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Tag Archives: ALAMW 2015

23615709Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Source: ALAMW2015
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend?

On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?– Goodreads

Review:

If your friendship has a rule of no fighting, can it really survive? Goodbye Stranger is a realistic portrayal of growth and friendship. Tab, or Tabitha, sees life as a game. There are rules to obey and that is it. Bridge, is the girl who shouldn’t be alive and sees life everyday as one in which she should not be here. And Emily is the girl who may have a boyfriend who is sending her random photos.

What Stead does in Goodbye Stranger is capture those emotions that carry you not only through middle grade, but also carry you through life. Not feeling like you belong. Being lost and confused. Stead also intertwines a mysterious narrator told through a second point-of-view and a classmate or the main trio named Sherm. What’s amazing about Goodbye Stranger is how well these multiple point of views work. Throughout Goodbye Stranger I was full of feelings and emotions that had me hanging on to every page.

These characters have a huge amount of growth throughout one year of their lives. Stead doesn’t make it easy on them, or ever have the characters “cop out.” I can’t say the characters felt the same throughout the novel, because there was so much change from the characters that by the end I liked them even more and when the story ended I was sad to say goodbye to my friends. I wanted more of them. I wanted more of this multicultural cast and the mysterious narrator who didn’t make herself known until it was the right moment.


20499923A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Source: ALAMW 2015
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star (3.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed. – Goodreads

Review:

A Curious Tale of the In-Between is that middle grade novel I believe the world needs. Pram is a special person, she can talk to ghosts. For the longest time she didn’t even know that this was a particularly special skill.

I went into this book knowing nothing but my friend Erica recommended it to me. When I had the chance to get an ARC at ALAMW in Chicago I jumped on it and it was not a disappointment. I gobbled up the first 30% of the novel before I even knew it. There was a solid portion of the middle I’m sure others will find exciting, and while I didn’t, the three act did pick back up for me and left me wanting more of Pram and her world.


18692431Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: ALAMW 2015
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. – Goodreads

Review:

I went into this book knowing it had a lot of buzz. What that buzz didn’t tell me was how perfect the drawings were or how perfect Madeline was because she’s flawed, she lives in a bubble with only her mom and her nurse, but she’s real. Not once in Everything, Everything did I think “Oh. Madeline. She’s so cardboard cutout.” She was constantly more than that. Madeline also lead me to second guess a lot of things. Relationships, the life you’ve been living being safe.

Everything, Everything also made me question forgiveness, growth. What it means to be an adult. How friendships change, even those who are convinced will never change. Madeline and her mother are characters I want everyone to know about because their relationship was so authentically real. Between them being close, but also with Madeline growing up and apart from her mother.

You know those perfect books that are next to impossible to describe? That’s Everything, Everything to me. This book had everything: a character finding herself, a really good relationship with her mother, a really good relationship with the literal boy next door, a good relationship with her nurse. There was so many good portions I had to give up trying to pick the right quotes for this review because there were just too many of them. Ones that made me laugh, ones that made me sad (because I related to them), ones that made me have the swoons. Everything, Everything really is..everything.


23354047Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Source: ALAMW2015
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digby’s friend wasn’t that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse.

Her first day not in school (because she cut) in her new hometown that will soon be her old hometown (because she’s getting out of Dodge as fast as she can) Zoe meets Digby. Or rather, Digby decides he’s going to meet Zoe and get her to help him find missing teenager. Zoe isn’t sure how, but Digby—the odd and brilliant and somehow…attractive?—Digby always gets what he wants, including her help on several illegal ventures. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football player dressed like the Hulk, had a throw-down with a possible cult, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown (which might be worth making her permanent hometown after all.)

A mystery where catching the crook isn’t the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a story about friendship where they aren’t even sure they like each other—Trouble is a Friend of Mine is a YA debut you won’t soon forget. – Goodreads

Review:

Trouble is a Friend of Mine is the story of Zoe, and her friend Digby who is a ton of trouble. Zoe’s life in her her town has been boring and monotonous which works for her because she plans on going to a private school ASAP to get into an A++ college. Then her paths cross with Digby, who essentially finds Zoe via stalking?  Digby talks people into doing anything for him and that includes Zoe doing things she’s never done before: cutting class, buying drugs, breaking into an office complex. All normal friendship things right? I’m not saying everything has to be a strong! friendship! Normal friendships are also okay; however, I did not find this friendship to be normal.

I spent a good portion of the book confused to why Zoe didn’t just tell Digby to leave her alone. I get that high school sucks, and friends help but not once did I find Digby to be a friend. I understand he had a point to the novel besides annoying me, but I had problems seeing it. From the mystery (and I love cozies!) to shenanigans throughout Trouble is a Friend of Mine I was just…bored.

Ultimately there was one line that stuck with me and that’s because it reminded me of a period of my life with my mom.

Left out. She’d felt left out. I knew because I remember leaving her out. It wasn’t exactly on purpose, but I’d known Dad and I were doing it. — pg 94, ARC

Books I wanted to like: this one! Books I, sadly, did not like: this one! I found this to be a slow read, it was tedious and unfortunately fell flat for me.


13132816Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ALAMW15
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story – Goodreads

Review:

Emmy and Oliver is the story of two best friends that grew up right next door to each other and were everything to each other, even at a young age. Unlike that moment at the age of seven that rips apart an entire neighborhood. Oliver’s father kidnaps him and Emmy’s life is ever the same. While one expects the child who was kidnapped to forever be changed, but no one thinks of those who were left behind.

In an interesting turn of events, Oliver didn’t know he was kidnapped. He thought his mom left him and his father. He had no idea at all that his father stole him, and carries a lot of guilt about in the decade that he’s been gone. When he’s found, everyone believes and treats him to be the same person that he was when he left. But he was 7 and now he’s 17. Everything changes when you’re actually present, but to be put back into a life you barely remember, it’s like a mini life bomb and has ripple effects. Emmy parents essentially watched her like a hawk and wouldn’t let her do anything. Because of this Emmy actually learned how to surf behind their back, and applied to a four year university behind their back for fear that her parents would be upset with her.

What I loved about Emmy and Oliver were the little moments. The little waves and ripple effects from the Oliver bomb of Oliver being brought back. Oliver’s relationship with not only Emmy but also his mom, his step-father, and his two new sisters. Or the effect on Emmy’s two friends now that Oliver’s back and how there are a lot of growing pains. Although I know nothing about having a friend being stolen and brought back, Emmy and Oliver was still an extremely relatable story, and that’s not just because Emmy is an extremely sarcastic character that I understood on a personal level.

Benway writes my favorite type of books. They are quiet. They are full of family, sarcasm, friendship, love, and finding your own happiness.


20613491Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1) by Josephine Angelini
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Source: ALA 2014
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected. – Goodreads

Review:

Oh Lily, I wanted to like you. I sympathized with you so much, until I realized how much of a Mary Sue you were and then I just wanted you off my page. The first two chapters of Trial By Fire when Lily is in present day Salem dragged for me so much to the point I debated DNF. While the book picked up when Lily entered New Salem, I found the whole book to be slow and not of much excitement to me.

What was of excitement for me, was Rowan. Rowan was snarky and didn’t really have time for Lily, but was also fiercely protective of Lily because he knew how Lily’s counterpart, Lillian, in New Salem really was. While I found Angelini’s writing to be strong, I also was bored throughout Trial by Fire, besides Rowan, I didn’t care about…anything.

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Release Date: June 6, 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Audio from library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.– Goodreads

Review:

This book is one of those that is impossible to review. Because to talk about it gives anything away, but I will admit that the audio was amazing and made me want to keep listening to it. I went into this book knowing nothing about it because all of my friends wanted me to be surprised and I’m glad. Because the layers that Carey creates throughout this novel, I was honestly shocked until the very last moment.

22693178A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11) by Jacqueline Winspear
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Harper
Source: ALAMW 2015
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Maisie Dobbs returns in a powerful story of political intrigue and personal tragedy: a brutal murder in the British garrison town of Gilbraltar leads the investigator into a web of lies, deceit and danger

Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.

But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.

Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on “the Rock”—arguably Britain’s most important strategic territory—and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way – Goodreads

Review:

I have never hidden the fact that I adore Maisie Dobbs and this book is no different. What I didn’t adore was the fact in the first 5% of the book I was almost in tears because so much sadness happened to Maisie and I really, really, really, just want Maisie to be happy. But throughout this book, Maisie does learn to be happy. Or a new version of happy. My heart still hurts of course.

22557272The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Audio from Library
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. – Goodreads

Review:

My friend warned me when I started this novel. She told me I would have problems with it, but to stick it out til the end, so I did, because I trust her. But this was a very hard book for me to read. I couldn’t get into any of the characters. Everyone was the worst. I had problems finding that one thing that made me love the story. However, I will admit that Hawkins knows how to write a mystery. I was holding on til the very, very end in shock of what had happened.


18333999Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Source: Netgalley
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for. – Goodreads

Review:

This book has been on my radar…forever. I’ve had multiple friends read it, but I never got to it. And then I went to Amy Spalding’s book launch when I was in Los Angeles in April and her reading it sold me on the book. While I read this book, I would actually go back and listen to the audiobook of Spalding reading it because I enjoyed her reading it that much.

Ted Callahan was a complete gem. Full of humor, wit, friendships and family I wanted more of it. I wanted more of Riley, who was so painfully realistic I wanted to hug her at multiple points throughout the novel. While she could read juvenile, but I related so much to her. Seeing the boy that you’re in love with and then having to speak to him?! THEN WHEN YOU DO IT’S WORD VOMIT. Oh Riley, I understood why you had problems talking to Ted. I had problems talking to my own Ted. I thought I hid it so well. HAHA. Everyone knew. And look, I’m still alive!

Riley is trying to figure out life. Not just in the teen sense, but in the sense her BFF, who is in Riley’s band, is dating a fellow band member and now Riley feels left out. Riley and Reid, the other band mate in the four piece that is not dating, bond and become closer friends through a notebook where they write fairly inappropriate things.

I’m not sure the last time I laughed as hard as I laughed at Kissing Ted Callahan (and other guys.) While Riley is trying to figure out her life, her family and friends are too, and it’s painful and uncomfortable, but so, so, so real. What I enjoyed more than the laughter was the fact that Spalding made friendship as important if not more important than the love story, and you guys know my feelings on strong female friendships!