Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho (ARC)

Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho
Viking Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin), 366 pages
US Release Date: October 9, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.
------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
"I'm not running away," she says. "I'm walking away."
I didn’t know what to think going into Althea & Oliver. I’d never heard of it until it popped up on the ARC Tour site I go onto, and because I am a sucker for all things duality and all things contemporary, I went for it. I mean, it seems pretty freakin’ interesting: a disease where you sleep for weeks, months at a time? That in itself is interesting, but then to get the best friends’ viewpoint in it too, and it seems she wants more? I tried to put myself into Althea’s place, and I knew I had to read it. (Because I would not be able to handle it. I have problems going a weekend without my best guy friend.)

At the beginning of the ARC is a letter from the editor that calls this book “a work of literature with teenagers in it, rather than a ‘YA novel’” and I was at first a little offended. You can’t tell me If I Stay isn’t literature. You can’t tell me The Fault in Our Stars isn’t a thing of beauty, that Wanderlove isn’t every bit the work of words and wonder it sounds like it is.

But I get it. I so, so get it.

Althea & Oliver explores so many elements, from teenager things to new adult to young adult to adult things. The before and after, the friendship, the idea of wanting more, the knowing and needing of more and less. The family of friends, a dysfunctional family, a chosen family and a given family. Of making mistakes, horrible, terrible, absolutely shattering mistakes; to the realization and the attempt at fixing or repairing them. And then the failure, and the not-quite-a-failure-but-may-as-well-be.

I have to admit that I didn’t think Althea and Oliver were quite as opposite as they were made out to be. Althea is supposed to be the crazy artiste, the off-the-wall, on-the-cusp kinda girl; and Oliver is the steady, the rock, the grounded. But I don’t actually believe that—yes, I could see how she seems to be the revolving around his axis, but there’s a bit more to each of them, a bit more of the other in them. Althea definitely takes the more obvious route of being crazy and out of control, but Oliver has it on the internal.

Honestly, I’m finding it a bit hard to write a cohesive review for this book, because I have so many thoughts and feelings about it and for it and for them and how much I want to hug them. I’m a bit scattered—but it’s actually pretty representative of this book. There’s so much chaos and unknown and scattered thoughts and feelings throughout. I was so caught up with it, so taken along and invested in the ride I’m having a hard time pulling myself back from it.

I have to say that the plot, the movement…it’s perfect. How the story is built, you really understand who they are and who they are together. I felt like I knew their friendship so well, even though I’ve got nothing like theirs. I liked how it all fit together, how it all fell apart, how it all scrabbled and scraped to get back together, and how it all kind of floundered and figured itself in the end. It’s perfect.

And the ‘almost’ and the ‘favourite’ really got me. Oh god, did it get me.

Althea & Oliver may not be quite what it led me to believe, but I’m actually pretty happy about that because I’ve found a book that feels like it’s a little part of me, like it understood some of the hardest, more difficult aspects of my emotions and fears and feelings. It is a lesson that even in the screw-ups, even in the chaos and broken perfections, we can find enough to get us on the pathway back.

4.5 stars

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (ARC)

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
HarperTeen, 288 pages
Expected US Release Date: January 27, 2015
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.
----------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
“Different strategies, same problems.”
So, I’m going to say this, and it may be mean, but I don’t intend it as mean as it will come out: saying this compares to The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was a terrible disservice. It made me expect too much, it made me think a certain development, a certain style, a certain self-exploration was going to happen—and unfortunately, it didn’t. It didn’t even come close.

Without the comparison, Playlist For the Dead was pretty good. I liked the little bits of mystery, how we’re trying to figure out what really happened to Hayden and why he did what he did. I enjoyed the music from the playlist too, it helped set a tone and a mood as long as I knew the song. And I admit that I only knew about 40% of them, so I think I definitely missed a few things about it…but it was enjoyable as it was.

I think my main complaint about this book is how anti-climactic it was. I didn’t think the breaks in action were really appropriate, nor did it follow through with the impact it was built up to be. None of the reveals really shocked me, none of the characters or the parts they played really came out of left field. I won’t go as far as to say it’s predictable, but…it was fairly obvious the direction things would go, and I found I was able to guess almost 100% correctly every time.

Weirdly, I kind of like how violent this story got. I don’t endorse violence! Do not think I am condoning going after someone with a bat, or anything remotely close to that! But I appreciated that this book went there, because that is an unfortunate reality to life, especially when it comes to an unfairness of someone taking his life and trying to understand why. Playlist For the Dead faced the helplessness of being left behind, the rage and anger at wanting to understand without being given all the pieces to do so. And I think that was a great thing to tackle, because not many books will.

Perhaps what I attached to most relates to the quote I chose to highlight: “Different strategies, same problems.” It’s a really clever way of summing up so much of this story. Two sides to everything. Different takes on the same thing. So many varying viewpoints and opinions and stories that culminate to the same thing, but take incredibly different paths to get there. It’s kind of a nice way to explain away a lack of depth to a lot of the characters, why sometimes the story is a bit chaotic. But it’s also a clever way of being a little more introspective than it seems.

Playlist For the Dead had a few disappointments for me, but still resonated in its message and the overall takeaway. I appreciated how head on it faced such a tough, sensitive subject—I just wish it had been done a teeny, tiny bit better.
3.5 stars

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Giveaway: A Box of YA Books! (US only)

If you saw this tweet, you know what this is about :) I'm participating in a Secret Santa, and the box I bought for my #TBTBSanta was too small for all the goodies! Solution? Have a giveaway to fill the box, of course!

ONE (1) lucky winner will win a box of YA books!

Most of the books will be ARCs from 2014 or earlier, a few finished copies, and I'll even toss in one or two 2015 ARCs I picked up via Comic-con and/or ALA! The ones I can definitely tell you included are:

 

My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins (finished hardcover, pictured)
Great by Sara Benincasa (ARC)
Zodiac by Romina Russell (a 2015 ARC!)

….but that's just the beginning :)

US Only
(sorry INT!)
Ends December 23, 2014

Please do not leave your email in my comment section.
Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
May the odds be ever in your favour!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday (18)

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View, meant to spotlight blogs and allows bloggers to link up and meet other fabulous bookish friends and share the Following love!

This week's spotlight blogs are Mo_Books and Books Are My Life!

And the question of the week is:
Do you decide in advance what you read for the coming week/month? Why or why not?

Yes and no. (Confusing, I know) Since I do touring ARCs via Around the World Tours, I do have to plan out what to read and when if I know a book is coming or one has arrived. Luckily, I'm all about reading multiple books at once and have no problem with it, so if one pops up I wasn't expecting (either from the publisher, from tour sites, or NetGalley), I can roll with it pretty well.

That all said, I've abandoned this many times, too. It all really depends on the my mood and what I can stomach in terms of genres. Sometimes too many contemporaries in a row skew my reviews, or I start comparing too much if I read 4 dystopians in a row. I usually make a small stack of the ones I know I definitely want to get to in the coming weeks--but I know I'll probably stray far and fast.

If you're wondering, these are some of the books I hope to read this month!


What's your reading plan? Do you keep to it?
Leave me your link and I'll hop by!
And of course I'd love to return a follow if you are kind enough to follow me :)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing (ARC)

The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing
HarperTeen, 358 pages
US Release Date: September 2, 2014
Format/Source: ARC, via Around the World Tours

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
--------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
“Hope is a precious thing, isn’t it” she says quietly. “And yet, we don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone.”
I kind of hate saying this, but I feel like The Jewel is going to be my new The Selection series. One where I like a lot of the elements, and I kind of have to know what happens…but there are so many other parts that make me SO ANGRY I just can’t say I like the book. It was so frustrating to read and recognize the things I didn’t like, but still have that need of finishing or finding out if what I think is true, actually is true. (Usually it was.) (Actually, it always was.)

Largely, The Jewel was interesting and unique, if not a little…flat. I’ve not encountered a Dystopian world like this yet, but I felt like I knew so little about The Lost City. It had a lot of elements similar to other books—the circular levels and districts that determined your worth, the past of a war that made it this way, the element of a Power (or Augury, in this one) that becomes the ticket to elevating your status.  And that’s all well and good, I just don’t really get a good sense of this world around it. I couldn’t figure out how far in the “future” it was, if even in the future…I guess it’s more of an alternate world? I’ll settle on that one, for ease and clarity.

I liked the element of Auguries and how that affected their Lot number, and opened up a whole unexplored territory of what the Surrogates could do. It was interesting to have Surrogates be a little reminiscent of slavery but still be living in the lap of luxury with their own ladies-in-waiting and maids. If I searched for it or felt like linking it, I could find a lot of historial parallels here—and while I don’t think that was really an intention, it was something that held my interest.

However, I really did not like the romance in this. It’s very much insta-love, and entirely expected. All their parts felt rushed and clich├ęd, without any real development. It just was. While the idea of Companions makes sense, I never liked when Ash and Carnelian were together. I hated Carnelian as a character—she’s too despicable for me to ever get a feel for her, and it made me have no sympathy for any of her parts. I just resented every time she was on the page, because I felt like she was a device meant to make me feel some way without really getting to discover that feeling.

I think what bothered me most about this book was the writing—not that it’s weird or terrible. I just felt like it wasn’t developed well, that a lot of the plotlines that happened did because it was supposed to be that way. Not much of this felt like a natural, flowing story. Like The Duchess was this evil character, but she had moments of weakness and humanity—but those moments felt so fake and calculated. Every time that would happen, it was because I knew she had been too evil and we were just waiting for a “positive” so we would get a rounded character from her. A lot of characters are that way for me; they’re constructed to be just-so and it didn’t feel natural at all.

In the same regard as The Selection, I feel like there is a lot of potential for this series. A lot of the plot itself is interesting, if only because I want to know what’s going to happen, how it will all happen. There’s a lot that can grow from here, that we can eventually learn…I just don’t quite know if it will ever get there.

I’m a bit torn about The Jewel, just because I felt so much that way while reading it. There would be small parts I was into, but it would quickly follow with parts I couldn’t stand. And while I’ll definitely pick up Book 2 just so I can know, I know I’m going to have reservations and doubts going into it.

3 stars

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (ARC)

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray
Harper Teen, 368 pages
Expected US Release Date: November 4, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.
------------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
This, I think, is the boundary line of adulthood. Not the crap they claim it is -- graduating from high school or losing your virginity or getting your first apartment or whatever. You cross the boundary the first time you're changed forever. You cross it the first time you know you can never go back.
I was a little nervous heading into A Thousand Pieces of You, since I’m a self-admitted time travel hater. I can’t stand time traveling in anything, and I figured this concept of layers of fate would translate the same to me. And it didn’t help when I disliked the beginning pages so much—the storytelling seemed off to me, and I was annoyed with how abstract it felt. I couldn’t grasp at much, and I wanted to give up on it.

However.

I am so, so glad I never did. It quickly turned into this fascinating concept of traveling within your fates, and I was 100% onboard with the idea when it introduced the boundary of only being able to travel to a layer you would actually exist in. THAT was such a tiny but important element that it completely won me over, in every way. It was creative and logical and sensical and brilliant all in one.

Ignoring how I felt about the first few pages, A Thousand Pieces of You just flies by—the pace just keeps picking up and going on and on and you feel like you’re swept away on this amazing, terrifying adventure. The amount of creativity and how stunningly unique all the stories and time periods were just fascinating, and I felt like I fell in love so many times over. Not just with the characters, but with the words and story and the simple idea that all these common words together can still create a breathtaking novel.

I quite liked each character as well, though it took me awhile to come around to Marguerite. Theo I was quick to like and quick to fluctuate on; and Paul pulled me in every single direction. Meeting each of them in each layer was also an interesting facet—while sometimes I felt like they were a little too different to actually be the same character, they relatively retained the same characteristics and personalities throughout. What was solid and true remained, and while it took some digging, a reader can find it and fall in love with them.

I’ve been seeing some complaints about the sci-fi missing in a novel that’s advertised as sci-fi…and I could see that, actually. But for me it was one of the best parts! I’m not a sci-fi reader by any means—it’s not that I hate it, I’m just not particularly drawn to it. I’ve read some ok sci-fi, some good sci-fi, and some brilliant sci-fi, in all age ranges…but it still isn’t something I will seek out. So when A Thousand Pieces of You turned into a sci-fi-but-not-fully-sci-fi, it totally worked for me. There was a little bit of historical elements, a lot of futuristic things, and a whole lot of contemporary and romance and general storytelling. It was nice to not be completely stuck in one genre, and I thought it worked really well with the story itself.

Quite obviously, I was thrilled with the first book in the Firebird series. Great characters, a wonderful, fast-moving plot with one of the most original, fascinating concepts of “fate traveling” I’ve ever seen—I can’t wait to see what else we have in store for this organization and these characters.

5 stars

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Clearing the Shelf Giveaway: Three (3) 2014 ARCs! (US Only)

I've got too many books, so you get to help me clear the clutter!

ONE (1) lucky winner will win three 2014 ARCs!

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

US Only
(sorry INT!)
Ends October 22, 2014

Please do not leave your email in my comment section.
Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
May the odds be ever in your favour!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (ARC)

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Putnam Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin), 345 pages
US Release Date: April 8, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.
-------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
I needed my mentor-person right now. I had figured out as much as I possibly could, so it was time for my Giles or my Professor X or whoever to get here and start explaining.
Rebel Belle isn’t something I’d normally gravitate to (honest truth: because of the cover. I seriously hate pink.), but I kind of had a fiending to read about more kick ass girl characters. And if there’s one that sounds like it will fit the bill, it’s Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins.

I always have a habit of reading acknowledgements before I read the book, and I have to say Rachel’s pitch of Legally Blonde meets The Terminator is spot on. This is such a fun, quirky read. This class president, cotillion Queen kickin’ ass and killing people with her shoes?! That’s so awesome.

I liked the general storyline, why David Stark needs protecting and how it all falls on Harper and Saylor. The history is interesting and makes for endless possibilities as they move through the days. The setting was probably something I loved best—I grew up in Europe and southern California. I have absolutely no idea about the South and southern belles, and I loved the houses and buildings; especially the Tea House and Magnolia House. I really felt like I could picture those places, like I was really there drinking tea or sweeping down the steps.

One of my only issues with this book is that I feel like I had to suspend my reality a bit. More than the obvious, I mean. There are certain situations where I just kept thinking of all the ways the assassin/killer person should have done something, or that if so-and-so had simply done this, it would have worked. (This is kind of hard to discuss without giving away a lot of key elements haha.) It’s not that what happened didn’t work, it was just…unnecessarily complicated for the sake of the story, and I couldn’t help feeling like the better solutions were glaringly obvious.

Still, Rebel Belle was a ton of fun to read. It’s quick and light with just enough heaviness and drama and issues to pull you in and keep going. I loved all the various ways Rachel Hawkins was able to get super kickass ninja skills mixed in with shoe shopping and refraining from curse words. If anything, everyone should read this to meet Harper: she's a little bit of you, a little bit of me, a little bit of everyone with some great superhero-like powers to boot.

3.5 stars

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Weekly Wrap-Up (32): Hello, October. We meet again.

How is it already October?! My goodness, you guys. I just don't understand how a year can go by so freakin' fast. I'm already knee deep in my party planning and holiday happenings, both for personal life and my work. I'm planning my work's Anniversary party--it's in JANUARY!
How's life, everyone? I'm in a weird stage of finally being able to manage work and trying to get back into the swing of life. I'm going to admit that I heavily considered giving up on my blog and going on hiatus…but every single time I seriously thought about it, I became so sad and distraught at the idea that I finally realized it meant I shouldn't do it. I love this piece of my life, and I'm not ready to let it go yet. If ever.
So of course I'm going to ruin any time I may have by…possibly doing NaNoWriMo! Anyone else taking it on? I try it every year for the last 6 years but have only won twice. Maybe this will be the third? A girl can dream.

In case you missed it...
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn
A Blind Spot For Boys by Justina Chen
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Telley
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Special News
My review of Lies We Tell Ourselves was published in the Australian Times Books magazine!
Check it out here!

Coming up...
Reviews of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins, and The Jewel by Amy Ewing. I'll share my TBR for the rest of the year, and I've also got way too many books piling up in my house, so it's time to purge some ARCs--which means giveaway time coming soon!

Onto the books!
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer


Throne of Glass (TOG#1) by Sarah J. Maas (I had to have a matching hardcover set!)
Heir of Fire (TOG #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Nightmares! by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Lullabies by Lang Leav
Winger by Andrew Smith
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

What books came into your possession recently?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Because Tough Subjects:
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Telley
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Because Military:
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Personal Effects by EM Kokie

Because Life Stuff That I Won't Get Into:
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Just One Day & Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Because I Can't See Through My Tears:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Honorable Mention
Because it wasn't (well…it kind of was Because Life Stuff That I Won't Get Into), but now it most certainly will be:
It's Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

What books were hard for you to read?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (ARC)

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Greenwillow Books (an imprint of Harper), 304 pages
US Release Date: September 9, 2014
Format/Source: ARC, via Harper at ALA - thank you!

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.
--------------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
She wanted to know how Galileo and Newton and Einstein discovered the things they discovered. She wanted to know how they could have lived in the exact same world as everyone else but see things that no one else did.
There was so, so much hype about this book that it was one of the few I was on the hunt for when I was at ALA. I stalked the Harper Booth and bothered every rep I could find to see if they had a signing or giveaway set up (Hi Martha!), and I may have squealed a bit when I finally got it in my hands. Maybe.

And I wish I could say I loved it as hard and as fiercely as everyone else seemed to. I’m not saying I didn’t like it—no, I actually liked it quite a bit. Even loved some parts. And I definitely get why so many wept and clutched at this book. But it just didn’t for me, and I’m a bit sad about it.

The thing I have, have, HAVE to talk about is the structure of this book. Sometimes non-linear storylines completely blow it and make everything confusing, but this one just worked. It fit so well into the style, into the feeling of the story, into the erratic, depressed nature of Liz Emerson. I loved the chapter titles, how it was a timeline without being a timeline and still actually, literally, being a timeline. It was lovely and my absolute favourite element to Falling Into Place.

The narrator was also a pleasant surprise. I’m not going to ruin who it is, but it was a fantastic device from the storyteller and reader view. It was smart, and completely sensible.

I really don’t like Liz Emerson. She is the type of bitch we all hated in high school, one of those untouchables who seems to get away with everything while being the cause of it, too. But I liked her as a character. She was full and faulted and heartbreakingly aware of how terrible of a person she had been. Her and her friends, Julia and Kennie, are a perfect portrayal of High School Royalty, the clique with it all that we wanted to tear into. Even though they were despicable, the writing of them was not, and I liked that.

Falling Into Place is so absolutely sad, the more we learn about Liz and her psyche and what is causing her to slide on the ice and wrap her car around a tree. There’s this heartbreaking feeling of vacancy and voids and hopelessness that permeates everything, and it just tugs at you and sucks you into this story. I hate Liz (as evident), but I felt so much for her. The writing is so poetic in it’s style, and it gets you straight through the soul into the core of your feelings. I’m not going to admit just how close this novel hits home for me (that’s a whole different story of my own), but there are parts that made me speechless and breathless in despair.

So what was it exactly that made me not like it as much as others? I honestly have no clue. I didn’t cry. I didn’t have to put the book down, and I didn’t read it in one sitting. But I cannot give any real reason why that is! So I’ve decided that this book is, in fact, pretty damn brilliant. It just wasn’t for me personally, and I won’t hold that against Amy Zhang or Falling Into Place. You should read this. I think everyone needs to read this, to experience the fantastic writing and structure and story. To know Liz, and maybe not like her, but to feel her story.

As a side note, I met Amy at ALA, and she was wonderful and sweet and deserves every bit of praise she’s getting for this debut. High school?! I cannot wait to see what this girl has in store for us.
4 stars