Review: Me Before You By Jojo Moyes

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Me Before You

By Jojo Moyes

Rating: 5/5 Stars

     Louisa Clark has lost her job after working for six years at a local cafe.  Now after leaving or turning down multiple temp jobs and her family beginning to feel the financial strain of losing her income, Lou takes the next available job.  She begins working as a companion for a young man who is a quadriplegic as the result of an accident.

     Will Traynor, no longer recognizes the life he is living, after a tragic accident has forever taken his lavish and adventurous lifestyle away.  He no longer sees the point of living, until Louisa sweeps in and makes it her mission to show him how much he still has to live for.

Review: From watching the trailer for this upcoming movie, it is pitched as mainly a love story, but for me, the love aspect in this book takes a back seat to so many more important themes.  How do we measure someone’s quality of life?  If someone is rendered incapable of ending their own life, is it the duty of those who love them to assist in their efforts? Or disregard their wishes in favor of life and the law?

Even the love story turns traditional portrayals on their head.  In this story Lou’s boyfriend has the qualities most people would say make him ideal.  He is attractive, charming, sociable. However, Lou is drawn to Will, whose body is breaking down and never seeks to make others feel comfortable in his presence.  I think Moyes does a great job of taking a heart felt story and leaving the readers with a lot more than simple entertainment.

I highly recommend reading Me Before You before seeing the movie, and can’t wait to read its sequel and watch how the adaptation plays out.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

Rating: 5/5 stars

     A unique Beauty and the Beast retelling, Uprooted primarily takes place in a magical valley that is overseen and protected by a Lord known to the villagers as the Dragon.  On the border of the valley is a mystical Wood that is full of evil power.  In exchange for the Dragon’s protection, the villagers must sacrifice one of their girls to work in his servitude for 10 years.  After which, she will be released and a new girl will take her place.

     By the time Agnieszka is 17 years old and now eligible to be the Dragon’s next servant the rumors of what happens to these girls has spread and grown throughout the valley.  With none of these rumors being positive, the only thing dampening Agnieszka’s fear is the fact that everyone knows her best friend Kasia is the girl who will be chosen.  With Kasia being the most beautiful and accomplished girl in their valley, there is little doubt that the Dragon won’t look at the other girls.  He does however, and when he sees Agnieszka, he sees something that none of the other girls have and he has little choice but to take her back with him as the chosen girl.

Review:  I loved so many things about this story!!!  First, I love Fairytale retellings, but what is especially great about Uprooted is that is has shades of Beauty and the  Beast but is still unique enough to be its own story. Novik still inputs plenty of her own creativity to really bring this story to life.

I also loved the gender equality in this novel.  I don’t want to give much away because I think it is story that is more enjoyable with less knowledge, but there is some fighting and such that goes on, and the female characters are just as active in the fighting as the men.  Also I applaud Novik on the amount of principal female characters in this novel.  Aside from the Dragon, the rest of the main characters are women in positions of power, which was really awesome to see.

Finally, I really enjoyed the romance aspect.  This story wasn’t about falling in love with the Dragon and trying to change him or Agnieszka being attracted to the “bad boy”/abusive aspects of the Dragon’s character.  When she first goes to his home and his treatment of her is awful, she can’t stand him and wants to leave more than anything.  It isn’t until he begins making changes on his own and Agnieszka notices them that their relationship begins to take shape.

The Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s Book Tag

I stumbled across the Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s Book Tag on the Bookshelves & Paperbacks blog and loved the idea instantly!  So here are my ice cream themed reads 🙂

Vanilla Caramel Fudge: Pick a light, fluffy contemporary

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Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally is a really cute, light contemporary read for days when you don’t want your book to drag your mood down.

Mint Chocolate Cookie: a new release that you wish everybody would read

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A Step Toward Falling is a book I can’t promote enough! It gives a super accurate depiction of people with disabilities, has a great storyline, and ends takes on tough issues while still being able to have light and sweet moments.

Karamel Sutra Core: a last book in a series that you were completely satisfied with

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The One is an example of over eating something super sweet.  Everything wrapped up so perfectly with little conflict that I was a little disappointed.  Even the love triangle ended up not really being a thing because one of the guy’s had one foot out the door.  This book is an example of overindulgence in this ice cream metaphor 🙂

Cherry Garcia: an ending that was bittersweet

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Harry Potter was “the series” of my childhood. I loved how it ended, but was sad to see it was all over.

Strawberry Shortcake: a book containing your OTP of OTPs

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Mac and Sydney’s relationship is one of my favorites. They don’t have instant chemistry that jumps off the page from the moment they meet and their relationship isn’t the sole focus in either of their lives.  I like how they look out for each other, and their relationship feels a lot more natural than some depicted in other YA novels.

Milk & Cookies: two authors that if they collaborated, they would go perfectly together

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If Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green wrote a book together, I would have that thing preordered months in advance.  I think their writing would compliment each other really well, and would love to see them work together someday.

Boston Cream Pie: a book that had you turning pages late into the night

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I’ll have a review of this book up soon! With the alternating chapters from different times and perspectives, I’ll Give You the Sun does a great job of keeping information from readers until the perfect moment, making this an ideal page turning read.

Chocolate Therapy: a book that makes you feel better after a long day of life

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Having read this before and knowing how things turn out, Ugly Love is the perfect book to make me laugh, cry, and just expel all my nonsense emotions after a long day 🙂

Coffee, Coffee, buzzbuzzbuzz!: a book not yet released that you can’t wait to get your hands on

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I read Ink and Bone earlier this fall and really enjoyed it.  I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens to these characters in Paper and Fire.

Adele Inspired Bookish Playlist

So this playlist is going to be slightly different than usual.  Because I have been listening to Adele’s new album nonstop, I have decided to take each track and pick a book that I think encompasses the theme of the song.  These recommendations are more new adult than YA, ‘cuz really…when you think of dramatic romantic shenanigans, Adele and New Adult go together like peas and carrots 🙂

 

I Miss YouBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

  • I Miss You reminds me of Abby and Travis and the way that their relationship seeped into all aspects of their lives.  Not only because they were living together, but also with the intensity of their attraction.  It kind of overshadowed everything, regardless of Abby trying to prevent that from happening.

When We Were Young – Out of Breath by Rebecca Donavon

  • In this trilogy, Evan reminds me of the golden child, he has a lot going for him and the respect of the people around him.  By the time we reach Out of Breath (the 3rd book in the trilogy) Evan and Emma’s relationship has been through more than many people face in their entire lives.  When We Were Young reminds me of the reflecting Emma and Evan both do on their relationship and the appreciation they have for the little moments they experienced when they were dating.

Remedy – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

  • This is the one YA series that I put into this playlist because of the way friendship is presented. These girls lean on each other to recharge when boys and life in general has knocked them around a bit.  The lyrics in Remedy outline this idea really well.

Water Under the Bridge – Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

  • Water Under the Bridge perfectly describes the complications that arose when Miles tries to convince himself and Tate that their relationship is nothing more than physical.  The chorus reminded me of Tate’s attitude toward the end of the novel.  She knew that she was going to be hurt by their arrangement and that they probably won’t end up together, but she still wants him to acknowledge that he wasn’t completely numb to everything happened between them.

Love in the Dark – Bully by Penelope Douglas

  • This song represents Tate and Jared’s relationship throughout the entire Fall Away Series.  After the first story it is clear that they care for each other and have a long history that binds them.  However, they still have some major differences that cause tension in their relationship.  Love in the Dark exemplifies that idea that despite the fact that two people care for each other, their relationship might not survive their differences.

Million Years Ago – Going Under S. Walden

  • This book is really intense and their are all sorts of trigger warnings before going into it, both for suicide and sexual assault.  Million Years Ago describes the feelings that Brooke goes through in this novel.  First her regret for how she treated her best friend but also the fear she has towards the end of the novel.  As her plan to get revenge on her best friend’s attacker get under way, Brooke begins to understand how far in over her head she is, but she also feels there is no going back to where she started.

All I Ask – Rule by Jay Crownover

  • All I Ask is Shaw’s song.  She has only ever loved Rule and knows that he may never feel the same way.  She will take whatever he has to offer, because she thinks that is the only relationship she is ever going to have.

Sweetest Devotion – Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

  • Sweetest Devotion is my song dedication for Reece and Pepper.  A big issue I have with a lot of New Adult books, is the alpha personality that borders on stalker/abusive in a lot of the romantic interests.  That is not the case with Reece.  He always let Pepper take the lead on their relationship and I was really happy with their love story at the end of the book.  Sweetest Devotion is a great love song about the supporting the one you love, and it reminded me of everything Reece was willing to for Pepper.

Send My Love – Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

  • So this is what I wish Erika had said to Michael.  There were just some crazy shenanigans that went on that were his fault and I was not okay with how this ended.  At most Erika could have just left things as is and went their separate ways.  I would have also been okay with her saying that she would only talk to Michael again if he was in jail.  So here is me wishing she had stood up for herself a bit more and said goodbye.

I wasn’t able to think of books to match up with Hello or River Lea.  Does anyone have any thoughts for these two? Do any of the listed songs remind you of other books? 🙂

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

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The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)

by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Demon King is a dual perspective fantasy that surrounds the city of Fellsmarch.  It alternates chapters between Hans Alister, a former streetlord, who is now reformed and Raisa, who is heir to the queendom.  As the story picks up, Hans now provides for his family as a runner between the people in the city and the clans and vagabonds who live in the surrounding lands. After taking a magical amulet from three young wizards in a confrontation, Hans spends the remainder of the novel, thrown into a polarized political war between wizards, royalty, and the clans that control magical objects.

Meanwhile, Raisa is at the center of this political strife.  She is about to celebrate her 16th birthday, which is also the time when she is eligible for marriage.  Trying to delay any proposed matches her mother would like to make used to be her primary concern.  However, several events reveal to Raisa how little she knows the people and queendom she will one day take over.  This spurs on a personal mission to become a more involved and knowlegdable queen than her mother.

Although from completely separate backgrounds Raisa’s and Hans’ paths interwine as they both fight to discover their destiny in this murky political uncertainty.

Review:  This novel was really enjoyable after getting through the first 75 pages or so.  It takes a while for the plot to reveal itself, and the reader has to be patient as all the pieces are put in place for the action to begin.  It was enjoyable reading from Hans’ perspective, especially once he took on his streetlord persona.  I found him to be charismatic and interesting.  I liked that the fantasy is set in a queendom, and I hope that before the series ends, I’m able to see a strong female character leading the country.  Overall, I do hope to continue this series but I’m not sure when that will be.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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The Impossible Knife of Memory

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Rating: 5/5 stars

Hayley is a senior in high school who is struggling to take care of her father who suffers from severe PTSD.  After spending years on the road living as a truck driver and homeschooling Hayley, her father has decided that it would be most beneficial to Hayley if they move back to his hometown and enroll her in public school for her senior year.  On top of managing any crises at home, Hayley also has to try to navigate the social rules of spending time with people her own age.  While also learning to follow the decorum and procedures of being in a classroom.  Although it is very obvious that she doesn’t take the latter responsibility too seriously.

After a few months of stationary living, it becomes clear to Hayley that her father’s condition is not improving. Worse yet, without the option of escaping to a new town like he did while truck driving, he is now in the worst downward spiral Hayley has seen yet.  As much as Hayley would like to blame this on external factors, like his old girlfriend returning to town or the illegal drugs he is taking, the truth soon becomes hard to ignore.  Hayley’s dad is struggling with a huge emotional and mental burden and until he acknowledges this and seeks help, the treatments and programs offered by others are all meaningless.

Review:

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a really powerful story with a gritty realism that keeps it grounded.  I loved that Hayley was portrayed as a complex character who was had great inner strength but could also be very immature and judgmental at times.  It felt like these character flaws were a good balance of Hayley’s natural personality but also a result of her unusual circumstances.  The problems that the other primary and secondary characters were experiencing throughout Hayley’s narration also made reading this book a much richer experience.  There is a common thread throughout these sub plots that show the reader different ways that the actions of parents affect their children. This reinforces Hayley’s own story and makes for a much better reading experience.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

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This year I am participating in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon!! It comes at a perfect time, because I really have not read as much as I was hoping too this month, so now I get to play a little bit of catch up.  Here are the books I hope to get through today:

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I’ll be updating this page throughout the day as I continue to work my way through this stack. For me, the readathon begins at 7am CST.  I don’t have much of a plan for how to tackle these books.  I think I’m just going to start with Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning and switch out if I get bored or tired.  Wish me luck 🙂

12 pm(ish): So I just finished Darkfever and it wasn’t one of my favorites…I did fly through it pretty fast though and may post more specifically about it later. After finishing that and snagging a bite to eat, I am getting ready to start reading Asylum by Madeleine Roux.  It’s my most halloween-esque book on my readathon TBR and I hope it is able to creep me out quite a bit 🙂  Good luck to the all the other readers out there who are also participating in the Readathon today!!

3:30 pm: Super Pleased! I just finished Asylum! It was a great creepy read, that was perfect with Halloween coming up.  I am way ahead of schedule and will probably end up exceeding my TBR for this readathon.  I am about to start reading Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy which I have only heard good things about.  We will see, I read The Side Effects May Vary by her a few years ago and was a bit underwhelmed but I’m going to keep a totally open mind and hope that I can finish up my last book with ease 🙂

7:30 pm: I just finished reading Dumplin’ and it was a really sweet story that I enjoyed quite a bit.  Now that I have finished all 3 books that I set out to read in the 24 hour readathon I am going to just plug away at the books I wanted to read in October.  First up, I’m going to finish Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  I am always intrigued by Flynn’s work for 1 big reason, despite almost always hating the central characters, I always fly through her books and find them impossible to put down.

10:30 pm: Alright, so I am starting to drag a little bit now, but we will see how much longer I can keep reading.  I was really intrigued and held in suspense all the way through the end of Dark Places.  So I have going to keep going with that gritty theme and start You by Caroline Kepnes.  This is a book from the perspective of a stalker, and its told in the 2nd person narrative.  I’ve heard this makes it extra creepy, and just right for this time of year I suppose.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

 

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“I don’t understand. Who’s the good guy?

There is not always a good guy.  Nor is there always a bad one.  Most people are somewhere in between.

That’s a terrible story. And a cheat.

It is a true story, the monster said. Many things that are true feel like a cheat.  Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers’ daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving. Quite often, actually. You’d be surprised.”

A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness

Rating: 5/5 stars

   This is the story of a nightmare come to life.  For most boys Conor’s age, being confronted by a giant tree come to life that threatens untold torment and destruction would terrify them half to death.  Conor is not living the life of a typical boy though.  He is forced to confront his nightmare in every waking hour, and is unimpressed with his monster’s fantastical threats.

    Conor is grappling with the reality that his mom has terminal cancer.  He wants nothing more than to escape this fact by disappearing into his daily routines, but with everyone around him conscious of his situation, this becomes an impossibility.  Conor is near desperation when a monster comes calling promising to help him in exchange for a story.  He puts all his faith into this monster, and follows his instructions, hoping this will provide the answer medicine hasn’t.

Review: This book is AMAZING!!!!!!! Everyone should read it as soon as possible 🙂 There are so many things I loved about it but let’s start with the illustration.  While there aren’t pictures in all the editions, it is definitely worth it to try and hunt an illustrated one down.  They added so much to the story and there were so well drawn!

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    I also loved the prose and look forward to reading more books by Patrick Ness in the future!  I loved how this story validated everything that Conor was feeling and the actions he took.  This doesn’t mean that Conor always took the best course of action, but the reader can easily see and understand why Conor acts the way he does.  Ness did a great job of portraying the desperation Conor felt for life outside of home to resume normally, for school to serve as an escape from his reality at home.  This is a powerful story that describes the many feelings that children can feel when experiencing grief and depression, and could be a great tool that helps children from ages 10-14 to understand their own grief when experiencing tragedy.

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

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Hopeless

by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 Sky is a senior in high school who is attending public school for the first time after being home schooled her whole life.  With her mom, she leads a very natural and tech-free lifestyle that has left Sky pretty sheltered and unprepared for the upcoming year.  Without a cell phone, tv, or computer with internet, Sky has had to solely rely on her best friend and neighbor Six for all the information she needs to know about her upcoming year.  Unfortunately, Six has been accepted into a study abroad program and has left Sky to fend for herself.  One piece of advice Six gives Sky before leaving, is to avoid Dean Holder, a brooding senior who is rumored to have just returned to school after a year in juvie.

 It ends up being too late for that warning though, because Sky and Holder have already met and have even set up a schedule so that can take their morning runs together.  Although Sky is attracted to Holder she also wary of him and his intense moods.  While he often seems angry and tense around others, when they hang out together she feels like she is spending time with an entirely different person.  It is obvious Holder is hiding something from Sky.  While he tries to figure out the best timing to reveal his past, Sky begins to learn the truth on her own and is surprised to find how closely their pasts are linked.

Review:  I am usually a pretty big Colleen Hoover fan, however that just wasn’t the case with Hopeless.  This has everything to do with Holder’s character and his role as Sky’s love interest.  I totally get that he has some unresolved issues and that they might cause him to react negatively.  Holder is definitely dealing with a lot, but this undeniable attraction that Sky has to Holder is just bonkers!  The very first time they meet he is rude and really creepy, he follows Sky into a parking lot and then prevents her from driving away by forcing her door to stay open until he sees her ID.  Then as she drives away she sees him punching the hood of his car.  These are all things that realistically would have most people consider a restraining order, not encourage some instant crush.  He then memorizes every detail on her ID down to whether she is an organ donor, definitely some stalker-type behavior.  Although it doesn’t work with the plot, Holder clearly should be working through his own issues before trying to integrate himself into Sky’s life and solve her problems.

Sky’s past and repressed memories were an intriguing part of the plot, but this book lost me because of Holder’s behavior and Sky’s reaction to it.