Aug 20, 2017

Review: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel



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Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Melissa Pimentel

Publisher: Penguin
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 400 Pages
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017 (Two days!)



Summary: Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't. Ten years later, Ruby's single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years. But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago? Because there's nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past...
 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I wasn't sure to expect at first. This book is set around Ruby, a woman who has long since graduated high school and college and is now working at a fancy marketing firm in New York City, living the constantly-rushing life that is common for New York business moguls. She thinks that she has everything she could ever want, but one thing is missing -- the love that she let go so many years ago for selfish, stupid reasons. 

The reason I wasn't sure what to expect in regards to this book was the fact that Ruby was a full-fledged adult at this point in the story, so it wasn't like a typical YA book, and I never really had a good track record with adult books. I found it hard to put myself into their mindset and understand their problems, being that I am still a teenager myself. (But less than one year left!)

However, Ruby's narrative was super easy to read, and before long I got into the book easily. For the first time in a very long time, I found myself staying up and reading until my eyelids felt heavy and I had to physically stop myself because I couldn't go on any longer. I really, really missed that feeling, and I'm so glad that this book was able to give me that again. Ruby's story was really easy to follow, and I liked that the story constantly switched between present-day and the past, to give some context to Ruby and Ethan's relationship and eventual fallout, so when they met up again in England things made a lot more sense!

So, as the summary explains, Ruby and Ethan had dated a long time ago, and then they broke up (for reasons that will eventually be explained in the book, that I will not spoil for you here). And now, many years later, Ruby's sister is marrying Ethan's best friend, and they find themselves together once again at a wedding in England, doing their best to forget about and not rehash the past. 

The only problem? In the years since Ethan and Ruby had broken up, Ethan went from being a small-town bartender to one of the biggest tech moguls of the century. I'm talking cool enough to be taking pictures with Steve Jobs, people. He becomes that big. 

So yeah. Ruby tries very hard not to imagine what life would have been like if she had stayed with Ethan, but sometimes it was very difficult not to. So the book is pretty much narrating her trip to England for this disaster of a wedding while also trying to avoid Ethan to keep old feelings at bay while also trying to appear totally nonchalant and not bothered whenever she finds herself in his presence. So this book is definitely an emotional roller coaster filled with a lot of drama! 

My favorite character in this book was definitely Ethan. He was sweet all of the time, both in the flashbacks and in the current moments, even when he didn't have to be. He always seemed to be thinking of other people and putting his best foot forward, and it was clear from the very beginning that he worked very hard for his success and totally earned it, which was sometimes the reason that Ruby resented him so much. But throughout the entire story Ethan kept doing things that were so hopelessly adorable and kind towards everyone around him, and it continuously made my heart melt.

As for Ruby, I liked her a lot, but sometimes I felt that just reading about her life was stressing me out a little bit. Especially when the book is narrating her typical morning in New York, I started to feel badly for the girl and worry about her fictional health. She was so determined to prove herself and make herself worth something, especially as Ethan continued to soar with his success, and at times she was wearing herself down so much that I really began to feel bad for her. However, it was positive to see that as the book went on Ruby began to learn what was more important than work and forced herself to take a little bit of a break -- Lord knows she needed it!

(Spoilers here so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book yet!) And oh my goodness guys, the ending of this book totally made my heart stop. It was so freaking cute. I had been shipping Ethan and Ruby since the beginning of their reunion (even when it was a little rocky), so I was so glad when everything worked out, even after Ruby admitted to the horrible thing she'd done back in New York all those years ago that led to their split in the first place, even when Ethan had no idea about it. The book leaves off in a place that gives you enough context to guess what will happen, but I still wish it went just a little bit further so I could see Ruby and Ethan's relationship (and maybe even marriage???) continue to bloom!! *heart eyes*

Overall, I really enjoyed The One That Got Away. I'm so glad that I got an opportunity to review this book because I ended up liking it a lot, and I can even think of a few friends that I'll be recommending it to soon. I flew through this book because I enjoyed it so much that I didn't want to put it down, and Ruby and Ethan's story took me on an emotional rollercoaster that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. I'd definitely be open to reading more of Melissa Pimentel's work in the future, because it's safe to say that this book certainly got me hooked! 





Aug 18, 2017

Review: Ask The Passengers by A.S. King




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Title: Ask The Passengers
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Paperback, 304 Pages
Published October 2012



Summary: Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions--like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives -- and her own -- for the better.
 

I didn't know much about this book (or about A.S. King) before I started it, but this book was something that I had an option to read for the summer for my college English program, because A.S. King will actually be coming to my school and hosting some writing seminars in the fall! So I was super excited to read this book and also meet the author, and there are even a few blogging friends that I know that have read and loved books by A.S. King before. 

As the summary explains, Astrid Jones is a New York City girl that finds herself moving with her family to a small town in Pennsylvania, where narrow-minded thinking and concern about appearances were the main attractions. She has a mother who is obsessed with her reputation, a father who is stoned all of the time, and a sister who barely speaks to her because she's so busy trying to fit into their new life. So, with nobody else to talk to or be loved by, Astrid spends a lot of her free time on her picnic table, looking up at the sky and sending her love to the passengers flying in the planes overhead. (Speaking of which, I really enjoyed those little inserts with the brief stories of some of the passengers. They were detailed enough to be interesting and for you to get a grip on the person's character, but just vague enough that you were always left wanting more.)

And of course, living in such a small, close-minded town, Astrid was pretty sure that everyone -- including her own family -- would hate her if she told them that she was gay. She could only imagine how the whole town would react, let alone her own parents. Her mother, Claire, is one of those people who spews ridiculous nonsense such as "I can't be a homophobe because I know gay people and I don't hate the." (*cringe*) 

But then something happens, and Astrid can't control the fallout. (What it is, I won't tell you -- read the book yourself! -- but I will say that it's pretty shocking and leads to some pretty messy stuff.)

My favorite character in this book was definitely Astrid. She had moments where she was so complex and acknowledged that she didn't want to label herself right away, and that she wanted to take her own time to find out how she was really feeling. She had several moments of such clarity where she realized that she wasn't going to conform to everything that everyone else expected of her. I was rooting her on in those moments and was glad to see all of that empowerment for sure. (Even if the people around her were really crappy in how they handled it.)

As for the characters that I really didn't like in this book, they would have to be Claire, Ellis, and Kristina. Claire was so concerned with appearances (and so was Ellis) that it made me disgusted at times to see that was the first thing she was thinking about when things went bad -- her reputation -- rather than her own daughter. She was definitely a pretty crappy mom -- but perfect for that small-minded town of Unity Valley. And as for Kristina, I felt like she used Astrid a lot, and lied, and did everything she could to save her own reputation rather than being a good best friend. She was definitely a pretty crappy one.

What I really liked about this book was how, despite the crappy life Astrid sometimes felt like she had, she managed to keep a level head and not get sucked into the Unity Valley image of perfection that everyone else was so desperately seeking. She knew who she was, even when it wasn't the most popular thing to be, and she stuck to it despite all of the rumors and hate and pettiness that was thrown her way. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Ask The Passengers. I'm glad that this book was chosen to be the summer read for my school's English program, because I probably wouldn't have known about it without it being selected. This was a quick, easy read that I breezed through and liked from start to finish. I'm glad that I've been introduced to A.S. King's work, because I'll definitely be reading more of it in the future!





Aug 17, 2017

ARC Review: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Title: They Both Die At The End
Author: Adam Silvera 
Genre: Contemporary SciFi
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: sept. 5th
Summary: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They're going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they're both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There's an app for that. It's called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day. 





Guys, This book was honestly the cutest thing ever. Adam Silvera did an amazing job taking something heartbreaking and turning it into something uplifting. 

Like it says in the summary, Mateo and Rufus receive a call from Death-Cast, informing them that they are going to die sometime in the next 24 hours. After Mateo and Rufus get their calls, they decide to live their last day to the fullest. They both download the Last Friend app, an app that allows other Deckers (the people who got their call) to find someone to spend their last hours with,the two boys meet each other. Together, they spend the day doing adventurous things, saying goodbye, and just living their last day to the fullest. They learn to live and, most importantly, love in the short time they had together. 

 I loved the fact that Silvera combined a contemporary novel with a touch of scifi. I haven't read anything like that in a while. The whole concept of getting a call the day your going to die really freaks me out. Like why would anyone want to know when they're going to die?! Naturally, by the end of the book, I was sobbing like a little baby. The way they both died was totally unfair ( but so is dying in general so..). It's also upsetting because even though you know it's going to happen (the title literally gives away the ending) the emotions still get to you.

This book gives such an excellent message of the power of togetherness and how much we truly need someone. This is a total must read for anyone and everyone. Make sure to let us know your opinions once it comes out!







Aug 16, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Emily's Waiting on:


Title: The Midnight Dance
Author: Nikki Katz
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: Oct. 17th

Summary: When the music stops, the dance begins.
Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.
But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.


I'm super excited about this new stand alone. It's Nikki Katz debut novel and I'm curious as to how the story will play out. I love books like this, ones that have a contemporary feel to it with some mystery mixed in to up the suspense. Be sure to look out for a review and let us know your thoughts on this debut novel!  






What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so we can stop back! 

Aug 14, 2017

Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy



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Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 432 Pages
Published May 2017



Summary: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever. The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem. 
 

I've been a big fan of Julie Murphy ever since I read her book Dumplin' a few years ago. Amber and I (back when Amber used to blog!) were super excited about it at the time, and it was one of the hottest ARCs going around at that year's Book Expo and BookCon. (Thanks to our awesome blogger friend Nori for giving us her copy!) So basically, when I read about Ramona Blue, I was itching for it from the get go. 

And then, a few months late to the game, I managed to pick up a copy at The Strand. I was excited to start the book, and I'm glad I did, because this story was unlike any other I had read in a long time. Julie Murphy has a way of writing stories that touch you and have you hooked from start to finish. I ended up flying through this book like it was nothing because the end of every chapter made me want to turn the next page. 

As the summary explains, Ramona is living in a beat-up trailer with her father and her pregnant older sister, Hattie, after Hurricane Katrina took their old lives from them a few years prior. With not much money and no real home, Ramona was constantly working and struggling to make ends meet while supporting her sister and her father that gave everything he could to them. And Ramona had her own struggles as well -- it wasn't easy being a lesbian teenage girl in Mississippi, but that never made her afraid to be who she was. It did, unfortunately, make people such as her own mother doubt the validity of her sexuality. So in addition to already having to face the challenge of overcoming the forces of Mother Nature and the life that was taken from them, Ramona also has to struggle with having to prove her true self to so many people around her -- because, according to people like her mother, homosexuality is nothing but a phase.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Freddie. He was always so sweet and kind to Ramona and her family, even when he didn't have to be. Even when things were tough, he was always going out of his way to make sure that he was being a good person to them. Freddie was just overall a good person. (And apparently a great, super cute chef.) The way he and his family showered Ramona what true unconditional love felt like all of the time, even when she didn't necessarily feel like she deserved it, was inspiring. And what was even better was that they met as children completely by chance. If the circumstances hadn't lined up just so all those years ago, Freddie may have never met Ramona at all. Which would have been tragic, because the two of them are totally adorable. He is such a genuinely good guy all of the time, even when he definitely had reasons not to be, and that just made me like him even more.

Another character that I really enjoyed in this book was Saul. I felt like he was absolutely hysterical, always adding quips and butting into scenarios at the perfect time. If I had a gay best friend, I'd definitely want it to be Saul. He seemed like a great guy to be around, that's for sure. Any scene where he was involved had me laughing out loud and sending Snapchats of his commentary to some of my good friends, because I wanted them to be able to laugh about it too. When it comes to character creation, Julie Murphy definitely got it right with this guy.

Something that I felt was really important in this book was the fact that Ramona was given the chance to explore her sexuality, and that she was in no rush to put on a label to define herself. She made several comments throughout the novel about not wanting to label herself and not finding it necessary. I feel like that was an important point for a character to acknowledge because of the fact that we live in a world that is so hell-bent on applying labels to everything from foods to races to sexualities, and it was just refreshing to see a story where it made a point of saying that people shouldn't be in any rush to define themselves in they don't want to be defined. (Reading Ramona Blue actually gave me the inspiration for one of my upcoming Odyssey articles -- which hasn't been published yet, otherwise I would link it here -- about how people are always so hell-bent on forcing others into categories and giving them certain boxes to check off, in all aspects of life. But Ramona is against that notion and realizes that she can be who she wants to be without having to stick a label on it, and that's an incredibly important notion.) 

Overall, I really enjoyed Ramona Blue. It was a story about love and loss, new life and old friends, and sticking together to ride out some of the worst moments of a person's life. The characters were all intricate and hilarious and loving and perfect, in my opinion. Julie Murphy had me hooked until the very end and I can't wait to see the next book that she comes up with! 




Aug 11, 2017

My Dream Reading/Writing Nook!

Today, I have a super interesting (and fun!) dream project that I've been working on: I used Havenly to help dream up my perfect reading/writing space! Havenly was super helpful because it's a website dedicated entirely to interior design, from the early stages of planning/mapping out what you want with some of their seasoned interior designers all the way down to actually shopping for the pieces you'd like to put in your space! And trust me, it seriously gets addicting. I've spent hours on their site already.

How does it work? It's super easy, and their website walks you through the entire thing. You can chat with an interior designer that will help you come up with some ideas for what you're visualizing, and then you can check out pieces from all sorts of categories! I'm going with a contemporary feel for my space today, because I'm super neat and organized and I'm a big fan of clean lines, the solid colors, and the overall feel of contemporary pieces. 


Paidge Chair

I'm a big fan of patterned chairs, especially again white or very light, simple walls -- I want my space to look clean and organized with just a few pops of colors and patterns!

Sand Timer with Compass

I'm a total sucker for small, pointless, adorable things that I'd never use. Which is why this adorable sand hourglass/timer is perfect to spend my imaginary money on, and hey -- I'll have a solid way to time myself while doing some writing or reading sprints!

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I'm a big fan of rose gold -- everything down to my watch and my phone is already this color, so it'd make sense to have some baskets for office storage be that color, too!

Runway White Desk

Nothing like a plain white desk to have everything feeling nice and clean.

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And a matching white chair!

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I don't even know why I need this little adorable pen cup, but I just do.

GISELLA SPHERE TABLE LAMP, WHITE AND GOLD

And a white lamp to go along with it!

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And a pretty rainbow rug to make things pop!

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Can't forget the clock, or I'll get lost in my reading cave and never come out ever again.

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And the most important -- tons of bookshelves just like this one to store all of my favorite reads!

So, those are all of the pieces and details I thought up for my perfect reading space -- what're your thoughts? Comment down below to let me know what you think about my design, and feel free to share some designs of your own as well!

If you guys haven't thought about your own bookish space yet, what are you waiting for?! I may be a broke college student just dreaming about my dream reading/writing space, but some of you guys are lucky enough to go out there and already make it happen. For now, I'll be chatting with some of Havenly's interior designers and planning my dream nook a little more!




Aug 9, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Jessica's Waiting on:

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Title: Starfish
Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017




Summary: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.
You guys. I have heard nothing but good things about this book from so many readers and bloggers on Twitter, and it made me decide to research it and check it out. The summary seems super intriguing (and the cover of the book is absolutely gorgeous), and I just want it to be September already so I can have this book in my hands! I'm also really excited to see the character development that this summary hints will happen throughout the book -- from what I've heard from people who have already read it, this is one of their favorite books of 2017. I can't wait to read it and add my own opinion into the mix! 

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 



Aug 7, 2017

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli


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Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published April 2017



Summary: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

 

I decided to pick up this book because I was a big fan of Becky Albertalli's previous book Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. So I already knew I was a fan of her writing, and I couldn't wait to see what she came up with next. And I'm glad I read this one, because this book was super funny and adorable and kept me laughing, tearing up, and sighing romantically in all the right places.

As the summary explains, Molly has had many crushes throughout her life, but none of them ever stemmed into anything beyond just that -- an unrequited crush. And it was hard to see her twin sister Cassie always have hookups and relationships and then even a girlfriend, while Molly sat by and had to watch it all happen. But then...things start to change for Molly, in ways that she could hardly believe. And then she learns that maybe finding love isn't as hard and as hopeless as she always made it out to be, but something simply amazing and heartwarming.

I really liked reading this book. From the very beginning, I was hooked on Molly's narrative voice, which sounded so much like Simon's from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda that I felt a weird, refreshing sense of deja vu. She was equal parts funny and witty and sarcastic, and several of the comments that she made throughout the book actually had me laughing out loud. When it comes to witty, down-to-earth characters, Becky Albertalli definitely has the market cornered. 

My favorite character in this book was definitely Molly. Although she may have struggled with her self-image at times, and she felt like she certainly didn't have any luck with boys, she was pretty positive and confident about herself and her appearance and she knew what she wanted in life. And all of her sarcastic, witty comments kept things interesting. There's something about a self-deprecating sense of humor that just seems to make teenagers in this day and age laugh -- and I'm one of them.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was the LGBTQ+ representation with several scenarios, especially with Molly's parents, Nadine and Patty, and Cassie and her girlfriend, Mina. I know that Becky Albertalli has said several times that her book wasn't necessarily supposed to be classified as LGBTQ+ (mainly because Molly, the main character in the story, doesn't identify that way), but it was still important to see those characters represented in the story. There was even a mention about the same-sex marriage laws that went into effect a few years ago, and it made me smile because I so vividly remember getting a notification on my phone about the Supreme Court's decision as well. I was actually on a college tour at the time (the school I ended up going to, in case anybody was curious), and everyone around me started talking and laughing and cheering, and it was just such a feel-good moment that it was nice to think back on.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Upside of Unrequited. It was funny and adorable, and all of the characters had their own unique quirks that kept the story interesting. This book reminded me so much of Simon in the sense that it was lighthearted and funny, while it also managed to still tackle some serious issues. This was a super-quick read for me because I could barely put it down, and I'm really glad that I decided to pick it up in the first place. Becky Albertalli did it again with another hilarious, adorable read, and I can't wait to see what story she comes up with next!





Aug 5, 2017

Review: Gather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed


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Title: Gather the Daughters
Author: Jennie Melamed
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 340 Pages
Published July 2017



Summary: Years ago, just before the country was incinerated to wasteland, ten men and their families colonized an island off the coast. They built a radical society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers--chosen male descendants of the original ten--are allowed to cross to the wastelands, where they scavenge for detritus among the still-smoldering fires. The daughters of these men are wives-in-training. At the first sign of puberty, they face their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that drags them from adolescence to matrimony. They have children, who have children, and when they are no longer useful, they take their final draught and die. But in the summer, the younger children reign supreme. With the adults indoors and the pubescent in Fruition, the children live wildly--they fight over food and shelter, free of their fathers' hands and their mothers' despair. And it is at the end of one summer that little Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrifying, so contradictory to the laws of the island, that she must share it with the others. Born leader Janey Solomon steps up to seek the truth. At seventeen years old, Janey is so unwilling to become a woman, she is slowly starving herself to death. Trying urgently now to unravel the mysteries of the island and what lies beyond, before her own demise, she attempts to lead an uprising of the girls that may be their undoing.

I received an advanced copy of Gather the Daughters in exchange for an honest review from the publisher (although it came out a few days ago now), and I'm really glad that I did. I first found out about this book on Twitter through another blogger, and the entire premise of the story just seemed so fascinating to me. I mean, think about it -- a mysterious island where the children (specifically, the daughters) get to roam free in the summertime? The premise reminded me so much of The Wild Girls, which was one of my favorite books as a younger child, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one.

What I quickly learned was that this book was nothing like The Wild Girls at all. It contained a darker, more sinister undertone, and had several plot twists that left me confused, stunned, and sometimes even a little horrified. 

So the story explains what life is like in a little island town, which seems to be post-apocalyptic (or at least, that's what the villagers are told). This book reminded me a lot of The Scarlet Letter in the sense that there was a super close-knit community in a secluded area that all loved (and also judged) each other fiercely. There was a strict order to how things went, with girls who reached puberty being thrust into their "summer of fruition," in which they became sexual objects to be used by eligible men until they chose who they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with. They'd marry, have two children, and eventually die. And every summer, all of the children on the island got to roam free and have complete and utter lawlessness as a way to keep them tame during the rest of the year. And beneath the surface of this seemingly strict but harmless life...there were a lot of dark secrets and terrible, terrible things happening.

I found it kind of difficult to get into this book at first, and I even considered DNFing it for awhile. There is a lot of world-building that has to happen before you can truly understand the story, and everything felt dry and creepy and uninteresting while the scene was put into place (for a good 25% of the book -- or at least that's how it felt, might I add). But once the stage was set and things started to get interesting, I found myself hooked. So if you're reading this book and you find yourself struggling through the beginning, I advise you to keep pushing through, because you will break past all of the dry, seemingly boring introductory stuff and get into the interesting, thrilling, horrifying story soon enough.

(Minor spoilers in this paragraph so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book already!) I remember the exact moment that I figured out exactly what it was that the fathers did with their daughters. It was a mix of utter horror and disbelief. At first, I thought it was an isolated abuse incident, but as the story went on, it was clear that this was a common occurrence, and even something that was supposed to happen. And that...it was so sick. I was appalled. I could hardly believe it as I was reading, and I was totally shocked. 

The end of the book also came as a shock to me. I wasn't entirely sure where I saw the book ending, but I know that it definitely wasn't there. I was left with so many unanswered questions and wish I knew what happened once the final scene was over. But, despite not knowing (and really, really wanting to know), I can say that I'm satisfied with how the book panned out. It was certainly a roller coaster of close calls and emotions, and Melamed keeps your interest piqued until the final page.

Overall, I enjoyed Gather The Daughters. I went through a brief period where it felt too much like an Adult book to me (as opposed to being a YA book), and I thought I was maybe going to have to DNF it because I wasn't sure if it was the right book for me. But once the drama really started to pick up and things got complex and interesting, I was hooked. 

If you're looking for a new thrilling, chilling read that will totally go in directions that you don't expect, Gather The Daughters is the book for you. I liked it and I'm so thankful that I got the opportunity to review this one!