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Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. LaskinRonit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin
Published by HarperCollins on February 21st 2017
Source: edelweiss
two-stars
Pamela L. Laskin’s beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israel-Palestine conflict.

Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred.

The teenage lovers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can only be kept secret for so long. Ronit and Jamil must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

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

I will be the first to admit that poetry and I are not necessarily friends. I have never really read a book that is entirely in verse (except for like the Odyssey and a couple others for school). It’s something that I’ve been curious to try and something that always intrigued me. That said, I’m not sure this was the right book to start with.

There were some really good moments. There were a few passages that I really enjoyed and thought were pretty beautiful. They were what I would expect poetry to be. They invoked feelings and a sense of something other than what you were living (if that made any sense).

Beyond the good moments, there were a lot of issues for me. For one, it was REALLY hard to follow the story. It seemed like the poems/chapters alternated POV between Ronit & Jamil, but you never really knew whose poem was whose. The later parts had their names associated with the poems, so I’m not quite sure why that hadn’t happened in the earlier parts.

Another issue I had was that I had no clue about what was going on. It was supposed to be a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. There were times where you could pick up on the families not wanting them together, but that was it. I never really connected with the characters or even the characters connection with each other. It just never fell into place for me. It was hard to know what was going on and what the plot was. It just felt really basic and didn’t really hold much substance for me. Having read what I have in terms of a story being told with verse, I know it’s doable to have more substance and plot and connections.

I was also really curious to see a classic story told in a modern time area that I haven’t really read about (the Middle East). For me, this could have taken place really anywhere. The location could have been another character (in a sense) and it just never really happened.

Overall, this book did let me down. Had it not been such a quick read I probably would not have finished it. I can’t really say I would recommend it, but poetry is very much interpretive so if you enjoy poetry, then give it a try! You never know!

By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie WestBy Your Side by Kasie West
Published by HarperCollins on January 31st 2017
Source: edelweiss
three-stars
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

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

I have always seen so many amazing things about Kasie West books, but haven’t read one yet. Well, that finally changed! By Your Side is about this girl, Autumn, and how she gets locked into the library with Dax, the bad boy no one knows much about.

Let me start with the obvious. This book is not a serious book. It is a fluffy, feel good book that does touch on certain topics, but it does not go deep. It was super adorable, but pretty cliche for me. It is a great book to read in between harder/longer novels. That said, I did like it. I thought it was fun and I didn’t really struggle getting through it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending though. It felt a bit flat and abrupt and didn’t quite flow with the rest of the story. I’ve read other novels where there is an open ending, but it still flows with the rest of the story. That’s not quite what happened here.

I really appreciated the nod to mental illness and self care. As someone who suffers from anxiety myself, anytime there is a fairly realistic view of it in literature (especially young adult books), I can’t help but to love that book a little more. I liked that it showed kind of two sides of it. It showed how Autumn was dealing with it (which was not always the smartest) and how Dax really noticed what she was doing and tried to help her. He really cared for her and really tried to make sure she was taking care of her mental health.

Dax was definitely my favorite character. I liked how he approached things and his choices made sense and you really did get the feeling that he cared for Autumn. I also really liked Dallin, which is not a very popular opinion. He really cared for his friend Jeff and it shows. It’s very much like a guy in high school. Jeff bugged me though. One of the things I didn’t like was the whole almost love triangle thing. Jeff was annoying and I really didn’t see why there was such a struggle for her to realize who was better for her.

Another thing I just wasn’t entirely a fan of was how she got locked in the library and how she ended up getting out. I’m sorry, but how can people claim to be such good friends and not realize someone was missing? Also, how could it have taken them almost 3 days to finally see the news about what happened? How did the library staff not thoroughly check to see that everyone is gone? How are there not motion sensor alarms that would have noticed people moving around the locked/closed building? The whole concept was a bit far fetched.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was nice and easy and fun and fluffy. I’ll definitely seek more out by Kasie West, but I hope this wouldn’t be considered her best. I feel like there’s so much potential for her as an author so I’m hoping I enjoy her other novels even more!

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen KlagesThe Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
Published by Penguin on October 19th 2006
four-stars
It is 1943, and 11-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is traveling west on a train to live with her scientist father—but no one, not her father nor the military guardians who accompany her, will tell her exactly where he is. When she reaches Los Alamos, New Mexico, she learns why: he's working on a top secret government program. Over the next few years, Dewey gets to know eminent scientists, starts tinkering with her own mechanical projects, becomes friends with a budding artist who is as much of a misfit as she is—and, all the while, has no idea how the Manhattan Project is about to change the world. This book's fresh prose and fascinating subject are like nothing you've read before.

This is one of those books that I purely picked up because of where it takes place. I am born and raised in New Mexico and anytime I come across a book that features New Mexico, I of course have to pick it up. I’m actually really glad that I did with this one! This book takes place in Los Alamos at the time of them building the atomic bombs. While that is the setting and the time frame, the focus was definitely on Suze and Dewey growing up.

Dewey is a little girl genius and I loved her. She was pretty unique and definitely true to herself. She embraced the things that she enjoyed and didn’t entirely care about what others thought of her. She had a strong relationship with her dad and he really seemed to support her in her adventures of building all these things and learning and what not. I did feel really bad for her though. She had to go through some tough situations, but I’m glad that she was able to really overcome them.

Suze was a little bit of a bad egg when we first meet her. I think that once she starts spending more time with Dewey she really comes into her own and grows as a person. She starts to open up a bit more and that was nice to see. I liked that her intelligence was in a different form than Dewey. It shows that there is more than just one kind of intelligence. I really liked her mom as well. She was super nice and smart and was really there for both Suze and Dewey. Yay for smart women! I also liked that she played a bit of a moral role in the things that were happening amidst the adults (with building ‘The Gadget’).

I can’t help but wonder how accurate this is. I can only imagine being in this military encampment where no one can really talk about what’s going on. I feel like some of the adults probably had an idea of what was going on, but certainly none of the kids did. Even the adults though didn’t quite understand the ramifications of their actions. Suze’s mom tried to be that voice of reason, but no one really paid much attention to her in regards to that. I also don’t think they understood the impact this type of bomb could have. A few days later they decide to go the bomb site! I wonder how many of the workers and what not dealt with the side effects of radiation years later. This is definitely a topic I will try to read more about. My interest is piqued!

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I’m happy that there is a sequel (which I already own) since I do want to see more of Dewey and Suze and their family. I definitely recommend this to anyone interested in historical fiction and smart women and this time frame.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place by Amy ZhangFalling into Place by Amy Zhang
Published by Harper Collins on September 9th 2014
Source: edelweiss
three-stars
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

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

I had seen this pop up on numerous lists of really good books to read, especially in regards to its subject matter (suicide). For some reason, I just never picked it up to read! I’m glad I finally decided to do so! I liked this book and it was definitely a unique read. It’s format was different than anything I’ve read and the story line was definitely nonlinear.

Liz is hard person to like when we first meet her. Throughout the novel we see all these bad things she’s done and how they’ve affected her (not just the victims). I could see her struggles, but I never really understood why she decided to commit suicide. It never really connected for me. I did enjoy seeing her kind of realize what she had done and actually feeling guilty over them. I wish there was just more of a connection between her actions and how she’s portrayed in the novel. Having her be somewhat disconnected didn’t really help the story.

It was interesting seeing her two best friends as well, Kenny and Julia. They definitely reacted differently than each other in regards to what was happening. It was sad to see how Liz affected them and basically helped them on their paths of destruction. I’m hoping that if there were to be a sequel that they would all be on a path of recovery after all this. I’m also super curious about Liam and how he’ll fit into Liz’s life in the future. I actually really liked him.

One of the things that I’m still not sure about is who was the narrator. I think it was like an imaginary friend or a young/innocent version of Liz. At times the story flowed, but there were times where the narrator made things just seem off. The story didn’t quite flow the way the rest of the story did in those moments. I did enjoy the nonlinear aspect of the plot, but I wish it didn’t jump around quite as much. I also enjoyed the physics parts, but I wish it was more of a focus. When it was included, I feel like it really worked.

Overall, I enjoyed this. For being a book about such an emotional topic, I expected to have a more emotional response. I didn’t find it spectacular, but I am definitely intrigued to read more by this author.

The Prey by Tom Isbell

The Prey by Tom Isbell

The Prey by Tom IsbellThe Prey by Tom Isbell
Published by Harper Collins on January 20th 2015
Source: edelweiss
three-stars
The Maze Runner meets The Hunger Games in this heart-pounding trilogy. Orphaned teens, soon to be hunted for sport, must flee their resettlement camps in their fight for survival and a better life. For in the Republic of the True America, it's always hunting season. Riveting action, intense romance, and gripping emotion make this fast-paced adventure a standout debut.

After a radiation blast burned most of the Earth to a crisp, the new government established settlement camps for the survivors. At the camp, these sixteen-year-old "LTs," are eager to graduate as part of the Rite. Until they learn the dark truth: "LTs" doesn't stand for lieutenants but for Less Thans, feared by society and raised to be hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with the Sisters, twin girls who've suffered their own haunting fate. Together they seek the fabled New Territory, with sadistic hunters hot on their trail. Secrets are revealed, allegiances are made, and lives are at stake. As unlikely Book and fearless Hope lead their quest for freedom, these teens must find the best in themselves to fight the worst in their enemies.

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

I’m honestly not sure what it was about this book that made me want to read it. Something must have grabbed my attention since I requested it for review! Well, it is now over a year later and I finally read it! I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it. I also don’t think I’ll read the rest of the series. That said, I can see this appealing to a lot of people so definitely give it a shot!

So first off, there was a lot that happened in this. There were times where it felt like one thing too many. There were times when I thought things were wrapping up and the end was near only for something else to happen. With the type of story it did make sense for things to just happen a lot, but it would’ve been nice for there to be a bit of a breather (not so much for the characters since that wouldn’t have made sense for their story, but definitely for the reader). A lot of the moments were really sad as well. I can only imagine what kind of mental head space these kids are in after everything they’ve gone through. I wish the book would touch on that a bit more.

The romance was probably the main issue I had with this story. I think it was pretty unnecessary. Anytime the romance would kind of become the focus, I would definitely lose interest and want to start skimming. The almost love triangle did not help either. I wish the focus was more on the characters and their backstory and how they are handling it all and getting along and all that jazz.

I did like Cat and his backstory. He would be an interesting character to learn more about. Dozer really bugged. I liked how they were all able to really group together and be a team to get where they needed to. As far as why they didn’t see if it was a place worth bringing everyone else to even gathering supplies before going back, I have no idea. That was a really weird decision for them to all make. It was a quick read at least.

Overall, it was an alright book. I can see some people really loving it and others not liking it at all. Definitely give it a try if you like survival stories with romance and a dystopian landscape!

Red Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith

Red Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith

Red Velvet Crush by Christina MeredithRed Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith
Published by HarperCollins on June 14th 2016
Source: edelweiss
two-stars
Teddy Lee’s mother ran off when she was in second grade. And ever since, Teddy Lee, the often-overshadowed middle kid, has tried to keep her family together. But her older brother Winston usually keeps himself busy with smoking, drinking, and girls, and who knows what else. Her younger sister Billie is occupied with her shoplifting habit and boys . . . and who knows what else. So when Teddy Lee finally takes the songs she’s always written and forms a band, maybe it’ll bring everyone closer together, maybe it’ll be her time to shine. Unless Billie steals the spotlight—and the boy—just like she always does. Christina Meredith explores the complicated relationship of sisters—both the unconditional love and the unavoidable resentments—in a novel full of music, urgency, the first blushes of love, and the undeniable excitement of hitting the road.

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

I was really looking forward to this book. I love books involving music and bands that potentially make it big. I also am always curious to read books that involve relationships between sisters that may not be ideal relationships. Since this book had both of those factors I figured ‘why wouldn’t I like it?’. Things just didn’t really click or come together the way they could have. It was almost there, but didn’t quite get it.

I loved the names of the sisters, Teddy Lee and Billie. The names in general were actually pretty good. It’s kind of sad that my favorite part may have been the names… Teddy Lee is the middle child (they have an older brother Winston) and you can definitely tell. She really struggled to find her own identity and do things for herself. Sadly, she never really was able to figure it out. Billie definitely knew who she was and despite being a mess, at least she stayed true to her character. I never really got a good understanding of Winston. Teddy Lee would always talk about how he used to be and all that, but it seemed so different than who he was by the time we meet him.

The band was a bit more interesting. I never really got the appeal of Ty. There was never really a spark or connection that I caught. I was also not so sure about what happened with him. I sort of understand his past, but I’m still not sure what happened with Billie. Ginger Baker was definitely an interesting character. I’m so curious to learn more about him and why he is SO selective in who he talks to. I was seriously hoping for Teddy Lee and him to end up together instead of Ty randomly reappearing. I was seriously rooting for them in the end. They were cute with each other and I think he was so much better for her. Alas, it’s doubtful that my OTP will come to be.

One of the biggest issues I had with this book was what the expectation was from the synopsis and what really happened with Teddy Lee and Billie. It states that the author “explores the complicated relationship of sisters” and while there is that complicated relationship, I wouldn’t say that it was explored. They never really feel like sisters to me. Their relationship is so one note and there’s not really any change to it, I just didn’t believe it. I have older twin sisters and their relationship is what I view to be a complicated sister relationship. Maybe I just have high expectations in this subject…

Overall, I enjoyed the book but I was not really impressed by it. I’m not sure if I’ll read another by this author, but I’m not necessarily against it. I just really wish there was a more dynamic relationship between the sisters and I really wish that Teddy Lee was able to really find herself and to grow as a person. Things were left so open and unresolved. Sadly, not a highlight of the year for me.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 3rd 2017
Source: Netgalley
five-stars
Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.

Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.

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

When this book comes out early next month-you need to read it ASAP. It is such a touching and honest take on mental health and the right amount of romance and adorableness and it is just perfect. Just trust me. You can honestly tell that the author has had first hand experience with these conditions and isn’t trying to share what she thinks it COULD be like, but instead, what she knows it can be like (if that makes sense). If you also suffer from anxiety and depression and such, I do want to warn you that there could be triggers (there was for me) so reader beware. As much as I want everyone to read this, I know that may not entirely be possible.

This review is going to get personal a bit later on so I’m sorry if you want a review that focuses solely on the book. That’s not what you’ll find in this one.

From the get go, you could really feel Norah’s struggle with life. She can’t go outside without facing an extreme panic attack, she has severe anxiety (especially with germs and what ifs and all the bad things that can happen), and has OCD. You fall right into her brain and her thought process and her anxiety with going outside and germs and OCD and everything. I loved following her on her journey to get help from Dr. Reeves. I loved that it wasn’t like an instant fix. She didn’t go to the good doctor once and get better. She had to work through things and made steps forward and made steps backwards.

I (unofficially) suffer from pretty bad anxiety and also have a history with self-harm. Experiencing this journey with Norah really made me reflect on my journey with mental health. Growing up I dealt with severe depression. Losing my mom at such a young age and some of the things I experienced growing up made life difficult for me to handle. There is also a history of clinical depression in my family so there were really two factors to this. As a result, one of the ways I tried to cope was self-harm.

Reading the scenes involving Norah and her thought process with it really hit home for me. It really made me self-reflect on how I handle things to this day. I may not self-harm as extremely as I do, but I do little things that would fall under that umbrella.

I also suffer from anxiety. I used to smoke cigarettes (for about 8 years) and when I quit, my anxiety really reared its ugly head. I can’t drive long distances (long being more than like 20 minutes). When my husband and I are going across town (which can take 45 minutes), I tend to average at least one mild panic attack en route. While my anxiety is more manageable than what many people suffer from, it has impacted my life in negative ways. I also think of the what ifs and the bad things and panic about something that hasn’t even really happened. I just can’t help it. The worst part of my social anxiety definitely is my social anxiety. I have a hard time being social on Twitter without experiencing some level of panic and terror. It’s been rough (especially since I work retail and have to work with and around people as much as I do).

This book in general really made me self-reflect on how I’ve been taking care of myself mentally and the state of my mental health and more than likely that I do need to seek out help.

ANYWAYS.

I absolutely adored Luke. He was so adorable and persistent but understanding and really tried to be there for Norah. At first I wasn’t sure if he was really understanding her illness or not, but after that kiss-he really did try to learn about it. He really did seem to care about her and wanted to be there on her level and at her pace. He was just too cute and I think they were good for each other. I liked that he was there to support Norah and not really direct her life in a way he thought best. He was truly a supporting character but not unimportant to the story.

I also really liked Norah’s relationship with her mother. Her mom was definitely there for her and understood and tried to really care for and help her daughter. I loved how close they were and how much they cared for each other. So many times in YA literature do you see where the main character does not get along with her parents or there is the whole absent parent thing. Yes, there were parts where her mom was absent, but it made sense for the story and it wasn’t absent in the sense she didn’t care for Norah.

Overall, this is definitely one of my favorite books of the year (if not a favorite of all time). I feel mental health should be a topic more in YA and this is a great example of what it could be.

Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos

Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos

Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget HeosBlood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos
Published by HarperCollins on October 4th 2016
Source: edelweiss
three-stars
Ever since the introduction of DNA testing, forensic science has been in the forefront of the public’s imagination, thanks especially to popular television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But forensic analysis has been practiced for thousands of years. Ancient Chinese detectives studied dead bodies for signs of foul play, and in Victorian England, officials used crime scene photography and criminal profiling to investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. In the intervening decades, forensic science has evolved to use the most cutting-edge, innovative techniques and technologies.

In this book, acclaimed author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the fascinating history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and all the important milestones in between. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system.

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

It should not be news that I am deeply interested in forensics and true crime. There is just something about the psychology behind the scenes (?) that I find fascinating. When I was given an opportunity to read this book, how could I say no?! One of the more interesting things about this book is that it is intended to be a YA book! I personally have not seen a nonfiction book like this geared towards that age group (and I love it!).

The way this book reads is really nice. It’s not boring or overloaded with information and the science makes sense (despite science being one of my worst subjects). It gives just enough information to explain what it is trying to, but still peaks your interest to possibly research it further if you choose. The flow of the book was nice as well. It was fairly true to the evolution of forensic science. It really built on the topics instead of jumping all over the place and introducing things and science without any previous understanding of it. For those of us where science is not our friend, this building on the material was much appreciated.

While I appreciated the flow of the book on a whole, the flow in some of the chapters threw me a bit off. Each chapter was set up to focus on one particular facet of forensic science (i.e. fingerprints). I noticed in some of the chapters that the chapter would start on topic, but by the end it was focusing on another topic. There was just a lot of unnecessary segues happening and it would throw me off. I just found myself getting pulled out of the book way too easily as a result.

I also noticed that some chapters and sections were rushed whereas other areas just dragged on. In the sections that dragged I think there was just too many examples showcasing that particular part of forensic science. I wish it had been a bit more equal across the board. Some of the examples were so brief I’m still not sure why they were included. I did like that they included some popular cases (i.e. Jack the Ripper), but there were also cases that I haven’t heard about (which is kind of impressive lol). There were older cases, newer cases, and so many different examples in between.

I really iked that this book also touched on the faults for each part of forensic science. With science evolving and theories always changing and all that jazz, forensic science will never be perfect. Some of the theories they even discuss are used to guide an investigation, but not to prove anything (if that makes sense).

I think this is a good introduction to forensic science for those who are curious about it. There’s the history and the theories and examples and the evolution and it’s all in such an easy to understand format. Even though I’ve read a lot and have watched a lot involving true crime and forensic science, there were things that I learned by reading this. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in this topic, for sure!

Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

Take the Fall by Emily HainsworthTake the Fall by Emily Hainsworth
Published by HarperCollins on February 16th 2016
Source: edelweiss
two-stars
Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

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

Mystery books are one of my guilty pleasures. I love mystery and crime and whodunits. I’ve always had a hard time finding books in those genres in young adult. Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth technically falls into these categories, but it was just not the book for me. This review will probably have quite a few spoilers so I would be careful from here on out.

The plot in this book is really where I struggled. I liked the characters (for the most part). Sonia was alright. You could tell that losing her friend, Gretchen, really did affect her. It was like she wasn’t used to be by herself or being herself without Gretchen there (if that makes sense). Basically, it was like she had no identity outside of this friendship. I also feel like that she didn’t really grieve the loss of her friend. With the crazy twist at the end, it kind of makes sense, but even with those circumstances I feel like Sonia should have felt grief on some level. Kristen on the other hand was just crazy. It was hard to tell at times if she was crazy with grief or just crazy.

I was pretty indifferent in regards to Marcus and the other characters. Marcus had such potential. He has the misunderstood artist with a rough past and a top suspect in the case. As soon as I started to be okay with him, the whole twist happened and it seemed like everything was just so fake and that was really a let down. Kip seemed to be just a random person added to the mix. Everyone at the diner felt unnecessary to the story as well. It’s frustrating to have a book where seemingly important characters could be taken out of the story, and it not really change anything. Why are they in the book to begin with?

The biggest issue I had with this book was the plot though. It felt like it was all over the place, but dragged out and stagnant all at the same time. I tend to guess throughout mysteries on who I think did it and this book was no exception. I actually guessed right at one point, but I never really got any evidence or proof or anything to support it so I just put that thought aside. When we found out who did it, it was honestly a surprise. Once it was explained, it made sense, but it definitely wasn’t my first instinct nor did I entirely want to believe it. Overall, the plot on this was that there was a stellar beginning, sloooow middle, and lackluster ending.

That twist though! It did keep me guessing (so one point in books favor), but it was just too out there! SPOILERS AHEAD! I guessed it was Sonia, but as the story went on I lost that thought because nothing really connected to that theory. As it went on, I did start leaning that it was her sister. I honestly wish it was! It would have made more sense and I think would have made a bigger impact. I also thought that the way they portrayed Gretchen, with all her vindictiveness and manipulativeness was a bit much. It was just one bad thing after another. There was never really a redeeming point to her which was kind of odd that so many people circled her and seemed to really love her.

Overall, I just did not click with this book. There are definitely some mixed reviews so I would say to give it a shot, but I’ve definitely experienced better mystery books in young adult.

Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Meet Me Here by Bryan BlissMeet Me Here by Bryan Bliss
Published by HarperCollins on May 31st 2016
Source: edelweiss
two-stars
Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.

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

I’ve read a few books with characters who suffered with PTSD and I’ve always found that topic to be interesting. I was excited to read this book since I thought it would touch on that topic as well as just the emotions and feelings of one chapter of your life ending (high school) and a new one starting. Sadly, this book just did not reach the expectations that I had for it. This book felt very basic. It never really got deep or in depth and I never really connected with what was going on.

This book takes place over an entire night, graduation night to be exact. Our main character, Thomas, just graduated and is supposed to be enlisting in the military the following day. After seeing how his brother, Jake, came back (with PTSD), he decides he’d rather run away without telling anyone. I never really clicked with Thomas. I did like him and could understand his thought process, but that was about it. I never really believed his journey (if that makes sense). I really wish I could believe his emotions and feel them alongside him. The situations he was put into and the things he was dealing with were hard! I wanted to feel them and work through them with him and it just never happened.

One of the major things I wasn’t a fan of was Mallory. I never really understood her role. I understand they used to be friends, but it was just way too random that all of a sudden she started talking to Thomas again and that they went and did all these things with each other. I almost wish there were flashbacks to a younger Thomas and Mallory instead of them having to remind each other ‘Oh, remember this?’. I also didn’t like how she just randomly left. One minute she’s there leading the show and the next she was just gone. It was just to abrupt and random for me.

This brings me to another issue I had with this story. The plot was so all over the place. It’s hard to believe that everything that happened could have feasibly happened within just one night. There were so many characters randomly thrown into the mix it was hard to keep track of who was who. At first it’s all about Thomas and Mallory rekindling their friendship and all randomly it’s about Thomas looking for his brother and drug dealers got involved (I think-it was never really confirmed) and then some older vets got involved and then there’s a rock that Jake brought home with him that he needed to do something with. I don’t know. It was SO scattered. I still don’t really know what happened in the end. Are the vets going to take care of Jake? Is Thomas not going to enlist? Is Mallory staying with Will and get married? Is Jake addicted to some sort of drug? There were just so many things that weren’t really wrapped up or addressed. It bothered me.

Nonetheless, I didn’t hate the story. I’m not sure if I’ll read more by this author, but there is definitely potential. I think that’s why I’m so bummed out. I had such high hopes for this book, but it never really came together for me. I may try another book by him, just to see if it’s this book specifically, or if I just don’t click with this particular author’s writing style. We’ll see!