BOOK REVIEW: The Last Time We Say Goodbye – by Cynthia Hand

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Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: February 10th 2015
Finished reading: April 22nd 2015
Pages: 400
Rating 5

“Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has been frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.”

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Wow, just wow. I do not cry easily when I’m reading a novel, but The Last Time We Say Goodbye left me with tears in my eyes. Cynthia Hand did an excellent job describing the different main characters and explaining how a suicide affects those who are close to the victim. This story is both sad and brilliant at the same time… The attempts of the main character Lex to cope with the loss of her brother simply heartbreaking and without doubt exceptionally well written. I loved the prose and the little journal entries at the beginning of some chapters; they give a great insight in what Lex is feeling at the moment. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is what you call a ‘heavy’ read that will end up affecting you more than you would have thought… It’s not an easy read, but a story that will definitely stay with you for quite some time.

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Lex used to be happy. She used to be just another nerdy teenager with divorced parents, friends, a boyfriend she loved and dreams about college… But that was before her brother Ty decided to do the unthinkable. Feeling ‘below empty’, he decided to kill himself. Suddenly, Lex is the girl whose brother killed himself. And she doesn’t know how to cope with this loss. Lex tries to put her life back together, blocking out what happened and pushing away her friends and dad. He left them for another woman a few years back, and she still blames him for it… Trying to find a way to accept her brother’s dead, she goes to therapy. That’s when she starts a journal to write down her feelings… Although Lex doesn’t feel it will help; she prefers to forget. Soon forgetting seems impossible as she starts seeing the image of her brother everywhere. Lex knows he’s gone, but she has a feeling she has to help Ty with some unfinished business before she can really move on…

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I don’t think I will forget The Last Time We Say Goodbye any time soon. It’s a beautifully written and heartbreaking story that will leave its mark once you’ve read it. It’s a story full of love, loss and acceptance; something you can relate to if you have ever experienced the death of a loved one. Cynthia Hand did an excellent job with this novel, and I would definitely recommend it to those who don’t mind a contemporary read dealing with tough issues. Make sure you have some tissues nearby if you decide to read this one!

BOOK REVIEW: I’ll Give You The Sun – by Jandy Nelson

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Title: I’ll Give You The Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 16th 2014
Finished reading: April 20th 2015
Pages: 371
Rating 4

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.”

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I’ve seen this book around everywhere since it first got published last year… So when I finally bought myself a copy of I’ll Give You The Sun, I decided it was just about time I finally read it. The cover alone convinced me I needed to read this novel, and the fact that it belongs to the glbt genre is a bonus. I needed a *We Need Diverse Books title for my Bookish Bingo challenges, and this novel by Jandy Nelson turned out to be a great choice. The prose is so colorful and radiant and awesome in general! I loved the main characters; both twins have such interesting personalities and I loved the fact that Jandy Nelson included so many art references. Sure, the prose can take a while to get used to and I can definitely understand it’s not for everybody, but I personally found it brilliant. I have so many quotes highlighted! I’ll Give You The Sun gives you a littlebit of everything; drama, love, death… And quite a few funny moments as well. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy reading YA contemporary!

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Jude and her twin brother Noah used to be really close, but something happened when they were thirteen that changed both of them forever and drifted them apart. Noah used to be an artsy nerdy boy with an amazing drawing talent, while Jude was the daredevil of the two and way more outgoing. Then something changed… And at the age of sixteen, they seem to have switched places and personalities. Jude got accepted in the art school Noah didn’t get in, and Noah decided to ignore his intimate feelings and pretend he isn’t gay. They both tell us their story, but it shows that they have not interpreted all the facts the right way. Only when they decide to forgive each other and improve their relationship will they find out the complete truth about what happened three years ago…

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It took me a while to get used to the prose, but when I did I was blown away by it. It’s so colorful, artsy and creative at times that it almost seems Jandy Nelson is painting with words. I loved both Jude and Noah as a character… And the plot is interesting as well. This novel is without doubt worth reading and the prose is simply brilliant. I’ll Give You The Sun goes straight to my reread list, and I will try to check out her other novel as well!

WWW Wednesdays #36 – April 22nd

wwwwednesdaysOriginally featured at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words, WWW WEDNESDAYS is still about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

thelasttimewesaygoodbyefangirlI started reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand the other day and even though it is an interesting read, it’s so sad at the same time! I needed a break from all the sadness before actually finishing it, so I’ve started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell last night as well. I’m not too far into the story yet, but so far it delivers.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

illgiveyouthesunIevensong finished reading I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson the other day, a novel that has been on my radar for a while now and I’m glad I’ve finally read it. The prose is really colorful to say the least, and the story itself interesting. A full review will follow shortly! I’ve also read Evensong by Krista Walsh, a novel that had a promising blurb but ended up being a huge disappointment…

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

vampireacademyharrypotterandthedeathlyhallowsAs I’m trying to complete my Ready For Spring Bingo chart as soon as possible, I’m probably going to read Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead next (Forgotten Fridays Pick). I’m not sure I will end up liking that one, but I will give it a go… Either that or I will read Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows first so I can finally finish my HP series reread. (Also part of the bingo chart… A reread.)

Teaser Tuesdays #39 – April 21st: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve only just started The Last Time We Say Goodbye, so I cannot say too many things about it, but so far this novel by Cynthia Hand sounds promising. I needed a dark contemporary read for my Bookish Bingo Spring challenge, and I guess this one definitely touches some touch subjects… Fingers crossed it says this good.

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My teaser (38%):

“Maybe I want to forget,” I say, just to be contrary. “Maybe it’d be easier to forget, and get on with my life. Isn’t that healthier? Moving on?”

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: Evensong – by Krista Walsh

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Title: Evensong
(Meratis Trilogy #1)
Author: Krista Walsh
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
First published: January 28th 2014
Finished reading: April 18th 2015
Pages: 317
Rating 1,5

“We all feel the need to prove ourselves. Just because you lost doesn’t mean you’d decide differently next time.”

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At first glance Evensong had so much potential. An author ending up being stuck inside his own fantasy story definitely sounded like an interesting plot… Such a shame this novel by Krista Walsh didn’t live up to expectations. At all. The beginning of the story was acceptable, although I wasn’t completely convinced by the characters or prose. But when Krista Walsh decided to not simply stick to the ‘author trapped inside his fantasy novel‘ plot and introduced both a dragon, a sorcerer AND zombies into the plot, I lost all my hopes for this one. That Evensong is a huge disappointment is an understatement. The characters are flat and the prose is not convincing at all. Some of the ‘romance’ scenes even disturbing… This book just doesn’t work for me, and I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone.

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Jeff Powell is an author trying to finish one of his newest novels, but he seems to be unsure how to continue his story… Then one day he wakes up finding himself trapped inside the fictional world he himself created. Feldall is in danger, and his main characters need his help. He doesn’t know, but he doesn’t have full control of what happens in this fantasy world… The first proof being the spell they wrote to bring him there.

A dragon is tormenting the people of Feldall and he seems to be invincible… And there have been people disappearing without a trace as well. Jeff doesn’t know how to help, but since the enchantress cannot seem to perfect the spell to send him back home, he is stuck in the fictional world for now. And the main characters aren’t happy with him either. Plus, there is a new villain to be worried about that is about to unleash his powers on Feldall…

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This novel just didn’t work for me. The characters, plot, prose… All either close to ridiculous or flat and boring. When I first read the blurb of Evensong, I thought it sounded promising and the plot quite refreshing. I guess I was wrong. Another trilogy I won’t be finishing any time soon… And most likely never. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this novel, although it’s an Amazon kindle freebie in case you want to give it a try anyway. (Or at least it was when I downloaded and read it…)

BOOK REVIEW: The Storyteller – by Jodi Picoult

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Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 2013
Finished reading: April 17th 2015
Pages: 460
Rating 4,5

“History isn’t about dates and places and wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.”

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The Storyteller ended up being a mix between contemporary and historical fiction, where part of the story is set in the present and the rest of the story during WWII. Jodi Picoult has even incorporated a fantasy story that is written by one of the main characters during the war… This story about a Polish upior (similar to a vampire) plays a big role in the survival of a Jewish girl named Minka and is one of the links to the scenes set in the present. Those contemporary scenes are probably my least favorite, but still I liked most of the main characters. Some of the less important ones were a bit unbelievable though, and that’s probably why I haven’t given The Storyteller the full five stars… But the scenes set during WWII are so well written that they make up for the weaker contemporary scenes. Jodi Picoult described the situation of Minka and her Jewish family so well that I actually had tears in my eyes at some point… And I do not cry easily when I’m reading.

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Sage Singer doesn’t see herself as a Jew, but her grandmother Minka is a Holocaust survivor… Although she never talks about her experience. Sage had a car accident two years ago that left her with a scar on her face and without a mother… And she still struggles with her loss. To hide from society and her loss, Sage prefers to work night shifts at a local bakery. She normally tries to push people away, but one day she starts an unlikely friendship with an old retired teacher named Josef Weber. When they get to know each other a little better, he asks her for a huge favor: to help him kill himself. Sage is shocked, but Josef tries to get her to help him anyway by confessing his darkest secret: he was a Nazi SS guard during WWII, working in one of the death camps. Therefore, he deserves to die…

Sage first doesn’t believe him, but contacts the autorities anyway. The FBI has a special unit chasing old war criminals, and the guy in charge asks her to collect more information; forcing Sage to continue her friendship with Josef. As he starts telling more and more about his past, Sage doesn’t know if she can live with the horrible facts she now knows. How can she ever forgive a man who has done so many terrible things? And is she the right person to hand out that forgiveness? Her own grandmother is a Holocaust survivor; was she one of Josef’s victims?

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The sappy romance scenes were quite annoying, but the rest of the story made up for it. The chapters set during WWII were written brilliantly and full of emotion. Jodi Picoult chose to write from both Josef’s and Minka’s point of view, which gives you a general impression of both ‘sides’ of the situation and the consequences of certain actions. The ending of The Storyteller is definitely unexpected, although it wasn’t a total surprise after Josef’s blood group was mentioned… The upior fantasy story is an unique touch to this historical holocaust testimony, and is probably one of the reasons why I gave this novel such a high rating. That and the WWII chapters… In short, this novel is perfect for those who enjoy reading historical fiction, as long as you don’t mind some sappy romance scenes and bakery talk. The main character Sage is a baker like some of her ancestors, and baking plays an important role in the story…

BOOK REVIEW: The DUFF – by Kody Keplinger

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Title: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 7th 2010
Finished reading: April 16th 2015
Pages: 280
Rating 4

“No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.”

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This is definitely not my typical read and I wasn’t completely convinced I was actually going to like this novel when I first started reading it. I guess I ended up being wrong about my suspicions. Have you ever had it happen that you both hated and loved a character? That is exactly what happened to me with the main characters in The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. While I hated Bianca for using sex as a way to forget about her problems, I loved the fact that she had a strong character and in the end wasn’t afraid of being completely herself. I definitely understand what it feels to be a ‘DUFF’, but I wouldn’t ever respond the way she does in this novel by Kody Keplinger. Although in a way I admire her courage… The womanizer Wesley on the other hand; boy I hated his character. The typical arrogant teenager who thinks he thinks he’s the hottest guy on the planet and it’s his job to make girls feel miserable… Le sigh. But he ended up growing on me when he showed his sensitive side. The prose Kody Keplinger uses to describe her story is brilliant and made me laugh at various points in the story, and combined with a fast pace The DUFF is truly a pageturner.

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Bianca Piper is not what you call the ‘perfect’ cheerleader, but she is smart, sarcastic and has two loyal best friends. She doesn’t always feel attractive when she is with her goodlooking best friends Jessica and Casey, and sometimes she wonders why guys never pick her as a date instead of her friends… And then comes Wesley Rush along, the school’s hottie that tries to get in every girl’s pants. When he calls Bianca ‘the DUFF’, she is so angry she throws her coke in his face, but she cannot get the word DUFF out of her head afterwards…

Things at home aren’t great either and Bianca fears her parents will end up in a divorce. She desperately needs a distraction, and ends up kissing the guy she thoroughly hates. Soon, she and Wesley are doing a lot more than sharing just a simple kiss… An enemies-with-benefits relationship is born. But Bianca’s hatred turns out to be not as deep as she thinks, and to her horror she is starting to fall in love with him… The boy who keeps calling her Duffy.

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I would have never guessed I would enjoy reading The DUFF, but I did. The prose is briliant, funny and easy to read, and together with the fast pace I was able to read this novel in a heartbeat. I have a love-hate relationship with the characters, but it didn’t really take away from my reading pleasure. I don’t know if I would be able to watch the movie, but this novel by Kody Keplinger I would definitely recommend if you enjoy reading YA contemporary and don’t mind a few sex scenes.