Review Rendezvous: 9/28/19


Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, contemporary, romance
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 385
Publish date: May 30th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.


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I’m going to start off with saying I LOVED THIS BOOK, so this is going to be a highly biased review. I literally bought it a week after I read it from the library so I could have the actual book for myself and support Zappia. I can’t tell you the last time I bought an actual, full-price book, as the rest of my library comes mostly from Goodwill or Half Price Books.

That being said, if you’re from fandom, you will also highly enjoy this book. I love the depiction of Eliza and her involvement in fandom and with online friends. Many people my age and younger grew up harped on about the notion of online friendship being dangerous. There is something to say about being safe with who you trust online, but certainly people have made great friendships (myself included) that started without seeing someone else in person.

I don’t normally read contemporary, but I couldn’t put this book down. It also has little illustrations of Eliza’s art inside, which was a perfect addition. This book explores the themes of mental health in a realistic way. I have never personally faced the things that Eliza wrestles with, so I can’t say whether or not it’s done accurately, but it seemed so from my outside point of view.

The one thing that I didn’t end up liking about it was how the love interest, Wallace, reacted at about the 75% mark after Eliza’s secret is revealed. He was super entitled and it made me automatically dislike him. He did try to repair things by the end though, so at least there’s that. I did love the rest of the book too much to knock off a star for that, though.

This is the perfect feel-good book you want to read on a sunny afternoon, and I highly recommend it. I’m not sure if Zappia has anything else in the pipeline, but I will be more than happy to check those out if she does!

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 9/14/19


The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, contemporary
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 288
Publish date: September 10th, 2019
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother–a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape. 


Honestly I haven’t met a contemporary I’ve liked this much in quite a bit. I found this book when I saw the release day blitz over on the author’s Instagram. Which was literally three days ago. I bought the book the second I found out about it, I was that interested. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime shipping 🙂

What really drew me to this book was the premise. I’ve never read a book that featured a character escaping from a cult, and it looked quite unique. There’s probably others out there with a similar situation, but I saw this one and immediately needed to read it. Peterson’s voice is really well done in the book, and the way the chapters are laid out goes back and forth between settings before Piper is removed by CPS and after. The before scenes are really creepy as a reader knowing that she’s in the cult, and seeing how she thinks it’s completely normal.

It’s also a bit sad, how deep Piper’s faith in the cult goes. Peterson really did well in the characterization, which is in part due to her own experience with a cult. When people tell you ‘write what you know’, this is a beautiful interpretation of that advice. The author draws on her own emotional experiences and everything that happened to her to successfully draw you in and keep you connected to the story.

Honestly, the only thing that kept me from giving this book five stars was the fact that there wasn’t a huge conflict. The down side of already knowing from the beginning that she gets out is that it’s inevitable. Maybe there was more of a conflict that I didn’t see, but otherwise this was a super good book, I highly recommend it!

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 7/27/19


No Place Like Here by Christina June
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, contemporary, romance
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 272
Publish date: May 21st, 2019
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble

NPLH

Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.

The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.

With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.


This book was a lovely read from beginning to end. I highly enjoyed the setting, an outdoor camp up in the mountains. Brought back fun memories from similar camps I’ve been to. The way Ashlyn gets there – dad’s in jail, mom’s in treatment for depression – is not a great situation, but she manages to turn it around into something better.

I loved how there was a lot of focus on family relationships and not as much on romance. Sure, there is definitely romance involved, but at the book explores Ashlyn’s relationships with other people far more.

The contrast between the “rich” life Ashlyn was used to and the camp that she ended up at was intriguing. I like that she didn’t embody the typical spoiled city girl idea, though she still had some of those traits.

Overall, very nice read. This one is a good book for people who are a little burnt out on the typical YA romance-y type and want a change of pace.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 7/20/19


Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly
Book stats:
Genre(s): Contemporary, thriller, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 289
Publish date: April 2nd, 2019
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

LLT

A mother’s chance decision leads to a twist of fate that is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Claire Rawlings, mother of two and medical resident, will not let the troubling signs of an allergic reaction prevent her from making it in for rounds. But when Claire’s symptoms overpower her while she’s driving into work, her two children in tow, she must pull over. Moments later she wakes up on the floor of a gas station bathroom-her car, and her precious girls have vanished.

The police have no leads and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by an unthinkable tragedy. Played out in multiple narrative voices, the novel explores how the lives of those affected fatefully intersect, and highlights the potential catastrophe of the small decisions we make every day.


This book was quite the interesting read. I can’t say I’ve read a good thriller in a while, but I liked the premise of this one. Having been in the situation where I’ve passed out before, I understand the panic that comes with the feeling right before it happens and could easily see how that leads Claire to this situation.

I also enjoyed the interspersed mentions of Jay, a potential witness to the crime, and his own background as a Native American. He has some skills that help Claire work towards the solution to this horrific event. There was also the balance of Claire’s marriage, which was intriguing. It explored the idea of what happens when something unthinkable happens, and the blame seems to lay on one particular person in the relationship. Could you stay with your own spouse if they got your children kidnapped?

Overall, highly enjoyed the read. Can’t say it’s my favorite in the entire world, but certainly worth the time to delve into this story.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 7/13/19


The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, contemporary, romance
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 320
Publish date: August 13th, 2019
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

tSBU

Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism.

And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together.

But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.


My first impression of this book is that I highly enjoyed it. It’s not often you get to see disabilities and chronic illness depicted in young adult fiction, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to read this book. Plus there is the fact that this could be considered an Own Voices novel, as the author is hearing impaired herself.

Some people may see Maya’s attitude as off-putting, especially with how short she is with other people when she first gets to her new school. But as a person coming from the other side of the equation, I can completely understand why Maya is characterized as “difficult” or sometimes even a bit short-tempered. There is only so many times you can handle people babying you because they think you can’t do something, or if someone acts without taking the shortest second to consider your feelings as the disabled person, before you kinda just snap at people instead of being “nice”.

I can’t say that I liked the character of Maya’s mom, who seemed kind of irresponsible in how she was treating her kids. She moved them without seeming to think about her son’s condition, and then left them alone for a business trip? Caring for someone with a chronic illness, especially a child, is not something a seventeen-year-old – deaf or not – can handle by herself.

Overall, a very good book, one that I highly recommend you read for a glimpse into a different type of life.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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