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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Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks

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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

by E. Lockhart

Rating: 5/5 stars

     Upon entering Sophomore year at a competitive boarding school, Frankie is not the same girl as the previous year.  After pending a summer in the sun and growing into some of her more awkward features, she is the girl that everyone is beginning to notice.  After the year kicks off with her dating a popular senior, Frankie thinks she has high school figured out.  However, she soon realizes that she doesn’t love the way she is treated as a trophy without independent thoughts or that she is excluded from the school’s secret society just because of her gender.

     It doesn’t take Frankie long to come up with a plan to show everyone that she is just as capable as one of the boys.  Leading to an infamy filled school career, Frankie is willing to sacrifice everything to place herself on equal footing with the Boys’ Club at her school.

Review: I love this book that’s filled with all sorts of Girl Power goodness!! I most appreciated how Lockhart chose to take on the more subtle occurrences of sexism and misogyny that girls face.  The frustration that Frankie feels when her words are disregarded simply because they are coming from her, or that they need to be validated by a male in the group in order to be considered valid is written so clearly that the reader becomes equally frustrated.  Even with something as innocent as a male friend “looking out for her” and warning her off certain guys because people think she looks better than last year, Lockhart drives home the point that there is something inherently wrong with that being necessary.

While this book does primarily highlight Frankie’s discontent, I also appreciated the inclusion of other female perspectives on these issues.  It shows that sexism is not a clear girls against boys problem.  There are some girls in this book who are fine with the established norm regardless of the inequality, and their feelings are just as justified as Frankie’s.

I think this is a contemporary book that should be on every school library shelf, and wish it was one I had read when I was in high school.

Waiting on Wednesday: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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In Wild Swans, Ivy has spent her life inventing outrageous stories about the women in her family, specifically her mother who she hasn’t seen since childhood.  According to Ivy’s grandfather, the Mildbourn women are known for their tragically short but utterly amazing lives.  While all Ivy wants to do is ignore this legacy and enjoy the summer of her senior year, all plans and expectations are sidetracked when Ivy’s mother returns in an unexpected way.  When her mother returns with two more young daughters in tow, Ivy is further heartbroken by her mother’s abandonment.  Ivy now spends the summer replacing the adventurous mother she’s imagined, with the actual woman who has finally come home.

I am very excited about this book describing the realities of growing up and leaving childhood behind in order to face harsh reality.  This has lots of potential to pull at some heartstrings and I can’t wait!

Wild Swans comes out May 1st, 2016, and is published by Sourcebooks Fire.

Top Ten Tuesday: Anti-Valentine’s Day Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a tag created by The Broke and The Bookish! Each week there is a new topic for book bloggers to discuss that features a variety of books.

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This week’s topic surrounds Valentine’s Day!  I chose to recommend 10 books that I consider to be Anti-Valentine’s Day Reads, and they go into a few different categories.

These first set of books are ones that are not anti-love, they just have a plot that surrounds something other than romance and really don’t dive into any relationship nonsense!

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Next up, are books that have a love story that is central to its plot, but because of the nature of the love story or how things play out, the reader is in no hurry to dive into a relationship!

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Finally, are the books that teach the reader about the strength of independence and friendship, rather than the importance of a romantic relationship.  I guess you could call these the Galentine’s Day Recommendations 🙂

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Rating: 5/5 Stars

     Simon Spier is a 16 year old boy living in Georgia, who has spent the last school year communicating online with someone from his school whom he has never met.  Simon and Blue stumbled across one another on the internet and began confiding in each other after discovering that they are both gay and have yet to come out to their family and friends.  While they give each other the emotional support needed to take this step and Simon begins to realize that he is falling in love with Blue, Simon makes the mistake of not logging out of his e-mail on a school computer.  This classmate has discovered and printed all of Blue and Simon’s correspondence and uses it as blackmail against Simon.  Now, regardless of Simon’s comfortability with coming out, he is now on a timetable to tell everyone.

Review: I loved so many aspects of this story.  I think it is a unique premise, that is also very realistic.  Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.  Simon and Blue’s e-mails are funny and the reader can easily see why they get along so well.  Albertalli did a great job of writing interesting side characters.  All of Simon’s friends were unique and distinguishable, but again, very realistic.  I never felt like I was reading a character from a story  who was acting a certain way in order to portray the author’s message.  I can definitely understand why this novel is a Morris Award winner, and can’t wait to see what Albertalli cooks up next.  According to rumors, it is going to be a companion novel to Simon. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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Paper and Fire is the second installment of the Great Library Series, that imagines a world where the Library of Alexandria has survived and now rules the world.  In the first of of this fantasy world, we were introduced to Jess whose excitement about the opportunity to work for the  Great Library was erased after seeing the inner turmoil and corruption.  Paper and Fire continues telling his story, in which he is not just trying to save those he is close to from the Great Library but he is also fighting time as the Welsh army comes to invade his home.

I loved Ink and Bone! I thought is was creative and unexpected, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Jess and the allies he has made along the way.

Paper and Fire comes out July 5th, 2016, and is published by NAL.

Waiting on Wednesday: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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This week’s WoW book is Stone Field by Christy Lenzi!

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Stone Field is a historical fiction retelling of Wuthering Heights. Set right before the Civil War, it is a love story about Catrina and Stonefield.  They first meet when Catrina stumbles upon a man with no memory of who he is or what he was doing before they met each other.

Despite the war, the town’s opinion, or Stonefield’s amnesia, the two fall in love and want nothing more than to live by themselves and shut out the horrors that come with war.  However, the past doesn’t disappear, and with war approaching, events are set in motion that are out of Catrina and Stonefield’s hands.

This book seems to capture the spooky mystery of Wuthering Heights really well, and I can’t wait to see what has been adapted and imagined to make Stone Field it’s own intriguing read.

Stone Field comes out March 29th 2016, and is published by Roaring Books Press.

Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

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Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Having gone several years without spending the summer at their lake house, Taylor’s family has slowly drifted apart after getting caught up in the everyday grind.  Now with her father facing an aggressive cancer diagnosis, its his wish to return to their summer home once more.  While Taylor clearly understands her father’s reasoning behind this decision it is something she is not looking forward to.

5 years earlier, Taylor left the lake on bad terms with the only friends she had there.  She tries not to think about the poor decisions she made, but upon arrival is immediately confronted with all of her awful memories.  While trying to patch things up with the people she has wronged and getting the hang of working her first summer job, Taylor constantly has her dad’s condition resting in the back of her mind.

Review:

Second Chance Summer is a story of redemption and making up for lost time, that constantly had me reaching for a new tissue.  While Taylor’s time with her friends is important within the story, it is the familial interactions that had me coming back for more.  I think this is my favorite depiction of family that I have read in a YA novel so far.  The balance in the sweetness of watching Taylor’s family reconnect after so long mixed with the reality of the entire family watching their family patriarch’s declining health is utterly heartbreaking.  I feel like most YA I read picks up after the tragedy has already struck and it is about the protagonist moving through grief and healing.  Matson’s novel however, dives right into the gritty reality of sickness and packs a punch to readers’ emotions.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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This week’s WoW book is The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith!

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The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, follows Eden’s life as she goes through 4 years of high school.  In the beginning of her Freshman Year Eden is sexually assaulted by her brother’s best friend and someone she used to trust.  This novel follows Eden after she decides not to tell anyone of the attack and relive the nightmare.  It describes her high school friendships and first romantic relationships, the hardships of high school, and the lasting effect that trauma can have on someone despite the great strength they show in trying to take back their life.

I always appreciate and am interested in reading stories detailing how victims overcome their trauma and grief.  While this is sure to include some steps backward and times when they feel hopeless, this time is filled with victims making choices for themselves after they have been forced into a situation where all choice has been taken away.  The Way I Used to Be looks to be following a hopeful trend I have noticed, where authors choose to not focus so much on the abuse or attacks, but on the victims and their recovery instead.

The Way I used to Be comes out March 22nd 2016, and is published by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

#RockMyTBR 2016 Reading Challenge

Rock my TBR

Like many readers, I have a problem where there are simply not enough hours in a day to read all of the books I plan too! As a result, I have acquired quite a pile of unread books that have been lying around…for years in some cases.  That is why I LOVE the #RockMyTBR challenge that Sarah over at The YA Book Traveler has created!  Here are the books that I’ve added to my shelves over the last couple of years that I  hope to read in 2016:

Sabriel – Garth Nix

Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher

Under the Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer

Assassin’s Aprrentice – Robin Hobb

In the Afterlight – Alexander Bracken

Assassin’s Curse Duology – Cassandra Rose Clarke

Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

Some Boys – Patty Blount

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Clare North

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone – Kat Rosenfield

Kingdom of Little Wounds – Susann Cokal

Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

Bossy Pants – Tina Fey

March – Geraldine Brooks

Midwinterblood – Markus Sedgwick

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landou-Banks – E. Lockhart

Girl in the Woods – Aspen Mathis

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Gaudin

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

This Star Won’t Go Out – Esther Earl

The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

Rebel Spring – Morgan Rhodes

So hopefully, I’ll be able to knock 2-3 of these out a month (give or take) and by this time next year my TBR should look a bit thinner 🙂

If any of these are on your list and you want to do a buddy read, let me know!