The Lost Causes novel

The Lost Causes: Not Cliche, Super-powered Teens

The Lost Causes by Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz

Published by Kids Can Press, expected September 2017

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 344

The Lost Causes has so many of my favorite tropes wrapped up in one book. I’m such a sucker for ensemble casts, like three or more main characters and I’m in. I love teen powers as long as it’s not “This one kid is the chosen one!” And I love friendship stories, especially unlikely friendships! This book doesn’t disappoint.

 

The Lost Causes Novel

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

They’re the kids that no one knows — or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they’re out of other options. They’re lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal. 

There’s only one problem. She’s not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power. 

Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price. 
Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover. 

But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm’s way and makes them wonder who — if anyone — they can trust.

The Lost Causes nvel

Are so fun! This to me has a Heroes vibe (before the show became unbearable), or even more accurately, Misfits (also before it became unbearable). I LOVED Misfits, and this is like a book version of that! So cute.

I also think the powers given to the kids are cool. I was surprised by one being able to see ghosts, for example. It seems almost out of place, even for a story about kids with powers. But I think it works really, really well here.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Are so great. I love them all. Each of the five self-titled “Lost Causes” has their own distinct background and reason for being a kid whose parents have given up on them.

I thought the kids would blend together, or become too much like set archetypes, but they all broke the mold pretty quickly! I knew their names/backstories/powers within the first few chapters, which for me says a lot because I have trouble keeping it straight with ensemble casts unless everyone is really different.

The teens feel so realistic. They often behave in annoying but so teenager-y ways and I love it.

I rooted for both romances in the story, even squealing out loud when one came to fruition.

I LOVE stories about friendship, and I especially adore stories about unlikely friendships. It’s my favorite thing about shows like Misfits, and it was what saved One Of Us Is Lying for me. Here, I really enjoyed watching the kids get to know each other. There isn’t cattiness or jealousy among the girls, because they’ve wanted a friend so badly and now they have each other. I love it.

Also worth noting, especially the farther we go along, we get a humanization of the villains, and I always find that so spectacular. I love having an antagonist I simultaneously hate and feel bad for.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

The pacing is spot on. I started the book this morning and finished this afternoon, taking breaks here and there to play with my dog and talk to my kiddo, but the book was never far away, and I would have been truly disappointed if I’d had to walk away from it for any prolonged time today. The kids really draw you in, and the plot unfolding holds interest.

I think the powers are written really well, especially the ghost scenes which are nice and creepy! I would have been freaked out if I’d been reading at night, and that’s really all I want from a ghost scene.

The end was tied up a little too neatly for me, but then the last few sentences are a cliffhanger so yay! I would love to read another in this series.

The Lost Causes novel

Is really cool, I didn’t see it coming. Really, it’s a series of twists and turns and it’s so delightfully unsettling. I love not knowing who to trust, and I love that for the last third or so of the book, I was totally out of my element with no idea what to expect!

And the cliffhanger especially, oh boy. I am so stoked for whatever is coming.

Is that considering I didn’t know what to expect (books like this can really, really go either way), I really enjoyed this! I read it more-or-less in one sitting.

Also, it’s not important to me, but it may be to you, this is a decently clean read for a YA about misfits. No cursing, no sex. There is some reference to drug use, but only very early on.

The Lost Causes novel

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/balloon animal artist. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



 

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

These Things I’ve Done: My Favorite Contemporary of 2017

These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips

Published by HarperTeen; scheduled for August 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 352

So much of how I feel can be summarized into one thought:

It is really special when a book tells you from the very beginning exactly what’s going to happen, and still makes you cry when it happens.

These Things I’ve Done ends the first chapter by telling you exactly what part Dara played in Aubrey’s death, and still, reading about it killed me. In the best way possible.

This book is so. Damn. Good. Y’all!

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

All the Wrong Chords Book

Before:
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.

After:
It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn’t half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, every day. Not just because he’s a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she’s betraying her best friend one final time.

All the Wrong Chords Book

One thing I find happening more and more as I read more YA is that I shout a lot. Seriously. I yell, probably two or three times a week, “TEENAGERS DON’T ACT LIKE THIS!”

Part of the magic of These Things I’ve Done is that Dara, our narrator, acts exactly how a kid in her position would. Now, I haven’t been in her situation. But her grief feels so real and natural and I was pulled right in. I felt it with her, and that’s what I need from a narrator. Dara isn’t always exactly likable, which to me is perfect, because who the hell would be? It’s just such a perfect depiction of pain and regret.

Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, is so great. He’s a perfect balance to Dara, because while he’s suffering the same loss, he chooses to handle it the exact opposite way. Their interactions are beautiful, in both the After and Before timelines.

We also get a lot of fun secondary characters like the members of Ethan’s band, who provide some lighter pages, which I love. I love a book that’s sad and then funny and then oh now it’s sad again but then look some comic relief and oh now I’m crying. Dara’s parents and brother, both together and individually, have their own character arcs so that’s wonderful.

I will say between Dara and Aubrey there’s some of that thing I hate where two main female characters deal with jealousy because one is prettier than the other, but it didn’t drive me nearly as crazy here because Dara isn’t particularly annoying about it.

All the Wrong Chords Book

Is gorgeous! I don’t say this often, but I feel here that every word is necessary. It’s never overly flowery, never the kind of rambling that makes me accidentally skip lines. It’s clear and concise but totally beautiful.

The chapters alternate between a current and past timeline. In the current, Dara has just moved back home after a year away following Aubrey’s death. In the past timeline, we watch the relationship between Dara and Aubrey adjust to Aubrey’s new boyfriend. We also get to get a feel for the dynamics between Aubrey and Ethan, and Dara and Ethan, before the incident. I tend to be really critical of alternating timelines, as it can go horribly awry, but it works here. We’re way more affected by Dara and Ethan’s grief because we’ve seen the Before picture.

It starts with a slow burn, building and acclimating you to the world. But about halfway through, it becomes irresistible. At the halfway point, I had to keep reading. The best compliment I can give a book (and its author)!

Me, for most of my free time today ^

Thanks so much to HarperTeen for advanced access to this book in exchange for an honest review!

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/girlfriend/boyfriend/lumberjack. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



All The Wrong Chords book

All the Wrong Chords

All The Wrong Chords by Christine Hurley Deriso

Published by Flux; scheduled for December, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 204 (ebook)

Wellll I broke my streak of super happy reviews, but that’s okay! Three in a row was great, and I’m thankful, and this one is not the end of the world. I think it’s time for another pro/con list!

All the Wrong Chords book

All the Wrong Chords Book

Scarlett Stiles is desperate for a change of scenery after her older brother, Liam, dies of a drug overdose. But spending the summer with her grandfather wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Luckily, Scarlett finds something to keep her busy–a local rock band looking for a guitarist. Even though playing guitar has been hard since Liam died, Scarlett can’t pass on an opportunity like this, and she can’t take her eyes off the band’s hot lead singer either. Is real happiness just around the corner? Or will she always be haunted by her brother’s death?

Pros:

All the Wrong Chords Book

I really liked every secondary character! Scarlett’s grandpa is awesome. Her best friend, Varun, is hilarious and I love their texting throughout the book. Her sister is great, the band members are great. You get it. Everyone is awesome. Except Scarlett, but we’ll get to that in the cons.

All the Wrong Chords Book

Is really easy to get through. It’s not a super long book, and it doesn’t feel like it. It’s a very quick, simple read.

All the Wrong Chords Book

I love any story that works music into it. I really like that Scarlett uses the band to help her with her feelings about her deceased brother.

All the Wrong Chords Book

I think it is portrayed very realistically, though, that said, I haven’t lost anyone as close as a brother to death. Everything associated with grief, like the sense of guilt and the “what if” and the heartbreak, that all felt very natural and realistic to me.

Cons:

All the Wrong Chords Book

Ohhhh Scarlett. I am conflicted, because Scarlett does get better as the book progresses, and her decisions become much better toward the end also. Scarlett has some of my least favorite fiction “girl behavior” though.

  1. Scarlett is endlessly jealous of her sister’s looks/way with guys, though it’s mentioned several times that they’re often mistaken for identical twins?
  2. Scarlett ignores everyone and alienates her friend/sister to try to get closer to a guy who is clearly garbage.
  3. She treats the other band members poorly with the shitty guy, in order to establish some sense of camaraderie.

Her entire relationship (using the term loosely) with Declan is awful and painful and full of red flags she chooses to ignore. Now, I know, teenagers do this. We all choose people who are wrong for us (see 90% of everyone I’ve ever been involved with) but she becomes obsessed with Declan despite his ignoring her to hit on her sister, his constant dgaf attitude about their band, his actively treating her poorly, and his trying to get her to move faster physically than she wants to. NOT OKAY.

Again, people do this. We like the wrong people. But I thought back while reading this to some of my worse relationships, when I was my least rational, and I could at least always say things like:

“Well he’s a really charming alcoholic.”

“I know she’s mean but she’s really funny!”

“Okay yeah he lies a lot but he’s also really brilliant.”

My point is, they had good qualities. I’m sorry, but Declan has zero good qualities. She’s obsessed with him based solely on his looks, and lets it mess up everything for her for more than half the book. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so attracted to someone’s appearance that I’ve been willing to overlook character flaws in EVERY OTHER CATEGORY. Is this a thing? Maybe it’s just me, and please let me know if you’ve ever been so hot for someone that you didn’t care that they had nothing else going for them.

This made it really unrealistic for me, as you can see, and it made it hard for me to connect to Scarlett.

All the Wrong Chords book

So, this quote from Scarlett really upset me:

“I’m being overly critical, right? Of course any normal guy is going to try to push things physically as far as he can. How many dudes are dying to “talk” in the middle of a make out session?”

Ooooookay. So, we have our narrator asserting the idea that a lot of young women have: “normal guys” can’t help themselves around us. They cannot control their impulses. They are mindless, vagina-seeking zombies, who want us for sex and only sex. This line of thinking disrespects everyone. That she attributes his fucked up behavior to his being male infuriates and disgusts me.

Even if she comes around to eventually seeing that Declan was a shit show, she doesn’t ever acknowledge that he put her in a bad situation, where she felt uncomfortable. She made this excuse and many others for the behavior, but never addressed it as a legitimate problem.

We. Cannot. Have. Narrators. We. Like. And. Want. To. Root. For. Contributing. To. Rape. Culture.

This makes me crazy.

 

 



 

 

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute: An Awesome Contribution to the Book World

Contribute (Holo #2) by Kristy Acevedo

Published by Jolly Fish Press; scheduled for July eleventh, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 330

Wow! I finished both books in this series in three days. They are SO good. I also really like that they’re not too long. I’m finding YA books are getting longer and longer, and a lot of it is for no reason? These books are beautifully written and concise and exactly as long as they needed to be.

SO yesterday I wrote my review of Consider, the first book in this series, and you can read that here.

I found these books on accident, and I’m so glad! They broke my streak of bad books. The sequel did not disappoint!

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute novel by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

The holograms lied to everyone on Earth and only Alexandra Lucas knows the truth. Now she’s trapped in the year 2359 without family or friends—worse, without her anxiety medication. Alex attempts to reconcile the marvelous scenery, technological advances, and luxurious living with the knowledge that the holograms weren’t being completely honest—what else are they lying about? With a secret that could shatter her society, Alex tries to find her place among strangers, convicts, and a rebellion striving to bring the holograms down. Alex struggles to find the best way to reveal the truth and reunite with those she loves. But when surrounded by beauty and every convenience, Alex wonders if truth becomes irrelevant in a perfect world.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

It’s almost even unfair to be judging this one as a sequel! It’s honestly like two stand-alone books with familiar characters. And I like that! The first book is way more focused on the everyday life and what’s happening on Earth. Well, when we start the second, Alex is being transported through the vertex to the new planet, the setting of the second novel.

Consider relies heavily on character building, and less on setting. It almost reads like a contemporary or dystopian, with sci-fi elements.

Contribute, though, is full on sci-fi with fantastic world-building and words like magpod and biohologram. It can’t even be compared to the first book, because they are seriously different genres.

I like that! I have never read a two-part series where the two books differ so drastically. The first book left me so raw and emotional and invested in the characters, and the second gave me the action and world-building I need from a sci-fi. I love it so much. I can’t say that enough.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Most characters from Consider are also in Contribute. But other than Alex, the characters from Consider play mostly smaller roles. What’s exciting is that we get a whole new cast of people to love and dislike and count on and be emotional about.

We get another kickass female friendship, this time between Alex and Katherine, a crazy amazing hacker and former convict. We also get a totally innocent, not creepy in the slightest friendship between Alex and Doctor A., an older man. I really, really like odd relationship dynamics, so I dug this one a lot.

I will say that I wasn’t as emotionally invested here. There were some deaths here that, had they happened in the first book, I would have taken a lot harder. But again, the characters weren’t as much the focus of Contribute, and I’m okay with that.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

is gorgeous in a completely different way from the first. The first had me so emotional and obsessed with Alex’s anxiety (the most realistic depiction of the disorder I’ve seen in fiction, as I mentioned in the first review).

The world-building in Contribute is top-notch. I want to draw fan art. I want to journal about this place. This one also had a lot more going on in terms of a fast-paced plot, and some of the twists had me yelling out loud. Here’s a screenshot of my reading update on Goodreads:

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

I wrote “WHAT?!?!” Because I actually yelled “WHAT?!?!” aloud. There is no greater compliment I can give than yelling/speaking/cursing aloud as I read.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Is that there is so much pressure and so many high expectations about a sequel. I ended up giving Contribute four out of five stars. Is that fair? I don’t know. You can see I obviously enjoyed it. I did feel some things were a little rushed at the end, and I can’t describe the feeling I have been left with. It’s possible that discovering a new book you ADORE is an experience that can’t be repeated, so no matter how good the sequel is, it can’t match up. That’s what I’m going with here, because that’s the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with.

I would recommend Consider and Contribute to absolutely everyone!

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/hot-dog vendor. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



 

 

Consider: My Happiest Accident of 2017

Consider (Holo #1) by Kristy Acevedo

Published by Jolly Fish Press in 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 288

Oh my god, y’all! I get to break the streak of bad reviews! Three in a row had really upset me, and I was desperate to find a book I really love to review next. Enter Consider, by Kristy Acevedo!

Funny enough, I found this book on accident. So, I was approved for yet more ARC’s I had forgotten I signed up for. One of which is called Contribute. Now, somehow, when I asked for Contribute on NetGalley, I totally missed that it is a sequel! I hate that, and I am obviously still obligated to read and review it. I have really been craving some sci-fi, so I bought the first book and figured I’d hope for the best. Anyway, this is now perfect timing, because if you haven’t read Consider (and you need to), you can read it before Contribute comes out in July.

Consider novel by Kristy Acevedo

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

As if Alexandra Lucas’ anxiety disorder isn’t enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear from the sky, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: heed the warning and step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet they say is on a collision course with earth. How’s that for senior year stress?

The holograms, claiming to be humans from the future, bring the promise of safety. But without the ability to verify their story, Alex is forced to consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself.

To stay or to go. A decision must be made.

With the deadline of the holograms’ prophecy fast approaching, Alex feels as though she is living on a ticking time bomb, until she discovers it is much, much worse.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

I immediately LOVED this concept. I knew right away that part of the fun would be trying to figure this out. Are the holograms lying? Telling the truth? Is there or isn’t there a comet? Regardless of the comet, would I leave to a world I know nothing about? It is SO fun.

In Consider, the holograms show up, complete with portals (called “vertexes” in the book) and say they will remain there until the comet comes, so people can ask them questions and decide whether to go through. The questions and answers are so great, and it really helps add to the mystery of it all. Some of their answers suck, like that you can’t bring your pets (I’m not going ANYWHERE without Buffy, for serious) . Some sound too good to be true, like that there’s no war. It really makes it more exciting to try to figure out how WE feel, as a reader, about what we would do in their shoes.

I also think it’s worth noting that parts of this fall into the “dystopian” category. Now, I am sick of this fo sho. I don’t typically buy dystopian novels at all, anymore. Especially not in YA, particularly because of the “chosen one” trope, which, you know, no fucking thank you. Dystopian works here for a couple of reasons. One, this is about a normal girl and her life and family. She’s not the chosen one, she can’t save the world, it’s just about her life dealing with the aftermath of the arrival of the holograms. Also, we watch this place’s descent into madness, and it’s slow and realistic. It’s not sudden or crazy and horses don’t eat each other. The bad is gradual, the desperation is palpable, and it’s fantastic.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

Make this SO good, because every character is necessary. How often can you say that?

Alexandra, our narrator, is phenomenal. SO real. Also, she has a significant problem with anxiety, and it is the most accurate portrayal I have ever read. Now, obviously, anxiety is not one-size-fits-all. I can only speak for myself, and I will say that while it is not as bad as Alex’s, I have a significant problem with anxiety as well. Mine happens to be of the same variety as hers, wherein I picture every bad thing that could possibly happen until I’m convinced I’m actually dying. I enjoyed reading about Alex’s attacks, not the least of which because I like to see characters with anxiety and/or depression that are still totally lovable, intelligent, reasonable people. Alex is amazing. I can’t say enough good things about her.

Her relationship with her boyfriend is realistic for their age and situation, which I like. She calls him out when she doesn’t feel he’s treating her anxiety the way he should, which I love, because so many people with anxiety (in my experience) will let people treat them terribly, convinced poor treatment is deserved.

Alex’s relationship with her best friend, Rita, is also wonderful. I LOVE stories about female friendship, and theirs plays a significant role.

Her family. Oh my god. Her dad is one of those characters I absolutely love to hate. I’ve been mentioning, lately, that there are a lot of antagonists that are just boring. Not good, not bad, just blah. I can’t stand feeling meh. I want to love my antagonists (this makes it way more complicated) or I want to reeeeally hate them. Well, I hate Alex’s dad. BUT, I also understand him, and totally see why he is the way he is, and watching his journey is just as exciting as Alex’s. That is awesome.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

is gorgeous. One thing I don’t mention a lot but is really important to me: metaphors. Nothing irritates me more than overuse of metaphors and similes. No matter how good a story is, if there are too many of these, I can’t stand it. Consider has only a few, and they are REALLY GOOD ONES. They’re sticking with me, they are that good.

The pacing is perfect. There are just enough OMG moments and little bits and pieces I didn’t expect. The ending surprised the actual fuck out of me.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

Is that I cannot wait to jump into the second book! I’m also terrified. Is there anything scarier than starting the sequel of a book you really love?? So much pressure. Such high expectations.

I would recommend Consider to everyone!

Here’s a link, if you’d like to purchase Consider on Amazon! It’s definitely worth it!

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/hot-dog vendor. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.

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