Nantucket Red by Leila Howland [quick thoughts]

Nantucket Red coverNantucket Red by Leila Howland
Goodreads | @ | www
Release Date: May 13th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Nantucket #2

Goodreads description: Cricket Thompson’s lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she’s headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn’t anticipated. It’s hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn’t just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she’s been trying to ignore-her own heart.

I wanted to read Nantucket Red since I learned about it. I really enjoyed Nantucket Blue and I was interested to see what else might happen.

In this book, Cricket makes more mistakes and I really like that. She isn’t perfect, but that makes her so much more real. I like Cricket so much. She learned more about herself and relationships with friends and guys. She learned about difficult situations. I really like that she learned that changing her mind and not having everything planned out is okay. It felt really fitting for her. I liked watching her brave life, make mistakes, and learn so much about listening to herself. I love that she explored and got to be a little carefree.

I did have some issues: sometimes her mistakes were very easily fixed, even kinda major ones. I would have liked to see her have to work a little bit more to make it work out. And there was one obstacle for her and a guy that felt off for me. It was a pretty serious one, but I think it should have been handled differently. That part kind of seemed easy in the end, too.

“What do you think?” I asked when I stepped out of the dressing room.

“Hot,” Jules said.”

“Red hot,” Jennie echoed.

“It’s actually kind of conservative,” I said, turning around in front of the three-way mirror, noting its full coverage of boobs and butt and the innocent boys at the hips.

“But that’s what makes it hot,” Jules said. “It leaves something to the imagination. It’s asking the world, Good girl or bad girl?” She stood behind me, took out my ponytail, and shook my hair over my shoulders.

“Girls can be both,” I said.

“Of course. We women are very complex.”

“Guys are, too,” I said, thinking of Zack, so sweet one day and so harsh the next.

“Yes, humankind is full of contradictions. We could write a thesis, but I’d rather go to the beach,” Jules said.

I really enjoyed Cricket and Nantucket Red. I think Leila Howland’s writing is so lovely, and I’ll be watching out for anything else she writes. If you like contemporary YA with mistakes and learning and great characters, I think you should check out this series!

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith [thoughts]

The Geography of You and Me coverThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Goodreads | @ | www
Release Date: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Series: none!

Goodreads description: 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

I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and liked-not-loved it, but The Geography of You and Me sounded interesting and I saw some love for it from Estelle (hm, she must write great reviews because I seem to link back to her a lot!) and I remember Gaby tweeting about it (but that’s a link to a post including it, because I’m too lazy to find the tweets) .

Lucy lives in a nice building in NYC. One day while in the elevator with a boy she’s seen around, a blackout hits and the elevator stalls. She’s stuck with a stranger-a cute one. They have very different stories and backgrounds, but they spend the day together and fall asleep on the roof. After the day, things go differently than planned but they keep thinking of one another.

If you were to ask me to describe this book in one word, I think I’d say “warm.” I really liked it, and even though I read some awesome reviews for it, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. But these two characters were real, with real issues, real ways of dealing with them, real emotions, and it made me smile and it made me hurt and holy run-on sentence, this is me gushing about this book! I really liked it.

Lucy loves her city but she’s lonely. Her twin brothers are off to college and her parents travel constantly. She doesn’t have any close friends and spends a lot of her time on the edges. When she meets E, she explains how sad this is in a way she’s never really had to face before. After the blackout, her parents kind of freak out about her being there alone and being stuck and trauma and invite her to come to Europe (London, actually). She’s excited, because she has always wanted to go on one of their trips. She opens up about some things with her parents and it changes things immensely. I really love books where characters actually talk out problems because sometimes life is like that and sometimes I just wish life was like that. It’s not always easy to say what you really mean, but sometimes when things are important to you, you can do it. And I really appreciate the movements made in this book on both parts. I loved how involved her parents were, and the discoveries you make later on about how assumptions guided silence for so long and how her mom was more observant than she expected and it made a huge difference for words to actually be spoken.

Owen and his dad are going through a tough time and figuring out how to make life work. They have to learn about each other and skirt some issues and eventually talk about important things. I really liked their relationship, but I don’t want to get as long about it. But it meant a lot to me that both Lucy and Owen were close with their parents and felt like it was important to make connections and talk to their parents.

And the relationship? I really liked that too. To me, it felt like an instant connection, because I don’t feel like either one of them thought it was love. It’s just like when you meet someone and spend some time with them and really enjoy them and keep thinking about them. It’s not love, but you’re connected. And they have a difficult time keeping up the connection, but they find some ways, and when they meet again it isn’t perfect, but it’s messy and real and the messy parts made me love the book all the more. I loved that they just kept thinking about each other while traveling and their connection was great.

4 star rating

I definitely want to read The Geography of You and Me again, and it’s going on my “buy” list. I really felt connected to it, even though both characters were very different from me and in different situations. It’s cute and sweet, but it is also so much more than that. It’s got depth and meaning, and it’s genuine and warm. It makes me want to revisit Statistical and give This is What Happy Looks Like and some of her other books a try. I really recommend this one to anyone. I’m sure it’s not for everyone and Jen E. Smith’s books seem to be kind of hit or miss, but I really liked this one! If you like contemps with real emotion and a genuine feeling, depth, growth, traveling and development, The Geography of You and Me might be for you!

 

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando [thoughts]

roomies coverRoomies by Sara Zarr @|www and Tara Altebrando @|www
Goodreads
Release Date: December 24th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: none

Goodreads description: It’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

I decided to read Roomies because I saw some tweets about it, I mainly remember Estelle tweeting about it, and I saw it one day at the library and it called to me (as books do).

Roomies is about college roommates EB/Elizabeth and Lauren who are paired together potluck and get in contact with each other. They email and get to know one another, while not always understanding each other. They deal with big things going on in their lives. They learn things.

I really liked this book! I want to buy it and have it available to read again. It’s been a little while since I’ve read it but it deserves a post, so this review will probably be slightly vague. EB and Lauren are very different and coming from different places and situations. While EB is excited about her room assignment, Lauren wanted a single. She’s the oldest of several kids living in a cramped apartment and she wanted some space of her own. EB wants a friend, she’s moving across the country and won’t know anyone. They start emailing each other and it’s a rough, awkward start. But then they start to share pieces of their lives and little details, then bigger details and some pretty intense and huge details and things get sort of messy.

EB and Lauren were both really likable for me. At first I liked EB a lot more because Lauren seemed pretty snotty, but she grew on me! You get a good look at the family and background of both girls: EB lives alone with her serial-dater mom and feels alone, Lauren is close to her family, sometimes too close. Both girls deal with friendships and boy issues: I was a big fan of all the flirty buildup involved with both girls. I liked both boys a lot. Both girls have serious problems to deal with. Some of the details might seem unrealistic on the overview, but the book felt real and the characters felt real. I think both girls learned a lot about friendship and themselves. I wanted to hug them and help them, and I was slightly frustrated by how short it was and the ending because I wanted to see so much more of their friendship!

4 star rating

Roomies is on my “to buy” list! I wanted more of the story and characters, I was sad to see the end. I think it was fun and worth a read! I haven’t read anything else by either author but I’ve been wanting to read The Lucy Variations for a while and now I’m more interested in reading more from both authors!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han [thoughts]

To All the Boys coverTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Goodreads | Twitter | Website
Release Date: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1

Goodreads description: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sounded cute and fun and love letters! I wanted to read it when I saw it on WoW posts and then I saw some early reviews and my interest grew! I have read Burn for Burn which is co-written by Han, but I still need to read Fire with Fire. I have been slightly interested in the Summer series but I’m not completely sure I want to jump in.

Laura Jean writes love letters to boys when she is over them and puts them away in a box. Somehow(!) the letters get sent and past crushes find out why she stopped liking them and/or things she likes about them. Including one to her next-door neighbor, friend, and sister’s ex, Josh. This causes some awkwardness.

I really, really liked this book. While I was reading it, I kind of kept having moments where I was like “Am I liking this?” and I couldn’t really say “omg yes” but I couldn’t put it down. I was reading it while rereading another book and I snuck it in before my Two Boys Kissing read for LGBT April and finished most of it in one day and hurried to finish the next day. It was kind of different than I expected, but it just left me wanting more.

One huge thing about the letters I don’t understand: why would she address them?? Who puts addresses on letters they don’t intend to send? Just write their name on the envelope. Just write their initial. There’s still a chance they might get passed on to the person but goodness, she made it so easy! To me, it was beyond  obvious what happened to the letters and I felt like she was willfully blind to what happened. But that can happen, I suppose.

That aside, I really liked Laura Jean. I could relate to her in a lot of ways and in some ways not at all. She hates driving, isn’t overly involved. She’s the middle sister. She wants to be helpful and step up while her older sister is gone. She has epic crushes but doesn’t actually date much. Her mom died when she was young, but Laura Jean thinks about her a lot. Their dad is busy but it’s obvious he cares about them and they all care about him and try to make things easier for him. Laura Jean became one of those characters that are really special to me, even though I didn’t always love everything she did (which would be boring anyway, obviously). She learns a lot about herself and growing up, and expectations and pressures in general. I liked reading about the sisters, and I really enjoyed their dad. I also enjoyed how the writing made the family seem realistic. Plus, the sisters are half Korean, and that was really interesting to read about.

And the letters and romance! Well, I wasn’t sure which way the book was trying to lead me with this aspect. I also don’t want to ruin anything for anyone else, in case you’re the type of person (like me) who wants it all to be new-ish. But I was surprised by how it worked out and I liked not exactly knowing what was going on, and I liked where it went. BUT I will say the ending was frustrating because I just NEEDED more. I still need more. I am pining.

4 star rating

I definitely plan on buying and reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before again! I am so glad I read this one. I was originally slightly miffed at the ending, but I think I have enough distance to be more forgiving about it now. BUT I will most likely need to pre-order or at least put the second book, P.S. I Still Love You on reserve at the library (depending on if I wait to buy the paperback version of #1). Laura Jean is such a great character, and I’m also really interested to see what happens with everyone else in the story. Jenny Han is definitely highlighted on my radar list now!  I think if you like contemps, sisters, and interesting romances then you might like this one, too! Added bonus: Laura Jean’s killer wardrobe.

 

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg [LGBT April]

Openly Straight coverOpenly Straight by Bill Konisberg
Goodreads | Website | Twitter
Release Date:May 28th 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Series: none

 

 

Goodreads descriptionA funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

 

I was pretty interested in Openly Straight when I saw the description for it when it came out, and I have been meaning to read it ever since. I even saw it at the library a few times and for some reason never picked it up. When I signed up for LGBT April, I knew it was the perfect book to read!

If you read the description, you saw that Rafe has been out since he was young and it’s become a major part of his identity, while he feels like it is overshadowing other interesting aspects. He wants to take a step back from that and be a person without one thing being the focus of his life. So he goes to an all-boys’s boarding school on the other side of the country and decides to not come out there. He just wants to be a boy and make friends and play sports.

I really enjoyed Openly Straight. It was funny, awkward, and endearing. It was heartwarming and wrenching. It made me smile like an idiot. It had good kissing scenes. Rafe always sounded like a real teen, and there were some smart, thoughtful conversations in the book that made me so happy, because teens definitely have those types of conversations.

Rafe is so lovely. I wanted to hug him a lot. He just wanted to be able to see different parts of himself and be free to explore things he couldn’t always experience as openly gay. I was frustrated for him, because it was dishonest and he knew that and had it pointed out to him several times, but he just wanted a chance for something different. I was waiting for the fallout, throughout the whole book. It actually ended up not being as intense as I expected, but it still happened in a believable way. It wasn’t too perfect, it did involve some mess, but it seemed to fit the story really well.

Openly Straight is a genuine look at how labels affect life, even if  they aren’t seen as a bad thing. I loved seeing how Rafe’s parents, friends, and community were supportive, sometimes too supportive by Rafe’s standards. I liked the looks back into his experiences and how they helped or frustrated him. I loved seeing him in his new element and navigating his new persona but also dealing with realistic peer pressures, and how he cared so much about what other people thought and had to deal with that. I liked Rafe’s writing and reading the teacher’s thoughts on his writing, too. That was a really interesting aspect, because you have to wonder how much work that has to be for the author, writing as a teen and as a teacher! I feel like Rafe and several other characters grew and learned a lot in this book.

4 star rating

 

Openly Straight was a fun read without being too light. I can see myself maybe reading it again at some point. I would definitely read other work by Bill Konisberg. I would recommend it to anyone wanting an enjoyable book with an important LGBT message about identity and acceptance!

Fighting Dreamer

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier [thoughts]

Goodreadsfirst published 1951 

Goodreads descriptionOrphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. Jealous of his marriage, racked by suspicion at the hints in Ambrose’s letters, and grief-stricken by his death, Philip prepares to meet his cousin’s widow with hatred in his heart. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet . . . might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?

I wanted to read My Cousin Rachel because I really enjoyed Rebecca. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about My Cousin Rachel. Somehow I managed to confuse what the book was about, so it was completely different than I expected. But I liked it!

My Cousin Rachel is a story told by Philip, who is in his 20’s. He is an orphan and he grew up with his Uncle Ambrose. He’s also Ambrose’s heir. He loves his uncle dearly. Ambrose is getting up there in years and goes away from rainy England to sunny Italy and meets Cousin Rachel. Marriage happens and Philip isn’t happy. Then Uncle A dies and. . .what next? Well Philip received letters from Uncle A that made him suspicious. Then Rachel comes to England and Philip is intrigued and drawn to her, but still kind of suspicious, but still drawn to her.

Throughout the whole story, I had an idea of what was going to happen. I was so sure. But du Maurier is tricky and definitely proved me wrong. The ending was a shock.. And it’s frustrating but it’s also really awesome. I’m left wondering and itching to know what happens after the reeling.

Even though sometimes I was screaming at Philip to not be such an idiot, I still felt sympathetic for him. I think Louise is probably my favorite character and she has a relatively small part. I have no clue how to feel about Rachel. I don’t think I liked her, but I can’t bring myself to hate her. I was completely fascinated by her.

And du Maurier’s writing is so lovely. Here are some highlights:

How soft and gentle her name sounds when I whisper it. It lingers on the tongue, insidious and slow, almost like poison, which is apt indeed. It passes from the tongue to the parched lips, and from the lips back tot he heart. And the heart controls the body, and the mind also. Shall I be free of it one day? In forty, in fifty years? Or will some lingering trace of matter in the brain stay pallid and diseased? Some minuscule cell in the blood stream fail to race with its fellows to the fountain heart? Perhaps, when all is said and done, I shall have no wish to be free. As yet, I cannot tell.

 –

 Her hands were clasped on her lap in front of her. I had never seen hands so small before on an adult person. They were very slender, very narrow, like the hands of someone in a portrait painted by an old master and left unfinished.

 –

“No,” she said, “I would have welcomed a pedestal, after my rough life. A halo can be a lovely thing, providing you can take it off, now and again, and become human.”

 

So, I really liked My Cousin Rachel. It wasn’t a favorite, but it was really enjoyable and messed with my mind. Daphne du Maurier is amazing and I want to read more of her work. If you’re interested in Gothic tales of mystery with pretty words, I think you’d like this one!

4 star rating

 

Have you read My Cousin Rachel? Did you like it or no? Have you read Rebecca? What were your thoughts on that? Have you read anything else by du Maurier, have any recs for similar stories?

Let me know! 

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill [thoughts]

All Our Yesterdays coverAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: 
September 3rd 2013
Publisher: 
Disney Hyperion
Series: Al Our Yesterdays #1

Goodreads description: What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win. All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

I saw All Our Yesterdays getting a bit of buzz from bloggers, and I like time travel anything. For some reason, even with interest and positive reviews, I wasn’t really super excited about it. However, I was pleasantly surprised!

Em is the main character and she’s in a bad future where time travel is possible. Other versions of herself and a friend named Finn have gone back in time to try to correct/stop something big, but it never works out. She has managed to leave herself clues on what to try next. Along with Finn, she goes back in time to see if one thing she doesn’t want to do will save the future. I really enjoyed how the book was set up with alternating POVs from the same person in different times.

Sometimes I get weird about small details, but I felt like this story kept focus on what happened during the time travel and the story rather than time travel itself. There was some science and paradox talk, but I felt like it worked. There was nothing huge that bugged me, and I didn’t feel like it was too complicated. The situation of trying to change the world before it goes wrong and trying to decide what changes to make and if you can hurt someone you love  if you knew it would make the better place and prevent awful things from happening. It was thought provoking and very interesting.

I liked all of the characters, I was even intrigued by the “bad guy.” Em was determined and I enjoyed her so much. She went through some tough things, but she grew and I liked how the book handled her transition and how she dealt with her feelings for the past and her past self.  I also enjoyed Finn and would have liked even more of him! I think I would have liked a little more of their memories and time together, too. The romance was not the book’s focus, and I liked that, but I was curious about that some parts that were left out and would have liked to get to know them better. While I enjoyed them all, I didn’t really fall in love with any of them.

4 star rating

All Our Yesterdays hooked me early on, and I read most of it in one sitting. It was engrossing, and I kept thinking about it all day after I finished. I wanted more! This is a book I can see myself enjoying again. I would also love to read more of Cristin Terrill’s work and even though I have no idea what the rest of the series will involve, I’m excited about it! I recommend All Our Yesterdays, but especially if you like time travel.

Cristin Terrill‘s website and twitter!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty [thoughts]

What Alice Forgot coverWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Goodreads Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: May 2010
Publisher: PanMacmillan Australia
Series: none

Goodreads description: Remember the woman you used to be …

Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What’s more, she’s looking forward to the birth of the ‘Sultana’ – her first baby.

But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone’s telling her she’s misplaced the last ten years of her life.

In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she’s his worst enemy. What’s more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn’t speaking to her either. And who is this ‘Gina’ everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?

Alice isn’t sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn’t have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband forever?

I had tried to read What Alice Forgot a few years ago and I think I was in a very “no baby, no pregnancy” mode, so I just stopped when that came up. I’ve seen The Husband’s Secret on lists and I’ve wanted to read it, and Danielle at The Book Barn mentioned What Alice Forgot on a Top Ten Tuesday a while ago, so I decided to try it again! I’m really glad that I did!

Alice hits her head and loses her memory. She thinks she’s 29, pregnant and madly in love with her husband. She wakes up in a gym to find that she is ten years older and everything has changed, especially how she operates.

I’m kind of a fan of memory loss books/situations in general. I didn’t exactly know what to expect from this one, but it wasn’t what I got. The story starts out with Young Alice, and the impression that something is wrong. But you get to know her, and I liked her a lot. She was fun and a bit silly, but she didn’t seem vapid or annoying. When she wakes up at the gym, ten years older and without a clue, she has to figure out the changes she’s made as a person. She is continually confused by her current life. She has to start at the end and work her way backwards, picking up clues and memories along the way.

I liked how Young Alice wasn’t happy with everything in her “new” life. There were changes that just weren’t okay with her and she was intense at finding where connections went wrong and actually trying to do something about them. It felt very much like a book about connections and saying the things you need to say and making changes when they’re needed. Young Alice didn’t know the whole story, but she definitely felt things were wrong and wanted to make them better. She wasn’t content, especially with misunderstandings in the future, she was active.  The reconciliation of Present Alice and Young Alice was interesting, and actually seeing the change first hand instead of reading what other people told Alice when she was without her memory. Alice was able to learn a lot about herself , which always leads to personal growth.

There were some things I didn’t love about the book, one weird past friendship and some other things that were odd, but nothing huge. Some things might have been a little easy considering everything going on, but I was willing to let it slide.

4 star rating

What Alice Forgot was fun, sad, and heartwarming. I was eager to see how it would end, and what Alice would remember. I loved the connections in the book, and the family aspects. I loved how active Alice was in making changes. I think this is a book I might want to reread at some point, and I’m more interested in Moriarty’s other work, especially the incredibly long waitlisted The Husband’s Secret! I recommend What Alice Forgot if you like books about memory loss, strong connections, mishaps, and development. 

Liane Moriarty‘s website 

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson [book review]

Tiger Lily coverTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: July 3rd 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Series: none!

Goodreads description: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Tiger Lily was on my Summer TBR List, and I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. I love all things Peter Pan, even though I’ve never actually read the original, oops. I do own it and plan on reading it! I saw from a lot of people that it was good and sad, so it seemed like something I definitely needed to read. After not getting it from my library, I was extremely happy to win a copy from Emily at Reader Rising!

We all know about Peter Pan and Wendy, and that Tiger Lily is in the background somewhere. This book tells Tiger Lily’s side of the story, and it’s told through Tinker Bell’s perspective, which is weird and interesting at the same time. In this adaptation, Neverland is a new world, apart from civilization instead of two stars from the right. They have tribes and tribal hierarchies. They have an agreement with the pirates. They fear Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and they stay as far away as possible. In the tribe, Tiger Lily is an outsider, a wild and untamable girl. She’s the adopted daughter of Tik Tok, the town’s shaman/healer, who is also an outsider because he dresses and feels more like a woman than a man.

Tiger Lily is such an amazing character. She’s an outsider, and she’s drawn to other outsiders and they’re drawn to her. She’s fierce, but she’s also vulnerable, and the way this is portrayed felt so real to me. She struggled with the expectations for girls in her tribe, but it didn’t feel like she was anti-feminine. She is curious and wants to do things that aren’t normal for anyone in the tribe to do. She acts fearless, but you can see that she isn’t. She isn’t always good, and she makes mistakes.

“There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had bests in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.”

In the beginning, Tinker Bell warns that it’s a love story, “but not like any you’ve heard.” Tiger Lily meets Peter Pan, a villain and madman in the eyes of her tribe. He isn’t like they say at all, (but he isn’t exactly a harmless, innocent creature either) and she finds something in him she wants and doesn’t understand how to grasp and keep.  Peter and Tiger Lily’s relationship is intense. Of course, he’s forbidden, and tribe politics are making her life more difficult all the time. Plus, there are pirates who want to kill Peter and the Lost Boys, and eventually a ship of Englanders brings Wendy and other problems. The story is complex

There are important characters that are difficult for me to include in this review, but I loved so many of them. Pine Sap, Moon Eye, and Tik Tok were so important to Tiger Lily, and they were characters I wanted to keep. The villains of the story were creepy and worrisome. All the characters felt real to me.

Some pieces of the story were frustrating for me, and I think it’s a realistic look at how life can be. There were times when I wanted the characters to act a certain way, and it seemed like it would be easy for them to take certain steps to change situations, but in actuality it probably wouldn’t have been that easy. Sometimes there’s just more to the story and the circumstances, and you can’t always act exactly how you want to act. In some cases it would have upset the status quo, and the tribe was just a different machine dealing with situations that were completely abnormal for them. I wanted there to be easy outs, and maybe in a nicer, less realistic place, that could have worked. The way it happens in the book might hurt, but I think it’s important and written really well.

A lot of mistakes were made, and at the end of the story Tiger Lily has to face her own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. “She kept trying, in her head, to make someone right.” This book told the story in a way I didn’t expect it to, and the ending was especially lovely to me. The writing was lovely, and there are so many quotes that made me love the book even more. It definitely made me cry, I closed the book and kept crying for a while.

I really liked seeing from Tinker Bell’s point of view. It was really different. It could be frustrating because sometimes I wanted to dig inside Tiger Lily’s mind, but overall I think the distance was perfect and a clever way to tell the story. Plus, it also opens up a wider scope because she can observe a lot more as a fairy, and you get her own feelings about Peter.

“As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

4 star rating

Tiger Lily is a lovely book that made me sad and happy at the same time. I loved Tiger Lily, I loved her flaws, her rage, and her unexpected softness. I loved the ending. I am so glad that I won it and have my own copy, because it is definitely a book I will want to read again! I plan on sharing it with some real life people so they will (hopefully) love it and discuss it with me. I will also look forward to more of the author’s work. I always feel bad at reviews because I never know how much to share or not, but I just loved this book. It’s probably not for everyone but I think Tiger Lily might work for you if you like retellings, honesty, hopefulness and a bit of heartbreak. 

Check out Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s goodreads and twitter!

The Archived by Victoria Schwab [book review]

The Archived coverThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: The Archived #1, followed by The Unbound

Goodreads description: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption

I won my copy of The Archived from Liza Weimer at WhoRuBlog. She is really nice, so be sure to check her blog (and Twitter) out! I have been interested in The Archived for a while, but I wasn’t completely sure what it was about. I just knew it was paranormal-ish.

Mackenzie is a Keeper, which means she hunts Histories and puts them back in The Archive. She inherited the job from her grandfather. Histories are sort of like ghosts, but they’re technically a record or log of a person. When people die, they go to The Archive. The Archive is basically a library of the dead. Everyone is “recorded.” However, sometimes Histories get out into The Narrows, which is an in between world, and Keepers have to capture them and take them back.

I liked the world, but there was a lot I didn’t really understand. I wasn’t really sure why the dead were kept like logs. Do they just hang around, in case someone else that’s dead needs to see what happened? Like with any version of the afterlife, there are questions. I didn’t understand the why, but it didn’t bother me. This book was interesting and engaging, so while my brain was all “hold up, why are they doing this?” I was still able to enjoy the story!

I really liked Mackenzie. She has a really tough job, dealing with the dead isn’t exactly cheerful. She has to deal with disoriented Histories and try to calm them down and lead them to where they need to go. She also has to deal with the losses in her own life, the changes her family is going through, and just being a teenager. That is a lot to deal with! She doesn’t always have it all together, which makes her all the more interesting to me. She makes mistakes, and she does the wrong thing.

Mac and her family move to a new building. It’s an old building with a lot of character and a lot of stories. For some reason, there’s a lot of abnormal behavior with the Histories and she works with another keeper, Wes. She also discovers that there’s a story behind the building, and someone’s trying to keep it hidden. She has to take care of the extra histories and try to learn who is covering something up and why. The mystery kept me wanting more, and I was surprised when everything was revealed.

Mac seems to be on bad terms with the actual Archive. She does have a friend in Roland, a librarian there. I really liked Roland, he was entertaining. The Archive seems like a scary and interesting place. The end gives an idea of what Mac might deal with in the sequel, and shows that things aren’t neatly tied up.

4 star rating

I really enjoyed The Archived! I wasn’t completely sure what was going on all the time, it was unique, and I didn’t figure everything out! I think it’s a book I would like to read again at some point, and I definitely want to check out the sequel. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Near Witch, but I’ve heard so many great things about Vicious and I want to bump it higher on my TBR list! If you like a different take on ghosts and the afterlife, exciting writing, and

Check out Victoria Schwab‘s website (which is pretty cool) and twitter!