Girl Out Of Water

Girl Out of Water

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word. 

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

Thoughts:

I continue with my quest to read some 2017 debuts, as I totally failed on that front last year. I’m doing well so far. It was time to read Girl Out Of Water which I’d heard some really good things about. I thought it was an easy to read, interesting book. It was lovely to see a diverse representation of characters in this book too.

Girl Out Of Water centres around Anise who can’t wait to spend the summer with her friends and the ocean. She loves surfing and wants to spend the summer making the most of her free time. However, Anise’s aunt has a terrible accident, which results in Anise and her father having to go to Nebraska to help her aunt with her cousins. Anise is understandably disappointed to miss out on her plans, but she recognises the importance of her family and looking out for her cousins. Whilst in Nebraska, Anise becomes close to a skateboarder named Lincoln. Lincoln challenges Anise to learn skateboarding and step outside her comfort zone.

Anise finds it awkward to be in touch with her friends at home. She’s jealous of the fact that they’re living the summer she wanted. She doesn’t want them to feel bad because they’re having fun without her. I thought it was really clever how the author portrayed how difficult it can be to be away from home when you don’t want to be. She really showed Anise’s battle between wanting to be there for her family and wanting to be with her friends.

Anise’s mother is absent for quite a substantial part of the story. She pops up in her life every now and then, but Anise is practically raised by her father. She has a good relationship with her father which is lovely to read about.

I thought there were some fabulous characters in this book. I really liked Lincoln and his outlook on life. I thought Anise’s father was wonderful too. I did like Anise as a character, but I can imagine that she’ll grate on a few readers as she does come across as a bit bratty in points, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I thought overall it was a great debut!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A solid debut! I think this would be a good summer read!

Advertisements

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon. 

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

Thoughts:

I always enjoy checking out debut authors because sometimes you can really find some gems. This was totally the case with You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. I thought it was an emotional, thought-provoking read.

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone centres around twins Adina and Tovah. Their mother has Huntington’s Disease and both girls have been tested to see if they will develop the awful disease. One tests negative and the other tests positive. Adina and Tovah’s lives are completely turned around. They was already strain on their relationship but with the outcomes of the test it seems to be worse. The story follows their relationship and their story after the test results.

I really enjoyed reading this book although it is heart-breaking to read about such a horrific disease. It certainly made me think. I also thought it was great how the characters were Jewish. I’m all for plenty of representation in books, especially YA and I felt this book taught me things that I didn’t know about the Jewish faith.

I thought the characters were really well developed. I loved how they were completely different to one another. Yet both characters were fighting their own battles. I was completely invested in their story, desperate for them to find themselves. The story really gripped me from the start and kept me gripped until the end of the story. I’m still thinking about it a week later which really shows the impact that it had on me.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a wonderful, emotional debut novel. I’m intrigued to see what Rachel Lynn Soloman writes next!

Twelve Steps To Normal

Twelve Steps to Normal

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

Thoughts:

I thought it would be interesting to read a book about recovery after addiction and how a family copes with such a thing. I also wanted to read another 2018 debut. I’m always keen to find new writers, so try to get to a few debuts a year. Whilst Twelve Steps To Normal wasn’t a bad read, it wasn’t amazing. It sticks in that middle ground for me.

Twelve Steps To Normal follows Kira as she returns to live with her father after he comes out of rehab. Kira has been living with her Aunt and has had to leave her home, school, friends and boyfriend. Since she had left, Kira distanced herself from everyone at home, trying to protect herself. Now she’s back, Kira wants her life back. She wants everything to return to how it was, but as time goes by, Kira wonders if that’s really what she wants.

This book has so many characters. I did wonder if there were a little too many to really delve into the characters deeply. Kira’s dad brought home some other sober friends from rehab that lived with them until they were ready to go home. It was nice to see their journey too, but I don’t feel like we learnt a lot about them. Then there’s also Kira’s friends, her father, her ex-boyfriend and a love interest.

As for Kira, I have mixed feelings about her. I could understand her reservations about her father. Her friendships confused me though. I don’t feel like she treated her friends well but she was easily forgiven. I also didn’t like the way she treated her father’s friends. She was quite rude and took a while to understand them. I also felt deeply sorry for Alex, the love interest, he was a sweetheart and she was pretty nasty! I realised she had gone through a lot, but I wasn’t impressed with her as a character overall.

I appreciated this book for being a story about repairing relationships after family trauma but I was desperate for this book to be more about Kira and her father. I wanted to learn more about her father’s recovery and his battle with addiction. I think I was expecting it to be deeper than it was.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Whilst this book didn’t blow me away, it was a decent enough read about repairing relationships after hardship!

The Midnights

The Midnights

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

Thoughts:

On my quest to read more 2018 debut authors, I picked up The Midnights. I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. It’s a decent read although I did find it dragged in some places.

The Midnights centres around Susannah who lives at home with her mum and dad. She’s living a fairly normal life, working, going to school and jamming with her dad who used to be in a band. Susannah is a songwriter and wants to write an amazing song to impress her dad who she absolutely idolises. However, Susannah’s dad dies unexpectedly and Susannah finds her life being completely turned upside down. She has to move to Orange, to live with a grandmother she didn’t know she had. Susannah’s mum seems to be acting differently as well. Susannah feels pretty lost until she meets a girl who seems far too cool to be friends with her. Her new friend introduces Susannah to a band and life begins to change for her once more. Susannah realises she can reinvent herself, but soon secrets from the past start to unravel…

Susannah is an interesting character. I wanted to root for her and found her voice to be incredibly well written. I loved that she had such a strong connection to music and the ties it had with her father. Her relationship with her mother was complex. They were so up and down. I wasn’t overly convinced by some of the decisions Susannah made. I felt like there was a lot of resentment there because Susannah didn’t always understand her mother’s decisions. It was really interesting to see the relationship develop over time. It felt like a realistic relationship especially as they were both experiencing grief. Relationships are hard sometimes and I loved how that was portrayed in The Midnights. I adored Susannah’s grandmother and thought she helped Susannah to grow over the course of the story.

I did really enjoy how this story was full of music references, it was clear that it was a massive passion in Susannah and her father’s lives and I loved how that was the thing that bound them together.

Whilst this story did drag in places for me, for the main part I was super impressed with this book. It’s certainly a promising debut!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars!

I really enjoyed this debut novel! It’s a slow-burner but worth persevering with.

The Exact Opposite Of Okay

The Exact Opposite of Okay

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…

Thoughts:

I had heard good things about this book but I wasn’t sure that I would like it as much as I did. I thought it was wonderful! Although it was a little slow to start, when it got into the action I couldn’t put it down. I immediately liked the main character, Izzy, she’s funny and sarcastic. My favourite things.

The Exact Opposite of Okay is all about Izzy. She’s an eighteen year old student who ends up sleeping with two people following a party. She sends a nude picture to one of the guys which ends up being leaked online. Izzy finds out about a website that has been set up all about her- slut shaming her. She finds herself in the centre of a sex scandal. Before long, Izzy is being hounded by reporters, hated by her peers and shunned by her friend’s family.

I loved Izzy because she was so flawed. This is a real character. Izzy makes some pretty bad choices but she never apologises for what she’s done. Izzy continues to make mistakes as she deals with the backlash, including outing a friend publicly. Izzy deals with every single thing thrown at her, seemingly with ease, it does drag her down at points and I was concerned when she was at her lowest point. (See, sign of great writing- making me worried for a character!) Izzy definitely grows throughout the story. I can see that some people might not like her because of the choices she made. Izzy is never ashamed for having sex and although what she does is something many wouldn’t do, she didn’t deserve the abuse she got from it. I thought she was a fantastic character. I love how Laura Steven wrote someone so confident within themselves.

Please don’t let this book being labelled as a feminist book steer you away from reading it. Personally I think it’s been called that because it does speak about how the men in this book were treated completely differently to Izzy even though they had both had sex. I think it’s great that there’s a YA contemporary out there that openly discusses slut-shaming, cyber bullying and revenge porn. I’m so interested to see where the sequel goes.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars!

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I think it may divide opinions but I thought it was a wonderful look at double standards when it comes to males and females!

The Astonishing Color Of After

The Astonishing Color of After

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Thoughts:

You may have noticed that I read a range of new and older releases. I like to try and read some debut authors in the year they publish, so I’ve been making it my mission to read some 2018 debuts over my holiday. I decided to check out The Astonishing Color Of After and I’m so pleased I did. It’s a really beautifully written novel and it astounds me that it is Emily X. R. Pan’s debut. It reads like an incredibly established author had written it. Warning: This book does deal with some very heavy topics so if that’s something that upsets you, then perhaps this book won’t be for you.

It centres around Leigh, whose mother has died by suicide. Leigh’s mother was suffering from depression but Leigh hadn’t realised that things had got so bad. Leigh believes that her mother has come back as a bird and is trying to tell her something about her past. Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents and to find out more about her family. Her mother hid so much from her. She wants to know why but doesn’t expect to uncover family secrets. As Leigh gets to know her grandparents she learns more about herself than she ever anticipated, despite a language barrier.

I thought this book was really special. It is quite long, but it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. I’m not usually a massive fan of character driven novels but this one really was a masterclass. Again, my mind boggles at how this book is a debut. I felt so much for Leigh, she was dealing with so much, so young. I also appreciated how Leigh was biracial. I haven’t read many books with biracial characters.

I absolutely loved the magical realism element of this story. If you don’t enjoy magical realism, please don’t avoid this book. It’s written in such a way that it adds to beauty of the story.

This book is special because it discusses how the Asian and American cultures can view depression. In no way does it glamorise suicide and depression and I highly respect that. This book should get people talking openly about mental health.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book did feel a little long to me, but I loved the idea and the inclusion of magical realism!