We Are the Goldens – Dana Reinhardt.

4/5 stars.

This was probably the fastest reading YA novel that I have picked up in quite awhile. I read it in about two hours, and found it to be quite engaging. Some of it was a little unbelievable – I mean, Nell is only 14, but she sounds so grown-up compared to her sister, Layla, who is 17. Also, while I understand that it does happen, the fact that she, as a freshman, got on the varsity soccer team seemed a little unusual, although granted, she didn’t get much playing time.

However, those and a few other unrealistic things were the only reasons that I brought my rating down to a 4/5 stars. I had a good time reading this book – Ms. Reinhardt’s portrayals of a close sister-sister bond and family ties were very good and very interesting, and even though the plot of the book was mostly “passive” – there was not a great deal of action, since it was mostly Nell talking with Layla indirectly, through the medium of this book – it was still well-written. Otherwise it would not have pulled me in as easily as it did.

Oh, and the other thing that bothered me was the ending. It seemed very abrupt, as if Ms. Reinhardt just got tired of writing about Nell and Layla and wanted an easy way out. It left me wondering a lot of things – about Nell and Felix, and what happened to Mr. Barr, and how Layla reacted… I feel like the author could have done a little better job with writing a less up-in-the-air ending.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants an interesting-if-not-entirely-believable YA novel about sister-sister bonds and the troubles than can be run into in high school.

Many thanks to Random House Children’s and NetGalley for an opportunity to read and review this book!!

Hmm… suggestions? and other things.

I have been trying to figure out which YA author I should try next.  I mean, I have several books by Sarah Dessen left to read, and in fact, just picked up one that I had started last July then lost amidst stacks of other books (I tell you, our apartment is cluttered!!), but I do want to try other authors that are out there.  I also am in love with hard copies of books right now, although I know my husband isn’t keen on me buying more books that will take up yet more space in our apartment… so that will have to be considered.  Kindle books I can manage, though.

So, the authors I am considering: Courtney Summers, Maggie Stiefvater, Cassandra Clare (I have read City of Bones and am working on the second in the series, but I’m not sure if I should try a different series too/instead?), and Veronica Roth.  I’m sure there are others of whom I am just not thinking right now, but those are the main ones in my head at the moment.  And of course, if you have any suggestions, I am definitely willing to see about trying them!!  There are so many YA authors out there that come with good recommendations, that sometimes I don’t even know where to start. (Even though right now I have over a thousand books on my Kindle, and probably over a thousand books lying loose in the apartment, so I am not in any dearth of things to read!! [My Kindle books are about half YA, my paperback books are probably only about 10% YA.])

There have been several interesting developments in the life of April lately.  Well, not really in my life, per se – more so in my brain.  Expanding horizons.  I am so excited to graduate in a year and actually be in the social work field, rather than just a student – there are so many interesting things going on right now in terms of policy changes (and they’re not good policy changes, either, but they inspire growth on the part of social workers as well as critical thinking).  It’s sad to think how these policies will be affecting my current and future clients (I do have a few clients now, as an intern) – mostly my future clients, but I daresay that some of my current ones will be feeling the backlash at some point.  I have enjoyed stimulating discussions with my field instructor about one of these policies – I forget its name (it’s only part of a bill about Medicare/Medicaid) but it basically is giving federal right to involuntarily commit people to psych wards.  I am not entirely sure the point of the bill – in what I read about it, there was some mention of a “doctor fix” as well as how this would help Medicare/Medicaid in the long run, as well as how it could stop mass shootings etc. by getting people care they need, but it was pretty unclear how that all tied together.  The criteria for involuntary committal is still the same it always has been.

(And, by the by, involuntary committal, also known as “302ing someone,” has not been shown to actually be effective at helping people.  They’ll take meds while they’re in the hospital, maybe – if you’re lucky – but once they’re released, it’s not likely they will keep taking their medication.  So.  The fact that that bill passed with such speed through both the House and the Senate was a little disconcerting.)

Anyway, so that’s been some interesting things going on right now for me.  Thinking about this, discussing how I would advocate against bills such as these, discussing how I would advocate for a client for whom a 302 may be imminent… stuff like that.  Very interesting – to me, at least.

The last bit of news: only 4 weeks until my second year of grad school is over.  I can’t believe it is going by this quickly. (I also can’t believe that this blog is over a year old now!!) There is some uncertainty about what I will be doing this summer in terms of classes, since there is A Thing I may have to do for my health in the first summer semester that will prevent me from taking a class, but I have spoken with my adviser and she said that I can always double up on courses in summer 2, even though that is not advised, just because of the workload. (The only other option is for me to wait until spring 2016 and travel 1.5 to 3 hours to take the integrative seminar course at a different campus, since it requires that I have taken all of the courses to date.  I do not want to do this for obvious reasons.) Anyway, so if you guys could keep that in your thoughts/prayers it would be awesome!!  Just that everything works out somehow.

Several book reviews. :D

Thy Kingdom Fall – Austin Dragon.

3.5/5 stars.

This is a very political novel, and I will admit that it is not entirely up my alley. While I found it interesting, it was somewhat difficult for me to follow in its entirety since I was not able – due to time constraints – to read it all at once. I ended up reading bits and pieces here and there, and I think that that was to my detriment. It would’ve been much better had I been able to sit down and read it all at once. The premise is fascinating, and Dragon imagines a future in America very well – and scarily.

However, I did enjoy it, especially when I could sit down and actually focus on it. While I do not think I will be seeking out the sequel(s) to this novel, at least not immediately, I do think that this is a very interesting read.

Many thanks to Independent Book Publisher’s Association and NetGalley for this novel to read and review!!

 

A Dark Faerie Tale Omnibus – Alexia Purdy.

4.5

I really enjoyed the novels and extras in this omnibus. While it was long, and I often had to put it down in between reading sections, it was very fun to read. The protagonists in each of the novels – connected in some way, usually – were wonderfully depicted. The prose was luminous, and the descriptions were so beautiful and full of wonderful imagery that I could almost see the places and feel them around me.

Well done for a well-imagined world, Ms. Purdy. Well done, indeed.

Many thanks to Indie Ink and NetGalley for an opportunity to read and review this novel!!

 

Bellman & Black: a Ghost Story – Diane Setterfield.

4/5 stars.

I loved Ms. Setterfield’s writing in The Thirteenth Tale, and this novel did not disappoint. It was a beautiful – and fascinating – ghost story… and by “beautiful” I don’t mean the typical definition. I mean that it inspired awe, interested me, and made me want to keep reading just for the gorgeousness of the prose. The story itself was interesting too, and I found myself cheering the protagonist on… even if he was somewhat an antithesis of a hero at some points in the story.

Well done, Ms. Setterfield, for drawing yet another Gothic but wonderful ghost story. I will definitely be on the lookout for more novels of yours.

Many thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an opportunity to read and review this novel!!

Two book reviews!!

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.

5/5 stars.

I really enjoyed Roomies, mostly because I was living vicariously through Eb and Lauren. I never went away to college, and I also didn’t stay on campus. Nor did I have a serious relationship until I was already partially through college, so seeing those aspects were quite fun for me.

However, that also has its downsides – because I didn’t go through what Eb and Lauren did, I don’t know how realistic it is. It makes sense to me, to email your future roommate the summer before you start college, to get to know each other, but I mean, do kids these days actually do that? I guess they must or else Roomies would not be as well liked as it is.

This is a very fast read – or was for me – and that was also in its favor. A little fluffy, with its dark sides too. I recommend it to anyone who wants an easy YA read that is absorbing.

Many thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for an opportunity to read & review this book.

 

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu.

4/5 stars.

I have to say that I was surprised by this book. At first, I disliked Alice, but I also disliked the story from Elaine and Josh’s differing perspectives. However, around halfway through the book, when Kurt’s perspective was added, I began to like her a little more. High school is a rough time for anyone, and when rumors like “Alice is a slut” start to circulate – that just makes it ten times harder.

I really liked Kurt’s voice, and I think that Ms. Mathieu did an excellent job of providing the reader with different voices. Often when authors try to tell the story from several different perspectives, the voices all end up sounding basically the same. However, in The Truth About Alice, there were definite differences between, say, Elaine’s voice (snotty, preppy girl) and Kurt’s (nerdy kid). Even Josh’s voice was a little different, although I kind of felt like more could have been done to change it to be more like a jock’s voice would sound (although, since I did not attend an actual high school for very long before attending college, I am not quite sure how that would sound).

The only problem I really have with this novel is that the ending seemed a little rushed. The sad parts of the book – the Slut Stall, the rumors – seemed to drag on, and on, and on, but the nice parts in the ending, once they arrived, zoomed by extremely quickly. It kind of makes the reader feel as though Ms. Mathieu wanted to be done with this novel. However, I liked the ending and how it was actually a good ending to such an overall sad novel.

Many thanks to MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group and NetGalley for an opportunity to read and review this novel!