Skip to main content

Weekly Reviews and Recommendations: Week 32 Part 2

Hello, everyone! Halloween is only a few days away, so I wanted to share my review of A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, by far one of the spookiest and most stunning books I've read this year. It definitely had great mood setting vibes for my favorite holiday. Are you dressing up this year? What are you going as?  I'm going to be Wonder Woman. The costume is just as fun as the movie, which I really enjoyed. 
Below, I've linked some of my recent articles including Part 1 of this week and last week's reviews, Dazzling Heights and Turtles All The Way Down. Also, if you like Krystal Sutherland or want to hear about her other books, I've linked her other book below, Our Chemical Hearts. It's a great book, though completely different than ASDLOWN. If you're missing John Green type reads after Turtles, it's a good fit. 


A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland (349 pages)
Overview: Esther Solar believes her family is cursed to die from their own greatest fears, so she's decided to make a list of everything remotely scary and avoid them so they could never develop into the great fear. Her brother's is the dark, her father is agoraphobic, her grandfather is terrified of water, and her mother is terribly superstitious. They all are, or, at least seem to be. Esther's solitary existence, bouncing from costume to costume with her twin brother, Eugene and selectively mute friend, Hepesba, by her side suits her just fine until she meets an old elementary school crush at the bus stop, Jonah Smallwood. In the process of pick-pocketing her, he comes into possession of Esther's list of fifty fears, and from there, he decides that they will conquer each one. Overall: 4.5

General Thoughts: This book really surprised me. The title alone drew me in enough to put it as #1 on my must read list, but I had no idea that the story would be this deep. With a strong focus and unexpected presentation of mental illness, this book was deep and thought provoking in unexpected ways and well worth the read. The complexity of the book made it a slower read just by how much there was to digest, but a beautiful one too.

Characters: 5 Esther dresses in a different costume every day from which she draws strength by taking on the persona. I thought this was an interesting first clue about our main character, especially because it's said to have arisen after she suffered serious bullying. It's a shield and a coping mechanism for her anxiety which she suffers greatly from in ways far beyond the trivial fears she's built her wall with.
Her brother Eugene who is terrified of the light and her parents, each too consumed by their own fears to be anything remotely like parents, present interesting reflection points for Esther as well. Eugene, as the book progressed grew to become my favorite character. Then her friends, Heph, who suffers from crippling social anxiety, and Jonah who seems bright and like a spark of light as he tries to hide his abusive home, present an interesting parallel as well. Everyone in the book has their own trauma to face in a way that they can't be weighted against one another or compared, and is, in a way, what makes the book both so interesting and so real.

Plot: 4 For the most part, I found the plot complex and interesting. While, as with nearly every book, there were parts that dragged, developing and discovering these people and their relationships with one another made the book impossible to put down. The only part I didn't really love was the final chapter. While I don't want to spoil the book, the ending seemed to be tacked on somewhat unrealistically to give an overly cheerful note to the end which, in some ways diminished from the beautiful storm leading up to that point. A more grounded and reservedly hopeful finale chapter might have better suited this serious and thought provoking story.

Writing: 5 Sutherland's second novel is so different from her first that it hardly seems like the same person wrote it, which, in a way, I love. She's delivered two quality stories with quality righting while also able to delve deeply into the voice and tone that each book required. I was knocked over by the intensity and complexity of this story bringing in elements of family, family relationships, histories, relationships, and friendships in one amazing novel. While at the start, I wasn't sure how serious this deeply superstitious family was and how much to buy into the beliefs and curses, as Sutherland dived further in, the book flourished into one of the most spectacular, fresh, and honest looks at people who suffered from mental illness in ways so deep, some failed to see it in themselves. My words really can't do justice to the questioning, thought provoking, mural building quality of this book.

Links of Interest:
Week 32 Part 1: Nothing: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_26.html
Week 31 Part 1: Turtles All The Way Down: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_18.html
Week 31 Part 2: Dazzling Heights: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_22.html
Our Chemical Hearts: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_11.html

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

Spotlight New Releases: Sunshine Is Forever

Hello, everyone! Today's is a very special post for me as I am reviewing my first ARC (more on that at the bottom). I was intrigued by the summary of Sunshine Is Forever from the second I read it, and I am now so excited to get to share my review of this amazing view into depression and the motives behind self harm and suicide. The impactful story is one I place up with many of my favorite books that tackle mental illness. It also features a male protagonist with a great voice, which we honestly don't see enough of in YA. Anyway, without further ado, to celebrate Sunshine Is Forever's publication, I am bringing you my full review of this new YA mental health fiction novel from a new author to the world of YA.



Sunshine Is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan
*Trigger warning specifically for self harm and suicide*
Overview: Hunter suffers from depression. While he's dealt with it his whole life through ineffective therapy and medication, his condition is worsened by the Incident which…

Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands From NKOTB to BTS Book Review

Larger Than Life by Maria Sherman
Get a Copy!
Overall:  5
I don't think I've ever anticipated a book longer than Larger Than Life. I'd heard Maria on a couple music criticism podcasts whenever they'd launched into the confusing world of the boy band, and she always mentioned the book would be coming soon. Well, it's finally out, and it makes me incredibly happy.
As I already knew, Maria is a boy band expert as well as a true fan. Her joy and enthusiasm really does make the book. I also love that boy bands are finally getting their full and comprehensive due. I wouldn't say that I'm particularly a boy band fan (outside of the Jonas Brothers and One Direction (though I guess those are just the boy bands of my generation so many I am)), but I find how they're looked at culturally to be fascinating. Boy bands tie back to feminism and how society constructs their views around things liked by teens/girls/women/LGBTQIA people. Maria doesn't shy away from tha…

Into YA with Laura Silverman: Part 2

Today, I'm chatting with Laura Silverman again to celebrate the upcoming release of her book, RecommendedFor You as part of the blog tour! If you haven't heard about this swoony, holiday set romance in a bookstore, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to read the book's official description and Laura's bio. Otherwise, you can check out my review here. I'm so happy to support Laura's new book, and if you want to hear about her past books, I'll link to my review below. If you're excited about Recommended For You, you're in luck because it is out in the world today! If you want to order a copy while supporting indie bookstores and the blog, you can purchase the book here with my link*. Thank you to Laura for taking the time to talk with me!

1. Recommended For You is mostly set in an indie bookstore during the holiday rush. What made you decide on that setting? I spent a year working at a bookstore and fielded many of the same strange requests Shosh…

Spotify Book Tag

Today, I'm doing a book tag. I haven't done a ton of these yet, but I came across this one on Twitter when Santana shared their version of it, and I got inspired to do the tag! Santana found the tag from the original creator, Sarah @ Book Hooked Nook. Here's the original tag and here's Santana's take on it. I borrowed Sanata's twist and added music choices along with books that fit the prompt, and at the bottom, I complied all the songs into a Spotify playlist so you can listen to that while you read! I also made a special list on my Bookshop featuring all the books if you want to get any of them! Find that here. I hope you discover more books and music to love! If you want more music content, check out my music blog, Music, Musings, and Me. Also, make sure you don't miss Friday's YouTube video that perfectly fits with this tag: Spotlighting Books With Musical Main Characters.

1. Hit Rewind: a book you go back to again and again? 
I don't tend to rere…

Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy Blog Tour Spotlight

Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy by Kelly Jensen
Get a Copy!
Today, I wanted to give some space on my blog to Kelly Jensen's new anthology, Body Talk. On the heels of her last anthology that tackled mental health, Jensen is back with another honest, informative collection of essays that cover everything to do with your physical being- and the emotional repercussions that come from owning one. With contributors across the acting, writing, music, and modeling worlds, there are so many different voices that have something to say in this book. I love that the prospectives come from so many different people in the art world. Since we're all regular YA readers, there are a ton of familiar names including I.W. Gregorio (This Is My Brain In Love), Julie Murphy (Dumplin'), and Eric Smith.
While I haven't gotten to read all of the essays, I've flipped through all of them. I was impressed by the range of topics covered in the 37 pieces. Many of these are disabi…

August Wrap Up 2020- Reflecting and Getting Excited For What's To Come

I didn't think I would ever say this, but August does not seem like it's been nearly long enough! I feel like the end of summer came in the blink of an eye, and now I'm writing this on my second day as a college student. Considering I started this blog as the 8th grader, I've come a really long way. This school year is extra weird. I wasn't prepared to start school online like I had been in years past. I was anticipating moving to New York. I had an entire New York City themed visuals flip for the blog to honor the new era of my life. Alas, I'm still in the mountains and those plans are on hold. At least August is the last of the losing. I didn't have many plans beyond this month, so all the new days should get less painful. They just are instead of being a "should have been". If you're starting a major milestone this year (especially if you're starting college like I am), my heart goes out to you. We're in this together, and I think …

Badlands Book Tag (from Antari Reads)

School has been so stressful that I just wanted to have fun for today's post. I stumbled upon the Badlands Book Tag on Twitter made by Alison from Antari Reads and knew I had to do it. I get so excited every time I meet another Halsey fan/YA book lover. Halsey has been at the top of my mind lately, so this tag felt like bringing this Badlands era revival full circle. If you really want to get into the music with me, I made a reaction to Badlands for the 5th anniversary of the album. You can click the link here or watch it embedded down below. I'll also leave links to all my recent Halsey related posts so you can read about my Manic book pairings, Halsey's new role in a YA book adaption TV series, and her life Badlands album. I've also included links to Bookshop in this post. Just click Get a Copy to visit the book's affiliate page and grab one. Shopping these links means I might get a small commission, and part of the sale goes to benefit indie bookstores. It's…

Not Your #Lovestory YA Book Review

Not Your #Lovestory by Sonia Hartl
Overview: Macy never wanted to go viral. Sure, she wanted one of her videos to hit a million views on her YouTube channel where she shares movie reviews. Her plan is to use her ad money to get out of her tiny town and make it to Chicago. Instead, when she has a sort of meet cute with a boy at a baseball game that gets turned into a viral Twitter thread, all the trolls find her channel, and everyone is looking for updates on her nonexistent relationship with #baseballbabe. What looks like a chance to finally reach her channel goals quickly turns into an invasion of privacy that threatens everything she's built offline. Overall: 3

Characters: 3 I liked all of the characters involved. Macy is bright and fun. She's a great main character to follow. Paxton, her co-worker she has a crush on, is sweet and reserved. She has a couple friends and co-workers that help to build out the world. Eric, the boy from the baseball game, and Jessica, the middle ag…

Books I'm Looking Forward To: September 2020

Where did August go? July felt like it lasted forever, but, somehow, August is already over. A lot of us are headed back to school and fall might finally start coming. It also means more books to look forward to. Here's a list of a couple books that I'm currently anticipating to get you excited about September and all the amazing books coming out. So many YA writers whose books I've loved in the past are coming out with brand new books which always makes me so excited. As much as I love debut writers, it's always fun to revisit authors I've enjoyed before. As always, I've included links to Bookshop so that you can preorder a copy of any of these books super easily. Bookshop is great because they give a percentage of all sales to indie bookstores, so it's a great way to support without leaving the house, which is super important now. All of these links are affiliate links, which means that I get a small percentage off any purchase you make with my link at n…

War and Speech YA Book Review

War and Speech by Don Zolidis 
Overview: Sydney's life is a bit like a tornado. After her dad heading to prison wrecked her first semester of Junior year, she transfers schools with her walls up high and her tongue extra sharp. Sydney is deeply sarcastic, speaks her mind maybe too often, and is happy to join conspiracies to take down the school. She finds them in a group of outcasts tormented by the speech and debate team. She ends up joining down with an eye towards taking them all down and getting the coach fired. While she goes in with one mission, she finds a lot more than she bargained for on the team. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 I love, love, love Sydney. She's so cynical and sarcastic and completely hilarious. She says a lot of the things that I think, so it was a joy to see the world through her eyes. It's nice to see a YA character in high school who plays into it as a complete outsider in the sense that she doesn't even want to play the game or be a part of tho…