Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Breathe, Annie, Breathe

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: July 15, 2014

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

Annie is running a marathon in honor of her boyfriend who died in a car accident (he was planning to run the marathon that she's decided to run). She hated running initially but the strict training schedule has brought order to her life that was slowly falling apart while she grieved for him. During one of her running sessions Annie met Jeremiah and was instantly intrigued and almost immediately felt guilty because of it.

I liked this book. Annie was a great character and broke my heart. She did what many people do, she met a guy, they began a relationship, and other relationships fell by the waist side, she never made many friends in high school, or joined any clubs because her boyfriend was her whole life, she when he died, Annie seemed to have nothing left until she began training for the marathon. Annie has great character development, we watched her slowly consider letting Jeremiah into her life, we watched her try to build up friendships and prepare for college. We watched as Annie repaired her relationship with her mom, and start her life in college. I could hardly find anything to complain about where Annie was concerned. I do wish there was more substance to Jeremiah though. He was an adrenalin junkie but I never really understood why. The author seemed to have a pretty good outline of Jeremiah (his personality was pretty in tact) but some of the substance seemed to me missing.

Overall I liked this book and would consider reading more by the author.

Well done.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Children
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
Rating: 4/5

Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat, returns with a wondrous story of happiness, family, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless adventure story in the classic tradition of The Wizard of Oz.

In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

This was another book for my Junior Book Club at the library. I could kick myself for waiting so long to read this book. I've always loved reading and hearing Folktales. This book is about a girl names Minli who's trying to find the Man on the Moon so that he can help her bring her family fortune. Along the way we, the readers, are told many different foltakes. We learn about the story of Fruitless Mountain, the story of Dragon, a friend that Minli makes along the way, the story of the Goldfish man, and so many more. I loved the Folktales that were peppered through the book. As Minli and Dragon traveled to meet The Old Man of the Moon, we were able to see Minli learn the different lessons that the people she encountered taught her. Therefor it was really no surprise when she made the decision that she made when she finally reached her destination.

I also appreciated the chapters that showed us Minli's parents as they waited for her to come back. One of the top complaints of YA or Middle Grade book is the lack of parental involvement, and when Minli's mom realized that it may have been her fault that her daughter left home in search of a fortune. It was such a touching moment to me.

This book was kind of an "soft" epic adventure. We were with Minli every step of the way as she tried to improve the quality of life for her village and her family, and watching her learn from the people she encountered, was really something special.

This is a great book, very appropriate for the age range and I suggest it to everyone!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Rating: 3/5

It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

So, the first Pfeffer book was about how Miranda and her family were adjusting to the world tragedy that the movement of the moon caused, the second book was about how Alex and his family was adjusting. This third book takes place from Miranda’s POV, but Alex is there as well. Miranda and her family are continuing to do what they can to survive in their home. Her brothers leave to go catch fish to salt for the family and her older brother randomly comes back with a girl he’d met the previous day and claims in now his wife (this was my first problem). I just couldn’t get behind it… I honestly don’t know what else to say on that particular subject. Next Miranda’s father, step mother, and new baby brother show up with three more people, two of which being Alex and his sister Julie. That’s fine and dandy, but we don’t learn enough about that happened between the end of Alex’s book and the beginning of this one. They somehow made it to Carlos who told Alex to send Julie to a convent, and somehow met up with Miranda’s dad. That’s about all they give us. I guess I didn’t feel very satisfied. At first Miranda doesn’t care for Alex, then she kind of has a little crush on him (sort of…), then she’s in love with him and he’s in love with her. I promise you, that’s exactly how it happened. I obviously wasn’t a big fan. I gave the book three stars because I still like the idea of what the world would be like if a meteor truly did knock the moon closer to Earth, but in addition to liking a book that’s plot driven, I have to be able to connect to the characters, and sadly, I just don’t care that much about Alex and Miranda.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: No Parking at the End Times

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Abigail’s parents have made mistake after mistake, and now they've lost everything. She’s left to decide: Does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.

Abigail doesn't know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents shouldn't have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there with Brother John for the "end of the world." Because of course the end didn't come. And now they're living in their van. And Aaron’s disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
Release Date February 24, 2015 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 8, 2014
Rating: 4/5

A summer road trip changes everything in this unforgettable new tale from acclaimed author Katie McGarry

For new high school graduate Echo Emerson, a summer road trip out west with her boyfriend means getting away and forgetting what makes her so... different. It means seeing cool sights while selling her art at galleries along the way. And most of all, it means almost three months alone with Noah Hutchins, the hot, smart, soul-battered guy who’s never judged her. Echo and Noah share everything — except the one thing Echo’s just not ready for.

But when the source of Echo’s constant nightmares comes back into her life, she has to make some tough decisions about what she really wants — even as foster kid Noah’s search for his last remaining relatives forces them both to confront some serious truths about life, love, and themselves.

Now, with one week left before college orientation, jobs and real life, Echo must decide if Noah's more than the bad-boy fling everyone warned her he'd be. And the last leg of an amazing road trip will turn... seriously epic.
This book picks up where Pushing the Limit ends and man oh man and I so glad that I stumbled across this book, I didn't even know existed. So we know from the first book that Noah and Echo were pretty messed up, they both had some serious emotional baggage, and they were using the summer trip as a new beginning. Echo was going to try to sell some of her paintings, and Noah was going to be by her side every step of the way. However, during the last week of the trip everything starts to fall apart. Noah finds out that apparently he has living family members, and Echo's mom shows up. There were some parts of the book where I was literally tugging at my hair. Noah has so little confidence in his self worth that he spend most of the book sabotaging their relationship and Echo... there was so much going on there I don't know where to start. We saw some of Echo's mom at the end of the first book, and Echo does have her memories back of the fatal night, but that doesn't mean that their relationship is anywhere near functional.
I loved the same thing about this book that I loved about the last one. Echo and Noah are real people (well you know, sort of). This book shows us, that just because book one ended, doesn't mean that their lives were perfect. There were still problems, they still had issues to work out with each other and within themselves. It sounds cheesy, but more more cheesy than thinking someone can lose their parents in a house fire, or being attacked and almost killed by your bipolar mother while your father's on a date with the babysitter. Noah and Echo were bound to still have a ton of problems after the last page of “Pushing the Limits” and I'm so glad that we were able to experience it.