Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Published: June 21st, 2016

“Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?”

Review:

This book was …interesting. Confusing, but interesting. It’s a book that you’ve never really heard of this specific story being told before.

In the beginning of this book, my attention was not grabbed. I didn’t really find anything that captivated me from the beginning. I pretty much felt the same throughout the book. I felt like I read the same chapter over and over even though the pages were ascending.

I ended up giving this book a higher rating than I originally thought I would based on the ending. The ending was totally unexpected for me and I felt like it had me questioning about the whole book from the beginning. Overall, it was short and quick, but confusing and not that captivating at all.

Rating: ★★★

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Published: September 1st, 2015

“My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

Review:

Maddy is extremely sick and is allergic to the outside world. She has a cleaning station in her front door. She has never left the house. Maddy has hit her 18th birthday without leaving the house. When Olly and his family move in to the house next door, all bets are off. Maddy must see if things will pan out.

This book was very, very quick to read. I read it in only a few sittings. There were so many good qualities about this book that don’t really get talked about. First, Nicola Yoon did a beautiful job writing it. The words flowed amazingly and made sense the whole way through.

The only thing that I didn’t really like was how a little predictable this book was. The ending definitely shocked me, but things were a little foreseeable. For some people, it might not be.

I would definitely read this book, and because it’s a movie now, there’s all the more reason to!

Rating: ★★★★

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Published: November 1st, 2016

“From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

“Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild, when a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it.”

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come.”

Review:

A novella based on the lifestyle of Alzheimer’s disease: very hard to read. I can’t imagine someone going through that.

This was very short and sad. However, I think that Fredrik Backman did a beautiful job of portraying what it is actually like to have this awful disease. He switched things up and sometimes it was a little confusing to keep up with, but the story was amazingly written.

Rating: ★★★★

 

Little Blue Envelope Series by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes (#1)
Published December 21st, 2010

“Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.”

The Last Little Blue Envelope (#2)
Published April 26th, 2011

“Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.”

Review:

13 Little Blue Envelopes: The first thing I thought when I read this book was: “Where are her parents?”. I understand the concept of not having contact with anyone from America because the notes from her aunt said so. However, I know that if I didn’t keep in contact as a seventeen year old going across to a completely different country without knowing their language or anything, my parents would be calling and texting every minute. Okay, now that I have that off my chest, I think this book was good, but depressing. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is about how Ginny’s aunt sent her these letters after she disappeared for years. It turns out that Ginny’s aunt was very sick and wanted to show her what she did when she disappeared. Ginny takes the letters and flies to England where her journey starts. I’m not so sure I really liked Ginny that much in the first book. I think she was way in over her head. However, I commend her for getting out there and doing something she would never have the chance to experience again. Maybe I’m just nervous, but I could never see myself doing that. Next, she meets Keith who is a good/bad boy. He was just an okay character. You’ll find to not really like him in the sequel. Overall, I think this story was pretty good and had a nice family message along with it, but I feel like it was just missing that wow moment. Rating: 4/5 stars.

The Last Little Blue Envelope: Okay, so it’s pretty clear by the sequel that something happens to the last envelope in the first book. If you read the synopsis above, you will find out what happened to it. I think that this is one of those funny cases where I liked the sequel better than the original. This time around I was flying through the pages to see what was going to happen next. Of course, the first book is a scavenger hunt type of novel, and it kept me interested, but not as interested as this book. There is a new character named Oliver and you hate him right off the bat. Like I stated before, you will hate Keith, too. Ginny got much better in this book than she did the first. By the end, it’s all great and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment for Ginny. It does seem to leave a little bit of a cliffhanger, but you can use your imagination to figure out what will happen next. Rating: 5/5 stars.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Published: August 30th, 2016

“Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?”

Review:

Joanna Gordon is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. I picked up this book thinking it was just another LGBTQ+ high school story, but I was wrong. This is the story of a young girl who knows who she is and what she wants, but she has to be silenced. Her father, a priest who speaks on the radio, asks her to lie low when they move to a small new town of Rome, Georgia. Coming from Atlanta where Jo was known and loved, she agrees and tries to fit in with the high school crowd.

“Rome, Georgia, is definitely where queer girls go to die.”

This is the story of family and what it feels like to be closeted (which is horrible). In this book, you watch this out-and-proud girl become unsure of herself and who she is. Her whole life is flipped upside down. She is leaving her comfort zone where her best friend is (who is also out), her father got remarried to a new woman who’s family doesn’t necessarily agree with Jo’s lifestyle, and the worst: she is falling for a girl at her new school when she promised her father she would lay low.

This was an amazing book that I read from start to finish in a day. I couldn’t believe how great this book was. There’s a few things that I’d like to point out in this story:

Characters: The characters in this book were awesome. I love when a book has good character development. For example, I didn’t like Jo’s father’s new wife or her best friend in the beginning. I automatically didn’t like them because I felt like they were bad for her. Then, I switched and liked them both, and hated her father. At the end, everything was great and all characters developed beautifully.

Joanna Gordon: I wanted to give her a separate point because she is one of my favorite characters ever. She is this beautiful, young woman who portrays herself in such an amazing light. She is so strong and wonderful. Ugh, I love her and I would love to reread this again just to grasp the strength she has.

High School: I think Jaye Robin Brown wrote about how high school can be in an amazing way. High schoolers can be extremely vicious and especially if they found out a secret that no one was supposed to know about. I can understand why Jo’s father asked her to hide herself because he was afraid for her, but I felt like it went deeper than that. Read this and you’ll find out why.

Overall, I wish I could give this book a hundred stars. It really, truly deserves them. But since I can’t: 5/5 all the way!

 

This Is the Story Of You by Beth Kephart

Published: April 12th, 2016

“On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.

Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.”

Review:
“Haven is heaven without the e.”

Haven, a six mile long, half a mile wide island off of Atlantic City is the home where everyone knows each other. I picked up this book because of the cover at my local library. I didn’t know that it was based in New Jersey until a few pages in. As a New Jersey resident and frequent Jersey shore goer, I thought this book would be something I would be extremely interested in.

This Is the Story of You has three separate parts. This book started out for me how We Were Liars did. I feel like I was dragging through the first part. When I finally reached the storm, the book progressed very well. The third part is the reason why I gave this book four stars.What. An. Ending.
One thought came to my mind when I read the synopsis: Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was a massive storm that ripped apart the shores of New Jersey leaving some dead and many homeless. As I read this book, I feel that the author really did a great job with describing the storm and how it occurred.

I would recommend this to young-adult lovers with a passion for mystery because the ending is very, very well written.

Rating: ★★★★

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Published: May 30th, 2017

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

Review:
I very, very much enjoyed this book. A modern day Breakfast Club with a deadly twist. Something I’ve never seen in a novel’s story before.

I just want to start off on how this book made me feel like I watching an action movie and I was sitting on the edge of my seat. It was a little slow at parts, but the ending saved it for me. I couldn’t put it down.

Next, the characters. The CHARACTERS. There were so many different developments with each individual character and I absolutely loved that. There’s nothing more wonderful than having a love/hate relationship with a character that you want to see succeed.

Lastly, the ending of this book shocked me. Some might see it coming from the beginning, but you forget about it throughout the book. When you hit that gasp moment, and you know what I mean when you read it, you will think back.

Loved this book and would recommend it to anyone!

Rating: ★★★★★

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published: February 28th, 2017

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”

Review:

Astonishing. Riveting. Shocking. Stunning. Breathtaking.

I took my time with this book because I am a very emotional person. If you are a very emotional person like me, I suggest that you have tissues ready because I’m not sure where there was a chapter where I didn’t at least tear up. I full on ugly cried through a few of them. There were so many different emotions displayed through this novel that I felt like I was losing someone myself. The author did a WONDERFUL job showing the seven stages of grief.
tarr is just a young girl that has had tragedy all through out her life. She is this strong, young woman that has to keep up this changing act because of where she lives versus where she attends school. One night while attending a party that gets busted, she and her best friend Khalil leave only to be pulled over by a white policeman. Khalil’s life ended before he could graduate high school. Khalil was unarmed. (WARNING: I CRIED DURING THE WHOLE CHAPTER, THE AUTHOR DOES GO INTO DETAIL.)

This story is so important because of what is happening around the United States everyday and has been happening for years and years. It’s unfair what is happening, and unless it personally happens to our families, all we see is media coverage. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE ANGIE THOMAS SHOWS WHAT IT IS LIKE FOR THE FAMILIES THAT HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THESE TRAGEDIES. Angie Thomas wanted to make it personal. It’s not just what is shown on the media. The media twists and turns things into this whole different point of view that has never even been there before. Most of the individuals who were shot and killed in the United States were unarmed. Why did they get killed? Why did they lie in the street for hours? Angie Thomas shows us why. And she did an amazing job of it.

This book wasn’t just about Starr. This was for Trayvon Martin, Michael Scott, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Brown, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and all of the unarmed black individuals that lost their lives tragically to police.

This needs to be the most read book of 2017 and for years to come. And I am totally here for that.

Rating: ★★★★★