Welcome to the MOSL Book Challenge

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Did You Ever Have a Family: A Novel by Bill Clegg

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

June Reid is the sole survivor of an unbearable tragedy that grips the entire town of Wells, Connecticut. Shortly before her daughter’s wedding, a gas leak leads to an explosion at June’s house, leaving a bereft June and gossiping townspeople to make sense of it all. Directionless, June leaves Wells to drive across the country. Those she leaves behind whisper about what happened and if Luke, June’s thuggish boyfriend, was really responsible. With poetic language and through multiple perspectives, Clegg slowly reveals the narrative of a town touched by tragedy and the truth about those at its heart. Readers should note the novel contains drug references as well as language.

293 pages   

A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

A Step Toward FallingA Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Belinda's POV was well done. It was nice to read a perspective of someone with some developmental disabilities. I especially enjoyed the audiobook version of this story.

This books was a reminder for me, not in how to treat those who have some kind of challenge be it physical, mental, emotional, or all of the above, but instead, in how to think of people. I don't know if that makes sense, so now I'm going to ramble as I try to process that comment. If you're not in for some existential rambling today, this is your cue to check out now.

What I think I'm trying to say is that I get that I should be kind, patient, and understanding with all humans. Am I always? Nope, not at all, and least of all with myself.

However, kind, patient, and understanding behaviors are really not enough. People don't just want me to behave politely. Most of them also want me to take them seriously and check my snap judgments at the door, even the quiet, internal judgments that are never spoken aloud.

Do I always do that? Nope.

Do I know I should? Yep.

Do I feel guilty when I pretend to be a better human on the outside than I actually feel on the inside? Definitely.

This book reminds people to be a good human on both the inside and the outside, and it shows you how to both succeed and fail at that, based on your every day choices. That's what I like about it.

Pages: 384

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing is pretty, and the story is imaginative. The problem for me is that the characters are just a bit too flat and underdeveloped to be truly interesting. It's not that I'm not interested at all. It's just that I wanted so much more from everyone. They needed to be a little less "caricature" --like, the good girl, the bad boy, the pretty flirt, the abusive father, etc. I also really wanted the relationships between characters to be deeper and more faceted.

It does remind me a bit of Night Circus, which definitely isn't a mark in its favor, as I had similar complaints with that story. I could have done with less fancy sentences and just a bit more depth in characters and relationships. I needed more than just the surface level stuff and the major plot points.

Also, despite the overabundance of description in this story, I felt like it was light on actual world building. I had a lot of description but not enough about the actual world and how everything within it worked and why.

Again, I still gave it 4 stars, so I found many other things interesting and charming about this story. It just didn't live up to its full potential, at least, not for me. I'm not sure if I will continue on and read book 2 or not. I guess I have a year to figure that out.

Pages: 407

Monday, April 24, 2017

Roomies by Sara Zarr

RoomiesRoomies by Sara Zarr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a YA novel based around emails exchanged between 2 soon to be roommates the summer before their freshman year at college. The concept is fun, and the story is easy to consume.

Pages: 279

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss ListNaomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a 3.5, that after careful consideration, I decided deserved to be rounded down, instead of up. I like both authors, but this didn't come together to create a story I loved. It was just okay.

Pages: 230

Saturday, April 22, 2017

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was just as sweet, naive, and hopeful as book one. I liked it.

Pages: 337

Friday, April 21, 2017

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Summary: "Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak-to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name."

After reading Becky's review, and also falling in love with the gorgeous cover, I had to read this book. 

It was wonderful and unique in a breath-taking (pun-intended?) way. It was a special book, the kind that you're always on the hunt for but aren't sure if you'll ever find.

309 pages

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of UnrequitedThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Becky Albertalli is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

First off, she has a fantastic name, which is completely irrelevant to people not named Becky.

Second, this book was so much fun to read that my face aches from smiling so much.

Third, Simon was one of my favorite 2015 reads, and I didn't think anything new could touch that adorable, huggable book. But I was wrong. This story was so enjoyable and relatable.

Fourth, a lot of YA gets heavy, regardless of genre. Albertalli's books have a way of tackling real issues in a way that's fresh and easy. It doesn't take anything away from the seriousness of a topic, but she also doesn't try to pulverize my heart, which I appreciate.

Fifth, the characters are authentic and delightfully teenagery. That should be a word. Just roll with it.

Sixth, the writing is funny.

Seventh, the pacing is solid.

Eighth, the parental units, actually most of the adults in the story, are decent, layered, and running the show as is typical of the real world.

Ninth, the depictions of neurotic first love/crush behaviors are amusing and spot on.

Tenth, Molly's voice is so earnest and honest, even when she's being unreasonably hard on herself. It's nice watching her grow, but it's realistic in showing that people change and grow slowly. It's more about the process, and evolving, not about achieving perfection.

Pages: 338

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nothing I say in a review could do this story justice.

It’s well-written, full of voice, current, relevant, timely, insightful, and heartbreaking. I think everyone should read it. Right now. And then we should all sit down and discuss it. Everywhere. In every library, school, and home across the nation.

Goodreads Blurb: (Contains spoilers!!)
"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."

Pages: 464

You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart

You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

My rating: 4.0/5 Stars

Mamrie Hart describes herself as “a drinking star with a YouTube problem,” and this does indeed appear to be true. Hart is the founder of the YouTube series You Deserve a Drink, and she has compiled her best drinking stories into a novel. The book is set up to be a drinking game and a cocktail recipe starts off each chapter. Every time she references an old TV show, mentions a food product that can be found at 7-Eleven, or refers to a reproductive organ by a slang term, the reader is meant to take a swig. With stories ranging from a spring break spent at a gay nudist resort to celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico with her friend Maegan, where a group of swingers mistake them for a lesbian couple, boozy misadventures abound. As Grace Helbig notes in the forward, “None of what you’re about to read is exaggerated, fabricated, or G-rated.”

288 pages

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wait for You Series by J. Lynn (6 books/3 novellas total)

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)Wait for You by J. Lynn (Book #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's well-written, as is everything by Jennifer Armentrout. The characters are well-developed, and for romance, it's not too fluffy.

I like her YA supernatural/paranormal stories, which has led me to read some of her previous works, including this NA contemporary romance series.

It was nice to read something with depth that still flows easily and is hard to put down. The characters are flawed and have difficult back stories, but the heaviness is tempered by sweetness.

Pages: 332

Trust in Me (Wait for You, #1.5)Trust in Me by J. Lynn  (Novella #1.5)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Wait For You (book one), from Cam's perspective (the guy). It's fun and sometimes funnier and more lighthearted than book one. While it's not totally necessary, it is totally enjoyable and has enough difference and variety to keep you attention, despite being basically the same story.

The real difference is that you get everything from Cam's perspective, which is interesting, since as the reader, you are often just guessing what is going on in his head in book one. Sometimes, I was guessing wrong, which makes this even more enjoyable.

If you liked book one, you're going to like this.

Pages: 352

Be with Me (Wait for You, #2)Be with Me by J. Lynn (Book #2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 is also good and about a different set of characters, which I enjoyed. While reading this series, I have frequently found myself hoping a certain character will be at the heart of the next story. Usually, my guesses/hopes are wrong, but this is one of those times when it felt good to be wrong.

It's another story with characters with dark pasts, and it's nice to see them change and grow.

Pages: 365

The Proposal (Wait for You, #2.5)The Proposal by J. Lynn  (Novella #2.5)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a short bit of fun, available for free online, for those who truly enjoy the series/characters.

Pages: 6

Stay with Me (Wait for You, #3)Stay with Me by J. Lynn  (Book #3)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting change of pace. It's longer than the other stories but felt shorter. Some of the drama stays surface level, but I kind of prefer that in this instance. It helps keep a book with heavy topics still light enough that it reads quickly and you come out of the experience feeling good and not just miserable.

Pages: 448

Fall with Me (Wait for You, #4)Fall with Me by J. Lynn  (Book #4)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one falls hard towards adorable, with a very creepy subplot.

Pages: 389

Forever with You (Wait for You #5)Forever with You by J. Lynn  (Book #5)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally. A love story for that girl who is unfairly categorized as the unlikable side character (sometimes even the enemy/frenemy/villain) in every single other romance novel. I'm happy she got her own story, and I like it as much or more than some of the others.

Pages: 370



Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen)The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While restoring a private graveyard in upstate South Carolina, Amelia uncovers dark family secrets. I was disappointed with this book after devouring 2 others in the series. There was less of the local history that I enjoyed in previous books, and the paranormal events were less realistic - if that's possible.

376 pages

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical HeartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this story a lot, but it totally gutted me.

This book is about the fallout that occurs when love finds you at the wrong point in your life, and you aren't able to handle or accept it (due to grief and guilt in this case). If you've ever been on either side of a situation like that (or perhaps both at different points in your life), then I think you'll find something to relate to.

Even if you haven't, there are a lot of good comments about love and relationships here that aren't commonly heard opinions in YA, especially in the contemporary genre. Also, the characters have fresh voices, and I particularly adore the side characters.

(view spoiler)

Pages: 320

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is about Norah, who has agoraphobia (which keeps her inside), OCD (to extremes), and very severe anxiety, which leads to some self harm. Living inside Norah's skin and world for the duration of this story was both painful and eye opening.

I would probably lean towards 4.25 stars on this, and while I don't love it quite as much as Everything, Everything and/or OCD Love Story, I think it's a great YA read for helping people understanding these different disorders better, including how differently they manifest in each person.

Also, the voice is captivating, and it's well-written. I'd recommend this to anyone, as I think that not only is it an interesting read, it's also very informative. I especially appreciated the fact that Norah's mental illnesses were not spurred on by any specific tragedy or event. They just crept up on her unexpectedly in her early teens until they were unmanageable, and not being able to explain to people why she was so severely anxious (other than that's just how her mind functioned), was a real challenge for her.

I spent a large chunk of the book feeling incredibly sorry for Norah and wishing there was something someone could do to make life easier for her. I mean, her mom and therapist both helped with that, but the sad part is that there was no perfect solution or magic cure. If she was a real teenager, she'd probably struggle the rest of her life with these disorders, and I couldn't help wishing it didn't have to be that way for her. I wanted a better and faster solution, even though I was fully aware that doesn't exist.

Pages: 320

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

Summary: "When her mother enters her and her twin sister as debutantes for this year's deb season in Dallas, soccer star Megan McKnight is furious. She has no interest the dress-filled life of a socialite deb, but her season turns out to be one full of twists and turns - and more than one dashing suitor!"

I do love a good Pride and Prejudice retelling, and this one was dang near perfect. I appreciated Megan's spirit and spunk, much like Lizzie Bennet's. Her humor and sass were right up my alley. Her story was so strong, that I actually wasn't as invested in the love interest as I usually am. The end of the book was a bit rushed, especially since the first half had such great substance and build-up. I didn't want it to end!

344 pages