The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi – Review

April 21, 2014 Review 0 ★★★★★

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi – ReviewRelease Date: April 1, 2014
Title: The Summer I Wasn't Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Pages: 352
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there's nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path...
5 Stars

The Summer I Wasn’t Me was one of the best and most difficult to read books I’ve ever read.

Lexi likes girls.

The truth was, I had never felt sad about being gay. It was just another part of who I was, no different than my size-seven feet or 20/20 vision. The part I hated was the hiding; the pretending to be someone I wasn’t; the steady, tormenting harassment that came in the form of Bible scripture and church sermons; the constant fear that if people found out, they would hate me, ridicule me, possibly even hurt me. That stuff sucked.

When her mom finds out, Lexi is sent to New Horizons – a religious camp intended to “cure” her homosexuality.

Yes, it’s a loaded topic.

And it was, at times, unbearable to read.

At the camp, Lexi was forced to wear a uniform (white sweater with cap sleeves, pink tank top, pink skort with white pinstripes, and white heeled sandals) to ensure she always looked feminine. She was forced to wear a gold cross necklace at all times to prove she was following Jesus. She was forced to say that she liked girls because her parents didn’t raise her properly and she was made to role-play her final memory of her dead father – changing it to tell him she was forgetting the relationship they had (since it had “damaged” her). It was horrifying.

I wanted to stop reading so many times, because I so fundamentally and vehemently disagree with everything New Horizons stands for. I come from a community of people who believed as they did and mistreated people in many of the same ways. I left that community for a reason, and I didn’t want to relive it in the pages of this book.

But I found myself completely invested in Lexi’s journey. And in the journeys of her friends Matthew and Carolyn.

I won’t tell you what happens, because you need to discover it for yourself – but trust me when I say that this book is worth reading. Push through the hard parts and come out on the other side changed.

I wanted her to be okay. I wanted her to live. To be herself.

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  • Book, Blog, BakeThe Summer I Wasn’t Me was such an impressive book. It was so hard to read about New Horizons, and to really read about the struggles of the characters, but it was so worth it. They all felt so real!
  • PinkindleI loved The Summer I Wasn’t Me. It tackled a subject that I had never read about before, and starred a lesbian protagonist which I haven’t seen enough of in YA fiction. There’s also a really cute romance, and some sweet family revelations. I just really, really enjoyed it.
  • The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say ShhhhhThe book gets a B for not doing much to help the huge divide between the Christian community and the LGBT community, so I would warn readers to remember that not all Christians believe in ex-gay therapy.

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Adaptation by Malinda Lo – Review (Adaptation #1)

April 16, 2014 Review 0 ★★★★

Adaptation by Malinda Lo – Review (Adaptation #1)Release Date: September 18, 2012
Title: Adaptation
Series: Adaptation #1
Author: Malinda Lo
Pages: 400
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
4 Stars

This book opened up with birds going crazy and plunging into the ground (to their deaths) or flying en masse into airplanes causing crashes all over the world.

My first thought was what is happening here?

As I continued reading, I grew more and more fascinated – and more and more confused.

Mysteries, secrets, and conspiracies oh my!

This is one book where I couldn’t possibly have predicted what was really going on.

That makes me adore Malinda Lo.

Reese is my favorite kind of main character. As her life is imploding and the world around her seems to be going crazy, she doesn’t keep everything to herself (even though the government required her to sign an NDA after her accident). She finds ways to talk to her mom (yes – her mother). She decides – with David – that it’s okay to bring her best friend Julian into the loop. She doesn’t just suffer in silence and try to fix the world herself. I get so angry with characters who do that!

Her mom is actually involved in her life. That never happens in YA! A large chunk of the book is dedicated to Reese discovering that she likes girls (too). Her mom catches her kissing a girl, and there’s no drama whatsoever surrounding the scene. LOVE.

I do think the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly (in what world would the government release Reese and David simply because of media pressure?) but I’m excited to see what happens next. This story is far from over.

Need More Information?

  • Rather Be ReadingDespite my drawbacks, Lo successfully left me aching to know what happens to her characters. The blending of paranormal elements and conspiracy theories was incredibly intriguing. Pieces of the story felt so real to me that I couldn’t help but be wary of flocks of birds when I saw them. I have no idea what will happen next for Reese, but I am very anxious to see what Lo has in store for us.
  • Assorted InsanityThe plot was crazy. It starts off as birds crashing into random shit like they’re missiles and ends up being some crazy thing that I can’t really explain because of spoilers. It’s so weird and nonsensical. As you can tell, the only words I can use to describe the plot are weird, insane, and crazy. 
  • The Book SmugglersAdaptation is one of those rare, unique birds in YA: a good, cool and geek-friendly sci-fi story featuring an extremely diverse cast of characters and a beautifully portrayed bisexual protagonist.

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Waiting on Wednesday 4.16.14

April 16, 2014 Fun Stuff 0

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

thelongestrideTitle: The Longest Ride
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Release Date: May 8, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Summary: In the tradition of his beloved first novel, The Notebook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with the remarkable story of two couples whose lives intersect in profound and surprising ways.

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

I’m not always a big fan of Nicholas Sparks books (but the movies are a whole different story). But this one sounds like a book I’d really enjoy.

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The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi – Review

April 14, 2014 Review 0 ★★★

The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi – ReviewRelease Date: April 22, 2014
Title: The Chance You Won't Return
Author: Annie Cardi
Pages: 352
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: When your mom thinks she’s Amelia Earhart, navigating high school, first love, and family secrets is like flying solo without a map. 

Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school — and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. Why is she dressing in Dad’s baggy khaki pants with a silk scarf around her neck? What is she planning when she pores over maps in the middle of the night? When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex tries to keep her budding love life apart from the growing disaster at home as her mother sinks further into her delusions. But there are those nights, when everyone else is asleep, when it’s easier to confide in Amelia than it ever was to Mom. Now, as Amelia’s flight plans become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight — the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?
3 Stars

This is one of those books where I liked some parts, and then I didn’t like other parts. That’s kind of standard, right? Unless it’s a book you can’t stop gushing about.

But then I got to the end. THE END. It left me in a murderous rage that nearly made me throw my iPad across the room.

WHAT KIND OF ENDING WAS THAT MS. CARDI?

Let me tell you. That was NO kind of ending at all!

I like happy endings. But I don’t need happy endings (see: Allegiant). What I need is closure. And this book was more open-ended than a 10th grade essay question about Shakespeare.

I CAN’T HANDLE IT.

I don’t even necessarily need everything tied up in neat little bows. But don’t leave me wondering View Spoiler »

Give me closure. Give me something to hold onto as I imagine the lives of these characters beyond the pages of the book!

Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?

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Sweet Southern Betrayal by Robin Covington -Review

April 11, 2014 Review 0 ★★★

Sweet Southern Betrayal by Robin Covington -Review

Sweet Southern Betrayal by Robin Covington -ReviewRelease Date: January 13, 2014
Title: Sweet Southern Betrayal
Series: The Boys Are Back in Town #3
Author: Robin Covington
Pages: 161
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Source: NetGalley
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore
From the Publisher: Privileged and ambitious attorney Teague Elliott is on the fast-track to getting everything he wants. All he has to do is stay on the straight and narrow and a high-profile political career is his for the taking. Until he wakes up naked with a Vegas showgirl...

Risa Clay has worked hard to put her showgirl past behind her and start fresh. But she owes ten grand to the wrong people, and to pay off her debt, she agrees to betray a stranger. . .but she ends up with a husband and guilty conscience.

Savvy and determined, she double-crosses the mob, goes on the run, and turns up on Teague’s doorstep armed with a dangerous secret, a marriage license, and the power to ruin his well-planed future. She thought using Teague again would be easy, but the passion that exploded between them in Vegas didn’t stay in Sin City and betrayal is the last thing on her mind.

Now Teague has to choose between the future he’s planned for all his life, or the one with Risa that he can’t turn away from.
3 Stars

I’m just going to say it.

I don’t like romance novels with a male main character.

Something about them just doesn’t sit right with me. I love a good romance novel. But I want them to feature men who I would dream of being with. And when he is the main character, you end up seeing all of the stuff you never want to see in a fantasy.

Teague is arrogant and selfish. He doesn’t want love, he wants sex.

Of course, this is a romance novel so by the end he turns into the fantasy… but the journey just isn’t as fun when you’ve already seen what’s behind the curtain.

I read for the fantasy. Not for a dose of reality.

Need More Information?

  • Night Owl RomanceTeague and Risa’s story is very enjoyable and lovely. I will recommend it to anyone who loves to read a steamy love story.
  • Harlequin JunkieThe most impressive part of this story was how the author handled the betrayal of the hero. Desperate to save her friend she is blackmailed in exchange for having her debts absolved. Therefore, she is not malicious, just desperate. As a reader, I am more accepting of a character’s redemption if there is a clear motivation for the betrayal.
  • The Book PushersThe sparks were definitely flying with these two, and I loved the fact that throughout most of their relationship, they really were so on the same page about what they both wanted, what the expected, and what they wanted to gain from their relationship. It is always refreshing to read those kinds of romances, and I thought Covington did a wonderful job with it.

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