Book Review | One Day in December by Josie Silver

One Day in December. By Josie Silverman. Broadway Books, 2018. 416 pages. $8.99 (Adult).

Buy it here.

This book was, what I’m going to call, a blind book. What I mean is, I went into this one, with no idea about the plot whatsoever. All I knew is it was a romance novel.

Apparently, I’ve decided to kick the year off with romance novels – don’t ask me why cause I don’t know!!! Regardless, I saw that this was a Book of the Month pick in 2018 and I added it to my TBR (because I’ve yet to be truly disappointed by a BoTM selection). Anyway, the point is, I added this to my TBR because of BoTM.

One day, I was browsing Libby to see if there were any books I would be interested in borrowing for downtime at work. Bam! This was at the top of my available books. So I borrowed it.

I was not prepared.

Laurie encounters the love of her life at a bus stop. But… she doesn’t even know his name. She memorizes his face and recounts his looks to her best friend, Sarah. So begins Lu and Sarah’s quest to find the man they’ve dubbed “bus boy”. The duo spends a literal year looking for this man. Sarah claims she has heard enough about bus boy that she’d be able to find him without Lu’s help. How wrong she is.

Thus begins the nearly decade long journey of Lu realizing and then finding her true love over and over again. It’s a roller coaster of emotional turmoil of the best sort. Is it a little soap-y? Totally. But I. Was. Here. For. It.

The entire time I was reading this book, I was laughing and crying and totally enjoying myself. That’s the mark of a good romance novel, in my opinion.

Here’s the thing though. I love a good smutty book. This was not that. It was totally cutesy and adorable and just quintessentially British. I couldn’t help but feel charmed while reading this. Overall a totally enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone doubting that home is not a place; it’s a person.

Book Review | More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I fell into a reading slump at the end of my first term of library school. I was stressed about my portfolio – which I’ll be writing about later this week – and worried that I wasn’t good enough to make it through my remaining 5 terms.

This is the vicious cycle my anxiety takes me through. I’m anxious because of school and I’m anxious without school because I’m anxious about grades and new terms and meeting new professors and classmates. It’s endlessly draining.

So when I fall into a slump like this, I always find it best to turn to an author I know I love.

When I discovered Mr. Silvera’s writing, it was not through his debut novel – it was, in fact, through the much raved about They Both Die at the End. I saw it on sale, picked it up, and discovered a new favorite author.

Until recently, Silvera’s other two novels have been sitting on my TBR cart – patiently waiting for my cycle of anxiety to bring me back.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx. 

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

Delayed Flight = More Time to Read

This was one of two books I took on my weekend trip to DC to visit my bestie, her daughter, and her dog. The night I left, my flight was severely delayed. The flight was only two hours, but I was stuck at the airport for an extra hour while I waited for my flight to depart. Weather always takes its toll on my plans when I’m flying, haha.

I decided to make the most of this though. Knowing I wouldn’t get much reading done on the plane because the delay reset my departure for close to sunset in inclement weather, I sat my butt down by my gate and read about 75 pages in one sitting.

Yinz… I was hooked.

Character Development

You all know I love a good character description, but the thing I love most about Mr. Silvera’s writing is I don’t need to know what the characters look like to feel connected to them. Immediately, I felt a connection to Aaron that I can’t really explain. He’s just so damn likeable.

Even the characters you’re not meant to like (i.e. Brendan, Me-Crazy) are so well developed. The book is really character driven and I love that about Silvera’s writing. The plot is important, but all of his characters drive the plot along so well.

The Tough Stuff

Look, reading books that deal with suicide and depression are really hard for me – I’m sure they are for most people. But when I got to the third part of this book, I had to take a break from reading before I full on wept in front of a full plane of people. This book is heartbreakingly devastating and I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading for very long. Even through the tough parts of this book, I kept wanting a happy ending for Aaron, Gen, and Thomas.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say it was devastating. This seems to be a running theme in Silvera’s writing.

A Mandatory Read

Yes, you read that right. I’m just going to come right out and say it – if I were teaching English today, I would make this book mandatory for sophomores to read. I don’t care if it’s curriculum or not – THIS WOULD be on my summer reading list for my students.

The thing about this is, I don’t care WHO or WHAT you are, this book teaches about acceptance. Not just of people who are different than you, but it teaches you the importance of accepting yourself for WHO YOU ARE and that is something I see a lack of in a lot of YA I’ve read.

But Did I Cry

No. It was close though. Had I been in the comfort of my own home, I would have straight up bawled my eyes out. I don’t think it’s socially acceptable to sob into a paperback on a plane quite yet.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was another great contemporary. I’m so happy to have finally read it and I can’t wait for the day I can discuss it with my children.

Let’s Chat!

When’s the last time you flew somewhere? Are you as unlucky as me when it comes to flights being delayed? Which of Adam Silvera’s books is your favorite? Leave me a comment so we can chat!

Book Review | Ghost by Jason Reynolds

One of the requirements for one of my graduate classes is to spend 10 hours observing in a library. My library of choice was a public library within my district. Obviously, as is the nature of librarians and book lovers, my sponsoring librarian and I got to talking about books. More specifically, we got to talking about award winning books. It’s really thanks to her that I picked up this one.

You see Ghost by Jason Reynolds is not a book I would normally pick up. Sure, I love middle grade and I adore children’s books, but I still have many years before my own kids will reach for a book of this level. This means, I still have many years before I would need to screen this book to see if it’s one I need in my personal library.

However, the way my sponsoring librarian talked about this book made me want to check it out that very day. Since I don’t have a library card for this area yet (bad, I know!) I asked my MIL to borrow it for me using her card. She was happy to oblige.

I read it in one day.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Why I Loved It

Look, putting aside the fact that I believe diversity is important in books, this one was so important to me because of the lessons it held. Ghost is a boy with a lot of anger and his past is definitely scary (even I, an adult woman, would be terrified if I experienced this boy’s trauma).

The lessons this book holds are important for my own children – judgment, shame, humility – all of these can be found within the pages of this book. It’s important for children to learn these lessons and I thought Reynolds did a great job capturing those lessons.

I unashamedly shed several tears at the end.

And of course the diversity is important. There is so much “wonder bread” in the world of literature that reading about these young, African American children was a breath of fresh air. I live for diverse characters and I live for narrative from the point of view of a person of color.

Does it make the cut?

When my sponsoring librarian told me about this book, I knew I’d read it, but I did not expect to want to immediately add it to my personal library. Without a doubt, hands down, I need this series on my middle grade shelves. It’s wonderful. I could sing praises of this book all day.

In fact, as of writing this, I’ve recommended it to at least 3 of my adult friends – especially to one of my adult friends who’s son is a middle school teacher.

In short, I can see why this book has won awards and exactly why the library I observed in has 15 copies.

Who should read it?

Do you have kids? Read it.

Do you work with kids? Read it.

Do you never want to have kids ever at any point in your life? Read it.

I cannot stress this enough – you should read this book. It’s wonderfully written. The characters, especially Coach, jump off the pages and make you reflect on your own childhood and the people who influenced your life for the better.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I seriously believe this is the stuff middle grade should be made of! It tackles tough topics and offers insight for children into the world their friends may be living in. I seriously, seriously recommend this to anyone.

Let’s chat!

Middle grade isn’t something I dive into too often. What’s your favorite middle grade series? Or if you can’t think of your favorite middle grade series – what’s your favorite middle grade book?

PS – stay tuned! Pretty soon, I’m going to be posting a video about my favorite middle grade books!

Book Review | They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

I went into this book knowing how it would end. For some reason, I kept holding on to the hope that it wouldn’t happen and was still surprised when it did happen. Adam Silvera absolutely destroyed me with this book and now I have to go read everything he has ever written.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Silvera’s Writing

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to really dissect a person’s writing, but I loved the writing in this too much to wait to talk about it. Adam Silvera somehow manages to voice two entirely different characters in this book beautifully. You know what, strike that. He manages to voice every single character in this book differently and I’m so impressed by the use of these different voices. Honestly, I don’t know how someone manages to perfectly voice multiple characters without them sounding the same, but this guy has got that down.

I would have known who was speaking through the multiple viewpoints without the name headings at the top of each chapter. He’s that talented. Look, I’m just saying THIS is what I envy about writers – the ability to produce characters who don’t all sound exactly the same.

Lovable Main Characters

Rufus and Mateo are seriously two of the most lovable characters I’ve read in a long time. Even though Rufus is a little rough around the edges when we meet him, when he links up with Mateo, I just fell in love with both of them. Seriously, I think the reason I held out hope that Death Cast called them by mistake because they were so lovable.

Mateo is a super nice guy – the kind of person I want my sons to be. I really appreciated the nods back to Mateo’s acts of kindness throughout this book. It made his kindness feel more authentic in a way. And I really loved Rufus’ genuine love for his friends. I enjoyed reading about how much Roof loves his friends as much as I enjoyed how kind Mateo was.

General Thoughts

Overall, I couldn’t put this book down. I mean, I had to, but I didn’t want to. It is so good at reminding readers of the importance of living. I’m very much like Mateo – introverted, shy, and would rather stay at home all day with my books, but this book left me wanting to live like Rufus – boldly. That’s the main theme behind the story – to live boldly. And it’s exactly what I needed to pull me out of a slight slump I’ve been feeling.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Let’s chat!

What book reminded you that it’s important to live life to the fullest? What’s your favorite Adam Silvera book? If you could ask these characters anything – what would it be? Let’s chat in the comments.