The Latest from Amy Zhang | This is Where the World Ends

This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 22, 2016 by Greenwillow Books
Note: An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

From the publisher:

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt.


This books reminds me of a mixture of AS King, John Green, and Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places).

 Janie seemed like your typical manic pixie dream girl. While this trope seems to be played out and a little annoying (to me anyway), I think it stems from mental illness—at least in this case. I think Janie is probably bipolar, or something along those lines. She has really high highs, and really low lows. She latches on to anything that is beautiful. She has her head in the clouds. She’s a dreamer.
Micah is Janie’s childhood best friend, the boy next door. And Micah is obviously in love with her. He will do anything for her.
The story is told from both of their perspectives, but on different timelines. When it’s Micah’s perspective, it’s present day. Janie is gone, but we don’t know where and neither does Micah. We know there was a party and a fire, but we don’t know much else. Micah was there, but something happened to him. He injured his head and has no memory of the event and has trouble forming new memories now. When we read from Janie’s perspective, it’s from before the night of the party and leads up to it.
As far as the characters go, I’m still not sure about them. Janie and Micah have been friends forever, but Janie likes to keep him separate from her life at school. She doesn’t want anyone to know that they are friends. She is a serious compartmentalizer. Janie has an intoxicating and addictive personality—she’s someone you love to be around. But she uses people. She uses Micah. She doesn’t seem to think that is what she is doing, though. She has everything squared neatly away in their boxes.
Micah and Janie are both naïve. They are so young. They think they are invincible and the world is their oyster. This book is the story of both their lives and their relationship slowly unravelling.
I flew through this book. The writing is seriously beautiful. The fact that I compare it to AS King’s is the highest compliment that I can pay. Although I really liked the writing, the characterization of Janie and Micah’s relationship often got on my nerves. Oftentimes, I found this book was a little too much for me. However, on the whole I did enjoy it.

Storyline B
Structure/Execution B
Characters B-
Writing A
Conclusion B
Enjoyment B
————————
Overall Rating: B

Ten Super Awesome Books I’ve Read This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a super fun meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s prompt is 10 books that you’ve given five stars to recently. There aren’t 10 books that I’ve given five stars to this year, but there are ten books I’ve really enjoyed!

1) The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

This has legitimately become one of my favourite books of all time. I did a full review of it which you can find here. I loved this book to the moon and back. The writing is exquisite and the storytelling is phenomenal. Can’t recommend this book enough.

2) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (really all of the Raven Cycle books)

This has definitely become one of my favourite series. I marathonned the three books that have already been released, and I very rarely do that. I’m pumped out of my mind for The Raven King. April 26th cannot come soon enough.

3) The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

This book. Oh man. I loved this book. I just reviewed it last week, and you can check that out here. This book is an emotional rollercoaster and it’s amazing.

4) Giant Days vol. 1 by John Allison

This was an excellent start to a new comic series. I’m definitely hooked and can’t wait for the next volume! This series has got some great characters. The leads are a group of female friends in university and they are just the best. The best.

5) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Yes, I finally read this! It was the first Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read and I loved it. I could relate to Cath so much. I’m not quite as big of a fangirl as she is, and I spend less time on the internet than she does. But her university experience had me nostalgic like mad. I had so many of the same anxieties that she had. If it hadn’t been for my roommate making me socialise right off the bat, I bet I wouldn’t have even been to my cafeteria either!

6) The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

This was a super fun mystery thriller type book. I did a full review and you can check it out here. I love Kelley Armstrong! It was interesting reading a book by her that wasn’t paranormal.

7) Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

For the past several months, women’s issues like rape and consent have been close to my heart as I explore my identity as a feminist. This piece of investigative non-fiction is shocking and eye-opening. A must-read for those who want to further educate themselves and open up conversations on this horrific epidemic.

8) The Lake House by Kate Morton

This is the first book that I have read by Kate Morton. I’ve heard great things about her books and decided to give her latest a try. Although the ending wasn’t my cup of tea, the rest of the book was right up my alley! It’s story of family and secrets, and a cold case mystery that a detective on leave can’t help but investigate.

9) Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

Before I read this book, the only thing I knew about Carrie Brownstein was that she’s hilarious in Portlandia. I had very little knowledge of punk music, and the Riot Grrl movement. I had no idea that she was in a famous band! She’s not just hilarious and a musician—she’s also a really good writer. I loved learning about her life and her experiences. If this book interests you, definitely read it!

10) Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

This is one of the first books I read in 2016. And I really liked it! It’s a pretty unique YA thriller. I wrote a full review and you can check it out here.

I’ve loved all of these books and definitely recommend them 😀 Have you read any of these books? What are some books you’ve read and loved recently?
 
 

It’s Easter Monday, Whatcha Reading?

Hey guys, I hope you’re all having a lovely long weekend! Isn’t Easter amazing? Jesus is just the coolest dude. Yesterday, like every Easter Sunday, we had a huge breakfast at church before the service. It’s wonderful to gather together and eat a ton of awesome food. 
After church we popped over to my bro’s house. His son is almost two and they are expecting their second kid in just a few months! They need to get my nephew out of the crib and used to sleeping in a bed. They’ve been making him a new room and they wanted to show us. It’s adorable and dinosaur themed. My nephew loves it 🙂 
Later in the afternoon, my bro and his fam came over for Easter/my father’s birthday supper. We had a lovely turkey dinner followed by cake and ice cream! Yum yum! What did you do to celebrate (if you celebrate)?

This past week I finished off The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford. I really enjoyed it. It’s my favourite kind of thriller: character driven! Like I said last week, it’s a quiet thriller. It’s not fast paced and action-packed, but it’s really enjoyable. I liked watching everything unfold. Because of Dana’s (the main character) mental illness, she doesn’t trust herself. And if she doesn’t trust herself, how can we know what’s real?

Once I finished that, I decided to get into some Can Lit! Here in Canada, last week was the Canada Reads competition. Five books are picked on a theme, and five celebrity-types are picked. A book and a person are paired, and the person has to defend the book and argue why it’s the best. This has got me in a patriotic mood 😛 Although… The book I chose is not one of the ones that was in the competition! They did inspire me though!

I’ve picked up Black Apple by Joan Crate. This is a recent release. It’s a coming of age story set in Canada in the 1940’s within the residential school system. The main character is a girl named Rose who was torn away from her indigenous family by the authorities and placed in a residential school. These were boarding schools run by the Catholic Church that sought to indoctrinate and assimilate the Native people into their culture. Any vestiges of Native culture were strictly prohibitedand forcefully so.

I’m not very far into the book, but right now the school is kind of reminding me of Lowood school in Jane Eyre. The children are treated similarly poorly (physically and psychologically)and with the added cruelty of cultural eradication.  This is a particularly timely book with the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission mandate finishing up in 2015.

I’m looking forward to getting further into this book and exercising my empathy and compassion muscles. It can be so hard, even impossible, to put ourselves in other’s shoes. But fiction has that amazing capability of placing us, the reader, alongside the characters as they go through life. 

So guys, it’s Monday. What are you reading?

Amber Smith’s Amazing Debut Novel | The Way I Used to Be

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

 

Young Adult Realistic Fiction
384 pages
Published March 22, 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
From the publisher:

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes. 

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be. 

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year.

This book was both easy to read, and incredibly hard. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I was drawn in so totally, and so immediately.

Eden starts off as this completely innocent, sweet fourteen-year-old. Something terrible happens, and she has to grow up so quickly. She’s confused, hurt, silenced. She wants to tell someone; she really really does. But as each moment slips by without her telling, it gets harder and harder to do. So she just doesn’t.
She does everything she can to regain control of herself and her life—or what she thinks will do that. It’s heartbreaking to go through this journey with her knowing that there is nothing you can do. You just want to hug her and get the people around her to open their damn eyes. But it’s not their fault. It’s not her fault. It’s his fault.
Eden is a very well crafted character. You feel for her, you get to know her, you see the way she pushes everyone away. You see how she evolves, and how she becomes who she becomes. You see her there beneath the emotional scar tissue.
This story is beautifully told. I liked the way that it’s broken up into segments—Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years. You see how Eden evolves and the lasting consequences that night has on her. How the hurt just keeps building and building. It was a great way to view Eden’s growth.
I’ve read a few YA books over the last year about sexual assault and the impact of rape culture. There seem to be more coming out lately, and I think that’s a really good thing. These are stories that need to be told. We need to have our eyes opened, our hearts ripped out, until we can stop this from being such a prevalent issue in the real world. You know someone like Eden. Whether you realize it or not. How many more Edens do there have to be before we do something?
Not only does this book cover the difficult topic of rape, but it deals with slut-shaming, too. People who didn’t really know her wanted to put her in a box, explain her away. They put labels on her. Slut. Whore. Bitch. They knew nothing about her and what she was going through, but they had to explain her. This was hard for Eden. At first. But then those names added an easy cover for her. She could hide behind them. See? No one made her this way. She wants to be this way. She just doesn’t care. It’s so sad because as soon as these names are slapped on her, no one really sees her anymore. She was just Eden McSlutty. That’s who she is, all she is.
Although it’s hard to get through, we don’t just see Eden crashing and burning. We see her rising from the ashes, too.
Another thing I really appreciated about this book is that Eden isn’t “saved” by a romance. No one can truly “save” her but herself. Also, huge kudos to Smith for making me care about Eden so damn much.
A seriously amazing book. I cried really hard. I recommend this to all the humans in all the places. (Well, 14 and up.)

It’s Monday March 21st. Whatcha reading?


Sup y’all!
Like I’ve said before, I have been slowing down with my reading. I’ve been trying to vary the things I do. And it’s been going really well! I’ve been making new friends, going new places, and just generally getting out more. For me, that’s what I wanted—a more balanced lifestyle! And I’m pretty proud of myself so far 🙂
However, I most definitely have still been reading! Since I got back from Mexico, I’ve read two books and I’m in the middle of a third!

First up I read Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover. I have yet to read all of CoHo’s books, but out of the ones I have read, this one wasn’t my favourite. It was still fun and compulsively readable, but I just couldn’t get behind the romance. That, and I found the main characters kind of annoying. That being said, I did still enjoy it overall. I gave it a three stars on Goodreads.

After that, I felt like going back to the thriller groove I was in when I was on vacation. So, I picked up In the Blood by Lisa Unger. I found this one in the bargain section at Chapters, so I thought, why not? Psychopathic children, secret pasts, and missing friends? Yes, please! I really enjoyed this one. It wasn’t perfect, but it most certainly kept me turning the pages!
Right now I’m in the middle of another thriller—albeit a more quiet one. I’m reading The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s got a murder and a main suspect who can’t trust her own memories. And she’s also the narrator, Dana. It’s really interesting trying to ascertain what’s real and what isn’t! Not only does this book chronicle Dana’s struggle to determine if she had anything to do with the murder, but it also shows us the unravelling of a marriage. Hopefully the book will have a good ending. I hate it when the inevitable plot twist is disappointing and/or convoluted. We’ll see!

So folks, it’s Monday! What are you reading?

March Releases that Tickle my Fancy

There are a lot of great books being released this month. Today I thought I would share with you the ones that I am personally most excited about and most want to get my hands on! 

Adult Historical Fiction
336 pages
Published 1 March 2016 by Simon & Schuster
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada! I still have yet to read this one (oops), but it sounds really good and I’m looking forward to reading it. 

Young Adult Fiction
272 pages
Published 8 March 2016 by Delacorte Press
I’m so pumped to read this one! I just read Carrie Brownstein’s memoir of her time in the punk scene, and she mentions going to a secret Nirvana concert at her university. It has definitely further piqued my interest!

Young Adult Retelling
353 pages
Published 8 March 2016 by Amulet Books
This is a YA retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with tons of interesting twists! I love Hamlet and am really excited to see what Cat Winters does with it! SO PUMPED. 

Young Adult Short Story Collection
368 pages
Published 8 March 2016 by Candlewick Press
I don’t have much to say about this one because the title and subtitle speak for themselves. HOW GREAT DOES THIS SOUND? And the authors included?! Amazing!

Young Adult Fiction
308 pages 
Published 8 March 2016 by Candlewick Press
This book has the same setting as the much lauded City on Fire by Garth Risk Halberg (which I have yet to read). It takes place in New York City in 1977 during the city wide black out when the murder Son of Sam was on everyone’s mind. But this one is a YA. I’m dying to read it. 

Adult Fiction
272 pages
Published 21 March 2016 by Liveright
Evoking finely wrought characters reminiscent of those by Claire Messud or Elizabeth Strout, debut author Lynn Steger Strong traces the anatomy of a mistake and the weight of culpability.” A story of family and a mother’s love. Sounds so good!

Young Adult Fiction
352 pages
Published 22 March 2016 by Dial Books
I’m not really sure what this one is about exactly, but it has me intrigued. I’ve enjoyed Tulcholke’s writing in the past and can’t wait to see what she has to deliver here! 

Young Adult Fiction
384 pages
Published 22 March 2016 by Margaret K. Elderry Books
I received an ARC of this one from the publisher and have already read it. Honestly, I completely devoured it. It was so good, guys. I am so excited for everyone else to get a chance to read this book! Definitely pick this one up as soon as you get the chance. My review will come closer to the release date! 

Young Adult Fiction
304 pages
Published 22 March 2016 by Greenwillow Books
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and quite enjoyed it. It’s beautifully written story of friendship, the ties that bind us, and what happens when they unravel.  

Young Adult Fantasy
496 pages
Published 29 March 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
This is a release this month that practically everyone is excited about! I cannot wait to find out what happened to Kestrel and Aron. 

Young Adult Fiction
384 pages
Published 29 March 2016 by Harlequin Teen
I read the first book in this series last year on a whim and really loved it! I had never read anything by Katie McGarry before. It was so much fun! I cannot wait for this next instalment!

What releases are you most excited for this month? 

My Mexican Getaway!


I had a blast in Mexico, guys! It was so much fun. Way too short, obviously, and it went by too fast, but it was great. I got to spend some time with family and friends that I don’t see that often. It was such a treat. I was disappointed my brother’s family couldn’t make it, but we made the best of it anyway.
We left bright and early. Or, well, dark and early. Our plane left at 6am and we had to leave our house by 3! The flight wasn’t so bad, but it felt pretty long. The good thing, though, was that our resort was only about 20 minutes from the air port! However… Our room wasn’t ready until about five hours after we arrived. So, that wasn’t the best. It was okay though because we just lounged around in the lovely heat. We may have had to lug some of our bags around with us, but it could have been worse.

As far as books go, I ended up bringing The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, In the Woods by Tana French, Maybe Somedayby Colleen Hoover, and Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie. I read The Girl on the Train and In the Woodsand started Maybe Someday!
I must say, reading while lounging on the beach in tropical weather was amazing. I never wanted to leave. But, while I did enjoy my time on the beach, we did some other stuff too!
We spent the first three days lounging on the beach and taking it easy. I didn’t spend as much time reading those first days as I thought I would. I spent time swimming, doing nothing, talking to family, and even went sailing with my dad once!

Me lounging on the beach!

The beach at the resort!
Then on Thursday we went to the Mayan Ruins at Tulum. It was hot and the humidity was 100%! It was a crazy sweaty adventure, but it was incredibly beautiful and interesting. We had a really chatty tour guide, which worked out well since I have a chatty father 😛 I loved seeing all the ruins surrounded by the beautiful scenery. Not only were the surroundings beautiful, but I also made friends with lots of lizards 😛

My father and me with the Mayan temple at Tulum in the background!
 

One of my iguana friends at the ruins.

After we went to Tulum, I spent the afternoon napping. The heat and the walking did a number on me!
Puerto Moralos piers!
The following day we journeyed into Puerto Moralos, the city/town nearby. It was so neat going around places where people actually live and work. When you’re on a resort you’re in a bubble. It was nice getting out of it for a while! It was a beautiful spot and we ate lunch along the shore. I had a club sandwich and a mojito the size of my head. They were both superdelicious. Seriously. That was one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.
Saturday was our last day. The morning was beautiful and we lounged around the beach like before. Unfortunately, around noon it started pouring rain and kept going into the night!
Food was definitely one of the best things about the trip. It was pretty excellent over all. I loved the buffet. There was always something delicious and there were tons of choices! The best was the breakfast buffet. The pastries were awesome and there were fresh mangoes sometimes.
Overall, the week was amazing. I wish I had never left! Someone, please take me back!