Tag: Young adult

ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha LeaverThe Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
Published by Macmillan on April 28th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Family, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Siblings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.When--after a heated argument--Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception or live her sister's life.

**I received this e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the book.

What I Loved:

The Plot: I was intrigued by this concept of a twin switching places with her sister the moment I read the blurb on Goodreads for The Secrets We Keep. This was a book that I knew I would get sucked into. And I did—you know I’m a fan of fantasy and science fiction, but I love a good realistic novel that reflects complex and well-developed characters facing issues that seem almost impossible to overcome. In many ways, the problems that Ella faced in this story were huge.

For how long can you live a life that isn’t yours?

The Relationship Between Ella & Josh: You’re going to love Josh! You can imagine he’s crushed when “Ella” dies, and I won’t give anything away, but you can imagine how difficult it would be for Ella to act like she doesn’t miss her friend. Since she “becomes” Maddy, she is forced to act differently around Josh, and this has its consequences.

The Pacing: The pacing of this story was spot on for me. I probably could have finished this book in a day, but wanted to stretch it out a bit, so read it over a week in January. Loved it!

jessica_fletcher

The Mystery: After assuming Maddy’s identity (and her boyfriend as well) Ella soon discovers that Maddy may have been harboring some secrets. Ella is determined to get to the bottom of what Maddy was hiding—very quickly you realize that Maddy’s boyfriend is determined to keep these secrets undercover. This aspect of the story kept me reading, and I was combing the pages closely, trying to figure out what Maddy had been involved in before she died…

Illuminations of Spirituality in The Secrets We Keep:

Of course, you know I would have to bring up potential spiritual aspects in the book, and I found several that could definitely lead into more extensive discussions.

The intense bond between sisters. Sometimes sisters can finish each other’s sentences or know what the other is thinking. Since Maddy dies, there obviously isn’t the opportunity for the two to have any interaction, but the fact that Ella is willing to sacrifice her own identity in order to allow Maddy to “live” points to something in her that is still deeply connected to her twin.

This leads me to another dimension—Ella denies herself in order to embody Maddy for those around her. Though in some cases, “denying oneself” from a spiritual perspective might be a positive thing, it’s not always good. And this is definitely one instance where Ella’s choice to do so was detrimental to her and other people (even though she thought she was atoning for what she had done). Ella is just as important and valued as Maddy and has every right to live her life as herself.

Seeking forgiveness. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is forgive ourselves. There can be a spiritual component to this because we often have to go beyond ourselves in order to do this. This is a challenge for Ella, and as I read the book, I remember thinking, “Come on, girl, you’ve got to forgive yourself! You and everyone around you will be happier once you’ve done this.” Of course, it’s not always easy. But I enjoyed reading about Ella’s journey in light of this.

Who Should Read This Book:

I couldn’t help but think of both Before I Fall and Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver after I read this. Yes, these books are quite different than Leaver’s, but they all treat tensions among friends and VG and TSWK both illuminate the strength of bonds between sisters. There have been a handful of YA titles that deal with the strong bond between sisters, and I don’t think I’ll get tired of them anytime soon. Even though one sister dies at the beginning of the book, the narrative illuminates a realistic relationship with all the ups and downs that a sisterly connection endures.

The Final Illumination:

One journey we all have to go on for ourselves is the journey of finding our identity—figuring out who we are. I was intrigued by the way this novel engaged with that idea, and no matter what your age, the issue of identity is a relevant one. Of course, this time of finding identity is especially significant for young adults, and the way that Ella comes to terms with her identity is beautifully drawn in The Secrets We Keep.

I’m definitely looking forward to more YA Contemporary from Trisha Leaver, but seeing as she writes other genres besides Contemporary, I’ll be certain to look out for any titles she writes in the future.

Also, I’m lucky enough to be in a writing critique group with Trisha, so you can bet I’ll be reading her future work!

celebrate

You can visit Trisha’s website here.

You can tell I loved this book! What about you? Have you read The Secrets We Keep? Or are you planning to?

four-stars
What Katie Read

Love, Lucy Blog Tour & Giveaway (Review + Favorite Quotes)

Love, Lucy by April Lindner
on January 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

LOVE LUCY banner

Welcome to my Tour Stop on the Love, Lucy Book Tour! (Click the link to see the full schedule!) Step into Italy as you get to know April Lindner’s new book a little more (don’t worry–no spoilers ahead). Also, you can win a hardcover copy of the new book–a Rafflecopter is below!

For the Travel Lover:

Reading about Lucy’s solitary adventures in Florence reminds me of my recent first trip to Florence, as I was there by myself. I love the way Lindner has portrayed Lucy’s ventures into the city as I felt transported to the city myself. The way that Lucy just decides to wander, without really consulting her map is something I think travelers often find themselves doing in Italy. It just seems that kind of county, and Florence is that kind of city.

Lucy’s decision to venture off by herself in the city positions her for something extraordinary, and I think that’s one reason why so many of us appreciate traveling alone. By traveling alone, you are poised for adventure!

“Because she couldn’t stand alone on a street corner forever, Lucy picked a direction as random and took it. I might as well do whatever makes me happy, she told herself, though happy wasn’t exactly the word for how she was feeling.”

I like that Lindner portrays what can happen when traveling with a friend for a long period of time. There’s bound to be disagreements and bumps along the way, and these can be navigated, but it can take work. Lucy and Charlene certainly have some issues during their time in Italy, and Charlene’s grumpy mood makes things difficult, especially when Lucy finds herself wanting to spend time with Jesse.

The story also, obviously, highlights how easy it is to meet new people. When you’re traveling in an unfamiliar city and you don’t know many people, you are more apt to connect with those like yourself. Though Jesse is working in Florence and is more confident in his knowledge of the area, he’s an American, like Lucy. He’s also a musician and can connect with her passion for the theater and performance. Lucy’s father urges Lucy to pursue studies in business and move away from her acting, and this is something Lucy has to navigate throughout the story.

You’ll love the descriptions of Florence and Lucy’s adventures—but be warned, the second half of the book takes place back in the states, in Philadelphia. Of course, Lucy has to return to start college, and Jesse remains in Italy. The summer fling is over. Or is it? You’ll have to pick up the book yourself to find out what happens between Lucy and Jesse.

For the E.M. Forster Lover:

A Room with a View spinoff?? Yes, please! I love Room with a View and frequently re-read it. In fact, I took it with me during my first trip to Florence and did not regret that decision.

You’ll see many traces of A Room with a View in this story—the situation at the beginning of the book when Lucy and Charlene want to switch to a room with a view. The names of the characters. The kiss in Fiesole!

I share a few quotes from A Room with a View to get you excited about ITALY!

florence pizzalJocVQ_pm

room with a view 194008_e5ccVQ_pm

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this one!

At the same time, Lucy and Jesse’s relationship seemed a bit rushed in the beginning of the book. However, this is a summer Europe trip, and Lucy’s young—so “falling in love” while in Florence with the street musician who shows her the town—well, you can see this would be appealing.

The “Charlotte” in me from Room with a View had a little trepidation when Jesse invites Lucy to go with him to Rome. Now, if it was Paul from Room with a View, I might be ok with it. But this isn’t Paul. Though, he doesn’t say much in the beginning of his relationship with Lucy—and that is similar to Paul from Room with a View. But later on the two start performing together—Jesse plays and Lucy sings…and things pick up.

I enjoyed the way Lindner played around with the plot and themes from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View in this Contemporary YA. I appreciated the book being split between the two countries, and its depiction of Lucy’s working through giving up her dream of becoming an actress, and then starting to play with it again.

I haven’t read any of April Lindner’s other books, though I’ve had them on my list for awhile. It’s time to change that by taking a look at her Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights retellings.

I’m definitely ready to return to Florence for another trip soon. Gelato, espresso, and the Duomo are calling my name!

More Favorite Quotes:

“Up ahead, the buildings fell away, and Lucy’s pulse quickened. Without meaning to, she’s made it all the way to the Arno, the river she’d seen in so many pictures of Florence.”

“Something sprang in Lucy’s heart, like a window flung wide on the first warm day of spring.”

“The world would turn, the bus would move, and twenty-four hours later she would be on a train speeding away from him, but at least they had this moment.”

BOOK LINKS:

Goodreads
Amazon paperback
Barnes & Noble (B&N)
Bookdepository
iTunes

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

love lucy high res author photo

April Lindner is the author of three novels: Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights; Jane, an update of Jane Eyre; and Love, Lucy, due out in January, 2015. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website: http://aprillindnerwrites.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/119005.April_Lindner
Twitter: https://twitter.com/misadventure123
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/april.lindner
Tumblr: http://aprillindner.tumblr.com/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/110633613315102244487/posts

GIVEAWAY
Details: Win (1) of (5) hardcopies of Love, Lucy by April Lindner (US Only)

Start: March 30th, 2015
End: April 7th, 2015

a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars
What Katie Read

Waiting on Wednesday for Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Waiting on Wednesday for Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day GeorgeSilver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on July 7th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 358
Goodreads

A New York Times bestselling author brings dark secrets to life in a lush new YA perfect for fans of Libba Bray or Cassandra Clare.

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

New WoW1890s New York City. A mysterious Romanian family. Adventure. A Prophecy. Bloomsbury is bringing us a new Paranormal YA this July by Jessica Day George!

I only recently discovered that this YA title (look at that intriguing cover!) was being published by Bloomsbury in July. The author actually went to Romania to undertake research for her book, so that makes it even more appealing. I love when I read about authors traveling to the country in which their books are set for research. I think it adds a richer dimension to the story, and that shows.

I adore books set in the Victorian era, fantasy, and Eastern Europe, so it’s no surprise that I’m excited about this book. On GoodReads, Sandie from Teen Lit Rocks has stated that this would be an excellent title for MG readers moving towards YA. Since I love MG and YA equally, and come into contact with both kinds of readers, I’m looking forward to discovering a new book that I can recommend to those readers who are on the border between these two camps.

I don’t think I need to say much about how enchanting that cover is! There’s a place on my shelf for Silver in the Blood and I look forward to putting it there soon.

What are you waiting on Wednesday for this week?

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, in which we share those upcoming releases we are most excited about!

What Katie Read
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