Skip to main content

Weekly Book Reviews and Recommendations: Week 11

Hello, everyone! This week has been a bit of a crazy week (I finished an entire English course in two weeks!). Since I took my final on Friday, I've started to get into my summer groove. Expect more books and longer posts the more we get into summer as I plan on putting lots of time into crafting great content for all parts of the blog. I got to read two great books this week, and, as a look into next week, 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac will defiantly make the list.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (290 pages)
Overview: Flora banks has amnesia. She doesn't remember anything that has happened to her since the age of ten. Her journal tells her that it was a side effect of a surgery to remove a brain tumor. She goes through life with her brain constantly resetting about every hour with only notes on her arm to give her small reminders. And then something breaks through. A kiss with her best friend's boyfriend who was leaving for the Arctic. This, understandably becomes a major event for Flora, and she wants to chase the chance to make more memories. When her parents leave to visit her ailing brother in Paris and stay longer than anticipated, an unsupervised Flora decides to go find Drake. This presents plenty of understandable challenges but only gets worse when Drake is nowhere to be found and her elaborate ruse starts to fall apart. Filled with plenty of unexpected twists and turns, the book will keep  you entranced till the very end. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Flora lives in a small world. For most of the story, Flora's parents try to keep her contained to the house. She starts the story with Paige, her friend since before the amnesia, as one of the only other people in her life. Though they have a falling out after Flora's kiss with Drake, Paige makes an important comeback towards the end of the book. Drake and Paige and both important and interesting characters because they make the reader question, as they question it themselves, what the proper way to treat Flora is. They remind us that there is a fine line between treating Flora like a normal teenager and considering her situation. Leaning too strongly either way presents problems, but the main point becomes apparent that Flora is so vulnerable she is truly at the mercy of those around her.
When she escapes to the Arctic, she finds herself a group of adults who observe Flora and take an interest in helping her on her mission. From the local shop owner to a travel blogger, Flora finds herself an unlikely support system while she really reaches the part of the book where she flourishes.
Then there is her family. Her overprotective, overbearing mother with good intentions but poor results, her father who is conflicted between his wife's wishes and what he honestly sees as best, and her older brother who is taken from Flora's life for encouraging Flora to live life and be free. Jacob, though never actually appearing in the story becomes a strong motivator in many of the book's most important twists.

Plot: 4.9 This story is told in three parts. First is the initial breakthrough followed directly by her parents departure to Paris leaving Flora to stew upon recent events. When her parent's don't come home as planned and she gains confidence in her self-sufficency Flora plans to visit Drake after exchanging a series of emails. Part two is where Flora blooms and flourishes on her own. Though she is chasing something the reader knows won't come through, the reader roots for her and nearly buys into her fantasy like the people in the tiny Arctic town. In the third part we see Flora's return home, back to her parents and her medication and her old life, or possibly a more extreme form.

Writing: 5 At first the constant repetition of facts, as Barr faithfully records everything running through Flora's head, is a bit hard to get used to, but after the first chapter the reader really gets into Flora's mind. Her voice is crystal clear, and the reader starts to become one with Flora's mind and her fuzzy image of the world. We don't quite know what is going on at first, and we kind of float through the world clinging to the facts that we know. The reader gets to see the world through a completely innocent eye. And through doing this and separating the book into two parts, Emily Barr creates a remarkable phenomena. As the second part opens, we gradually see a wider sense of the world. It becomes clearer and the details are less fuzzy. We can see the internal growth and evolution of Flora in such a subtle way that makes the effects of the story all the more fascinating when the lens narrows again in the opening of part three.
Barr also does a remarkable job of pulling on the readers emotions and taking full advantage of the unreliable narrator. The reader can only believe what Flora believes and knows, but being separate from Flora, we are able to make further assumptions about people and how they relate to Flora. Barr uses this to her full advantage and crafts a remarkable story that cannot be adequately described.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (278 pages)
Overview: This is the story of a girl named Mel. Mel struggles with her recent bipolar disorder diagnosis and balancing trying to have a normal life while working on finding the right dosage and therapy to treat her bipolar disorder. She also has to come to terms with what her diagnosis means to her both in life and in relation to her aunt and brother who also suffered from the disorder. Dealing with turbulent friendships and new beginnings also adds to what Mel has to process. Finding her standing in life like any teen, while facing a few extra hurtles, leads to a captivating, informative, and touching story showcasing feelings that anyone can empathize with. Overall: 4.8

Characters: 4.9 I thought that Lindstrom did a great job crafting his, relatively large, cast of characters. There's her family that's composed of her father, mostly absent because of the divorce but still very much a caring figure in times of need, her mother, weary from the past but always wanting to help Mel, and Aunt Joan (or hurricane Joan) who counterbalances Mel's mother's overprotective nature by encouraging Mel to live life to the fullest. Mel also had a brother, Nolan, who died two years before the book opens and is a driving force in many of the character's actions.
We also meet her friends (and ex friends) who are strong motivators for the plot. There are Zumi and Connor, her original friends who she drifts away from after a falling out with the group ring leader, Annie, and then her new friends from after her falling out and hospitalization, Holly and Declan. While Holly and Declan appear as a support system for Mel and a sign she is trying to move forward, they do not get developed like the other characters, but there are so many it is hard to complain. Connor and Zumi, though mainly Zumi, are given the most attention in development.
The final group of characters are from the retirement home where Mel works. Mr. Terrance Knight, Dr. Jordan, and Ms. Li serve as a strong support system while she works through her issues with her friends. It is also there where she meets David, a boy her aged entirely removed from her past and present friendship troubles. Overall, Lindstrom is able to wind this large cast through Mel's eyes to make an even more complex and interesting story.

Plot: 4.8 Mel presents the reader with the story of her life, which is most definitely interesting. She deals with regular issues among her friends while also dealing with, and trying to hide, her bipolar disorder. Seeing these dynamics work through the book, and seeing her ups and downs so plainly creating an interesting and informative book.

Writing: 4.8 Lindstrom does a great job interweaving many characters and plots while staying on the mission of telling Mel's story. Having so many characters and plot lines, facets of her life, makes the story more realistic because everyone has many, unique parts to their life. His success in expressing this is, though, unique. I also thought that he did a great job of showing Mel's bipolar disorder and not letting it define her. It is a part of her life just like her past and her friends and her family. It is shown, expressed, and discussed but in a natural, normal, honest way that never strays to become awkward. I completely enjoyed reading this book. It was hard to put down and, overall, very impactful.

Random Note: I absolutely am in love with this title. When I saw it on the shelf, I was sold before I even read the synopsis.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (306 pages) Buy At Your Local Bookstore*
Overview: It's just one elevator ride. Just one elevator ride to the rest of Will's life. Eight floors takes so long when you're headed to kill someone. Even in revenge. Even for justice. Even when your brother was just murdered. It's even longer when every stop brings someone who's left your life back in. There's so much to learn before Will hits the lobby. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Because of the atmosphere and the point of the story, we don't get super into the characters. They each represent a stop on a horrible cycle. It starts with Buck, Will's older brother, Shawn's, older brother figure. When Buck got killed, Shawn had to avenge his death, which got him killed. He also meets his Uncle Mark, an aspiring filmmaker who's death lead to Will's father's death because of the Rules. Each character doesn't exist to explore themselves or have their own motives- they…

Into YA with Erin Hahn

I know I'm not supposed to name favorites, but getting to interview Erin was such a wonderful treat! I absolutely adore her and her book, and I was so honored that she was willing to come on the blog. 
I'm so happy I get to share her wisdom with all of you. I suggest that if you haven't heard about You'd Be Mine or know much about it, check out my review before continuing with this article, but make sure you come back because you don't want to miss this one, and if you'd like to purchase the book you can do so here

1. Music plays a major role in the story considering they’re both country stars. You’ve even made a playlist of songs, which I’ll link below. Were you ever nervous about getting the sound and attitude of the music to translate to the reader, especially a reader who might be unfamiliar with the songs? 
Oh my word, YES. First of all, I am very aware not everyone loves country music and even more to the point, not everyone understands the rich history of…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig by Don Zolidis (342 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Indie Bookstore*
Overview: This is a love story. It's a life story. There is not happily ever after, but it's not like the ending is sad. It's realistic. It's the out of order tale of seven break ups and six make ups during Amy and Craig's senior year of high school. Amy is Craig's first girlfriend, and he loves her, and she loves him, but life is complicated. Craig has to navigate his family's financial difficulties after his dad loses his job. He has to figure out if college, which was always a given, is even a possibility even more. Amy is taking care of her mom, who has cancer, and trying to balance leading the class and all her club commitments. Sometimes, there's only so much one relationship can take. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 I love Amy and Craig. Craig narrates the story, and he is hilarious. He plays on irony and sarcasm is perfect. He's endearing and …

The Dead Queen's Club

The Dead Queen's Club by Hannah Capin (January 29)
Overview: For fans of European history, specifically Henry VIII and his many wives, this is a treat. Modernized and set in high school, this version is the tale of all of Henry's living ex-girlfriends banding together to find the real reason behind the death of two of his former girlfriends, Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard. Narrated by Annie, better known as Cleves, the reader falls for Henry's charm but also sees the cracks growing in his perfect facade. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Cleves has a authoritative voice that I very much enjoyed. She's outspoken and uncompromising as she makes a place for herself in her new school senior year. Even though she marches to the beat of her own drum, she's found a place for herself among the cheerleaders who genuinely love how unique she is; but it helps that she's already friends with Henry, football star who practically owns the school.
The other characters have their places a…

Ultimate Halloween Book List

At the beginning of October, I unconsciously started reading murder-thriller books. It started with finally reading One of Us Is Lying and then I went to Lauren Oliver's book event for her new book, Broken Things, so I decided I would pick up a few more to read on the many plane rides I've taken recently and make a list for you. I've ranked them by the books I enjoyed most, but I'm also throwing a scariness ranking below too.

1. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved The Cheerleaders. Even if I wasn't narrowing this to just thrillers, this would still be up there. While there's no immediate threat, there's still a sinister feeling five years after five cheerleaders die in a year in three accidents. One of the girl's sister, who investigates, also has a complicated life of her own. Thomas did an awesome job of sprinkling the mystery clues and bringing us a story through such a strong voice. Here's my full Review Here (4.5 stars overall, 2 scare fact…

The History of Jane Doe

The History of Jane Doe by Micheal Belanger (2018)
Overview: Ray knows the entire history of his hometown, Burgerville, Connecticut. He also knows lots of different tidbits about the world as well. But, for his first written account of history, the story must center on loss, why, and fleeting moments of happiness. He has to tell the story of his first girlfriend, hidden by the anonymity of the name Jane Doe. Told in Before and After chapters, Ray explores the highs and lows he had in his fleeting relationship with Jane and his recovery from crushing loss. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Jane is coping with clinical depression that probably stems from a combination of family history and past trauma. She goes between trying to hide her scars and struggles and exposing them, tiny piece by piece to the people she loves.
Ray is fascinated by Jane and the way she looks at the world and the town he's lived in all his life with fresh eyes.
His friend, Simon, is dorky and not quite all together b…

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (326 pages)
Overview: Sloane wanted to end her life. And then the apocalypse came. Her focus suddenly turns to survival because that's what she's supposed to do. She finds a group of other teens from her school, and they survive in the infected city for seven days before finding shelter in the high school. With all the doors barricaded and the necessities provided, suddenly, there's room to think, reflect, and feel again, and their safe haven quickly turns into a cage. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 This cast has blown me away. Courtney Summers in general has done that with every aspect of the novel, but the characters are all so detailed and unique and flawed and emotional and broken. It makes for the perfect novel.
Sloane has recently had her sister leave without her, even though the plan was for them to escape their abusive father together. Without Lily, she feels her life has no point, but when it's seriously threatened, something co…

Meet Me In Outer Space Review

Meet Me In Outer Space by Melinda Grace (262 pages) To Purchase from your Local Bookstore(Affiliate Link)
Overview: Eddie has an auditory processing disorder. Sometimes, she hears things that don't quite add up. Sometimes, she's able to piece together what is meant, and, others, she asks people to repeat themselves. This works well enough regularly, but, in French 102, it might keep her from her dreams. Eddie needs the language credits to graduate; she needs the French language if she wants to make it in France, the capital in fashion. She fully expects to fail French 102, but she doesn't expect to fall for the TA. Sometimes, though, life defies expectations. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 4 Eddie is a highly relatable character. She's driven and willing to work doubly hard to overcome a system that actively works against her. She also knows what her dream is and how to get it. Spending the summer and fall semester of her junior year in Paris would allow her to step toward he…

You'd Be Mine Review

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (April 2) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
Overview: Clay Coolidge is the new hotshot in country music, but his tour hinges on him signing his opening act, Annie Mathers. While they doubt Clay can keep his cool on the summer tour highlife, they know that Annie has a promising career ahead of her because she's the product of two of countries hottest, and most infamous, country superstars. Even though the door starts as a business deal, it winds up being a journey of self discovery and a love story of its own. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Annie and Clay are more than just celebrities or musicians. They're real people, and, while you get a glimpse at their larger than life sides, Hahn never lets you get swept up in the glitz and the glamor. They are two brand new adults in a brand new world, still mourning losses from their old one.
Annie has been trying to outrun her parents, and their famous double suicide, since she found their b…