Review: Me Before You By Jojo Moyes

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.50.47 PM

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.

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.22.40 PM

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.

Before and After: The Girl From Everywhere

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 7.19.01 PM

The Girl From Everywhere

By: Heidi Heilig

Rating: 2.5 stars

   Nix is a 16 year old girl who has had a very unusual upbringing.  Due to her father’s gift of traveling by ship to any time on Earth, in reality or myth, Nix has seen firsthand what many people only read about.  Unfortunately for Nix, her father only uses this skill in an effort to return to a time before Nix was born in order to save her mother from dying in childbirth.  While Nix wishes to see her father happy, she can’t help but fear for her own life and what will happen if events are altered too much so close to her birth.  While life aboard a ship and spending time with her closest friend Kash has helped lift her spirits in the past, Nix spends more time focusing on her mortality as her father’s success seems more imminent.  On top of these issues, Nix is starting to notice a change in her friendship with Kash just as she meets and begins to develop feelings for another boy.

Review: When I first heard about this book, I was really excited for an adventure, almost pirate-esque book that had the unique twist of being able to take place at any point in history.  And that is what I got, in the very beginning and the very end.  Much of the rest of the book was pretty stationary on land and seemed to focus a great deal on the new love triangle in Nix’s life.

The things I loved:  It is very obvious that Heilig put a lot of research into making sure that the time periods and the places she was portraying were accurate, which was greatly appreciated.  I also loved the idea that the ship had the ability to travel into mythic realms as well as reality.  I thought this was really creative and would have loved to see more of that.

Things I didn’t get on board with:  The love triangle.  For me this was a really intriguing story all on its own, and the issues Nix is already facing would have created a great story.  I also felt like one of the love interests didn’t really feel like a character to me so much as a plot device to reveal key information to Nix.

Final Thoughts:  I love the premise of this book, but would have loved to see more traveling and adventures.  At times TGFE almost felt like a prequel for all the traveling Nix could do in future books.  TGFE was an alright read for me, I might pick up future installments, but I’m not in a huge rush to see what happens next.

Review: The Prince of the Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.42.37 PM

The Prince of Mist

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Rating: 5/5 stars

    It’s Spain during WWII and 13 year old Max Carver is forced to move with his family to a beach house in order to avoid the conflict from the war.  No one in the family besides Max’s dad is excited about this move, but their lackadaisical attitudes are snapped to attention when strange occurrences begin.  Soon after, Max begins questioning his surroundings he learns that the previous owners had a son who drowned in the ocean, and Max is certain his death is connected to his family’s experiences.  With the help of a native boy named, Roland, Max and his sister set out to find answers.  They soon discover that their is a malicious spirit terrorizing their family, until he collects a debt he was promised many years before.

Review:  To begin with a disclaimer.  Had I read this book, rather than listening to the audiobook, I probably would have been more likely to rate it as a 3-3.5.  But the recording was so well performed, that I sped through this entire book in a single day!  This story was super creepy and I think it is a great Middle Grade book, that anyone could enjoy.  The music and sound effects did wonders in creating a spooky atmosphere and I would love to know if the other audiobooks were recorded in a similar format.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 4.16.02 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.55.29 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.55.47 AM  Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.56.34 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.57.43 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.58.24 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.58.48 AM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 7.25.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.57.26 AM

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 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.57.04 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 6.04.17 AM

Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.17.16 PM

Challenger Deep

by Neal Shusterman

Rating: 3/5 Stars

    Challenger Deep is a truly unique story depicting Caden Bosch and his struggle with mental illness.  Half of the novel takes place aboard a ship that is headed towards Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean.  On this ship Caden is struggling to determine who is his ally and who is using him in order to put forth their own agenda.

     The chapters alternating between those on the ship show Caden’s experiences at school and home, where the people closest to him are starting to notice his odd behavior.  In order to cope with their questions and the threatening looks he is getting from strangers, Caden begins walking for hours everyday after school.

Review:  Shusterman depicts mental illness in such a unique but very personal way within Challenger Deep.  I have never been able to better understand the confusion, fear, fogginess, and frustration, that someone dealing with mental illness experiences than when I was reading this book.  When I was reading about how Caden felt when he was on medication everything became clearer about why someone may not want to take medication despite the fact that it could help them.

Parts of the novel were really confusing, and I had to push to get through them.  But this wasn’t due to poor writing, it was because Caden felt just as confused by his experiences.  This confusion as a reader began to clear up as Caden’s experiences on the ship began to match up with his experiences in the hospital.  Despite half of the novel taking place on a ship in Caden’s mind, this book is a very realistic depiction of mental illness, and makes me appreciate the struggle people experience to overcome this difficulty so much more.

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 5.53.13 PM

The Bone Season

by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 3/5 Stars

     Set in an alternative future London, The Bone Season follows Paige Mahoney who works for a street lord named Jaxon by discovering other people’s secrets.  Discretion is Paige’s biggest ally, not only for the sake of her job, but also because she commits treason just by existing.  Paige is a clairvoyant, who is able to see into people’s dreams to gain information.  In this world, the government hunts these people down and they disappear from society.  At the start of the novel, Paige is captured and taken to an abandoned part of the city, where she is assigned a Warden.  The Wardens are an alien race who control the human government and enslave those with extra abilities.  Paige must use her training and instinct to learn as much as she can about these people so that she can make her escape.

Review: So I picked up this book when I was participating in TBR Takedown 3.0 and trying to complete my reading outside my comfort zone challenge.  The Bone Season definitely fit into this category.  I’m not even sure what genre this novel fits into, it seems part dystopian, part sci-fi, part something else altogether.  Needless to say, I was very wary, going into it.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.  While at times I might have gotten lost in the specialized language, for the most part I was engaged and excited to see what happened to Paige next.  Because this book fits into so many different genres for me, it also brought several different experiences to the reader.  There is the mystery of discovering who this alien race is and what their purpose is.  There is a very slow-burning romance that kept my interest when other parts dragged.  The reader gets to see the inner workings of how Paige’s powers work, which was really interesting.

Because it was out of my comfort zone, this was an entertaining read but I don’t feel the need to rush out and read the sequel.  Overall, I do want to keep reading this series, but its one that I will probably read over several years, when I’m looking to read something different than my norm.