Waiting on Wednesday: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

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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After burning through The Silver Linings Playbook, I’ll give anything by Matthew Quick a shot.

In Every Exquisite Thing, Nanette has always met the expectations of those around her.  From her excellent grades and star performance in sports to her following all the rules set out by her parents.  That is until she comes across a cult-classic novel that changes her view of the world and her place in it.  As Nanette befriends new people and begins to discover who she wants to be, she must also learn that breaking out of the roles she has been placed in for so long has a cost.

Every Exquisite Thing comes out May 10, 2016, and is published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

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.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan

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 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan!

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Middie is finding the strength to make it happily through the next year while her boyfriend, Nate, spends the year after graduation volunteering in Central America.  This becomes much more difficult for Middie after a tragic accident leaves her reeling. Feeling isolated in her grief, Middie turns to solace in the most unlikely of places, Nate’s best friend, Lee.

Though the two haven’t gotten along in the past, Lee and Middie find they can lean on each other in order to find their way forward again.

I am interested to see how Cat Jordan portrays Lee and Middie’s grief in The Leaving Season.  I feel like this is a common time in life when people experience and process loss for the first time and there are so many different outlets that people use to express their emotions.  I could easily see this being a very heartbreaking and healing story.

The Leaving Season comes out March 1st 2016, and is published by Harper Teen.

Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Made You Up

by Francesca Zappia

Rating: 2.5-3/5 stars

After being run out of her previous school, Alex is determined not to let anyone realize she has a secret at her new school.  Alex has schizophrenia and in order to keep track of who is actually in front of her, she constantly takes pictures to review.  However, she is not sure if her precautions will be enough once she meets Miles, a boy who reminds her of one of her childhood delusions.  Or at least she thought he wasn’t real, but now she can’t be sure.  All Alex wants is to graduate high school, go to college, and beat back her disorder long enough to accomplish these goals, but trying to navigate the uncertainty of high school is hard enough, factor in having to discover who is real or not makes it seem impossible.

Review: Zappia does a great job of writing to make the reader really feel Alex’s confusion and frustration.  I could not imagine having to second guess what I am seeing all the time, and it is easy to see why Alex is paranoid about many things.  However, I did have some issues with the plot.  For the first half of the book, things were really slow and it didn’t seem like much was happening.  I wasn’t really fired up to pick this book up each time I went to read it.

Once the plot did start to move, Alex becomes involved in something much bigger than she anticipated.  This plot twist and mystery that Alex became involved in was a huge leap for me, and pretty unbelievable.  It had to do with the school principal being kind of crazy and having an inappropriate relationship with a student.  I know part of that was to make the reader doubt whether the events were actually happening of if it was all in Alex’s mind.  But it was just really out there, and I find it hard to believe that no one was suspicious of the school principal in the years leading up to Alex’s attendance.

For me this book was really enlightening and informative, but I wasn’t super entertained.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Saint Anything

by Sarah Dessen

Rating: 4/5 stars

     Sydney has always lived in her brother, Peyton’s shadow.  When they were younger it was because of his charming personality, but as they grew up it had more to do with the trouble he was constantly in.  After finally getting help and staying clean of crime, drugs, and alcohol for a year, it looks like Peyton is finally back on track and Sydney’s life can get back to normal.  That is until Peyton paralyzes a boy while drunk driving.

     After Peyton is sentenced to prison, Sydney’s parents are less focused on her than ever and she begins branching out.  Seeking to escape her brother’s reputation, Sydney transfers schools and spontaneously starts spending her free time at a pizza shop owned by the Chatham family.  Here she finds total acceptance despite the family going through their own trials, including a mom that is battling Multiple Sclerosis.  She also meets Mac, a quiet, loyal, and protective boy who truly sees Sydney despite all the chaos in her life.

Review:  This book hit all the right chords for me.  Despite being about a very complex and heavy topic, Dessen finds a way to insert really heartwarming scenes throughout the novel that make me appreciate all the characters.  I loved that this book spent so much time on the Chatham family dynamic.  I mentioned this in my post about Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universebut it is a major pet peeve of mine when YA novels neglect to talk about the teenagers home life and parental interactions.  This is not a problem with Saint Anything.  The reader gets a super clear picture of the Chathams and Sydney’s family to make a pretty stark comparison.

Dessen also gets major points for the complexity of Peyton’s situation.  It would have been easy to paint him as a bad kid who was finally stopped when he hit a pedestrian while drunk driving.  But the fact that he was trying to get his life back on track, was applying for trade schools, and leaving his past behind, makes the reader empathize with his guilt and sadness so much more. Overall, this is a really well written YA contemporary that I would recommend to anyone 🙂

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.

Fill-in Boyfriend Music Playlist

Here is a mini playlist I have put together that I think goes along really well with the characters and plot of the Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West.  Enjoy 🙂

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Hold my Hand – Jess Glynne

Fly – Maddie and Tae

Ain’t it Fun – Paramore

Elastic Heart – Sia

Master Pretender – First Aid Kit