Under Rose-Tainted Skies


Under Rose-Tainted Skies (audiobook)

by Louise Gornall


As my friend says, I gravitate to “sad” or “depressing” young adult books, and that’s why we don’t completely share the same taste in books.  Under Rose-Tainted Skies didn’t exactly feel depressing for most of it, but it did give me a glimpse into the world of a young woman with OCD and agoraphobia.  Norah’s mother goes out of town, and Norah is left to fend for herself within her home.  She is terrified of leaving the house, of strangers touching her, of catching diseases, etc., and settles her fears with self-harm.  She meets her new neighbor, and he has to learn her rules.  Norah’s ups and downs with mental illness make a relationship difficult, but the two of them have to learn together.

What I liked about this book was that I could experience mental illness without having mental illness.  Gornall, from what I’ve read, used her life experiences as inspiration for this novel, and while I am a homebody have a touch of anxiety now and then, I will likely never develop OCD or agoraphobia.  I can’t completely understand what it is like to live with mental illness, but reading about it helps build understanding.

What I didn’t like about this book is what often bothers me in similar books… there is always a mentally ill character with someone who loves and adores them and is willing to overlook their illness and be a perfect significant other.  I know there are people out there like that, but in every book I read, this is the first relationship and everything is perfect.  I don’t think that part is realistic.  However, I keep coming back for more, don’t I?  So it can’t bother me TOO much!

Book 10 of 40

Flat Out Love


Flat-Out Love (ebook)

by Jessica Park


Flat-Out Love is super cute!  It’s that love story genre that isn’t always my first choice, but I usually enjoy the books when I read them.  Julie Seagle is a college freshman in Boston, a city she’s completely unfamiliar with.  She finds herself homeless, duped by a fake Craigslist ad, but her mom’s college roommate comes to her rescue and lets her stay in their home with Celeste and Matt, her two children.  Matt is a geeky college student, and Celeste is a “different” eighth grade girl.  There is also a mysterious brother named Finn who isn’t around, but Julie has a Facebook romance with him.  Their mother Erin and father Roger are absentee parents, being busy with their careers, so Matt is left to take care of Celeste, including carting around Flat Finn, a cardboard cutout of Finn.  Julie steps in to be Celeste’s friend, take some of the load off of Matt, and help Celeste fit in and be a little less strange.  Of course, there is love and everything hits the fan.  This is also a bit of a mystery (slightly predictable), but it was a fun read, and engaging until the end.

What I liked about this book was the romance, of course.  Without the romance, I’m not sure the storyline would have been nearly as engaging.  A mysterious brother?  Drunken phone calls?  A nerdy but handsome brother who goes out of his way to be a knight in shining armor?  It has everything.

What I didn’t like about this book was the shocker with Finn.  That was upsetting.  Predictable, but upsetting none the less.  I am not sure how I felt about his story.  That’s all I can say without giving away too much.

Book 19 of summer 2017!


Love & Gelato


Love & Gelato (audiobook)

by Jenna Evans Welch


Love & Gelato starts with Carolina (Lina) and her mother, Hadley Emerson, who is dying of cancer.  Once she passes, Lina goes to Italy to spend the summer with the dad she never knew she had at her mother’s request.  Lina starts off resentful, but when she’s given her mother’s journal from when her mother went to school in Italy, Lina learns more about her mother’s past, her parents, and who she is.  While she’s making these discoveries, she becomes close friends with a boy named Ren who takes her to the places her mom wrote about in the journal, and they solve a mystery together while falling in love.

What I liked about this book was that it mixed up romance and mystery.  I don’t normally binge-listen to an audiobook, but I finished this in basically 2, maybe 3 days.  It was light, fun, and perfect summer reading.  I also appreciated that there was nothing inappropriate about it!  There was some kissing and a boy who wanted more than kissing, but there was no sex or talk of sex or violence.  That means I won’t freak out if one of my students reads it.

What I didn’t like about this book was maybe an audiobook thing.  It was a little hard for me to tell when Lina was speaking and when she was reading her mom’s journal.  I’m not sure what the book looked like (it may have been a different font), but as an audiobook, it was a little confusing if I wasn’t paying close attention.

Book 14 of summer 2017!

What Light


What Light (audiobook)

by Jay Asher

AR Level 4.5, 9 points


What Light is about a girl named Sierra who lives in Oregon on her family’s Christmas tree farm, but travels south to California for a month to sell the trees with her family.  She is torn between spending December with her best friends in Oregon, and her friend in California.  Sierra tries not to get attached to a cute boy named Caleb, especially with the rumors floating around about him, but they soon meet and spend time together, and being teenagers, they fall for each other quickly.  Sierra also has to come to terms with the rumors about Caleb.  Now that Sierra has broken her rule about falling for someone she will only see one month out of the year, she has to decided whether they should continue their relationship.

What I liked about this book was that it was light, and it didn’t make me think too hard during the summer.  It is a Christmas-themed book, but good summer reading.

What I didn’t like about this book… I was disappointed.  I remember 13 Reasons Why as being powerful, emotional, and engaging (I mean there’s a series based on the book!).  I had higher expectations.  This wasn’t anything super special.  I was waiting for a climax that never happened.

Book 8 of summer 2017!

We Are Okay


We Are Okay (audiobook)

by Nina LaCour


Marin is a college freshman, and she is in her dorm for Winter Break.  Alone.  We slowly find out why- her mother is dead, she never knew her father, and she has no where to go.  Marin also struggles with her relationship with her friend Mabel, but we don’t immediately find out why, although we know that Marin and Mabel had an intimate relationship that ended.  LaCour flips back and forth between the present and the past, alternating chapters.  I love the way that was done.  It was effective and not at all confusing.

What I liked about this book was that it was beautifully written.  It was like reading a poem.  LaCour spent a lot of time going into detail in certain situations, and although it tended to be a quiet, almost depressing book, it didn’t make me want to stop reading, because the description was so beautiful.

What I didn’t like about this book was the character of Gramps.  It wasn’t her description of him.  He just really bothered me.  I can understand mental illness and depression, but I felt so sad that Marin was so lonely. I wanted her to have a good relationship with her grandfather.  I am not sure why this bothered me so much.

Book 56 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

All the Bright Places


All the Bright Places (audiobook)

by Jennifer Niven


Where do I begin with this one?  It was heart-wrenching, humorous, and anxiety-ridden.  I have said before I don’t like reading books about suicide, but I just keep picking them up, don’t I?  Luckily, it is an engaging story, and an important one for young adults to read.

All the Bright Places is 75% love story and 25% pain.  Violet and Finch meet in the bell tower of their high school.  Violet is depressed over the death of her sister, who passed away in a car crash about 8 months earlier.  Finch, we quickly learn, has undiagnosed bipolar disorder, as well as an unstable and unsupportive home environment – divorced parents, abusive dad, unstable mom, etc.  His favorite thing to do is research historical suicides, as well as weigh the pros and cons of each method.  It gets around that Violet talked Finch off the ledge, when it was actually the opposite.  The two become partners on a school project and Finch quickly falls in love with Violet (Ultra Violet ReMARKEYable), but it takes some convincing for Violet to feel the same.  Eventually, she starts to come out of her depression, while Finch sinks even deeper into his mental illness.

What I liked about this book was the door I was given into the mind of someone with the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.  I, myself, have never considered suicide, nor have I ever lost someone close in the way that Violet has, but I found it fascinating to enter a world I would otherwise not experience.  That is the joy of reading!  I also enjoyed their love story, even if it wasn’t very believable.

What I didn’t like about this book was the way it kind of implied that their relationship could save each other.  It didn’t directly say that, but Finch helped Violet out of her depression, and experienced a high while with Violet, but when she wasn’t allowed to see him, he began to spiral.  What if they’d stayed together?  Would he have stayed happy or would he still have experienced the deepest, darkest low?  From my experience (I have two close relatives who contemplated suicide), it is brain chemistry.  I have also been depressed due to relationships, and suicide has never crossed my mind as an option.

Book 47 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Everything, Everything


Everything, Everything (hardcover)

by Nicola Yoon


AR Level 4.4, 7 points

Young Adult… not for kids!


Madeline lives with the illness that keeps her in a bubble with air-tight doors and windows, filtered air, and no visitors.  She is cut off from the outside world, with only her nurse and mother as her companions.  Then Olly and his family move in next door, and she’s instantly in love.  They start emailing and IMing each other, until one day, they get to meet in person behind her mom’s back.  Madeline needs to decide whether it is better to live a lonely, sheltered life, cut off from the world, but in HEALTH, or risk illness or death, but enjoy traveling and being in love.  She makes her decision, and there is an unexpected twist.

What I liked about this book was that Madeline was able to fall in love and experience that, so I was also able to experience that as a reader.  I also enjoyed the twist, although I won’t spoil it for you.  I love stories with something unexpected.  That keeps the story in my mind.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I was angry with her mother, and I wanted her mother to face consequences for her actions.  I would also have liked for the love story to be a bit more believable.  Why did Olly like Madeline so much when he didn’t even know her?  She seemed a little boring to me.  It was a good story, though, and I look forward to reading The Sun is Also a Star, which won an award.

Book 39 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)