Monday, February 27, 2017

AURA IN LALALAND BY SKYE GRACE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Aura in LaLaLand by Skye Grace. Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Unfortunately, I could not finish this book.

I wanted to love this book - I really did. There were all the makings of a great story, I just couldn't get into it.

The story basically follows Aura, first just before her seventeenth birthday, and then the story jumps 13 Going on 30 style to her 26th birthday.

In this time, Aura has gone from slightly annoying, but otherwise decent 16 year old to a mean, name calling TV star a decade later. I couldn't tell you why she jumped to that age, or if she ends up back at 17 because I didn't make it that far.

I think the biggest problem I had with this book was the writing style. The perspective itself is in third person present tense, which threw me for a bit of a loop. I think third person has its uses, but this story would have been easier to get into in first person. The storyline is hard enough to get into without the added barrier of third person narration. I also felt like the present tense was a strange choice, I'm okay with it, but I think with the third person it created a narrative that was hard to follow. I found there was a lot of description of things, telling what was happening and not a lot of showing. This writing style makes it difficult to get into any story.

I was excited for the Alice in Wonderland twist the story promised, but in the parts that I had read, there wasn't much more than a themed party and a platter of tarts. Perhaps the rest of the story will include further references to emphasize the AiW elements.

There was a lot of fandom references, some of which I got (I loved the Supernatural-esque show) and others went right over my head. I think part of the problem was I didn't know what year either of the storylines was set in, the later one apparently had DVDs instead of tapes, so I'm guessing early 2000s but I'm not sure.

Overall, the idea for this book was good, but I think there were some errors in the narrative style that made it difficult to read.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

UP IN FLAMES BY ABBI GLINES - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is the final book in the Rosemary Beach series, Up In Flames by Abbi Glines.


Well, this was the final book in the Rosemary Beach series - and the formula got shook up a bit.

Somewhere along the line, I went from enjoyed these books to being bored by the structure. So when I started this final book, I was excited to see that this one seemed to break that mold a bit.

The story starts off different than the others - Nan was standing up for herself. And you know, in the other books, Nan is painted as a villain. Which I get, she was not a nice person to many of the girls throughout the series. But this book felt less like an explanation for that behaviour and more like a different person who was strong but not as mean as she had been in the past. And maybe that's just her growth over the series. She outgrew her pettiness and gotten rid of her anger towards the women who stole the men in her life from her. I appreciated this new Nan - but I'm not sure about the explanation as to her changes.

Nan's romance involves two men, Major and Gannon. And to be honest, I wasn't a fan of either of them. I think part of the problem Nan faces is that she is on a higher level than the men of Rosemary Beach. And not in a negative way at all. It's just who she is. She's above all the hyper-masculine macho-man drama that is apparently pumped through the water at the club. So that takes out Major. He is a born-and-bred playboy who is not good enough for Nan. That leaves Gannon - and without spoiling things - he's not worthy of her either. I think my biggest problem with their relationship was that I finally thought Nan would rise above the formula - reform a manly man, unexpected pregnancy, quick marriage due to said pregnancy and "feelings," and then happily ever after. I thought if anyone could leave this series without a man/baby/marriage, it would be Nan. Because she is a strong, independent woman who doesn't need a (Rosemary Beach) man to make her into her best self. Sure, she has flaws, but at least she is able to live her life.

And I think this was my major problem with this book. There was an opportunity for Nan to be whoever she wanted to be, to go against the grain, as she has been her whole life, for one more time, and that opportunity was missed. She became a Blaire, or a Harlowe, just like she thought she wanted. But I don't see that life for Nan. She deserved better than what Rosemary Beach could offer her, and she knew it. I struggled with the love triangle because it didn't really feel like there was a lot of love. Major, as far as I could tell, didn't really love her that much and was mostly just using her for a job (I still don't fully understand the whole story here - a drug lord? Who were they trying to find?) and with Gannon, it was all lust.

I also thought that this book would be like Until the End in the Sea Breeze series, where we could see all the couples/children together one last time. There was a little bit of that but not to the scale I wanted for a series finale book. I guess we'll see more of it in the spin-off series?

Overall, this series had it's ups and downs for me, and I enjoyed many of the books, but I felt like this one needed more.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

DREAMLAND BURNING BY JENNIFER LATHAM - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review - today it is Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. Thank you so much to Hachette Books Canada for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


THIS BOOK DESERVES ALL OF THE STARS!

I knew from page 4 that this book was going to be phenomenal - and I was right.

The story is told in two halves. The first is from William, a bi-racial boy living in 1921 Tulsa during the 'race riot.' His father is white, and his mother is Native American - this creates a whole other tension for Will throughout the story and also adds another layer of history to the story. This timeline shows extreme racism, discrimination, and hate against African-Americans. His story depicts the community of Greenwood, culminating with the burning of the town, and the Dreamland theatre (hence the title).

The other perspective is of seventeen year old Rowan, a bi-racial girl living in modern day Tulsa. Her mother is African-American and her father is white, giving insight to racism in today's world. Rowan's family decides to renovate the servant's quarters in their home and they find a body hidden underneath the floorboards. No one knows who it is, but the coins in the man's wallet suggest that he was alive sometime around 1921 - right around the time of the conflict. Between trying to figure out the identity of the body, Rowan experiences racial tensions her parents have tried to shield her from when she ends up getting a summer job at a walk-in clinic in a poor part of town.

I also loved how Rowan's best friend, James, is asexual. It wasn't a major thing, but I'm not sure I can name a book with an asexual character in it. All of the major characters, in both timelines, were extremely well fleshed out. They stood out as real, independent characters. I especially loved the development of Will's character over the course of the novel.

This book is just so important, both in discussing issues still faced today, and what we are to do with the teachings of history. I'm not sure how many people know the story of the riots - I know I didn't. I think a lot of people look back on the 1920s as a glorified time - the Roaring Twenties and all that. But this book shows some of the darker times of this decade, not just flappers, parties and Gatsby.

I really enjoyed James and Rowan's detective/research - I've become more and more interested in research and discovering things otherwise lost in the past and when they were looking things up online and meeting with people who were around when things happened, I got really excited.

You could tell that Latham had really done a lot of research before telling this story - it's a difficult story to tell, but one that definitely needs to be told. As a Canadian, I had not heard of the events in Tulsa, but the story is still so important. Latham discusses the issue of racism and hate crimes with humility and tact, creating a story that was difficult to read at times but never came across in a way that made me question her stance.

The story is filled with suspense and tension, whether it is trying to figure out the mystery of who the body belonged to, what would happen to Will and his friends Joseph and Ruby, or what would happen with Rowan in her life. Latham's writing style sucks you in and holds you by the heartstrings until the bitter end. I kept going back and forth, trying to decide which character was killed and left for decades - thinking I knew who it was at one point and second guessing myself the next chapter.

This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you angry - but most importantly of all - it will make you want to do something. Things have come a long way from this period in time, but there is still a long way to go.

This is the historical fiction you need to push yourself to read. I know a lot of people read the words "historical fiction" and immediately turn away, but this book is so much more. Yes, it addresses problems of the past, but more than anything, it shows the prevalence of these issues still today. I'll leave you with this quote from when I knew I would love this book:

"It was probably quieter a hundred years ago, but that doesn't necessarily mean better. I understand now that history only moves forward in a straight line when we learn from it. Otherwise, it loops past the same mistakes over and over again."

I cannot recommend this book enough!


Monday, February 20, 2017

LIBRARY OF SOULS BY RANSOM RIGGS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today I am reviewing the final book in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs.

Well, I finally finished this book. I'm not sure if it was because I wasn't into it, or if it was just because I had a million other things going on - maybe both.

The story picks up around where book two left off. Emma and Jacob embark on an adventure to save their friends. I don't really want to talk too much about the synopsis because this is book three and I feel like if you've made it this far, you've either read the book already or you've read up to this point in the series and know what's going on.

I think I just want to talk about the series more as a whole, explain my thoughts and feelings overall.

My number one problem with this book/series was the romance between Jacob and Emma. I don't know for what exact reason I wasn't a fan, but I'll give a couple. Firstly, I never really got Emma's age. I mean, yes, she is stuck in her time loop's age, but even in the first book, I always felt like she was a little kid, like 10-11, 12 max. And that just kinda felt weird with Jacob being 16. Know, I know she's supposed to be older and technically, she's hundreds of years older than him, but I always pictured her as a child, so any romantic interactions with Jacob weirded me out. Secondly, I wasn't really a fan of the idea that she was like the love of Jacob's grandfather's life and then moved on to Jacob. There's dating your friends ex, but dating your grandpa's ex - it just felt weird to read. I don't know how that would be for her, dating one guy, and then decades later, meeting his grandson and having feelings for him. I think part of my problem with this aspect is I was never sure if she liked Jacob for who he was, or because he reminded him of Abe. Finally, I just felt like this book had so much going on, a romance was unnecessary and just too much sometimes. There were so many adventures and secrets and stories that the romance just felt a little random.

The story itself, I enjoyed. I thought this was a good book to conclude the stories - and it also set up the desire for a real book of the Tales of the Peculiar. There was a lot more references to it in this book, and now I want to go out and pick up a copy. I liked how everything ended, it was well wrapped up with what happens next for Jacob's life.

I think I genuinely did like this trilogy, but it is so unlike anything I've read before, it took me a while to recognize that I liked it as much as I did.

This book does take a bit to get into, and I believe it is a bit longer than the other two - you could definitely tell in the first half that there were more pages as it dragged a little bit. Part of the problem with might be because the chapters were a good 50 pages each, so if you wanted to "finish off the chapter" you were in it for a while.

The pictures, as always, were an interesting addition to the plot. I did find myself wondering a couple times if they were written into the story, or if the story was written so well that they just happened to fit in. Some seemed a little strange to add - they were a bit of a filler with a very quick, minor sub-story that didn't add a lot to the overall story but were still included. Sometimes the story felt stretched to fit the photos, which for me, felt like it defeated the purpose. In the other books, the photos felt hand-chosen for the story. However, many of the photos in this book seemed as though they were found, deemed interesting and (often poorly) worked in.

Looking at this review, I feel like I'm giving an impression that I didn't like this book/series. And that's not true - I really did. However, I think I'm picking up more of the more negative aspects to talk about. I did enjoy this series and I think it is a unique story.

Overall, an interesting series if you are looking for something a little different.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

NEVER NEVER BY COLLEEN HOOVER AND TARRYN FISHER - SERIES REVIEW

Hello everyone!

Today I am doing a slightly different review, instead of reviewing one book, I will be reviewing a whole series. If you are familiar with the Never Never series written in three parts by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher, you will know that there are three books, about 150 pages in length. As this is such a short series, and because each book pretty much leaves off on a cliffhanger once the story starts going, I figured I would do a review of the series as a whole.

Before I get into the review, I just want you to be forewarned, if you haven't completed the entire trilogy, this review will contain spoilers - and nobody wants to be spoiled in a thriller series!


In Never Never: Part One, we are introduced to the characters, Charlie and Silas. Neither can remember anything before a moment in their history class that morning and neither is sure if the other is experiencing the same thing. Certain things come to light, and the couple begins to wonder if they are still together, or broken up. Sila's dad hates Charlie - apparently, he and her dad used to work together at a financial company. Everything is all a blur and Charlie and Silas are trying to navigate the best they can.

This brings us to the end of the novel, where Silas finds a letter they mailed to themselves a few days ago, in case they forgot everything again. He's running out of time, but he writes one last important detail down - that he has to find Charlie.

I think overall, I enjoyed this book, not a lot happened, but that was mainly because the stage was being set. Now that Silas has that information, he will remember things so we don't have to go through the process of finding them out again.

In Never Never: Part Two, things pick up pretty much where they left off. Silas "wakes up" confused and upon reading the letters figures out that Charlie is missing. After a little bit of back and forth at school with Silas trying to figure out what is going on, he ends up ditching school, practice, and the big game. He confides in his brother and they set out to find Charlie. Meanwhile, Charlie wakes up in what appears to be a hospital where she is confined and alone.

At the end of the novel, Silas finds Charlie and they get ready to reset again.

I think I definitely liked this book better than the first one, there was more happening and the plot started to pick up with some things coming to light. I am excited for the next book to see what is actually going on.

In the final book, Never Never: Part Three, the story picked up right where things left off, Silas and Charlie waking up again not remembering anything - except Silas could remember the last few days. There was a visit to Charlie's dad in prison and some new things came to light with The Shrimp, but I think some things weren't explained as fully as they needed to be; I think there was more to explore here.

Overall, I'm not really too sure what to say about this book. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, the reasoning behind the repeated amnesia, it was explained, but I felt like it was a weird explanation. And then that epilogue, I can't believe that - it was almost like it needed to happen again to justify it happening the first time.

As a whole, I enjoyed this series, but I think the biggest downfall is the ending, the reasoning behind why they lost their memories. I just felt like that was a bit cheesy, especially coming from two authors who write darker romances.

I think as a series, this one started good, but the ending was a bit of a letdown.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

THE LOST WOMAN BY SARA BLAEDEL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel. Thanks so much to Hachette and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC for review. As always, all opinions are my own.



I've been wanting to get back into thriller/crime novels, and I was hoping that this one would do the trick. Unfortunately, while I liked it, I didn't love it.

Basically, the story follows Louise, a detective in Denmark. Her partner and boyfriend, Eik, disappear one day, not answering his phone and taking out a large sum of money from the bank. Eventually, Louise finds him in England, he was listed as next-of-kin for a woman who was recently shot and killed through her kitchen window while making dinner. It soon comes to light that the woman was Eik's girlfriend who went missing eighteen years ago. What's more is that since her murder, other deaths have been popping up in Denmark using the same rifle.

I won't say much else because then it wouldn't be a mystery!

The book also deals assisted suicide. While such a practice is legal in some parts of the continent, Denmark is not one of them. I think it was really interesting to see the background of how people are chosen, if they are in the right state of mind, terminally ill, etc. There was also opposing opinions, how it is morally and ethically wrong to choose. I think it was worked well into the story, there wasn't really any random croppings up of it, you'll understand if you read the story.

I did find the story a little predictable, I figured about Steph and once one of the individuals was described, I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was. It didn't take away too much from the story, but I did find it made it a little tedious.

I also felt like there wasn't a great connection between the reader and the characters, but to be realistic, this is the ninth book in the series, but the first I have read. So there might be some better connections built in the earlier novels. I'm not sure I would go back and pick up the first eight books, not because I don't think they are worth it, I'm just not sure I enjoyed this story enough to have the commitment to get all these books.

I felt like some things could have been fleshed out a bit more, why Sofie left when she did, some more personal details with Louise and Eik. I guess these things might be been in previous books, but I just feel like some of the details are missing.

Overall, not terrible, but not a favourite.


Monday, February 6, 2017

A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL BY ERIC LINDSTROM - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom. Thanks so much to Hachette Books Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


If you've been around for a little while, you will know that I am deeply fascinated by books on mental illness, especially those that are typically more severely symptomized, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I want to say that this was my first book with a character who had bipolar disorder - and I really enjoyed it.

The story follows sixteen-year-old Mel, a girl who, in the last year has lost her brother, had her parents divorce, moved to a new town a hundred miles from where she grew up, lost the friends she made when she first moved, oh, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Yup.

There is some background drama at the beginning of the book, which isn't really addressed until later, but for the most part, this story is about Mel's day to day life. How she copes, how she is feeling - some days are better than others, etc.

Obviously, a very central element of this book is Mel's mental illness. If you didn't know, bipolar disorder is hereditary, and we see Mel's aunt Joan's battle with her own cycles, as well as Mel's older brother, Nolan, who is dead but previously dealt with the same illness. I don't have bipolar disorder, nor do I know anyone close to me that struggles with it, so I can't really comment on the validity of the portrayal, but I think Lindstrom did a very good job of making Mel's life believable, but not romanticized; something we often see with depictions of mental illnesses.

I really appreciated the fact that the story begins after Mel has been diagnosed, I find a lot of mental illness books start before the character knows what is going on, and I thought this was a refreshing take. It also underlined the fact that those with illnesses such as Mel's can lead an extremely normal life. While it is acknowledged that medication doesn't work for everyone, Mel is consistent with taking hers, even when her aunt tries to tell her it clouds the 'real' Mel and that she should stop.

The novel also touches on others reactions to mental illnesses, showing both positive and negative ones, which I thought helped encompass real life reactions - some people are willing to help and are more understanding, and others see mental illness as something less than such. I appreciated that Lindstrom included criticisms because not everyone is as accepting as others.

In addition, Lindstrom tackles sexuality in this novel as well. Mel's friend Zumi is a closeted lesbian and Mel herself - during some periods of mania - engages in bisexual behaviour. Lindstrom does a good job explaining this as well through the psychiatrists, and really helped open my eyes, especially to a deeper understanding of bisexuality and the spectrum in which individuals can fall.

There was a little bit of romance within this book, but it definitely didn't take away from the deeper issues. It was just a way to lighten the mood a bit and create another layer of support for Mel.

There were some downsides to this book as well, I thought we could have done without some of the drama with Annie/Zumi/Connor, but I still enjoyed the story as a whole.

Overall, a great story about mental illness and self-acceptance.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

ROMEO AND WHAT'S HER NAME BY SHANI PETROFF - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Romeo and What's Her Name by Shani Petroff. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for providing me with an eARC for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I got exactly what I thought I would out of this book, so I suppose I can't be too disappointed, but I just had higher hopes.

This story follows Emily, a girl with a major crush. After her crush, Wes, signs up for the lead in a small scene production of Romeo & Juliet, she decides to be his Juliet. Except she ends up as the understudy - the real Juliet, Amanda, is the typical mean girl/boy stealer. Emily is just happy to be around Wes and is too busy running around doing Amanda's errands to actually learn the lines. Which is fine, because Amanda will perform no matter what. The only thing that can stop her is an emergency appendicitis - forcing Emily to hit the stage.

I went into this book knowing it was going to be a super light, fluffy contemporary romance. And even though that is exactly what I got, I still felt like it was a little bit disappointing.

Emily as a character wasn't my favourite, she was so in love with Wes she had zero backbone. She couldn't even talk to him without babbling on. Now, the first couple times, this was cute. But after a while, I was genuinely concerned for her mental well-being. He looked at her and she literally melted into a puddle. I'm okay with some lovestruck MC, but Emily took the cake with this one. She also felt really young to me. Like I was reading a middle grade instead of a story about a sixteen-year-old. Her thoughts weren't much more than her gushing about one thing or another and it got a little annoying.

I also felt zero connection between the two of them. Apparently, she's had a crush on Wes since they were little, growing up on the same street. But I felt nothing other than infatuation and obsession.

I know very little about Wes, in fact, I don't think any of the characters were fleshed out at all. I get it's supposed to be a fun read but I was just not connecting to it at all.

The story was predictable, I figured it would be going in. I'm not too upset about that. But I just feel like there was so much more potential in this story.

Take the whole Shakespeare element. Yes, it wasn't a huge part of the story, but I think it was an important one. The characters, especially Emily, seemed to know nothing about arguably one of his most recognizable plays. While he uses language that is different from our every day, it was common then and served its purpose. And the lines were written in iambic pentameter to have a certain rhythm. He made up some words, but for the most part, they were used regularly. Emily seemed to have no concept of any of this, declaring that it was in a different language and made up her own version. I didn't want to play the English major card, but you cannot just add -eth to the ends of words to make them Shakespearean. But I digress.

Is it too much to ask for a romance where the couple plays the parts of Romeo and Juliet and aren't bumbling lovesick teens? This is the second book like this I've read and each time I thought there was something better to be had.

Everything about this book was just too much. She was too mushy, too infatuated. Amanda was too mean, her friends were too supportive (I'm all for a good friendship but this group was almost sickly sweet). I knew it would be cheesy, but it was too cheesy - to the point of annoyance. It was all just too much.

Overall, in case it wasn't clear, not a favourite.


Friday, February 3, 2017

THE WINNER'S KISS BY MARIE RUTKOSKI - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. This is the final book in the Winner's Trilogy and I was so excited to read it!


In keeping with my goal this year of finishing off my started series, I was excited to see how Arin and Kestrel's story would end. It's been a little while since I've read the first and second books, but I think Rutkoski did a good job of recapping the important details from the previous books.

The story picks up around where it left off, Arin working to lead his forces against the Valorians and Kestrel is being taken away to the mines at the order of her father after intercepting a letter from her to Arin explaining everything that happened. The story just kind of goes from there, with the battles between the Herrani and Valorian forces.

In taking a break from these series, I definitely forgot how much I loved the first books. Kestrel is such a strong character and her relationship with Arin is so adorable. There are plenty of super cute moments between the two in this book, despite the tension between them and the threat of war.

I want to talk briefly about this novel's portrayal of the value of life. I think with all the dystopian/over-throw/rebellion novels I've read in the past two years, I've become numb to the amount of bloodshed and loss of life within them. It's at the point where when there is a battle between two sides, it's hard to recognize that there are real people with families and people who love them fighting on both sides, not just the 'good side.' This book definitely touched on this aspect quite a bit throughout the story, from Kestrel not being able to kill those who are keeping her captive when she gets the opportunity to escape, to Arin not being able to kill the one person he had been trying to kill since before everything started. This wasn't a pronounced element of the book, but it was noticeable enough to pick up on. And I think it's an important reminder, especially when we've grow desensitized to such actions in novels.

I also really loved Kestrel - all throughout the series, but especially in this book. She is such a smart character - it was nice to see a "strong heroine" who isn't necessarily physically strong, but mentally extremely strategic. I loved the little parts where she helped figure out what to do next and where to send the troops; it floored me how intelligent in battle she was. And then this element of her character was contrasted with her holding a sword in the middle of the battle not having a clue what to do - it was refreshing!

Once again, Rutkoski's writing style sucks you in, the chapters were just long enough to keep me interested, but short enough that I kept reading "one more" before putting it down to do something else. She weaves the story beautifully, alternating between third-person perspectives of Arin and Kestrel, showing sometimes only half the battle, and creating tension about the other half.

I really enjoyed this book overall, but if I was to nit-pick, I wasn't crazy about the pacing. For me, it felt a touch too slow at times, but Rutkoski's writing style is so beautiful it almost isn't an issue. I just found towards the end, there were one too many battles, I think I would have been okay with one large one, or even two medium ones, instead of three smaller battles. But that didn't kill the novel for me, that's just being picky.

I wasn't crazy about the ending, not necessarily what happened but the general way it felt tacked on after such a momentous battle for victory. I mean, it answered all the questions I had, but I just felt like it could have been more.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this trilogy and I look forward to reading more from Rutkoski!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

THE SKY BETWEEN YOU AND ME BY CATHERINE ALENE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.


**TRIGGER WARNING: Before I get into this review, I just want to say that this book deals with eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa, and I will be discussing these elements throughout the review.**

I want to talk about the way this story is told first because it was very different from the usual books I read. It is written in verse, so even though it is almost 5oo pages, I read it in a couple hours. The writing is, of course, very lyrical. I don't think I have ever read a novel told in verse before but I really enjoyed this unique element, as well as the way it was paired with a topic of this severity. I think that with issues such as eating disorders and other mental illnesses, the way a story is told makes a great difference to how it is perceived.

The story itself focuses on Raesha or Rae for short. She is a horseback rider who wants to compete in Nationals - and she's good, but not as good as she thinks she could be, not as good as her mom was. Rae struggles with balancing her passion for riding and living up to her mother's memory. She died after complications with cancer treatment, and Rae blames herself for not seeing that something was wrong.

A lot of elements go into Rae's inability to eat, the fact that if she loses a little more weight she'll improve their competition time and win, she doesn't think she deserves it, after what happened with her mom, her boyfriend is getting friendly with another girl, so she must not be enough. All these little elements of environment, trauma, grief - cumulate into a storm of despair.

My heart broke over and over again for Rae. She struggled to see that she was enough - for her dad, for her friends, for herself. And no matter what she did, she couldn't stop thinking about how many grams of fat, sugar - anything - was in the mouthful of lemonade she accidently swallowed when she was expecting water.

I'm by no means an expert in eating disorders, so I can't really speak to the author's portrayal of the disease in terms of accuracy, but I will definitely say that there is no worry of romanticization of mental illnesses we sometimes see in YA. Rae struggles so much, none of this was fun or idealized - it was raw and heartbreaking. In the author's note, Alene talks about her own struggles with anorexia, the ongoing battle she faces. But before I even read this, I knew she had to have a personal relationship with the illness. You can tell she has an intimate experience with what her character goes through, it really shows through her depiction.

I think the hardest part for me to read about in this novel was just before the people around Rae do something about her disorder - when she is at her darkest and she doesn't know what to do. Her friends aren't sure if they should turn a blind eye, or help, and her father is too busy to notice. But there is a moment that changes everything when everyone finally decides something needs to be done to help Rae. The part where Rae and her dad eat a cheese sandwich together wrecked me like no other scene has.

This wasn't a perfect book, it had its flaws - but it is a book I will never forget, and for that, I am forever grateful.