Book Review

Book Review: Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 384 pages
Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publisher: Ink Road
Release Date: March 10th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

SOME GOOD.

I liked this book. I did, just some main character issues that were hard to continue to look past as the book went on.

Harley was so intensely selfish, the entire book. Everything she did hurt someone around her and she would acknowledge this, but then do nothing to work on changing and growing from her choices. Maybe by the end were some new insights from Harley. By then though, I was over her attitude and her treatment of others.

I did love the circus theme. It’s a small sub-genre I also enjoy. I like the setting and all of the magical acts and characters that come with it. Harley’s coworkers were fun and helped find her footing after she had ran off.

The romance was cute! I enjoyed the slow movement and how it didn’t overtake the story since this wasn’t a romance at its heart. Harley had to learn a lot while she was on her own and did at least get something out of it.

Harley, biracial, often felt disconnected with her cultures and a large family pulling her different ways. I really liked this diversity aspect and conversations she had with herself and others. I loved that by the end she had started to find herself and where she fit in and how she could feel like she was apart of her family.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary fiction
  • Language: some mild
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content warnings: some suicide ideation, and discussion of mental health (anxiety and depression)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary fiction
Length: 432 pages
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

AMAZING.

This might be the first time I can remember reading a full book in verse. I didn’t know how I would enjoy it, but this ended up being the perfect dynamic for this story. I loved the way it flowed and moved.

Reading the complex and dynamic thoughts of Camino and Yahaira broke my heart. This was raw and real and I felt the emotions they were both struggling with as they coped with significant loss and finding out someone they both loved was not all he seemed. Yet, while they unraveled their father’s secrets, they also remembered to love the man that they did have. And I love how complicated this was. There was room here to feel what they needed to and how they could move forward.

I liked seeing both sides of the story and understanding more how this plane crash affected these communities across an ocean. It caused me to look up, research, and learn more about something that I hadn’t heard of. Clap When You Land was beautiful and a quick read. The musicality of the language brought so much to the surface.

The bond that starts to form between Camino and Yahaira gave the ending light. Finding hope in a tragic storm and looking towards a better future.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary fiction
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: plane crash, loss of a loved one, physical, sexual harassment

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 394 pages
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

DIDN’T JIVE WITH THE WRITING.

That would be my biggest issue. Nothing clicked quite the way I think it was supposed to. I kept reading because I was [mostly] enjoying the story, but things never changed. I thought things would randomly get political or twists would be thrown in that I didn’t think were necessary or helpful to the plot as a whole.

I did enjoy the interactions between Penny and Sam. I thought they were sweet and I love the modern era love story of getting to know each other through texts/phone calls. It was clever that she became his emergency contact. The college age setting was nice too. I wish there were more YA/New adult books set in college. This isn’t a slow-burn romance in anyway though. Mostly infatuation that turns into love all of a sudden.

This book seemed overly dramatic at times. Like it was trying to see how awful things could get before a resolution kind of came about. I don’t mind this usually in books because I understand the flow of the story. This came out a bit jarring and I was upset with how broken these characters were written out. Maybe I thought this was going to have a bit more sunshine.

I also felt like NOTHING HAPPENED. There was some focus on Sam’s documentary and on Penny’s writing class, but I never got to see the end of them? It was annoying to have a bunch of loose threads. I know it wasn’t the main part of the story, but it was definitely discussed more than enough to have needed things tied up.

Having someone as a friend, in whatever capacity that may be, was a great concept for this book though. We all need someone to lean on and I loved seeing Penny and Sam turn towards each other in their times of need.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (college age)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, page 290 – a moderately detailed rape scene (main character telling her story)

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fiction
Length: 277 pages
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Expected Release Date: September 9th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

This was a SUPER quick read. And a very interesting take on heaven.

The whole idea of someone aging backwards until their a baby again in the land of Elsewhere was a bit odd and troublesome to me, but I thought it was unique to think about. While this didn’t change any personal concepts on what I believe the afterlife is like I still found it thoughtful.

It’s a very moving and bittersweet story for Liz, who’s life is cut way too short by an accident. She had to cope with grief and depression to find the hope that she could in her new world. Liz definitely pulled at my heart strings. I love the characters that were in her world and how they each brought something to the story. Betty, Owen, Thandi, and more surrounded Liz when she needed it to help her move on.

It’s even more well-imagined when I got to the dog portion. OHEMGEE talking dogs? SERIOUSLY ALL I WANT. I love the perspective and life and love that came from having a dog in the afterlife. They were cute and spunky and I wanted to hug them all.They also brought a different layer to the story because they were constantly just as thoughtful as the humans.

I like that there was a tiny touch of romance and overwhelming friendships. I think Liz needed something like that to understand her story of life and death. While wildly different they can also be wildly similar.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fiction
  • Language: little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: discussion of death and how people died (some included were: cancer, overdose, hit and run, gunshot wound, plane crash, flu and more)

Instagram || Goodreads