Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 30 Part 1

Hello, everyone! So, as you probably all know, John Green's new book, Turtles All The Way Down came out yesterday, and I could barely keep it together all day waiting for my copy to arrive. Between sacrificing sleep and reading in the extra time after the PSATs, I'm 30 pages out from finishing it! I can safely say that it is an amazing and important read that really spoke to me in a way few books have. I'll be posting a full review of that on Wednesday right before I go see John and Hank in Indianapolis on Thursday!
I'm (briefly) finished talking about Turtles All The Way Down, but be sure to check out the instructions below for following us on all social media channels and the email subscription to be the first to know about new posts and to get special extras before and about posts. I'll be linking last week's reviews and my favorite mental health reads in honor of Mental Health Awareness Day (which was yesterday). 
As a last note, the books this week were really awesome reads that I highly recommend! Krystal Sutherland definitely delivered the John Green vibes that were promised on the back of the book, and Rainbow Rowell's epic Fangirl got me through while the power was out with Harvey. I'm also reviewing Sutherland's newest title, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, Halloween week!

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland (313 pages)
Overview: Henry Page has made it to senior year with one singular focus, become editor of the school paper. No amount of high school hijinks ever pulled him away from working getting what he wanted until Mr. Hink announces that Henry is going to have a co-editor for the paper, recent transfer, Grace Town. Walking the a cane and dressed in baggy cloths from the men's department, Grace draws  a feeling in Henry that he's never felt before. As he gets to know Grace Town and the deeper parts of her life, Henry gets pulled into her hurricane, letting his whole life fall away just to follow Grace and her cyclone of highs and lows. Even as he starts to realize he's letting his life fall apart over something that barely makes him happy anymore, Henry can't let go of this girl that made his world shine in a brand new light. Overall: 4.3

General Thoughts: I think the special part of this book is how honest the feelings come across. Beyond the words and the things that happen, what makes me love this book and recommend it is how the book just made me feel understood. The themes in this book, contemplating death and the universe, first attraction, and loving someone you shouldn't, are executed beautifully and with the upmost authenticity in a way that can't be ranked through any of the regular categories I grade on. 

Characters: 5 Henry Page is just such an honest character. He loves wholeheartedly, wants the best for people, and is maybe a touch naive, but aren't we all when we're faced with something difficult. He's the one we ride the rollercoaster with, and Grace and his heart is the ones that run it. 
Grace is also another well crafted character. She has clearly suffered through a lot though feels the need to keep suffering. She's definitely a character that builds and grows over the course of the book purely from the reader learning more about her past. 
The other character I wanted the discuss here is Lola, one of two of Henry's two best friends and definitely the more important of the two. Lola serves as the story's anchor that tries to keep Henry grounded and realistic during the worst of his infatuation with Grace. She tries to keep the world centered and in check. 

Plot: 4 The plot is overall strong, though there are many predictable moments. While this is mostly a character driven plot focusing on Henry and Grace's evolution, some of the plot steps added for comic relief, mostly staring Henry's over-exagerated, Australian friend Murray, diminished some of the severity of the plot in a way that I felt did not service the book.

Writing: 4 I enjoyed the writing which is light and easy to read, and I marvel at the author's ability to have so much levity in her words and so much grounding and honesty in the emotions embedded in this story. There are some hokey parts that I feel diminished the book a bit, overall, this is a very strong story that I would recommend to anyone who likes realistic romances that might not have a happy ending.

Links Of Interest:
Mental Health Awareness Week Picks:

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pride

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (September 18)
Overview: Though it's billed as a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, this story is all its own. Zuri is a proud citizen of Bushwick. She loves her family, her neighbors, and the character that surrounds her. She and her many sisters have spent months speculating about who is moving into the renovated home across the street. They don't expect Darius and Ainsley Darcy, wealthy, private school boys that don't fit with the vibe of the neighborhood. Despite their differences, Darius and Zuri grow closer, and between dealing with her sisters and mounting college applications, they find a spark that might be too hot to ignore. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 The characters are very well formed. Probably because they are so steeped in the vivid world Zoboi paints, we feel their essence from the very first page. From the refined Darcy twins to the chaotic group of four sisters all cooped up in one bedroom, the people in Zuri's world help us learn about …

Radio Silence

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (496 pages)
Overview: Frances has always known her across the street neighbor Aled Last in the periphery. He was Carry Last's sister until she disappeared. Now he's head boy Daniel's best friend. When she and Aled are thrust together on a drunken train ride home, Frances learns she's a lot closer to Aled than she thought. He's the mysterious creator of her favorite narrative podcast, Universe City. But when his identity surfaces on the internet in connection to Universe City, it all starts to fall apart for their friendship, and  Aled's life. Overall: 5

Character: 5 Frances, Aled, and Daniel are all extremely real people. France lives her life caught up on the dream of getting into Cambridge. If it's not helping her admissions prospects, she's not doing it- unless it's under a pen name and involving Universe City fan art. Over the course of the book, she realizes that the Frances in her head that she projects and the Fran…

One of Us Is Lying

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (360 pages)
Overview: Five kids are in detention. Only four come out alive, and they become the prime suspects of the most botched police investigation ever. They're the beauty, the jock, the brains, and the slacker. They barely know each other, but they're all tied together in one way or another to Simon, the school gossip leader with a severe peanut allergy. When all their secrets come out, the police investigation become the least of their worries. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved McManus's cast. We get to see prospective from all three of them which is a nice touch. Each of them are a take on a classic stereotype. While they fulfill almost all of the regular archetypes, she makes them deeper, more human and relatable. I particularly loved Browneyn and Nate who are in the classic good girl/bad boy relationship, but somehow she makes it cute and irresistible not tired and cliche. I also loved the sister relationships that get explor…

Spotlight Review: Heretics Anonymous

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry (August 7)
Overview: Micheal has moved four times in ten years. This time, the move has landed him at a prestigious Catholic school instead of the local public school. This does not go well with his atheist beliefs. On his first day, he meets Lucy, an outspoken Catholic girl who's frustrated that she can't change anything about the flaws she sees in the church she loves. She introduces him to the underground club, Heretics Anonymous where students of other faiths come to vent about the unfair policies of the school. Spurred into action by Micheal's fire, the atheist, gay, Jewish boy, pagan girl, Unitarian boy, and Catholic leader make changes in the school that no one will forget. Overall: 5+++

Characters: 5 This book carries a deeply complex narrative that is driven by the amazing detail put into each characters. One of the great tenants of writing is understanding that every character has their own wants and motivations. This is one of the…

Spotlight Review: 500 Words or Less

500 Words or Less by Juleah de Rosario (384 pages)
Overview: Nic Chen is not whole. Starting senior year, she's a fragment of parts she doesn't know how to reconcile. She's at the top of her class. She's Kitty's best friend. But she's also the girl with "whore" written in bright orange lipstick across her locker. Who's missing her boyfriend. And her childhood best friend who's abandoned her. It isn't until she's tasted with writing everyone else's college essays that she starts to piece together who she really is. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I loved Nic. She sees the world in an interesting and beautiful way. She's critical and analytical, but she is also full of longing and emotional connection. She challenges the double standard and inequality. She questions the people around her and how they've changed- how some have been allowed by the world to change more than others.
The parsing of the parental relationships is also intere…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu
Overview: Emika is a bounty hunter with $13 to her name and an eviction notice on her door. Then she's the hacker girl who glitched into Warcross. And then she becomes Hideo's personal bounty hunter who stands to win ten million dollars. Emika's life has changed a lot, and it only gets more complicated as she gets deeper and deeper into the world of Henka Games. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 Okay, it's hard to go into this much without getting spoiler-ey, but I'll be vague. First off, I loved Emika. She's a great main character with the right amount of sensibility and emotion. What was really impressive though, was how Marie Lu plays with character evolutions. At the end of the book, there will be a moment where you put the book down and go wow at how Marie is able to twist shades of good and evil making us think about the grey.

Plot: 4 I finished this book in a few days thanks to its fast pace and urgency. While some of the game descriptions were…

Into YA Interview: Eric Smith

Today I have an extra awesome post for all of you! As part of my new series, Into YA focused on giving you a look into what goes on before the book gets into your hands, I'm talking to rockstar agent Eric Smith (who is also an author himself)! If you don't follow him on Twitter over at @ericsmithrocks, then you should be. He has one of the best Twitter accounts.

1. How did you decide to become a literary agent?
I'd been working in publishing for a number of years, at Quirk Books, an indie publisher in Philadelphia known for books like Pride & Prejudice & Zombiesand Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, when I decided it was time to really focus on books that I wanted to work on. I loved everything we did at Quirk, but I wanted to focus on more Young Adult books, as well as the kind of literary fiction I loved. So... along came my colleagues at P.S. Literary, and it's been a happy place for the past three years. 
2. Like me, many of my readers are author…

Why I Write Mostly Positive Reviews (Also Why It's Okay To DNF a Book)

You may or may not have noticed, but the reviews I post on the site have shifted a lot in the last few months. The average star rating of books I post about has shifted from a 3 to a 4, and the reviews are overwhelmingly more positive. I have lots of standout books, and 5 stars are no longer a rare occurrence like they were before.
This isn't because I've gotten less critical or careful with my reading and ranking. I still want to give the most honest content and only pair people with books I love. It's happened because I don't read books I'm not enjoying anymore. While I used to feel obligated to finish every book I picked up, I no longer feel tied to that seeming "reader rule."
I used to figure I had to give books at least to thirty or fifty percent or just barrel all the way through. This made me only pick books I was sure I would love. Even with that test, you can't know whether you'll like the voice or the writing.
It took school getting bus…

The Lake Effect

The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan (391 pages)
Overview: Lake Michigan is beautiful. That's why the town of South Haven draws so many tourists, or in this case, seasonal workers. Briggs gets the chance to return to the lake for a summer to work for an old woman looking for live in summer help. Though the lake promises beautiful days and abundant fun, it also opens him up to many new worlds. That of his Serbian employer oozing with spunk, the unintentionally mysterious girl next door, Abigail, and the whole crew of townies who fill his afternoons with beach volleyball. The time away also offers a fresh prospective on the family he left behind and his future priorities. Though he knew about the weather, the Lake Effect was something much greater than he anticipated. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Wow. So, I have to  say that when the book started, I was fine with Briggs but nothing special. He was the kind of guy who came from a somewhat privileged background that was a machine towards wealth …