Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

20140302-140802.jpgI don’t even know where to begin with this one. Counting by 7s was recommended by a friend several weeks ago, and I dutifully added it to my ever-growing but never-diminishing TBR list. Didn’t give it any more thought. Then, several days ago, I was browsing my list and it caught my eye. I went back and read some of the reviews and decided, why not? Now I’m wondering why I waited so long and why everyone isn’t praising this book from the top of every roof.

Willow Chance has always been an unusual child, but that suits her just fine. She adores her parents, and they adore her. She rarely even thinks about the fact that she’s adopted. She loves her books, her garden, and her current obsession with medical conditions. A highly gifted child, she’s never really fit in at school. The teachers just don’t understand her. When she’s accused of cheating on a test, her punishment is meeting with the school counselor. It’s at this point that her comfortable little world comes crashing down when her parents are killed in an automobile accident. What follows is Willow’s journey to find her place in a strange, unfamiliar world all the while relying on the help of strangers.

Written in the same line of thinking as Wonder and Out of My Mind, this book had me hooked from the first sentence. My heart was aching for Willow and the sorrow she had to go through. At the same time, I was filled with admiration for this little girl who persevered in spite of such insurmountable odds. The other characters in this book are no less important and just as enjoyable. I especially loved the transformation of the characters during the course of the story, all because of the impact of one very special little girl. A gruff, lackadaisical school counselor finds himself actually caring. A juvenile delinquent teenage boy begins to find his passion in things other than criminal endeavors. And a misfit group of strangers begins to band together to form a ragtag sort of family. This is the kind of story that will make you laugh at Willow’s quirky sense of humor one minute while crying with heartache for her at the next. This one needs to be at the top of the list for readers both young and old!

~Thalia

Buy it now: Counting by 7s

Review: Golden State by Michelle Richmond

goldenstate***Sneak Peek Review! “Golden State” will be released on February 4, 2014***

I picked up a book years ago that was entitled “The Year of The Fog”. I devoured it in hours. I absolutely loved it. I rushed out, purchased multiple copies and sent them out in the mail to the only readers I knew at the time. I then proceeded to read her other works. Sadly, that’s been over 7 years ago! I’ve never forgotten how much I enjoyed TYotF and I often browse looking for a new release from Richmond. I joined up for her newsletter via her website and heard very little. Then FINALLY!!! I got an email that said she had a new book coming out! I quickly checked my ARC websites and saw the book in both NetGalley and Edelweiss….I quickly applied to both sites to snag my copy…and surprisingly enough I was approved by both websites. I can’t remember being so excited about a book for a while now.

It wasn’t soon that I was completely worn out from hooting and hollering and dancing around the house from all of my excitement. Suddenly, as I sat down to catch my breath, I was dejected. I had waited so long for this book to be written, now it was here…what if I hate it? What if the love I felt for TYotF was just a fluke? What if I am so disappointed in this novel that it even takes away from my previous feelings of obsession to getting to my next Michelle Richmond read? What if the writing is so awful that I start to doubt what I felt in the past? I was torn….to start the book or to stare at its cover for a time and just imagine what might be between the covers?

Heck!!!!!!! You guys know me, RIGHT???????? I ripped into this baby so fast!!!!! I couldn’t wait to start it! Was I disappointed? Heck no!!!!!! It’s a Michelle Richmond novel! I absolutely loved it from start to finish!

I think I might have loved it even a bit more than TYotF….

This novel is a day in the life of Doctor Julie Walker. Of course, it’s no ordinary day. California is in the midst of a game changing election day. Her sister needs her help pronto. Her Jeep is broken into. And two men in her life are not where she needs them to be. And this ladies and gentlemen is only the beginning….

Now let me forthright and honest here for just a moment….I wish there was a bit more to the ending…that Richmond had taken it just a little bit further…I wanted to see just a smidgen more of the side story of the novel (and for sake of spoilers, that’s all I will say on that subject)

Also, it needs pointed out that Richmond has a unique writing style. She doesn’t blurt out the plots. They are just there…yes, you sort of know what they are, but at the same time, you’re not 100% sure. All the while, Richmond drops bread crumbs along the trail and confirms her story or throws in a small twist that has you wondering….

At the same time, she jumps back and forth. It can be frustrating if you want things laid out in a straight path to follow. One moment, the main character is in the present, the next second she is 3 hours earlier or a decade earlier. The only way you have to follow is to simply LISTEN to thoughts of the main character. Soon enough, if you just relax, you can follow along just fine.

I was sitting there after I finished the book, pondering it all (did I mention I LOVED the book?) and I realised, really, think about it, isn’t that how we really are? We jump from the present to what we had for breakfast this morning…and then a moment later a song, or a smell, or for some reason we don’t even know, think back to a time in our past. To a memory. Pondering how we got to this place in time. Memories are a great tool. They help us live our current lives and they help shape our futures as well. Memories are not just something that we leave behind and forget. We never know when they are going to hit us.

I think that is why I love Richmond so much. She has a way of writing that I really feel like I can connect with the character. I am there with them, confronting the memories. Dealing with their guilt. Or their anger. Or their confusion. I am there feeling them realise their imperfections. Accepting their blame. I am the one trying to find forgiveness. I am the one who is trying to change for the better. I can’t recommend this book enough. I really can’t. I won’t say that it’s a perfect format for writing. I won’t say this is a literary gem that will challenge all the writings throughout time. But I will say, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT YOU HOLD HOLY, DO NOT MAKE ME WAIT ANOTHER 7 YEARS FOR THE NEXT BOOK, MICHELLE RICHMOND!!!!

Bwhahahahahahaahahahaha….go get this book!!!! As fast as you can! Still not convinced? Maybe a few quotes will do for you…

I understand how families become estranged, not by design, but by embarrassment. You come to a point when so much time has passed that it seems impossible to make the first move.

We tend to see life as a continuum, Julie, but really, it’s a series of phases, generating a series of different selves. You leave one life behind and start another. And each time, a different version of yourself emerges.

I guess I’m just stuck on the idea that there’s this monumental machine, and we’re all part of it. Most of the time, we don’t even stop to think about how it works. We just go about our business, doing our part, trusting that everyone else will do their part, and the machine will keep functioning. But all it takes is for someone to come along who isn’t thinking straight, some who’s not paying attention, or worse, hell-bent on self-destruction and everything turns to shit.

Go on then! Buy the book!!!!

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Golden State

ARC provided by NetGalley and Edelweiss for an honest review.

Review: Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt

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Sara is a 16 year old girl who is pregnant and madly in love with her boyfriend. Her parents don’t “get” her and don’t approve of their relationship because Sara is supposed to be college bound and they think this is distracting her. When Sara goes to tell Daniel about her pregnancy he doesn’t react the way she thought he would and he disappears. She finally chooses to put the baby up for adoption but can’t find any family that seems to be a good fit.

She finds what she is looking for in George and Eva and they decide on an open adoption. They become like second parents to her throughout the pregnancy, supporting her and listening to her when Sara’s own parents don’t want to hear about her issues. After Sara gives birth things change for everyone.

I really enjoyed this book about open adoption because I felt like I was seeing the issues from all points of view without much bias. The POV does alternate between Sara and the adoptive parents and we also get a glimpse into the birth father’s thinking a few times as well. I could relate to all of their emotions and the complications they go through.

I literally couldn’t put this book down, as I was so interested in hearing what happened next in each person’s life. I thought each person was multifaceted and flawed, which made them come to life for me. This is my second Caroline Leavitt book and I really enjoy her narrative style and think she has a beautiful way of telling her stories.

4 stars

~Clio