☕ Book Break ☕ | Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

A must read for all teens and preteens. This one knocked my socks off. My emotions took ever, the strongest of which was anger. The story ends satisfactorily, although I wanted harsher revenge on one particular character. Rarely do I have a character I love to hate, but the mother of the bully is on my short list of fictional characters I despise. Told from multiple points of view, all aspects of the situations arising from an incident of cyberbullying are put under the microscope. My kindle did not read the headings, and yet I was easily able to tell which character’s POV the story was in. That’s good writing.

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Must Read

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Complex

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engrossing

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

“Some people see the liquid and think half full. Others only see the air and think half empty. Sometimes I get the sense Chatham sees it all, which is kind of terrifying. I don’t know if I want him to see me–the real me.”

This book caught my eye because I love the Emily Dickinson quote and I loved the cover. It’s been on my list for quite some time.

Emilie is struggling with the loss of her father, who died from a terminal illness four years ago. She also has epilepsy.

I had loads of sympathy for the main character and liked her right away. It is an easy to read, sweet, heartwarming type story. Emilie must navigate a new environment and learns that she has been wrong about many of her assumptions. It has a bit of romance, a bit of mother/daughter relationship (y’all know I love a good mother/daughter story), and, of course, it is a hopeful book as the title indicates. I love a book that is about hope.

I will confess, I got a little teary sometimes. I found myself chuckling every now and then, as well.

Emily Dickinson is given quite a few nods, which I appreciate. I learned something about her that I did not know. 

The story ties everything together nicely.

I liked it.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

“In fact, I was glad to know something not everyone did: that there are better bonds than blood.”

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Gorgeous story. 

Twelve year old Crow lives in a small isolated community. She lives with Osh, who is raising her, although he is no blood relation. Crow washed up on shore one day. The other inhabitants of the small Massachusetts island have shunned her for the most part, except for Miss Maggie, a neighbor.

Mysteries abound in this coming of age that explores what the true meaning of family is. There was a certain type of sweet sadness infused in this story that made it achingly beautiful.

I was sad when the story was over because I wanted to stay a little bit longer with the characters. If you like historical coming of age stories with a dash of mystery and striking pose, get this one. 

Good for all ages.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Major Book Love

Characters 

Historical Fiction with Heart

Appropriate for all young readers and adults.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

 

Sugar

by Deirdre Riordan Hall

“I lean against the doorframe, heavy with the truth. I am always in the way. I’ve known this for as long as I can remember.”

“I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.”

“I know how to swim, but I feel like I’m drowning.”

I loved this young adult novel. I admit I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning, but it wasn’t long before I was drawn into the plot. Sugar’s story resonated with me, and I am glad a friend recommended this novel. 

Sugar is a 17-year-old girl with an eating disorder. Home life is fraught with abuse both mental and physical. Sugar is a good girl. She tries with all her might to please her family, but they are never satisfied. She eats to fill the painful void left by rejection.

Other readers have mentioned that the middle of the novel dragged, but I didn’t notice this. I felt the story moved along at a sufficient pace and it kept my interest throughout. It actually kept me awake when I should have gone to bed!

Sugar was a quick read.  Deirdre Riordan Hall’s storytelling style is somewhat straightforward, but the story line and characters were engaging. I found myself rooting for Sugar.

The novel has a satisfactory ending, although tragedy (more tragedy!) does visit Sugar’s world. All the ends tie up nicely without it being too gooey-happy in the end. This is an empowering read for girls going through difficult times. Upon finishing the book, my overall feeling was one of hope. This is a story about rejection, how teens value themselves, and about overcoming.

Sugar’s battles tugged at my heart. This is one I categorize as must read for teens and adults simply because the character spoke volumes to me. It is a deceptively simple tale that delves deep. I found it an emotional read that stuck with me after I turned the last page.

With a caution for younger readers about topics covered, I would highly recommend this book for pre-teens, teens, and adults.

Topics:

Obesity, abuse, abandonment, bullying, assault, attempted rape, contains language, death, mentions of Catholic religion, prayers, rituals.

Deirdre Riordan Hall talks ‘Sugar’ and speaking up against bullies.

Author’s Website

 

 

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Just Listen  by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen  by Sarah Dessen

Guys, I think I found my favorite book by Sarah Dessen.

Annabel appears to have the perfect life, at least in the commercials she appears in as her job as a model. Her sister is anorexic. Her former best friend, Sophie, has it in for her. Owen, boy who is obsessed with music and a loner, befriends Annabelle. He has a habit of telling the truth. Annabel has secrets she can’t bring herself to talk about, but he’s not going to let that lie.

I love issue driven fiction and Sara Dessen is good at bringing these topics to light with a well told story. The characters are complex and I felt myself immersed in their lives.

Things aren’t always what they appear to be, and this novel reminds us of that. 

All the stars.

☕ Book Break ☕ |The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds #popsugarreadingchallenge

#popsugarreadingchallenge

A Book With Clothing on The Cover

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Sixteen year old Matt wears a black suit every day, not because his mother dies, but for his job at the funeral home. That and his habit of sitting in on services. He’s looking for a way to deal with his grief, and encounters a girl who might just know the answer. He sure won’t find help from his dad, who seems to be trying to drown his sorrow in a bottle.

My heart broke a little bit with every page. 

The voice and sense of place drew me into his world. I would not hesitate to recommend this for anyone from pre-teens to adults. 

A true page turner. Happy-sad. A bit of romance. Realistic, coming of age.  A perfect book for teens about coming to terms with grief of any sort.

Go get it. Recommended for all.

Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

All the Feels

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Relatable

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Storyline

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Well Written

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Gritty Contemporary Christian YA: Interview with Author Brian McBride

 

Haunted by the last question their mother ever asked them, the Greyson brothers struggle to cope with their grief and adjust to life after tragedy.

Semi-popular sixteen-year-old Liam spends his nights performing as the lead singer of his high school indie alternative/rock band, Liam and the Landmarks. But something happened to Liam four years ago at his friend’s house – a secret Liam will take to his grave. But in small towns like Summit, Colorado, secrets always seem to find their way out.

Twenty-four-year-old Ezra thought that he could cure his grief when he left Summit behind for a prestigious art school in Chicago, but things only got worse. Now a college dropout working at a gas station mini mart, he turns to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and meaningless one-night stands. But Ezra can’t run forever – life always catches up with you.

With abrasively honest dual-perspective narratives, Every Bright and Broken Thing illustrates the unbreakable bond between brothers and the power in coming home.

*******************

Bookstagrammer, blogger, and author Sunny Huck shared about Brian’s work on her Instagram and peaked my interest so I had to talk with him.

DJS: Your novels are contemporary and gritty. What drives you to write about the issues you do?

BMcB: Some of it is personal experience; a lot of the issues I write about are things that myself or others I know have faced. Depression, self-harm, mental illness, sexual abuse and assault, domestic violence, addiction, etc… 

But some of it is also that there’s a severe lack in the YA market – specifically the Christian YA market – of stories that deal with these things. I can’t name even five Christian YA Contemporary novels that could be comparable to, say, the stories John Green, Amber Smith, or Stephen Chbosky write. The Christian Fiction industry seems to think YA Fantasy novels are the only kind worth publishing. I disagree. I doubt I can fill this gap completely by myself, but maybe I can encourage other Christian authors of YA Contemporary to share their stories, too – THEN we’ll fill the gap!

DJS: What has been the most gratifying about writing realistic Christian fiction for young people?

BMcB: Hearing the stories of how my books have given people a new view of themselves, of the value of life, of faith and hope, and most importantly of Jesus. Hearing all those stories has been the highlight of this experience. 

DJS: Liam and Ezra go through some pretty harrowing times before they begin their healing journey in Every Bright and Broken Thing. Will you write any more of their story?

BMcB: I don’t have any new stories simmering for Liam and Ezra right now. But I have a short story or novella I may or may not be planning to carry on Lincoln’s story. But anything is possible. If a good idea comes, I won’t say no to revisiting my boys in Summit. 

DJS: Every Bright and Broken Thing is the story of two brothers dealing with loss and how they react. In a few sentences, what would you say to those who want to support families going through grief?

BMcB: Hold onto them and don’t let go. I remember a time when I was far away from the Lord and was getting into some bad stuff, but my parents refused to let go. Some parents will kind of back off and say, “oh, well they’re adults now. They have to make their own choices.” But my parents weren’t about to let me go. They held on for months and months. I literally would not be alive today if it weren’t for the fierce, fighting kind of love my parents have for me.

In Every Bright, we see Mr. Greyson grapple with his own suffering and even come to realize how he allowed his grief to cause him to not hold onto his sons like he should. Mr. Greyson had to determine once again that he was going to hold onto his boys. In that, we see a father who was broken become strong again.

So, if you know someone who is suffering, hold on and don’t let go. Sometimes that means telling them the hard truth. Sometimes that just means listening and letting them cry on your shoulder. Whatever the case, hold on and don’t let go.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today, Brian. Keep writing. I expect great things to come from your work.

A winner of the 2016 Wattys Award, Brian published the award-winning Young Adult Contemporary debut, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, in 2018.
Born and raised in Oregon, Brian moved to the San Francisco Bay Area at 16-years-old. He’s been writing since he was thirteen-years-old and has been reading for longer. Brian is pursuing a degree in Social Work, which he hopes to use to help rescue children and families. Perhaps he’ll work to better the US’s foster care system? Or maybe he’ll join an organization that fights human trafficking? A fourth generation pastor, he is deeply passionate about the Church and is also pursuing his Minister’s License. It was this passion that compelled him to launch the Pioneer Mvmt, a social-media-based faith movement. Among other things, he is also passionate about iced tea, animals, adoption, and the arts.