Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author’s childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.
This moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it “enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny.” An author’s note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà’s story. – Goodreads
This is another book for my literacy class, but I chose it myself based on the fact that it’s a Jane Addams award winner and the struggle of fitting in has always been something I could relate to. Ha, at 10, is the youngest in her family and the only girl. Her brothers, 14, 18, and 21, make fun of her, and she longs for a sister. War is ravaging Vietnam and only getting closer to Saigon. Ha’s father has been gone for nine years after being captured while on a Navy mission, and her family is preparing to flee.
They are on a boat for a few week, hungry, dirty, awaiting rescue. It finally comes, and Ha is fascinated by the bearded American soldiers. They land in Guam, where they attempt to learn English and watch Western movies. They eventually go to Florida, then are finally sponsored by a family in Alabama, which leads them to their own rented house.
Ha has a hard time in school. She can’t explain that she already understands fractions, and she doesn’t have the words to understand how the other kids are making fun of her. It’s sad and hard to read. Kids can be cruel, especially when it comes to anything even slightly different. The words escalate to pranks and even violence, but then Ha’s family meets Miss Washington, who offers to tutor them all.
This book made me cry, because this little girl feels so much frustration and loss and gets almost no reward for it. She has her moments of childish selfishness, but that’s typical, and she’s a fish out of water in Alabama, of all places. It’s another coming-of-age tale, but it’s also a tale of social justice, understanding, acceptance, and love.
You couldn′t really tell about Mama′s brain just from looking at her, but it was obvious as soon as she spoke. She had a high voice, like a little girl′s, and she only knew 23 words. I know this for a fact, because we kept a list of the things Mama said tacked to the inside of the kitchen cabinet. Most of the words were common ones, like good and more and hot, but there was one word only my mother said: soof.
Although she lives an unconventional lifestyle with her mentally disabled mother and their doting neighbour, Bernadette, Heidi has a lucky streak that has a way of pointing her in the right direction. When a mysterious word in her mother′s vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi′s thirst for the truth leads her on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past. – Goodreads
Heidi lives with her mother, a developmentally and cognitively disabled woman who can’t read, write, or tie her shoes. Their next door neighbor, Bernie, helps them out, but she is strapped for cash as well. This book immediately made me sad. It was obvious Heidi didn’t go to school or have any experiences a kid her age should. I wondered who had gotten her mother pregnant. A woman with the kinds of disabilities Heidi’s mother had can’t consent to sex. Lots of hard questions came up right off the bat. Would Heidi be better off in state care? Would her mother? I felt badly for Heidi because her world is so tiny. There is so much more that she could do and accomplish rather than hanging out all day with her agoraphobic neighbor and taking care of her mother.
Heidi decides that she needs to know more, more about herself, her mother, their lives, everything. She finds some photos in the back of her mother’s closet and gets on a Greyhound (alone) headed to Liberty, New York to find herself. She meets people along the way who teach her about the world and how her actions affect others. She learns about lying, big families, and college, and she is presented with different perspectives. This is at its heart a coming-of-age tale, and we get some hints throughout the beginning that the knowledge Heidi uncovers may not be exactly what she wants to know.
Heidi, who has always been lucky, finds her luck has abandoned her when bad storms take down the phone lines and someone steals her money. She lands in Liberty penniless and alone. This trip is not what she thought it would be, and I had a bad feeling that the things she was going to find out would not be what she wanted either. I was right.
This book is sort of alternately frustrating and heartbreaking. It’s not a story with a happy ending, exactly, even though Heidi gets her answers. You can see happiness for her on the horizon, but it still seems far away. This is a great book about the search for truth and the sacrifices you make to get it.
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.
In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.
“Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on.” — E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.– Goodreads
Lauren Oliver writes unrealistic, real stories. She writes stories you can feel and make you feel like you’re their. She writes stories about love, friendship, sisters. This is the story of Nick and Dara, two sisters who tell you their story from two different timelines: before and after. While this story has a lot going on: it works. Oliver always makes it work.
Nick and Dara have one of the realist portrayal of sibling relationships that I’ve read. The love, the jealously, the hate. It’s all on the pages of Vanishing Girls. Sibling relationships are rarely picture perfect and Oliver shows you can love and adore someone, but also be extremely jealous of someone at the same time. While the two sisters love each other, they’re almost too close and too different all at the same time and go from being BFFs to two that don’t know each other anymore.
While I enjoyed Vanishing Girls and wanted to finish the book, besides Oliver’s prose there wasn’t much keeping me reading the story. The actual storyline didn’t hold my interest in ways I hoped it would. There was nothing in particular wrong with the story, and I would happily recommend it. I just…wanted more from it. Vanishing Girls is also a stellar audiobook with six narrators. While that sounds like a ridiculous number, there are really just two with the other four being highlight voices.
New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is back with a delightful novel of a killer love that is filled with her sassy wit and dazzling charm
The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A sinister house looming over the sea . . .
He’s a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She’s a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.
But she’s not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they’re trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes. It’s going to be a long, hot winter. – Goodreads
As a strong hard-core romance novel addict, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is often my go-to romance author. I have read all of her books and often re-read them. It was a joy at ALA 2013 to meet her in Chicago, I’m pretty sure I flailed. It was an honor. That is why when I had the change to read Heroes Are My Weakness I jumped at the chance. All of that being said this book was completely different from her usual fair, at least to me. I spent a solid portion of the book, around 25% reminding myself that this is the Susan Elizabeth Phillips I know and love. This was completely different. It was darker, it was sinister, it was heartbreakingly romantic.
I almost quit the book a few times in the beginning but I am very glad I stuck with it. After 25% something clicked and the book made sense to me. The stories of the past, the main story in the present and even the bits with puppets, it worked. It was never, ever forced and although it took me awhile to fully figure out I never wanted it to end.
The writer, Theo, the loner, and the puppeteer, Annie, have loved each other from when they were teenagers. However life happened and it became clear to both of them that it would never work. Mostly because Annie viewed Theo has a villain. A true villain that she could, and should never, trust. Because the villain couldn’t change, could he?
Theo and Annie learn a lot about each other, did they judge each other before they really knew each other? Was life just a lot of misunderstandings? Would everything work out okay? It took a lot to get there, Phillips reminds the reader that life isn’t perfect and tied with a bow. Annie claims she just wants a quick fling with no strings attached and Theo claims to give no fucks (but of course doing the actual fucking.)
She knew he cared for her, just as she knew he didn’t love her.–eARC 80%
He comes from a hard life, that is slowly shown to the reader, and Annie. Annie is just trying to survive aspects of life that she doesn’t really want to talk about, to anyone, anyone but Theo. Annie ultimately learns a lot about herself and those around her, people on the island who became her friends, including, yes Theo. The Theo that Annie believes she doesn’t deserve, even though she’s known him forever, because he’s far too beautiful for her, or to be real.
Do you ever look as though you haven’t just stepped off the cover of a paperback novel? —eARC 90%
Theo, of course, not only doesn’t see it. He doesn’t find himself beautiful, he finds himself to be the brooding author who writes fucked up novels and had a wife that killed herself. He wants to be left alone and deal with his demons himself. Even with these walls, Annie gets through: she forces him to listen and think about things he doesn’t want to. Everyone has that friend that one that makes them think about topics they are in denial about. That’s what make the two work well together, they’ve always been good friends until that summer. That summer that changed everything.
What Phillips does though is makes everything unravel and then slowly, real life slow, has things breakdown further and slowly work there way back together.
I’m ultimately glad I stuck with Heroes Are My Weakness because it has become one of my favorite books that I keep going back and reading passages from because it makes my cold bitter black cynical heart warm. I wish I could tell the Ashley who was struggling with the first so many pages that it gets good. It gets “keep you up even though you have work tomorrow” good.
The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?
The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one. – Goodreads
The School for Good and Evil is the story of Agatha and Sophie, two girls who get kidnapped by a mythical being and are taken to a school which will train them to be heroes and villains. Sophie has been waiting for this moment as long as she can remember. She groomed herself for this moment, and with a name like Sophie how could she not be in the School for Good. And her friend, Agatha, is clearly doomed to the School of Evil. Her name is Agatha!
But that isn’t what happened. Sophie finds herself in the School of Evil and Agatha in the School of Good. This understandably outrages Sophie, who planned her whole life around being kidnapped for The School of Good, but the more The School for Good and Evil goes on, the more you see Sophie isn’t as good as she believes she is. She’s a bit of a…witch.
Agatha, on the other hand, contrary to her looks, which is what everyone judges Agatha and her personality on, is placed in the School of Good, and Agatha is good. She’s a good person with a kind heart, but she sticks out like a sore thumb in this school. Both girls do, and everyone believes that they are mismatched. They don’t belong. The School of Good doesn’t want Agatha, and to be honest, Agatha doesn’t want them. The same for Sophie.
To the reader though, it is clear the two are where they belong. When you go beyond looks, and to their personality, Sophie is a bit of a mean person and Agatha is a bit of a softie.
What stands out in The School for Good and Evil is the setting. Chainani takes the reader there with use of tropes and style that normally wouldn’t work, but not only does Chainani make them work, he makes you want more tropes! He also makes you want more female friendships. While the friendship between Agatha and Sophie is a true power play, it’s genius and very real to life, even if it takes place in a fairy tale land.
In a weird turn of event, I started to DNF books this month. Because of that, I am going to do a round up this month, because maybe you read one and enjoyed one and could tell me WHAT DID I MISSSS?!
DNF at 7% I lost interest. I found nothing fascinating about this book no matter how hard I tried. And I should of! History! England! Unfortunately all I know is one day I put it down for another book and I never came back to it.
The IT book of the past so many years, and this year with the movie coming out. Finally I decided to read it. And I was bored. I ended at Chapter 17 because there was so much information and none of it was fascinating to me. I understand that was part of the mystery to the story, but I needed something to keep me hooked and none of that was there. Which is why I put it down and sent it back to the library. I didn’t care to see where the story kept going.
Royally Lost by Angie Stanton
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
DNF at 34% was not grabbing my attention. Went to the end to see how it ended, but I really didn’t care. Which is weird for me when it comes to something like this. Royals! Europe! Wisconsin! But I got bored. Hated most of what was going on. Only went to the end to make sure it ended how I thought it would. I think it will be a good book for the right person. That person wasn’t me at this time.
The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
DNF at 18%. There was nothing wrong with this book persay. I was just bored and life is too short I’ve decided for boring books. This is a book I may pick up at a later date, but at the moment it did not hold that special spark for me.
Hung Up by Kristen Tracy
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
I love stories that are told in unique ways. Meg Cabot’s stories told in all emails are my thing. So this story should have been gold for me. It wasn’t. I didn’t connect to either character and I didn’t care to connect to either one. Very upsetting for me.
Posted by ashley in Uncategorized Tags: author: aguirre, author: dashner, author: de la cruz, author: siegel, author: stanton, dnf, publisher: delacorte, publisher: disney hyperion, publisher: harlequin teen, publisher: harpercollins, publisher: simon pulse
One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.
When Liza’s brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.
She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.
To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers’ nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests–or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.
From New York Times best-selling author Lauren Oliver comes a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty, the meaning of love, and the enduring power of hope – Goodreads
Recently when I had no books out from the library (which just came to pay me back when all my holds came in at once) I decided to browse the new children’s book and this was on the shelf. I love Lauren Oliver’s writing. I love middle grade. I had to read it. And it was already on my goodreads TBR list, so really I had to.
In The Spindler’s, Oliver takes the typical fairy tale plot and makes it her own. At the center of the novel is Liza who one day wakes up and notices that her brother is no longer himself. Yes, he looks the same and yes, he acts the same but she knows in her heart of hearts that he is no longer her brother. Liza knows what happens. She knows that the Spindlers, spider creatures, have taken his soul. Her favorite babysitter Anna warned her about the Spindlers before she went to college. She must retrieve his soul or what is the shell of his body will disintegrate into dust. No pressure right?
While Liza tries to tell her parents that “hey now, something isn’t right here!” they of course don’t listen to her and she is the one who must save her brother. Liza takes the steps into saving her brother. She goes into the crawl space in the basement and of course ends up in a deep hole (of doom — as I called it throughout.) Liza is prepared though, Anna prepared her for this moment by telling her about Below. Liza also gets a tour guide throughout her time in the Below. Her tour guide Mirabella freaked me out, to put it nicely. Mirabella is a rat, who is the side of a person. She also wears clothing and a wig. The image of Mirabella still gives me the heeby-jeebies. Oliver is that good about her characters, I will give her that, they stick with you for quite some time.
While the journey Liza goes on is nice and quite fairy tale like it was not an Ashley book. I can see why others loved it, but I just did not.