Pub Writes

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Posts Tagged ‘realistic’

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: ++++


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.


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.


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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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.


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


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.


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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Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

Posted by Caitie F on August 6, 2014

Title: Blind18667798
Author: Rachel DeWoskin
Hardcover: 416 pages
Pub Date: Aug 7, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: ++++++ (it gets an extra one)

Summary from pub:

Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her many small victories as she returns to high school in her hometown and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow.


This book. The moment I finished reading it, I found out how to contact the author and sent her an email. I have never done that before. But a book has never done this to me before. Instead of a traditional review, I want to post part of what i sent her

“I got an advanced reader’s copy of your book Blind and felt like I had to write to you. When I was 12, I had an accident and lost vision in my right eye. My senior year of high school, I lost vision in the other. It wasn’t total, but it was to the point that I need the cane when I went out and lost all of my newly gained independence.

I am lucky, I got a new cornea and can see out of one eye with a contact. But for almost a year, I couldn’t see and I felt so many of the things Emma felt. I wish this book had been around then. I have the best family and they were really there for me, but sometimes I felt like they didn’t get it. I had good friends, but couldn’t really talk to them anymore. I felt like I always had to be strong and never get upset. If I had this book to listen to, I would have felt less alone. I would have learned a lot and been less afraid of going for that cornea transplant and done it sooner.

I am so glad that this book is going to be out there for anyone who is in my or Emma’s situation. Her thoughts and feelings were so accurate – you really did an astounding job. I could relate to wanting to just open her eyes once more. I wish just once I could see my husband with both eyes. That I could drive again. I wish I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night weekly from a nightmare that I was totally blind.

But this book makes me appreciate what I have – a job, the best husband in the world, and one eye that usually works pretty well.”

This book obviously really affected me, but I think it will affect others just as much. In the book, a classmate of Emma’s dies and no one will talk to the teenagers about it. The community wants to protect them, but they want to talk about what happened, why, and how they can look out for each other. Teens feel that all the time.

It is also about her struggles with her family and friends, which you don’t have to be blind to relate to. Readers who are shy will get her. Readers who have had friends that drifted away when times got hard will be able to relate. The struggles in the book are not just the struggles of being blind, they are the struggles of being human.

This is one of my favorite books of the year and I hope you all go out and buy it.

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Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Posted by Caitie F on June 27, 2014

Title: Wonder11387515
Author: R. J. Palacio
Hardcover: 315 pages
Pub Date: Feb 14, 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?


How did it take me so long to read this book? EVERYONE needs to read this book. I mean it. Every single person should read this book, especially students and parents.

I went into this book just knowing it was super good, sos I am not spoiling anything for you (but if you want to talk about things that spoil things, feel free to in the comments. This is a warning to all those that haven’t read it yet).

But I will say this – the characters are amazing and complex. They feel SO realistic. I know kids like all the kids in the book. They talked like kids. They acted like kids. Some are good, some are bad, but most are just trying their best to get through the day.

I am seriously in love with this book. It is one of my favorites, not just of the year, but ever. I have heard kids are reading it for school which makes me so happy. If we could all learn from this book, especially when we are young, this world would be a much better place.

Did you read and love this book too? Let’s talk in the comments!


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Boys Like You by Juliana Stone

Posted by Caitie F on May 7, 2014

Title: Boys Like You 18215057
Author: Juliana Stone
Hardcover: 288 pages
Pub Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

One mistake.

And everything changes.

For Monroe Blackwell, one small mistake has torn her family apart –leaving her empty and broken. There’s a hole in her heart that nothing can fill. That no one can fill. And a summer in Louisiana with her Grandma isn’t going to change that…

Nathan Everets knows heartache first-hand when a car accident leaves his best friend in a coma. And it’s his fault. He should be the one lying in the hospital. The one who will never play guitar again. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness, and a court-appointed job at the Blackwell B&B isn’t going to change that…


There is so much fantastic contemporary fiction this year. Some are fun summer books with romance and happiness. Some are like this, full of heartache and what-if.

Both Monroe and Nathan have baggage. The worst kind of baggage you can have and they have a summer to try to come to terms with it. It isn’t easy. It is some of the hardest things either will ever have to do. It is real. It is genuine because things happen and people get hurt.

But forgiveness will come, not from just the others, most importantly from themselves.

This is such a moving book, but it isn’t just a serious and sad book. There is some romance. But it isn;t your love at first sight romance, it is more the getting to know you over time romance, the kind that feels authentic and true.

This isn’t the book to take to you to the beach this year, but it is a book you should read if you want to read about characters that feel as real as your closest friends.


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Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Posted by Caitie F on August 29, 2011

This book would make a great late summer read!

Title: Shut Out 
Author: Kody Keplinger
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette)
Date Published: 9/5/2011
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads and me):

A contemporary re-imagining of the Greek play, “Lysistrata,” in which high school senior Lissa decides it’s time to end her school’s ridiculous sports rivalry once and for all by starting a hook-up strike.

It is the football players against the soccer players, and no one really remembers why. Now, people are starting to get hurt. Can the girlfriends stop it before it is too late, or will they crack from the pressure before the boys?


This was a book I picked up the last day of BEA (I actually got to meet Kody and she was so sweet!)…and read that same day and passed to someone else who would love it!

I really enjoyed the issues and entertainment of the source material for this one, reading “Lysistrata” was a highlight of my Greek Literature class in college, so I knew that combining that with Keplinger’s honest and open dialogue about teenage issues would result in a book that I would love.

I did love it. Not quite as much as The Duff (Keplinger’s debut novel), but since I said that was the best book I read in 2010, it would have been very difficult to be better than it!

The characters felt so real. Lissa just wants peace in the school…and to come before a stupid feud that has been raging for a decade. People are starting to get hurt and she won’t stand for it anymore. And she does something. I knew someone in high school just like that. She didn’t just sit and wait for things to change, she made them change. What makes Lissa even better though, is that she really has to work to be a leader. She isn’t naturally a public speaker, she finds her voice over the course of the book, showing that all women can lead, especially when it is about a cause they care about.

This was another very honest book about sex and teens. That means this book is probably best for 16+. There is nothing graphic at all, but it is open to what is going on in high schools everywhere. But it is done in a really good way that shows all levels of sexual experience and can lead to young women being able to talk openly and honestly. Some of the girls are virgins. Some don’t like sex. Some love it and are not ashamed. Some love doing certain things, some hate it. Just like in life. They all learn how to talk about it, not only with each other, but also with their boyfriends. It also talks about how women shouldn’t use their bodies as a weapon. It is one thing to go on strike to end fighting, it is a whole other to use it to manipulate and deceive. I wish there were honest and open books like this when I was a teenager.

This book was all around wonderful. The other characters sparkle, and the excellent retelling is full of twists and surprises. The male lead is swoon worthy and a great guy who makes the romance fun.

I cannot wait to see what Kody Keplinger writes next.

Posted in Review, Summer reads | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »