Book Review: How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

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How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? | Yvonne Cassidy | Jan 1, 2014
Hachette/Flux Books | 432 Pages | eGalley provided by Publisher

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Rhea Farrell carries the scars of a childhood accident in which she lost her arm. But she also carries scars that aren’t so visible–the loss of a mother she hardly remembers, the impact of her father’s drinking, and her confusion and pain around accepting her sexuality.


When Rhea runs away, she turns to the person she always wished she could confide in–her mother. And just like she used to do as a little girl, Rhea starts to write her letters–to tell her things she can’t tell anyone else, to share her fears, to ask for help. Rhea’s journey on the streets of New York brings her deeper into her mother’s past where she uncovers buried family secrets. And as she finds out more about the woman her mother truly was, Rhea also discovers just what kind of woman she wants to be.

Review:

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a homeless teen living on the streets of NYC in the years before the internet? What about a queer homeless teen? Or maybe a queer homeless teen with one arm? And she’s an orphan?

There’s a lot to think about in this book, as the main character Rhea has been through some major hardships. Her childhood was not exactly perfect, but when she has to give it up to live with her Aunt in Florida, she does not adapt well. She resents . . . well . . . almost everyone. When conflict erupts in her Aunt’s Florida home, Rhea sets out for NYC in search of answers and independence.  Continue reading Book Review: How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

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All the Birds in the Sky | Charlie Jane Anders | January 26, 2016
Tor Books | 320 pages | ARC provided by publisher

Synopsis:

From the editor-in-chief of io9.com, a stunning novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future


Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.


But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.


A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse

Review:

All the Birds in the Sky is a coming-of-age novel that takes place over the course of several years. Patricia and Laurence are brought together in school because they’re both considered outsiders: everyone believes Patricia to be a witch, and Laurence, the science whiz, gets picked on for his smarts. Continue reading Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

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Soundless | Richelle Mead | On Sale Since Nov 10, 2015
Razorbill | 272 Pages | ARC Provided by Publisher

Synopsis:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.


 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.


 

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.


 

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

Review:

Continue reading Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Reading Recap: What I’ve Been Reading, Part 1

So as I mentioned before, I got so behind on writing reviews on what I’ve been reading since last summer, I decided not to do them. Instead, here are some brief thoughts on what I’ve read since May.

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Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg

When I got this book at BEA, I actually didn’t realize that it was fiction. So many memoirs have come out recently that I guess I just assumed… Anyway, it’s a collection of stories by famous actor Jesse Eisenberg. It’s his first book, and though I was a bit worried at first, Eisenberg really comes through on these stories. The first group, I have to admit, is my favorite – “Restaurant Reviews From a Privileged Nine-Year-Old”. The stories are every bit as tongue-in-cheek witty as you’d expect from Eisenberg, and I have to say, sometimes too intelligent for my lazy brain to figure out (it’s a good thing we studied Marx in literary theory). Definitely give this collection a look.

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Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Maggie Thrash – what an awesome name – is a contributor at Rookie Magazine, and this is her first book. It’s a graphic novel memoir, and it was getting some buzz before BEA. Its tagline is “All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak.” Not having read many YA memoirs, much less YA memoirs about LGBT teens, this book instantly piqued my interest. I really enjoyed reading it. I love Thrash’s sense of humor. The only thing is that I thought the ending, though realistic, kinda left me hanging.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

This is one I really regret not writing a review for. The ARC I got opened with the most gorgeous letter from Patrick Ness, going into how he appreciates Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but never felt like Buffy. Moreover, he never felt like one of the Scoobies, either. He felt ordinary, like the majority of Sunnydale was (I guess, character-wise, that makes him Jonathan – but without the evil). So already, I’m thinking YES! This book is going to be THE BEST! Anything inspired by or related to Buffy has high chances of being the best, in my opinion. So every chapter opens with a sentence or two detailing what the “indie” kids were up to while the book’s plot is occurring – burning down the gymnasium, fighting evil, etc. Honesty, this was a great book to read following Night Vale, as I did. It’s weird, but in toned-down ways that Night Vale is not interested in. Deer with glowing eyes? Yeah, that happens – but then the characters go on with their lives. I would have liked this book a lot less, it’s possible, without that intro about Buffy. But there’s no doubt that Ness is a gifted writer, so go pick this up next chance you get, Buffy fans!

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Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Anything with Westerfeld’s name on it gets my attention. So this book, as far as I can remember, is about a group of teens with special abilities. When one of the group’s members gets caught up in a bank robbery, they all have to band together, and in the process they find another teen with an ability. Let me tell you, keeping all of these characters and their abilities straight was not easy. I actually had to make a list to reference as the chapters and narrators changed. It’s a good book, but long, and I wasn’t blown away by it. I’ll be interested to see how the next book in the series turns out, as the characters grow and the authors learn the best ways to work together.

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The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

This book was a finalist for the National Book Awards. It’s about a traumatized girl named Suzy, whose childhood best friend died in an accident. Suzy goes searching for answers, and in the process discovers how awesome and deadly jellyfish can be. Told at the beginning of Suzy’s middle school education, this middle grade novel grapples with the all too common issue, what happens when close childhood friends grow apart? It’s a very good book, I highly recommend it. Suzy’s voice is unique and interesting; I hardly put it down from start to finish.

Note: all of the books on this post were ARCs provided to me for free.

Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer + GIVEAWAY

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Winter | Marissa Meyer | Feiwel and Friends
832 Pages | Paperback (via Book Depository) | Purchased

Synopsis:

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Review:

I’ve previously blogged about my experiences reading the previous books in the Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. In short, I think they’re awesome, especially the Chronicles’ first book. Continue reading Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer + GIVEAWAY

Book Review: Binge by Tyler Oakley + GIVEAWAY

Binge Cover
Title: Binge

Author: Tyler Oakley

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pub Date: October 20, 2015

Pages: 320

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Synopsis: 

Pop-culture phenomenon, social rights advocate, and the most prominent LGBTQ+ voice on YouTube, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays.


For someone who made a career out of over-sharing on the Internet, Tyler has a shocking number of personal mishaps and shenanigans to reveal in his first book: experiencing a legitimate rage blackout in a Cheesecake Factory; negotiating a tense stand­off with a White House official; crashing a car in front of his entire high school, in an Arby’s uniform; projectile vomiting while bartering with a grandmother; and so much more. In Binge, Tyler delivers his best untold, hilariously side-splitting moments with the trademark flair that made him a star.

Review:

[If you’re here for the giveaway, scroll down to the bottom! Of course, I wouldn’t object to your reading some of what I’ve written about the book as well . . .]

Binge content warnings: profanity, eating disorders, depression, sexual content.
I’ve never fully understood Tyler Oakley’s Youtube demographics, but this is a very grown up books, and I would not recommend Binge to readers under the age of 16.

A couple of my favorite excerpts (SPOILER FREE!):

"It's like when I was in sixth grade and this kid 
told me in the hot-lunch line that I had a hook 
head. When I asked what what even meant, he said 
that the back of my head jutted out like a pirate'shook, like I've got a big brain or a least a siza-
ble tumor going on. I had no clue whether it was 
true, but he had planted the seed of doubt in my 
big hook head. To this day, you will never catch meprofiling my silhouette." - pp 111-112
"February 29 needs to be discussed. Every four 
years, we have an extra day in our calendar and 
call it a leap day, and everyone just kind of goes along with it. But why don't we do something radi-
cal on that day to celebrate? Like something com-
pletely outrageous. I've got ideas. Hear me out. 
What if, on February 29 we . . .
-Give women equal pay.
-Don't shoot people based on racial bias.
-Gays and straights alike accent the existence of 
 bisexuals.
-People stop accusing me of having a hook head.
Let me know what y'all think! Maybe if everyone 
likes these the first year, we can just make them 
an everyday thing?" p 159

I’m going to start another review detailing what this book is NOT. This book is not written in the lush prose styles of literary fiction. This is not the type of book that is going to win a Pulitzer. I think we tend to forget that the vast majority of published works out there do not go on to win groundbreaking or career-defining awards. Most books are just books. A lot of them are good books, don’t get me wrong! But there are only a few selected every year that get the prestigious honors we tend to associate with “good” literature. Continue reading Book Review: Binge by Tyler Oakley + GIVEAWAY

Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Press

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 293

Source: Purchased

Synopsis:
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. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.


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.


Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Review:

Attention everyone: If you are looking for one last book to round out your summer reading list, this might be the one! Continue reading Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Book Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Never Always Sometimes

Never Always SometimesTitle: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pub Date: August 4, 2015
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: provided by publisher

Synopsis:
Never date your best friend


 

Always be original


 

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken


 

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.


 

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.


Continue reading Book Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Review (13)


Title:
Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Pub Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 320
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: provided by publisher
Synopsis:
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.


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.

Continue reading Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Review: What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

Book Review (8)

Title: What We See When We Read
Author: Peter Mendelsund
Publisher: Vintage Books
Pub Date: August 2014
Pages: 425
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Synopsis:
A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading-how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL.

What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? Continue reading Book Review: What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund