The Year They Burned the Books

People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons.

Title: The Year they Burned the Books

Author: Nancy Garden

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 5th 2017 by Open Road Media Teen Tween

Pages: 256

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

As the editor in chief of the Wilson High Telegraph, senior Jamie Crawford is supposed to weigh in on the cutting-edge issues that will interest students in her school. But when she writes an opinion piece in support of the new health curriculum—which includes safe-sex education and making condoms available to students—she has no idea how much of a controversy she’s stepped into.
 
A conservative school board member has started a war against the new curriculum, and now—thanks to Jamie’s editorial—against the newspaper as well. As Jamie deals with the fallout and comes to terms with her own sexuality, the school and town become a battleground for clashing opinions. Now, Jamie and the students at Wilson need to find another way to express their beliefs before prejudice, homophobia, and violence define their small town.


My Thoughts:

I am sad to say that I am one of those certain individuals who has never read Annie on my Mind, nor do I plan to. I know it’s supposed to be amazing, but it simply has never interested me. Now, imagine my surprise when I got a notification for this book – by the same author. So I decided to give it a shot. What I found was a sucker punch of a story considering our current political state today. The Year They Burned the Books is a masterful conglomerate of censorship, bullying, coming-of-age, homophobia, friendship, free speech, PTA mom politics, and sexuality. It is brutal, honest, and action based rather than character focused. You fall into the plot, and you get swept away by the visceral reality that the events in this book are still very much happening at this moment in time. It’s a bit of a startling wake up call.

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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

“People got tired of mental illness when they found out they couldn’t fix it.”

Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

Author: Krystal Sutherland

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 5th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 256

Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them. 

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. 

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.


A Listical of Thoughts:

  • This book is unexpected, in a great way. It’s long for a contemporary, but also worth it? It sort of just… catches you by surprise.
  • It’s cute and also has its ups and downs. It’s more than a romance – it remains true to itself. A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a detailed story about mental illness without sacrificing the quirks that make it more than just another YA contemporary about mental illness.
  • I really love bucket list based books. There is something so fascinating about planning out your worst fears or deepest desires and then trying to follow through with them in some way. Plus, there is always another addition for the plot.
  • My favorite part of the book had to be Esther and Eugene’s relationship and her discourse on depression. It was simple, yet profound and accurate and it was refreshing to read.
  • The fantasy elements provided an eerie sense of magical realism to the novel – readers are left unsure of what is fact and what is made up… and it’s quite disconcerting in the best way possible for a book of this type.
  • One downside is the lack of concrete setting till about halfway through the book. I was very confused, which might have been intentional but I’m not really sure. I had a hard time placing the characters in the real world, or any world, really.
  • The characters and the exploration of mental illness, and the different kinds and ways it affects people on an individual type basis was handled well. It was detailed, informative, but not nuanced. Most issues were given the time and space they deserved.
  • The romance was super cute, enough said, right? CUTE! Just Jonah is precious and I love him and I kind of want one.


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Blog Tour: I Hate Everyone But You

“I don’t subscribe to labels. Unless I’m labeling other people.” 

Title: I Hate Everyone But You

Authors: Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 5th 2017 by Wednesday Books

Pages: 352

Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

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Kalahari

 

People are like stars, but it’s stories that turn us into constellations. If we don’t tell our stories, we burn alone in the dark.

Title: Kalahari

Author: Jessica Khoury

Series: Corpus # 3 (Can be a standalone)

Publication: January 19th 2016 by Razorbill

Pages: 384

Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.
 
But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.


My Thoughts:

I finished this a few days ago, but it’s taken me until this moment to figure out what I have to say. I’m, in all honesty, still not one hundred percent sure that I love this book. I like it, I like it a lot – to be exact. It was fun, entertaining, nerve wracking, heart pounding, and thought provoking. However, despite how much I loved everything about this book, one small thing is holding me back – characterization.

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When I Am Through With You

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Title: When I Am Through With You

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

Series: Standalone

Publication: August 1st 2017 by Dutton Books for Young Readers

Pages: 304

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.


A List of Thoughts:

  • I totally forgot how good Stephanie Kuehn is at being creepy.
  • Book starts off with a high school senior waiting to go on trial for murder… cue the doom music
  • The writing is infuriatingly addictive – You want to know what’s happening and why and Ben, the narrator, dangles it all just out of reach until he’s ready to tell you.
  • The characters are fantastically deep and multi-dimensional. Each individual has their own story, their own purpose, and their own key role in the narrative as it unfolds.
  • When I am Through With You pulls you in and makes you want to know why. You know what happened, but you want the why and the how and the when and ARGGGGH. So wonderful and frustrating.
  • This book keeps you on the edge of your seat even though you know the end game… or do you? IT’S SO GREAT, GUYS! I love it when books make me need to know what is going on. That’s evidence of a good story right then and there.

Basically, guys, read the book and strap yourselves in for one wild ride.


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The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash

 

When the song ends, we hold on to this moment that, in the space between, feels like a million electrodes have be- gun to rattle and vibrate. I feel it fuse to my bones. It connects us together, grounds us, right here, right now.

 

Title: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash

Author: Candace Ganger

Series: Standalone

Publication:  July 25th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 320

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

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Rosie Girl

Title: Rosie Girl

Author: Julie Shepard

Series: Standalone

Publication: July 11th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 256

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

After her father passes away, seventeen-year-old Rosie is forced to live with her abusive stepmom Lucy and her deadbeat boyfriend, Judd, who gives Rosie the sort of looks you shouldn’t give your girlfriend’s step-daughter. Desperate for a way out, Rosie would do just about anything to escape the life she’s been handed. Then she finds a letter her dad wrote years ago, a letter confessing that Rosie’s birth mother isn’t dead, as she believed, but alive somewhere—having left them when Rosie was a little girl for reasons he won’t reveal.

Rosie resolves to find her birth mom, and she’ll put everything on the line to make that happen. She hires a PI paid for by her best friend, Mary, who turns tricks for money. Unlike Rosie, Mary’s no delicate flower and when she sees the opportunity to make some cash and help out her closest friend, she takes it. Romance blooms when the PI Rosie hires hands the case off to his handsome nephew Mac, but Rosie struggles to keep her illicit activities with Mary a secret. Things begin to unravel when Rosie starts getting creepy anonymous texts from johns looking for Mary. And then there’s Mary, the one person Rosie can count on, who’s been acting strangely all of a sudden.

As Rosie and Mary get closer to finally uncovering the truth about Rosie’s mom, Rosie comes face to face with a secret she never saw coming. With the ultimate unreliable narrator and twists and turns around every corner, Rosie Girl is an unforgettable tale of identity, devotion and desperation.


Thoughts:

  • Apparently, it is possible to still love a book while figuring out the plot twist from the book jacket synopsis.
  • Fabulous concept, original – at least in YA. I’ve never read another book like this before. Yay
  • Rosie has a fantastic voice. I didn’t think I was going to like her as much as I did, but she grew on me. Her persistence, drive, and humor never failed to impress me.
  • I will say this: I did not see the secondary plot twist at the end. I never even suspected it. This book goes a long way to illustrate both how dependent we, as readers, are on our narrators and how the littlest red flags can easily slip past our focus. It was mind boggling and amazing and I find myself, even now, very impressed.
  • Long story short, this is the kind of book you read once, want to reread, and then want to keep reading over and over again because more and more details appear beneath the surface.


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