ARC Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door

Summary: If high school freshman Matt Wainwright’s life were a movie, things would be going a lot more smoothly. He would be able to dedicate more time to the amazingness that is Mr. Ellis’s English class, writing poetry and analyzing fart scenes. He’d be a varsity starter on the school basketball team. He’d be able to confess his true feelings for his best friend, Tabby. But as much as Matt’s mind acts like it’s a film director, Matt’s life is far from a movie in this debut, emotion-filled novel from Jared Reck.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Cover Lust?: Yes! I want a print for my wall please!

My Thoughts:

A Short History of the Girl Next Door was a really refreshing young-adult read for a multitude of reasons. I often don’t read books told from a male point-of-view and I enjoyed Matt’s narration. We get to really know Matt and our other characters before anything too climatic happens. I will say without going into too spoilery of details that there is a tragic turning point within the novel, which caught me off guard. I figured something ‘big’ would happen, as the book’s blurb hints at, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting- kudos to Jared Reck for leaving me unsuspecting! I alsofound A Short of History of the Girl Next Door to be the perfect length- the finished copy clocks around 270 pages- and by no means would I shorten or extend its length.

A huge reason why I gave A Short History of the Girl Next Door a 5 out of 5 stars is because I had such an incredible experience reading it. I read the book over one weekend, and it felt great to be able to read a book over 2 days—I might’ve ignored some finals prep by doing so, but I haven’t been able to do this since the summer! I just found myself so invested in the story that I didn’t want to put it down. I also received an ARC copy of A Short History of the Girl Next Door at Book Con 2017, and let me tell you, this is one of the nicest ARC/paperback copies I own—the book just feels nice to feel, guys! Anyways….

Overall, I loved A Short History of the Girl Next Door for its incorporation of family, friendship, love, school, sports, everyday life, and tragedy. It’s a lot to unpack and Jared Reck does an amazing job of pulling it off. You really get a feel for the characters and find yourself laughing and crying alongside them. I often don’t cry when I read, but one particular conversation between Matt and Mr. Ellis brought tears to my eyes. A Short History of the Girl Next Door is a book I could easily see being implemented into high school English classes, especially for first-year students. I think it’s a very well written, coming-of-age novel with a lot of great moments for analysis, as well as aspects that young-adults could readily relate to.

Have you read A Short History of the Girl Next Door? Share in the comments!

 

What I Read in High School Part 1

I’ve been slowly reorganizing my bookshelves when I’ve been home on weekends, and   I’ve come across a lot of the books that I read in high school. As I look back, I didn’t realize how MANY books I was able to read between my English and History classes. I’m going to be splitting my high school reads into two parts—today’s post recapping the books I read during my freshmen and sophomore year, while the second will recap the books I read during junior and senior year. I may or may not be forgetting some books along the way, or just ignoring the fact that I  read Romeo and Juliet in high school.

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Freshmen year:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson– I had to read Speak for summer work before freshmen year and it made me a bit more exciting for high school because it was a required reading book that I actually enjoyed.

Animal Farm by George Orwell- I read this for my Global Studies summer reading, and this book sticks in my memory because it was the first political satire book that I’ve ever read, not to mention the talking animals.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow- My class was split into groups based on our reading levels and my group was assigned The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. All I remember is having to make a movie poster that was not so cleverly a sky and a girl falling.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger– I read the first chapter, the last chapter, and Sparknotes.

Sophomore year:

The Crucible by Arthur MillerThe Crucible was hands-down my favorite book of sophomore year, and I’m still really proud of my final paper for the play.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury– I would love to reread F451 in the near future, especially since my sister recently read it for the same honors class I took.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey– I remember feeling that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was (is) one of the most out-there books that I ever read for school.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- I read The Great Gatsby a year after the 2013 film adaption came out aka the period of time where everyone was obsessed with 1920s-themed costumes and parties. I enjoyed Gatsby (my paper focused on a lot of its T. S. Elliot influences), but didn’t necessarily understand all the hype. I do hold my copy close to my heart, as I’m very proud of all my annotations and highlighting.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry-My class hada lot of fun acting this play.

1984 by George Orwell– I read 1984 for my sophomore year research paper, where I compared the totalitarian state set in the novel to World War II-era governments and The Hunger Games (sounds a bit out there but it worked!).

What books did you read in high school? Share in the comments!

Top Five Wednesday: Nostalgic Book Boyfriends

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Today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about one of my favorite bookish feelings—swooning over book characters. The topic comes with a bit of a flash to the past, as I’ll be talking about characters I swooned over when I was younger. A girl is never too young for book boyfriends!

Gayle Hawthorne from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins– #teamgaleforever

Brian McBrian from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares– Brian stole both mine and Tibby’s hearts. If you’re looking for a series about friendship and full of feels pick up The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ASAP!

Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K.Rowling– Let’s be honest, this is a nostalgic book boyfriend that will forever continue to exist.nevilletfw

Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green– I read The Fault in Our Stars back in the seventh or eighth grade— I consider myself a book hipster for reading this one BEFORE any film adaptation news came out- and Augustus Waters stole my heart form the get-go. I’m able to relive my relationship with him every time I watch TFIOS, which is actually one of my favorite book to movie adaptations!

Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins– Okay, so if I can’t have Gale, I’ll gladly take Finnick please!

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

 

Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Traditionally here on Fangirl Fury, I like to give you guys a quick summary of the book I’m reviewing. However, I find that its best to go into Turtles All the Way Down without knowing too much. I found that in its preliminary hype days it was promoted for its billionaire-gone-missing mystery element, but that’s definitely not the entirety of Aza’s story. While Turtles All the Way Down highlights friendships, family, romance, and the life of the American teenager, it most of all sheds light on mental health and what it’s like to live with mental illness.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

There are three things I am most definitely proud of myself for doing when it came to Turtles All the Way Down:

  1. I bought a signed copy of the book (bonus points for supporting my local indie bookstore)
  2. I AVOIDED SPOILERS! Almost all of the bloggers that I follow on social media have read Turtles All the Way Down before me, and kudos to me for not clicking on John Green’s reddit for questions and answers about the book
  3. I read the book within a month of its release! Yes, I read throughout the busy-ness that is my university life , but I thought I would pick up Turtles All the Way Down during winter break where I could really devote time to reading it. But after picking up a copy and seeing many positive reviews, I knew I had to read the book ASAP.

Since it was my goal to avoid spoilers while reading, I am going to keep my thoughts on the book as spoiler-free as possible! As you might be able to tell from my 5 out of 5 star rating, I absolutely loved Turtles All the Way Down. I really like John Green as an author (there’s only two of his books that I haven’t been crazy about) and as a person. Like many, I am so happy that he has a new book out in the world.

Like I said above, Turtles All the Way Down incorporates a variety of elements, but the most important of them all is the focus on Aza’s mental health. Aza lives in fear that she’ll contract C. diff and this fear affects how she goes about her life and routines. One of the most successful aspects of Turtles All the Way Down is how through Aza’s narration, we are able to experience what it’s like to live with mental illness. I think what really aided this aspect was how real Aza’s life feels: she’s a high school student (there are many moments in the book where she’s texting her friends or actually doing schoolwork), she has a great female-to-female friendship with her Chuck E. Cheese employee of a best friend, Daisy, and the two spend many nights at Applebee’s talking about school and Star Wars (let’s be honest, I was sold on this book once I read that Applebee’s was Daisy and Aza’s go-to spot). We do have the whole billionaire-gone-missing element and Davis, but I thought that side of the storyline provided a nice juxtaposition between Aza and Davis. Yes, they come from different class backgrounds, but they often share similar feelings. Also, sidenote of appreciation for Davis’s blog and Daisy’s fan fiction!

While it may seem a bit mundane considering how large of a role mental health plays in the book, my favorite aspect overall was the fact that Aza’s last name is Holmes. AND SHE’S SORT’VE SOLVING A MYSTERY, SHE’S SHERLOCK HOLMES!! I haven’t read too many interviews with John Green about the book, but I really want to know if her last name had this intention.

I think The Fault in Our Stars will always be my favorite John Green book, but Turtles All the Way Down is definitely in my top 3 favorites of his. Have you read Turtles All the Way Down? Share in the comments!

Review: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Summary: Environmental lawyer Abby Williams left her hometown of Barrens, Indiana, ten years ago and she hasn’t looked back since. She wouldn’t trade anything, like her thriving career and modern apartment in Chicago, to return back to the failing small-town that is Barrens; unless you knew the reason why Kaycee Mitchell disappeared after high school graduation. When Abby’s work brings her back to Barrens to investigate Optimal Plastics, a high profile company that brought the town back on the map, she’s forced to confront her old demons: her strained relationship with her father, ex-crushes, and high school bullies. As Abby uncovers secrets within Optimal, she discovers more and more about Kaycee’s disappearance and “The Game”, a disturbing ritual that Abby wished stayed behind ten years ago.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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This is one of the best photos I’ve ever taken!

My Thoughts:

I didn’t know too much about Bonfire before going in—okay let’s be honest, all I knew was that it was written by Krysten Ritter, but I had been really intrigued by its hype this convention season. Once I saw that Adam Silvera had given Bonfire a 5 star review himself on Goodreads, I knew that it was time to pick up Bonfire soon. I am more than excited to report that I flew through the addicting and gripping novel that is Bonfire and it has become one of my favorite reads of the year!

Bonfire is dark from the get-go. We’re introduced to Abby and her high school bullies, Kaycee and Misha, right from the start and the mysterious illness that claimed their senior year. The introduction made me think that Bonfire was actually a dystopian, but I was happy to find out in the next chapter that it takes place in “real life” and has mystery and thriller vibes. I found myself glued to this story for its fast-pace and its complex characters. I will say that there is a large cast of characters and at times, I lost track of more minor characters , but I enjoyed how each character really contributed to the story and Optimal case. I found myself really liking how the story interwove both small-town and big business-type politics.

Like Abby, I found myself most interested in the disappearance of Kaycee Mitchell. Throughout the novel, Abby questions if Kaycee was really sick or not and what the real reason behind her disappearance was. It takes the majority of the novel for Abby to crack the code, but it’s not just Kaycee’s disappearance that she’s uncovering; after all, she’s back in Barrens for her environmental law work against Optimal. She’s also realizing that her father is a worse position than he was when she left, and she’s trying to figure how her high school menace is now vice principal. Abby also deals with some old romantic sparks, with golden boy and now Optimal higher-upper Brent and Condor, high school dropout who now lives right across the street with his daughter. Maybe it’s because Bonfire is an adult novel, but there’s also a lot of drinking and alcohol in the novel. I didn’t mind it so much, until Abby’s drinking starts to mess with her memory. However, I think it added to the novel’s mysterious and who-dunit vibes Ritter may have been going for.

Confession time: I haven’t seen Krysten Ritter in most of her work, including the Netflix-hit Jessica Jones and the beloved Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. I think that the only film I’ve seen Krysten in is Confessions of a Shopaholic. I’m often a tad nervous about reading books written by celebrities/famous people/vloggers—basically people where you know that book-writing isn’t their most-known area of expertise—but as you can probably tell from above, I loved Ritter’s Bonfire and was really impressed by her writing style and story-telling. I look forward to see what she brings out in the book world next!

Have you read Bonfire or do you plan on picking it up? Share in the comments!

Gilmore Girls Book Tag

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I saw The Gilmore Girls Book Tag on Regan of PeruseProjects Booktube channel a few months ago and wanted to do the tag myself. I enjoy watching Gilmore Girls, and in my opinion,  Gilmore Girls: A Year of the Life was the best sequel/reboot that I’ve seen come out of Netflix so far! Sorry Fuller House! I’m really hoping for a second season of Gilmore Girls:A Year of the Life, but for right now, I’ll settle with this tag.

Lorelai | A character with a witty or sarcastic sense of humor 

Dimple from When Dimple Met Rishi. Dimple’s sarcasm was most definitely a highlight in Sandhya Menon’s debut novel, plus how often do you meet someome who’s not afraid to throw an iced coffee in a guy’s face?? Lorelai would approve, but feel sad about the wasted coffee.

Rory | Favorite classic

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I haven’t read this one in a while,so I’m  due for a reread in the near future.

Luke| A book you secretly love, but are not afraid to admit

A book that I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but wasn’t definitely mine is Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Lane | A musical character

Adam from Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.

Dean | Your first book love (character or book you first loved)

Gale from The Hunger Games

Sookie |A book you’ve devoured

I have eaten so many books up, but I’m going to go with my most recent treat, Bonfire by Krysten Ritter.
Jess | A book you love, that gets the most hate

 A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. A lot of people LOVE this book and series, and a lot of people hate this series. The depiction of a character’s sexuality in ACOWAR has caused much debate in the book community.

Miss Patty| A book that was ruined by the hype 

Now I often don’t pick up middle grade books, but maybe I would have picked up Serafina and the Black Cloak if I HADN’T SEEN IT EVERYWHERE THIS SUMMER. There was a lot of promotion for this series over on Booktube, and I just grew tired of seeing it in every book haul I watched. I’m all for paid promotions, but it was just too many bloggers all at once.

Emily Gilmore | An expensive book

I’m going with one of the most expensive books on my shelf, which is the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. The quality of the book itself and the illustrations definitely make up for the price tag.

Paris | An uptight character

Nesta from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. There’s nothing wrong with being uptight here because Nesta is my favorite character in the ACOTAR world .

Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? Share in the comments!

Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

Summary:Sasha Stone really has it all. She’s bound to be valedictorian, she’s first chair clarinet, and has a boyfriend to match. But what she doesn’t want? This sudden crush on Isaac Harver that keeps cutting into her mind and worse, practice time. Add this to how she’s just discovered that she absorbed her twin in the womb, and Sasha is left feeling that maybe she doesn’t have it all. But no worries: her twin is there to remind her of that.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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After being really impressed with Mindy McGinnis’s The Female of the Species in early October, I was excited to pick up This Darkness Mine soon after. If you like Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere or Gayle Forman’s If I Stay for their musical elements, you’ll really like This Darkness Mine as the first hundred pages or so puts an emphasis on Sasha’s relationship with music and her clarinet. But that’s where the similarities end.

I was really interested in reading This Darkness Mine because its blurb highlights how Sasha absorbed her twin, Shanna, in the womb. I don’t want to go into too spoilery-details but the basic premise of the book is that Shanna lives within Sasha. Unfortunately for Sasha, this means that Shanna’s crush on Sasha’s classmate, Isaac, largely affects Sasha’s feelings and behaviors, to the point that she doesn’t even remember being with Isaac. I liked how Sasha shares this sensation of having Shanna inside of her with her parents, much to their doubt and fear of their daughter’s psychological being though, because we often see protagonists in the YA world hiding their problems from their parents.

My biggest “problem” with This Darkness Mine is that we spend so much time on Sasha fretting over Shanna and Isaac and how it’s affecting her life. Yes, it’s obviously part of the premise of the book, but there’s such a lack of plot movement and felt very high school trope-like that I found myself getting bored. However, the novel’s major changing point *somewhat spoiler* where Sasha is hospitalized was a major changing point in my feelings as well. From Sasha’s hospitalization to the end of the novel, the story really becomes the psychological thriller This Darkness Mine’s blurb promises. While I think the second half of the book could have been a bit more condensed, I was really intrigued by Sasha’s mindset and trying to determine what was real and what was in her head.

Overall, This Darkness Mine was a great book for me to read around Halloween due to its mystery vibes and dark setting. I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Female of the Species, but while both books are on the darker side, they have such different plots and settings. There was also a bit of gore at the end that seemed fitting to the holiday, but left me with my hands over my heart and barely being able to read the pages because of how creeped out I was—horror fans, unlike me, will love it!

Have you read This Darkness Mine? Share in the comments!