Monday, October 27, 2014

Review of Fault Line by Christa Desir

Fault Line
Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

Most people probably expect stories about rape to be from the victim’s perspective, but that’s not the case with Fault Line.  Desir’s novel is all about a boy named Ben who starts dating a girl named Ani shortly before she is sexually assaulted at the party.  Fault Line offers a fresh, well written, and emotional perspective on sexual violence.

I’ve seen other reviews complain about character development, so we’re going to start there.  Ben and Ani really only date briefly before the assault, and some people complain that Ani felt underdeveloped and wondered why Ben stayed with her.  I actually thought that this was an extremely important element of how Ben deals with Ani’s assault—perhaps staying with her isn’t the best thing for either of them, but he stays with her because he thinks it’s right.  Fault Line is about narrative and what happens to Ani.  How is Ben letting his story affect her?  Should he be thinking more about how the assault affected Ani or himself?  I love the fact that teen readers will pick up this book and get to think about whether the way Ben behaved was right or wrong.  Ben is a little stubborn which can make him hard to like, but to me what matters is how realistic he is.

Desir’s plotting is quick: no time is wasted in getting to the action of this story.  The ending of this book is emotionally tough because the reader has grown attached to these characters, but doesn’t necessarily get a lot of answers. It’s messy and a little confusing, which is exactly the type of experience Ben has.

I cannot stress enough what a valuable and important book this is.  Desir takes an extremely relevant topic and deals with it in a way that young adult literature hasn’t seen too often before.  Fault Line may be short, but it will send your heart through the wringer and pack a lot of punch as you read it.

Other reviews:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review of The Geography Of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

 Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.
A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too. 

(Summary from GoodReads)

After loving The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight but being disappointed in This Is What Happy Looks Like, I considered The Geography of You and Me to be Jennifer E. Smith’s last chance. Would I read her books again or not?  Smith’s latest was a cute but still slightly flawed reading, making her an author whose books I’ll only be getting from the library from now on.

Although Smith doesn’t always characterize place accurately, her descriptions of it are vivid, and make the reader feel like he or she is there, which is definitely the case in The Geography of You and Me.  I really got to know what places were important to Lucy and Owen, and I loved how much I learned about Owen in this process.  As much as I wanted to adore and root for Lucy, I felt like her character wasn’t fleshed out enough.  She struck me as an incredibly ordinary person without a lot of interests.

Smith’s prose manages to shine through in this novel.  I always turn to her when I look for prose that has a nice balance of loveliness, romance, and heartache.  She manages to make very sweet observations about romance.

I guess what I really noticed as I read this book is that Smith’s novels are starting to feel formulaic.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl are separated for whatever reason, and then by chance end up back together.  I may be oversimplifying, but I feel like she’s putting out the same story over and over again. It’s nice to know what to expect from her, but in some ways I’d almost be more interested in her future work if she did something a little different.

Disclosure: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

YA Mini-Reviews

Graffiti MoonLucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.
Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.
Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn't the best way to show it.
Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.
An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.
A lyrical new YA novel from the award-winning author of Chasing Charlie Duskin and the Gracie Faltrain series.
(Summary from GoodReads) 


Graffiti Moon is a book I picked up because I’d heard great things about Cath Crowley’s writing.  While I think Cath Crowley is a good writer, I wouldn’t say I’m the Target audience for this book.  I always struggle a little bit with books about artists, but as someone who isn’t an artist, I don’t always get it.  For example, I thought it was really cool that Lucy was into glassblowing, but I didn’t really get why she wanted to track down the graffiti artist.  Crowley’s prose is nice, but not the kind of prose that makes me want to weep. I found the romance to be a little predictable and I just wasn’t especially entertained by the plot of this one.  I don’t regret reading it, but found it to be good rather than exceptional.

The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing, #1)
She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.
(Summary from GoodReads) 


I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up The Rules for Disappearing—it turned out to be such a great book!  I do not recommend reading this book at night when you know you have to get up for work the next day, because this book is so addictive.  I had to know what happened, and I also enjoyed the sweet romance with Ethan.  There was a nice twist at the end, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on The Rules for Breaking.

The Theory of Everything
One part Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE, two parts String Theory, and three parts love story equals a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world.
Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.

Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love.
Perfect for fans of Going Bovine, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Probability of Miracles.
(Summary from GoodReads) 

Kari Luna’s book The Theory of Everything is perhaps one of the strangest books I read in 2013. Luna’s novel focuses on a young girl who has bizarre visions and is also trying to track down her physicist father.  When I first started reading about Sophie’s visions, I thought they were quirky and even a little bit cute.  As the plot progressed, it felt like the themes started to get a little bit serious.  I felt like the visions managed to overshadow the storyline, and that the plotline with the visions didn’t go anywhere.  I’d pass this one off to readers who want something that’s light, fun, and different.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins


Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
(Summary from GoodReads)

Normally if I talk about having to wait forever for a book I’m being a little hyperbolic, and maybe I am here, too.  After falling in love with Anna at the end of 2010 and then Lola in 2011, you have no idea how ready to read Isla’s story I was.  Instead of devouring it right away, I saved it for a time when I knew I’d be able to read most of it in a sitting. Perkins’ latest is infused with passion and wraps up the trilogy nicely, but wasn’t really a satisfactory love story.

Isla isn’t a character we know well going into this story, but we quickly learn more about her shyness, insecurities, and her passion for adventure stories.  Readers are familiar with Josh because of Anna and the French Kiss, and we not only see how his passion for drawing has manifested throughout the years, but how different he is without Rashmi.  Isla falls in love with Josh from afar their freshman year, and this book starts off at their senior year, when Josh finally starts to notice Isla.

Reading Isla is very, very different from reading Anna and Lola because there is so much passion between Josh and Isla.  It’s sexy and luxurious in a way that the others aren’t.  While I don’t take issue with this, I fee like Perkins skipped over building a true romance between them. It felt like each character saw one quality they liked in the other and decided that this was enough to fall entirely in love without really getting to know one another. Where’s the part where they learn each others’ favorite foods, or talk about annoying habits?

Stephanie Perkins’ books are full of privileged characters, and Josh and Isla both do a lot of things that would be possible if they weren’t wealthy.  I don’t object to this, but I do find it a little weird that the characters didn’t really acknowledge it.  Perhaps it’s not the most teenager-like thing to do, but it would have added depth to the story. 

Isla and Josh create a lot of their own problems.  They do things that they aren’t supposed to, and they don’t talk it out when they should.  In Anna and Lola, there are external factors that affect the romances (like Ellie and Calliope).  While Isla and Josh creating their own problems is relatable, I don’t think it worked because the characters weren’t fleshed out enough.  How could they work through their issues when they had a flimsy connection in the first place?

The absolute best scene of this book is when several characters from the previous novel appear. I loved learning more about how their stories came together, but it wasn’t so much that it felt like a major distraction.

I have a lot of complaints about Isla, and in some ways, I feel a little weird writing such a negative review.  It reads quickly and is enjoyable.  I guess I just don’t feel like this is necessarily Perkins’ strongest book.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Other reviews:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Haul (67) and What Are You Reading?

For review:
Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslie Walton
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Terri Wilson
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Froi Of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood
Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
Juvie by Steve Watkins
Peanut by Ayun Halliday
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
People mentioned:

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Who Was Davy Crockett? by Gail Herman
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Sold by Patricia McCormick
The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Taken by Erin Bowman
Muppet King Arthur by Johanna Stokes
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Currently reading:
How To Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer
Truth and Dare: 20 Tales of Heartbreak and Happiness
What I plan to read:
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Darwin Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A.J. Hartley

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

#WednesdayYA October Pick

It's time for another month of #WednesdayYA.  Since I kind of commandeered things last month with my choice of Seraphina, Misty and I thought we should let you guys pick one.  Four books went cover to cover, and here's what won:

 Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Be sure to get a copy if you'd like to read along and join us for the Twitter chat at the end of the month!


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