TTBF Author Repost Guest Review: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors!

This review was originally posted on October 31, 2016

eveThis review was done by another one of Team Midsummer’s favorite people, Eve.  She has submitted reviews to us before, so we were excited to have her on board for LGBT History Month! Thanks so much, Eve!

 

 

 

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely. 

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. 

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

I was immediately drawn into narrative of this intriguing novel, although I’ll confess to being a little suspicious of its potential similarity to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a sexuality angle rather than the desire to forget a past heartbreaking romantic relationship. But I was impressed by the way the focus wasn’t specifically on any one of the main issues addressed by the story, but rather a cleverly crafted weaving of the elements of grief, mental health, class and social structures, teen relationships, and love developing outside of an expected heteronormative paradigm. For this reason, while the book certainly addresses the complexities and struggle of coming out, I found the whole story to be involving and important – not just the relationship between Aaron and Thomas. It also isn’t a copy of Eternal Sunshine – it has one similar element, the neuroscience of forgetting, but it fans out to be much greater than that.

One thing I will note, because it stood out to me so much while reading that I texted Jess about it at the time, is that Aaron and Thomas say, “No homo” to each other a seemingly inordinate amount of times in the space of two pages. Now, it may be my heterosexual, cisgender privilege showing that I have never had to clarify my sexuality while interacting in an affectionate way with someone of the same sex as me, but I did feel that this phrase was somewhat overused. I’d be interested to know if this is a common experience among young men, because perhaps this phrase is used so frequently and that is part of the culture of hiding homosexual attraction.

Aside from this, the character development seemed very natural and totally solid within a few chapters – I feel like I know Aaron Soto, his friends and family, and have an understanding of his perspective on the world. The outstanding part of this book for me was how bravely and easily it tackled upsetting and painful topics, making it comfortable for the reader to continue (albeit through tears) even when the characters were suffering. Silvera does not shy away from the impact of suicide nor from the violence inherent in some relationships. On top of that, the balance of wit and warmth is spot on, throughout the happy moments and the hard ones.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot but there are twists, and they’re the delicious ones that you sort of see coming but still have to pause and take a moment to think back on and process them once they do happen. The story will have you feeling all of the emotions and, while it certainly has a central homosexual relationship, I think it actually is a more profound commentary on humanity as a whole.

4.75 Bards

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Blog Tour: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash Book Excerpt

 

It’s our day on the Birdie & Bash blog tour and we are here to introduce you to a bit of the narrative!  Check out the synopsis, a bit about the author, and an exclusive excerpt below!

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. 

Release Date: July 25, 2017

 

 

 

Candace Ganger is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsesswive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and the world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace – aka – Candyland – has a severe Milky Way latter addiction + eats way too many donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright? FYI: She’s TOTALLY awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry). She lives in Ohio with her family.

 

 

 

Book Review: A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.
 
For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.
 
But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

True Fact: I am a giant Anglophile. My best friend is British, my cousin and her husband live there, and my college roommate and friend is British as well.  I grew up in a household that lauded The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Monty Python, and Doctor Who.  My point is that any novel that is set in Britain, imported to the American market from Britain, or has a character vacationing or visiting from Britain is going to capture my attention immediately.

So suffice it to say that when I realized that this was a quintessential British teen novel I was pretty excited.

Side note: Apparently the original title was “Lobsters,” a reference to Ross and Rachel on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I kind of wish this title had stuck!  Although, it is possible that maybe publicists didn’t think some of the newer teen generation might not understand the reference, but I have faith they would have.

While I do find the whole archaic idea of “needing to find the one,” or “losing your virginity,” before you graduate from high school/secondary school a bit ridiculous.  However, in this case, I feel that the narrative is somewhat aware of this farcical ideal and takes it to a hilarious level.

meevegalentines

Gratuitous shout out to my main Brit, Eve. (She’s the brunette. She looks pretty damn British, right?)

After being close friends with one and best friends with another British woman, I know how different the culture of sex and alcohol is in Britain compared to here in America, specifically in the South, where I grew up.  Sex is much more accepted in teenagers in Britain and it is much less of a taboo subject, so I find the frankness about virginity, hormonal and horny teens to be a breath of fresh air and something that should be more widely accepted in the young adult genre.  Sure, it can be a little polarizing for some readers who are not used to that type of open discussion, but I think it is well done and done in a hilarious way.  But, for parents who are worried about that, then maybe this book should be better suited for your older teens.

The drinking age in England is 18, but it is widely accepted that adults can buy their 16 and 17 year olds a drink.  It isn’t a big deal there like it is in America.  So I found this a completely normal aspect of the British teen novel.

My only real issue with this novel is all of the point of view shifts, because sometimes it really just didn’t create distinguishable voices at points. But overall the book is funny, endearing, blunt, risky, and just plain entertaining.

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One of my favorite parts is probably little noticed by other readers: “I only became aware of how ridiculous I looked when I turned onto the main street.  No one else was walking by themselves, let alone in their pajamas.” –pg 149.  I literally laughed out loud at this part, because the last time I was in England it was winter and my best friend absolutely refused to let me go outside and down the block in my pajamas to just get a bottle of water. It is just NOT DONE, she told me, and INAPPROPRIATE. So this just reminded me of the ridiculous fight we had about whether or not I could go out in my sweats. See?  You’ll learn all kinds of things about British culture.

4.5 Bards.

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Cover Reveal: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

The cover for debut author, Krystal Sutherland’s, novel Our Chemical Hearts is now available! Just look at this beauty.  It’s simple but elegant. I love it!  Be sure to check out the novel’s synopsis below and maybe go ahead and put in a pre-order, because it sounds bloody brilliant.

 

ourchemicalhearts

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into an Ivy League college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl.

Doesn’t this sound lovely and heartrending? Sign me up!

Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

The thing that immediately drew me in was the quote that’s on the front cover of my copy, “We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.” I just love the idea that lives are always intersecting in unexpected ways, and this book absolutely does that, even with twins who have already spent their whole lives together.

So not only does it switch perspective between Noah and Jude, but also time. We see everything from Noah’s perspective from 13-14, and Jude when she’s 16. I love getting to see the differences in Noah and Jude in the time between. I think that they do a great job of letting you get to know the other through the perspective of the other twin. I love the missed connections between Noah and Jude even as they connect with the same people at different times. Noah and Jude both just keep missing each other, they went from being the best of friends, literally inseparable as NoahandJude, then adolescence sneaks in and makes them doubt everything, they feel like they can’t even trust their best friend.

While I did love the story and the way it wraps up, it did seem a little predictable. At some point because of the nature of the story it becomes easy to guess where Noah and Jude will eventually re-connect. Other than that, Jandy Nelson does a great job of creating the characters and creating separate voices for them which can sometimes be difficult for multiple POV’s.

All in all, I’d give this 4 bards.

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Book Review: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin

Nothing ever came between sisters Alice and Charlie. 
Friends didn’t. Boys couldn’t. 
Their family falling apart never would. 
Until they got to Serenity Point. 

In a town built on secrets and lies, it’s going to be hard to stay innocent. They’re sucked into a strange and seductive world—a world they can’t help but hate, and can’t help but love. A world that threatens to tear them apart, just when they need each other the most. The Innocents is the first in a new series of young adult novels that weave a saga of nail-biting drama, breathless romance, and Gothic mystery.


The Innocents was one on the first books in a long time (since the Hunger Games), that I read almost all the way through without putting it down. I can’t say it was because the novel was that creative or the world created was unique (just the opposite, it was set in modern times and places), something about the story just sucked me in. I feel the same way about this book as I feel about some of the reality shows I watch, you just can’t look away or, erm, put it down. 


The story follows two sisters that are close in age, but very different in personality. The main character Alice is a lot like me, a wallflower if you will, content on sitting back and observing the world around her instead of participating in it. Charlie, the younger sister is a feet first kind of girl, with a Devil may care kind of attitude. At first when I was reading it I thought there was no way at the ages of 16 and 17 these girls would be behaving like this, and then I realized it is probably pretty realistic. Between the drinking, drugs and the inference of sexual activity it was no wonder I was hooked, and that’s not even the main plot. 

The main plot of the story centers around the girl’s Mother remarrying a rich guy that moves them to a wealthy beach community. I will disagree with the synopsis when it indicates the town is built on secrets; it really is about the one family. As the secrets start to unravel, personalities start to make since and you learn how everyone fits into the plot. The big ending was out of left field for me. I did not see it coming until right before. That was nice because I tend to be able to see things coming from the beginning. And then the book just ends. You find out the big secret and it just ends. 

Good thing for me there is another book, however it doesn’t come out until August. It was a good read, however I will warn you it contains strong language, underage drinking and drug use. 

4 Bards

This review submitted to A Midsummer Night’s Read by Missy.


Book Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down. 

Now, when I first received a copy of this book, I was a little scared to read it for fear that it was going to be a story written in the perspective of a feral child, and those stories tend to always upset me.  But, Murdoch did something completely different and something incredibly poignant.  

If You Find Me is much more complex than the synopsis implies, and it really is a story of grief, acceptance, and adaptation.  While the reader spends very little time with Carey and Nessa in their home in the woods, their life and experiences there are very prevalent to both of their journeys when trying to adapt and become part of a “real” family.  

I think the thing that impressed me the most about Murdoch’s excellently written novel is the proper application of the Kubler-Ross model of grieving, or, more commonly known as the 5 stages of grief.  The theory states that a person grieving a death will supposedly go through 5 different stages in order to accept the traumatic event: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally, Acceptance.  

I’m going to provide examples for each, but try not to give anything specific away about the plot: 

Kubler-Ross Model
5 Stages of Grief
1. Denial: “Life isn’t like this!” Refusing to call her father anything besides sir.

2. Anger: Anger at her mother and at life in the woods, anger at Ryan when he shows her the picture (read the book and you will understand this part!) 

3. Bargaining: Praying to St. Joseph, “If you keep shorty alive,” she promises she will tell her secret.

4. Depression: Depression over leaving the woods, constantly missing them and missing “the girl from the woods” (the girl she used to be)

5. Acceptance: Finally telling the whole story, and knowing that her father and stepmother will be there for her throughout the rest of her life, etc.

There are even more examples of these, but I really would rather you go out and buy a copy of this wonderful novel, and support this debut author! 

5 Bards for If You Find Me being heartbreaking, heartwarming, and amazing.  I just wish it had been longer! 


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