Where She Went (If I Stay #2)

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s been three years since the devastating accident… three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Thoughts:

I really liked If I Stay and have been meaning to read the sequel for so long now. I finally got around to reading it and I’m pleased I did. It was such an emotional read. It is told from Adam’s point of view which is lovely to read. I enjoyed reading from Mia’s point of view in the first book, but it felt important to me to learn how Adam was feeling.

In If I Stay, Mia loses her family. Adam also struggles with the loss of Mia’s family because he was incredibly close to them too. Since the loss of Mia’s family, Adam rockets to fame in a band. Adam experiences severe anxiety and ends up crumbling under the pressure of fame. Adam is still reeling from Mia disappearing on him. He still thinks of her, despite being in a new relationship. The relationship is not working but Adam is sticking with it, despite his girlfriend feeling he’s still into Mia. It’s so lovely to read from Adam’s point of view. We know that Mia experienced a lot of loss and her life completely changed. Everyone treads on egg shells around Mia, not wanting to upset her. I felt like Adam’s grief is pretty much forgotten. He’s sad and unhappy with what happened. He’s miserable in his current relationship and with the fame he’s experiencing. It’s all so heart-breaking.

One night, Adam comes across Mia playing a show. He goes and then ends up spending some time with her as they get ready to go their separate ways. Adam has to go meet up with his band and Mia is going to Tokyo to play in a concert. This is where the story becomes a little bit predictable. I knew how things were going to end up. Yet, I didn’t mind because I WANTED them to reconnect.

I love Mia and Adam as characters and thought this was a really cute story to read. I’d highly recommend reading this dualogy if you haven’t already!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A really engaging follow up to If I Stay! Worth reading!

Advertisements

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1)

These Witches Don't Burn

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Thoughts:

I went into this book not really knowing much about it. I didn’t read any reviews or anything. Just went into it which is the best way to be I think. I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think it necessarily did anything different with the witch trope, but it was still a highly enjoyable read that I’m pleased I made time for over summer.

It follows an Elemental witch called Hannah. She lives in Salem, hoping to avoid her ex-girlfriend Veronica over summer. However, dark magic pops up around town and Hannah wonders whether her past has come back to haunt her.

The plot is full of mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed following Hannah and her coven as the story twisted and turned. They had to find out the identity of the person or people behind the dark magic and try to stop it once and for all. Hannah’s also dealing with a crush on Morgan, a new girl in town. I think you’d enjoy this book if you love contemporary. It definitely has a contemporary vibe to it with magical elements which is ideal if you don’t want full on fantasy.

Hannah is a great character. I immediately warmed to her. She’s always trying to do the right thing. For me, she was a perfect balance of being incredibly caring towards others but she definitely had a feisty side to her. I loved seeing that side of her. I loved that there was a really strong friendship between Hannah and Gemma too. I loved reading their interactions. I’m all for strong female friendships in stories.

The only reason I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because despite the ending, I’m fine with not knowing how things end up in future books. There’s something about it that doesn’t compel me to continue the series. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m into standalones at the moment. It is probably a personal thing, so please don’t let that put you off if you’re on the lookout for a magical contemporary read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut! 

Banned Books #61- Whale Talk

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to the next edition of Banned Books. In August, we read Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher.

Whale Talk

First published: 2001
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2005 (source)
Reasons: racism, offensive language

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: It might be quite clear from our Banned Books Challenge so far that Chrissi and I are against banning or challenging books but we always enjoy checking out stories that have caused a bit of a riot and dissect whether they had good reason for a challenge. I can safely state that without exception, we have found no good reason to ban or challenge a book. Perhaps limit it’s availability in school libraries if there are very young children around – we agree on that but otherwise, we shouldn’t limit literature for anyone. Many reasons we’ve found for challenging a book can be quite exasperating and there’s been very few that we can see why some people may have had an issue. In Whale Talk, released in the early 2000’s, the reasons that they’ve given, I cannot really deny. Yes, there is racism in the book and it might offend people. Nevertheless, I think it’s still important to show different people’s attitudes (no matter how wrong we might personally find them) so we can carry on talking about an important, abhorrent issue.

CHRISSI: I think this is one of the rare books when we can actually get on board with the reasons for banning/challenging the book. There is pretty offensive language in the story- nothing which I’m sure teenagers/young adults haven’t heard before. However, it’s undeniable that it’s there. So would we want our young people to read it? Some may find it anyway and might not be offended by its content, compared to what else is around! It does also include racism. I don’t always think it’s a bad thing to educate young people on racism, but I’m not sure this is the right one to do that with.

How about now?

BETH: As I mentioned in the previous answer, it’s important to talk about racism in the past and in the present. It hasn’t gone away and sadly, some people’s views haven’t changed on the matter. The other reason for challenging is offensive language. Normally, when we get a reason like this I retort with something like: “Where was the offensive language in this book?!” In Whale Talk, I have to admit there was bad language. I wasn’t particularly offended by it but I understand why some people might be. However, it is a book marketed towards a specific audience of young adults and you aren’t going to be able to shelter them from bad language in the real world, as we’ve said many times on this feature before.

CHRISSI: Like I said, I can see why, but I don’t think it’s something that should be taken away from people. As Beth mentioned, it’s targeted towards YA and I’m sure there’s worse language within peer groups or on social media/films. Not necessarily a solid enough reason to prevent them from this book.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This book was only okay for me unfortunately. I appreciated what Chris Crutcher was trying to do and I really liked the main character, T.J. but it wasn’t a narrative that really grabbed my attention or stuck in my mind as memorable. I thought it did raise some important issues though and I can understand why many readers would really connect with it.

CHRISSI: I thought I was really going to like this book, but for me I didn’t gel with the author’s writing style. I think it brings to light some important issues, so I believe it should be tried!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Our Year Of Maybe

Our Year of Maybe

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone

Synopsis:

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this author’s debut, so knew I wanted to get around to her next book. Goodness knows why I took so long to read this book, considering that I had it from its release date in January. Rachel Lynn Solomon has crafted a beautiful story with Our Year Of Maybe. It really touched my heart.

Our Year Of Maybe centres around Sophie and Peter who are the best of friends. There’s always been something between them and they have such a close connection. Sophie is so close to Peter that she is desperate to help him. So when she’s found to be a kidney match for Peter, she gives him a kidney without a second thought. Peter’s quality of life immediately improves (although the transplant is not a miracle cure!) Even though Peter felt like he had feelings for Sophie, he finds himself attracted to Chase, a guy in the band that just happens to be looking for a keyboardist and Peter fits. Sophie still likes Peter, but different parts of her life like dancing opportunities are pulling her in a different direction to Peter. Both Sophie and Peter struggle with their relationship post transplant. Peter feels indebted to Sophie and Sophie doesn’t know who she is without Peter. One night changes their relationship for good and both of them now consider whether their friendship is worth all the pain.

I loved how Sophie and Peter grew throughout this story. You could feel their individual pain and see where both characters were coming from. I went from wanting them to be together to wanting them to find their own way separate from each other. The author really does take you on an emotional roller coaster.

This book is much deeper than you might think. It covers so many topics not commonly represented in YA like Judaism and bisexuality.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and was absolutely captivated by Sophie and Peter’s story.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A wonderful, emotional read. Highly recommended!

Again, But Better

Again, but Better

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless. 

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I haven’t watched or followed this author on YouTube, although I’ve always been aware of her. I was intrigued to see what this book would be like after reading the synopsis. I thought it was important to put it out there that I’m not a follower of this author, so my review is completely unbiased.

Again, but Better centres around a girl called Shane. Shane has pretty much had her future dictated to her by what her parents want her to do. They want her to become a doctor even though Shane’s desires lie with writing. Shane lies to her parents and ends up spending some time aboard in the UK studying creative writing and interning at a travel magazine. Shane wants a ‘do-over’ with her college experience. She wants to be more outgoing, make friends and truly experience college life. The book is told in two parts. One where Shane is 20 and is studying in the UK and the next set 6 years later.

I thought Again, but Better had an interesting story line. There’s a magical element to this story, which I wasn’t expecting. I hadn’t read about the book or read any reviews before reading the story for myself. I liked the characters even though some of them had silly names. Babe? Pilot Penn? I felt like our main character, Shane, really developed as a character. She felt different in the two time frames and I think that’s so important.

The reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because I had a real issue with the relationship between Shane and Pilot. I felt like it was borderline cheating and further into the book… their relationship just didn’t sit right with me. I also didn’t like the way Pilot’s girlfriend was treated.  I also felt like Shane’s parents were the worst. I know she lies to them and that’s awful, but the way they reacted when the truth was revealed was very uncomfortable for me.

I did like how this book encourages you to live your life your own way, despite what others may think. Such an important message. It also didn’t take me long to read at all. I may not have agreed with the relationship, but I was invested enough to continue reading.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A promising debut!

Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Rachel Cohn

David Levithan

Every Day

Synopsis:

Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends—and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.

The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the partiers show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right, as well…in rather surprising ways.

Thoughts:

Coming at you with another post-it style review!

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- This book was okay, but not much happened and I couldn’t gel with the characters.

A quick read but don’t expect much depth!

Girl With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1)

Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Thoughts:

I really like Suzanne Young’s writing, so when I heard she had a new book coming out, I knew it was something that I really wanted to read. I’m pleased I picked it up because although I don’t think I’ll continue with the series, it was certainly a fantastic start to a series. The only reason I’m not continuing is because I don’t like committing to series at the moment with my work/life commitments. I’m not fitting in much reading at the moment, so standalones are better for me.

Girls With Sharp Sticks centres around Mena (Philomena) who attends an exclusive same sex boarding school. At this exclusive boarding school, they learn to be proper women. Hmmm… ‘proper’ women. The idea makes you cringe, right? The teaching methods are definitely ‘interesting.’ From wiped brains to keeping each student censored. It really did seem like a nightmare school to me. Eventually, Mena and her friends work out what’s actually happening at the school. They learn about themselves and who they really are. But the Innovations Academy is a very dark and dangerous place. Can they ever break free from it?

As I mentioned before, I do really like Suzanne’s writing. Right from the beginning, you know something is going wrong with these girls and you want the best for them from the very start. I was especially attached to Mena. I loved her development as a character as she found out what was really happening to her. I also loved how every girl seemed to support one another. I know this may not be realistic in a school full of hormonal girls but a group of supportive girls? Yes please!

I absolutely loved how this book was about the female characters taking charge and fighting back. Go female empowerment!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Although I enjoyed this book, I don’t think I’ll continue with the series (for time constraint reason, I may pick the series up in the future!) Worth checking out -especially if you’re into Girl Power!