This is No Ordinary Love..Story; Another Day by David Levithan Book Review

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Another Day (Every Day #2)

By: David Levithan

Released:  August 25th 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Length: 327 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015/ netgalley

 

“Maybe this is what we’ve needed all along. Distance from everything else, and closeness to each other.”

In David Levithan’s companion novel to best seller Every Day, Another Day takes the readers on Rhiannon’s journey of navigating love, both new and old from a fresh perspective. Unlike companion novels, such as Just One Year by Gayle Forman, this work is a somewhat retelling of Every Day instead of a what happened next novel from the opposite perspective. It is  as every bit creative and insightful as Levithan’s previous works, especially Every Day.

The reader really gets the opportunity to be inside Rhiannon’s head and life. Trying to adjust to these budding feelings for A, an extraordinarily unique human being, Rhiannon also has to deal with the complications of her current relationship with her distant, troubled boyfriend, Justin. There is a great scene between Rhiannon and her best friend where the best friend discusses Rhiannon’s relationship with Justin in an honest way. It’s not often people are completely up front about certain feelings regarding other friends’ relationships. It was refreshing to read that. I did shout, “You go girl,”  because while powerful, a little mean, but true, her message translates universally. Something Levithan specializes in.

The good thing about Another Day, and Every Day, is you can start with either one, I think. It is clear what the condition is that A has as much as it can be, in both novels. You are told in two ways–once per novel– who, what A is; so if you do decide to start with Rhiannon’s story, you won’t be totally clueless. You’ll have some idea, just not in the full capacity of how A himself explains it in his narrative.

It’s no secret that I am a huge David Levithan fan; having read a majority of his published works. This may be one of his better novels. The series is, quite frankly. It is inventive, thought provoking, and something we need to see more in YA, or literature in general. I loved how Levithan’s character A has no gender. It’s not that he doesn’t see gender, he really has none because he changes bodies constantly. How this translates into Rhiannon’s views and acceptance of such a condition is flawless. There is an apparent struggle with accepting A as A–a boy or a girl on any given day. It wouldn’t be close to realistic if she didn’t have a problem, or hesitancy regarding A’s various identities.

Part fantasy/ sci-fi, this novel can also be categorized as realistic, teen fiction. The concept of A may be unusual, but everything else is real. The struggles, the successes, and the love. I can’t recommend this book, and series, enough. Both characters tell interesting stories. Stories you don’t won’t to miss out on reading.

I loved this novel. It would make a great standalone. The end. The end! Once again, Levithan pulls us in with a cliff hanger of sorts that leaves readers like myself wanting more. If you haven’t read Every Day, you won’t know how the end leaves off. But, it’s a good one. However, it doesn’t continue over to the second book. I think Levithan is writing a third, from what he told me at a signing. This will, hopefully, tie in the two cliff hanger endings.

This series should not be missed. The  way Levithan tackles topics it explores, such as gender identity, abusive relationships, and first and second loves, is a great start to better understanding these on your own. I can see either, hopefully both though, books being taught in High School. The tackled topics are so important, universal, and important to learn. Especially when it comes to understanding gender, gender norms, and gender constraints. Another Day tackles these topics a little more heavily than in Every Day because it is about someone who has an assigned, accepted gender that may fall for a person who has none, while both at the same time. Things can get messy!

Please, just read this. You won’t regret it, I promise.

When the Future comes to the Present: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

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The Here and Now

By: Ann Brashares

Released: April 8th, 2014 by Delacorte Press

Length: 192 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopia

Rating: Four and a Half Stars

Acquired: Invite via netgalley

 

Prenna is like no other. She doesn’t come from our time. Doesn’t share our blood. She is here from the future, but not to protect us, but for her and her people to stop a virus from happening. She didn’t plan on becoming a savior. Or, falling in love with one of us.

Sixteen Year Old Prenna James lives a very sheltered, secluded life. Forced to wear glasses that has a surveillance system installed on them and take pills that only weaken them, Prenna’s adapting to the “past” or our present hasn’t been easy. There are rules upon rules. And, lies. Lies she begins to uncover with a boy from the present. A boy she can’t help but fall in love with, Ethan. As they search to uncover the truth about her journey and reason for being in here, and stopping a murder that will change everything, their lives become ever so complicated.

There were two paragraphs that immediately pulled me in. After the day The Rules are read, a yearly practice/celebration where all the residents gather to remember the strict rules and remember the dead/those who broke them. Prenna is in the park with fellow teens. She hits the feelings on the nail.

No one talks about what really binds us together. The gap between what we say and what we feel is so big and dark that  sometimes I think I’ll fall into it and just keep falling.

At least, I think we feel it. Does anybody else feel it? I don’t know and I won’t find out. We follow our scripts like actors in a very large, very long production. And even with no audience, none of us gives a hint that it isn’t real.

There is such alienation that is universal, at least to me/for me. I connected so much to that. Especially when you are a teenager, even if you’re not from a different time. Ann Brashares writes a novel for everyone while disguising it as something extraordinarily unfamiliar to use. But, as we pull apart the layers it’s so universal and real, it’s beautiful and real.

Ann Brashares tells a beautiful, yet complicated story of first love, fighting for individuality, and fighting to be heard. I was hooked in immediately. The story was fast-paced. The action well thought out. The characters well-developed and not too far out there that they were unbelievable. I could relate to Prenna’s  suffocating circumstances. And, Ethan’s longings, yet he never crossed any boundaries and respected Prenna’s wishes and unfamiliar background which made him ever the more likable to me. This was one of those novels I didn’t want to end. I hope there’s a sequel. I’m sure there could be.

I would highly recommend this novel. Not just because the cover is so pretty, but it is. But, because there is something about this novel that pulled me in so deeply that I think will pull you in. It doesn’t truly read like a Young Adult novel. In reality, they are doing a very adult thing by trying to stop a murder from happening while being teenagers and falling in love. I think it offers something for everyone. Brashares presents a different novel that is a success, to me. A success that should be widely read.

A Great End to a Great Series: Emerald Green (Ruby Red, #3) by Kerstin Gier Book Review

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Emerald Green (Ruby Red, #3)

By: Kerstin Gier Narrated by Marisa Calin

Released: October, 2013 by Macmillian Audio

Length: Audio 12 Hours and 42 Minutes

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: purchased via audible.com

 

We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard…oh wait wrong book. We’re off to see a made up Count to close the Circle of Twelve so illnesses can be cured. Or, are we?

Two weeks ago, Gwen’s perfect cousin Charlotte was the Ruby, the Raven, the last time traveler of a circle of twelve–a secret society based on two families of time travelers. But, Charlotte wasn’t the Ruby. It was Gwen, whose  real day of birth was a secret, among other things, creating an uproar. Now, with a little bit of training, a demon ghost friend, and her best friend Leslie, Gwen isn’t so bad at time traveling. But, the mysteries are piling up. The pressure is building to close the Circle of Twelve. And, Lucy and Paul, two time travelers on the run with the original chronograph that allows all time travels to go to specific places in time, are still a sore subject. Gwen is starting to find out what they know–why the circle shouldn’t close. And, it’s big.

Then, there’s hot and cold Gideon. I love You/ I don’t love you. With his feelings constantly in flux, Gwen spends the time not crying with her grandfather discovering more secrets, and getting closer to the truth. Thankfully, Gideon makes an honest man of himself and is upfront. Now, time to save the day you two–together, preferably.

Gier’s final book in her YA fantasy trilogy was excellent. I loved every twist, turn, revelation, and final reveal. I was stunned at the end at who someone really was. The surprises were great. Listening to it on audio made me feel more there with all the action.  Marisa Calin, who has narrated the whole series, was a joy to listen to again. This was a great finale. Everything I would want to happen, happened. I was right about one of my hunches (and, I love being right!). There were intriguing turn of events I didn’t see coming. I think this was truly the best in the series. It was truly the strongest send of a third and final book could be.

I would truly recommend this series. I was never disappointed. There were never any parts I wanted to really skip. The characters were all amusing, well developed and crafted. The time traveling was interesting and fun. The mysteries were intriguing and kept my attention the whole time. This is definitely a good series to start. I normally don’t finish series. I get bored with them so easily. This one, I just couldn’t help but finish it. I’m so happy I did. I am completely satisfied. I hope you consider this series. It’s a very quick read. It is even more fun to listen to because Calin does fantastic voices. Give Ruby Red a try and fall in love with Emerald Green like I did. You won’t regret it.

Tales of Love told through the eyes of a feathered girl: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Lesyle Walton Book Review

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

By: Leslye Walton

Released: March 25th, 2014 by Candlewick Press

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy-magical realism

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Born with feathers, and a silent twin, Ava Lavender narrates the story of the three generation of women in her family that faced love– the fanciful phase, the heartbreak, loss, and everything that comes with it in a moving tone.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one of those books I couldn’t put down. Full of magical realism, it pulls you in from the beginning. Starting with a very brief detail of Ava’s extraordinary birth, she begins to tell the story of her female ancestors, based on a single emotion-love. And, oh, how these Roux/Lavender women have been affected. And, how unique they all are. After the great-grandfather dies, after being mistaken from someone else and is gruesomely murdered, while the wife maman, and everyone else, thinks he left with another woman begins to almost melt until she literally becomes a pile of blue ashes in their sheets. Then her daughter, Pierette, becomes a bird for the man she loves who never loved her back. A bird! There’s another sister who carves her own heart out after she gives birth to a child whose father is the betrothed to her older sister- Emilienne, all out of love. Emilienne is Ava’s grandmother in the story who lost her husband early on in the marriage, but not before giving birth to their daughter Viviane, Ava’s mother.

Ava takes center stage much later in the novel, but when she does her story shines just as much as the other women. Each, melding into the others so seamlessly. The novel doesn’t necessarily have a plot, which at times I would normally have a problem with, but with this novel I didn’t. I loved how fluid it felt, even without it. The center plot, or theme really, was love and that was the driving collection that made everything make sense and hold a connection. There were no gaps, or holes in the story. Even as each generation of women took center stage in their own way, Ava was always there, guiding and keeping everything together. For a debut novel, this was an ambitious undertaking– to tell four generations worth of stories based on an emotion almost solely told by a person, somewhat of an outsider at certain points. Walton succeeded wonderfully. I look forward to reading her next work.

What I loved most about this novel was the magic in each woman. Not magic like Harry Potter magic. But magic, like something different we can’t explain. Emilienne had hers, where, in the beginning, the people in town thought she was a witch. Then there was Viviane, who could smell things and give emotions to them. Even silent Henry had his own idiosyncrasies. Plus, there was Ava with her wings. It wasn’t completely reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen, but somewhat. As I am a huge fan of hers, I instantly became a fan of Walton’s. I enjoyed how there was nothing simple or ordinary in this novel. Even the town was special. It was an unique read I couldn’t put down.

Walton stuck to the theme of love very well, her analysis pretty head on. She didn’t take the pretty route. She didn’t show all the good, happy parts of being in love. Didn’t write about all the bad, either; although she wrote a lot on it, but not everything. I enjoyed her take on love; especially how she used it to fuel her plot. Each character found love and its meaning in different ways; and how it could effect them, too. There was so much beauty in the words and descriptions Walton chose, even when love’s ugliness reared it’s head.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It really is a must read. There is something about it that I think makes it one. Not just the words. The characters, the magic, the unsugar coated realism. It’s all there and more. I was initially giving it four stars, but realized I love it so much more. I’m moving it to five. It’s that good. I am planning on buying a copy for myself. There is something about it that just sucked me in. It wasn’t just those feathers. I hope you pick this one up. It’s worth it. It really is.

This is why I Don’t Get the Flu Shot: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski Book Review

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Don’t Even Think About It

By: Sarah Mlynowski

Released: March 11th, 2014 by Delacorte Press

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal-ESP

Rating: 3 Stars

Acquired: via publisher

Getting a flu shot was never rewarding…until 22 sophomores get ESP as a side effect. The results: funny, witty, and down right amusing. But, they already know that.

When the students of homeroom 10b at Bloomberg High School lined up to get their flu shots, none of them expected to get super powers. Sure, there was Pi who had the second highest GPA in her class; and, always wanted to be extraordinary. But, to get ESP after the shot a day later, now that was something. Told as a collective we, Don’t Even Think About It takes place over a week with around 22 floating main characters all trying to deal with their new ability to hear people’s thoughts.

There’s Olivia, who is constantly sick or afraid of getting sick out of habit living with a hypochondriac OCD mother. She now knows the school nurse used to be a stripper and has sex. A lot. Like go on a condom run doing school a lot. Olivia is also afraid of public speaking of any kind; even talking to Lazar, the cute boy who likes her until she can read his mind.

Then there’s Tess and Mackenzie, best friends forever. Until, Mackenzie forgets Tess can read her mind and let’s her thoughts slip to Tess needing to lose weight. And that Mackenzie cheated on Cooper, another ESP, the last one to get it.

There’s also BJ, who hits on Tess in every way possible– through ESP, in person, through text. Sadie, who is the center of Teddy’s mind who is not an ESP but the center of Tess’s mind. Plus, a pair of twins, a guy named Levi, and too many more.

The whole homeroom became a we. They would talk to each other through their thoughts. Cheat in class. Know more secrets, like about Mackenzie cheating on Cooper. Hear everything. And comment on everything. There were italics throughout the whole novel; so many scattered thoughts from too many voices.

Pi takes charge in this novel, but it is Olivia who shines for me. I just adored her. She had her issues with public speaking; maybe even a character flaw or two. But there was so much in her that was likable. She was quirky, adorable, and funny. Kind, considerate, and without even realizing she could, she could stand up for herself.

This novel was a cute and quick read. I’ll be honest. When I first got it, I thought it would be cheesy. The cover wasn’t very promising. The title gives too much away. But, this cynic liked it. Not a lot, but enough. It was funny, witty, and although had way too many featured characters, some of them, when given the time to develop, developed rather nicely; like Olivia, Tess, Pi, and Cooper. When they were given their own time, they showed maturity in situations and choices that were made. The side characters were good. The concept was original. The writing wasn’t juvenile. Although I believe it deserves a three star rating because I simply just liked it, it is a strong three stars. I think if I was at the targeted age, which I am not, I would give it a four, or higher star rating. For an author that writes a lot of series, or has written series in this past, this was a good standalone novel in my opinion.

Love is Neverending for the Believers: Endless by Amanda Gray Book Review

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Endless

By: Amanda Gray

Released September, 2013 from Month9Books, LLC

Length: 384 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal with a mix of Historical Fiction (Romanov Era)

Rating: Four Stars

Jenny Kramer was accustomed to seeing visions from just a simple touch, but when the visions start to involve Maria Romanov and becomes intertwined with her real life, Jenny has to find out what the connection between Maria and her is. And, why a boy from her visions seems very much alive next door to her. She’s can’t seem to stop herself from being drawn from him, either. Is it love? Is it Real?

For a majority of her life, it is just been Jenny Kramer and her architect dad since her mother died when she was young. Although she is close with her dad, the details surrounding her mom are vague. Jenny can’t remember anything about her. All she knew was her mother would disappear for periods of time without saying why.  Jenny never pushed her dad for details, but when a figure from her dreams not only sneaks into the paintings Jenny made for an exhibit, but appears in the abandoned manor next door, Jenny starts to question who her mother really was. Why did she have a ring that resembles that of a secret organization in her town that helps people out of time. And, what is out of time? There are so many questions Jenny needs to find the answers for. The first, why the man resembles a boy, Nikolai from the Romanov Era? And, why he calls her Maria, the girl she is in her dream? Is she related to a Romanov?

 There were so many layers to this novel that I can’t do them justice. So much intrigue. I loved the historical aspect. It brought anew twist to the paranormal/fantasy aspect in the novel. I enjoyed that the chosen period wasn’t that of the Tudors, or the like, but of the Russian Romanovs that have such a sad history. It made the book seem less cliche; Romanovs aren’t usually on the top of peoples radar. Gray was able to weave together the tragic end of the Romanovs, focusing on Maria Romanov, into a timeless love story. Jenny/Maria was a strong character. The love story between her and the mysterious Nikolai was great. It wasn’t a love that was forced down the reader’s throat because it is supposed to be true love. It was natural; believable in the intensity for once. The way Nikolai finds Jenny/Maria was awe-inducing. I didn’t cry over their love, but of all the true love YA books out there, this has to be one of the most original; and sweet, heart-warming, and not creepy in a It is Young Adult, but didn’t always feel like that which was refreshing. You didn’t think about how old the characters were. There was no High School moment. They were never in classrooms that would remind you you were reading a YA book. It all felt contemporary; and, the age irrelevant.  I am never a huge fan of reading soulmate books, but this one was one I would read again. It all felt more authentic than others.

The dialogue in this novel wasn’t the writers’ strong point, but it was enjoyable enough that I didn’t want to skip many pages. I loved the plot the best; the way it unfolded it a gradual pace that allowed me to hang on to my seat for a little while. I was definitely surprised, or shocked, at certain plot twists that I enjoyed. All the plot twists, or layers, were great. I really found this novel to be unique and original. Since Amanda Grace is a duo, I thought maybe I would read parts that belonged to one author and not the other, like some collaborations read. Not here. The novel was completely fluid, with no real style changes. The book may seem to be a little long at a little under 400 pages, but reading it feels like it is much shorter. I just kept turning the page as each twist appeared, an aw love moment would happen, and a funny line would appear. I loved this novel.

I highly recommend this book. Just read it. You will want more. There is a slight cliff hanger, but I couldn’t find out if it is part of a series. Makes me love it even more that it was so good I want a second one. I’m not even a real fan of series. It was that enjoyable for me. I want to find out more!

Fallen Angels, Nephilim, and Rephaim, What Could go Wrong: Shadows (The Rephaim #1) by Paula Weston

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Shadows (The Rephaim #1)

By: Paula Weston

Published September 10, 2013 by Tundra Books

Acquired by netgalley

Genre: YA Fantasy

391 Pages

Three and a half stars

Love. Nightmares. Angels. War.

Gaby Winters used to be a twin until her brother died tragically in a car accident a year before, leaving Gaby as the only survivor. Badly wounded, Gaby found herself living in a quiet beach town. She held a steady job at a library. Lived with her best friend Maggie. 

Healed physically, she has started to have gruesome dreams killing demons that scare her nightly. Once again, so she thought it was just a dream. Enter the man in Gaby’s dreams strolling into her quiet beach town, sitting the bar she frequents. Was he looking at her? He was. But, why? Because sometimes dreams aren’t just dreams.

What Matt, as she called him in the story she wrote and published based on her dreams, or Rafa, his correct name, tells her is mind shattering.

She is not human. She is not an angel. She is a Rephaim, half human with a father who was part of The Fallen race; fallen angels who fell from grace because of their love of human women. She is a Rephaim who, as Rafa and clan figure out, has lost all of her memories. The memories of her brother, were they real? Is she really not 19? Did the accident truly happen the way she said it did? Gaby starts to question everything as she fights to gain her senses and protect herself.

Weston’s novel kept me on my toes. The action was smooth, the realizations and action not rushed, and the character development was strong. Although some of the minor characters, who are supposed to have a lasting affect on Gaby, are lightly stunted in their development, I enjoyed the hints of her past; the relationship with her brother, the outsiders who are the ones that left the sanctuary, and certain people from the sanctuary. 

What happens in the sanctuary was surprising, and made me slightly uneasy. Perhaps a good uneasy. Since the word and species Nephilim was mentioned, I couldn’t help but think of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. THe premise was entirely the same, but there are strong similarities. First, in The Mortal Instruments Clarey Frey did not know what she was. Gaby Winter just can’t remember who she is. They both have to learn to adapt and make up for lost time. Jace (from the Mortal Instruments) seemed like a younger Rafa. Both suave, at first mistrustful of the heroine, and battle hungry.

I did like Shadows  better. AS I just recently read Clare’s first book in her The Mortal Instruments series, the ideas were still fresh in my head. What Clary failed to do–what a strong heroine that wasn’t so annoying, create a world where humans were not looked down upon in a, quite frankly, condescending way that made me hate the Nephilims was what Weston succeeded. Maybe I am bias, but I liked that no one was stereotyped, looked down upon. There was a connection with both worlds; thus making the ideas more real for more.

Thankfully, Weston was aware of Clare’s use of the “mundanes” and included two digs at the Nephilim race (and to Clare, I think).

Overall, this was a great, quick read. It left me with a little feeling of “what just happened?” Not sure if that is good or not. Nor, am I sure I will continue the series. I just might.

 

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