All the Love You Write by D.G. Driver #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #YA #RBRT

A story about young love, first love, true love, timeless love, and the power of love letters.

Mark and Bethany are two mismatched high school seniors in a new relationship.

It’s doomed to fail.

Mark has adored Bethany since middle school, and she’s finally giving him a chance. Only, he’s clumsy at romance and knows he’ll lose her because of it. Bethany thinks Mark is sweet. Only, she’s afraid to commit her whole heart to him because he’s going into the army and she’s headed off to college.

Fifty years earlier, a boy and a girl from the same high school shared an amazing but tragic love story. They have now returned as ghosts and are interfering in Mark and Bethany’s relationship.

Who are they? Why do they care what happens to Mark and Bethany?

I’ve read nearly every book D.G. Driver has written, and they’ve never disappointed me.  All the Love You Write is no different.

When I learned this story was the continuation of the author’s 2015 novella, Passing Notes, I couldn’t wait to read it.  As with the novella, this is a sweet, heartwarming tale, and I challenge anyone to read it and not have their heartstrings tugged.  The author does an excellent job at portraying the awkwardness of first relationships, especially in the case of Mark.  As the mother of sons, I saw several parallels and chuckled many times over his actions.

One of the characters frustrated me for a good portion of the book.  I wanted to tell this person they were doing it all wrong, but one of the ghosts took care of that for me.  I’m a fan of anything supernatural, so that aspect and the connection to Mark were some of my favorite things about the story.

The fact that Bethany excels academically and is on a college track, while Mark has struggled in school and chooses to serve his country in the army is a source of conflict between the couple.  It’s also an apt depiction of how college isn’t the path for everyone, while pointing out the many educational and career advancement opportunities within the military.

It’s clear the author did her research into the time period of the Vietnam War – not only historic events that took place, but also how relationships and opportunities for women were vastly different from today.

If you’re a fan of love stories – or even better, supernatural love stories, All the Love You Write is an inspiring tale with some some heartfelt messages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

The category for one of my book clubs was to choose a book from a genre I don’t usually read.  For me, that’s a YA romance.

I’d read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and adored Simon’s voice, so another Albertalli book was an easy selection for me.  Ben and Arthur are just as charismatic and super nerdy in their own ways.  After their meet cute, they finally locate each other in an amusing way.  I laughed over some of their conversations and first dates – yes, plural – that were awkward and disastrous.  The friendships are done so well, and one of my favorite things about the book, as are the characters’ relationships with their parents.

Yes, it was a bit predictable, but I was so pleased with the ending.  No spoilers here.  What If It’s Us is heartwarming and amusing with characters you’ll fall in love with, and a pleasure to read.

 

 

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal #bookreview #YA #contemporary

Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

This book deals with topics we unfortunately see all too much of in news nearly every day.  Novels such as this are crucial and timely, and when I saw that author Nic Stone blurbed it, I knew I wanted to read it.

The contrasting characters and their viewpoints really make this novel.  Lena is in a familiar environment, but is very much aware of its dangerous undercurrents, much more so than Campbell, new to the neighborhood, and the epitome of a fish out of water.  With alternating chapters, their voices are distinct, and the narrative is well done.  Their conversations, and occasionally clashing opinions, throughout the evening do a good job at shedding light on the reality of their lives, and shattering stereotypes they hold of each other.

No doubt the girls’ situation is intense and precarious, and this is communicated well.  That being said, I questioned some of their actions.  Lena leads them toward her boyfriend, who is supposed to take them to safety, but he’s in the direction of the rioting.  It’s mentioned early on that Campbell’s house is a twenty minute walk from the stadium, where it all began, so I wondered why they didn’t go there to begin with.  Maybe a map at the front of the book would have been helpful?  Their reasoning wasn’t made clear, especially when Campbell had a phone, and there must have been other friends or people at the stadium who could have given them a ride.  I also thought a peaceful protest in the city at such a late hour was odd.

This is a compelling book with strong characterization, but parts of it seemed random, and I would have liked more information on the characters’ reasoning, and more of an overview of the rioting.  This book is scheduled for publication October 1st, 2019.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

WWW Wednesday What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand.

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

I recently finished Ace of Shades (and it was absolutely fan-freaking-tastic) by Amanda Foody.

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Next, for a bookclub I’m in, I’ll be reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

The Fever by Megan Abbott

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a 18656036seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, THE FEVER affirms Megan Abbot’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.” – Goodreads.com

After reading this book, I know one thing with certainty – I never want to go to high school again.  Some girls can just be mean and I don’t miss all the drama that hovers around them.

Having teenagers of my own, I felt that the author did an excellent job of portraying them realistically.  I especially enjoyed how Deenie’s father and brother regarded teenage girls as mysteries, not understanding their motivations or actions.  Tom was certainly believable as a single father and I could identify with his worries, fears, and protective instincts for his children.  I also liked the author’s writing style and varying POV’s in the story.

Something I think was mentioned too often was the HPV vaccine.  I began to feel like I was listening to a public service announcement and thought about putting the book down for good.  The girls’ nearly constant talk about sex was also somewhat tedious.  After all the hysteria from the girls, parents, and community, I really expected a more surprising ending.  One of the reasons I kept reading the novel was the hope of some interesting twist or shocking conclusion, but I was disappointed when all was said and done.

I’ve read numerous YA books that have also appealed to me as an adult, but I didn’t feel like The Fever was one of those books meant for crossover.  I see it as much more geared to teenage girls in regards to characterization and complexity of plot and think they would enjoy this novel.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.