Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Fall Covers

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is fall/autumn book covers. For my list, I decided to find covers that are the colors of leaves. Each cover on my list will either be red, brown, orange or yellow! Here are my choices (any book with a review will be linked to the book’s title):

  • The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy by Courtney Shienmel

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy

The Elite (The Selection, #2)

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf, #1)

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

  • Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

  • The Fall of Candy Corn by Debby Viguié

The Fall of Candy Corn (Sweet Seasons, #2)

  • Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella 

Can You Keep a Secret?

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

 

What is your favorite leaf-colored book?

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Wires and Nerve Review

wires and nerve

Wires, and nerve, and Iko, oh my!

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer takes place after The Lunar Chronicles series ends and follows everyone’s favorite andriod, Iko. Even though Levana’s rule has ended, her mutant soldiers still walk the earth and cause more attacks on civilians. Iko decides to take the job of corralling the soldiers back to the Luna with the help of a few members from the Rampion crew and one of Cinder’s handsome guards.

Before Wires and Nerve, I haven’t really read any graphics novels. However, I’m a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles world and will pretty much read anything that Marissa Meyer writes that takes place in it. After being slightly disappointed with Stars Above, I didn’t go into Wires and Nerve with incredibly high expectations. Even though there are some aspects of this book that I would change, I overall enjoyed this graphic novel and plan on reading its next installment.

The highlight of this book definitely lies with Iko as the main character. Although she is one of the heroes of the Lunar Revolution, we never really see her perspective in the original series and she acts more as a cute and fun side character. With her bubbly personality, incredible fashion sense, and the only android character, it was nice to finally see her perspective. In this book, Iko’s voice really stands out and readers get a more complex look at her character, especially the discrimination she faces as an android.

Another aspect of this story that I enjoyed was how easy and enjoyable it was to read. I read Wires and Nerve within a couple of hours in only one sitting. The story is very easy to follow and it was very fun to have more adventures with characters from one of my favorite series. Although some readers may not enjoy the primarily blue and red artwork throughout the novel, especially since some of the character may not look like how they pictured, I really enjoyed it. Since I’m not a huge reader of graphic novels, seeing such a familiar world made me really interested in reading more graphic novels outside of The Lunar Chronicles world.

That being said, there were a few things that I loved in the original Lunar Chronicles series that I found missing in the graphic novel. The first being that some of the original characters seemed a little out of character in the graphic novels series. Besides Iko, we mostly see Thorne and Cress from the original nine characters. While Thorne felt more true to his personality, for some reason, Cress seemed a little bit off to me. Cress always felt more comfortable in dresses, so it surprised me that the artists outfitted her in a loose fitting shirt and cargo pants throughout the whole novel. While Cress does get more brave throughout the original series, her boldness as well as some of her dialogue seemed a little off to me.

One minor complaint that I have with this novel is the romance. Iko’s love interest, Kinney, was introduced in Winter. Unfortunately, I feel like his character never really develops any more in this novel. Iko and Kinney definitely have a love-hate relationship, especially since Kinney struggles to see Iko as more than an android. Even we’re told Kinney is a good guy due to his loyalty to Cinder, I never see this in his actions, especially towards Iko. Whenever Iko and Kinney finally have “a moment” in the book, it really comes out of nowhere and it wasn’t something that I anticipated like I did with the other couples in the series. Hopefully, Kinney and his relationship with Iko develop more in the next installment.

Another issue that I had with this book was the plot and the pacing. In the original series, readers are offered multiple points of view throughout the story that hint at different story lines or make the story line at hand more complex. Even though we are offered multiple perspectives in this book, I found it not as successful as in the original series. In this graphic novel, I felt like the multiple perspectives told me what happened because it actually occurred in the novel, which took away an element of surprise. Additionally, I didn’t see as many layers to the plot as the original series which made the book a little boring at times.

Overall, Wires and Nerve is a great book for fans of The Lunar Chronicles. I definitely would recommend reading the original series before picking up this one in order not to spoil any outcomes for the original series and to understand the language and plot used within this book better. Since I really enjoyed reading about Iko and the graphic novel format, but had some characterization and plot issues, I give this book four out of five stars.

 

October TBR

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In September, I wanted to focus on more school-oriented reads. Instead, I found myself picking up more fantasy books. Even though my month didn’t go exactly as I planned, I still read a lot of good books during the month of September and can’t wait to see wait next month holds! Here are the books I planned to read in September:

  • Surviving High School by Lele Pons and Melissa de la Cruz

Surviving High School

I think one of the reasons I didn’t pick up this book is that even though I own it, I can’t remember where I put it. I have a lot of books and since I don’t have bookshelves, some of my more recently purchased books are in miscellaneous boxes in my house. Hopefully, I can find this one and read it soon!

  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

While I know that I probably will like this book, I still haven’t picked it up. Hopefully, I will pick it up soon!

  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater

All the Crooked Saints

I wanted to read this book because it seemed perfect for the fall, but my interest slowly went away. This is the one book on my TBR that I may never get around to reading.

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

This is the book on my TBR last month that I wasn’t sure if I was going to read. After being reassured that I didn’t need to read the original series by this author to appreciate this book, I dove right into reading this book! I definitely went into this book with high expectations due to all the hype surrounding it. Fortunately for me, it met all my expectations and I can’t wait to read Crooked Kingdom.

  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

Once again, I did not get to Salt and the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I don’t know why I keep putting off this book when I know that I’ll love it, but hopefully I will finally pick it up in the near future.

 

Even though I only read one of the books on my September TBR, I still discovered a lot of books during the month of September that I loved (see my monthly wrap-up here). Here’s the books at the top of my TBR for October:

  • Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross, #1)

I tried reading another book by Marie Lu, The Young Elites, but never finished it because I wasn’t extremely interested in the story line. However, I know Marie Lu is a well-loved author and the description of Warcross seems a little more up my alley. I’ve heard several positive reviews for this book and currently have this book checked out from my library, so I can’t wait to read it! Warcross follows a teenage hacker who works as a bounty hunter to to track down players who bet on the game illegally. After the hacker, Emika, is revealed in a glitch in the game, she is recruited by game’s creator to spy on the game’s world tournament.

  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo tells the origin story of Wonder Woman. I saw this book in the library and picked it up because I’ve heard positive reviews about this book and have enjoyed other books that I’ve read by the author. However, I’m not entirely sure if I’ll get around to this book, even though I have it checked out of the library, because I’ve never been super interested in books based on comic book/super hero movie characters.

  • The Audition by Maddie Ziegler

The Audition

Audition by Maddie Ziegler, a star from the popular Lifetime show Dance Moms, follows a twelve-year-old dancer whose life takes a turn for the worse when her family moves and she’s forced to leave her beloved dance team. In her new studio, the girls compete at a higher level and aren’t accepting of new team members. However, things look up when she befriends a fellow newbie. I was interested in this book because I used to watch the show Dance Moms and I’m always interested when celebrities release fiction books. I’m not sure how much of this book Maddie Ziegler actually wrote and the plot sounds a little generic, but I’m interested to see how it plays out. I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley.

  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby

This Lullaby is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books. I actually wanted to reread it last month, but like with Surviving High School, I’m having trouble locating my copy! This Lullaby follows Remy, a girl very opposed to love despite her mother’s recent remarriage and romance novels, as she meets a boy who threatens to break all of her rules about love.

  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word

I saw Every Last Word at Target and was interested after reading the synopsis on the back of the cover. I thought I saw this book in my library, so I went to check there first and was disappointed when it wasn’t in my library’s circulation. However, I’m still really interested in reading this book, so I may have to take another trip back to Target and purchase it for myself! Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone follows Samantha McAllister, a popular girl with a toxic group of friends who also has obsessive compulsive disorder. Then, Sam meets a supportive friend who introduces her to tight-knit group of friends.

 

What books do you plan to read in October?

Eliza and Her Monsters Review

eliza and monsters

There are monsters in the sea… and in the real world.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia follows high school senior Eliza, the anonymous creator of the popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. When Wallace, a Monstrous Sea fan with mysterious past, comes to her school, Eliza’s lonely high school experience and secrecy are compromised. Then, Eliza’s secret is exposed and her life is changed forever.

I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews about Eliza and Her Monsters recently. I was so excited to find a copy of this book in my local library. As a result, I went into this book with high expectations. Unfortunately, not all of my expectations were met with this book. However. there are many aspects of this book, such as Eliza’s mental health and the pressure of internet platforms, that I really appreciated.

One of the best aspects of this book is the main character, Eliza. Reading this book literally broke my heart because of how realistic and relatable Eliza’s story is for so many people. Eliza’s life is consumed by Monstrous Sea. She spends her days locked up in her room, drawing for her comic, interacting with fans, and worrying about how people will respond to her work. As a result, she has no face-to-face friends, no relationship with her family, and no life outside of her webcomic. For example, she almost misses Christmas because Monstrous Sea dictates every aspect of her life. Even though Eliza’s story broke my heart, I think the ending of the book can give hope to readers in similar situations. Although the ending of the book isn’t upbeat and happy, Eliza eventually gets the help she needs and starts to learn how to balance her real and online lives.

Another aspect of this book that was well fleshed out was the culture surrounding Monstrous Sea. Eliza’s fans expect her to post at certain times and regularly host a weekly chat. Eliza works so hard to produce quality artwork and interact with her fans. When Eliza fails to meet their standards, they criticize her, or worse, completely tear her apart. I think Eliza and Her Monsters really showcases both positive and negative aspects of fandoms. On one hand, you have people like Eliza’s two online best friends, who constantly support her no matter what she posts online and encourages her to pursue life off screen. On the other hand, there are fans extremely possessive of Eliza and her content. Eliza and Her Monsters shows how people dehumanize the people they put on a pedestal and see them more as an object that they have ownership of and can manipulate.

I had more mixed feelings toward Eliza’s love interest, Wallace. I appreciated that Wallace was a well-developed and complex love interest. Wallace suffered a tragedy in his personal life and deals with a lot of pressure from his new family which is extremely evident in his interactions and relationships with other people. However, I did have some problems with Wallace’s characters (*SPOILERS AHEAD*). In the book, Wallace wants to be a writer and is the most well-known fan fiction writer for Monstrous Sea. However, his stepfather wants him to pursue a more reliable career and refuses to pay for a college education that supports his writing. When Wallace is offered a book deal for his transcription of the Monstrous Sea, he puts a lot of pressure on Eliza to finish the series despite her struggles with her mental health. When given the opportunity to redeem himself for how he treated Eliza, he continues to rant about how she’s ruining his future. Wallace gets angry when other people dictate his life and toss aside his feelings, but he does the same to Eliza. Although he’s given a few redeeming moments at the end of the novel, I wasn’t a huge fan of his character.

Another aspect of this book that could be improved is the background provided on the Monstrous Sea. Throughout the book, readers are given some of the story through Eliza’s comics. However, I never completely understood the general plot of the Monstrous Sea. As a result, I never understood why it was so popular or why Eliza was so invested in it. Towards the end of the novel, Eliza describes the overall plot of the novel in one succinct sentences and I finally had a general idea of the comic’s plot. Since Monstrous Sea is such a large aspect of this novel, I wished that I had more background on it earlier in the novel.

Overall, Eliza and Her Monsters produces well-developed characters and real-life situations. However, I didn’t like how little background that readers received on the Monstrous Sea and I didn’t like Eliza’s relationship with Wallace. I give this book three out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Boyfriends

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Book Boyfriends or Girlfriends to celebrate readers’ favorite love interests. Recently, I haven’t read many love interests that really have stuck out to me and stood the test of time as I read new books. Even though I could probably list ten love interests in books that I really liked, there are only five that are my favorite of all time. Here are my top five favorite love interests in books:

  • Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

I’ve reread Lola and the Boy Next Door countless times. Even though I don’t love this book as much as I originally did, I still love Cricket Bell. I think Cricket is a sweet and kind love interest who respects Lola and what she loves. When Lola reveals that she has a boyfriend, Cricket backs off and instead focuses on repairing his friendship with Lola. Overall, Cricket is a genuinely good guy who really cares about Lola which, sadly, isn’t always the norm in relationships in young adult fiction.

  • Owen Armstrong from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen

Like Lola and the Boy Next Door, I’ve read Just Listen countless times. However, unlike Lola and the Boy Next Door, this remains one of my favorite young adult books. I’m going to be honest, if I met Owen in real life, I probably wouldn’t want to get to know him because one of my biggest pet peeves is people who are pretentious about music. However, Owen is such a well-rounded character and I appreciated how he stood up for his opinions and tried to become a better person.

  • Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby

When I first read This Lullaby, I wasn’t a huge fan. Over the years, I’ve grown to really love this novel and it’s one of my favorite by Sarah Dessen. However, despite my initial dislike for this novel, I always loved Dexter. Dexter is has a really big heart, is open about his feelings, and has the best dorky/goofy personality. Like with Cricket, he’s just a genuinely good guy who really like Remy, flaws and all.

  • Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

When Thorne first appeared in The Lunar Chronicles, I knew that I would like him. Unlike most of the other love interests on this list, Thorne is very confident and cocky. However, throughout the series, Thorne really grows as a character. He constantly puts himself in compromising positions to ensure the safety of other members of the Rampion Crew and tries to become a better person for Cress.

  • Arin from The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

I loved every single book of The Winner’s Trilogy and Arin and Kestrel’s relationship is one of my favorites in young adult literature. Arin is a quiet, but intelligent character devoted to his country. Additionally, he recognizes Kestrel’s intelligence and sees her as an equal when planning war strategies which I appreciated. Kestrel and Arin face so many challenges in their relationship, but in the end, they always look out for the other’s best interests.

 

What are your favorite love interests from books?

 

ARC Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

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Release date: October 3, 2017

The Vanderbeekers may live on 141st Street, but I’m only giving this book three stars.

In Karina Yan Glaser’s debut novel The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, a group of five siblings strive to save their family’s apartment after their grumpy landlord refuses to renew their lease. Since it’s right around Christmas and the family must leave before the new year, the siblings only have about five days to change their landlord’s mind. However, their plans start to go awry.

I haven’t heard a lot about this book, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I went in reading it. From the book’s description, I knew it took place around Christmas time, so I expected a heartwarming family story perfect for the holidays. This book is uplifting and family friendly, which I enjoyed, but some minor issues held me back from giving this book five stars.

In this book, I mostly enjoyed the characters but had a few minor problems with their characterization. I appreciated that each sibling had their own personality, even the twin siblings. Since the book follows the perspectives of all the siblings, the author did a great job of differentiating the characters and their voices. However, I felt like some of the actions of the characters didn’t match the age of their characters. Sometimes, the youngest child (four and a half years old, I believe) acted her age by pretending to be a panda in a black and white sweatshirt, but sometimes they way she talked and acted seemed much older. Sometimes I confused her behavior with her older siblings. However, I still overall enjoyed the characters and their unique voices in this novel.

Another aspect of this book that I had mixed feelings towards was the plot. Sometimes, this book moved extremely slow and it took awhile in the book for the children to actually start putting their plan into action. Additionally, I found many of the “plot twists” to be fairly standard for similar holiday stories, especially the landlord’s background story. I also thought the “romance” plot in the book had a lot of plot holes which didn’t make me quite believe the characters’ reactions to that part of the story line. That being said, I still think the plot offers a cute, heartwarming story that a lot of reader will enjoy reading around Christmas.

Overall, The Vanderbeekers of 141st is a great family friendly book that I think a lot of families would enjoy reading together around Christmas time. However, I do think there were several areas of this novel that needed improvement in order for me to completely love it. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

I received this ARC free from the publisher via the Shelf Awareness Pro newsletter.

September Reading Wrap-Up

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Last month, I had a great reading month… I read 18 books! Much to my surprise, I read more books in September when the amount of books that I read per month usually drops. I also surpassed my reading goal for the year (75 books). I also decided to branch out this month since fall is quickly approaching even though the weather insists on staying in summer mode. As a result, I picked up a lot of graphic novels and more fantasy books to move away from the fluffy contemporary books that I love to read (even though most of the books that I read this month were still contemporary books). I can’t wait to see what next month holds! Here are the books that I read in the month of September:

  • The Bachelor’s Sweetheart by Jean C. Gordon (★ ★ ★)

The Bachelor's Sweetheart by Jean C. Gordon

  • Every Kind of Heaven by Jillian Hart (★ ★ ★)

Every Kind of Heaven (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, #3)

  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (★ ★ ★)

Nimona

  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (★ ★ ★)

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)

  • Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Awkward (Awkward, #1)

  • In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (★ ★)

In Real Life

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

El Deafo

  • My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (★ ★ ★)

My Not So Perfect Life

  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (★ ★ ★)

This One Summer

  • My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (★ ★ ★)

My Friend Dahmer

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

  • Relish by Lucy Kinsley (★ ★ ★)

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

  • The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (★ ★ ★)

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

  • The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy by Courtney Shienmel (★ ★ ★)

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy

  • Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (★ ★ ★)

Under Rose-Tainted Skies

  • Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (★ ★ ★)

Can You Keep a Secret?

  • I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

I've Got Your Number

 

Re-reads

  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (★ ★ ★)

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

Bookish Birthday Gifts

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Last week, I celebrated my 23rd birthday (see my Birthday Book Tag here). This week, I decided to share some of my favorite bookish presents! Here are some of the bookish related presents I received for my birthday:

  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)

I love The Lunar Chronicles series and have read every book… except this one! I was so excited when my sister gave me this book because I can finally finish one of my favorite series!

  • Amazon Gift Card (Image from Amazon)

Image result for amazon gift card

Since I don’t have any proper book shelves yet and love reading on my Kindle, I love buying ebooks (especially ones featured in Kindle Daily Deals!). However, I was running out of money on my last gift card from Amazon, so I’m so happy someone in my family bought me such a thoughtful gift to use!

  • Jasmine Funko Pop figure (image from Amazon)

Funko POP Disney Series 5: Jasmine Vinyl Figure

While this isn’t necessarily a “bookish” item, I hope to decorate my bookshelves with figurines and other decorations when I get them. Jasmine is one of my favorite princesses, so I was so excited to unwrap this figure!

 

What has been your favorite bookish gift?

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters with Exceptionalities

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Ten Books that Features __________ Characters. This could be books that feature diverse characters, characters with mental illness, characters that play sports, or whatever else participants decide! This week, I decided to find ten books that feature characters close to my heart: characters with exceptionalities.

As a special education major in college (and teacher in a few weeks), I’ve encountered many students deemed exceptional. In special education, “exceptional” means that in one area of functioning, a student functions significantly different from the “norm.” This covers a lot of different people, such as, people with autism, people with hearing loss, and people with an IQ significantly above average. As a result, the person may think, socialize, or perform differently than most other people.

With books featuring diverse characters on the rise, I’m excited to read more and more books that features characters with exceptionalities in an authentic way. Here are eleven great books that portray characters with exceptionalities (any book with a review will be linked to the title):

  • Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules

Rules by Cynthia Lord follows Catherine, a twelve-year-old girl, who has a brother with autism. Catherine tries to teach her brother “rules” which will help him function easier in a public setting. Over the summer, Catherine meets Jason, a boy with parapelegia, and Kristi, a girl whose parents are going through a divorce, and she starts to question what “normal” really is.

This book is such an important book for me because it solidified by decision to major in special education. This book explores so many people with different backgrounds to give such a great message: normal is different for everyone. I love how Catherine grows as a character in this book, how readers learn about assistive technology and different ways to communicate, and the representation of all the characters in this book. I can’t recommend this book enough!

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo

El Deafo is a graphic novel memoir by Cece Bell. In El Deafo, Cece attends a school for children who are deaf until her family moves and she must attend public school. Cece worries that everyone in her class will stare at her phonic ear and not want to be her friend. However, Cece also discovers that her phonic ear allows her to hear her teacher everywhere in the school, including the bathroom and the teacher’s lounge.

I really loved this graphic novel and how it showcases someone’s real story. I loved how the author chose to use bunnies to illustrate this novel because it really showcases the hearing aid throughout the novel. Additionally, I liked how the author included so many different ways of how people reacted to her phonic ear and how certains ways were appropriate or inappropriate. I also enjoyed the author’s note where Cece Bell emphasizes that this is her own personal experience and that even though someone else may also be deaf, they may view their experience differently or respond to it in a different way.

  • A Thousand Ways This Could Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith (a short story in Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins)

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Summer Days and Summer Nights is a short story collection edited by Stephanie Perkins that includes short stories featuring diverse characters in summer young adult romances. In A Thousand Ways This Could Go Wrong, the main character works at a summer camp where she struggles to help a student with autism. Additionally, she starts to date a guy which she later discovers is also on the autisum spectrum.

Summer Days and Summer Nights was definitely not my favorite short story collection. However, I really enjoyed Jennifer E. Smith’s addition to the collection. I really enjoyed that this story featured two characters with autism, who although they shared some similar characteristics, weren’t carbon copies of each other or stereotypes of people with autism. In this short story, I think Jennifer E. Smith was successful in showing the spectrum of people with autism, which I really appreciated. Additionally, I liked how the romance featured a character with autism which I don’t really see in young adult fiction.

  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters

In Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, Eliza is the creator of a wildly popular online comic. Online, she has millions of devoted followers. However, in real life she struggles to relate to her family or people in her class at school. Then, Wallace, a new boy at school and the biggest fanfiction writer for her comic, moves to town and Eliza finds herself opening up.

I had a few problems with Eliza and Her Monsters, but overall, I think this book did a great job representing a character with depression and anxiety. While depression and anxiety are often considered mental illnesses, they can also be considered exceptionalities within a school setting. In this book, Eliza’s depression and anxiety greatly impact her every day life, especially when and how she socializes with people her own age.

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo follows six outcasts as they attempt to perform an impossible heist. When a new addictive drug is used to manipulate Grisha, notorious criminal Kaz Brekker is asked to abduct the person who created the drug from the heavily guarded ice court for a large amount of money. To successfully retrieve the scientist from the Ice Court, he recruits a rag tag group that may kill each other before they even arrive at the court.

Six of Crows includes such a diverse cast and I’m happy that two members of the cast have exceptionalities. Out of all the books in my list, this is the only book that isn’t contemporary, so it’s cool to see characters with exceptionalities in a different genre than I usually do. In this book, Kaz Brekker exhibits similar characteristics of osteonecrosis. In the author’s note, author Leigh Bardugo explains that she experiences osteonecrosis which is a degenerative condition that makes every step painful so she sometimes needs to use a cane to walk. Kaz is such a dynamic character in Six of Crows and I like how his exceptionality is represented well in the book. Additionally, Wylan has a learning disability that leaves him unable to read. I appreciated how Wylan’s learning disability wasn’t used as “quirk,” but instead impacted his relationship to others and the plot.

Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio follows Auggie Pullman, a boy with a facial deformity, as he starts his first year in a public school. In this book, Auggie mentions how he went through various surgeries so he could eat and talk. I think my favorite part about this book is how it brings up real conversations not just about Auggie, but how other people react towards people with exceptionalities.

Within this book, parents presume that Auggie must not be “smart enough” to be in the same private school as their child based on the way he looks. Furthermore, numerous students imply that Auggie can’t even name everyday objects (for example, in the trailer when they ask if Auggie knows what an eraser is) based on what they see. I think this book does a great job of promoting presuming competence. If a person has an exceptionality, then you can’t assume what they can or cannot do. Instead, you have to presume comptence, or assume the person can or do understand when they are spoken of and to.

The Great Shelby Holmes (The Great Shelby Holmes, #1)

The Great Shelby Holmes follows Watson, a sixth grader who moves to New York and meets an intelligent girl named Shelby. Watson soon finds himself wrapped up in one of Shelby’s detective cases to help locate a missing dog.

I’ve read both the first and second book in this series and have loved both of them! Additionally, both of the main characters in this book features exceptionalities. Watson has diabetes which greatly impacts his every day life and working on Shelby’s cases (especially in the second book). While diabetes may not always be considered an exceptionality (like many other exceptionalities), it can be depending on the person. Shelby also is considered exceptional because falls under gifted and talented. With such a high IQ, Shelby requires a lot of individualized instruction in school. Additionally, her exceptionality also impacts how she socializes with others and makes it difficult for her to relate to other people her age. Both Watson and Shelby’s exceptionalities greatly impact the plot are delivered authentically.

 

Here are three more books still on my TBR List:

  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree follows Ally, a girl known to be a trouble maker in school. However, she actually uses her disruptive behavior to hide her dyslexia. Then, a new teacher shows her that everyone thinks and learns differently, which opens her world with new possibilities.

About 10% of all children have learning disabilities (that’s about 4.6 million children in the United States alone!), however, I rarely read about children with learning disabilities in books. I’ve heard great reviews of Fish in a Tree, so I can’t wait to read it!

  • Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon

Ginny Moon follows a fourteen-year-old girl with autism who lives with her adoptive parents, Maura and Brian. When Maura gives birth to a new baby, traumatic memories from Ginny’s past resurface and she develops an escape plan.

There are several reasons why I’m excited to read this book. In this book, Ginny narrates the books. In most books that I’ve read that feature characters with autism, the character with autism never actually narrates the story. This story particularly interests me because, like in the story, the book’s author adopted a child with autism. Therefore, I expect the story and the narrator’s voice to be represented authentically.

  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi who has been selectively mute for most of her life. Then, Steffi is assigned to look after a new student, Rhys, who is deaf due to her knowledge of basic sign language. As a result, they develop new ways to communicate with each other.

I’m really excited because both of the main characters in this novel have exceptionalities. I’ve also heard a lot of positive reviews for this book including that both exceptionalities are represented well.

 

What is your favorite book that features characters with exceptionalities?

Windfall Book Review

windfall

I could list a million reasons why I loved this book.

In Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, Alice buys a lottery ticket as an eighteenth birthday present for her friend (and longtime crush), Teddy. Somehow, Teddy wins the lottery and his misfortune after his father left completely changes. However, Alice notices that Teddy changes too, and not for the better. Even though Alice is happy for Teddy, she can’t help but wonder if their relationship will ever be the same again.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Jennifer E. Smith’s books, so I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading Windfall. Fortunately, I really enjoyed Windfall (and the author’s short story in Summer Days and Summer Nights shortly after) and can’t wait to read more books by Jennifer E. Smith!

One of the main reasons that I really loved Windfall was its message. This book really showcases the negative effects of winning the lottery and emphasizes some of the most important parts of our lives: our irreplaceable family and friends. I especially enjoyed one of the final chapters in this book where the author looked out to the other winners (and losers) from the lottery to see how they fared based on their choices.

Smith also does a great job of characterizing the two main characters, Alice and Teddy. While Alice loves to volunteer and wants to make a different in the world, Teddy wants to be popular and well-liked by those around him. However, both characters face a lot of challenges throughout the novel that confront their beliefs and change based on their experiences. As a result, both Alice and Teddy learn a lot from each other and grow tremendously as characters.

When I picked up Windfall, I hoped to enjoy it but didn’t think I would fly through it in one sitting. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a book that features well-developed characters and a positive message. I give Windfall five out of five stars.