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May 24 2015

The Weekly Blaze {90}: May 18-24

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weeklyblaze

Welcome to our 90th edition of The Weekly Blaze (we’re getting old here at Lit Up Review)! Here are all our posts from the previous week:

Tuesday, May 19: Serena’s review of Pivot Point by Kasie West: “Pivot Point is almost two years old, and I’m just reading it now?”

Wednesday, May 20: Emily’s Waiting on Wednesday selection of Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu: “I’ll be surprised if I don’t give Devoted a glowing review.”

Thursday, May 21: Ten Illuminations on historical fiction covers: “We’re back with historical fiction covers, the final part in our covers series.”

Saturday, May 23: Willa’s review of Solitaire by Alice Oseman: “You want realistic teen fiction? This is it.”

Emily
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May 23 2015

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

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20522640Novel: Solitaire by Alice Oseman | Goodreads
Release Date: March 30th, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher/Book People Teen Reviewing
Also Published On: Willa’s Ramblings

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.

I’m going to completely admit something: I picked up this book purely because on my copy it said “for fans of Melina Marchetta” so I just assumed I’d love it.

And holyohmygodithinkihavenoair this was good.

You want realistic teen fiction?

This is it.

Solitaire is the story of a girl. An incredibly normal girl. A girl who has a Tumblr that she spends entirely too much time on, who watches Netflix all the time, and doesn’t really know what the heck she wants to do with her life. She doesn’t have the kind of friends who really get her (besides her best friend, and even that’s kind of shaky) and she’s not on the best of terms with her parents. Tori was the best part of this entire book. The cynicism, sarcasm, and pessimism made her so much more real in my head. She has an incredibly distinct voice from the beginning of the book (it actually shook me up a bit) which made her Tori. Her voice matched her personality and made sense with the way she acted – I loved it.

Enter Michael Holden. The guy who even her brother is telling her to stay away from because he’s just a bit too odd. Michael, however, doesn’t seem to care that Tori isn’t giving him much attention, but rather makes an effort. He befriends her, and their friendship is utterly beautiful. They’re both aching for someone who gets them, and that’s what they provide for each other. Michael Holden is a character who really surprised me, and I ended up adoring him. He’s funny, kind, a bit odd but a really cool kind, and someone who I think I would like in real life. He keeps you on your toes, so to speak.

The actual plot of Solitaire is a bit out there. Essentially, there’s a series of pranks happening at Tori’s school (and in the surrounding area) that are targeted at her, but no one knows who exactly is behind them, other than that the organization is named Solitaire. Tori and Michael make it their own personal mission to figure out who the organizers of Solitaire are and stop them before things get too ugly (because the pranks are turning more and more dangerous) but this task ends up being a bit more difficult than they expected. The mystery/thriller element that the Solitaire pranks brought in made the book move faster and filled what would’ve been a boring middle section of the book with engaging scenes.

Solitaire deals heavily with depression and suicide. Multiple characters in the book are battling depression, and Oseman approaches these topics with kindness and care. Through Tori we see the ups and downs, the precipice of suicide, and walking away. This book was an incredibly emotional one, and I absolutely fell in love with it.

Alice Oseman’s debut novel is at the top of my list for favorite 2015 releases. Solitaire is an incredibly unique story of love, friendship, and finding yourself, and one that everyone can relate to.

Willa
0 COMMENTS
May 21 2015

Ten Illuminations {28}: Best Historical Fiction Covers

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illuminations-banner-historical-fiction-covers

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!

We’re back with historical fiction covers, the final part in our covers series.

Emily-sig

15828079Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley | Goodreads

This cover has so much going for it: the eye-catching contrast between the black-and-white background and the brightly colored accents, the yearbook-esque layout, and the old school feel. Best of all, displaying a predominantly white-student body emphasizes the struggles this book’s characters face as they become one Southern school’s first black students.

20708768Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail | Goodreads

I enjoyed this book (although it didn’t live up to the unfairly high expectations I’ve had for World War II books that I’ve had since reading Elizabeth Wein’s novels), but I truly love the cover. Between the asymmetrical piano keys and the barbed wire, the design looks intentionally rough and messy, which really catches my eye.

Willa-sig

 

10445307Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys | Goodreads

One of my all-time favorite historical fiction books, Between Shades of Gray tells the story of Lina, a Lithuanian girl put in a Soviet work camp during WWII. It’s one of the most moving and heart-wrenching books I’ve ever read, and I always recommend it to readers of all ages. This cover is my favorite, and was done by Penguin in 2011. I’ve never found it in stores, but I dream of finding it at some point.

24807186Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin | Goodreads

I adored Ryan Graudin’s book The Walled City (it was a Spotlight Book Club book!) and Wolf by Wolf is her next book. It is pitched as “Code Name Verity meets Inglourious Basterds” which makes me incredibly pumped for this book. ALSO THE COVER. It’s so incredible. I love the typeface and the image. It’s unique, eye-catching, and relates well to the book, three things I love in a book cover.

jessica-sig

Winterspell

Winterspell by Claire Legrand | Goodreads

This cover is so badass and so gorgeous! I love the expression on her face, as well as the blade that she’s holding on to. The red hair sticks out among the purple and really makes both colors pop. This cover is the perfect mix of mysterious/creepy, haunting, and beautiful. It fits the story (based on the blurb) so well. And the font used for the title is just right for the tone of the book and the rest of the cover. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s not too simple, and it gives the cover a fantasy-type feel.

A Mad, Wicked Folly

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller | Goodreads

Unlike Winterspell, I have read A Mad, Wicked Folly, and I love both the contents inside the book as well as the cover. The yellow dress perfectly compliments the blue and the other colors on the cover, but it also definitely pops out at you. I think it’s perfect for Vicky–it’s bold and it says, I don’t care what you think; I’ll do whatever I want. And with the backdrop of (I assume) Edwardian England and the contrasting blue sky, the cover just catches my eye. Like Winterspell, the font is unassuming but also not boring, and the swirly script used for Sharon Biggs Waller’s name fits the fact that Vicky is a girl from the upper class. I just love the combined look of the cover, particularly the yellow dress.

May 20 2015

Waiting on Wednesday {63}

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waitingonwednesday

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!

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Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu | Goodreads
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

All signs are pointing to my loving this book. I really enjoyed Jennifer Mathieu’s debut, The Truth About Alice, and I always fall for books in which characters question their religion. Plus, I love the gorgeous lighting in the cover photo. I’ll be surprised if I don’t give Devoted a glowing review.

May 19 2015

Pivot Point by Kasie West

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11988046Novel: Pivot Point by Kasie West | Goodreads
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Also Published On: Reading Over Sleeping

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier…

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without.

OH MY GOSH, YOU GUYS. THIS. BOOK. Pivot Point is almost two years old, and I’m just reading it now? *hits self* Why have I deprived myself so?! Well, I guess I should be glad that I’m reading it at all instead of being mad at myself because OMG. I loved this book so much. There are so many things that need to be talked about, so I’ll try to arrange my thoughts in an organized manner, but that may not work out because I just want to gush (what else is knew?). For the sake of you all though, I will try. 

The world. The premise for Pivot Point is one of the most original I’ve read in YA I think ever. It’s about people with superhuman mental abilities. Like, actual bonafide superheroes that live pretty average lives amongst themselves in a small Texas town closed off from the rest of the United States. So yeah, I immediately became immersed in this world and found myself wanting to live in it. Because who wouldn’t, amirite? 

The characters. Addie, our lovely MC, is one of my new favorite YA heroines because I could really relate to her. In sci-fi and dystopian and fantasy books (basically everything that’s not contemporary) all the heroines are totally kick-butt. Don’t get me wrong, I love that about them. Strong women FTW, but I don’t find myself being like that. I’m just a normal, sarcastic teenage girl who stays home on the weekends and reads, and I totally appreciated that Addie was the same way. I mean, with super cool superpowers and a couple cute boys, but you know, basically the same. 

And the boys. Because what would a review from me be without a mention of boys? Their are two love interests: Duke (*rolls eyes*) and Trevor (*swoons and cries*). And there’s also Rowan, who’s not a love interest, but I’ll talk about him anyway because I really liked him. I don’t want to go into the boy details too much because I could potentially spoil things, so I’ll just leave you with that. 

The plot. There’s not a lot I can tell you about the plot because again, I don’t want to get spoilery, but I will say that the chapters alternate between the two world choices Addie has to create two deliciously frustrating plots. I’ll also say “OMG, go read this book!”

Serena
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