Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2)Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story is absolutely fabulous, and I would expect nothing less from Becky Albertalli. It’s heartfelt and humorous, and it grabbed my attention right from the start. Simon makes appearances throughout the story, which I enjoyed, as he’s so lovable and adorable. Leah is pretty different. She’s not as cuddly as Simon, but I enjoy how raw and honest she is.

I want there to be so many books like this available that I don’t feel the need to point out how great it is to have a well-written YA novel about an overweight girl who is bisexual. Currently, I feel like I still need to keep pointing it out and acknowledging how much I appreciate the diversity in YA novels these days, but I hope that one day, characters like Leah will be so common that all I do is focus my review on how amazing and sweet the story is, regardless of the appearance or sexuality of the MC.

Book 190 read in 2018

Pages: 339

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On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe RoadOn the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Rereading this one left me feeling so frayed around the edges. I remembered the difficult story line, the Australian charm, and the fascinating, nonlinear approach in which 20+ years were woven together in what feels like a random fashion (but is definitely not random) to create one story. The unique way in which the story is told has always stood out to me.

I did not remember (or chose not to) how much it actually hurts to read this one, nor how much of the story is composed of grief and misunderstanding. There’s also a lot of joy here, but I think that only a span of 4 years has made a difference in how I absorbed this story. I think it’s still a great read, but the feels wrecked me this time.

Book 187 read in 2018


Later. I will find all the words later, but you should be reading this. Right now.

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the SunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is one of my favorite YA novels, and I don’t throw the word favorite around easily. If you told me to grab 10 novels, before stranding me on a deserted island, this would be one of the 10 I grab. No hesitation.

I thought I’d revisit this beauty on audio this week, but the reality is that once I began, there was no turning back. I read it straight through, staying up far too late, even though I already knew how it would all work out. This story is so gorgeous, awkward, and emotional, and I love the use of art and creation to express and uncover truth.

The previous review still stands, and this time, I’ll give it the sun, and the moon, and all the flowers, too.

Book 185 read in 2018

Pages: 371

I despise Goodreads at the moment for only allowing me 5 stars, when this novel deserves all the stars inside my soul. And the sun.

I won’t bother to share all my opinions of this novel, as I feel they are quite worthless outside of my own brain. All I will say is I hope you will pick this book up and let it paint its story beneath your skin, both the ugliness and the blinding gorgeousness, so that a small part of it might stay with you forever, as it will with me.

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Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper, #1)Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I guess I’m the odd woman out on this one, because for me, this read like a rough draft, with a lagging plot, poor characterization, and waaayyyyyyyyyyyyy too much telling.

If you struggle with unique worlds and need the kind of story where instead of being shown how the magic works, the characters endlessly tell you how it works and explain everything to you through lengthy dialogue (things they already have known for years but waited until that convenient moment to impart to others), then this might work for you.

It doesn’t work for me, because everything is too easy, and the telling is too boring and tedious. I’m smart, and so are others readers. Just show us your world. If it’s too complex to show it effectively, bit by bit, then the writing style needs work. Because in my opinion, worlds are rarely boring or broken. It’s just how they are presented to readers that either rises up or crashes and burns. This crashed and burned for me, but I think it had potential, had it gone through some additional edits and rewrites. This draft just wasn’t ready to print.

This has a very interesting concept, so I thought it would be a win. Instead, it has a slow pace for such a short book, and the story doesn’t even get decently started until about the midpoint. They could literally chop off the majority of the first half of the book, and the story would be significantly better, since it’s not until that point where things begin to get interesting.

Also, it’s one of those stories where instead of gaining magic, the characters just conveniently find out they have had it all along, at exactly the moment that is convenient to the plot (though in this case, it’s at moments when they can endlessly talk about it, instead of moments where they show the character rise up and use the ability). So expect a lot of endless talk that will bore you so much that you still won’t understand how the world works, as you were so bored that you tuned out half, or more, of every explanation.

Since this didn’t hold my attention, I had to rewind a lot. It’s just one of those where the cover is actually more intriguing and captivating than the story.

This gets a 1 star for storytelling ability, but I’m giving it a 2nd star for diversity. I agree we need diverse books, I just wish that we could clarify that statement with an adjective such as amazing, compelling, kickass, intense, suspenseful, gorgeous, well-written, unique, mind-blowing, etc. So, sure, we got the diversity here, but we still need (insert adjective) diverse books. And those are definitely out there, as I’ve read so many fantastic stories in the past few years that are full of diversity, but this just isn’t one of them. I couldn’t wait for it to end, and I would have quit it early on, if I hadn’t needed to complete it to help try to win a bet with a work friend.

And just for kicks, some truly incredible diverse YA books you should pick up immediately and read instead (if I didn’t label it, it’s probably contemporary):

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (fantasy)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (historical)
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Girl Mans Up by ME Girard
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Hadu
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (novel in verse/ slam poetry)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
The Lunar Chronicles by Marisssa Meyer (Sci-Fi)
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee (historical)
American Street by Izi Zoboi
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Hann
Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sarah Farizan
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (fantasy)
History is All You Left me by Adam Silvera
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugho (fantasy)
Aristotle and Danta Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Warcross by Marie Lu (sci-fi)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fat Angie by EE Charlton-Trujillo (novel in verse)
Every Day by David Levithan
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (combo of urban fantasy and contemporary)
Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Beast by Brie Spangler (retelling)

Okay, I could go on forever about diversity in YA books, but I think this is probably enough to get you started. 😉

Book 183 read in 2018

Pages: 297

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