Book Review: When Reason Breaks by Cindy L Rodriguez

when reason breaks

When Reason Breaks

3.5 stars

Elizabeth Davis has an attitude problem. She has a lot of anger inside her that she must learn to control before it breaks her. Emily Delgado is a sweet, obedient girl on the outside but inside her depression is consuming her. Both girls are in Ms Diaz’s literature class and through the poetry of Emily Dickinson, they find themselves connecting to their assignments. Both are struggling and before the end of the school year, one will attempt suicide.

I knew going in to this book that there would be a suicide attempt. It was right there in the synopsis. I wasn’t expecting the book to start with a nameless girl making that attempt and then flashing back to the beginning of the year. I really liked all the references to Emily Dickinson, her poetry, and the mentions of other literary greats. It was also nice to see actual assignments getting done while the characters were in school.

Both Emily and Elizabeth were characters I really liked. Elizabeth seemed angry at life and held everyone at arm’s length. She did have friends and they seemed like really good friends who would listen to her if given the chance, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do that. The relationship she had with her little sister was great and her sister was adorable. Emily was under a lot of pressure from her father being a public figure so she had to make sure not to cause trouble, which made it hard to be a regular teen. She hid her depression from everyone.

Their teacher, Ms Diaz, was also a great character. She was passionate about teaching and she really cared for her students. She could engage them and make them think.

I thought Elizabeth’s anger and trust issues and Emily’s depression were handled really well. It was done in a way so that I was pretty sure I knew which girl was in the beginning but there was lingering doubt in the back of my mind. It was painful to see how the two girls were isolating themselves from everyone but also hopeful when they started talking to each other.

I also thought the author did a great job showing how other people can react and not understand the depth of how hard it can be to live with a mental illness like depression. It’s not something you can just snap out of and what can seem like ‘no big deal’ to most people is actually a huge deal to them.

One thing that did take me out of the story a little bit was that there was at times, some of the characters would say something in Spanish. I don’t know Spanish and it was hit or miss if I could decipher what they were saying without looking it up.

Overall, I thought the subject matter was handled sensitively and that the poetry connection was used very well. The book definitely evoked some strong emotions while reading: anger and sadness being the main two.

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Book Talk: Confessions

1. I’ve never DNF’d a book. It doesn’t matter how much I’m not enjoying it, if I have to put it aside for a few days and come back to it, I will finish it. I know there’s plenty other books I will enjoy I could read instead but DNF’ing makes me feel like I accomplished nothing and wasted my time. At least by finishing, it adds to my total of books read.

2. Sometimes after reading a book that’s really affected me, I need to just be not okay for a while. This means I might avoid people who try to cheer me up or who will say that it was just a book. I don’t want to be comforted or placated, I just want to reflect and maybe cry.

3. I seem to have either gotten over getting sick while reading in the car or have done it so much anyway that it no longer happens.

4. I re-arrange the books on my shelves at least once a week.

5. Coffee shops are my favourite place to read outside of the home.

6. I’m always surprised when someone says they’re going to read a book based on a review I’ve written or a recommendation I’ve given.

7. If I’m visiting another city, I always research where the bookstores are even if I don’t have time to go there.

8. If I add up the cost of all my books, my collection is the most expensive thing I own. Probably by triple.

9. I am ultra-organized when it comes to my books. I have a journal to write thoughts down while reading to help with reviews, a journal with ARCs listed by their release date so I know which ones need to be read soon, a journal with a list of books that I want to buy and what month they’re released, and now a journal to keep track of the debut authors and contemporary books for the two big challenges I’m participating in.

10. I keep meaning to do a exploration of blogs that are out there but so far haven’t found the time. Next day off, I have it planned to just spend the day going through book blogs, following the ones with similar interests, and hopefully making some more friends.

11. I worry about saying the wrong thing, wording something the wrong way, or sounding too preachy in reviews.

12. I’m very picky to whom I lend my books out to.

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Book Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

blood and smoke

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Release date: April 21st 2015

4.5 stars

The follow-up to Prisoner of Night and Fog, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke finds Gretchen and Daniel living their lives, safe from the happenings of their hometown. A telegram from a friend sends Daniel back to Germany and Gretchen soon follows. Daniel is wanted for murder and they must clear his name before they can leave Germany again. While investigating the murder, they begin to uncover just how deep the conspiracy goes and puts their lives in even more danger.

I loved Prisoner of Night and Fog and I wasn’t sure if a sequel could top it, but Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke managed to do just that. It was action-packed, fast-paced and the tension was high through the whole book. There were some really great new characters introduced and the re-appearance of ones from the previous book.

Gretchen grew a lot in the first book. It was her journey about seeing the Jews as people instead of what Hitler wanted her to see them as: lesser, unpure. It was her breaking free of him and his beliefs. The second book had her continuing that growth arc but in a more subtle manner. It was her seeing the way the Nazis were treating people and her horror at how she used to think. It was her remembering interactions with her father and Hitler and seeing them in a new light.

The romance was heavier in the second book and Gretchen and Daniel had to deal with what being in love meant for them. It was obvious they did care for each other but they also had their own dreams for their lives and maybe being together would mean one of them sacrificing that dream. I liked the push and pull between them in this book. They were drawn to each other, they loved each other, but maybe that wasn’t enough. We also got to learn a lot more about Daniel in this book and it was great. He was a great character in the first book but getting more of his story just made him that much better.

Again, there were so many historical facts woven into the plot. Yes, the characters are mostly fictional and some of the events were also fictionalized or tweaked to fit the plot, but there was still a lot of facts. The author’s notes had a lot of information as well and I found it really interesting. It made me wish they’d gone more in depth during school when they taught us history(instead of just learning our country’s role).

The writing in the first book was wonderful and it continued into the second. It made for a really great read that I didn’t want to put down.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Comparing Before and After: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

no place to fall

This was my WoW pick(hosted by Breaking the Spine) a year ago, February 26th 2014. At the time, I’d thought:

“I love when characters have dreams that they want to follow and when they’re forced to make hard choices about those dreams and family/friends. This has both.”

Now that I’ve read and reviewed it, this book ended up being more complicated and touching than I’d originally thought. It really explored family and friendship and the sacrifices a person can make for them. It also had the main character learning from her mistakes and having consequences for those mistakes, which I loved.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

dreamland

Dreamland

Release date: September 22nd

Goodreads: Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people’s dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person’s dream more than once. Dea has never questioned her mother, not about the rules, not about the clocks or the mirrors, not about moving from place to place to be one step ahead of the unseen monsters that Dea’s mother is certain are right behind them.
Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town and Dea finally starts to feel normal. As Connor breaks down the walls that she’s had up for so long, he gets closer to learning her secret. For the first time she wonders if that’s so bad. But when Dea breaks the rules, the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate. How can she know what’s real and what’s not?
From talented debut author Robert L. Anderson comes a stunning, complex, and imaginative story of the fine line between our dreams and our reality.

Why I’m excited: The cover is stunning! And there’s dream walking and consequences for rule breaking and mystery. Also, I love when characters(and the reader) have to try to determine what’s real and what’s not. It usually makes for some great plot twists.

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

It might seem a little weird to do this in the middle of the week but I’m so used to doing it every Wednesday that I figure why not keep going. Another week and guess what, yep more bad weather. This horrible winter needs to be followed by a lovely spring and a hot summer where I can read outside every day and enjoy being outside without freezing. This week worked on finishing a couple of series that I didn’t particularly enjoy but wanted to get them finished and some books I knew I would enjoy to avoid a reading slump.

Currently Reading: honest truth

Finished reading: raging starceaselesspredestinedrebel heartblood and smokeuntolddark triumph

What I’m hoping to get to next week: when reason breaksruby circle to read

honest truthwhen reason breaks to review

What this means for my challenges:

  • Added 7 books overall: currently standing at 55 books reads
  • Added 2 dystopian: currently standing at 8 books read
  • Added 4 paranormal/fantasy: currently standing at 27 books read

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is top ten heroines from books.

10. rites of passage Sam McKenna from Rites of Passage – Joy N Hensley. This girl kicks some major ass through the book as she proves a girl can handle and succeed at military school just as well as any boy.

9. throne of glass big Celaena Sardothian from Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas. She knows she awesome and she owns it.

8. vampire academy big Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead. She’s going to do whatever it takes to protect her best friend, she’s been training most of her life to fight Strigoi.

7. snow like ashes Meira from Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raasch. This girl is part of a very small group determined to re-gain their Kingdom. She’s wiling to go to any length to prove herself.

6. Raven boys big Blue Sargent from The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater. She’s not kicking ass physically but verbally, and she has to being surrounded by boys with such strong personalities. There’s times I wonder how those boys got anything done before she came along.

5. reboot big Wren Connolly from Reboot – Amy Tintera. She was dead for 178 minutes before coming back to life, making her less emotional, less human, and left her with the ability to kick ass and heal fast.

4. hunger games big Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins. She volunteered for her sister. That was enough for me to love her forever, no matter what happened afterward.

3. girl of fire and thorns big Elisa from Girl of Fire and Thorns – Rae Carson. The growth she shows as character is fantastic and she starts off as a very likeable character and turns into an amazing character.

2. darkest minds Ruby from The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken. This girl is going to do whatever it takes to stay alive. She’s going to protect her friends. She’s going to survive.

1. goodbye Lex from The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Rae Carson. Another contemporary character. She’s not kicking major ass but instead dealing with the death of her brother. What she goes through is something I don’t even want to imagine.

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Book Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

challenger deep

Challenger Deep

Release date: April 21st 2015

4.5 stars

Sometimes Caden Bosch is a regular high school student who lies about being on the track team so he can go walking by himself, whose friends and family are starting to notice his strange behavior. Sometimes Caden Bosch is a member of a crew on a ship heading to explore Marianas Trench, who doesn’t know if he can trust the captain. Caden Bosch is both and he’s struggling to survive in both worlds.

This was the type of book where, I knew I was affected while reading it but it never really sunk in just how much it was affecting me until I was finished and had time to process the story. It was not an easy read and I was glad for that because the subject matter in no way should have been an easy read. Each chapter was short, only about a page or two, and it made for a lot of chapters, well over a hundred, but Shusterman made the most out of every short chapter.

The book went back and forth between Caden’s real life and life on the ship, but never in any particular order. There could be a few chapters of real life then a chapter of ship life then another real life then a few ship life. The more we got from both lives, the easier it was to see the parallels Caden was drawing between his two worlds. The book never shied away from showing just how isolating and frustrating it can be for someone in Caden’s situation.

As mentioned, it was not an easy read. It was definitely the kind of book you have to pay attention to while you read because the little details are important. With all the back and forth between real life and ship life and the blending together of both, it could have gotten confusing if I wasn’t paying full attention. Luckily, it was the kind of book I wanted to give my full attention to and was never tempted to skim. It was such a heart-wrenching journey for Caden.

There were illustrations done throughout the book, provided by the author’s son. They were hard to fully appreciate on the small digital screen I read the e-ARC on but I plan on buying a physical copy of this book so I can see them better.

Also, this is definitely a book where you want to read the acknowledgments at the end.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Booking Sunday Favourites: YA Family

There’s a lot of bad or seemingly non-existent families in YA books. Parents can kind of get in the way of a revolution. But there’s also so many great families and I had such a hard time picking a favourite. In the end, I chose:

storm bigsparkspiritsecret bigsacrifice

The Merricks. The family aspect was one of my favourite things about the whole series and I loved that each book was a different brother’s POV so not only did we get their story and how their elemental power affected them, we saw their brothers through their eyes. They all had flaws, their relationship definitely was perfect, but they loved each other and they would do anything for each other, even when they were pissed off. Their sibling bond just made the already awesome series that much better for me.

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Book Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

bone gap

Bone Gap

Release date: March 3rd 2015

3 stars

When Roza disappears from Bone Gap, no one is surprised. After all, it’s not the first time someone had left Sean and Finn O’Sullivan. Their own mother left them, ran off to Oregon with a new man and never looked back. That’s just life for the O’Sullivan boys. But Finn knows Roza didn’t run away. She was kidnapped but no one will believe him. He witnessed Roza being taken away but he can’t remember the man’s face. Finn is determined to prove himself to everyone. He’ll find that man and he’ll find Roza.

This book was very different from anything I’ve read so far this year. It was a slower read because it left me with the feeling that if I read it too fast, I would miss out of a clue that would tell me what was going on. It was definitely the kind of book that’s hard to review because you don’t want to give anything away.

The characters were what drove the plot. Finn was the main character but we also got POVs from his brother Sean, Roza, and another girl, Petey. Finn was seen as strange by the people of Bone Gap, but he was their strange boy. His desperation to prove to everyone, and to himself, that he wasn’t crazy, that he had seen a man kidnap Roza was understandable and his frustration and anger at not being believed was justifiable. I really liked the developing relationship between him and Petey. They were really good for each other, even with the misunderstandings they would have. I liked Petey, her annoyance whenever someone would call her by her real name “Priscilla”, her insecurity, everything about her.

Finn’s brother Sean got less page time but he was still an interesting character. Giving up his dream of medical school to stay to care for his little brother when their mother walked away, falling for Roza, losing her, not knowing how to relate to Finn. There were times I wanted to scream at him to just talk to his brother but I could tell he was hurting. Roza’s story was the one I read the slowest, looking for the clues as to where she might be, who had her, what was going on. I really enjoyed the flashbacks with her, how she came to America from Poland, how she met Sean and Finn, how she came to love them.

As I said, it’s hard to talk about the plot without giving anything away. I enjoyed the mystery of it and how it played out. It could be a little confusing at times but by the end, everything made sense. The writing style really fit the tone of the book.

I do think this will be one of those loved it, hated it, or not quite sure how to feel books. There were definitely parts I did enjoy but also parts that were confusing so right now, I fall into the ‘not quite sure’ group.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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