Wed, April 23, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead book cover

Love Letters to the Dead book cover

Love Letters to the Dead
By Ava Dellaira
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 323 pages
Source: Publisher

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

— description

Love Letters to the Dead is the sort of book that hits you like a punch in the gut.

You’re off-kilter from the get-go, a bit woozy as you read…but wow does it make you feel something.

It’s a poetic and haunting story that made me feel its highs and lows so very sharply as Laurel shifted between euphoria and depression. It’s a difficult and uneasy read, for sure, but if you are in the right mood to accept and appreciate that, it is not to be missed.

The story structure! How beautiful. Each chapter is set up as a new letter from Laurel to a dead person, from Kurt Cobain to Judy Garland. It’s quite brilliant and ties in so well with the story.

I loved the depth of emotion this story conveyed, its complexity and, ultimately, its characters’ strengths. Highly recommended.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: abuse, angst, ava dellaira, death, depression, family, friendship, romance

Mon, April 21, 2014

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Review

To All the Boys I've Loved Before book cover

To All the Boys I've Loved Before book cover

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
By Jenny Han
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

— description

I think the best way to share my pure LOVE of this book is to share with you the texts I sent to my friend Ginger after we’d both read it:

On the book as a whole…
“This really is gonna be an all-time favorite, I think. Like THAT level. That is huge. I am putting it up there with JD so we are for real. I want every book to be like that!!!!”

“AHHHHHGG it is so good. Like it reminds me of the reasons I love Jessica Darling, right? Like those are the tone of books I just die for.”

On the cover…
“Her outfits seemed so cute and that cover is perf.”

On the romance…
On one boy: “Oh em gee. He was so funny and sweet and grew on me.”
On another: “Ick on him. He is a loser.”

On the friendship…
“I love how the BFF is just like how she is. She’s different from Lara Jean and there’s no judgment there. I think a lot of teens will benefit from reading about that type of relationship.”

On the ending…
“The ending was too abrupt!”

Thankfully, Ginger told me there is a second book coming — PHEW. All I wanted was to spend more time with these characters.

Okay, so this is a really silly way to share a review, but I wanted you to get the sense of how I felt after finishing this book this book: I was on a book high. I had to discuss it instantly, to tear apart every bit of it, and to get MORE MORE MORE out of it. Truly, my only thought was: “Why can’t every book be like this?!”

A perfect reading experience for me in terms of topic, tone, characterization, humor, dialogue — everything!

So, if you share my taste, you know what to do. READ IT!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Thank you to G for being there for me when I need to talk books like this! Her parts of the convo have obviously been redacted, but for her stellar (and much more coherent!) review of the book, click here.

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, friendship, jenny han, romance

Wed, April 16, 2014

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True book cover

What I Thought Was True book cover

What I Thought Was True
By Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Dial Books for Young Readers, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

— description

Looooooved it. In fact: I liked it better than My Life Next Door and I think you will, too.

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s newest book has a million good things going for it: summer, romance, a kick-butt old lady and a Portuguese grandpa, complex family issues, misunderstandings, lies, friendship, class problems, a genuinely GOOD guy, a sweet little brother, humor…I could go on.

The story was equal parts light & summery and serious & layered. I loved the complexity and depth to the relationships depicted, from romance to family to friendship. They were all so incredibly engaging and well-depicted.

The setting too — wow. I could practically smell the salt in the air as I read.

Definitely a great book to kick off your summer reading. I see this one making its way to a lot of people’s favorites lists in the coming year (including mine)!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, friendship, huntley fitzpatrick, romance, summer

Mon, March 3, 2014

Hung Up by Kristen Tracy Review

Hung Up book cover

Hung Up book cover

Hung Up
By Kristen Tracy
Publication date: March 4, 2014
Simon Pulse, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

Can you fall in love with a voice? This witty romance, told entirely through phone calls, chronicles the tale of a wrong number gone right.

It all started with a wrong number. The voicemails Lucy left on James’s phone were meant for someone else—someone who used to have James’s digits. But then when James finally answers and the two start to talk, a unique bond forms between the two teens.

Gradually Lucy and James begin to understand each other on a deeper level than anyone else in their lives. But when James wants to meet in person, Lucy is strangely resistant. And when her secret is revealed, he’ll understand why…

— description

I started this book on a whim on the train home from work and had it read by bedtime. And I definitely cooked dinner, watched some TV and such in between. Seriously, I started and finished in just two quick sittings!

Hung Up by Kristen Tracy pleasantly surprised me.

The entire story is told in dialogue: Lucy and James’s conversations and voicemails over the phone. At first, it bugged the heck out of me. But as we got to know the two of them more, Lucy and James were so good together that I was sucked in.

Now, of course, real teenagers talking nothing like the characters in Hung Up. Their comebacks and topics were so razor sharp and fun to read…but not remotely believable.

Still, if you want a quickie read, something cute and simple and entertaining that will take your mind off of things for a few hours, this one will absolutely do the trick.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: kristen tracy, romance

Thu, February 27, 2014

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry Review

The Summer I Found You book cover

The Summer I Found You book cover

The Summer I Found You
By Jolene Perry
Publication date: March 1, 2014
Albert Whitman Teen, 254 pages
Source: Publisher

All they have in common is that they’re less than perfect. And all they’re looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate’s dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she’s still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he’s a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?

— description

I liked this one. Two messed up teens happen to find each other, fall in love, drama ensues…it’s all right up my alley.

Adam’s backstory was extremely compelling — his struggles to overcome his injury, fit into his new life as a civilian and move on without a ton of family support were very moving. And Kate’s was great as well. I’ve never read a book about a teen diagnosed with a lifelong, but not terminal, medical issue, and I think a lot of teens will relate to her internal battles.

I’ve read mixed reviews on The Summer I Found You, but for me it succeeded because I was in just the right mood for a story like this and Perry was a new-to-me author so I didn’t have preconceived expectations. So I’d definitely tell you to give it a go — not an all-time fave, but I enjoyed the different points of view and the romance as a whole.

My big complaint, though…what is with the title?!?!?!?!?!

I don’t think any of it took place over the summer? I feel like Kate was in school the whole time. So I was extremely confused. Maybe I missed something?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: angst, illness, jolene perry, romance