When by Victoria Laurie
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley. It releases today 1/13/15.
This was one of the earlier ARCs that I requested when I first started using Netgalley, so it’s been sitting there waiting for me to read for quite some time now. I try to read as close to the release date as possible so that I can write a “fresh” review, as I am one who tends to get details from books mixed up or totally lost from reading so many titles. I had been looking forward to reading this one though, as the premise was compelling to me. Maddie can see numbers on everyone, even in photographs, and figures out the number reflects the date of that person’s death after her father passes away. Now, she is caught up in a situation where she looks guilty of committing murders because she has tried to warn people of their impending death. A client comes to see her to ask about the death date of her daughter, who is suffering from cancer, and is grateful when Maddie tells her that the daughter will live a long life. The horrifying part is the date that Maddie sees on another of the woman’s children, which results in the woman thinking Maddie is a fake and accusing her of being involved in the child’s death when it does happen as predicted. Maddie can see dates, but not HOW the person is killed, so she is not able to change anyone’s path. She is instructed by her uncle (also her lawyer) not to try to warn anyone else of their date, but of course, does not listen. This results in more accusations against her. The story is based around Maddie trying to prove that she is not involved with the actual deaths. It was a good, fast read and I didn’t predict who ends up being responsible for the deaths, so I guess that makes it a good mystery as well. I finished this book in less than 2 days so it was interesting enough to keep my attention and read in large chunks. I think I will be recommending this to several of my high schoolers.
My rating: 4/5
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley. It was released on January 6, 2014.
Wow, just wow! I don’t often have to stop and think about what I just read when I finish a book, just breeze right on to the next one, but I just couldn’t do that with this one. I have been letting it sit and resonate with me now for several days and I haven’t forgotten a bit of the feelings it brought. I am not an emotional person when it comes to fictional characters so much, but this made me feel all the feels!
It is the story of Violet and Finch….a sort of star-crossed lovers story that we have all come to love. Their story starts in a very significant way though, as they meet while both at the top of their school’s bell tower contemplating if life is worth going on. With the help of one another, they make it back down and the rumors begin–everyone saying Violet talked Finch down off the tower because he was being a “freak” again. Neither Violet or Finch cares to correct the rumor, so we begin their story. Because of an assignment, they work together to wander the state of Indiana and find interesting things that others may not know about. We find them falling for one another, but it is very obvious that they are both troubled souls…maybe Finch more so than Violet. Throughout the book, Finch is very focused on suicide: facts, statistics, ways people kill themselves, and so on. This becomes very worrisome for the reader, obviously, and eventually for Violet as well. This is a heart-wrenching story of mental illness, first love, and grief that I don’t think will ever leave me. I will be very surprised if it doesn’t become a much buzzed about book for 2015….it IS being touted as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park, which are large shoes to fill. In my opinion, it fills them and more and is very worthy of being compared to these other great authors. Jennifer Niven, I will be watching you! I will also be recommending this to many of my high schoolers.
My rating: 5/5
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley that was released on 12/30/14.
This is not an author that I have ever read, but the synopsis on Netgalley drew me in and I thought it looked interesting. Though it fell into the Women’s Fiction category for me, there is a bit of magic (you have to believe!) involved, but not in a cheesy or fake way. This is the story of Cora and her grandmother, Etta, who owns a magical dress shop. When a woman enters her shop, she can always find a way to make them feel a lot more confident and happy with a quick magical stitch. She is intent on helping her granddaughter, Cora, realize her true feelings for a neighborhood friend, Walt, and uses her magic to help the feelings along. In the process, a lot more emotions and mysteries and brought to the surface than expected. Though I found myself a bit frustrated and just wanted Cora and Walt to be together already, the story wouldn’t have been complete without all the other “drama” that happened. This is a fun, easy read that doesn’t require too much thinking or analyzing….definite recommendation for my friends/family, but will probably not purchase for my high school library. It made me think of a fairy tale and that’s always a good thing in my eyes!
My rating: 3/5
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley. It was released on 12/30/14.
The Rosie Effect is the second book in the Don Tillman series. I read The Rosie Project over the summer and recommended to a few others, so I was excited to get a hold of an advanced copy of this title. This one didn’t disappoint either. I really enjoy reading about Don’s antics and found myself laughing out loud at several spots in the book. Though it is never said outright, I assume that Don is on the Autism Spectrum…specifically Asperger’s Syndrome seems likely. I am, obviously, not an expert and could never diagnose, but that’s my impression and that’s the only point of reading a book, right? Being able to make your own assumptions and view the characters how you see them. Graeme Simsion really does a great job of showing you what it must be like in the head of someone who is very socially awkward, along with many other quirks. The writing doesn’t just explain funny situations, it really lets you see what Don is thinking as they are happening and shows you his logic in the thinking. Again, I found myself laughing out loud and sometimes even cringing for him. 🙂 Anyway, this story focuses on Rosie and Don after their marriage and when they find out they are expecting…without planning it! If you have read the first book, you know how much of a planner Don is, so this throws his whole world out of orbit. They suffer from a lack of communication and I found myself worrying about their relationship throughout the story. I was emotionally invested in these characters, so I wanted things to work for them. We also get to see a lot of the characters from Book 1 and meet some new endearing ones as well. It is hard to say much more without divulging too much info, so I will keep this short. I will add this to my library as well so I can recommend it to my coworkers and the students I have that do like to read adult books.
My rating: 3.5/5