Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Zenn Diagram - Wendy Brant

Zenn Diagram 
Wendy Brant
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance,
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Reading Challenges: #DebutAuthorsChallenge2017, #NGEW2017, Alphabet Soup Challenge



Wait a second, as I wipe my tear...






This one just shot me right in the feels, and it gave me so much more than I expected.

Eva (Ev-ah) is a math genius with this mysterious psychic power, which makes touching people a very unpleasant experience. This inability to casually touch has left her with the label of a germaphobe and sort of isolated. Then she meets Zenn, and she finds that she would really like to touch somebody.

This book had just the right amount of weight. Although there were some very real issues addressed, they were not the main focus of the story. The story was about Zenn and Eva, and I was glad the author did not get sidetracked from this, because I loved their story.

Sidenote: My undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering and my graduate degree is in Science Education. The math geek in me was so delighted by this book. I mean, the math was strong.
"Trig. Calculus." I shrug. "I'm kind of an all-around math slut."
"Cosine," I say, and start to copy a problem onto the paper. "It's not just something your dad does on loans."

There are a lot of beautiful themes addressed here about forgiveness, sacrifice, family. It was very lovely and warmed my heart and all that other good stuff. I loved the twist, and I did not see this twist coming until Brant wanted me too (I think), and really liked how she tied it into other important parts of this story. (I know I am being vague, but I hate spoilers)

Oh, lordy. He's using match analogies. I think I'm in love.

Most of all, I loved Eva and Zenn. Eva just jumped off the page. She was smart, funny, witty, awkward. She was someone I would want as my own friend. She was grateful for what she had, and willing to give up her time, money, and the things she may have wanted to let those she loved get what they desired. She did it for her parents, siblings, Zenn, and Charlotte. She was quite a special heroine. And Zenn. Zenn, Zenn, Zenn. He was so charming and sweet. He also had to sacrifice his wants and desires, because of his life situation. He was willing to earn his own way, and he did not want pity. Actually, these two characters had a quite a few similarities and were just perfect together.

I think about when we met and I asked him his name and he made that Venn diagram with his hands. I probably fell in love with him right there on the sot. I think about how our circles once seemed to barely overlap. Two separate lives with a tiny sliver of math tutoring in common. But now it's like my whole circle and his whole circle are the same.....

And way to leave me with tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face. That epilogue was everything.


Overall: a beautiful and moving story of love and sacrifice, that left me with a mile-wide smile.


**I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book









I love math! Do you like math?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: The Upside of Unrequited - Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited 
Beck Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Reading Challenges: #ContRom2017, #NGEW2017
HEY, LIFE: STOP BEING SO AWKWARD.
I was so excited to get my hands on this book. Albertalli touched my heart with Simon, and I was eager to read more of her work. Well, I was not disappointed, as Unrequited was chock-full of all that warmth and adorableness that won me over in Simon.
It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It's almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.
I have to believe, that most people can relate to having unrequited crushes, and feeling as though you are the LAST single person on the face of the earth. I know I identified in a big way with Molly. She was so stressed because she was not the movie-perfect teen, she didn't have the perfect body, she was a little awkward. I suffered from all those things for a long, long time too. Those feelings of inadequacy, and believing that I didn't deserve to have the type of attention and love that most people yearn for. These feelings radiated from Molly, and I wanted to give her hugs and affirmations to assure her that see WAS worthy. I wanted her to see the girl I saw while reading this. She was kind, loving, generous, talented, smart, witty, and wonderful. She had so many wonderful qualities, and I think that is why I was cheering her on for the entire book.
Except...sometimes I feel like I'm the last alone person. Like maybe there aren't seven and a half billion people in the world. Maybe there are seven and a half billion and one. I'm the one.
A HUGE theme in this book is "Love is Love". In fact, the story takes place as the Marriage Equality Act is enacted, and features many characters who fall under the LGBTQIA umbrella. There are lesbian, bisexual, transexual, pansexual, and heterosexual characters. So, there is that idea of "Love is Love", but there is also the idea of loving yourself and loving who you are. There is the idea of loving a boy, who does not fit the physical or social standards. I felt that these ideas were really important, and I loved the way Albertalli integrated them into the story.
We like who we like. Who cares if someone else doesn't get it.
Molly and Reid were so sweet and adorable and funny and real. I had a huge grin on my face almost every time they interacted in the story. Albertalli did such a wonderful job depicting first love here. I found myself with shiny eyes and a wistful heart. It really took me back a long ways, and it was fun to visit those feelings again.
He smiles at me, and I smile back, and it's like someone put the world on pause. Just for a moment.
I struggled a little when I was trying to shelve this book. Obviously, there's romance, but it was more than that. I decided to shelve it as coming-of-age, because this is about a girl who is growing into herself. Her world is shifting and changing, and it's becoming very apparent to her. She is beginning to widen her world with new people, new relationships, new experiences, and it's scary and exhilarating and amazing and a little sad.

Can I just say, I feel like an utter failure, because I did not realize that Abby, Nick, and Simon were Abby, Nick, and Simon from Simon. I love that Albertalli did that (even if I did not immediately notice). And, yeah, getting so pumped for the Simon movie!!!!



Overall: A wonderful, funny, and touching coming-of-age story filled with diverse characters and beautiful messages of love.

**I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book









Molly makes a delicious cookie dough dessert in this book.  
Do you like cookie dough?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Avenged - Amy Tintera

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on Avenged by Amy Tintera .

Avenged
Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined, #2
Release Date: May 2,  2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Waited on by: Sam

In the sequel to Ruined, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn’t as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.



I read Ruined based on a blogger review, and I was glad I did. To quote my own review:
Overall, a great adventure, which I enjoyed from beginning to end. Bring on book 2!

I loved almost everything about the first book: the romance, the action, the magic, the world, the hero and heroine. I was immediately pulled into this world and totally absorbed in the story. So, what didn't I like? What else? The ending! Because I am an impatient beast, and I NEED to know what happens next.

I will confess, I am insanely jealous of all the people, who were lucky enough to get ARCs for this book. And I swear! I am not like this for all series, just the ones that really dazzled me.  Alas, I will sit his, and eagerly await the arrival of Avenged. 


What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Sloth Cannot Believe He Met

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

Authors Sloth Cannot Believe He Met!


In case you a new visitor to WLABB, I would like to introduce you to Sloth. He is the unofficial mascot of WLABB and he goes places. Unfortunately, he has not gone anywhere recently *sad face*, so he would like to reminisce about some of the great authors he had the pleasure meeting.

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff


Last year, Sloth went to BEA in Chicago, and had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. He is a superfan of the Illuminae Files series, and was simply ecstatic to get a copy of Gemina after waiting in line for over 2 hours. Bottomline: totally worth the wait.

Nicola Yoon


 Sloth also met Nicola Yoon at BEA 2016. He was absolutely smitten with her, and loved both Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star.

Jennifer Niven


BEA 2016 was a dream come true for Sloth, as he also got to meet Jennifer Niven. Sloth cried a river of tears after reading All the Bright Places, and found Niven's latest book, Holding Up the Universe, to be less sad, but equally as great.

Adam Silvera


Adam Silvera was at BEA 2016 with a line that wrapped around the showroom floor for his History Is All You Left Me signing, but he found the time to meet and greet Sloth. *yeah!*

C.J. Redwine


In 2015, Sloth traveled to Nashville for the Utopia con. He was very excited to hear Redwine talk about The Shadow Queen, and could not wait to read it!

Katie McGarry


Katie McGarry is a FAVORITE of mine and Sloth's. This was a fun meeting, because it was totally random. When Utopia con rolls into Nashville, it takes over the entire hotel. We were in the lobby, eating lunch, and who sits down next to us! Katie McGarry! Sloth tried not to fan-sloth too hard, but he still asked for the picture. McGarry's panel was one of Sloth's favorites, as she gave such an impassioned speech about how books have affected her life, which left him pumped for the Thunder Road books.

Marissa Meyer


Another fabulous author sloth meet back in 2015, was Marissa Meyer. Sloth adored The Lunar Chronicles, and could not stop averring his love for this series.

Karole Cuzzo & Sandy Hall


Sloth swooned over Karole Cuzzo and Sandy Hall at BookIt Con 2016. He was really excited to get his copy of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall autographed!

Mackenzi Lee


Another fabulous author Sloth met at BookIt Con 2016, was Mackenzi Lee. She was so much fun to take pictures with, and nice enough to sign his copy of This Monstrous Thing.

Jodi Meadows


One of Sloth's favorite tables at BookIt Con 2016, was Jodi Meadows' table. She brought so many "friends" and even had a unicorn garden! It was quite a memorable visit.




What authors have you met?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. This post is for sharing what I read last week, what I am currently reading, and what I plan to read.


What I Read Last Week

This was a GREAT reading week. I was definitely on a contemporary kick, which probably contributes to the volume of books read, since they tend to be shorter.

I was way more discriminating with my audiobook picks this past week, after DNFing two the prior week. I knew I would like Echo Lake, as I have liked the previous books in this series. Then and Always was an awesome surprise though. It was a random pick from Overdrive, and it was not what I thought it was going to be, but WOW! I really enjoyed it. The ending was so beautifully painful. Atkins did such a masterful job in designing that part. If I talk about his too much, I am start shedding tears.

Most of the contemporaries did that contemporary thing with the open endings, that always leave me wanting. They were all generally enjoyable, but what can I say, I needed more closure. One book that did a magnificent job of that was Coming Up for Air. Kennally has hinted that this may be the last Hundred Oak book, and if it is, she did the fans a solid with that epilogue. I also really enjoyed Anything You Can Do. Grey is an author, who I usually enjoy. I had just finished a super sad book, and this one snapped me right out of my funk. I was surprised at how happy this book made me. It surpassed my expectations, and that is what made it worthy of that extra half star.




What I Am Currently Reading

So far, Bossypants is delivering on the the funny. Tina Fey and I are close in age, and it's uncanny how many of the same musings we share from our youth. I also think her dad and my dad would be BFFs, and I am really enjoying this audiobook.

The Duke of Bannerman Prep is a Great Gatsby re-telling, which piqued my interest. I just started, so not much to say, but so far, so good.



What I Plan to Read

I made a real effort to mix up my picks for this week. I have fantasy, rom-com, contemporary, and mystery on deck. I bought Velva Jean solely because I am such a fan of Jennifer Niven's newer work, and was curious to see how her back catalog was. Fingers crossed I have another great reading week.










What are you reading?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stuffed Animal Saturday: #scandal - Sarah Ockler

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books to showcase the book we're currently reading with one of our favorite stuffed animals and discuss our stuffed animal's opinion (well, it's really our opinion, but that's besides the point). We hope you enjoy our quirky feature as much as we enjoy writing it!

This Saturday, Helga and I are reading #scandal by Sarah Ockler .



Blurb from Goodreads: 

Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...


So far:

I just finished my last book right before I went to sleep, so I am only on page one of this book. Therefore, not much to say yet. I will mention why I am reading this book, though. I am a big fan of Ocular's work. So far, I have read three of her books, and they were 4 and 5 star reads for me. Ocular is another contemporary writer, who I can depend upon to deliver the type of story I will like. I was excited to see #scandal was one of the free reads on Riveted, and that pretty much solidified my decision to read this book.

Are you and your stuffed animal reading anything interesting? 
Let us know in your own Stuffed Animal Saturday!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Things I Should Have Known - Claire LaZebnik

Things I Should Have Known
Claire LaZebnik
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017

Things Chloe Knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan's brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.
Things Chloe Should Have Known: Setups are complicated. Ethan could be a perfect boyfriend...but probably not for Ivy. David might be the one person who really gets Chloe.  
I went into this book thinking that it was a romance, but it was so, so much more. This story is told from Chloe's point of view, and she is an attractive, smart, popular girl dating one of the most popular and attractive boys at school. From the outside, you would think Chloe has it all, but her home life is far from perfect. Her stepfather is overbearing, her mother is needy, and her sister autistic. Chloe puts on a good front, but her home life leaves her feeling isolated, as her friends just cannot relate or understand.
"You have a great boyfriend and you do well at school and everyone likes you," she said to me when she was explaining her theory. "You're even blond. So of course your family situation is a little, you know...challenging. That's life keeping things in balance."
Chloe feels obligated to be there for her sister, but yearns to live her own life. From there, an idea is born to find a friend for Ivy. The idea of putting Ivy and Ethan together seems perfect, until Chloe finds out that Ethan's brother is her nemesis, David.
"I don't mind coming along."
"Even if you have to hang out with the most hated member of your class?"
"Don't flatter yourself," I say. "No one cares enough about you to hate you."
I don't know where to start, so I will start with David and Chloe. I loved these two. I found the verbal sparring from the early chapters delicious, and the honest, deep discussion in the later chapters quite touching. These two carried a lot on their shoulders. They both had siblings with autism, who they felt they needed to care for and protect, because their parents were not quite up to the challenge. They found comfort in each other, and gave each other the type of support only those in the same situation could. They both struggled with their own wants and needs, and the needs of their siblings. Finding that balance was difficult, and came at a cost.
"You're a good brother," I say.
"I make up for that by being a horrible human being in every other way."
I absolutely adored LaZenik's writing. It was full of wit, humor, affection, and honesty. There was such an ease to it, and the story just flowed naturally. When reading the afterword, I was not surprised to find out that this book was written by a person who loves someone with autism, as Ivy and Ethan were portrayed honestly and respected in the story. LaZenik show the good, the bad, and the ugly that is out there. How the world can seem to those with autism, how poorly some people react to those with autism, and how wonderful someone on the spectrum can be. I appreciated how she brought me in their world, and thank her for her candor and honesty.
It's like people have a place in their brain for normal, and they have a place in their brain for something obviously wrong, but they can't deal with something a little bit different. 
There is quite a bit of lovely romance going on in this book. I found it all quite adorable, and loved every minute of it. I have feels over and over again. It was fantastic.


 This book sort of had everything I look for in a great YA contemporary: well thought out characters, great dialogue, honest portrayals, and growth. Growth is really important to me, as I always want my characters to have changed for the better, and LaZebnik gave me that.

Overall: A wonderful story of love, compassion, understanding, and acceptance filled with things that put a smile on my face and a pitter-patter in my heart.


**I would like to thank NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for the advanced copy of this book








Ethan loved movie! 
Do you like movies? What are some of your favorites?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Legion - Julie Kagawa

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on Legion by Julie Kagawa.

Legion
Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon, #4
Release Date: April 25,  2017
Publisher: Mira Ink
Waited on by: Sam

The legions are about to be unleashed, and no human, rogue dragon or former dragon slayer can stand against the coming horde. Book 4 of 5 in The Talon Saga from New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa.

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.


It's no secret, that I am a Kagawa fan. Her Iron Fey series remains one of my favorites, and Talon is on its way to joining that list. 

I loved book 1 and 2. Both were 5-star reads for me. So, when Soldier came out, I was really excited to read, what I thought, was the final book in the series. Lo and behold, there will be 5 books! You can see why I was sort of put off when the book ended in a very rude cliffy. Couple that, with the fact that my ship appeared to be sinking, you can see why I only gave the third book 4.5-stars.


Even after all of that, I still NEED this book. Kagawa often does this. She creates a situation, which breaks your heart a little or leaves you angry, but after reading a bunch of her books, I have grown to trust that this all happened for a good reason. So, I will eagerly await Legion, and keep my fingers crossed that I get those answers I so desperately seek. 


What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. This post is for sharing what I read last week, what I am currently reading, and what I plan to read.


What I Read Last Week

I did very well with my book reading this week. I read ALL the books I planned to read. However, I abandoned two audiobooks. I just could not get into them. They had good reviews, but maybe they just didn't work on audio.

My favorite read this week, was When Dimple Met Rishi. My heart was exploding during this one. If you like fun and adorable contemporary romances with some cultural diversity, you will love this one.



What I Am Currently Reading

Other Breakable Things was sort of a teen version of Me Before You. It was a tragic love story, that left me a snotty mess. Therefore, I needed a fun read to follow it up, and I can count on R.S. Grey to bring the funny.

I am hoping for more success with my audiobook selection this week. Then and Always sounds promising as I am a fan of the books that are name dropped in the synopsis. Fingers crossed!



What I Plan to Read

I have been wanting to read both #scandal and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. Rocks was available on Overdrive and #scandal is a Riveted free read. Yeah! All of the books I selected, with the exception of Rocks, is by an author I have read before, thus, I think this will be a great week.










What are you reading?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

#SignedBookSunday: This Shattered World - Kaufman & Spooner

This Shattered World 
Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Goodreads

For #SignedBookSunday, I am featuring This Shattered World. This is the second book in a series that I adored. This book was a SciFi Romeo and Juliet, and did an amazing job advancing the story of the colonies and the whispers.

I was lucky enough to meet Megan Spooner at YallFest back in 2015, and was able to get my book signed. I was quite sad last year, because I was unable to attend the event again. To date, I would say this is one of my favorite bookish events. There are so many reasons to love this YallFest!

That time, when Sloth met Meagan Spooner

  • The event is essentially free. YallCrawl and almost all the panels are free of charge. There are a few ticketed events, but the charge is nominal. I paid $7 per ticket. 
  • It's in Charleston, South Carolina. This was my first trip to Charleston, and I have to say, it is a beautiful city. The people were lovely, and I ate some fantastic southern food. 
  • Usually, I am stuck in a convention center, but here, the festival takes over! It was so much fun, walking from place to place for different events, and there are book lovers everywhere! 
  • YallFest is packed with ah-mazing authors every year. There are tons of signing opportunities, and incredible panels. I struggled selecting the events to attend. 
  • The atmosphere was friendly and there was always someone on the line, who wanted to talk about their favorite books with you. 

I hope to attend YallFest again this year, and to someday attend YallWest as well. Fingers crossed!











What was the best bookish event you have attended?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: The Last Thing You Said - Sara Biren


The Last Thing You Said 
Sara Biren
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Reading Challenges: #ContRom2017, #NGEW2017, #DebutAuthorChallenge

The last thing she said --
It's a good day to have a good day." She leans in close to me and whispers, "BRB, Lucy. Promise me."
I knew this books would elicit tears, when a few escaped as I read the author's introductory note.



This is a sad story of what happens when a life is cut short. It's about those who are left behind, and how they are supposed to survive without that person. I lost several friends too soon, and therefore was able to relate to this story. Biren deftly portrayed people in the throes of grief. The primary focus of the story was Ben and Lucy, but she also included Trixie's parents and other family members. I appreciated that Biren did this, because she showed that grief, and how one deals with this grief, is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Her life was short, but she did - she lived it.
This story really hit home for me on so many levels, as I lost several friends way too soon. It made me reflect on how I dealt with those losses. The coincidence that I finished reading this story on THIS day, which is always a little sad for me as I remember my good friend who I lost in a plane crash, was uncanny. It was many years ago, but I still hold a little piece of him in my heart and a little bit of the pain is still there too. So, yeah, I could relate to this story, and found that the pain and ache permeated this story was so real.
"Tell me a Trixie." I smile. This has become one of our favorite activities, a way I can keep Trixie alive.
The parts where memories of Trixie were shared were among my favorite parts of this book. I swear! Every one of them brought a smile to my face, and made my eyes shiny. These vignettes were so beautifully crafted, and radiated with love for their cherished friend and sister. They were just perfect. The picture of Trixie painted for us, was one of a girl who loved recklessly and lived her life out loud. She brought joy to those who she loved and who loved her back, but she had flaws, and I liked that Biren included those too.
Be really brave. BRB - our code.
The broken relationship between Ben and Lucy was so painful! There were times when I thought my heart just could not take any more. These two were so deep in their hole of anguish, that they were missing out on their best means for survival. It is here that I will thank Biren for giving both Ben and Lucy such wonderful support systems in the form of Guthrie and Hannah. Guthrie was this fabulous strong but silent type, who has this zen-mystical quality. And Hannah! Hannah was loud and showy and sometimes crass, but she was thoughtful, understanding, persistent when necessary, and perceptive. She knew exactly what Lucy needed and when. It was really touching the way she shared in Lucy's pain and wanted to help her remember Trixie, even though she never met her. #FriendshipGoals.



I really loved the way Biren worked the inuksuit into the story. The whole purpose of the inuksuit as a form of communication to say you were here or to tell someone they are on the right path. Ben used these structures as a way to find his way back: back to Lucy and back to himself. It was very poetic and beautiful.
I stack the rocks and they fall and I stack them again until I find balance.

Ben was so careful and methodical about it, so intent on achieving balance where there should be none.
And the ending image featuring the inuksuit just made my heart leap with joy.

Overall: A lovely and poignant story of love and loss which hit me right in the feels, and is leaving me wanting more from Sara Biren.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book









Do you enjoy lake sports?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall - Karole Cozzo

How to Keep Rolling 
After a Fall 
Karole Cuzzo
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Reading Challenges: #ContRom2017, #DiverseReads2017, Shelf Love

Nikki made a mistake. Nikki stood by and allowed her friends to post photos to her Facebook account with the intention of publicly shaming one of their classmates. Her house. Her party. Her account. Nikki is the sole culprit in the eyes of the school and is expelled. But it's not over. Her father won't look her in the eye, her mother doesn't trust her, and she is an outcast at her new school. All seems hopeless, until she meets Pax, a wheelchair rugby player with a contagious smile and a forgiving heart. This is a second chance Nikki cannot pass up.

I loved Cuzzo's last book, How to Say I Love You Out Loud, and I had great expectations for this book. Once again, Cuzzo delivered a beautiful story laced with some pain, life lessons, and lots of love.

I was reading the reader letter at the end of the book, and found Cuzzo's argument for why she chose to write about the aggressor of a bullying incident versus the victim quite interesting, and I am glad to chose to write about Nikki, because this challenged me as a reader. Thanks to Cuzzo's ability to craft characters, I did grow to care deeply for Nikki, and though I understand that silence is acceptance, I still felt like the situation was unjust. Nikki's excommunication was severe. She paid the price over and over and over again until Pax. Pax believed in second chances, and allowed Nikki to redeem herself. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Pax in their lives.
"'I'm a firm believer in new beginnings. Looking back all the time...It really starts to hurt your neck.' He shrugs carelessly. 'If you don't want to be defined by your past, you shouldn't have to be.'" 
And now for my favorite part of the story - Pax. This guy was the stuff that book boyfriends are made of. He was Nikki's champion, compassionate, patient, understanding, giving, and generally looked on the brighter side. It was a hard fought journey from his post-accident self to where he was in this story, but he was getting to that place of acceptance. He was accepting that his old life was gone, and he was helping Nikki get there too.
"'With all due respect, sir,' Pax begins quietly, maintaining eye contact all the while, 'did you love her because she was flawless, or did you love her because you loved her?'"
And what's a Swoon Reads without the swoon. I am feeling so many emotions trying to describe the joy I felt as the romance between Pax and Nikki blossomed. Pax rolled in as Nikki was receiving another public tongue lashing. He gave her comfort and friendship, but he did not anticipate what evolved from there. This relationship had some bumps, which was probably very realistic. Pax was a paraplegic, and this came with other medical issues, as well as, limitations due to how the rest of the world isn't necessarily accessible. I appreciated that Cuzzo showed us that other side of Pax, and gave us some insight into the affects this had on his relationships. But in the end, they were beautiful together.
"We kiss and we kiss, and every now and again, my legs bob forward, grazing his, or float out behind me, useless and unimportant. Legs don't matter anymore. Pax's arms are enough to keep me afloat."
At the end of this story, Nikki was not the same girl she was "before". She had grown and change, and this metamorphosis was due to Pax. He was able to help her see things differently, and nurtured her and challenged her, as she grew and changed.
"The literal translation of Pax, I learned, is peace."
Once again, Cuzzo delivers an impactful story, that doesn't gloss over the issues. She shows the good, the bad, and the ugly side, but still manages to leave me with a story that leaves my heart bursting with joy.









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