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Wildlife by Fiona Wood | Estelle Reviews

Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown for Kids
Pages: 400
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Australia, friendship, sex, relationships, nature, grief
Format read: Borrowed from the library.

Summary: Sib and Lou are two students living in the wilderness for the semester while dealing with the past, old friends, and new love.

I was tempted to read Wildlife because the reviews have been such a mixed bag. Here are some of my thoughts organized in a pros & cons list:


  • The setting. I haven’t read another book where students took a semester to live in the wilderness. It very much felt like a camp (but with grades), and I enjoyed hanging out in a new setting and taking part in all the nature-y and physical activities that were part of their every day routines. (I don’t know if I ever would have survived a semester like this.)
  • Lou is dealing with some very heavy grief. She’s also brand new to this school, and is able to shrink in herself as she deals with a tragedy that totally shattered her world. I loved how realistically Fiona Wood handled this storyline. Lou has to come to terms with so much without a familiar shoulder to lean on. She’s independent but hurting, and I liked how her story was broken down in diary entries as a way for her to work through these hefty emotions.
  • I felt similarly about the sex in this book. Sib, who is dealing with some new treatment from her classmates because of a modeling gig she has, engages in a secret relationship with one of the most popular guys at school and she has so many questions about deciding to take the next step and what it means to her. This was some of the best inner dialogue I’ve seen about sex in a young adult book, and I wish there was more of it. What do you do when you think sex is a big deal and your partner doesn’t?
  • Michael — Sib’s true blue best friend who is sort of pushed to the side while she pursues other interests and also a new friend to Lou. He’s quiet but super solid and I had a lot of love for him throughout the story.
  • Short chapters! Again, something I rarely see in the books I’m reading but very welcome when I’m reading during lunch and only have a short amount of time to jump back into the story. It felt like I always had a stopping point. (Plus the chapter number art was beautiful.)


  • The pacing was a little slow. Wildlife takes place over a semester and because all of the chapters were so introspective, there was very little action. I kept wondering what was going to break the book wide open, and it took awhile. (Even when it got there, it felt more like a tiny fire than a full on explosion.)
  • I was reminded a lot of my reading of Paper Airplanes from a few weeks ago. Two girls become friends, one of them has a toxic best gal pal, and there seems to be only a little bit of time for a full-fledged friendship to develop. It was obvious Sib and Lou could help each other (especially because Sib’s best friend is a piece of work) and I wanted the seed for their friendship to be planted sooner so maybe they could be farther along as I came up to the ending.

Final thoughts: Wildlife is written so beautifully, and I loved the supporting character that nature played in the story. The author did such a commendable job bringing to life two girls going through so much: one dealing with questions of her own limits (in relationships and friendship) and another working to make peace with the past. It was real and emotional but also hopeful. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Wood’s work in the future.

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November 26, 2014 - 10:43 am

Alexa S. - I gave Wildlife another shot recently, and wound up really liking it. It was mostly because I found things about Lou and Sib that I could identify with, which gave me a stronger personal connection with the story! I also really liked the idea of a semester in the wilderness; why didn’t I get to do that in high school?

November 23, 2014 - 10:58 am

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - The fact that this book takes place in the woods and has some good inner dialogue makes me want to read it when I am in the mood for a slower paced book. And short chapters for the win!

November 18, 2014 - 7:39 am

Felicia - Hey (:

I like how you list pros and cons. It actually makes it a lot easier to read a review and get a quick overall opinion on the book.

– Love, Felicia
( http://asillygirlsthoughts.weebly.com/ )

November 17, 2014 - 12:39 pm

Mawa Mahima - Wow…I’d read it just for the setting…a semester in the wilderness? It get pros just for that I think! Short chapters are also quite awesome, however I don’t see how the pacing can be slow with short chapters…Would that make for a good story or not?

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No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown | Magan Reviews

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown (website | twitter)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: growing up in a small town, auditioning for an art school, family drama
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: Amber’s dreams are bigger than her small town; as she slowly lets go of her fear of singing in front of people, she decides auditioning for an arts school might be the answer to getting her away from her cheating father, drug-dealing brother-in-law, and help her move on.

Small-town truths:

>> Everybody knows everybody.
>> When you do something out-of-character your parents will be told before you can figure out how to bring it up.
>> It can be frowned upon when you so desperately want to escape.
>> Life can feel stifling when you have big dreams, but feel you don’t have the means to achieve them.

Amber Vaughn knows this better than anyone. She wants to escape her small town to pursue a musical career; she is afraid of ending up like her big sister, Whitney, who met the wrong, wrapped-up-in-drugs guy, Sammy, got pregnant, and seems to be backpedaling. Amber’s friends encourage her to apply to an arts school in a bigger city a few hours away. She’s fueled by the desire to escape.

She’s got so much to leave behind, that as I reader, I often felt the heavy weight of her burdens. Her best friend, Devon, is the brother of the guy she watches and observes from afar, Will. When she spontaneously decides to hook up with Will, she doesn’t know how to tell Devon what happened and be around Will, who has taken on the role of helping her prepare for her auditions. Amber’s mother is the kindest, nicest Christian woman who always tries to have a positive outlook. But she’s lost all self-confidence and because she’s too busy taking care of her children and grandson, she cares little for her appearance and is blinded to the affair(s) her husband has on the side.

Brown did a fantastic job of including several tough-subject discussion points (cheating, church, having a gay best friend, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and sex) without trying to persuade the reader to feel or believe something. She wrote in such a way that the reader will gain a 360-degree view of what was happening in Amber’s life, the struggles she faces, and will be able to walk away from No Place to Fall with all of these thoughts and ideas floating through their minds about how they feel. For a topic-heavy book, there’s no preaching or criticism to dissuade a reader.

Amber is such an endearing, flawed character that’s always trying to do the right thing, but often gets caught up in circumstances beyond her control. As I believe most of us can relate to, she finds herself thinking, “How did I get here?” Trying to get from Point A to Point B always seems so direct, but Amber’s story proves that sometimes life has other plans in store for us that involves a zigzagging, bumpy road.

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November 19, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Alexa S. - I just recently read No Place To Fall. Growing up in a small town, I kind of had a similar experience as Amber did (though not with all those tough issues she had to face) in terms of people talking about me and unable to mind their business. This helped me really relate to her, and once I understood that this was a no judgment, “truthful” account of what happened to her (complete without 100% happy endings), No Place to Fall was a worthwhile reading experience.

November 17, 2014 - 6:10 am

Janelle Fila - Wow, this sounds like a really interesting read. I love YA stories that hit on “heavy” topics, especially if they can have an open conversation without coming across as preachy. And man, coming from a small town, I found myself relating to this character already! I wish I’d had a book like this to read when I was growing up, contemplating chasing after the dreams I really didn’t feel that I was “good enough” to accomplish. Thanks for sharing this story, definitely going on my to read list!

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Attention, Attention! Amy Spalding & INK

One of my RBR goals before the end of the year was to get another ATTENTION, ATTENTION post in. I’m so glad I made this a priority because it gave me a chance to 1) read one of the books that Magan really enjoyed last year 2) talk to Amy Spalding, who is one of my absolute favorite YA authors.

INK IS THICKER THAN WATER is about high schooler, Kellie, who is dealing with a ton of changes in her life. Her constant best friend, Kaitlyn, is suddenly someone she doesn’t recognize and it couldn’t have come at a worst time. Her solid older sister is occupied with getting to know her birth parents and isn’t around as much. Kellie’s relationship with her dad isn’t great; she never feels like she can please him plus she wishes her free-spirited mom would parent a bit more than she does. To make Kellie even more confused, Oliver — a boy she has a bit of a past with — comes back in her life and makes her question what she wants even more.

Whew. Sounds like a lot right? Well I am here to tell you that Amy manages to balance each of Kellie’s challenges so well. I loved the big family dynamic, the adorable little brother Finn, the “cool” parents (even if her mom was a bit frustrating at times), and how much Kellie worried about her family life changing. I liked getting to know her friends on the paper, and watching her come out of her shell and embark on her own passions and also reach out to the people she doesn’t want to be detached from. In a short book, Amy jampacks so many great details and real emotions. Spoiler alert: I totally cried.

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Amy was nice enough to chat with me about INK IS THICKER THAN WATER and also give us a small peek at her upcoming April book! Check it out:

Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy SpaldingWhat’s the last book you read that made you feel like it was the “right time / right place” kind of thing? (I had this feeling with INK, especially when Kellie was going through so many growing pains with her best friend.)

A couple weeks ago I read Leila Sales’ This Song Will Save Your Life, and it brought back so many feelings straight from my own grade school/middle school/high school years. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that so accurately nailed what it was like to be a misfit in such a similar way that I was (am?). I loved how music was used as something to get you through the worst times and also connect you to others. Music has always been such a vital part of my life, and I’m convinced it’s gotten me through tough things.

There are so many layers to INK. (For RBR readers: Parental conflicts, sex, friendship and sibling drama, etc.) What was the key to keeping the storylines balanced and making sure nothing got lost in the shuffle?

It was important to me that everything was shifting in Kellie’s life, because I feel like that’s often how real life goes. It would be a lot easier if every crisis arrived on its own, but when life changes, often life changes. I’d love to tell you I stayed crazy organized, but really I let Kellie’s emotions guide me. It was important to me that she was affected by all that was going on, and that helped steer the ship, so to speak.

I was a mega fan of The Reese Malcolm List. Do you think in some alternate universe Kellie and Devan would be friends?

Ha! I’ve actually thought about this before myself. I think that Devan would find Kellie super cool, but I think she might be too intimidated to talk to her (even though of course Kellie wouldn’t see herself as cool or intimidating). I’m not sure if Kellie could wrap her head around Devan’s musical theatre/show choir love, so I’m not sure they’re a friendship match!

What song from the High School Musical franchise best describes INK?

“We’re All in This Together”, obviously.

Not enough young adult books truly talk about the fears associated with having sex for the first time. I thought Kellie’s experience of getting wrapped up in attraction and taking a step back was so realistic. I loved all the questions she asked herself, and everything she was worried about. Did you go into INK thinking this would be part of Kellie’s story? Why do you think so many authors shy away from the realism of having sex as a teenager?

Amy Spadling Author Photo

Amy’s Twitter

I think that in general–not just in YA literature–young women are portrayed as sex’s gatekeepers. I feel like so many books I read growing up featured boys who wanted sex, and girls who had to say no to be “good”, or girls who said yes for either the wrong reasons or because they loved the boys. And yet the stories that I felt resonated the most for me and for girls I knew were also about desire. So I did really want to write about attraction and desire and then also how that plays out in a real world situation.

Also, when I started writing Ink, I’d just read several books where everything was just SO EASY for the girl when the boy really really REALLY liked her. And I kept thinking, what would that REALLY feel like, especially if this was your first real experience? For me I kept thinking how good things can also be scary and overwhelming, and how many things you can want and not want all at once. I also really wanted to write about a guy who wasn’t constantly the one steering that conversation or timeline; I wanted equal power in Kellie’s hands.

Will we ever meet Devan or Kellie again? (Please say yes? Or Maybe?)

I really feel like Kellie’s story is wrapped up, and I feel good where I’ve left her. I have definitely thought more about Devan and gang, so as far as they go…maybe!

Can you give us one EXCLUSIVE amazing fact about your upcoming book: Kissing Ted Callahan (and other guys)?

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is about Riley, Reid, Lucy, Nathan; and they are in a band called the Gold Diggers!

Big thanks to Amy for taking the time to answer my questions. The post isn’t over yet.

I’m giving away eBook copies of The Reece Malcolm List and Ink is Thicker Than Water to a lucky winner.
Must be 13 years old to enter and be able to receive Kindle or Nook eBooks. Good luck!

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November 21, 2014 - 7:19 pm

Alexa S. - Ah! I really enjoyed Ink is Thicker Than Water too. It’s such a great contemporary, and I thought Kellie was a great young lady to read about. So thrilled you were able to finally read it! And I enjoyed your interview with Amy. Can’t wait for her next one!

November 20, 2014 - 9:21 am

ashley - I have not read any of Amy’s books yet. But they are on my TBR!

November 13, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Jennie - This cover is stunning! I hadn’t heard about this book until now, but it will be going on my TBR list for sure.

November 13, 2014 - 8:52 pm

Jen - I’d love to start reading her–INK looks great.

November 13, 2014 - 2:10 pm

AR - I just finished The Reece Malcolm List and I loooved it. Sadly, my local libraries don’t have Ink is Thicker Than Water, and right now I can’t afford to buy it. But I WILL ask for it for Xmas, if nothing else.

November 12, 2014 - 6:04 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - You seriously have the best posts around. I love this! I was also a fan of Amy’s debut and really, really enjoyed it. I’m having such fond memories thinking back :) I was excited for Ink but never got round to it when it released. Now? I’m *totally* sold (all over again). Ink is going on my Christmas wish list and if Santa doesn’t bring it, I’ll be gifting it to myself :) Lovely interview!

November 11, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Ashley - I haven’t read any of her books yet, but I’ve seen a lot of buzz surrounding her book that comes out in the spring, Kissing Ted Callahan. Also, I’ve seen her talking to authors I follow (and love) on twitter, so I’ve been meaning to check out her books.

November 11, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Some Giveaways! | The Amy SpaldingThe Amy Spalding - […] can win ebook copies of The Reece Malcolm List and Ink Is Thicker than Water on Rather Be Reading! (You can also read an interview with me, if that sort of thing floats your […]

November 11, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Meg - Amy is a new author for me, but I’m really looking forward to checking out her work! Enjoyed this interview and will have to get my mitts on Ink Is Thicker Than Water, especially!

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Steal the North by Heather B. Bergstrom | Estelle Reviews

Steal the North by Heather BergstromSteal the North by Heather B. Bergstorm ( facebook )
Publication Date: April 10, 2014
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 336
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: family secrets, faith, nature, young love
Format read: Borrowed from library after glowing rec from Leah at The Pretty Good Gatsby.

Summary: Sixteen year old Emmy is shipped off to spend the summer with an aunt and uncle she never knew existed. Her aunt is pregnant, and after a series of miscarriages, the church is performing a ritual on her and they need a family member who is also a virgin. Emmy spends her summer getting to know her delicate aunt, her loving uncle, and the boy next door — Reuben — who becomes the closest friend she has ever had. Time with her aunt means many questions about the secrets her mom kept, who she really is, and affects who she wants to become.

This is hands down one of the best fiction books I’ve picked up in years.

I was nervous about it, too. Leah over at The Pretty Good Gatsby awarded the book such high praise. Wanting to feel the same felt like an added pressure but a chapter in, I was hooked. With Steal the North, you aren’t sucked in in a way where you want to speed read the whole thing. As the book shifts POVs from the big hitters like Emmy, her mom (Kate), her aunt (Beth), and Reuben (the boy next door) to the smaller characters, there is a lot of exposition. Explanations of backgrounds, family trees, and a lot of beautiful description of this Pacific Northwest town. The land is its own character because in all of these stories, it has been a catalyst in the decisions then make and who they are all destined to become.

Emmy is a bit of a conundrum. There are so instances she acts so wise and so much older than she is, but there are others where she can be so naive and so inexperienced in life. She is so tied to her mom because for so long Kate made her believe it was them against the world. No other relatives and a dead father. But imagine the surprise when Emmy finds out that her own story is not what she thought at all. She is quickly sent off to stay with her Aunt Beth and Uncle Matt for the summer, without enough time to deal with the repercussions of her mother’s many lies.

Immediately, Emmy and Beth are like peas and carrots. The intimacy and connection they shared when Emmy was just a baby is back, and they spend much of the summer getting to know each other all over again. I loved their relationship. Beth and Matt are very into the church, but they don’t expect Emmy to believe what they believe and I liked the respect they had for her. Her time alone eventually leads to her spending a lot of time with Reuben, a Native American teenager, who lives in the trailer next door.

It was Beth and Reuben’s belief in much more than what they could see that took Steal the North to a whole new level for me. Beth concocting her antidotes around the house, and Reuben sensing the presence of his dead father, and both of their commitments to the earth fused to create this overpowering spirituality in the whole book. The secrets and the pasts of these characters was haunting every scene, and the fear, the shame, and even the hope was so palpable. It’s overwhelming to think words on a page could be this powerful.

Steal the North is a love story not limited to the feelings between Reuben and Emmy. Mothers and daughters, sisters, husbands and wives, and most importantly how we feel about ourselves. The sense of loyalty, the heartbreaking betrayal, and the tough decisions we make because of our love for others can be found throughout the story. I laughed, I swooned, I cried, and I wondered if this family could ever be whole again. Could Emmy break out of her shell and trust? Could she forgive her mother and forgive herself?

This book is as much about death as it is rebirth. I am totally in awe of Bergstorm’s talents: how well she described the land, her decisions to reveal important information what she did, her pick of what character got to tell what, and most importantly, how she challenged her characters and stretched them beyond their comfort zones. Life could be hard, and it could also be good. Very, very good.

From the writing to the characters to how invested I felt in the smallest detail to the biggest, Steal the North is a book I am going to give a special spot on my bookshelf and buy for others whenever I get the chance.

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December 15, 2014 - 9:01 am

Big Kids' Table | The Best and Most Surprising of 2014 - […] Steal the North freaking knocked my socks off. For regular YA readers, this is the perfect pick for crossover because the main character is a teen going through a ton of changes with family, boys, and herself. The writing is beyond spectacular. Big thanks to Leah at The Pretty Good Gatsby for putting it on my radar. […]

November 21, 2014 - 7:30 pm

Alexa S. - Steal the North is definitely seems like an incredibly intense reading experience! So many layers, so many characters – I just think it would be an interesting read. Glad you wound up enjoying it.

November 17, 2014 - 4:45 pm

Heather Brittain Bergstrom - Thank you so much, Estelle, for writing and posting such a thoughtful and awesome review of my debut. It is thrilling for me as a writer when a reader gets EVERYTHING I was trying to accomplish. I especially liked your attention to the spiritual aspect of the novel. Lovely review! Yours and Leah’s…two of my very favorite reviews! Thanks again!

November 10, 2014 - 5:24 pm

Leah - Oh, Estelle. ♥ ♥ ♥!!! I’m beyond thrilled that you loved this one so much and I’ve been DYING to read your review. It’s so hard to put into words just how this book made me feel: I seriously ran the gamut of emotions and your review made me FEEL all over again – a reread is totally in order!
I hope Heather writes another book – AND SOON. This is a debut, E! That boggles my mind.

November 10, 2014 - 10:42 am

Brianna - This one sounds like a book to savor and get lost in. Thanks for sharing your review.

November 10, 2014 - 9:37 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - I first saw this book when you featured it along with some other Adult titles in a post (I’ve blanked on the feature). I don’t really read Adult books, but I’m sure I will in a soon, and boy, you’ve sold me. it might take me a little while to get round to this, but in the meantime, I’m off to add this to my TBR. You make this sound fantastic, thanks to your fabulous review! So glad you liked it!

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Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho | Estelle Reviews

Althea and Oliver by Cristina MorachoAlthea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 384
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendship, 90s, New York City, romance, sickness
Format read: ARC borrowed from Gaby at Book Broads. (Thanks!)

Summary: Althea and Oliver have been best friends since they were kids. Althea realizes she wants something beyond friendship with Oliver around the same time he keeps falling asleep for long periods of time and no one knows what’s causing this to happen. Set in the 90s, the story brings Oliver to New York for a possible treatment while Althea stays in Wilmington. She decides to drive up to New York City to find Oliver, but ends up finding something entirely different.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Althea & Oliver is probably the YA that the naysayers don’t realize exists. It’s literary, it’s layered in its storylines and the emotions build up in all of them, and not even close to fluffy. In fact, I would call the general feeling of this book melancholy.

If you haven’t guessed from the above description, Althea & Oliver is not exactly a story you are going to fly through. I was unsure if I was actually liking what I was reading for a long time. How can you like a girl doting over her best friend? What if that best friend is basically disappearing for weeks out of time because of some mysterious illness? I mean, there’s nothing truly happy here. But I was intrigued by Oliver’s strange health issues and I was hooked by the friendship between the two. Oliver and Althea maintained an intimacy that you don’t find a lot in young adult books. Sure, feelings beyond platonic were swirling around there but you can’t deny their closeness — how their families knew each other so well, how they always seemed to be stuck together, and how they accepted each other, faults and all.

I love how Moracho gave these characters room to grow beyond each other. Things happen, Oliver is off to New York, and Althea is acting out back in North Carolina. She makes the decision to lie to her dad and head to New York and talk to Oliver, and a major detour changes the course of the story. This is a tough one to review, friends, because so much happens that you need to discover for yourself. But what happens when you are so dependent on a friend and they can’t be there for you anymore? Do you continue to push this closeness or do you let the wind take you? Do you take this opportunity to get to know yourself without the other person? Will both of you ever be ready to take your relationship to the next level at the same time?

So much about Althea & Oliver felt more mature than a lot of other young adult books I read. I couldn’t help thinking it was the lack of technology in the story because it was set in the 90s. There was nothing keeping anyone together when they were apart except for some stray phone calls. Both Althea’s dad and Oliver’s mom allowed their kids to be very independent. These details definitely allowed the characters to do their own thing but it also didn’t disqualify their parents from the story either. (Big thumbs up.)

These two characters certainly hit rock bottom in two very different ways, and it was so emotional and heartbreaking and authentic how they climbed out of these holes and figured out next steps. I wouldn’t even say this book is about coming to clear conclusions but making the right decisions for right now, and keeping the future open. It’s so scary to jump into the unknown and this feeling is basically the theme of being a junior in high school. Moracho nailed it, making my heart swell and burst so many times.

I cannot wait to see what she is writing much, and I look forward to more thoughtful, and engulfing young adult books like this one.

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November 26, 2014 - 10:52 am

Alexa S. - I hadn’t really heard a lot about Althea & Oliver prior to your review. And really, how could I NOT have heard about this one before now? It sounds really interesting, and I love that you feel like the dynamics of their friendship and the plot was pretty well done, even with the melancholy tone. I’m definitely considering reading this!

November 19, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Looks like we really had very similar feelings & thoughts. I really enjoyed how mature this was — both in content and writing. I felt like it just really all fit together and certain situations just made the characters more real.

November 9, 2014 - 9:53 am

Sue Holmes - This sounds really good. I haven’t heard about it before and admittedly the cover puts me off, but I like the sound of the characters, especially that they go through ‘stuff’ and grow on a personal level. We don’t see enough of this in YA. Thank you for the great review. :)

November 8, 2014 - 10:27 pm

Brianna - This is the first review I’ve read of this one, but it sounds really good. I love that it’s set in the 90s. I think technology invades books too much anymore.

November 7, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure - This looks like my type of read! I’m glad it wasn’t fluffy. I prefer more serious contemporaries. Great review! I’m looking forward to reading this one. :)

November 7, 2014 - 1:19 am

Rebecca - I heard about this at an event months ago and liked the sound of it, but unfortunately haven’t heard much about it since. I’m intrigued by the topics the author touches on, plus I love novels set in the past decades, but that don’t fall under historical. I’m glad you liked this!

November 6, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve been curious about Althea and Oliver. I keep side-eyeing it while I am at work. It’s that yellow cover – so eye catching.

Anyway, I’m glad that you did like this. I think I will give it a try sometime, but when my brain is a little more focused than it has been lately.

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A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Magan Reviews

Book Review of A Thousand Pieces of  You by Claudia Gray


A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray (website | twitter)
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: parallel universes, time travel, death of a parent
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: Marguerite seeks answers about her father’s death and travels between parallel universes using the Firebird, the device her parent’s created that make such travel possible, in search of his suspected murderer.

Marguerite is the artist in a family of award-winning physicists. When her father dies and her parent’s assistant, Paul, takes off looking like the most obvious suspect, she has no choice but to emerge herself in her parent’s scientific world to find answers. Even if that involves learning how to use the Firebird, the device her parents created that allows her to jump to alternate dimensions. Marguerite has always felt like her parent’s assistants were adopted family members and there were these inexplicable moments she had with Paul that make her wonder how she could have been so fooled.

The strongest component of A Thousand Pieces of You is seeing Marguerite take a crash course in survival and physics to seek answers. Essentially with a turn of the Firebird, Marguerite finds herself in a parallel universe where the people she knows and is familiar with exist, but things can range from being ever-so-slightly altered to feeling centuries behind technologically. When she takes over another Marguerite’s body, she has to quickly adapt to her surroundings so she can cleverly figure out where Paul is located and when the proper time is to move on to the next place.

There are elements of a great chase paired with this very mysterious relationship between Marguerite and Paul. Her search is for more than closure and justice, but it’s a sweet, wild ride to see how Paul and Marguerite’s story morphs through each dimension. It’s a beautiful, tangled mess of cat-and-mouse paired with a confusing “what-if” love story as we flash back to learn about Paul and Marguerite before her father’s death. There’s a huge internal struggle to believe that Paul couldn’t have done something so destructive and devastating, but when all evidence points to him, how can it be denied? I absolutely loved how complex and intelligent the storyline was, but how the majority of the story focused on the simplest question: What lengths will we go to for the people we love? 

A Thousand Pieces of You is my first Claudia Gray book, and I’m incredibly anxious to get my hands on more of her work and to see where the rest of this story goes.

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November 26, 2014 - 10:59 am

Alexa S. - Though it started off a little slow for me, I really wound up loving A Thousand Pieces of You. I enjoyed seeing how the story unfolded, and found myself surprised by a few things (even though I’d guessed at a couple)! I loved seeing them travel into different universes, loved seeing the relationship dynamics laid out and just really, really enjoyed the wild ride Gray took readers on.

November 19, 2014 - 8:01 am

Quotables, Magan - […] Add A Thousand Pieces of You to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | My Review […]

November 5, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Brianna - Sometimes I feel like I live in a parallel universe. But really, A Thousand Pieces of You sounds good.

November 5, 2014 - 10:34 am

Annette - Great review. I was really intrigued by this one. Especially the parallel universe plot. I found it to be pretty unique, which is always a good thing.

November 5, 2014 - 10:04 am

Sue Holmes - I have had my eye on this book ever since I saw the cover on Goodreads. So glad it’s going to live up to its cover! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy :)

November 5, 2014 - 9:27 am

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - I have been seeing many positive reviews for this book and each one is making me more and more excited to read it! I love that it offers so much more than a simple parallel universe story. Great review!

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