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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The Art of Being Normal

Title: The Art of Being Normal

Author: Lisa Williamson

Series: Standalone

Publication: May 31st 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Pages: 352

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.

As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.


My Thoughts:

Wow.. just wow. I have to tell you, The Art of Being Normal is so far out of my comfort zone – and I think that made me love it even more than I already do. This book is a work of art itself. It is provocative, innovative, unique, and everything a contemporary novel should be. It has opened my eyes to something I knew little about. It has created a new set of standards. It is more than just diverse, it completely diverges from our idea of normal and thrusts readers into a situation some individuals experience every day of their living lives.

The Art of Being Normal focuses on David Piper (Kate), a young boy who has only ever wanted to become a girl. Even since kindergarten, he knew. When the teacher asked the class what they wanted to be when they grew up, there was a slew of standard ballerina and astronaut answers – and then there was David, who wrote something that broke the barriers of acceptable answers. While David’s closest two friends are supportive, the school treats him as a pariah and his parent have their suspicions though he hasn’t come out to them yet. This is the story of his journey and his growth – and it was beautiful.

This is one of those books that grabs you by your wrists and ankles and drags you through the muck until the end. There is no escape. You find yourself trapped, captivated, and utterly willing to keep getting muddy. While you might be uncomfortable with certain aspects of this novel, I certainly was, you shouldn’t let that deter you from delving head first into a book that demands to be read. It’s worth it. Trust me.


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After The Woods

“You can’t. See, absolute darkness isn’t absolute. You can still make out shapes, ripples of movement. Branches buckled. Things flapped and scuttled. After a while, it started to rain. Your skin feels spongy, like it doesn’t belong to you. Water fills your ears. It slips between your lips, even when  you jam them tight. You don’t bother brushing it from your eyes. Soon you stop feeling it. Sometimes, I think Donald Jessup isn’t what changed me. It’s the woods that changed me. It’s where I learned to live inside my head.”

Title: After The Woods

Author: Kim Savage

Series: Standalone

Publication: February 23rd 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 320

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

My Thoughts:

I bring this review to you today after hours of slaving away at my keyboard in pain – sort of like how I felt while reading this book. For those of you who don’t know, I broke my thumb last week and I am currently sporting a full, special Sammi-sized thumb cast – which, as you can imagine, makes typing very, very difficult. But I do so because this is a book that needs to be shared, talked about, and cherished in ways that are impossible to describe. After The Woods is terrifying, plain and simple. This book will give you the chills like you’ve never had them before and it will make you enjoy it. After The Woods will bring tears to your eyes, it will make you bite your tongue so hard you’ll taste your own blood, and it will make you scream in rage all while clinging desperate to the edge of your seat.

I have never read a book like this before. Books… they don’t usually scare me. They don’t make me want to look over my shoulder and they don’t make me so obviously frightened even my friends ask if I’m alright. Until now, that is. After The Woods is a very special book – it was powerful, intoxicating, and it forced me to see things in a new light that I hadn’t even known existed before hand. This book will change you – it will make you painfully aware of what is out there and just how little you truly know the people whom you call friends, even if you’ve known them for years.

After The Woods brings into question just what you should sacrifice for the people you call friends. It examines the unintended consequences of selflessness. Julia Spunk was out running with her friend Olivia, or Liv, when Liv ran ahead and was violently attacked. Julia comes upon the scene and tackles Liv’s attacker, and then Liv abandons her and Julia is kidnapped. She spends two days being hunted in the woods like some sick game… and her best friend ran away. Left her there. Think about that for a second… just, wow.

This book takes place a year after the events of the woods, hence the title. But, boy, the woods were not the end of it. You can’t walk away from something like that and not be different – just as Julia is different. Julia is our main protagonist, and I love her. She is cold, calculating, morbid, and everything you think someone who suffered what she did would be. She loves Liv, she lives her life day to day trying to sort through all the information she possibly can while simultaneously trying to figure out just what happened in those woods. She is broken, but strong. Traumatized but defiant and unafraid to puzzle things out most people would want to leave alone. She is so, so strong – it was truly something beautiful to read. I, in all honesty, felt like it was an honor to be in her head and read her thoughts. Now, Liv. Liv I want to strangle, hit over the head with a chair, and then strangle again. She was horrible. She was the complete opposite of Julia and the epitome of a character who is an integral part to a story even though you hate their guts.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, this book is a thriller. It terrified me and it did it’s job well – way too well if you ask me. Word of advice: Don’t stay up late at night to read it, you won’t be able to sleep. It is a very rare thing when a book effects me in such a way as this. It was like watching the most horrifying episode of a murder solving television show/ horror film you can imagine slowly unfolding right before your eyes in excruciating detail while you cannot stop it or see things coming. Bravo Kim Savage, bravo. You officially scared me shitless, that is a very hard thing to do. The pacing of this book lent itself well to the overall theme, as did the structure and specific vagueness of certain parts. This book is simply perfection that I cannot describe for fear of giving it all away. You need to experience it for yourself – but in broad daylight, and certainly not while surrounded by trees (Unless you’re into that sort of sheer terror).

Overall, After The Woods is an astounding and shocking thriller of a book that I will never forget. A story of bravery, friendship, and what it means to be a survivor – After The Woods will haunt you. This book will plague the back of your mind forever and you will love every second of it. Full of twists and turns you won’t see coming, this book is something I will not be likely to let go for a very, very long time.

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Teaser Tuesday # 20

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This week’s Teaser Tuesday is for After the Woods by Kim Savage!

“You think I’m a mess?”
“Together, you’re a mess. Alone, I think you’re fascinating. And a little bit of a mess. But mostly fascinating.” Kellan says.

“There’s something grounding about having a gym teacher straight from central casting screaming about dodgeball, the purest form of Darwinian selection in any high school.”

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Coming Soon: February 2016

February is full of awesome things, well, that’s a lie. It’s Valentines Day mostly. But, alas! There is more than just a horrible holiday where you realize just how much you prefer fictional boys from Young Adult books, THERE ARE MORE BOOKS COMING OUT! From historical fiction to high fantasy, February’s releases are going to completely kill my bank account.

1. Raging Sea by Michael Buckley

Summary from Goodreads:

In the first book of Michael Buckley’s Undertow trilogy, the Alpha arrived and the world was never the same. At the start of the second book, most of south Brooklyn is in ruins and the nation is terrified. Nearly everyone that Lyric Walker loves is either missing or presumed dead, including the mesmerizing prince Fathom. It’s up to Lyric to unite the Alpha before the second wave of a cataclysmic invasion wipes out mankind for good.

February 2nd 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers

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2. Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Summary from Goodreads:

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

February 2nd 2016 by Balzer + Bray

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3. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are  Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books

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4. Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Summary from Goodreads:

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

February 2nd 2016 by HarperTeen

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5. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Summary from Goodreads:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

February 9th 2016 by Simon Pulse

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6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Summary from Goodreads:

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

February 9th 2016 by HarperTeen

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7. Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

February 9th 2016 by Harper Teen

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8. The Shadow Queen by C.J Redwine

Summary from Goodreads:

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

February 16th 2016 by Balzer + Bray

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9. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

February 16th 2016 by Greenwillow Books

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10. Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Summary from Goodreads:

ONE CHOICE.

TWO REALMS.

NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

February 23rd 2016 by Harlequin Teen

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11. After the Woods by Kim Savage

Summary from Goodreads:

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

February 23rd 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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