Tuesday’s Track List

Hey everybody!

Because I’ve been a little absent lately (sorry!) I wanted to post a little something extra today. I hope you all enjoy!

In my experience, most book lovers are also music lovers. I don’t know if it’s because literature is an art-form, and so is music, so the two go hand-in-hand or something. The science is a mystery to me. All I know is that I will often read a book and then imagine what the soundtrack to its movie adaptation would be. Needless to say, I often get very excited over the actual soundtracks to movie adaptations when they occur. Unless they suck, of course. Off the top of my head, though, The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack was just breathtaking. Am I right? I still cry every time I listen to any of the songs on it.

So today’s post is called Tuesday’s Track Listing because I am going to pick ten songs to match ten of my favourite YA books. They might match because of the lyrics, or I might think they have a similar quirky style to match the writing of the book (see number 4, for example). I’d love it if you guys spread this post around and created your own track listings for your favourite YA books. If you do, let me know in the comments and I’ll come check it out! 🙂

Book: The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

Song: “White Houses” by Vanessa Carlton

Book: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Song: “Fearless” by Taylor Swift

Book: Paper Towns by John Green

Song: “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers

Book: The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

Song: “Here’s to the Zeros” by Marianas Trench

Book: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Song: “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

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SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios

something real

5 out of 5

Chloe Baker and Bonnie Baker couldn’t be more different. Chloe Baker is a shy senior with a few close friends and a crush on the mysterious, grungy, but sweet guy in her government class. She’s camera shy and hates having the attention on her. Bonnie Baker is one kid in a family with twelve who once starred on a reality TV series based on her family called Baker’s Dozen. Her family was crumbling and at age thirteen, she overdosed on her parents’ medicine cabinet and got her stomach pumped on TV. Just because they share the same body and history, doesn’t mean they are the same people.

Chloe couldn’t be more thrilled to finally be living a normal life. Nobody at school recognizes her for who she once was, and this new normalcy takes on an air of permanence when she bravely gets her photo done for the yearbook. On top of all of that, it seems that her crush, Patrick, might actually like her back.

But then Chloe comes home from school one day to see her home invaded by those all-too familiar cameras. Chuck, the producer, is threatening her to behave and do what is required for the show or he’ll sue her family. Her mom refuses to listen to her or her brother Benny’s pleas to give them their privacy. The panic attacks that Chloe had finally gotten under control—the ones that lead to her swallowing the majority of her parents’ medicine cabinet back in season 13—come back in full swing. To top it all off, everyone at school knows about Bonnie and her twisted life on Baker’s Dozen.

Heather Demetrios’s Something Real is an enthralling take on the reality of reality television and its effects on the kids involved. Laced with charming dialogue and an adorable love story, Something Real has been one of my favourite reads of 2015 so far.

*SPOILER ALERT*

This book was so good. It really gets the reader thinking about reality shows and how scripted they probably are. It also puts what life for kids who star in these reality shows must be like in perspective. It must be horrifying and I pity the children that are forced to go through that.

There were two other books that Something Real reminded me of in different ways. Reading Something Real gave me a similar feeling to what I felt reading Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed; the two are totally different books in almost every way, but the characters and friendships were developed in a similar fashion and I was invested in the story in similar ways. The love story also reminded me of Stephanie Perkins’ Isla and the Happily Ever After; it progressed in a similar fashion and while Something Real’s wasn’t as much of a roller-coaster and wasn’t as heartbreaking, it was still emotionally tough to read through at times. I really felt for the all characters, but especially Chloe and Patrick (who I related to more because I started dating my own boyfriend when we were sixteen).

This is the first time I’ve had a hard time coming up with any criticisms since I started blogging. I guess I would say that I wished it explored Chloe’s dark past in a more in-depth way, or her relationship with her father. I also wish her changing relationship with Lex had been expanded on. I felt like Chloe didn’t view her adopted siblings as her actual siblings in the same way that she viewed Benny or Lex as her actual siblings. I felt this way because she associates with Benny and Lex way more, and this is not an age thing because they have adopted siblings close to their ages (they mention that one is fifteen years old, for example). I am forced to conclude that it’s a “Benny and Lex are my biological siblings so we’re closer” thing, which I didn’t think was fair. The way the extended family was written was also very vague and at times awkward.

Like I said, I really had to stretch to come up with those criticisms, which just goes to show you how great this book is. It’s a longer read, so if you’re looking for something to really sink your teeth into, this would be a good choice. It is also a great commentary on reality television and what constitutes as child abuse, in addition to growing up and the freedom to take control of your own life. I would highly recommend this book both for pleasure as well as for a discussion group of some kind. There is a lot of great stuff to discuss in here.

Happy reading!

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon, or check out your local library or indie bookstore. 🙂

THE TRUTH COMMISSION by Susan Juby

truth-commission

5 out of 5

Normandy Pale’s sister is a famous graphic novelist. One would assume that it would be difficult to live in her sister’s shadow, but that’s not the part that bothers Normandy—it’s that the objects of Kiera’s art are her family, and their secrets have been dragged through the mud for the entire world to see.

Things were fine—better, actually—with Kiera away in California for art school, but she comes back with a secret and shakes the entire family. Norm and her friends had recently started a mission to discover the truth in all things, but as Kiera sits down with Norm in her bedroom late at night and starts confessing why she left school so suddenly, Norm’s not so sure the truth is something people need to hear. As Kiera starts disappearing more and more frequently and for days at a time, Norm and her friends set out to solve the mystery with surprising and disastrous consequences.

I love this book. It was an immediate love for me, mostly because of the unique style that the book started out in. (Unfortunately, this style did not continue throughout, as I will address in a second.) The book takes place in Canada, which is a nice change from most YA which takes place in the States. Plus, as a Canadian reader, I like to see my country represented in such a fun, cool way. It also reminded me of a book I really loved called Getting the Girl…aaaaand I just looked it up and realized they are by the same author. Wow. *head desk*

So while I gave this book a 5 out of 5, and it definitely deserved it, I do have some criticisms. One is that, as I said, I really loved the unique way in which it started out being written as creative non-fiction, where the author of the book is supposed to be the MC, Normandy, and she is writing this book as her Spring Project. The first few pages were heavy on the footnotes, which I loved, but all of this kind of falls off about sixty pages in. It stops feeling like creative non-fiction and feels just like regular fiction. It was disappointing and I missed the awesome vibe we had been introduced to. It also stopped jumping around in the way creative non-fiction tends to do (and which is a great way to write exposition) and it instead became very linear, which added to the loss of the creative non-fiction style.

In addition, character exposition could have been stronger. I really felt like I knew Norm, but when it came to everyone else, I felt that the writing was a bit flat. I didn’t feel invested in the other characters, which is part of the struggle I had feeling excited about Neil and Norm’s relationship—I didn’t feel like I knew Neil, so I didn’t care as much as I wanted to. I therefore wish it had been a bit steamier between Norm and Neil and that the lead-up to their relationship had been more obvious and drawn-out.

That being said, Norm’s home life is written really well. I felt her pain and struggle, and I was angry right along with her. I could imagine what it would be like to be in her bedroom, constantly fearful of upsetting the delicate balance set up by her sister. I could also imagine the shame that must have come along with being objectified the way Norm’s family is through her sister’s art, and this theme of objectification was a really interesting aspect of the book.

I definitely think this book deserves to be read by all of you. I guarantee that everyone will love it!

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon.

Or check out your local library or indie bookstore. 🙂

PRETTY GIRL-13 by Liz Coley

pretty girl

5 out of 5

It’s been three years since Angie was last at home, though for Angie, it seems like it was just yesterday. Three years unaccounted for as police and private detectives searched the areas where Angie was last seen on a camping trip at thirteen years old. Three years where her parents never gave up hope that their daughter would come back to them, but at the same time, they set up a grave with Angie’s name on the headstone and moved on with their lives.

Now Angie is back. Sixteen years old and with no memory of the past three years, Angie just wants to pick up where she left off. But nothing is ever that simple. A medical exam reveals that Angie was repeatedly sexually assaulted. It is recommended that she go to a psychiatrist, and it is here that she learns she has DID and multiple defensive personalities exist within her. These are her only clue to what happened in those past three years, and speaking to them may bring all the information she, her parents, and the police need to solve the case and move on with their lives. The question is, though, do they want to know?

Liz Coley’s novel Pretty Girl-13 is shocking and twisted in such a raw and passionate way. Readers will not be able to resist devouring this book even as they flinch at the honest brutality of Angie’s story.

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley was a difficult read. It was so dark but so brutally honest. Normally I would expand on how great the book was, but I can’t do that here. It feels weird to give a book 5 out of 5 and yet be in quiet submission to it. This is not the kind of book where you go on and on about how awesome it was. It’s the kind of book where you solemnly owe it all your respect.

I’m not familiar with DID but Coley’s writing of it is breathtaking and captivating. It was so interesting to read, and I loved the dimensions it added to the story and the depth that it created. I couldn’t always accept Angie’s decisions but then again, I’m not a victim of the things she went through so I can’t really disagree with her choices.

A few things went unexpanded on that I would have liked some more closure with. For example, the issue with her uncle was kind of blown over and it was not exactly clear what the results were. I also would have liked to know if Angie ever told her parents about Sammy. I also find that Angie’s handling of realizing she has multiple personalities and then living with that was kind of unrealistic. As someone who has seen the effects of that to a minor extent, I didn’t totally buy how calm Angie was in her situation. She was supposed to be a strong character, but I think showing her weaker side (which would understandably be present in this situation) would have made the story that much more honest and meaningful.

All in all, as hard as it was for me to read because the subject matter was so dark, I couldn’t put this book down and the story haunted me whenever I was away from it. I wold definitely recommend reading it, bearing in mind that this story may not be for you. If you’re reading it and need to put it down to regroup, that’s completely understandable. I did it about every chapter. Even still, I enjoyed my experience reading it and it truly was a unique and remarkable story.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon.

Or check out your local library or indie bookstore. 😉

Monday Updates

Hello everyone!

This post will be short and sweet, as I have unfortunately come down with some sort of stomach virus and the medication I’m taking is making me drowsy.

I have a number of books on the go right now, mostly because I can’t really get into them the way I would like. I’m also trying to penetrate the ever-growing pile of books in progress that I have sitting on my bookshelf. It’s been slow-going. If anyone would like to suggest a title for me, though, that you think I’d be really into, I’d love to hear it. I’m eager to get something I can really sink my teeth into.

I’ve also been working on a secret project and watching the 2015 FIFA World Cup here in my home country of Canada. I would have loved to go see at least one game, but Canada is huge, and the closest stadium is four hours away, so no such luck. And of course I’m cheering on my home team. They make me so proud. 🙂

Lastly, since I’m having such trouble really getting into these books, I plan on having a few book-related posts that are not reviews up throughout the week, so stay tuned!

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

WILDFLOWER HILL by Kimberley Freeman

wildflower hill

5 out of 5

A young woman named Beattie in pre-depression-era Scotland finds that the result of her passionate affair with Henry, a married man, is that she becomes pregnant and her entire life begins to fall apart. Unable to secure a divorce, she and her lover run away to Tasmania where they attempt to raise their daughter while pretending to be husband and wife. But soon their passionate affair becomes a bitter war as Henry gambles their way into deeper and deeper debt and succumbs to drinking. Beattie tries to do what is best for their daughter by running away with her, but soon Henry catches up with them. His wife has come into an inheritance and wants to take him back, and he wants Lucy—their daughter—with him. As a single mother working to let her daughter thrive, rumours begin to swirl as to Beattie’s morality and she finds herself battling more than just her ex-lover and his wife over her daughter’s love: an entire town has turned against her and everything that she holds dear.

Nearly eighty years later, Emma Blaxland-Hunter is not only the granddaughter of an Australian fashion tycoon but is a famous prima ballerina as well. That is, until she falls down the stairs after practise one evening and permanently wrecks her knee so that she will never be able to dance again. Abandoned by her boyfriend for another woman and now having an injury that dashes all of her dreams, Emma is forced to return to the one place she has been avoiding for so many years: home. While there, her grandmother’s lawyer informs her that she has been left with a huge property, Wildflower Hill, and it was her grandmother’s wish that Emma visit it. Reluctantly Emma goes, but while there she uncovers more than just empty rooms and boxes accumulating dust. She finds a secret past, pictures of a young woman—clearly her grandmother—with a child that Emma doesn’t recognize as having been her grandmother’s own. Yet, the story keeps unfolding, and after finding a cross in the garden clearly marking a man named Charlie’s grave, Emma realizes that there was more to her grandmother’s life than it may have seemed.

Family secrets and the unyielding power of love—that is what you will find in Kimberley Freeman’s breathtaking novel Wildflower Hill about two young women trying to make their ways in life throughout two very different eras, and what it means to be strong.

I can’t say it simply enough: this book was amazing. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself so attached to a story and a set of characters, but I truly craved this book anytime I was away from it. It made sleeping a nightmare, to be honest.

I usually dislike it when books flip back and forth between past and present storylines. I’m not sure why, as in some cases it does improve the depth of the plot and characters. That was definitely the case with Wildflower Hill. I loved that the story flipped back and forth between past and present, especially because Freeman seemed to understand that one thread was more interesting than the other and so devoted more time to that one. As I said, it improved the depth of the characters and story and was so, so interesting.

The writing was extremely elegant. For those who read my blog regularly, you may have noticed that a complaint I’ve had recently was that I’ve been having trouble finding adult books for young women my age (21), but the writing in this book was perfect for anyone of any age. I honestly enjoyed it so much, no matter who the character being examined was. Young or old, man or woman, I was able to relate to everybody. The writing style was so spot-on.

Something that surprised me with this book, and that told me I was totally in love with it, was that I wasn’t annoyed by the characters’ flaws. Sometimes I find that the characters’ flaws are so over-done that I find myself rolling my eyes at them. But I actually found myself getting defensive for the characters even when they were beating themselves up over their not-so-ideal traits. The characters were written in such a complete way that I forgave their flaws because they felt so human to me: nobody is perfect, and so I accepted these characters as not being so and felt for them in a way that I would a friend. There was honestly an incredible amount of intricacy to the characters; I can’t even get over it. They felt like fully formed people that I could easily walk up to on the street

I also liked the vein of truth that ran throughout this novel. The happy endings that you expect don’t always happen. You have to make your own instead, and I loved that message.

My only wish is that we’d had more: that more characters were explored, that the ending hadn’t ever come. Of course, this can’t be done in just one novel. I hope that Freeman writes more to do with this set of characters and storyline. I want to know what happened to Lucy in Scotland, what happened after the ending. I just can’t get enough!

One thing is for sure: I absolutely have a new favourite author in the adult fiction genre!

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon.

Or, check this book out at your local indie store or library.