book review and cover for All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | Review + Giveaway

book review and cover for All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven [twitter | website]
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 384
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: depression, opposites attract, senior year, death of a sibling
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (A BIG thank you!)

Summary: After meeting on the top of the school’s bell tower, both contemplating the horror of jumping off, Finch bursts into every aspect of Violet’s life and they’re paired up (at his insistence) for a class project that requires them to spend even more time together.

• • •

Have you ever read a book that was SO GOOD you had to stop reading it so you wouldn’t finish it? I admit that this hasn’t happened many times to me. Usually I get heart palpitations and I dread finishing, but I never completely stop reading. Well, that’s what happened with All the Bright Places. I got to 92% and turned off my kindle, turned out the light, and snuggled in bed. Of course my mind wouldn’t quit racing and I couldn’t stop thinking about Finch and Violet. But at least I had that 8% to finish the next day.

The Meeting Place: On top of the school’s bell tower, both Violet and Finch are contemplating what it would be like to jump. Him: because he fluctuates between being “awake” and “sleeping” and because he’s fascinated with facts about how people have died. Her: because she feels she’s responsible for her sister’s death and can’t grasp why she was allowed to live.

The Story: Finch and Violet are two extremely unlikely characters who after meeting atop the bell tower, are paired together for a class in which they have to discover elements of Indiana over the course of the semester as their major project. This project and Violet’s company — the way she fascinates him and he wants to know more of her story — keeps Finch awake and helps him not to slip into the depths of his depression. He wants to keep Violet safe and alive and make her see she’s going to be okay. He’s known as a freak; she’s part of the popular crowd. He cares what no one thinks and tends to masquerade as different personas whenever he so chooses. Violet envies his ease and intelligence, but she’s also wary of him.

The Charm: Wit. Humor. Laughing out loud at the easy banter between Violet and Finch. Beautiful, gripping writing that really connected me to both characters (especially considering it’s old in alternating POVs). Finch and Violet were ALIVE and unique. The scenery and locations they visited were so “normal” and unspectacular until they arrived and breathed life into them. Meeting Violet and Finch is like taking a deep breath of the most intoxicating scent you’ve ever smelled — it fills you up and makes your lungs burn because you never want to exhale and lose the deliciousness.

The Clincher: There’s this feeling that something’s going to happen as you can feel that they’re both trying to climb out of the long, lonely slumbers they were in before meeting. My emotions were on such a roller coaster as I learned more and more about their stories and who they were. There’s such joy in two polar opposite characters meeting (however tragically that might have been) and seeing their relationship progress to such a beautiful place.

I’ve already marked All the Bright Places as a favorite for 2015. I finished the last pages and immediately pre-ordered a finished copy to be mailed to Estelle. I never, ever spend a lot of time re-reading books, but this book is so strong and remarkable I’ll need to. (I highlighted a bazillion passages and think each time I read it, a million more will stand out.) I guarantee Jennifer Niven will be racking up multiple awards for her incredible work. (She deserves every one of them.)

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• • •

HAPPY NEW YEAR GIVEAWAY!

I loved All the Bright Places so incredibly much that I want to start 2015 off by sharing a copy of it with someone!
Enter below. (13+ older, US residents only.)
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Goodbye to 2014 + End of Year Book Survey | Magan

Hello, friends! Happy last day of 2014! I wish you the happiest New Years Eve and hope you have incredible plans tonight. Dustyn and I will be staying in, playing games, and ringing in the new year in a very low key way. 2014 was full of amazing new firsts, lots of incredible books, less reading than my norm, and so many great new memories. I loved answering Jamie’s survey questions and reflecting back on all the new characters I was able to meet this year. I sincerely hope you’ll be encouraged to add a book (or five) to your to-read lists from my favorites. 

Image Courtesy of falloutgirl9001

Number Of Books You Read: 52
Number of Re-Reads: 2 (Anna + the French Kiss, Lola + the Boy Next Door)
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA Fiction (86%) / YA Fantasy (8%) / Adult Contemporary (6%)

Best-in-Books-Magan

1. Best Book You Read In 2014? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2014 release vs. backlist)

YA Fantasy: Heir of Fire
YA Contemporary: Open Road Summer and Rites of Passage (debut releases) / All the Bright Places (a 2015 release)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I had four books I just couldn’t finish this year — Find Me I’m Yours (unique in concept, but a bit too scattered and the language was too immature for the narrator), And We Stay (really could. not. connect. to this story),  The Secrets of Lily Graves (again, was disconnected from the main character), and Anatomy of a Misfit (hard hitting and super offensive right off the bat).

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

17 First Kisses — when I began this book, I read a lot of iffy reviews on Goodreads that gave me the impression I wouldn’t enjoy it. I have to say, I’m SO glad I gave it a try and decided to make up my own mind.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Even in Paradise. Hands down one of the books I gushed over the most. (I could have / should have included this in my Best Book list.) It’s such a multi-faceted favorite. I was on pins and needles while Estelle and Rachel read it because I wanted them both to love it sooooo much. (Spoiler: they did!)

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

Well, very few of my books were series this year. I needed closure and to not overwhelm myself with lots of sequels. I love, love, loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and cannot wait to see what happens next. Stephanie Perkins’ books aren’t a “series,” but the last companion book, Isla and the Happily Ever After was so lovely; I really am so thankful to have had more of Perkins’ beautiful words to read this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Well, let’s just get over the fact that I’m going to cheat here. My new favorites are:

Kasie West (On the Fence)
Joy N. Hensley (Rites of Passage)
Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places)
Emery Lord (Open Road Summer)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I don’t typically read many books written in verse so I’m awarding this to Stasia Ward Kehoe’s The Sound of Letting Go.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Heir of Fire took me a little while to read because I should have re-read the previous books again, but once I got back into the rhythm of the story, I WAS HOOKED. I have to say it’s probably my favorite in the series so far. Otherwise, I listened to We Were Liars as an audiobook while I was walking. I couldn’t stop walking; every single chapter ended on such a note that I just had to keep going. SO addicting!

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Oh, you guys. Obviously I’m not a very good re-reader. I think I admit this every single year. :-/

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

 Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando — it’s eye catching, graphic, and doesn’t include photographs of people (which is just so, so common)

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Maybe it’s a complete cliche to mention this book, but Amy and Nick from Gone Girl had me reeling for weeks after finishing the book. I just could not wrap my head around that book and their marriage!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

All the Bright Places. I know, I know. I’m mentioning this book a lot, and in a few days, I’ll be tweeting non-stop about it on release day. I think, honestly, that this is one of my favorite all-time books. It’s so incredible. THE WRITING IS SO AMAZING.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

We were Liars made me think SO MUCH while I was listening to it, and I mentioned that in my review. There’s so much you can take from how the family ripped itself apart, vying for belongings and things.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

Over Christmas, Dustyn and I had a lot of miles to cover. We re-read the second book in the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. I read these books in high school and I’m so glad I’m re-reading them (with Dustyn!) because they’re quick, enjoyable, and I love the story.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

I did a post with a few of my favorite ones! Here’s one I particularly loved:

jenny han quotes

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: Heir of Fire (562)
Shortest: This Christmas (160)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

We Were Liars and Gone Girl

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Charlotte (Charlie) and Braden from On the Fence — there’s no way these two could ever break up. I mean, how could they? Her brothers wouldn’t allow it!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The relationships in Head of the River, all around, were awesome. I can’t even pick one specifically because there were so many strong aspects here.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr — This book was amazing! Estelle couldn’t recommend it enough and I’m so happy I took her advice. (Not that I can ever turn down a Zarr book…)

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I’ll Give You the Sun — hasn’t everyone raved about this book this year? It felt like it to me, and I’m really glad I read it, too. There’s a reason there’s been so much excitement.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After. This is one of those few times when I really wanted his perspective added because I adored him so much. I think I connected to him even more than I did Isla!

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

See Question #1: Open Road Summer and Rites of Passage.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Considering I didn’t read as much fantasy as I would have liked, this easily goes to Heir of Fire.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Not in the Script — there were some great laugh out loud moments here. Plus, I really, really loved the characters and their ability to make smart, mature decisions (for the most part).

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

I’m seeing that I didn’t read a lot that made me cry this year. (That’s a shocker because I always sob!) However, All the Bright Places had me ready to hyperventilate with all the feels.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless — this was an easy, quick read with a main character I found interesting, a great setting (a grocery store), and told over the course of one day.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I’m going to assume this means in the best way possible, and therefore, my answer is intended positively. I felt soooo wrapped up in Rites of Passage. Sam was so mistreated and bullied and I wanted to take care of her, but I also admired the living daylights out of her because she was so much stronger than I would have been.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Party by Tom Leveen — his books always seem to have something special about them; in this case, the story is told from 11 different people’s perspectives.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

See Question 28. For all of those reasons, I was super angry. Bullying, of any kind, gets my heart racing and makes me wanna protect someone.

My-Bookish-Blogging-Life-Magan

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?

I was really, really terrible about perusing as much as I used to because I had my daughter, Everett, in February. I was doing really, really good to keep up with simply writing my own reviews. Goal for 2015 is to get back in the game and be more social again!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?

My review of Head of the River. I put so much thought into it and poured over the words until it seemed just right.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

My post on friendship and how I think it’s important to not lump people into boxes so we can know more about them.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I photographed the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year; I hung out in the author room and photographed the photo booth, taking photos like these:

Gayle Forman posing with a teen who interviewed her at the Texas Teen Book Festival, October 2014.
Gayle Forman posing with a teen who interviewed her at the Texas Teen Book Festival, October 2014.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

I guess I’m just super proud that I kept up with blogging. I didn’t read as many books as I have in the years past, but I seriously doubted my ability to do this well once I had my daughter. I spent a lot of time working on my time management this year and while I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked to, I certainly did okay.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

 Our most popular, comment-wise, was Lola’s bedroom decor we created from Lola and the Boy Next Door. (A post that was so, so fun to create together!)

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Estelle’s non-bookish Q&A in which she answers questions I asked her at the end of this year; timing these posts is always so tricky at the end of a year! As far as a personal post I wrote, I think my themed-gift-pack for The Prince of Venice Beach. A lot of our readers are female, but I hoped to reach out to a few guys with this one and it wasn’t very popular.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I love a good bookish deal. When Rachel mentioned the BookOutlet to me a few weeks ago in a tweet, I quickly had to look it up. I may or may not be obsessively checking it now.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

My goal was to read 52 books this year and I’m hoping to have read 53. I’m hoping I can bump that back up again next year, but I ultimately want to be realistic, love what I’m doing, and not make this feel like a job. I want this to always, always be enjoyable.

Looking-Ahead-2015-Magan

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

I’m behind on Miranda Kenneally’s books, much to Estelle’s dismay. I hope to plow through all of her work I’m behind on!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

The Start of Me and You by Emery LordThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

 Because You'll Never Meet MeBecause You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas: Great, unique premise, AWESOME cover.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

 Winter by Marissa Meyer, the end of the Lunar Chronicles series. (SOB.)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

 Read more. Maintain balance. Get ahead on my writing. Not get stuck in a review vortex because I want to write thoughtful, personal posts as well.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

 All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Releasing on 1/6/2015) — DO NOT MISS THIS ONE.

 


THANK YOU so much for reading through all of that. Happy New Year! Happy reading!
We’ll see you in 2015!

Visit Jamie’s blog to link up and participate in the End of Year Book Survey!

(Image for Titles Courtesy of falloutgirl9001)

Santa, I Promise I’ve Been Good This Year | Top 10 Tuesday

top ten tuesday hosted by the broke and the bookish

 

Welcome back for Top 10 Tuesday, where this week participants are discussing which books they hope to find under their Christmas trees this year. Santa, are you listening? In addition to these books, I’ll happily take a few solid days off work and will soak up any given opportunity to read them. Promise.

Lights Large

Rather-Be-Reading-All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Book-Edition

Four • Just One Night • Rebel • The Lonely Hearts Club • Ask Again Later

(Truth: My favorite Elf, Estelle, just surprised me with Ask Again Later. Eeep!)

Rather-Be-Reading-All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Book-Edition-02

Me Since You • The One • One Plus One • Don’t Call Me Baby • Twelve Days to Christmas

Lights

Thanks to the Broke and the Bookish for hosting Top 10 Tuesday!
Be sure to check out which books they hope to unwrap in a few days + tell us what you’re most hoping for…

mini review of this christmas by katlyn duncan

This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan | Magan’s Mini Review

mini review of this christmas by katlyn duncan

This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan [twitter | website]
Previously reviewed on RBR: This Summer
Publication Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: ebook novella
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult / New Adult
Keywords: Christmas in the woods,
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: After their first semester together in New York, Hadley and Will need some time together to reconnect. He feels distant and distracted; she feels worried and scared. This isn’t the end, is it?

 

♦

Pros:

  • Hello, hello, hellooooo Hadley and Will. They’re as imperfect and STEAMY as ever. Phew.
  • This is a novella so it’s a nice little reunification with two great characters to sort of pop in, catch up, and then carry on about your day. I’ve kind of been wary of the whole “novella” thing because I WANT A WHOLE BOOK, but there are some major positives here: a) I finished a whole “book” in a day, and b) that made me feel incredibly accomplished, and c) it was nice to pick up where we left off and not have to spend tons of time on the backstory.
  • Hadley and Will are working through what I think every couple faces through any stage in their relationship: change. How do two people continue to reconnect and stay in love when so many elements are changing for them? (In my marriage this year: Dustyn’s gone back to grad school and that’s been a big game-changer. In so many ways I could relate to tiny little elements of the story because I’ve so been there.)
  • The setting is amazing for getting you in the Christmas spirit: a remote, quiet cabin in the woods. Surrounded by snow and pine trees. (Pssst. Did you catch that they’re all by themselves? Ahem.)

Cons:

  • Uh, it’s a novella. That can be a plus and a minus, right?
  • Maybe because it is on the shorter side, there are a few moments that feel a little jerky and Hadley’s mind is so quickly changed.

♦

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Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | Magan Reviews

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas (website | twitter)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 304
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: grocery store, Christmas Eve, theft, teenage diabetic
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: Chloe’s Christmas Eve is spent as a cashier in GoodFoods, the supermarket where she works, trying to work up the courage to talk to the boy she likes, learn something new about a co-worker, and desperately trying not to forget to bring home her mother’s ham.

We’re a little more laid back with our reviews this month, but there are exceptions to every rule, of course. Especially because Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless comes out in a few days and the entire book takes place on Christmas Eve. Oh, and did I mention I really, really enjoyed it?

Chloe is a categorizer, a list-maker, an observer. She’s just moved to her new town and she’d really like to make friends. The list she makes on Christmas Eve is as much a to-do as it is a challenge. She can’t forget her mother’s ham when her shift is over, but she’d also like to speak to the boy she’s been crushing on, Tyson, and learn something new about one of her GoodFoods grocery store co-workers, too.  (Bonus points: Chloe is a fair-skinned, red-head and Tyson is a black guy. Yippie for some diversity!) Unpredictably, the donation money that GoodFoods has been collecting is stolen. Chloe and her teenage co-workers find themselves in grocery store lockdown in the break room because they’ve been targeted as suspects and the police have to arrive to begin an investigation.

It’s rare to read a book that takes place over the course of a single day; to make the story work and feel believable, the pacing has to be flawless. And Czukas really nailed it. I was swept up in the mundane duties of working in a grocery store (that I really found quite fascinating) — how each job operates, how good Chloe is as a checker but how terrible Micah is, and how they have a running list of the oddest shoppers ever. (I must admit I felt a little outted when I read about mom’s going in without makeup; uh, guilty as charged.) But aside from Chloe’s actual job, there’s this great mystery of what really happened to the thousands of dollars gone missing. Who really stole it?

Chloe wants to heroically solve the crime, but there’s also this nice minor story of her being a diabetic and what each day is like for her. (First time reading about a teenage diabetic!) There’s all of this tension and chaos because last minute shoppers have flooded GoodFoods, the money has been stolen, and Chloe’s unable to focus on taking care of herself and checking her insulin levels. Ultimately, the story has such a simple setting, but the timeline is intermingled with these great heart-to-heart moments, reality, and a nice helping of a wintery, icy setting to make you want to sip hot chocolate and curl up with this book from cover to cover.

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