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Sep 2 2015

Waiting on Wednesday {67}

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Waiting On Wednesday is originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, but we just love this meme so much we had to tag along! Each Wednesday, one of the Lit Up Review writers will post a book she is looking forward to, along with the summary and cover. You can find all of these posts by clicking on the category button and selecting “Waiting on Wednesday,” and fill up your Goodreads shelves with great books to get excited about!


A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis | Goodreads
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

This may sound strange, but I absolutely love stories set in historical asylums, and this one, with its brilliant-sounding main character, seems like one of the best. Especially coming from a popular, acclaimed author, A Madness So Discreet is sure to be phenomenal.

Sep 1 2015

The Spotlight Book Club September Selection: Tiny Pretty Things

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The Spotlight Book Club is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book online book club with readers like us all over the world. Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will post a selection of mini-reviews (ranging from one of us to all of us) along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else!

September’s selection is Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton!


Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

We at Lit Up Review are so excited for this one. Between the dancing and the drama, it’s sure to be absolutely enthralling. We hope you’ll join us this month – especially you dancers out there.

Aug 31 2015

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer

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20522640Novel: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | Goodreads
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing
Also Published On: Willa’s Ramblings

From debut author and poet Lexa Hillyer comes the lyrical story of four seventeen-year-old friends who receive an unlikely chance to relive the perfect summer . . . and the devastating secret that could unravel it all. Elegant and evocative, Proof of Forever is one of those first novels that hooks you from the beginning and builds toward a stunning—and unexpected—end, calling to mind Gayle Forman and Ann Brashares.

Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe were once best friends. Now they barely speak. That is, until the fateful flash of a photo-booth camera transports them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed. Photos fade. Friendships dissolve. Summers end. But this one will change the girls forever . . . again.

Wendy Wunder calls Proof of ForeverThe Sisterhood of the (Time) Traveling Pants for a new generation!

I’m going to admit this upfront: I didn’t have high hopes for Proof of Forever, mainly because of my negative experience with some other summer camp books that I didn’t connect with.


Proof of Forever is far more than a summer camp book.

It’s a story about friendship. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe are four girls who used to be best friends, but after their last year at camp, their friendships dissolved (which I completely relate to). When they come back together, it’s awkward at first, but after they’re thrown into the past, they become closer, and grow to understand one another in a way they didn’t before. They remember what their friendship was like, and how much they cared for each other. As they relive their last summer camp days, everything begins to change – secrets are revealed, the girls tap into parts of themselves they hadn’t before, and they grow closer than ever.

These girls were an incredible cast of characters. I loved the ripples in their friendship, the completely realistic moments where they jumped to conclusions, when they broke down in front of one another, when they surprised one another, and when they proved how much they cared for one another. Each one of them was unique and brought something different to their friendship, and made the four of them the four of them.

The story line started a little slow, but once I hit the middle, it picked up significantly. The story is driven by their desire to get back to their lives, but the majority of the book is spent in the past, part reliving the past, and part changing it. I enjoyed their uncertainty and then decision to live in the present, and not care how it would affect the future, separating this book from other time travel story lines. Things don’t go according to plan, and as they adjust to the changes in their past, the girls experience their summer in a new way.

Proof of Forever is a beautiful story of friendship and the power of trust and love between friends. As a rare gem in the YA world (a book focused on friendship and not romance) I appreciated it even more. If you love a good summer book full of friendship, I would definitely recommend Proof of Forever.


Aug 27 2015

Ten Illuminations {35}: 2015 Fall Releases

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Ten Illuminations is a bi-weekly feature hosted by Lit Up Review where we recommend our ten favorite books that fit under one topic. Inspired by The Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday, Ten Illuminations gives you five people’s recommendations in one!

Today, we’re giving our most anticipated fall releases. Keep an eye out for these – they’re going to be big!



Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales | Goodreads

Leila Sales is easily one of my favorite authors, so I was – and still am – incredibly jealous of all the people who grabbed ARCs of her upcoming release at BEA. I’ve heard amazing things about Tonight the Streets are Ours, and the plot sounds perfect (It features a blog! And NYC!), so I’m sure it will be just as clever and emotional as her past books.


Soundless by Richelle Mead | Goodreads

This book’s blurb uses the phrase “steeped in Chinese folklore.” In other words, I’m hooked already. The story sounds so thrilling and atmospheric, and besides, I’m obsessed with the cover. Especially since it comes from the author of the Vampire Academy series, Soundless is sure to be big.


The Rest of Us Just Live Here
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness | Goodreads

I am ashamed to admit that I have yet to read any of Patrick Ness’s work, even though I own two of his books, but this one just sounds amazing. It reminds me of every conversation I’ve had about showing the real high school experience (as in similar to the experience I had, which included studying and homework and extracurriculars and not all the other super fun stuff) and all of that, and this sounds like it could be it. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things so far, and I’m really looking forward to reading and enjoying this one.

Dream Strider

Dream Strider by Lindsay Smith | Goodreads

Political intrigue?! Sign me up! I enjoyed Lindsay Smith’s Sekret (but have yet to read Skandal), and this one sounds even more amazing. The cover is also incredibly gorgeous, which doesn’t hurt. I’m also really intrigued by the book because I once started a story about dreams and how it plays out into our lives when we’re awake. Though a very different concept than this book, I wonder how Smith will combine the two into the story.

Aug 18 2015

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

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22522076Novel: The Truth Commission by Susan Juby | Goodreads
Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Also Published On: Ciao Bella

This was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own.

Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission: A story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.

While it is not always as prominent of an element, setting is just as important to a novel as the characters and the plot. Setting can transform a story, and the right environment should linger with the reader long after they have finished the book. Popular bestsellers offer a number of prime examples, from the wizardry school Hogwarts to the dystopian nation of Panem, but memorable settings in contemporary fiction are less frequent of an occurrence. Susan Juby’s newest piece of realistic fiction, however, is set against a backdrop that’s one to remember and even harder to forget. Told in “narrative nonfiction,” The Truth Commission follows its characters in their search for truth at their quirky art school, Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. It’s clever, it’s humorous, and it’s thoughtful; if anything, Juby’s novel is worth picking up for a trip to Green Pastures alone.

The students at Green Pastures must each complete a final project for the year; Normandy Pale, The Truth Commission’s narrator and protagonist, decides to exercise her writing skills in a narrative nonfiction piece about her older sister, Keira, and her disappearance. This unique structure not only captures the reader’s attention, but also frames the story in an interesting and impactful way. It could have easily gone wrong were it not for Normandy’s vivid and distinct narration, complete with entertaining footnotes and illustrations, that invites the reader into her dysfunctional family life. Furthermore, Normandy’s situation may not be common among “typical teens,” but she captures the struggles of adolescence all the same.

Normandy is not the only complex and artistic character of the novel. Her friends lead rather creative lives; Dusk is known for her work in taxidermy and dioramas, while Neil is a portrait artist of beautiful women. Their unusual hobbies aside, Dusk and Neil demonstrate the meaning of friendship. All three – Normandy, Dusk, and Neil – make mistakes as they uncover the truth, but they realize that having each other’s back comes before having the right answer. Normandy’s family is less of an inspiration, but they too illustrate the significance of trust in a relationship. Juby presents two extremes with Normandy’s friends and family: those that look for honesty and those who run from it.

Like another one of my spring reads, I was surprised, though not disappointed, in the book’s storyline. The synopsis does little to reveal the plot of the novel, so readers discover the facts of Keira’s life on the same timeline, so to speak, as Normandy. There’s no doubt that The Truth Commission is strange, but Juby never loses her story’s plausibility. It can border the line of unrealistic {I, for one, couldn’t believe grown adults would act so clueless}, but it also presents situations that are, sadly, all too true. Keira, for example, pulls events from her own family’s life and uses them in her bestselling graphic novels without permission, an action that forces readers to ponder truth in the creative setting.

We, as a society, like to shy from the truth. We can hide behind screens, keep secrets more easily, or as in Normandy’s case, warp reality to fit our artistic needs. We may wonder if this is right, but perhaps, the question we need to ask is, “Is this always wrong?” It would be nice to have an answer, but Juby’s novel reminds us that truth can be messy, that real life can be messy. The Truth Commission is seemingly light, but the themes and questions it presents are far more than your average “beach read.” I highly recommend it; Green Pasture and its students are a delight from beginning to end.



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