Review: Play With Me


Play With Me by Anna Katmore
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When I picked up this book I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. On the one hand, it sounded like a cute read, but at the same time, it had the potential of being horibly cheesy. Thankfully, I really enjoyed this book.

Play With Me is a really enjoyable read with a good plot, characters, and sweet romance. Unlike other books, Play With Me focused on a friendship as well as a romance.

In the beginning, the book started out pretty one-demensional and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with any of the characters. However, as the book progressed, I was able to condect with Lisa as she struggled with daily teenage struggles and her first real crush. While I’ve never gone through Lisa’s situation, the writing style and details allowed me to connect with her and the rest of the characters.

The plot was also really enjoyable and I just wanted to keep reading so I could know what happened. I wanted to see where the story would go and what the characters would do. It was a quick read and it was definitely a perfect read before I start some heavier books. It was also a good book to pick up with the start of the new season.

Overall, Play With Me was a perfect read for my mood and the start of spring.

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Review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen


Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I think Dreamland was one of the first Sarah Dessen novels I ever read, and i know it was one of the books that got me into contemporary.


A little background:

When I was in about seventh grade, I became obsessed with the topic of Domestic Violence. I was fascinated by the family dynamics of an abusive relationship, curious about what drove someone to be abusive, and saddened as to how clueless people were about the topic. As a result of my curiosity, I went through my first phase of reading/watching all things Domestic violence.

(Sidenote: I started writing a story that had it as the theme. Hmm, I should probably pick that back up.)

Anyway, I knew from watching Tina Turner’s movie about her journey and reading several books, I knew domestic violence happened to adults. However, I still didn’t understand why people did it or why they stayed, much less how other people could be so clueless. I also had no idea domestic violence happened in teenage relationships which brings me to the book.

When I first heard about Sarah Dessen, I was hesitant to read her books because let’s face it, I just wanted to read fantasy. Anyway, I decided to give her books a chance, and Dreamland was one of the first contemporary books I picked up.

When I found out the book dealt with domestic violence in a teenage relationship, I was curious about it as I’d never read a book like it. At the same time, I was nervous because I didn’t want to see the topic under represented or overdramatized. luckily, I really liked the book.

I picked it up again this year during one of my many Dessen phases and wanted to see how my perspective changed from when I first read it in ninth grade, and let me tell you, it changed quite a lot.


Let me start off by saying that if you haven’t read a Sarah Dessen book, you need to drop everything and pick one up right now. Seriously though, Dessen’s books are amazing in that they deal with tough subjects without sugar coating or dramatizing them. To me, this is one of the signs of a great book because it keeps the tough subjects visible while allowing me to connect with the character and their situation without having gone through it.

Dreamland isn’t JUST a book about violence in teenage relationships, it’s about the pressure siblings or friends feel to be like their other sibling/friend, the overwhelming feeling of loneliness teens feel when they think they’re under a shadow, and how a family works through all of these relationships. It’s about learning to live past the strain parents put on teenagers to keep doing more and more or to be like someone else. But most of all, it’s about appreciating, and paying attention to, our surroundings.

Dreamland is a great book that explores a Caitlin’s journey as a teenager as she finds who she really is. To show Caitlin’s journey, Dessen employs various symbols and illusions. The most prominent symbol I found was that of light and darkness. Whether these symbols were intensional or not, they were very striking and helped add to the deeper meaning of the story. The darkness in Dessen’s book symbolizes Caitlin’s descent into “dreamland” with the mermaids creating the illusion to T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I can’t go into further detail about the symbolism because spoilers, but trust me, Dessen intricately weaves the symbolism and allusion into the story up until the very end.

However, This book was not perfect. Even though the literary devices used in the book were great, I felt Caitlin and Cas–her sister–were a little hard to connect with. I don’t know if it was just because the book was short, but I think the bond between the two sisters, the relationship between them and their parents, and their individual relationships with their parents could have been expanded. That said, I thought Dessen did a great job with the book and with tackling the subject of domestic violence.

Overall, Dreamland was a great book that explored violence in a teen relationship as well as family dynamic and the pressures teenagers feel to be someone they’re not.

Review: Shop Till You Drop by Elaine Viets


Shop Till You Drop by Elaine Viets
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I thought this book had a good plot and mystery. I’m glad it’s a series as I’ll be able to connect more with the main characters. I grew to like Hellen as well as the landlady, Peggy and Pete the parrot, and detective Grace.

While I liked the characters, I’d have liked some more character development. The writing style seemed too under-developed for the subject matter and main character’s age. Also, there were some predictable moments in the story.

Overall, shop Till You Drop was a good mystery and a good start to a series however, it left me wishing for more.

Review: How I Fly by Anne Elliot


How I Fly by Anne Eliot

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


I received a copy of the book on a read to review basis which in no way affected my oppinion.


As I said in my review of How I Fall, I did a combined review of both books a while back but decided to do one for each book separately.

How I Fly was a great follow-up to How I Fall and I really liked it. Honestly, the only thing I didn’t like was that it was the last I get to see of Cam, Laura, Patrick, and Ellen. All of these characters and their relationships with one another were well developed and amazing to see play out on the page.

This book wasn’t just a continuation of the first, but it also showed how time, unavoidable circumstances, and fate can bring people where they’re meant to be. The book delicately described first love, betrayal, and it kept showing the cruelty people could have toward others with disabilities.

Overall, I thought How I fly was a good follow-up to How I Fall.

“Waiting On Wednesday” 9 – The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma


New+WoW
“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by that spotlights releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Today my WoW is The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.
The Walls Around Us
View it on Amazon
View it on Goodreads
Title: The Walls Around Us

Author: Nova Ren Suma

Publication date: March 24, 2015

Series: none

Synopsis: “Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.


I really like mysteries and books with dancers in them as this WoW post shows. Anyway, this book mixes two of my favorite topics and I can’t wait to see what the author does with it.

What are you waiting on? Leave me a link to your WoW or a comment. ☺

Jackie

Review: How I Fall by Anne Elliot


How I Fall by Anne Eliot
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


I received a copy of the book on a read to review basis which in no way affected my oppinion.


I reviewed both How I Fall and How I Fly together for a blog tour a while back, but feel that both books deserve their own reviews.

I really liked this book because of all of the different elements it brought to the table. First of all, it showed what true friendship was and how a passion for art could unite two very different people. Second, it showed how a passion could act as an outlet for someone’s emotions and let them express what they can’t in words. Last, I liked how the book addressed people with disabilities and how they are treated.

How I Fall brought two very different people together in a non-cheesy sort of way. Ellen and Cam are as different as blue and yellow. Cam is a rich, football playing kid and Ellen is the “disabled girl.” Throughout the book, Elliot showed how their love of photography brought these two very different people together.

Along with that love of photography, Elliot showed how Ellen used it as an outlet. The shots Ellen took of people’s feet or of nature showed what Ellen longed for and couldn’t have. Furthermore, Elliot made me appreciate what Ellen was shooting. As a blind reader, I thought I would be bored by the descriptions thinking they would be superficial. However, I was so amazed by them and I absolutely loved them. I could actually visualize what was being photographed and for a second, I was able to see the world. Thank you Anne Elliot for giving me an opportunity to see the world for a second and thank you for writing about people with disabilities.

As I mentioned before, I like the new trend in YA literature to expose mental illness, but I wish more books were written about people with physical disabilities. While I don’t have CP and don’t understand what Ellen went through, I can appreciate how she felt demeaned and underestimated at times. Elliot captured how cruel teenagers and adults can be toward a subject they don’t understand. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told not to do things because I can’t see or been turned away for the same reason. Every time something like this happens, I feel like giving up, but like Ellen I put on a brave face and push forward. I try to prove to people that I have the same brain capacity as them and that I can do everything they can. I liked how true Elliot stayed to how people reacted and how true friends were supposed to act.

Overall, I thought How I Fall was an eye-opening book that people should read to learn about disabilities and the cruelty people show toward unknown subjects.

Win any 2015 book released in March! Open internationally


hi all,

I’m excited to be sharing my first giveaway with you all! 🙂

march15banner2
As part of the March New Release Giveaway Hop, I will be giving one winner the chance to pick one book that is released in March.

This giveaway will be open internationally ONLY IF TBD SHIPS TO YOU and participants must follow my giveaway rules here.

Lastly, the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before another is chosen. The winner will be announced on Twitter and this page.

Okay, it’s back on! You can enter below and because I messed up, I’ve extended the giveaway until April 3rd. You don’t have to input your information again as they were able to recover it!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hop along to all the other blogs. 🙂

Hop along here!

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder


Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I’m not sure reading this was the best choice coming right after My Life Next Door. I’d just gotten out of a slump when I read My Life Next Door and was hoping Poison Study would be a good read to keep things going. Sadly, it fell short of my expectations.
I don’t know if reading it right after a five star book affected my rating, but I just didn’t find the story too memorable. I thought that the characters could definitely have been developed more throughout the story instead of in the end. I know that fantasy books require world building and that’s great, but this book just didn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, the world Snyder created is wonderful, but the pacing and description was lacking or too slow at times while at others it felt rushed and not described. I think that some of the decisions the characters took were unreasonable or not what people usually do in their situations. While I liked how the author incorporated a spy element into the book, she made some of the characters who were supposed to be cautious do some pretty stupid and shallow things. Likewise, she made characters make decisions that didn’t fit their personality or went against previous choices. Lastly, I thought that the book had some predictable turns and wished it would have taken things a different direction.
Overall, this book fell flat of my expectations, but I think it’s a good set-up to a series. I would recommend this to fans looking for a new fantasy series.

“Waiting On Wednesday” 8 – Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed


New+WoW
“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by that spotlights releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Today my WoW is Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed.
Written In The Stars
View it on Amazon
View it on Goodreads
Title: Written in the Stars

Author: Aisha Saeed

Publication date: March 24, 2015

Series: none

Synopsis: This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.


I’m so excited to read this! Apart from a good romance story, this is a book that deals with subjects I don’t remember encountering before. It will be nice to see how the author incorporates the culture and arranged marriage into the novel.

What are you waiting on? Leave me your link or a comment. Also, do you know any other books dealing with the subject of an arranged marriage?

Jackie

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman


I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I Was Here is my second Gayle Forman book and I have to say I loved it more than my first. It’s a book that deals with many important issues that result from a friend’s suicide: guilt, grief, forgiveness, and love.

While I myself have never gone through what Cody, the main character had to go through in the novel, Forman made me feel as though I was actually going through it. Her writing style combined with the harsh way Cody viewed things in the beginning made me feel all the turmoil Cody was going through. At the same time, it made me think about what I’d actually feel if this happened to me.

Like All The Bright Places Forman’s book brought depression to the table and showed how it is a hidden demon that families and people are willing to overlook because it has a negative connotation. However, Forman’s book also brought other questions to light that really had me thinking and hit home for me as someone who’s dealt with my own issues and seen what depression does to people close to me. The book made me think about why there wasn’t more help for people struggling with depression and why mental illness is so taboo in the American culture.

Finally, the book had me asking myself whether or not I should be the one who resents a friend for committing suicide or if I should learn to grieve and forgive. It made me wonder if there’s more I can do for the ones I love to make their day a little brighter and it had me asking why people are so angry at those who commit suicide. I understand that people might be angry because their friend or family member killed themselves or because they feel it was a selfish act. However, I wonder (and I know this would be the case for me) if it’s not that people are actually angry at themselves because they feel they could have done more to let their loved ones know they care. I know I’d feel angry with myself because I didn’t do enough and wish I could have done something to prevent it from happening. I Was Here deals and answers all these questions in a heartwarming way that left me satisfied but that also had me asking questions of my own.

I’m so glad this book was written as it brought new issues to light. I think that it needed to be written and that like other books publishing in 2015 that deal with suicide, it brings it’s own view to the table.

Overall, I thought I Was Here was a great book that brought the issue of depression to light and showed how a family and whole town was impacted by one girl’s death. I think that it’s an important book that people should read as it raises many questions about our culture’s view on suicide and depression.


Let’s Discuss:
Are you glad books like this are being written to raise awareness about depression and suicide?

Do you wish more books were written about the subject or are you tired of it?

What are your opinions on the book?

Do you feel suicide and depression need to be talked about more or would you like to see other issues brought to light?

What do you think of the stigma around mental illness and why do you think it exists?


Leave your thoughts in the comments so we can discuss. 🙂

Jackie