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Posts Tagged ‘contemporary’

Mini Reviews Fall 2015 YA Contemporary

Posted by Caitie F on December 18, 2015

Title: We Can Work It Outwe can work
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Pub Date: Jan 27, 2015
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Point
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys looked at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’tneed a boyfriend . . . but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.

Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.

Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants.

Review:

Elizabeth Eulberg is on my “must buy” list. Her books are just so much fun and have such smart and interesting women in them! This is no different. I was so happy to be back in the world of Penny Lane and all her friends. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until I opened this book.

Another brilliant book from one of my favorite authors!

Title: Everything, Everythingeverything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Pub Date: Sept 1, 2015
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster

Review:

This book was SO well-written. I was absolutely captivated by every page. This was one of those books that I read on my bus commute, even if it made me feel a little queasy (TMI). It was totally worth it. If you haven’t read it yet, just know that you won’t be able to put it down once you start.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t. But if you love books with beautiful writing, characters who jump off the page, and that give you a look into something completely different from what you know, pick this up. I can’t wait to read what Yoon does next. And isn’t that cover stunning?

Title: The Sky is EverywhereSky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Pub Date: Mar 9, 2010
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Dial Books
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding

Review:

How did it take me so long to read this book? It was everything I love – great family and friends, a romance that feels SO real, and a character you is imperfectly amazing. Lennie is everything I look for in a YA character. I loved that dynamic with Toby.

This book is absolute perfection. if you haven’t read it yet, don’t wait another day.

Title: Dumplin’Dumplin
Author: Julie Murphy
Pub Date: September 15, 2015
Hardcover: 375 pages
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

Review:

A YA BOOK ABOUT FRIENDSHIP! What more can you ask for? There is a romance, but the real focus is on the friendships. And they are SO great and SO real including the clashing and jealousy sometimes felt.

It is also inspirational without being “this is an inspirational book”. It is funny. It is the kind of book that makes you react, which is what I think we all want in books. Another one you absolutely must read and I hope teenagers are getting their hands on it.

 

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Summer Reading Reviews: Young Adult Fiction

Posted by Caitie F on September 2, 2015

I am doing a series where I review ALL the books I read this summer that weren’t graphic novels, since I already did those. It will be broken up into four posts, that will hopefully all be posted in the next two weeks. Adult Fiction, Nonfiction, Young Adult Fiction, and Fantasy.  The reviews and descriptions will be short.

Title: More Happy Than Notmore happy
Author: Adam Silvera
Hardcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: June 2015
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Review:

Wow. This book is incredible. I read it WAY back in June, right after it came out and I still think back to this book in September. Everything about this book is great: the characters, the plot, the setting, what it says about the world. Everything. If you somehow missed it when it came out, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Title: Where I Belongwhere I
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Paperback: 289 pages
Pub Date: Feb 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: +++

Summary from goodreads:

Meet Corrinne. She’s living every girl’s dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . . When Corrinne’s father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she’s stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she’s supposed to be living. She doesn’t care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

Review:

This book was a fast summer read. The main character was so annoying at the beginning, but she was supposed to be. I didn’t love the romance in it, but I liked having a main character that felt more realistic. She didn’t change all at once. There were some very big cliches of both city and country life, but all in all it was a fast and fun book.

Title: Bass Ackwards and Belly Upbass
Author: Elizabeth Craft
Hardcover: 386 pages
Pub Date: 2007
Publisher: Poppy
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

Harper, Sophie, and Kate are about to commit the ultimate suburban sin–bailing on college to each pursue their dreams. Middlebury-bound Becca is convinced her friends have gone insane.

Harper is going to be the next Jane Austen. Or Sylvia Plath. Or Plum Sykes. Figuring out which should be easy. It’s living with the lie she told her three best friends that’s going to be hard. Kate doesn’t know exactly what she wants. But whatever it is, she won’t find it at Harvard. Maybe the answer is in Paris, or Athens or anywhere Kate can be someone besides the girl with perfect grades, perfect hair, and the perfect boyfriend. Sophie is a star. She’s already got the looks, the talent, and a list of demands for her dressing room. Now that she’s wrangled a furnished guesthouse in Beverly Hills, it’s only a matter of time before she’s discovered. Becca is dysfunctional. At least, her family is. Which is why she can’t wait to flee the drama and get to college. But Becca’s friends know she needs more than a spot on the Middlebury ski team and a cozy dorm room. They know she needs to fall in love.

Review:

I love books that center around groups of friends like this or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. None of the characters were perfect, but they were all intriguing andI really loved following their stories, especially since they were all after high school, trying to figure out what they are doing next. Looking forward to reading the second book!

Title: Don’t Even Think About Itdon't even
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: Mar 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

Review:

This was such a fun book to read. I don’t think most authors could pull of a book from different perspectives like this, but Sarah Mlynowski did. It was so creatively written and is a smart, fun YA book. It was the perfect book for summer, but would also work in the back to school season if you are reminiscing about those days. You will be instantly glad you never suddenly could read everyone’s mind.

Title: The Westing Gamewesting
Author: Ellen Raskin
Paperback: 182 pages
Pub Date: 1978
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger – and a possible murderer – to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Review:

How did I never read this mystery before? It was SO good. I loved everything about it. If you, like me, missed this classic, go get it and read it now.

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YA Mini Reviews in June

Posted by Caitie F on June 6, 2015

I want to share mini reviews for all the books i have read in the past 2 months. I am breaking it into posts based on age level. The first is YA:

Title: The Assassin’s Bladeassassins
Author: Sarah J Maas
Paperback: 430 pages
Pub Date: Jan 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins’ Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.

Arobynn’s enemies stretch far and wide – from Adarlan’s rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate – and cut her heart in two forever…

Review:

These novellas are absolutely wonderful Seeing Celaena before the events in the series is amazing. It made me love her – and all of her friends – even more. If you haven’t read this series yet, you need to.

Title: All the Rageall the rage
Author:  Courtney Summers
Hardcover: 321 pages
Pub Date: Apr 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

Review:

This is one of those books that I want every single teenager and parent to read. It is amazingly written and these character will imprint onto your heart. I read this over a month ago and I think about it at least once a week. One of the best YA books iI have ever read.

Title: Saint Anythingsaint anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Hardcover: 432 pages
Pub Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Review:

Sarah Dessen’s latest is one of the least “Sarah Dessen-y” books she has written, and I don’t mean that as a negative thing. There is a little too much going on, but the main character is absolutely wonderful and it was so easy to jump into her world. It is perfect for everyone who has ever felt like they were invisible as a teenager, something I could really relate to.

Title: Code Name Veritycode name
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Paperback: 441 pages
Pub Date: Feb 2012
Publisher: Egmont
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team

Review:

Wow wow wow. This book! I saw all the hype and thought “oh, another WWII historical fiction. meh”. Yeah, this is unlike any WWII historical fiction and is brilliant. IF you haven’t read this yet, read it. I shouldn’t have waited so long.

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Some YA Mini Reviews

Posted by Caitie F on March 19, 2015

I have so little time, but wanted to get some reviews in!

Title: Heir of Fireheir
Author: Sarah J Maas
Hardcover: 562 pages
Pub Date: Sept 2, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Mini Review

This series is the absolute best. You should read it if you haven’t. This book is absolutely incredible – it is a little different from the first two, but in the best possible way.I am eagerly waiting for QUEEN OF SHADOWS just like everyone else.

Title: FireFire
Author: Kristin Cashore
Hardcover: 461 pages
Pub Date: Oct 2009
Publisher: Dial Books
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was. (less)

Mini Review:

I read Graceling way back in 2011 and have wanted to read Fire every since then. But I didn’t. I kept putting it off because it was so beautiful and I was crushed by the idea of having such a limited amount of Kristin Cashore books left. I got over it and finally read Fire and I am so glad I did!

Fire is such a complex character. The world building is excellent. All the other characters are just as complex and flawed. The writing is gorgeous. Everything about this book is wonderful. It was a little long, but I really didn’t mind since it meant I got to stay in the world for a little longer.

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Mini-Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Posted by Caitie F on March 7, 2015

Title: I Was Here18879761
Author: Gayle Forman
Hardcover: 288 pages
Pub Date: Jan 27, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: ++++

Summary

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

Review:

I will read everything Gayle Forman writes, She is incredibly talented and knows how to tell a story. And this book was no different. I just wanted to write a quick, small review.

I thought this book was amazing. The characters were fully developed, even the side characters. Cody was so realistic. She doesn’t always make the best choices, but no one does. I really wanted her to be able to find some peace and happiness.

With a less amazing writer, the book could have felt preachy or a message book, but this wasn’t either. If you are looking for realistic fiction that deals with things young people actually have to deal with, pick this up.

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Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Posted by Caitie F on November 26, 2014

Title: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel20312458
Author: Sara Farizan
Hardcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: Oct 7, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin for Young Readers
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads

High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals,

Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

Review:

TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL is my favorite contemporary YA book of the year. It was just perfect in tone, characters, story, and writing. Sara Farizan is extraordinarily talented.

If you like feeling all of your feelings, this is a books for you. Leila is incredibly funny and her internal monologue was actually laughing out loud funny at many times Her story is heart-breaking at times and you will probably shed some tears.

This voice and this story felt so incredibly realistic. The characters talk like teenagers. They are insecure and always questioning. They make some big mistakes, but they learn from these mistakes. They have families and siblings and friends. It isn’t just a love story, it is Leila’s story that includes finding some love.

When we talk about needing diversity in books, this is the kind of book I am often thinking of – a book with different sexualities, races, and cultures. All of these influence the characters.

This is one of my favorite books of the year and I need to read everything Sara Farizan writes. She is extremely talented and everyone should read this book.

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Mini-Reviews: Still Life by Louise Penny, Arcadia by Lauren Groff, and The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

Posted by Caitie F on November 12, 2014

I am SO behind on reviews, so I am going to do some mini reviews or some of the adult fiction books I have read in the last couple months.

Title: Still Lifestill
Author: Louise Penny
Hardcover: 312 pages
Pub Date: Jan 1, 2005
Publisher: St Martin’s Minotaur
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

Review:

I am always looking for more mystery authors and great detectives, so when someone recommended this book to me, I got it right away. The mystery had some interesting twists and the characterization was excellent. The book also had so much charm. I need to read more books in this series

Title: Arcadia arcadia
Author: Lauren Groff
Paperback: 291 pages
Pub Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after. The story is told from the point of view of Bit, a fascinating character and the first child born in Arcadia.

Review:

I love a good commune story, and this is a great one. The writing is stunning. The characters just jumped off the page and stayed in my brain for weeks after I read it. I thought I would be less interested after they left, but it was just as strong. If you are looking for great literary fiction, look no further.

Title: The Constant Princess constant
Author: Philippa Gregory
Hardcover: 393 pages
Pub Date: Dec 6, 2005
Publisher: Touchstone
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine has been fated her whole life to marry Prince Arthur of England. When they meet and are married, the match becomes as passionate as it is politically expedient. The young lovers revel in each other’s company and plan the England they will make together. But tragically, aged only fifteen, Arthur falls ill and extracts from his sixteen-year-old bride a deathbed promise to marry his brother, Henry; become Queen; and fulfill their dreams and her destiny.

Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law’s desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years, she endures the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step into the role she has prepared for all her life. Then, like her warrior mother, Katherine must take to the battlefield and save England when its old enemies the Scots come over the border and there is no one to stand against them but the new Queen.

Review:

Somehow, I missed the first book in this series, so I finally had to read it. It is VERY different from the other Boelyn books, but is still really good. Katherine is brilliant and passionate. She knows what she needs to do and does it well. If you also skipped this one, you should go get it as soon as you can. It is a delight to read.

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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Posted by Caitie F on November 8, 2014

Title: Wintergirls 5152478
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Hardcover: 278 pages
Pub Date: March 19, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Review:

I have loved every single book I have read by Laurie Halse Anderson. She is a brilliant writer. i saw her speak at LeakyCon and she is also just one of the most amazing speakers I have ever seen. If you ever have the chance to see her speak, don’t pass it up.

To put it simply, this book has saved lives. I am sure of it because teens have talked about it online, so I am pretty sure it has also saved others who aren’t comfortable talking about it. It has saved lives and it is one of the most painfully beautiful books. The writing is absolutely stunning. The characters feel so real and reading it really hurt sometimes.

Laurie Halse Anderson gets teens in a way that few adults do. She writes with wisdom, but also compassion. This may be the best YA book I have read all year. It has certainly stayed with my the most.

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Get Happy by Mary Amato

Posted by Caitie F on October 28, 2014

Title: Get Happy20697547
Author: Mary Amato
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: Oct 28, 2014
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises

Review:

If you are looking for a book that will fill you with happiness, read this book!

It made me smile. It made me swoon. It made me really want to write a song and play a guitar – or even a ukulele. But it isn’t just a quick, fun and mindless read. There are major issues with her family that feel so authentic that I actually called and thanked my parents for being so awesome when I was growing up after I finished.

There is so much I loved about this. The job that they get is incredible. She and her best friend start working at a company that does parties for kids. They have costumes and have to get the kids through games. Minerva gets stuck with the mermaid (who is NOT Ariel) and it is really funny. It feels like a real first job experience.

Her friendship with Fin is also fantastic. He completely felt like a teenager. I had a couple of friends in high school that were a lot like him and Amato just got that voice. They both screw up sometimes and that makes the friendship so much better because no one is always a perfect friend, especially when you are a teen.

These characters are all smart, kind, and really funny. This book was a complete joy to read. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves YA.

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Posted by Caitie F on September 15, 2014

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Hardcover:  384 pages
Pub Date: Sept 16. 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Review:

I have not read Jandy Nelson’s first book and went in knowing nothing about her. Now i need to read everything she ever writes because this book was so fantastic.

I love that the reader sees two perspectives, but not two perspectives of the same story. You get to see Noah’s side of what happened years ago, and Jude’s side of what is happening now. It is a really creative way to split perspectives and it just worked, especially since the two of them are SO different three years later. The voices and times are so distinct that it was never jarring or confusing.

The details are slowly revealed, not it a way that anything is dragged out, but in a way that felt really natural, especially when the details and drama have to do with family. Some families are confrontational and loud, but many are like Noah and Jude, they keep things quiet and just let life go by so they don’t bring out the pain again.

Jude and Noah are both artists, which is something I am so jealous of. I am not an artsy person, but I love art.I especially loved the adult artist in the book. I felt like his wisdom on art applies to so much more than just art.  Readers will want to see the drawings and the sculptures. I hope talented fans do some fan art because it would be amazing. Nelson does an incredible job of making the reader feel like they can see the art through her descriptions, without the descriptions being too long or feel like they are taking over the entire book.

There are also a couple of great relationships in this book. They aren’t idealized and perfect, they are sometimes messy and a little raw, just like real relationships.

I absolutely adored this book and the only reason it didn’t get a perfect 5/5 is that the end wrapped up a little too nicely, but other than that, it is a really incredible book.

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