The Mountain Between US…Book & Movie Review

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Title: The Mountain Between Us

Author: Charles Martin

Publisher: Broadway Books

Date of Publication: August 2017 (first published June 2010)

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Adventure (Survival)

Page Count: 336

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis click here

The Mountain Between Us is a romantic survival story about hope that takes place in the mountains near Salt Lake City. This is a unique survival story because the stranded people are complete strangers, a journalist named Ashley (in the movie she’s called Alex), and a doctor named Ben.

The crash enables our two main characters, Ashley and Ben, to see their life from a new perspective, enabling them to learn more about themselves. In the book, the Grover’s Charter pilot, Grover, married for almost fifty years, has advice to give Ben, married for fifteen years, and Ashley, engaged. In the movie the pilot is NOT married! This was incredibly annoying because the difference in their marriage experience offered Grover the opportunity to give Ben and Ashley advice.

 “When I wake up in the morning, she’s holding my hand. I make the coffee, and then she sits with her knees touching mine while we drink it.”

In the book Ben comes up with the idea to take the charter plane, while in the movie it was Ashley’s (Alex) idea. Another big difference between the book and movie is Ashley’s injury. In the book her broken femur leaves her immobile, forcing Ben to create a makeshift sled and pull her for the entire journey, while in the movie her injury isn’t as bad and she is able to walk.

There is a big emphasis on Ben’s running career and climbing experience in the book which helps to explain how he could have the stamina and experience to get them off the mountain. He also had his climbing bag with him, which contained many essential items that helped their survival. This is one of the conveniences that makes the book feel inauthentic. The movie leaves out the running, climbing experience, and the backpack – leaving Ben and Ashley (Alex) to “wing it”. It makes the story feel more authentic, however, it does make me wonder how in the world could they have survived without any kind of gear.

There are many flashbacks in the novel written in italics which makes it easy to follow. The writing style has a good description of the environment, and a great sense of humour. The banter between Ben and Ashley is hilarious and I found myself laughing more than once, which I wasn’t expecting from a survival story.

Ashley was grinding her teeth when I shook her. “You ready?”

She nodded, sat up. “Any coffee?”

I handed her a mug of fluid that looked more like weak tea. “Go easy. That’s the last of it.”

“It’s already a bad day, and we haven’t even started yet.”

“Think of it this way… every step away from this place is one step closer to a cappuccino at Starbucks.”

She licked her lips. “I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

In the book we get to see Ben making messages to his wife on his recorder, where in the movie this isn’t really shown. Being able to know his thoughts to his wife enables the reader to really get to know Ben and learn more about his marriage. Throughout the novel the reader is trying to figure out why Ben and his wife separated, and the reveal at the end BLEW ME AWAY. I didn’t see that coming at all, and it made me bawl my eyes out. This big reveal doesn’t exist in the movie.

In the book Ben and Ashley can’t remember Grover’s dog’s name so they just call him Tank. Whereas in the movie he remains unnamed. In the book Tank is a fierce warrior and a key player in their survival, however in the movie he’s often absent and it doesn’t really show the impact of trudging through human knee-deep snow for many days.

The plane crash happens very early on in both the book and movie, which amps up the excitement quickly and jumps right into Ben and Ashley being forced to get to know each other while fighting for their life.

I cried a few times while reading, and I don’t cry while reading very often. However, the movie didn’t have the scenes that made me cry, which was disappointing.

One thing the movie did better than the book is the portrayal of women. The are many sexist remarks and ideas in the book that aren’t present in the movie. In fact, Ashley’s (Alex) change in injury alone made her an active participant in their struggle.

I recommend the book and movie for anyone looking for an exciting, emotional, survival story.

 

About the author

http://charlesmartinbooks.com/

Charles Martin (born November 3, 1969) is an author from the Southern United States.[1][2]

Martin earned his B.A. in English from Florida State University and went on to receive an M.A. in Journalism and a Ph.D. in Communication from Regent University. He currently lives in Jacksonville, Florida.[3]

He is the author of thirteen novels: Send Down the Rain (2018), Long Way Gone (2017), Water from My Heart (2015), A Life Intercepted (2014), Unwritten (2013),[1] Thunder and Rain (2012),[2] The Mountain Between Us (2010), Where the River Ends (2008), Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery (2007), Maggie: The Sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance (Awakening Book 2) (2006), When Crickets Cry (2006), Wrapped in Rain (2005) and The Dead Don’t Dance (Awakening Book 1) (2004).

The Mountain Between Us was made into a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox. Starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, it was released on October 6, 2017.” (Wikipedia)

 

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The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy #bookreview

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Title: The Telling

Author: Alexandra Sirowy

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: August 2016

Genre: YA Contemporary, Horror/Thriller/Mystery

Page Count: 389

ISBN: 9781481418898 (hardback)

 

 

 

synopsis

Lana used to know what was real.

That was before, when her life was small and quiet.

Her golden stepbrother, Ben, was alive.

She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars.

Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief.

But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.”

My Review

I picked this book as my Five Star Prediction read for Contemporaryathon. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed.

“For the girls who are sharks, and those who are kittens, and those who are heroes, and those who are villains.”

The Telling is about a teen named Lana becoming a different person after she witnesses her stepbrother’s murder. Before his murder she was a quiet “kitten”, worried about what other’s thought of her, spending most of her time with her close friend Willa. After his murder she’s becoming a more confident “shark”, hanging out with the popular group of friends known as “the core”: Josh, Carolyn, Rusty, Duncan, and Becca.

My favourite characters are Lana’s stepbrother Ben, a good guy who couldn’t stand living on rich Gant Island after volunteering in Guatemala, and Lana’s best friend Willa, studious, cool-minded, and not impressed by “the core”.

I liked the paranormal aspect of Ben’s stories coming to life. It was a page-turner, but only because I guessed who the killer was really early on, and wanted to find out if I was right (hoping that I was wrong so I could be surprised).

I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters, and wasn’t upset when any of them were in danger. Detective Sweeny and Wood are flat, uninteresting, one-dimensional, typical good cop/bad cop.

It’s disappointing that we never get to meet “Skitzy-Fitzy“, even though he’s mentioned multiple times.

I was really confused when the parents let Detective Sweeny and Wood interview Lana, Willa, and “the core” without a parent or lawyer in the room. The detectives told Lana details about Maggie’s death during the interview which I think should have been kept private. It felt extremely unbelievable that a detective would be giving a suspect that much information about a possible homicide.

The Telling felt like a cheesy horror novel with stereotypical characters that lack real emotion. Pardon the pun, but The Telling did just that – too much “telling”, not enough “showing”.

Even though I didn’t like it, a lot of my friends on Goodreads did. So don’t take my word for it! I recommend The Telling to readers who are into YA horror/mystery stories.

About the author

“I WRITE ABOUT GIRLS WHO RESCUE THEMSELVES, TRUE LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, SECRETS AND LIES, AND MONSTERS AND HEROES THAT LOOK LIKE ME AND YOU.”

http://www.alexandrasirowy.com/about.html

Book Review ~ Thief of Happy Endings

📓 I didn’t know I needed a contemporary, young adult love story set on a horse ranch until Thief of Happy Endings.  📚 😌

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Title: Thief of Happy Endings

Author: Kristen Chandler

Genre: Teen YA

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group/Viking Books for Young Readers

Date published: June 19th, 2018

Buy this book on Amazon

Buy this book on Barnes & Noble

Buy this on Indie Bookstore

synopsis

Ever since her father moved out, Cassidy feels like her life has been falling apart. So a summer of riding horses at a ranch camp in Wyoming sounds like just what she needs–never mind the fact that she has a paralyzing fear of horses. She’s determined to move past her fear, even if that means taking lessons from the insufferable (yet irresistible) junior wrangler Justin and embarrassing herself in front of the other campers. What follows is a summer of rodeos, complicated friendships, and a wild mustang thief on the loose.

My Review

Thief of Happy Endings calls attention to many important themes such as resilience, friendship, racism, prejudice, bullying, divorce, parenting, mental health, physical abuse, and animal cruelty. After her father moves out, Cassidy is struggling with depression and anxiety. Her parents send her to a horse camp in Wyoming to hopefully help Cassidy overcome her fear of horses.

Cassidy’s character feels credible. Her love interest, Justin, is intriguing, layered, complicated. Cassidy’s roommate, Alice, is probably my favourite character. An amazing friend from the beginning to the end, Alice is reliable, smart, and experiences an enormous amount of personal growth by the end of this story.

The characters are unique with distinctive voices. The story taught me a lot about horses, and in particular the mustang population in western USA. THIS IS NOT AN INSTA-LOVE! Chandler takes the time to let us get to know the characters before introducing a romantic interaction. Drawn into Thief of Happy Endings from page one, I couldn’t put it down, and I can’t think of any dislikes.

Wild, honest, charming, and entertaining. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟!

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

 

About the author.jpg

“Kristen Chandler is the author of the award-winning Girls Don’t Fly and Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me.”

Kristen Chandler Goodreads Author Page

Final Draft #Bookreview #Netgalley #FinalDraftBook

📓 Final Draft is a Young Adult Contemporary novel written by Riley Redgate. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. 📚 😌

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Title: Final Draft

Author: Riley Redgate

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publisher: Amulet Books

Date published: June 12th, 2018

Page Count: 272

🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

synopsis

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35960813-final-draft

My Review

Set in Brooklyn, Final Draft is a third-person story about friendship, grief, mental health, and sexuality, with a DIVERSE cast. The main character, Laila, is a biracial, pansexual, Ecuadorian/French-Canadian teenager. Her inner thoughts remind me of things I said to myself as a teenager. Laila’s soft-spoken teacher, Mr. Madison, reads her stories and encourages her to keep writing. He’s the kind of teacher we’ve probably all had. This is a purposefully slow story that takes place the summer before Laila and her three friends leave for college. I didn’t like Nazarenko’s character, but it didn’t ruin the story for me.

Beautifully introspective. Redgate isn’t afraid to speak the truth, writing about big things like sexual orientation, female sexuality, and racial identity.

 

I was annoyed when descriptions of people mentioned they didn’t look “normal”, or that it was shocking for a larger person to have confidence. Throwing homeopathic remedies and healthy food under-the-bus was also unnecessary. Having a teenager complain about healthy things has been done, and I feel that it’s not authentic.

This would be a great Summer read. Be sure to visit your local bookstore or library and check out this brand new novel.

About the author.jpg

According to Amazon, Riley Redgate is a graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio. She’s the author of Seven Ways We Lie (2016), Noteworthy (2017), and Final Draft (2018).

May Wrap Up [2018] #reading

I read 6 books in March:
2 Young Adult (Fantasy, Contemporary Romance)
2 Adult (Anthology/Fantasy, Mystery Crime Thriller)
2 Middle Grade (Fantasy Graphic Novels)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I follow the Goodreads rating suggestions:
🌟= did not like it
🌟🌟= it was ok
🌟🌟🌟= liked it
🌟🌟🌟🌟= really liked it
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟= it was amazing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Title: Our Dark Duet

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Date Published: June 2017

Page Count: 510

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟 Our Dark Duet By Victoria Schwab #BookReview

 

 

 

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Title: Some Of The Best From Tor.com

Author: Various

Publisher: Tor.com

Date Published: January 2017

Page Count: 667

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟  Some Of The Best From Tor.com 2016 #BookReview #Free #KOBO

 

 

 

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Title: Find You In The Dark

Author: Nathan Ripley

Publisher: Text Publishing

Date Published: April 2018

Page Count: 352

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟  New Thriller by Canadian Author #Findyouinthedark #Netgalley

 

 

 

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Title: The Last Council (Amulet #4)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi

Publisher: Graphix

Date Published: September 2011

Page Count: 219

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10537195-the-last-council

 

 

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Title: From Twinkle With Love

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Published: May 2018

Page Count: 336

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟 New Teen Contemporary Romance #BookReview #Netgalley #FromTwinkleWithLove

 

 

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Title: Prince of the Elves (Amulet #5)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi

Publisher: Graphix

Date Published: September 2012

Page Count: 203

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2400981523?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

New Teen Contemporary Romance #BookReview #Netgalley #FromTwinkleWithLove

📚 “Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you. ”  📚

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Title: From Twinkle, With Love

Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: Teen Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date published: May 22nd, 2018

Page Count: 336

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

A Barnes & Noble Most Anticipated Sophomore Novel of 2018!

Available in Scholastic Book Clubs starting Fall 2018!

An Indie Next Summer 2018 Pick!

One of Popsugar’s 10 Exciting Summer Releases!

synopsis

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36373464-from-twinkle-with-love

 

My Review

From Twinkle, With Love takes place in June, Colorado Springs, told from the perspective of sixteen-year-old Twinkle Mehra, who feels like an invisible “wallflower”.

A refreshing, modern, coming-of-age story about learning from mistakes and discovering your true self. This story has a diverse cast of characters, which is always nice to read. Sahil, the twin brother of Twinkle’s crush Neil, is my favorite character. He’s an adorable, ideal example of how young modern men should treat women.

I enjoyed the use of letters, text messages, emails, and blog posts to tell the story. It made for an interesting, quick-read, which is great for the hesitant reader.

Despite a few plot holes, From Twinkle, With Love is a light, funny,  charming novel for readers 12 and up (no sex, drinking/drugs). A great summer read 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

About the author.jpg

Author of light, bright, diverse YA. Hiding behind my coffee cup, eavesdropping on your conversations.https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14834224.Sandhya_Menon

http://www.sandhyamenon.com/

Every Note Played #newbook #bookreview

Author of Still Alice has a new book out this month called Every Note Played. I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. This review is spoiler-free 🙂 Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

Every Note Played

 

Title: Every Note Played

Author: Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Scout Press

Date published: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 320

 

 

synopsis

“From neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice comes a powerful exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom, and what it means to be alive.

An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.

Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.

He knows his left arm will go next.

Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.

When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.”

My Review

After thoroughly enjoying Still Alice (about early onset Alzheimer’s disease) and Left Neglected (about traumatic brain injury), I was extremely excited to receive a complimentary copy of Lisa Genova’s new novel Every Note Played. This is a heart-breaking drama about Richard’s struggle with ALS, told from both his perspective and that of his ex-wife Karina. When we meet Richard he is at the top of his game, preparing for yet another big concert where he gets to flaunt his fantastic piano playing. He’s a narcissistic, sexist jerk, and I thought there was no way I could ever care about him. Flash forward to me, crying many tears many times while reading this touching story.

Richard and Karina have a daughter, Grace, who is attending University. After the divorce Grace distanced herself from her father because while growing up it seemed like he was never home. Richard is lucky enough to have an amazing care worker named Bill, a strong, professional, compassionate, homosexual man who made me chuckle and weep.

I didn’t know a lot about ALS going into this, and feel grateful to read a novel that gives a description in a clear way that the average reader could understand. Although this is a somber story about disappointment, resentment, and betrayal, it’s also about love, forgiveness, and hope. I am left in awe of the ALS warriors and the champion care-givers.

About the author.jpg

Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She has captured a special place in contemporary fiction, writing stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. Her books focus on people living with neurological diseases and disorders who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is accessible to the general public. Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research. She has written about Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington’s disease, and ALS.

STILL ALICE was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.

In 2015, Lisa was named one of the U.S. Top 50 Influencers in Aging. She received The Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square,The Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award, The Global Genes RARE Champions of Hope Award, and The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Media Award for Informing the Public about Treatment and Ongoing Research in Medical Illness.

In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bates College, The Alzheimer’s Association’s Rita Hayworth Award, and The Huntington’s Disease Society of America Community Awareness Award.

Her 2017 TED talk, “What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s,” was seen by over 2.5 million viewers in its first few months and was one of the most popular TED talks of 2017.

Her fifth novel, EVERY NOTE PLAYED, is about ALS and will be published in early 2018.”

www.lisagenova.com

www.Facebook.com/authorlisagenova

www.Instagram.com/authorlisagenova

One of the best books I’ve read this year – The Astonishing Color of After #BookReview

I feel incredibly grateful to have received an advanced copy of The Astonishing Color of After in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. This is one of my most favorite books ever. I can’t wait to buy my own copy!

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Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Genre: Teen/YA Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Date published: Expected March 20, 2018

Page Count: 480

 

 

synopsis

“Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.”

My Review

The Astonishing Color of After is a freeing, haunting, quirky, contemporary romance novel about depression, suicide, grief, family secrets, forgiveness, and love. This story takes place in America and Taiwan. Told with luxuriant writing, I wish I could share some of my favorite passages, however because this is an advance copy I’m not allowed. The writing quality is exquisite.

Leigh, the main character, is a girl who thinks of every life event as a color, yet only sketches in black and white. Leigh’s best friend is a guy named Axel, who creates pictures using colors and shapes to match the song in his head, then he makes the music to match the image. He calls it opera electronica. And yes, he is as cool as he sounds. Though Leigh has a secret crush on Axel, this is not an insta-love situation. Her other close friend, Caro, is a lesbian with a super quirky, loving family. Caro’s grandparents are absolutely adorable, and definitely a couple of my favorite characters.

When Leigh travels to Taiwan we get to meet her grandparents. As Leigh travels around Taiwan, visiting her mother’s favorite places, we get to learn a lot about the food and places. Feng is a close family friend who accompanies Leigh during her travels, teaching her more about the traditions and language. In her room at her grandparents place, Leigh finds some very dark sticks of incense. Burning each incense stick transports Leigh to a world of “Smoke & Memories” where she gets to relive moments of the past from her loved ones perspective. Flashbacks can sometimes be annoying, however these “Smoke & Memories” chapters are absolutely fantastic. Leigh’s mother always wore a cicada necklace, and I was curious about what the symbolism was for this. I learned that the cicada is a symbol of immortality or rebirth, which fits perfectly.

I appreciate how much time and careful consideration it must have taken to create a narrative centered on suicide in such an authentic and gracious manner. I smiled, I laughed, I cried tears of sadness and joy. I even got goosebumps many times reading the last 15% of this magical tale. I can’t recommend this one enough – 5 STARS!

 

About the author.jpg

Emily X.R. Pan lives in Brooklyn, New York, but was born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is a co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology, and a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi. She logs the books she reads in an Excel spreadsheet and a secret other Goodreads account.Goodreads

Emily Pan’s Website

Pre-Order “The Astonishing Color of After”

Currently Reading: Stray City #LGBT #AdultFiction #Contemporary

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Stray City is expected to be published March 20, 2018, I was sent a complimentary copy in advance in exchange for my unbiased review.

Title: Stray City

Author: Chelsey Johnson

Expected Publication: March 20, 2018

Publisher: Custom House

432 pages

Adult Fiction, Literary, LGBT, Contemporary

 

“One of the most anticipated debuts in years, Stray City strikes a perfect balance of hipster charm, sparkling literary acumen, and the sort of timely themes that make for the most popular book club selections.” Edelweiss+

A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.

All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .

Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.

A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.

A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.” Goodreads

  • Stray City will appeal to readers of LGBTQ-themed titles such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, and Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, as well as fans of general coming-of-age stories such as the ‘90s cult classic Reality Bites, or Nick Hornby’s classics High Fidelity and About a Boy.” (Edelweiss+)

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio #BookReview #thewonderofwonder #choosekind

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

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Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date published: September 2017 (originally published 2012)

Page Count: 352 pages

synopsis

A special movie tie-in edition of R.J. Palacio’s #1 New York Times bestseller, now a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin.
Over 5 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and Auggie Pullman, the ordinary boy with the extraordinary face, who inspired a movement to Choose Kind. This special movie tie-in trade paperback edition features an eight-page full-color insert with photos from the film, a new introduction by the author, and a family discussion guide.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, a #1 New York Times bestseller, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” –indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Join the conversation: #thewonderofwonder, #choosekind

My Review

If you haven’t heard of Wonder, you’ve been living under a rock. Both the book and movie are a big hit, and have made an enormous impact on millions of people. I do not have the talent to write a worthy review for such an important piece of literature – but I’ll give it a shot, in hopes that you’ll pick up this book, read it, then have your kids read it, and tell everyone you know to read it. Our western society is at a fork in the road, and it’s books like Wonder that may help shift the tide so we can all choose kindness.

 

Wonder is a story about acceptance, courage, compassion, loyalty, and kindness. It’s told from many perspectives: August, his sister Via, his friend Summer, his other friend Jack, and Via’s friend Miranda.

The characters feel authentic and reminded me of people I know in real life. I cried when August cried, and I laughed when he laughed. His school principal, Mr. Tushman, is like so many principals that I have worked with, hard, but kind. They work to bring the best out of you. August makes some great friends at school, Jack, Charlotte, and Summer – and he also makes some enemies, Julian. Mr. Browne, the teacher who is amazing at his job and understands how to connect with his students, not to just teach the curriculum, but to teach life changing lessons. As a parent I couldn’t help but feel connected to Augusts’ parents who struggled, like many parents, with trying to protect their children, yet give them the room to grow.

Summer is most definitely my favourite character. I would love to read an entire book about her, and I wonder what she would be like as an adult. She’s the kind of friend I wish we could all have, and the person I hope I am.

August’s first day of school
“I went straight to room 301 on the third floor. Now I was glad I’d gone on that little tour, because I knew exactly where to go and didn’t have to look up once. I noticed that some kids were definitely staring at me now. I did my thing of pretending not to notice.” page 37

“In the hallways, which were always crowded, my face would always surprise some unsuspecting kid who maybe hadn’t heard about me. The kid would make the sound you make when you hold your breath before going underwater, a little “uh!” sound. This happened maybe four or five times a day for the first few weeks: on the stairs, in front of the lockers, in the library. Five hundred kids in a school: eventually every one of them was going to see my face at some time.” page 61

“This precept means that we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.” August, explaining Mr. Browne’s precept, Your Deeds Are Your Monuments. page 65

 

I purposefully read Wonder slowly, because I didn’t want it to end. One of my top 10 books I’ve ever read – maybe even top five. If you haven’t read Wonder, READ IT NOW! And…Choose Kind.

About the author.jpg

“R.J. Palacio lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4859212.R_J_Palacio