Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review: "Lies We Tell Ourselves" by Robin Talley



Goodreads Synopsis: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.


Colored people aren’t the same as whites. They aren’t as smart. They haven’t accomplished the things we have. They aren’t as good as we are.”

I’ve been reading too many sad books back to back. This can’t be healthy.

This book was horrifying in the sense that everything that happens in the book no doubt had also happened to someone in real life during this time period. Lies We Tell Ourselves takes place in a Virginia city where schools were ruled to be integrated for the first time. We learn in school how chaotic this time period was, and we celebrate in class when we learn about the end of segregation. But we rarely focus on the huge emotional toll it took for those few black kids who first went to attend a former all-white school. They had to dodge taunts every minute of every day; it was physical and emotional torture. The teachers were just as racist as the students even if they were less direct about it.

This book brings to light two big issues: racism and prejudice against LGBT+ groups. As if being black wasn’t bad enough during this time, Sarah Dunbar also had very “unnatural” and “sinful” feelings for girls. Sarah’s strength is inspiring, especially her ability to keep her head high when her world is falling apart.

Linda’s story is also a heartbreaking one. She struggles with forming her own opinions of black people with an abusive father who is very set against racial integration.

I wanted to jump into the book and give both girls a big bear hug. Read it!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Review: “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” by Leslye Walton


Goodreads Synopsis: Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.


“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost.”

Wow. Just wow. I don’t know how to describe this book. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is just as the title suggests: it’s a strange and beautiful book. And filled with the sorrows spanning three generations starting with Ava’s grandmother. I loved it!

The writing is wonderful. Every character was given a thoughtful back story. Every single one. Though the title only mention Ava, the book is mostly third person because the story also follows everyone who is around Ava. To understand her story, you’d first have to understand the stories of her ancestors and neighbors.

“Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intentions or well rehearsed plans.”

This book is categorized as Magical Realism. Ava is born with wings. But despite all the magical elements, the characters’ stories feel very real. The love stories were heart breaking and not at all like a typical Young Adult novel. Some parts of the book was actually painful to read because of how well Lesley Walton describes the sadness that comes with love and losing loved ones.

“And that might just be the root of the problem: we're all afraid of each other, wings or no wings.”

It’s also a tale about what it means to be different. And the Roux-Lavender family was very strange indeed.

This book is magical. Stunning. And all the synonyms of “wonderful” in the dictionary. Go read it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

This is the Unpopular Opinion Book Tag. It’s been floating around for a while now so I decided  to try it. First tag of the year! This tag was created by TheBookArcher on YouTube.

A popular book or series you didn’t like:

There are actually a LOT of books I dislike that most people seem to love.


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell; Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas; The Selection by Kiera Cass. For a classic, I’ll say The Lord of the Rings. I just can’t get through those books.

A popular book or series that everyone seems to hate but you loved:

I cannot think of one. Usually, the books people have problems with are the ones I also don’t like. Skip.

A love triangle where the character ended up with the character you didn’t like/ an OTP you didn’t care for:


Matched series by Allie Condie. I won’t give a spoiler in case someone doesn’t know who she ends up with but I was not a fan of the ending.

A popular book genre you hardly reach for:

Paranormal Romance. I have never read a paranormal romance I loved. 

A popular character you didn’t like: 

Tris from the Divergent series, especially after Allegiant.

A popular author you can’t seem to get into:

I’ll go with a classic: Charles Dickens. His books bore to me death.

A popular book trope you’re tired of seeing:

An obvious one would be love triangles; I am so tired of those. Another would be absent parents; majority of main characters’ parents in YA literature are absent either physically or emotionally. I rarely read books where the protagonist's parents are actually a major force in their life.

A popular book or series you have no interest in reading:

The Selection series; Hush Hush series; Shatter Me trilogy. I tried reading all of these and failed miserably.

The saying goes, “The book is always better than the movie” but what movie do you liked better than the book?

Image result for Ella Enchanted

There are times when I love the movie as much as I love the book but rarely do I love a movie better than the book. The only one I can think of is Ella Enchanted.

This was a fun tag! I tag Stellah @ The Little Book Nerd’s Life, Cindy Sanders @ Stranger Things Have Happened and anyone else who wants to do it.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: "I'll Give You The Sun" by Jandy Nelson



Goodreads Synopsis: Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.


“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

I read this book a while ago and I’m ashamed I didn’t read it sooner. It’s easily the most beautiful contemporary novel I have read in a while, second only to A Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

This was actually my second attempt to read it, the first time I put it down because I didn’t think I would like Nelson’s writing style. I was horribly wrong. I loved the way Nelson writes her characters. And her imagery is going to be one of those things where you either love it or hate it. For me, it was the former.

Let’s start with the format. The book alternates between the past and the present which is something I thought would bother me at first, but I ended up loving it.The chapters from Noah’s point of view are in the past while Jude’s chapters are in the present.

Both twins’ stories are compelling. At thirteen years old, Noah wants three things: his mother’s attention, a spot at a very prestigious art institute, and the boy next door. Noah is the odd one out; while his sister is cliff diving and dating, he is drawing and painting. But the twins are best friends, no one understands Noah better than Jude does and vice versa.

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.”

Then at sixteen years old, Jude is completely different from the girl we see in Noah’s chapters. Jude is now the odd one out, she is superstitious and a little deluded. The twins are barely speaking to each other. And Jude is the one attending the art institute. After reading the first two chapters and witnessing this horrible shift in their relationship, I had to find out what happens.

These two have made a lot of mistakes. Normally, when a book character does something stupid, I hate them. But the way their every decision was described was very realistic and understandable. Noah and Jude are clearly flawed but that only made me love them more.

“When people fall in love, they burst into flames.”

This was more a story of family than romance but I really enjoyed the romantic aspects too. Noah’s relationship with Brian was one of the best parts of the book (this was also one of the only YA books I’ve read with a LGBTQ+ main character). And though I didn’t like Jude’s love story as much, I thought it was done wonderfully.

This is a great story of family and love and loss. Read it!