world, no electricity or running water. All she knows is taking care of her baby sister while her mom comes and goes. This last time her mom leaves she doesn’t come back and the next thing Carey knows is that there are two people showing up at the trailer and the two girls enter the world they’ve been cut off from and thrust into a family which makes her question all she’s ever been told about her life and a secret that Carey has to deal with that has made her sister Jenessa stop speaking.
.

a2HOLY CRAP JUDITH WAS RIGHT. SO GOOD.

a4

Oh my heart. It just ached and also swelled with feelings for these sisters. It’s one of those reading experiences where I realize how lucky I was as a kid because there are all sorts of real life people who endure these things they did. I actually have someone very close to me who experienced what the mom did to these kids (minus like the extreme poverty and such — the taking them away). This was such an emotional and compelling novel that definitely tugged on my heart strings.

1. My heart ached for Carey and Jenessa: It ached for the conditions they lived in with no running water or electricity and a young girl taking care of a baby. The things they saw and experienced and how they had to work so hard to just survive. My heart ached as they are brought back into society and went to live with the father that their mother forced them away from. My heart couldn’t handle the sort of feelings I had as they tried to reconcile who they were vs. the world they haven’t ever really known vs. everything their mom told them. It was in the small things like them experiencing a real shower or a tv but also how they integrated into a real family.They’ve gone from being just the two of them and their mom (sometimes) to living with their dad they’ve never known and his family. Then they are expected to exist in a society they haven’t known — school, lingo they haven’t heard, pop culture/fashion they know nothing about.

2. As someone who has sisters the bond of those two sisters just took hold of me: Carey has basically taken care of Jenessa for her whole life as a motherly figure and really all they have is each other. They’ve been through awful things together and the bond that happens between sisters in all the good, bad and in between moments is so strong in this story. It melted my heart really. Even in the bad situation they were living in, they had their good times because they were together and weathered all the storms together. I thought a lot about my sister and I and how even in the worst times of our life (losing our mom for instance) we’ve always been there for each other.

3. Carey is one strong character: Early on Carey takes on a role that no child that young should have to. But she does it and all the things she goes through turn her into the amazing person she has turned out to be. She is wise beyond her years out of necessity. She takes care of her baby sister. She does the cooking. She is resourceful, thinks quick on her feet and even teaches her and her sister things that the other kids would be learning in school. I was just constantly amazed by her and the kind of person she was really reminded me of someone I know who is young and has had to grow up more quickly than most do.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+
-

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5Basically everybody?

a8If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch was equally as heartbreaking as it was heart LIFTING. It just was the type of story that really got to me emotionally and wedged its way into my heart so much that when I had to put it down I kept thinking about it until I picked it back up…and well after I finished. It was an amazing, beautifully written story about sisters and family and just how the human spirit can just be so so beautifully alive and can triumph even in the worst situations.

review-on-post-itIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

 

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?
* What are some books you’ve read with strong sister relationships?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody KeplingerA Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Publisher/Year: Poppy- 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: The Duff, Shut Out, The Swift Boys and Me
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

 

 Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

 

A1
On the night of graduation, before she gets ready to head to her dad’s house to spend the summer, Whitley has a one night hookup that she thinks she’ll never see again. Imagine her surprise when her dad springs it upon her in the car ride to his house that he is getting married and that she will also be living with her new family which includes and new step-brother and sister. A step-brother who she has TOTALLY seen naked the night before. Her dad is like this new shiny dad she’s never seen and she struggles to feel at home in this new family — with a stepbrother who she is absolutely attracted to.

a2Can’t wait to pick up her other books!

a4This book was super duper addictive. I just FLEW through it. This was my first Kody Keplinger book and it definitely won’t be my last! So, let’s talk about it:

1. The romance was so not typical:  Okay so it had a Clueless thing going on (most of you are old enough to know this movie yes???) for me. I remember even back in the 90’s being like I SHIP THIS SO MUCH (okay maybe I didn’t say ship) but IT FEELS A LITTLE SQUICKY EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT’S NOT? Well, in this book it was the same way. The main character hooks up (yes sex) with a boy randomly on graduation night and then, as she goes to spend the summer with her dad, finds out that he actually is her NEW STEPBROTHER. Ohmygod right? AWWWWKWARD. So, hey-brother-who-I-have-seen-naked can you pass the gravy? I SO wanted them together even though in my head, knowing that there wasn’t anything “wrong” with it, I kept thinking MAN that would be so awkward to date your stepbrother. I LOVED Nathan by the way!! What a great guy!

2. I loved the honesty of Whitley’s voice: I’ve always heard Keplinger just writes with this searing honesty and rawness and I totally agree. Everything written is just so authentic of being teen and Whitley’s voice just really worked for me. There is just that genuine portrayal of being a teen girl in all of its messiness and ugly glory but also in the way that we grow SOOOO much and learn (the hard way a lot of the time). I loved how Keplinger didn’t shy away from drinking and sex and stuff…it felt so seamlessly what a lot of teen experience is. It wasn’t an “issue-y” type of thing ever but you see realistic “consequences” to some of the things she was doing. Nothing preachy or OH THE END OF THE WORLD BECAUSE YOU DID THIS. But just a lot of food for thought.

3. Loved the exploration of family dynamics: Whitley has divorced parents and there is a lot of bitterness there. Whitley has spent every summer with her dad who was like her best friend. This year? He springs the news on her that he’s getting married and…surprise! You have a stepbrother and stepsister! He’s turned into this guy she doesn’t really recognize, she’s thrown into a new family (with a step-brother she hooked up with) and she feels like the odd man out when her dad barely spends any time with her. I just loved how it explored all of it. The feeling of being the old kid in the new family. Having to hear bitter things said from one parent about the other. It was just so perfectly explored because, coming from a divorced kid here, IT GETS COMPLICATED. And as an aside, I LOOOOOVED her stepmom!!

4. I wished for a little bit more depth in some areas toward the end is my ONLY complaint: When it got to some of the things that Whitley was learning, I was REALLY excited to see her think about and put these things together. But it fell a little short for me. The book went RIGHT THERE for me and was so close to having the depth that I needed to make this a WOW read but it never hit that. I don’t know how else to really explain it but with the variety of issues that Whitley was dealing with (especially with her dad) I just wanted MORE in the end I guess. When I reached the end-ish I just felt like it could have been better for me and a little more profound? I don’t even know if that’s the word I’m looking for but I just knew I felt a little disappointed at the end.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ characters, plot, addictive factor, writing
- wanted a little more depth in some aspects

Re-readability: Probably not because I’m picky about rereading but I want to read the rest of her books!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one but I’m probably passing it on bc it wasn’t a fave/I won’t reread

a5contemporary YA fans, people who want authentic voices in YA

a8I couldn’t put this one down! Really impressed with Kody Keplinger and the raw sort of emotions she brings to her teen characters and her ability to tackle some tough stuff. Loved the story and the characters despite wishing for a little depth in some areas. Will definitely be reading more from Keplinger!

review-on-post-it

midsummers-nightmare-kody-keplinger

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 other Keplinger books? Which one should I read next?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood
Publisher/Year: Poppy- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Other Books From Author: Six Impossible Things
AmazonGoodreads

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

Wildlife is told from the perspective of two girls who are doing a required semester at an outdoors camp. Sib gets a little boost of popularity as she gets her face on a billboard (as well as some scrutiny) right before she comes leave for this semester and finds herself in her first real relationship and navigating some choppy waters with her best friend Holly. Lou is a new student and is thrown into this experience not really knowing anybody and with a heavy amount of grief that is closing her off. She observes her new peers and starts to witness some unraveling in Sib and Holly’s friendship and also starts to feel more drawn in even though she wants to stay an outsider.
.

a2Another Aussie win! Also, I kind of want to go camping or something and get my outdoors on?

a4

I really enjoyed this one!! I’m telling you…I keep waiting for the day that I won’t like an Aussie YA book and today was definitely not that day. Wildlife was just an altogether great read for this contemporary YA lover! Apparently this is a companion novel to Six Impossible Things but I haven’t read that and I wasn’t missing anything (especially since when it was talked about BEA there was no mention of the companion. I do want to read it and read more about Lou even knowing what we learned happened as this novel starts.

So here’s what I liked:

1. The setting : I loved the idea of this semester at an outdoors camp! It’s required so it’s interesting to see everyone adapting to the things they have to do — the chores they are assigned, having no technology, camping and hiking. They had to do this crazy solo hike and camp by themselves which scares the beejezus out of me because 1) obviously and 2) OMG THE WILDLIFE IN AUSTRALIA SCARES ME. I was waiting for her to be eaten alive by some snake or crazy spider. But overall I just loved the outdoors-y element to this and how it contributed to their growth and took a lot of them out of their comfort zone. It sounded like a really GOOD experience to build character and really LEARN about yourself in a different way — minus that solo hike where you camp by yourself in the Australian bush. I would never survive.

2. How it explored friendships: I love reading books about friendships because they are SO complex and honestly such a hard thing to navigate sometimes — especially as you are coming of age and really finding yourself. We see kind of early that Sib and Holly are pretty different in ways and their dynamic is interesting. Sib is just passive and lets Holly be a douche and walk all over her. At first you are like ehh Holly sucks and is kind of mean but then you suddenly are like okay is this toxic? It feels toxic right? I love that it explored how hard it is to be honest with yourself about a friendship that has kind of turned into something not so good — how Sib tries to reconcile the good vs. bad and the memories of Holly and has to decide if the friendship can be salvaged or if, as we grow, that sometimes we have to let people go. But even outside of Holly and Sib there were some other relationships that I enjoyed watching grow and mature! They all just seemed very realistic and had the kind of complexities and messiness I have experienced in my life.

3. The alternating chapters between Sib and Lou: I really liked Sib and watching her grow  and her perspective (maybe because I could identify a lot with her) but Lou was such an interesting character too. She’s a new student and she’s out here with no friends and, not only that, she’s grieving so deeply which makes her even more lonely. Her perspective is truly as an outsider and I loved watching her observe Sib and Holly and everything going down at camp as she keeps her distance but also gets drawn into it all and starts to make connections and open herself up to start to figure out who is after this tragedy.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, characters, themes explored, setting
- nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want one!

a5fans of Aussie YA, contemporary YA readers, people who like boarding school/camp settings, people who like books that explore friendships

a8Wildlife was just a really damn good character-driven story — interesting characters, great setting, thought-provoking and incredibly well written. I loved watching Sib start to, through the outdoor experience and relationship issues, start to really grow and learn more about herself. It was nice to watch her be less PASSIVE and start to learn to be more independent. I loved watching Lou grow from this experience to — to confront her grief and to open up a little bit rather than keep herself so closed off.

review-on-post-itWildlife by Fiona Wood

 

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?
I’m curious if any of you have read Six Impossible things!
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Book Talk: Even In Paradise by Chelsey PhilpotEven In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins- October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut author!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

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

When Charlotte finds herself becoming friends with Julia Buchanan — daughter of a former senator and famously rich family with a tragedy attached to their name — she never could be prepared for the real Julia and everything that comes with being a Buchanan. She’s thrown head first into their intense and mesmerizing world as Julia’s new best friend — the parties, the lavish gifts, the larger than life family (and a certain brother she falls for)….and also the secrets below the surface that threaten to unravel them all.

a2OMG I LOVE THIS BOOOOOOK. *tweets incessantly about it*

a4

OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. I loved this book. I freaking loved it and I want to shout it from the rooftops. If you like contemporary YA, you do NOT want to miss this one. My emotions were just overflowing by the end of this book and the last paragraph-ish was EVERYTHING for me. I kind of wanted to tattoo it on my arm.

1. This story staked its claim on me by the first sentence of the prologue: I’m serious. By the time I finished the prologue I was doing a little excited dance on my couch and was strapping myself in because I was READY TO GO after that and I knew I couldn’t possibly prepare myself for what was to come (spoiler alert: I couldn’t at all). I was already so curious about the Buchanan family (who slightly reminded me of the family in We Were Liars as I read on) and, like Charlie, I became so mesmerized and enchanted by them. From the moment Julia and Charlie meet and as she gets deeper into the Buchanan family I wanted to know more and more even when certain things began to seem like red flags and she got so wrapped up in them. I got the same electric energy that Charlie felt by wanting to be around them. There was that allure there to be part of this world that was so unlike her world and I felt it. I get wanting to just be a part of something.

2. THE EMOTIONS: You guys. I bawled at the end of this book. The feelings throughout the book had been bubbling up and just burst forth in the form of tears and it was an obvious reason to cry for me. And the last paragraph. IT WAS EVERYTHING and more. I want to share it but I want you to experience it. It was a rollercoaster of feelings (and not just crying kinds of feelings) and it just, coupled with the plot, propelled me forward. The romance. The intensity of their friendship. The tragedy. The aftermaths. It was SO GOOD GUYS.

3. DOGEAR CENTRAL: I was really, really impressed by the writing in this book. It was so beautiful and there were so many lines that just stopped me in my tracks and made me think or FEEL something. I was dog-earring A LOT with this one which is always a good thing for me. The more I dog-ear, the more I love it. I’ll give you a little taste:

” It’s only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us — the moments when choices between yeses and nos determined the people we became.”

 

a6

RATING-loved-it

factors+ Plot, writing, characters, FEELINGS
- NADA

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

 

a8There are just these books that you can somewhat pinpoint elements that made you love it but overall it’s just this indescribable feeling you get when you are reading that just takes hold of you and sets your heart to beating just a little bit differently. That was this book for me. I can kind of explain to you why I loved it but mostly I can’t. I just know how I felt about it. Chelsey Philpot’s debut was wholly impressive — it was beautiful, enchanting, devastating and altogether bittersweet. A true smattering of emotions but I finished the book hopeful and with my heart on fire.

review-on-post-it

Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate BassettWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Publisher/Year: Flux- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, debut novel!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning”

a2MAN, I wanted to connect more so I could have really FELT this emotional story.

a4I’m conflicted about this one because I can’t say I was SUPER drawn into it and it was a bit slow for the first half but it was a beautiful book in so many ways.  I loved the piercing story of grief it told. Anna’s grief is real and alive and she wears it in a way that everyone knows. She’s so inside herself and tormented by her grief that she can’t really let herself live after the loss of her “bruncle” Joe (technically an uncle but more like her brother). She’s the kind of character where you FEEL for her but she frustrates you in the way she does her family members and friends. I FELT THAT.

The “mystery” aspect that comes into play when she finds a note, that suggests she didn’t quite know Joe as well as she thought, didn’t really pick up until the second half and that part REALLY drew me when it finally got somewhere.   I think setting up Anna’s grief and family situation, while important, just dawdled a little bit too much for me and I was just holding on until I got to that element that would drive the plot and Anna forward. I love character driven books but I was struggling with her so I needed that plot to engage me a little more.

As a reader I could just FEEL the holes in the fractured family and I thought the people in Anna’s world were VERY fleshed out which I LOVED. I did GUESS the mystery’s outcome but not in a way that made it a dud for me. This book is quiet in the way it reads but OH THE ACHE IS LOUD AND PULSING and her journey back into LIVING her life was hard yet beautiful to watch. Also, I dogeared a lot because the writing is fantastic. Like really fantastic. I WISH I would have connected a little bit more considering how emotional this novel WAS but this was a good book that I WOULD recommend to people who don’t mind a bit of a slower, quiet novel.

a6
RATING-LIKED
factors+ writing, aching portrayal of grief, the plot
- I didn’t FEEL as much as I should have, some boredom in the first half

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or a reread, unfortunately no.

a5people who like quiet & slower books, readers of stories that deal with grief, fans of a little mystery, people who want beautifully written books, people who like stories about writers

a8I think that what would have made my rating on this one SOAR to the higher scale would have been having some sort of emotional response. I can recognize the emotional nature of the story with Anna’s grief and discovering new pieces to her uncle and SEE that it is written in a way that, at times, did make my heart ache but I never felt that “in my bones” emotional response. The first half was REALLY slow for me too but when it finally picked up for me it was worth it. I loved the exploration of grief and this idea that we only have our own pieces to the existence of someone we love even though it might seem we have seen the whole of them.

review-on-post-itWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

 

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 this book feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

That Time I Almost Didn’t Read A Book Because Of The Ratings

Back in May I talked a bit about how social media/the internet can affect me as a reader & one of those things was how seeing ratings and opinions can affect the books I’m considering picking up or starting to read. It’s a struggle for me to pick up books without consulting the internet to check what ratings say. On one hand it’s helpful in weeding out books that probably wouldn’t work for me and finding the books that probably WILL work better for me. But on the other hand? Sometimes I’m not picking up books SOLELY because of poor ratings. I’ve had a book in my hand at the bookstore before and then saw it ONLY had like a 3.4 average rating on Goodreads and put it back. Books that SOUNDED good but I’m like NOPE look at those ratings, look at all the hate.

And that was the case for this book – 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 

I had gotten it for review and was excited about it. And then the reviews started coming in….super negative and the average rating was much lower than it is now (it was like a 3.4 or something I think at one point). Some of the reviews made the book sound AWFUL and ridiculous and I was like NOPE and took it off my shelf and put it into a box to deal with later with my other castoffs. I was so sad about it. But then it caught my attention later because a few people I really trust LOVED it and gave it 4 & 5 star reviews so I was like WHAT EVEN I NEED TO KNOW. So I decided to read it. AND I REALLY LIKED IT.

In this case the SUPER jarring difference in ratings really intrigued me to pick it up. And the things that people who were loving it were saying about it made me realize OH MAN…these are things I WOULD LOVE ABOUT IT and not things that would bother me.

What 17 First Kisses Is About:

So it’s about a girl who has kissed quite a few guys but nothing STICKS really into boyfriend material and guys that she is interested in ALWAYS seem to end up liking her bff. And then in walks Luke. And both girls have their eyes set on him but Claire feels so much differently about him than the other guys…like there’s something real there. So the story goes back through Claire & Megan’s history as friends, all of Claire’s kisses & Claire’s family life but also is at the present where Claire has to choose what to do with her feelings for Luke and her friendship with Megan.

While I felt like sometimes it was a BIT dramatic and the high school hierarchy was exaggerated a bit IMO, I really REALLY liked this book. And the things that made so many people give it 1 stars? Those were things that didn’t bother me personally.

Things That Made Me Enjoy This Book:

+ It was actually a lot “deeper” & emotional than I thought it would be — the summary makes it seem a little more frivolous and fun than it is. Claire’s family is going through some tough stuff and I just thought this book really opened up some interesting dialogue about serious and emotional topics.

+ Family & friendship focuses: Okay so there’s the whole Luke thing but really at the heart of this book is about family and friendships. The friendships painted could have easily been the cliche popular mean girls story but I actually really thought they were well done and the girls were very real to me. I loved watching the friendship between Claire and Megan start and evolve and learn all the inner-workings of the group and those two. There were some not cool things they did to each other but it was realistic struggle and I loved watching them try to sort it out because their friendship really DID matter.

+ the storytelling: It just really worked how everything was revealed and how we learned more and more about Claire.

+ the slut-shaming dialogue: This is where a lot of people HATED this book — all the slut-shaming. BUT MAN did I find it super realistic and reminiscent of myself as a high schooler back in the day. I learned how unhealthy and wrong it was but it took me becoming an adult to realize that. For me, just because I HATE things that are happening in a book does not mean I hate the book. It was hard to read but the thing is IT HAPPENS A LOT and the slut shaming in this book had a point. There are a lot of reasons why I think people slut shame (I think a lot of it is a defense mechanism & insecurity — at least it was for me) and I think that this book really explored those in such an authentic and honest way.

+ the flawed, round characters: Yeah, you aren’t going to like all the things they do and say. The girl hate. The slut-shaming. The mean girl antics at time. The friendship no-nos. But if we laid out the book of MY teenage life (especially my inner monologue)….I guarantee none of you would like ME on paper when you focus on my flaws and ignore the growth (however miniscule) and the GOOD things. I totally dated a boy my sister liked, I backstabbed, I slut-shamed and I did things that 28 year old Jamie is NOT proud of. Sometimes I knew they were wrong and sometimes I didn’t. These characters reminded me of the beauty of this age because of how much you are finding yourself through mistakes and experience (lots of firsts) and how there is SO much room for growing and learning. So that was an aspect that, while I get why others didn’t like these characters, I totally did.

*I had to edit this post, because after I scheduled it, Hannah wrote this AMAZING post and a Twitter convo between myself, Hannah and Rachel prompted another paragraph*

Hannah’s whole point of her post is being true to yourself and reading the books YOU want to read. Obviously we rely on recommendations and blogs  to help us but we shouldn’t forget why WE want to read something despite what ratings and reviews say. One of the things I mentioned while talking to these ladies is how I’ve gone back and looked at ratings for books I LOVED but read before blogging and before I checked ratings obsessively and some of them, if it were NOW, I probably wouldn’t have picked up due to ratings or GR friend’s reviews. I’ve started dipping my toes in the waters of NOT CHECKING GOODREADS when I’m browsing at the library and it’s freeing. And I mean, so what if I read it and the ratings/reviews were right? It was FREE.

I think my experience with 17 First Kisses is one of those things where I learned exactly what Hannah is talking about…to trust my gut because in my heart I knew I didn’t always get bugged about the things that the people giving this 1 stars were bugged about. This experience made me realize I rely too heavily on opinions. I’m not saying I’m not going to stop reading reviews/looking at ratings because it so SO helpful to me but I need to let myself pick up a book I want to even if everyone else says it sucks and not give into all the opinions that are out there.

What about you guys? Have you ever almost not read a book because of ratings/reviews but then read it and were so glad you did? How do you balance reviews/ratings with what YOU want to read? Also, did you read 17 First Kisses….what did you think?

 

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine KuderickKiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None as of right now.
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
.A teenager is caught cutting at school and is sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours. During this time she’s forced to confront her addiction to cutting, reflect on what made her start cutting and she meets some other patients along the way whose presence gives her much to think about and make these 72 hours interesting.

a2tumblr_inline_n9xr7qgYg81r1yw3n

a4
I almost put this book down to be honest because I was just really not into it. It wasn’t the novel in verse thing, which I like, it was just that I was pretty much bored and not feeling like I cared what the last page held. But I kept reading it because I was like, “oh what the hell..it’s really short, told in verse and I’ll finish it in less than an hour…which I did.

1. I swear, I felt no emotions during this book: If I could have recorded my face reading it I feel like my face would have been have remained the same the whole time and FEELINGS pretty much did fluctuate at all. I was just turning page after page hoping something would make me care. I mean, I WANTED to care about a young girl who cuts herself and gets caught and Baker Acted (sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours). I thought I would feel something towards it but I just didn’t. Like at all. I felt nothing really which was strange considering I know it was inspired by this happening to the author’s daughter.

2. From a technical standpoint I thought the novel in verse worked well & the writing was solid: It was poetic and flowed really well. I really LOVE novels in verse and this executed it really well. It really FIT the story well!

3. I will say that I liked that it wasn’t an AND NOW SHE IS FIXED AFTER THIS EVENT type of book but just a snapshot of a girl who can’t help but cut and is forced to reflect on it: It was about a normal girl. Not a girl with a ton of issues or a deep dark secret. But just a girl who got caught up in it for her own reasons (which are revealed). It wasn’t an “AND NOW SHE IS SAVED AND SHALL NEVER CUT AGAIN” book but an honest look at a girl who gets a chance to reflect on it for 72 hours and meet people who will give her even more to think about. It’s that looking back of this is how I got there, this is where I’m at and she gets to think about the path she wants to take when she is released. I FELT like it was a realistic portrayal but I also admit that my experience is limited to this peer pressure induced, wanting-attention-from-a-guy-I-liked week of cutting I had in 7th grade.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ the writing
- I was so bored, no emotional connection whatsoever

Re-readability: No.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Not for mine but I plan to donate my copy to the YA section of my library.

a5fans of novels in verse, people who are interested in novels dealing with cutting

a8On a technical level I thought Kisses of Broken Glass was well written and the way it was told in verse really fit the story well. I liked the idea of the book but I literally felt nothing at all. No emotion at all which was strange because I should have felt SOMETHING while reading. I should have probably put it down when I thought about how bored I was but I 1) thought it would pick up and 2) it was so short I was like MIGHT AS WELL FINISH.

review-on-post-it

Kiss of Broken Glass Madeleine Kuderick

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 this book feel like something you’d be into?
* What are some of your favorite novels in verse??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Book Talk: Falling Into Place by Amy ZhangFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Publisher/Year: Greenwillow Books- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, this is her debut!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Liz Emerson, a popular junior, decides to drive herself off the road and into the tree. Nobody knows, except the mysterious narrator who pieces Liz’s story together for us, that she did it on purpose — everyone assumes it was an accident because of an icy road. The story unfolds as Liz’s family, friends, and classmates find out and cope with the news and flips back and forth to the past and the present to tell the story.

a2*CURLS UP IN FETAL POSITION*

a4

I gave you my early thoughts on this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it to be honest. I know it’s been a tough read for some because they hate the characters or didn’t like the storytelling but this book was a major WIN for me!  So let’s talk about it.

1. You will hate all the characters mostly: At first I was like GOOD GOD THESE PEOPLE ARE AWFUL and it’s not even like they ever become super loveable characters even by the end. But I felt like page by page these characters and their relationships with one another got even more and more stripped down and dissected and it made them more vulnerable to me. They weren’t just one dimensional even if they gave that vibe in the beginning for me.  You see characters who have become something that they probably would have never imagined themselves being and you would think it would be simple for them to just change and stop being awful human beings but sometimes you don’t realize how deep you are in and when you do change seems impossible.

2. It’s a really quiet kind of novel but made a huge visceral reaction within me that I didn’t expect: I wouldn’t say I was 100% into this novel at first but rather it was the kind of book that page by page crept up on me and dug it’s claws into me. I seriously had that pit in my stomach feeling as I kept reading faster and faster and the devastation plowed through me like a wrecking ball to the heart and made all my insides crumble. It was a combination of the way the story was told, the plot and all of these really unhealthy relationships. I just felt like I was propelled forward by how sick this book made me feel at times and I just needed to find out how it would end. It made me weep at 1am and I just wanted to curl up in a little ball because it made me feel just a litttttlle bit too much. The emotional response I had to this one surprised me and suddenly my cheeks were damp and my heart hurt.

3. I LOVED how this story was told as it was super unique and really effective: I’m not going to tell you who the narrator is but it kept me guessing a little bit until it dawned on me who it could be. We aren’t told who they are and they can see and know everything but slowly you begin to figure out who it is telling the story. I also really loved the non-linear way in which this story was told. All the flashbacks and detours made my mounting anxiety even more heightened.

4. PRETTY PRETTY WORDS: I loved the prose so much. For example: “She looked around and saw all the broken things in her wake, and then she looked inside herself and saw the spidering cracks from the weight of all the things she had done. She hated what she was and didn’t know how to change, and half an hour before she drove her car off the road, she saw that despite all of that, she didn’t have enough force to stop the world from turning. But she had enough to stop her own.”

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, storytelling, emotional response, uniqueness
- Nada

Re-readability: YEP I would because it’s one of those books where I almost NEED to go back and read it again.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5people who like quiet novels that really dissect the characters, people who want lovely prose, people who like unique narrators, lovers of the complexities of human interaction and motives, people who don’t mind not loving characters, people who like “darker” contemporary YA (because this certainly isn’t LIGHT)

a8Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang probably isn’t going to be for everyone but it was definitely a ME book. Quiet and unassuming and then an onslaught of emotional chaos for me by the end. I loved the beautiful prose and the unique narration and how it added to my mounting “pit-in-the-stomach” feeling while reading this one. I felt it all. Can’t wait to read more from Amy Zhang — she’s brilliant!

review-on-post-itFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang

 

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 this book feel like something you’d be into?
* Did you guess who the narrator was?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Random by Tom Leveen

Book Talk: Random by Tom LeveenRandom by Tom Leveen
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse- August 12, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Party, Zero, Manicpixiedreamgirl, Sick
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

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

On the eve before Tori has a big court date for her role in a national bullying case that resulted in a suicide, she receives a mysterious call from a stranger at random. He says he plans to take his life tonight…unless she can give him one reason why he should live. Being nervous to be connected to another suicide if he goes through with it, she tries to decide if she believes him or if it’s just a prank. But the stakes are too high if she doesn’t take him seriously and try to save his life.
.

a2WHAT!? *also massages hands because DAMN I flew through that*

a4Ever have one of those books where you find yourself, even days later, trying to collect your scattered, fragmented thoughts and they just keep blowing away with the wind every time you get close to articulating them? I’m having a really hard time reconciling my thoughts when it comes to this one especially because it was going so well…and then the ending threw me. So let’s do a pro/con thinger shall we? Maybe that will help you get a better sense of where my head is at. MAYBE IT WILL EVEN HELP ME.

THE YAYS

* If I had to sum up my experience by using a movie title from my youth it would be THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: No seriously, I FLEW through this book. I finished in 1.5 hours. Even Will looked impressed because he witnessed me starting and finishing it. I COULD NOT STOP READING IT. I wanted to know fully what her part was in the death of Kevin and also I was so intrigued by this random phone call and I so desperately needed to know if she would be able to talk him out of the suicide.

* The concept is AWESOME and it delivered on the intensity I expected: A person calls you at random and says they are going to commit suicide and they want you to give them a good reason to live. GULP. That’s a lot of weight on someone and especially someone who has her own craziness going on in her life. Finding out how this all would play out was the only thing I cared about for that 1.5 hours that I read this. The level of anxiety Tom Leveen was able to bring to my reading experience was impressive because I just needed to keep learning about this stranger’s story and the words that Tori will need to say to stop him from doing it.

* It actually took me surprise…like gaping mouth and all: I don’t want to say too much about this because I don’t want to give a hint of what surprised me but just know that it shocked the pants right off me and it takes a lot to do that. MAYBE I should have caught on to something but I DID NOT.

* The conversation starting qualities to this book are great: Bullying online is a big deal these days. This book shows that even if you don’t you pull the trigger/tie the noose/etc that does not mean you are innocent. This is the big thing the main character keeps not getting when she says, “BUT I DIDN’T KILL HIM.” “I DIDN’T BULLY HIM..JUST MADE A FEW COMMENTS.” Etc. Random challenges those kinds of prevalent thoughts when it comes to online bullying.

The NOT-SO-SURE-ABOUT

* I felt nothing emotionally despite how intense the reading experience was: I hate comparing books but a couple of months ago I read a book called Tease that was also from the POV of the bully and that one twisted my heart and frustrated and elicited a lot of conflicting emotions within me when it came to the main character but I felt really invested in her. I literally felt nothing for Tori. She didn’t seem real to me and didn’t illicit any emotions out of me. As invested in the random caller as I was I found myself really detached.

* THE ENDING: GAHHH. Not what I expected and I think it made me further detached from the book. I was like REALLY? THAT’S THE ENDING?  I don’t know how I FEEL about this story now. I don’t know what I was expecting but that wasn’t it and I’m not sure I was really all that happy about it. I was waiting for something super powerful and it fell flat for me. (BABY SPOILER-ISH COMMENT: Also, a little too wrapped up neatly in another area with a KISS and all.)

* The lesson: There was a clear lesson here. An important one. And I’m still struggling to decide if Tori even got it. I mean, it wraps up all nicey like she does but I didn’t FEEL like she really learned her lesson? Tori and the main character in Tease (which I referenced in my first point) were really similar in this way but for some reason in Tease I felt like there was a glimmer of hope for her to learn from this — even if she still had a long way to go. With Tori, I just didn’t even believe it. I didn’t feel any sort of emotions from her at all.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ addictive factor, intensity, writing
- pretty much lack of any emotion and a lot of detachment, the ending

Re-readability: No. That said, I plan to read the copy of one of his other books I have (manicpixiedreamgirl)
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I hope my library DOES have a copy.

a5people who want a book dealing with bullying but from a different POV, people not afraid of heavy topics like suicide and bullying, people who like more intense/gritty contemporary YA, readers who don’t mind a really frustrating main character

a8This one had the potential to be AMAZING for me — the concept, the writing and the absolutely intensity that made me read faster and faster to find out how all this would end. But when it came time to the ending…it just wasn’t what I expected and made me feel a bit disappointed. There was a lot of build up for awesome and mindblowing and I just found myself staring at the pages not even able to reconcile the ending and how I felt about it. And the fact I felt nothing emotional, aside from anxiety, just didn’t help. I need to be emotionally connected at SOME point.

review-on-post-itRandom by Tom Leveen

 

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 this feel like something you’d be into?
* Okay was it just me that didn’t feel blown away by the end?? (MAYBE SPOILERISH: I feel like maybe I was looking for a more profound, life-changing ending and it got too lesson-y in a contrived manner? IDK. IDK)
* Did you GUESS or were you shocked??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...