Review: ‘Made You Up’

I heard of this author actually because of Eliza and her Monsters, but was excited to see that she wrote a book about schizophrenia, so I was curious to see how she portrayed mental illness.

 

Title: Made You Up

Author: Francesca Zappia

Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary

This book follows Alex, who is a girl in high school that copes with schizophrenia. She deals with all of the ‘normal’ things that high schoolers deal with as well as her mental illness. Her parents are very much supportive of her and try to protect her as best they can. But, nobody really anticipated a character like Miles to come into the mix.

Likes

My main concern with books that focus around mental illness is always that they are going to portray it in a negative way and make it seem like it is way more dramatic than it is. Studying mental health counseling, it really upsets me when this happens, as it scares those affected most of all. But this book did not do that: it was actually a pretty accurate portrayal and it didn’t glamorize things to be extremely dramatic or over the top. I appreciated when Alex would ask her Magic 8 ball questions when she was trying to figure out if something was real or going to happen and it made her seem relatable. Not that everyone who has schizophrenia does this, but it was kind of her own ‘check’ of reality, or at least that is how I saw it. I also think that in addition to portraying mental illness correctly, it also showed when people threw mental illness around as if it wasn’t serious. For example, (THIS IS A SPOILER) Miles’ mom was put into a mental facility because of something his father did. It wasn’t her fault at all. But she was labeled as ‘crazy’ and ‘suicidal’, so that is what happened. I hate labels such as those: it makes society believe that those who have mental illness are all dangerous or violent. That isn’t true, it’s actually the opposite. For many mental illnesses (anxiety, as I can speak from experience), you mainly bother yourself and it is a war within your own head, not something that makes you act out in violent ways.  I also think the cover in itself is super powerful and shows a girl who is shielding herself from the darkness that wants to overtake her.

Dislikes

I wasn’t sold on how this book was written, aka the writing style. I have another book by this author on my TBR but I am going to give that a chance. I felt like it was very slow and calculated, which works in some instances but didn’t work for me here. I also thought that I needed some more expansion to show what those who are schizophrenic really experience. They had the ‘voices in her head’ thing, but that is not all they experience. I needed it to be a little bit more real and show the aspects of mental illness that people don’t talk about or don’t know about, frankly. There are different types of schizophrenia as well and I couldn’t put that strong of a label on her experience because it wasn’t expanded on enough. I have to say that the author did show what happens when someone who is schizophrenic goes off of her meds and how the side effects can really be like a wave hitting you.

Recommendation

I would suggest this book to those who would like to learn about schizophrenia or those who want to see what this author’s writing style is like. It was a nicely told story and it wasn’t very heavy, so I appreciated that too

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

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Review: ‘Song of the Current’

I picked this book up after seeing it recommended on Twitter by an author I follow (Katherine Locke @Bibligato). I am so glad I did!!

Title: Song of the Current
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Series: Song of the Current
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

WOW! I thought after Daughter of the Pirate King I would be sworn off of all pirate books. But holy crap this one was amazing! It follows the story of Caro, who has to sail across the river (and sea) in order to deliver a shipment so that she can save her father. That’s a mouthful but it’s so swashbuckling! I can’t believe I just typed that… but it’s amazing. Caro isn’t that good at listening to directions and she opens the crate she must deliver, which she is instructed not to… but that is what makes the story!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel after the first chapter but honestly it really kicked into gear. There are elements of sea tales and myths, as well as sailing and fictional lands all rolled up into one. Caro is such a GREAT CHARACTER. I can’t stress that enough. She is a female privateer, which on its own is a strong YES from me. She knows the river better than almost anyone and she volunteers to sail the ship in order to help her father. That’s so endearing but the fact that she is amazing at it just adds to the greatness of the character. She proves everyone wrong when they don’t think she can handle a ship on her own and she can handle it well. I also have to mention Markos here because he is the perfect complement to Caro. He challenges her and at first, he seriously needs to be taught a lesson in being polite. BUT he does learn and quickly becomes accustomed to life on a ship on the river and also becomes accustomed to Caro. YEAH, I WENT THERE. But I think the beautiful thing is that this book is not all about romance and it definitely hits the mark with its pirate and sailing lingo while not being boring. I think not focusing on the romance helped this story push through very strong and it was refreshing to see something like that in a YA novel.

I can’t really say anything bad about this book. It kept me on the edge of my seat and Caro’s character develops a heck of a lot throughout the novel. I think that the setting descriptions were also delightfully rich and the sea tales that were told also had a life of their own within the story. I am so excited that this is actually a series and I cannot wait until the next one!

I would recommend this book to fans of Daughter of the Pirate King (even though I didn’t like it) and other who like a ton of adventure in their choices. This is the best pirate book I have read, by far!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘American Girls’

I’ve always wanted to go to L.A. (one day I’ll make it there, I am dying to try In N Out!) so this seemed like a great summer read.

 

Title: American Girls

Author: Alison Umminger

Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5 stars

This book was alright. I wasn’t in love but I also didn’t hate it. It follows the story of Anna, who steals her mom’s credit card and buys a flight to L.A. to stay with her sister for the summer. Of course, she experiences what life is really like for her sister as a small actress and realizes that maybe living in L.A. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I thought that the book was humorous in parts, especially in the main plot line. It was so bada** of Anna to steal her mom’s credit card and just fly to L.A. without even thinking about it. That spontaneity was very much a part of Anna’s life when she got to her destination and was lucky that her sister was waiting for her at the airport. Her sister is kind of a mess throughout a lot of the book but I think that’s what makes it interesting. She isn’t a starving artist but she is accepting whatever roles she can in order to pay the bills, even if that means working with her ex-boyfriend. Anna is able to navigate the TV world and meets an assistant that works on the same show as her sister’s boyfriend. That wasn’t a main plot point but it did happen and it’s worth mentioning. I think this does a great job of realistically portraying L.A. Not everyone is going to make it big and be able to live in Calabasas like the Kardashians. As with many other cities, it is not always the safest, and that is depicted in this book as well as the harsh realities of jealous wives and dealing with a parent’s illness.

I didn’t think this book took me anywhere. I didn’t really see the point of the whole thing other than Anna was trying to escape her family. She ends up being grateful for them and that was a heartwarming thought, but I didn’t think much happened in the book. Of course there were things that happened but I wasn’t gripped with the plot or anything like that. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the book so I wasn’t terribly disappointed but it was a quick read that I did enjoy. I think Anna learned a lot about herself over the course of the story and that was something I did take away from it. She journeyed somewhere she had never been before and learned that maybe her life at home wasn’t as horrible as she was making it out to be.

I don’t know what to compare this book to, but I’d recommend it to those who enjoy coming of age stories and ones about finding yourself.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

 

Review: ‘Nevernight’

I put off reading Nevernight until close to the release date of Godsgrave because I just had a feeling this would be a series I would want (need) to read back to back.

And.

I was right.

Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle
Rating: 5/5 stars

First, please let me get my fangirling out. ALDSJLFJASLDFKAJDAFJLDASD ALL THINGS HOLY OMG CAPSLOCK TO INFINITY AND BEYOND THIS BOOK IS FREAKING A-MAZ-ING WITH A CAPITAL A.

I honestly don’t know if my review will be able to do this book justice, but I will try my damn best! This is a spoiler free review, so I will not be going into too many details.

You’ll either absolutely love and devour this book, or it’ll confuse the f out of you and you’ll hate it. There really is no in between. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAITED SO LONG TO READ IT but oh yes I can because now I can jump right into Godsgrave (and then sob as I have to wait for the final book).

I should also warn you, if books came with ratings, this book would be rated R. And I mean this in the best possible way. The main character(s) are technically teens – 16, 17 or so but this is not a young adult book. There is murder and blood and violence and sex and language and #stabstabstab and death. This is not for the faint of heart. This will not have a happy ending. (I hope I’m wrong on that…but I don’t think I am.)

This story is told by a mysterious narrator – by “someone who knew her true.” (I have theories on who this narrator could be, but we’ll save that for the Godsgrave review.)

The “her” the narrator speaks of is Mia Corvere – a strong, fearless, badass girl who wants revenge for her fallen family – she has people she needs dead, and becoming a member of the Red Church will hone her skills for her to achieve her goals of murder and revenge.

I will admit, the first 100-or so pages of this book, I was confused af. I listened to the majority of this as an audiobook. Part 1 of this book has a lot of back and forth from past to present was very confusing as audio (but its less confusing as text, as the past is denoted with italics where the present is regular text). I was really iffy about this book until Mia arrived at the Red Church, where she would learn to be a Blade (assassin) and then things started to click into place. I had to go back and reread some passages and then everything made sense. But its worth it! Push past the confusion! It’ll all make sense and BE WORTH IT I PROMISE!!!!!! 
The audiobook narration is EXCELLENT. I LOVE IT. I’m very hesitant about male narrators (especially when the main character is female?!) but Holter Graham did incredible with all the voices!!!!! I do recommend this audiobook but be prepared to be confused for the first half of the story, as I mentioned. And the audiobook is 20 hours. Good luck. (I started at 1.5x speed because CONFUSED about names/places/things/people/our friendly narrator giving footnotes, but I was able to do the second half of the book at 2x speed so its not too bad in terms of length.)

The writing is complex, especially with all the foreign names/places/things, but you will get used to it as you read and I’m finding myself thinking in the way they speak in this story now, o gentlefriends. Once I got into it, it felt natural for the world and natural to hear and read.

Please bury me with this book I haven’t been so in love with a story in a long time.

“Never flinch. Never fear. And never, ever forget.”

I’m so glad to be able to jump right into Godsgrave after Nevernight and if you were thinking about reading this series, now would be the perfect time! (But then you would have to wait for the final book of this trilogy…but that’s a minor detail. Come suffer with me.)

~Missy

Review: ‘Little Wrecks’

I was really excited for this book because it was set on Long Island, which is super close to me. But, it wasn’t what I expected…

 

Title: Little Wrecks

Author: Meredith Miller

Series: Standalone

Rating: 1/5 stars

If I could give this book less than 1 star, I would. I really didn’t like it at all. I expected some sort of coming of age tale about how three girls band together to get out of the negative situation they’re in. It follows the story of three friends on Long Island who steal some guy’s marijuana stash. Yeah, that’s what the book is about.

The synopsis online (i.e. Goodreads) makes the book seem a lot more interesting than it actually is. I thought that it was going to be some crazy heist that allows them to escape the never-ending cycle of their boring lives. But, like I said, they stole a bunch of marijuana from someone they knew who was a dealer and planned to sell it so they could get out of the town they were in. But, the girls really didn’t think about how they were going to sell it without the guy finding out and their whole plan is torn to pieces in one swift blow. It seemed like the entire plot was crushed after this realization was had. This book is very ‘real’ in that it talks about things that are usually left ignored or unsaid and the fact of the matter is that not everything is perfect in the world. I will give the book that accolade as it shows the grittiness of the world and how three girls try to navigate their way through it all.

Aside from the plot line, nothing else about this book stood out to me. It sort of all meshed together and I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters themselves. I felt like the rawness of the book might have contributed to that but it didn’t live up to the potential that the synopsis promised. I hate feeling disappointed when I read a book but this was one of those times. I did find some of the language to be focused on the girls being honest and breaking down those barriers of women not being able to hold their own against men. I mean, they did steal some dude’s pot without a hitch. Nevertheless, I would have liked to see what would’ve happened if the story hadn’t been abruptly stopped by the realization that they couldn’t just sell the stuff they stole, and maybe actually seeing them get out of the town that they hated so much.

I can’t exactly recommend this book. Goodreads says it is ‘perfect for fans of I’ll Give You the Sun and Girl in Pieces’. I’ve read neither so I can’t comment on that, but take from it what you will!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

 

Review: ‘I See London, I See France’

I am already aching to go back to Europe even though I just visited last month. This book absolutely made me think of some fantastic memories that I had!

 

Title: I See London I See France

Author: Sarah Mlynowski

Series: I See London I See France

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary

This book follows the story of Sydney and Leela, two best friends who travel to Europe together for the first time. What they don’t anticipate is Leela’s horrible ex boyfriend showing up on the same exact plane they’re on. They travel to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Brussels, the South of France, and Italy, all over a four week vacation. They experience the culture and get into some pretty sticky situations!

Likes

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Honestly, I have never read a book by this author before and I am so glad that this was the first one. The subject matter alone was something that was incredibly interesting to me and I found myself so excited to see where they were going to travel next. It seemed very spontaneous and I have to say that I kind of wish my trip was a little more spontaneous rather than planned out to the T. But, I love planning, so alas that is what happened. I think having each chapter be a different place that they traveled was a great way to break it up and keep it separated. I also loved Sydney: she was a fantastic main character and I definitely would love to travel with her. She was great at taking risks (aka having fun) but also was calculated when she needed to be. I also thought she was such a fantastic friend. Leela was going through a rough breakup and she was there for her friend no matter what, even when she wanted to be doing something else. Finally, I loved the little tips that Sarah included in each chapter. Each chapter was started with some information about the city or country they were traveling in, including history and geographical information. Then, intermittently through the chapter, she includes little tips about what to try in that city or things that would be a culture shock to Americans. I thought that was a cute touch and I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with her recommendations.

(Dis)likes

There isn’t much I disliked about these books. I enjoyed hearing about things that I didn’t get to do while abroad (but definitely will next time) and learning about places I didn’t go. I do have to say I found Leela to be kind of annoying at times. I get that she was going through a breakup, but she was attached to Sydney at the hip and she whined a lot. She seemed like one of those people who think that you have to have a man to be happy (Guess what? You don’t!) and that she couldn’t live without her ex-boyfriend, who cheated on her. Girl, BYE, he ain’t worth your time. She kind of made Sydney miss out on a lot, especially when they visited her friend Kat in Paris and that made me a little mad too. Sydney felt obligated to stay with her at all times because she ‘didn’t know anyone’… Europe is the perfect place to meet some great people and have some fun! Get a grip, Leela, and go explore some new experiences.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Sarah’s, as well as anyone who wants to take an extensive trip through Europe without having to pay to do it. Yes, eventually you definitely should, but this is a great substitute until that is possible!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘No Love Allowed’

This is the third of 7 reads that I won from a giveaway on Twitter that I decided to review this week!
Title: No Love Allowed

Author: Kate Evangelista

Series: Standalone

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is basically a young adult version of the movie Pretty Woman. Didi is a girl who works at a country club and meets Caleb, who makes the biggest mistake of his life by breaking up with one of his father’s client’s daughters. He finds out that he must perform well at his summer internship in order to get the gap year he wants to explore Europe with his cousin Nathan. Somehow, this includes getting a fake girlfriend, who Didi becomes. But the one rule is: they cannot fall in love with one another.

I have to admit that I thought this story was silly at first. I have seen Pretty Woman and absolutely loved it so I figured that this book version couldn’t be that bad. I was right, it wasn’t that bad, I actually liked it! I imagined Didi as a young Julia Roberts and she really carried the character for me. Didi is an artist and she and her mom aren’t the wealthiest around, but they are happy because they have the minimum and each other. Her world is turned upside down when Caleb wants to start buying her things including a brand new phone, and shows her resilience by refusing these gifts because she doesn’t want to be given handouts. I thought that that was so admirable and shows what a genuine person Didi is. Caleb, on the other hand, is kind of an asshole at first and I feel like he flaunts his money a lot. It isn’t his fault that he is wealthy but he tries to make Didi into something that she isn’t, which Didi doesn’t let happen. I couldn’t see them having a love story until halfway through the book but it grew on me and I ended up really liking it.

There is also a mental health aspect in this book. It comes at the end but it makes a lot more sense once I found out about a ton of events in the book. I have to say that this book is very short, coming in at just over 200 pages, but the story is well developed and doesn’t feel rushed at all. There are parts that are very trope-y and I kind of rolled my eyes at them but it ended up being a truly heartwarming read at the end. Caleb’s character growth is really fantastic and I feel like he came full circle by the end of the book. That is something that should be admired in the character because when he starts, I had high doubts that he was going to change. But, again very trope-y, Didi changes him in ways that he didn’t even want to change at first, but when he does it is very cute and their moments are adorable.

I would recommend this for a quick summer read that is both humorous and heartwarming at the same time!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor