Friday, April 28, 2017

Review: Girl Out of Water

Title: Girl Out of Water
Author: Laura Silverman
Series: N/A
Length: 320 pages
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Diversity: disabled (amputee) black love interest, multiple queer supporting characters, disabled supporting character (and I know I'm forgetting other supporting characters because I forgot to take notes this time)
Source: eARC via NetGalley

If you're looking for a new release that fits that perfect summery contemporary feeling, look no further - GIRL OUT OF WATER is the book you want. This book is as summery as an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a hot day. (Unless you don't like lemonade, in which case it's as summery as an ice-cold drink of your choice.) I read this at the start of my spring break, when I was just starting to wish for summer, and this was exactly what I wanted.

I really liked the focus on sports in this book. Whether it was surfing in California or skateboarding in Nebraska, Anise's love of being active was written so beautifully that I could feel the motion. It made me want to go out and do something - not that I did, because it also made me want to keep reading.

I also loved the focus on family. There are so many great family dynamics in this book - we get to see Anise's relationship with her dad, with her aunt, with her cousins, and indirectly with her mom - and they were all really important to her and to the book. I love seeing families in YA, and this was a really interesting one to read about.

And, of course, as in most contemporaries, we have romance - I thought the romance was pretty adorable and I was absolutely rooting for Anise and Lincoln, but it wasn't my favorite part of the book, or the most important thing. It's significant, but it doesn't overwhelm the rest of the plot. I've definitely read books where the balance isn't done so well, so I always appreciate that. 

I'll admit I wasn't really a fan of the subplot with the guy she liked from back home. We never really got a chance to get attached to him, he didn't seem to serve any real purpose that her friends didn't, and he just made a couple of scenes kind of awkward. Really, though, that was my only big negative, and it wasn't a big enough part of the book to affect my reading experience too much.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and I can definitely see myself rereading it at some point. If this sounds at all like your cup of tea (or glass of lemonade), I'd highly recommend picking it up!

Goodreads description:
Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What Makes a Good Review?

I've been getting more review copies lately, so I've been writing a lot more long reviews than I was a while ago. And I've learned that they can either be my hardest or my easiest posts to write. Once in a blue moon, my thoughts about a particular book just come flowing out. But most of the time, I really struggle to put my feelings into words. I haven't been able to figure out why that is yet, but it's made me spend a lot of time thinking: what makes a good review? So far, I've come up with a few specifics:
  • Overall impressions. The first thing I want to know when I'm reading a review is whether or not the person liked the book. After that, I want to know the two or three best or worst things about it.
  • What stuck out? What are the things that make this book different, whether it's in a good or a bad way? Or is it that nothing stuck out? A few intriguing tidbits can really get me interested in a book or turn me away from it, and that's one of the big reasons I read reviews.
  • All of the feelings. This one gets a bit complicated, because I like my reviews pretty spoiler-free, but I also like to know whether a book made you laugh or cry or scream with rage. On the other hand, maybe you didn't have any strong feelings at all, and that says something too.
But the thing is, that's all I've really come up with. And that's not really a lot to go on. To be fair, all of the above points are really vague and can be expanded and broken down and worked with, but I just can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something that could make my reviews better.

So I'm turning this one over to you guys. What do you like to see when reading reviews? What don't you like to see? What can I do to make my reviews more interesting?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Five Reasons I'll Decide to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme: Top Ten Five Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book

Everyone has those things that are instant "I MUST READ THIS BOOK" decision-makers. And in a lot of cases, those contribute to our never-ending TBR problems. I couldn't come up with ten that are a deciding factor pretty much on their own, but I did come up with five pretty good ones.
1. Diversity. I have said this so many times, but I'll say it again: diversity is a pretty common final deciding factor on whether I want to read a book or not. If a book looks mildly interesting, but I'm not really sure, but then I find out about the diversity aspect? Yes please, definitely added.

2. Alternating past/present perspectives. I absolutely love this way of telling a story. Things just interweave in so many intriguing ways, and you kind of have to put things together on your own, but it still all works out in the end and you see how it all fits together.

3. Setting: the U.S., 1890-1945. I love most historical fiction, but this is the specific time and place for which I will read pretty much anything. I know it's pretty broad, which is great (or not great, when you look at the size of my TBR), but really, it's hard to find YA books set in that frame that don't interest me.

4. Comparisons to things I love. If I like something, I want more of it. (Obviously.) If a new book is going to be like that thing in a not-entirely-copy-cat way, I'm entirely on board. There's this one book that was described as "Graceling meets Pride and Prejudice" and I'm pretty sure I added it to my TBR without even reading anything else.

5. Recommendations from friends. I love when people recommend books to me. I don't always get to the recommendations super quickly, because there are a million things I need to read. But if someone who has pretty much the same taste in books as me (especially Sky, who's basically my bookish twin) says that I'm going to like something, I'm pretty much guaranteed to give it a shot.

What are some of the things that make you instantly want to read a book? Do we have any in common? Are there any of your favorite books that fall into one of these categories that I absolutely must read immediately? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ten Unique Books I've Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme: ten of the most unique books I've read!

ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: This one's mostly about the way the story is told. I absolutely love how so many different formats are used and how they all come together to form one story!

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo: No matter how hard I try, I can't think of any books that compare to this. When you combine the setting and the multiple perspectives and the heist aspect, you get something totally unique.
 WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin: Alternate histories aren't really anything new, but alternate histories plus powers plus motorcycle races? Definitely unique. And definitely amazing.

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater: The weird thing about this book is that it feels kind of familiar, like it should remind me of another book. But it doesn't. I've never read anything quite like it.

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera: This book might not have worked for me, but it was certainly unique, and I liked that part of it a lot.

THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson: It's been a while since I've read this, but there are still a few scenes that stick in my memory so clearly just because I haven't read anything like it since.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Goldman: Nothing can ever be like The Princess Bride, because nothing can ever hope to measure up to it. (Except for the movie, but that's another story.)

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson: I don't gush about this book nearly enough. I'm long overdue for a reread, but still. This book is amazing, and maybe it's just because it's not new, but I don't think it gets nearly the love it deserves. It's so beautifully written and perfectly put together.

PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG by Anne Blankman: This book was not at all what I was expecting going into it, because I thought I was getting something mostly predictable. Nope. This is something (almost) entirely to itself.

PIVOT POINT by Kasie West: We all love Kasie West's contemporaries, but this duology gets sadly overlooked. It takes the idea of having alternating perspectives in time and turns it on its head by having two alternating potential futures.

What are some of the most unique books you've read? What are some unique books you wish you could find more books like? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Wrap-Up

Remember when I said in my last post that I'd (hopefully) be back to a more normal posting schedule?
Yeah, let's all take a moment to laugh about that, because the alternative is falling into a pit of stress about how this semester is kicking my ass. I've gone into some of the reasons on here before, but basically, March was a mess. I'm not gonna give a whole lot of details, because I want to focus on the good parts and the books, but for the rest of the semester, all of my promises and good intentions are more or less out the window.

Basically, I've been busy. I haven't had a lot of time to read, or to blog, or to do much of anything. Even sleeping has been sacrificed (sometimes). Such is the life of a college student. Things should be getting a bit less stressful in a week or so, but then there are finals and basically I should just hold my breath until the end of the semester.

It wasn't all bad! I had spring break, which I desperately needed, which is the reason this wrap-up has a normal-ish number of books on it. And while I was home, I got to go to the U.S. book launch for THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES! This was my first book event ever, and it was amazing. I still can't believe that the timing worked out that well!


LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer: This was such a lovely book! And it was one of those ones that just kept getting better as it went along so I just kept getting more and more impressed and it was great. I'll have a full review up for this one soon.

GIRL OUT OF WATER by Laura Silverman: It's (almost) the season for contemporaries! (On a related notes, I can't believe it's going to snow tomorrow.) And believe me, you're going to want this one. It's such a wonderful story about family, friendship, and swoon-worthy romance, and discovering who you are and where you fit in.

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas: Everyone and their second cousin has already reviewed this, but the hype here is not undeserved. This book is almost 500 pages, and I still flew through it. Everything that I could possibly say has been said already, but I don't think it can be stressed enough how important this book is.

THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus #5): This book has literally been at the top of my to-read list for three years and I finally did it! And I was pleasantly surprised! The last book in the series let me down a little bit, but I liked this one a lot more. I can't wait to catch up with Rick Riordan's new series now! I listened to the audiobook, which wasn't the best experience, but it wasn't awful.

SCARLET WITCH, VOL. 2: WORLD OF WITCHCRAFT by James Robinson: I love this series. I love Scarlet Witch. I need more. I also realized that I haven't read any comics in ages - I should really try to get my hands on some more!

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis: I don't even know where to start with this absolute gem of a book. I can't stop thinking about it. There were so many parts of it that I didn't think were going to work for me, but they did. I don't want to say a lot, because I went in without knowing a ton about the book and I think that went pretty well, but I highly recommend this.

THE ONE AND ONLY by Valerie Tripp (American Girls: Maryellen #1): Difficult schoolwork reading = time for super-easy leisure reading! I've been meaning to catch up on the new American Girl historical character books for ages, and the library by my school has them. This was really cute, and if I'd been a bit younger, I'd have absolutely adored it. It didn't teach me as much about the 1950s as I remember the other books doing when I was little, but to be fair, I knew a lot less history then.

TAKING OFF by Valerie Tripp (American Girls: Maryellen #2): I was really impressed by this! I thought it was a big step up from the first book. It talked about the importance of polio vaccines, and it encouraged girls to go into science, and overall, it was just more put together than the first book was. I also loved the subplot with Maryellen's sister, Joan, figuring out what she wanted to do with her life.

Reread this month:
  • THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain: I have such complicated feelings about this book. I really like Mark Twain - at least, I love THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER and I think that a bunch of shorter Mark Twain pieces that I've read are really funny - but this book just gives me weird feelings on so many levels. The first time I read it, it took me four years. Literally four years. This time, I had to reread it in a week for my Emancipation and the Afterlife of Slavery class, which gave me a different perspective on it, and I really don't know what to do with it.
DNFed this month:
  • BLOOD ROSE REBELLION by Rosalyn Eves: Nope. I just couldn't do it. This started out with so much promise, but by the time I was about a quarter of the way through, I was just rolling my eyes so much that I couldn't keep going. I didn't care about anything that was happening, and I just couldn't bring myself to finish.
  • Total books: 8 new, 1 reread, 1 DNF
  • Longest book: THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS, 516 pages
  • Shortest book: SCARLET WITCH VOL. 2, 112 pages
  • Favorite book: THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES
  • Least favorite (completed) book: THE ONE AND ONLY
  • Diverse reads: 7 (all except LETTERS TO THE LOST)

Backlist Reader Challenge: 3 this month, overall 11/60 (The Blood of Olympus, The One and Only, Taking Off)

Read it Again, Sam Challenge: 1 this month, overall 15/16+ (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

2017 Debut Author Challenge: 2 this month, overall 4/12 (Girl Out of Water, The Hate U Give)

2017 Series Enders Challenge: 2 this month, overall 3/5-10 (The Blood of Olympus, Taking Off)


2017 Discussion Challenge: 0 this month, overall 2/11-20

How was your month? Are you falling a bit behind, too? Tell me in the comments!