ARC Review: We Come Apart

We Come Apart

 

**I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

 

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I started this as I had not read anything by Crossan before but the premise sounded amazing. I was not prepared to be hit directly in the feels. When I finished this, I was ugly crying and I regret nothing.

Short recap: Nicu, an immigrant from Romania who is being forced into an arranged marriage, and Jess, a teen with a very troubled home life, cross paths in an unusual way. As they become closer their dark secrets are revealed. Just how far are they willing to go to help each other out of their bad situations?

This story hit me right in the feels. Hard. The writing style too me a minute to get used to but once I did, this story flowed. It was beautiful, emotional, heart shattering, and raw. I loved every minute of this story. It is told in alternating POV so when it was Nicu’s chapter, the broken English made me feel as if he were sitting next to me telling me his story. It felt real. It felt believable. It was captivating. It made me connect to him even more. Same with Jess’ chapters. The horrors that girl went through on a daily basis hurt my soul. I wanted to save her myself. These two together just worked. Nicu was trying to escape his parents and the arranged marriage they are setting up. He does not want to marry a stranger, he wants to live his own life. Jess wants to escape her abusive stepfather and enabling mother. Together these two try to save each other from what could be a terrible future. The ending is one I did not see coming. Just when I thought I had it figured out, Crossan threw a wonderful curve ball that knocked me for a loop. Well done!

This is a very quick read but it is a powerful story. Crossan did a fantastic job of breathing life into her characters, as did Conaghan. This is not just a story of two teens trying to run away from a bad life, it touches on heavy, serious social issues like domestic violence, racial profiling, and racism. Some of the comments made toward Nicu were hard to read. That may be because things like that are said every day whether we realize it or not.

I hope everyone gives this story a chance. It is an important and current story. I think this is one that needs to be told. It is about transcending barriers and testing friendships. As I mentioned, this was an emotional read and it has stayed with me long after I put the book down. Please, add this to your TBR. Read it and come back to talk to me about it. Let me know your thoughts.

 

sara-signature1

 

Review: The Memory of Light

The Memory of Light

 

I had such high expectations for this book but it just did not work for me. I feel bad giving it a low 2 star rating but I could not get into this story.

Short recap: Vicky is a teenager having a very difficult time with her life and as a result she tried to kill herself. Many issues pushed her to this decision but she is not willing to openly talk about any of them. She is forced into a treatment facility for the help she needs.

For a book that deals with teens trying to commit suicide, this was not an engaging story. I never connected with any character or the story itself. It did not read like a work of fiction, it read like a textbook chapter on teens with depression. Vicky’s character was not a relatable character so it forced me to really keep my distance. I was not given the opportunity to connect with her or any character because I was never given the chance to see exactly how depression affected her. I read about all of her interactions with doctors, psychiatrists, and some of her friends but those barely scratched the surface of the problem. Maybe there was more to Vicky’s depression than her mom’s passing, her father remarrying, and her nanny being forced to retire and move back to Mexico. Those are all significant events but I was not given the chance to see exactly how they all compacted so much to force Vicky to try to take her own life.

I went into this hoping and expecting an emotional tear jerker of a story but instead it was really, really boring. I know it is a serious topic but I truly believe it was not delivered properly. It was not believable in my eyes. I can’t say I have ever read an article or heard a doctor say they would take suicidal patients outside of the facility to their own personal farm as a form of treatment. Especially teens that just tried to end their life five days beforehand. I also don’t believe a doctor and/or facility would let said suicidal patients (teens or not) leave the facility to attend a family dinner. I won’t go into it too much about how I also don’t believe a facility would house both adults and teens on the same floor of said health facility. I could keep going but items like the ones above gave me even more cause to not enjoy this book.

The one thing this author did correctly was put a whole cast of diverse characters together. I commend him for that. They were portrayed very well so I cannot fault him for that. What I can fault him for is not delivering a book about a serious topic well. I appreciate that he included “advice” on how to fight depression and how he included talks of how real peer pressure can be to a teenage girl. But that’s about as far as it goes. Stork got the informational part of depression and possible suicide right, but he didn’t quite capture the human/emotional element of it.

Overall, I wanted more from this story. I feel Stork could have told a more compelling story if the treatments used were a little more realistic. Also, add the human element and allow readers to connect with the characters. I wanted to be able to relate with Vicky but it never happened.

 

sara-signature1

 

 

Review: Bang

Bang

 

After reading and loving Lyga’s other books, I had high expectations for his latest novel. Sadly, I fall into the Black Sheep category because this was just an alright read for me (2.5 stars).

Short recap: Sebastian has grown up being told that he shot and killed his baby sister when he was only four years old. It was an accident but Sebastian cannot forgive himself for what happened, while everyone else around him cannot forget. As a result, Sebastian plans to kill himself and end the suffering.

The big, overall problem I had with this was the narrative (Sebastian’s POV) was not believable. He talks as if he is a college graduate yet he chooses not to apply himself at school. He is a good student but not special or gifted. Why should he go above and beyond since he is planning on ending his life? Speaking of school, why would his classmates still give him such a hard time over something that happened when he was four? No court in the country would hold a child that age accountable for their actions. Why did everyone pile the guilt on as if the event happened a month ago? There is also his friendship with Evan, who is supposed to be his best friend. How were they best friends if they had very little in common? Sebastian was quick to kick Evan to the curb to hang out with Aneesa, the new girl in town, so I would not and could not consider Evan a “best friend”. Let’s not forget about how apparently Sebastian really did remember everything that happened during that fateful evening with his sister yet he chose to act ignorant and clueless his entire life. Uh.. why? Why would he not talk to his therapist or parents about this? What purpose did it serve to lie to everyone for 10 years? (Don’t forget, Sebastian is only 14 in this story.)

Here is where things got really weird for me with this story and I basically checked out: Sebastian and Aneesa decide to start making pizza videos on YouTube.

Image result for what gif

That’s right! In the midst of Sebastian making a life altering decision to kill himself, he decides to postpone ending his life to make pizza videos with his new friend, Aneesa, who happens to be Islamic. That plays a part in the story because several comments on the YouTube videos become hateful towards her and insulting. Sadly a good chunk of this story is dedicated to these two making videos over their summer vacation. Uh.. ok. Whatever. I can tell you that it really messed up the pacing of the story. It made no sense to me. He and his mother barely scrape by as it is so where does he come up with the money for the fancy ingredients for the pies? Also, how did he learn to combine such sophisticated ingredients if he has had no formal training? This mixed in with such a serious topic did not work. 

I personally feel this should have had a stronger impact than it did. Yes, there were some very serious topics to cover (gun violence, suicide, and Islamophobia). It really bothered me how that was all Sebastian could think about, all he could imagine, all he wanted to do – end his life. He carried the guilt with him everyday because nobody would let him forget. Even his parents blame him and that was messed up. His mother needed help but never got any. They had a lifetime subscription to their issues. But this mixed with the stupid pizza tutorials just made me not care.

I never connected with these characters or the story. My lack of emotion with the story kept me from caring what happened to anyone. The ending alone did not work with the story. It felt slapped together and rushed. It was missing something that should have been powerful and outstanding. What we were given was anything but that. I know I’m the minority with this story and I am okay with that. I hope others find a way to enjoy it because I certainly did not.

 

sara-signature1

ARC Review: Aftercare Instructions

Aftercare Instructions

 

Why aren’t more people talking about this book?! It was amazing! Is it because it has the topic of abortion? Let me put to rest the fears that this book is all about that topic, because it is not. It does not go into gross detail, nor does it beat the topic to death. What it does do is address the topic in a very realistic manner. I loved this story so much that I want to scream from the rooftops.

Short recap: Genesis Johnson has a rather broken homelife but does the best she can. Everything changes when she and her boyfriend, Peter, have sex and Genesis becomes pregnant. They make the decision to have an abortion but Peter leaves Genesis at the clinic and she must figure everything out on her own.

There were such strong characters and voices in this story and I loved it more for that. Genesis had one of the strongest voices I have read in awhile. She has had a very, very tough life but as her story went on, she always stuck to her guns and stood up for herself.  She never wanted pity for anyone. Her father died of a heroin overdose. Her mother is in a severe depression and can barely leave the bedroom on most days. Her ex-best friend, Vanessa, told the school everything that happened to Gen’s parents at the same time she is trying to steal Peter, Gen’s boyfriend. Gen’s sister left to live with their grandparents which meant Gen was left to deal with their mom on her own. The only thing Gen has going good in her life is her best friend, Rose, and her boyfriend, Peter, who comes from a super religious family. When Peter leaves Genesis at the clinic with no notice, Gen does her best to make sense of what happened. There is so much more drama, suspense, coming of age, and growing that happens but I won’t ruin it for you.

I felt a little concerned for Gen in the middle of the book because it felt like she was all over the charts. She did not make some great choices and she put herself in some danger. I wanted to reach through the pages and slap some sense into her. That’s a sign of a good book because I was invested in what was going on. I felt like I was on this crazy journey with Genesis. I really did feel like I was right there on the bus rides with her because Genesis’ character felt real. I believed her. I believed in her. She was full of spunk, witty comebacks, sarcastic comments, and wise beyond her years. The poor girl had to grow up far too quickly so she came across as an old soul.

As I mentioned, this story does talk about abortion but Pipkin does it brilliantly. However, that is not the entire focus of this story. It also talked about family, relationships, recovery, and simply being human. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect so nobody has the right to judge. They way that abortion was not the main focus of the story was amazing. Everything else that happens gave more insight into Genesis and who she is as a character. It made her feel real and that made her feel believable. It made the story believable. It made me not want to put this book down until the very last page was turned. Even then, I kept thinking about the story. I wanted to know more about Gen and what happened to her after.

I hope people give this story a chance. It really is very well done and I will not stop recommending it to everyone.

 

sara-signature1

Review: Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three Things

 

Do you know what drew me to this book? WAFFLES.

Image result for waffles gif

 

Short recap: Jessie is the new girl in school, having moved in with her dad. Shortly after starting at her new school, she starts receiving emails from “Somebody Nobody”. SN offers to help Jessie get to know her new school and something she needs: a friend.

This was a fun story to read. Jessie’s character felt real as she was both frustrating and genuine. She was also naive but charming and you couldn’t help but like her. I enjoyed how she questioned everything but wanted to believe the best in people. Sounds like I would be friends with her in real life. The super fun part of this story is trying to figure out who SN could possibly be. Is it a sweet guy that wants to catch Jessie’s eye? Liam? Caleb? Ethan? I liked all three of these guys! Liam and Ethan were musicians, while Caleb and Liam were good friends. There is a reason for any of these boys to be SN but the mystery is not revealed until the end and I was so excited when SN was revealed! It was just who I wanted it to be. *heart eye emoji*

Do know that this is not just a book about a mysterious SN emailing Jessie wanting to be her friend. This always deals with friendships, families, and grief. This is just just about a boy with a crush. There are some heavier topics and I think Buxbaum did a great job with all of it. She wrote about how important friends and family really are. Nobody’s family is perfect so we all have to do our best to make it great. I felt that between Jessie and her dad. Their bond really made me smile. I wish more books had great dads like hers. The way Buxbaum also handled the loss of a parent was well done. That is never an easy topic and one authors normally shy away from, but it was covered in a very tasteful and appropriate way. Well done, Julie.

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. I tore through this and was sort of sad when I was finished. I almost wanted my own SN to email me. Ignore the negative reviews and give this one a try. Make your own judgement on it but know that I thought it was adorable and cannot wait to ready Buxbaum’s next novel.

 

sara-signature1

Review: Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

 

Julie Murphy is an insta-buy author in my world. She is a local Texas girl so I will always support her. Plus she is just hella cool. I was very excited for her newest novel, Ramona Blue, and even more excited when it became available from my library. This was a very well written story that will be important to some people and for that, I gave it a happy 4 stars.

Short recap: Ramona lives in small town Mississippi, loves swimming, is openly gay, has a pregnant older sister, has survived a terrible hurricane, and is slowly falling for her best friend, Freddie. Falling for Freddie makes her question nearly everything about herself. Can Ramona keep everything together and be able to accept this new love into her life?

Ramona was a fiercely complex character and I loved that about her. From page one she knew who she was as a person. She had been through more in her short life than most people go through in a lifetime. What did bother me most was that she felt she needed to save everyone no matter what. She felt she needed to protect and provide for her older sister after she found out she was pregnant. She felt she needed to work as much as she could after high school let out so she could pay bills. She felt she needed to give up on her dreams of getting out of her small town so she could provide for her family. I get how much she loved her family, but come on! She needed to let her sister, Hattie, fall on her face! Everyone has to experience rock bottom at some point (actually, I hope nobody has to experience that. It’s truly awful) or at least fall down and learn to pick themselves back up. Because everyone around Ramona knew she would sacrifice they were never afraid to ask her for help. It hurt me to see this teenager have to be so much older than she really was. It made me want to slap her daddy for putting that much pressure on one daughter and not the other. Or maybe that is just the sign of a good book, to be able to stir up so many emotions that way.

The other thing about Ramona’s character that stood out was how much she beat herself up internally because she knew she was gay but started developing feelings for her childhood male friend, Freddie. It felt like she was so against being bisexual or anything other than lesbian that she was embarrassed by it. Why was it so difficult for her to accept what was going on? Loving people of both sexes did not make her a horrible person! She did not have to fit under any one label, but she put too much pressure on herself to do just that – fit under a specific label. I wish she had just calmed down a little bit about it.

The rest of the characters played their part and I can see why they were there. I know that sounds cliche and vague, but hear me out. Ramona had few friends outside of the ones she worked with at her after school job. I don’t remember any of them standing out to me too much but that was just me. This story really focused more on Ramona, Freddie, and Ramona’s pregnant sister.

The one thing that fell short for me was the swimming. Ramona was supposed to be madly in love with swimming but it felt like it was hardly touched upon. I wish that had been expanded on more. Other than that, this was a wonderful story! It made me start asking questions and pondering about things. It also brought up emotions for me and made me feel things about fictional characters so kudos to you, Ms. Murphy! Well done. I hope everyone gives this book a chance.

 

sara-signature1

 

Review: The End of Our Story

The End of Our Story

 

This book did not go the way I thought it would go. I was expecting a super gushy romantic contemp of two sweethearts that lost each other then found their way back. I’m here to tell you that is not what this book is about. Not one bit. It wasn’t bad but it was not necessarily good.

Short recap: Bridge and Wil have been inseparable from the day she moved to town. As they got older, it becomes clear they both want different things out of life. Wil is content to stay home and build ships while Bridge wants to get out and party. Bridge started making some really stupid decisions and after a particularly bad of drinking, things were over between her and Wil. Something tragic happens to Wil’s family a little later and suddenly Bridge forces herself back into his life as a crying shoulder. Can Wil let her back into his life after what she did?

This story felt all over the place. The chapters alternate POVs but one is present day and one is past day. That had me confused and made things not easy to follow. The pacing was super slow at times and I found myself bored during certain chapters. I figured out pretty early on in the book the real reason behind Wil disliking his dad so much. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I did not really like how long it took to get to that bombshell and how drawn it was but eventually the big reveal was made. There was no “OH MY GOSH!” coming from me. I saw it within the first 50 pages of the book.

The characters felt flat and forgettable. I did not like how the female protagonist, Bridge, was given every bridge nickname under the sun. Brooklyn. Golden Gate. London. Her name was Bridgette. Why couldn’t anyone just call her that? Given her a nickname did not make me relate to her or make her seem more cool. She was the character that I never liked no matter what. She was an idiot who did stupid things because she wanted to be bigger than the small town she was living in. She had no regard for who she hurt or who she took down with her. I never understood her motivations and quite frankly I don’t want to. I did feel bad for Wil and understood where his anger issues came from, but someone needed to sign him and his mom up for therapy ASAP.

Overall, this was just an okay story that was trying to deliver a really serious topic. Sadly it did not do a good job of that. Slow paced, bad characters, and a bad plot made me wish I had DNFd this story early on. There was so much potential but the author just did not deliver. Do not go into this thinking hearts, flowers, and rainbows because you won’t get any of that.

 

sara-signature1