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 🙂

New WoW

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 4.39.18 PM

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.

Advertisements

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 🙂

New WoW

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

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 11.36.21 AM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 11.35.58 AM

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

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 7.24.53 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 12.33.31 PM

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

IMG_1402

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 🙂

IMG_1222-1 copy

Hold my Hand – Jess Glynne

Fly – Maddie and Tae

Ain’t it Fun – Paramore

Elastic Heart – Sia

Master Pretender – First Aid Kit

The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West

The Fill-in Boyfriend

By Kasie West

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

IMG_1222-1 copy

The Fill-in Boyfriend stars Gia, a selfish, snobby, high school senior who is dumped by her boyfriend on the first page of the book.  Because her boyfriend leaves her in the parking lot of her school right before prom. Gia’s most pressing issue at the moment is having to walk into the dance by herself.  She is facing pressure from her friends to finally introduce her college boyfriend to them, because it has been a few months and they are beginning to doubt his existence.

Luckily, there is a random boy sitting in a car of a parking lot, that Gia convinces  to pretend to be her ex, Bradley, for the night.  However, at the end of the night when the two break-up according to plan, Gia finds that she still wants to talk to the fill-in boyfriend, and figure out what is so different about him.  Gia’s problem, she was so focused on her issues at the beginning of prom, that she never asked this boy his name.  The rest of the novel involves Gia meeting different kinds of people than she would normally spend time with in order to reunite with her fill-in boyfriend, and discovering that her dream come true high school experience might not be all she thought it was.

Review:  The first few chapters of this book almost ruined it for me.  Gia is really, really unlikeable and it is impossible to have any kind of sympathy for the “plight” this girl is facing.  I also think that the first interactions between Gia and the Fill-in boyfriend are forced and there isn’t really any reason for the two of them to be attracted to each other, besides the fact that it is required for the plot.  However, once I began reading and saw the message West was trying to get across I was able to appreciate the story a little more. I think Gia’s awful personality is intentionally exaggerated.  She portrays extreme behaviors and habits of many high school age girls when it comes to interacting with their peers.  These include, need to constantly update social media sites, the amount importance placed on how the internet interprets our social lives, and sacrificing real authentic relationships in order to maintain a specific appearance amongst our peers.

After finishing this story, I think West is effective in making the reader pause and think about the amount of value we place on social media validating our social lives, and showing how much more fulfilling a relationship can be when you make the interactions between you and that other person the focus rather than way the public and peers will view that relationship.

Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

IMG_1194

Title: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Rating: 3/5 stars

Aza Ray Boyle has suffered from an extremely rare lung disease her entire life.  Previously unseen, Aza Ray Syndrome makes it extremely painful and difficult for Aza to breathe at all times.  Doctors have little faith that Aza will live much longer and every year that she manages to hang on is seen as a miracle.  Now approaching her 16th birthday, Aza still continues to battle the effects of this condition, and it manifests itself in anything from seizures and lightheadedness to hallucinations.  The novel kicks off with Aza experiencing a hallucination in her English class, when she sees a ship breaking through the clouds outside her class window, and someone from that ship calling out to her.

Aza soon discovers that she not hallucinating and her lifetime of breathing complications are explained by something much more fantastical than a rare breathing condition.  She soon learns that she is originally from a different world where the makeup of the atmosphere is much different.  As a result, Aza has spent her life on Earth slowly drowning.  Now faced with a possible new existence, Aza must determine who has her best interests in mind and what would be the best direction for her life.

Review:  This book was really difficult for me to get into.  I’ve had it for a few months and kept starting it and getting sidetracked within the first 50 pages.  Aza’s character in the beginning of the novel is characterized as extremely cynical and full of angst.  As the reader, I took on this blasé attitude about the story which caused me to be indifferent about the characters and events.  When Aza experiences a very real health scare within the first few chapters of the novel, and begins to get very emotional and upset in front of her mother about her possible death I found it jarring and inconsistent with her previous attitude towards her mortality.  If this display had been utilized when I was more comfortable with the cynical character, I think it could have been really powerful to see her feel such deep emotion and display an attitude that is so different from Aza’s norm.  But in this case it left me more confused, and I didn’t have any emotional attachment to it at all.

I think Headley’s skill in this novel was her description of the ship and the people of Magonia.  That is when I took a real interest in the novel and wanted to hear more about how the characters looked and acted.  Overall, this book was okay and creative, but I wish I was able to connect more with the characters causing me to have more of an interest in how the plot was going to play out.

IMG_1177

The Beginning of Everything – Robyn Schneider

Image

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider is a young adult novel about a high school boy who struggles to find his new niche in high school after a car accident leaves him unable to be a star athlete any longer.  Ezra rediscovers old connections and makes new friends as his situation allows him to examine his life differently.  The realization that his new social circle isn’t constantly preoccupied with being popular among other students at the school is freeing for Ezra and he embraces this change and uses it as an opportunity to try new experiences.  He states early on in the plot that he believes people really begin living after a major life altering event occurs and learns he may not be the same person he thought he was before his accident.

This was an entertaining read with interesting characters.  I enjoyed reading a young adult novel set in high school that looked at someone moving backwards on the social ladder and it not being a bad thing.  If anything, Ezra’s opportunities for the future expanded even though he may have been seen as “less” in the eyes of his classmates.