Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno

Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno

Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads  Website

24 dares. 3 weeks. Take the leap.

Lottie Reaves is not a risk taker. She plays it safe and avoids all the ways she might get hurt. But when her beloved aunt Helen dies of cancer, Lottie’s fears about life and death start spiraling out of control.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the bestselling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers. She knew how magical writing could be, and that words have the power to make you see things differently.

In her will, Aunt Helen leaves one writing project just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions that are supposed to get Lottie to take a leap and—for once in her life—really live. But when the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series, Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice—one that will force her to confront her greatest fears once and for all.

Everything All at Once was a contemporary that I was desperate to read–it popped up everywhere on my book social media, and there was no escaping it. I mean, I love books where there's a list of things to do after someone's gone, because it allows for self-discovery, as well as secrets to surface. Finally I decided to just go ahead and read it (skipping a lot of my TBR pile to do so as well!), and I'm glad that I enjoyed it. I liked The Half Life of Molly Pierce (read my review), and while this one is a bit more lighthearted in comparison to Leno's debut, it still carried similarly serious undertones.

It's always interesting seeing books within books. Our protagonist Lottie's aunt is a famous author, and before every chapter we see little snippets of the Alvin Hatter series along with multiple references to the series and its characters. It kind of makes me want some spin-off series that consists of Alvin Hatter books just to know what everyone refers to during the book! Also side note: for some reason whenever I think of Alvin I think of Alvin and the Chipmunks, so both Alvin and Margo were chipmunks in my head... (yeah I don't know what's wrong with me either).

What I liked that this book explored was mental illness. I obviously don't know what some people go through on a daily basis, so books like this one are so important to that understanding. Lottie's anxieties about life and death after the death of her aunt get much worse, so delving into something this close and personal was a pretty eye-opening experience. I really enjoyed her character too–she felt fresh and real, well-rounded and fleshed-out. The other characters were also a delight: her parents, her brother, her friends...and then there's Sam.

Okay, so things are going to get a bit **SPOILERY**, so just a warning ahead of time. It's not a major spoiler I'm about to drop but it kind of hints to the big reveal so I would avoid reading this paragraph. You not looking? CAUSE I'M ABOUT TO DROP THIS NOW (highlight to read): I didn't enjoy the magical aspect of this book. I mean, it was set up so well for a contemporary, and then there comes magical realism to tie it all up, and while it could have worked if it was present from the start, I think putting it in pretty late in the game just didn't work for me.

Other than my feelings about a particular part of the book, Everything All at Once was a poignant and moving story about life, death, and everything in between. I thoroughly enjoy and devour Katrina Leno's stories, so this is one I would most definitely recommend, and I look forward to reading more.

If you like this, try...

Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi

Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: December 17, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Shatter Me, Book 2.5
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback (part of Unite Me)
Source: Borrowed
Buy: Amazon
Goodreads ● Website

Read my review of Shatter Me HERE.
Read my review of Destroy Me HERE.
Read my review of Unravel Me HERE.

As Omega Point prepares to launch an all-out assault on The Reestablishment soldiers stationed in Sector 45, Adam's focus couldn't be further from the upcoming battle. He's reeling from his breakup with Juliette, scared for his best friend's life, and as concerned as ever for his brother James's safety. And just as Adam begins to wonder if this life is really for him, the alarms sound. It's time for war.

On the battlefield, it seems like the odds are in their favor—but taking down Warner, Adam's newly discovered half brother, won't be that easy. The Reestablishment can't tolerate a rebellion, and they'll do anything to crush the resistance . . . including killing everyone Adam has ever cared about.

Okay, so since Unravel Me I'm heading towards the direction of Team Warner, but I'm glad Fracture Me was written from Adam's perspective because it definitely allowed some Adam appreciation from me! I'm sad that this love triangle is changing a ton, because in Shatter Me is pretty obvious who Juliette should end up with, but the novella and book that came after complicates things–both for Juliette, and for me because DAMN...I don't know who to side with now!

A lot of the events that took place in Unravel Me appear in this book told from Adam's perspective. While it's all stuff that we know, it's kinda cool to see how his character perceived things, especially since he didn't know a lot of the info that Juliette was hiding from him in the second book in the series. **SPOILER** What we also get is the story of what happens after Juliette is captured, and how everyone seems to think she's dead, as well as what they plan to do next.

I know I had some mixed feelings about this series to begin with, but now? Now I'm so excited to see how it ends. I'm captivated by Mafi's debut series, and I need to know how it all ends. I can't wait to pick up Ignite Me!

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Release Date: August 24, 2017
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Rated: MG 12+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores soon!

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is in fact a good witch who shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna's thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge - with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth's surface. And the woman with the Tiger's heart is on the prowl . . .

Before reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon, I'd heard a lot about it. I'd seen that it won the Newbery Medal a while back, so when the opportunity to read and review it arose, I took that chance. There's something about diving into classic-esque middle grade fantasy books. They really take me back to my childhood, because I absolutely adored the fantasy genre growing up and couldn't get enough of places like Narnia or Lyra's Oxford. Anyway, I knew that there was no way that this could disappoint, and I'm so glad that it didn't. The Girl Who Drank the Moon was a magical, multi-layered story that I couldn't get enough of.

I say multi-layered, because there are several stories going on at once, with jumps in time, setting and so if you're unaccustomed to stories that swing from place to place, this could get a little confusing. I was a little perplexed to begin with, with the interjecting characters of a one-sided conversation that doesn't really make any sense until the end, as well as with the random characters that eventually turn out to be not-so-random. Initially, even though they were pretty interesting, I was wondering what the point of including them in the story was. As it turns out, everything is connected and the level of detail that the author attributes to interweaving the various characters and their stories is stunning.

I loved the misconceptions and mishaps between the different character groups! Obviously the fact that the people of Protecotorate thought that there was a witch that demanded babies so that they'd have to turn over they're youngest children was horrifying, but the fact that Xan was actually a lovely, grandmotherly witch made this story so much more intriguing. Then we have a wonderful duo that comes with her–the poetic and philosophical Glerk, and the hilarious Fyrian. Fyrian is the small talkative dragon friend I wish I had! I truly enjoyed his random observations and singing moments–it was a lovely ice-breaker at times when the book got a little dark. Luna, our main character, of course sounded like a tiresome (but adorable) child when she was younger, but I loved her growth and discovery that came along with it. There are so many people in here that keeping track of everyone, as I mentioned before, will be a bit tricky, but trust me–it all comes together in the end.

The writing is absolutely GORGEOUS. I was sucked into this world almost immediately, and navigating the landscape through the perspective of various characters gave it that extra sparkle. There are creatures and various kinds of magic in here that I never could have imagined. Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon was wonderful–it's a beautiful tribute to the classics that have come before, as well as being a new and unique take on the fantasy genre that will without a doubt lead to it ranking among the frontrunners of the genre. 

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 193

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a "suitable" Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City--and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she's only known from afar. There's the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

January 16, 2018 ● Goodreads

Thought that this title would be pretty relevant considering all that's been going on this week the past few months throughout history. As an Indian Muslim, even though I haven't grown up in the US, this is such an important book. A little personal input from me: I've never actually been afraid of being called out or hated on because of my race and religion until I went to the US for university. Seriously. It hasn't ever happened, thankfully, but I haven't been back to Trump Presidency-era America, so going back after being 9 months away due to study abroad and summer holidays is going to be a different experience...one that hopefully involves positive change (#resist). That being said, I can't wait to read this one, because now more than ever this is something we–the Muslim community, POC, etc.–need.

What are you waiting on?