I’ve got three bite-sized reviews today, one for a series. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Now Is Everything by Amy Giles
Published by HarperTeen on November 7th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex)
Now Is Everything is a stirring debut novel told in alternating THEN and NOW chapters, perfect for Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Niven fans, about what one girl is willing to do to protect her past, present, and future.
The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret.
Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed.
When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.
So, I picked up this book on a total whim. I was glancing through Twitter and saw this adorable pic that the author’s daughter had drawn telling people to read her mom’s book. Since I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, I immediately headed over to Goodreads to check it out, and it sounded like the type of book I’d love! I headed over to Edelweiss, downloaded it and immediately started reading! (See, I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a whim.)
The book is a thriller of sorts, but it’s also a portrait of abuse. From the outside, Hadley’s family looks perfect. But the reality is far from that image—Hadley’s father is controlling and abusive, and she spends every day just trying to live up to his expectations so that she doesn’t set him off. And she’s trying to keep her little sister out of the crossfire.
But you learn at the very beginning of the book that something has gone very wrong. There’s a plane crash and Hadley is the only survivor—we know members of her family are dead. Her father? Her parents? Her whole family? It’s not clear at first. And the question of what really happened lingers. You sort of doubt it was just a simple accident, but you’re definitely kept guessing. Throughout the book, we piece together the past and find out what led to the crash. We also get chapters that explore the present and show us how Hadley is dealing with the emotional ramifications of the plane crash. It’s not until the very end that we discover what really went on the day of the plane crash.
I found this book incredibly emotionally compelling. Hadley’s struggles at home and her attempts to hide them are heartbreaking. I loved the relationship between her and Charlie and the fact that Charlie wasn’t willing to just leave well enough alone. The snippets of interviews with Hadley’s friends and teachers (in the NOW sections) give insight into what others’ perceptions of the situation were. My only small complaint was something about the final reveal of what happened with the plane crash didn’t sit quite right with me. I felt like, in some ways, it lacked the emotional punch it could have had. BUT overall, I really loved this book.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #3
Also in this series: Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire
on September 20th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Narrator: Kate Rudd, Nick Podehl, Eileen Stevens
Length: 12 hrs. 22 min
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, but it's not really described)
Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.
Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.
Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.
Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.
As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.
For some reason, I waited a really long time to read this final book in the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy, so I have to confess that I’d forgotten a lot of the details of the first two books. Luckily, this final book in the series was engaging enough that I felt connected to the story even without remembering everything about how we’d gotten to this point, and I managed to recall most of it along the way. I actually think it might have even improved things because I’d forgotten some of the details of the second book that I wasn’t all that fond of.
I ended up really enjoying this final installment—I especially loved that Raasch ended the series in a way that defied the typical fantasy genre stereotypes (View Spoiler »The answer to all their problems really WAS to destroy magic—which is pretty counter-intuitive for fantasy where magic usually reigns supreme! « Hide Spoiler) I felt like this book wrapped up the series in an appropriately bittersweet manner and gave me plenty of excitement and feels. I can’t ask for much more in a finale.
NARRATION: I enjoyed the narration of this book, for the most part, but there were a few distractions. Kate Rudd has kind of an interesting style because she tends to over-enunciate every single word (even throwaway words). It sometimes takes me a few minutes to get used to that, but I end up liking it. It works for fantasy. I haven’t listened to a contemp narrated by her, and I wonder if her style will feel natural in that genre—I’ll have to try one sometime. I also liked Eileen Stevens’ narration. Nick Podehl’s voice bothered me for some reason, though, and I couldn’t make it mesh in my mind with Mather. I can’t explain it any better than that—it wasn’t that he wasn’t a good narrator, it just didn’t work for me (at least for Mather). Weird, I know.
The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on September 18th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Narrator: Will Patton
Length: 45 hrs 47 min (total for whole series)
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Language)
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
I’m just writing a quick review of the whole Raven Cycle Series together since I’m behind the rest of the world on this one and I listened to the whole series all at once. I LOVE these books, but I think it’s actually more due to Stiefvater’s writing and her characters than due to the actual plotting. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like lots of aspects of the plot too, but the story itself isn’t what’s stuck with me over time (I finished this series at the beginning of September and am just now getting around to reviewing). Instead, it’s this sense that Stiefvater is a genius at quirky and gorgeous descriptions and that I adored each and every one of the Raven boys—and Blue of course. I also loved all of the supernatural stuff—psychics and ley lines and ghosts and legends and …. I could go on and on.
The first book was actually probably most exciting as far as plot went. It set up that Blue’s true love was going to die, but you don’t know right away who the true love is or how it will happen. The whole rest of the series is sort of built off of that, actually, since it takes us until book four to find out what will actually happen. Out of all the books, I’d say that the last book was actually my least favorite, just because I thought it sort of meandered into a lot of side plot points and side characters and I wanted to find out what would happen! But it was still gorgeous and amazing and gave me everything I was hoping for in the end—or at least most of what I was hoping for. I think someday I might actually do a reread of the series because it’s the sort of series that I think you’d pick up on a lot of little threads the second time around.
That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?
You’re not behind me re: The Raven Cycle since I have yet to read it lol. I had planned to get to it this year, but that didn’t happen, mood reader and all that. Glad to see another great review for it though! I love those kinds of series where everything is interconnected by those threads, they’re def the best to reread!
I don’t know if I would have gotten to it if it wasn’t on audio at my library—I’ve read a lot of series that way lately!
I just finished Now Is Everything this morning. It was tough watching everything play out, but I loved where Giles went with it. I thought she did a nice job blending some happy bits in with all the family drama. I thought First Kiss was adorable. I am a sucker for these easy, breezy books, and there was science, and pi. I definitely wanted to eat pie. I am a fan of the Raven Cycle. The storytelling is so interesting, and I was so obsessed with finding out what happened. Stiefvater gave me a conclusion I could live with too.
I agree that Giles managed to tackle a tough subject without the book feeling constantly negative. That can be tricky!
It took me a long time to read The Raven Cycle, so it’s all good. I’m glad that you really liked them. I think the characters are my favorite part too!! It would be a great series to re-read at some point. I agree.
The characters stay more vividly in my mind than the plot does.
I am so in the minority with The Raven Cycle. I never made it past the first book. I don’t know if Stiefvater’s writing just isn’t for me or I just couldn’t connect with the story… maybe a combination of both. But after finally getting through the first book I knew I wouldn’t continue the series. Odd man out on that one! At first I saw your star rating of November 9 and was like, “Oh, she loved it!” But then reading the review I see that it’s actually the opposite. LOL I think November 9 is the CoHo book with some of the most divisive reviews/ratings. Not a lot of middle ground. It wasn’t my favorite by CoHo (that’s probably Maybe Someday or Ugly Love) but I still enjoyed it.
Oops! Apparently, I accidentally selected the wrong box in UBB for November 9 and marked it 4.5 instead of 2.5—big difference!!! Yikes!
I haven’t even started The Raven Cycle yet. I keep meaning to read those books, but other books keep looking more appealing. I’m glad you liked the series. I swear I’ll read it someday.
If I hadn’t listened to them, I don’t know when I would have gotten around to them either. So many books to read!!
If it helps, I have only gotten to Dream Thieves? Oops. I will read the others eventually I suppose. ::Shrugs:: Now is Everything sounds really good, I am going to have to make sure I have that one on my list! The First Kiss thingy… pass. Too fluffy for me I think. I agree about Frost Like Night! I didn’t like book 2 AT ALL, but then Book 3 really made up for it and I was glad I read it. I was a wee bit confused with November 9 because I saw 4.5 stars and then you didn’t like it, but I assume the star rating thingy is just a little error, because it definitely doesn’t sound like it was good. Yikes. I have been hearing a lot of negative stuff about her recent books, and I feel like the whole idea would bug me too- it IS dysfunctional! Great reviews, glad that most of these were wins!!
Um, yeah, I apparently hit the wrong option in the UBB dropdown box for November 9—I was not a fan. I used to love CoHo, so it really makes me sad that the last few of hers haven’t been for me at all. I have a hard time rooting for a couple who doesn’t actually seem good for each other (I felt that way about Ugly Love too—their love was WAY too ugly for me).
You should read Now Is Everything. I think it’s something you’d like—it has a little bit of a thriller feel because of the mystery of the plane crash, but it also deals with a realistic-feeling situation of abuse.
Great reviews! Still need to finish reading the Snow Like Ashes trilogy. I read the first book but was so busy with my reading schedule that I couldn’t go on but someday I will! Sadly, I’m one of the few that didn’t enjoy The Raven Cycle but I’m glad you did! I’ve heard terrible things about November 9, so it’s on my never to read list.
Thanks for sharing,
~Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles
I don’t have an official Never Read list but perhaps I should. I’m getting a little disillusioned with CoHo’s more recent books, and it makes me sad!
Your post finally inspired me to install Overdrive on my phone and find out what my library has for audiobooks. Unfortunately not the Raven Cycle and not Sara Raasch either. They actually don’t have much! Oh well. I’m always looking for more audiobooks to listen to so I’m going to add the Sara Raasch series to my Audible wishlist. Thanks!
My library allows us to request books on Overdrive as well. We used to have access to Axis 360, which was FANTASTIC for audiobooks, but unfortunately the library got rid of it. 🙁
You’re not the last person in the world to read The Raven Cycle, I haven’t read it yet *hides face*. I’m so glad that you loved this series and I’ll definitely keep your comment about the plot of the final book in mind! Thanks!
Ha! Glad I’m not the only one.
What an interesting mix of reviews! I have never heard of Now is Everything but you definitely have me wanting to read it. It sounds emotionally compelling but like it is very deep, and has a very serious theme underlying it all. And it sounds well written!
I have seen so many mixed reviews when it comes to the Frost Like Night series. I have book one and haven’t read it yet. But that positive review of the ending sounds promising!
I’ve always been a bit eh about trying Colleen Hoover. Now I know not to start with this one.
AND LASTLY, I’m going to be reading the first book in the Raven Cycle next month for a buddy read. Everyone continously raves about these books and so I am curious to know if I will agree with your thoughts!
I really loved the first Frost Like Night book, but then the second one wasn’t quite as good. I thought we got a great series end, though!