Now That You’re Here: A Review

“A boy shows up at my door and sets off a series of events that shatters everything I understand about the universe.

“And my place in it.”

nowthatyourehereDanny has spent his entire life pushing back against the totalitarian restrictions his government has put in place to monitor citizens in the name of law and order. Sometimes that means putting up coded messages in graffiti on city walls. Danny knows that this kind of tagging is dangerous, but he’s also positive that this will be the last time.

Then everything blows up.

When Danny wakes up he is still himself. But not quite. Longer hair, less muscle, and definitely not on the run. Things get even weirder when Danny realizes he recognizes the girl sitting next to him.

Eevee is calm, collected, and knows exactly what she has to do to get the best grades to get into the best college and then get the best job. She doesn’t know anything about Danny or why he seems to think he knows her as anything more than a classmate. She also doesn’t know why this new version of Danny is making her question everything she thought she knew about her life.

Thrown together by the most unlikely of circumstances, Danny and Eevee will have to work together to get Danny back home to his own universe before time runs out in Now that You’re Here (2014) by Amy K. Nichols.

Now That You’re Here is Nichol’s first novel. It is also the first Duplexity book. The second novel, While You Were Gone, will be a mirror image of Now That You’re Here. It is slated for a 2015 release.

Told in alternating chapters by Eevee and Danny, Now That You’re Here is an interesting addition to the sub-genre of alternate universe stories. With action, romance and lots of science, this story is a great introduction to the world of YA science fiction as well as a dramatic story for anyone looking for their next impossible romance.

Nichols populates the story with quirky characters including Eevee’s parents and her best friend Warren. While Nichols makes several nods to diversity with a disabled parent (not seen in this novel but perhaps they will feature more largely in book two) as well as parents who were never marries. Both points were unbelievably welcome and refreshing. Unfortunately an entirely different character is revealed to have no lower legs with no references made to any concessions needed for such a disability (to the point that no one knew this character was disabled and they didn’t even use a cane) which lowered the entire effort to lip service more than actual mindful inclusion.

It’s difficult to judge Now That You’re Here on its own knowing that it is the first part of a duet. Ideally, many of the flaws in this novel will be smoothed over in the second volume. It seems likely that these stories are more a case of one book in two packages rather than two distinct stories. Nonetheless, readers only have one half of the story here which leaves many plot points to develop off page as Danny catches glimpses of his home universe and later explains what is happening to readers.

The development of Eevee and Danny’s relationship is similarly jarring as it lacks a basic foundation and instead escalates to all-out love very quickly. This abrupt shift in both characters’ feelings also makes for some very murky character motivation as the story progresses.

Set in present-day Arizona, Now That You’re Here offers tantalizing hints of an alternate history and what it’s like for Danny to live in his own universe. The dual-narrative structure also offers readers a very faceted view of the story that will likely expand even more when the companion novel is punished. This book is an obvious choice for readers looking for a sweet romance with a lot of action in any genre.

Possible Pairings: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Fair Coin by E. C. Myers, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski,  Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Pivot Point by Kasie West

Dynamic Duos Display (Library Life)

For my December display I decided to be a little more vague with theme so that it could stay up as long as I needed it to. I knew a winter-y display wasn’t going to work with the collection because we don’t have enough winter books that actually stay on the shelves so I decided to go in a completely different direction.

IMG_1755As you can see this display is all about dynamic duos in books (friends or romantic) and was once again made with PicMonkey.

The hardest part here was decided which books to use in the display but I knew I wanted a mix of boys and girls as well as romantic and platonic duos. I also knew that I wanted to be diverse in my selections (you can’t quite tell from the covers but both of the books on the right side have PoC narrators).

After thinking about the books I love I narrowed it down to:

IMG_1756Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (my biggest challenge with this one was trying to not include the character names in the graphic since my trivia element asks people to identify the duo)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (this is actually the book that inspired the entire idea for the display)

IMG_1757Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Proxy by Alex London

Here’s a close up of the trivia graphic:

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I couldn’t be happier with this display. It’s exactly what I envisioned and I think it’s a lot of fun and a nice combination of somewhat well-known titles and lesser known ones. I also have a lot of freedom with the books I choose to display with it. Best of all, if I decided to recycle the idea later on, I can pick new books and it will be a totally fresh display.

I also decided to have a little fun this month and tweet the authors to let them know that their books were featured in a display which seemed to amuse all of them. It’s always nice to remind people (author’s or not) that their work is being appreciated.

The Vanishing Season: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“This is my work. This is the one thing I have to do.

“I am looking for the things that are buried.”

The Vanishing SeasonMaggie Larsen doesn’t know what to expect when she and her parents move from Chicago to Door County. But then, it’s not like there is another choice with her mother having been laid off and money being tight.

Although Maggie is sorry to leave Chicago behind, it is surprisingly easy to find a new place for herself in the small town of Gill Creek. As the days turn into weeks their ramshackle house on Water Street starts to look like a home. As the weeks turn into months, Maggie realizes she has found friends here in carefree, beautiful Pauline and Liam who is as kind as he is introspective.

While Maggie lives her new life, girls in Gill Creek are disappearing. No one knows who the killer is. No one knows who might be next. No one knows if it will stop.

All the while, a ghost is tethered to the house on Water Street. She can see the danger circling. She can even see some of the pieces of the story–a scorched key, a love letter, a bracelet with a cherry charm. But even the ghost isn’t sure why she is still here watching the season unfold to its final, disastrous conclusion in The Vanishing Season (2014) by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

The Vanishing Season is a quiet, aching read that builds slowly to a conclusion that is both shocking and inevitable. Anderson expertly weaves together Maggie’s story with the first-person narration of the ghost to create a haunting puzzle of a story. Even readers who think they have predicted every plot point may well be surprised by the way everything fits together by the end.

This story has romance and suspense. There is a foolish girl who breaks things sometimes by accident and sometimes because she can. Vignettes of small town life are interspersed with thoughtful commentary on privilege and ownership.

Anderson’s pacing is spot-on as the story builds to the denouement which is handled both eloquently and cleverly. The Vanishing Season is a beautifully written and subtle story about friendship and love and even heartbreak as well as a meditation on what living a life, and living it well, really means. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Frost by Marianna Baer, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough, Fracture by Megan Miranda, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

14 for 2014

Here’s my list of favorite books from 2014.

(I’m limiting myself here to books that I’ve reviewed on the blog this year. For more favorites, check out this year’s End of Year Survey.)

Top Ten:

 

The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiIn the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle ZevinTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

  1. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  2. In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  4. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  5. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  6. The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  7. The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton
  8. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
  9. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
  10. The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The UnboundThe Strange Maid by Tessa GrattonThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudIllusions of Fate by Kiersten WhiteThe Vanishing Season

Honorable Mentions:

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah ZettelBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterMortal Heart by Robin LaFeversThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

  1. Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel
  2. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
  4. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Shout out to Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld and Clariel by Garth Nix which were both very close to making the final cut! (And to Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo–I don’t think I’m getting my review of it written by the end of 2014 so watch for it on my 2015 list!)

This list is also a Pinterest board.

Monday Memories: Dearest

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Monday Memories will be ending on December 29 after which this weekly feature will no longer be active.

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This week for Monday Memories I’m talking about Dearest by Alethea Kontis.

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

I’m a big fan of Alethea’s Woodcutter Sisters series and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the publishing stars align to get all seven books published. Enchanted and Hero are both delightfully madcap fairy tale remixes and this one is no different.

When Nicole and I headed to BEA back in May, I had a couple of must-meet authors at different signings. I also had two books that I knew would be at BEA as ARCs which I warned Nicole I had to find. In fact, I warned her I might cry and be otherwise inconsolable if I didn’t get them. Those books were Mortal Heart and Dearest.

I even (insanely) suggested we head to a book signing after a FULL DAY at BEA so that I could get this among other book signed. As you can see above Alethea has basically the best signature in the entire world.

I’m waiting to review this one closer to the release date (which is why it took me so many months to read it to begin with!) but Dearest was very enjoyable. Friday is a very different kind of heroine from her two younger sisters. She is also a bit different in the world of YA lit because she is largely content. A lot happens and changes for her in the book but before that Friday’s life is full and she is happy. Even after the book her life is full and she is happy. And that’s a beautiful thing to see.

So I hope you all consider picking up this series, and this volume in particular, some time soon.

If you want to join the fun (until Monday Memories shuts down at the end of December), just add your link below.

Week in Review: December 14

missprintweekreview

This week on the blog you can check out:

This week had a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like my commute is trying to kill me–something that seemed true for most of this week. That combined with a lot of allergy problems and a lack of sleep made a lousy combination. I’ve been feeling really high strung and stressed in general lately. I wasn’t sure why but I think it’s just hold over anxiety thinking about the first time my mom was in the hospital majorly sick (not for the brain surgery). I just realized today that she was in and out the hospital for most of December and she was released on Christmas Eve that year and re-admitted on New Year’s Eve. I have a good memory but I wish I could forget things like that because it doesn’t really serve any purpose. Intellectually I know everything is fine. Emotionally . . . I’m working on it.

I don’t remember if I blogged about this but back when I read We Were Liars I was very struck by an idea one of the characters had for a life philosophy: be a little kinder than you have to be. Through serendipity, Lockhart used that phrase when she signed my arc and it’s something that has stuck with me. I’ve been trying to remember to be a little kinder daily and I’m not going to say it’s completely changed my personality (I’d like to think I was generally kind and nice beforehand) but it’s satisfying to hold on to the positive things and be nice instead of focusing on negative things beyond my control. I always try to reframe things to be optimistic which was incredibly hard for the last couple of years but it’s something I’ve been trying to hold onto and I think it’s helping. Not everyone has to be kinder, but I do hope everyone finds an outlook that works for them.

I am finished with all of my Christmas shopping and 95% of my gift wrapping as well as planning cookie baking. I decided I wasn’t up to hosting a cookie swap this year and I’m feeling guilty about it and about not giving my friends a heads up about it. But that’s how it goes. Let me know if you want to talk at length with me about my new cookie cutters and my new cookie press. Few things make me as happy as new baking supplies and tools.

I’m also getting ready to do another big sweep of my owned books to see what I really, really need. Which is going to be awful and torturous but will give me some shelf space and maybe keep my mom from comparing our apartment to a bookstore.

This week I read Dearest by Alethea Kontis and The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. Both are extremely early ARCs but should be on your radar come March 2015. I’m hoping to put together a “Put Up or Shut Up” kind of challenge for myself to read books that have languished for years on my TBR list. I’m still figuring out logistics but if you have ideas (or what to join me?) let me know in the comments.

Nicole and I have decided to end Monday Memories because it’s a lot of work without a lot of return on investment. We’re finishing out December and that’s it. I thought I’d feel sad about it but mostly I’m just relieved because it’s going to free up a lot of time and will make my posting schedule a little more easy to maintain.

Miss Print’s Re-Prints: December 2007 Edition, Vol. 2

missprintreprintMiss Print’s Re-Prints is a weekly feature that will post on Saturday. Each week I’ll highlight reviews I wrote during a previous month in this blog’s run.

Currently I am Re-Printing 2007 posts.

December 2007: Volume 2

  • December 26, 2007: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta–“There is so much I want to say about this book. I love the story, I love the characters, I love the cover art for every edition I have seen. I love that Francesca’s voice is so unique and can appeal to just about everyone.” This is far and away one of my favorite books of all time and definitely one that stands the test of time. Go and read it right now.
  • December 31, 2007: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri–“Lahiri’s writing here (I’ve yet to read her short stories) is beautiful without being pretentious or overly self-aware. The story feels authentic and compelling despite the fact that so many of the cultural references remain worlds away.
  • December 31, 2007: The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie–“These stories are not passive. If anything, they are visceral. This collection combines elements of magical realism with painfully real moments of sadness and hardship in the lives of Alexie’s modern Indian characters.” If I am being honest here, most of the things I read by Alexie just make me want to sit down and re-read his novel Reservation Blues.