Book Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?

Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

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That awkward moment when a high schooler writes an awesome novel better than a lot of “professional” authors can write.

“She wished to be happy, and fell asleep with an entire sky above her.”

This story is truly inspiring and interesting because we get to see the characters grow and really learn from their past mistakes. The book is written from a very unique perspective which I was certainly not expecting…

“She is human and bound by the same laws of nature—gravity, in particular—as everyone else. Try as she might, she will never grow wings.”

 It’s told in the same way that The Book Thief is, which is something I really enjoyed because of how in-depth it can get.

My favorite thing is that these girls are are bullies and the main character realizes that…

“Liz looked back and counted the bodies, all those lives she had ruined simply by existing. So she chose to stop existing.”

It is so nice to watch her progress as she truly understands what she has done in the past. Too often we get a story told from the victim’s perspective (not at all bad!) but we never get to see the remorse that can be felt upon seeing their actions because, yes, some bullies regret what they do. Zhang offers great insight with the words she uses…

“They were catalysts, the fingers that tipped the first domino. They started things that grew into nothing things that were much greater than themselves. A touch, a nudge in the wrong direction, and everyone fell down.”

At the same time, it is nice to get a victim’s perspective (Liam) and why he can easily grant forgiveness, even before the suicide mission. By writing the story from this different perspective we as readers get the whole story rather than parts.

While Liz’s answer is not the right one (and an extreme one) it’s truly inspiring to see what has happened both previously and presently. Seeing those actions then seeing that guilt really puts into perspective the whole of bullying and that some people just don’t know how to be in today’s society. While again, bullying nor suicide, are never necessary, the fact that lessons can be learned even from these events must be taken into account. Everyone can change with the proper help.

“I wish second chances were real.”

Overall, this book is quick but packs a powerful punch on the topics of bullying, suicide, and remorse, as well teaches an important lesson about forgiveness. A must read for readers of any age.

5stars

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Book Review: The Eighth Guardian (Annum Guard #1) by Meredith McCardle

Amanda Obermann. Code name Iris.

It’s Testing Day. The day that comes without warning, the day when all juniors and seniors at The Peel Academy undergo a series of intense physical and psychological tests to see if they’re ready to graduate and become government operatives. Amanda and her boyfriend Abe are top students, and they’ve just endured thirty-six hours of testing. But they’re juniors and don’t expect to graduate. That’ll happen next year, when they plan to join the CIA—together.

But when the graduates are announced, the results are shocking. Amanda has been chosen—the first junior in decades. And she receives the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a secret government organization called the Annum Guard and travel through time to change the course of history. But in order to become the Eighth Guardian in this exclusive group, Amanda must say good-bye to everything—her name, her family, and even Abe—forever.

Who is really behind the Annum Guard? And can she trust them with her life?

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This book is easily 5 stars because of how much fun it was for me to read. Is it perfect? No. I found plenty of flaws and minor errors but it is so easy for me to look past that. Meredith McCardle is now on my must watch list with this novel.

I’m a nerd and I love history. I do not, however, love historical fiction with few exceptions (ie: Code Name Verity). I really consider this historical fiction. The events presented are real events with the tweaks necessary to make it fictional without detracting from those real events. You get to learn history and have fun with this sci-fi book at the same time! McCardle notes the changes she makes at the end but it is very obvious she did her research and incorporated it well.

Iris is a great MC because she is not without her flaws. When I read a book with an MC who knows what to do in every situation I get mad because that’s simply not possible. Iris is presented with this weird future that she was not raised to see coming. So, when the mention of time travel comes up she immediately laughs it off because that’s what a real person would do, no matter how trained that person is. She’s also somewhat selfish, but not so much so that she is unbearable, and that really helped me connect with her. She’s 16 years old, of course she should be somewhat selfish in life and death situations or being taken away from her boyfriend. One of the best main characters I have read in a long time.

The supporting characters were done pretty well but I wish we got to know more of them then we did. Yellow is the only one we get a deeper look at as well as Indigo but I really want to know about all the others, Zeta included.

The romance was quite minimal which I loved. I enjoyed Abe but I love that the story was not focused on them. Rather, it was focused on Iris’s situation and conflicts with some references to their relationship. It’s just done so well and I love a book that doesn’t rely on the romance. More importantly, I love that there is no flipping love triangle!!! THANK YOU!

Overall, a fun story about time travel and history which I found very hard to put down. I am super excited for the sequel!

5stars

Book Review: Because of Her by K.E. Payne

For seventeen-year-old Tabitha “Tabby” Morton, life sucks. Big time. Forced to move to London thanks to her father’s new job, she has to leave her friends, school, and, most importantly, her girlfriend Amy, far behind. To make matters worse, Tabby’s parents enroll her in the exclusive Queen Victoria Independent School for Girls, hoping that it will finally make a lady of her.

But Tabby has other ideas.

Loathing her new school, Tabby fights against everything and everyone, causing relations with her parents to hit rock bottom. But when the beautiful and beguiling Eden Palmer walks into her classroom one day and catches her eye, Tabby begins to wonder if life there might not be so bad after all.

When Amy drops a bombshell about their relationship following a disastrous visit, Tabby starts to see the need for new direction in her life. Fighting her own personal battles, Eden brings the possibility of change for them both. Gradually, Tabby starts to turn her life around—and it’s all because of her.

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This one really blew my mind with the interest that developed throughout the story. Certainly a wonderful British young adult novel.

When I discovered this novel for some reason I was hesitant but those feelings were quickly dispelled once I actually started reading. This is the perfect Lesbian romance novel for young adults and really explores the trepidation when it comes to coming out to both parents and friends, as well as young love. 

The main character, Tabby, is a wonderful protagonist. She is first and foremost honest with herself about her sexuality. It’s nice to see a young woman represented so strongly and positively. She is confident about her sexuality which is a breath of fresh air in a sea of confused and unsure women. But there is still Eden to show the fear that people face but not in a domineering way. It’s all very subtle. 

The plot is simple but powerful in the message that it is conveying. It is easy to understand and follows a simple pattern. There is no contrived love triangle, just the falling out of one relationship and discovering another. No cheating just real feelings.

Overall, this is an amazing young adult novel about same-sex relationships.

5stars

Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

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Sounds cool right? Wrong.

THIS COULD HAVE BEEN GOOD! But of course it was not and was instead the biggest disappointment so far this year for me.

First off, this book is long and during most of that time there is nothing going on. Literally nothing. Most of the time it’s Amy’s thoughts and more often then not she is repeating herself. How many times does she describe someone as “being near her age” or how many times is there some lame ass line about having to “kill Dorothy?” Fun fact: the title of the novel is DOROTHY MUST DIE so I don’t need to be reminded chapter after chapter.

Second, Amy is so dependent on everyone even though she knows absolutely nothing. In a book that seemingly pits female against female I was hoping for a strong female lead but alas, that is not what we get. Instead Amy relies on Nox and Pete, as well as other shady characters. So instead of a lead who can act on her own we get one who caters to everyone else’s needs. Then, when she does make a move on her own, she just apologizes, even though she has been given no information. Conflict solved. Really?

Third, Nox and Pete. Why does there need to be this kind of forced romance triangle thing. Maybe not all focused on the triangle this book but apparently there are more to come. Not to mention we know nothing about them. Does Amy need to constantly rely on someone to save her? Aren’t we passed that as a culture? Ugh.

Fourth, what the hell happened in the end? Why did anything happen? I feel like I got screwed over. Was there an end? Why is there more? I can’t.

Finally, I’m not sure what is supposed to be canon: the original Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum or the movie version with Judy Garland. The reason this bothers me so much is because of the shoes. In the novel they are silver and in the movie they are ruby red. This book by Paige starts off by saying that Dorothy’s slippers are silver but then later they are red. Not to mention that Amy constantly refers to the characters looking as they did in the movie. This means that Dorothy is therefore Judy Garland. What is going on?

Overall,

 

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Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

“What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills. “

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This is one of the first books I picked up when the dystopian craze hit and ever since I read it it has set the bar very high.

This really is my favorite book of all time. I enjoy that you get two characters and both are so realistic, making them easily relatable. What I really love is that this book doesn’t just appeal to one gender over another (not that books do but it gets both perspectives). It was personally the first one I read that did this and other books are now going to be doing the same at the end of a series rather than the beginning (ie. Allegiant, which is still a great series).

The plot isn’t something so farfetched either. It is certainly plausible and possibly makes it that much more interesting. June is an amazing heroine and it is intriguing to see her struggle and grow. Day is an excellent counterpart to the Republic and their voices really give the reader a feel for what it’s like during this time for both the rich and the poor.

If you’re going to want to read one novel, this is the one. (Then you will have to read Prodigy, then Champion, because they are just that good.)

Final Decree:

5stars