Category: Review

Just a Normal Tuesday

Author: Kim Turrisi
252 pages in Paperback

To Be Published: May 2, 2017
Dates Read: April 15-19, 2017

My Rating: 5 Stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

It’s just a normal Tuesday for sixteen-year-old Kai, until suddenly it’s anything but. She’s received a letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, a letter that begins, “My very bestest sister, Kai, if you are reading this, I am already gone.” From that moment on, Kai’s life will never be the same, as she is forced to deal with the shock and horror of losing Jen to suicide.

Consumed with grief, Kai looks for answers, lashes out at people who love her and eventually turns to excessive drinking and drugs, all with disastrous results and no relief from her suffering. Struggling with their own sorrow, Kai’s parents realize she needs more help than they can give, and they enroll her in the Tree House, a “grief camp” for children. Though reluctant to go, once she’s there, Kai finally finds others who truly understand her loss. No longer alone, she’s able to begin dealing with her pain. And to see light at the end of the dark tunnel.

My Review:

This will be a difficult review to write as Just a Normal Tuesday is difficult to read. It deals with the issues of death, suicide, and teens. Kai is sixteen and comes home from school and finds a letter in the mail from her sister Jenn. She finds this strange as no one write letters any more when they can call or text, especially when Jenn lives close by. Then Kai opens the letter and her life changes forever as it is a suicide note from Jenn. Kai rushes to her sister’s apartment but it’s too late. This is just the beginning of Kai’s story.

This is Kim Turrisi’s first novel and what a debut it is! Just a Normal Tuesday is raw, gritty, and real! After her sister’s death Kai spirals out of control. She drinks heavily and begins taking drugs, including the prescription drugs her sister took. The feelings Kai has feel so real! Once her family and friends realize she needs serious help she is sent to a grief camp against her will.

The second half of the book focuses on the grief camp and we see the transformation Kai experiences as she gets comfortable with her group she is assigned to. We see all the teens change for the better as they go through camp. We come to care about them all and want them to all overcome their grief from their various losses. Just a Normal Tuesday ends with a positive note towards the future.

In the Author’s Note Kim Turrisi shares that when she was fifteen her sister committed suicide. She shares how writing Just a Normal Tuesday helped her with forgiveness and the loss of her sister. Everything feels so authentic that it seems like she took the feelings Kai had when she was out of control from her own experiences. The words she wrote could only come from someone who had experienced that kind of grief. With that you feel a connection to the author. At times it felt like these were Kim’s feelings and experiences. Just a Normal Tuesday is that real.

I want to share that I lost my dad just a few days after my nineteenth birthday. It was not in the way that Kai lost her sister, but it was still a heavy loss that I still feel at times. Reading Just a Normal Tuesday brought back that time for me and the memories and feelings from then and because of this at times it was difficult to read. I knew it was going to be difficult when I began it, but it is a book you do not want to put down.

Just a Normal Tuesday is very highly recommended for anyone who has lost someone, especially at a younger age. The target demographic is 14-18 but anyone could read this book and take something away from it.

I want to end with this: My dad passed away on May 4, 1999 which was a Tuesday.

“It was just a normal Tuesday. And then it wasn’t.”- Kai

**Special thanks to Kids can Press and KCP Loft for sending me an arc. Just a Normal Tuesday deeply touched me and it was a pleasure to review it.

Before the Fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The left is the US cover and the right is the UK cover. Most of the time I prefer the UK cover to the US cover! That is the case with Before the Fall.  It seems like I live in the wrong country when it comes to books!
 
Author: Noah Hawley
401 pages in Kindle

Published: May 31, 2016 (US) April 6, 2017 (UK)
Dates Read: March 27- April 13, 2017

My Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

My Review

Before the Fall focuses on a private plane crash. There were eleven individuals on what ended up being a very short flight of only 16 minutes. All but one person on the flight, Scott Burroughs, are wealthy or well known. Only Scott and JJ, a four year old boy, survive the crash.

Before the Fall has a very strong opening! I was pulled in immediately with the plane crash and Scott and JJ trying to survive in the ocean at night. It is very intense and I like Noah Hawley’s writing style. I felt like I could see everything happening as I read Before the Fall.

There are two splices of time in the novel: Before and after the crash. There are multiple points of view (POV) in the story. If you follow my reviews then you know I love books with multiple POVs! Scott is the main focus in the POVs after the crash, and with good reason. He survived and many agencies including the NTSB want to know what happened. I never wanted to stop reading when the novel focused on Scott. We see all the emotions and feelings Scott goes through, and all of his experiences with the media that a plane crash survivor may go through, both positive and negative.

You also get a feel of what the investigations are like for plane crashes. It seems like Noah Hawley did his homework. I felt I learned something reading Before the Fall.

In the flashbacks before the plane crash we get to know each of the passengers, pilot, copilot, and flight attendant that did not survive. These were interesting as well and all are important as it all comes together for us to discover the cause of the crash. I found myself still interested in these stories, but not as intensely interested as I was in Scott and JJ’s stories after the crash.

What kept me from giving Before the Fall five stars is the ending. Yes, we find out the cause of the crash, but after all the buildup the ending was anticlimactic and not satisfying for me. With everything suspected throughout the novel, I was expecting something more than what we got which was a simple yet unexpected cause. I wish I could say more, but that would involve spoiling the ending.

Despite my disappointment in the ending, Before the Fall is recommended.

**Before the Fall had been on my TBR pile for a while and I happened across it on NetGalley as a ‘Read Now’. It said preferred for UK readers as it is a new release in the UK, but NetGalley still let me read it. Thank you for my copy NetGalley!

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Zenn Diagram

Author: Wendy Brant
315 pages in Paperback

Published: April 4, 2017
Dates Read: April 4-12, 2017

My Rating: 5 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.

Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.

Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.

Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

My Review:

What more can I say than this?: I absolutely loved and adored Zenn Diagram!  In fact, it has made its way into my #1 read of 2017 so far this year! I have been reading a lot of thriller and suspense books lately, so it was a welcome change of pace when I started Zenn Diagram which is YA (Young Adult).

Eva is a loner in school by choice.  She has a unique ‘gift’ (or is it a curse?) She can touch someone or something and then gets these visions and fractals (a repeating pattern that becomes clearer over time.) She tutors fellow students in Math because through these visions she can see where students are having their difficulties  by simply touching their calculator.  She also learns issues and secrets that she may not want to know.  Needless to say she avoids touching others at all costs…. Until she meets Zenn, a boy in school that she begins to tutor.

Zenn Diagram is Wendy Brant’s first novel and it is a brilliant debut!  I did not want to put it down.  The characters are fully developed and you can’t help but adore both Eva and Zenn. Eva is smart and feisty, yet also lonely and frustrated.  You really see through her how it can be not being able to touch someone. Her ‘aversion to touching’  has made her classmates believe she is a ‘germaphobe’, which puts her in that category of one the ‘weird kids’ in school.

Zenn is a hardworking guy and also very adorable.  At first Eva isn’t sure what to think of him when she accidentally touches his jacket and gets an unpleasant fractal.  Over time the relationship grows and a romance progresses.  They are delightful together! It is a sweet romance that you can’t help but eat up and want more of.  The issue of how can a romance occur if you can’t touch the other person is brought up.  A conversation with Eva and some friends takes place involving consent in regard to physical contact, which seems to be becoming a more mainstream topic now. In that conversation there is a great analogy involving tea. Even though I don’t drink tea, you won’t think of it in the same way again. You want things to work out as Eva and Zenn are perfect for each other at this stage in their lives.

Zenn Diagram is more than just a sweet teenage romance.  There are things in both Eva and Zenn’s lives that are far from perfect. There are things we don’t know about both of them at first and then Wendy Brant goes and pulls a twist from out of nowhere that I would have never suspected!  It was exceptional!  From that reveal there is a change of direction with the novel.  When the novel was over I wanted more.

This is a brilliant first novel and I look forward to what Wendy Brant will bring us next!

**I received an e-arc through NetGalley and a physical arc from Kids Can Press and KCP Loft. Thank you so much for my copies!

**Note to Parents: Zenn Diagram is filled with ‘teenagers being teenagers’ and we see all the teen angst that occurs with teen relationships. In addition to the intimacy issues addressed there is language, but I feel neither is worse than what teenagers hear at school or see on television. There is no teen drinking or drug use in Zenn Diagram. There is language throughout the novel and yes the F-word is used. If you are worried about that then please read (and love) this book before giving to your kids. On my arc copy it recommends the book for ages 14-18, which I would agree with.

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