What I’ve Been Reading: Part Three

So, I’ve been doing a series of posts talking about some of the books I read that I never got around to talking about.  We are starting to get to some books that I’ve read a little more recently than some of the other books, so I have more to say about them…but also not quite enough to do a full review.  If that makes sense.

  • Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields.  I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did.  It’s a cool concept, an assassin who can kill people by kissing them, but it didn’t work for me.  And that’s a little disappointing, because I really wanted it to work well.    I loved how Marinda looked out for her brother, and how much she cared for him.  It was really nice to see, but that was the only thing that I really, absolutely loved.  The story didn’t make a lot of sense, but things are magically explained at the end.  The thing that made the LEAST amount of sense was how another girl had to seduce the boys that Marinda kissed.  What’s the point of death by kissing if you’re not the one seducing them enough to get close to them?  And how do these boys even go from the one to Marinda without questioning it?  I do not understand this at all.  What, Marinda can’t seduce them or something?  Or this other girl can’t kill them?  This makes zero sense to me.  My rating is 2 stars for things that didn’t make a lot of sense and the lack of world building.
  • The Secret History Of Us by Jessi Kirby.  I used to LOVE her books, but the more Jessi Kirby books I read, the more I dislike them.  I don’t know if it’s because my interests have changed or I’m harder to please because I read a lot of YA contemporaries, but I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would.  The pace was pretty slow, and I wanted more of Olivia dealing with her amnesia.  She does try to piece things together, but I wanted more frustration or something from Olivia.  I also wanted more with Walker, but instead, he barely made an appearance.  I wanted more of a reveal, and I felt like something bigger was going to happen.  But nothing bigger happened, even though the book made it seem like something mysterious was going on.  The Secret History Of Us gets 2 stars.  It was okay, but I wanted more than what we got.
  • American War by Omar El Akkad.  I really liked this book at the beginning, and it was really interesting.  But then it lost steam, and I lost interest by the end of the book.  Like The Handmaid’s Tale, the future we see in American War is one I can picture easily.  You do get a good look at what a modern war would look like, and it’s interesting that climate change is what triggers the issues between north and south.  I would have it expected it to be over something else, women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights or something involving religion.  I know it’s terrible to make an assumption like that, but I do like that climate change is what triggers because it is different than what you might expect.   I felt like a lot of things weren’t really explained or addressed, and it felt like something was missing regarding the use of fossil fuels.  I don’t know if maybe Sarat’s perspective really limits what we know, since she was 6 when war broke out, but a little more broad of a picture would have been nice.  American War gets 3 stars.
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What I’ve Been Reading: Part Two

In an effort to talk about a lot of the books I’ve read, I’ve decided that it was a good idea for me to do some sort of post where I briefly talk about some of what I’ve been reading.  All links to Goodreads if you want to check out the book!

  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert.  I honestly don’t know if her books are for me, because  this book was okay, and I wasn’t a big fan of Pointe when I read that.  Suzette was a frustrating character, and she seemed really self-absorbed. She cared more about herself than her brother and what he was going through.  I get that she needed to have her own life, and considering everything that her brother had going on, it makes sense she’d try to have her own life and do her own thing.  But…it just bothered me that she didn’t really seem to care about anyone but herself and what she wanted.  There’s a lot going on in this book, and it was a little unclear what direction Colbert wanted to take.  Everything felt messy and unresolved, and while it’s really cool that the story is about a Jewish black bi girl, it felt like there was too much going on for anything to really have an impact.  It was very surface level (at least for me), and nothing got the attention it really deserved.  Little & Lion gets 2 stars.
  • The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi.  I really liked this one!  If you liked Jumanji, you will definitely like this book.  Picture Jumanji, but with a steampunk, Middle Eastern twist to it, and you have The Gauntlet.  It’s definitely fun and cool and it’s perfect for all ages, not just middle grade readers.  I loved seeing the relationship Farah had with her friends and her brother, and how willing she was to go get her brother out of this game.  It’s fast-paced and you really feel like you’re playing the game with Farah and her friends.  The Gauntlet gets 4 stars.
  • The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  This is another book I really liked.  I really liked Sal and the relationship he had with his dad and his grandma.  This book really is about family and belonging and how we all fit together.  In particular, Sal has his friend Sam, and they are better off as friends than as a couple.  I’m definitely glad that there was no (romantic) relationship between Sam and Sal, because it wouldn’t have fit with everything going on.  And the more we see them, the more you realize they are stronger as friends.  I didn’t understand Sal’s anger issues.  It seemed a little out of place, and it didn’t seem like Sal.  Sal, Sam, and Sal’s other friend were remarkably similar in that their mothers died, and their biological fathers weren’t around.  Sal’s adoptive father was great, though, and Sal (and his friends) were really lucky to have him in their lives.  It does make me want to read Aristotle And Dante Discover The Universe but I’m nervous to read it because I know everyone really likes it, and what if I don’t like it as much as this book?  I did really like it, and I’d rate The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life gets 4 stars.
  • By Your Side by Kasie West.  This book was really cute!  I wish I liked it more, because it seems like the type of book I’d absolutely love.  I did like the trapped in the library aspect of the book, and I was slightly disappointed that the entire book wasn’t set in the library, because that would have been awesome.  But at the same time, I liked seeing how her weekend in the library changed her.  My big question is, how did the library staff not double check the bathrooms before closing?  I mean, maybe they closed the bathrooms early- I know my local library closes the bathroom 10 minutes before closing, but still, why not double check.  I know it would ruin the whole book, but it is a little strange to me.  I liked seeing Autumn and Dax’s relationship after their library lock-in, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about Autumn’s anxiety.  She seemed pretty calm throughout the whole thing.  I don’t doubt that’s a real thing for her, and anxiety is one of those things that seems to be different for everyone.  Or maybe what we saw is different than what she was really experiencing?  At any rate, I did really like By Your Side, and it gets 4 stars. 
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman.  This book was a weird one, but like most of the other books I’ve talked about, I really liked it.  I heard about it on the Book Riot podcast, and it was creepy as hell.  There were a couple of moments that were truly terrifying.  I am curious about what it is that drives people to violence, and how it even came to be.  On the one hand, growing up in the world could be a good thing, because it’s the only world you’ve ever known, and you’re better able to handle it because you don’t know what it was like before.  But on the other hand, you’ll never know what the world was like before it happened.  I can’t imagine having to go outside blindfolded.  At least with the zombie apocalypse, you can see.  Not with this one.  I ended up getting the audio book (which I haven’t listened to yet), because in a world narrated by someone who’s blindfolded, and trying to get to a safe community, you wonder what the book would be liked if you listened to it.  I’m assuming you’d really be immersed in the world, and one of these days, I’ll have to listen it.  I really don’t want to give it away, so it’s probably good this review is really short.  Bird Box gets 4 stars.

What I’ve Been Reading: Part One

I’ve been reading quite a bit over the last few months, but I haven’t been in a mood to review anything.  But all of a sudden, I want to at least share some of what I’ve been reading.  I’m a bit fuzzy on some of the books, since it’s been a while for some of them, but I’ll do what I can.

  • I’ve read The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  I checked out this book from the library, and having read some of her other books, I knew I had to read this one.  I really liked it, and she has such unique characters.  Even though the book is set in Australia, the characters and beliefs are ones I can see happening here in America.  I liked seeing how much Michael changed, and I can see, very clearly, how he didn’t really think about what his parents thought and why they thought that way.  He really does make an effort to change how he thinks and to come up with his own beliefs.  I also liked seeing Mina’s experience, and how not everyone is like their parents.  My rating for this book is 4 stars.

Let’s see…I did read Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.  This book seemed right up my alley when I bought it years ago, but when I finally read it over the summer, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  I wasn’t a big fan of Anna’s best friend Frankie.  She seemed really self-absorbed and not willing to hear Anna out.  I get why she was upset, and that she was dealing with the loss of her brother, but that’s no reason to act the way she did.  Anna seemed to be there for her, which is good, but at the same time, it seemed like her parents were absent, and weren’t really around to help their daughter grieve.  I’d rate this book 3 stars.

  • I also read Control by Lydia Kang.  This one has a really cool idea- it sort of reminded me of X-Men, at least a little.  That’s pretty much all I remember.  That, and I was vaguely interested in reading the sequel.  I remember it being a futuristic world, with a lot of interesting technology.  It’s too bad I have forgotten it, but I’m pretty sure I liked it, so this book gets 3 stars.

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova.  I really liked The Historian when I read it years and years ago, and I didn’t know that the author had a relatively new book out.  I didn’t like The Shadow Land as much as The Historian, and I found myself skimming the more historical half of the book.  It didn’t really hold my interest the way her other book did, but it is written in a very similar style, which I liked.  I’d give this book 3 stars.

  • I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood!  I feel like I need to do a post talking about the book and the movie, but for now, I’ll talk about the book briefly.  It’s scary how relevant this book still is, and how much of it still rings true.  I listened to the audio book, and I really liked it.  Claire Danes did a great job narrating The Handmaid’s Tale.  The only thing I didn’t like about it were the flashbacks.  They didn’t translate well to audio, and it wasn’t clear at first if we were in past or present.  I also could have done without the symposium epilogue part of the book.  It really took away from the horrors of what happened in the book, and while the idea of trying to piece together sources and the accuracy of said sources is interesting.  But I don’t think it really fit with the rest of the book.  The Handmaid’s Tale gets 4 stars.

Book Review: You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Book: You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Published September 2017 by Farrar, Straus And Giroux|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

I really liked this book!  I’ve heard really good things about her books, and I happened to be browsing e-books on Overdrive, and knew I had to read it when I saw it.

I really liked seeing how connected all three generations of women were.  The multi-generational aspect shows up more in adult fictions, at least in my experience.  I really liked seeing it in YA, and I’m hoping we’ll see more multi-generational stories in YA in the future.

I really liked seeing how different all of them were, but being family really connected them in a way that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  I thought Ranee was the most interesting- she really embraced American culture while still holding on to her Indian culture.  I really liked Anna as well, especially with her relationship with Ranee.  Anna really seemed disappointed that Ranee became an American citizen, and started adopting American customs and dress, but she still loves Ranee no matter what.

Something else that I absolutely loved was that they all identified as Bengali, but that there was no one way to be Bengali.  Each woman had their flaws but also their strengths, and they all had their own experiences with who they were and their own place in the world.

I will admit that the shift to Ranee was sudden, when the book, to that point, focused more on her daughters.  But I also liked that the book shifted to her because seeing more of her story really brought the stories of her daughters and granddaughters into focus.

I really appreciated the look at how to blend two different cultures- holding onto the culture of the place you grew up in while also trying to blend in and assimilate to a new culture.  I really liked seeing this aspect of immigration, and how moving to a different country can really change things.

I didn’t enjoy Chantal and Anna’s chapters as much as Sonia and Tara’s chapters, but I still liked them a lot, and how they still dealt with some of the things their mothers and grandmother did.  I loved the focus on family and family relationships and how much those family relationships can change over decades.

4 stars.  I didn’t love You Bring The Distant Near, but I did really enjoy it, and I think it offers something you don’t see a lot of in YA.  I loved the family and their relationships with each other.

Book Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez

Book: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez

Published October 2017 by Knopf Books For Young Readers|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. 

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

I really liked I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.  I could relate to Julia, and how she felt like no one accepted her for who she was.  I can also relate to how everyone wanted to her be someone else, and to live up to the memory of her older sister.  Granted, I have no siblings, but there were a lot of times where I really related to Julia.

Her family seemed really different after the death of Julia, which isn’t surprising because that’s a huge thing to happen.  If there was no effect on the characters, I’d be slightly worried.  The mom did act like how I thought she would- unable to deal with it by staying in bed all the time, but eventually getting out of bed and turning her attention to her other daughter.

One thing I thought was odd was when Julia ended up in the hospital.  One minute, she’s taking a walk, and the next thing you know, she’s waking up in the hospital.  It was really confusing, and I did find myself reading the end of the one chapter and beginning of the other one multiple times to see if I could figure out what was going in.  It didn’t make sense at first, and I thought maybe part of it somehow didn’t end up in the e-book or if I was massively missing something.

We later learn what happened in between those two moments, so it was definitely a decision on the author’s part to have things be fine one minute, and the next thing you know, things aren’t okay.  It does fit with the loss of Olga, and how things are fine and normal until they’re not.  But everything following the hospital incident seemed sudden and random, and there wasn’t any indication that things were that bad for Julia.  I know things aren’t always obvious, and Julia was having a hard time after Olga’s death.

Julia’s hospitalization really changed things for her.  She really did understand her parents better, and how hard they worked to give her and Olga a good life.  One where Julia realizes that she can be herself, and also to take control of her own life.

I wasn’t a big fan of the secrets that Olga had- it does seem very much the opposite of the person Julia and her family thought Olga was, and maybe that was the point.  That people aren’t always who we thought they were.  It certainly is true of her parents.  I think I was expecting something different from Olga, that’s all.

Julia, for some people, might be an unlikeable character.  She’s confrontational and brash, and fights with her mom a lot.  She’s very angry, especially in the beginning, but she really does mature and grow and learn how to deal with everything that happened with Olga.

I also really like that there was dialogue in Spanish, and that it wasn’t italicized or (if I’m remembering correctly) translated.  It wasn’t treated any different because it wasn’t English.

4 stars.  I really liked seeing how much Julia changed and matured throughout the book.  There was one moment that was really confusing, and I wasn’t completely thrilled about Olga’s secret, but overall, I think I think this book is a really great one to read.

Book Review: The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Book: The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Published February 2017 by Simon & Schuster|296 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. 

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

I really liked this book!  I really liked Margot, and how I can relate to wanting to fit in.  Not to the degree that Margot wants to fit in, and I never went as far as Margot did, nor can I see myself going to the lengths she did, but I can understand why she did what she did.  After seeing her friends, though, part of me wonders why she was friends with them, since she couldn’t really be herself when she was with them.  It seemed like she tried too hard, and she definitely needed to figure out who she was.  I think that’s pretty normal, though.  Sometimes I still feel like I’m trying to figure out who I am, and I’m a lot older than Margot.

I did like seeing her work at her dad’s store, and there are definitely some characters.  I think, though, her dad and brother were the most frustrating.  Her dad didn’t seem to care what her brother did, and I thought her dad and brother not wanting her to be around Moises was a little hypocritical.  Especially considering her dad had affairs with a lot of the girls at the store (and why they felt uncomfortable talking around her), and her brother dealing drugs.  Being concerned is fine, but it was hard for me to take them seriously, especially once I found out what I found out.  And their behavior for most of the book made a lot more sense at the end of the book.

I really liked seeing her at the supermarket, but at the same time, I really wish we saw more of her with her prep school friends and her with her old friends.  Or more with Moises and the community organizing.  I would have liked to see Margot navigate those friendships a little more, and I think it would provided some interesting context for what lead up to her working at the family store.  And also what happened with her friends (old and new) after the summer was over.  And the community organizing Moises was doing- things were clearly changing for the neighborhood, and I would have liked to see more of how different things were.

I really wish it were longer!  It felt really short, and I think adding in something with Moises and with her friends could have added something really special to it.

4 stars.  I really liked it, but I think it could have been longer, and gone more in depth with a few things.

Book Review: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Book: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Published May 2017 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux|325 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

This book was so cute!  I really loved Desi and how she needed steps to finding true love.  It kind of sounds like something I might have come up with in high school.  I loved Desi, and she’s full of awesome and amazingness, and I dare you to not like her, because it’s pretty damn hard not to.

I really liked the relationship she had with her father, and it was nice to such such a great parent-child relationship. I know parents who aren’t around a lot are a big part of YA, so it was nice to see Desi’s dad and how involved he was in her life.

I haven’t watched any K-dramas, so I am completely clueless about it would parallel them…especially since they are her guide to find love.  It kind of makes me want to watch them, just to get a sense of the stories, and how they influenced her guide to getting a guy.  The author does have a bunch of recommendations at the end of the book, so maybe those will be a good place to start…assuming I actually sit down to watch one of them.

Back to the book, though.  As much as I loved Desi, I kind of hated how she thought she was different than Luca’s ex. In her own way, it was a little bit manipulative, plus the whole blowing off her college interview for him kind of bugged me too.  But also in line with your typical rom-com…so…I guess I have mixed feelings about it.  She makes some questionable decisions, but there is something very endearing about her, hence the mixed feelings.

4 stars.  It is a cute book, and even though I wasn’t a big fan of some of Desi’s decisions, I still really liked the story and I especially liked her relationship with her dad.

Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Book: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Published April 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

I loved When We Collided!  I randomly picked it up at the library because the cover caught my eye, and I am so glad I did.  It’s been a while since I’ve really, truly loved a book the way I loved When We Collided.  The Hate U Give is probably the closest, at least of the books I’ve read, but otherwise it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt so excited and emotional about a book.

Vivi is bipolar, but at first, she’s very much this vibrant, colorful person.  It is isn’t until later on that we learn she’s bipolar and not taking her medication for a good portion of the book.  Even though I’m not bipolar, I have struggled with depression, and I found it was so easy to relate to Vivi.  I loved her as a character, and she is this bright, vivid character, and she, in this book, was a living, breathing person.  I feel like I don’t say that very often about characters.

As a book about a girl who is bipolar, this is an amazing book.  Emery Lord did an amazing job at capturing every single thought and emotion Vivi had, and there were times where I really felt like I knew what Vivi was experiencing and dealing with.  She is over-the-top and difficult and annoying, but I still felt for her.  You really see Vivi’s state of mind when she is and isn’t on medication, her illness isn’t manipulative at all, and I loved the way Vivi described things.

I think Vivi’s half of the book- which was so vibrant and full of life- made Jonah’s half a little bit hard.  His chapters were more dull by comparison, mostly because anyone would look dull and lifeless and lackluster next to Vivi.  He was compelling, to a degree, but not the way that Vivi’s chapters were compelling.

His story felt more tired somehow- he’s an older brother, taking care of his younger sibling after the unexpected death of his father, and a mother who has checked out emotionally.  Jonah’s story felt a little overdone, but I did really like that he realized he needed to tell someone what was going on with his mom, instead of trying to pretend like everything was fine and under control.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked that he and his older siblings did what they could for the younger ones, but I’m not the biggest fan of the older sibling(s) taking care of the younger ones because of dead/absent parents trope.

And I wasn’t into the romance at all.  I know their lives collided because of everything going on with both of them, but…it is most definitely a case of insta-love, so keep that in mind.  I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love, but sometimes, it’s okay.  This was not one of those times, unfortunately.  Their relationship worked, in its own way, with it being summer and particularly with Vivi, so the ending wasn’t that surprising.  But I felt like there was nothing between them- there didn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry, and there’s no build-up because insta-love.

I really would have been fine without the romance, and it didn’t really fit.  It didn’t take away from the rest of the book, and overall, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED When We Collided.  I just don’t know that the romance fit- it definitely didn’t work for me, because I liked both Vivi and Jonah, but not as a couple.

5 stars.  I don’t know that I did this book justice, but I thought it was completely amazing.  After finishing it, I literally hugged this book for, like, at least 5 minutes.

Book Review: A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole

Book: A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole

Self-Published March 2016|316 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime.One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe.When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.A stand-alone young adult tearjerker romance, recommended for ages fourteen and up.

I’ve heard a lot about this book, and I was in the mood for some cute and sweet and something that would probably result in me sobbing my heart out because it had been ripped to shreds.  I sort of it with this book. but not really.

The crying happened, so it did get me emotionally, but it wasn’t cute and sweet, and it was…blah.  That is really the best way to describe this book.  I wanted to love it, I really did.  Maybe I don’t have a soul or something, because I’m clearly in the minority here.  I do drink my coffee black (at least when I make coffee at home or at work, but Starbucks and various other coffee shops are a different story), maybe that goes with my apparently black soul.

There will be spoilers, just in case anyone is wondering.  You might want to stop reading here, if you don’t want spoilers.

Anyway, back to the book.  Their friendship/romantic relationship was so weird.  It was one-sided to the point of no one else seemed to exist for them.  Rune seemed friendless, and while Poppy seemed to have a few friends, she seemed to keep them at a distance.  Literally, no one else existed for them.  Their families seemed to fade in the background as well.

When she stopped talking to him, I literally thought she was pregnant at first, but that wouldn’t have explained why Poppy and her family moved away for a couple of years.  Her dying of cancer was cliche and boring, and it sort of felt like I was reading a Lurlene McDaniel book.  I’m not sure if anyone else remembers them, but they’re those YA books that focus on sick kids?  Something about A Thousand Boy Wishes reminded me of those books.  It felt sort of tired, and maybe I’m over the whole girl-dying-of-cancer thing.  Maybe if I hadn’t read other books (like The Fault In Our Stars or If I Stay), I would have liked it a little more.  It’s like a mix of Nicholas Sparks, The Fault In Our Stars with a dash of Lurlene McDaniel.  I’m not kidding.

Poppy and Rune were really wooden/cardboard, at least for me.  The fact that they liked music (Poppy) and photography (Rune), could have been an interesting aspect to the book, but it was boring and uninteresting and just sort of there.  There seemed to be very little character development, and it felt like they were just going through the motions.

Also, Rune being from Norway?  I swear, it’s sole existence was for him to seem like this mysterious, exotic bad boy. Exotic seems like a weird word to use, because for some reason, I don’t associate it with Norway, of all places.  But it made him different and appealing to all of the girls.  He is literally the manic pixie dream boy, and it was irritating. Poppy, not so much, but it was there.  And Rune being Norwegian- it was pretty much there to get him away from Poppy, so she wouldn’t have to face him once she got sick.  Makes it easier to not talk to him when HE’S IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COUNTRY.  Him moving was there so he could turn into this horrible, soul of darkness person that hated everyone and everything, because she clearly would not have stopped talking to him if he were still in Georgia.

And don’t even get me started on epilogue, which was a complete and total cop-out in my opinion.  I know it wrapped things up and gave him some closure, because HE DIED AND END UP IN HEAVEN WITH HIS POPPY.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT EPILOGUE?

I’d rather read the HP epilogue.  Admittedly, that’s grown on me over the years, but the one at the end of this book? Seriously?  I did not need to read that.  He randomly dies 10 years later?  That’s it?  That is not the happy ending I thought I’d get, considering this book is described as romance.  I wanted him to move on, find some happiness in a world where Poppy isn’t living, but that never seemed to happen for him in the fast forward we get.  Yes, there’s closure, and Poppy was his entire world, but…I would have been fine had the epilogue not been included.

I did like the concept of a thousand kisses, and writing down your memories of the really good/meaningful ones. And the cover is really pretty.  I’d frame that and hang it on my wall, it’s that pretty to look at.

3 stars.  I know I spent pretty much this whole post ranting about this book, but I really can’t bring myself to give it a lower rating.  I get why people love this book so much, and it was well-written enough, even though it was full of cliches that didn’t appeal to me.  It’s cute enough, and I did like it, even though it doesn’t seem like it. I don’t even know why I like it, but I do.

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published February 2017 by Balzer + Bray|464 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Hate U Give was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year, and there was a lot of buzz surrounding the book.  I was really hesitant to read it- as much as I wanted to read it- because I was terrified it wouldn’t live up to all of the hype and my really high expectations.

Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read it.

Because I loved this book, and it completely gutted me.  If you read one book this year, please make it this book.

I felt so much for Starr and Khalil and her neighborhood.  What Starr and Khalil went through…I will never experience, and I am grateful I don’t have to worry about getting shot at if I get pulled over by a cop.  The conversation her dad has with her about what to do if she gets pulled over?  That’s a conversation my mom and grandparents never needed to have with me, nor is it a conversation I will never need to have with my non-existent children.  However, I vaguely remember hearing that the police would help me, and that they’d protect me and keep me safe.

That is not the reality for Starr at all, and it makes me so unbelievably sad that not everyone is able to trust that the police will keep them safe.  That Khalil- and many others like him- are guilty until proven innocent, that Khalil, who was doing NOTHING wrong, is seen as trouble because of where he’s from.

It was such a hard book to put down, and even thinking about this book, I’m getting emotional.  The entire time I was reading this book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of everything that’s going on in America right now.  It very much reflects real life, and it felt very honest.

Yes, it reflects real life, but it is unforgettable and powerful, and an amazing story with amazing, nuanced characters. No one is stereotypical or one-dimensional, and each character is unforgettable.

I did want to talk about Hailey, one of Starr’s best friends.  I hated Hailey with a passion, and how she took part in a protest just to get out of class.  In general, I hated her classmates for using Khalil’s death to get out of class, and yet, it’s something I would expect from Starr’s classmates.  But most of all, the things Hailey said, and how she didn’t see anything wrong with making comments about fried chicken to Starr, or comments about eating cats to their other best friend Maya.  Hailey…she didn’t understand why Starr had such a problem with everything Hailey herself said about Khalil, and completely dismissed Starr’s feelings about it.  Yes, she’s 16 or 17, but that doesn’t dismiss it at all. She, very clearly, didn’t want to understand, and it was frustrating to see Hailey want to stay in her own little bubble of people like her.  It makes me wonder why they were all friends to begin with.

No words will describe how I feel about this book.  Just trust me when I say that if you haven’t read The Hate U Give, you really need to.

5 stars.  I loved this book so much, and it’s easily my favorite book of the year.