Genre: Realistic YA Fiction

Book Review – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen Hopkins

November 21, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen HopkinsTraffick by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Tricks #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 528
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

three-stars

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out?How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

‘How am I supposed to stay clean
when the truth of what I’ve done
closes in around me, squeezing
hideous memories from the deep
recesses of my brain […]’

Tricks is a novel that leaves you haunted for a group of incredibly real individuals that wound up in unimaginable situations. It told the story of five individuals: Seth is kicked out of his home after his father finds out he’s gay. Ginger is forced to run away after she’s raped and finds out that her mother collected cash from the experience. Eden is sent to a religious reform camp after her parents discover she has a boyfriend. Cody and his family find themselves in a financial hole after the death of his stepfather and he begins collecting money anyway he can. And Whitney who ends up with an older man simply because he gives her the attention she craves. What’s most shocking is how vastly different their stories are yet how they all seem to wind up in the same situations: selling their bodies in order to survive.

Traffick is their follow-up story that once again forces these same characters to face their demons while giving them the opportunity to find some semblance of a future that none of them ever thought they would live to witness. It’s no doubt a bleak tale but it effectively brings to life the harsh realities of sex trafficking and child prostitution and what many are forced to undergo. It also productively breaks many of the stereotypes surrounding the beliefs regarding how individuals find themselves in these situations. They aren’t all doing this work of their own free will, some are forced into it by intimidation, some do it out of a misguided act of love, and some do it out of sheer desperateness and being unable to do anything else with their lives.

Ellen has said that she worked with rescue groups and survivors of sex trafficking to make this story as honest as possible, and it’s obvious. While Traffick doesn’t give these victims a complete happily ever after, I appreciated it more because it didn’t. What these individuals endured is something that will stay with them eternally and forever change who they are. What this story did do was give these characters, and any individuals that find themselves in similar circumstances, the possibility of hope. Hope that there is a future for them, no matter what, despite their experiences.

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National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

November 14, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 3 Comments

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Challenger Deep by Neal ShustermanChallenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Illustrator: Brendan Shusterman
Published by HarperTeen on April 21st 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Mental Illness, Realistic YA Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-half-stars

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens.

‘Sometimes the darkness beyond is not glorious at all, it truly is an absolute absence of light. A clawing, needy tar that pulls you down. You drown but you don’t. It turns you to lead so you sink faster in its viscous embrace. It robs you of hope and even the memory of hope. It makes you think you’ve always felt like this, and there’s no place to go but down, where it slowly, ravenously digests your will, distilling it into the ebony crude of nightmares.’

Caden Bosch’s descent into schizophrenia takes readers on an unforgettable adventure that blurs the line between what’s real and what’s mere fantasy. Caden is a gifted artist at the age of fifteen years old yet he possesses an inner drive, a compulsion, that he can no longer keep quiet. His art becomes frenetic and he begins walking his town for hours based on a uncontrollable desire to fill the empty sidewalks with his presence. And sometimes his mind takes him elsewhere, where he’s a part of a crew on a galleon and their mission is to reach the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, a place called Challenger Deep.

‘The things I feel cannot be put into words, or if they can, the words are in no language anyone can understand. My emotions are talking in tongues.’

Ironically, this was my first read in my National Book Award experiment, yet it’s the last one I sat down to review. This was such a staggering read for me that it really took me some time to fully process Caden’s story and how it made me feel. I suppose the expected response is sadness and pity, but it was so authentically told that it transformed this story into something truly substantial for me. Despite the fantasy world that Caden lived in, his struggle becomes something real. We glimpse just enough of the outside world to realize how much his loved ones are also impacted and how they struggle to understand his inner turmoil. How his parents plead with him to change his behavior when it’s well past the point of his ability, so he’s placed in a mental institution when they don’t know what else to do for him. Almost in defiance of such a melancholy story, is the subtle (yet effective) humor that is laced throughout.

“If you continue making progress,” one of the nurses told me earlier today, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t be going home in a couple of weeks.” Then she added, “But don’t quote me on that.” Noncommittal is rampant among the committed.

Sprinkled throughout this story are various pieces of art which are original pieces from the authors son,
Brendan Shusterman. The story itself exists solely because of the experiences of Brendan who has personally struggled with mental illness, which makes sense as to why this story rang so true for me. Challenger Deep will certainly leave readers who haven’t suffered personally to gain more of an understanding and compassion for those that do.

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National Book Award 2015 Finalist – The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

November 12, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2015 2 Comments

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali BenjaminThe Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don't just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory--even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy's achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe...and the potential for love and hope right next door.

‘The thing is, a person gets so few chances to really fix something, to make it right. When one of those opportunities comes along, you can’t overthink it. You’ve got to grab hold of it and cling to it with all your might, no matter how cray cray it might seem.’

When Suzy’s mom sits her down to tell her that her former best friend Franny has died in a drowning accident, the only reason she gives her is that “sometimes things just happen”. Former best friend or not, Suzy fails to accept this simplistic verdict. The duo had been friends since they were five, but Franny found a new group of girls to hang out with when they went into Middle School leaving Suzy all by herself. So in addition to basically losing Franny a second time, Suzy is struggling to come to terms with her parent’s divorce as well. Deciding that her words are of little consequence, she decides one day to no longer speak. During a school field trip, she watches a jellyfish float through its watery cage, and it suddenly comes to her that she knows exactly how Franny died.

“That’s what science is,” she explained. “It’s learning what others have discovered about the world, and then – when you bump up against a question that no one has ever answered before – figuring out how to get the answer you need.

The Thing About Jellyfish bounces back and forth in time, slowly unfolding the story on how Franny
became the former best-friend. It’s a melancholy tale and you can’t help feeling for the poor girl. She’s never stopped caring for Franny though, and once she’s gone, Suzy feels that after some time has passed she’s the only one that still seems to care about her or even consider her death to be mysterious. This quickly leads her into a scientific research adventure into jellyfish from around the world, and most especially the Irukandji jellyfish. Through Suzy’s research, we learn that the sting of an Irukandji can cause muscle cramps which could essentially lead to drowning. At only a few centimeters long and almost completely transparent, Suzy believes it’s up to her to prove that Franny’s death wasn’t something that just happened.

‘There’s no single right way to say goodbye to someone you love. But the most important thing is that you keep some part of them inside you.’

The Thing About Jellyfish is a poignant story about coming to terms with your grief while the world around you continues like nothing has changed. The protagonist may only be twelve-years-old, however, her sentimental experience is something that will be easily understood and acknowledged by readers of all ages.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen Hopkins

April 1, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Traffick (Tricks #2) by Ellen HopkinsTraffick by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Tricks #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 608
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

About Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

Remember this one?

5510384

Well, here’s the follow-up we never knew was coming! I’m always ready to dive back into some heart-wrenching story of Hopkins and this one I anticipate being no different.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – All the Rage by Courtney Summers

February 27, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – All the Rage by Courtney SummersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 14th 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery, Realistic YA Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: This is Not a Test, Sadie

four-stars

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now—but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear,

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers' new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

‘…they’d think of me the way they think of me now, think of it as some kind of natural conclusion to my story, sad, maybe, deserved it, well no, of course no one does, but. That girl. You can see it. It’s written on her.’

Romy Grey lives on the “wrong side” of a small town where everybody knows everybody. She’s the girl that no one trusts, the type of girl that everybody expects to be nothing but trouble. When she’s raped at a party and accuses the sheriff’s son of the attack, she quickly loses her best friend and becomes the focus of harassment from every person in her town. Romy lives as inconspicuous as she can from that day on but when a local girl goes missing in addition to news of an attack similar to Romy’s, she realizes she can’t keep quiet anymore.

I devoured this book in a single day. I couldn’t tear my eyes away even if I wanted to. This book, guys, encompasses everything that is wrong with this society. Where a woman can accuse a man of abuse and not for a second will they believe her, simply because the man has always been considered an upstanding member of the community. Because naturally, the facade we put on for the public is completely our true selves and can immediately absolve someone of any accusations. This was a terrifyingly realistic account of the aftermath of rape, of small town mentality, the immediate stereotypes that get doled out and how truly horrid people can be to one another.

‘I rest my middle finger across my lips; red on red, the most subtle way I can tell him to fuck himself because I’m not stupid enough to say it out loud in a world that’s his fan club.’

The writing was course and raw but had a finesse to it that completely encapsulated the expected horror of the situation. The story did get a little jumbled when it switches between “Now” and “Two Weeks Before” and it was difficult at first to re-sort the sequence of events in your mind but once you realize what transpired you’ll want to go back to the beginning with a fresh, knowledgeable look at it all. Summers is unflinching in her determination to accurately represent all that’s wrong with rape culture and subsequent victim blaming and while it was a painful story to read, it’s one incapable of being forgotten.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson {Purchase}
Dare Me by Megan Abbott {Purchase}

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Review + Giveaway! The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

February 5, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2014, YA 10 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway! The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Unearthly, Hallowed, Boundless

four-stars

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

‘Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.’

Lexie is an unexceptionally smart student with big dreams of going to MIT. She has a boyfriend who loves her and a group of friends she can depend on. But that was life seven weeks ago. Now? Her grades are slipping, she’s broke up with her boyfriend and she won’t talk to any of her friends. Seven weeks ago her brother killed himself. But now she’s starting to his ghost. A series of journal entries reveal the facts behind Lexie’s grief (and guilt) and the heartbreak begins anew when we are exposed to the truth of her pain.

‘I didn’t know to savor that moment on the dance floor, to understand how beautiful and rare it was, how fragile, how ephemeral, when Ty was happy. When we were all happy, and we were together, and we were safe.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know.’

Grief comes in many forms as we all handle it in different ways. Lexie’s path of grief led her to shut everyone out and while this storyline has certainly been done before, it still managed to resonate honestly and leave a strong impression. These days, death and grief have become most common in YA novels and while it can certainly come off as a morbid fascination, the existence of these types of novels can be vital for those who don’t quite know how to handle their grief. It can serve as proof to those who have also experienced grief that they are far from alone and that there are people that can help. It’s a sad fact of life that we must all learn how to cope, heal and continue living. The Last Time We Said Goodbye is more of a cautionary tale seeing as the story is told from the surviving sister and inevitably shows the repercussions of suicide and the effects of grief but manages to still leave the reader with a facet of hope to cling to. While this is a work of fiction, the author states that she had a younger brother that killed himself which only made this all the more poignant and truly from the heart.

The Last Time We Said Goodbye is a raw and brutally honest depiction of the various sides of grief. It’s an insightful and admirable story about acceptance and forgiveness that will no doubt leave you heartsick but is an incredibly worthy read.

I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of this book from Harper Teen and now want to share this book with one of you! To be entered to win, please use the Rafflecopter widget below.

This is open to U.S. residents only! Sorry international followers.
Giveaway ends February 19th, 2015

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Audiobook Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

April 4, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Narrator: Kate Rudd
Published by Brilliance Audio on January 10th 2012
Length: 7 hours and 14 minutes
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

‘But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.’

The contemporary genre in general has never been my go-to type to read. Personally I like to sit down with a book and open up onto another world. Not necessarily fantasy but I’ve never cared to read about real-life problems that humans have to deal with on a day to day basis. Depression, death, heartbreak and everything along those lines that manage to make life so dreadfully difficult. For this reason, I always avoided John Green’s novels and this one in particular because, who wants to read about a girl that’s dying of cancer? Apparently, me. This was my first John Green novel, yet I can safely say this will not be my last. And the one thing everyone wants to know: I didn’t cry. Okay, I didn’t BAWL but it did come pretty close and for me that’s pretty miraculous.

‘You realize that trying to keep your distance from me will not lessen my affection for you. All efforts to save me from you will fail.’

Hazel Grace Lancaster is a girl who doesn’t expect to live for very long at all. As she puts it so eloquently, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” She knows she’s going to die, she knows it’s inevitable that she’s going to cause some pain, but she’s doing the best she possibly can to keep people at a distance so as to not cause any unnecessary pain. Then she meets Augustus Waters. These two meet in a cancer support group and they are two peas in a pod getting along so well so quickly and falling for one another equally as quick. While suffering through the harsh realities of life with cancer, these two add a flair of wit and sarcasm that manages to make the bleakest of subjects surprisingly funny. Regardless of the humor these two imbue into the story, those harsh realities make their expected appearance so as to cause heartbreak and great distress forcing us as the reader back into the tragic reality of the lives they’ve been given.

‘You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.’

Hazel and Augustus are the stars of this show but there are several other noteworthy characters as well. Their friend Isaac recently underwent a surgery which made him blind but prior to that he was dealing with the loss of his long-term girlfriend. So after the surgery, Hazel and Augustus take him over to her house so he can egg her car. At one point, Augustus says, “Hazel Grace! Take a picture of this so Isaac can see it when they invent robot eyes.” I rewound that on my audiobook about three times because it was so ridiculous yet so touching how these three bonded together to be there for one another. It made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me sad because of their unfortunate circumstances.

In addition to the strong friendships showcased, there was another surprising addition to this story and that’s a strong parent presence and relationship. It’s often seen in YA fiction the complete lack of parents but not only were Hazel’s parents present, they were a huge and necessary support group for her and it was such a joy to see. It was clear that Hazel’s mother was trying to make her daughter as happy as possible for the short time she had.

“HAZEL! IT’S YOUR THIRTY-THIRD HALF BIRTHDAY!”
“Ohhhhhh,” I said. My mom was really super into celebration maximization. IT’S ARBOR DAY! LET’S HUG TREES AND EAT CAKE! COLUMBUS BROUGHT SMALLPOX TO THE NATIVES; WE SHALL RECALL THE OCCASION WITH A PICNIC!, etc.”

The Fault In Our Stars is a love story but it’s so much more than that. This is a truly heartbreaking and powerful tale. We’re given such a small amount of time to live as it is yet the characters in this story are given even less. Cancer is a thief, a robber, a purloiner of time. Living life to its absolute fullest is the only thing you can do and these characters did just that. I am highly recommending this book even for those of you who were like me and didn’t care to suffer through the heartbreak of watching fictional characters die. Looking past the heartbreak and suffering you’ll see a hopefulness and a zeal for life that is quite contagious. So, give it a shot, okay? Okay.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

March 26, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Rumble by Ellen HopkinsRumble by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 26, 2014
Pages: 560
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.

About Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the "only one who understands me", and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Audiobook Review – Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen Hopkins

October 4, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen HopkinsSmoke by Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Candace Thaxton, January LaVoy
Series: Burned #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 10th 2013
Length: 8 hours and 13 minutes
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

two-half-stars

Pattyn’s father is dead. Now she’s on the run in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Burned.

Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?
Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.

 

Burned series

Burned (Burned, #1)
Burned (Burned #1) {Review}

‘How many people live unafraid? To truly embrace courage, I think, requires one of two things–unshakable faith that death is no more than a portal to some Shangri-la reunion. Or zero belief at all.’

Smoke is the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2006 release, Burned. It’s a dual-narrative story told from the point of view of Pattyn who is currently on the run after her father is shot and killed and of Jackie, Pattyn’s sister, who has remained behind and is suffering through the aftermath.

While Burned did admittedly leave off with a major cliffhanger of an ending, I can’t help but think it would have been better off left as is. Smoke’s plot felt stretched and thin and unnecessary story lines were added that detracted from the heart of the story. There was the radical militia movement, the slaughter of wild mustangs, the mistreatment of migrant workers and while these are all important topics I felt that not only was there too much going on but it never felt like it fit with the main story which centers around the Mormon community the family is a part of. I think the bigger issue with Smoke though is the absence of Ellen’s signature writing style. Yes, this is written in verse and yes her prose is beautiful… but only in certain sections. It wasn’t consistent and read far too much like a typical novel for my liking.

In addition, the wrap-up was far too flawless. Too picture perfect. And storylines were left unresolved, like the lack of resolution of Pattyn’s previous life she had while on the run. Burned is one of my favorite by Hopkins and while Smoke didn’t live up to that, it did give us a resolution (whether it was ultimately necessary is definitely debatable).

Smoke is a story of survival, of learning to cope following the aftermath of abuse and starting anew.

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Early Review – This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

August 9, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on September 17th 2013
Pages: 288
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Once Was a Time

four-half-stars

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

‘…I also felt like an eggshell that had gotten a tiny crack. You can’t repair something like that. All you can do is hope that it sticks together, hope that the crack doesn’t grow until all your insides come spilling right out.’

Elise Dembowski is the unpopular girl in school. She’s that girl that eats her lunch in the bathroom. She’s the one that never gets asked to the school dances. She’s the one that shuffles along silently down the halls, never saying a word, never making eye contact with anyone. The invisible one.

Elise decides she’s going to spend the entire summer leading up to the new school year learning how to be just like all the popular kids so that this year can be different. But it’s not. It ends up being just as disastrous as all others, but everything changes the day she goes home and decides to commit suicide.

“I had once thought that I wanted to get revenge by dying. But getting revenge by living, and living well, was much, much sweeter.”

I love how this book has been the conduit for so many shared personal stories. It resonated deep with me too, so I can’t but share my own tale.

The first half of this book I couldn’t seem to connect with Elise’s story and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I thought about it, discussed it with others and it finally hit me that the reason was due to how much I could relate and that I was unconsciously trying to emotionally disconnect. While I know I wasn’t the most tortured kid in school, my early school days are not filled with memories that I look back on fondly. I dealt with bullies at the bus stop and being teased for my choice in fashion for years. But what resonated the most with me was that intense desire that Elise had to just be noticed by the popular group of kids. I remember the day the popular group of kids at school finally talked to me, asking me for a quick favor, just to keep something in my backpack for them… saying no never crossed my mind. I remember being called to the principal’s office, having him search my bag and finding pot… apparently my “new friends” had been caught and had quickly decided to pawn it off on someone and I ended up being the perfect one to take the fall.

It took me a long time to understand the full extent of what those girls did to me that day. That incident made me realize that there are some people in this world that may put on a happy face and pretend to be your friend but they don’t have your best interests at heart. They don’t care what happens to you. And they are most certainly not people you want/need to have in your life.

Even if you can’t relate to Elise’s story, I’m sure you’ve known an ‘Elise’ type at some point in your life. But this can truly be a life lesson for everyone, whether you relate or not, because everyone is misjudged at some point in their life. This Song Will Save Your Life is a novel of self-discovery. It’s about finding good people to have in your life that will treat you with kindness and respect. It’s about finding what makes you happy in life. It’s about being shamelessly you… and realizing there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.

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