Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman REVIEW


 

Title: Girl Out of Water
Author:  Laura Silverman
Hardback: 320 pages
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon

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I was sent this book from Sourcebooks through Net Galley for an honest review. This does not change my opinions of the book.

Personally, I felt that this book was very hyped up for me by many other bloggers I know and follow. Anise is ready for the best summer in her home of Santa Cruz to spend with her friends before they leave for college and one for the navy. She expected a great summer full of surfing waves, late night bonfires, and the Surf Break – a big music festival. Her plans drastically change when her Aunt Jackie gets in a horrific car accident and she has to spend her summer in Nebraska babysitting her cousins; Parker, Nash and Emery as well as helping Aunt Jackie around the house.

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Anise is devastated and sulking throughout her time in Nebraska with her cousins and her father. I really didn’t like Anise’s actions toward her friends and family, she was sulking the whole summer and taking it out on her friends and family members. I think she was selfish, however she made her summer work by taking her cousins to the skate park every day. She learns to appreciate the art of skateboarding to savor her loss of surfing all summer. I really liked the aspect of comparing Anise’s love for surfing with her learning to skateboard. This also had some perks because she meets a local skater, Lincoln – a disabled black character who is an excellent skater despite living with one arm. Lincoln and Anise spark a relationship and go on adventures. I really liked seeing their adventures and the fun spots that Lincoln took her.

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The writing was concise and I did get some great quotes out of it! I especially liked Lincoln’s character because he pushed Anise and showed her that she didn’t have to lack her sense of adventure just because of her mother’s history. I appreciate this novel for Lincoln and his diversity, as well as the skateboarding and surfing aspect which I don’t see often! I also really loved her cousins, they were a nice and fun touch to the story and I was full of worry for them as Anise was.

We willmiss you!

However, this novel just fell short for me with Anise. She really bothered me and I hated that she pushed away her friends because she was angry about her summer plans being messed up. Then, she came back to Santa Cruz confused why her friends weren’t happy she was there? Like I mentioned, she was selfish but hid it from her cousins. I just didn’t love this as much as I expected to. I would recommend this for a diverse summer read. Diversity elements include a f/f relationship among side characters as well as Lincoln and his brother Austin who are adopted. Lincoln is black and Austin is white, their adopted father is Vietnamese.

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Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


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Title: The Art of Being Normal
Author:  Lisa Williamson
Hardback: 275 pages
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

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This was an amazing book representing transgender. We see through dual POV, David who has wanted to be a girl ever since he was young and Leo who is the new student at David’s school; Eden Park School – a rich, prep school – Leo just wants to be invisible and get through the school year. But, the school starts buzzing when they find out that something happened at Leo’s old school bringing him to Eden Park.

David has great friends, who know that he wants to transition but he struggles at times being the third wheel since the two are dating. David has also not told his family about wanting to transition because of fear to how they will react, especially his father.

Leo is a mystery, so I am not going to say too much on him. But, I loved his story because it was so mysterious. We get to meet his family and their past history. He’s on the hunt to find his father, who left them when he and his sister were born.

I really just loved this story and everything it had in it. Especially, the friendship that evolves between Leo and David when Leo stands up to the bully David is trying to fight off. Leo was my favorite character, but I liked David’s family and friends. They were fun and very friendly. David has a very accepting coming out to his family however, it felt realistic as the parents build up emotions toward David and they don’t understand completely. The ending was bittersweet and had me smiling for David and for Leo.

I really enjoyed this because it was different and it didn’t focus heavily on a romance. It focused more on David and Leo’s lives, personalities and their future. This is a brief review because I do not want to spoil the book!

Between 2010 and 2012, I worked as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the world-famous Tavistock Centre in North London. GIDS is the NHS service for under-eighteens struggling with their gender identity. The young people who used the service inspired me to write a story from the point of view of a transgender teenager. This eventually became The Art of Being Normal.  http://www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com/about.html 
The Art of Being Normal is not an own voices book. However, the representation comes from the author, Lisa Williamson’s’ experience working as an administrator at a Gender Identity Development Service. If you’re looking for a book that features transgender, I really recommend this one. Also, if you enjoyed, IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo, you’ll like this one.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli ~ SPOILER FREE REVIEW!


 

Title: The Upside of Unrequited 
Author:  Becky Albertalli
Hardback: 350 pages
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar iconstar icon

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It was inevitable that I would enjoy this book having loved Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky’s debut novel and this book did a fantastic job at satisfying my book-lover needs.

Molly Peskin-Suso has had twenty-six crushes but has never been kissed. This has come easily for her twin sister, Cassie who has had girlfriends like it was not a problem. Molly learns about growing apart from her sister and finding herself. Everything changes this summer for Molly when she starts working at Bissel, a shop in town and meets a nerdy boy, Reid.

Reid and Molly are my new OTP. I shipped them so, so hard and I was laughing out loud. Reid is a funny guy who is obsessed with GoT and Cadbury Mini Eggs (same to the mini eggs). Reid has a great sense of humor and so much sarcasm. Their story is so cute and pure and I JUST LOVED IT AND THEM AND AH.

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This book has so much diversity within the character’s (race, sexual orientation, religion, mental health and size). Molly and Cassie are sperm-donor children and have two mothers, Patty and Nadine – who are #parentgoals – they’re so chillaxed and very supportive. Their family is Jewish and interracial, we see Jewish traditions implemented or just talk of Jewish culture (Reid is Jewish too 😉 ). Mina, Cassie’s girlfriend is a pansexual Korean American and we see some of her culture as well.

This is such a great coming of age novel about a seventeen year-old girl wishing for her first kiss. Molly’s story is so real, sweet and raw. I definitely related to Molly in many ways. She has a hard time interacting, she’s shy and experiences anxiety. Molly’s anxiety is not overlooked, we see scenes of her explaining her anxiety especially at a party. She talks about how she can’t drink or shouldn’t be drinking because of her anxiety medicine.This was so important because it’s not often addressed to the fullest. She feels like the friend that is being looked at in the wrong way. But, she also is a Pinterest queen and I envy her. I made some edible cookie  dough that she made and it was delicious.

Becky Albertalli takes this book and defeats the “fat girl” stereotype and makes Molly the YA heroine you wish you could be friends with and you’re rooting for throughout the whole story.

If you liked Simon, you are going to love this novel especially because we get to see more of Abby, who is Molly’s cousin. As well as glimpses of Simon and Nick.

Disclaimer: This book is like Mini Eggs, you’re sad when they are all gone. Truly, I didn’t want it to end.


MY GIF  HOW I FELT THROUGHOUT THE BOOK:

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Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner


Title: You’re Welcome, Universe 
Author:  Whitney Gardner
Hardback: 297 pages
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar iconhalf, rating, star icon

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I was sent this book from the publisher, Knopf in exchange for an honest review.  This does not change my opinion of the book in any way.


Julia is a lover of art, street art to be specific. When she gets caught for the graffiti mural that she creates to hide a slur written about her bestfriend, Jordyn  on the wall behind the school, she is expelled when Jordyn rats her out. Julia is panicked and upset because she has to change schools and her mother’s will not be happy. This changes Julia’s life for the best, and she learns a lot of lessons along the way.  

 

I really admire  the representation in this novel especially on deaf culture. This is a topic I have never read about in YA fiction, having not picked up any books with deaf main characters. I have only read about blind main characters (Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom). Julia teaches us what it’s like to be in her shoes by seeing her daily routine when moving from a deaf school to a hearie school. It is a drastic change for her, she has to get an interpreter, Casey. We see her frustration as she tries to keep up with lip reading and trying to get others to understand her. As the reader, you get frustrated along with Julia when students and teachers just do not know what she’s trying to tell them. This is not an own voices book, but it definitely reads like one.

Julia is a deaf teenager with two deaf mothers, Ma and Mee. Mee is Julia’s biological mother who is Indian leading to Julia being an Indian character. Like I mentioned, I really admire the representation in this story, there is so much of it and it is fantastic. However, I really do wish that we had more emphasis on Julia’s Indian culture because we see so much of her deaf culture, her Indian culture is overlooked.  

“I don’t want Muslim hands touching my food. Or the children’s”. She turns and wraps he arms around the boy in the passenger seat, who looks as confused as I do. Some things I wish I didn’t lip-read. Just because I’m brown doesn’t mean I’m muslim” (59)

Whitney Gardner writes Julia as a normal teenager despite her disability. She works at McDonald’s as a fryer, we go with her to her shifts as she puts in the fries, takes them out, fries again, and puts them in their bags. I really loved this, I’m a sucker for characters that have jobs especially teenagers because it adds to the Realistic Fiction aspect. 

Julia learns a lot of life lessons in this story, a main topic is friendship and finding out who your true friends really are. As well as keep doing what you love, no matter what gets in the way. Julia struggles with maintaining a friendship with her friend, Jordyn, who has a cochlear implant. Jordyn is busy chasing after a boy they work with, Donovan, who Julia also has a crush on.  Jordyn could care less about Julia, at that given time and is just rude. Jordyn is really a fake friend to Julia. 

If you were a fan of the book, Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom you will love You’re Welcome, Universe. Parker from NIISYF and Julia would be the best of friends, they have similar personalities and they do not want anyone’s pity because of their disability. I really loved that about NIISYF and I really enjoyed having another character like her in Julia. Another thing NIISYF does is put less emphasis on romance, which Gardner did with You’re Welcome, Universe. Julia develops a crush on Donovan but it doesn’t escalate to be the center of the story.

If you aren’t convinced to pick up this book already, here is another reason. The author, Whitney Gardner is also the illustrator and the illustrations are spectacular!! Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll see while reading You’re Welcome, Universe and the illustrations match up with the story! Gardner really captures Julia’s art to the fullest in this novel.

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Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book and I would like to thank Knopf again for sending me a copy of this to review! Go pick up your copy now, you won’t regret this read!


IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE is an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Pick for the Winter/Spring 2017 season.

 

 

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith – Book Review


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Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author:  Jennifer E. Smith
Hardback: 404 pages
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon

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TIGHT KNIT SWEATERS

This is What Happy Looks Like follows Ellie and Graham when they meet through an accidental email. Graham accidently sends an email to Ellie, writing to his pig walker for his pig, Wilbur. They start up an long lived conversation and the story continues…..

I really think I had high expectations for this book having it be about an email anon relationship, however it was super short and I wished we got to see their relationship through emails progress instead of “3 months later”. I didn’t feel the email aspect per say and I really wanted the book to be centered around finding out who Graham was rather than how quickly we were introduced to him.

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Quickly, we find out that Graham is a famous movie star on set for a movie he’s filming. Hung up on Ellie, he asks his director if they could move set to Hunley, Maine (WHERE ELLIE LIVES!! NOT CREEPY AT ALL???). They say yes, it’s a small town blah blah blah. So, Graham sets out to meet Ellie and oh, he does.

The way I feel about this book is a lot similar to my feelings toward The Geography of You and Me. I felt like Ellie was a lot like Lucy, where she got mad at Graham for her own personal reasons and just tried to push him out of her life without any explanation. Then, she went back to him?

I guess the book fell short for me because of my own personal preferences especially how the chapters aren’t split in dual POV and the chapters telling you which character we’ll be reading from. Jennifer E Smith writes in third person which really throws me off and I was very confused to which character we were reading from, having their names helped but I did feel confused and just wished I had the first person.

However, I really enjoyed Graham toward the end of the book and I feel I knew his personality better the last 20 pages !?! I wanted more of Graham’s wit and sweet side throughout the whole story.

Last, I did enjoy the way family is introduced between the two characters, a lot like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight where Hadley and Oliver both have family storylines that aren’t the best, but are meaningful to the story and characters.

I really did find myself dragging through the book, I almost DNFed at page 340 because I was so done with it. But, the ending really helped me and I just wish the book was more like that!

I recommend this for a summer read, I read it in the Winter but I still liked the Fourth of July scenes and the hot summer days!

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Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom


 

Title: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful 
Author:  Eric Lindstrom
ARC Paperback: 275 pages
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health Awareness, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon

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In the vein of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and All the Bright Places, comes a captivating, immersive exploration of life with mental illness.

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.


This book is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and I absolutely loved Lindstrom’s debut novel, Not If I See You First. There may be some spoilers in this review because I just read it and I have all of my thoughts running from my mind! If you haven’t read the book, you can still read this review but just a warning some minor spoilers. But, I did try to make this as spoiler free as possible.

In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful,we meet Mel who is dealing with bipolar disorder and hiding it from her friends to be “normal”. She’s also hiding another big secret, that she has a brother, Nolan.

I really loved the parent/aunt relationships that Mel has with her mother and Aunt Joan (HJ). I barely see parents in Young Adult books and I love when I see parental relationships amongst the main character. Hurricane Joan really stood out to me and I am so glad she was apart of this story.

My most favorite thing about Lindstrom and his stories are that they are female characters. As he is a male author, he always nails his female characters to the fullest. I always appreciate the realistic side to Contemporary stories, for instance in A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Mel gets her period. This had me cheering!!

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Especially that this novel is written by a MALE AUTHOR. It’s such a real thing and I applaud Lindstrom for this. (Thank you!!!) Mel felt so real and raw in this story, and I really loved her, she was super relatable just like Lindstrom’s other character, Parker.

” I have a date tonight”

She stops to look at me, eyebrows raised.

“With my soulmate…Netflix” (46, Lindstrom)

Going off of this book being realistic, Mel works at the old folks home, Silver Sands Suites and forms relationships with the residents such as a new resident, Ms. Li and Mr. Terrance Knight. I loved seeing how Mel felt so comfortable when she was surrounded by these people. Also, leading to a new friend, David. I rarely see characters with a job, I loved that Mel had a job.

I really like how Lindstrom NEVER focuses primarily on the romance in his stories. This book also did that, we do see her interest progress with David but it isn’t the main focus of the story. The main focus is Mel and her bipolar disorder. Their relationship felt real, especially the fact that Mel didn’t want to get close to him.

Mel experiences lots of high school drama with her past friends – Zumi, Connor and Annie – and we see her new friends (who are the bomb I love them) Holly and Declan. This is such a diverse friend group and I loved them. They do things like, Movie Roulette where they basically movie hop and it’s hilarious! I really liked seeing the way things went between Mel and her past friends, Zumi and Connor. Also, the exploring of sexuality between to females. It was AWESOME.

“Spoiler!” someone yells, laughing.

“Snape kills Dumbledore!”

“Shut UP!”

Roars of laughter and a room divided. Holly covers her eyes with one hand. (54, Lindstrom)

As for bipolar disorder representation, I cannot comment on the accurate representation because I haven’t had any experiences with bipolar disorder. However, I really did like seeing Mel’s “animals” at the beginnings of every chapter – for those who haven’t read it, Mel describes her mind, heart and , as well as her visits with Dr. Oswald and Dr. Jordan. I do wish we had more scenes of her visits with Dr. Oswald because I feel it was very important.

For those who have read Not If I See You First (or haven’t!), Parker is a runner who is blind. We see Mel going to the track and watch the joggers because it reminds her of her brother, Nolan who was a long-jumper. I really liked seeing the mention of running in his sophomore novel! I wasn’t sure if we would get that in this book.

Me after reading the book: 

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Overall, I really did enjoy this book and it did meet my expectations. However, I did feel it was slow at parts and to be completely honest I was getting a little bored toward the end and some of my questions went unanswered. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, a lot! I would recommend 🙂


 

Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West NO SPOILERS!


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Title: By Your Side
Author:  Kasie West
Paperback: 352 pages
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Genre: Contemporary/Romance, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

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In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

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?


As all of Kasie West’s books, I devoured this one. However, I felt that the first hundred pages were very slow which were the library scenes. That disappointed me because I was really excited about the storyline of Autumn being stuck in a library over the weekend.

Yet again, West hits you with the feels. I felt so many feelings in this book and  I couldn’t contain myself. Swoony feels, OMG WHY SHE IS DOING THIS WHAT feels, and last I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO CRY A RIVER. But, jokes on you because I didn’t. WHY DON’T I CRY AT BOOKS!?!
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I love when books do this to me, I was so connected to all of the characters; Dax, Autumn and even Jeff. I was reading this until almost 3am one night because I really couldn’t stop reading it. Kasie West does that to me and I’m okay with it! Also, can I just mention how I hated her friend group? They were stuck up, just like Gia’s friends in THE FILL IN BOYFRIEND.  Why would they leave her at the library if they already knew she was in there? Hm!
This is where I’ll bring up Dallin, Jeff’s friend…Gah! I hated him. So, so much. He was such a jerk and he didn’t even apologize to Autumn for his actions and words he said to her. Ugh, I was yelling at the book when Dallin would show up.
 I really liked how this book was just like a roller coaster, it didn’t stay in one direction it had its twists and turns to the story. I really thought this was just going to be a story about a girl and boy who get stuck in a library for the whole story. They are stuck during a three day weekend without any connection to the outside world and have to really use their survival skills. Like, no phone connections and eating out of a vending machine with little cash.
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The story really turns around to be something else and I really liked that it did because quite frankly, I would’ve been bored. The library scenes bored me and I’m sad. But, like I said the story turned around for me! I really love the direction the story went and I was on the edge of my seat (like on a rollercoaster, see the analogy?!)
I was also as torn between Jeff and Dax like Autumn was. I felt like I was Autumn throughout the story and I really had a connection to her. I’d be friends with her 🙂 I loved Dax, he reminded me of Jess from Gilmore Girls because he loves to read and he’s shy but super witty. NEW BOOK BAE ALERT!! And Jeff reminded me of Logan because he was very adventurous.Though, I made my decision with Jeff at the end. He was actually a sweet guy and I like what he did for Autumn in the end. So don’t worry, I’m totally #TeamDax!
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Anyway, I highly recommend it was so good and probably my second favorite West book. I also want to point out that there is some mental health related in this book which I LOVED *claps all around* I am so glad that Kasie is bringing more diversity into her books. As well as implementing a character who is in the foster care system *claps again*. Foster care is SUCH an important topic that I feel is underrated *i’m passionate about* and I’m so glad Kasie choose to put this into By Your Side because it’s SOO NEEDED IN YA!!!

This gif explains my feelings in all:

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If you’re going to comment a spoiler, please put spoiler before writing! I don’t want anyone to get spoiled. Okay?

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What did you think of By Your Side or are you now more excited to read it??