Saturday, June 30, 2018

REVIEW: First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Disclaimer: None, I bought this book on Audible.
Rating:
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Recommended Age: 16+ (animal sacrifice, murder, romance ((somewhat explicit)), brutal and descriptive death, cult-like group, domestic terrorism, and confusion)
Pages: 448

Synopsis: 
It started for pranks, fun, and forever memories.
A secret society – for the four of us.
The rules: Never lie. Never tell. Love each other.
We made the pledge and danced under the blood moon on the meteorite in the orchard. In the spot we found the dead girl five years earlier. And discovered the ancient drawings way before that.
Nothing could break the four of us apart – I thought.
But then, others wanted in. Our seaside town had secrets. History.
We wanted revenge.
We broke the rules. We lied. We told. We loved each other too much, not enough, and in ways we weren’t supposed to.
Our invention ratcheted out of control.
What started as a secret society, ended as justice. Revenge. Death. Rebellion.


I have an overt fascination with the color purple to the point that anything purple draws me in. This book is one of those things. I loved the cover and I thought it sounded interesting so I dove right into it. The book was fascinating, creepy, yucky, and confusing all at the same time. It really took me awhile to sit and consider what I wanted to say about this book. So, let’s jump right in:
I listened to this book on Audible and while the narrator’s voice was robotic and creepy, it really worked well with this book. The narrator also was able to make the teenage characters sound like teenage characters. The story itself was very well written and it keeps you guessing until the last minute. We know from the beginning the fate of the group, but the story somehow makes us want more as we continue through it. The book also did well concerning the character development of the four main characters. With every character, you go through a period of loving and hating them. The author also does well to make the villainous characters have a very decent backstory. I ended up feeling bad for all members involved and that’s how a book should write characters. People are complex and whether we do good or bad things depends on our own personal backstory. Sometimes the mean girl has mental health issues. Sometimes the pretty girl has a mean streak. Sometimes the bully is bullied at home. And sometimes the geeky smart kid is just as big of a bully as they are. The plot developed really well and the pacing was perfect. The mystery was the background of the story, but somehow the author maintained its importance throughout the book.

However, the confusing writing can make the reader distressed enough to DNF it. There is a lot to keep up with in this book and it requires complete devotion most times. This can make for a challenging read for those who aren’t used to having such an involved book.

Verdict: The perfect mystery/thriller for the would-be teen or adult anarchist.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Author Spotlight: What You Left Me by Bridget Morrissey + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Bridget Morrissey lives in Los Angeles, California, but hails from Oak Forest, Illinois, a small yet mighty suburb just southwest of Chicago. When she's not writing, she can be found coaching gymnastics, reading in the corner of a coffee shop, or headlining concerts in her living room. Her debut novel, WHAT YOU LEFT ME, comes out June 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire. Her second novel, A MAP BACK TO US, will follow in 2019. She is represented by Taylor Haggerty of Root Literary.

Title: What You Left Me
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Paranormal
Author: Bridget Morrissey
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: June 5th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

What You Left Me by Brigid Morrissey is one of those Young Adult Contemporary books where you want to talk to someone about it but you have no idea what to say that won’t be a spoiler. Have you read If I Stay by Gayle Forman? If yes, then you will LOVE this book. If no, then you will still probably love this book. It is a contemporary, yes, but it has some paranormal elements that make for one heck of a sad, but impactful, story. This is one book you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

Graduation day, oh man I definitely hated that day. You have to dress nice, wear a heavy gown over those nice clothes and then spend hours sitting outside in the heat and sun and sweat your butt off. All for what? To get a piece of paper saying you passed the worst part of your life? Graduation day might be a great experience for some people but for most, it’s just another thing to sit through. Luckily for Petra and Martin, they have each other to keep company with while, what seems like the largest school EVER, graduates. 

Petra and Martin were two very different people but I think these two very different people needed each other. I can’t help but wonder how their lives would have differed if they had met sooner. Maybe the horrible thing that happened to Petra never would have happened. Maybe Martin wouldn’t have gotten in the car with his intoxicated best friend. But without that last part, this would be a very different book and I sort of, kind of like this book the way it is, even though it is extremely sad.

I love the aspect of the book where just a chance meeting with someone can have such a huge impact on your life. It wasn’t just for Petra and Martin, it was for a lot of things. A lot of people in this book met because of Martin’s accident but a lot of people also suffered because of it. One moment in life can change things so drastically, whether for the better or worse. Life is made up of a ton of these tiny moments and I really loved how the book pointed that out. 

Spencer was Martin’s best friend, he was the one who caused the accident, and I think he was the one most impacted by this entire thing. Yes, you would think that causing a car accident because you were drinking would be extremely impactful but he has to live with the fact that he might have killed people and then he has to live with the fact that he no longer has his best friend and then he has to think about all the people who will be missing Martin if he does die. That is a lot of pain to bear alone. I felt really bad for him but at the same time, he got what he deserved for drinking and driving. 


In the end, I am so glad I requested to read this book. It was a truly special experience for me. The book ended differently than If I Stay by Gayle Forman did and that ending made the book a lot more memorable than the other book. READ. THIS. BOOK.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



1) What inspired you to write What You Left Me?
For years, I'd had an idea for a story about the people we meet in our dreams. I find it fascinating that we can dream up people we've never encountered in life, and we can have a full, rich connection with these imaginary figures. That was my starting point for What You Left Me, as the main characters, Martin and Petra, communicate primarily through dreams. I didn't want them to be complete strangers in life, though, so I took another story element I love: serendipitous meetings. I wanted Martin and Petra to have one fateful, knockout moment together before everything changes and dreams become the only way they can keep that connection sparking.

2) Why did you choose teenage drinking and driving a plot for your book?
When thinking about how all the pieces of this story would fit together, there had to be a concrete reason for the primary mode of communication to be dreams. I knew first that I wanted Martin to be the one who is unconscious. When fleshing out the characters further, it became clear that Martin was the kind of kid who didn't see his own potential. A leader who let himself be a follower, if only because it kept life simple. His best friend, Spencer, is a bit of a toxic influence on Martin, but Martin allows it because he loves him and they have a storied history together. Spencer brings the drinks to graduation, but Martin participates. Martin agrees to get in the car with him when he knows Spencer shouldn't drive. Martin is lovable, but his flaws catch up to him. A car accident as a result of drinking is an extreme way to highlight that, but I wanted Martin and Spencer's actions to have very real consequences. Because Martin is in a coma for a good portion of the story, he has a lot of self-reflection to do. Drinking and driving is a problem regardless of age, but there is something particularly resonant about two eighteen-year-olds, having just graduated high school, making their first mistake in the real world, and having that mistake alter the course of their lives forever.

3) If Petra and Martin had met sooner, do you think their lives would have been different?
Absolutely. They become each other's safe space. Petra makes Martin more sure of himself. Martin makes Petra less guarded. If they'd met sooner, Martin might have had the backbone he needed to stand up to Spencer.

4) What are some of your thoughts and feelings on how much the Young Adult genre has changed and adapted over the years?(from babysitters club to your current book, perhaps)
I love the way Young Adult fiction has evolved. The quality of work being produced in this genre continues to stun and inspire me. There's always a new way to tell a story. Everyone has a valuable perspective. The more seats we put at the table, the better and smarter and stronger we all become. I'm a millennial, and I've been lucky enough to grow up with this evolution. It really touches my heart to see the amazing generation below me receive exposure to this kind of content even earlier in life than I did, and they are already better for it. More sure of themselves and their identity and opinions in this tumultuous world. Generation Z is just beginning to enter the literary game, and they are going bring those perspectives to this genre and continue to make Young Adult the best place for emotionally resonant storytelling. I can't wait to see how it continues to grow. 

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Yes! I have a book coming out in 2019 called A Map Back To Us. It's set in a small, isolated desert town where secrets are currency and history is only as honest as the person telling it. Five years prior to the start of the story, our main character, Olivia Severton, witnesses the tragic, accidental death of her friend, Marley Bricket. The book picks up on Martey's fifth annual memorial. Questions are raised as to what really happened to Marley, and Olivia reunites her group of childhood friends to pursue the answers. They set out on a scavenger hunt of sorts that takes them all across their town, uncovering pieces of the puzzle and reopening old wounds. Both What You Left Me and A Map Back To Us follow large friend groups made up of messy, loving, strong, curious teenagers. Both deal with the after-effects of tragedy and the way trauma shapes us. Both celebrate the power of friendship and the magic of being truly seen by another person. Both also happen to feature orange houses, broken noses, letters, people breaking into homes, and meaningful midnight wanderings down empty streets.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Author Spotlight: The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness.


Tara is a Harvard graduate who lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and children.


Title: The Opposite of Here
Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery-ish
Author: Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication: June 5th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando is a Young Adult Mystery/Thriller book with a lot of twists and turns and a pretty sad starting point. Natalie has to overcome some pretty heavy stuff at the beginning of the book and we get to see where life tries to take her as she finally starts healing.

Natalie is healing. Well, not so much healing, she is actually still grieving when the book starts. Her boyfriend, Paul, had recently died and she was very much still in mourning. Butttttt… Her family and friends were trying to get her to start moving on so they planned this big cruise for Natalie’s birthday and that kind of means Natalie has to go. I mean, hello, cruise for your birthday!

I thought this book was crazy. First, Natalie loses her boyfriend to an early death and then she goes through the craziness on the cruise? I was wondering how many mirrors this girl had to of broken to get this kind of luck. Did she make a hobby out of walking under ladders and running through a field of black cats? Shew, I am glad I am not her. And then, her one friend, was kind of not the greatest friend. She had this group of three female friends and I just didn’t see that ending well, at all. And guess what, it kind of, sort of, didn’t end very well. 

There was one part of the book that got on my nerves and it had nothing to do with the Mystery plot. It was with Natalie and how easily she forgave someone after a pretty big betrayal. There was this huge lead up to this horrible betrayal and Natalie just forgave the person like it wasn’t a big deal when it truly was. This situation helped Natalie realize some things about herself and made her come to terms with what she really wanted but that still doesn’t excuse what the person did to her or how easily Natalie forgave them. Just a little pet peeve of mine, I guess.

In the end, I enjoyed The Opposite of Here and I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing the mystery to life. I kind of figured if out a little early on but the book was still brilliant and I am glad I read it. There were a few parts that I definitely didn’t guess and that made the book a lot more enjoyable, too.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars. 


1) Where did the inspiration for The Opposite of Here come from?
Well, I've always loved cruises...but also feared them. There are so many horror stories...of shipborne viruses, and storms, and yes, even people falling overboard. Cruise commercials are all FUN FUN FUN but it's pretty terrifying out there if you stop to think about it, which maybe a lot of people on cruises don't do? I don't know. I sure do. So I liked the idea of setting a book on a cruise—limiting the setting and sort of challenging myself with regard to what can and can't happen over the course of seven days at sea. The idea of a girl who meets a guy who seems too good to be true then disappears seemed like a good fit for the setting. Because, well, where could he be? I started writing to answer that question. There was also a story in the news a few years ago that captured my fascination. It would be spoilery to mention it specifically but there's a ripped-from-the-headlines element that also drove the story when I was writing it. 

2) Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
I don't! I'm the opposite of precious about my process. I just get up every day (well, weekdays) and write. Sometimes I listen to music; sometimes I don't. Sometimes I print and read hard copies; sometimes I don't. Sometimes my desk is a mess; sometimes not. I usually have the title of what I'm working on up on one of those little cinema lightboxes, but that's just for fun. For a while, when I first got the lightbox, I would turn it on whenever I was working but somehow it got unplugged to plug in a new monitor I got and I haven't bothered to re-run the cord. 


3) Out of all of your books, which one has been your favorite to write?(My favorite to read has been The Leaving.)
Well, THE LEAVING was fun to write in some ways--mostly when I decided to do all sorts of neat things with type and fonts and white space—but mostly not. The premise came from my daughter, who was five years old at the time, but it took a long and torturous few years for me to figure out how to build a book around it. So my favorite book to write was probably Dreamland Social Club, from 2011. That book is set on Coney Island in Brooklyn, home of the first ever amusement parks, and the research was endlessly fascinating. It was also the first young adult book I wrote where I felt like I was breaking away from straight contemporary realistic coming-of-age stories and doing something that felt a bit more unique—like writing a book that only I could write. (It features a cast of modern-day "freaks.") I'm actually dying to revisit that story and turn it into a graphic novel. Unfortunately, I can't draw. 


4) What Hogwarts house are you in?
I always say Gryffindor, so I can hang with Hermoine, but I have to admit I haven't even read all the Potter books. I know that's probably considered sacrilege (my ten-year-old daughter certainly thinks so) but I've talked to at least a handful of other writers who haven't read them all and never really thought of identifying ourselves with that world in that way. Maybe what I'm saying is that I'm old! :)

5) Are you currently working on anything new?
I am! I'm on deadline! The book doesn't have a title yet and I'm not ready quite to talk about it (so maybe I am a little superstitious?) but if you liked The Leaving, it should appeal to you because it's also super creepy. Look for it some time in 2019!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Most Anticipated June 2018 YA Releases

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM 0 comments

June 5th

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