Showing posts with label five stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label five stars. Show all posts

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Recommendation: How to Make a Wish - Ashley Herring Blake: Bisexuality and Sadness

In HOW TO MAKE A WISH, Grace's mom makes her move in with her ex-boyfriend's dad and meets Eva, who is struggling with her mother's death.

What intrigued me: Biracial and bisexual characters?! YES

Snarky Teen and Sad Vibes

HOW TO MAKE A WISH is one of those very quiet reads that you definitely have to have a thing for and have to be in the right mood for. Blake tells Grace's story with the authentic snark that I would've adored reading about as a teen. The thing Is - HOW TO MAKE A WISH is so character-driven and so quiet that I just didn't feel as enthusiastic about it as I would've liked. 

This is a me thing. This has nothing to do with the book. It's skillfully written with a killer voice and with heart. Also #ownvoices by a bisexual author, which clearly, obviously shows in the nuanced way Blake writes her characters. It reads somewhere inbetween books like those by Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han. If you enjoy works by these authors, you'll surely adore this one. 

HOW TO MAKE A WISH will surely hit close to home for many people out there, not only because of the fabulous narration but because it features a bisexual protagonist and a biracial love interest.


Representation goddamn matters.

I've got a confession to make here. This is first time that I've read about a biracial character portrayed so accurately that it freaks me out. I'm biracial and usually the representation we get hardly ever is stated on the page, and if it is there is probably a lot other thing wrong with the book. HOW TO MAKE A WISH presents biracial love interest Eva in a way that hit so close to home to me that I'm genuinely wondering if this was written about me. Is this me? Is this what representation feels like? 

Despite HOW TO MAKE A WISH missing the mark for me personally because of totally arbitrary and highly subjective reasons that stand in no relation to the quality of this book, this is an extraordinary book that I wish a lot of success. I refuse to give this any less than five stars and I urge you to be lenient with this book when rating and reviewing it as well. There is virtually no representation for people like me and we need to cheer those authors on that bother to do it right.

I would've needed this book at 14,15,16 - hell, I still need it now. I really don't know how to handle this. It's weird being represented, but it's also nice. Do me a favor and shove this book into the hands of any black biracials you know, okay? It'll mean the world to them.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

So, HOW TO MAKE A WISH apparently is the first book written for people like me. And it feels damn good, you guys. Representation matters. Gift this to your biracial friends.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: HMH Kids
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780544815193

Synopsis:
"All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on."
(Source: Goodreads)



What was the first book that made you feel represented as a marginalized person?

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Recommendation: Noteworthy - Riley Redgate: A Cappella and Crossdressing

In NOTEWORTHY, Jordan struggles with getting accepted in the musical theatre world because she's an Alto 2, and then applies to the male a cappella octet.

What intrigued me: I just heard bisexual. I'm ready.

Quiet and Melancholic

NOTEWORTHY is that kind of quiet bittersweet story that you have to have a sweet spot for. Looking at the cover I was expecting a loud, joke-y book full of puns and fanfares but this is actually quite the opposite. NOTEWORTHY does have its funny moments but at heart this story is very much a coming-of-age contemporary that doesn't sugarcoat anything about growing up.

A lot of the themes are very melancholic in nature, I especially loved reading about Jordan's past relationship and her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. There is so much heart's blood poured into this story that it figuratively drips with authenticity. NOTEWORTHY is one of those books that you have to put down sometimes because it got too real.

I think it's also worth mentioning that this an #ownvoices book about a Chinese girl written by a Chinese author. In general I was very positively surprised by the amount of non-white characters and especially by the depth and care that went into creating them.

A Love Letter to A Cappella

NOTEWORTHY especially impressed me with its nuanced discussion of gender, sexuality, and disability. I certainly didn't expect to find this in this book, but it's absolutely necessary considering that crossdressing is a huge part of the plot, but not necessarily in a trans or drag context. I'm glad that Redgate included a passage about this because this initially worried me when I heard about the book for the first time. Crossdressing is a tricky thing to write about.

I initially picked this up solely for the bisexual representation and was a little disappointed to see that NOTEWORTHY doesn't really discuss Jordan's sexuality a lot.  This is neither a romance nor a story about Jordan and her growing up, in my opinion it's a love letter to a cappella. NOTEWORTHY is set at college and you definitely don't get a break from that while reading this - this is a specific type of book that you need to be prepared for in order not to be caught off guard. While it is very unique, I think NOTEWORTHY absolutely delivers. This is the book for you if you're a singer, if you like a cappella, if you like stories set at college. NOTEWORTHY definitely stands out positively in the world of books about music.





Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

NOTEWORTHY reads like a love letter to a cappella and is a fairly quiet and calm type of Contemporary. If you enjoy these kinds of books, I urge you to read this one. With the nuanced discourse of sexuality, gender, and disability, this book is one of a kind.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781419723735

Synopsis:
"It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for."
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Contemporary?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recommendation: The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco: Necromancy and Witches

In THE BONE WITCH, Tea gets taken in by a seasoned necromancer after she accidentally resurrects her dead older brother Fox.

What intrigued me: Necromancy! How to sell a book to me in one word.

For both fantasy lovers and skeptics

THE BONE WITCH follows the story of a rookie witch traveling the kingdoms with her mentor and her undead brother, whom you'll grow to love for his deadpan commentaries. 

There's a second POV from a bard who seeks out a bone witch and plans to sing about her life, and those two POVs are drastically different in style. While the former reads almost happy-go-lucky and lets us explore the world in a haunting, yet light manner; the latter feels really heavy. From the rich language to the tone it's spiked with more back story and feels more traditionally fantasy than the other. Especially as a very skeptic high fantasy reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the variation. 

I believe that THE BONE WITCH resides somewhere at the intersection between a light paranormal and an epic high fantasy saga, which is the most evident through those two POVs. 
Chupeco can definitely do both, her writing is so versatile that I'm convinced it will be a delight for both seasoned fantasy readers and beginners. Essentially, the experience you'll have when reading this will range from flipping through the pages happily to just being stunned by sheer magical originality of it all. 


Beauty vs. Horror

What I love most about THE BONE WITCH is how effortlessly it combines beauty with horror. The daeva, terrifying demon beasts that can never be quite destroyed meet adorable happy villagers who wear hearts made of glass around their necks that display their feelings. Every so often Chupeco will present you with the most beautifully painted scenery, spiked with horrifying monsters. Paired with the Asian influences, that's such a winning combination that I am in awe. 

The world of THE BONE WITCH reminds me of an art deco painting, sprinkled with fairy-tale creatures that present themselves twisted and darkly. It reads like Tim Burton meets UPROOTED, which stuns just as much with originality and certainly rises up to my favorite high fantasy reads of all time.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE BONE WITCH presents us with a spell-binding, incredibly intricate world that you'll ache to explore. It absolutely caught me off guard, I didn't expect to fall in love with both the masterful writing and the uniqueness of it all. 

A must-read for all high fantasy lovers and definitely a suggestion to readers who like witches and just want to venture into high fantasy.



Additional Info

Published: March 7th 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781492635826

Synopsis:
"When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books about necromancy?

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recommendation: The Seafarers Kiss - Julia Ember: Bisexuality and Mermaids

In THE SEAFARER'S KISS, mermaid Ersel falls in love with shieldmaiden Ragna and causes lots of trouble back home at the ice castle.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved her debut UNICORN TRACKS.

Action-filled intricate world

I knew I'd love THE SEAFARER'S KISS after about five pages. Just like with her fantastic debut UNICORN TRACKS, Ember writes fast-paced and action-oriented - just what I like.

It's absolutely amazing how Ember painted this intricate world with its own customs and little sayings - THE SEAFARER'S KISS doesn't read like paranormal romance or mythology - it truly reads like a contemporary set in a mermaid kingdom. And you guys, this is the best.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Especially Ersel's best friend and now king's guard Havamal - the swoon is real. Even though this isn't really a book with a love triangle, I found myself rooting a bit for him and Ersel. You'll ship everyone while reading this book, that's the beauty of everyone being bisexual! The characters are all just so lovely, you'll find yourself wishing that they'd all just get along. It might also be relevant to your interests to know that Loki is genderfluid with they/them pronouns in this and that there is an amputee. The marginalized identities representation is fabulously refreshing and fun to read about. 

The Little Mermaid gone dark


THE SEAFARER'S KISS is a roller coaster of emotions. The first half of the book presents you with super cute contemporary romance fluff and all the feels, and towards the end it gets so dark that you'll find yourself wanting to turn the lights on. The two halves that THE SEAFARER'S KISS is divided into are without a doubt my favorite thing about this book - it manages to flawlessly combine a cute bisexual romance with an exciting fantasy adventure.

Filled with plot twists, THE SEAFARER'S KISS explores the moral shades of gray between good and evil while being an absolute page-turner. Ember managed to get me with every single twist. I saw none of them coming and am thoroughly impressed with the way she magnificently managed to make this The Little Mermaid retelling absolutely 100% her own.

THE SEAFARER'S KISS stuns with intricately developed character relationships, a fantastic world, and an action-filled plot that'll probably tempt you to binge-read this in one sitting.



Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SEAFARER'S KISS is the bisexual Norse Little Mermaid retelling you've been waiting for. Trust me, you want this. I think I have a very strong contender for new favorite LGBT+ writer. Julia Ember's one to watch.



Additional Info

Published: May 4th 2017
Pages: 230
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ISBN: 9781945053207

Synopsis:
"Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mermaid book?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recommendation: The Women in the Walls - Amy Lukavics: Victorian Mansions and Disappearances

In THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS, Lucy and her cousin Margaret are hearing voices inside the walls of their Victorian home after Lucy's aunt disappears.

What intrigued me: Horror, horror, horror, give me all the creepy YA horror.

Bursting with talent

I've seldom read such effortlessly beautiful writing. There is not a single word too much in this book, Lukavics writes so infuriatingly beautiful that you can't help but be a little jealous of her talent. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS tells a fascinating yet very simple story without much of a complicated plot that is so, so, so enhanced and livened through the fantastic writing. Lukavics has a very atmospheric writing style that is so essentially eerie. It's incredible how much Lucy's voice sucks you into this story, makes you feel like you're wandering through this creepy Victorian mansion with her.

I started out slightly skeptical because of the setting - it surely isn't anything I haven't seen before, but THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS perfectly illustrates that you can write with the most overdone premise ever and turn it into a masterpiece, if only you put your own spin on it. And that's what Lukavics absolutely does. 

Peak Creepiness

When it comes to horror, I'm a reviewer that you wouldn't want to read your book. I'm hardly scared of anything. You need to be exceptional to scare me and that's absolutely what THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is. It feels a little like psychological horror, how Lukavics pretty much gives you zero information on whether these voices are real or not and what they exactly are throughout the majority of the story. Until the bombastic finale that's riddled with absolutely unpredictable plot twists, you'll find yourself questioning whether Lucy and Margaret are imagining things or not constantly. It's so well-done that I genuinely grew a little paranoid while reading and I surely loved the way Lukavics wraps it all up. 

A word of caution towards the end: if you're not a fan of open endings, THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS will be very difficult to part with. Personally, I just can't help but keep thinking about Lukavics' characters because the story doesn't quite have an ending. But that's part of the brilliance and what good horror should do in my opinion. It should leave you thinking about the gruesome creepiness for days. Lukavics certainly and effortlessly managed to knock my favorite creepy horror writers from the throne. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is absolutely a book you should read if you like everything eerie and Victorian. 


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is exceptional. A masterpiece, really. Written with literary ease and multi-faceted atmospheric writing, this is more than just a recommendation - this is a must-read.

Note: Massive trigger warning for suicide, body horror/gore, emotional abuse, and cutting/self harm if you plan on reading this book.


Additional Info

Published: September 27th 2016
Pages: 278
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9780373211944

Synopsis:
"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



Have any horror books scared you lately?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Recommendation: Another Day (Every Day #2) - David Levithan: Totally Works as a Standalone





In ANOTHER DAY, Rhiannon meets A, who takes over a new stranger's body every day, when they take over her boyfriend Justin's body and spend a magical day with her.

What intrigued me: EVERY DAY (the first) is my favorite book.

More companion than sequel

I was very skeptical when I heard that my favorite book was getting a companion novel. I'm never a fan of those and I think they're usually just quickly written ways to cash in on an exhausted concept. But ANOTHER DAY surely doesn't do that. 

As with all companion novels, you don't have to read the preceding one to understand and fully enjoy this. I'd even recommend that you start with this one if you've never heard of the series, because it easily trumps EVERY DAY.

Rhiannon's narration is poetic, beautiful, and just impeccable. Levithan is without a doubt my favorite YA writer ever, simply because every single one of the sentences he writes effortlessly holds so much meaning that you sometimes just have to put the book down and think. If you've read EVERY DAY, you do not have to expect getting the exact same scenes, just flip side. 

Truly a magical, gut-wrenching romance story 

Levithan manages to charmingly tell the same story, but different. It's hard to explain, Rhiannon's narrative voice is nothing like A's and the story has a completely different tone. It reads like a regular contemporary novel about a girl in an abusive relationship, with almost magical realism - like elements, in form of A coming into her life, always in a different body. ANOTHER DAY truly reads like a modern day fairy tale, a magical story with A being Rhiannon's guardian angel. 

It's absolutely fascinating to get the feeling like it completes the first novel, finding out about the other perspective. I never really understood Rhiannon and cared for her as much as A, and in a sense, ANOTHER DAY is packed with emotional scenes and gut-wrenchingly adorable romance where is EVERY DAY still stuck explaining the concept of A's special ability.
Just trust me, it's worth it.

Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ANOTHER DAY is just a fantastic story. From the immaculate voice to the magic of A's and Rhiannon's dynamic, fans of EVERY DAY won't disappointed. It's without a doubt the best contemporary I've encountered so far.



Additional Info

Published: August 25th 2015
Pages: 327
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780385756204
Sequel to: EVERY DAY 

Synopsis:
"Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all."(Source: Goodreads)

Do you like David Levithan's books?

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Recommendation: Vinegar Girl - Anne Tyler: Marriage and Greencards

In VINEGAR GIRL, Kate's scientist father is trying to set her up with his lab assisstant Pyotr so he doesn't get deported.

What intrigued me: The Taming of the Shrew is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

Quiet and Hilarious

VINEGAR GIRL is part of a series of retellings originally published by Hogarth Shakespeare. It very clearly is inspired by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, though you don't have to be familiar with the original or even like it to enjoy this. VINEGAR GIRL is a clever and entertaining story that can easily stand on its own because of the brilliantly original characters and storyline. Especially the dialogue is so flat-out hilarious that I'm so anomoured and will definitely pick up more of Tyler's books.

VINEGAR GIRL is a quiet story at the core but has its funny moments that were ultimately the reason why I had such a great reading experience. A little over 200 pages this is quite a short novel but Tyler doesn't rush through the storyline.


Brilliant original characters

I fell in love with every single character. From the starry-eyed protagonist Kate, her naive sister Bunny, to the dorky love interest Pyotr. They're all people I have surely never read about before and this truly makes for such an interesting dynamic.

VINEGAR GIRL isn't a romance per se, if you're looking for swooniness and romance this isn't the right pick. Pyotr and Kate don't necessarily fall head over heels for each other, I'm not even sure if I'd even call this a romance. Nonetheless the story is just so fascinating and fun to read, simply because of the fantastic cast of characters and the fun dynamics.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

VINEGAR GIRL is the surprise of the year for me. A must-read for everyone who loves The Taming of the Shrew and everyone who'd like a retelling with a different spin on the classic play!



Additional Info

Published: 11th October 2016
Pages: 224
Publisher: Knaus
Genre: Adult / Contemporary
ISBN: 978-3-8135-0655-6

Synopsis:
"Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.  

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read The Taming of the Shrew?

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recommendation: Paperweight - Meg Haston: Eating Disorders and Treatment Centers


In PAPERWEIGHT, Stevie's dad signs her up for sixty days of treatment for her eating disorder. But she plans to be dead by the twenty-seventh day, the day of her anniversary that she killed her brother.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for a dark read.

Brutally Honest

PAPERWEIGHT is neither a light, nor happy-go-lucky type of story. It's a brutally honest story of a girl with an eating disorder. It's a raw emotional journey to read this and if you're looking for a thrilling read with plot twists or even a side of epic romance, this is the wrong pick. It's a minimalist story that's hard to read because it's so unapologetic. PAPERWEIGHT is a story that deserves to be read, but certainly won't be for everyone.

PAPERWEIGHT absolutely isn't romanticizing anything. If at all, it's doing the exact opposite. There are no euphemisms, no glorification, it's absolutely clear to the reader at all times that what Stevie is doing is wrong, that her motives are irrelevant, and that her experience isn't pleasant in the slightest. She isn't the most likeable protagonist, but that contributes to the credibility of the story and Stevie's actions. PAPERWEIGHT wants to make you uncomfortable and that's part of why I loved it so much.

Refreshing and Real

Stevie's narration alternates between her days in the clinic and her treatment with therapist Anna, and the past, through which we learn more about her family. The therapist plays a vital role in PAPERWEIGHT which I found refreshing. The present storyline is very straightforward and minimalist, but filled with fantastically well-developed side characters that absolutely make up for the lack of thrilling action. What had me clinging to the pages the most are actually the flashbacks and solving the mystery surrounding Stevie's brother and her best friend Eden, for whom Stevie developed more than just platonic feelings.

There are so many refreshing things about PAPERWEIGHT, at no point you'll feel like this story is told to influence the reader, to make them like the protagonist or to add any unnecessary drama to the story. It almost reads like an autobiography, which is even more admirable when you read the author's bio and realize that this an #ownvoices novel by someone who has first-hand experience with eating disorders. 

If you want an honest read that chronicles mental illness the way it is, read PAPERWEIGHT.
If you struggle to understand eating disorders and learn more about them, read PAPERWEIGHT.
If you want a dark literary read and want to be emotionally invested, read PAPERWEIGHT.




Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

PAPERWEIGHT is a brutally honest and fantastic novel that chronicles the story of a girl with anorexia. If you want to learn about anorexia or love YA that's on the darker side, PAPERWEIGHT is the perfect pick. A total page-turner.

Proceed with caution if you plan on picking this novel up, PAPERWEIGHT may be a very triggering read for anyone who has/has had first-hand experience with an eating disorder and/or self harm. 

Highlight following text for a full list of trigger warnings and possible triggering content:

alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia, cutting, death, eating disorders, PTSD, self harm/self mutilation, suicidal thoughts, suicide



Additional Info

Published: July 13th 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Thienemann
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9783522202152

Synopsis:
"Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books about eating disorders?

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Recommendation: Alienated (#1) - Melissa Landers: Student Exchange and Aliens





In ALIENATED, Cara is participating in the first alien exchange program and is hosting student Aelyx from the planet L'eihr.

What intrigued me: I love alien YA so much.

Hilarious and original

ALIENATED really looks and sounds like your average paranormal romance. I was expecting something similar to Jennifer L. Armentrout's OBSIDIAN, but was surprised to find that Landers took a completely different spin on the topic. 

ALIENATED is a flat-out hilarious and super entertaining YA that focuses more on two cultures clashing than the romance. Essentially the L'eihr are sexy Vulcans. There's just no other way to put it. It sounds strange, but ultimately works fantastically in the context of the book. They have no understanding of human customs, emotions, etc. and it's just funny. ALIENATED proves to be a fun, light-hearted read all around and I thoroughly enjoyed it a lot. The pages flew by!

Flawless Dual POV and Organic Romance

Landers has an incredibly strong character voice for human Cara and alien Aelyx and makes it so fun to follow the story. Despite being told from two POVs, which is usually one of my pet peeves, Landers absolutely makes the most of it and actually makes this a reason why I enjoyed ALIENATED so much. Their voices are drastically different, they both have different objectives and plot lines that they're following in the party they narrate. Especially Aelyx's POV is so interesting because Landers truly gives him an alien way to look at the world and it's so entertaining. 

Another highlight is the relationship between the two. It's swoon-worthy in the least, bordering on the epic. Because Landers takes so much time with it and lets it develop naturally and slowly, it feels absolutely organic and realistic. There's no instant love or superficiality, these two truly develop feelings for each other in a manner that feels real and with a dash of humor all of that is even more fun to read about. ALIENATED is a fantastic read, spiked with swoony romance and humor, it's the light-hearted delight you'll love when you're in the mood for some extraterrestial romance.



Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ALIENATED is a fun, light-hearted read that you'll love if you like paranormal romance with a side of humor. A clear recommendation and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel and read more about Cara and Aelyx.



Additional Info

Published: Feburary 4th 2014
Pages: 344
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9781423170280

Synopsis:
"Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet."(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite alien read?

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Recommendation: Apple and Rain - Sarah Crossan: Long-lost Siblings and Absent Moms

In APPLE AND RAIN, Apple's mother Annie comes back after 11 years out of the blue and brings a sibling with her.

What intrigued me: I loved ONE by Sarah Crossan and wanted to read more by her.

Genre-defying and Brilliantly Lucid

APPLE AND RAIN is very difficult to pinpoint. It's a little bit literary, it's a coming-of-age story, it's a drama, it's a little bit of a romance. To me it's genre-defying. You'd think it wouldn't work to mix all those things into a book, but strangely, it does. 

Crossan separates the novel into different parts which describe different aspects of Apple's coming-of-age journey. Some characters are more important in one part than the other as protagonist Apple goes through massive character development that's painstakingly obvious as she gets pushed out of her comfort zone more and more, and admirably manages to adapt. 

Apple is such a lovely character that you simply have to grow attached to. Crossan uses very simple language that feels very Middle Grade. It's filled with such brilliantly lucid thought processes and complicated ideas and concepts that it transcends the simplistic writing and yet again manages to come across as convincingly and essentially YA.

Poetry plays a huge role in Apple's life and there are little poems penned by her spread throughout the novel and intervowen with the story. You have to be a fan of poetry to enjoy those of course, but it does help that Crossan is an incredibly gifted poet, which is the most apparent in her latest novel ONE, written in verse, (glowing recommendation!) but also in APPLE AND RAIN. She tells this story with such authenticity and vulnerability that you can't help but grow attached and the poems beautifully highlight that.

Unpredictable and Addicting

Apple's mother Annie deserves an honorary mention. She's this young-at-heart rebel-turned-aspiring actress who's too cool for school and just feels like a recipe for disaster. This is a type of character that I'd love to see more often in YA, a parent who's still more child than mother/father.

Apple's and her dynamic very much feels reversed considering a classic mother/daughter relationship, which in turn makes a delightfully different read. Even neighbor Dell, who likes to wear pink and carry bags with mermaids on them; all of the characters feel like people that I haven't seen in YA before and it makes me so happy. Crossan really defies from the norm and surprises with fresh, fantastically unique characters. I loved them all dearly.

Everything about APPLE AND RAIN feels delightfully different. From the story, to the path the narration follows, to the structure - I did struggle a bit in the beginning, considering Crossan didn't build this on a classic dramatic structure you'd expect from novels in this genre. It's truly defying all narration tropes you'd expect and I love that. It's fresh, it's unpredictable, it's addicting. It's definitely something fun if you want to read a contemporary with its own spin on the genre.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

APPLE AND RAIN is so smart and poetic, while never ceasing to make me laugh. Crossan is a very gifted writer and slowly rising to become one of my all-time contemporary favorites.



Additional Info

Published: 22nd August 2016
Pages: 330
Publisher: cbt
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 978-3-570-16400-6

Synopsis:
"When Apple's mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are.

A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books by Sarah Crossan?

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

[Review] Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) - Sylvain Neuvel: Giant Robots and Outer Space




In SLEEPING GIANTS, a little girl finds an enormous robot hand made of metal in the woods and the military immediately grows interested in it.

What intrigued me: The tagline they used in promotion got me. World War Z meets THE MARTIAN? Um yeah, get on my shelf ASAP.

Perfect transitional read for people who don't like Sci-Fi

SLEEPING GIANTS is told through interview snippets and diary entries from multiple characters. All in some way connect to a mysterious man who is secretly in control of the operation to get the robot to work.  Most of it is actually dialogue, which I loved. 

It makes this way easier to read and hides the fact that this is a pretty heavy Sci-fi thriller with political elements. Especially for people like me who shy away from epic Sci-fi or political thrillers, this could serve as a nice transitional read to get more into the genre.

I definitely struggled a little with the tone of the novel. Most of the plot is told from the perspective of military officials and scientists who use highbrow language and complex scientific processes to explain things. Even though Neuvel tries to simplify all concepts and processes, I found myself zoning out whenever someone started talking about chemical elements. This is very minor though, because the story about the ancient robot hand will eventually suck you in and force you to keep on reading until your eyes burn. It happened to me. At some point the story just starts to become so gripping and you get so invested that it's almost impossible to put it down. 

Enchanting and thrilling

I was surprised to grow attached to the characters and their fate. Neuvel manages to paint multi-faceted character relationships by telling the majority of the interactions in retrospective. If two characters who aren't the mysterious interviewer and another character interact, it's always told after it happened and through the eyes of one of the people who were there. 

You'd think that format would get tiring after a while but it really doesn't. I'm so glad Neuvel wrote this almost exclusively in dialogue, because I'm sure I would've zoned out or even quit the novel altogether if that story was told in a classic way. Like this it's easy, it's handy, it fits the plot. I enjoyed this a lot and found myself unable to predict any of the twists, which is really rare. SLEEPING GIANTS is a very unique, almost experimental read that will surprise and enchant you.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Following the events in SLEEPING GIANTS almost became an addiction. It's really impossible to put down and a fantastic thriller that you should read if you like conspiracies and aliens. It put me in the worst reading slump ever because it's so genius!



Additional Info

Published: August 8th 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Sci- Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9783453316904

Synopsis:
"A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read SLEEPING GIANTS?

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Recommendation: One - Sarah Crossan: Conjoined Twins and Poetry

In ONE, conjoined twins Tippi and Grace have to face an impossible choice.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for some novels in verse!

Mastering Free Verse

This book. ONE is a gut-wrenching emotional journey that will most definitely grip you and not let you go until the end. In free verse, Crossan tells the story of two conjoined twins. The story is structured very loosely, which in fact absolutely complements the form. Each little chapter has a title and describes a part of their life (doubling as a single poem) and also bringing the story forward. It reads like a regular contemporary, except DOUBLES as a poetry collection.

Crossan masterfully executed this. I was skeptical in the beginning because I had my doubts about the form, but Crossan exceeded my expectations and absolutely and utterly stunned me with this magniloquent masterpiece. 
Tippi and Grace are those kinds of protagonists that you immediately fall in love with. Crossan manages to effortlessly establish their personalities and traits within a couple poems and it's just so gripping. I loved reading about their daily life, it's so strangely addicting while absolutely NOT losing itself in telling the story. The poems in themselves are so incredibly cohesive that you might as well just read them as little short story standalone snippets. I think you'll get the most out of ONE if you take it slow and not gulp it all down in one sitting (which will be hard because it's so addicting). 

Get the Tissues Ready

The thing that ultimately made me absolutely break down and melt into a puddle of tears is that ONE not once leads you on about what it's trying to be. From the first page on, the tone makes it absolutely clear that it goes downhill from there. That the sisters will be facing a tragedy and that you'll slowly but surely should get a box of tissues as you'll go along. You can virtually feel your heart get torn in two as you read more about those lovely sisters, learn more about them and ultimately come closer to the Big Tragedy that you really really really will want to have some tissues ready for.

ONE absolutely surprised, charmed, and stunned me. Crossan created such a profoundly beautiful work of art seemingly so effortlessly. I am in absolute awe and will most certainly pick up more books by her. 


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A clear recommendation for both poetry lovers and skeptics. ONE is a powerfully eloquent and fantastically entertaining work of art that you will most definitely reread and reread and reread. If your heart can take it, that is.



Additional Info

Published: September 15th 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780062118752

Synopsis:
"Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?"
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite read in verse?

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Recreating Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton with Stickers | #PaintBySticker Masterpieces


With PAINT BY STICKER MASTERPIECES you can create twelve iconic paintings yourself - with stickers.

What intrigued me: I love art!

MASTERPIECES comes with twelve full color paintings that even someone who's not interested in art has probably seen before. From The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli to Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, there's definitely a painting you'll like in this. The paintings all come in a handy DIN A4 size.

The first half of the book consists of the twelve paintings, all with numbered little areas that you'll have to put the stickers on. The second half is filled with the sticker sheets. You can easily separate the pages from the book and get going. 

Creating Flaming June

As a little example I'll try and show you guys the first painting I made with stickers. I recreated Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton. I inserted a picture of the original on the right, in case you're not familiar with it.

From painting to painting the sizes of the sticker areas vary, and I seem to have picked one of the "more difficult" paintings, meaning with lots of detail. It's advised in the book's introduction to use tweezers if you want the most accurate results, but honestly, nobody has the time for that!

You'd think it can't be that hard to put a sticker on a piece of paper, but it really is. From the get go I wanted it all to look perfect, fearing that maybe if I don't get it completely right the painting would look terrible. But this is really not anything you have to worry about - MASTERPIECES goes for the mosaic look, no matter how badly you mess up the painting will still look fabulous. Like a cool mosaic rendition. 


Here's what it looked like after about 15 minutes



Then the finished product after about 1 1/2 hours




Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I enjoyed this a lot. I've already completed a couple other paintings and really had fun with it all. PAINT BY STICKER MASTERPIECES is a great pastime activity.



Additional Info


Published: September 20 2016
Pages: 56
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction / Arts and Crafts
ISBN: 9780761189510

Synopsis:
"Paint by Sticker is a compelling new activity for crafters and artists, doodlers and coloring book enthusiasts of all ages. Masterpieces encourages everyone to channel their inner da Vinci and create twelve iconic works of art.

Paint by Sticker Masterpieces includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings”—the stickers, the templates, the intuitive directions. The works include The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, Napoleon at Saint-Bernard Pass, by Jacques-Louis David, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai, Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect, by Claude Monet, Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, by Paul Cezanne, Dance at Bougival, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bedroom in Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), by Winslow Homer, and the stunning study in color, Flaming June, by Frederic Leighton.

The cardstock pages are perforated for easy removal, making it easy to frame the completed images."
(Source: Workman Publishing)


Do you like crafty stuff?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Recommendation: Because I Love You - Tori Rigby: Teen Pregnancy and #Feels

In BECAUSE I LOVE YOU by Tori Rigby, Andie gets pregnant after sleeping with her best friend.

What intrigued me: I haven't read many books about teen pregnancy.

Page-turner with perfect pacing

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU truly is a pleasant surprise. With incredibly powerful and strong writing, it absolutely sucks you in.
Rigby tells this story without ever missing a beat, it's perfectly paced and told from the perspective of a very relatable teen. I truly loved reading about Andie, was really invested in her struggles, and felt like her thoughts and actions are very authenic. The voice and characters are on point, and I genuinely loved every second of reading this book. Rigby has an uncanny ability to make you care about this story and the characters and I came to dearly love Andie and care for her.

The perfect pace is genuinely my favorite thing about BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. It just makes you want to continue, and that quickly, because Rigby just knows where to end a chapter. Cliffhangers galore! But not the forced kind, the kind that makes it very difficult to just put the book down and stop. You have to keep reading. This book cost me a couple night's worth of sleep.

Quiet and emotional

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU is pretty close to perfection. It really follows this super simple storyline of a girl getting pregnant and the baby's father not supporting her, but it's unique in so many little ways; the writing, the emotions, the characters - not once did I find myself able to predict what's going to happen next. Rigby is very subtle in her way of telling the story of Andie and her baby, making this a somewhat quiet, yet very emotional read. 

You won't find any stock characters in BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Love interest and ex-boyfriend Neil for example, is one of those bad boy type of characters I certainly have seen before, but the way Rigby writes him makes him incredibly smypathtetic, adorable, and swoon-worthy. In the story, he becomes Andie's confidant and new love interest and their relationship will have you swoon and day-dream.

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU is easily one of my favorite contemporary reads of the year and a must-read for fans of the genre.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU will definitely rise to the top reads of 2016 for me. If you love contemporary and gut-wrenching stories and want to be overwhelmed by emotions 200% of the time, you cannot and should not miss BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Read it.



Additional Info

Published: May 17th 2016
Pages: 232
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ASIN: B01BUQM50A

Synopsis:
"Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant. 

Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby. 

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she's forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go."(Source: Goodreads)



Do you know great books about teen pregnancy?

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