Saturday, September 30, 2017

Author Spotlight: The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood - 5/5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:29 AM 0 comments

M. C. Atwood

Megan Atwood is a mysterious author that no one knows anything about. But, maybe, just maybe, if you click on her picture, it will take you a land that will tell you all about her! Click it. You know you want to.

Title: The Devils You Know
Genre: YA Thriller/Horror
Author: M. C. Atwood
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Publication: October 3rd 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

The Devils You Know is a book that was instantly on my radar when I first heard about it. The concept and overall plot idea sounded so fun to me. After the end of the Freak Show season with American Horror Story, I was looking for something interactive that would keep me interested but also be slightly weird and creepy. I got all of that, and so much more, with this book. It's a horror story with meaning.

Gretchen - cranky goth chick
Paul - jock
Violet - quiet naughty one
Ashley - preppy popular bitch
Dylan - I don't even know
Maxwell Cartwright Jr. - Mr. Creepy McCreep Pants

The kids are on a field-trip to this funky house that has been deemed Boulder House. It is a house someone built a long time ago in a mountain. Not ON a mountain, but in the actual rocks of the mountain. The owner then started adding on to it, warehouse by warehouse and today it is now this elaborate freakshow of a house with creepy stuff collected from all around the world on display for the public to tour. But even after it's owner has been long dead, things keep getting added to the collection. I feel like this book is like making the ultimate deal with the Devil.

So, back to those kids. They are on this trip and the five of them randomly end up going into the creepy house ahead of the rest of their group. That starts this really creepy and scary journey through this hell house. But along with this creepy journey where the kids have to fight for their lives against things that shouldn't be alive, there is a moral journey. Each one of the characters has this horrible secret that would destroy them, or so they think, if it got out. All of these things together make for a very fricken awesome book!

World Building:
The world building in the book was FANTASTIC. I felt like I was actually in the book with the characters experiencing all of these creepy things. Sadly, I would have probably died in one scene because I cannot swim. But other than my imminent death, I loved being able to feel involved in the story. The author brought every aspect of this book to life for her readers and because of that, I got a lot more than just a story out of this book. I got a movie in my head, as well. When a book makes you feel included, instead of just watching from the sidelines, that is when you know you have found an amazing author.

I wanted to gush a little bit more about the world building. The scenes that this book had were so vivid and insane, in a good way. M. C. Atwood just has this way of turning something completely outrageous into something plausible. These kids go through all of these different freak show rooms and are met with all of this crazy obstacles but nothing felt over-used or over-done. I have read some amazing books but this one has just stuck with me. I find myself thinking 'Oh, what was that show I was watching? I need to go watch more episodes.' and I get so sad because I remember it wasn't a show, it was a book, a book I need more of!

In the end, I loved everything about this book. From the extremely diverse cast of characters to the creep-factor and even the historical aspects of the story. The author wove all of these things together and created a beautiful story about evil and the magical effect teamwork can have against that evil. These kids were put through hell but they came out on top and also learned a lot about theirselves and each other. If you are looking for a good YA read for Halloween then I highly suggest picking up The Devils You Know!

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

1.     Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

First of all, thank you for the kind words! The biggest setting inspiration was totally The House on the Rock. It’s an AWESOME tourist attraction in Spring Green, Wisconsin. My friend Natalie took me there years ago because she knew I’d love it and she was sooooo right. This place is like the storehouse for America’s subconscious. In fact, many other books have used this attraction in its stories, including AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman. I love the House on the Rock so much—in fact, this book is kind of a love song to it. If you ever go there, you’ll understand why it makes a writer so happy. As a lover of horror, I took one look at all the old dolls in there and thought: there is a story here.

But before I really knew where the story would take place, I was exploring the idea of shame and the feeling of not being good enough. I feel like teens get the brunt of those feelings during high school years—it’s hard and it’s intense for them. So in thinking about those things, the characters started to materialize for me.


2.     If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Oh, geez, can I say a few places?? OK, in my fantasies, I’d love to live in Paris because I’m sort of obsessed with all things French right now. Except I can’t speak the language, so that would be no good. Then I think Spain would be great because I lived there before and it is beautiful. But again, my language skills aren’t great. So then I land on: I want to live where my people are. I have just made a huge move for a job I love, but I gotta tell you—I miss my people. So now I think I want to live in Minneapolis, MN, like I used to, so I can hang out with all my darlings. And eat vegan donuts from Glam Doll Donuts.
3.     Please tell us 5 random facts about yourself:

Fun!! OK,

1)    I was born on Halloween, which, let’s be honest, is patently the best birthday ever. Am I biased? Well . . . fine. But come on!

2)    I know how to read the tarot. Mostly.

3)    I totally lived in a haunted house once.

4)    I like team sports. If you met me, you’d think that was kind of weird. But I have played soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and dodgeball at different times in my life. I love it.

5)    I had an imaginary friend when I was little named Barbara.
4.     What are some of your favorite books?

OH WOW I HAVE SO MANY. I’ll name just a few:

            All of the Harry Potters
            Almost anything by Madeleine L’Engle
            His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
            MAMA DAY by Gloria Naylor
            HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Danielewski
            THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison
            THE SECRET PLACE by Tana French
            BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
            Anything by Meg Medina
            Anything by Anne Ursu
            FEED by M.T. Anderson
            Anything by Octavia Butler
            Anything by Margaret Atwood (and not just because of her name)
            All books ever? I just love to read.
5.     If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be?

Paul, for sure. I would love to see the kind of man he grew into. I think I would totally have a crush on adult Paul if he were in my life. Just a hunch. J

Otherwise, I’d have to pick Gretchen because I want to wear her clothes!

Friday, September 29, 2017

REVIEW: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - 2.5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Genre: Contemporary LGBTQ+ YA
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: B+B
Publication: April 11th 2017
Cover Rating: 3/5

I have heard nothing but raving reviews about Simon, vs the Homo-sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I decided to pick up her most recent book, The Upside of Unrequited first to see if I liked the author and her writing style and then I would decide if I wanted to read Simon. I figured out that there was maybe some previous characters from Simon that appeared in Upside but I didn't need to read that first. Sadly, I don't think I will be reading it at all. Upside was just a weird experience for me. The authors writing style is very easy to speed through and I loved that but her story and characters just weren't for me

Mom #1
Mom #2
Reid - Nerdy romantic interest with VERY white shoes
Will - Hipster ginger romantic interest
Mina - Girl Molly met in a bathroom whom is now dating her sister
Abby - Female cousin
Olivia - Female BFF
Random other guys and gals

The book was supposed to be about Molly and her 26-27-28 unrequited crushes. These crushes cannot be unrequited because she never told anyone that she had a crush on them. So there is problem number one. 

The next plot point was Cassie and her girlfriend, Mina. Not exactly sure it was much of a plot but Cassie being in a relationship changed her and it wasn't for the better. She was very reclusive and stopped talking to her sister. Then she wanted Molly to hook up with Mina's best friend, Will, and things just got very complicated very quickly. I didn't really like Cassie much.

Then we have Molly and Cassie's mom. The book happens to coincide with when Gay Marriage was announced to be legal so their mom's decide to finally get married and more than half of the book is pretty much just about them and planning their wedding. I have no problem with that being a PART of the book but it felt like the wedding took over the book so it made Molly and Cassie and all the other issues seem less important. This is a YA book and two adults and their marriage should not have taken over the book. With that being said, they were both extremely cool mothers. I loved how the raised their kids and those girls are lucky to have two amazing moms like them.

And my final problem... Molly is fat. It is stated so much throughout the book that it started taking away from the story. Like, okay, we get it, you are fat and think you will crush anyone you have sex with. Gotcha. My problem is, the author NEVER states exactly HOW BIG Molly is. This is actually very common thing among the YA authors. I, personally, would like to know exactly how the author is using this context. I need an individual, personal definition of fat from each author that writes about a FAT MC. 

OH!!! And why did Molly's parents never meet anyone else's parents?! I mean Reid's parents were Molly's boss. They could have invited them to the wedding or something. I just think that was a weird situation, Molly's parents being literally the only parental figures we got to see aside from a brief glimpse of Mina's mother and her egg ramen.

World Building:
Ehh. There really wasn't any and the parts of Maryland that the book DID take place in I didn't really recognize when the author described things. So, there wasn't much world building needed but the little bit that there was was lacking.

In the end, I found myself feeling half and half about this book. I really like the cute relationship with Molly and Reid but there were a lot of other problematic areas and that just kind of swept Molly and Reid under the rug. I did give the book 3.5 stars originally but after writing this review I will be knocking it down because I realized just how problematic this book truly was. 

Overall, I gave the book 2.5/5 stars.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

REVIEW: Grit by Gillian French - 3 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Grit
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Author: Gillian French
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: May 16th 2017
Cover Rating: 3/5

Day after day I sit down to write book reviews. I have read some amazing books but I have also read some not so great books. I usually write equal length reviews for both sides of the spectrum. Today, I have decided I will no longer be doing that.

I picked up Grit in hopes of getting a good murder/mystery book. Nope. Not what I got. I was highly disappointed with this very odd book. The book took place, for the majority, in a berry picking field. Yep, you read that right. But the berry friend sounded kind of cool. I'd love to go somewhere to work for a few days to make some side money to buy more books.

Donating to the immigrants after the fire
A mean sister that still had good intentions
Jesse and friend standing up for the MC's honor
The Landlord

Dead father from his own stupidity
Daughter who might end up dead because of her own stupidity
Some weird country bumpkin pageant
Females being called whores
Immigrants being treated like literal shit 💩
A secret that was unable to be told to the reader
The secret was used to fill way too many plot holes
Lazy plot
A horrible aunt who calls her niece a whore
A missing best friend that might not exactly be missing
A poorly done plot
A horrible plot twist that felt like it was from another book
A very rushed ending
Just... ugh

In the end, I have realized that books like this are really hit or miss with me. When I say 'books like this' I mean We Were Liars, Wink, Poppy, Midnight and The Careful Undressing of Love. I am not even sure there is a term for books like this other than 'WEIRD' but if you know of a more proper term, by all means, please let me know.

Overall, I gave the book 3/5 stars.

Monday, September 25, 2017

REVIEW: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum - 4.5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 0 comments
Title: What to Say Next
Genre: YA Contemporary-Tough Issues
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication: July 11th 2017
Cover Rating: 3/5

So what IS the definition of a MPDG(manic pixie dream girl for those of us who have had the pleasure of never coming across this horrible trope)? Google says: a type of female character depicted as vivacious and appealingly quirky, whose main purpose within the narrative is to inspire a greater appreciated for life in a male protagonist. So, by the definition alone, What to Say Next can be considered a MPDG book. I am usually half and half when it comes to liking or disliking these books. We really need to come up with a new for books that are about a boy and a girl and both parties are suffering from some form of illness/impairment because that is what this book was. But both characters made each other better and that is what I tend to take with me after I finish books like this.

Kit's father just died and she is trying to figure out how to cope with everything around her. David sees life as mathmatic equations and doesn't like disorder and he might possibly have Aspergers but don't ask him that because he will deny it because the DSM definition doesn't fit him exactly. These two have never really talked to each other but have gone to school together their entire lives. So what brings them together? Kit's father's death does. And his death might end up being the very thing that tears them apart, too.

Kit was a hard character to deal with. It's not that I didn't like her, I did. But she was dealing with her fathers death in such a brutal and painful way that I couldn't help but feel what she was feeling. When you have a character that can project her actual emotions on to the reader, you know you have found a great author. Kit took on far too much and couldn't dig herself out from under it. She was a child being drowned with so many adult problems.

David was just David. There is no one like him in the world and there never will be. Although he didn't have the same issues that Kit has, he still had his own. It was beautiful to get to watch him grow and transform throughout the book. Watching him learn and adapt really helped the reader, in this case me, understand him more.

This story was awkward and clunky, all the things teenage lives truly consist of. It was awkward and clunky because a) it's high school and b) David's way of thinking really brought everything to the surface. There was no hiding things with him. He made everything that happened clear cut and added brutal honesty to every situation. Kit just made it all weird because she was trying to cope with something that she just couldn't handle. Together, these two got together and changed each other, for the better. There was also a large amount of bullying and social cliques in this book that I didn't care for but they served their purpose in the plot.

In the end, I am glad I decided to pick this book up on a whim and blow through it in three hours. The book might not stay with me forever but David will. He was a beautiful character to read about and he really made this book shine.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Author Spotlight: The Rattled Bones by S. M. Parker - 4.5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast in a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. Find her at

Title: The Rattled Bones
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
Author: S. M. Parker
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: August 22nd 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

If you are looking for a book that is mysterious but also contains some deeper topics, then this is the book for you. Some things this books deals with are death and grieving a loved one, making hard choices, dealing with issues in a relationship, racism and it teachs you how to catch lobsters. Diverse, right? Oh, and ghosts. I mentioned ghosts right? Ghosts.....

Rilla is our main character and she starts this book out grieving the death of her father. Her family lives in a fishing town and he died at sea while she was with a friend. That caused her a lot of grief and she blamed herself. This led to a lot of anger at the wrong people and to her second guessing everything in her life. With her father gone, Rilla has no choice but to pick up where he left off with their fishing boat. She is excellent at what she does but the people in her community don't want a girl doing their jobs. So not only does Rilla have to deal with her dads passing, she had to deal with sexism in the 21st century. 

The beginning of the book was a bit slow. I don't think it was SLOW exactly, it just wasn't drawing me in enough and that is what made it seem slow. After the first twenty pages I kind of got into the book more. I was worried it was just going to be a contemporary book about loss and I misinterpreted the cover or something. Luckily, we moved along and things started going in the more mysterious/paranormal direction I was hoping for. 

Not only does Rilla no longer have her father but she lost her mother a long time ago too. She holds a lot of resentment towards her mother, you will find out about all that if you read the book. So with both of her parents gone, she lives with her grandmother whom she loves dearly. She also has Reed, her boyfriend of two years and her best friend Hattie. There is some rocky waters with both parties. Then, one day, Rilla meets Sam. Sam is on an island near Rilla's home trying to dig up some history about the people who once inhabited it. People Rilla knows nothing about. Until now.

Although the book is almost four-hundred pages, it flew by rather fast. I really appreciated the way the book flowed together and the lack of romance in the novel. As I have previously stated in many other reviews, sometimes romance in the plot seriously takes away from the story itself. I found the historical aspect of the book to be really cool, the things that happened to the people in this book were NOT cool but the fact that it was almost one-hundred years later and people could still learn about them was very interesting.

Unfortunately I guessed the twist in the story very early. I knew it was coming but the path it took to get there was a really great adventure. I feel like Rilla needed this situation in order to move on from her fathers death. 

In the end, I was so glad that Rilla ended up going down the path she did. This book was so much more than a ghost story. It was a story about survival, pain and the injustices dealt out by people who think they can play God. I just hope she can maybe form a relationship with the person she wrote a letter to at the end of the book. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

My 100 in 70 Audio-Book Challenge - #100in70

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:27 AM 0 comments
Well, hello there. Long time, no see. I thought I would give you guys a little bit of an explanation about what I am currently doing with my reading life. My library sent out an email a few days ago saying they will no longer be using a certain ebook/audio-book application. That kind of stinks for me because it is where I listen to ALL of my audio-books on 3x speed. This app also happens to be the only one of its kind that has that 3x speed. The app the library is switching to only has 2x so that will slow my productivity down a lot. So I decided to do a challenge. The library will cease the use of this app on November 30th 2017. So between now, September 20th 2017, and then, I will be attempting to listen to 100 books. Yep, you read that right. I will be trying to list to 100 books in 70 days. Can I do it? I guess you will just have to follow this post and wait and see. I will also be doing reviews as I go so when I do post a review for any other the books listed below I will update this post with a link so you can read my review.

1) Genuine Faud by E. Lockhart - 9/20 @ 5:30pm
2) Bang by Barry Lyga - 9/21 @ 9:50am
3)Confess by Colleen Hoover - 9/23 @ 3:10pm
4) Nyxia by Scott Reintgen - 9/25 @ 5:30pm

Friday, September 15, 2017

Author Spotlight: They Both Die at the End + History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera - 4 Stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children's bookseller, marketing assistant at a literary development company, and book reviewer of children's and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller, and Adam was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. He writes full-time in New York City and is tall for no reason.

Title: They Both Die at the End
Genre: YA Contemporary/Sci Fi?
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: September 5th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

Let's face it. Adam Silvera likes to punch his readers straight in the heart. I have now read two books by him and both of them were so painful and raw. But in a good way? I put a question mark there because can pain ever really be good? They Both Die at The End even prepares you with the title! But it still hurts and it is still sad but there is also some precious and tender parts that just WABAM! right in the feels. Now I just need to go read More Happy than Not and I will have read everything by this man that likes to turn my heart into mashed potatos.

I would like to first point out that this book was freaky because it took place on September 5th, the same day the book was released, the same day I was reading the book. So the entire time I was reading the book Mateo and Rufus were living their last day. I kind of loved that it was present time. Made it feel kind of real even thought it was a contemporary book with fantastical elements.

Meteo gets THE CALL right after midnight. He has an entire day to live the rest of his life. So what does he do? He spends most of it hiding in his apartment CLEANING. That honestly sounds like something I would do. He was too scared to leave his house thinking that maybe if he stayed there then nothing bad can happen and he can beat death. But eventually, he finds a reason to leave his apartment. And that reason is...

Rufus also got THE CALL but a little bit later than Mateo. He didn't appreciate that very much. He also didn't appreciate life too much when he was able to live it. His parents and sister both died a little while back from a car accident. Rufus survived only to get THE CALL a few years later. He got the call in the middle of doing something illegal and that illegal act sends him away from his friends and home so he doesn't have anyone to spend his last day with. That is when he downloads a last day application on his phone and meets Mateo.

The two boys end up meeting up and they do a lot of last day activities together. They go visit Mateo's father who is in the hospital in a coma. That is a very emotional time. They go to a lot of 'last day' geared places where they can party or skydive or travel the world. I loved the ideas that some of these places had. I think my favorite part was when Rufus took Mateo to the Alice in Wonderland park thingy. But that has more to do with my obsession with AiW than anything else.

Throughout the day, Rufus is trying to get ahold of his friends so they can actually get on last goodbye. This entire book is so sad. How do you say goodbye to someone just like that? Knowing that someone is dying within the next 24-hours and there is no final-destination crap you can do to save them must really hurt. This is your last chance to say what you need to say and do everything you have ever wanted to do. But even with all the horrible things, Mateo and Rufus still managed to make the best of it all. 

By the time we reach the end of the book things start to look up and it looks like maybe the deathcast was wrong. We also get a little bit of romance which was super fricken cute but I won't ruin that part for you guys. Sadly, that romance sets something in motion. I don't think either party would ever regret it but it sucks that love can hurt you as much as it can heal you.

In the end, I found that I really enjoy Adam Silvera's books even though they hurt. A lot. Did I mention they hurt? Yeah... Ouch. I am kind of excited but kind of scared to read More Happy than Not now. If you haven't read anything by Adam Silvera then shame on you! Just kidding, but you should really look into remedying that. Also.. That ending... WHAT?! Ugh.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

Title: History is All You Left Me
Genre: YA LGBTQ Contemporary with Mental Illness
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication: January 17th 2017
Cover Rating: 3/5

Love fucking hurts.

Honesty is the best policy, right? So here is some honesty. I picked this book up thinking it would just be a quick YA M/M relationship book with some sad parts. I didn't expect much more. But what I got, was a lot more. Yes, it has the M/M relationship but it is also about mental health and love and loss and a lot of pain. It is about trying to find your way back to happiness and some semblance of normality after your life has been turned upside down and shaken.

We have a few main characters. Griffin is the narrator then we have Theo, Wade and Jackson. Griffin, Theo and Wade are a threesome. The best buds group we see all over the place. Then things between Griffin and Theo change. The entire dynamic of the friendship changes, as well. Even though they both promised it wouldn't. 

So we have Theo and Griffin dating. Theo is older which means there are a lot of decisions to be made about the future. With the impending future, Griffin makes a choice that he thought would be best for the situation. I, personally, believe what Griffin did was very mature of him. Well, that was until the book progressed and I saw that what he did had some pretty negative effects on both boys. Mostly mental. And that leads to this horrible spiral downward with their friendship and any future plans they might have had. Jackson also had something to do with the future plans changing.

Something ends up happening to Theo that brings a lot of issues to the surface for Griffin. And we get to see that horrible spiral in his mental health that actually started long before Theo but became worse with the circumstances. Then you throw in Jackson, Theo's new boyfriend and Griffin clone. Yea, things get a little messy. And with this messy situation, Griffin just keeps making it worse. I hate what he did to his parents and his immaturity with thinking he NEEDS to do certain things. He thought he had his best interests in mind but he really wasn't mentally stable to say that.

I really don't like how Griffin dealt with his emotions. He just stuck his dick in stuff in order to try and push the negative and crazy thought aside. Obviously this didn't work too well for him. But I am proud of how he progressed by the end of the book and I really approve of the decisions he made regarding Wade and Jackson. And I also really loved the relationship everyone kept with Theos family. Just because your biggest connection to someone isn't there anymore doesn't mean you have to tuck tail and leave. A lot of people seem to think that a break up or death is an end to relationships you had with the other persons family. It doesn't need to be that way and it really shouldn't be like that. 

The ending took on a darker tone that I was expecting. A lot of blame goes around when someone dies from an accident. Normally, that blame and guilt is un-found and people just need to move on from that. Sometimes that grief and despair will destroy you if you let it run rampant. Even though the ending was dark and had a big plot twist situation, I still felt it was a proper way to put everything to rest. 

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Author Spotlight: Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen - 5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 1 comments

Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Warner Brothers feature film with Rob Reiner directing. Her novel The Running Dream was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal of the disability experience.

Van Draanen is also the author of two short chapter-book series. The Gecko & Sticky books, are fun read-alouds, perfect for reluctant readers, and the Shredderman books—featuring a boy who deals with a bully—received the Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit” and became a Nickelodeon made-for-TV movie.

Van Draanen was a classroom teacher for fifteen years. She and her husband reside in California and have two sons.

Title: Wild Bird
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher: Knopf
Publication: September 5th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

Wild Bird is a beautiful book about a fourteen year old girl given a better chance at life. Not a second chance, a BETTER chance. Wren is send to live in the Utah deserts for eight weeks. This is her parents last attempt to get their daughter back. Wren has become someone even she doesn't recognize. This book is perfect for ages 13+. Yes, there are some pretty heavy topics in this book but I would rather a young person read about them and form their own opinions instead of experiencing this stuff in school or with friends. The story is very angry, then it calms down and becomes sad, scary, truthful and healing. This book is a MUST READ.

Wren is a lot of things. She is stupid, clingy, mean, rude, abusive, cruel, not invisible, etc. But Wren is also lonely, sad, creative, broken, lost, drowning, hollow and invisible. For all the good that Wren might have, no one will ever see it because she has done too much bad. She feels like no one cares about her or loves her so she becomes very destructive. Self-destructive and destructive towards those around her. Wren needs to change and divine intervention allows her to do just that.

Throughout the book we meet a bunch of different side characters. Girls from the camp, family, 'friends', people like that. But this story is Wren's. We get to watch her transition so much from pissed to angry to simmering to hurt to shocked that she did the things she did. Wren comes to a slot of conclussions on her own and it was amazing to see her healing.

The camp that Wren was sent to is a wilderness camp. It is set in the Desert of Utah and the kids are given the skills and items they need to survive out there. They have to find their own water, learn to make a fire, cook, build a tent, dig a latrine and so many other skills that are so awesome but not things a lot of young people know these days. Learning how to survive on her own and connecting with nature and the other people in her group was rocky, at first, but once Wren decided to really TRY she had a wonderful time and learns so many skills. If she ever gets lost in the woods at least she will know how to survive. 

In the end, I wasn't sure if I would like this book or not. The premise sounded kind of weird and I wasn't sure how I would react to a horribly bratty fourteen year old girl who thought her parents were against her and everyone hated her. I just didn't want t be reading a book that was nothing but teen angst and stupid choices. While the book DID have both of those things, it was also something completely different. This book was beautiful in a way that could I never put into words. I know that situations like the one in Wold Bird can't always be repaired with an 8-week trip to the 'wilderness' but the fact that something like this was an option for Wren was amazing. Too often, kids are tossed into the correctional system and not given a chance to change their ways. The way this book ended was exactly what I was hoping for. You know it's coming, because why else write this book if the ending won't be positive, but it was still so heart-warming to reach that point. I really want EVERYONE to read this book! There is a lot to be learned and felt from Wild Bird.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Author Spotlight: The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Elizabeth Byrne grew up in New Jersey and holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She lives and writes in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Grave Keepers is her first novel.

Title: The Grave Keepers
Genre: YA Paranormal Contemporary
Author: Elizabeth Byrne
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: September 12th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

The Grave Keepers is a Young Adult book that I would say borders on Middle Grade. I think the topic of death is what makes some people push it over to the YA side of things. I am not really big into the MG book genre so this book was a little slow and hard for me to get into at first but after about thirty pages it picked up the pace for me. This is a great ghost story for younger readers and I highly suggest it. If you are one of those people who get easily scared and keep away from spooky books then this might be something you could actually handle. The best way I can describe it is... it's a light-hearted kind of spooky.

When I first started, I thought the book was going to be slightly historical. Laurel, one of the main characters, just made it seem like she was from an earlier time. I cannot explain is as well I would like to. But then I realized it was a combination of Laurel and the town she was living in. Everything just had this whimsical feel to it for me.

The book has a dual POV narrative. It goes back and forth between Laurel and Athena, the girls are sisters. One is about sixteen and the other is around twelve. We also get another random perspective from a paranormal friend. Sometimes I got a little confused between perspectives but it wasn't enough to deter me from reading it.

Laurel and Athena's family runs a cemetery. But this isn't the normal kind of cemetery, this is a place where you can go to sit in your own grave. Yes, you read that right. You can spent all the time you want in your own grave. You can decorate it however you like. Your grave is your own personal space and no one is allowed to invade is unless invited. So with being cemetery owners, add losing a daughter into the mix and things get pretty weird. Parents become over protective and people in the town look at Laurel and Athena with pity in their eyes even though Laurel wasn't even born when her oldest sister died.

Athena is in high school and it seems like she doesn't fit in. She was the older of the two protagonists but I found myself liking Laurel, the younger sisters, perspective a bit more. Athena takes her grave very seriously and starts spending a lot more time in it. She has it decorated and I think she uses it as a way to escape from everything, her sister included.

In the end, I wasn't entirely sold on the ending but we all have our own endings planned out in our head, right? I would still recommend this book and hope you guys give it a chance! Halloween is coming up. Perfect time for ghost stories!

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) Who is your favorite character in The Grave Keepers?

I feel bad choosing a favorite, but I would have to admit that Laurel stands out from the rest. She’s really where the story started. I’ve always felt protective of her, and even her shortcomings are elements of her character that I would want to preserve.

2) Tell us 5 random facts about you:

Five random facts about me: the only animal I’ve ever hit with my car is a hawk (I still feel terrible); watching Parks & Rec pulls me out of any funk, always; I have an unexplainable fascination with Montana and it’s high on my list of places I’d like to visit; I will be in Iceland when my book comes out—two things I never though I’d say ever, much less together; George Harrison is my favorite Beatle.

3) What was the inspiration behind The Grave Keepers?

The inspiration for The Grave Keepers came from a thousand directions: spending time in the Catskills growing up, lots of camping trips with my family and playing in the woods with my sister, living in New England where there are sprawling old cemeteries all over the dang place, and many books and writers and characters and movies I love, including Shirley Jackson (We Have Always Lived in the Castle), Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters), Roald Dahl, Hocus Pocus, Now & Then (their graveyard seances and tarot consultation, of course), and even Scout Finch and Huckleberry Finn. I feel like they are the patron saints of all YA.

4) If you could only eat 1 food for the rest of your life what would that food be and why?

This is so hard! My first answer was hot dogs, because I love them, but I know they’re so bad for you… So I guess I’ll say my dad’s Sunday roast chicken with carrots and potatoes. Simple and always heaven.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?

Yes, I am trying to! I’ve had a second YA novel cooking for about a year now, but lately it’s been very hard to devote the time to it that I would like to. There is still a lot I need to figure out, but I can say for certain that it takes place in New Jersey (where I grew up) and it concerns a monster and the sinister, mysterious labs of a powerful biotech company, which are located in the hometown of the story.

*This book was sent to me, Jenny @ HelloJennyReviews, in exchange for an honest review.

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