Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to review a YA contemporary book called ‘Lessons in Falling’ by Diana Gallagher, which was provided for review by Spencer Hill Press. This is a very interesting book about friendship, love race relations, & finding your own voice. Fair warning, this book does contain some racial slurs directed towards the Hispanic community as well as discussion about depression & attempted suicide, so if any of these subjects are triggering to you, this is your warning. So now let’s get to the review. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
‘Lessons in Falling’ is a young adult contemporary novel that revolves around the life of a young former gymnast named Savannah who has recently given up the sport due to an injury. Although Savannah can continue to compete in gymnastics, she spends most of the book running from the sport due to her overwhelming fear that she will fail. Also, throughout the book Savannah must deal with pressure from her family to continue her gymnastics career, pressure from her best friend Cassie to not continue, as well as fear that she will cause her family financial hardship by not receiving a gymnastics college scholarship like they always planned. Along with this, Savannah has to deal with some unwanted attention/consequences when she begins romance with a Hispanic classmate named Marcos, during a time when racial tensions are high in her school. Lastly, Savannah has to decide if Cassie (the person who she has always put all her faith in) truly has her best interests at heart, or if her best friend is actually stopping her from becoming the person she’s meant to be.
First of all I want to say that I really liked this book. It was an interesting story with characters that were well written, & a plot that kept you interested, & even surprised you from time to time. Savannah was a really good protagonist, because you never felt frustrated with her choices (even if you don’t agree with everything she does), & in the end you really feel yourself rooting for her. Marcos was a well written love interest who really complimented Savannah’s character, & who you also found yourself rooting for. The last character I wanted to discuss was Cassie. There are many points in the story that you’ll find yourself hating Cassie because of how she treats Savannah, but you also understand why she does what she does & in the end you find yourself hoping that Cassie can overcome her personal demons. There is so much more I’d like to talk about regarding this book, but I don’t want y’all you be stuck here all day. I would definitely give this book a rating of 5 smiley faces, & suggest that EVERYONE add it to their TBR.
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“It’s all frivolous, meaningless. The only things that matter are already gone or almost gone. Already put aside in my safe, tidy compartment of lost things.”- Lena from ‘Who We Are Instead’
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to review a new book called ‘Who We Are Instead’ by Kyla Stone, which was provided by for review by ‘Paper Moon Press’. This is a very interesting book that touches on themes of loss, love, family, & finding your purpose in life. Fair warning this book does discuss mental illness, child abuse/neglect, drug/alcohol use, undetermined rape self-harm, & suicide, so if these issues are triggering to you, please don’t read this book, or proceed with caution. Now let’s get to the review. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
‘Who We Are Instead’ follows the dual perspectives of sisters Lena & Lux McKenna as they are forced to confront their individual personal demons when their father has a heart attack & is given a very small window of time to live. Lena must return home from her arts college where she is studying photography, & take on her role as “the responsible one”, while trying to resolve her issues with 18 year old “wild child” Lux. As we learn more about Lena, we see that issues from her childhood have cause her to become a more guarded & introverted person. Contrary to Lena, Lux has no desire to succeed in school, likes to party, smoke, do drugs, & drink a lot, & also leaves home for weeks at a time without informing anyone as to where she’s going.
So now we’ve reached the big question, is this book worth your time? Honestly the answer is a very loud yes! In this book we not only get to experience both girls perspectives, but also get a very strong sense of who they are as people, what has shaped them, & what’s important to them. We also get romance plots for both girls, & get introduced to Lux’s AMAZING childhood friends. I also really like that all of the characters we meet are flawed in some way of another, & the author does not attempt to redeem each of them which unfortunately does often mirror our own world very closely. With Lena & Lux’s stories we see how similar past experiences can cause different reactions in each person. We see that some people fight the past they are given to create the future they desire, while others run from their past in order to numb the pain & protect themselves. ‘Who We Are Instead’ gives us a very realistic & gripping tale of what can happen when a fractured family finally shatters, while also leaving the ending as ambiguous & open to promise as Lena & Lux themselves are. Definitely a 5 star read that’s will give you all the feels, but as also make you think about these very important issues.
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“…it feels a little like it was during those days and weeks after we were born— like we’re all still part of one greater whole. The older we get, the more we all stretch into our own identities, but I still love the reminder that we started out together”. -Reagan from ‘Four Of A Kind’
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we have a new book review courtesy of Patchwork Press. Today we’re going to change things up a little bit by reviewing 2 books in 1 blog post. I was given the AMAZING opportunity to not only review the 1st book in a new series, but also the prequel novella. Because of how the books are written, it just makes more sense to give you all of my thoughts in 1 review so you can truly know if this series is for you. So 1st up we’re briefly discuss the novella entitled ‘Where We Were’, followed up by the 1st main book in the series called ‘Four Of A Kind’, both written by Kellie Sheridan. So now on to the review. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
In ‘Where We Were’ we meet our 4 central characters: 14 year old quadruplets Reagan, Reece, Reilly, & Rhiannon Donovan who are in the process of moving from their home in Richmond, Virginia to a small town in another state called Fairview. Throughout the book we get alternating chapters in which each girl narrates what’s going on in each of their lives in the final weeks before their move. This novella does a really great job of showing us each girl’s individual personality, as well as what their sister’s think of them through the use of a quote before each chapter begins. ‘Where We Were’ perfectly sets the stage for the beginning of ‘Four Of A Kind’, which is told from Reagan’s perspective & begins once the girls have moved to Fairview. We immediately see that the entire town has such a fascination with the girls’ birth, that they are minor celebrities in town. The story follows the girls (through Reagan’s eyes) as they deal with typical teenage drama such as friend & relationship issues, as well as trying to find their own identities in a town that watches their every move.
So now that you know the plot, let’s look at the book a little closer. First of all , Reagan is one of my new favorite protagonists. She is relatable, interesting, and most of all someone who you don’t mind spending the entire book with. She wasn’t a perfect character, but she was the kind of person that you can definitely see yourself befriending in real life. Now let’s move on to the love interest Kent, the son of a local reporter. Thank goodness for Kent! It is SOOOO hard to find a love interest in young adult literature that is loveable. They do exist, but they’re hard to find. I know that we are all tired of the bad-boy, the rebel with a heart of gold, the emotionally/physically abusive guy that our protagonist falls for because they’re “wounded inside”, basically the ‘you should never actually date this guy trope’. With Kent we don’t see any of this, instead we get a nice, friendly guy from beginning to end, he respects Reagan & honestly always seems to want what’s best for her. I thought that at some point he would turn on Reagan to help his mother write a scandalous story about her & her sisters but he never did. Needless to say there is definitely a great need for more characters like Kent in young adult literature. Next I really want to compliment the author on her awesome writing style. Although the story is told from Reagan’s point of view, you really feel like you get a sense of each sister’s personality. In both stories each sister is instantly identifiable, & none of them feel as if they get lost in the plot. We also get some diversity through the character of Reilly when we find out that she’s a lesbian. Although this is not thoroughly explored, it also doesn’t feel like a tacked on label in order to check the diversity box, but instead a real part of who the character is. Honestly there is so much that I can & do want to say about this book, but I would have you here all week. This is one of those truly great books that you instantly know will be one of your favs as soon as you finish it, & this definitely made this author an auto-buy author for me. With all that said I HAVE to give these books a 5 smiley face rating because I will DEFINITELY be re-reading them again this year, & look forward to reading the sequels that are already out, & any additional books in the series that are released in the future.
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“Us adults are frequently suspicious of the young. You see it all the time on the news, hear the whispers on the streets. It’s always seen as such a terrible thing that young people are gathering with their friends, wearing strange clothes, saying words we’ve never heard, listening to music we don’t like. We forget so quickly that you’re us and we’re you.” – Poppy’s mom from ‘Ten Birthdays’
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to review a very interesting new book by author Kerry Wilkinson called ‘Ten Birthdays’, which was provided for review by Bookouture. This book was released in May of 2017, and is a coming of age story about a British teenager. So let’s get to why you’re all here, the book review! Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
‘Ten Birthdays’ follows the life of Poppy Kinsey as she evolves from a 16 year old teenager, into a 25 year old woman. On her birthday, Poppy receives one of 10 letters her mother wrote for her before her death on Poppy’s 15th birthday. At first Poppy is not sure if she wants to open the letters because it brings painful feelings to the forefront of her mind however, she eventually does read the 1st letter, and for the next 9 birthdays reads one letter a year. Throughout the story we see Poppy’s life change as she deals with friendships, relationships, and finding her purpose in life. Along the way poppy’s mother gives her life advice and tells her stories through the letters she wrote, and thus is able to stay a constant force in Poppy’s life.
Although you would think that this story would be very sad, it is actually more of a coming of age story, than a story of loss. Anyone who has had someone close to them pass away can relate to Poppy’s mixed feelings of love and sadness in regards to the letters her mother left her. Also, I really enjoyed the fact that Poppy is not your stereotypical happy protagonist, and because of this faces struggles and consequences for questionable decisions throughout the course of the book. You find yourself constantly rooting for Poppy, and interested to know what the next year of her life will bring her. I also like that the book shows the difficulties Poppy and her two childhood best friends Mark & Freya face as they grow older and make decisions that determine who the kind of people they will grow up to be. Lastly, although there is not a lot of diversity in this book, Freya is bi-racial (her mother is Jamaican and although the book does not actually describe her father, it does allude to the fact that he is white). Because of all of these factors, I would definitely give this book a 4 smiley face rating. It is a very enjoyable novel that you will not want to put down, and I definitely hope that we will get a sequel one day because I would love to continue to see how these amazing charterers’ lives turn out.
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Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we have a book review of the first book in a new series called ‘Songs About a Girl’ by Chris Russell. This book was provided for review by Flatiron Books (a division of Macmillan Publishers), and was released on July 28th, 2016. Just so y’all know this will be a spoiler-free review so let’s get to the fun part of this blog, the book! Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
This is a story about a 15 year old girl named Charlie who is given the opportunity to photograph the biggest pop band in the world Fire&Lights. Although Charlie is a quiet, shy girl, she is quickly is pushed into the spotlight after a photo of her with one of the guys from the band is leaked. At 1st Charlie decides to distances herself from the band, but when she finds a connection between their new lead single and poetry in her deceased mother’s old journal she can’t ignore investigating a possible connection. The harder Charlie looks for answers about her own past, the more she experiences the dark side of fame and fandom.
I’m going to start off by saying that the premise of this book was super interesting. We live in a time where reality & gossip shows allow us to feel closer to our favorite stars than even before. Also, with the addition of social media we’re able to join fandoms & feel a community around our admiration. Although ‘Songs About a Girl’ is marketed (rightfully so) as a One Direction fan-fiction, it really does speak to the current celebrity-centric culture we all live in. Although this isn’t a new topic, I really liked the way Chris Russell showed his love for fandoms in this story, but also showed the consequences of what can happen when they cross the line. I also really liked the characters he created. Charlie is a relatable protagonist, her bff Melissa is the fangirl in us all, the guys in the band are interesting and fun to read about, even the “villains” & more minor characters serve their roles well. The problem however, lies in how all of this comes together. In the end this story is a One Direction fan-fiction at its core which can either be a good thing or a not do good thing. If you really like romance & One Direction then you’ll probably love this book, but only if you really really love both of those things. Personally I’m a fan of both but this story just didn’t click with me. The whole time I kept getting distracted by who inspired which character and it took me out of the story too much. The big twist was very predictable (and I’m horrible at predicting this stuff so that tells you a lot), and the love triangle was solved to quickly (I know, I know, a lot of us have asked for this but a little more tension is always nice). Also, the mystery surrounding Charlie’s mom felt unnecessary & ultimately seemed like it could potential get in the way of the romance between her & the guy she chooses at the end of the book. I feel like this book serves a very niche market which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but because of this forces me to give it 2 smiley faces. This is definitely a quick, light summer read that you can try out if it sounds interesting, but because it doesn’t have a very vast market appeal I can’t recommend it for everyone. However if you do read it & love it, then book 2 is already out, and book 3 will be released later this year!
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“There was something so tragic about the acts of desperate girls. My helpless heart wished that I could write a different ending to the story, that I could have kept Chloe from disappearing and delivered Helen safely home. But trusting the wrong person wasn’t the only kind of desperate act. Wishing for the impossible could break you just as swiftly.Whether you wanted someone to love you or someone to protect you, it was hard to be a girl in need.” – Jenny Parker ‘The Lives of Desperate Girls’.
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to discuss a new book by author Jessica Park called ‘180 Seconds’, which was provided by ‘Skyscape’ and ‘Two Lions’ for review. Jessica Park grew up in the Boston area and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has also previously written several books entitled ‘Clear, ‘Relatively Famous’, as well as the series ‘Left Drowning’ and ‘Flat-out Love’. This review will be spoiler free, so if you’re ready let’s find out whether you should add this book to your summer TBR or if 180 seconds of your time is more than this book deserves. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
“She took my heart and held it safe. She promised to wait for me, with words that echo in my mind and tender touches that I can still feel on my skin”– Corey from ‘Before I Let Go”.
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to review a new book by New York Times Bestselling Author Marieke Nijkamp. You may recognize Marlene’s name due to the popularity of her 2016 debut book ‘This Is Where It Ends’, as well as the editor of the anthology Unbroken: 13 Stories Starting Disabled Teens which will be released in the fall of 2018. Today we have the privilege of reviewing her latest book ‘Before I Let Go’, which was released on January 2, 2018 and was provided for review by Sourcebooks Fire. This will be a spoiler free review however I will discuss how the ending affected my opinion of the book. So now let’s get to the review. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
‘Before I Let Go’ is a Young Adult suspense novel surrounding the suicide of a bi-polar young teenage girl name Kyra in the small town of Lost, Alaska. When Kyra’s best friend Corey returns to Lost after moving away for several months, she begins to realize that the town is very different than she remembered. Corey is shocked to find that she is now treated like an outsider by people who have known her for her entire life, and feels that there is an aura of secrecy surrounding the town. However the thing that Corey finds the most shocking is the fact that everyone in town speaks very highly and lovingly of Kyra, despite the fact that Corey always saw that everyone in town mercilessly tease and abused Kyra her entire life. Corey begins to suspect that there is more to Kyra’s death than what she has been lead to believe, so she decides to investigate the story herself. Throughout the story Corey finds out dark secrets about the town and herself that she had never considered before. Corey also finds that she has enemies and allies in the town that will play an important role in uncovering the truth.
So now we’ve reached the point in the review where I tell y’all if you should buy this book or not. Honestly, this book is a little difficult to recommend because it was a solid 5 star read until I reached the ending of the book. Now this book does have some problems throughout, such as the fact that Corey is not a very likeable protagonist because of the way she treated Kyra after she moved (which is made even worst by how mentally ill Kyra is, and the fact that Corey knows this but still treats her this way). The book also contains several pages where the writing suddenly changes to a script style (like a play would have) which was really jarring and completely unnecessary to the story because it didn’t tie in with anything. However a positive point of this book is that we do get to see a lot of diversity with the inclusion of asexual, pansexual, and homosexual characters, as well as a very detailed accounting of Kyra’s mental illness that helps us really understand and fall in love with her character. The author truly does an amazing job of pulling you into the mystery of Lost and keeping you engaged throughout every twist & turn that comes our way. Unfortunately this is all ruined by the ending of the book. As soon as Corey solves the mystery we reach the climax of the book and then the story just ends. It does not resolve, it just ends. After all of the build up and great storytelling that the author does, this ending is just so disappointing that it honestly ruined the whole experience of the book for me. Because of this, I have to give this book a solid 2.5 smiley faces out of 5, which truly saddens me to do because this story deserved so much more.
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to discuss an amazing new documentary I was recently given the opportunity to screen about a man who died and went to Heaven. If you loved films such as ‘Heaven is for Real’ and ’90 minutes in Heaven’ then prepare for a documentary that will lift your spirit and make you question just where the line between life and death is drawn and what exactly happens to us when we die. Through the use of beautiful cinematography as well as captivating storytelling, director Stephen Gray is able to demonstrate just why this film has won best documentary awards at: Festigious IFF Los Angeles, New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, and selected as a Daily Pick on Film Shortage. So if you’re ready to hear an incredible story that will truly inspire you then please read on! Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
On July 18th, 1969 at 19 years old, Capt. Dale Black became the sole survivor of a non-survivable plane crash in Burbank, California. In ‘Discovering Heaven’ Capt. Black describes his vast 40 years of experience as a pilot, flight instructor, standards captain, aviation safety counselor, and FAA designated examiner, which was though to be impossible after the extensive bodily damage he suffered as a result of the crash. In the documentary Capt. Black explains the horrific experience of crashing 5 feet from the top of a 7 story tall concrete dome called ‘The Portal of The Folded Wings’ (which was made to honor fallen pilots) at 135 miles per hour. Prior to the crash the plane of deemed suitable for flight and appeared to be in perfect operational order. In a split second Capt. Black’s life would forever change. After the crash occurred Capt. Black describes viewing his own body, as well as the bodies of his two co-pilots, after the three individuals fell 70 feet from the air. He then traveled to Heaven with two angelic beings, before returning to his body in the hospital. Capt. Black described his experience as feeling alert but without fear or pain. Upon waking up in the hospital Captain Dale had to undergo a vast amount of physical therapy due to his bodily injuries which included his back being broken in multiple places, and well as pieces of debris having to be removed from his body, among other injuries.
Capt. Black goes on to describe how this experience truly changed him due to his family’s background as logical indivduals who believed that there was a scientific explaination for everything. I truly do believe that Capt. Dale’s story is an increbile account of a miracle that few of us are given the opportunity to experience. However I think Capt. Black says it best in ‘Discovering heaven when he states that his advice is to, “Get a good bible and read everything Jesus said and keep your mind alert but open your heart, and then make your own decision. It’s your life, it’s your eternal life, so do with it whatever you want to do”.
Check out the trailer for ‘Discovering Heaven’ below:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6HDysj6u3c
If you’d like to stay up to date with Captain Dale and At First Sight Films (which produced ‘Discovering Heaven’ please check out the links below. Also, if you would like to donate in order to help At First Sight Films produce more stories like Captain Dale’s and turn ‘Discovering Heaven from a 10 minute documentary into a full length film please considering checking out their website below:
Discovering Heaven Links:
Donate Here Please!: http://discoveringheaven.com/donate/
Captain Dale Black’s Links: