Posts Categorized: 4.5 star books

When We Collided: review

When We Collided: review

Sometimes, you’ll meet a girl who bursts into a room and draws all eyes to her. Someone so charming and vivid that you can’t help but love and envy her–and perhaps wonder at how she burns so brightly, because there are times when it almost hurts to be in her orbit. Vivi Alexander shows up in a sleepy beach town one summer, and turns Jonah’s life upside down. In the stoic routine and worry of his life, Vivi is dazzlingly beautiful in her vintage dresses and bright lipstick, as well as kind to his little sister and wise beyond her years. Their attraction is immediate, and they’re soon sneaking kisses when people aren’t looking, he’s making her caprese sandwiches and leaving them outside her door, and she’s pulling him into a whirlwind of joyous outings and scandalous liasons. Their romance is sweet and funny and endearing, especially because they’re drawn… Read more »

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The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall: review

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall: review

INSANE ASYLUM FOR GIRLS. That’s enough to get anyone’s attention, but unlike many slick, cheap-thrills books that quickly bore me, The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is one of the most well-crafted YA horror books I’ve read in ages. It’s a short but surprisingly thoughtful book, with good creepiness and suspense and sadness, as well as the right balance of teenage snark and feeling. It’s hard to juggle humor and darkness, but the author does a great job of that here. I also very much appreciated the writing–I loved the way the passage of time was described, which places the reader in an unsettled frame of mind, as well as the sensory experiences of being in Delia’s mind and body as she adjusts to living in the house. There are good plot twists, a well-written back story that doesn’t slow down the pace, and logical progression in character and plot… Read more »

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Review

It finally happened. A book was special enough, funny enough, heartfelt enough, and just downright good enough to break the spell. My awful slump might be officially over; and it’s all thanks to Patrick Ness’ sly, hilarious, wry, and absolutely on point observations on growing up and what it means to move on. What is this book even about? It’s hard to pigeonhole this one into a genre! It’s sort of fantasy, sort of paranormal, sort of sci-fi…but it’s not really any of those things. There are definite supernatural happenings going on in the background. But this is very purposefully a book that is not about those happenings. The point is that there are regular, ordinary (well,for the most part) citizens who are just trying to continue going about their lives, even in the midst of very obvious supernatural turmoil. This book is about the ordinary people who just keep… Read more »

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A Thousand Nights: Review + Giveaway

A Thousand Nights: Review + Giveaway

A Thousand Nights is the Arabian Nights retelling I have been waiting for. I know there have been a few to come out this year, but A Thousand Nights has been my favorite of them all. If I could imagine an Arabian Nights retelling that would make my heart sing, it’d be this book. Go read this book when it comes out. It’s awesome. Probably you are already familiar with the story on which this novel is based. If not, let me give you a brief synopsis. There’s a king. He takes a new bride every day and kills her each night. One woman, Scheherazade, becomes his queen and delays her execution by telling a series of interlocking stories with cliffhangers for 1001 nights. What I liked about A Thousand Nights is that it takes this frame narrative but transforms it – the novel stays faithful to the spirit rather than the letter of its… Read more »

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Out of Darkness: Review

Out of Darkness: Review

Out of Darkness brings to light often marginalized voices in young adult fiction. Centered on the New London School explosion of 1937, Out of Darkness features protagonists who are racially and culturally diverse and a heartbreaking story that confronts you with the realities of racialized and gendered violence in 1930s Texas (and … also contemporary American culture). If you are in the mood for some truly excellent historical fiction that will emotionally devastate you, well then, do I have the book for you. I read this book in less than a day and I couldn’t put it down the entire time. I haven’t seen much press around this book yet, which is a bummer, because Out of Darkness is so, so good and also as thoughtful and thought-provoking as hell. It’s one of my favorites of the year so far. (And hey! My list of favorites for 2015 is not going to be… Read more »

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Archivist Wasp: Review

Archivist Wasp: Review

This is the story of a girl lost in a lonely, desolate, and bare world; and a girl lost in herself. Wasp is an Archivist, one of a handful of girls selected from a young age to serve in a religious order where she must capture ghosts, learn what she can from them about their lives in the world Before and then dispatch them. It is a good thing to finish them eternally, or so she has been trained to think. Wasp must also battle to the death for her title every year. There is a line of upstarts looking to become Archivist themselves, and it is also how she herself took the title. She wears the braids of the Archivist before her and of all the upstarts who have challenged her in her own hair. It’s a fierce and brutal world our Wasp inhabits. This is a girl who… Read more »

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The Carnival at Bray: Review

The Carnival at Bray: Review

The Carnival at Bray is the coming of age story of Maggie, a 16 year old American who, in 1994, finds herself suddenly moved to a remote Irish town. Is 1994 historical? I would say more yes than no. The time is sufficiently removed from ours with the biggest difference being that Maggie doesn’t have the luxury of Skype, Facebook, and all the modern conveniences of connection. Her isolation from her old life is near complete. An ocean removed from her family, it’s a void that she spends the book looking to fill. Being a teenager is often tough at the best of times. When you’ve been completely removed from everything you know this only becomes that much harder. Bray is the sort of misty, coastal Irish town that could drown you in its dreary isolation and Maggie feels it keenly. She makes a few attempts at friendships with classmates,… Read more »

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