Book Review: Where She Went

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Synopsis from Amazon.com:

Picking up several years after the dramatic conclusion of If I Stay,Where She Went continues the story of Adam and Mia, from Adam’s point of view. Ever since Mia’s decision to stay – but not with him – Adam’s career has been on a wonderful trajectory. His album, borne from the anguish and pain of their breakup, has made him a bona fide star. And Mia herself has become a top-rate cellist, playing in some of the finest venues in the world. When their respective paths put them both in New York City at the same time, the result is a single night in which the two reunite – with wholly satisfying results.

It’s been a long time since I read If I Stay but I know I loved it. Therefore when I learned there was a sequel I had to read it. Finding out it was in Adam’s point of view was an extra bonus because he’s one of my favorite book boyfriends ever.

Adam is sweet, moody, and the type of rock star boyfriend I’m sure many girls dream of. Going into this book I knew Mia and Adam had broken up and I was heartbroken. After everything she went through just to decide to wake up, Adam being the deciding factor, to discover their relationship then ended was heart wrenching to say the least.

The greatest thing about this novel is that it starts several years later. Following a similar format of If I Stay, there’s a lot of flashbacks to the time between when Mia woke up to Adam’s present. Of course we only get to see Adam’s point of view in this but I think seeing Mia’s might of made me hate her and for that I am grateful to Gayle Forman because I don’t, in fact, want to hate Mia.

Adam goes through a roller coaster of emotions in this book. He starts out depressed and then seeing Mia again for the first time in years doesn’t really help his dark feelings. However, the two of them decide despite the terrible way in which things ended between them they’re going to ignore all their responsibilities and run around New York City together. Both Mia and Adam have found their own pockets of fame in the world and will be leaving New York for their own separate tours the next day. This one night is there chance to enjoy New York before their fast paced lives kick up again and they have to face reality, including discussing why Mia left and what they’ve both been up to since.

I loved that this story took place mainly all in one night. Getting to see these two reconnect and deal with their warring emotions of seeing each other again was fantastic. There was so much tension and heartache but also moments of happiness that made me smile. Additionally, the flashbacks of moments between Adam and Mia before the car crash were brilliant and perfectly placed.

In If I Stay we didn’t really get to see Mia and Adam fall in love. The novel just jumped right in and honestly Mia’s relationship with her family was really the focus, as it should have been. However, in this book it was mainly about Adam and Mia and it felt like seeing them fall in love for the first time, even though it wasn’t. Heart felt and honest, this book is one for the shelf.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Favorite Line:

“You don’t share me. You own me.”

Stars

4 stars

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Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Trust is dangerous, and to love is to destroy. Plunge into the fourth installment in the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly)—now with a gorgeous new cover, a map, a new foreword, and exclusive bonus content! City of Fallen Angels is a Shadowhunters novel.

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

I’m so hooked on this series. I don’t how it took me this long to start reading it but now I’m playing catch up and reading through them as fast as I can. Then I can start reading the Clockwork series and learn what the fuss is about Will Herondale.

But for now let’s talk about the City of Fallen Angels. If you haven’t read the first three books in The Mortal Instruments series be warned there will be spoilers!

As I said before, the series could’ve ended with City of Glass. It was a good ending. However, I’m so glad it didn’t because this book was crazy good.

In this novel we got some new, interesting characters, a lot more background for various characters including Magnus and Maia, and just a lot of good plot. This novel picked up a little while after the last book and of course everything seems to be fine and dandy but it’s really not.

Despite having the Mark of Cain on him, someone is looking for Simon and quite possibly trying to kill him. Clary and Jace’s new found relationship is on the rocks and as always Jace is struggling with his communication skills. Magnus and Alec are taking a well deserved vacation until unfortunately Magnus is called back for an emergency and Magnus and Alec are forced to question the reality of their relationship. Oh, and did I mention Simon’s having girl troubles? How geeky Simon went from pining away for Clary to having two girlfriends is still a mystery.

The point is this book had a lot going on but Cassandra Clare did an excellent job of keeping everything together and not making anything confusing or hard to understand. I found the story easy to follow and once again I enjoyed being able to bounce around from character to character and get a full scope of what was going on in everyone’s lives.

I’m impatiently waiting to get City of Lost Souls because this book ends with a major cliffhanger that honestly I saw coming but still. I need to know what happens next!

If you haven’t given this series a try yet, despite me giving you about a thousand reasons why you should, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! Buy the whole series. I would if I had some money.

Favorite Line:

“It means,” [Jace] said, “that love is the most powerful force in the world. That love can do anything.”

Stars:

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Book Review: Traffick

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestsellingTricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

*I received this book as a digital ARC from Simon and Schuster. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on November 3, 2015.*

I first fell in love with Ellen Hopkins’ writing style in high school when I read Crank. Since then I’ve read every single one of her books (including the adult novels) except one. I’m still waiting to get my hands on Smoke.

The point is I’m a huge fan and Traffick did not disappoint. If you haven’t read Tricks yet be warned there will be spoilers from that book here. I’ll try to keep it minimal but it’ll be hard not to mention a few key points.

If you’re like me it may have been a while since you read Tricks and therefore I urge you to  reread it, or at least look up a summary because when I first started reading Traffick I thought everything would just come back to me but I was very mistaken. I had to read up on Tricks to remember all the crazy that went on before I could dive into the sequel.

Traffick begins pretty close to where Tricks left off. We start with Cody who wakes up from a coma after being shot and then move through all my favorite characters from the first novel.

Seth is still struggling on his own, not being able to return home since he came out to his father. Ginger, Whitney, and Eden are all recovering from their life of turning tricks and trying to figure what will be next for them although they all handle this in very different ways.

I found this novel very interesting because it shows what happens after being trafficked. Seth is the only main character in this novel who’s still turning tricks. Everyone else is dealing with the repercussions and effects of what happened to them.

What Hopkins does very well is show the variety of ways in which a child could end up in this life and unfortunately often do today. There was no stereotype of all these kids coming from a bad home or a poor neighborhood. Of course that was the case for some but not for all. Each of these characters were different with different stories and experiences and I think Hopkins demonstrated that well.

This book took me through a roller coaster of emotions. When one of the characters succeeded I cheered with them. When one failed I cried along with them. I thankfully can’t say I know what living a life like this is like but I can only imagine how difficult it would be to get out. Hopkins doesn’t sugar coat her characters’ struggles but she also showed their triumphs.

My one issue with the book was the typical description of a person of color in reference to food, i.e. using words like “chocolate” and “espresso”to describe skin color and eyes instead of just saying dark skin and brown eyes. But because this book was excellent overall I’ll give Hopkins a pass although really you don’t have to describe us like food. Just say our skin tone color. It’s fine, really.

Moving on, this was an excellent novel and I urge you all to pick it up. If nothing else it made me want to learn more about sex trafficking, and specifically, child trafficking and what I can do to stop it. Hopkins brought light to a real issue and although I know sometimes people look down on YA fiction, Traffick just goes to show that any book, no matter the genre, can have a real message and an even more real impact.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! And while you’re at buy Tricks too.

Stars:

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My Summer At HarperCollins Publishers

In the second semester of my senior year at Georgetown I had no idea what I was going to do after college. The only thing I did know was I wanted to move to L.A. I totally blame my friend for getting this idea in my head in the first place but still. I knew what I wanted and that’s where I wanted to go. I still do actually but maybe next year I’ll make the big move.

The point is I had no intention of going back home to New York. I knew if I had to I would but it wasn’t my first choice. Additionally, neither was publishing. I’ve never had anything against publishing. If you haven’t noticed yet I really love books. Like a lot. I just never thought of being an editor before.

I wanted to write. Either books or articles or something. I love to write. That’s what I do. What in the world does an editor do? I thought at the time. Just edit? I had no clue. It had never occurred to me before. However, I think a lot of recent grads can attest to the fact that when it’s getting down to the wire and you still don’t have a job you start looking everywhere. Suddenly I wasn’t just applying for journalism positions, I was trying for publishing too. I figured, what do I have to lose?

Thinking along those same lines I figured go big or go home, so I applied strictly to the big five: HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster. Macmillian and Hachette somehow slipped my mind so I missed those two.

At first when I was applying everything just blurred together. Editorial Assistant, Editorial Intern, Assistant Editor, Associate Editor, blah blah blah. It all sounded the same to me just different types of books. So, of course, I applied to them all.

It wasn’t until I already applied to five different types of internships at HarperCollins that I stumbled upon the Editorial Intern position at the Dey Street Books imprint. Qualifications? Loves books? Check. Obsessed with pop culture? Check. Keeps up to date on celebrity news and culture? Triple check.

And suddenly I found the perfect job for me. You know how you apply for something and you’re just going through the motions? You think, “I guess this job sounds okay,” and you write your generic cover letter along with the same copy of your resume you’ve already sent everywhere. Well, this was nothing like that.

Writing this cover letter came easy. I knew exactly what I wanted to say because I actually really wanted to get this job. But this job wasn’t in L.A. and I was in the process of being interviewed for a BuzzFeed fellowship in L.A. which I also really wanted.

Therefore when I was offered the internship at Dey Street Books (in New York, by the way) I hesitated. I wanted it but I also wanted L.A. Thankfully the decision was made for me when BuzzFeed turned me down for the position. Even though I was excited to work at Dey Street I was still devastated. A part of me knew my BuzzFeed interview didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked but I was still hoping it would happen.

Truthfully though, I’m glad it didn’t.

My friend oddly enough put it perfectly although at a much later time when I was applying for the BuzzFeed fellowship for the second time. He said I should leave room for the possibility that maybe there was something better for me out there.

I think this was the case this summer. Had I gotten into BuzzFeed L.A. I probably would’ve had a great time and it would’ve been awesome. But then I would’ve missed so much.

I would’ve missed the opportunity to see how a big name book publisher really works. I would’ve never got to pitch my ideas for books or help edit manuscripts and give my opinions on proposals. I wouldn’t have made all the connections I made with editors, marketers, and publicists. I definitely wouldn’t have had workshops that talked about applying for jobs in publishing or listen to an author and agent discuss the process of making a book into an actual book.

More importantly I wouldn’t have met some of the most amazing and creative people I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t have gotten to work with an amazing team of people who are so dedicated and passionate about their books they’ll fight for them. And my fellow interns who came from not just across the U.S. but across the globe as well who were friendly, funny, and shared my insane passion for books. Especially, my friends in the fish bowl where we had some of the strangest conversations in my life and then some more serious ones too. These are the people I would’ve never met if one door hadn’t closed and another opened. And for that I am most grateful.

HarperCollins wasn’t just the place I worked for the summer; it was my home. I will miss being surrounded by books and wonderful people each day but I’m excited for what’s to come next. Thank you Carrie and Sean for everything I learned from you. Thank you Chloe for helping me be Sean for my last week. Thank you Emily for getting me so many free books; I plan to read each and every one. Thank you to the interns for making this internship so much fun! And lastly thanks to Carolyn and the whole HR team who made this internship the best internship program I’ve ever been a part of. It was a blast!

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Book Review: Sing You Home

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Synopsis from Amazon.com:

In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen.

Sing You Home explores the delicate boundaries of identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. What happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family? Once again, Jodi Picoult gracefully brings the hidden tensions of life sharply into focus in this poignantly honest novel.

I’ve tried to think of a way I could do this review without spoilers and I can’t figure out a way to do that and still give this book the due it deserves. I just think there’s no physical way to do that and really discuss what makes this book so great. Therefore if you don’t want to be spoiled please stop reading here but do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s fantastic.

When I was in high school I read about 12 of Jodi Picoult’s books. I was addicted to her storytelling but after a while it just seemed like all her books ended the same way and I forced myself to stop. However, once I heard about this new book I had to pick it up. I was curious and I remembered how much I enjoyed Picoult’s books in the past. Therefore when I saw Sing You Home on the shelf of my new library I had to pick it up and read it.

A lot happens in this book but the main climax of the story is what makes it so important. Zoe is the center of the novel and all she’s ever wanted was to have kids and have a family. However, this doesn’t come easy for her. She and her husband, Max, struggle for years to have kids. They go to a fertility clinic, do in vitro, and even get pregnant but Zoe has a still born. It’s terrible and I can’t even imagine going through that.

From there it seems Zoe chances of having a child are completely done. I won’t run through the whole plot but in summary she and Max get a divorce, Zoe finds out she has endometrial cancer and she has to get a hysterectomy. Again, all of this isn’t even what makes the story really heart wrenching and thought provoking. It’s what happens after that really made my head turn.

The story is told in three points of view: Zoe, Max, and Zoe’s partner, Vanessa. In case for some strange reason this isn’t obvious Vanessa is, in fact, a woman. Zoe and Vanessa fall in love and Vanessa is ready and willing to carry the baby that Zoe believed she could never have and it’s perfect. Zoe still has three frozen embryos from her time with Max and she believes it won’t be too difficult to get Max to agree to give her the embryos; he doesn’t even want kids.

Unfortunately for Zoe and Vanessa it’s not that easy. Max has recently been saved and under the guidance of his pastor decides to sue Zoe for the embryos so the child/children could be raised in a “traditional family”.

I’m not going to spoil how this ends in case some of you who haven’t read the book have dared to read this review despite my warnings. What I will say is Picoult handled a heavy topic very well and I respect her for it. She could have chosen so many other perspectives in this story and it would have made a completely different book. If she had made the pastor a point of view then all the reader would get is this look at Christian hate, which isn’t very Christian at all.

With Max’s point of view you see his contemplation. His questions about what is right in the eyes of God and why is it if God is love then why is his ex-wife’s new love invalid? I also loved that Vanessa, who’s known she was gay her whole life, was raised in a Catholic household. I liked that Zoe wasn’t sure if she was gay and didn’t like the label even though she loved Vanessa.

Picoult deals with so many issues in this book: gay rights, the Church, the idea of the “traditional family”, belief systems in general, what defines a life, etc. This book had me on a emotional roller coaster the whole way through and I found it interesting getting all three different perspectives. Each one of the narrator’s were such complex characters. I understood Max’s struggles with his faith because I’m a Christian. I understood Zoe’s frustration because I think no woman, even a woman who doesn’t want kids, want’s to be told they don’t have a choice in the matter at all. I can’t say I understand Vanessa’s frustration of this idea that being gay may be tolerated now but it’s still not accepted because that’s not something I personally have to go through. What I will say is Vanessa’s frustration with never being able to be fully comfortable in her skin and always feeling like her sexual identity above all her other characteristics would always define her made my heart break.

If you haven’t read this book yet I seriously recommend it. This one is, without a doubt, a buy.

Borrow or Buy: BUY!!!

Favorite Line:

The only difference between a wish and a prayer is that you’re at the mercy of the universe for the first, and you’ve got some help with the second.

Stars:

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Book Review: Red Queen

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Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Dystopias! Dystopias everywhere!

Honestly, I should really stop reading dystopias. Some of them are starting to run together in my head and it’s getting a little confusing.

Red Queen is the first book in the latest dystopian trilogy and although it definitely has some stand out points, it’s really not that different from other dystopians I’ve read. And definitely not better.

If you’ve ever read The Selection series, Mare reminds me of America in The Elite. For those of you who’ve never read that series, this isn’t a good thing. Mare is rebellious, which is to be expected of the protagonist in a post apocalyptic world, but not in any way that’s constructive. She’s a Red thief who thinks poorly of all the Silvers but easily trusts people she shouldn’t.

She has little qualms about killing innocent people in the name of rebellion and her moral compass just seems to be haywire. She makes a lot of stupid and also careless mistakes and honestly I found it difficult to sympathize with her.

This being said I obviously wasn’t Mare’s biggest fan. Instead, however, I was a fan of Julian, Cal, Kilorn, Gisa, Shade, Mare’s parents, Evangeline, and almost every other character except Mare. If this story was told by a better protagonist I probably would’ve loved it. I loved all the twists and the crazy reveals. I liked that even though some things were really predictable there were a lot of things that also caught me off guard. More then anything, I like that I have no idea where this story is going to go. This trilogy is wide open and I can’t imagine what Victoria Aveyard is going to do next with it but I’m intrigued to know more.

It was hard to declare this book a borrow but Mare ruined it for me. Even so, overall I still liked it I just couldn’t love it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Favorite Line (SPOILER!):

I’ve been too busy trying to save others to notice how much Cal saves me. How much he loves me.

Stars:

3 stars

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POLL: Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

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I’m the type of person that needs to know what the book is about before I start reading it. I like to read the back or the flap and get a gist of what’s the book about. However, I know people that will pick a book solely because the cover looks interesting and that’s cool too. Plus, in general, I’ll bypass a book if I’m not pulled in by the cover right away. Working in publishing I’ve since learned there are art design teams specifically to make covers for this very reason, which I think is pretty cool.

So, does the cover really influence your book choice or does it not bother you at all? I’m pretty sure I know how this poll will go but who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised.

 

Results of last week’s poll:

Do you reread books?

With an overwhelming majority of 90% the answer is a resounding yes and I’d have to agree. Happy rereading!