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Showing posts from 2019

Unpregnant Review

Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
Overview: Veronica is headed to Brown, she's valedictorian. High school is basically over for her, but the two lines on the pregnancy test ring a whole new kind of problem. As she makes the earth shattering discovery, her ex-best friend Bailey is in the bathroom too. When Veronica realizes that she'll have to travel thousands of miles to get an abortion, Bailey and Veronica embark on an epic road trip to safeguard Veronica's future. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 3.5 All the characters are nice enough, but they're not very developed or extended beyond their basic stereotypes. Veronica is the perfect Christian girl with a wonderful future ahead of her that winds up in a bad situation. Bailey is the dumped best friend who's "scary" and has tons of rumors swirling about her. Veronica comes to realize that keeping up appearances isn't everything and Bailey gets a friend (I guess?).
Then there's Kevin who apparently …

9 Days & 9 Nights Review

9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno
Overview: In this brief follow up to 99 Days, Molly is exploring Europe with her new boyfriend when their paths collide with Gabe and his new girlfriend. Their trips wind up intertwining, and it causes old histories and feelings to bubble to the surface. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 3 The characters in this installment were much more flat. I did like Sadie, but, mostly, because I was drawn to the couple of personality traits that were listed. Ian also didn't come to life much beyond a couple basic descriptors. As for everyone else, Cotugno really relied on all the knowledge you'd gained about the characters in the pervious books to create their personality. There was't much additional growth or layering to be found.

Plot: 4 This was a fun enough romp through Europe, though the sites aren't really the point. There were some fun moments and some swoony moments sprinkled throughout, but there wasn't much of a point to anything that was in…

The Need For Younger YA

There's been a new rise in the discussion of the need for a "Younger YA" or an "Upper Middle Grade" which is a wonderful development. Even though it will be a long road to actually see this change executed in the publishing world, the more times we have conversations like this, and the more authors, like Angie Thomas, who call attention to the need for it and want to write it, the closer we'll get. I'm hopeful that one day, we'll finally have books to build bridges between middle grade and YA and YA and adult as we're missing the connection points on both sides.
I think that having books for the 12, 13, and possibly 14 year olds to read until they're ready for the gritty reality of YA is the most important spot we're missing because so many kids quit reading in that time. It's hard to stay dedicated to a hobby that doesn't seem to care about you anymore. Kids who love to read do find ways around it (continuing with middle grade, …

Summer Bird Blue

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (373 pages)
Overview: Rumi lost her sister, and then grief drew a canyon between her and her mom. And then it was an ocean as she was whisked away from Washington to live with her aunt in Hawaii for the summer. Rumi has to learn how to confront her grief, her fears, and her anxieties to reclaim her life and heal. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Rumi is angry. She's always been a bit grumpy, but after landing in Hawaii, she's just an explosion of rage. What started as a coping mechanism for her anxiety turned into armor against her sadness and grief. She shoves everyone out of her life, only to slowly allow them to return.
The mother daughter relationship in the story perfectly represents Rumi, torn between love and animosity. She's always loved her mother, but, as the oldest child of a single parent who worked constantly, Rumi was like a second mom to Lea, her younger sister. Rumi felt like all of her mother's love went into Lea, so not ha…

The Year They Fell Review

The Year They Fell by David Kreizman
TW: Sexual Assault, Grief, Loss of Parents, Drug Use
Overview: Josie, Jack, Archie, and Harrison all lost their parents. Dayana was supposed to, but her dad forgot his passport, and her parents missed the plane. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. Their parents had left on their fun, annual friend group vacation. When their propeller plane crashes, the former friends have to come together to learn how to mourn. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 There are a lot of characters in this book, but they're all well developed and have their own struggles aside from the main line of the book. In a Breakfast Club like fashion, you have the jock, the popular girl, the outcast, the brain, and the loser types. Despite their archetypal origins, they each develop and find their own layers and struggles independent from their stereotype.
Dayana deals with being half in half out of the group, as she has her whole life. When her parents immigrated, she couldn't speak En…

99 Days Review

99 Days  by Katie Cotugno 
Overview: Molly is back in Star Lake after running in the night in shame. Slut shamed within an inch of her life before she left for senior year at boarding school, the 99 days back home before college are not ones she's looking forward to. With an entire town aware of her love life thanks to her mom's thinly vailed bestseller, this summer proves to be interesting. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 3.5 I have a lot of mixed feelings here, as with the plot. I like a lot of Molly. She's very independent and strong. She's unafraid and after hiding for a little while, she's not afraid to confront things head on. My problem is, while I'm all for messy characters and human choices, there were more than a handful of moments where Molly was a straight up horrible person to the people around her for really no good reason. Reading her justification, I guess I could see it, but it's extremely weak for its costs.
As for the two brothers that make up the…

My Safe Space Books (Part 2)

If you missed Friday's post, I talked about why we need books that aren't afraid to ask tough questions and dive into realities that aren't always pretty. I also told a quick story about teen's reading choices being censored, and how that makes me sad because books are a safe place to work through trauma or understand another person's situation better. It's also a trial run for life as you question character's choices and decide what you might have done differently.
Anyway, I promise a list of books that have been important to me because of their honestly. Originally, the book was filled with all super dark, gritty, morbid books (which I do love), but I also realized that there are many books that would fit that are more warm and fuzzy than midnight tears, so I decided to give this list its own post so that I could dive into why I chose each book. Also, I'm giving the main trigger warning I can remember under each title. So, in no particular order, I g…

Diving Into Difficult Topics with Books (Part 1)

The world is filled with a lot of negativity and difficult situations. It's also filled with awkward stuff, misunderstandings, and confusing transitions through life. A lot of times, people wish they could have do-overs of certain moments knowing what they learned after the experience. Sometimes it's for awareness, preparedness, or redemption. Regardless, no one has a time machine.
But we do have books. There's been a couple different moments lately that got me thinking about books, censorship, and how books really are a safe space too explore topics that are tough to discuss or process. From starting and graduating high school, leaving for college, navigating breakups (of the romantic and friendship varieties), or seeing different takes on how people think of sex, YA on its most basic level navigates some of the biggest moments of teen years that no one is ever prepared for.
Books offer a safe space to contemplate regular teen moments and more intense situations that see…

The Second Life of Ava Rivers

The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner Overview: The Rivers family has been lost for twelve years. Vera has been missing a twin. Her parents lost a daughter. Then, one day, there's a breakthrough. Ava is at a hospital an hour away, and their lives have been forever changed. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 The characters in the book are all interesting and quite complex. I really liked Vera and her very honest inner conflicts about her family's situation. She loses a lot of her life when Ava suddenly comes back into the picture. She's been in Ava's shadow her entire life, and no one knows what to do when Ava comes back.  Her parents and brother are also strongly featured as they fall apart and cope in their own ways. It makes it clear just how impactful events like these are on people who are not directly seen as the "victims". 
Plot: 4 This isn't a fast paced story. There are some wow reveals, but, overall, it is much more about the fallout to each twist th…

The Joy of Visiting The Library

I've had a crazy busy last few weeks which led me into a pretty horrible reading slump that I just couldn't break out of. On top of not having enough time, I couldn't find a book that would make me want to take stolen moments to power through it. I needed to figure out how to get out of my reading rut, so I turned to the one place where I could be completely surrounded with hundreds of book possibilities: the library.
I've been twice now in the last two weeks enjoying all the new books that have been brought up and the complete freedom to walk out with as many books as I want. Even though I work at a bookstore, there's a certain magic about the books in the library. It feels so much more limitless.
Going in, I decided I'd walk over to the YA section and grab any book that sounded remotely interesting. I filled my giant canvas bag with books I'd been meaning to read, ones that had been mentioned on podcasts, ones that had gotten a lot of buzz on Twitter, an…

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
Overview: Sana and Rachel hate each other. After a bad encounter freshman year and a misunderstanding that followed, the two have been at odds in their two separate worlds. When the two collide on the school field, Sana and Rachel are pulled together to make it right by Sana staring in Rachel's movie. While the two struggle with their futures, they find interesting allies in each other. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I really loved both Rachel and Sana's characters. Sana feels the need to be perfect to make her mother and grandparents proud. She has to bear the weight of intense expectations on her shoulders, and as senior year comes to an end, she finally feels the need to break out of her box and start living for herself.
Rachel feels the need to be perfect because she's at her fancy private school on scholarship, she needs to earn money to go to college, and she wants to prove that she belongs with the rich kids. Her chip on her s…

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern 
Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing.
On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried to stay ho…

Mid-Year Freakout Tag

I've never done this tag before, but I've read so many posts on the midyear freakout that I decided to do one myself!
July has been a horrible reading month for me. I've been busy every day, and reading has really fallen on the back burner. I'm hoping to dive back into reading more when July is finally over and I have more time again.
I did take a trip to the library yesterday (you can find my haul on my Instagram) which has reignited my reading spark. I've already made it 150 pages into a new book.
Anyway, over the course of the last month, I have read 63 books in total which will be on pace if I'm able to get back to my regular reading routine. On top of the 63 books, I've had seven DNFs. I'm hoping to make it to 130 books in total for the year, but we'll see.

Here's the tag:

1. Best Book of 2019
I'm going to have to amend this and make it best books because there have been so many stunning titles this year. So that this post doesn't g…

Into YA with Chris Tebbetts

Today, Chris Tebbetts stops by the blog to talk about Me, Myself, and Him, his writing process, and transitioning through genres. I loved hearing about how the book came together and his thoughts on balancing a dual timeline story. If you haven't heard about the book yet, click here for more background information.
1. The story has a very intriguing premise. What was the spark? First of all, I have to give a nod to the movie SLIDING DOORS, which was the first time I ever saw a story tackled in this way—following the main character through two different outcomes from the same incident. In the case of ME, MYSELF, AND HIM, that incident is something I drew from my own experience, a drug-fueled accident I had when I was nineteen. After that, the story explores what might have happened if my character lied about the accident, AND, it explores what might have happened if he got busted by his parents for it. As a storyteller, I love that kind of “what if?” thought experiment. It’s like br…

Me Myself and Him

Me Myself and Him by Chris Tebbetts
Overview & Review: If you love the idea that there are multiple timelines for every decision you make, you're going to love this book. After Chris takes a hit of whippets and falls, bashing his face in, his life is split in two. In one reality, he stays in town, getting away with it, allowed to spend his last summer before college with his best friends. In the other, he's forced to move to his father's place to live with his step mother and a dad he barely knows.
As these stories parallel, Tebbetts does a great job of keeping the stories both fresh and on the same beat, balancing detailing events with flashing forward. It's a cinematic style of telling the story that's a lot of fun to visualize. I also love that it asks the "what if" question we all ask every time we take a turn.
Come back on Friday to read my interview with Chris where we really dive into the origin of the story, the way his background influences th…

Please Send Help Review

Please Send Help by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin
Overview: Ava and Gen have been friends forever, and now they're long distance friendshiping (finally in the same time zone at least). In this story told through emails and texts, Ava and Gen offer each other moral support as they traverse the ups and downs of life at 22. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Ava and Gen both have a lot going on in their lives, and they handle these situations with varying degrees of success. Ava is living in New York working at a late night show. Office politics take her anxiety to new heights, and she makes her fair share of mistakes. What I really liked about Ava, though, was that no matter how catastrophic the scenario was or how overdramatic she got, she was always able to put a new spin on the bad things in a way that was not peppy and sort of annoying but refreshingly realistic.
Gen, on the other hand, is a lot more out there. While Ava navigated a lot of more practical situations, Gen moves to Florida to…

Queen of Geek Review

Queen of Geek by Jen Wilde
Overview: Charlie is a famous You Tuber whose indie film has exploded in popularity. It's landed her at SupaCon in San Diego with two of her best friends. While there, Taylor and Jamie try to find a way for Taylor to meet her favorite author, and Charlie has to do tons of press with her exboyfriend. Luckily, though, the magic of the con brings them all some good luck and memorable moments. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Charlie is so much fun. She's confident, has pink hair, and is full of life. She has some interesting commentary on being famous and also on how fandom works when people ship actors together in real life.
Taylor has anxiety and is on the autism spectrum. She's the biggest fan of the Firestone series, but winning the contests to meet the author requires her to step way outside of her comfort zone. With Jamie by her side, she reclaims a lot of confidence and makes the con her own.

Plot: 4 If you love books about celebrity and cons, you'…

Into YA with Sarah Lyu

I absolutely love getting to share this interview with you as this book is absolutely fascinating! We dive into how she pieced together the perfect twists and turns in her thriller, handled an unreliable narrator, and responsibly handling a toxic friendship story. If you haven't read the book, check out my review first for more (spoiler free) context on the story, and make sure you head to the store to grab a copy of your own.

1. You’ve written a very twisty thriller. It’s timeline is broken up, and we’re given the events in fragmented flashes. Did the book come to you out of order, or did you think of the story linearly and rearrange it later to add suspense?
The story came to me linearly, and it wasn't until maybe draft 4 or 5 that I added the frame story of Remy speaking to Detective Ward. The first way I'd envisioned the story didn't work structurally because Remy needed to be examining all of the things that she'd experienced, which wasn't possible without …