Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchezBecause Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

Summary: Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

*Note this novel does contain physical/emotional abuse*-Be aware if those are triggers for you.*

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Because Of The Sun follows Dani as she grieves the loss of her mother. Told through a unique prose, this novel discusses death, family and love.

This was a unique contemporary I won’t forget!

What made this novel truly stand out was the atmospheric writing-style! Written in an almost “stream of consciousness” we follow Dani Falls, who has lost her mother due to a violent accident and must now leave her home in Florida behind to live with her aunt Shelly in New Mexico.

After spending weeks at her aunt’s house, she rarely leaves and manages to speak only a few words at a time. We begin to wonder if Dani will ever recover and find the strength to accept.

Blurring the line between reality and dream, a bear is mentioned when Ruby passes away and throughout the novel and just like Dani, we are left to question whether it was ever truly there to begin with.

Through out the story, she struggles with the fact that she had a very difficult relationship with her mother and wonders if she ever even truly loved her. When truths about Ruby Falls comes to light, Dani questions whether she even knew her mother at all.

The characters were all very well written and I could truly picture them and understand them fully through Dani’s eyes!

She comes to know Paulo and the two bond over movies! Dani gets to know Paulo and while the do start a relationship Sanchez never makes it a central part of the novel and truly focuses on Dani’s personal growth as she grieves and comes to terms with whats happened. I adored the dynamic between the two of them and no matter what, Paulo respected when Dani wanted to help herself and always gave her the space she needed!

I do wish Paulo was included more, because he was a very loving and supportive friend/boyfriend to Dani. However I loved that Sanchez really left the romance in the background!

There is also a big emphasis on family. With the loss of her mother, Dani comes to know her aunt Shelly and understands she isn’t alone and that she can confide in her through her struggles. She also finds comfort with Paulo and his grandmother as well. They provide her with the emotional support and love she never had.

In terms of plot, it mainly focuses around Dani and her new life when she moves to New Mexico and comes to terms with her mother’s death. What I also really loved about the plot was how this novel truly centered around Dani and her personal growth.

After completing the novel it was clear that Dani still had a long way to go to recover and was doing it slowly but surely, however Sanchez did a fantastic job to show that her recovery wasn’t going to be an easy transition and would take time. She was still accepting the truths she learned about her mother, but with her new family and friends it was clear she would be okay.

I will admit I did take off a star, because while the inclusion of Shelly’s POV added much more to the story and really gave more background to Dani’s mother Ruby and why she was very detached, it did slow down the story for me. However, I really got to know more about Shelly and that was great because through Dani’s POV, I felt there was still a lot to learn about her.

Additionally after the section centering around Shelly + Ruby’s past, I felt that the ending felt a little rushed and wanted more page-time/interactions with Dani & the side-characters who now really supported and helped her when she needed it most.

Through a dream-like writing style we follow Dani as she adjusts to a new home and grows to find the strength to accept her mother’s death and all the complexities that come with it!

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera Review

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silveraHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

Summary: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Silvera delivers a gem of a story where the reader follows Griffin on a journey of love, loss, acceptance and friendship!

Definitely a character-driven story, we are introduced to Griffin who comes to terms with the death of his best friend and first love, Theo McIntyre, as he recounts and weaves together the history he had with him.

From page 1 Silvera shows this is not just a story, but Griffin’s story! This novel is told through Past/Present narrative and I’m usually hesitant about that particular style, however Silvera brought aspects into both that made them flow well with the overall story, while also weaving differing emotion and unique tone into each which made the story even more memorable!

The tone of this novel, while sad does have its positive moments and shows these characters face grief over the loss of Theo, but find themselves recollecting on their past with Theo and finding the courage to move on.

Silvera brings in great representation through his discussions on Mental Illness (OCD)! It is such an integral part of Griffin as a character, but also it was wonderful to see how accepting his friends and family were about his OCD, by supporting him even if there were times he struggled with it.

The best aspects of this novel was Griffin as a character + the writing! He is such a wonderfully developed character and by the time I finished he truly felt like more than just a character! I was able to sympathize with him and overall be a part of his journey to reminisce on Theo, find the strength to move on and accept what occurred.

You really see Griffin grow over the course of this story and come to learn more about not only Theo, but himself too and it was great being a part of that journey!

As for the other main characters like Jackson and Wade, while I did feel Jackson was the more developed between the two, overall both truly came to life on the page through Theo’s POV.

Through the “History” POV, we come to learn how Theo &Griffin’s relationship started, what first love was like for them and see just how how strong their friendship was (not only  just the 2 of them, but w/ Wade too!), which really sets the tone for the entire story.

Griffin unravels the events of how Theo not only died, but how their relationship started and ended through different circumstances.

We get introduced to Jackson, Theo’s new boyfriend, when he moved to the west coast for college. Griffin has his own perception of Jackson, but over the course of the story comes to accept that they had history too and while Griffin’s+Theo’s didn’t last and he’s still grieving, that doesn’t mean he’s the only one.

This novel really focuses on the relationships (friend, romantic, etc) we have with people and how the history and memories we create with them are both unique and special even as time goes on and those same people begin to change.

However I did have a few cons.

– I did feel the pacing was a little slow in some parts, but overall it never felt like it was dragging which was a plus!
-I wont spoil it, but there is a plot point that gets revealed closer to the end of the novel which I felt could have used a little more development.

Regardless of those minor issues…

Overall Silvera delivers a story with memorable characters, spectacular writing, and messages of friendship, honesty, love and loss which will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

A List Of Cages by Robin Roe Review

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roeA List Of Cages by Robin Roe

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

*I requested a copy from the publisher and received a finished copy. This in no way influences my thoughts*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A List Of Cages will capture and shatter your heart with each and every page!

*Note: This novel discusses abuse & neglect! Be aware if those are triggers for you*

Adam and Julian are quite different. Told through dual POV, the reader will come to understand how their lives aren’t what one would expect from looking in from the outside and the struggles they are facing.

These characters were written with such depth and felt so real. I sympathized with Julian + Adam at every step of the way and when truths are revealed about Julian’s difficult home life, my heart was aching. Both are complete opposites yet they find themselves reunited once again and while it is a difficult road for them both, rekindle their friendship and help each other along the way. They each have a distinct voice and its clearly seen throughout the narrative.

I adored Charlie and Emerald. Though they are side characters, Roe makes them unforgettable and through both POV’s they truly come to life and are given such depth that they feel just as real as Adam and Julian. As a reader you come to see their growth through their interactions with Julian and Adam, but also the small facets to their personality that feel so real.

Roe’s writing really brings out a deep and moving narrative/voice through each of her characters and especially through Julian from his loss, fears, and hopes.

Julian has dyslexia and Adam has ADHD, while I don’t have personal experiences with either of those, Roe not only discussed them and made them a clear part of these character’s, but also through their POV there were moments of internal thoughts or dialogue which showed how it influenced them with events in their day-to-day life and overall I felt I learned more about ADHD + Dyslexia through their narrative.

There are a variety of topics discussed in this novel and are very integral parts of the story from mental health, foster care, and overarching themes of friendship, family, as well as self-growth and change.

Julian and Adam meet once again after many years apart, considering they used to be foster brothers when Julian’s parents passed away from a tragic accident.

However Adam begins to notice that Julian may be keeping secrets. It was great to see Adam invite Julian in with his friends and in general want to reconnect with him. After spending a lot of time apart, it was very realistic to read Julian hesitant and weary about Adam’s friends, but at the same time it was heartbreaking!

Julian is a character who I felt my heart breaking for and while he always doubted it, he was truly the hero of his own story and through the worst moments he kept moving forward and that was so inspiring!

While there were so many memorable lines, one that will truly stay with me and really encompasses what this novel is about is “Hate ricochets,but kindness does too.”
This line speaks volumes. I could definitely remember moments where I was negative or unhappy about something and reading this line had me thinking “Was it worth it?” being upset or angry about something? No. That energy could be directed towards making a bad situation better or seeing things from a more positive light. That line truly stayed with me for the rest of the story.

The theme of kindness and hope are really evident in this novel, especially through Adam’s character. He is a generally happy and overall positive person and its his character that shows how easy it is to bring positivity or encouragement into any situation when times seem tough. He puts others before himself and knows that it makes him feel better.

The reason I’m struggling between 4 and 4.5, is that there is a small time jump (which usually takes away from the linearity of plots for me personally) additionally, the plot does jump around rather quickly due to the character’s voices and it made the story a little too fast paced at times which took away from the flow of the story (mostly near the middle/end).

Regardless this was a spectacular novel and one you should definitely keep your eye on when its out this month!
This is YA Contemporary with so much heart discussing friendship, abuse, family but has an overall inspiring message about hope and overcoming difficult situations, knowing others are always there for you and finding yourself through it all when all seems lost.

Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia Review

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-reviewUncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

Summary: Uncaged Wallflower is for those who feel trapped in the thoughts their minds produce, unable to express them with the rest of the world out of fear of critique or disagreement. For the people who need an extra dose of positivity in their day. This is not a poetry book for you to read and relate to in a sorrow filled way. It is for you to read and say yes, I can be better, and I will.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: “Change for the better… Expand and learn something new. Don’t get wrapped up in your same old cocoon.”

Uncaged Wallflower was beyond inspiring! I know I’ve read quite a few books of poetry, but this one absolutely takes the No. 1 spot!

I loved this book so much! ❤️💖

Cecelia’s poems have a central theme of personal growth and I definitely saw that with each and every poem.

There were definitely a few poems that had me tearing up. Some revolve around the ideas of fearing change, the unknown, and not taking risks and I definitely remembered myself in many situations like that, however with many of the poems, they then went on to inspire the changes and growth in life and I adored that message!

There are so many positive messages in this short book of poetry which are very inspiring and relatable.

Out of all the messages I found in this wonderful book, one that will absolutely stay with me is that while things may not always come out perfect, above all our personal growth/happiness is what we should always strive for.

There was a poem titled “Resolutions” and after reading it, I not only found myself hopeful, but overall found it inspiring for the start of 2017! Definitely a perfect read to start off the new year!

Overall Cecelia delivers a collection of poetry with a number of positive messages to inspire change when you find yourself scared or unsure of whats to come!

Highly recommend, it will leave you inspired!✨✨

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova Review

labyrinth-lost-by-zoraida-cordova-book-reviewLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Pages: 336

Summary: Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A magical coming-of-age story, with themes of family and self-identity!

What originally drew me to this novel was the  premise! Being Latina I was quite familiar with the magical and cultural elements of this story and I adored reading them in an urban fantasy setting!

Family is a big theme of Labyrinth Lost, and I felt the magic and the bonds between Alex’s mother and sisters, Lula and Rose, the moment they were introduced. Along those lines, many themes interconnected and gave so much depth to the overall world.

Themes of family and self-identity merged definitely weaved together with the Latinx heritage and culture.

There was so much diversity in this novel, which was fantastic! Latinx Culture, Bisexuality, and GLBT+ characters!

Alex is unsure whether or not she wants to accept her magic/power as an Enchantrix and definitely has an internal struggle of wanting to forge her own path, yet feeling unsure because of what her family expects of her.

After a spell goes horribly wrong, she finds herself headed to Los Lagos, a mythical land tied closely with Brujas. She finds herself teamed up with Nova, a family friend and Rishi, her best friend as she explores the mythical and magical land to save to her family.

The myths and legacy of the Brujas, magic system and world of Los Lagos was the best aspect of this novel. I’m very familiar with the idea/folklore surrounding brujas and found that to be a wonderfully rich and engaging part of the world/story.

Descriptions of Brooklyn, Los Lagos, and the history of the Brujas comes to life through the writing and I could really picture myself there. Both the world and characters are given such depth and were wonderfully written.

It was great reading from Alex’s strong, engaging, and empowering POV. While reading, I was captivated by the rich world of magic and Latinx culture that definitely showed the magic of familial/sister bonds which I could relate to so much!!

However the novel did have one con.

Through the 1st person POV, while I definitely got an overall rich and magical view of Los Lagos, I would have loved if the settings/world was expanded and given a little more depth. Additionally, I would have loved more from the plot. The “rescue” part of the novel felt rather jumpy and I would have loved more development from that, considering a majority of the novel took place there.

Overall with a satisfying conclusion, Labyrinth Lost dives deep into a magical world filled with Brujas, magic, Latinx Culture, and introduces many themes that weave together to tell a tale just as magical.

I will definitely be reading the sequel and can’t wait to see where Alex’s journey is headed!

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon ARC Review

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddThe Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 384

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A beautifully crafted contemporary that explores life, love and everything in between! 

This book was wonderful!

Similar to Everything, Everything Nicola’s writing style immediately captured me! Its poetic and thought-provoking.

This novel discusses fate/destiny, love at first sight and weaved these topics perfectly into the overall plot, which discusses more serious topics like immigration, etc.

I was not expecting multiple POV’s. It definitely surprised me, but they were all done extremely well and each one was distinct and memorable!

Natasha and Daniel, though complete opposites, connect over the course of a day!

The development of their relationship felt very natural and it was clear they were changing one another with each and every interaction.

Natasha relies on nothing but science and facts, with her goals, etc. planned out. With that mind set, she believes nothing can go wrong. However things begin to change when she has only a number of hours left until her deportation to Jamaica, she does her best to prevent it from happening.

Daniel is a poet at heart, but his family wants him to become a doctor. Throughout the novel, he tries to find the courage to pursue what he wants in life while, unknown to him, all his parents (especially his father) want is for him to be successful and ensure he is taken care of financially.

And while they have opposing ideals and mindsets, they definitely complimented each other and brought out parts of each other they didn’t expect to show through and help each other better understand themselves and their families.

Natasha has a difficult relationship with her father and Daniel not only struggles in his relationship with his father, but also his brother.

While this book does handle serious topics, Nicola’s writing-style balances the seriousness while still adding bits of humor and overall having the story flow perfectly.

My only minor issue was the ending felt a little rushed towards the end and some moments of slow pacing due to the multiple POVs.

Regardless, this a beautiful YA Contemporary that is filled with diversity, delightful writing, engaging and complex characters that feel so real and overall is a unique and unforgettable story!

Highly Recommend! ❤

October 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 7

175645191.Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Walk On Earth A Stranger Full Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: September 22, 2015

Pages: 436

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: An immersive mash-up of Fantasy & Historical Fiction! I loved the atmosphere Carson weaved into this story and the characters are all well developed! However, due to slow pacing and not getting enough from the plot, I was a little disappointed. But once I reached the end, I definitely found myself interested to see what happens in the sequel!

the-female-of-the-sepcies2.The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female Of The Species Full Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 344

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts:  McGinnis discusses rape/rape culture through multiple POV’s among other topics that weave together to craft an important read with phenomenal writing and complex+well-developed characters.

forest-of-memory-by-mary-robinette-kowal3.Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

Forest Of Memory Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Pages: 88

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: A mysterious and immersive short story! There were so many unique concepts from an antiquities dealer, AI tech part of daily life, and a futuristic setting of the Pacific Northwest! Its a quick read and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My only issue was the slow pacing and there were some aspects discussed that I wish were given more of a central role! Highly recommend if your looking for a short but different Sci-Fi story!

4.The Universe Of Us by Lang Leavthe-universe-of-us-lang-leav

The Universe Of Us Full Review

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A delightful collection of poems about love and loss with a central theme/backdrop of space and the universe. However I did take away 1/2 a star b/c not all of them revolve around this theme, which is what I was expecting. Regardless, its a quick but very moving collection.

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore5.When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When The Moon Was Ours Full Review

Publisher: Thomas Dunne

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: A beautifully written magical realism novel with so much diversity and important themes, remarkable characters, and a writing style that is truly magical! I highly recommend this book. With character development at its core, McLemore delivers a story of the importance of family and self-identity!

our-chemical-hearts-krystal-sutherland6.Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts Full Review

Publisher: G.P. Putnams Sons Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 313

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A YA Contemporary with equal parts humor and heartbreak! What I loved about this novel was definitely the characters! They were wonderfully written. If you’re a fan of Rainbow Rowell or John Green, definitely check out Our Chemical Hearts! Its an engaging and honest tale of first love! Highly recommend

descender-volume-1-tin-stars7.Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire + Dustin Nguyen

Full Review To Come

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: September 24, 2015

Pages: 160

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fascinating Sci-Fi comic which features AI Tech + Robots!! I don’t usually read much sci-fi, but this comic had been on my radar for quite some time, so I decided to give it a shot & wow I loved it! The watercolor art-style is absolutely stunning and the story is very unique! More to come in my full review!

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What Did You Read This Month? 🙂