The Half Life of Molly Pierce (2014) by Katrina Leo

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leo (2014)

Suggested age range: 15 and up (Harper Teen, 256 pages)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Library

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

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The Book: It’s mystery, it’s contemporary, it’s young adult. It’s The Half Life of Molly Pierce. Seventeen year-old Molly feels like she’s missing part of her life. There’s the boy who claims he knows her, but she doesn’t recognize him or know where (or when) she met him. Then there’s his brother who also knows her name, and with whom she senses a significant connection. Was (is?) there something between them? Love? Friendship? Slowly, memories start to come back, and Molly begins to put the pieces together. What is her secret life everyone else seems to know about but her? Will she ever have a whole life instead of just half of one?

Spirituality in The Half Life of Molly Pierce: So, you’ve probably heard me talk about the idea that the relationship to the self is one area of spirituality we can think about out of the four major connections (self, others, natural world, Divine [God]). Looking at this novel through a spiritual lens highlights that idea of our connectedness to the self, and it definitely made me think about how this idea of being “whole” is tied to our spirituality. Mental illness is something a lot of people deal with in today’s world, and it shouldn’t be ignored. The more we can understand it and support people who deal with it, the better. When we see brokenness, we want to fix it. I want to see un-whole people become whole, and Molly’s story reminded me of that even more.

Hope and expectation for the good to come were two other dimensions of the story that engaged my own spirituality.

I wasn’t expecting this because I honestly wasn’t sure what the book was going to be about! So I’m immensely glad I picked it up.

Who Should Read This Book: If you enjoy psychological reads that have a bit of mystery, like We Were Liars, you’ll probably enjoy this. Readers interested in issues surrounding mental illness, or writers interested in ways they can represent mental illness in a story would definitely find this book relevant. It will make you think, and is ideal for reading and discussing with others. I found myself telling my friends about it, even though they weren’t reading it at the time. Oh, and it’s pretty addictive. You might even drop friends off to shop and wait in the car so you can finish the book. (Note: There is some strong language and mature content in the book.)

The Final Word: I wasn’t sure what to think of Molly Pierce at first. I hadn’t read many of the reviews of the book before I plunged in, which I found out afterwards, was a good thing. There is a bit of a twist, and I’m certainly not going to give any hints what that twist entails, but readers who like puzzles and uncertainty—this might be a good choice for you.

I was wondering how Leo was going to wrap the story ends up and resolve the plot, and I was surprised at how satisfying the ending was to me.

The beginning of the book was very jarring (and I think it’s supposed to be) but its conclusion left you with a far different feeling.

Have you read The Half Life of Molly Pierce? What did you think? What other books did it remind you of?

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Top Ten (Ok, Eleven) New Series I Want To Start

Series! Trilogies! Books, Books, Books!–Lots of them!

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their fabulous blog if you haven’t yet.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :)”

This week we’re sharing the top new series (in the last year or so) we want to start. Beginning a series always carries with it a certain weight because you know that you will have to then wait for the subsequent books to come out. I just finished Cress and now I’m dying for Winter to be released! Ahhhh!!!

But, I’ll wait, and I’ll count down the days with all my book buddies. We all know the commitment series require, but we love them, and we’ll keep on loving them! So here are ten eleven series I’m hoping to start in the near future. 😀

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  1. The Glass Sentence (The Mapmaker Trilogy #1)

 

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2. Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)

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3. A Thousand Pieces of Your (Firebird #1)  Ok, so this book isn’t technically out yet, but it’s one of my top anticipated for the near future.

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4. The Young World (The Young World Trilogy #1)

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5. Landry Park (Landry Park #1)

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6. These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) 

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7. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare (Alex Way Fare #1)

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8. Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1)

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9. Ilusive (Illusive #1)

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10. Elusion (Elusion #1)

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11. The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
[BONUS]

Are any of these series on your TBR list? Which one do you suggest I read first? Any titles you think are particularly relevant for the exploration of spiritual themes?? Looking forward to exploring your TTT lists, so do share!

The Vanishing Season (2014) by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2014)

Suggested age range: 13 and up (Harper Collins, 256 pages)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Personal Copy

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Paranormal

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The Book: At first glance, this might seem like a ghost story. In some ways it is. In some ways, it isn’t. It’s about Maggie, who moves to Door County, Wisconsin where a bitterly cold winter ushers in a dangerous season for girls. They start disappearing. Having moved from Chicago, Maggie and her parents slowly start to make a home for themselves in this bleak and yet beautiful landscape, and Maggie develops connections with neighbors Pauline, and Pauline’s good friend, Liam. The friendship between these three teens is the central focus of the book, but woven within that narrative is a mystery—including a mystery about the narrator of the story—who is telling us what happened and what role did he/she have to play in the events that transpired that tragic winter?

Spirituality in The Vanishing Season: Anderson touches on some interesting topics that illuminate issues of spirituality—what happens when we die, if we are tied in some profound way to another person, and the power of relationships to bring healing and forgiveness.

Though I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s depiction of what happens when someone dies, the story definitely would provide an opportunity for some fascinating discussion. The question of uncertainty about the narrator brings up the idea that different people see the same events in various ways—it seems that when we come to that awareness, it may be  easier to understand others.

Who Should Read This Book: If you loved We Were Liars, you should read Anderson’s new book. Those of you that love Tiger Lily, yes, I would recommend you read The Vanishing Season, but I wouldn’t say this is at the same level as Tiger Lily. It’s a different kind of book, and, as you might have read on GoodReads, opinions were widely varied. I didn’t have the problems with this story that some other reviewers did, but I can see their frustration with the idea that not much happened in the story. However, I found myself gripped and turning the pages, wanting to know what was going on with these vanishing girls, but also wondering how the connections between Maggie, Pauline, and Liam were going to work out.

The Final Word: This book gave me a hangover when I finished it. I will eventually re-read it though. I want to comb through the story, look for clues, and appreciate again Anderson’s rich and atmospheric language. I enjoyed the book (as much as you can when you get to the end of a book and just want to sit and stare into space) but I struggled with the ending a bit. I wanted something different for the central characters, but I could understand where Anderson was going with the narrative. Point of discussion—compare the ending of this story with Tiger Lily. Could be an interesting talk!

 

Top Ten Books Katie Has Read So Far in 2014

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their fabulous blog if you haven’t yet.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :)”

This week, we’re looking at our top ten reads in 2014. Some of these might be books that were just published this year, but some may have been published earlier. I have met some fantastic books in 2014, and now let me share them with you! It’s hard to pick just ten, but I’m including children’s, young adult, adult, and nonfiction reads.

Top Ten Books Read So Far in 2014

snickerA Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

One of my new favorite middle grade books of 2014! And perhaps for all time–read my review and you’ll see why.

winner-curse1-624x936The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The first in a series, this fantasy was definitely one of my favorite read in 2014. I appreciate Rutkoski’s style and relished not knowing what was going to happen as this story unfolded…

18053060Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I waited and waited for this one to come out–and it did not disappoint! A twisted version of Oz–but one that will hopefully be saved…

Cinder_hi-resCinder & Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I’m a fan of the Lunar Chronicles now. The world of Cinder and Scarlet is fascinating–I’m currently reading Cress and can now see why everyone raves about this series.

victoria-schwab-the-archivedThe Archived by Victoria Schwab

I still have yet to read the sequel and I think I’m delaying it because I loved the first one so much. This is such a unique premise–check out my review and pick this one up!

11590645Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

This is just my kind of nonfiction book, and I thought Sankovitch’s voice in this slim volume was perfect. I absolutely loved reading about her year of reading one book a day, as she worked through her grief at losing her sister to cancer. I know I will return to this book again!

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Windfallen by Jojo Moyes

I read Me Before You first, and then encountered Windfallen for my second Jojo Moyes book. I adored this one!! Looking forward to reading all of her other books.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I JUST posted my review of this luminous mystery and was thinking about this story for days afterwards…

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Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

I LOVE the adventures and antics of Flora and Ulysses. This is heartwarming story that would be perfect as a read aloud!

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All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

This foodie novel comes out in July, and it’s a treat not to be missed. Stay tuned for my stop on the Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden!

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Bonus: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Aliens? The apocalypse? This was an engrossing story with an interesting take on the alien invasion premise. I am counting the days until the sequel is released…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring The Mystery of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)

Suggested age range: 13 and up (Delacorte Press, 240 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: Personal Copy

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Realism, Mystery

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

The Book: Cadence is part of a privileged family: the Sinclairs. But like many families, this family harbors secrets. Summers find Cadence with her family on their private island off the coast of Massachusetts. There, she becomes part of the “liars,” a group including herself, her two cousins, and a grafted in “cousin,” Gat. They sneak out together, they get in trouble together, but when the summer ends, they each go their separate ways. Except for one summer. What secret is the family holding back from Cadence of that fateful summer, and what happened that she is desperately trying to remember?

Spirituality in We Were Liars: Topics like greed, racism, and dysfunctional family relationships in a story can certainly make room for spirituality. Without giving anything away, I will point out that the issue of materialism surfaces in the story—and one character’s response to this excessive greed is an interesting aspect of the narrative. Feel free to let me know in the comments your thoughts on these aspects of the story!

Who Should Read This Book: If you can read and you like a beautifully written story with a mystery at its heart, you need to sit down with The Liars. You owe it to yourself to visit this island off the coast of Massachusetts, and learn about the Sinclairs with all their flaws. Whether you like a good contemporary realistic novel or a thought-provoking mystery, I’m certain you’ll find something in this story to enjoy. This is the kind of book that kept me close to the page, tracing it for hints as to what really happened during “Summer 15” for the Liars.

The Final Word: Lockhart’s prose is clever, crisp, and beautiful. I hadn’t read anything by her before, but now I plan to change that. I appreciate her style, and I was glued to this story for several days. My only regret is that it had been longer. Now, I’m planning a re-read, especially since I want to return and scour the pages for clues. An unreliable narrator can really make a narrative more fascinating, and Lockhart expertly weaves a story that you will be thinking about long after you have closed the book.