Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

My Review:

This book was a heartbreaking and beautiful look at grief.  It was so sad, which made it not an easy read.  The sadness displayed in the pages was palpable.  The story was gripping and kept me turning the pages.


At the start of the book, Lex has lost her younger brother, Ty, to suicide.  The idea of losing a younger sibling in that way is horrible to even think about, so I can only imagine the sadness and heartbreak that she and the rest of her family would feel at that.  Lex's life is well portrayed in this book.  You feel a deep sense of her grief, as well as the guilt she feels at thinking that she should have known how Ty felt and been able to stop this from happening.

Ty, despite being dead at the start of the book, is a fully realized and developed character.  He is shown in many flashbacks, and you get to know him through them.  Through the flashbacks, I came to love his character, and to have a sense that he really was a genuinely good guy.  It was sad to think that his life had been cut so short and by his own hand.  It was sad to think of how he had all these people who cared about him, yet he wasn't able to share the darkness in his life with them.  He had a girlfriend who cared about him, yet that relationship ended.  

I liked how Steven was a good guy who genuinely cared about Lex.  Clearly something had gone wrong in their relationship, but it seemed like he still cared about her and really wanted to fix things. I got the sense that he really had hope that they could have a relationship again in the future.  He was sweet and just a genuinely nice guy.

I thought that Lex had good friends who were there for her.  Beaker and El both clearly cared about her, though she was pushing them away often because she didn't really know how to be the same around them as before.  Beaker, whose real name is Jill, seemed to be especially hurt by how Lex was pushing her away, and how Lex wouldn't tell her things that happened in her life.  Sadie was an old friend of Lex's from when they were kids, who started befriending her again after Ty's suicide.  She understood Lex in a way that her other friends couldn't, since she too had experienced the loss of a family member, though not to suicide.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: When Reason Breaks by Cindy Rodriguez

When Reason Breaks 13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

My Review:

I sped through this book in two days, and I loved it.  It was a quick read, and the characters really wrapped themselves around my heart by the end of the book.  I cared about both Emily and Elizabeth and I wanted them both to be okay at the end of the story.


Emily is someone whose life may not look too bad from the outside, but that doesn't mean that it's actually as good as it may seem to others.  She seems like she has good friends, is popular, has a sweet boyfriend, and a good family.  What she is hiding from others is her fear of slipping up and making her father mad at her.  As a politician, he is scared of her doing anything that might tarnish his reputation.  She knows that anything she does could be scrutinized and in the public eye.  Her relationship with Kevin is a bright spot in her life, though that's certainly not perfect either.  I wasn't a particularly big fan of her friends, especially Abby.  Abby did something that involved posting something online that made me not really like her.

The other main character is this story was Elizabeth, a goth girl who often gave people attitude.  She was different from Emily, in that people at school weren't as accepting of her, sometimes calling her "Elizagoth."  She may have made some mistakes in her behavior, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't a good person on the inside.  It was heartwarming to see how much she cared about her younger sister, and her mom too, though there were some more difficulties in that relationship.  Her friendship with Tommy was sweet, and it was nice to read about it and wonder whether it would become a romantic relationship.

Something this book did that I don't think I've seen very often is showing the impact that one teacher can have on her students.  Ms. Diaz was that teacher for both Emily and Elizabeth.  Both girls connected to Emily Dickinson's poetry, as well as to Ms. Diaz herself.  She showed how much she cared about them, which made me think of the quote, "[Students] won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."  Ms. Diaz discovered that in this book, as well as discovering how much she truly did care about her students.

If you like YA contemporary with emotional parts, read this book.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Releases I'm Most Excited For

February 3rd:
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios - I loved Something Real, so I can't wait to read another contemporary book by Heather Demetrios.  This sounds like a really good story.

I'll Meet You There

February 10th:
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga - This book sounds like such an amazing and powerful story.  The cover is so beautiful too.  Just from reading the synopsis, I hope that the two main characters decide that they want to live.  I preordered this near the end of June 2014, so I think that shows how excited I am for this.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand - This book sounds really good.  I've really enjoyed Cynthia Hand's paranormal books, and I think I'll like this too, since this is her first contemporary, and contemporary is my favorite genre.
When Reason Breaks by Cindy Rodriguez - This sounds like a really emotional story about an unlikely friendship.  It sounds like it will be a really good read.

My Heart and Other Black HolesThe Last Time We Say GoodbyeWhen Reason Breaks

February 17th:
The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes - This sounds like a powerful character study and a gripping survival story all in one.  And that sounds like it will be amazing.  I love this cover so much as well.
Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor - Since I loved Maybe One Day, I'm excited to check out this book.  I love how the cover matches the cover of Maybe One Day, though they are standalone books.

The Distance Between Lost and FoundBetter Than Perfect

February 24th:
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas - The premise of this story being what happens after Sleeping Beauty is over is really interesting.  I am excited to read this.

A Wicked Thing