When two heartbeats get each other: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

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Heartbeat

By Elizabeth Scott

Released: February, 2014 by Harlequin Teen

Length: 240 Pages

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Via netgalley

Everything can change in one…

That’s what happened for seventeen year old Emma. Before she went to school her mother was pregnant..and alive.  Now, angry and living with her step dad, Dan, she once loved as her biological, Emma visits her mother everyday in  the hospital as she is brain dead and struggling to keep the baby she struggled two years to conceive alive. At a loss, Emma struggles every day with the fact that her step dad chose her soon to be born brother over her brain dead mother.  Didn’t he know how scared her mom was all the time about being over forty and pregnant? These thoughts constantly run through her head as her grades drop, her anger rises, and she begins to form an unlikely friendship with a druggie and car thief from school, Caleb Harrison. But they share something Emma and her best friend don’t at the moment and won’t for a long time: grief and losing someone you love prematurely and in a bad way.

This was the first Elizabeth Scott book I have read and I absolutely loved it. I mean completely, absolutely, head over heels fan girl loved it. I read it in one sitting until 2:30 in the morning. There was something about Emma that I really related to. My mom may not be brain dead with a baby in her body, but I have lost someone. And have felt this overwhelming grief that some of  my friends haven’t in their life yet.  I see Emma in myself. And, she is wise beyond her years. She’s smart, very feisty, loyal, and beyond everything loving. I would want her by my bedside any day.

Then, there is Caleb Harrison. Oh, Caleb Harrison. Elizabeth Scott, like Sarah Dessen, knows how to craft a male love interest. He reminds me a little of Macon from Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen (has the good Macon qualities, plus the woundedness). He was a redeemable bad boy. But, not really all that bad. Doing “bad” stuff doesn’t necessarily make the person bad. He made wrong choices, but his heart was hurt and so forth.

Everything about this book was done well. The plot was heart wrenching. It really was. It pulls at you, tugs at your moral consciousness, and shows you what you are made of. I mean, how many books are out there, young adult or otherwise, have a mother on a ventilator solely to keep her baby in her belly alive? A baby that may not even make it? Add in brain dead, a devastated daughter, and a hatred/secret love for the baby and you’ve got a whirlwind of emotions called Heartbeat. There just aren’t many books that tackled this subject, in this way or that. Scott did it in a way that was raw, realistic, emotional, and authentic. I felt Emma break each time she said Hi to her mom knowing she wasn’t “there” anymore. I didn’t want to take away her pain, or take it in, I just wanted to listen. And, I did. Such an emotional, rewarding book. Again, I highly recommend it. If you love Young Adult books, or looking for a book that you think maybe your teenage daughter will like or so on, PICK THIS BOOK UP! You won’t regret it.

 

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Searching for an unusual stone: Stones by Polly Johnson Book Review

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Stones

By Polly Johnson

Released December, 2013 by Harper Collins UK Digital 

Length: 300 pages

Genre: YA realistic-alcoholism, coming of age

Rating: four stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Coo is like every sixteen year old girl- her friend is a drunken tramp she found by the sea

Corrine “Coo” at just sixteen has already lost her older brother, Sam to alcoholism. Sam wasn’t a fun drunk. He wasn’t the life of the party. On the contrary. He scared her all the time. The story starts off with him abusing her; yet, it turns out he’s been dead for almost a year. He often stole money from her parents, things from her bedroom like a chess set, and was extremely violent towards everyone in the house; but, no one would say anything. Coo’s parents would never stop Sam, just give him money and support his addiction. Almost a year later, and Coo s telling her story: meeting a boy she tries to let in, Joe, who doesn’t let her in, then meeting a mysterious drunken tramp named Banks who becomes the main character in her life. She can’t seem to figure him out or let him go. He reminds her so much of Sam. Although she won’t admit it, she wants to save him; have him be her new Sam although she will stand by her hatred for her older brother by eight years.

The chapters start off with a little random tidbit, or quote that mostly relates to the chapter. Some of them made me smile. There was the definition of a tramp, mince pie, a meaningful quote, and some funny Coo commentaries. There is something so deep and raw in every sentence and thought that is written.  Take the title for example- stones. The “tramp” Banks tells Coo that if she ever has a question all she has to do is stick her hand out for a pebble and if she finds a special, different pebble then she found the right answer. And, that in Heaven there is a new stone waiting for everyone. There is something about those two things that stick with me. The imagery and symbolism. 

There are two quotes I actually added on goodreads.com that I loved so much and couldn’t believe no one else added them: 

 

“Right now he’s like the ocean at night- you know it’s there, but even though the lights are coming on you can’t see it and all you know of it is washing sound somewhere sighing in the back room of a house when they think no one is listening.”

and

“How is it that time can be elastic? Sometimes years seem to go by while you’re looking the other way, and sometimes-when you most long for it to pass-life-times can stretch from a few hours”  

Johnson is a talented writer.  That being said, she did an excellent job of depicting what it is like to be an alcoholic, living with an alcoholic, and the aftermath of it all. I think this was a great story in every way. I really would recommend this, although it is not for everyone. I do sometimes give recommendations lightly because I am a very open minded reader. Some of the parts in this novel is graphic. In my opinion, at least. It is very true to the disease. And, the disease is ugly. There is abuse. Sexual, albeit a tiny bit, and physical. It is not a long book, but it took it’s emotional toll on me. And, it may on you. I don’t want that to deter you though. I do think this is an important topic, and a topic that isn’t looked at much from this perspective, point of view, and format.  

I hope you consider reading this book. Like I said about John Green’s Paper Towns, this is one book where I can see it being a benefit for kids to be required to reading it in schools. So many kids drink early on in high school. Coo’s brother was only twenty-three when he died. It’s just an important lesson. Plus, homelessness is a HUGE issue in this novel as well. Something I have also been passionate as a child about. This is one of those universal life lessons books that, if taught, could make a difference, I think. Johnson writes so well I can’t see it not making even a little impact. Alas, I am not a teacher and don’t intend on becoming one.

 

Happy reading!

Another day, another challenge to add to the growing pile: 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge hosted by phantasmicreads

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Yup, I decided to add another challenge to this years line-up. Why not? I like challenges, apparently. This one is gear towards reviews specifically for arcs and e-arcs I may get from netgalley so it is definitely a practical one; and an achievable one at that! I decided to challenge myself to 35 since I do have a full year and with four days at the Book Expo of America this year, it’ll be easy to attain, I think. Since they break it down in levels, I will be trying to attain level Grand Master. Eck. 

Wish me luck!

 

Happy reading everyone!

A New Kind of Fairy Tale: Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger Mini Book Review

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Raven Girl

By Audrey Niffenegger

Released May, 2013 by Abrams Comicarts

Length: 80 pages

Genres: Fantasy(Fairytale) and graphic novel

Rating: three and a half stars

Acquired: Purchased

 

This short, unusual fairytale stems from when resident choreographer Wayne McGregor, for the Royal Ballet in London, asked Audrey Niffenegger if she would collaborate on a new dance with him where she would write the story and he would create the dance. When asked what kind of story, he simply said a new fairy tale. Thus came this illustrated, twisted, dark, funny, strange, and oddly charming and whimsical  fairy tale about a postal man who falls in love with a Raven and has a child with her.

At only eighty pages, including the illustrations drawn by the author, this fairy tale is rather short; but, not without meaning. It’s one part love story (post man meets Raven who hasn’t learned to fly and takes her home with him because he thinks she’s wounded. A typical boy meets girl at first sight plot) one part identity crisis ( Raven and Post man somehow procreate and have a child hat squawks like a raven, but looks otherwise human with arms and no feathers) one part metamorphosis (if I tell you, I’ll ruin the ending!) and one part, what just happened? Everything you love in a fairytale. There are so many things going on in this macabre story. You have a half raven/half human girl that doesn’t know where she fits in this world. I felt for her, yet was ashamed of myself at times for thinking of how ugly she looked. I will say she got a happy ending. Two, really. And, well deserved.

I loved this little, quirky book. There isn’t much to say. Just pick it up and read it. The illustrations alone are fantastic to look at. The story is great, too. I wish I could have seen how Wayne McGregor interpreted this into a dance. The costumes would be great. Well done, Niffenegger. Definitely something different for me. I was excited about this book and very glad I was not disappointed at all.

For fans of Gillian Flynn: Eloise by Judy Finnigan Book review

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Eloise

By Judy Finnigan

Released September, 2013 by Redhook

Length: 384 pages

Genre: British contemporary mystery/ paranormal-ghosts

Rating: 3 and a half Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

A grieving best friend promises her friend’s ghost to save her kids from him

Set in Cromwell, with multiple references to Daphne du Maurier and her book Rebecca, both from Cromwell, comes a book about a woman who is haunted by the ghost of her newly dead best friend.  At forty-five, Eloise had succumbed to a five year battle with breast cancer. At the surface, it was cancer that took her life. But as her spirit remains, sneaking into Cathy’s dreams and pleading, mysteriously, with Cathy to not trust “him” and protect her girls, a mystery novel is born. Already fragile, having suffered from a clinical depression breakdown, Cathy isn’t the most reliable source when it comes to trying to convince those around her that there was something amiss in Eloise’s death and with Eloise’s husband, Ted.

Although Eloise’s ghost often haunts Cathy, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a ghost story. It is more of a mystery fueled by a spirit, if that makes sense. Nonetheless, Cathy is driven by what her best friend is telling her, alienating her from her husband and family. Part mystery novel, part novel on loss, Finnigan’s first novel is a success. I found myself drawn to Cathy; rooting for her when her psychiatrist husband shames her in front of her children, and everyone else; I could relate to her desperation and need to right a wrong, what wrong she doesn’t find out until the end. And, my the ending. I haven’t read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but know of the twisty, holy hell ending. Let’s just say there was some of that here. I certainly didn’t expect some of what was discovered. Not even just secrets that were kept. It’s events, too.

I am normally not a fan of mysteries. I chose not to read Gone Girl and other similar books. I actually don’t remember what drew me to this book in the first place. I had it on my nook for a while. I picked up at page 30, where I left off two days ago, and promptly finished in one sitting. I’m glad I chose this novel. This wasn’t one of my regrettable choices. This is a solid contemporary mystery debut. The “paranormal” aspect isn’t so much paranormal and aliens are coming after you stuff. It is done in a nice, haunting way that is surprisingly relatable. The novel isn’t just about solving a mysterious case, it is a look at what happens when someone close to us dies; and, sometimes we never feel like they left, and if they did they left with unfinished business. I quite enjoyed this book as a whole. The plot was well-developed; you want to continue demystifying the mystery; Cathy is a great narrator; and the novel is multifaceted.  Well done Mrs. Finnigan on your first novel. I am impressed and look forward to reading another one of your novels.

I hope, my readers, that you will at least take a glance at this novel. It is more than what is at its surface. And, if you liked Gone Girl, I really think you’ll like Eloise.

Paper Towns are real: Paper Towns by John Green Book Review

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Paper Towns

By John Green

Published in 2008 by Brilliance Audio

Format read: audio

Length: 8 hours

Genre: YA realistic/romance

Rating: Five Stars (and added to favorites shelf on goodreads)

Acquired: bought through audible.com

 

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” 

Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has loved his childhood neighbor, the wild Margot Roth Spiegelman ever since they discovered a dead body in Jefferson Park when they were nine; with Margot sneaking in through his window to update him on her investigation. Nine years later, and loving her from afar, Margot reenters Q’s life the same way she entered it nine years prior-through his window dressed up like a ninja with black face paint, a list of eleven things that need to be accomplished that night, and cash. What she needs-him and his car. Quentin doesn’t know what to do, but soon finds himself discovering who Margot Roth Spiegelman has become. As Margot Roth Spiegelman runs away, she left more clues, this time for Q. As Q and his gang of misfits, Ben and Radar, search for the missing Margot Roth Spiegelman  (she is one of those girls that are only called by their full name apparently)   Q starts to see who she really is-not the girl he thought she was. She is like a paper town, like one she sets the boys on an adventure to find.

This novel, on the surface, is another Young Adult novel to add to your shelf. It has a good plot, well developed characters, and quirkiness that is always a plus. The characters are about to graduate from High School, meaning another lifetime achievement to be earned. There is love, and unrequited love. Funny sidekicks, house parties, prom, and a missing girl. When you read beneath the surface, delve deep into the theories of how much can you know a person, truly; and is everything relative? You got this novel on the top spot (or close to) on your bookshelf.

John Green first wowed me with The Fault in Our Stars; now, he wooed me with Paper Towns. I loved the idea of paper towns: a town put on a map to prevent piracy. To turn that concept into a novel, and to do it successfully is a feat. But, then use paper towns for a metaphor about knowing, truly knowing a person and how some can just be paper towns is brilliant. The concept of paper towns existing is presented throughout the novel. The question of why, how  exist is a good question. Green takes it further by making the reader guess how much they really know people in their lives. Not just the mysterious Margot Roth Spiegelman.

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

This isn’t the only passage where identity comes up, it is one of my favorites though. I can say I know my best friend. Or I know my neighbor very well. Or this person, and that person. Yet how well? And how well do they see me? We all have cracks, windows, and curtains. You don’t see this much depth in Young Adult novels anymore. Sure, there are the ones that talk about “real” issues because books just about first love, growing up, and high school are fake issues; but, there aren’t many novels like these that are light on the surface, and heavy below. That makes us completely wonder, even after the last period is reached.

“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.” 

Yes, Mr. Green, well-said.  I could go on and on and quote this book. But, I won’t. Because I think you, all of you, should read this. Or, just read all the quotes on goodreads. It’ll take some of your breath away by how articulate he is; and how so much meaning and truth is jammed packed in his novels.

I loved listening to this book. I might have to buy a copy, actually. I bookmarked many quotes. including the one you see up top and through. It was a great that I think should be required reading in high school. Going too far with my love of this novel, no, I think not. I think this should be even just considered for required school reading because of how much it touches on individuality, knowing, truly knowing the people around you, and knowing yourself. Also, it involves a character running away, which is a topic I also think should be looked at sand discussed. Green’s depictions of Margot Roth Spiegelman’s parents alone and their reactions to their run away daughter is a great topic to dissect.

Now, one more quote before I leave you to run to the nearest bookstore.

“Imagining isn’t perfect. You can’t get all the way inside someone else…But imagining being someone else, or the world being something else, is the only way in. It is the machine that kills fascists.” 

My Challenges for 2014

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goodreads.com

-via group Challenge Yourself

  1. audio-books Hear Ye! Hear Ye! ! Reading a certain number of audio-books.
  • my goal is to read 15
  • progress: 2 out of 15 

2.) big books Doorstops Reading those big books that you’ve been avoiding.

  • my goal is to read 5
  • progress:

3.) book reviews Reviews To Do Taking the time to complete book reviews.

  • my goal is to review all 70 that I chose to read for my annual goodreads challenge

progress: 3 out of 70

4.) eReader eDingus Reading material stored on your eReader.

  • my goal is to read 35
  • progress: 1 out of 35

5.) home library Home Alone Reading books from our private library.

  • my goal is to read 35
  • progress: 1 out of 35

The numbers don’t match up. That’s because some will overlap.

book blogging

 New Year, New Reads hosted by Books, Food, and other things

  •  For the month of January, I will try to read at least 3 to six new authors, or genre, to me.
  1. Eloise by Judy Finnigan (a mystery with a side of paranormal and ghosts) I got via netgalley (completed)
  2. Either Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker  or Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, both by Jennifer Chiaverini
  3. Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon (YA fantasy paranormal, not my cup of tea usually, but why not) I got via netgalley
  4. Flat out Love by Jessica Park (a YA novel that involves music, sign me up) I got for Christmas
  5. Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)  by Gena Showalter
  6. and a surprise!

progress: 1 out of 6

– 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Ramblings of a Daydreamer

From January 1st, 2014- December 31st, 2014, the goal is to read as many historical fiction books I can.

~Challenge Details and Guidelines~
  • The challenge will run from January 1st, 2014 – December 31st, 2014. Sign-ups will remain open until December 15th, 2014
  • You don’t have to have a blog to participate, as long as you can post your reviews somewhere (GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc)
  • This challenge encompasses both YA and adult historic books
  • Any subgenre of historic fiction counts – historic romance, paranormal historic fiction, historic fantasy, etc. Time slips (where a character(s) goes back and forth between the present and the past) also count. Publication date doesn’t matter – whether it was published this year or thirty years ago, it counts.
  • Any length and format of book count – audiobooks, ebooks, novellas, etc.
  • Create a sign-up post for the challenge (or tweet, Facebook post, GoodReads status, etc if you don’t have a blog), include the graphic at the top of this post, along with a link back so other people can sign up, and be sure to tell us which level you’re aiming for (levels are below). You don’t have to list the books you intend to read, but you can if you want. When you add your link to the Linky below, please use the direct link to your sign-up post.
  • At the beginning of each month, I’ll post a new Linky where you can add your reviews for the month. If you forget to link up one month, you can link up the next, just please don’t link the same review twice. Unfortunately I can’t afford to do giveaways each month, but I’m hoping to do surprise giveaways* for participants, and there will definitely be a giveaway at the end of the year. The more books you review, the more entries you get in the grand prize giveaway!
  • Reviews must be posted for the first time between January 1st, 2014 and December 31st, 2014 to count.
  • If you’re on Twitter, feel free to tweet updates, reviews, etc using the hashtag #2014HFRC so we can all find each other and cheer each other on. I’ll randomly retweet tweets using that hashtag throughout the year.
  • You don’t have to follow Ramblings of a Daydreamer to enter the challenge, but you might want to follow via BlogLovin’ or email so you know when the monthly link-ups are posted, along with surprise challenges or giveaways.
  • Each month I’ll be updating the 2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge page at the top of the blog with everyone’s progress. Each person who posts a review will get their name added, along with all the reviews they link up each month – hopefully that will drive more traffic to your blog!
  • ~Levels~
    1-5 books ~ Testing the bonds of time
    6-12 books ~ Slipping through time
    13-20 books ~ Traveling back in time
    21+ books ~ Living in the past

For me, I am going for the level Traveling back in time with a goal of 15+ books. Historical fiction is my weak pot although I read heaps of YA.

You can check back on the page to see my progress. I may add one here or there, depending on what I see. What are your challenges this year, if any?

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