First Comes Love

26192467 First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley and from BEA, release date 6/28/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

My thoughts:
I have read all of Emily Giffin’s books, except the one right before this (going back to it as soon as I get a chance though), and have always enjoyed her writing. I got the chance to meet Emily and get this book signed while at BEA in Chicago, so I was super excited to read and review it.

I really liked this book and found myself excited to get back to it each evening before bed. I found myself really relating to Josie, since I started out as an elementary teacher (before moving to the high school level) and am still single, though not actively searching/needing a man like she thought she did. I have a very similar personality as well, so I found her chapters especially enjoyable. Emily also did her research on teaching (or maybe she has a background I’m not aware of!) and was accurate about the life of a teacher. I also found the dynamic among the two sisters quite entertaining, though Meredith was highly unlikeable for me (because I am pretty much her opposite, like Josie). It is always interesting to read about two sisters so different, as this is certainly the case in real life with my sister and me. Not that my sister is like Meredith either, we are just extremely different from one another.

Meredith is the more uptight, boring sister in this particular story…she has the life that Josie thinks she wants, but she is not happy with it herself. Throughout the book, she is trying to figure out where she went wrong and how she can be happy in the future. It is certainly a struggle, as she knows she has it good in the eyes of most other people. Josie struggles throughout the story for Meredith’s approval, while they both are trying to figure out how to move on from a tragedy that happened 15 years ago.

If you don’t like books with alternating viewpoints, you may not like this format, but I tend to like this style; since a lot of Young Adult books that I read are that way, I have become accustomed to it. I would say that it’s safe to say this is my favorite Emily Giffin book thus far and I have already recommended it to my own sister and mom, and I will be telling friends about it also. If you are looking for a great summer read, and if you enjoy a family story, then pick this one up for sure! I am hoping maybe we will get to read more about these sisters in future books. 🙂

My rating: 5/5

 

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American Babe

27274352 American Babe by Babe Walker

***This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 6/28/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Babe Walker thought she had done it all. After all, she’s survived the highly exclusive social hierarchies of Bel Air, traipsed around Europe in true white-girl fashion, and left her mark on several of the best rehab facilities in the United States. But now Babe is about to enter a terrifying new world: Middle America.
After a freak accident that was definitely not Babe’s fault, her estranged mother offers her the perfect escape from LA: an invite to her grandfather’s eightieth birthday party in Maryland, of all places. Babe’s journey throws her headlong into elementary school classrooms full of small, unfashionable people and pizza buffet restaurants that will haunt her nightmares and eventually back to Los Angeles, thank goodness. Tossed together with her cousins—basic preteen Cara and mature and preternaturally stylish Knox—Babe learns that connecting with someone on an intimate, familial level might be the most rewarding experience there is…
Besides being thin, of course.

My thoughts:

I absolutely adore these books. They make me laugh so much and they are just plain fun. I read the first White Girl Problems book when it first came out and I didn’t read Psychos, but am definitely going to go back and do so now after this one. I forgot how much I liked them! Babe uses a lot of slang and a lot of modern references, which will date the book over time, but it is great for now. I really enjoyed reading about her developing more of a family relationship with the characters in this book and seeing how “normal” people live. She also gets to learn a bit of responsibility in this book. Though she can be a bit obnoxious in her behaviors and how spoiled she is, I still find it really entertaining, because I know I would be the exact same way if I was wealthy. 🙂 I’m not sure if it’s good to admit that or not, but there it is.

If you’re looking for a fun read this summer, then this would be it! I can’t say that I’ll be buying it for my school library due to content, but I will definitely recommend to some friends.

My rating: 5/5

Holding Up the Universe

 

Holding Up the Universe Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**This review is based on an early bound manuscript received from the publisher/author and an ARC received at BEA.

This is an initial review, please know that there will be much more to come as the release date gets closer. That being said, this is a review from someone who has actually read the book (not just someone reviewing it based on a synopsis I read on Goodreads).

I hadn’t even bothered to read about all the negativity surrounding the initial synopsis of this book before today. Yes, I am a Jennifer Niven fan (as you would know if you have read my blog); this means I was highly anticipating this book and let me say that I was NOT disappointed. I feel that even though I am a fan, I can be fair and (almost) unbiased in my review, but I am someone who can relate to at least one of the characters as well. I am not a small girl, I have always struggled with being overweight and have had to hear rude comments coming from those who feel bad about themselves in some way. Why would you feel the need to comment on someone else’s weight unless you are insecure? I was in no way offended by Libby’s story or by the part in the original synopsis stating that she was going to “rejoin the human race”…in her mind, that’s exactly what she was doing after being confined to her home and home-schooled for several years. She was finally ready to overcome her challenges and get back to her life! I have never felt less than human for being overweight and I don’t think Jennifer (if she even had any part in that synopsis) would ever mean for it to seem that way for anyone.

Also, there are others commenting on the fact that the only way Jack could fall in love with Libby is because he couldn’t see her face…if you actually READ the book, you will understand why that is a ridiculous statement. I fell in love with these two as individual characters, as well as their love story.

All the Bright Places had a huge impact on me and has been one of my favorite books EVER written. This is a less devastating story (thank goodness for no tears), but still just as important and thought-provoking. Jennifer Niven is wonderful at showing unique perspectives and writing about diverse characters. Listening to her passion while speaking about the book at a BEA panel only made me realize that more. She is not telling this story to “make fun” of anyone, but to bring awareness to peoples’ differences and make us all a little more sensitive to those around us. Her books are great for discussions as well.

So, I’m done with my rant/rave here, but I will be posting more closer to the release date in October about my actual thoughts about the book (after a re-read I’m sure). If you picked up a copy of this at BEA or BookCon, READ it and SHARE it with someone who will love it!

Here is a photo of the manuscript I received….it is the first one I’ve ever been sent and I adore it!

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What I read in January 2015

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These are the books that I read (and finished) in January.  I am working on 2 more right now that I will finish in the next day or so.

1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

2. When by Victoria Laurie

3. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

4. Burn for Burn by Siobhan Vivian & Jenny Han

5. Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

6. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

7. Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell

8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I usually only write reviews of the ARC books that I read, so I will give a little feedback here for the others.  If you have read my posts, you probably already know that All the Bright Places is my absolute favorite of this month, looking good as a possibility for favorite of the year (yes, I’m saying that in January!). I can’t wait for the hype to catch on among my students! I also really enjoyed Dirty Rush as a kind of “trashy” read, though it wasn’t really trashy, just fun! I will not be buying for my library though as it is pretty much solely about drinking and doing drugs. 🙂 I just read this morning that I’ll Give You the Sun won a Printz award, and it is definitely well-deserved, hoping to get my students into this one as well. The others were all pretty satisfying reads and I will recommend them since there wasn’t one that I really disliked. I can see When being one that a lot of my girls would enjoy.

Currently reading: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (releases tomorrow 2/3) and Take My Breath Away by Wendy Wilson (won’t be releasing for quite some time, I am serving as a beta reader for this local author).

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392 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

Burying Water by K.A. Tucker

burying water Burying Water by K.A. Tucker

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.  It’s release date was 10/7.

I absolutely adored this story, as I do all books from K.A. Tucker.  The main character wakes up in the hospital with complete and total amnesia for any detail of her life or identity.  She is treated by an extremely kind woman named Meredith and is roommates with a grumpy old woman named Ginny while recovering.  After her recovery is complete, she realizes she has no where to go and is invited to stay in the apartment above Ginny’s garage (and next door to Meredith’s family).  As she is working to restart a life, she decides to rename herself Water because of the water symbol tattoo that is on her body, knowing it has some kind of significance to her life. During this time, she becomes close with Meredith’s son Jesse and feels like she has know him forever….maybe she does or maybe not. Even though Ginny is a cranky character, Water is able to start bringing her out of her shell and she becomes much more lovable.  In fact, she is my favorite character from the story; I found myself laughing out loud at her comments more than once.  Water is able to find out her true identity and starts remembering key details, some of which are definitely worth not remembering. There is not much I can say without giving away important plot elements.  Though I knew what was probably happening fairly early on, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book and did not want it to end.  Thanks for another great one, K.A.!

My rating: 5/5

Top Books in my CHS Library for the past school year

Here is a list of the books that circulated the most this past school year.  I always find these sorts of lists interesting and like to compare them to other libraries.  Some of these results seem a bit skewed to me, because of course we have more copies of some of the books than others and there are other factors involved I’m sure.  However, here is the list and maybe some brief explanations if I feel them necessary:

Title Call # Circulations
1. Book Divergent– Not surprising! Roth, Veronica. FIC ROT 35
2. Book The fault in our stars– Also not surprising! Green, John, 1977- FIC GRE 31
3. Book Mockingjay Collins, Suzanne. FIC COL 31
4. Book Catching fire Collins, Suzanne. FIC COL 30
5. Book A dog’s purpose– was our Community Read last year and we have many copies Cameron, W. Bruce. FIC CAM 27
6. Book Rot & Ruin Maberry, Jonathan. FIC MAB 23
7. Book The house of Hades Riordan, Rick. FIC RIO 22
8. Book Anna Dressed in Blood Blake, Kendare. FIC BLA 21
9. Book Crank-will probably always be on this list! Hopkins, Ellen. FIC HOP 21
10. Book The Hunger Games Collins, Suzanne. FIC COL 21
11. Book Thirteen reasons why : a novel Asher, Jay. FIC ASH 21
12. Book Smoke Hopkins, Ellen. FIC HOP 20
13. Book Insurgent Roth, Veronica. FIC ROT 19
14. Book The maze runner Dashner, James, 1972- FIC DAS 19
15. Book Allegiant Roth, Veronica. FIC ROT 18
16. Book Gone girl : a novel-the movie was filmed here in Cape Girardeau, so it got a lot of buzz Flynn, Gillian, 1971- FIC FLY 18
17. Book The longest ride Sparks, Nicholas. FIC SPA 18
18. Book Perfect Hopkins, Ellen. FIC HOP 18
19. Book Perfect chemistry Elkeles, Simone. FIC ELK 18
20. Book Warm bodies : a novel Marion, Isaac, 1981- FIC MAR 18
21. Book Hush, hush Fitzpatrick, Becca. FIC FIT 17
22. Book I am number four Lore, Pittacus. FIC LOR 17
23. Book Identical Hopkins, Ellen. FIC HOP 17
24. Book City of bones Clare, Cassandra. FIC CLA 16
25. Book Columbine-was a past Community Read and a popular choice for nonfiction book reports Cullen, David, 1961- 373.788 CUL 16

So, what do you think?  Do you have a lot of these books in common at your library?