Every Day by David Levithan: review

Every DayEvery Day by David Levithan
Stand Alone
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Synopsis: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

My Thoughts:

David Levithan, you have succeeded in creating a novel that is breathtaking, thought-provoking, and ultimately philophical. Plus, your novel has a pretty nice cover also 😉

Every Day is one of those beauties that make you think. Not just about what it’s like to be in a different body every day of your life (although, that in itself is a thing that can make you think), but also about the struggles that people go through. This book covers many different topics in such a short amount of pages. Not that this novel is short, but it’s able to fit in such a great amount of topics that it does, in fact, seem short.

What I loved most about Every Day is the wide range of people we get to meet because of A’s forced ability to go into a different body each day. In this book, the reader is shown the life of a girl with depression and many others. These lives are portrayed in such a sensitive and touching way. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are average. But Levithan somehow shows the light in all of them, no matter how dim it may be.

Levithan’s writing is very pleasant to read. It was pretty and sometimes lyrical, even. And the underlying messages that Levithan managed to insert in between the lines were very, very appreciated by me.

A is a character that has become wise because of his…unusual life, but is still very flawed. He strongly believes that love will conquer all when it really doesn’t, not all the time. I found this mentality to be grating on the nerves at times, but I understood why he thought that, why he wanted to hold on to that. Even though he experiences all these different ways of living for a day, he hasn’t experienced what an actual life is like, so he finds the little things to hold on to.

There are a few things that could prove to be a bit bothersome to people who want the stories they read to have a realistically developed romance and reasons of why things are happening to be explained. Like how A has an almost instantaneous love for Rhiannon, and that the reason A’s mind is teleported into a different body each day. But for me, that development and those explanations were not needed. They didn’t feel needed.

The ending is a certain aspect of the story that I feel conflicted about. In a technical way, it was perfect. It was hard on the heart and vague. There was not other way to end it. But I just couldn’t get myself to like it. I only occasionally like vague endings, and Every Day isn’t one of those vague endings I liked.

I haven’t read any other Levithan books, so this is my first taste of what this man can write. But I can promise that Every Day is only the beginning of my journey through the library, looking for books with the name David Levithan on the spine.

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The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan: review

The Waiting TreeThe Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
1 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
Release Date: May 14th 2013
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Simon Peters wants to stand up for the truth about who he is. His love for Stephen is unwavering, but does he have the courage to defend it when his entire church community, including his eldest brother has ostracized him? Trapped in a cashier’s job he hates, struggling to maintain peace with his brothers after their parents have died, and determined to look after his mute brother, Simon puts everyone else’s needs before his own. It takes a courageous act of self-sacrifice on Jude’s part to change both of their lives forever. Jude, who knew that when the fig tree in their yard began to bloom, it was his time to finally be heard and to set Simon free.

My Thoughts:

The Waiting Tree first caught my interest when I saw the dazzling cover that the book proudly showed off. Just look at the greens and blues and the tree mosaic! The cover is an absolute beauty. Unfortunately the contents are not nearly as good as the cover. In fact, I really wish that I just admired the cover from afar and didn’t read the book at all. This novel just made me angry.

The story isn’t centered on Simon being gay as much as it is centered on the cruelties of people and the unfairness of life. Most of the cruelties Simon has to endure is because of the gender he is attracted to, but that isn’t all the book is about. It’s about how people seem to push away and hate people who are not ‘normal.’

First and foremost, I felt that The Waiting Tree is just very extremely negative with its portrayal of things. Almost all the characters in this book, aside from Simon and his friends, are thought of as either hypocrites or people who are just cruel. The members of the church are specifically portrayed in a negative manner. This book doesn’t show the other side of the church that is accepting and caring. I know that there are people who are devoted Christians that don’t mind that you like people of the same gender as yourself. But that isn’t shown anywhere in this novel.

The characters weren’t all to great either. I can’t say that I loved them, much less liked them (except for Jude. Bless his heart). I just couldn’t feel any strong emotion for them other than rage. Not a good sign when the book’s purpose is to pull on heartstrings.

Another major flaw is the ending. Nothing is resolved by the time the ending comes. It’s vague and literally ends with a “this is just the beginning” line. If this was a series, I might forgive that, but this isn’t a series. So I basically just trudged through a ton of things that offended me greatly and sent me into rage only to feel unsatisfied. The Waiting Tree is only 218 pages. Surely the author could have added 50 or a 100 more pages to tie things up, right?

If you are looking for a book that writes the issue of being ostracized in a sensitive way I would recommend Speechless by Hannah Harrington, a book that not only has amazing characters that are rough around the edges, but also an ending that doesn’t make me want to throw my Kindle across the room.

An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.

Coda by Emma Trevayne: review

Coda (Coda #1)Coda by Emma Trevayne
Series: Coda #1
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Release Date: May 7th 2013
Synopsis: Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.

Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?

My Thoughts:

Beware: Major gushing ahead!

I would say that I loved Coda with all my heart and soul. But that isn’t true. I loved this book with all my heart and soul and ears. I swear that when I was holding and reading this wonderful book, I heard music coming off the pages. I am not kidding you.

You see, I have an exclusive obsession with music. Even as I type this review, I am listening to a song playing. Sure, my taste in music is vastly different from many other people who I interact with in life, but still. Maybe that is why I felt such a connection to Coda, a book that is about the need for real music. The need for real music that will wrap around you and gift you not with corrupt addiction but with pure emotion.

In the world that has been taken over by the Corp, the people aren’t allowed to have real music. Instead, they are forced to listen to encoded music that is literally an addicting drug. The Corp doesn’t care that the ‘music’ is shortening and destroying the people’s lives. The Corp doesn’t care that the people feel suffocated by the addiction that constantly urges them to go to a console and listen to a track that will cause them to slip into a corrupted but blissful high. The Corp just wants to control.

But Anthem is secretly going against the Corp. He is in a illegal underground band that plays the real music that he craves so much. It is this real music, along with the existence of his little brother and sister, that helps him get through the days, even though his life is slowly being damaged and shortened.

It is only until the Corp’s musical tracks kill off one of Anthem’s dear friends that he realizes that he needs to take a stand and not just play music awhile being unknown.

Obviously, Coda has a very, very unique story that mixes up the genres of cyberpunk, dystopia, and science fiction. But there is also the question on whether the execution is good or bad. I will answer that question by saying this: the execution is superb. Trevayne created a story that is captivating, addictive, and raw.

The pacing is at a perfect speed. The plot twists are often times jawdropping and painful. And the writing conveys so much emotion and beauty, even with all the ugly addiction and bright neon lights. And the way the author describes music is really gorgeous.

“This is music. Scope starts, an eerie drone into which Pheonix rains clear, metallic mist. Long, languid notes slide from Johnny’s guitar, and Mage hits a drum note once. Just once. Stale, ordinary air transforms to song in my lungs, a cloud of warmth that spreads out from my chest and sets my limbs buzzing. Johnny’s heavy, darkly sensuous song surrounds me and imbues me with secret energy, like kissing at night.” –Page 28

Anthem was such of a fantastic protagonist. He isn’t perfect and constantly doubts himself and makes mistakes. But he is a determined soul that will go to great lengths to protect the people he loves… even if it means that he must go against everything he believes in. The way that Trevayne writes this character is flawless. I felt his addiction, suffocation, doubt, sadness, anger, and hope. I felt his character with such clarity that it hurt sometimes.

And the rest of the gang: Haven, Scope, Mage, Pheonix, Yellow Guy, and Pixel were characters that I attached to rather quickly. I invested a lot of love and trust in them. And even though that trust was ripped apart multiple times, I still loved them. Well, most of them, anyway. There is one certain character that I will never forgive.

I believe I should also mention that the ending chapters turned my heart to glass and shattered it into a trillion and one pieces. I can’t say why because of how much I will reveal by doing so, but really, it was harsh. But after I read the last page, I felt a glimmer of hope. Even though Coda is the symbol of an ending, there is always a new beginning. Which is why I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

The passion that was poured into this story left me literally speechless. The music element, and integral part of the story, glowed with passion. The characters were finely written with passion. Everything. I don’t think I have read a dystopian novel that had such obvious passion put into it.

To put it plainly, this book absolutely floored me. So much so that I am sure that this review is kind of useless.

Bonus:

I also just loved the fact that awhile Anthem is bisexual, that trait didn’t define him as a person. We need more of those LGBTQ+ characters in YA.

Hushed by Kelley York: review

HushedHushed by Kelley York

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Release Date: December 6th 2011

Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another-Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is. But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

My Thoughts: 

Hushed is a disturbing, sinister, and ultimately ugly novel that is hard on the heart to read. I actually had a terrible time reading it. Sadness kept toppling me over and I had to force my fingers to turn the pages. You are probably wondering why I even kept reading if it pained me so much. The answer is that I just felt a small speck of hope among all that chaos that is Hushed. And when I got to the end I didn’t regret putting my poor, poor heart through all that pain.

Kelley York’s story has a question buried in all the words that make up the book: If a child grew up in a terrible, twisted environment will the child become as twisted as the enviroment he was raised in? It’s a sad question, really, but it was dealt with in a flawless, powerfully, and ultimately thought-provoking way in York’s novel.

The plot is wholly unpredictable and bloody. It kept me on my toes, waiting with anticipation and horror for what was going to come next. There were some moments that made me cry, some that made my eyes widen in disbelief, and some that made my head spin with the craziness.

Archer and Vivian, the two key characters in this novel, are both twisted, heartbreaking characters that have done terrible things to other people and each other. They are characters that both take part in a toxic, abusive relationship that has no good benefits for either one of them. But they couldn’t be more different. Archer reached out and sought happiness after he learned that there was a better life, awhile Vivian spiraled deeper and deeper in insanity.

I didn’t really feel any feeling of like to these two characters, but I did find myself caring for them. I wished for them to both turn out alright and get a second chance at life.

Evan was the only character I loved and is the only source of comfort in Hushed. He is the cute boy who promises Archer a life with happiness– totally different from the bleak, cruel life that Vivian promises.

The writing is mostly made up with short, concise sentences. This worked for the most part, but I wanted more from York as a handler of words. The lacking in the writing was jarringly distracting at times. This is something that has seemed to have affected only me, judging from other reviews, though.

To be honest, I have been having a terrible time writing this review and the version you see now is what I believe to be my best. So forgive me if it’s a jumbled mess, but I just really, really wanted to let everyone know about this powerful tale of redemption that will rock you to your very core.

Oh, and if you decide to read this book…

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz: review

TeethTeeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Stand Alone

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic Realism

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date:  January 1st 2013

Synopsis: A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

My Thoughts:

Teeth is a novel that lingers in one’s mind. A novel with sincere emotion that will grip your heart and never let go. This makes is a very brutal read. It made my heart feel heavy with sadness and longing. I wouldn’t call this a romantic story like the synopsis says but I would call it a gritty story that is filled with emotion and memorable characters.

Teeth is a story about a lonely boy’s discovery of a lonely fishboy on a remote island that is rumored to be the place where life-giving fish lurk. At first the boy (called Rudy) is happy to have a strange friend to spend the days with. But then Rudy starts to learn secrets. And with those secrets come choices.

The atmosphere of Teeth is quite gothic and dreary. With screaming winds and mysterious fish, this novel establishes a beautiful yet eerie feel almost immediately. I often had to tear my eyes away from the pages and look around my room to make sure that I was safe in my cozy home. The great world building of the remote island that is home to the Enki only adds to the atmosphere.

Moskowitz has a talent for characters, I believe. They are depressing, sad, flawed, and filled with inner darkness. She made me feel a lot of empathy for both Rudy and Teeth. These two characters are layered with many layers.

Rudy was a very authentic male character. His narrative is riddled with many curse words, but I could clearly feel his emotions and conflict over his family and friendship with Teeth. He is a very flawed character. He lets his loneliness rule his decisions which often leads him to making the wrong choice. He does grow as a person (and as a brother and as a friend) and starts making decisions that might be hard but are the best. He felt truly tangible to me and I won’t forget about him for a long time.

Teeth is the title character of this story. He is the lonely creature that is half-human and half-fish. I don’t remember ever feeling this sad for a character. Teeth’s entire existance is just sad. I cried buckets of tears because of him. Teeth can be an asshole (Rudy’s words not mine) and unreasonable and impulsive, but behind all that he is just a scared, lonely fishboy. I wanted to take his hand and lead him somewhere safe where he can be happy. Teeth will be forever swimming in the depth of my mind.

Moskowitz’s prose is raw. The writing captures the utter gloominess and sadness of this novel perfectly. It isn’t flowery but it is beautiful and clear. I savored each and every of Moskowitz’s words. I even reread passages when I finished the novel.

The ending was agonizing to my poor heart. I don’t think I have ever felt so…empty over an ending. I felt like a rain that will never stop was pouring over the earth.

Do you need a hug? I know I do.

I believe that Teeth is a special novel. The kind of special that only rarely comes into the world. Does that sound over dramatic? Maybe. But this is how I truly feel about this book. Now please just go read this book so you can experience the ugly beauty of it yourself. Don’t let your fear of the strangeness this novel has keep you away from it. I doubt you will regret it.

Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: review

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Standalone

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Lgbt, Realistic

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 21st 2012

Synopsis: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My thoughts: Wow. This book is just amazing. After reading the last sentence I stared at the page for a couple of minutes,silently wishing that some more pages would magically appear. Unfortunately, my wish wan’t granted. So I got out of my chair and started telling people about the book. I wanted to climb on the highest tower and yell about it. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was just that good.

Aristotle and Dante are flawed but also brilliantly endearing characters. Ari has gotten very good at hiding his feelings. So good that he doesn’t even know them. He is in that stage of growing up where everything starts to change. He doesn’t know who he is, he is still searching for his own true self. Dante is the exact opposite of Ari. A lover of literature and art. Dante is a very intelligent boy. He is also outgoing, confident, and knows who he is. Some of these qualities make him a highly vulnerable person.

As the two spend more and more time with each other, they start creating a special bond. They laugh together, have fun together, read the same books, and much more: they help change each other’s lives.

This book is a love story. The love in this book is a sweet and genuine one. And it isn’t a very easy one either. Ari is afraid of his feelings for Dante. And even with kind, supportive parents these two boys are afraid of coming out. There are external obstacles as well. Many people think of homosexuality as a major flaw and they are not very quiet about their opinions.

Sáenz’s prose is often chopped up into short, quick sentences. The short sentences have a poetic, lyrical feel to them. Sáenz also has the ability to create sincerely beautiful passages that will take you by surprised. These passages are so very beauitful and honest that I couldn’t stop rereading them. The author’s word were able to grip me and pull me into the story.

The ending of this story is a very romantic and happy one. Instead of choosing to make the reader feel sad and depressed, Sáenz chose to give the reader a happy feeling inside them. So do I recommend this book? Why yes I do! Why don’t you buy or borrow this book right now? You won’t regret it.

The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock: review

The Off Season (Dairy Queen, #2)The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Hardback, Paperback

Series: Dairy Queen #2

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Sports, Romance, Chick Lit, Realistic

Release date: June 4th 2007

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Synopsis: Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She’s in eleventh grade, finally. After a rocky summer, she’s reconnecting in a big way with her best friend, Amber. She’s got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who’s cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway. And then there’s the fact she’s starting for the Red Bend High School football team—the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin, probably. Which just shows you can’t predict the future. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand Amber, Schwenk Farm, her relationship with Brian, and most of all her family. As a whole herd of trouble comes her way, she discovers she’s a lot stronger than she—or anyone—ever thought.

This hilarious, heartbreaking and triumphant sequel to the critically acclaimed Dairy Queen takes D.J. and all the Schwenks from Labor Day to a Thanksgiving football game that you will never forget.

My thoughts: D.J. is back in The Off Season and her life has been pretty good lately. She is becoming friends again with Amber and she is kind of dating the cute guy known as Brian Nelson. She is also the linebacker for the Red Bend High School football team. And then tragedy strikes. The Off Season is one of those books that made me smile, laugh, and cry awhile reading it and then when I reached the end I did a happy sigh. Personally, I think that The Off Season was better than its predecessor, Dairy Queen. I found this book to be much more poignant and engaging. (Although, Dairy Queen is still pretty darn good.)

I love D.J. She feels like a real person to me and I think she is a delightful character to read about. She has a lot thrown at her but she deals with it with determination. D.J. works hard and doesn’t give up. D.J. does have her faults though and she has trouble knowing what to say. But her determination to get through everything is admirable. D.J.’s voice is a very honest, funny, real, and engaging one. I wholeheartedly adore it. I also loved read about the family dynamics. I always enjoy reading about realistic families in books and I always enjoy it even more when there are siblings. The Off Season was able to pull it off amazingly. The Schwenk family is a very realistic one. They are flawed but they truly love each other and they get through all the obstacles. And I found D.J.’s brothers: Bill and Win to be enjoyable to read about. They are easily two of my favorite characters in this book(second only to D.J.).

The Off Season is also about sports just like Dairy Queen but there is more story off the field than on it. And I was not disappointed about that. This book tells the story of D.J. and her family growing and getting through the obstacles that come their way. There were sad moments but it was also heartwarming.

The “small town” element in this book is also something I enjoyed. Red Bend is a small community that has good people living in it. They help each other out and care for one another. I liked-if not loved- all the residents of Red Bend. And one scene that involved almost the whole community of Red Bend and Hawley brought a tear to my eye.

This has been my second time on the Schwenk farm and I loved it. Murdock has exceeded my expections a second time and I have no doubt that she will a third time. It makes me sad that there is only one more book in this series.

*This is my 100th post 🙂

When Love Comes To Town by Tom Lennon: review

When Love Comes to TownWhen Love Comes To Town by Tom Lennon

Standalone

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: YA Fiction, Glbt, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic

Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen

Release Date: March 1st 2013

Synopsis: The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self–and to whom.

My thoughts: This is my first Glbt novel so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I didn’t know what to expect from it but I do know that I enjoyed reading it. When Love Comes To Town has depth, meaning, and I found it to be very thought provoking.

When Love Comes To Town is a story about a boy named Neil coming to terms with his sexuality. Neil has known he was gay since he was ten. He has been playing the role of the class clown ever since then. He keeps to himself and has been distancing himself from his family. I loved how Neil was written. He strong in some ways but also very weak in other ways. His fear of showing his true self really shows through his narration. Neil imagines in massive detail about what will happen if he says or does a certain thing before he decides to go through with it. His thought process was interesting and very different.

I also noticed that the love Neil feels for people differs. Neil’s love for Ian was pure, his love for Jack shows his need to be wanted, and his love for Shane was a lustful one.

The other characters in the book are also well rounded. They all had their own quirks and flaws. We also get to learn their stories. This kept them from being forgettable and made them memorable.

The book contains good writing that often slips into the style of stream of thought. I thought that it worked well. It allowed the reader to learn more about Neil’s way of thinking. When Love Comes To Town made my eyes tear up at some moments. This does not mean that the book is lacking in humour and happy moments. I laughed, I teared up, and I cheered on for the characters.

I believe that When Love Comes To Town was a good introduction to the Glbt genre and I look forward to more 🙂

*An advanced copy was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley