I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: scythe, by neal shustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster on November 22nd, 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

THIS BOOK IS PHENOMENAL.

when i received this title in the mail – having known nothing about the story or read anything by the author – i wasn’t sure if i’d like it. i sworn off dystopian novels after reading one too many but this one sounded so interesting. so i decided to read the first page and i knew, right off the bat, i would love this novel.

i love everything about this book – the writing, the plot, the characters, everything. my love for this book came in quiet waves. i started off being really intrigued, but that soon became something more. the plot began to build (love all the twists and turns it all has – nothing i was expecting!) and soon enough i was flipping through pages and rooting for characters and screaming at situations. i also love how there was a romance in the story, but it was very slow-burn and wasn’t the main point of the storyline. it was so small that i almost thought there was no romance at all! but the chemistry builds and it becomes more obvious as the story progresses.

the main reason why i love this novel is due to its recurring themes. i find it hard to see meaning/a purpose in some dystopian novels aside from an entertaining story, but SCYTHE was different. when you’re forced to kill people as your job (or you’re learning to kill people), your humanity becomes questionable. when you live in a world where there is no pain and your life is immortal, you see how detached we can become. nothing is at risk. is that really a perfect world? it made me really think about what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. it made me question the meaning of life and death.

the one thing i will say is it was a bit hard to reaaaaaaally connect with characters at first because the book is written in an omniscient POV. the story would jump around from person to person, making it easy for me to stop reading and do something in my daily life. also because of this, i didn’t feel the need to continuously read. BUT, this is my first time reading a book with this type of writing and it didn’t bother me too much. the writing itself was beautiful and i often found myself wanting to annotate.

all in all, this book is amazing. i wasn’t expecting much from it and now it’s one of my favorite reads of 2016. not only is the story well thought out, but i also gained a lot of perspective on what it means to be alive. and that, i think, is something really special.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

review - how it feels to fly

I received this book for free from HarperCollins, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: how it feels to fly, by kathryn holmesHow It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes
Published by HarperTeen on June 14th 2016
Genres: Anxiety, Contemporary, Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Fiction, General, Girls & Women, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: HarperCollins, Publisher
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.

Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer—but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.

Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?

This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.

how it feels to fly

it’s frightening how much i related with the main character.

HOW IT FEELS TO FLY is a book that is ME. the story follows a ballet dancer who struggles with anxiety, panic attacks, and body image issues. although i don’t have anxiety, i am a ballet dancer and i do struggle with my body image from time to time. (when you critic yourself in the mirror for hours on end every day — wearing a skin-tight leotard and tights — it’s hard not to judge.) needless to say, the main character’s thought process didn’t stray too far from my own on a day-to-day basis. her’s was just an intensified version of mine.

most “ballet books” i’ve read are a mild version of BLACK SWAN, which isn’t the slightest bit accurate in terms of dancing and feeling. this novel was the first i read that made me feel that yes, the author must’ve been a dancer herself, and yes, everything was en pointe (pun totally intended). i could imagine samantha being a girl at my studio, or a girl i could meet at a summer program, or even in some cases, myself. sam’s character arc was really refreshing because we can slowly see her getting better, and wanting to get better.

“She’s light, but grounded. She moves like water, like a reed, like the wind. She shines on stage.” (pg. 111, ARC)

since the story is set in a mental illness camp for teens, we also meet other characters who hope to pursue careers in gymnastics, football, tennis, figure skating, acting, and more. i liked this aspect because it’s also not something you would “normally” see. most people focus on academics and all these professions are very specialized. although relationships build between these characters, i didn’t feel its depth and thought it was a bit reserved.

my biggest issue with this book was the romance because it was completely UNNECESSARY and frustrating (like i-want-to-throw-this-book-across-the-room frustrating). the summary is so misleading because it makes it seem like the romance was a big deal, but it honestly wasn’t. it started off being really subtle and i wasn’t even sure if it was a ~thing~. but towards the end it was suddenly “important” and afterward, it was just left unresolved. i think the story would’ve been better if it wasn’t there. the author could’ve gone deeper into sam’s own character and self-discovery. i know the male lead helped develop her character, but it sends a message that makes me feel squeamish; like, does a person HAVE to “fall in love” in order to recover? it made me feel like you HAVE to be reliant on someone (romantically) in order to get better. it was frustrating and frankly, dumb. (also there’s a thing about the ending that bothered me just a tiiiiiny bit, although it was really realistic.) View Spoiler »

“I think you have to love something if you’re gonna make sacrifices for it.” (pg. 118, ARC)

i connected with the main character and situation really well, but i can’t be sure everyone else will. however, i do think people should read it simply because it’s so insightful on anxiety and mental illness. it shows the way athletes can mentally overwhelm themselves in addition to physically. it shows that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to want to get better. i can’t say if it’s the perfect book for you, but i can say it was the (almost!) perfect book for me.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

thanks for the trouble review

I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: thanks for the trouble, by tommy wallachThanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Fiction, Friendship, General, Love & Romance, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

“I’ve got some questions for you. Was this story written about me?”

I shrugged.

“Yes or no?”

I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty. It brought a bloom to her pale cheeks and made sharp shelves of her cheekbones.

“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.

I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote I can’t on my palm.

Then, in tiny letters below it, I finished the thought: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?

Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

thanks for the trouble

THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE is light-heartedly intellectual.

i began THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE knowing little to nothing about the plot, nor did i read any other reviews. all i knew was that it had a nice cover, was fairly short, and was recently released. i think it’s better to go into this book knowing nothing, aside from the facts that 1) this book talks about people with disabilities, 2) and suicide/depression, and 3) it’s a strange contemporary-fantasy hybrid thing. BUT, that’s not reaaaaaally what the story is about; those are just triggers you should be aware of. this book talks about those things fairly lightly and i didn’t feel suffocated or weighed down by these topics.

the storyline wasn’t the main aspect of the novel; the whole book felt a bit like a series of blog post recaps, following the main character’s journey. however, this isn’t your normal character-driven book. it felt like i was living and breathing and experiencing everything through parker, our narrator. it’s also a little weird since parker isn’t always the narrator. there were chapters that were simply short stories, entirely unrelated to our main plot (but still somehow related). these were written in third-person POV but it still felt like parker was reading/telling to story to me. there’d also be chapters written in second-person POV and it still felt as if i were parker/with parker. (everything else was written in first-person.) in this way, i had a very strong connection to the narrator; he was part of the pages and i was following along with him, and in that sense, i was a part of him.

“Where there is no fear, there is no bravery.” (245)

the voice in the writing style is very prominent. do you ever read a book and know right from the first chapter that you’ll love the book? that’s how TFTT was for me because the writing speaks off the pages. this is probably why i connected with parker so well; it actually felt like he was talking to me. but the style was really unique because there were paragraphs that were so chill and there were paragraphs that were so thought provoking and metaphorical. it was enjoyable and relaxing to read, but it also made me THINK. i want to reread it, overanalyze these paragraphs and pages, fill the margins with notes, and THINK.

“Staying the same is a kind of death.” (186)

THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE is very special. i don’t think there will ever be a book out there even remotely similar to the plot or characters or writing or anything. yes, there will probably be parallels (magical girl comes in and sweeps boy off his feet), but that’s kinda where the similarities will end because this book is VERY STRANGE. but because of that, i liked it! the pacing was good; the characters were quirky; the themes were strong; the ending and overall impression left me feeling complete. i love this novel, and positive reviews always frustrate me because that’s all i can say. I REALLY LIKE THIS BOOK. it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly what i need.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.5

review - i'll give you the sun

REVIEW: i’ll give you the sun, by jandy nelsonI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Penguin on September 16th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Siblings, Social Issues, Death & Dying, LGBT, Love & Romance
Pages: 371
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

i'll give you the sun

(self-portrait: a girl sitting in bed with her insides bursting an explosion of colors and a closed book by her side.)

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is art. i’m going to start by saying that not everyone is going to love it. sometimes you simply don’t get it, or you get it but don’t feel it, or feel it but don’t care for it, or whatever. that’s fine, but for ME it was definitely MY KINDA BOOK. the characters are artists so reading from their perspective is not only reading about art, it’s like reading art. how do you even describe or explain that? the writing is different from what i’m used to and took a bit for me to understand and get into. everything is a metaphor and i wasn’t sure if this was literally happening or if it was all in his head. (it was all in his head.)

this book is so complex, so poetic, so emotional, and so powerful. it’s the kind of book i want to reread a million times over, overanalyze, and cover the margins with notes. i felt every sentence’s second meaning and it hit me really really hard. it made me feel SO MANY FEELINGS and i can’t even pinpoint exactly why. the depth of this book is unfathomable. this book is one of those books that made me cry, even though it’s not really all that sad.

“In one split second I saw everything I could be, everything I want to be. And all that I’m not.”

the story is told from two POVs: one twin (noah) at age 13, and the other (jude) at age 16, three years later. there are a lot of layers as to why this or that happened and we truly get to watch the story unfold. it’s much more complicated than the average “love triangle” in most contemporary romance novels; it’s much more tangled, focusing on family issues, romance, sexuality, and more. i had such a strong connection with the two of them even though their voices are COMPLETELY different. and even though they were different, there were still undeniable parallels that connected them as siblings.

what surprised me most about I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is the family aspect. a lot of the problems arise between the twins and parents themselves and i find everything else is the “subplot.” although i really liked the romance, i felt just a biiiiit insta-love-y and too good to be true but eh that’s alright.

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.”

all in all, this book blew me away. it definitely holds a spot on my favorites of 2016 shelf and it’s only been ten days into the new year. although there were parts of the book that felt a little artificial or a little dragged, i think that’s all irrelevant compared to the impact it had on my perspective. truly and completely eye-opening.

View Spoiler »

i’d recommend if you like…

  • books that make you THINK
  • LGBTQ concepts
  • art
  • poetic writing
Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
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Cover
Overall: 4.5

review - everything everything

(background photo via graceslibrary on tumblr)
REVIEW: everything, everything, by nicola yoonEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
on September 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Fiction, Love & Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

everything everything

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING started off as everything i hoped for, but ended up disappointing me.

the more i think about this book, the more it frustrates me. like, REALLY frustrates me. i started off loving everything about EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING. it was exactly what i needed at the time: a cute and short contemporary novel to get me out of my minor reading slump. i LIVE for cute contemporary novels. this had an interesting and somewhat cliché concept, which i adore. so, what was the thing that threw me off?

“I’ve read many more books than you.” (pg. 1, first sentence)

there were so many plot holes. i tried so hard to ignore them because 1/ it’s a fictional story, and 2/ it’s a fictional story, but as the story progressed there were more and more and more. the logical part of my brain continued to think, “that doesn’t make any sense. THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.” i know not all contemporary novels are super realistic, but this had gotten to the point of plot hole and distracted me from the story. i have complaints about the plot specifically… View Spoiler »

the more i think about it, the more frustrated i get. this story had the potential to be much than it turned out to be. i feel like there could’ve been more revision and a little changing to fill in the plot holes. these were a huge problem for me and continued to distract me from everything else in the story. *sigh*

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.” (pg. 141)

other than the plot holes, i DID enjoy this novel. i loved the illustrations and the interesting chapter titles that added humor to the story. i really enjoyed nicola yoon’s poetic writing style, and with the illustrations, it all came out beautifully. i love how she added a lot of diversity to our characters and into the book. DIVERSITY FTW! the book flew by really quickly and i could not put it down.

maddy and olly’s interactions were super adorable and cute, although it seemed rushed at some times. however in terms of characters, my favorite was a maddy’s nuse, carla. i feel like she had more depth than our two main characters, which is a little disappointing. maddy’s mom wasn’t a very good mother figure, in my opinion, which is also quite sad since she was maddy’s only person to truly rely on.

“There’s more to life than being alive.” (pg. 300)

to me, this novel was that it was missing that extra UMPH. just when you think you’re about to feel for the characters, you don’t; just when you think you can imagine this happening in real life, a logical question and plot hole pops up. it’s like eating a cake with BEAUTIFUL decoration and design, but having missed just a touch of sugar and flavor. i feel like this novel was SO CLOSE to being ten-stars but missed it by THAT MUCH.

overall, this novel was kinda disappointing. my biggest issue was the insane amount of plot holes i found. i couldn’t properly focus on our characters and setting because i kept furrowing my brows at the plot. if i ignored that, i would’ve loved the book. the more i think about it, the more frustrated i get. UGH. the writing style and everything else was beautiful, but THE PLOT HOLES, MAN.

i’d recommend if you like…

  • short, cute, and kinda cliché reads
  • interesting concepts
  • beautiful prose and illustrations
Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 3.6