contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 432, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Sydney has always felt invisible. She’s grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.

Review:
I honestly can’t say enough how much I love Sarah Dessen. Her books deal with topics that everyone struggles with and gives girls someone to relate to and look up to no matter how they handle their problems. Dessen achieves this and more in Saint Anything.

I truly loved Sydney. She was flawed but cohesive as a character. She made consistent choices and while I sometimes found her hard to read, it was more than I couldn’t deal with what was happening in the book because of her choices than her character. I physically cringed and had to stop reading at certain parts because it was hard to handle but Dessen covers a sensitive issue.

The pacing was good for the most part. I think there were a few points where it slowed it a little too much for my liking and parts that also went a little too fast. Which is why I can’t give this book five folded pages.

However, I truly enjoyed it and it just adds to my Sarah Dessen love. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been rereading her books lately and I can’t wait to dive back into more of them!

new adult, romance

Book Review: In This Moment by Autumn Doughton

in this moment

Title: In This Moment
Author: Autumn Doughton
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Length: 292, Kindle Book
Genre: Romance, New Adult
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Warning: This book is intended for mature audiences!!

Blurb:
Every moment possesses its own kind of magic…

Aimee Spencer learned the hard way that for some moments, there are no take-backs, no rewinds, no do-overs. A year ago her world imploded and Aimee has been running ever since. She doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t want to remember. To bury the ghosts that haunt her, she is living a life that has become unrecognizable.

Cole Everly is a golden boy with a cocky smile and an attitude to match. He’s grown accustomed to girls throwing themselves at his feet, but when Aimee trips and literally lands in his lap one afternoon, she’s not at all what he expects. Difficult, damaged, closed-off. If Cole needed to make a list of qualities to avoid in a girl, Aimee would probably match up with every single one of them. He knows that he should stay away but he’s drawn to her in a way that he can’t exactly explain.

In this honest and absorbing story, Aimee and Cole struggle to sort out the thin spaces between loss and love. Ultimately, they will need to learn how to navigate through the pieces of the past if they want to hold on to the future and each other.

Review:
My favorite thing about this book is that Aimee saves herself. Yes, obviously, there is a steamy romance that may or may not help. But Aimee isn’t helpless.

Recently, I’ve noticed that a lot of romance/contemporary novels have the broken girl fall in love with a guy who suddenly fixes all her issues and I honestly cannot stand it. I think the next one I read like that I will DNF the minute I feel it start. I can’t stand that because it’s not how life works. And woman/girls don’t need books to tell them to find a guy and all their problems will be over. They need books that show that they can do it themselves with or without the guy. (okay small rant over).

I have to say the only thing I didn’t enjoy from this book was Cole’s point of view. Doughton switches views throughout the novel and I enjoyed that but sometimes it felt like Doughton was writing what she thought a male should be thinking. I think it played heavily into stereotype here and there and it didn’t feel very authentic as certain points. Other times I really enjoyed it but I think Doughton had a hard time with the male voice not drifting into almost mockery of what she thought a male should sound like.

The steamy parts were definitely steamy. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s my first soiree into New Adult fiction. I’ve been meaning to try it out for ages. (I know technically Saga is New Adult but it’s also a graphic novel so I feel like it doesn’t really count). Anyway, now that I’ve tried the genre I can’t wait to get my hands on more!

Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, young adult

Book Review: East by Edith Pattou

East by Edith Pattou

Title: East
Author: Edith Pattou
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 528, Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Rose has always felt out of place in her family. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she finds love, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun.

As fresh and original as only the best fantasy can be, East is a novel retelling of the classic tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” told in the tradition of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine.

Review:
Since starting this blog, I have done many rereads (and plan to do many more). I forget so much of what happens in books I read in middle school or high school and it’s been a good experience mostly. East by Edith Pattou has been one of my favorite rereads thus far. Then again all I could remember was the vague notion of ice, a polar bear, and the fact that I really liked it.

East is a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” just like Ice (click to read that review) that I read a few weeks ago. And although I enjoyed Ice, it definitely didn’t capture me the way East has.

Rose is such a dynamic, flawed character that she’s hard not to love. She knows who she is and she doesn’t try to change when others are so eager for her to be someone besides herself. She’s very headstrong and very likeable. Unlike Cassie, who was headstrong but about the wrong things, and generally unlikeable for me.

East is told from several different views, either Rose or people around Rose. Although I normally don’t enjoy books with jumping perspectives Pattou has done an excellent job of not making the narrative feel choppy.

I do have to say that while I thoroughly loved this book and found it hard to put down, it did have some slow points that could be a little hard to push through. Which is the only reason this book gets 4.5 folded pages and not 5.

dystopian, science fiction, scifi, young adult

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Title: Unwind
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 352, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child’s body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

With breathtaking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines complex moral issues that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.

Review:
I decided to reread Unwind because I just recently found out that Neal Shusterman had continued the stories by turning it into a dystology. I remember absolutely loving the series but the only thing I could remember distinctly about it was miniscule detail about the ending. I absolutely loved my reread.

The characters, Connor, Risa, Roland, Lev, and all the side characters were absolutely amazing. For a book with so many points of view, all the characters have phenomenal character growth. Connor learns how to handle himself and becomes more than his label and Risa overcomes her own fears.

The plot itself was just as amazing as I remember as well. It’s such a unique thought but so relevant to today. There are so many themes that could be applied to today. I would name some but I don’t want to spoil anything.

The only complaint I have, and the reason I can’t give this novel 5 folded pages, is that the story did get a little slow here and there. Nothing too bad, but I think for a novel like this it shouldn’t be fast paced and intense the entire time and it just wasn’t.

Overall, I’m super happy I reread this novel and I hope that the rest of the series is just as good.

Fantasy, young adult

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Length: 432, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Review:

I absolutely adored this book. So much so that I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours of starting it. Maas as said that Throne of Glass is loosely based on Cinderella but I had gone into this expecting a fairytale retelling more or less. To clear things up, it is VERY loosely based on Cinderella and I am A-Okay with this.

Celaena is a wonderfully 3D character. She has badass moments but she also is quick to anger and can’t keep her cool. She’s not perfect and I absolutely love that about her. Too often heroines have no flaws aside from being too pretty or too badass and I’m glad to have a character that is badass but also still a young female who has normal emotions and thoughts. As a side note, Maas even makes sure to mention Celaena getting her period and how it affects her which is an absolute first for me in any novel I’ve read and absolutely amazing.

I enjoyed the side characters as well. Chaol (which will forever be pronounced Cha-ol for me and not Kay-all as the pronunciation guide suggests) had an understandable standpoint even if he did seem a bit unfair. Dorian although the epitome of the “I’m nice despite my parentage” troupe still has other aspects that make his character believable like his arrogance.

The one thing that makes me give this 4.5 instead of 5 stars is that sometimes I had a hard time believing Celaena was really an assassin. I understand that she had been locked away basically dying for a year and that she is still a young girl. But some parts I found myself absolutely flabbergasted she couldn’t recognize or react as someone who has been a trained assassin for 10 years.

I absolutely adored this book while reading and I’m super excited to get to the next one. I’m glad the hype around this book didn’t disappoint me!

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock & Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Length: 422, paperback
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Rating: 4.5 folded pages

Blurb:
Unlock your heart and the rest will follow.

Ruby is used to taking care of herself.

But now that she’s living with her sister, she’s got her own room, she’s going to a good school, and her future looks bright.

Plus there’s the adorable boy next door.

Can Ruby learn to open her heart and let him in?

Review:
There is something about a Sarah Dessen novel that is indescribably relatable. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had similar experiences to the main character or side characters. Whenever I open a Sarah Dessen novel, I know I’m in for a story that I will in some way relate to and it is no different when rereading Lock and Key.

At first I was worried, I haven’t read a Dessen novel in years and I decided randomly to start rereading her books because I remember absolutely loving them. I’m happy that I wasn’t disappointed. Lock and Key was almost just as good as I remembered.

Ruby feels completely real. She’s flawed and makes mistakes and is so very human. I love that most about Dessen’s writing. All her characters are unmistakably human. Even the side characters like Nate, Cora, Jamie, and Olivia all had very real personalities that were believable. Every character came alive on the page. None of them felt flat. A problem I’ve been having with recent novels I’ve been reading.

I also love that as a contemporary novel the romance is believable but also not the central focus. More and more the romance is the sole point. The boy saves the girl from herself or her past or who she’s pretending to be but Nate isn’t the biggest factor in Ruby’s story and I absolutely love it.

The only real issue I had is that some of the sentences were very awkward. I found myself rereading certain lines or paragraphs because they were oddly worded. Here and there sentences felt like a word was missing so I understood what was being said but it was obvious something was amiss.

Aside from this small factor, I absolutely enjoyed reading this novel again. So much so that I read it in one sitting. Not an easy feat for a 422 page novel. Still I flew through it like it was my first time reading it and I’m so glad I picked it up again.

dystopian, young adult

Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 488, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Review:

I feel a little late to party with the darkest minds since it’s been floating around booktube and other young adult book reviewers for quite a while, but I’m so glad I picked it up! I couldn’t put it down reading it in a total of 3 days. With this being finals week and my job making me work more hours than usual because it’s a busy time, I’d say this is pretty fantastic for an almost 500 page book.

The thing I loved the most about this book was that instead of one big overarching plot with subplots within, it was more like smaller plots that folded seamlessly together. Normally, this would bother me, but Bracken does such a wonderful job keeping the pace up without forcing a “main goal” for the ragtag group of kids.I also loved Bracken’s writing. It is to the point and easy to read while still maintaining depth and allowing the characters to grow with the passing of time.

I did find myself annoyed with the main character, Ruby, which is one of the main reasons I can’t give this book a full five stars. I’m just not a fan of the whole “I absolutely have to hide who I really am” mindset that seems to be a trend in dystopian novels. Still, as frustrating as it was, Ruby is a very dynamic character that you can watch change with each page almost.

No spoilers, but I will say the ending made me cry. I tried so hard not to but I couldn’t help it. I always end up really liking it when a book can give me enough emotion to manifest physically whether it be tears or legitimately laughing out loud and I found I did both with The Darkest Minds.

I say this is one of my favorite YA dystopians, which is hard for me considering out many books are in the genre at the moment. The Uglies series will always hold the number one spot in my heart for that slot but I think The Darkest Minds series might be pulling a close second. We’ll definitely see once I get my hands on the next installment!