Review/Those Girls

Review/Those GirlsThose Girls by Lauren Saft
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on May 3rd 2016
Pages: 336
Source: ARC From Publisher, Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can't help but stab you in it. Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: They're the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them--and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band--without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend and a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved--literally, figuratively, physically...she's not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever or tears them apart for good?In a debut novel that is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl and how often even the closest of friends walk the thin line between love and hate.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

As I was reading Those Girls it made me wonder if this is what girls are really like in a private school setting? Granted school is so much different from when I was in high school some 20+ years ago and I don’t recall if it was like that when I was there.

The book is told through each girl so you get to know the girls a little better.

Alex, Mollie and Veronica basically claim that they are all best friends but in reality I think they were more like frenemies then anything else. They are all nice to each others face but as soon as their backs are turned it basically any man for himself. There is jealousy amongst them.

I think the only one I liked in the book was Alex. She is starting to see the drama between them and you can see she doesn’t want to be a part of it so she starts doing things on her own like join a band which I think was good for her because it caused her to come out of her shell even though she was comfortable who is was. The one little thing that got to me was that she was in love with her best friend but he has no clue because she keeps it hidden (and we discover that is mutal) and then when she pushes Veronica to him and they connect she gets jealous.

Veronica is that party girl and she drinks, partyies and sleeps with guys to get the one thing that she truly longs for and that is unconditional love and she doesn’t realize she is going about it all wrong. Then when she has it she ruins it. Her parents aren’t there and always seem to be away so she is basically raising herself and doing what she thinks is best but its not.

Mollie is a whole other character. She is jealous, she is mean (and I don’t think I would ever cross her and get in her bad books) and she knows on some level that her boyfriend cheats on her but she puts up with it because it seems like that is all she knows.

I feel bad that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I was hoping that I would. When I first heard about the book I was excited to read it and as I was reading it I was making my way through it because I wanted to know what was going to happen with all three girls.

All I can say is thank god I am no  longer in school especially if this is what is going on now amoung the girls.

This is a debut novel and I have to say that I would give Lauren another chance because I did like her writing.

 

Review/ Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Review/ Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel SavitAnna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Published by Random House Children's Books on January 26th 2016
Pages: 240
Source: Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Europe, Family, Historical, Holocaust, Orphans & Foster Homes, People & Places, Young Adult

A stunning, literary, and wholly original debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of The Book Thief.   Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone. And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see. The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness. Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.    Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I picked up Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit during BEA 2015. I was drown into the cover when I first spotted it. Its very simple but I think eye catching at the same time.

As I sit here trying to write my review I am still thinking about the book. So I will have to be careful with my review because I don’t want to give the story away and I tend to have a habit of doing that. Don’t you just love it when I book holds onto you?

I went into the book not knowing what was going to happen and reading it I realized it was being told during the war and I wasn’t sure I was prepared for that because I find those kinds of books very difficult to read. I do have to say its not that bad and its really not the focus of the book but you do know a war is happening. I think that is why I enjoyed the story more.

There is quite a few characters in the book but the main are Anna, the Swallow man and then a guy named Reb. I have to say that the Swallow Man and Reb were complete night and day but it worked and it balanced the two of them out and I think despite their differences they were looking for the same thing, acceptance. They both loved Anna and would do anything to protect her.

The book begins in 1939 in occupied Poland. Anna is seven years old. Anna’s father is a linguistics professor and he has to attend a lecture that has been mandated by German authorities and we all know what that means and where this is going. He leaves Anna with a friend of his but when he fails to return home he forces Anna to leave. Anna has no where to go because the door is locked in her apartment and no one will take her in.

On the streets of Krawkow she sees a tall elegantly dressed man who manages to charm Anna when he has a swallow land on his finger. He takes her under his wing so to speak and before long they become traveling partners. The books spans over a few years because we see Anna is growing up.

The Swallow Man taught Anna how to survive and they did and it wasn’t all sugar coated and happy you could see the struggle they endured with sleeping outside in harsh weather conditions, hiding from the enemy, the day to day struggle of blending in when they went into a city and the fight for food and how they would only eat once or twice a day. I think these are all live lessons that saved Anna in the end.

Reading the book you realized how different the world has become. Anna and the Swallow Man were able to cross man borders and patrols with no problems and the only one who had documents was Swallow Man. There was only one point in the book they encountered a problem and that was crossing into Russia but even through the gunfire no one was seriously hurt and they all remained together.

As I was reading I felt like I was traveling with them and I could picture the group traveling together.

For me the ending end like their could possibly be another book but I’m not sure but I would like there to be because I am curious to what Anna is doing and where she ended up along with the Swallow man.

 

Review/ The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Review/ The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina BivaldThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on January 19th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Humorous, Literary

The International Bestseller #1 Indie Next Great Reads January 2016 #2 LibraryReads January 2016 Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor -- not much else to do in a small town that's almost beyond repair. They just never imagined that she'd start a bookstore. Or that books could bring them together and change everything.There's a book for every person ... and a person for every book.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald was a book that I picked up at BEA 2015 and its been sitting on my shelves since then so I was really happy that I could finally dig into this book. I believe it was Lucy from Moonlight Gleams that told me about this book and I am happy that she did tell me about it because I really enjoyed reading this.

The main character Sara. lives in Sweden and use to work in a bookstore until it closed. During that time she was corresponding with Amy from a little town in Iowa called Broken Wheel. Sara has traveled to Broken Wheel by the request of Amy to spent two months together. How much fun would it be to meet a pen pal you have had that shares the common interest of books? I would have loved that.

Upon arriving in Broken Wheel Sara discovers that Amy has passed away. At first Sara doesn’t know what to do and the people of Broken Wheel kind of take her in because that is what Amy would have wanted them to. Sara is uncomfortable at first because honestly who wouldn’t be staying in a person’s house who is no longer there and you haven’t even met?

As the book progresses Sara is starting to meet the people of Broken Wheel. She realizes that they are a unique kind of people where it seems like everyone is there to help each other and have their backs and you can see Sara starting to fit into the town. I loved how every character in the book played a role in it and it all blended so well within the story.

For Sara she has a passion for books and loves to read. Not a lot of people share that kind of passion in the town and the only other person who loved books just as much as Sara was Amy. Gradually Sara begins to think that she needs to find a way to give back to the town for their kindness and perhaps this little town needs a bookstore. Sara brings it up because Amy actually had a empty building just sitting there waiting to be used and Amy has a ton of books that could fill the little store. (This is what I should be because I have a ton of books)

With the towns permission Sara goes a head to prepare the store but due to her visa she is unable to work to sell the books but she can give them away or lends them to the people of the Broken Wheel. At first its not a hit because no one likes to read and they are puzzled at how much and long Sara can seat and read for.

Gradually word starts to spread in the next city called Hope that Broken Wheel has a book store. I think out of curiousity they come to check it out but are quick to point out that no one from the town is ever there so with a little help of the town they set out to prove the people of Hope wrong. Can they pull it off?

As the weeks slip by the people of Broken Wheel begin to realize Sara’s visa is about to expire and they don’t want to loose her so they have to come up with a plan to make her stay but will Sara stay or will she want to go back to Sweden to be with her family?

This was a fun and pretty easy read and I did enjoy it. I think Sara is some one I would be friends with. I would be curious to see what kind of books she would recommend to me because she had that knack about her of giving the right person the right book.

Review/ The Mystics of Mile End

Review/ The Mystics of Mile EndThe Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel
Published by HarperCollins on October 13th 2015
Pages: 320
Source: ARC From Publisher, Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, Jewish, Literary

Sigal Samuel’s debut novel, in the vein of Nicole Krauss’s bestselling The History of Love, is an imaginative story that delves into the heart of Jewish mysticism, faith, and family.“This is not an ordinary tree I am making.“This,” he said, “this is the Tree of Knowledge.” In the half-Hasidic, half-hipster Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer is discovering that there may be a place for Judaism in his life. As he learns about science in his day school, Lev begins his own extracurricular study of the Bible’s Tree of Knowledge with neighbor Mr. Katz, who is building his own Tree out of trash. Meanwhile his sister Samara is secretly studying for her Bat Mitzvah with next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Glassman. All the while his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is a non-believer.When, years later, David has a heart attack, he begins to believe God is speaking to him. While having an affair with one of his students, he delves into the complexities of Kabbalah. Months later Samara, too, grows obsessed with the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life—hiding her interest from those who love her most–and is overcome with reaching the Tree’s highest heights. The neighbors of Mile End have been there all along, but only one of them can catch her when she falls.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I was lucky enough to attend a Book Blogger event when I was at BEA 2015 and pick up this little hidden gem while I was there.

Two things I loved about going into this book was one that it takes place here in a part of Montreal called the Mile End and secondly this is a Canadian author. I am making it my mission in 2016 to read more Canadian authors.

I should let you know that this is a debut novel. I love reading debut novels.

The books is broken down into four parts and each telling a part of the story. The four parts are Lev, Samara, (who are a brother and sister) David (their father) and the Mile End.

In the first section is about Lev and his journey. This was such a fun section and I loved how Lev kept trying to match up his dad with is teacher or vise versa. You can tell that he just wanted his dad to be happy after his mother died. What kid doesn’t want that for their parent?

As a young boy he doesn’t realize that his dad has already met someone else. He thought when he smelt the perfume it was his dad spraying himself with the mother’s perfume. I have to say that I wish Sigal would have touched more on the friendship that Lev had with Alex and what happened.

Also in this chapter we meet the very eccentric neighbor Mr. Katz. He is quite the character and I think he was another character I would have loved to know more about. I loved how he was building a Tree of Knowledge in his front yard. We are also introduced to Mr. Glassman who is taking care of his sick wife who has had a stroke and over time she isn’t doing well. I loved how Mr. Glassman would tell Lev about the numbered tattoos on his arm and so much more. Mr. Glassman reminded me so much of my parents and when my dad got sick and passed away, my mom didn’t want to be left behind on her own and Mr Glassman was the exact same way he didn’t want to live without his wife. This was so touching and sad and yes I did cry. So be prepared for the tears to flow.

The second section is about David. David is Lev and Samara’s dad. I think once his wife died he become more distant from his children and in their religion. David provides the back ground story and what happened the night his wife was killed in a car accident. We also discover another side to David that even his children don’t know about and what his father has been up to all this time.

The third section is about Samara. Samara is like the wild child, reckless and dangerous in a way. Behind everyone’s back she goes a head and takes classes so that she can do her Bat Mitzvah. Its with Mr. Glassman’s help that she does this. I think with everything going on she abandons it until discovering her father’s manuscripts and this seems to entice her. But can she be saved before its too late?

Finally the last chapter is about the Mile End and this is where I feel as though I was missing something along the way. With Samara hallucinating about the Tree of Knowledge and physically climbing Mr Katz’s hand made Tree of Knowledge in his front yard. I just didn’t quite understand that.

This certainly won’t detour me from reading future books from Sigal. I am determined to reread this book again to see if perhaps I missed something. Did I miss something?

 

Review/ Unslut A Diary & A Memoir

UnSlut by Emily Lindin
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on December 29th 2015
Pages: 304
Source: ARC From Publisher, Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Bullying, Dating & Sex, Girls & Women, Juvenile Nonfiction, Social Issues, Women

When Emily Lindin was eleven years old, she was branded a “slut” by the rest of her classmates. For the next few years of her life, she was bullied incessantly at school, after school, and online. At the time, Emily didn't feel comfortable confiding in her parents or in the other adults her my life. But she did keep a diary. Slut/UnSlut is adapted from Emily’s much-acclaimed blog “The UnSlut Project” presenting unaltered excerpts from that diary alongside split-page commentary to provide context and perspective.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I picked up this book at #BEA15 purely by luck and I thought at first this wasn’t the book for me because I normally don’t read this kind of stuff but I decided to give it a chance and I managed to breeze through this in two sittings. This is a debut novel.

The book is basically told in a diary format that Emily wrote when she was in grade 6.  The story begins with Emily in grade 6 and it follows her through grade 7 and 8.

Emily is your typical girl trying to fit in with her peers and how one little mistake has labelled her a “slut” in her school. I am trying to remember when I was in grade 6 if we were like that and I honestly don’t remember maybe I just wasn’t hanging out with those kinds of kids or not. Then again I can’t really compare my experiences with kids now a days because its completely different and I have to say that I honestly don’t think I could handle being a grade 6 now. What I went through some thrity years ago is different from what kids are going through now.

Kids can be so nice but yet so cruel. Why are they so quick to label kinds with names and titles that just aren’t right and appropriate? Things like this carry over with these kids and they hold on to that stigma for ever and we need to teach our kids that this isn’t right.

We as parents need to make communication between child and parent very important and stress that no matter what good and bad we are there to listen and help them out.

 

Review/ This Is Where It Ends

by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire Goodreads
Genres: Action & Adventure, Bullying, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Violence, Young Adult

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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.

I think this has to be one of my favorite books that I picked up at #BEA15 last year. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. It grabbed a hold of me from the first page and it still sits with me today. Just be prepared if you pick up this book to read you will need a tissue. This is a fantastic debut novel.

This Is Where It Ends is told in the point of view of Claire, Tomas, Autumn and Sylv. A new semester has started at Opportunity and the Principal Trenton is giving her regular speech that the kids all know pretty much by heart.

Claire is not in the school for the assembly because she is part of the track team and she is out running the track with her team mates when the sound of gunshots forces them to stop. They try to get into the school but its locked so she comes up with a plan to find out what is going on so she puts everyone in groups.

Inside the school Tomas and his friend Fareed are also not in the assembly because they are breaking into the principal’s office trying to find out some information on a kid named Tyler who has left the school and is due to come back. They are in the office and when they realize something is up the go and look out in the hall way and that is when they hear gun fire. Quick thinking they decide to call the police. They are told to get out of the school but Tomas can’t leave because his sister Sylv is in the assembly. He will do anything to protect her.

I don’t want to give to much away about the book because you know what its about. Everyone is surprised at how the shooter is and I think had there been a little more to the story before hand you might have had the chance to figure it out.

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more from this author.

 

 

Review/Dumplin’

Review/Dumplin’Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by HarperCollins on September 15th 2015
Pages: 384
Source: ARC From Publisher
Goodreads
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Social Issues, Young Adult

Book Summnary:

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.  Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dumplin’ was a book I had picked up at BEA 2015 this past May and I finally managed to sneak it into my reading pile mainly thanks to Tina who wanted to borrow it to read so now I can officially tell her she can read it and pass it along.

I really like the cover its simple but it stands out when you look at it and I love “Go Big, Or Go Home!”

Dumplin’ has been labelled as the must read book of 2015 and I have to say that I am happy that I was to get this to read and review. Its also be optioned for a movie and I have to say that I will definitely watch that one when it comes out.

Willowdean otherwise knows as Willow (to her friends) or Dumplin’ (by her mother) is your typical high school girl who works part time at a fast food restaurant, she has a crush on one of her co-workers (Bo) and a best friend Ellen. She has a huge obsession with Dolly Parton.

One of the things I loved about Willow was that she was comfortable in her skin and she won’t change for anyone no matter what. Willow is a big girl with hips and curves. I think alot of girls will be able to relate to Willow.

Dumplin takes place roughly six months or so after her aunt Lucy dies. Aunt Lucy was a big girl as well. Willow’s world is slowly changing and she doesn’t like it. Willow lost the only person she felt like she could confide in and knew what Willow was going through and her struggles.

Willow’s mom is the complete opposite of Willow and her late aunt. She is thin and was a former beauty contestant winner and she makes it a point to run the beauty pagent every year. So you can see that they have a strained relationship.

Willow and Bo begin a summer romance where everything is kept on the down load and no one knows about them even Ellen has no clue about Willow and Bo. Willow was questioning why a cute guy like Bo would be interested in her when he could clearly have any other girl. Its at this point where she decides she needs to quit her job and get away from Bo because she can’t take being his secret girlfriend or the lies and the secretiveness.

Then enter Mitch who is the high school jock that plays football who takes a liking to Willow. I wish Willow would have given him more of a chance instead of using him like she did. I think Mitch could have been good for her.

You can tell Willow’s confidence is falling and she knows it too so she takes it upon herself to enter the beauty pagent and along the way other kids who are different begin to enter as well and they all look to Willow to guide them. Will Willow be able to follow through with the pagent or will it prove to be too much for her?

So much is going on in the book as you can tell from the book summary that it will keep you reading until you are done.