Review: Winger

Winger by Andrew Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent look into the mind of an adolescent boy in all his sexually charged, self-doubting glory. Ryan Dean is endearing and aggravating at the same time. The Annie plot-line is predictable but sprinkled with good banter. The conflict involving Joey builds subtly for the second half of the book while Smith does some superb distraction with JP. West’s eventual self-actualization is a bit far-fetched for a 14 year-old but the fallout from the climax hits home. Learned a bit about rugby and how little guys and girls really differ emotionally. Can’t wait to get my hands on Standoff.

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18 May 2015

Mon Reading Button PB to YAIt’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
The lovelies at thought this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus: anyone reading and reviewing books in children’s literature. It can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels – you name it in the world of kidlit and it’s in! I love being a part of this meme and hope you do, too! I encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we’re reading. We hope you join us! Read more here:
In the last week I’ve finished
This week, I’m reading, planning on reading and listening to

Review: All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finch is the kind of guy all teens are simultaneously hopeful and fearful they will fall in love with. He is unique, bordering on strange. He is the “bad boy” with good intentions. He is the cliche of the overlooked, misunderstood smart kid who manages to NOT be a cliche. Violet LONGS to be the cliche she was before her sister’s death: cheerleader, popular, snobbish, privileged. A death-wish brings them together and neither one will ever be the same, for better or worse, because of their meeting.

Violet and Finch’s story is full of humor and heartache. Niven has created a fractured kid in Finch who longs to be whole again. Violet is struggling to find a new normal and feel whole after losing her best friend-sister. In Finch, Violet finds the shove she needs to “get back on the camel”. He asks the questions everyone else is afraid to ask and won’t let her squirm out of answering. Violet gives Finch the beauty and acceptance he’s been looking for since long before his father left. The two of them find in each other that conditional but engulfing acceptance of first, true love that will leave them changed for the rest of their lives.

I spent the two and a half days reading this marveling over the quotable lines and humor provided by Finch. He has a wisdom that seems to always come with a skewed perspective on life. People who live as bright and hot and immediate as Finch seem to light up the dark corners that those of us at normal speed seem to miss. Much like Pudge looking for the Great Perhaps, Finch and Violet are looking for All the Bright Places that will remind them that they’re alive and young and infinite. The world in which Finch lives is one that I want to create for myself and my children and my students.

Ultimately heartbreaking (I did the ugly cry), Finch and Violet’s story spirals with the “impending, weightless doom” of the Blue Flash. Through the split narration, readers see both sides of their journey and the ways in which we lie to one another and to ourselves. But it leaves readers with the sense that wandering, experiencing, and loving are the keys to truly finding your path.

SIMILAR TITLES: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Papertowns by John Green, Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Review: The Girl at Midnight

The Girl at Midnight
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was excited to get this book as a galley from NetGalley. I drug my feet getting started and I really with I hadn’t! This book is so good. I described it to a friend as Grisha meets Seraphina meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DoSB). It’s the most appropriate description I can think of. And while there are eerie similarities, the book does not come over trite or cliche. While some might call these similarities weaknesses, I see them as

Echo (besides having an awesome name) is an orphan who has been taken in by a race of creatures who live somewhere between the human world and the realm of magic. They are part human/part bird and pass in and out of our world (hence the DoSB comparison). There is an ancient feud between Echo’s adoptive bird-race, the Avicen, and the ancient Drakharin race of dragon-like beings (enter Seraphina-esque characters and abilities). Members of both races are searching for the mythical firebird which is supposedly the key to creating a lasting peace between the two warring cultures (shades of Grisha here). It seems all plot similarities between these books have been consumed so I’m anxious to see what Grey will have Echo do next.

Somehow, despite the rather obvious similarities between these four titles, Grey manages to make Echo’s story unique. In the beginning I even thought that Echo and Ivy might be lovers, which would have added a pleasantly unexpected twist, but other flairs of originality made Echo’s heterosexuality less of a disappointment than it might have been. Echo is spunky and a little rash, making her another in a line of strong female leads in recent titles (Celaena Sardothien, Mare Barrow, and Meira). She is deeply loyal and fiercely protective of her friends and her heart.

Echo travels through parts of the world that are rarely mentioned in YA bringing fresh scenery to the readership. The Avicen and Drakharin worlds are interesting and I would like to see more of them and learn more of their histories in the coming titles. I wonder at the fate of a mortal human girl in a world of quasi-immortal, magical creatures with whom her life has become inextricably connected. Jasper and Dorian provide just the right note of romantic realism with which to temper Echo’s own entanglements. And Echo’s story follows a traditional Hero’s Journey fairly well to lend this book to lots of comparisons.

Grey has created distinct characters, an explorable world, and a plot that seems to be at a dead end. I can’t wait to see where Echo takes us next. And she responds to tweets, which is awesome.

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Review: Half Wild

Half Wild
Half Wild by Sally Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I was impressed with Half Bad and Green’s choppy but detailed writing style, I was blown away by Half Wild. Guys! This book. Nathan is still torn between the two halves of himself and his struggle is portrayed so well. Things are going downhill fast for all of the witches in Europe. The Council is corrupt, and a cruel, power-hungry witch has taken control with one agenda: to destroy Black witches. Nathan is dragged into the fight as a means to help save Annalise. Nathan is learning to accept and control his Gift making him unsure of his own motives. Add doubt to his tenuous relationship with witches and halfbloods who claim to be his allies but making some decidedly suspicious decisions, and Nathan could be walking into a trap.

The plot of Half Wild is just as fast-paced and visceral as the first book. Readers will find themselves cheering and groaning with and because of Nathan. Green does a magnificent job of gradually developing Nathan’s character so that readers learn along with him rather than having a sense of knowing before he does. This keeps the suspense present and propels the story forward. The uncertainty Nathan feels is mirrored in the readers’ response to his relationships and actions. As usual, when Nathan finds a pocket of happiness, readers will wait for the other shoe to drop and discover how difficult it will be for Nathan and those he loves to live Half Wild. Fans of Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon Lexicon books will enjoy this series. I’m not sure I can wait an entire YEAR for the last book in the series.

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