Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blog Tour: When the Moon Was Ours Excerpt

When the Moon Was Ours 
Below is an excerpt of When the Moon Was Ours, which looks like an amazing and beautifully written book.

sea of clouds

As far as he knew, she had come from the water. But even about that, he couldn’t be sure.     
It didn’t matter how many nights they’d met on the untilled land between their houses; the last farm  didn’t rotate its crops, and stripped the soil until nothing but wild grasses would grow. It didn’t  matter how many stories he and Miel had told each other when they could not sleep, him passing on his mother’s fables of moon bears that aided lost travelers, Miel making up tales about his moon lamps falling in love with stars. Sam didn’t know any more than anyone else about where she’d come from before he found her in the brush field. She seemed to have been made of water one minute and the next, became a girl.

Someday, he and Miel would be nothing but a fairy tale. When they were gone from this town, no one would remember the exact brown of Miel’s eyes, or the way she spiced recado rojo with cloves, or even that Sam and his mother were Pakistani. At best, they would remember a dark-eyed girl, and a boy whose family had come from somewhere else. They would remember only that Miel and Sam had been called Honey and Moon, a girl and a boy woven into the folklore of this place.

This is the story that  mothers would tell their children:
There was once a very old water tower. Rust had turned its metal such a deep orange that the whole tank looked like a pumpkin, an enormous copy of the fruit that grew in the fields where it cast its shadow. No one tended this water tower anymore, not since a few strikes from a summer of lightning storms left it leaning to one side as though it were tired and slouching. Years ago, they had filled it from the river, but now rust and minerals choked the pipes. When they opened the valve at the base of the tower, nothing more than a few drops trickled out. The bolts and sheeting looked weak enough that one autumn windstorm might crumble the whole thing.

So the town decided that they would build a new water tower, and that the old one would come down. But the only way to drain it would be to tip it over like a cup. They would have to be ready for the  whole tower to crash to the ground, all that rusted metal, those thousands of gallons of dirty, rushing  water spilling out over the land.

For the fall, they chose the side of the tower where a field of brush was so dry, a single spark would catch and light it all. All that water, they thought, might bring a little green. From that field, they dug up wild flowers, chicory and Indian paintbrush and larkspur, replanting them alongside the road, so they would not be drowned or smashed. They feared that if they were not kind to the beautiful things that grew wild, their own farms would wither and die.

Children ran through the brush fields, chasing away squirrels and young deer so that when the water tower came down, they would not be crushed. Among these children was a boy called Moon because he was always painting lunar seas and shadows onto glass and paper and anything he could make glow. Moon knew to keep his steps and his voice gentle, so he would not startle the rabbits, but would stir them to bound back toward their burrows.

When the animals and the wild flowers  were gone from the brush field, the men of the town took their axes and hammers and mallets to the base of the water tower, until it fell like a tree. It arced toward the ground, its fall slow, as though it were leaning forward to touch its own shadow. When it hit, the rusted top broke off, and all that water rushed out.

For a minute the water, brown as a forgotten cup of tea, hid the brush that looked like pale wheat stubble. But when it slid and spread out over the field, flattening the brittle stalks, soaking into the dry ground, every one watching made out the shape of a small body.

A girl huddled in the wet brush, her hair stuck to her face, her eyes wide and round as amber marbles. She had on a thin nightgown, which must have once been white, now stained cream by the  water. But she covered herself with her arms, cowering like she was naked and looking at every one like they were all baring their teeth.

At first a few of the mothers shrieked, wondering whose child had been left in the water tower’s path. But then they realized that they did not know this girl. She was not their daughter, or the daughter of any of the mothers in town.

No one would come near her. The ring of those who had come to see the tower taken down widened a little more the longer they watched her. Each minute they put a little more space between her and them, more afraid of this small girl than of so much falling water and rusted metal. And she stared at them, seeming to meet all their eyes at once, her look both vicious and frightened.

 But the boy called Moon came forward and knelt in front of her. He took off his jacket and put it on her. Talked to her in a voice soft enough that no one  else could hear it.

Everyone drew back, expecting her to bite him or to slash her fingernails across his face. But she looked at him, and listened to him, his words stripping the feral look out of her eyes.

After that day, anyone who had not been at the water tower thought she was the same as any other child, little different from the boy she was always with. But if they looked closely, they could see the hem of her skirt, always a little damp, never quite drying no matter how much the sun warmed it.

This would be the story, a neat distillation of what had happened. It would weed out all the things that did not fit. It would not mention how Miel, soaking wet and smelling of rust, screamed into her hands with every one watching.  Because everyone was watching, and she wanted to soak into the ground like the spilled water and vanish. How Sam crouched in front of her saying, “Okay, okay,” keeping his words slow and level so she would know what he meant. You can stop screaming; I hear you, I understand. And because she believed him, that he heard her, and understood, she did stop.

It would leave out the part about the Bonner  sisters. The four of them, from eight-year-old Chloe to three-year-old Peyton, had been there to see the water tower come down, all of them lined up so their hair looked like a forest of autumn trees. Peyton had been holding a small gray pumpkin that, in that light, looked almost blue. She had it cradled in one arm, and with the other hand was petting it like a bird. When she’d taken a step toward Miel, clutching that pumpkin, Miel’s screaming turned raw and broken, and Peyton startled back to her sisters.

Once Sam knew about Miel’s fear of pumpkins, he understood, how Peyton treating it like it was alive made Miel afraid not only of Peyton but of all of them. But that part would never make it into the story.

This version would also strip away the part about Sam trying to take Miel home like she was a stray cat.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Releases I'm Most Excited For

October 4th:
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig - This looks like a good mystery and thriller type book.
Wrecked by Maria Padian  - This looks like it will be a powerful book about rape culture on college campuses.

Last Seen LeavingWrecked

October 11th:
Beast by Brie Spangler - This looks like it will be an interesting retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which is a story that I love.


October 25th:
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith - This looks like an interesting and unique story of time travel.

A Darkly Beating Heart


Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Releases I'm Most Excited For

September 6th:
As I Descended by Robin Talley - I'm excited to read this retelling of Macbeth by Robin Talley, though I haven't actually read Macbeth.
Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow - This book is about a tough topic (cutting) and it looks like it will be really good.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova  - This sounds like a really good diverse fantasy book.

As I DescendedGirl in PiecesLabyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

September 13th:
Into White by Randi Pink - This looks like a book that will really address race and racism in an interesting way.  The premise of a black girl becoming white is quite unique.
Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner  - This looks like a powerful read with good friendship and romance.  I have seen many good reviews of this one.
Radical by EM Kokie  - I have read EM Kokie's first book, which was good, and this book looks like it will be really interesting and unlike anything I've read before.

Into WhitePhantom LimbsRadical

September 20th:
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis - This sounds like it will be a powerful read about rape culture.

The Female of the Species


Thursday, August 25, 2016

ARC Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

After the Woods Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

My Review: 4 Stars

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I had started reading this book back before its release date and then I got very busy with school and had to set it aside.  I'm glad I finally got back to it and read it now.  This is an interesting mystery with fascinating characters.

Julia is the main character, and I really liked her.  She's the type of person who will save her best friend, even if it gets her into trouble, and she's also the type of person who wants answers, even if it means revisiting a night that could hurt her to remember.

Liv is Julia's best friend and the relationship between the two is very complex.  I felt really bad for Liv, even though she made many questionable choices.  Her mother, Deborah, was absolutely awful, and made her feel like she could never be good enough.  I can understand why she did what she did in a quest to prove her mother wrong, even if the choices were really bad ones with awful consequences. 

There is a side romance between Julia and Kellan (the police detective's son) that is cute.  It is a good romance but it is very much not the main part of the book.  Kellan isn't in the book very much, but he's a good guy who clearly cares about Julia, even if they have their ups and downs in the relationship.

If you like YA contemporary mysteries, read this book.


Monday, August 22, 2016

ARC Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

My Review: 5 Stars

I won an ARC of this book from the author, and I read it within a bit over a day and loved it so much.  This book does a good job at developing all of the story arcs with nuance.  The characters are also complex and well developed, from the main characters down to most of the secondaries. 

I loved the family relationships between Joanna, her dad, and her new stepmom.  The relationship between Joanna and her dad is strained due to him telling her to go back into the closet at their new town for her senior year.  He knows that asking her to hide part of herself like that is wrong, yet he does it anyway because he's more worried about what his in-laws think than he is about showing his daughter that he supports her unconditionally.  Despite this mistake, Joanna's dad is not a bad guy, and he is really trying to make things better.  I also loved the relationship between Joanna and her new stepmom.  At the beginning, she calls her Three, since she's her father's third wife, and she doesn't expect the marriage to last.  By the end, Elizabeth (the stepmom's name) has become a true mother figure to Joanna.  She is very supportive of her, and the two have a few heartwarming moments.
I loved the development of the relationship between Joanna and Mary Carlson.  The two become close friends pretty quickly, and Joanna has a crush on her almost immediately too.  There are many moments before they are out to each other that seem very charged between them.  It makes Joanna wonder if Mary Carlson could possibly feel the same way.  I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Joanna's crush on Mary Carlson is mutual.  The road to their relationship isn't necessarily easy, especially since Joanna pretends to be closeted and doesn't admit for a long time that she actually used to be out in Atlanta.  The two are super cute together as a couple though.

I loved how many of the secondary characters were well developed as well.  BTB quickly becomes friends with Joanna.  He is a boy in the special ed class at school who loves elephants and is Mary Carlson's brother.  He is a really sweet and nice guy.  George is a boy from Joanna's class and youth group who develops a crush on Joanna.  She comes out to him after he admits to her that he has two moms.  Then there are the three other girls from Mary Carlson's friend group, Jessica, Betsy, and Gemma.  Of the three, Gemma is probably the most important to the book, but the others have their own stories and personalities as well.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, August 1, 2016

August Releases I'm Most Excited For

August 2nd:
Whatever by SJ Goslee  - This looks like it will be a fun read about a teenage boy.

 Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked

August 30th:
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown - This looks like it will be a good story of faith and sexuality in the South.
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall - I haven't read any of Sandy Hall's previous books yet, but this one looks like a cute read.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden FruitBeen Here All Along


Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: Run by Kody Keplinger

Run Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and -- worst of all -- confronting some ugly secrets.

My Review: 5 Stars

Before reading Run, my favorite Kody Keplinger book was either The DUFF or A Midsummer's Nightmare, but now this book has easily stolen that number one spot.  It's definitely her best so far, and takes a bit of a different tone than her earlier books.  I have read it two times now.

The friendship between Agnes and Bo is the strongest part of this book.  This friendship is one that surprised both girls when it happened, but it was a really genuine and strong friendship.  It's clear how much they both care about each other and love each other.  Sometimes their friendship isn't always the best for them, especially for the situation that it got Agnes into, but it is still obvious how much Bo cares about her.  Bo doesn't want to drag Agnes in her mess, but she also needs Agnes with her, because she needs a friend.

I loved Bo's character so much, and felt sad for the life that she had to live.  Her mom didn't really care about her at all, and sometimes her mom got arrested, which made Bo be put into foster care.  Her dad left when she was fairly young.  In town, everyone has misconceptions about her, and rumors that they spread about her.  Everyone assumes that she sleeps around, which is why it is shocking to Agnes when she finds out this might not be so true.  I think Bo just really needed someone to care about her, since she was a genuinely good person given a bad lot in life.

Agnes was a blind girl who was extremely overprotected by her parents.  They wouldn't even let her walk home from her school bus stop.  Ultimately, her smothering by her parents is what made her run away with Bo (and also because she wanted to be there for Bo and wasn't going to let Bo run away alone).  She has some important conversations about how they treat her differently than they treated her older sister and her age and how it's clearly because she's blind.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: Tumbling by Caela Carter

Tumbling Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life... and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhemina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.

My Review: 5 Stars

This book is a realistic look at the cutthroat nature of competitive gymnastics.  As someone who has always loved watching the Olympic gymnasts, I really enjoyed this look at the Trials.  This had a variety of characters, focusing on the perspectives of 5 of them.  They come from several diverse backgrounds, and I liked getting to know all the different characters.  I'm going to write a paragraph about each character below.

Leigh is my personal favorite of the characters, because she seemed to be the one who was most genuine in wanting to be friendly to people, instead of just being competitive with them.  She is a very skilled gymnast who is one of the top in the US.  She is hiding the fact that she's a lesbian, because she wants to be known for her gymnastics, instead of just being known as the "lesbian gymnast."  The only people who know her secret are her parents and her best friend, Grace.  Her parents want her to live a more normal life, so they made her go to high school even though she wanted to homeschool instead.  I really liked her story.  I didn't like something that happened to her at the end though, because I really liked her and it wasn't good for her.

Grace is Leigh's best friend, and typically second place in the country for gymnastics, after Leigh.  She is under a lot of pressure since her dad is her coach and expects only the best from her.  She wants to come in first place in the Olympic Trials.  She is hiding an eating disorder, which really does not help her performance at all since it makes her weak.  She also puts gymnastics over her friendships, and it's nice to see her work on fixing this throughout the book.

Camille was supposed to be in the Olympics four years ago, but she was disqualified when she was injured in a car accident.  She comes back again this year, and is known as "Comeback Cammie" to her fans.  She is struggling with whether or not the Olympics is actually her dream anymore or if she's just living out her mom's dream for her.  She has a boyfriend who wants her to give up the Olympics because he thinks gymnastics is hurting her.  Camille has a decision to make about the Olympics, but which decision will she make?

Wilhelmina just missed the age cutoff for the Olympics four years before.  Now this is her first chance to be in the Olympics.  She has worked on staying strong for four years, and her coach has helped her.  She hasn't played by the rules of the Olympic team coach, though, so that could potentially hurt her.  That coach hasn't seen her perform so she's worried that putting her on the team could be a risk.

Monica is a nice young girl who is in the Trials.  She is relatively unknown and is an underdog type character.  No one really notices her until she starts doing well in the Trials.  Suddenly she is someone to pay attention to and watch out for.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Review: Colorblind by Siera Maley

Colorblind Harper has a secret...and it’s not that she likes girls. She has a rare and special gift: she can see how old other people will be when they pass away. Nothing she does changes this number, and that becomes especially clear when her mother dies in a car crash. With only one other person in the world who knows about and shares her gift, Harper is determined to keep her distance from everyone. Then she falls for Chloe… whose number is 16.
That means that Chloe doesn’t have twelve months to live. She doesn’t even have six.
She is going to be dead by the end of the summer, unless Harper can find a way to stop it.

My Review: 5 Stars

So this is now the second Siera Maley book that I have read and the second Siera Maley book that I have read really quickly.  The only reason that I didn't finish it one night was because it was late and I was tired.  But then I finished it the next morning.  This was an adorable romance and a great story.  It had one very small paranormal element but was completely normal other than that.  And since I've taken a long time to write this review, I have actually read this book twice and loved it just as much the second time.

Harper and Chloe were seriously one of the cutest ships ever and I ship them so much.  They had so much chemistry and a clearly mutual attraction from basically the beginning.  It was a major slow burn waiting for Harper to finally decide to be with Chloe, even if she was going to end up losing her by the end of the summer.  I loved reading this romance so much.  It got to the point when I really just wanted to see them be together, but I loved the journey to get to that point as well.  This is definitely one of my new favorite ships.  
It was interesting to see how Harper's ability to see what age people will die at affected how she lived her life.  It made her more cynical and afraid to get close to people, which made for a lonely life for her.  She was basically only close with her dad, and Robbie, who shared her ability and understood how she felt about it.  Both her dad and Chloe said some very true things to her about how she wasn't really living her life.  They didn't know about the ability, but they did know that she was scared of losing people because of losing her mom.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, July 1, 2016

July Releases I'm Most Excited For

July 5th:
Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally - I have always enjoyed Miranda Kenneally books and I don't think this one will be an exception to that.

 Defending Taylor

July 12th:
Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Chairaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton - I look forward to reading this sequel to Tiny Pretty Things and seeing what happens next to these characters.

Shiny Broken Pieces (Tiny Pretty Things, #2)

July 26th:
Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee - This book will be interesting and unique since it's about conjoined twins.  I'm excited to see how they deal with making choices in their lives when they have to stay together.
PS I Like You by Kasie West - This looks like it will be another cute contemporary by Kasie West.

GeminiP.S. I Like You


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June Releases I'm Most Excited For

This post is quite a bit late since I usually do it on the 1st of each month.  Because of this, I have actually already read several of the books that I was excited for.

June 7th:
Tumbling by Caela Carter - I have always enjoyed watching the Olympic gymnasts, so it was fun to read a book about the trials.  This book really showed the dedication and sacrifices that each girl had to make.
How It Ends by Catherine Lo  - This was a good book that showed a friendship and all of its difficulties.  I loved Jessie and Annie and hoped for them to get past everything that came between their friendship.
True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan - This was a good story of a boy coming to terms with the fact that he is gay and preparing to come out to others.
Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee - This looks like it will be a very fun and unique read about homeschooling and faking deaths.
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - This book was just as good and suspenseful as the first book in the series.
You Know Me Well by Nina Lacour and David Levithan - This was a great book that was a pretty fun and light read about first love and also unrequited love.

TumblingHow It EndsTrue Letters from a Fictional LifeLucky FewThe Long Game (The Fixer, #2)You Know Me Well

June 14th:
Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry - I have already read this one, and it was a good book about a teen questioning her sexuality.  I loved reading about the various antics of the theater kids and theater camp.  And the relationship between Brooklyn and her roommate Zoe was complex and well drawn.
How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes - I enjoyed this author's first book and this looks like it will be a good one dealing with some topics like eating disorders.
Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi - I enjoyed the Night We Said Yes so I look forward to another Lauren Gibaldi book.  It looks like it will be a good exploration of adoption as well as focusing on friendship.

Look Both WaysHow It Feels to Fly Autofocus

June 28th: 
Run by Kody Keplinger - I loved this book and the friendship between the two girls that was showcased in it.
Winning by Lara Deloza  - This looks like it will be a fun, Mean Girls - esque type read.
Never Missing Never Found by Amanda Panitch - Amanda Panitch's first book was an intense thriller, so I think this will also be like that.

RunWinningNever Missing, Never Found 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

My Review: 5 Stars
When I started this book I was not expecting to love it as much as I did, and I definitely was not expecting to fly through this book that was over 500 pages in only a little more than a day.  I really loved this book and the character relationships in it and I probably could have read even more of it if it had been even longer than how long it already was.

I loved how important the friendship was in the book, and how the group dynamics worked.  They are so funny and fun together, and it's clear that they all know each other really well.  They don't have perfect relationships, but when they mess up things they apologize and work to fix it.  The friend group is Palmer, Bri, and Toby.  Bri and Toby are best friends, and so are Palmer and Andie, and the four of them are a really strong friend group, who have an amusing ongoing group message.  Palmer is in a relationship with Tom and has been for three years, so he's part of the group too.  He quickly becomes close friends and has a "bromance" with Andie's new boyfriend, Clark.

Andie's relationship with Clark is absolutely adorable.  I loved seeing them get together and start a relationship and navigate that.  I loved how he was super awkward with her at first and had trouble asking her out.  And then they had a bad first date, which is more unusual for book relationships.  But of course, things ended up working out better after that date.  Andie was used to relationships that lasted three weeks maximum, so really developing feelings for a guy was new for her.  It was so cute.  Clark was interesting and sweet.  He was a writer of a famous fantasy series who was trying to get past writer's block to finish the 3rd book.

Another relationship in this book was between Andie and her dad.  She and him had been distant since he was a Congressman in DC, but he was on a break from that due to a scandal in his office, so she had to get used to having him around.  Five years before, Andie's mother had died which had changed the family dynamics.  Andie didn't feel like her dad was really a dad to her since he didn't seem to care or remember a lot of things going on in her life.  I liked seeing how they grew closer over the summer together and began to really mend their relationship.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

My Review: 5 Stars

I think this may be my least favorite of Emery Lord's books, but that isn't a bad thing, because it just means that I loved the others so much and didn't love this quite as much as them.  I still very much liked this book and it was a very quick read once I got into it.

Something that I thought this book did really well was dealing with mental illness.  It becomes pretty clear during the story that there is something wrong with Vivi, even if the diagnosis isn't given for a while.  She has mood swings of being either up or down and she is quite manic sometimes.  While I do not have bipolar disorder or know people with it personally, I thought this seemed to be a good and honest portrayal of how it affects someone's life.  This book is also pro-medication, though Vivi personally is not for a while, which is good to see in a book since that can be helpful to people dealing with mental illness.

I loved Jonah so much.  He was just such a genuinely sweet boy who was there for Vivi.  It wasn't always easy for him to see her going through some of what she went through in the book, but he was there for her and supportive.  He also was struggling quite a bit himself from losing his dad and from his family's financial troubles.  He basically had to be the person in charge since his mom barely got out of bed after losing her husband.  He was thrown into a position of having to be one of the guardians for his younger siblings and he split these responsibilities with his older brother.  It was clear that this was tough on him, but he did the best job that he could.  I really loved reading about the siblings in this book.

The romance that developed between Jonah and Vivi wasn't perfect, but I think it was what both of them needed at the time.  I can't say too much more about this because of spoilery reasons, but yeah.  I liked it and thought it was sweet.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ARC Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different--and a love story that everyone will root for.

Review: 5 Stars

At the time of starting to write this review, it is October 2015 and I just finished this book a day ago.  I was lucky enough to receive this as a bound manuscript, and I read it pretty much as soon as I got it, and I couldn't put it down.  I loved this book.  It had a storyline about a character that is currently pretty rare in YA books, which needs to change.

The narrator of this book is a trans girl, and the author is also trans, so this is a book that fits the #OwnVoices that was started on Twitter in 2015.  I have read very few books with trans girl narrators, or really with any trans person as a narrator.  I think this is definitely underrepresented in YA, and there are people out there who need these stories.  As someone who is cis, I do not understand what a trans person experiences, but books like this are helpful to me to have more insight into this so that I can understand better.  Also, this book avoids the problematic "acceptance narrative" of a trans person, which is in a post here: http://www.gayya.org/?p=3108. Instead of having this issue, this book has a trans character telling her own story.

Anyway, the narrator of this book is Amanda, and I loved her character.  She was a really good person, and a great friend.  She definitely had struggles, especially with figuring out whether or not she wanted to tell people that she was trans.  She didn't really want people to see her as anything other than the girl that she really is, but she also didn't want to feel like she was being dishonest with people that she really cared about. 

I also really loved the friend group that she met when she moved to the new town.  She found a great group of female friends, who loved her, though they didn't know her secret right away, of course.  Not all of her friends are perfect.  They are flawed but they are good people to her, and they are the kind of friends that she needs.  I love the message of acceptance that was prevalent in this book.  I also loved that there was some other diversity among her friend group.  

I also loved getting to see her developing relationship with Grant.  Watching him fall for her showed that a straight boy can fall for a trans girl.  Of course, he didn't know that she was trans when he first started falling for her.  I don't really want to give away how everything with their relationship happens, but I can say that the book ends on a hopeful note for them, after he knows that she is trans, but still loves her.  It shows that this doesn't make any difference in love.

Her relationship with her dad, who was the parent that she lived with during this book, was a complicated one.  He hadn't been particularly accepting of her back he thought she was probably a gay boy, and he always had tried to get her to do masculine things with him to be more masculine.  He has trouble accepting the fact that the person that he thought was his son is actually his daughter.  But, though it takes him some time to really show it, he definitely loves Amanda. It is nice to see his progression throughout the book. 

I recommend this book for:
-trans people
-people who want to learn more about what life is like for trans people
-people who want a good story


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The First Time She Drowned Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

My Review: 5 Stars

This was a powerful and dark book that wasn't necessarily an easy read, but was definitely a very good read.  It dealt with familial relationships and about learning to navigate the world again after being put into a mental institution by your own family when they don't really have your best interests in mine.

The story of Cassie's family was a sad and painful one.  Cassie's mom was abusive to her, not physically, but verbally.  She made Cassie feel like she wasn't worth anything while she doted on and acted like best friends with Cassie's older brother, Matthew.  Matthew seemed like a good brother to Cassie when he was younger, but he was turned against her by their mom and was always on the mom's side.  Cassie's dad wasn't a bad guy.  He wasn't able to protect her from her mother, since everyone in the family just kind of walked all over him.  The extended family was bad too.  Cassie's mom had her mother who was also awful to her daughter.  That's probably part of why Cassie's mom became the way she was, but it doesn't excuse that.  Then Cassie's mom was good friends with her aunt, who was Cassie's Great Aunt Dora.  She never seemed to like Cassie when she came to visit, and there might have been something that she did to Cassie, a memory that she had managed to suppress for many years. 

When Cassie leaves the mental institution that her parents put her in, she goes to college.  Her college experience doesn't start off too well, thanks to a near drowning incident and a sickness that happened after that.  She meets Zoey who lives across the hall from her and moves in with her.  I thought Zoey was a good friend that she really needed.  She was able to learn how to have fun and be herself again with Zoey.   

I also thought her developing relationship with Chris was a good one.  I liked how he was patient with her and stuck around, even when it seemed like she was pushing him away.  But he also wasn't pushy and trying to force her to be around him.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Review: Right of First Refusal by Dahlia Adler

Right of First Refusal (Radleigh University, #2) On the lacrosse field, Cait Johannssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school's hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.

But it's Cait's new roommate who's got him.

Cait and Mase agree it's best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn't expect him to completely ignore their history...or how much it'll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can't turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it's only keeping her from the one truth that's nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?

And is it really too late to get him back?

My Review: 5 Stars

Dahlia Adler is officially one of my favorite authors of all time.  I have read all her books so far, except for Last Will and Testament, which I will be sure to read soon.  I loved three of the four and very much liked the other.  I just want to keep reading more Dahlia Adler books, because they are seriously so good.  Everything about this book was just so good.  The characters were fully developed, the voice was strong, and the pace was great, making it easy for me to speed through this book.  

My favorite thing about this book was, without a doubt, the Cait Lizzie Frankie friendship trio.  They were supportive of each other, and I loved how it was clear that they really knew each other, including random details about the other's lives from before they knew each other.  Also, I loved Lizzie and Frankie both so much in this book, so I now definitely need to read their books.  The interactions among the group were often hilarious.  

This book also dealt with some family issues.  Cait's dad is marrying his receptionist who he got pregnant.  He also scheduled the wedding for the day of the lacrosse championships against Cait's wishes.  Cait isn't happy with him for this.  He also is moving all the way across the country and wants Cait to transfer to a school in California, which isn't what she wants.  The book shows the contrast between Cait's relationship with her dad and her sister, Cammie's, relationship with him.  Cammie doesn't care if she ruins her relationship with him because that already happened a while ago.  She has been against their dad for a while.  Cait, on the other hand, had a good relationship with him, but it is becoming messed up by the choices that he makes in this book. 

The romance was good, but it wasn't my favorite thing about this book.  Mase was a good guy though, and I did like seeing the development of his romance with Cait occurring for the second time.  The situation was awkward at first, due to him dating her new roommate.  I thought this was dealt with realistically in showing his relationship with Andi vs. his relationship with Cait and the differences.  I also thought the problems between Andi and Cait due to this were dealt with well and made sense.

I also really enjoyed the plot with Jake.  He was Cait's friend and a really nice guy.  I really liked him and their friendship.  There was a period of time that they pretended to date to hide that he was gay.  They were really good as friends and supportive to each other and to their relationships.

If you like NA, or even if you don't like the usual NA, read this book.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

My Review: 5 Stars

This book was the first that I ever read that has a genderfluid MC.  It is an important and educational book, while also being a good story.  

Reading Riley's story was interesting.  While I will probably never truly understand what being genderfluid is like, it helped provide a window of understanding.  I felt like I was really able to get into Riley's head and feel what they felt.  Riley didn't have it easy, especially worrying that being in the public through their dad being in Congress would be a problem.  They also struggled with anxiety, which was tough too, probably.  I felt like that part of the story was also done well.

Bec and Solo were both good friends for Riley.  Solo understood what it was like to not always fit in from when he used to be made fun of.  He may have been friends with the meaner football players due to being on the football team, but that didn't mean that he was like them.  He was really supportive of Riley, especially in some extra tough times for them.  Bec was also a good friend and there was a cute potential relationship between her and Riley.  She wasn't always there for Riley, especially at an important time.  Yet, she apologized for that.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Up to This Pointe She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

My Review: 4 Stars

This was certainly a unique book because I've never read a book set in Antarctica before.  I really liked the development of the characters throughout this story, as well as getting to read a book in such a unique setting.

Harper's character development was a big part of this story.  She didn't know what to do with her life when her ballet plan didn't work out for her.  So she ended up going to Antarctica in a science program when she wasn't even interested in science.  She ended up discovering a lot of things about herself there, like a direction for her future.  I really liked seeing how she changed over the time spent in Antarctica.  She really found out what she wanted from her life.  

I enjoyed seeing some of the friendships in the book.  Kate was Harper's best friend who did ballet with her.  They had a plan to be in the San Francisco ballet company together.  They both said some things that they regretted before Harper went to Antarctica.  Their friendship wasn't just automatically better, but they had to work on fixing what had gone wrong.  Vivian worked with Harper as another research assistant.  She took a while to warm up to Harper, but once she did, she was a really good friend for her.  Charlotte was the person who was doing the research that Harper was an assistant for, and she and Harper genuinely became friends during the book, and Harper was there to help Charlotte during some tough times.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


April Releases I'm Most Excited For

April 5th:
When We Collided by Emery Lord - This book is by Emery Lord, so, having loved her other two books, I am, of course, very excited to read this one.
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum  - This looks like a really cute read that I am very excited for.  I've seen it compared to Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda which is a book that I love.

When We CollidedTell Me Three Things

April 19th:
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas - I enjoyed her other mysteries published under the name Kara Taylor, so I'm looking forward to another mystery by this author.

 The Darkest Corners

You should be excited for:
South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf - I read this book as an ARC and really liked it.  It dealt with being LGBT in a small town in the South, and I really enjoyed this.

South of Sunshine


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

The Year We Fell Apart Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

My Review: 4 Stars

I really enjoyed getting to see all the different relationships unfold in this book.  There was some drama sometimes, but that didn't keep me from liking the book.  There were a lot of various relationships, including family, friendship, and romantic relationships.

There were a lot of different friendships in this book.  There was Cory, a boy who had been best friends with Harper since they were young children.  There was never anything other than friendship between them for either of them.  He was also best friends with Declan, so it sometimes was hard for him to see him and Harper struggle with their relationships, especially when they had broken up in the past.  Harper also becomes friends with Gwen and Mackenzie who are in a photography class with her.  She takes a little bit to warm up to them, but the friendship with them is good for her.  The main reason she seems to be wary of them is because she thinks Declan likes Mackenzie, but that doesn't really end up being a problem.  Sadie is another of her friends and isn't very good for her at all.  Sadie seemed selfish and only into partying and hooking up with guys.  She always seemed to ditch Harper for guys and leave her with some guy that Harper wasn't really interested in.

This book also explored Harper's mom's sickness since she has cancer.  It was tough to read about some of that.  Clearly, this wasn't good for her family.  Luckily, though, I do think her mom was going to live.  And it was interesting to explore this beside Declan's mom having been killed by a drunk driver, which was very sad.  Having struggles with their mom was something that Harper and Declan could understand about each other.

I think Harper and Declan work well as a couple, even if it took them a while to get past their problems.  They had been friends since they were kids, so they really understood and knew each other.  I also thought they were pretty cute sometimes when they were joking around and teasing each other.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Exit Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear “I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.

“I know,” says Polly.

My Review: 5 Stars

I really loved this book and how it dealt with so many things in a different way than I've ever seen before.  It showed a rape victim who was surrounded by support and refused to be seen as a victim.  It showed cheerleading as something that takes a lot of athletic ability and should be respected for it.

Hermione is the main character of the book and she is a great one.  She is raped at cheerleading camp, and she doesn't remember any of it.  She doesn't let this define who she is.  That doesn't mean that things are easy for her, because she still does struggle.  But she doesn't want people to see her as "that raped girl."  She wants to continue cheering with her team, and competing with them.  She isn't going to give up because something bad happened to her.

One of my favorite characters in the book was Polly, who is Hermione's best friend.  She is so supportive and is there with Hermione through everything.  She is also the type of person who is very good and sticking up for people, and people are a bit intimidated by her, so they listen to her.  I loved reading about the friendship between Polly and Hermione.  And while most of Polly's story was shown in relation to Hermione's story arc, she also got her own story arc, which I loved.

I also enjoyed reading about Hermione meeting her therapist and her interactions with him.  Even though she jokingly said he was the worst therapist ever, I think he was really good for her healing process.  (Despite the comments that he made about cheerleading and cheerleaders).  It was really important for her that she had someone who wasn't going to try to make their career out of writing books about working with her or something like that.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.