Friday, February 17, 2017

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful {by Eric Lindstrom}

Title: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: The NOVL

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm's length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.
As the walls of Mel's compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst--that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she's been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?
In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Eric Lindstrom, author of the critically acclaimed Not If I See You First, examines the fear that keeps us from exposing our true selves, and the courage it takes to be loved for who we really are.

Unfortunately, this book fell a little flat for me. I enjoyed Lindstrom's debut, and I was looking forward to this one, but it just...wasn't very memorable. Even trying to review this a short time after reading, I can't remember much that stood out to me, I'm sorry to say.

Writing: The writing this time around was not page-turning. While I did fly through it, it was more because the book was short and simple to read. The prose wasn't very lyrical or attention-grabbing. It was, however, easy to follow and get into the flow of the story.

Characters: Unfortunately, the characters pretty much all fell flat for me. I would have loved to see Mel more fleshed-out and complex. I think her friends, as well as her mom and aunt, were great additions to the story, but the were two-dimensional and just...there. These characters could have been so much more, and brought so much to the story. I couldn't bring myself to be interested in the drama of what happened between Mel and her ex-friends. While I did like David, the love interest, he too fell flat. I didn't get any swoony vibes from him, and the relationship between him and Mel felt forced and off.

Plot: The story starts off very slow. I didn't think it was too hard to get into, because the story is easy to follow and easy to read. But I felt the ending was too rushed, trying to fit in too many things and tie up too many loose ends at once. I think the part that interested me most was Nolan, her brother, and the story surrounding him, but we don't get much of that. The story is more about friendship and her bipolar disorder, than it is about the romance (which I always appreciate).

Depiction of Mental Illness: Mel has bipolar disorder. While I can't talk to the accuracy of the rep (if you know of any #ownvoices reviews, link 'em my way), I do think it is so important to have this rep (if it's done well, which I think it was). Mel is on meds, and goes to therapy, and I think it is so important for kids to see this and realize it's okay. Mel also has a few different coping methods we see throughout the book, and I think it was good that we got to see those as well.

The book was light and enjoyable while reading it, although not very memorable after the fact. While it had potential, and I was so hoping to love it, it ultimately fell a little flat. I appreciated the representation, but truthfully there wasn't really much else going for it.

Eric Lindstrom:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Wrap Up

Hello! Well, we made it through the first month of the year and I can't believe it's already February (yes, I know we all say that every month). Hope everyone is taking care of themselves, mentally as well as physically.

I actually had a pretty good reading month because I was cramming as much as I could before school started. Believe me, the rest of the year will not look like this. I think I read a good variety, and even got a few nonfiction in there, which I am always trying to read more of.

Favorites: The Memoirs of Lady Trent Series, A Closed and Common Orbit, The Rise of the Rocket Girls, Station Eleven

Music: I actually have an old favorite this month. For some reason, I got back into older Relient K music and have not stopped listening to Mhmm and Apathetic EP.
Movie: I saw Hidden Figures this month and I AM STILL NOT OVER THIS MOVIE OKAY
TV: I binged all 7 seasons of Parks and Recreation and OMG YOU GUYS this show I love it so much and I'm not sure what to do with my life now. 

Hope everyone had a lovely January. Keep fighting the good fight, y'all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star {by Nicola Yoon}

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I loved Nicola Yoon's debut, and I'm so glad to say that I enjoyed this one so much as well. I don't think I enjoyed it more than Everything, Everything but enough to solidify Yoon as an auto-read author for me. While the book was a quick read (for me, mostly because I devoured it in one night) it was still a deep and complex story.

Characters: One thing about Nicola Yoon is that she always writes great characters. We have Natasha: factual, scientific, no nonsense. Then we have Daniel: poet, dreamer. Both voices were unique and different. Sometimes dual POVs have a tendency to sound alike, but Daniel and Natasha were different enough that I could always tell who I was reading. Both characters are children of immigrants. Daniel is struggling under the high expectations of his parents for his future. Natasha is trying to prevent her family from getting deported. As a child of immigrants myself, I felt that I could relate to them. It was so great to see some of my experiences (realistically) on page. I related to both Natasha and Daniel in different ways, and while you may not agree or like some of their decisions, it is easy to see where they are coming from.

Writing: Nicola's writing was beautiful in this story as well. Lyrical and attention-grabbing, even while keeping the differences between scientific Natasha and artistic Daniel. In this story, we also get POVs from all sorts of different people (and even a few objects) and while I know some people did not like those, I did. It was an interesting choice, but added a lot to the story. Sometimes we don't think of the background characters, the ones we only pass by, or have the tiniest interaction with, and it was interesting to get these little snippets from them as well.

Plot: The story takes place over the course of one day. I'm not the hugest fan of insta-love, but this seemed extreme. There were a few plot things I didn't like, but I was mostly able to ignore that for the characters. I guess if over-the-top romances are your thing, then you will like this. But this book tackled a lot of big issues too - racism, immigration, even religion.

In the end, this was a wonderfully complex, deep, even emotional book that I would definitely recommend.

Nicola Yoon:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | tumblr | Goodreads

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

History is All You Left Me {by Adam Silvera}

 History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Title: History is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: Edelweiss

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

If you are looking for an author that will break your heart, look no further than Adam Silvera. I loved his first novel, and this was no different. It was wholly complex, sad, but in the end hopeful and so lovely.

This book is told non-linearly, which took me a bit to get used to, but was a great decision for this book. Adam does it so well, so there's no confusion. I do love Adam's writing, although it can get a bit dense at times. But it really draws you into the story and doesn't let you go.

Griffin is grieving the death of his best friend/ex-boyfriend. I think this is a subject that doesn't get tackled much in YA, and I am so glad Adam did. Griffin is just trying to figure out how to move forward when life no longer looks like anything he imagined. All of the characters were written very vividly, very real. They acted the way grieving teenagers might act. Sure, they made some terrible decisions from time to time, but we really get into Griffin's head and understand where he's coming from.

Griffin also struggles with OCD, and this was handled very well. We got to see a bit into Griffin's head and understand what it is like for someone who struggles with OCD. So often anxiety is just another plot point, turned on and off when it suits the story, so I was very glad to see accurate representation.

This was another great story from Adam Silvera, and I can't wait to read whatever he has for us next.

Adam Silvera:

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