3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · Literary Fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Drowning In Light by Anna Benoit

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Drowning in Light by Anna Benoit

Published: August 5, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 350

Genres: young adult, coming of age, literary fiction, mental health

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: flawed characters, books about drug abuse

Foodie Vibes: meals you don’t finish, more alcohol and pills can you can comprehend 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started with a single pain pill.

Up until that pill, high school junior Matt Davidson had it all—or, at least, everyone thought he had it all. A star athlete from a good family, no one suspected the trouble lurking beneath Matt’s carefully constructed façade. And Matt was just fine with that. Because if anyone could hear the dark thoughts that cluttered his mind, they’d know what a selfish, miserable mess he really was.

Matt thinks he can stop. He knows he can stop. And he will, just not yet. Because nothing but the pills can give him a break from his thoughts. Nothing else makes him invincible. Nothing else halts the sinking spiral of his depression.

Nothing… until he meets Amy, a mysterious and beautiful classmate who sparks a passion in him he’s never felt before. As their relationship progresses, Matt knows he can’t have them both. But he also knows he needs his pills. And when he’s finally forced to choose, the decision isn’t as easy as he’d hoped.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Anna Benoit for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Drowning in Light tells the story of Matt, a guy in high school. On the outside he seems to have to all. But if you look closer, his dad’s abusive and has alcohol problems of his own. His mom means well, but doesn’t realize the extent of her son’s problems. She’s content to let things go and believe it will all work out in the end. Matt struggles with drug abuse that has him in a downward spiral. He’s miserable, not coping well, and really doesn’t have a handle on anything anymore. 

The book is not your typical manic pixie dream girl type story. It’s real, raw and complex. His friend/girlfriend doesn’t magically make things better. She tries to help, but has her own baggage to deal with so it’s not a perfect recovery story by any means. I like that it’s a fairly realistic story of drug abuse. I don’t have personal experience with drug abuse, so maybe I’m way off base here. 

However, it was very frustrating at times to read about all of his mistakes and refusal for help. I felt very annoyed towards Matt at times. Also his lifestyle wasn’t that enjoyable to read about. Duh, it’s drug abuse, doing whatever you need to score more pills, and lying to everyone. But I guess I was hoping for more positivity at some point. I was also so frustrated with the adults in his life. Nobody was taking responsibility for making sure Matt got the help he so desperately needed. 

All in all, a realistic portrayal of drug abuse that made for a frustrating read. A good book that doesn’t gloss of the difficult parts of mental illness and drug abuse. 

 

Are you a fan of books with flawed characters? 

2 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Geography · non fiction · politics

ARC Review | Globalography: Mapping Our Connected World by Chris Fitch

 

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Globalography: Mapping Our Connected World by Chris Fitch

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: White Lion Publishing

Pages: 224

Genres: geography, non fiction

Rating: 2 stars

Recommend to fans of: history, geography, unique ways to learn

Foodie Vibes: food that’s imported or exported to/from your country

 

Synopsis:

50 stunning maps reveal our globalized world like never before.

Explore how cities are expanding beyond the reach of their nations, uncover the ways bananas, cobalt and water bottles link the most unlikely of places, and discover how modern phenomena such as messenger apps and sharing platforms are changing not just our interactions, but how we interconnect.

Globalography uncovers the myriad ways we can now connect with one another and in doing so, showcases the radical way globalization is transforming our world.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, White Lion Publishing, and Chris Fitch for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

At first look the book is an interesting concept. Unique maps of the world alternating with text to expand upon the information in the maps. It shows how different countries relate to each other through history, commerce and trade, and other sociopolitical issues. Some topics that are highlighted include banana production and export, satellites, tea, athletic shoes, cement, bottled water, contemporary art, cocoa, honey, smartphone users, and car exports.

The book ends up reading like a school textbook, but not as text heavy. If these concepts interest you, then maybe the book is for you. However, these topics don’t interest me, so I found myself being bored much of the time. There were interesting tidbits, but overall not interesting for me. Much of the information I had already learned in high school.

I loved the last book I read using the same map concepts, but not this one. I think it’s the topic the book discusses, rather than the style of writing. So if you enjoy the topics, check out the book. If not, maybe try something else. 

 

Speaking of school, what was your favorite subject?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Young Adult

ARC Review | Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

Be sure to answer my question at the bottom of the page!

Please and thank you, loves 

 

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Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

Published: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 384

Genres: young adult, mental health, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: realistic young adult novels, books about mental health, great friendships 

Foodie Vibes: pizza

 

Synopsis:

Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.

Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…

But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Teen and Jennifer You for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Imagine Us Happy tells the story of two teens who are navigating life, high school, relationships and family life while dealing with depression. Stella and Kevin meet at the beginning of the school year. They end up dating for the whole year. We know its not going to end well, and the book is the story of their lives the past year.

I like that the author portrays depression and therapy in a realistic manner. That it’s a process, not a magical cure that will fix everything in a few sessions. Stella is doing better because of therapy but she has to keep working on herself. It’s not easy. The book portrays the challenges of dating or any extra stress when you’re dealing with mental health issues. No that it can’t be done, but both people have to be taking care of themselves in healthy ways. 

A super realistic look at depression, dating and friendships. I think this is going to be a very popular young adult book for years to come!

 

If you could give advice to characters/people dating with mental health issues, what would you say?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · Medical · non fiction · science · Uncategorized

ARC Book Review | The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel

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The Atlas of Disease: Mapping Deadly Epidemics and Contagion from the Plague to the Zika Virus by Sandra Hempel

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: White Lion Publishing 

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, medical, health, science, history 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about health and wellness, medicine, science in general but especially human health

Foodie Vibes: healthy well balanced meals that are prepared with the ultimate food safety in mind 

 

Synopsis:

Behind every disease is a story, a complex narrative woven of multiple threads, from the natural history of the disease, to the tale of its discovery and its place in history.
 
But what is vital in all of this is how the disease spreads and develops. In The Atlas of Disease, Sandra Hemple reveals how maps have uncovered insightful information about the history of disease, from the seventeenth century plague maps that revealed the radical idea that diseases might be carried and spread by humans, to cholera maps in the 1800s showing the disease was carried by water, right up to the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s and the recent Ebola outbreak.
 
Crucially, The Atlas of Disease will also explore how cartographic techniques have been used to combat epidemics by revealing previously hidden patterns. These discoveries have changed the course of history, affected human evolution, stimulated advances in medicine and shaped the course of countless lives.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, White Lion Publishing, and Sandra Hempel for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The Atlas of Disease is perfectly summarized in the title. The book features diseases that have caused epidemics, outbreaks and overall ill health in humans throughout history. The author uses maps to help illustrate the spread of, infection rate, and other useful information relating to each disease. 

Each disease featured starts with the basics about it, so even if you’re not an expert in the field you can learn about the disease enough to have a good understanding to read the rest of the section. The next few pages describe the history, transmission, and much other information related to that specific disease. I found it fascinating and learned some new information, even beyond what I had learned in my college courses. 

I found it very interesting to see how people’s actions affect the spread of disease including individual people’s choices, the political climate, war, poverty, and famine. Also the book is a great example of why vaccinations are so important. Yes, anti vaxxers I’m talking to you. Vaccinate your children!

However, some of the maps didn’t interest me that much. Partly because I was reading it on my iPhone so I had to constantly zoom in and move the page of the book around the see the whole map, so it was more bothersome than worth it. Also I already understood most of the information through reading the text, so the map didn’t give me too much additional information. But if you’re a big visual learner or very next to the subjects then the maps would be very helpful. 

All in all, I really enjoyed reading The Atlas of Disease. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a nerd like me. 

 

Do you think learning about diseases is interesting or scary? 

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Young Adult

ARC Book Review | The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas 

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: July 31, 2018

Pages: 384

Genres: young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: dark young adult novels

Read with food: iced frap at Starbucks ~ so many clandestine meetings happened there

 

Synopsis: 

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

My rating is actually 3.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

The Cheerleaders is a fun, yet dark young adult novel that captivated me from beginning to end. In the span of a few weeks, 5 girls from the local high school cheerleading team were dead. Murders, accidents, suicides, but is that what really happened?

The book quickly drew me in and held my attention throughout. I absolutely flew through this quick read. Definitely something you could read and still comprehend while tired or in a noisy place. I also enjoyed that the narrator is one of the dead girls’ younger sisters. Monica and her friend Ginny were likable and smart, making the story work well. I find that if I don’t connect with the main characters or at least understand their motives, I rarely enjoy the book. Not an issue at all in The Cheerleaders.

However the plot trope of teenagers trying to solve a crime that the police can’t or got wrong has been done a lot. It’s easy to overlook in this book, but it’s worth noting. Also, every characters has a distinct role in solving the mystery. Which in theory sounds great, but left me feeling as if certain characters were just being used for what they could bring to the solving the mystery, instead of actual relationships or character development.

Overall, The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is worth a read in my opinion. Fun, serious, with a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for those hot summer days when you want to escape into a book for awhile.

 

Who is looking forward to reading the book?

 

Random question of the post: 

What’s your favorite color? 

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Humorous Fiction · Realistic Fiction

Book Review: Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

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Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

Published by River Street Books on August 1, 2018

Pages: 319

Genres: realistic fiction, humorous fiction 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: workplace settings, socially relevant novels, realistic fiction 

Read with food: cheetos~ the real thing not that baked stuff 

 

Synopsis: 

From the mundane to the insane, Adequate Yearly Progress captures the teaching experience with insight, humor, and heart.

Each year brings familiar educational challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling urban high school in Texas. But the school’s teachers face plenty of challenges of their own. English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet with a deep love for her roots, can never seem to satisfy her students that she’s for real. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, yet tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress: namely, Lena. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she blocks out problems whose solutions aren’t so clear, while Coach Ray hustles his football team toward another winning season, at least on the field. Recording it all is idealistic history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose blog gains new readers by the day but drifts ever further from her in-class reality.
And this year, a new celebrity superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down. The fallout will shake up the teachers’ lives both inside and outside the classroom.

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always, an honest review. 

Adequate Yearly Progress accurately captures what I would imagine it’s like to work in an inner city high school. The story starts out a few days before the beginning of the school year. There’s a new superintendent who is ready to make some changes. Maybe with the students’ best interests at heart, but definitely with an enormous lack of experience in the school setting. It sets up what’s bound to be an eventful school year. 

The chapters are told from different teachers points of view. This choice keeps the book fresh, interesting, and moving along quickly. The reader also gets a well rounded perspective of all the happenings within the high school. We mainly follow Lena, Hernan, Maybelline and the football coach. I like that the characters are diverse regarding gender, age, race, and life experiences. The story is a discussion about life in and out of the classroom. I really appreciated when the story would show the rich complex inner lives of the teachers. A great combination of serious and funny. I also liked the inclusion of one teacher’s blog posts. I found it fun, modern, and added an additional perspective. 

Most of the book was amazing; there were a few aspects that I didn’t enjoy as much. A few of the teachers bothered me, personality wise. It’s in keeping with a realistic perspective of a school, but they could still really annoy me at times. Also, the ending of the school year seemed a little rushed. However the teachers’ personal lives were well paced. 

Overall I really enjoyed getting to know the teachers in Adequate Yearly Progress. A humorous, realistic perspective of teaching with all of its challenges and wonderful moments.

Definitely give this a read when it’s released! 

 

What are you favorite books about school?

 

What do they get right? What could they do better?