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Scatterbrained Sisters

Reviews a little on the gushy side

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Ben Alire Saenz

Ten thousand kisses for Dante.

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This book made me cry so many times, and the characters cried so many times, and we are all just swimming in a pool of our tears. In a good way, though. You’ll love it, I swear.

I almost read this book a few years ago but I was too young to realize the ~implications~ of the back summary, so I thought this was about two really close friends. (I mean it is, but.) In fact, it’s about exploring sexuality and friendship and love and what all of that means and let me tell you: it is art. Speaking of the back summary:

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Their names are Aristotle and Dante. Mmm. I love them. Also, the summary says Dante is a know-it-all, which implies that Dante is not the precious, wonderful, sweet human that he actually is. I love him. And Ari, but Ari is a little less soft.

This book was very fast-paced, I thought; Dante and Ari are close friends by page 20 or so, and the small chapters make it even easier to read. It was so good, and the internal conflict Ari has going on is so! good! It hurts; I ache with my love for these two.

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Something else that I really thought was great and thought-provoking about this is the involvement of the parents. Most YA novels I read are about main characters whose parents make infrequent cameos at best, but Dante and Ari’s parents were essential to the plot and conflicts of the novel. The bond that both boys have with their parents was so strong and good, and it developed so nicely throughout the novel. Both Dante and Ari start the book feeling unsure about at least one of their parents, but by the end they’re closer and speaking and it’s beautiful.

Ari’s main problem in the novel in the novel is his brother, who is in prison. No one in his family is willing to even speak his brother’s name, so Ari just has to live with the knowledge that his brother did something terrible and it left holes in his parents. His dad is a war veteran, also, so he’s pretty messed up from that, too.

Dante struggles a lot with his sexuality. He comes out to Ari with relative ease, but he’s scared to disappoint his parents. He’s an only child, and he doesn’t want to ruin their only hopes at grandchildren by being gay. (Even though Dante’s parents love him more than they could ever love anything else and would sooner die than be disappointed in him for something he can’t control.)

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I love Ari and Dante’s relationship because they’re so different but they fit so well. They bring out such wonderful things in each other. For example, Ari doesn’t think he’s smart but Dante has them reading poetry together and generally doing other intelligent things.

Also! Ari and Dante are both Mexican-American, and Dante is a little uncomfortable with that because he doesn’t think he’s Mexican enough or American enough, but Ari doesn’t mind it.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is so good and lyrical and important. It deals with race issues, sexuality, strong and beautiful friendships, parental bonds, and so much more. Sometimes I think about it and cry real woman tears.

Five stars:

five stars

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Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

This review is sprinkled with spoilers, I’m sorry. Anything that’s crossed out like this is a spoiler.

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Hi, friends, I’m so sorry I haven’t written a review in so long. I’ve been very busy ~living for the aesthetic~ so please forgive me. Also, it turns out I’m depressed–I got diagnosed and everything–and with all the laying sadly in my bed that I’ve been doing, I got a lot of reading done!

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I read Out of the Easy in one day because I’m trying to read a book every day this summer, and also because it was really good. I had relatively high expectations because I read Between Shades of Gray by this same author and thought it was also really good. I’d never heard of it before when I went to Barnes and Noble last week, but it’s about the daughter of a prostitute, which I thought was intriguing. Here’s the full summary:

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

You might not know this about me, but I love historical fiction, especially historical fiction written by my girl Ruta Sepetys. Out of the Easy is historical fiction written by my girl Ruta, so we hit it off pretty well.

This book starts off when Josie is seven and she and her mother first go to see Willie. Well, actually, it starts with her mother doing it with some guy at a hotel and getting some nice jewelry in return, but then they go see Willie. Lil seven-year-old Josie engages in some witty banter with Willie, and they bond over how children are the worst and Josie’s mother is even worse than children. It’s great.

Really, though, one of my favorite things about this novel is the relationship between Josie and Willie. After that first chapter, the book jumps forward ten years to seventeen-year-old Josie, who is tragic and educated and wonderful. She is working at a bookshop with one of her love interests, Patrick, who turns out to be gay and makes me really sad by how closeted and ashamed he is.

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^^that was for you, Patrick, my love.

Josie also cleans up the brothel where her mother works in the mornings, and during this she brings Willie her coffee and anything she finds that the customers left behind. Willie is secretly my favorite character, after the true star of the show, Jesse (or maybe Cokie). I don’t know; I loved almost all of these characters.

Anyway, Josie is actively trying to get into college and far, far away from New Orleans and her crazy mother for this whole book. She is very firm in not wanting to end up like her mother or any of the girls in Willie’s brothel, except for this one part at the end but we won’t talk about that because I’ll tuck Josie away into a tiny corner where no one can ever touch her.

Back to Jesse: he’s wonderful. Even when I thought Patrick was straight, I preferred Jesse over him. There were so many times in this book when Josie was cracking open at the seams and she very clearly was soothed by Jesse, every time. Things were so easy between them, and Josie really needs something easy in her terrible life. She deserves Jesse (also he’s openly into her for this entire book, it was a little embarrassing at times.) (Not really, though, he’s too smooth.)

The murder was very juicy, especially because the man who was murdered was one of the people who inspired Josie to go the fancy college she’s hoping to attend. They only met once, when he came to her bookshop the day he was murdered, but it was enough for her to develop an emotional attachment and decide she wants him to be her father.

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It’s okay. We love her anyway. *blows a thousand kisses*

She’s also linked to the murder because her mother killed the guy.

This book was so so wonderful! If I could erase my memory and read it again, I absolutely would.

Five stars:

five stars

I didn’t proofread this, just so ya know.

Some Boys by Patty Blout

I apologize in advance if this doesn’t make any sense, I’m tired.

I bought (well, my mother bought) and read Some Boys on the same day, and it was great. The topic is pretty dark, but I think Patty Blout did a great job with making it lighthearted when necessary, but not making it too lighthearted because rape is a very serious thing.

Anyway, Some Boys is about a girl named Grace who was raped by the school’s golden boy, and no one believes her. They think she’s just saying that to get attention, and she’s now been labelled as the school slut and is frequently called such. (Which is utter bull, in my opinion, but apparently Grace attends a school full of morons.)

Even the boy who found her, naked and unconscious, doesn’t believe her, but he’s also her rapist’s best friend, so he’s biased. (Although, really, it was pretty obvious what had happened.) Ian, the boy who found her, is also Grace’s love interest, once he gets over himself. (He doesn’t really get over himself until, like, the second to last chapter, smh.)

After Grace told people what Zac (the rapist) did to her, he posted a video on Facebook that’s pretty much a sex tape, meant to prove that Grace is a slut and he’s innocent. (There’s a second video that is much more accurate, but it isn’t found until later.)

Grace does something that I can’t remember, and is then punished with having to clean all the lockers over spring break. Coincidentally enough, Ian is also given this job because he also did something I can’t remember, which is just perfect since they’re not very fond of each other.

But that’s how all good romances start, so don’t worry about it.

Anywho, Ian happens to have a concussion (this is what happens when you play sports, 0/10 stars, would not recommend) and he gets dizzy at some point while they’re cleaning lockers, so then Grace gives him a sandwich and some water, and yeah. Love.

But also he’s really conflicted because Grace is pretty and funny and keeps dropping serious remarks about how she’s not lying, and Zac is his best friend and he loves him and he can’t just betray him like that. (Except for he can because I don’t think Bro Code applies if your bro raped someone and then convinced everyone the victim was just dramatic.)

Some Boys is told in alternating point-of-views (Grace and Ian’s) and is all-around lovely. I thought the conclusion was wonderful, and I really don’t remember it all that well, so this review was clearly a splendid idea, but you get the gist.

Five stars:

five stars

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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I’ve been listening to “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson for the past hour, and it accurately describes my relationship with this masterpiece.

I don’t know how to stop crying, and now that I’ve thought about it some, it seems a little irrational, but I can’t stop. I don’t understand why I keep torturing myself with doomed romances, but here we are. If you’re in the mood for crying, read The Wrath and the Dawn. (Also, if you’re not in the mood for crying, read The Wrath and the Dawn.) There is no doubt in my mind that you will love it, but, you know, prepare yourself for the body-wracking sobs. I did not prepare myself for the weeping, so when it happened, I was just crying quietly into my bookbag while I sat in the bus. It was not ideal.

And oh my, Khalid. I love you, a thousand times over. Cue the sobs.

This book was FANTASTIC. The writing was beautiful, the characters well-formed, the relationships tear-worthy. Divine, absolutely divine.

The Wrath and the Dawn is about a girl named Shahrzad and a boy named Khalid. Khalid is the Caliph of ???, and he keeps killing his wives because he wants to protect his city from this curse he was placed under and blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, Shahrzad’s best friend becomes one of Khalid’s wives and is then killed at dawn, just like everyone else. Naturally, Shahrzad is pretty pissed that her friend is dead, so she goes into Vengeance Mode and volunteers to be Khalid’s next wife.

Her goal is to kill him and end his reign of death and stuff, but she has to stall first, so on the first night, when he comes to visit her, after they do stuff

Shahrzad tells him a story, and at dawn, when she isn’t finished, Khalid is like, “Fine, I’ll let you live,” and stalks off like a baby.

On the second night, Shahrzad pulls the same stuff, and it continues. At some point (either after the third or fourth night, idk??) Shahrzad is escorted to the Death Courtyard (that’s not what it’s called, it’s been a while since I read this book, forgive me) and they put the silk thread around her neck that she’s supposed to be strangled with.

But then Khalid comes and is like

and then he’s like

with Shahrzad.

So yeah, stuff happens, they fall in love, whatever, but THE ENDING.

I guess it made sense or whatever, but MY HEART HURTS.

Up until that, though, this book was fantastic. I recommend it to all, but read it with several boxes of tissues nearby because you will cry.

Five stars:

five stars

 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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a court of mist and fury

My heart can’t contain my love and affection for this book. I adored A Court of Thorns and Roses, but it can’t begin to compare to A Court of Mist and Fury on account of how there’s SO MUCH FEYSAND and FEYSAND=OTP.

So.

In A Court of Mist and Fury, Feyre is dealing with the mental aftermath of being tortured Under the Mountain for so long, and she’s returned to Spring Court with Tamlin, who is being THE TOOL OF THE CENTURY. It’s not even that he really means to, he’s just so protective and he wants Feyre to be his sweet little child-bearing wife, and that’s really not her personality. Which he doesn’t understand.And he’s really not a very good fiance, because Feyre wakes up most nights and pukes from her terrible nightmares and he just kinda rolls over and pretends he can’t hear her.

Anyway, Tam and Feyre are engaged, and on their wedding day, as Feyre is walking down the aisle, she’s panicking because she doesn’t actually want to marry Tamlin. So then my precious Rhysand swoops in and is like, “Hello, Feyre darling,” and whisks her off to his court.

Where she meets Morrigan, Rhysand’s wonderful cousin, and Cassian and Azriel and Amren and life just gets so much better for her and when she wakes up and pukes, Rhysand holds her hair like a gentleman, and it’s great.

There’s also a bunch of crap with the Cauldron and the King of Hybern and the mortal queens and blah, blah, blah, but what’s important is Feysand.

The action and the events that unfold are actually interesting, so I apologize for the blah’s, but seriously shipshipshipship.

They’re so beautiful.

Anywho, the end of the book wrecked me and also made me really happy so I’m currently very confused, but whatever.

This book was so good, and Sarah J. Maas (as usual) made the story flow so naturally, but she still managed to surprise me with some things and I love how she made Tamlin’s whole I’m-an-overprotective-jerk thing fit with his character. In ACOTAR, he was pretty protective of Feyre, but she was different, that was before Under the Mountain, and it all made a lot of sense, I think.

The Summer Courts are visited in this one, and the Court of Dreams and Nightmares and CAN I MOVE TO VELARIS, PLEASE??? Sarah J. Maas is so brilliant at describing things all prettily and making me want to move to fictional realms.

But seriously, Rhysand is so hot, I can’t.

So anyway, this was a great book, that whole second-books-are-always-the-worst-ones thing does not apply to this in the slightest. Also, Feyre is so fierce and lovely, I don’t know what to do.

Five stars:

five stars

(This review didn’t make any sense, don’t worry about it.)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This book follows a girl named Louisa Clark. She is living at home with her parents and has just lost her job. From here we get to the good stuff! She gets hired to be the caretaker of Will Traynor- who is gorgeous- as you can see. I mean, look at him.

Anyways, he’s quadriplegic- partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso. When she first meets him, he is not really the nicest but he just needs a little time to realize how awesome and adorable Louisa is. That’s my opinion anyways. They start to get along and then she finds out- SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER- he is planning to got to this place to die in six months.  She makes it her mission to change his mind. Now, i’m going yo skip a little bit. They have gone out and done all this cute stuff even though he doesn’t enjoy all of the fun activities- like the horse race. They go on one last trip to a beach resort place and have fun and she confesses her feelings and I was like

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and then he said she wasn’t enough and I was like

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and it all went bad. She went home and he went to die but then she went to him last minute and he gave her a letter and then died.

THAT LETTER.

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So, Will and Louisa are the best. This book broke my heart. The movie is good. The sequel will make the whole in your heart shrink some. And Neville Longbottom plays her jerk boyfriend in the movie and now i can’t hate him. Read it! -Jen

five stars

 

 

 

 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Sigh.

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I didn’t have particularly high expectations of this book, which may be why I love it so much, but seriously, it’s amazing. There’s interesting characters and wonderful relationships and loyalty and magic and ugh. I think Uprooted was really well-written, and I really liked how it ended.

This book is about a girl named Agnieszka and a wizard named the Dragon. Every ten years, the dragon comes to Agnieszka’s village and takes a girl to bring back to his tower with him. I know that sounds weird–it is, don’t worry about it. Anyway, he only takes girls born in October, and Agnieszka is one of those girls, but so is her smart, beautiful, funny best friend, so she’s pretty confident she won’t be the one taken to the tower.

Naturally, she is.

It’s called foreshadowing, and Naomi Novik has mastered it.

So, Agnieszka is taken to the Dragon’s tower, and he’s a real jerkface for awhile, but then he’s like, alright, I guess I should teach you magic now, because she held this flame, which apparently makes you a witch.

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I mean, why not?

Anyway, so they start off pretty simple, just things like dealing with her clumsiness and making her clothes pretty. Basically, Agnieszka goes to the Dragon’s library every day and is like

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Which is fun and all, but it’s not until the Dragon leaves the tower that she really starts to come into her power. The torches that signal her village needs help go up, so Agnieszka’s freaking out and trying to figure out how to get down there, since the Dragon is occupied. Anyway, so she makes a rope out of her old dresses and goes to her village, where she catches up with her buddy Kasia and her parents.

The torches went up because one of the village members was corrupted, so Agnieszka turns him to stone. (I personally think that was dumb, but whatever.) Corruption comes from the Wood, which is a forest that is living, kind of, and when people go in it, they go mad, but sometimes if you go close enough, it sort of comes out. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but the Wood=evil.

When the Dragon comes back, he’s really mad at Agnieszka because she very politely stole all of his potions and used them randomly. In her defense, she was in a panic. But it’s okay because the Dragon gets mad at her for everything. They’re cute.

Uprooted is about Agnieszka discovering her abilities, with the help of the Dragon, and gradually falling for him, too. They’re very special about it, because they’re firmly on the “I hate you” side of things, but also they keep randomly kissing??? They’re fun.

Their first kiss was after they cast their first spell together, and it was perfect. They were creating the illusion of a garden, and it was beautiful and descriptive and wonderful, but then Agnieszka started laughing, and she broke the spell. So the Dragon called her an intolerable lunatic and kissed her.

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It was very awkward because I was reading this in public, like, at school, and then I just started having a complete meltdown in math class, and I truly pity the girl who sits beside me because I am INSANE.

Yeah, so this book is flawless, and I hope you all read it and love it. (It should be mentioned that the Dragon’s actual name is Sarkan, and his name has a taste. In Agnieszka’s opinion. Pretty sure she described it as “fire and unfurling wings.”)

Five stars:

five stars

(This review is more words than there are pages in this book. I never write long reviews, oh my goodness.)

 

 

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

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This ending was NOT OKAY. I repeat NOT OKAY. It’s great, but prepare yourself to want to jump off a bridge. Outrage, okay? Pure outrage.

This book is about a girl named Juliet Moreau. Her father is Dr. Morea, a character from H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, and he ditched her when she was younger to go to his island. This left Juliet and her mother to make a living for themselves, which is kind of difficult in Victorian England. Her mother becomes a prostitute, but later dies of consumption, so Juliet takes a job as a maid. Then she stabs a pervy doctor in the hand–which is generally frowned upon–so she was fired.

But then she meets Montgomery, who was her father’s assistant back when he still lived in England. And he’s all grown and handsome, and she’s all grown and pretty and sparks are flyin’. So she goes to her father’s island with Montgomery, but while they’re on the boat, a castaway comes aboard–Edward. Juliet identifies with him because she’s all alone and sad, too, so she’s drawn to him, and he’s like, “Ooh, pretty girl,” because, you know, boys. Montgomery’s also starting to make his move, so Juliet’s like

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When they get to the island, Juliet’s father is really weird and all, “I’ve been expecting you,” and he very casually shoves Edward into the ocean, even though he can’t swim, which is RUDE, but apparently people on this island don’t have table manners. Or any manners. At all.

Seriously, though, do you know how many times Juliet described Montgomery as a caged animal??? It got a little ridiculous.

Okay, so there are creatures on the island that aren’t human, but sort of look like humans, and they’re all things that Dr. Moreau created in his lab, so they view him as God, essentially. He has commandments and a priest, and it’s a whole shebang. Anyway, so Juliet’s secretly like, “You’re a monster!” but she doesn’t say that because she’s civilized and doesn’t want to become one of her father’s experiments.

Stuff goes down, yada yada yada, and then the ending.

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I’m really not okay with it, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that e’body got real stupid, real fast. NOT COOL, MEGAN SHEPHERD. NOT. COOL.

So, read this book, love it, all that good stuff, but don’t expect happiness and sunshine because it’s crazy. It’s all crazy. But wonderful. (I’m Team Montgomery, kind of, by the way.)

Five stars:

five stars

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

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Oh my goodness, this book was so amazing. I’m not entirely sure how to go about reviewing this, but I’ll try.

So. Nearly Gone is about a girl named Nearly. Her mother’s a stripper, and her father ditched them forever ago, which is why her mother’s a stripper, and her whole life is really something. She has a best friend named Jeremy, whose father was one of her father’s gambling buddies.

When Nearly touches people, she feels their emotions, so she generally avoids human contact. Especially Jeremy, because he’s very

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inside, and she’s already like that, so she really doesn’t need more of it.

Anyway, so Nearly’s trying to find her father by looking at the personals in the newspaper every week, but she keeps finding these eerie ones. A girl (or boy, I don’t remember at all) is murdered, and Nearly thinks that the clues as to where the next murder will be are in the personals section of the newspaper. So she rakes the newspapers each week, and she begins to see that the pattern is that every one who’s murdered is someone she tutored, and you’d think that she’d–oh, I don’t know–STOP TUTORING PEOPLE, but she really wants a scholarship, so, you know; if people have to die, then people have to die.

S’all good.

Oh, but then there’s Reece, who’s working with the police to keep an eye on Nearly. (I can’t imagine why, it’s not like she’s CRAZY.) Reece is real cute, and they’re real cute together, and it’s fun, if you excuse how rude she is to him.

This book is a real page-turner. There’s so much suspense and thrill, and I thought literally everyone but the killer was the killer, right up until it was revealed. It’s great.

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The cover’s fairly pretty, but it’s no The Jewel. That’s fine, though, because it’s so good. (!!!)

Five stars:

five stars

 

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