The Memory Book by Lara Avery

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The Memory Book

by Lara Avery

Available now from Poppy

Goodreads

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They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

*I received a copy of this book from Poppy in exchange for my honest review.

Sometimes a book comes along and you need everyone to know how spectacular it is. The Memory Book will take you on an awesome, gut-wrenching, emotional rollercoaster. I loved this book from page one. Let’s dissect.

Samantha is your average teenage girl. Sort of. She’s ridiculously smart, on track to be the valedictorian of her high school, and she’s full of wit and snark. It didn’t hurt that she referenced Lord of the Rings like a champ, too. Sam felt real to me, as tangible as the keyboard beneath my fingers. And when the details of her Niemann-Pick disease came out…well, let’s just say that you know right away how this story will end. NPC is ALWAYS fatal, and the author doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of it. So, I cried when Sam struggled, I celebrated when she triumphed. I perused the “Feels Department” and sampled everything they had to offer.

Now, before you think this is a sad book about sick teenager, I should warn you: It is. But it’s also a story about love and life and family and sacrifice and being a teenager in a vastly unfair world. And it made me laugh. A lot. (It also made me cry…a lot.)

The romance in this book is beautiful. There is a love triangle, but I promise you it’s great and realistic and will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.

Stuart and Cooper (the love interests) are both entertaining in their own right. Stuart is a smartypants like Sam, a writer trying to make it big in NYC. He’s well read, and Sam loves that. Cooper is the “boy next door” type. He’s a little country, but his heart is in the right place. He and Sam grew up together as neighbors. The way the three of them come together and ignite is some amazing writing.

The best part of The Memory Book? It’s written as Sam’s journal. I think the immediacy of her words pushes the novel to the next level. The reader experiences Sam’s decline as her disease steals her life. But, readers will also experience her joy, her revelations, and every bit of her humor.

If you love John Green, Shannon Lee Alexander, or you read those heartbreaking Lurlene McDaniel books as a kid, you will fall in love with The Memory Book.

Can I give it more than 5 stars?

TL;DR

  • Buy this book now.
  • Remember the tissues.
  • Experience every documented emotion known to man.

-Kacey

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Available July 26, 2016 from Knopf Books for Young Readers

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Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

*I received an ARC of this book from Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for my honest review.

I’ll admit it, How to Hang a Witch took me a LONG time to read. Usually I knock out a book in 2-3 days tops (1 day if it’s amazing), but I’ve been reading this one since May because it just didn’t grab my interest.

The beginning is SLOW, a deep dive into cliché high school waters. There’s bullying, oblivious, annoying teachers, catty girls, a cute boy next door…and even though the book is set in the ever-so-interesting Salem, I was BORED. However, once I made it past page 70 or so, the book took off and was at least partially redeeming.

Let’s start off with the good stuff. Where Mather’s book shines is Salem history. She took stories that feel old and worn and made them into something fresh. This book has a little bit of everything—a curse, a ghost, magic, a love triangle (square?) that is sweet but not gag-worthy, screwed up family dynamics, and a good old-fashioned mystery. I loved how modern day feels like history repeating itself. The witch trials were all about fearing the unknown and different. Look at bullying, racism, and the rampant hatred society experiences today. THIS is what How to Hang a Witch is really about, and Mather nails it on the head.

But that is where the greatness ends. The rich history lost itself to one-sided stereotypical characters. Samantha, our heroine, is a stubborn, clumsy girl. (When will authors realize that making a character clumsy does NOT make them endearing? Ugh.) The boy next door is cute in a determined stalker kind of way. The descendants (who sound awesome if they were fleshed out) are completely interchangeable. They’re mean girls. Why? Because.

The characters lack emotional depth and I lacked all empathy for them. There was a lot of history here, rich, INTERESTING history, but the author never delved into it. So the characters are mean because the story called for it, but we get no other explanation. They served as plot placeholders, occasionally providing comic relief or some deep dark secret or warning.

The ONLY character who had any depth was Elijah, who is one of Samantha’s love interests. You can tell while reading the book that he was Mather’s favorite character, as he’s the only one with a truly fleshed out past. I liked him for his unexpected humor, old-fashioned ways, and unwavering kindness. I could’ve read the book from his point of view and been completely enamored.

How to Hang a Witch is a fun, superficial read. Though the plot is layered with rich Salem history, it lacks character development that could’ve made it shine. All in all, not a terrible debut from Adriana Mather.

TL;DR

  • Slow beginning
  • Lots of fun Salem history
  • Cute love triangle (square?)
  • Lacks character development

3 stars

-Kacey

Imperium Omni: Captain’s Edition by Matthew S. Thomas

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I received this book from Booktasters in exchange for an honest review.

Shadow, a half-elf, half-human graduate of Hawksmoor academy, sets off on his first missions as an Explorer. On one of his missions, he encountered a group known as the Changers, who are hell-bent on returning a Golden Amulet to Raunos, a demon. He joins this group and realizes soon enough, that there are scarier things out there than Raunos. This book was written as a sort of supplement to a video game, named Captain’s Edition.

This whole novel gave me Deja vu. If it’s not sounding like Lord of the Rings fan-fiction, it’s reading like dialogue from Skryim. The Golden Amulet of Raunos feels like it’s really just Sauron’s One Ring. I mean Raunos is literally an anagram for Sauron.

The book was written the way people tend to think; thoughts, facts, ideas and events are all jumbled together in single strings. It creates this tangential, meandering atmosphere and it’s frustrating to read. There was also a lot of dialogue, with not a lot of action. People were stating the painfully obvious all the time. Please realize that you’re readers are able to deduce what’s going on without explicitly stating it.

The setting was fine. There were no breaks in world-building, and everything was really descriptive and immersive. The Latin was a great touch, adding that it was a language long dead, even to old humans. It was an effective way to let us know that this was ordinary midieval.

This book was, unfortunately, not for me. I’m not deep enough into the video game world to fit into the niche that appreciate this novel. It is fantasy, which is one of my favorite genres, but I found myself constantly trying to measure it next to my other fantasy favorites, which was really distracting.

TL;DR

  • 2/5 Stars
  • Not my cup of tea

 

– XOXO,

Bookie