Waiting on Wednesday | The Names They Gave Us | Emery Lord

September 28, 2016 / 0 Comments / Book Memes, Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday | The Names They Gave Us | Emery LordThe Names They Gave Us

Goodreads
Author: Emery Lord
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr
Also by this author: The Start of Me and You, Open Road Summer, When We Collided
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication date: May 16th 2017
Buy It: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository

From acclaimed author Emery Lord comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.
Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?
Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

I mean.

It’s Emery Lord.

Emery Lord, who is one of my all-time fave authors. So much so that I did a week of posts about her work.

Emery Lord, who writes about complex females and femship and  feminism and grief and mental health in the best, most illuminating ways.

Emery Lord, writing about a religious girl who goes to Bible camp (my life as a tween) questioning her faith (also me).

Auto-buy, obviously. Also, will you look at that watercolour cover?

Is THE NAMES THEY GAVE US on your TBR? What are you waiting for this week? Let me know and I’ll stop by!

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waitingonwed5
“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.


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Girls With Guts: Girl Mans Up and Overdrive | Gritty Canadian YA

September 21, 2016 / 1 Comment / Mini-Reviews, Review

girls-with-guts-two-gritty-canadian-ya-contemporaries-banner

Hi all, I’m back from Asia! I know I promised more reviews than I managed to post – the vacation totally sapped all my reading and blogging time. To make up for it, today I have two mini-reviews of two gritty Canadian YA contemporaries – both are contemporaries, and both deal with kick-arse girls – girls with guts who take on some really hardcore situations. Hope you enjoy, and I promise I will have more reviews and a recap of my awesome vacation soon!

Girls With Guts: Girl Mans Up and Overdrive | Gritty Canadian YAGirl Mans Up

Goodreads
Author: M-E Girard
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Publication date: September 6th 2016
Source: ARC from publisher (thank you!)
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository | iTunes | Google Books

Pen is used to catching hell for looking and acting like a boy—especially from her parents—but in the Canadian suburbs where she lives, there’s nowhere to escape to. No Greenwich Village. No Castro. No LGBT club at school. No one to talk to, either. Her pal Colby, from two doors down, gave Pen respect from the first time he met her playing hockey when they were small, but Colby has become conflicted about Pen’s value to him, and he’s really nasty. Lucky for Pen—she’s met Blake—also a gamer, and a girl who Pen says “wins everything.” Can Pen manage to respect Colby’s “loyalty code” even though his jealousy of her has become cruel and toxic? Pen has to man up and figure it out.

I was really excited to read Girl Mans Up by M.E. Girard because I’ve never read a novel with a gender-fluid character. I was fortunate enough to meet the author at an event at Harper Collins Canada a few weeks ago, and she’d given me the scoop: Pen is a girl who has no interest in being a boy. She happens to dress “masculine” and likes girls, but she’s not transgender. She’s okay in her body. It’s the people around her, including her parents and some of her friends, who are constantly putting the pressure on for Pen to “define” herself as a girl or boy.

What’s interesting about this character is that she IS that okay with herself. There isn’t that much self-consciousness about her body, or about what she likes. Instead of feeling ashamed of who she is, right from the beginning, Pen owns her identity, her look, and her likes and dislikes. Her voice is distinctive, authentic, and unique in YA and M.E. Girard nails it. That’s the best part of this book. The synopsis doesn’t do justice to just how realistic it all feels – as a girl from an immigrant family who grew up in a community kind of like Pen’s, I really understood her. While I never felt as gender-fluid as Pen might feel, I did have parents who had definite ideas of what a “girl” and a “boy” should look and act like.  

While the book itself slowed down about two-thirds of the way through (it was long for a YA book), the characters sing, from Pen’s brother and family to her newfound crush and friends. It’s a strong debut, and I’ll definitely be looking for Girard’s next novel. 

Girls With Guts: Girl Mans Up and Overdrive | Gritty Canadian YAOverdrive

Goodreads
Author: Dawn Ius
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr
Publication date: September 13th 2016
Source: ARC from publisher (thank you!)
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository | iTunes | Google Books

Gone in Sixty Seconds meets Heist Society in this edgy novel about a crack team of teenage criminals on a mission to learn to trust, build a life, and steal a wish list of exotic cars.
Jules Parish has screwed up.
After three years of boosting cars, she got caught. She’s too good to get caught, but she let her (ex)-boyfriend talk her into a questionable job. And now she and her little sister, Emma, will be kicked out of their foster home, left to survive on the unforgiving streets of Las Vegas alone.
Unless.
Eccentric, wealthy Roger Montgomery wants to open up his mansion to Jules and Emma. The only catch? Jules must steal seven of the rarest, most valuable muscle cars in the world…in seven weeks. Even worse, she’s forced to put her trust in three complete strangers to help her do it.
First there’s Chelsea, the gorgeous redhead with a sharp tongue and love for picking locks. Then there’s Mat, who hasn’t met a system he couldn’t hack. And finally there’s the impossibly sexy car thief Nick, whose bad attitude and mysterious past drive Jules crazy.
With nothing in common and everything to lose, can Jules and her amateur crew pull off what could be the biggest car heist in history? Or will things spin out of control faster than a Nevada dust devil?

Just as fast-paced and Gone in 60 Seconds-like as you would expect, Overdrive demands a reader’s attention and won’t let go. The writing is choppy and chaotic, like an action movie, dipping fast and heart-poundingly close to disaster at every other moment. It works really well for this book.

That said, while Overdrive was really enjoyable, I wish we’d gotten a bit more on all of the characters – they felt a bit like stock heist characters to me. There was the brainiac, the hot girl, the love interest, the main character – it was like The Breakfast Club, but without the depth behind it. I wanted more on all of them, especially Jules, than just that. That issue extended to the love scenes, which were tension-filled and sexy but…I feel like I really would have fallen for the romance if I knew the characters more.

The ending was also a little confusing with the plot careening and overlapping – I didn’t really get a clear idea of quite how it resolved. Overall, though, this was a really enjoyable ride that kept me engaged even during my very exciting vacation, and had my heart racing during all the car boosts.

Have you read OVERDRIVE, GIRL MANS UP or any other September releases? What books have you read that feature girls with guts? Are you into gritty contemporaries? Let me know in the comments, I’m eager to catch up with you guys!


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Leave Me by Gayle Forman | ARC Review

September 1, 2016 / 2 Comments / Review

Leave Me by Gayle Forman | ARC ReviewLeave Me

Goodreads
Author: Gayle Forman
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Tumblr
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication date: September 6th 2016
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository | iTunes | Google Books | Audible

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.
Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.
With bighearted characters--husbands, wives, friends, and lovers--who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?
 

Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me by Gayle Forman. Whoa.

So I feel like I should preface this review by saying that Gayle Forman is my favorite author. Just One Day is my all-time favorite YA book, and it changed my life. To say I had high expectations for Leave Me, her first adult book, is an understatement.

That said, going in, I already had some reservations about the main character, Maribeth, who decides to leave her family after a heart attack. I just couldn’t imagine myself being able to relate to that or feeling that desperate in my life that I would need to do that.

Is it any surprise that I was wrong?

One of the things Gayle Forman does so well is crystallize how the little, mundane moments in our lives make a difference. And in her YA books, I feel like she illuminates just how precious each moment is. But in Leave Me, she pushes us further, bringing to light not just the good moments, but also those long, dark, frustrating days when you’re juggling a lot, when your kids have lice and they’re screaming and nothing you do seems to be working or right.

I related to these moments, even without kids. I felt them. I’ve lived those days. So have you. And all of that on top of a healing process that’s not really working? I got it. I understood why Maribeth felt like she needed to leave.

Like Maribeth, I’m a perfectionist. This is a woman obsessed with being good at things: being a good mom, a good editor, a good friend. She’s done everything right in life. And it’s led to her having a heart attack and feeling more underappreciated and frustrated than before.

That said, I don’t think everyone is going to feel like Maribeth should have left, deserved to leave, or was in the right to leave. And the great thing about this book is that you don’t have to. There’s more to the book than this.

Leave Me was a surprising read because once Maribeth left, I think I expected her to take a road trip, to wander aimlessly for a bit. Instead, Maribeth ends up in another town, but with a real purpose that becomes more and more the driver of the story. While I don’t feel like this thread was as strongly woven as it could have been – there are moments when the narrative seems to wander pretty far from its intended purpose – for me, Maribeth’s soul-searching and self- discovery were so honest and delightful that I didn’t care. The little moments, the people she meets – I loved how much they became part of her, even if they didn’t move the plot a lot.

Along with the theme feeling a little stifled, I also felt like the ending wrapped up a little too quickly for my liking. View Spoiler »

Overall, I think this was a wonderful first adult novel for Forman; I liked both the concept and most of the execution. And if there’s one thing Forman is great at, it’s making you remember and feel just how precious and wonderful each moment is. Like all Gayle Forman books, this one made me feel more, love harder, and want to leap farther than ever before.

Bonuses:

Scooby Gang from Buffy the Vampire SlayerFound Families: Part of the reason I think Forman speaks to me so much as a writer is her ability to create characters who are lost and come together from all paths of life. Maribeth’s journey brings her to a place where she meets good-hearted people who are younger and older, who have suffered and lost, and who, like her, are just trying to make it through the day sometimes. And it’s only by coming together as a family that they can learn and grow.

romanceRealistic Romance: There is a romance here, though it may not seem like it. It’s one borne of deep love and commitment and recognition of getting older and the mundane things getting in the way. It’s not the romance that you dream of, but it’s one that still had my heart full at the end.

easter eggsYA Easter Eggs: For readers of Gayle’s YA fiction, there are some cute call-out for us. And they’re delightful when you find them!

writingQuote-tastic Moments: As always, Gayle Forman brings it in terms of quoteable moments that make you think:

“And Liv, you said, “At school, we learned the blue whale has a heart so big you can walk through it.” And Oscar, you said, “I want to walk through someone’s heart.” And I squeezed your hands and said, “You already walk through mine.”

“A year ago, so much uncertainty would’ve killed her. Her lists, her plans–they were her parachute, the thing to keep her from total free fall.

She was in free fall now. And it wasn’t killing her. In fact, she was beginning to wonder if she might’ve had it backwards. All that fixating on the fall…maybe she should’ve been paying more attention to the free.”

Book Theme Song:

Sleep on the Floor by The Lumineers

The lyrics don’t totally scan, but I feel like this song and its mood really get to the heart of Leave Me.

Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip, take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out
I was not born to drown, baby come on

If the sun don’t shine on me today
And if the subways flood and bridges break
Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave
Or will you rail against your dying day

The Final Word:

Leave Me by Gayle Forman is an excellent first adult novel: one that explores and mines the heart, both internally and externally. While I had initial qualms about my ability to connect with protagonist Maribeth’s conflict, I shouldn’t have doubted. Forman pulled me through – nay, delighted, examined and guided me through the difficult parts of this book. Leave Me shines with Forman’s signature spare prose, observant eye, and belief in love and humankind, while adding both the darkness and wisdom that only comes with years of learning and living.

Recommended for: people who love emotional reads, mothers, daughters, people who want a realistic relationship story, people who believe in all kinds of love and their healing power.
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LEAVE ME comes out on Tuesday, September 6. Will you be reading it and grabbing a copy immediately? How do you feel about the premise? Have you read any of Gayle’s other work (if not, what are you waiting for?)? Let me know in the comments!


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#TiffTakesAsia | Blog Hiatus (Sorta)

August 31, 2016 / 6 Comments / Blogging Life, Personal

blog hiatus 

aka #tifftakesasia

Hi guys, if you follow me on social media, you know that #TiffTakesAsia is happening TODAY. 

Yes, that’s right, as you read this, I am probably on a plane with my husband, headed to Hong Kong to see my family, followed by Taipei and Tokyo!

But not to worry, even though I’m gone, the blog is not. You’ll still be seeing reviews on Mostly YA Lit for some of fall’s hottest titles, starting with Leave Me by Gayle Forman (this week!). I won’t be doing any memes while I’m gone, though, and I won’t super responsive on the blog with comments.

But I will be posting updates on my adventures on Twitter, Instagram stories, and my personal Insta @tiff.ing. Feel free to follow those account or #TiffTakesAsia!

I’m so, so excited for all the delicious food, crafty things (WASHI), and beautiful sites. And let’s not forget the books I’m going to read (just a small sampling):

 

Hope you guys have an amazing next few weeks – whether you’re starting school again, or continuing with what you’re currently doing.

And, in case I don’t say it enough, thank you so much for following, tweeting, commenting and being amazing bookish people. I just passed my four year blogoversary on Mostly YA Lit, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be continuing to do this without your support. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the world.

love, tiff


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