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The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand • Magan Reviews

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand [twitter • website] Publication Date: February 10, 2015 Publisher: Harper Teen Pages: 400 Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction Keywords: suicide, loss of a brother, life after loss, counseling Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!) Summary: Lex’s brother committed suicide and she’s not entirely sure why. She wants answers she’ll never get; she wants more […]

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March 11, 2015 - 11:14 am

Magan - Alexa, it really was. Cynthia did a brilliant job. My heart broke, but I think that’s because she wrote so, so well.

March 3, 2015 - 1:58 pm

Alexa S. - I loved The Last Time We Say Goodbye! It’s such a well-told tale, and I thought Hand handled grief, anger and moving on with such a deft hand. So thrilled to hear that you enjoyed it as much as I did!

February 28, 2015 - 9:00 am

It's a Wrap • Sayanara February (Best of February 2015) - […] Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds […]

February 23, 2015 - 11:49 am

Magan - Hey Kelsey! You’re so welcome! If you’re looking to add a few “issues” books to your reading list, definitely also add All the Bright Places, too!

February 23, 2015 - 11:46 am

Kelsey - Thanks for reviewing/drawing attention to a book I might not otherwise have picked up. I don’t usually read a lot of “issues” books, but this one sounds well worth picking up.

February 23, 2015 - 11:18 am

Magan - Lori, I definitely did! SO glad to hear you’re a fan too! 🙂

February 23, 2015 - 11:18 am

Magan - Brianna, I completely agree. They’re SO hard to read, but they need to exist so people have something to relate to, to help them through. I greatly admire authors, such as Cynthia, who can take a topic so personal to them and share it with others.

February 22, 2015 - 10:42 pm

brianna - These issue books can be so difficult to read, but they’re so important to the conversations between tweens/teens and their parents.

February 22, 2015 - 6:49 am

Lori - I love this book so much! I’m happy to see that you did too.

Promposal by Rhonda Helms • Magan Reviews

Promposal by Rhonda Helms [twitter • website] Publication Date: February 10, 2015 Publisher: Simon Pulse Pages: 224 Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction Keywords: promposal, public displays of affection, LGBT, Dive Into Diversity Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!) Summary: When best friends Camilla and Joshua find themselves in less-than-ideal situations for prom, one of them going with someone she doesn’t want to date […]

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March 11, 2015 - 11:15 am

Magan - Alexa, it sounds like even within the US Promposals are a completely different thing. I’d NEVER heard of them when I was in high school, but other commenters said they had them around that time. So interesting how it’s all spread out!

March 3, 2015 - 1:46 pm

Alexa S. - Promposal sounds like a super cute read! In the Philippines, going to prom is an entirely different experience; I can’t imagine anyone making promposals a big deal over there. But I am curious to see how this story plays out for both these characters. If it’s wrong to root for their happy ending, then I don’t want to be right!

February 23, 2015 - 11:22 am

Magan - Brianna, major props for originality! The idea you had was super cute. And I’m just gonna say it: That guy was a jerk for not even acknowledging your promposal. 🙁 Errr. I’m so erked right now.

February 23, 2015 - 11:21 am

Magan - Leah, I don’t even know! The promposal wasn’t a thing at my high school either. (Though, admittedly, mine was very, very small.) I think I would have been super embarrassed too. In retrospect, I’m so glad that when my husband proposed, it was just him and me. Not a huge, dramatic moment.

February 23, 2015 - 11:20 am

Magan - Jen, have you received a big Promposal? I hope you have SO MUCH FUN at your prom! Share photos! xo

February 23, 2015 - 11:19 am

Magan - Emma, you’re so welcome! It was a really interesting read. I felt SO wary in the beginning because I didn’t expect it to capture my attention in the way that it did.

February 18, 2015 - 4:21 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - This sounds like a really sweet book with a lot of appeal. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

February 18, 2015 - 2:43 pm

Jen @ Books and Other Happy Ever Afters - I read this one very recently too and I thought it was such a cute and fun read! I myself am a senior in high school so I hope my own prom works out well. Lovely review! I agree with a lot of your thoughts; Camilla was seriously sweet and the Joshua’s crush couldn’t be cuter.

February 18, 2015 - 2:22 pm

Leah - Ooh, I haven’t heard ANYTHING about this!! When did these promposals become a thing? I graduated high school in 2006 and, at least in my area, no one did anything crazy elaborate! On the one hand, it can be really adorable (and VERY impressive when you think about how much thought and effort goes into them)…but on the other, I get secondhand embarrassment REALLY bad. REALLY bad.. Whenever a video of one goes viral (and marriage proposals too) I run away. I’m also the type of person where, if someone had pulled off some gigantic event to ask me to prom, I would have felt obligated to say yes. So I’m with Camilla there.
That said, this really does sound adorable (& yay for diversity!!)

February 18, 2015 - 10:40 am

Brianna - When I was in high school (1996-2000), asking people to dances in unique ways was all the rage, whether it was prom or otherwise. I asked a guy I liked to Sadie Hawkins using a box of Lucky Charms – he had to return one kind of marshmallow for yes, another kind for no, or the cereal if he was going with someone else. We won’t talk about how he didn’t respond. At all. Ever.

Little Kids: A Valentine’s Love-Fest

Graphic found via Pinterest via this source. As many of you know, a really sweet day is approaching: Valentine’s Day! And my daughter, Everett, just turned one a week and a half ago. I intended to do a big OMG HOW HAS THIS YEAR FLOWN BY POST, but I kind of got wrapped up in […]

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February 23, 2015 - 11:28 am

Magan - Katie, I know RIGHT? More crying books! (Yes, please…) So glad you were interested in a few of these! Hope you love them!

February 23, 2015 - 11:27 am

Magan - Elizabeth, we don’t have the Snuggle Puppy book. I’m adding it to my amazon wishlist right now! Thanks for the heads up! xo

February 23, 2015 - 11:27 am

Magan - Thanks for telling me about your post! Checking it out! And thank you — she’s so sweet and silly. xo

February 23, 2015 - 11:26 am

Magan - Oh me either, Leah. ME EITHER. I sob through a lot of children’s books too. A LOT. (I mean, obviously.)

February 23, 2015 - 11:24 am

Magan - Thanks, Alexa! It was so fun to celebrate her birthday! I can’t believe a YEAR has passed!

February 23, 2015 - 11:19 am

Magan - Brooke: Thank you so much! I absolutely love reading to Everett. Each time we sit down with a book, I think my heart grows a little. 🙂 Thanks so much for the sweet compliments about the photos! xo

February 20, 2015 - 1:50 pm

Brooke - This post is so sweet! One of the things I am looking forward to MOST about having little ones is sharing my love of reading with them…

And OH those pictures of Everett. What a beauty!

February 15, 2015 - 12:25 am

Alexa S. - Loved reading this post, M! And such great recommendations <3 Also, you and E looked so lovely. Happy first birthday, Everett!

February 14, 2015 - 9:34 am

Leah - I know I already mentioned this on twitter, but I seriously cannot believe she’s already a year old! It feels like you just posted your What to Expect.. review, M! A very, very happy birthday to miss Everett (those pictures are beyond adorable – my goodness she has cheeks for days ♥!)

When it comes to kids’ books…I just can’t read anything too emotional. Adult books, sure, bring it on! But storybooks have a way of completely wrecking me and I’m left a sobbing mess. 🙁

February 13, 2015 - 6:49 pm

Brianna - Valentine’s Day books are so fun. I did a round-up last week with some fun titles.

Your little girl is so cute. I love the photo of her in the tent.

February 13, 2015 - 3:33 pm

Elizabeth - We love to read I Love You Through and Through… my almost 2 yo likes to do the body parts and thinks my mad face and crying face are funny. I think my favorite lovey kid’s book is Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton… we really love all Sandra Boynton, but that one is super cute!

February 13, 2015 - 10:54 am

Katie T - Love this! Just added a few of these to Eli’s wishlist 🙂 Just what I need – more books to make mamma cry! ha

Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson • Magan Reviews

Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson [twitter • website] Publication Date: January 27, 2015 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) Pages: 304 Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction Keywords: child abuse, changing identities, escaping abuse, thriller Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!) Summary: Though Charlotte is able to escape her abusers (her parents) and relocate to another city, once she begins to settle she […]

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February 23, 2015 - 11:29 am

Magan - Yay, Lori! I’m so glad you’re interested. It’s insane and I think as a parent, it makes it even more intense to read. I hope you enjoy it!

February 23, 2015 - 11:29 am

Magan - Emma, yes! Definitely keep an eye out for more work from here. I checked out her author page on Goodreads and she seems to write a LOT of thriller/mystery. I will check out more of her work for sure. 😉

February 23, 2015 - 11:26 am

Magan - Brianna, you don’t have to love the writing of Room to love Cut Me Free. The same intensity, however, is what made me make the comparison. Emma Donoghue didn’t write Cut Me Free so I think that change alone would make CMF more appealing to you. 🙂

February 23, 2015 - 11:24 am

Magan - Alexa, uncomfortable to the MAX. I seriously wanted to just skip to the end so bad. (In fact: I don’t know how I had enough willpower to NOT.) I hope you give it a go. 🙂

February 15, 2015 - 12:24 am

Alexa S. - Oh man, oh man. Cut Me Free sounds so intense! It would be a read that would make me uncomfortable, but I also wouldn’t be able to stop myself from finding out what happens next. I feel like it would definitely make me think about a lot of things, and I can only imagine how you felt reading it!

February 14, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Brianna - I read Room, but didn’t love it. The premise was compelling, but I’m not a fan of Emma Donoghue’s writing. She mostly writes lesbian fiction, which is fine, but she’s got a very slow, slogging writing style, in my opinion.

February 12, 2015 - 1:23 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - Ah! This sounds way too intense for me (as I think maybe we discussed on Twitter?) but I’m glad it was worth the stressing for you. It sounds like this author is definitely one to keep my eye on.

February 12, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Lori - This is new to me! I’m adding it on Goodreads right now because you definitely have me intrigued!

Religion in YA Books • Dive Into Diversity

Each Sunday, I found myself driving down the back roads of our small town with my grandparents, headed to our tiny Catholic church. I was baptized there and participated as a reader, attended Sunday school, and in high school was confirmed, too. I didn’t really know anything other than Catholicism until my sophomore year in […]

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March 11, 2015 - 11:12 am

Magan - Crystal, that’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing those book recommendations! I really appreciate it! 🙂

March 6, 2015 - 6:34 pm

Crystal - I found A Time to Dance to be a wonderful exploration of religion and spirituality. I reviewed it here http://richincolor.com/2014/07/review-a-time-to-dance/. Also, the new book Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein has more about religion than I expected. There is a contrast between the Ethiopian church (orthodox) and the Friends (Quakers) that the main characters have been part of in the past.

February 23, 2015 - 11:32 am

Magan - Jamie, thanks SO much for sharing your story and the great recommendations. I haven’t read either of the books you’ve mentioned so I’ll be adding them to my TBR right now. I’m so glad you shared! xoxox

February 23, 2015 - 11:31 am

Magan - Elizabeth, you know what — you’re so right. I definitely haven’t read a lot of books with Jehovah’s Witness. THANK YOU for letting us know about Brown Girl Dreaming! I enjoy how trilogies can explore religion by really making up their own as well. I think it’s a good way to get people thinking about things without being so explicit.

February 23, 2015 - 11:23 am

Magan - Katie, I SO hope you check out the books! And I’m so thankful for your recommendation too. Going to head to Goodreads to check it out! I just don’t understand why there aren’t a ton of religious exploration books out there. I know a lot of teens are questioning this. It felt like SUCH a big deal to me in high school.

February 16, 2015 - 10:03 pm

Katie @ Bookish Illuminations - Magan,

I love this post! This is exactly the kind of discussion I love–religion and spirituality in literature, especially children’s and YA. I agree with you–there isn’t as much religion in YA as I think there should be, and I hope that publishing trend changes in the near future.

I haven’t read any of these books you mentioned, but knowing that they focus on characters struggling with questions of faith and religion makes me me want to check them out. I think being curious about these issues is healthy and reflects a more authentic spirituality.

I would so welcome more YA novels that reflected characters expressing their spirituality/religion or struggling with those big questions in life that we often associate with religion and spirituality.

I always try to tease out any spiritual dimensions I find in the books I review–in a very broad sense–but it’s rare that I find books engaging with religion and spirituality in a more specific way. One book that comes to mind with a clear spiritual dimension and that does engage with religion in a refreshing way is The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. It’s not YA, but I think YA readers who are mature could read it.

February 15, 2015 - 12:20 am

Alexa S. - Honestly, I love reading about characters who have strong ideals or struggles with religion. It’s a quest that every individual goes through on their own at some point, trying to make sense of things and decide what to believe in. The books you’ve included, particularly Kenneally’s novels, are great examples of books that tackle religion in a way that feels organic, thoughtful and interesting. Would be awesome to read more books featuring all sorts of religion!

February 10, 2015 - 3:46 pm

Elizabeth - This is only fresh on my mind because I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming last night, but she talks a bit about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, which is something that I have not ever read about anywhere. It was an experience I appreciated reading about, even though I’m not particularly religious myself. I also enjoyed the role of religion in a couple of fantasy trilogies I’ve read– The Girl of Fire and Thorns series and His Fair Assassin series both features fairly pious main characters, though those religions were fictional ones. But on the whole, religion or spirituality are not very prominent in the books I read.

February 10, 2015 - 3:38 pm

Jamie - I grew up only going to church on Christmas and Easter and sometimes to sunday school with my neighbors and VBS in the summer. Then in 8th grade I started going to youth group at a baptist church with a friend (because of a boy and all the boys certainly made me keep going haha). I stayed and got really involved and then made the decision to go to a Christian college. Between my mom passing away and just my experience AT that college I walked away more confused than ever. So I love seeing religion explored in a way that isn’t like Christian fiction or trying to convert someone. Like truly I feel like wrestling with what you believe in or don’t believe in is a huge part of one’s life experience. Especially in the face of death when you really look at like “hey what do I believe in…will I see them again? Is there nothing after death??” I mean, I get panicky at night STILL wrestling with these things.

So yeah I really love seeing it! And not just Christianity. I love seeing all faiths though obviously Christianity is what I’m most familiar with and can relate to.

I recently read No Parking In The End Times and I thought it dealt with wrestling with your faith really well. The girl believes in God and grew up in the church and then her dad gets involved with this cult-like end time group and through this experience she really reevaluates her beliefs and struggles with if she believes in God at all. It was really thought-provoking though I think if people don’t like reading about people who have faith and are wrestling with it probably won’t enjoy it.

I also read Like No Other by Una LaMarche and that was SUCH a good book and the main character was a Hasidic Jew and I loved how it looked at her religion and her culture and how an event really made her question things!

February 10, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Magan - Valeria, every question you posed in your comment is EXAXTLY what I was thinking here. You are spot on. I really feel like I’m missing out on culturizing myself by not seeing this in my reading. It makes the books less unique, I think, and all of the characters a greater melting pot. I want to learn and grow and be pushed to encounter differences. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

February 10, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Magan - Thank you, Andi! I haven’t read that one by Terra, but fully intend to ass it to my TBR list! Thanks so much for contributing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:29 pm

Magan - Thanks for your comment, Jen! I agree – in mainstream YA I’m not seeing a lot of exploration of other faiths. I don’t temd to read actual targeted Christian fiction from a store like Lifeway. I guess I’m pretty surprised that religion is really skipped over in our young adult books. Even if it’s not the primary focus, couldn’t it play a minor role? I haven’t read those books you listed but I am so intrigued! Thanks for sharing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:25 pm

Magan - Bruna, that’s my point – I’m not seeing a lot of those other cultures and religions well-represented at all. I do understand your point of this not being in every book because some people just really don’t want to read about it. Out of curiosity, have you read any books with any religion aspects you’ve found did a good job incorporating it as part of the discussion without it being the sole focus?

February 10, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Magan - Rachel, you’re so right about HOW TO LOVE. I has forgotten that. Subtle, yes, but still a part of the story. Coming from a catholic background, I fully understood how she would have felt being pregnant and her parents reactions. The story would have felt less complete without that i think. Also, thanks for the sweet comment. I’m really glad you found this interesting!

February 10, 2015 - 1:18 pm

Magan - It really seems to be lacking, Brianna. You bring up a great point about the Holocaust. I haven’t read a book focusing on that time with a religious aspect either.

February 10, 2015 - 11:56 am

Brianna - I can’t think of a single book off the top of my head, YA or otherwise, where religion plays a prominent role (other than memoir). Even Holocaust literature doesn’t really talk about the religious aspects of those peoples’ lives.

February 10, 2015 - 11:55 am

Rachel @ Hello, Chelly - Magan, I love that you wrote about this! I was at a similar crossroads during college (I was brought up Catholic but some of my relatives belonged to a Baptist church). I agree this topic isn’t explored enough in books but I would like to see more of it. One book that did come to mind is HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno. Religion/Catholicism plays a role but a subtle one. But I always find myself thinking of it when I look back on that book (which happens to be one of my all-time favorites). Great post!

February 10, 2015 - 11:30 am

Bruna - Interesting discussion. Religion is not something I see a lot in the books I read, and to be honest, I don’t think is something I would normally seek out. I have struggles with what I actually do believe in and I am already so surrounded by people in real life wanting to push their religions on me that I feel that books are a way to scape that. If is something completely different from my culture, like Islam or other non-Western religions I might be interested; or discussions on atheism or agnosticism. But as far catholicism goes, I just rather do without it.

February 10, 2015 - 10:28 am

Jen Ellision - I wish I had some from other faiths to add, but the only books I can think of that explore faith are of a Christian slant.

I read it a while ago and I believe it’s Christian fiction YA, but if I recall the Lisa Tawn Bergren’s River of Time series had some good exploration on faith… not heavy-handed at all, which has been my problem with some Christian fiction. Plus the series is adorable time travel historical romance YA.

Jackson Pearce’s Purity may have had a little exploration too, but I seem to recall it being more about the character’s relationship with her dad than church…

February 10, 2015 - 9:54 am

Andi - I loved reading Small Town Sinner. I was so intrigued by that kind of subject. One that I read that I really enjoyed was Pure by Terra Élan McVoy. Really interesting look at teens with purity rings, waiting until marriage to have sex and what happens when someone goes against that or you yourself thinks about going against it.

Great post Magan.

February 10, 2015 - 9:20 am

Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness - I love that you raised these questions. I have to agree with you. Other than Christian fiction which, as the genre suggests, deals with a lot of religious issues, I don’t see it anywhere in YA. I would love to see it reflected, and much like you be able to learn about other beliefs and cultures. People tend to focus on other diversity issues, but religion always seems to be pushed aside. Why is that?

Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman • Magan Reviews

Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman [twitter • website] Publication Date: October 14, 2014 Publisher: Notting Hill Press Pages: 326 Target Audience: Adult Fiction Keywords: people pleasing, crappy boyfriends, controlling parents, shady jobs Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!) Summary: Carol is barely able to tread water or find time for herself because she’s constantly attending to everyone else’s needs before her own. Her […]

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February 23, 2015 - 11:25 am

Magan - Alexa, I can see you really enjoying this one. Definitely, definitely add it to your TBR!

February 15, 2015 - 12:12 am

Alexa S. - Being a people pleaser is rough, because you just want to make everyone happy and do right by all the people in your world. Perfect Girl actually sounds really interesting! Glad to see that you really enjoyed it, M.

February 4, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Magan - Oh, Elizabeth! Based on my two books by Michele, I’m a fan. I’ll be reading more books of hers for sure and I hope you’ll pick up one to try! Keep me posted on what you think when you read one!

February 4, 2015 - 1:34 pm

Magan - I agree, Brianna! Super cute cover. It was a great read that IS chick-lit but not super light and fluffy. Give it a go!

February 4, 2015 - 11:06 am

Elizabeth - I’m always looking for more chick lit authors to try… never heard of Michele Gorman before, so I will have to keep an eye out for her books! I like that this sounds like it has a lot of character development in it.

February 4, 2015 - 10:33 am

Brianna - This sounds like a fun read. The cover is very cute, too.