Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything 
by Nicola Yoon (Goodreads Author)David Yoon (Illustrations)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: I’VE READ MANY more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me. I’ve had the time.

In my white room, against my white walls, on my glistening white bookshelves, book spines provide the only color. The books are all brand-new hardcovers—no germy secondhand softcovers for me. They come to me from Outside, decontaminated and vacuum-sealed in plastic wrap. I would like to see the machine that does this. I imagine each book traveling on a white conveyor belt toward rectangular white stations where robotic white arms dust, scrape, spray, and otherwise sterilize it until it’s finally deemed clean enough to come to me. When a new book arrives, my first task is to remove the wrapping, a process that involves scissors and more than one broken nail. My second task is to write my name on the inside front cover.

In my white room, against my white walls, on my glistening white bookshelves, book spines provide the only color.

PROPERTY OF: Madeline Whittier

I don’t know why I do this. There’s no one else here except my mother, who never reads, and my nurse, Carla, who has no time to read because she spends all her time watching me breathe. I rarely have visitors, and so there’s no one to lend my books to. There’s no one who needs reminding that the forgotten book on his or her shelf belongs to me.

REWARD IF FOUND (Check all that apply):

This is the section that takes me the longest time, and I vary it with each book. Sometimes the rewards are fanciful:

Picnic with me (Madeline) in a pollen-filled field of poppies, lilies, and endless man-in-the-moon marigolds under a clear blue summer sky.
Drink tea with me (Madeline) in a lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of a hurricane.
Snorkel with me (Madeline) off Molokini to spot the Hawaiian state fish— the humuhumunukunukuapuaa.

THE BLURB: My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

MY THOUGHTS: I have read a surprising number of young adult books recently, some of them better than others. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon definitely falls into the better category. I found the premise for the plot interesting, probably because I have hermit tendencies. But if you were a teenager, and you had no option?

I was expecting a sullen, resentful teenager. I am sure I would have been. Instead what I got was a remarkably well adjusted, if a little wistful, young woman who lived for her books, her education, her mother, and her nurse, Carla. And then Olly came into her life. ..

I listened to Everything, Everything in one sitting. It is a book about making the best of what you have, but also of never giving up hope, of first love, loyalty and realising your dreams. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. And it has this ‘WHAT!?!’ moment that caused my jaw to drop, and made me rewind a little to make sure I had heard correctly.

The audio version of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was narrated by Bahni Turpin and Robbie Daymond. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2168091542

Friday Favorite- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

How did I ever get to the age I am without ever having read Neil Gaiman? I did not discover his books until 2014 when The Ocean at the End of the Lane was selected for one of my Goodreads.com group reads. I can’t remember now which group it was  (probably Reading For Pleasure if I had to guess) or who nominated it, but to whomever it was I offer a whole- hearted ‘Thank you.’

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane 
by Neil Gaiman (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: It was only a duckpond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big.

Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here across the ocean from the old country.

Her mother said that Lettie didn’t remember properly, and it was a long time ago, and anyway, the old country had sunk.

Old Mrs Hempstock, Lettie’s grandmother, said they were both wrong, and that the place that had sunk wasn’t the really old country. She said she could remember the really old country.

She said the really old country had blown up.

THE BLURB: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

MY THOUGHTS: This book won a multitude of awards. All of them deserved.

I don’t understand how I had never read Neil Gaiman before. This was my first ‘outing’ with this author, but it was not my last. I have bought some of his books for my grandson, and this is the next one I will be purchasing for him.

I just love this book. It is so,so lovely but scary too.

I love the quotes from Lewis Carroll scattered throughout.

Sensitive horror/fantasy? You better believe it!

Even the way he has written the acknowledgements at the end is interesting. A true master of his craft.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1020144026

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra
Little Secrets 
by Anna Snoekstra (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: It was a pleasant, quiet morning until the woman started screaming. The street had been silent except for the sound of birds chirping in the sky and the distant rumbles of a lawn mower. Mrs Lucie Hoffman had opened her front door to collect the morning edition of the Star. Instead, she found a porcelain doll sitting on top of the paper on her doorstep, staring up at her. It had thick dark hair and glassy green eyes. That was when the screaming started.

THE BLURB: What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

MY THOUGHTS: I really wanted to like Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra. I tried, very hard. But in the end the best rating I could give this book is 2.5 stars.

Around this time last year, I read Snoekstra’s debut novel, Only Daughter, which I also rated 2.5 stars, downgraded to 2☆. I remarked that while ‘The idea for the plot was brilliant, unfortunately I think the execution of it left something to be desired. Parts of the book are well written, others not so well written. There were times I was tempted to put this book down and walk away from it, but my desire to find out what had happened to Bec over-rode that, and in the end I am glad I did finish it. There are a couple of really great twists but also some glaring holes in the plot and I think the author could have done a bit more research – her knowledge of police procedure leaves a lot to be desired. 

And really, what I said then applies equally to Little Secrets. Except that I never really considered abandoning it, although I struggled with it in places, and the quality of the writing is more consistent. Hence the rounding upwards to 3☆

However, there are glaringly large holes in the plot that I wasn’t able to ignore. And Ms Snoekstra obviously hasn’t brushed up her knowledge of police procedure. Even in small desolate and dying towns, there are checks and balances. And Colmstock doesn’t actually seem that small. It has two pubs, a rarity these days when most towns struggle to support one, especially towns where employment is scarce and methamphetamine rife, and a reasonably large police presence.

In the end, I am left feeling vaguely confused and dissatisfied with Little Secrets. The author has left the door wide open for a sequel. If it does occur, I won’t be reading it.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor

The Treatment by C.L. Taylor
The Treatment 
by C.L. Taylor (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: I slip into the single stall toilet at the back of the cafe. I hold it together long enough to close the door and lock it and then I rest my arms on the wall and burst into tears. I’m still crying when I sit down on the closed toilet lid and reach into my pocket. Tears roll down my cheeks as I pull out the note that Dr Cobey thrust into my hands. They plop onto the paper as I carefully unfold it. I read the words Mason has scribbled in blue biro. I read them once, twice, three times and the tears dry in my eyes.

I’m not sad and confused any more. I’m terrified.

THE BLURB: “You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”
All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: There were a lot of things I liked about The Treatment, C. L. Taylor’s debut Young Adult novel, and a few things I disliked, which resulted in a 3.5 star rating.

This was, for most part, a fast paced read. The plot flowed well, mostly. I had trouble with the ease with which Drew was bundled off to the reform school. I know her step-father is involved in the process, but there is a reason he should, to my mind, be keeping Drew and Mason well away from there, not facilitating their admission. This is only one instance for which I had to suspend rationality and go with the storyline.

The ending, I felt, was over simplified. And rushed. Our young adults are a great deal more savy than I was at that age, and I was an advanced reader. I was tempted to get my ten year old grandson to read this to see what he thought because I am certain he would have picked up on most of the same things I did.

Having said that, I found most of the book to be riveting, an exciting adventure, one I didn’t want to put down in favor of sleep last night.

I think this book is probably suited to the younger end of the young adult spectrum.

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor is due to be published October 23, 2017.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Treatment for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2142848716

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett 
by Chelsea Sedoti (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all, “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before.

After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret. But I’m probably doing that thing again where I get ahead of myself and skip all over the place, which I’m trying to stop.

So the beginning, or the beginning for me at least, was when I found out Lizzie Lovett was missing. It happened like this: It was Monday morning, and I needed an excuse to stay home. I was dreading school even more than usual, because the Welcome Back dance had been on Saturday, and I was probably the only senior at Griffin Mills High School who didn’t go, and everyone would be talking about it while I sat there thinking, Wow, I’m a loser.

THE BLURB: A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

MY THOUGHTS: Oh, the memories, not all of them great, that The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti brought back. In the words of Charles Dickens, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’

It is so easy to forget how self centred we are at seventeen. But don’t worry, Hawthorn Creely and her classmates will remind you. I defy you to read this book and not be reminded of your own teenage years. Of course you might not have had a band of hippies come live in your backyard, but no doubt your parents found other ways to embarrass you in front of your peers.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett deals with a lot of issues teenagers face; low self esteem, depression, suicide and bullying, both face to face and on social media. There are many good life lessons in this book.

“There’s no such thing as a normal high school experience, Thorny. You assume everyone else is happy all he time and living an ideal life. You don’t get that other people are pretending too.”

“Don’t confuse being popular with being interesting”

“Sometimes, there are things that are really hard to do, and it sucks the whole time you’re doing them. But you also know it’s the right thing, and you might be making a huge difference for someone else.”

This was a touching book. It is a book that has a place in every high school library. It is a book that every parent of teenagers should read, so that we can remember what high school was really like.

I listened to this book on audio via Overdrive, very well narrated by Jessica Almasy. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1627384349