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Showing posts from 2018

Spotlight Review: So Glad To Meet You

So Glad To Meet You by Lisa Super (July 31)
Overview: When Daphne finds her dead older sister's bucket list under a floor board, she knows what she has to do. She tracks down her sister's boyfriend's younger brother, Oliver. After their siblings died together, she thinks that it's only right they complete their bucket list together the best they can. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 4 I enjoyed Daphne and Oliver. They both seem like genuine people trying to figure out what's right and what happened to their families with the death of their sister and brother. Though they're both in tough situations, it's nice to see them take comfort in one another.

Plot: 3 The plot was interesting while I was reading it. They set out to complete a modified version of the ten item list but slowly grow closer as they do. Though their journey isn't without a fair amount of speed bumps. Unfortunately, the book lacks the sense of urgency I needed to feel compelled to get all the way t…

Spotlight Review: How We Learned To Lie

How We Learned To Lie by Meredith Miller (July 31)
Overview: Joan and Daisy were always best friends. Until, one day, they started drifting, their relationship troubled by new lies springing up. Joan wants to know how the world works, and she uses biology to try to tether herself. Daisy just wants a normal life with a normal family. In a creepy, ominous story, we learn how the lives of Joan and Daisy unfold. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 4 I thought that Joan and Daisy were both interesting. They have difficult lives and family situations. Daisy has to deal with his mother's drug use and his brother's sketchy activity. Joan's mother has informally abandoned the family to run a theater in New York. For the most part, the characters are well fleshed out, but the way their alternating chapters are written, even though they are first person, they feel removed from the characters.

Plot: 3 While there's a constant teaser of drama that's about to happen, 25% of the way through, t…

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…

Spotlight Review: Letting Go Of Gravity

Letting Go Of Gravity by Meg Leder (July 17)
Overview: Charlie and Parker were inseparable twins till school split them up into different classes, and they have to fend for themselves. Since they have their own lives, they get closer and more distant over time. Then Charlie gets cancer. Though the family gets through it, the cancer resurfaces in their later teen years throwing their family back into uncertain territory. Parker tries to take the experience to her internship at the children's hospital, though it proves harder to return than she thought while Charlie spirals out of control having felt robbed of his high school life. Can the twins keep it together? Overall: 3 

Characters: 3 I feel like the characters fell flat as a whole because they didn't have their own, distinct voices. I had to put the book down because the monotone style couldn't hold my attention.

Plot: 3 I think that this goes back to the voice as well. The characters couldn't produce enough genuine te…

Spotlight Review: Wrong in All the Right Ways

Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee (July 17)
Overview: Emma is a people pleaser, or, more precisely, a parent pleaser. This means that when her parents decide to foster a new kid to hopefully adopt, Emma has to smile and bare it even though she feels she is getting replaced. Emma is taken by surprise when she finds out that Dylan, her new maybe brother, is sixteen and hot. As their English class explores Wuthering Heights, the book that inspired this narrative, they must also  explore their relationship and whether their romance is worth the risk. Overall: 3

Characters: 3 There were moments when I liked Emma, but those were far outnumbered by the moments I didn't like. There were moments of borderline slut shaming of her classmates that I really didn't appreciate, and her self-defense superiority complex that comes from having no friends is not articulated well. Instead of adding depth, it just makes her hard to be around.
Coming from Emma's lens, everyone else …

I Believe In A Thing Called Love

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (317 pages)
Overview: Desi has every award under the sun, but there's still one thing missing from this near perfect SAT scoring, class president's high school experience. A boyfriend. Luckily, a new boy shows up senior year, just in time for Desi to make check the experience off the list. Unfortunately, Luca appears to be unattainable until Desi starts to make a plan. Using her father's Korean dramas as a template, Desi creates a series of careful steps that will (hopefully) guarantee her the guy of her dreams. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I liked Desi. She's an overachiever and set on making herself and her father proud by following in her deceased mother's footsteps to attend premed at Stanford. She's driven and analytically oriented. Luca makes a great boyfriend for her in the way that he balances her out. He's engaged and focused in his own way, but, in his artistic pursuits, he doesn't hold the same rigidi…

Spotlight Review: I'm Not Missing

I'm Not Missing by Carie Fountain (July 10)
Overview: Syd always kept Miranda afloat. She was the loud voice to triumph over all of Miranda's insecurity. She was her guide to the world and the ultimate decision maker for every facet of Miranda's life. She was going to Stanford and getting out of her trailer park.
And then she's gone. Missing with no trace except for a note to make it clear she doesn't want to be found, Miranda tries to figure out what happened all while falling into a new life complete with her long time crush as her new boyfriend now that Syd is out of the way. Will Miranda find Syd? Should she even bother looking now that she knows what Syd's done? Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 The secret sauce to good characters is authenticity. Fountain nails that. Every character in the story is so genuine to themselves and to each other. Miranda makes for an interesting lead as she's always been Syd's side kick. She has to learn how to lead her own life…

June Wrap Up: A Month of Awesome Books!

June has been one of my most successful reading months this year both in the number of books I've completed and the number of books that were absolute stand outs. This month, I also had the privilege of meeting a trio of fantastic authors and launching a new site called Fireworks In The Night (Check it out here) to host some awesome original work.
Today, I want to recap some of my favorite books and posts and give you a quick look ahead into the super exciting coming months!

New York City Last month, I had the chance to visit the city to check out colleges. Of course, New York is also one of the world's great literary and food hubs, so there were lots of things to see and try. Here are some of the posts  inspired by my trip! Books In NYC: List Here
Be Empathy: David Arnold, Becky Albertalli, and Adam Silvera in Conversation: Article Here Eating Gluten Free in NYC: Article Here
Best New Books of The Month
The Way You Make Me Feel: Review Here
The Poet X: Review Here
The Fragile Ordina…

Allegedly

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (387 pages)
Overview: Mary may or may not have killed baby Alyssa. But she got convicted of the crime anyway. After spending years nine through fourteen of her life in baby jail, Mary is transferred to a group home that proves far more dangerous than her sentence. To add to her problems, sixteen year old Mary discovers she's become pregnant by her boyfriend she met volunteering. Mary must now figure out how to clear her name so that she can keep her baby. After all, it was only ever allegedly.Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Having an unreliable narrator definitely livens up the story. The reader's trust for Mary will eb and flow as the story progresses, though, ultimately, her stability is even more questionable than her trustworthiness. Sometimes Mary is level headed, sometimes erratic. The reader has a vague idea of certain pills she and her mother may be taking, but Mary never gives much of that away. Even though we are in Mary's head, we still ha…

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon (378 Pages)
Overview: Tovah and Adina have one more year of high school; one year to answer all of their questions. The most pressing, though, is if one or both of the twins will contract Huntington's, the genetic disorder claiming their mother's life. What will the promise of a life with or without the disease mean for the girl's, and will it bring the twin's closer or tear them apart. Solomon delves into this as well as relationships, religion, and how knowing their fate will change their view of the world in this thought provoking novel. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed the duel prospectives and the twins here. They each brought their own prospectives to show almost the two extremes of people who've experienced similar situations. Tovah is a devout conservative Jew, just like her parents. She takes all APs and is prized for her intelligence. School, particularly the path to medical school, is her "…

Nothing Left To Burn

Nothing Left To Burn by Heatger Ezell (322 pages)
Overview: There's a fire burning Orange County to the ground, and Audrey knows what started it. She's woken up to an evacuation notice and then learns that her sister collapsed at her ballet audition about an hour away. Audrey is scared the cancer has come back to take her sister. She also has her firefighter boyfriend, Brooks, to worry about, though the fire seems to be the high point of his life. Throughout the day and in flashback chapters of the summer, Audrey must figure out how to piece together what's left of what the fire burnt to the ground. Overall: 5++++++++++++

Characters: 5 Wow. I think that I love and identify with Audrey more than any character I've ever read. She's a bit trapped in her own head and stuck between intensities, a devout dancer till she walked out of the audition of her ballet career at fourteen. A controlled, quiet impulsiveness courses under his skin, and, though it doesn't show ofte…

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera (368 pages)
Overview: Mateo and Rufus are both going to die at the end, but I'm guessing you got that from the title. The thing is, Mateo and Rufus don't know each other till the day they are going to die. After getting their calls from Death Cast, the new organization that lets everyone know that they are going to die with a call sometime after midnight. While trying to digest the news, they both turn their attention to the Last Friend app in search of finding another "decker" to spend their final day with. As the boys try to think of ways not to waste their final moments, they start to form a bond they never anticipated. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I have to applaud Silvera for keeping his (mostly) duel prospective narrative voices so separate. Mateo and Rufus not only have different traits but totally different dialects.
Mateo is Puerto Rican, quiet, and totally paranoid with a hyperawareness about safe. Both careful and caring,…

The Poet X

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (361 pages)
Overview: X is stuck in a body that feels wrong, in a family that thinks she's wrong, in a religion that might be wrong, all in her Harlem neighborhood. X only has one thing that gives her relief, a journal where she could release her musings about the world. This book connects her to the slam poetry club run by her sophomore english teacher which may be the salvation X needs, if only she can find a way to stay late to get to the group. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I'm a huge fan of X and her take on the world. She's intelligent and imaginative and she has an incredibly sharp eye for directing the world she lives in and the world at large with her smooth disassembly of every societal norm thrust in her face.
Her family, friends, teacher, and romantic interests work to fill out the rest of her world in a well developed way that made sense to telling the main character's story.

Plot: 5 I completely enjoyed the plot. I read it all in…

Spotlight Review: The Destination Is On Your Left

The Destination Is On Your Left by Lauren Spieller (June 26)
Overview: Life hasn't been stable for Dessa since her family gave up life in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the end of seventh grade. Her new normal became living in an RV, never staying in any place longer than a week or two and always voting on where her future would go, not only with her family, but with the two others that made up their RV caravan. Now a graduated senior, Dessa hopes to change that. With a pending acceptance to UCLA on the table, Dessa is ready to move on to art school and stability, even if that means leaving her family and long term crush Cyrus behind. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed Dessa. She was a great character to lead the story and exhibited a lot of growth in character and independence as the story progressed. Seeing another Greek main character in YA made me happy. I also loved her mentor, a Santa Fe found artist, and a girl that could be called her new best friend who takes her out for a wild …

The Way You Make Me Feel

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo (320 pages)
Overview: Clara shin is the self proclaimed class clown. She's good, but sometimes she takes it too far. Like at Junior prom when her Carry inspired stunt after winning prom queen turns into a brawl with Rose, the junior class president, and the cafeteria up in smoke. Since Clara is immune to school punishment, her father and the school board decide that Rose and Clara will spend all summer working at the KoBra, his food truck to pay off the damages. Is there a chance it won't be totally miserable? Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Clara is infectious. From the first word, I knew was going to love the book. Her voice and humor pick you up and wrap you tight so that you're living in Clara's mind, not just listening to her story.
Rose, the uptight, beautiful ballerina-class president, makes for a great advisory turned tentative friend for Clara because they reflect the parts of each other that they spend so much time to hide. It&#…

I Want To Hear Your Voice: Fireworks In The Night

Hello, everyone! It's been a while since I've done an update post, so I feel it's about time. This one will be a bit different, though, because I'm not recapping books or even talking about them at all today. (Though you can find some extra bookish content treats- including my last library haul- on the blog Instagram (@readingwritingandme)
 I wanted to talk about a new adventure I'm embarking on, and, yes, it is literary.
While writing is a part of this site, I haven't uploaded much to the section. That's for a number of reasons. Many of my pieces are often tied up waiting for contest results or other publications, but, also, I just don't feel like some of my creative work is a fit for the type of content I like to post here.
I absolutely adore running Reading, Writing, and Me, and nothing is going to change about the site. In fact, I have some pretty awesome things coming up for you! But the community I've become a part of through a love of books …

Spotlight Review: The Fragile Ordinary

The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young (June 26)
Overview: Comet's life in a small suburb of Edinburgh, Portobello, has been mostly consumed by books. They keep her from being lonely and leave her informed about the world she's missing by skipping going to parties with her friends Vikki and Steph. That's until Tobias King, a new American boy, shows up on campus to turn Comet's life upside down. Finally finding someone who pays her notice, Comet starts to come into her own though she always battles the fear of becoming dependent on another person like her parents who all but abandoned her as their "unhappy accident." Comet is an inventive dresser, a poet, and a wonderful friend; she just needs the right people to continue building her toward her dreams. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Comet. She's probably in my top favorite characters of all time. I identified with Comet and her story on such a deep level. She's independent, smart, focused, and quiet…

Eating NYC Gluten Free

As someone who has recently connected the dots to realize maybe gluten isn't her friend, the idea of leaving my house and my kitchen, full of safe food, was terrifying, but, alas, being a hermit is no fun, and I had college tours to attend in both New York and Boston. As a devout planner, I decided to quell my anxiety with research and felt a bit better.
Armed with plenty of safe place to eat that not only offered gluten free but (mostly) healthy foods, I got on the plane. The food turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. I wanted to take a minute to highlight the deliciousness of New York City, I just wanted to say that no one else in my family has to eat gluten free, so they had much higher standards for foods where they could have the real deal, and I managed to blow them away with some of my picks. Gluten free can be totally delicious, and if you have to eat this way, it is in no way culinary death sentence.

Wild Right before I found out I was gluten intolerant, …

Weekly Review: Made You Up

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (428 pages)
Overview: Alex has schizophrenia which means that hallucinations are a major part of what she sees as reality. Some blend seamlessly into her world while others, like the phoenix who flies over town or the armed men who guard the school, are easier to distinguish as nonexistent. Through carefully developed procedures, Alex has been able to control her hallucinations and paranoia well enough to continue going to high school. Though there are certainly difficult times, the people she meets senior year at East Shoal High will forever change Alex's life for the better. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 While I read tons of mental health books, I had never read one with a main character coping with paranoid schizophrenia. It was a very interesting experience to live in her world of total uncertainty with her mind. I also love how Alex doesn't let her difficulties define her, and, while they are always present, she works to live her life to the full…

Spotlight Review: A Flicker in the Clarity

A Flicker in the Clarity by Amy McNamara (June 12)
Overview: Evie has always been there to catch Emma when she spirals off the rails. In fact, she spends most of her time worrying about her best friend and maybe even dreaming of having Emma's carefree attitude and oozing charm. But Evie knows that Emma doesn't always make the best choices, from dating guys well her senior, sneaking out at night, skipping school, and shoplifting. Evie also knows that Emma's never been the same since her older brother, Patrick's death.
While trying to stay one step ahead of Emma to cover for her, Evie is starting to realize that she could be the star of her own life as well when she meets a hot tour guide on a school trip the the Brooklyn Bridge. While Theo may not be perfect, he makes Evie realize that she too can be special which is something she'll need if she wants to put out her art for contests like her teacher recommends. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 The characters were my favori…

Be Empathy: David Arnold, Becky Albertalli, and Adam Silvera in Conversation

Somehow, I lucked out and managed to find myself in New York City on the night of David Arnold's tour stop! I'd wanted to see him as he's one of my favorite authors, but he wasn't coming to a city near me, so I wasn't sure it would happen.
Barnes and Noble Union Square was the first stop I made after driving in from the airport to collect my wrist bands for the evening's events. I picked up a finished copy of The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik to join the ARC I already have on the shelf, and I also grabbed a copy of Leah on The Offbeat as Becky was also there to promote her new book.
I came back at six to stake out my seats for the event and also bought They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera since he was there to moderate the event. I've been meaning to read the book for so long (I have it on audio), but I'm hoping the print book will be more motivating.
The panel was so much fun. David, Arnold, and Becky are all great friends which simply brou…

Books In New York

This week has been crazy and full of travel, so I haven't been able to be as active on the blog as I'd like to be. Today, because I'm in New York City, I wanted to make a post of some of the great books I've read that are set there. While there are tons that are missing and tons I haven't read yet, these books helped me get to know the city better before I arrived.  Another super exciting thing about being in New York is getting to experience some of their wonderful events. I spent last night at David Arnold's NYC Book Launch for The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik and a celebration of Becky's book Leah on The Offbeat moderated by Adam Silvera. I'm hoping to get a post written about the event and reviews for the awesome books I bought very soon. 

History Is All You Left Me When I think of books that take place in New York City, Adam Silvera is the first author I think of. All of his books (More Happy Than Not and They Both Die In The End) are set …