Tag: YA

#Diverseathon2021: The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

The Book of Essie
Author:  Meghan MacLean Weir

Published: June 12, 2018
338 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 18-23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

Esther Ann Hicks—Essie—is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage—and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media—through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell—Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

Jessica’s Review:

I don’t watch too much television, but yes in the past I have been a fan of ‘Reality TV’. And yes, I know reality tv actually isn’t real- It just finds a way to pull you in and keeps you watching, even more so when it is a train wreck! 

The Book of Essie is about an extreme right wing Christian family that has been on television for many years, in fact for longer than Essie’s seventeen years.  Essie is the youngest child of the Hicks family and to her mother Celia’s shock Essie is pregnant.  Mom and production have a meeting (without Essie being present) to decide what to do with this situation.  Several suggestions are made on what to do with Essie’s condition and it is decided that Essie will marry.  This will be a ratings blockbuster to the show! Of course, when the baby comes earlier than it should the show will pay doctors to say that yes, the due date was actually X date after the marriage occurred.  But who will Essie marry?

We have three narrators: Essie herself, Roarke who is the boy that Celia decides Essie will marry, and Liberty is the one who interviews the ‘couple’. This is a novel that quickly takes place over the course of a few weeks, because time is of the essence.  The show has to come up with a fake backstory of Essie and Roarke falling in love months before.  And of course, the viewers take everything in and adore this newly famous and in love couple.   But there is so much going on behind the scenes that is unknown, including Essie’s older sister who disappeared from the cameras after she graduated high school. So we have a little bit of a mystery as well!

I really liked Essie.  Growing up in a unique situation and then finding herself in yet another situation, she may come off that she is not in control, as her mother Celia is all but in charge of everything, but Essie knows what she wants and will do what she needs to do to get it! 

We also get backstories to Roarke and Liberty, who both have not had easy lives and have secrets.  I did not find myself interested in these two backstories, I was 1000% into reading what was going to happen with Essie and this ‘wedding’. The story goes in a partially guessed/expected direction, but I found myself highly surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel.  There are conclusions at the end and everything does get wrapped up nicely. 

The Book of Essie ended up working for this month’s prompt for Diverseathon: An LGBTQ+ main character, which I did not know about when I started reading it. And I’m getting this review in just at the end of the month, go me! 

I think part of the reason I really enjoyed this novel is that in some ways we get to see how reality television shows are made.  If you enjoy reality tv at all and read YA, then you need to read this book!   I can not wait to see what Weir writes next. 

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#Diverseathon201:

For full details on this year long readathon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.

June’s host is Danyel at dany.alvey over at Instagram. She is having a giveaway of $15 to Book Depository (or Amazon for a US winner) for your choice of a book. This is an international giveaway! Be sure to check out her Instagram for full details on that giveaway.
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Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

#Diverseathon2021: The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

The Taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass

To Be Published: July 13, 2021
256 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 10-17, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win

Jessica’s Review:

As a part of June’s prompt for #Diverseathon2021I read The Taking of Jake Livingston which features a main character that is LQBTQ+. My copy was also an arc copy, the book will be released on July 13, 2021.  This is a YA novel but more so of a horror novel.  We have a main character that is gay and I read this novel for #Diverseathon for the month of June as the prompt is a main character who is LQBTQ. I also liked that the novel takes place in Georgia and the author is from the state.  Places are mentioned that I know of which made the novel more enjoyable for me.

Our main character Jake is different in several ways: He is one of just a few black students at his private school, one of those students being his brother.  Jake is also gay and in the closet.  Jake also has a unique ability that he does not enjoy: He sees ghosts and they constantly replay their last moments before death. Eventually these ghosts do completely disappear. Eventually these ghosts do completely disappear, until Jake comes across one particular ghost named Sawyer who was a school shooter. And this ghost has plans for Jake.

This is a short novel, just over 250 pages and it packs quite the punch in those few pages. The last third of the novel really picks up the pace and I could not put it down: I had to know what was going to happen to Jake! There is a horror element that was a bit intense as Sawyer is a frightening and evil ghost! Sawyer is a Michael Myers type of ghost. Both Jake and Sawyer are our narrators (Sawyer through his diary). We learn about Sawyer’s difficult life and in some ways have a little bit of empathy for him.

There is a little bit of a romance that tries to develop when Allister arrives to the school, but Jake fears for Allister’s safety.

I enjoyed this novel and will be on the lookout for what comes next from Ryan Douglass. After all, he’s from Georgia too!

I received an arc copy from the publisher via Bookish First.

***
For full details on this year long readathon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.

June’s host is Danyel at dany.alvey over at Instagram. She is having a giveaway of $15 to Book Depository (or Amazon for a US winner) for your choice of a book. This is an international giveaway! Be sure to check out her Instagram for full details on that giveaway.
***

Pre-order Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Series: Island of the Blue Dolphins #1
Author: Scott O’Dell
Published: 1960
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:  May 20-24, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea.  Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound.  Once, Indians also lived on the island.  And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.

This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away.  But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs.  It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.

Jessica’s Review:

While reading the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen, I decided to listen to another book that I listened to in school: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I remember enjoying it when I was younger and watching a long movie version at what seemed like 2am while my family was asleep.  Other than an individual living by themselves and working to survive, these are very different books.  Island of the Blue Dolphins is loosely based off of a true story, and our story is about Karana who is left to fend for herself on the island where her tribe lived.  The rest of the tribe was taken away by boat, and Karana maintained hope that they would return for her someday.  Over time she comes to terms of being alone and learning to fend for herself.  Part of that is going against what she was taught: that women should not make weapons.  Well if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have survived on her own!  She makes friends with a dog that she names Rontu. (If I ever have another dog, I will be tempted to name him Rontu as I just loved that name!  And it’s a literary name!)

Eventually Karana is rescued after many years and learns what happened to her tribe.  For me, after the more intense young adult novels of the Hatchet series with Brian constantly struggling to survive, Island was less intense.  Maybe down the road I will read it again.  Maybe it was the narrator as I listened to the novel, or maybe I just lost something by listening versus actually reading it myself.  It could also be that this is written for the middle grades age group and I am far from that group.  I would definitely recommend it for younger girls so they can see that girls can do what they need to do to survive a challenging situation. It is a girl empowerment book in that way.

Purchase Links 
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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