a-tragic-kindA Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Author: Eric Lindstrom

Publisher: Poppy

Release Date: February 7th, 2017

No of Pages: Hardcover, 288 pages

Synopsis and Review:

Life as a teenager is sometimes hard enough and with bipolar disorder added to the pile, one can imagine how difficult Mel’s life is. After an episode which caused her to lose the very few friends she has, she begins to distant herself from peers. Only opening herself to her family and the patients at an elderly home, she was navigating life “perfectly” by holding everyone at arm’s length until everything comes apart suddenly.

This is a well-written book and I cannot applaud Eric Lindstrom enough for writing about mental illness. Obviously I long for the day when having a character with mental illness is no big deal at all but we unfortunately still do not have enough diversity in the Young Adult world. I really appreciate the fact that the book is essentially about Mel’s struggle with bipolar disorder and how it affects her life and relationships with people.

It is important for readers to realize that mental illness is just like another sickness, only more complicated as the people surrounding you may not understand. I believe Lindstrom brought the point across very clearly and effectively. However, I would have liked A Tragic Kind of Wonderful more if it covers more of Mel’s time at therapy and mental hospital. Talking about mental illness helps destigmatize it and we definitely need to keep talking about it.

On another note, while I think Eric Lindstrom did a fantastic job in portraying Mel as she is very vivid, I found her classmates a little bit flat. Perhaps there are too many characters and with only roughly 280 pages, I think each character has more potential to shine a little bit more. Overall, I really appreciate this novel and definitely recommend this to everyone, especially to high schools. This will serve as a wonderful book to have a discussion on.

I will leave you guys with this video, in which YouTuber Alexa Losey talked about her time at a mental hospital.

Disclaimer: ARC provided by Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

the-sun-is-alsoThe Sun is Also a Star
Author:
Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 1st 2016
No. of Pages: Hardcover, 348 pages

Synopsis and Review:

The Sun is Also a Star is a contemporary romance novel that spans across 24 hours of two teenagers’ lives, starting from when they met. Natasha is an illegal immigrant from Jamaica who is being deported that night while Daniel is an aspiring college student en route to his admission interview for Yale. Love might be the last thing on their minds right now but as everyone knows, the heart wants what it wants.

Given that this book is a love story that happens within a day, you can expect instant love to be a major key player in this novel. I know some readers might have an issue with instant love and I admit that I am getting tired of this too but I am glad that Nicola Yoon did it perfectly. Yes, it is still instant love but the chemistry between Natasha and Daniel is highly believable and very well done. The rapport between the two characters throughout the book is also very enjoyable.

Regarding the writing style of Nicola Yoon, I think it is brilliant. The Sun is Also a Star switches mainly between the two protagonists’ point of views, with some occasional point of view from other characters and little historical facts. I think this is a brilliant idea as it is refreshing and I also get to learn more about the culture of Jamaica.

The reason why I docked a star off over the plot is because *mild spoiler* the ending is way too perfect. I originally really dug how the story ended but when Yoon went ahead and added the epilogue, I found it to be a bit unrealistic. Overall, it is a wonderful book and the story is beautiful. There are some books which you can only use the word “beautiful” to describe them; The Sun is Also a Star is one of them.

Disclaimer: Finished copy provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest review. All opinions are my own.

28962906Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 20, 2016

Synopsis and Review:

Jack the Ripper was a serial killer during the Victorian era who took a particular liking in slitting women’s throats and cutting up their bodies. While I have heard a thing or two about the real story, I have yet to endeavor any creative pieces inspired by him. Stalking Jack the Ripper is definitely my first.
I particularly enjoyed the setting used in Kerri Maniscalco’s version. Audrey Rose is a woman living in the Victorian Era who is secretly practicing forensic science under her uncle’s supervision. I believe that the protagonist and the setting make a perfect couple as Audrey Rose is just the kind of awesome feminine character that the young adult world needs right now.
In that time where basically everything except tea parties and embroidery is considered scandalous, it is amazing to read about someone who is breaking tradition to save the world. I think a lot of feminists will enjoy reading about Audrey Rose because she just makes so many valid points on women’s roles and identities in the society.

 

Moreover, Kerri Maniscalco’s writing is so lively that I simply cannot applaud her enough on this matter. All the death scenes and gore are described so vividly that they will immediately form an unwelcoming image in your brain. All the quips and flirting between the two main characters also add a perfect touch to the book.

 

While this book seems to have reached a nice ending, a quick search on GoodReads reveals that Stalking Jack the Ripper is in fact the first of a trilogy. I believe that it is quite safe to say that I will definitely continue on with this series. It seems that the next title will have a completely different setting according to this one’s epilogue and I can’t wait to see where Kerri Maniscalco’s imagination will take us.
Disclaimer: ARC provided by Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for honest review. All opinions are my own.

20745354The Last True Love Story

Author: Brendan Kiely

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Release Date: September 13th, 2016

Synopsis and Review:

Ted Hendrix is brought up by his grandfather Gpa and their bond is very precious. When Gpa is slowly dying from Alzheimer’s disease, Hendrix tries to do everything in his power to grant Gpa his wish of going back to Ithaca, New York. And thus begins the ultimate road trip from LA to NY, as Ted Hendrix tries to enlist his classmate and long-time crush Corrina as their driver.

The first part of The Last True Love Story feels eerily similar to John Green’s Paper Towns in that Corrina is that cool loner girl who has her own circle of friends but just happens to know Hendrix. When Corrina runs into some guy trouble, she lets Hendrix string along as she tries to seek revenge. Hendrix on the other hand is that guy who has always been crushing on Corrina but thinks she is too cool for him.

Enough on the comparison though as The Last True Love Story is definitely more than just a road trip. It is very bittersweet to read about the bond between Gpa and Hendrix, which is pretty rare in the world. Not a lot of teenagers are close to their grandparents and it is so heartbreaking to see Gpa slowly fading away from Alzheimer’s but Hendrix is still very patient and caring. I also enjoyed reading about the way Corrina interacts with Gpa, which is very different from the way Hendrix does but still works amazingly. The Last True Love Story would not have created a great impact if Brendan Kiely had portrayed the two teenagers as bossy and stuck-up.

However, there were some parts where I had problems with. While trying to portray Corrina as this indie/hippie girl, Brendan Kiely might have tried too hard. He included too many songs and artists that most readers of The Last True Love Story would not have heard of. While the first few references gave us a nice touch, by the time I got to the twentieth reference, I started to skim through those lines. On another note, I really like to commend Brendan Kiely on trying to tackle cultural appropriation in this novel. I would have have appreciated it a tad bit more if he expanded that section a little more. Overall, I think The Last True Love Story is very skillfully written and I enjoyed reading it quite a lot.

Disclaimer: ARC provided by Simon and Schuster in exchange for honest review. All opinions are my own.

the-loose-ends-listThe Loose Ends List: A Novel of Firsts & Lasts
Author: Carrie Firestone
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: June 7, 2016
No. of Pages: Hardcover, 346 pages

Synopsis and Review:

When Maddie’s grandmother knows her time on earth is about to be up, she decides to whisk the whole family off to a ‘death with dignity’ cruise to see her off. The whole idea is completely innovating, and while I am not 100% on board with the idea of euthanasia, it does not stop me from keeping my mind open regarding the book. In fact, The Loose Ends List just creates an opportunity for me to learn more about the patients’ side.

I was expecting The Loose Ends List to be heart-breaking, poetic and exquisitely written but that’s unfortunately not it. The whole premise is touching definitely but Maddie is too much of a stereotypical teenage girl that it makes the book a cringe fest. All she does is lust after boys and as readers read from Maddie’s point of view, the book’s focus is unfortunately lost. There are just so many things that are borderline disrespectful and problematic, and maybe I am uptight but I do not find them funny.

However, I really appreciated the fact that Carrie Firestone took the time to explore other patients’ backstories. The cast of characters is so diverse that not doing so will be a waste. Those parts of The Loose Ends List make me give the book second chances after wanting to give it up. They are what I was searching for in this book; the celebration of life and the sadness of death.

Overall, this is a strange, strange book that I just cannot find myself getting into. I might actually enjoy it a lot better if Carrie Firestone revamped the book and wrote it in Maddie’s grandmother’s perspective. I am all for exploring euthanasia and this idea of a ‘death with dignity’ cruise ship but this book’s execution is not really for me.

Disclaimer: ARC provided by Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for honest review. All opinions are my own.