Tag: Realistic Fiction

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Posted March 21, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Title: Just One Day

Author: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Publication Date: January 2013

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
I borrowed this book from the library.

Review:

While I enjoyed Gayle Forman’s other two books, If I Stay and Where She Went, I think I may actually love this book.
Just One Day is book one in a duology. It is Allyson’s story of finding love but more importantly, of self discovery.

Allyson is on a trip with her best friend Melanie and other teenagers when she meets Willem, an actor in an underground performance of Twelfth Night. Throwing caution to the wind, and acting completely out of character, Allyson runs off to Paris with Willem, for just one day. There, the relationship grows into something more. Or so Allyson thinks before waking up the next morning to find Willem gone without a trace.

Heartbroken, Allyson stumbles back to America and into college life. But as she navigates her first year in college, she finds answers to questions she didn’t even know she should be asking. And one that stands out most of all- what happened to Willem?

Couldn’t put it down.
I really felt for Allyson, who doesn’t want to let her parents down but isn’t sure what she wants to do. I think it’s pretty safe to say a lot of teenagers feel that way. That age, right as you enter into college, you may have some vague idea, but it can change quickly. Allyson is a typical teenager, struggling with all of the identity and social problems we all face.

Willem is an actor, traveling around doing plays. He’s carefree, but there’s a deep sadness to him that Allyson sees. I liked their time in Paris together, believing very easily how these two people can be drawn to each other and how one compliments the other. Even though I knew she was going to awake to find him gone, I was still sad for her when it actually happened.

Forman’s talent of making hole and realistic characters play strongly in this book. As Allyson struggles with her future and the loss of losing someone she may have loved, she becomes a stronger character, a matured young woman who sees what must be done and then isn’t afraid to take the leap.
The leap being going back to Europe and possibly finding Willem.

A wonderful story filled with heart, romance and taking chances. Sometimes, the greatest chance is on yourself. 

Can’t wait to read Willem’s story in Just One Year, out at the end of 2013.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted March 21, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments


Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Posted March 7, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Going Vintage

Author: Lindsey Leavitt

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Publication Date: March 2013

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:

Mallory finds her boyfriend of over a year Jeremy is cheating on her with an online girlfriend and does what any awesome teenager would do. She swears off modern technology. After finding a list her grandmother made when she was a teenager, Mallory swears to live vintage, without cell phone, computer, Internet and texts. She sets out to complete her grandmother’s list, and finds things she never thought she would along the way.

I am a huge fan of Leavitt’s first book Sean Griswold’s Head, so I jumped at the chance to review this book. And it did not disappoint.

Mallory is a great character. She’s smart but heartbroken and is just another teenager trying to navigate her world. I especially loved her relationship to her sister, who is completing the list with her. The family moments were full of love and laughter between them, a nice contradiction between Mallory’s relationship with her mother. I have to say it- I do not like Mallory’s mom. I’m sorry. I know she means well, I know she’s a complicated woman. Leavitt does a fantastic job making Mallory’s mom both loving and suffocating. I wanted to slap the woman numerous times, which can only tell you how Mallory must have been feeling during these scenes. A well rounded and realistic depiction of a loving and realistic family.

In fact, Leavitt excels at that. She takes characters and make you love them, hate them and love them some more. All of her characters are carefully constructed and flawed, allowing you to picture them outside the book. They’re your best friend, your sister, your cheating boyfriend. Even Jeremy is more than the cheating boyfriend cookie cutout.

I liked the organic nature of Oliver and Mallory’s friendship, slowly turning into something more. And the secondary story of Grandma is heartwarming and sweet. I can’t begin to imagine going vintage, but I was sucked in and enjoyed Mallory’s ride.

Not to be missed guys. And if you haven’t read Sean Grisowld’s Head, I suggest you do. I can’t wait till Leavitt writes more.


Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted March 7, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


Author Interview & Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Posted February 28, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 6 Comments

Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: March 2013

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:

Eleanor & Park meet on the school bus. She’s an outcast, the new girl, flaming red hair and friendless. He’s quiet, keeps to himself, and reluctantly scoots over for her to sit down. And the rest is history.

Beautifully written, Eleanor & Park is filled with rich and gooey sentences I want to read again and again. Rowell does a fantastic job describing Park’s loving but far from perfect family as well as Eleanor’s harsh and dangerous home life. These two character’s backgrounds are portrayed beautifully, creating a delicate backdrop to this young adult realistic love.

Eleanor is picked on, she’s bullied, but she hasn’t lost hope. She hasn’t lost herself. Park doesn’t fit in. He’s half Korean which both defines him and is the way others see him, but this subject is handled playfully, with care.

Complicated yet pure first love stands against the setting of dark and sometimes dangerous times makes Eleanor & Park not unique. But Rowell does such a wonderful job writing about them, it is as if you’ve never read a story of star crossed lovers. As if you’ve never read a story about first love. As if you are falling in love for the first time. All over again.

And that may be what allows this novel to stand out from the others out there. The beautiful writing, the sharp and witty dialogue, the flawed characters.

I see Eleanor on the bus. And Park sitting next to her. Driving away.

Can’t recommend it enough.

Rating 10 One of The Best

Author Interview! with Rainbow Rowell
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

What inspired you to become a writer?
Probably READING inspired me to be a writer. I’ve always been a heavy reader. (Is “heavy” the right word? Maybe “problematic”?) And then, in school, my teachers encouraged me to write. I decided pretty early on that it was my thing. 

 
What is the last book you read?
Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary. With my kids.
The last adult book I read was Maurice by E.M. Forster. 

 
This is a beautiful story of first love. What made you set this story in 1986?
Thank you! I chose 1986 for a number of reasons:
First, it’s a year I really remember. I remember what the world looked and smelled like in 1986.
And second, it was a time when culture – pop culture and alternative culture – were shifting. All of these underground ideas were finally making their way into Middle America, and I remember how exciting that was. The first time I heard the Smiths, the first time I read a Neil Gaiman comic … It made me feel like there were Things Happening. Like the world was more interesting than I’d ever guessed. I wanted to give Eleanor that feeling. 

 
I love the tapes Park makes Eleanor so she can explore music. Did you have certain playlists or bands you listened to while you wrote this book?
I did! I always build playlists while I write a book. (It’s serious business.) I use specific songs to help me focus the mood in a given scene; sometimes it can take days to write one scene, and it’s hard to keep your head in the same place. I’ll use a song as an emotional anchor, to keep me there.
For Eleanor & Park, I made mixed tape-themed playlists, one tape with two sides for each character. You can listen to them on my Spotify profile.
Also, I’ve blogged about the playlists on my website.

Eleanor and Park are such unique characters with very different voices. Did you love to write in one character’s POV more?
Thank you! This is a really interesting question; I haven’t thought about this before. I might give Park the slight edge, just because his life is happier. Eleanor was fun to write because she’s funny, and because she has a very sharp take on the world — but sometimes her head was a sad place to be. 

 
How do you like your potato?
Mashed. At Thanksgiving.


Do you have a favorite literary character?
If I had to boil it down to one character, I might go with Adrian Mole. He’s a British teenager in a very funny book called The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. I also love James Fraser in the Outlander series. (Best romantic hero.) And Hermione Granger. 

 
When is your favorite time to write?
At night! My brain clicks on about 4 p.m. and doesn’t turn off until midnight. Unfortunately, that’s a really inconvenient time for a mom to write. 

 
I saw that you read comic books, like Park! What comic books series are your favorites?
I used to be really, really caught up in the X-Men. I’d read anything with an X in it. But that got kind of unmanageable … Now I stick to my favorite writers. I love EVERYTHING by Brian K. Vaughan. (Right now I’m reading Saga.) And Peter David (X-Factor). And I also love Bill Willingham’s Fables. 

 
What are you working on now?
My second YA book, Fangirl, comes out in September. The official summary is: “A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.”
And I’m revising my fourth book, which is for adults. (Though I’m not sure how important that designation is, considering how many adults read YA and vice versa.)


Thank you for the interview Rainbow!

You can find Rainbow’s website here, or follow her on twitter @Rainbowrowell

Posted February 28, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 6 Comments


Giveaway and Review: Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison

Posted February 8, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Contests / 13 Comments

Title: Notes from Ghost Town

Author: Kate Ellison

Publisher: Egmont

Publication Date: February 2013

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.

I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Olivia is away at school when her best friend Lucas Stern dies, in her mother’s arms. The clues point to Olivia’s mom killing Stern, but Olivia doesn’t believe it- not when Stern’s ghost returns to her and tells her it wasn’t her mom, but someone else. And he needs her help to solve it. The murder trial is in days and Olivia must figure out who really did it before she loses her mom forever. And what about Stern, who comes to her like he’s real, like he’s still there, like they still love each other. How can you get over a ghost?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read Notes from Ghost Town. Ghost story? Madness? Mental illness? Detective story? It’s all of those things.
Ellison does a great job writing Olivia’s own suspicions of herself and her descent into madness. Olivia is terrified of being like her mother and the illness that engulfs her, but what else is there to suspect when your best friend comes to you as a ghost. This really adds to the uneasy tone of the book. At times, I see Olivia as an unreliable narrator so I constantly cast suspicion on her and her mind. It takes a while for Olivia to figure things out, but this had to do more with self doubt and caution.
And the murderer, villain is pretty extreme. I’m not sure if I buy into the motivations, and the subsequent actions in the last part of the book by the killer, but it’s a twisty ride to get there.

Ellison has some really well written pieces in this book that flow off the page and suspend you in time, a snapshot of a scene or a life. I really those parts, especially because they were so peaceful and lovingly descriptive. The book is tense and dark, much darker than I expected, so these lovely parts serve a great balance as well.

Rating 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend


Giveaway!!
Thank you to Egmont USA for offering these fantastic books for the giveaway and providing me with an ARC!

You could win a Hardcover of Notes from Ghost Town and a paperback copy of The Butterfly Clues, both by Kate Ellison from Egmont USA!

Just fill in the rafflecopter below!
This giveaway is only for my followers and it ends the night of February 13th.
US and Canada only.
Good luck everyone!

Synopsis of The Butterfly Clues is here.
You can follow Kate on her website here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted February 8, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Contests / 13 Comments


Review: The Stranger (Just One Night) by Kyra Davis

Posted January 21, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Title: The Stranger

Author: Kyra Davis

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: January 2013

Genre: Adult Romance

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review


Kasie Fitzgerald thinks she knows who she is. She’s put together, smart, conservative and a little uptight. So she’s surprised to find herself in a tight, short and rocking dress in Las Vegas, eyeing a man at the blackjack table and hoping for some sex with a stranger. A night to remember and Kasie is out the door and back at her boring job, her polished suits and her bland but loving vanilla boyfriend. That is until Mr. Stranger turns up at her work, as her new client, and asking for more of her. More Kasie. And Kasie is torn between the perfectly crafted her and the open and free young woman waiting to burst out.

A quick read, Kasie is a woman with an identity crisis. She’s not sure who she wants to be, or who she really is. She picks the safe choices and makes one very big mistake in Vegas. Or is it a mistake at all? Fun and free Kasie is way more interesting than uptight Kasie. I am not a fan of romantic leads cheating on their significant others, and I think Davis did a really good job at trying to make Kasie’s boyfriend Dave as “not right” as possible.

I have a little bit of a problem with Robert. Sure, he’s handsome, wealthy and good in bed. But I have a hard time knowing his real intentions with kasie. Maybe it’s supposed to be obvious, but like Kasie points out- why does he really want her? What is he really doing with her? Sure, I like Kasie, but besides this huge sexual connection, I didn’t really feel their connection on a higher level. I hope book two explores Robert more, making him into a deeper character and not just a sexual being.

The hot steamy scenes are HOT AND STEAMY! What more can you ask for? And the ending is a cliffhanger. It was quick read and I have to say I was totally disappointed that the story ended when it did. I will definitely be reading the second book!

Rating 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend.

Posted January 21, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments


Review: The Ninth Step by Grant Jerkins

Posted January 17, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: The Ninth Step

Author: Grant Jerkins

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Publication Date: September 2012

Genre: Adult Crime/Thriller

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t that.

Helen is a recovering alcoholic and seeks out Edgar, the man who was driving the car she crashed into, resulting in the death of Edgar’s beloved wife Judy. As Helen and Edgar’s relationship grows, Helen becomes part of a blackmail scheme when a note appears: does he know you killed his wife?

With the threat of losing everything, Helen must come to terms with her past and what this means for her future and the man she now loves.

This is a swift read with interesting characters and some great twists. I didn’t think I would find Helen to be a very interesting or sympathetic character, but Jerkins does a good job making her human and good intentioned. Her character changes so dramatically from the beginning of the book to the end, I don’t honestly know what I think of Helen by then, but I do know it was a great ride.

Edgar on the other hand is safe, sweet and quiet. He’s a school teacher who collects Japanese puzzle boxes, awaiting the birth of him and Judy’s first child when they are struck by Helen’s car and his life changes forever. Edgar’s normal life is set into an uncontrollable downward spiral so that when Edgar does finally manage to pull it back together and find happiness, I’m rooting for him. It’s easy to see early on that Edgar’s choices will forever be tainted by this series of events, so that when things do reach their climax and get out of control, Edgar becomes an extreme character of himself.

A series of creepy and shady characters complete Helen and Edgar’s friends and non-friends. The unsettling feeling of something always being a little off starts on page one and reaches a powerful climax by the end. The good guys aren’t good, the bad guys aren’t bad. Well, they are, but oh, how that line is very blurry by the end.

The ending is satisfying, yet extremely harsh. I did like the ending but the momentum for the story was so out of control by that point, I feel like everything was uneasy still. Which isn’t a bad thing.

I really enjoyed this book and I think most people would really like it. It’s a thriller you can’t put down.

Rating: 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted January 17, 2013 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Review: Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Posted December 10, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Title: Point of Retreat

Author: Colleen Hoover

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: February 2012

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Realistic Romance

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:

Will and Layken have made it through some very harsh times, but they’re together now and are working through one day at a time. That is, until something surfaces that causes them to re-evaluate everything they know.

I enjoyed the first book so much, I immediately started reading this second book, and last one in the series.
Will and Layken’s romance continue in Point of Retreat. They’re thinking about taking their relationship to the next level, but it seems that the universe keeps getting in the way. And then when a huge problem arises, Will finds himself unable to convince Layken of the most important thing in their lives is real.

This second book was very satisfying for me. While I madly loved the first book, this second one wasn’t as powerful or romantic as the first. However, it did have a beautiful development of characters, new obstacles and showed the deepening of relationships. While the first book is all about love, I thought this second book was all about love, in the real world.

I still loved Will and while Layken seemed a bit dramatic for me, I liked her too. It was refreshing for the book to be in Will’s perspective and my only groan was that Will sounded a little bit too much like a love sick puppy. Yes, he loves Layken, but there were so many pages dedicated to him pining over her. Then again, maybe I’m a cynic.

Overall, a solid book two and ending to the series. I’m glad Hoover continued their story with this book. I’m sure I’ll want to re-read the series soon. It’s a favorite.

Rating: 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted December 10, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments