Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Publication Date: June 7, 2016   |   Rating: 5-glorious-stars

Why did I wait so long to read this? Bad life choices, I guess. I loved this so much – now I can FINALLY watch the movie! There really isn’t too much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. I think pretty much everyone knows the basic premise of this so I won’t reiterate that here. What I do want to touch on is how this book made me feel. I am in a long-term relationship, having been with my partner for 11-years this month. In the beginning of our relationship we were long-distance. A lot of our initial ‘getting to know you’ period was perpetuated through online correspondence, via email. I absolutely adored the use of mixed media in this, showing the emails between Simon and his love interest, known as ‘Blue’. It just made my heart sing reminiscing on that feeling you get when you see a new email has come through, opening it up to behold what the person you are crushing on has written you, seeing the initial low-key flirting and how that grows into more and more over time.

Ugh, I just can’t. It was so freaking great and I thought the transformation as they explored the boundaries of their relationship was really well handled. I liked Simon’s family a lot and in particular, I felt his relationships with his sisters were supportive, well-formed and great examples of kind sibling relations. I also enjoyed his interactions with his parents, in particular, his father. As far as Simon’s closest friends are concerned, I really enjoyed those relationships as well. At times I got a little frustrated with a couple of them, particularly Leah, for the way they were treating Simon. I felt at times he was treated a little unfairly by them, held to a higher standard so to speak, but maybe that was just because I was so attached to him, I instantly took a Team Simon stance. He was like a sweet, precious baby bird I wanted to put in my pocket and protect from all harm. If you have read this book, you can probably relate. If you haven’t read this book, what are you waiting for? 🌈💖☆☆☆☆☆

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Rating: 3-stars!!

What that means in my parlance for rating is, this was a good book. I enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away by it and didn’t have too many strong feelings on it once it was over. This book was released in 2015 and is pretty popular in the YA-contemporary genre. They even turned it into a movie! (which I have not seen). I really did not know too much about it going in besides that fact that it was ‘boy-meets-girl’ where one of the characters was sick. I figured it would be short and sweet and I would cry. It did give me two of those things: it was short, it was sweet but I did not cry. In fact, my feelings upon the ending were more of anger and frustration for the MCs than anything else, but I am getting ahead of myself…
If you haven’t heard much about this story, like I hadn’t, it follows our MC, Madeline Whittier, who is a teenager with a compromised immune system. Due to this, she has been unable to leave her house her entire life and isn’t allowed visitors without very strict protocols being followed prior to letting them in their house. Mainly, her entire life revolves around her Mother (who coincidentally is a doctor) and her nurse, Carla. One day, a new family moves in next door, who have a son, Olly, about Maddy’s age. Well, you will have to read it to find out what happens after that but keep in mind this is a love story. The romance was super cute. Olly is as sugary sweet as teenage boys can be in this type of book and their interactions were fun and witty. The nurse, Carla, was my favorite character – a real gem and a very important part of Maddy’s life.
I was quite impressed with Nicola Yoon’s writing style and definitely plan to read more of her work. The dialogue was clever and I felt the format was really unique and fun as well. So, yeah, overall a good book. It did not go where I thought it was going to go. I can say by the time that I got to the conclusion, I wasn’t surprised, but I was certainly super frustrated for Maddy. I’m glad I read this, now I know what the hype is all about as far as Nicola Yoon goes and I plan to pick up, The Sun is Also a Star very soon!

Leave a comment below if you have read this book, what were your thoughts? Do you like Nicola Yoon’s writing? Who are some of your favorite YA-contemporary authors? Leave them some love below!

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

Star Rating: 3.5-stars!

We Were Liars is a book that is going to be hard for me to review. I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to come up with something of substance to write about it. I think part of the difficulty for me lays in the fact that there was a disturbing situation in this book that really, really, really made me uncomfortable – basically bringing one of my worst nightmares out of my mind and onto the page; because of this, I felt like my mind kind of turned off to this book after that. I was enjoying it a lot but that one aspect of the story was really very hard for me to move past.

The bulk of the action takes place mostly on a private island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I live on Nantucket, so literally, this story hit very close to home for me. A large number of the population of my community consists of summer families very similar to the one in this story. I felt like I knew these people, like I had heard many of the gossips and complaints and recriminations that flow throughout the family drama. The book itself, is actually hard to classify in my opinion. Is it a Thriller, is it a YA Contemporary? It really had aspects of both but I am going to call it a YA Contemporary. There was one really big plot twist that I definitely did not see coming even though I thought I had it all figured out. However, even with this taken into account it isn’t really ‘thrillery’ enough to earn that classification in my opinion.

I listened to the audiobook and one of the main reasons that I did was because Ariadne Meyers was the narrator. She also voiced Lydia in The Serpent King and I absolutely adore her work. She is so fabulous. She definitely did not disappoint with this one. In fact, the end was bloody brilliant. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit but I definitely feel like it is a book that is only impactful your first time through.

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

5-stars!!! Luxury. Affordable. Industry standard. (inside joke, read the book!)

I received Foolish Hearts in one of my OwlCrate subscription boxes and I am so glad that they brought this book to us. This is a YA-Contemporary, which isn’t a genre that I would generally chose for myself, I tend to gravitate more towards YA-Fantasy or Science-Fiction. After completing Foolish Hearts however, I am all about the YA Contemporary and have been scooping them up left and right!
I was blown away by how smart, witty and downright hilarious the dialogue in this book was. The banter back and forth between the characters had me literally laughing out loud on multiple occasions. Our MC, Claudia, was such a good, sweet girl – not in a naive or annoying way but in a really good, goofy and endearing way. I found her to be absolutely relatable and loved her story arc of finding herself, releasing herself to be free to give and receive love….arghhhh, it was so good.
The relationships between so many of the side characters were amazing as well – the relationship between Gideon and his best friend – I loved that one – definitely a great male/male friendship; it played out so well. Also the relationship between Paige and Iris and eventually Claudia and Iris. The added bonus of having the story center around a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was just icing on the delicious YA-Contemporary cake. I would give this book ten stars if I could and will probably read it again someday. In short, I loved it!

Review: Butterly Suicide by Mary Ann Loesch

Publication Date July 11, 2017

I couldn’t decide between a 3.5 or a 4-star rating for this book so decided to round up to 4 for Goodreads rating purposes.
Butterfly Suicide is a fairly heavy YA contemporary dealing with topical issues such as violence at school, bullying, marital discord, adultery and sibling abuse. The story takes place in a rural town in Texas and follows the perspective of two characters in the aftermath of a school shooting. The first is Stephen, the brother of the shooter.
The second is Monica, the sister of one of the victims, the shooters ex-girlfriend. The story picks up a few months after the actual shooting and deals mostly with how the family members of such tragic events deal with the consequences of those events – picking the pieces of their lives up and trying to put them back together. Stephen and Monica develop a relationship and obviously there are a lot of problems that arise due to that.
There were some issues with the plot, some details I didn’t find that believable and that they were put in more for convenience to move the story along. It was fairly well written though – especially the character of Stephen – I felt the chapters from his perspective were particularly strong. Monica fell a little flat for me – she didn’t have the depth of character that Stephen had in my opinion.
Overall, it was a compelling read and the ideas behind the story are important to explore – although not perfect, a very solid piece of YA fiction. I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King is a YA-contemporary novel that takes place in rural Tennessee and is told from the perspective of three main characters: Dill, Lydia and Travis. Our main characters are seniors in high school and the story mostly follows their daily struggles of breaking out of the molds that parents, and others, have set for them, as well as finding out who they are and who they want to become.

This story is incredibly moving and deals with some heavy topics but all told from an overwhelmingly sensitive voice. I was blown away by the quality and style of Jeff Zentner’s writing – this book made me feel so much – it awoke my soul and brought forth every emotion you could possibly imagine. Not only did I laugh out loud but I also cried, real tears, just flowing forth like my heart were breaking – now that is good writing!

I would recommend this story to anyone. I am not a big contemporary reader so was really surprised by how much this book sucked me in. Finally, it is important to note that I listened to the audiobook of this which had three different narrators for the three main characters – it was a fantastically seamless production!

Status Update: The Serpent King

Hi bookworms! Happy Tuesday to you! Today I wanted to write a little bit about my current audiobook – The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Originally published in March of 2016, this is a YA-contemporary coming-of-age story set in a small town in Tennessee.  It follows the POV of 3 main characters: Dill, Lydia and Travis.

I went into this book with no real expectations. I had heard a lot of buzz about it through bookish social media channels last year and really had heard nothing but good things. This being said, YA-contemporary is not my go-to genre – I generally prefer sci-fi/fantasy books. I am about 75% through this  now and to say that I am enjoying it would be a vast understatement. This book is legitimately rocking my soul to its core. The characters are so real, so innocent, I feel what they are feeling. True Story: This morning, while walking my dog and listening to the audiobook, I was crying. Actual tears! While walking down the road at 7:30 a.m. listening to this book.

The three main characters are high school kids, in their senior year, all on the verge of adulthood. Trying to navigate that transition and only one of them has the family support to make it a smooth transition.  The other two, oh the other two, I want to hug them, help them and tell them it will all work out. I haven’t done too much research on the author, Mr. Jeff Zentner, but the writing in this is so real it makes me pause to think whether or not this could classify as an ‘own voices’ narrative – the emotional depth and experiences in this book seem so important – it’s like these characters are actually alive. How much of this can be traced directly from Mr. Zentner’s life? I do not know the answer to that, and may never know, but it makes me feel such a swelling in my heart for this book and all it is about.

If you ever have the chance to read this book, or listen to the audio, I could not recommend it more highly. I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and read this one. It was worth every moment and every tear!

Cheers to emotionally charged books!

~Meg

Review: Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

Happy Monday bookworms!  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend -the week of Thanksgiving is finally upon us.  I am certainly hoping to get a lot of pages read over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I have been so sick lately so also hoping some additional rest will help to kick this cold to the curb!  I hope the early Autumn has been treating you all a little better.

Today I wanted to mention a book I finished a couple of weeks ago.  Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin. I received this YA-Contemporary novel as the book in one of my Once Upon a Book Club boxes. The first thing I was struck by was the cover – it is absolutely beautiful. After reading the synopsis, I knew this wasn’t the kind of book that I would generally seek out for myself but I am so glad that it was included in the box. It is a coming-of-age story; a story of first love. It was well written and the characters vibrant and well imagined. I was really impressed with this young author. She should be really proud of her work here. I don’t read ‘sweet’ books a lot so it was a nice change of pace for me. The setting at Paintbrush, the living community the two main characters are a part of, seemed to take on a life of its own within the pages; it almost became one of the characters itself. If you are looking for a nice tale of young love and the tribulations that go along with that, you should definitely check this one out.  This may also be a good book to gift to a young woman in your life for the Christmas holiday!

 

Review: Peach by Emma Glass

Expected Publication Date: January 23, 2018

I received an early release copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, for the book, that is what I am going to be – honest.  I gave this book two out of five stars on Goodreads. This is unusual for me and frankly, hurts my heart a little bit.  I usually at least ‘like’ a book, finding some reedeming qualities within its pages. This book however was very disappointing and I cannot think of one compliment to give it.

The description sounded interesting and powerful; it is the story of a young lady who it appears is sexually assaulted. It wasn’t only the stream of consciousness writing style that I found let the story down, I understand there are times when that writing style can be very impactful, but you should still be able to piece together what is actually going on. This book was so strange that you couldn’t tell what was real and what was imagined by the main character, Peach. The other characters in the story were all so strange it was laughable.  The ending was so bizarre with the most insane BBQ happening, I am still shaking my head about it.  Luckily, it was very short so I made it through the whole thing. Overall, I found it confusing, disturbing and utterly pointless. I cannot imagine to whom they are going to market this book. I wish them luck.