I’ve got three bite-sized reviews for you today: two YA and a MG. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
on May 17, 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Magical Realism
My content rating: MG (Themes of depression and death)
THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT
• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
• Never having met said grandparents.
• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)
Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real--and holds more mysteries than she'd ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.
With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.
Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination.
This middle grade book tackles some very heavy topics, focusing on Finley’s anxiety and depression. It also covers divorce, family schisms, mysterious deaths, and secret-keeping. The result is a somewhat dark, but ultimately hopeful middle grade read. First off, I want to say that I think Legrand does an excellent job of describing Finley’s feelings of depression and her self-doubt and anxiety that often stem from that. She realizes that she shouldn’t feel so sad all the time, and she feels a lot of guilt over that—she feels like there’s something wrong with her and that she doesn’t deserve her family’s love or affection because of it. Then, of course, she struggles with her parents’ broken relationship and a whole mess of secrets that unfold as the book progresses.
The mystery aspect of the book is compelling (though I had a bit of an idea of what happened, I was kept guessing on the details), and Finley’s emotional journey is incredibly poignant. There were a few times where I felt like the story moved a little slowly, but I was able to forgive that. My ONLY real issue isn’t actually an issue, but more of a personal concern: I fear my 13-year-old (who suffers from low-grade anxiety—and has gone through times where we’ve gone to therapy because it seemed to be manifesting as depression) might not be able to read this book because it would actually trigger her. She can’t handle intense sadness in books, and she’s pretty good at self-regulating—she generally won’t pick up a book that looks too sad or heavy. This book tackles a lot of heavy topics and it focuses a lot on Finley’s intense feelings of depression. I fear that dwelling on those intensely sad feelings for the whole book might be painful rather than therapeutic for my daughter. And I wonder if this might be even more the case with kids who suffer more from depression and anxiety than my daughter does (since hers has been relatively minor). Obviously, I don’t know, but it’s a thought that entered my mind.
The book straddles fantasy/magical realism and contemporary (it’s not actually fantastical, but the stories within the book are), and I think it’s a blend kids will love.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on May 30th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.
This is one of those books that just made me happy while I was reading it. It pulled me out of a bit of a slump, and I flew through the book, smiling the whole way. And now I totally want to watch K-dramas. Sure, there were times when I sort of wanted to strangle Desi for her bad choices (a certain incident with a car made me wish I was her mom so I could ground her!), but she’d already endeared herself to me so thoroughly by that point that I was willing to go along for the ride. (Ugh. Bad pun.) I kind if loved her logical personality, and I could see why she thought what she was doing made sense. So, yeah, there were flaws, but I kind of didn’t care. And that, to me, is a good book! I give it 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via ALA Annual ’17 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Deception So Dark by Clara Kensie
Series: Deception So #2
Also in this series: Deception So Deadly
Published by Snowy Wings Publishing on February 13th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: The Author
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some violence)
Dark as a starless night and black as a cavern of coal…
With no more secrets keeping them apart, Tessa and Tristan embark upon a desperate search to find her missing brother and sister. But not even Tristan can keep Tessa safe from her new—and volatile—psionic power, or from the Nightmare Eyes that seem to watch her even when she’s awake.
As the Nightmare Eyes grow stronger, hope of finding her siblings fades—until a new lead sends Tessa on a dangerous journey, one that a psychic has foretold ends in her death. And one that will force her to choose between Tristan and her siblings—and defeat an enemy she never knew she had in order to save them all.
Originally published as Run to You parts 4 – 6, Deception So Dark is Book Two of the RITA® Award-winning Deception So series, a super-romantic thriller about a psychic family on the run from a deadly past, and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies, and danger.
I absolutely adored the first book in this series, so I was excited to read this second installment. This book focused on Tessa trying to get her brother and sister back and dealing with the guilt and pain of what her parents had done. I really loved the aspect of the book that focused on Tessa’s guilt, since I thought it was very understandable and relatable. Unfortunately, I was frustrated with Tessa for a good portion of this book because of her stubbornness when it came to her brother and sister and her tendency to jump blindly into danger. It didn’t make sense to me that she wouldn’t heed the psychic warnings of the people around her—it’s not like she didn’t know that their powers were real. She kept purposely shoving herself and others into dangerous situations, and I felt a little bit like Tristan did (though we were supposed to feel like he was being smothering and overprotective, I sort of sided with him most of the time!). I don’t know, I guess I just wanted her to temper her impulsiveness with a little common sense. The ending of this book was definitely exciting, though, and had a bit of a twist that made it really interesting. I enjoyed the book overall, even though I had some misgivings. In the end, I gave it 3.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?
I absolutely loved Desi and thought Goo wrote such a charming story for us. And yeah, it’s a makes-me-happy book. I had been wanting to read Some Kind of Happiness and thought about it again the other night, because Legrand was the moderator at the Obsidio event.
I can’t wait to read Goo’s next book!
I’m going to read I Believe in a Thing Called Love this year so I was glad to see you enjoyed it even if Desi was stupid at times… I’m really crushed you didn’t enjoy Lake Silence more… but I was wondering how we’d enjoy a non-magical MC after Meg?!
Yeah, I was a bit disappointed with the non-magical MC in Lake Silence. I definitely missed Meg’s POV.
I’ve just started reading my MG books! My son is getting older, so I like to find books I can read to him at night as he goes to sleep. It’s a win-win! He falls asleep, and I get some extra reading it, plus he hopefully gets something educational, informational, or fun out of it. Some Kind of Happiness sounds like it would be really good. I’m adding it now. Thanks!
Do You Dog-ear?
It’s great when you can read books with your kids that you enjoy!
I love when people post short reviews like this one – I never tried one of this posts myself, but I really want to.
Some Kind of Happiness looks amazing and like such a great middle grade book.
I haven’t read any of them, but will definitely add Some Kind of Happiness on my wishlist.
I find these shorter reviews to be a lot easier to write AND to read (though I sometimes find that I have too much I want to say!).
Great reviews! I’m trying to read more middlegrade this year, so I should probably add Some Kind of Happiness to my list. I love contemporary and magical realism.
I’ve been trying to read a lot more MG too. This one was really great!
I’m so glad you enjoyed I Believe in a Thing Called Love! I haven’t read this yet, but I really want to. I haven’t read a cutesy book that I really loved in a while, but maybe that will be THE book!? Awesome reviews!
Sometimes cutesy is perfect!
I actually haven’t read ANY of these, goodness. I have heard similar stuff about Lake Silence, sadly. But the others sound good! Some Kind of Happiness is probably the one I am most likely to read, so I am excited that you liked that one the best! Awesome reviews as always! 😀
I was a bit disappointed about Lake Silence, but I’m hoping I love the future books more.
I’m going to start The Others next month and I didn’t realize that the 6th book was more of a spin-off. Whoops. I had been waiting for that one to come out LOL! Thank you so much for the clarification and I can’t wait to dive into that world!
Yeah, you can totally read the first five books separately from the sixth.
I agree with some of your points about Lake Silence. I don’t think Vicki was as engaging a character as Meg. While I liked her well enough, it was some of th other characters that really shone for me – namely Ilya and Aggie. I’m excited to see where the series goes.
Yeah, it just didn’t enthrall me the way that the original series did. But I still have hope because Bishop is an amazing author!
Sorry to hear you didn’t connect with Lake Silence!
oh oh oh a 4.5-star review of a MG magical realism??? And I can relate to the topics SO MUCH! I AM SO IN! I can always come here for great MG recommendations. I know there will be I will love by soon to be best selling MG author.. Ms. Hewitt 🙂
You are so sweet, Daniela. I seriously can’t thank you enough for how supportive you are. You put a smile on my face constantly.
glad to hear that! but I’m totally serious about it. I got this GUT feeling that book is gonna be great! 🙂
Thanks for the vote of confidence!
I Believe in a Thing Called Love has been on my to buy shelf for so long. I think it’s one I just need to suck up and by because everything about it sounds like it’ll work for me. And who doesn’t love a book that makes you want to watch K Drama?
I still need to read Anne Bishop’s Others series so knowing there’s another book/spin off series makes me think nows the time It sucks you didn’t connect quite as much but hopefully it’s setting up for some good stuff to come.
I had IBiaTCL on my shelf for a long time too, but I’m really glad I picked it up! I ADORED the original Others series, so I hope this new spin on it reaches that caliber.
Great mini reviews! I will have to look into I Believe in a Thing Called Love!
I just got Goo’s next book from NetGalley and I’m excited to read it!
Lovely reviews! I haven’t read I Believe in a Thing Called Love just yet, but both that book and The Way You Make Me Feel are on my TBR, they sound exactly like the kind of stories that make you smile 🙂 x
I’m really looking forward to The Way You Make Me Feel now too!
So many mini reviews! I have a copy of Deception so Deadly which I will be reading as soon as I get back into read ebooks again. I’m sorry that Tessa’s stubbornness kind of stole some of your enjoyment from reading. I have seen The Others #6 around but I hope the next spin off manages to captivate you a little bit more! I also have seen I Believe in a Thing Called Love around a lot too. I’m curious and thinking about trying it out for myself.
I’ll have to hop over to your blog to see if you’ve reviewed Deception So Deadly yet. I’m curious what you thought!