Category Archives: Book Reviews

Review: Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (Blog Tour)

piecing_me_togetherHi everyone! I’m very happy to be the third stop on the Piecing Me Together Blog Tour. I loved Piecing Me Together, so I’ll be sharing a review. I hope you check it out and enter the giveaway posted at the end.

25566675Title: Piecing Me Together

Author: Renee Watson

Published: February 14, 2017

Pages: 272

Genres: Contemporary

Themes: Family, Privilege, Race, Friendship, Coming of Age

Format: ARC 

Source: Bloomsbury

Rating: Four Stars

Goodreads Summary:

A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

Cover Thoughts: I love the actual collage on this cover. It’s totally gorgeous and I love the Black POC front and center on there.

~Review~

For a Contemporary book, this is really magical. Piecing Me Together felt like such a personal story that could fit many black girls lives today. When we meet Jade, she’s living in poverty and fighting her way out of it by doing well in school. Unfortunately, due to her being black and also on the lower economic spectrum, she gets encouraged to join Woman to Woman, a mentorship for black girls who are labeled “at-risk”. From the outside, it’s a little easy to see why Jade would be chosen for the mentorship, she lives in poverty, is at her private school on scholarship and is raised by a single mother.

On the other hand though, Jade is anything but at-risk. She’s passionate. I really liked hearing about the mentorship program because I think it was good in theory. Like Jade though, there were some reservations about it, like how there was a focus on boys and superficial things at time. I wish there had been a little bit of a deeper look at the mentorship because I really thought it was going well at the end. Jade’s mentor, Maxine annoyed me quite a bit throughout the story. Maxine was a little self involved and prideful when it came to Jade. While Maxine is black, she grew up in a different kind of way than Jade. Her family was very proper and reserved. This made Jade uncomfortable and nervous at times given her background. I loved seeing these two woman interact with each other even if Maxine did frustrate me at times. I like how Jade spoke up about Woman to Woman and encouraged the mentors to cover different topics, topics that these girls should know, like finances and budgeting. I don’t often see financial aspects come up too much in YA, so I loved seeing how Piecing Me Together talked about finances a bit. When Maxine  One thing I especially liked was how Maxine and Jade’s mom’s interactions were written. As Jade begins to spend more time with Maxine, her mother is on the hesitant side. She also grows jealous at times over the relationship.

Jade is one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. I loved how driven she was, how she wanted more not only for herself but for the mentorship. She was determined to carve herself a space out whether that was speaking up about the mentorship or making a collage. Jade had two big interests in Piecing Me Together, Spanish and art. I really enjoyed seeing these incorporated. At the beginning of each chapter was a word in spanish, and it’s definition. These words would generally focus on what the chapter would be about. I thought it was an interesting way to showcase Jade’s passion for Spanish. I really liked how often Jade made collages and discussed art. Collages are one of my favorite formats for art because of how you tear things apart to put them back together. Jade’s collages dealt with her feelings and events that happened. Jade is a girl who is on the bigger side and I loved seeing how that also affected her life. I felt her thoughts and experiences were very realistic and I know I could relate to them at times.

Piecing Me Together is such a timely book that deals with so many serious issues of today, police brutality, white privilege, racial differences, and socioeconomic scales. There’s really so many examinations at different issues that makes this such a gem to read. One of my favorite parts about Piecing Me Together was seeing how Jade’s friendships differed between her black friend, Lee Lee and her white friend, Sam. It reminded me a lot of an on-going storyline in the middle-grade series, Three Girls In The City.

Sam, while from a similar financial background as Jade, Sam and her grandparents worry when Sam goes to her house. Later in the book, Jade hears about a girl their age who was a victim of police brutality. Sam, being white, doesn’t understand why Jade is so upset about it. In other instances, Sam doesn’t notice the difference in privileges that they get. Woman to Woman is called a privilege for Jade whereas Sam’s privilege at school is something Jade really deserved and wanted. I like how Piecing Me Together showed the stressful and difficult look at racial differences between friends.

~Final Thoughts~

Piecing Me Together is a book to read for this year. The issues it covers are so important today and I loved seeing how naturally they fit. I think Jade will stay with most people. It was really easy to read. The chapters are short, but I loved the spotlight each one of them had on different experiences. I do wish some chapters were longer and that the book was longer. I think Piecing Me Together will give a very insightful look at how black teens go through life and how their worldview lens differs from the usual white Young Adult protagonist..


Giveaway Link for one (1) hardcover of Piecing Me Together


Dates:

2/14: Story Sanctuary

2/15: Reading is Better than Cupcakes

2/16: YA Indulgences

2/17: Awkwordly Emma

2/21: Dazzled by Books

2/22: Here’s to Happy Endings

2/23: A Little Book World

2/24: Random Musings of a Bibliophile


eARC Review: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Hey everyone. Firday I did a joint post on Run by Kody Keplinger and Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson. Here is my full-length review for Gena/Finn.

Gena_FinnTitle: Gena/Finn

Author: Hannah Moskowitz, Kat Helgeson

Published: May 17th, 2016 (Chronicle Books)

Pages: 287

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Themes: Friendship, Relationships, LGBTQIA+, Mental Illness, Fanfiction, Social Media, 

Format: eARC

Source: I was provided an eARC via Chronicle Books on Netgalley,this in no way affects my review.

Rating: Four Stars

Goodreads Summary:

The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

Purchase Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover Thoughts: This had a cover change, but while I said I liked the old cover more, I think I may actually like this a smidge more with it’s contrasting colors and more details with the internet era.

~Why I Wanted To Read~

I wanted to read Gena/Finn because it’s about fanfiction and online communities. Those are two topics that will make me read any book basically.

~Impact On Me~

I related to a lot of the things discussed in this book, primarily the relationship between the main characters, Gena and Finn. It made me almost die with a lot of feels. I did highlight a ton of passages where I was just like “YES. I KNOW WHAT THAT’S LIKE.”

First Line: Are you kidding me…?

Okay, what the shit was that episode?

~Review~

By now, you already know, but if a book involves fanfiction or a writer of fanfiction, I will eat it up. This is exactly what I did with Gena/Finn. I related to this book a ton and actually, it reminded me of a couple website (a few websites, but namely two) I used to get on quite a bit called Quizilla and Mibba. Quizilla has since been bought out (tears), but Mibba’s still around! Anyway, both of these websites are really big with fanfiction. I loved how Gena/Finn incorporated blogging in the story along with fanfiction.

Blogging, because I am a blogger, of course, but also because I could just picture the blog posts unfolding on there. Fanfiction, because I used to read Fanfiction. I will admit that I wasn’t always into all of the fanfiction in the story, but I did really love the last one. Gena/Finn did fanfiction how I wished Fangirl had. I liked how there was an on-going communication with the online community, it wasn’t just a “I’m going to write stories, you’re going to read them.” kind of thing. It was even completed with annoying characters that you encounter online and may possibly even gossip about among friends.

It. Was. Just. So. Realistic!

Realistic will my word of the post.

Gena is the fanfiction writer of the story whereas Finn tends to write blog posts and draws. I loved the two different creative arts that these characters did.

The other part that I really liked in Gena/Finn was that both characters didn’t live at home. This can annoy me, but with the way it was done, it just felt so realistic to me. Gena was away at boarding school. Finn on the other hand was actually in college, but living with a boyfriend in an apartment. While I didn’t get a big sense of the classes, it gave me a strong vibe of being at college again. So there were definite points for nostalgia there. I loved seeing how the character dealt with being away from parents and how they dealt with their parents, namely Finn.

You may be wondering what the fanfiction written is about, it’s about a TV show called Up Below. Up Below revolves around two friends, it’s a very Supernatural-esque show. There’s a part in here where one of the characters talks about how tv raised them and they mention Boy Meets World AND Degrassi. As you can imagine, my heart exploded because those are my two of my favorite shows EVER. EVER. DEGRASSI ❤ I just really really really loved that part a lot. Okay, back to the review now.

I just really need a moment because all of the blog posts about this show just hit me so hard. I get SO into the shows I watch. Like, an unbelievable amount* In an early post, there’s this quote about how the watchers didn’t see certain scenes, how unrealistic some scenes were and how it’s not good to tear shows down. I’m sure everyone has done this with a show. I have done this with SO many shows, I still do. It’s just a compulsion, we want things done how we want them. When they’re not, we (fans) can get incredibly passionate and incredibly angry, so I found a bit of this really hard-hitting.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, what completely pulled me into this story is how these Gena and Finn met. One of them had just written a story and the other read it and messaged them. Just like that, they hit it off and began messaging back and forth totally getting each other. I loved it so much. It gave me more nostalgia. This was just a big somewhat nostalgic book for me, I liked that part.

Look, read these passages and tell me you don’t feel that.

“…That was heavy. I mean, it’s fine, but is it weird that this is getting so personal? I don’t know. I don’t make internet friends…”

“You’ve never made internet friends, though? I’ve got like ten people who know that shit about me, and most of them aren’t ones I know in real life. I don’t know, I’m not exactly close to anyone, but it feels pretty safe to open up to people when it’s just words. and i’m not usually afraid of alienating people because I’m an independent women, etc. I’m good.”

Okay, maybe you don’t feel that, I do though, so I’m silently screaming because feelings.

I really liked how the girls because close friends in a short span of time, because that can happen with people. Their friendship was just so heartwarming and I loved how they could depend on eachother. I made note of this in my other Gena/Finn post, but I loved how they understood eachother when people in their real lives didn’t. Whether this was in regards to fanfiction, the online community, their general feelings or real life struggles. And there were a quite a few real life struggles. Struggles like living with a significant other, contemplating marriage, liking two different people at the same time, finding a job and mental illness.  I liked it a lot. They connected with eachother at a time when they would both need it. What I love most is that this the majority happens over the internet and I loved how it delved into real life.This brings me to the next thing:

Gena and Finn go to a convention and it is great. I wish there had been more details about it, because it didn’t really delve into it. This is also when things begin to shift in the story, quite greatly. Especially with genre and between characters. The girls get a lot closer to each other and it begins to alarm Finn’s boyfriend, Charlie. Charlie feels that the Gena and Finn may have feelings for each other. This causes relationship problems between him and Finn. While these relationship issues are a little intense, I loved seeing a couple actually have to go through issues. I loved reading about a couple that has their issues and it causes fights because that’s real. I didn’t always like Charlie, but I knew where he was coming from. Finn definitely annoyed me at times, but I loved her as well.

Back to Gena and Finn’s possible feelings for each other.

As for the genre switch, now that I think about it, it reminds me a lot about TV. You watch tv and everything’s great and you’re loving it, it’s exactly what you’re expecting and then an episode happens and you’re like, “What is this?”. Cue Demons from The 100. Am I right?

Actually, it reminds me of the last season of Boy Meets World, if you’ve watched that show (as Gena has), you may have noticed the huge genre switch in it. In the beginning it was very light hearted and then towards the end, while there were still a lot of light heartedness, it definitely went off the deep in in dramatics.

This was where Gena/Finn lost me a bit, while I loved the change in genre, it was very sudden. I didn’t feel like it was expanded on enough, but then again, that just relates back to a passage before in the book. I wish we had gotten more details about things. I wanted more conversations between a few people. This was pretty much the only thing I didn’t love in Gena/Finn. Everything else was great, the characters, the plot, the various issues.

There is a bit of group therapy done in here which I liked a lot. We only read from the character’s point of view and don’t experience many actual sessions, but it was interesting to read about.

A thing that I especially liked was the format of the book. I was reading an eARC, so I didn’t get the full affect, but there are Fanfics, blog posts, text messages, story comments, journal writings, and poetry in here. I liked seeing so many different aspects in it.

One thing I haven’t touched on yet:

Gena deals with a mental illness that I don’t believe is mentioned by name exactly, but I could be wrong. I liked seeing a character have a mental illness that didn’t rule her life, but it was mentioned in the day to day life. I do wish it had been talked about a lot more vividly because I didn’t exactly understand what she was diagnosed with or the medication she was taking. Speaking of which, that brought up a little part in the story where Gena has to worry about paying for her meeds. Once again, so realistic. Meds can be so expensive.

Some Things I Did Not Like:

Although I really liked Gena/Finn, there were some things I didn’t care too much for.

The girls relationships were really complicated to me and I never really understood what was going on. However, I do like that it was messy because feelings aren’t always clear cut.

I felt like Charlie did a 180 in part of the book which just left me wonder “What just happened?”. It seemed to be a really drastic change that I wasn’t super into.  I would have known exactly what changed him because i did not understand.

There’s also a somewhat change of scenery for Gena later in Gena/Finn which I just didn’t find very realistic. I didn’t think it would go down like that, I don’t even think it’s really allowed what happened.

There was at least one definite convenient moment that was only used for plot purposes and I was like “What? No, really, what?” It was so bizarre to me.

I do like that we hear about Gena and Finn’s parents throughout the book, but Gena’s seemed really out of touch. Literally. There was a time I felt like they would want to contact Gena, and as far as I remember, they didn’t, but other relatives did. It was still short lived though. I didn’t like this section at all. There should have been a lot more concern and hesitance than I saw portrayed.

~Final Thoughts~

The two perspectives of Gena and Finn were done so well, I thought they blended together good. I loved the writing of both of them, so the authors did a fantastic job there. Gena and Finn both had distinct personalities. If you like female friendships, online communities, Fanfiction and complicated relationships, Gena/Finn is for you. I really liked Gena/Finn overall despite some things I didn’t like or understand. I loved the natural friendship of the girls and their interactions with each other. I enjoyed reading about how they didn’t live at home because for once an absence of parents made some sense. This book is full of emotional feels for sure. 

~Do I Recommend?~

Yes

~Who Do I Recommend It To?~

  • Fans of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowelll
  • Fans of Fanfiction or online related books
  • Fans of strong female friendships
  • Fans of complicated relationships

~Would I Buy It?~

Yes

~Would I Re-Read It?~

Yes


SST Review: All The Feels by Danika Stone

Let me first say that I am so happy I was able to read this book for the Sunday Street Team (created by Nori).

SST Graphic


All_The_FeelsTitle: All The Feels

Author: Danike Stone

Published: June 7th, 2016 (Swoon Reads)

Pages: 336

Genres: Contemporary

Themes: Fandom, Internet

Format: eARC

Source: Provided by Swoon Reads VIA Netgalley due to being on the Sunday Street Team

Rating: Three Stars

Goodreads Summary:

College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.

Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.

Barnes and Noble / Amazon / The Book Depository

~Review~

I had a hard time getting into All The Feels when I first started. I felt that Liv was being a bit over-dramatic over the loss of her favorite leading guy in a franchise. I’ll chalk up my feelings changing to watching a Degrassi reunion episode. As well as of course, my realization that I can totally connect with her. She comes across a bit dramatic but… I know I’ve definitely gotten that way (See any show that I’ve watched like, ever). Just yesterday I was really sad about an endgame couple in a series. I actually lose sleep over character’s deaths. I lose sleep BEFORE characters deaths. I will go into mourning, I will be angry, I will cry if I feel so compelled. Liv was a likable character even if at times I felt she was childish.

Drama_Queen

So sure, you can say Liv’s being over the top, but sometimes people just are over the top when they really love something.

I loved the idea for All The Feels. It deals with fandom which is something that I think a lot of people can relate to. It involves characters just going out and making things happen rather than just waiting for it.

I’m going to do this review in two sections:

What I Loved:

  • College, Yes!
    • I loved that Liv was a college freshman. I’ve talked about this quite a bit before, but I find college settings and classes to be so under-used. In All The Feels, Liv lives (ha) at home with her mom while taking classes at the local college.
  • Fandom – YES
    • Fandom is such a big part of so many people’s lives now. You can basically find a fandom for anything you like, it’s quite lovely. Liv is a big part of the Starveil fandom online, but she’s not huge. At least . . . not in the beginning. I really love seeing how she immersed herself into the online world. She used fandom as an outlet and I understand that in so, so many ways.
  • Bisexuality – Representation
    • There are a few conversations with one of the characters being bisexual. This was good to see as it was actually on page and discussed multiple times. As well as seen a bit.
  • Wish-Fulfillment
    • I love a good wish fulfillment story. I just do. Wish-fulfillment is basically where scenarios play out in fiction that you wish would happen in real life. I will say that All The Feels definitely has wish fulfillment moments, especially in the second half. Especially in the end.
  • Saving The Series
    • Liv dives into trying to save the franchise that she loves so much. Her first step? Putting together a video, attaching a hashtag #SpartanSurvived and posting it on a message board. Where it then goes viral! The impact of fans though, am I right? (See Veronica Mars Kickstarter / See Pretty Little Liars Petition). Fans are so passionate. I liked how she just went and did this thing after she was tired of just moping around. I felt it was really original how she did the videos. Plus, who DOESN’T want to go viral on the internet, at least sometimes? Now, having that known to the in real life masses may not be the greatest thing. . .
  • Xander’s Acting
    • I really liked seeing Xander being interested in acting. He definitely seemed like the type that would be good for that kind of thing. He ends up being in a few of Liv’s videos to save Starveil.
    • Acting
  • The Second Half
    • I loved the second half a lot more. It was definitely where things picked up and I liked the excitement. It takes place at Dragon Con which is an actual con, so it was really fun to read the fictional portrayal of that. Especially having come back from BEA (Book Expo America) just weeks ago, which while it isn’t a con, it gave me a sense of how Dragon Con was for Liv.
  • All of The Technology
    • I enjoyed reading the text conversations between Liv and Xander as well as the random Twitter conversations between Liv and other people in the fandom.

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Xander – A Bit
    • It was really hard to get my mind to wrap around Liv’s best friend Xander. At the beginning of All The Feels, we find out that they’ve been friends for a number of months since Liv started college. Xander had an interesting fashion choice in that it was quite Victorian and Steam-Punkish. He also talked in a flirty way to basically everyone. I felt like he was maybe a bit too larger than life.
      • Apparently part of his firtiness was calling Liv “Dearest” in every other sentence to her. I thought Xander and Liv spent a bit too much time together given that he has a girlfriend, but hey, that’s life for you. You can’t separate best friends just because one’s in a relationship. Still, if I’d been dating someone and this went on…I can’t say I’d be too happy.
  • Xander’s Girlfriend
    • All The Feels had one of the same minor issues that In Real Life by Jessica Love had. Xander has a girlfriend who is really nice to Liv and considers her a friend. Unfortunately, Liv says that “Sometimes she’s TOO likable.” I have a problem with this statement for a variety of reasons.
      • How are you going to say that someone is too likable? Why would you want to dislike someone?
  • Unresolved Subplots
    • Home Life
      • I felt like Liv’s home life could have been expanded on. A lot. We discover something about her dad and I wish I’d known more about that. It deals with why Liv is so into the fandom she’s into. Liv’s mom also has this awful boyfriend and I was hoping we’d get closure on that whole thing but nope.
    • Mental Illness
      • Liv has anxiety problems as well as depression, which is only touched on a little. As someone who’s definitely sought out the online world during these times, I really wished this had been expanded on a lot. I felt like I was still missing a piece of the love Liv had for the fandom by not knowing everything. I would have liked to know how she was managing (or not really managing) both of these things.
    • Fandom Personal Life
      • There was a minor plot of Liv’s mom being adamantly against fandom, yet somehow an event happens later in the book and I’m just asking myself “So how did THAT go down exactly? Did they discuss this? Was it not talked about? I don’t understand.” It was never discussed on page so I was left being a bit questioning. Part of the reason her mother is so against fandom is because of how Liv’s previously reacted with slacking off on school work and such. I really wished that had been touched on a lot more. I was just annoyed at her mom because I didn’t get the big deal.
  • Miscommunication
    • So, All The Feels had to throw in a bit of the dreaded miscommunication for good measure. This is done at the end of the book when everything is wrapping up. Why was this added in? I don’t even know. It seemed like one big “hurdle” before the big scene. I really didn’t like this at all and felt it was unnecessary. Especially given that the reason it happens doesn’t make sense because one person did the same thing the other person does previously.

~Overall~

I really liked All The Feels despite the things I didn’t like about it. It showed how much fictional death can affect people. I loved reading a book about a girl being in college while living at home. Xander was hard to swallow at times, but I really enjoyed his character too. I think it would have done better as a first person story as I could have gotten inside Liv’s head a lot more. I will read Stone’s future Young Adult books.


~Do I Recommend?~

Yes

~Who Do I Recommend It To?~

Fans of fantoms

Fans of the internet age

Anyone who’s ever felt sad over a fictional death

~Would I Buy It?~

Maybe.

~Would I Re-Read It?~

Yes.

~Other Random Notes~

Liv reminded me a lot of Cath from Fangirl.

Xander reminded me of a combination of Finch from All The Bright Places and Augustus from The Fault In Our Stars.


Review: Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Kill The Boy BandTitle: Kill The Boy Band

Author: Goldy Moldavsky

Published: February 23rd, 2016 (Scholastic)

Pages: 320

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Comedy, Mystery

Themes: Music, Fandom

Format: ARC

Source: ALA (Gifted from Val, her review)

Rating: Four Stars

Goodreads Summary:

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Purchase Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover Thoughts: I love the contrast between the girlyness and darkness of this book. The pink represents the girls and their love for the band and the black symbolizes that things are darker than first believed.

~Why I Wanted To Read~

I wanted to read Kill The Boy Band because it revolved around a group of girls, a band and was a dark comedy. 

~Impact On Me~

Now I am a fangirl. I am a fangirl about musicals. I am a fangirl about TV shows. I am a fangirl about BANDS. You may have been able to tell this by my nonstop Hamilton and Carly Rae Jepsen tweets, my blog posts about Steroline and Veronica Mars, as well as what is basically a love letter to Hilary Duff. I am just an all around, slightly insane, completely obsessed fangirl. This book was practically a love letter to me.

Obsessed

As a fangirl, I read Kill The Boy Band and laughed and nodded my head at the portrayals. Some of the extreme fangirls were quite off the rails with their behavior, from wearing diapers to concerts (Hey, it was done in Grey’s Anatomy during surgery, so why not?) to taking the blame for very serious events. They are 100% dedicated to their fandom and for that, the characters get all of my applause. They know each other’s Ruperts stats, from how many times they’ve seen them in concert to how many times they’ve seen them from a far. They keep posters, memorize songs, practically stalk them, etc. They love these guys.

Sixteen_Candles

First Line: People have called me crazy.

~Review~

What to say about Kill The Boy Band? I loved it and hated it. It made me laugh and roll my eyes. I wanted to hug it as well as throw it out my window. Did I have mixed thoughts about it? You bet. I related an unbelievable amount to it, from being a fangirl to loving music to living in the digital age. When I was in high school, I wasn’t directly involved in fandom, but I loved Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy. I would read so much band fiction by them all day and night. I would read them over and over. Their music was constantly played in my ears. What is band fiction, you may ask? It is fanfiction written about the band members. Yes, the living, breathing real life band members. I ate it up.

Lick it up

This was a fast paced book filled with fangirls, comedy, crazy antics, mystery and a quite a bit of darkness. It was addictive and difficult to put down. It is ridiculous, addictive, completely improbable, senseless and hysterical. Kill The Boy Band is supposed to be a fun book that doesn’t take itself very seriously. That doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t at times but let me continue.

Kill The Boy Band is a satirical take on fandom and mystery. It revolves around four girls who aren’t quite friends. They’re more like people who use each other for what they can get out of it.

Sloane, the main character, our narrator, supplies…nothing particular to the group, but she is friends with Erin.

Erin is the leader of the group you could say. She’s the one that everyone listens to and no one really goes against, except for Sloane.

Apple is rich, so she helps with money costs. Generally without anyone helping.

Isabel is a blogger-esque type person who runs a successful Ruperts news website, so she helps them stalk the guys. Of the four girls, Apple and Sloane are the most serious about the boys. Isabel mostly uses the band to get hits on her website and Erin, well, you’ll have to see. She’s a mysterious character with secrets for sure.

Friends

Really, the girls aren’t anything to each other, but they share one common interest, The Ruperts.

Confessiosn_of_Soul

The Ruperts are your basic parody boy band, ala One Direction, Jonas Brothers and Five Seconds of Summer. The Ruperts are a group of four guys who are all named Rupert. As you can tell, they’re a combination of the Jonas name in Jonas Brothers (without being related, mind you) and the reality show based, insane worldwide popularity of European boy band, One Direction.

This book absolutely played out like a movie for me, it reminded me of the 2004 movies, Sleepover and Stuck In The Suburbs along with some of the improbable and problematic elements found in 80s movies like Sixteen Candles and Heathers. Not only did it remind me of those teenage films, but Kill The Boy Band also seemed to take a spin on the popular ensemble teenage girl mysteries like Pretty Little Liars and Get Even. Now when it comes to ’04 movies and the 80s movies, I would say Kill The Boy Band is more like the former. It was entertaining, but didn’t push certain buttons, I’d say.

Just Once

When I started Kill The Boy Band, I adored it. It seemed like such a letter to the fandom. I loved it even more because it wasn’t a book fandom (like in Fangirl) or a show fandom (like in Gena/Finn), but a music fandom. I’m such a music fanatic that I know how a simple band can just be life changing for a person. I think a lot of society likes to make fun of girls for loving these big boy bands, but that’s something that’s gone on since the 90s with Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and 98 Degrees. It’s nothing new and yet it seems like if teenage girls love these bands and the boys in the bands, that they’re just being silly. Of course, it would be hard to find someone criticize a girl for liking Imagine Dragons, one of the biggest Alternative acts to come out in recent years. I loved how this book stood up for girls who love boy bands and justified their feelings while also questioning them. This book is so unapologetically for the girls. 

I thought the characters were a bit cliche, but I liked the main character a lot. I found Erin interesting, but she irked me a bit.

Allison

An interesting thing about the main character is that we’re never told her real name. I would like to believe this was done so readers could insert themselves into the story. Not unlike the self-insertion fanfiction that was popular when I was growing up. The main character is the voice of reason throughout Kill The Boy Band. She wants to do the good thing, the right thing. She wants to do what no other girls ever do in Pretty Little Liars and Get Even and admit she can’t handle a situation and go to the police. It was refreshing to see a girl go against the group mentality.

Ferris_Gif

While we’re not ever given the main character’s name, she does claim a few names when she’s talking to various people. Some of these names are Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman, Samantha Baker and Sloane Peterson. That last name is where the “Sloane” reference comes from in my review. Now, do any of these names ring any bells? Well, they’re the names of the female main characters in Dirty Dancing,

Lied

Sixteen Candles,

Sixteen_Candles_Gif

and Ferris Buller’s Day Off.

Marry_Me

Yes, our main character is a bit into 80s movies as well. I LOVED this about her. I think this is excellent because even without the names, this book felt so much like a movie of John Hughes, something fun but improbable and a definite daydream scenario. The main character is also a fanfiction writer! This was something I really loved about her, though I never really wrote fanfiction, I definitely toyed with the idea and read a ton.

I loved the initial plot with the girls accidentally kidnapping a guy from The Ruperts. It was even more amusing that it was the one that none of them liked except for Apple. Of course, this was also an annoying pain. Things definitely go from a little crazy to all out insane and the main characters find out some things they did not know before. This book did take me on an interesting ride.

Truth


~*~TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)~*~

Pros:

  • Fandom – I loved all of the fandom discussion: The fangirls, fanfiction, the talk of fans and their dedication, the detail of fangirling that went on, etc. It was was so realistic and well done. There was an unbelievable amount of pop culture in this novel from Instagram to Tumblr to Twitter, it was all mentioned and utilized.
  • Music – Music has always been a huge part of my life, especially in high school. I believed every ounce of these girls love for the band, even if I was never as extreme as they were. It was great to read a book revolving around music and how a band you’ve never met (or typically don’t ever meet) can impact you and make you feel. Their thoughts were realistic,
  • Main Character – While I found some of the main character’s comments annoying (I’ll go into slight detail below), I liked her a lot. I loved her love for 80s movies, the fact that she wrote fanfiction and how she was the sensible one in the group, that was nice.
  • Entertaining – This was a really entertaining book for me and easy to read. The writing style was great, though it did get a bit tell-ey rather than show-ey.

Cons:

  • Now that I’d discussed what I loved about Kill The Boy Band, it’s time to discuss the problematic elements that it contained. These problematic things boils down to three people really; Apple, Isabel and Rupert P.
  • Apple
    • Apple is a Chinese girl who was adopted in an orphanage after seen eating an apple off the floor. Now you’re probably thinking “Wait, they didn’t name her after the fruit she was eating, did they?” Yes. Yes they did. Believe me, I know how it sounds. I cringed when reading it. Kudos for diversity in making her Chinese but not like ‘typical’ Chinese characters? She’s fat, so that’s one less stereotype about her…

Racist

    • Now, what’s a girl with a name like Apple, whose first past experience involved eating a dirty fruit, supposed to be like? Let me tell you, she’s overweight. Really, it appears that she’s huge based on her descriptions, not of her size, but of how she’s portrayed. She’s constantly eating things, brings a SUITCASE full of popcorn to a hotel. A suitcase. Her strength is used to detain a person several times and she sexually harasses a person several times as well. It was really disturbing, but points for humor? Not really.

Hanna popcorn

  • Isabel
    • Isabel is a Dominican girl. So far so good, right? Well then, this is where that ends. Throughout Kill The Boy Band, Isabel is seen as a somewhat mysterious character with the main character believing she’s killed before, she’s related to the mob and/or she does other underhanded activities. Now this is all fine and good, but what ticked me off about this is that Isabel is Dominican. This seemed to play into the idea that of course Dominicans are the first to be involved in killing and in the mafia and what have you. To top it off, Isabel speaks broken spanish which doesn’t make sense, as the main character points out in her head. That’s not the best part though, Isabel’s broken spanish only occurs when she’s angry. So we have the angry, mafia related, broken spanish speaking Dominican character.
  • Rupert P.
    • Oh Rupert P. You were entertaining to begin with, so much really. I felt bad for your situation because of obvious reasons, you’d been knocked out, kidnapped, taped up, and harassed by a group of fans. On the other hand, you went off on these girls who were your fans. Then you went off on fans in general. I can’t say I blame you, no, not at all. I’d be pissed too if I were you. 

Band_Guy

    • Dare I say Rupert P reminded me of the author in The Fault In Our Stars? The main characters in The Fault In Our Stars and Kill The Boy Band both romanticize the idea of these people who have opened new worlds to them. They think they’re magical being practically who can do no wrong. That was definitely the case in Kill The Boy Band with Rupert P. Rupert definitely has his own secrets as well. . .

Youre_Really_Acting_Like_An_Asshole


~Final Thoughts~

Ending

The ending was surprising and I saw quite a bit of it coming. It was still entertaining and fun to read. Though I had problems with some of the characters portrayals, I liked Kill The Boy Band. This is a somewhat problematic book given the way Apple and Isabel are written. They both fall into stereotypes that can be hurtful. I did not like that about the book at all and wish it had gone into their backgrounds more. Instead, it felt like they were made Chinese and Dominican Republic just to claim diversity. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a light, yet darker contemporary novel. I rate it four out of five stars.


~Memorable Quotes~

(Taken from ARC, Subject To Change)

  • I was holding someone captive and all that was going through my mind was a Billboard Top 40 love song. I was going to hell.
  • They were just boys. Take away the band, the lights, the fame, and the screaming girls, and they were just boys, chosen for us to obsess over.
  • Did I love them because they were the only boys in my life who consistently told me that I was beautiful? Probably. I loved The Ruperts for who they were, sure, but I mostly loved them for how they made me feel. Which was happy. The Ruperts made me happy. The simplest thing to be in the world. And the hardest.
  • The joy you find as a teen, however frivolous and dumb, is pure, and meaningful. It doesn’t matter that it might ferment and taste different when you’re older.
  • Maybe it was obsession, but it was also happiness; an escape from the suckiness of everyday life. And when you find something that makes you happy and giddy and excited every day, us fangirls know a truth that everyone else seems to have forgotten: you hold on to that joy tenaciously, for as long as you can.

~Do I Recommend?~

Yes

~Who Do I Recommend It To?~

  • Fans of pop culture and fandom
  • People who love music a lot or love books about music
  • Fans of dark comedy like Heathers

~Would I Buy It?~

Yes

~Would I Re-Read It?~

Yes


Review: In Real Life by Jessica Love

In Real LifeTitle: In Real Life

Author: Jessica Love

Published: March 1, 2016

Pages: 240

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Format: eARC

Source: I was provided this eARC from St. Martin’s via Netalley in return for an honest review. 

Rating: Three stars

Goodreads Summary:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover Thoughts: I like the cover, but I would have liked it more if there was a bigger music focus in the book.

First Line: Friday

My best friend and I have never met.

~Why I Wanted To Read~

I have had high hopes for In Real Life since last year. A story involving two teens who have been friends for years but never met? Yeah, that is right up my alley.

~First Thoughts~

I loved being sent face first into Hannah and Nick’s friendship. It came across really natural.

~Review~

So, now that you know about my high hopes, I’m sad to say that I didn’t love this as much as I thought I would. I suppose it had my self induced hype to live up to, which could have had something to do with it. The characters didn’t exactly work for me. There was one thing that I didn’t particularly like at all, but it could just be a “me” thing.

Characters:

“Well, that too. But I was thinking rules are made to be broken.”

Yeah, that is what people say, but it goes against my Good Korean Girl DNA. Rules are meant to be followed–at least that’s what my parents, who aren’t Tiger Parents or anything but are still pretty serious, drilled into me starting the second I learned to crawl.

We first meet Hannah who is Korean and an overall good girl. She doesn’t take risks, and she’s hesitant and trustworthy. In Real Life seemed to play up Hannah’s obedient behavior to her being Korean, which was a little stereotypical to me. There was nothing shown to Hannah’s culture besides the fact that she’s well behaved and basically a perfect daughter. Then we have Hannah’s sister, Grace and Hannah’s best friend, Lo. Grace writes for a music website and is the rebellious daughter. Lo is Mexican and nothing about that was really brought up either.

To no surprise, both of these characters are Hannah’s outgoing opposites. I felt this was very formulaic in the story. It always seems like the main character is quiet, reserved and the basic good girl. This annoyed me because it seems to just be a common trope and I hate that.

While the supporting characters, in this case, Grace and Lo are the sort of rebellious ones who nudge Hannah into doing things she wouldn’t do. Grace and Lo are both convinced that there’s more going on between Hannah and Nick than she lets on, given they only know the basics. This causes Lo to wonder if Nick is even legit and who could blame her? I could relate so much to Hannah in this aspect. I certainly keep my longest, closest “online” friendship hidden from the majority of people, especially with details. Grace and Lo do some actions later in the book which made me shake my head a little given circumstances.

Of course, secrets are revealed when Hannah meets Nick. One of these secrets is the character Frankie. I liked Frankie, for a change she wasn’t a cliche mean girl who was “in the way” of the possible new relationship. Frankie is a bit famous in Vegas, she runs a popular blog for teens where she shares cool places for teens to go. Due to this, Frankie gets recognized everywhere as she goes along with Hannah and the gang. I liked Frankie quite a bit, which was surprising. When Hannah meets Frankie, she wants to hate her, but can’t, because Frankie’s so nice. I hated how whiny she was when it came to Frankie.I thought there was a bit of slut-shaming going on with Hannah’s thoughts towards Frankie. This was actually seen quite a few times. It really bothered me how much Hannah obsessed about it. I didn’t like that at all, but I guess they are real thoughts after all.

A couple examples of that:

I don’t want to like her. I want to punch her in the face. I want to make her disappear so I never have to look at her funky style and big ol’ boobs ever again.

“So you’re just going to let Frankie win? Just like that? Because she has a huge rack and knows some loser roadies from the Killers and gets free cheesecake?”

As for Nick, I liked his character. I didn’t feel connected to him much, but I thought he realistically handled some things. I bought his relationship with Hannah for sure. I felt like I got to know him well enough in the book. He did lie a bit about things, but I’m not sure if I blame him or not given they were small things. It was still sucky though for Hannah.

“I’d let my mind wander to off-limits territory of us, together.”

Plot:

Hannah, Grace and Lo go to Vegas on a whim to see Nick’s band perform play. Things really kick off when that happens and some things are made known. There was some wish-fulfillment in In Real Life. I didn’t like that very much, but I guess it made the story more compelling? I don’t really know. There’s some gambling done, a little bit of drinking done, running in and out of casinos, not to mention quite a large sum of money obtained. . . I feel like in Vegas, the gambling city of the world, as far as I know, would be a bit strict about this.

This little get together with Hannah, Nick, Grace, Lo and Frankie though soon expands to include Nick’s brother an another band member. Wouldn’t you know it, three (technically two) guys, so it’s now three girls and three guys. I’m sure you can read between the lines. This was a little too convenient for my liking, but I’ll shake that off as I have a bigger issue of sorts.

Hannah and Nick talk a lot in one night, which makes sense given that this is the first night they’re really meeting. However, I wasn’t completely okay with some of their discussions or actions. I felt there was quite bit of emotional cheating in here which I just hate. I thought Frankie was being betrayed, I didn’t like Hannah and Nick for talking so deeply as they had. I’m sure not everyone will see it that way though, which is fine. It had just bothered me quite a bit.


TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Things I Liked:

  • Feels – This book hit me hard with all kind of nostalgia and even current feelings. I’ve had a close friend online since I was 14 and we’ve been talking for almost nine years. Due to this, I really loved the relationship between Hannah and Nick. I have had so many of the same thoughts that Hannah has.
  • Flashbacks – The flashbacks helped me see how their relationship was, which was nice. I only wish that there had been even more flashbacks in the story.
  • True To Life – I loved that their relationship expanded beyond instant messaging and went to texting, calling, webcam and even mailing packages. Their relationship was pretty true to life for me.
  • Frankie’s Blogging – As a blogger, I could really relate to her passion for her blog. It was interesting to see how it impacted her relationship in real life with Nick.
  • Setting – They’re in Vegas, one of the most action-packed places ever. The city that never sleeps and has a lot of possibilities for a magical online meeting. It was fun to read about Vegas and I thought it got the atmosphere across well, though I’ve never been there.

 

Some Negative Things:

  • Passive MC + Outgoing, Rebellious Side Characters  – There’s the cliche of the good girl MC who has to have rebellious characters to nudge her along. Besides their nudging, they don’t do much else. When they do do something, Hannah gets upset because they weren’t there for her. I can agree with her feeling said, but I thought she was being a little selfish.
  • Slut Shaming – While Hannah never calls Frankie a slut, there is a lot of slut shaming. Most of this revolves around Frankie’s breast size. There’s the thought that Frankie attracted Nick with her breast size. I despised these thoughts, no matter how “realistic” they can be.
  • Frankie’s Portrayal – Frankie was made out to be the enemy to Hannah because of her relationship with Nick. She seemed to be “less than” because she was outgoing and confident and of course, her breast size. I hated how Hannah disliked her based off first impressions and who she was.
  • Emotional Cheating – I touched on this above, but I hate emotional cheating. There was a lot of that in In Real Life. Occasionally it went further than emotional cheating which just made me silently rage and shake my head.

~Final Thoughts~

Overall, I did enjoy In Real Life. I liked the set up, but the execution could have been better. Frankie was such a bright part, but again, much like Lo and Grace, she had to be Hannah’s opposite. Hannah could have been fleshed out more really beyond her good girl persona. It was so interesting to see how an actual meeting between two online friends plays out in real life. That was really fun to read about. I thought the ending was cute, though too fast given all of the circumstances. This was a cute read though.


~Memorable Quotes~

(Taken from ARC, Subject to Change)

I do wish we could go to the movies together or something normal like that, but we watch the same movies at the same time and mock them over video chat, which is pretty much the same thing.

It never feels like our conversations are over when we say good-bye. I always think of a hundred other things I want to say after I hit End on my screen, but I save it all for later, because there’s always a later with me.

And there have been times, especially recently, where a lyric struck me in such a deep way that I wished it were Nick who had written it, and that he’d written it just for me. It was an unusual thought, because that’s not how things are between us. Not at all. But there’s something about the music that takes my head to strange places.

And then there was the possibility we would meet in person and not even like each other. What if we didn’t get along? What if our differences, which were fun and interesting on the phone, were too much to bridge in real life? Meeting meant risking our friendship the way it was, and I wasn’t sure I could handle that.

How could I explain to her that despite everything that happened tonight, he is still my best friend? That I can’t just turn off four years of friendships like a light switch.

My best friend and I have never met. We talk every day, on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone. Like, deep into my soul. But we’ve never actually seen each other in real life.


~Do I Recommend?~

Yes.

~Who Do I Recommend It To?

Fans of long distance relationships

Fans of short timespan novels

~Would I Buy It?~

Yes

~Would I Reread It?~

Yes


Review: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend

SST Graphic

Hi everyone. Today I have a review for you as part of the Sunday Street Team hosted by Nori at Read Write Love 28.

Where_Youll_Find_MeTitle: Where You’ll Find Me

Author: Natasha Friend

Published: March 8, 2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR))

Pages: 272

Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary

Themes: Family, Friendship, Mental Illness

Format: eARC

Source: Sunday Street Team (curtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR))

Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Summary

The first month of school, thirteen-year-old Anna Collette finds herself…

Dumped by her best friend, Dani, who suddenly wants to spend eighth grade “hanging out with different people.”

Deserted by her mom, who’s in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt.

Trapped in a house with her dad, a new baby sister, and a stepmother young enough to wear her Delta Delta Delta sweatshirt with pride.

Stuck at a lunch table with Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker and Sarabeth the Irish Stepper because she has no one else to sit with.

But what if all isn’t lost? What if Anna’s mom didn’t exactly mean to leave her? What if Anna’s stepmother is cooler than she thought? What if the misfit lunch table isn’t such a bad fit after all?

With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna just may find herself on the road to okay.

Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover Thoughts: I love how cute the cover is. It’s really bright and attention seeking. The bicycle and girl really emphasize the slightly messed up childhood of Anna.

First Line: I used to think your friends were your friends no matter what, but that’s not how it works.

~Why I Wanted To Read~

What first drew my eye to Where You’ll Find me was seeing that it dealt with a girl named Anna who had a mentally ill parent. This is one of my favorite shorelines because I can relate to that. I was interested in seeing how Anna dealt with her ‘newfound’ family and lack of a best friend.

~Review~

I am such a fan of stories that revolve around friendship and family at the forefront. Where You’ll Find Me was exactly that. It was a refreshing change from reading stories that dealt with romance in some form. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of romance in books, but it’s always nice to read such a fulfilling friendship and family dynamic book. I loved seeing Anna’s relationships change throughout Where You’ll Find Me.

To say Anna’s dealing with a lot is a complete understatement. She’s left motherless (in a way), friendless and even family-less having to live with a father she doesn’t really know and his new family.

Anna was such a strong character and despite dealing with her mother’s mental illness, which matured her, she always acts her age. Anna grew up fast given her mother’s condition and her dad always being gone prior to the book’s beginning. Sometimes, in novels, characters will act older than they are because of their experiences. This isn’t bad, but I did like that Anna seemed like a regular thirteen year old girl who didn’t randomly drop philosophical thoughts. I really felt for Anna because she would blame herself for not noticing her mother spiraling down. Anna’s feelings were really varied, she was angry, sad, upset, scared, feeling guilty and of course, worried.

After Anna’s mother attempts suicide, Anna keeps the knowledge from people like her new friends she makes. I liked seeing Anna keep her family’s situation to herself and try to cope with it alone. This is so understandable because you never know how people will react. It was sad to see her think about her old friendship with Dani. Losing friends is always hard, especially when they’re the ones to leave.

The people Anna least expected to become friends with end up being the ones that accept her and welcome her. It was great to see so many interactions between Anna and her friends. She became closest friends with Sarabeth and Shawna. Both of them had interesting quirks and problems in their own lives. Sarabeth did irish clog dancing and Shawna has her own problem, which was trichotillomania (plucking hair). I was surprised to see trichotillomania in this novel since it’s not very well known. I liked how it helped Anna sort of “bond” with Shawna. Between Sarabeth’s silliness and Shawn’s sarcasm, I grew to really appreciate these girls in Anna’s life.

I liked that not only could I relate to Anna, but I could also relate to Marnie and Anna’s father. Marnie is my age and practically freshly out of college. Her wanting to go back to college made me nostalgic for my own college experience. I liked how she still wasn’t quite sure about where she was in life. I initially had reservations about Marnie because she was so young and married to someone so much older than her. Anna also had reservations about Marnie which was understandable. In the end, that didn’t matter to me. Marnie genuinely cared for Anna’s father as well as Anna.

I could unexpectedly relate to Anna’s father because he couldn’t deal with Anna’s mother mental illness. While cold, it seemed very true to life because not everyone can deal with such a serious thing. This dug a bigger ridge between his relationship with Anna which gradually changed.

I really liked how in addition to friends, Anna also had adults she could go to. There was Regina, her mother’s best friend, the school counselor and the English teacher who all reached out to her. It was nice to see that Anna wasn’t alone  when she was going through this, even though it seemed that way to her.

As for Anna’s mother, she was an interesting character as well. In the beginning, she’s just diagnosed with depression but is later diagnosed with something else. I thought the portrayal of this mental illness was really well done. It was realistic to see how differently her mother would act and Anna never knowing how her mother would be.

I loved that despite Anna’s mother having a mental illness, her and Anna got along well a lot of the time, before the suicide attempt. Having a parent attempt suicide is an unbelievably hard thing to go through, due to this Anna is more reserved with her mother, which isn’t a surprise. Anna’s mother was constantly at the forefront of Anna’s mind. So much that Anna couldn’t sleep, would wake up from nightmares and have to leave class. The effects were so well done, relatable and intense in how ‘deep she would get in with the worrying. My heart broke over her not being able to get a break from worrying.

~Final Thoughts~

At the end of Where You’ll Find Me, Anna’s voice was finally really heard in the school talent show. It was a great progression from who she was in the beginning to who becomes. I found it hard to read the ending because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay in Anna’s world and see how she grew up in high school and dealt with her mother.

Mark this as the book to get me more interested in Middle Grade fiction. In the past, I never thought about reading middle grade fiction, especially being a bit older than the main characters. Where You’ll Find Me showed that it doesn’t matter how old the characters are, I can still relate a lot to preteens and early teens.

Where You’ll Find Me is a book with substance that I enjoyed a lot. I love the references at the end for middle graders who may have parents with mental illness. This is an emotional, heartfelt and fun book to read. Although it was dark with Anna’s mother, it had a lot of lightheartedness with Marnie and Anna’s friends. Friend did a great job at combining everything into this beautiful book.


~Memorable Quotes~

(Taken from ARC, subject to change)

  • For a moment I forget all about my mom and it feels so good.
  • The tension is so thick I almost wish it were a school day so I had somewhere to go.
  • Funny what you remember.
  • I wonder if this is what my mother feels, like a house in the middle of the night. Black and silent. Bottomless.
  • I hate when that happens. When the perfect bubble you’ve been blowing pops in your face.
  • You know how depression hits?…It’s like an avalanche. No warning. You’re just knocked off your feet. You reach for a ledge… no ledge. You reach for a branch…no branch. You just keep falling. When you hit the bottom, everything around you settles like concrete. You’re up to your neck and you can’t move. All you can do is wait.

~Do I Recommend?~

Yes

~Who Do I Recommend It To?~

  • Fans of Contemporary Middle Grade
  • Middle Graders seeking deeper issue books
  • Anyone dealing with a parent who has a mental illness

Joint Reviews: Violent Ends & This Is Where It Ends

Hi everyone. For today’s reviews, I thought I’d try something new and do a joint review. I read both of these books really close together for this exact purpose. Let’s just say it was a bit emotional and maybe not my best idea!

I’ll be doing reviews over Violent Ends and This Is Where It Ends, both which deal with school shootings in different ways.

Before now, I never read a book that was based around a school shooting, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially with Violent Ends given it was written by so many authors. Both of these books are incredibly timely given the rate that school shootings are happening. Knowing how often school shootings happen can really make reading these books terrifying. I find that I do radiate towards the darker topics such as shootings, drugs or human trafficking. When I knew these two books were coming out, I knew I was going to request them immediately.

I think school shootings are really interesting due to so many variables there are with the shooter. Was the shooter mentally ill? Was the shooter really angry? Are they completely inhumane? Were they just misunderstood? Could it have been prevented or was it unpreventable? Reading these two novels gave me a closer look at those questions as well as the humane and inhumane sides there are to shooters.


Violent EndsTitle: Violent Ends

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson (Editor), Kendare Blake, Steve Brezenoff, Delilah S. Dawson, Trish Doller, Margie Gelbwasser, E.M. Kokie, Cynthia Leitich Smith , Tom Leveen, Hannah Moskowitz , Elisa Nader, Beth Revis, Mindi Scott, Neal Shusterman, Brandon Shusterman, Courtney Summers, Blythe Woolston, Christine Johnson

Published: September 1, 2015 (Simon Pulse)

Pages: 384

Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Anthology

Format: eARC

Source: Simon Pulse VIA Edelweiss (This in no way affect my review)

Rating: Four Stars

Goodreads Summary:

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.

First Line: Susanna Byrd turned nine that Thursday morning at 7:17 a.m.

~Review~

Violent Ends is a cohesive collection of seventeen stories all revolving around the characters affected by a school shooting. Each of the stories was edited by Shaun David Hutchinson.

You know those books you start and almost immediately regret? Well this was Violent Ends for for. Before you cross it off though, you may want to wait. Violent Ends wasn’t badly written, on the contrary, with writers such as Neal Shusterman and Hannah Moskowitz, it was very well written. My favorite stories were Feet First, Hypothetical Time Travel and History Lessons.

~Specific Things I Enjoyed~
  • The idea to make this an anthology with so many different authors taking this character into their own hands was really original.
  • I liked how different each of the stories were from each other. Some were serious and some were lighter. They were pre-shooting, post-shooting and even during the shooting, these helped give a fuller picture.
  • I loved the different sides they showed of the shooter, Kirby. There were times when I’d think “He was good or okay” and then something would happen or I’d remember the shooting and change my thinking. He’s not portrayed as all good or all evil and I liked that. I felt empathy towards him and I’d feel anger towards him as well.
  • The focus of the stories were always somewhat based around Kirby and how he affected the characters. Some of the characters were a childhood friend, a relative, a teacher and the gun itself.
  • I found it to be very addicting, I kept wanting to read more and continue after every story.

 

-Some Things I Didn’t Enjoy-
  • In a couple of the stories, I found that they’d made Kirby to be a bit of a somewhat “hero” at times. I’m not saying he was fully bad, but he helped two characters in similar ways and I didn’t understand the case for one of them because it was so random.
  • At times it felt like Kirby was this manic pixie dream guy who a lot of people were fascinated with for whatever reason.
  • Not all of the stories “worked” for me, but that’s okay.

~Overall~

Violent Ends gave me an interesting perspective of school shootings after only seeing them portrayed in television shows. I liked being inside characters heads that were impacted by the shooting and seeing how that affected them. I loved how there was a constant picture of Kirby in every story and that I saw part of what led to the shooting. I would recommend this book.

 

~Quotes~
  • Something tragic happens to the world every minute of every day, and nowhere is really safe, but home is the only place we really have to go back to in the end.
  • Everyone keeps asking the same question. Everyone wants to know–needs to know–if there was some sign of something broken inside of Kirby. They want proof that he was a monster from the start. They want to take comfort in the idea that it takes a special kind of evil inside a person to kill like that.
  • I never told them what I knew to be the truth. That he meant to save me.

This Is Where It EndsTitle: This Is Where It Ends

Author: Marieke Nijkamp 

Published: January 5, 2016 (Sourcebooks Fire)

Pages: 292

Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, School shooting

Format: eARC

Source: Sourcebooks Fire VIA Netgalley (This is no way affects my review)

Rating: Four Stars

Goodreads Summary:

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

First Line: The starter gun shatters the silence, releasing the runners from their blocks.

~Review~

My heart is heavy as I try to write this review. Unlike Violent Ends, This Is Where It Ends takes place primarily during a school shooting. It’s told through four point of views, Sylvia, Autumn, Tomas and Claire. I liked the role each character played in the story. This Is Where It Ends has some of the prettiest language I’ve read.

 

-Specific Things I Enjoyed-
  • I enjoyed reading about the hobbies that students had, namely Claire with track and Autumn with dancing.
  • We live in such a technological age that almost everyone is on at least one type of social media. I loved seeing Twitter and blog posts scattered throughout This Is Where It Ends.
  • For being in Alabama, there was a great number of diversity in this book. There were queer characters, people of color, and disabled characters. I found the latter to be the most compelling given how difficult it would be in a situation as a shooting and being limited by the disability. While I liked the diversity–a ton–I felt it was a little out of place. This is Alabama we’re talking about and a small town at that.
  • I thought the different settings that took place really helped the story come alive. If the story had only taken place in the auditorium, that would have been interesting too though since it’d seem like a more tense situation.

-Some Things I Didn’t Enjoy-
  • Sibling Pairs- There are two pairs of siblings in this story and three out of four siblings have point of views in the novel. It was hard to remember who was who at times.
  • Shooter- I felt the shooter was a bit bland, they seemed to be portrayed as the bad guy with no real characteristics other than a somewhat sad homelife, I suppose.
  • Length-I wish there were more time in the auditorium and I wish the book was longer.

 

~Overall~

I liked This Is Where It Ends, but I didn’t love it. I was honestly a little let down about it because I’d heard so many praises.It was heartbreaking.  I do think it’s a good story and I loved the writing. However, it didn’t really ‘click’ with me. I wish I was able to learn more about the characters, but I liked how “in the moment” it was, given the obvious point that it takes place over 54 minutes. I will definitely look out for the author’s next book.

 

~Quotes~
  • It’s as if all of Opportunity falls away. We’re lost between making a home and escaping one. It won’t be long before our secrets choke us, before she finally realizes I don’t deserve her and she leaves me too.
  • Only dancing keeps me alive. It will free me. And I can’t let anything get in the way of that.
  • This is my team. This is where I belong. Here and now, we are everyone.
  • If I were in the auditorium, I’d want someone to come for me. I’d want there to be hope.
  • Despite being a thousand against one, we are powerless.
  • He’s comfortable with our fear.
  • Together we could be so strong, but the gun has made us individuals.
  • We’re more than our mistakes. We’re more than what people expect of us. I have to believe that.
  • If I don’t get out of here, what will be left of me? Who will remember me? It’s easier to know who I’m not, than to know who I am. When everyone expects me to fail, it’s easier to give up than to try.
  • We’ll watch the stars fade and the moon disappear.
  • Getting out alive is no longer the goal–not dying yet is.
  • There is nothing left but pain. Flashes of life and flashes of intense darkness. Noise. Everything hurts.
  • This is where we leave Opportunity around.

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