(Late) September Wrap Up [2014]

Source: the publisher

God Loves Ugly by Christa Black

Where do I even start with this book? It’s a self-help book that is also a little bit of autobiography. Also, self love and healing and stuff.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (review copy)

Middle Grade Fantasy for fans of Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (review copy)

Contemporary fiction that is super lovely. It’s about Emi who is a production designer who wants something epic to happen this summer.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (review copy)

Although this is now how we in the real world deal with our problems, it’s a brilliant way to scrunch it all down to one semester of dealing with these characters’ issues. Read More

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The second book in the Raven Cycle. This one focuses more on Ronan, but we still get all of the other fantastic characters.

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Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer Review

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

20821376 198x300 Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer ReviewBelzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Book DepositoryPublished by Penguin on September 30, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 264
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Goodreads
five stars Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer Review
If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

Jam has a mental breakdown of sorts and gets sent off to a boarding school for kids with issues called The Wooden Barn. She and four others end up in a class together called Selected Topics for English in which they’re given a copy of The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath and a red leather journal to write in. This book deals with heavy topics of depression as well as a touch of magical realism.

So, what happens when they write in the journal? They go to this realm that exists in their minds of a time before their breaks. Jam goes to the soccer field where she meets Reeve. Casey is in the car with her mom. Griffin is in the barn. Marc is in his house. Sierra is on the bus with her brother. It’s seemingly perfect, and each trip they take takes up five pages of writing in the journal, which lasts the whole semester.

Although this is now how we in the real world deal with our problems, it’s a brilliant way to scrunch it all down to one semester of dealing with these characters’ issues. Jam mentions it near the end of the novel, but a lot of the stuff (or that one big thing) that changes the way we act and/or view the world usually doesn’t get dealt with in a short time of it happening to us. It’s usually later on, sometime into adulthood. We have that, “Oh, right!” moment in which we realize that that’s why we act a certain way toward people or do things a certain way. It all goes back to that experience.

Something that really bugged me, but worked out in Jam’s story’s favor was the focus on British stereotypes while she reminisces about her time with Reeve. He’s this football-loving, Monty Python jokester on top of several other super stereotypes. After a while, it wore me down, especially since some aspects of how she perceived him were repeated over and over again. But it plays into her last time in Belzhar and what she experiences there and deals with there.

Something that I felt might have needed a bit more clearing up was that although these characters face their life-changing experience yet again, it’s not the cure for their trauma. They still have more healing to do, so the journal and Belzhar were just stepping stones to highlight what’s really going on for them.

[[I listened to the audiobook and finished with the ARC because I get impatient]]

five stars Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer Review

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The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review

13643567 198x300 The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin ReviewThe Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Book DepositorySeries: Mara Dyer #2
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 23, 2012
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 546
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
four stars The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review
Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a great sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Everything is amped up, grosser, crazier, family-er. Family-er?! Is that a word?

What I liked about Evolution of Mara Dyer:

  • Learning more about Noah. We learned quite a bit about Noah in book 1, but the ladies man veil drops thanks to…
  • Meeting Jamie’s sister! Yes, we get to meet Jamie’s sister who is mentioned in Unbecoming.
  • The creepiness of… Everything. The creepy girl at the therapy place. Jude. The caaaaatttt. THE CAT. That poor cat.

Ehhh…

  • Flashbacks to her grandmother’s memories in India. How it tied to Mara’s present-day stuff? It was a little confusing.

What I picked on:

  • We need more Daniel! I just really love Daniel. We get to see a couple of scenes with him. Not enough! Also, spin-off series? Maybe? Please?
  • Are her parents knowledgable about what the doctors are up to? I’m just gonna leave that question there.

four stars The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review

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My Reading Patterns

My reading patterns are… interesting. I hadn’t thought about it much until this morning when I thought, “I need to read a Contemporary before I read another Fantasy!” Wait, what?! I stick to so few genres that I try to balance them out.

Recently, I’ve read The Dream Thieves (Fantasy), Belzhar (Contemporary), and The Body Electric (Sci-Fi). I picked up The Young Elites (Fantasy) yesterday and then remembered that The Blood of Olympus (Greek/Roman Mythology) came out as well. Ahhh which one do I chose? And then this morning, I thought, “Oh, I haven’t read a Contemporary in a minute!”

I can’t be the only person who does this! It helps me stay away from the dreaded “reading slumps” that the kids complain about these days. (harhar)

Seriously, that’s always been my way of anti-slumping. And just my reading plan/pattern. Now if only I could read faster to get that TBR pile manageable!

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review

11408650 198x300 The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin ReviewThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Book DepositorySeries: Mara Dyer #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on September 27, 2011
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 466
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
five stars The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review
Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

Have you ever picked up a book and pretty much only put it down to eat and go to the bathroom (hey, i’m a real person here)?! That’s The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer for me! Seriously, this book is one of those “unputdownables” and Michelle Hodkin wrote this book just for me. Even if I read it 3 years after it was published. She wrote it for meeeee. Just kidding. But it was really good. REALLY. GOOD.

So, what was so awesome about this book? Family. Family, in a YA novel?! IN A PARANORMAL YA NOVEL?! YES. Yes, they exist. You’d think that the parents would be dead, kidnapped, or the villain of the story based on past Paranormal YA novels, but nope. They’re not only in existence in this book, but they are quite supportive in a healthy manner.

Mara points out a problematic aspect of the start of her relationship with Noah. Her brain goes a little loopy and whatnot, and she addresses it. Rarely do you see that in any other novel when the girl becomes more than just head-over-heels obsessed with the guy. Huzzah for being self-aware!

I’m trying to think of anything that didn’t really work with me, but I really can’t think of anything. Mara does get mad and she does have her own problems, but I’m glad that she’s not a perfect character. I’m glad that she’s rough around the edges and she’s not trying to be the best.

five stars The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review

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