Category: Books

How to Make Friend with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

How to Make Friend with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Content: Grief, teen struggle awareness

Synopsis: It has always been Tiger and her mother against the world. So what happens when you lose the one person you thought would always be there? Darkness begins to surround Tiger as she navigates through grief, the foster care system, and deciphering the mystery around who her father is.

 

This book had me hooked right from the beginning. One of the things I really enjoyed was that it never felt like there were “filler” chapters. All of the content was written with a purpose and it made it such an easy read, while still having a lot of depth. The author covers a variety of issues that teens go through; loss of a parent or loved one, addiction, the struggles and downsides of the foster care system in the United States, as well as dealing with the darkness that comes with it all. The darkness that falls on your mind and your body. I think it definitely helps that the book is based on true events, the authenticity shines through every page.

The characters in this book were all very enjoyable. There was a lot of development in each of them and you get lots of background into what made them the way they are today. Our main character, “Tiger” aka Grace, goes through so much development and truly does go through the 5 stages of grief. Her mom is the only person she has ever really been able to rely on her entire life. They are living paycheck to paycheck and that comes with it’s own struggle once her mother passes away. Since she has no other known family, as her mom kept her dads identity a secret all these years, she ends up in the foster care system. She meets some other kids and teens along the way and truly has to find out who she is without her mother there to take care of her.

I wish I could go into more about what I loved about this book, but I don’t want to give anything away and think you should discover all of the wonderful things about this book on your own. So go read it, now!

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Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Rating: (5 / 5)

Genre: Poetry

“There are things I cannot control

and memories I can never erase,

and in the times I don’t feel whole,

I will always search for your face.

You are every star burning in the sky,

you are every golden leaf in the tallest tree,

you are a pattern, a snowflake, and every firefly,

and I will still love you even when we’re eighty-three.

I will stand by you in every new day

even when people seem so unkind

because you are beautiful despite what they say

and you are everything I’ve wanted to find.

For all the places in which we go

for one day you might be my wife,

I think we both already know

I am yours in every life.”

First off, I am obsessed with this collection of poetry. There is Pillow Thoughts I, II, and III (to be released in Aug).

One of my favorite things about this poetry collection is that the author has divided them into categories depending on your mood/what you’re going through. Heartbreak, being in love, losing yourself, etc. I feel like anyone can relate to her poetry in their own way. I love authors that do this division because it makes it easier for me to read only poems that I need during that time. It’s a great strategy.

The other thing I enjoy is that this book is written by a member of the LGBTQ community. And it is insanely successful! Look how far we’ve come, reading about the love between two women. It really makes my heart whole. While I can’t relate to certain words or phrases depending on the piece, I can still relate overall to most of the poems. I’ve loved and lost, I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve felt a little lost sometimes. Overall she does an amazing job making the poems personal, while still expressing herself in a way that others can sympathize with.

Lastly, I just love her writing style. Poetry is very hit or miss for a lot of people based upon what style of writing they enjoy. Personally, I really enjoy her writing style and the way she verbalizes her thoughts and feelings. I love the flow, I love the way the words form together into something beautiful and heartfelt. That’s what poetry is all about – making you feel something.

I highly recommend these poetry collections for all ages/stages of life.

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Summer 2019 Reading List

Summer 2019 Reading List

Hey y’all! I’m back this year with another summer reading list for those of you who want some awesome reading material this season.

There is a mix of genres, and I haven’t read every book (but definitely own every book) on this list. All books come with very high recommendations. So let’s get started!

 

 

 

  • How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
  • The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
  • Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman
  • ‘Frostblood’ series by Elly Blake

(Frostblood, Fireblood, Nightblood)

  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  • I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney
  • To Kill a Kingdom by Alexanda Christo
  • ‘Throne of Glass’ series by Sarah J Maas

(Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Assassin’s Blade (prequel), Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Town of Dawn, Kingdom of Ash)

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The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Content: Teen suicide

Synopsis: Since her brother committed suicide, Lex has been trying to close herself off to everyone around her and keep her grief in check. But memories of her brother follow her around and Lex has yet to tell anyone about her secret – a text her brother sent that could have changed the course of her life, and his.

** First thing I would like to say about this book is that it can be very triggering from some people so please be advised, only read it if you’re in a good mindset. **

Overall, I loved this book. It seriously gave me all the feels. Lex is such a relatable character – just a nerdy girl trying to get into MIT and is a bit of a nobody in high school. The way she navigates through life after her brother’s untimely death is something that I think anyone who has lost someone can sympathize with. She goes through the usual steps of grief, including lots of anger. She struggles with not wanting to feel anything, and brushes off her emotions on a regular basis. She likes to go through the motions of her life after her brother’s suicide. The author is able to accurately depict how Lex would be feeling during this difficult time, as the author actually did lose her brother to suicide in 1999. I really enjoyed the way the author formulated thoughts and feelings throughout the novel and it made me feel like I understood how the character was feeling, even though I have not gone through quite the same tragedy. It still felt relatable to me, which I think is really important in a book.

The writing style was really great and it was an easy read, without being too simple. I think the way the author articulates Lex’s thoughts is really fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (even though I cried many times). You get to know and love the other characters throughout the book and really relate to a lot of them in different aspects. The book made me also feel a lot more self aware – she goes over how people react to others who have gone through these tragedies and I am guilty of all of the cliches. “Time heals all wounds”, “I know how hard this must be for you”, etc. etc.

Lastly, it really opened my eyes to how my death would impact those around me. As we all know by now, I have issues with suicidal thoughts/ideations. I have never really cared to think what my death would mean to the people that love me. This book really showed me how significant an event that would be for my loved ones, and I really appreciate that. Sometimes we really do feel like it would be for the best and we would be ridding people of a burden, but that’s not the case. You don’t think of the bad times when someone passes away; the annoyances they’ve caused, the fights you’ve had.. You think of all the amazing memories you shared together and it feels like there’s quite literally a hole in your chest. And I would hate to put anybody through that pain. So thank you, Cynthia Hand, for writing this novel. I think myself and many others needed to hear this refreshing viewpoint.

Highly recommend this book.

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Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Rating: (4 / 5)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Content: Mental illness, tragedy, self growth

Synopsis: Ingrid used to travel all over the global with her opera star mother. But life now is not at all the way it was. Now, Ingrid is on a wilderness survival retreat for at-risk teenagers. She is surrounded by addicts, runaways, criminals.. She feels totally out of place and must overcome her demons in order to survive and not be broken.

 

Yes, my synopsis is vague! I cannot give too much of this book away because I want people to go into it with an open mind. I won’t lie, I struggled to get into this book. It was an easy read, but it didn’t seem to have as much depth as I thought it would after reading the synopsis on the back. However, it grew on me about half way through, and the ending – WOW!! Did not at all see it coming. Plus, it’s by a Canadian author!

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the fact that it switches from past to present. You get lots of background this way, without it feeling like it’s dragging on and on. Some things don’t seem super relevant at first but once you look at the book as a whole, you understand why the author included certain story lines and pieces of information.

The other aspect I liked was it’s focus on mental health and different teen issues as well. I think it’s a really important book in this day and age, as we are starting to finally open up more about different illnesses and issues that plague society. Troubled homes for teens, depression, eating disorders, etc. The author does a great job of addressing different problems that face people today and really brings it to light. The one thing I will say, is that I wish we learned a little bit more about certain characters.

That being said, I took off a star because of the lack of character development. Not necessarily with the main character, but the supporting ones. Some of the characters really intrigued me and I wish that there was more written about them. She does focus on one of the people Ingrid grows close to at the retreat, but other than that we don’t get to know the others very well. In a way I feel bad criticizing that, as I think it reflects the fact that Ingrid did not bond with these people quite as much, but I think it would have added a little more to the story and make it a little more interesting if there was more dialogue between some of the other characters.

Lastly, I really enjoy how much we get to see into Ingrid’s head. By the end of the book, I felt as if she was my own friend. We really get to understand her thoughts and feelings, her frustrations, her triumphs, her demons.. I think that’s a really important part of a book for me, is feeling like I really get to know the protagonist on a personal level.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book! Although, I’m not sure how much the older crowd would enjoy it. It’s definitely “teen” literature.

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Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas

(Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, Kingdom of Ash, The Assassin’s Blade [prequel])

Rating: (5 / 5)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Content: Assassins, War, Supernatural, Faeries, Magic

Favorites of the series: Heir of Fire & Empire of Storms

 

Synopsis: Calaena Sardothien is best known as Adarlan’s Assassin. She has spent her life learning and training to become the best. But once she is imprisoned in one of the kingdom’s most brutal salt mines, she goes off the grid. Some think she’s dead. But when a mysterious prince comes to give her an offer, her whole life will change. Stay in the salt mines, or become the kings champion – the one to deal with his dirty work and get rid of anyone he orders to death. She quickly becomes engrossed in a world full of politics, danger, and unknown ancient forces. Will she survive, or will it prove to be too much for even the best assassin to handle?

 

I have been absolutely dying to review this series for you all. It is one of the best, well written books I’ve ever read. The plot line is so intricate and wonderful, I have no words! There are constantly different plot twists and I absolutely love how surprised I was at every turn. The pacing of these books are so fantastic – they’re perfect! I can’t even say enough good things about this series and of course they’re by one of my favorite authors. So, let’s get into it!

Our main heroine, Celaena, is one of my favorite female protagonists of all time. She is Adarlan’s assassin. One of the most well-known assassins in the kingdom. She is bold and brave and such a badass woman I can’t even begin to tell you. She has been enslaved by the king for about a year, working in the salt mines. She has managed to survive the rough conditions and still has that raging spirit left in her. The background of her story, which I cannot get into in order to avoid spoilers, is to complex and really well done. You learn more and more about her and her past with every book. The author does a great job of developing her character.

Next is the plot twists – which are amazing and obviously I cannot reveal them to you. But I can’t say enough about how much this series surprised me and made me have to put the book down for a second just to recover and find my composure. The author does a great job of maintaining interest and I swear there’s a plot twist in every single book of the series. Yes, there’s a ton of books in the series. But they were all so different and special in their own way that I never found myself getting bored of reading them. I whipped through the first book in a couple of days and the rest of the series (excluding the last one as I had to wait for it to come out) in a matter of weeks. I couldn’t seem to put them down and was dying to read the next one whenever I finished another.

The universe. Oh my goodness y’all – the universe Sarah J. Maas creates is just so beautiful and wonderful. The history, the places, the storylines. It’s really fantastic, just as it is in ACOTAR series (my other favorite). She spent so much time really creating this fantasy world. Rumors of how magic used to be around and all of the sudden was outlawed and unavailable to those who once wielded it. The rulers and diplomats. The politics of it all. Really, it’s so enjoyable to read and get to know and love the different lands in this series. They’re also very descriptive and well written. Sarah’s writing style just blows me away every time I read something written by her.

I would highly recommend this series to all age groups. It’s appropriate enough for young adults, but still has enough going on and mature content that it’s a great read for adults as well. Go pick it up at your local book store, now!

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Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

(Vampire Academy, Frost Bite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice)

Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Content: Vampires, Elemental Magic, War

Favorite of the series: Shadow Kiss

 

Synopsis: Rose Hathaway has been on the run with her best friend, Lissa, for the last year. She is a dhampir, a half human half vampire, and her best friend is a Moroi, a full-blooded vampire. Not only is she a vampire, but she is the last Dragomir princess. They also have a one-way psychic connection, in which Rose can see through Lissa’s eyes. When they are caught and brought back to the academy, strange things start happening to Lissa, who has yet to specialize in an element. Follow Rose while she navigates romance, high school, and saving her best friend from herself.

 

Where do I begin?!

I love the elemental magic aspect of this book. One of the reasons being that it really shows the difference between the Moroi and the Strigoi. The Moroi are considered “still living” in that they can control their magic and do not live forever. The Strigoi are not living, they have no soul any longer. They lose their magic and they are immortal. I love that they are immortal because it really makes sense that Moroi and Dhampirs would choose to turn. It makes you understand the draw and the motivation to become these creatures.

Another part I loved about the book is the social dynamic between Dhampirs and Moroi. Moroi are considered “royalty” and better then dhampirs. In fact, marriage between dhampirs and Moroi is frowned upon and socially unacceptable. Dhampirs spend their entire lives training to be protectors of the Moroi and constantly have their lives at risk from Strigoi. It’s much more common for males to be protectors and dhampir women stay in villages and have lots of children and are usually considered “blood whores” in that they allow Moroi men to feed on them and use them for sex. It’s a huge topic in this book series and I really loved it.

I really enjoyed the history of St Vladimir (the founder of the academy) and his dhampir protector Anna. I can’t go too much into detail without revealing some spoilers, but it was extremely interesting to read and unravel. St Vladimir is secretly said to never have specialized just like Lissa. Hmm, intriguing right?

Finally, the romance. It’s so dang sweet! I can’t say who it’s between until you’ve read through the first and second book but it’s extremely adorable and I can’t express how much I loved that part of the book.

This was one of my favorite series when I was a teenager. Sometimes when you read that type of series as an adult, it loses you. That was not the case with this series, I loved it even more as an adult! So, I really would recommend it for any age group (13 and up). It’s one of my must reads for you guys!

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Rating: (4 / 5)

Genre: YA Literature

Content: Societal issues

 

Synopsis: Sam is your typical high school popular girl. Close group of friends, good home life, and happily naïve to the world around her. One day, after a party, her and her friends get into a car accident and she dies. But then she wakes up the next day. Only, she realises she’s woken up the morning of the death – again. And again. And again. It’s a never-ending cycle of living the same day over and over again. Can Sam change the day enough to prevent her own death and stop this cycle?

 

This was a really great read if you enjoy social issue books with a message to society. It had a lot to do if self awareness, social standings, and interactions with others.

This book is very much similar to a Groundhog Day story. Our main character, Sam, must relive the day she dies in a car accident over and over. At first, she’s confused, and then she believes it’s a second chance and that she can change something and prevent her death. When she continues to wake up on the same day, she gets angry. She can’t figure out why she keeps reliving her death day. She begins to realize that she may not be as good of a person as she thought she was.

One thing I will say is that the ending made the entire book worth the read! I didn’t expect it and it gave me all the feels. Our main character goes through a huge amount of growth and becomes very self aware. She begins to realize how her interactions with others truly effect the people around her. As a high school student, she deals with the issues of social standings and luckily, is one of the popular girls. She has a good home life and never goes through too many struggles. Then we meet Juliette, who has been made fun of for a very long time and is a loner. Sam thinks Juliette is a freak just like everyone else, because that’s what she has been forced to believe based on the opinions of her close friends. She hasn’t even really had many interactions with Juliette yet thinks that she knows what she’s all about. The story really goes to show how little you can rely on the opinions of others, especially in high school when everything is filled with drama.

I really enjoyed the message that this book portrayed. I think that was one of the biggest lasting impacts that it had on me. It had a great message. I would definitely recommend that you give it a read!

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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

(Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me, Restore Me)

Rating: (3.5 / 5)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Content: Post-apocalyptic, Superhumans

Favorite of the series: Ignite Me

 

Synopsis: Juliette has a touch that is fatal – anyone she makes physical contact with, dies. The Reestablishment has plans to break her out of the insane asylum she has been sent to and train her to use her as a weapon for their cause. But will Juliette do so willingly? Or will this newfound freedom make her crave a better life for herself?

 

I sincerely wish I could give these books a better rating, but I must be honest with you guys! I had a difficult time getting through these books. Not because the plot didn’t hold up, but because of the writing style. In the first book, you’ll notice a lot of sentences that are crossed out. This is meant to be because of the chaos that goes through Juliette’s head as well as the fact that she is so used to writing since being in the insane asylum she was sent to. I understand the purpose of the author’s writing style and can totally appreciate it, but it made it a difficult read for me.

My favorite character in the book is Warner, gasp! I know, I know. But before you get heated about this, read all 4 of the books and you’ll understand why I enjoyed his character so much.

One of the things I’m disappointed about in this book is the lack of character development. As far as some of the other key people in the series, you don’t get too much of a back story or get to know too much about them and their personalities. It seemed very lacking to me and we all know how much I love some good character development. I felt that some of them could have gone farther into detail without straying from the plot or making the book slow. It just always felt like there was something missing from many of them. However, Warner had a lot of development throughout the books so I was happy about that.

The first book overall was not as great as I had hoped it would be, but I will say that they get progressively better! If you’re okay to hold out a little, it’s a decent read. The other books I enjoyed for the most part. I would definitely recommend this series, but I think they’re only for certain audiences.

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Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush Hush Series by Becca Fitzpatrick

(Hush Hush, Crescendo, Silence, Finale)

Rating: (3.5 / 5)

Genre: YA Supernatural

Content: Fallen Angels, Nephilim, War

Favorite in the series: Crescendo

 

Synopsis: Nora is an average teenage girl who excels in school and hangs out with her best friend in her free time. Her world was turned upside down when her father died, but life must go on. One day, she meets a mysterious new student, Patch. He looks like your typical bad boy, and although Nora is weary of him, she can’t help her attraction towards him. She quickly becomes engulfed in a world she didn’t know existed and is put in harms way at every turn. Read as she navigates school, romance, unraveling her father’s murder, and having her own life endangered.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this series. Although I do have a pet peeve with our main lady, Nora. Throughout the series, aside from the last book, she seems very weak. There isn’t much in the way of character growth for her and I found that it really made me enjoy reading a little bit less. It seemed very redundant a lot of the time which was very frustrating. Also, I did not love the romance in this book. I thought they were not well matched and were constantly fighting and not stable. I thought that it kind of set a bad example of relationships for younger readers, so I would not recommend reading this as a 12-16 year old, even though that’s the audience it is meant for. I think it can give a misconception and isn’t healthy for them to idolize. However, I did enjoy Patch as a character regardless of the ill-fitted romance.

Now that I got the negatives out of the way, let’s go over the good aspects of this book! The plot really was spectacular. I was constantly surprised in every book and the pace of these surprises was effective and spread out between all four books. I’m usually pretty good at guessing plot twists, but not with this series! Learning more about Nora’s dad’s death was really intriguing and I could not for the life of me figure out who murdered him and why. This book is also filled with tons of betrayal. You never know who to trust and it is very upsetting! But like in a wow this is a good book kind of way.

Last but not least, the history of the characters is very good in this series. The history of the fallen angels vs the Nephilim is complex and very interesting! Basically, the fallen angels cannot feel anything physically. This becomes frustrating for them, but they realize that at a certain time of the year, they can invade a Nephilim’s body and live through them. This is very enticing, so it becomes very common and causes the Nephilim to be afraid of losing control of their own bodies. There is lots of resentment on the Nephilim side because of this and it begins a centuries long war. This war between them ends up being a central theme throughout the books.

Overall, would recommend this series but probably for young adults rather than teens because of the romance aspect I mentioned. I also think this book is only for certain people and may not be enjoyed by some.

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