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Into YA with Shana Youngdahl

I'm so excited to announce this interview with Shana today. Her book blew me away and kept me prisoner on the couch while I raced to finish it. I loved how she took such a complex format and ambitious story and made it feel so easy. I really admire that as a writer and enjoy it as a reader. If you haven't had the chance to read As Many Nows As I Can Get, check out my review for some context on what we talk about.  Anyway, I'll let you get to the interview, but I want to thank Shana for doing this interview and chatting with me cause she really is the sweetest. 
1. The book is told out of sequence covering a broad span of time from senior year, the summer after, and through the entire freshman year of college. Did you write the book out of order or did you piece it together later? Was that your original plan? Did it take very intricate plotting to piece together a very specific way? 
Yes, it’s non-linear to reflect Scarlett’s understanding of time. It mostly covers her Senior …
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As Many Nows As I Can Get

As Many Nows As I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl 
TW: Drug use/abuse
Overview: The last year of Scarlett's life has been a whirlwind. Ever since the summer after high school, Scarlett has been spiraling everywhere. Though most of her friends are too. She made it into MIT, but she picked going to Maine to get the scholarship money. And when she gets to college, she learns that she's facing a much more difficult situation. Faced with messy relationships left behind in Graceville and a reality she never thought she'd encounter so soon- a positive pregnancy test- Scarlett is lost and faces an uncertain future that doesn't make sense. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 Scarlett is an amazing character. She's so alive and vibrant. She makes her very specific, chaotic reality feel accessible and immediate. With a plot that feels like the drama has been layered and layered, Scarlett and her way of viewing the world grounds the story spectacularly.
Then there's the shifting cast of ch…

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Overview: Pablo's life is a mess. He works at a bodega or a "health food store" depending on who you ask, which is about the only thing he has going right at the moment. He dropped out of NYU, though that debt still follows him, along with the credit card bills from some ill advised buying sprees. He has a good group of friends that he lives with and a family that genuinely does love him, but he has no clue what he's doing. What's the end goal? Who knows... Overall: 5 

General Thoughts: This is not a normal part of my reviews, but I had some things I wanted to say that don't necessarily fit anywhere else. 1) I love this book, but I feel like it's for a very particular set of readers. You MUST be a lover of character driven stories because a lot of this book is exploring Pablo's mind. I love that. I honestly don't care about plot if I love your characters, but I know a lot of people aren't like that, so fair warni…

She's The Worst

She's The Worst  by Lauren Spieller  Overview: Jenn is about to leave for Stanford. The only problem is that she leaves tomorrow, and she hasn't told anyone in her family that she's not staying in LA. Her parents want her to stay at home and work at their antique store to keep it afloat while they teeter on the brink of divorce. April, on the other hand, has her soccer career taking off with a USC scout interested in her. The only problem is that no one takes her or her soccer serious. In a single wild day, the girls come together to form one last day of memories together before they go their separate ways. Overall: 3.5
Characters: 3 My issues with the characters are about the same as my issues with the entire book. They're given interesting situations, but they really aren't developed beyond a couple empty traits and the problems that are defining their lives. Jenn has hatched a crazy plan to tell her parents at the very last second that she really is going to Stanf…

The Sun Is Also A Star Movie Review

I FINALLY got to watch The Sun Is Also A Star movie after waiting forever for it to come out on digital and then forgetting to watch it for a couple weeks. My movie theater closed for renovations right when this one hit theaters.
Anyway, if anyone hasn't seen it yet, I highly encourage you to. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the movie, but, from the first few seconds, I was hooked. I've never seen a book to movie adaption that so fully captures the spirit of a book and really dives into and encapsulates what makes the book itself unique in special. Though it's been years since I read the book, what always stands out to me about it is how much it thinks about time and how it also looks at how we're all connected and every event is connected. I wasn't sure if the movie would acknowledge these little breaks from Daniel and Natasha that made the book so special, but they completely encapsulated this nature and the little science profiles as well. These breaks…

Into YA with Sonia Hartl

I'm so excited to host this interview with Sonia about her new book Have A Little Faith In Me which comes into the world on Tuesday. The book is delightful and one I flew through. If you haven't read my review, I'd suggest you read it for a bit of context!

1. I have to ask, where did you get the idea to set the whole story at a conservative Christian camp? It’s so perfect for the story but also a very unique idea. 
I really wanted to set a story that is largely about sexual education in place where abstinence education is more prevalent. Not so that I could position my main character as more knowledgeable, but more so I could show that while she thought she was fairly knowledgeable, there was still a lot she had to learn. I thought this would be especially effective in a setting with girls who were learning along with her, so they could support each other and open up to each other and inevitably grow as characters because of what they each bring to their friendship as indivi…

Have a Little Faith In Me Review

Have a Little Faith In Me by Sonia Hartl
Overview: CeCe and Paul have no reason being at Jesus camp. Paul gave up his faith years ago when his paster father abandoned his mother,  and CeCe never really believed to start with. They're not there to find their faith again, though. CeCe is on a secret mission to win back her born again boyfriend who dumped her after having sex. Whether it's love or just proving something to herself, CeCe is determined to get Ethan back, even if that means fake dating her best friend, Paul, and listening to hours of sermons. While CeCe shakes the camp up, she starts to shake up some ideas of her own about what happened with her and Ethan. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I love CeCe. She's bold, unflinching, bright, and impulsive. Unafraid to be quiet about her own beliefs she challenges a lot of the misogynistic happenings at the camp and vocally questions why girls are left to shoulder the responsibility for "tempting" boys by not being modes…

Introducing... The Empathy Factor Podcast

I can't believe I'm writing these words, but I'm here to announce an exciting new project that I've been working around the clock to make happen for about the last month. In addition to the blog, I'm going to be writing, producing, and creating a podcast called The Empathy Factor. You might have noticed that there's a new tab on the header of my website devoted to it as well to make it easier for readers here to access and find out about it. I did post on Instagram and Twitter when the trailer went up, but, since then, the pod has become available on Apple Podcast and Google Podcasts as well, and I finally have an episode to share with all of you!
I wanted to do a formal post announcing and talking about it more on here, not just so that I could talk about what the podcast is but what has led me to make it. The why behind it. And, honestly, it starts with the blog. If I hadn't gotten the crazy idea to start a book blog where some nobody eighth grade girl …

That's Not What Happened

That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger (325 pages)
Overview: It's been three years since the school shooting in Virgil County and the youngest group of survivors are about to graduate. While Lee is glad to finally be moving on, she also doesn't feel right about leaving the story the way it is, to fade and distill in everyone's minds. And then one of the victims parents decides to write a book about their daughter's courageous show of faith when she confronted the killer before she died. As powerful as the story is, it's simply not what happened. Lee knows this first hand because she was with Sarah in that stall when she got shot. Lee wants to spread the truth, but the town might not want to hear it. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Lee makes a great narrator for the book. She'll navigate you through social circles and small town relationships with expertise. She's serious yet witty and funny. The other survivors are also interesting. Denny, a blind student, w…

Hope and Other Punchlines Review

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum 
Overview: Baby Hope became an iconic image in the wake of 9/11. The baby in that photo is actually named Abbi Hope Goldstein, and it was her first birthday that day. She's been profiled in People magazine every year since. People randomly hug her in the grocery store. When she finds herself mysteriously coughing up blood, she decides to sign up for a summer as a camp councilor in a neighboring town. She's hopeful she can have a summer of fun, free of being "Baby Hope" before she has to confront what she fears are the signs of a serious health problem. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Abbi is at a weird cross roads in her life. Everything is changing. Over the course of the school year, her former best friend moved on, she's worried about the blood she's coughing up, but she doesn't want to bother her mom, who's dealing with her grandmother moving in. Abbi deals with the struggle between seeming completely ordinary and…