ARC Review: Where You’ll Find Me

Where You'll Find

  • Original Title: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend
  • Edition: Advance Reader’s Edition Paperback, 266 pages
  • Published: March 8, 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Characters: Anna Collette, Frances Collette, Marnie Collette, David Collette, Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker, Sarabeth the Irish Stepper
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Goodreads

Description: In this powerful and buoyant YA novel, a thirteen-year-old girl learns to navigate the shifting loyalties of friendships in middle school and deals with challenges at home.

The beginning of the eighth grade is not what Anna thought it would be. Her lifelong best friend has ditched her for the cool kids, and her mom is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Anna finds herself where she least expects to: living with her dad, his young new wife, and their baby, and starting a new year at school without a best friend. With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna learns that sometimes you find what you need to pull you through in the most unlikely places.


I received this Advance Reader’s Edition as a prize from Alexa Loves Books.

Okay, I don’t typically enjoy middle grade books because the writing is usually too simplistic, so I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about this book when I read the synopsis and saw that Anna was only 13 years old, but surprisingly, I really, really enjoyed this story! The main protagonist, Anna Collette, is mature for her age but not unbelievably so. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age, a little more mature than the people around me, intelligent but unmotivated and distracted, and sarcastic as f**k (that last bit hasn’t changed much). Additionally, I was very close to Anna’s age when my mom was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I have that personal text-to-self connection to Anna and I truly relate to her struggle. I think Natasha Friend did an excellent job representing what it feels like to be that age and process those emotions. There’s a few paragraphs in the advanced reader’s edition that compare her mother to a burner control knob. It sounds silly out of context, but I thought that the comparison was very powerful and accurate…

If my mother had a burner control knob, I could set her however I wanted. If, say, she started staying up too late, watching QVC and ordering a bunch of wine glass necklaces, I could turn her down to 6. If I found her in the bathtub with a washcloth over her face, listening to Anatevka on her boom box, I’d turn her up to 4. Talking too fast? Down a notch. Monotone voice? Up a notch.

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Book Review: Dorothy Must Die

Dorothy Must Die

  • Original Title: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  • Edition: Hardcover, 452 pages
  • Published: April 1, 2014 by HarperCollins
  • Characters: Amy Gumm, Nox, Gamora, Gert, Dorothy Gale
  • Rating: 3/5

Description: I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

So, I was drawn to Dorothy Must Die solely because of the premise. I am a huge fan of retellings and I’m a fan of The Wizard of Oz, so this book was a definite must read. It did not dissappoint!

Amy Gumm is the primary character in this story, and she wishes to escape from her poor, sad life in Kansas. When a tornado comes, her wish is granted and she’s transported to Oz, but it’s very different from the Oz we all know and love. As Amy explores this new and wicked Oz, she discovers all the horrors imposed by Dorothy, who returned to Oz and usurped the status quo. Soon Amy meets the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a group of once wicked witches who have banned together to fight Dorothy and restore the balance to Oz.

I admit that the first few chapters were not very engaging, but I did give Danielle Paige a pass because this is her debut novel and creative writing is very different from her background of screen writing. Sometimes the writing is a bit bland, but the actual story is entertaining and interesting enough to ignore some minor flaws. The story moves along at an acceptable pace and there’s plenty of action, suspense, and drama to satisfy. While there’s a twinge of romance, it’s not the primary focus and it definitely doesn’t define our heroine.

I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The Wicked Will Rise. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a little twist on a classic.

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Book Review: Ignite Me

Ignite Me

Description: With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

I am so conflicted. I feel like 3 stars is a lie, but I really, really liked the last 50-60 pages or so. It was a strong finish to an otherwise insufferable series.  Those last few amazing chapters don’t make up for how tortured I felt reading the other 350 pages of Juliette now agonizing over her feelings for Warner or her drawn out speeches about how she didn’t really love Adam after all and how she’s changed so much. It doesn’t make up for two previous books of waiting for something amazing to finally happen. (I felt compelled to finish the series once I started. It wasn’t unbearable–just enough for me to hate myself a little bit more every time I turned the page, but not enough to make me quit.) It infuriates me that this is such an amazing premise, and when there was action, it was GOOD action, but it was so few and far between. All of the characters had amazing powers that were rarely seen. The scene in the courtyard was spectacular!  I can’t wait to see that in the inevitable film or TV series this will become.  But why was there not more of that in this whole series? Why was Juliette such an unlikeable heroine?  I’m also confused about the timeline. I gave Juliette a lot of concessions because I thought she’d been locked in asylum for years. It was only 274 days? Really? The whole world had come undone in less than a year? And why was Warner more appealing as a villain than a hero? He was my favorite, and quickly became unlikeable too…though that might be just through his association with Juliette. And even as hurt and angry as he was supposed to be, it was totally out of character for Adam to be so hateful, verbally abusive, and possessive.

Reviews for previous titles in the series:

  • Original Title: Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)
  • Edition: Paperback, 338 pages
  • Published: November 15, 2011 by HarperCollins
  • Rating: 2/5

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

  • Original Title: Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)
  • Edition: Paperback, 461 pages
  • Published: February 5, 2013 by HarperCollins
  • Rating: 3/5

Juliette is still haunted by her deadly touch. But now that she has teamed up with other rebels with powers of their own, she’ll be able to fight back against The Reestablishment to save her broken world. With the help of these new allies, she’ll also finally learn the secret behind Adam’s—and Warner’s—immunity to her killer skin.

This is my most unpopular opinion to date, but I didn’t enjoy Shatter Me and Unravel Me. (I haven’t read Ignite Me yet.) Yes, Unravel Me was better as everyone suggested, but only marginally. The biggest complaint I have with the books is Tahereh Mafi’s writing style. I applaud the fact that she’s trying to do something new (compared to other current young adult authors), but it really is overkill. Some of her similes and metaphors don’t even make sense. And Lord knows if I have to read about the color of Adam’s eyes again, I’m going to throw the whole series in the trash! Also, I know the timeline has been several months, but Juliette is showing no signs of being less irritating or self-involved. I understand that she’s been locked away, alone, and untouched all her life, but there’s a war happening yet all she can think about is her love life? Warner is my saving grace in this series. I find any chapter with him is very entertaining. Overall, I like the story. I would love this series if it was more well written, with less focus on the “love” story, and some legit character development for Juliette.

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Book Review: Carry On

  • Original Title: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • Edition: Hardcover, 522 pages
  • Published: October 6th 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Characters: Simon Snow, Baz Pitch, Penelope, Agatha
  • Rating: 5/5

Description: Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

Ugh. Just finished Carry On. 5 FREAKING STARS. I never give books 5 stars! Never. Check my Goodreads. lmfao I’ve never even given another Rainbow Rowell book 5 stars and anyone following me for longer than a day knows how much I love her. I can’t. I mean, you have all the things that make Rainbow amazing–her characters are just always so amazing. Not perfect in anyway, even a little bit annoying, but you love them anyway. Okay. But then you add just a touch of magic, little bit of fantasy, a dragon fight, and boys kissing and I’m sold. And the meta! To be honest, that’s what really hooked me–a fictional book about fictional characters in another fictional book based on fictional characters. That rabbit hole is even deeper. I mean… I’m just. I don’t even know what I can read next that will fill this void.

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