I won all three of these books from Liza Wiemer in her I Hope You Forgive Me* giveaway and I couldn’t resist reading them all right away. Liza apparently wanted to rip my heart out and stomp on it in all the best ways with her book selections. LOVED them all!! Hopefully these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
*(If you haven’t checked out the I Hope You Forgive me website, you should. It’s a place for people to anonymously ask forgiveness for something they did in their teen years.)
Published by Spencer Hill Press on 11/10/15
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Won It!
One HELLO can change a life. One HELLO can save a life.
Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.
Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.
Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).
I’ll confess that I was worried when I started this book. I read the first chapter and thought that this was going to be one of those cases where I was supposed to feel sorry for one character—Tricia, who was mourning the loss of her grandmother who had raised her—and ended up feeling sorry for another one—Brian, who was just trying so darn hard to be there for his lifelong best friend and girlfriend of two years, but who just kept getting pushed away. Luckily, the story was more complicated than that, though, and the end result was much more like real life—where you actually feel a little bit sorry for everyone involved (in a whole slew of messy relationships) and you realize that most of the time there are no easy answers and no “good guys” or “bad guys” when it comes to love and life.
But don’t get me wrong—even though there are some painful moments and less than ideal relationships on display in this book, the story shines a light on hope and how we can find our way toward healing, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
The story is told uniquely. Some of the chapters are in verse (Angie’s – these were actually my favorite chapters to read), some are in screenplay format (Brenda’s) and some include pictures (Brian’s). I loved how well the formats match with each character’s perspective on the world.
The book did employ instalove, which is not my favorite device (especially in circumstances where a long-time couple’s connection is disregarded in favor of a one-time connection), but I will say that this book had an extra element of fate (and a very slight supernatural touch) that justified the instant connection a bit. This was still my least favorite part of the book, and I wasn’t as excited about how it all played out in the end as many other readers were, but I felt like there were so many other messages that were fantastically portrayed about life and love and loss that it made it all worth it. I give this book 4/5 Stars.
Aftermath by Clara Kensie
Published by Merit Press on 11/1/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Won It!
My content rating: Somewhat mature YA (Sexual and physical abuse is mostly hinted at rather than shown)
Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad’s a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte’s twin is a zoned-out druggie. Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life–the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free.
This story explores how tragedy can affect a family and what it’s like to come out on the other side of that tragedy not quite whole. Charlotte spent her time in captivity holding onto a happy image of her family—imagining them living life to the fullest to make up for the fact that she can’t. But when she is finally rescued, she finds that nothing is the way she hoped or imagined it would be. The grief over her disappearance affected her family in profound ways and left them scarred and, in many ways, unable to function. So Charlotte’s joyous homecoming is marred by the reality of broken dreams and shattered lives. Add to that the fact that she herself is seen as broken and that so many people have hopes and expectations where she’s concerned, and Charlotte finds that being rescued is only one small step toward putting her life back together.
Complex family relationships and an incredibly sympathetic main character make this book hard to put down. (I read it all in one day in two sittings.) I was incredibly invested in Charlotte’s story and I wanted to see her find some peace after the horrors of what happened to her. The story is heartbreaking, but the overall message is one of hope and healing. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5/5 Stars.
Published by Delacorte Press on 11/8/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Won It!
Theirs was the perfect love story.
After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.
Then she meets Dillon Hobbs, and something just clicks.
Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past, and the security of a commitment that he promises will last forever. And because circumstances of her messy life forced Emma to put aside her dream of pursuing archaeology, Dillon creates a blueprint for a future together.
He saves her, over and over, by loving her more than she thought anyone ever would.
But just when everything seems picture-perfect, Emma is offered an opportunity that will upend the future they’ve planned. Uncertainty grows, and fear spirals into something darker.
Now Dillon is the one who needs saving.
But how much do you sacrifice for the one you love? What if saving Dillon means losing herself?
A PERSONAL NOTE: This book had such an impact on me because it reminded me of one of my closest friends when I was in high school. She was with a boy who she loved—who was so sweet and seemed incredibly loving—but he had family issues and sometimes suffered abuse from his father. I eventually found out that he also sometimes turned that abuse around on my friend and that he had even forced himself on her. I could see her pain because she desperately loved him. They planned to get married and spend their lives together. I didn’t know how to help her. I finally convinced her to break up with him and he was suicidal afterward. I’ll never forget the guilt she felt (and I felt, even though I knew she needed to get out of that situation). Reading this book made me realize even more deeply what she was going through. It was both painful and beautiful to read.
Every teenage girl should read this book. Or maybe just every teenager. Sometimes love isn’t enough to overcome the negative aspects of a relationship. Sometimes you have to put yourself first, even when it’s hard, even when it’s painful, even when it hurts someone you love. Even when it hurts you. This is the story of a girl who slowly learns that she can’t sacrifice herself—her own identity—for the sake of someone else, even someone she loves, and that she shouldn’t have to. The story is told in an honest, brutal, heartbreaking, beautiful way, and it left me breathless. I loved the fact that the story ends with a message of hope, but everything isn’t tied up with a neat little bow with no far-reaching consequences.
In short, this book is incredibly powerful and you should read it. I give it 5/5 Stars.
I got the chance to meet Liza and Clara at the 5th Annual Novel Cuisine Luncheon, which was great fun! (I’ll post an update on it later). Here’s a pic!
Great reviews! The structure of Hello? sounds unusual, so I’m interested. I also like the synopsis of Aftermath. I don’t think I’ve read a book like that before. Most books about kidnappings focus on the kidnapping itself instead of what happens after.
I have an e-copy of Hello? that I really need to get to soon! I NEED to read these other two though. They sound so amazing.
I loved Hello? and the story. The different types of storytelling was fantastic. Loved how she worked them all together.
I loved Hello? Glad you enjoyed it too. I need to and the other two to my TBR. Great reviews!
Aftermath is one I’d wanted to read. I’m even more interested to read it after your review. I don’t think I’d heard of the other two, but Die For You definitely sounds like one I should read, probably even get for my school library. Great reviews! Looks like the book thing you went to was a good one!
Great reviews, Nicole! I’m so particular about what I add to my TBR but honestly all three of these sound so good. I’m especially interested in Die For You and wondering how this (fairly) new release totally missed my attention.
I’m glad I could put all of these on your radar! Die for You wasn’t on mine at all either. In fact, it wasn’t even part of the giveaway—Liza just threw it in as a “bonus” book, and I’m so glad she did!
Looks like Die for You really touched you Nicole. I couldn’t imagine going through something like that, being in love but scared too. Great reviews!
Love the pic! Looks like it was a great time!
Yeah, it’s funny how reading this book made me realize that much more just how painful my friend’s situation was. It’s hard to put your own happiness above someone else’s that you love, even when it’s the best thing. And it’s even harder when you know that there are reasons that the person you love is acting that way, and you want to help not hurt them further. I just loved the overall message of this book!
Wow. Pretty high marks on all these!
Yes! I don’t usually even read books I win immediately, but the blurb for Aftermath caught my eye and then I just decided to go for it and read all three. Glad I did!!
Oh my goodness, it looks like each of these books portrays such a strong message, and that is so wonderful! And great picture from your luncheon!
Yeah, it was actually a little nerve-wracking to read these right before I met the authors (there’s always this feeling of “What if I’m not a fan?”) but that wasn’t an issue with these books. I thought they were all really powerful stories!
That must have been the best feeling, knowing that you enjoyed all of the books of the authors you would be meeting! I’m so happy for you! =D
I was thrilled!
Oh wow, great reviews! I have been really curious about all of these- especially the latter two, because I had not seen many reviews (but have heard awesome things about Hello? so I am glad you confirmed those!)
Super random question- how do you make it so that the covers alternate sides? Is this a new feature or am I just dumb? I used to do that before UBB allowed you to add multiple books (so, ages ago) but I also had to format them all myself and no one wants that! So… spill your secrets? 😉 So glad you liked these, I am adding Die For You to my Christmas wishlist!!
I format them all myself. Yep, that’s the craziness that’s me. BUT it’s mostly just because I am technologically inept and I’ve never been able to figure out how to get multiple books to work properly in UBB. I use it so that all the books show up in my review archives, but I don’t use it to format because I can’t get the books to show up right—Like, I just tried to create a test post and could only get one book to show up. But I’ve always been confused by the fact that Book 1 show up after the main book and … I don’t know.
Anyway, the formatting doesn’t take me any time at all because I always just copy from an old post—but I DO have to type in the book info twice (three times if you count the fact that I have to put it in the UBB sidebar), so there’s that craziness.
Dude. That IS craziness. I think… I think I will just allow myself to be displeased with the cover placement for now because that sounds like too much work hahah. Because I would want to enter them anyway like you said, to be included in the index so… yeah. You know you just enter the UBB code for each book- like just leave the fields blank except the one that says “book number” and then fill in that one? I can send you a screenshot if you need any help! Or you know, keep on doing it your way if it works!! 😀
Oh, Shannon, you should know by now that I’m just a technologically helpless kitten. Which is really ironic, since my husband is a total techie and he would probably cry if he knew that I do things the long way when there’s a plugin specifically designed to make it shorter. Okay, here’s a really sad confession—I used to use the UBB code feature until I moved my blog over to Ashley’s hosting OVER A YEAR AGO and now I get an error message that says I need Google and Goodreads API keys in order to use the feature. I’m pretty sure I got them and tried to enter them and it didn’t work … so I gave up. Now, I’m fairly certain that I could ask my husband to fix this for me and he could do it in 30 seconds flat. Why have I not done this? I have no idea. No. Idea. Because my crazy brain revolts and tells me that I SHOULD be able to do it on my own and so I really should just try to figure it out? But then I don’t. Hmmm … Yes, I have a problem.
BUT you have inspired me to fix it! I am going to figure out how to properly use UBB now, dammit! (See that? That was a swear. That means I’m REALLY serious. It’s happening. Like, now.)
looks like great books. Die for you really has me interested.
Yes, all three of these were great reads!!
Wow! What incredible wins! It’s wonderful that you won each of these books and then it turned out they were such powerful reads. I have Hello? on my shelf waiting on me but I will be adding Aftermath and Die for You to my shelf as well. Great reviews, Nicole!
I know, I was thrilled with this win. Sometimes when you win a group of books, there’s one that you really want and the others are only so-so. And an extra “bonus” book can be great … or not so great. These were all fantastic!
These all sound like winners. Why haven’t I read any of these yet?
Hope you get a chance to read them!