Genre: YA


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

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Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
Optimists Die First
Susin Nielsen
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health, YA
Publication date: February 21st, 2017
by Wendy Lamb Books

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Life ahead: Proceed with caution.

Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt.

When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears.

Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything.
-A copy was provided by Wendy Lamb Books for review-

My feelings about this novel as about as complex as they get. Optimists Die First does some really great things but also needs a whole lot of work. Keep in mind that this is all based on an ARC version of the book as opposed to the finished copy and ARCs and finished copies can be worlds apart.

For starters, this book is about as cute as it sounds and looks. It is short and sweet and all about friendships and journeys. As one character in the book says, Optimists Die First is a ‘twisted version of the breakfast club.’

There is a complex portrayal of MH without any real labels and that was great. Petula has to go to mandatory art therapy and kind of really hates it. She doesn’t like any of the kids there and they don’t like her. And together, they don’t like the things their art therapist makes them do. But when Jacob joins the crew, they start getting along, magic happens. Is he a manic-pixie dream boy? Short answer: yeah, a little bit. Long answer: its complicated. He definitely has those character traits but at the end of the day he has to let go of them to really undergo character development. He is a mysterious character and one we don’t know much about except that he is an optimist.

Part of the deal is that this book really isn’t Jacob’s story. It’s Petula’s. It is her journey to reclaiming her life. The problem is is that this reclamation seems to rely heavily on Jacob’s presence. It’s instigated by him and happens largely because of him. Needing someone to push you in the right direction is so important but I wish it hadn’t been a random new boy and rather someone she was closer too? I love that Petula actually makes new friends and reconnects with old ones over the course of the book but I felt a tad uncomfortable with the fact that her journey relied heavily on Jacob’s presence and occurred largely in part because of him. Girl Against the Universe does something similar but in a way that actually works and is beneficial to both parties instead of just seeming like a ‘guy saves girl’ trope.

Unsurprisingly, there is a romance between Petula and Jacob and unsurprisingly, I was unimpressed. I am a slow-burn person so maybe it is just me but Petula and Jacob get close real quick and go through the stages of their relationship really quickly. The fault isn’t even the timeline but rather the fact the book is so fast paced that there isn’t as much time spend developing certain relationships.

So while I am giving this book 3 stars, it is a strong 3 stars because this book is pleasant and a quick read. It does good things with mental health but needs a little bit more work to take it to the next level (and who knows, maybe that already happened in the finished copy and I just don’t know!) Don’t be quick to passover the book but Optimists Die First has a lot to offer like adorable friendships and other general cuteness!

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Posted by on 02/20/2017 • 10 Comments

Today we are partnering with the lovely people over at Little, Brown to bring you a fabulous giveaway for FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake. It has a cover that is hella gorgeous and a blurb that got me glued. I am so excited to dive into this book and hope you guys are too! 🙂

About the Book

About the Author

Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a degree in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, and reporter for a local business magazine before finally landing on her current job as a library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids, and a Siberian Husky mix that definitely shows frostblood tendencies.

Offical…

A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Posted by on 02/17/2017 • 5 Comments

This book has an unfortunate cover given that its insides are so different. To Catch a Killer as pitched as being great for fans of Veronica Mars yet this cover screams cheesy mystery. Luckily, To Catch a Killer is a well-written mystery that is fun to follow along and hella engaging. It is one of those books you are going to stay up reading saying just ONE MORE CHAPTER (spoiler alert, its never one more chapter, its usually the entire fucking book.)

Sometimes I’ll read mysteries and wonder how the MCs have the resources and ability to solve the big case just based on educated guesses but To Catch A Killer throws in forensics into the mix and everything is GREAT. EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE. I totally guessed the murderer a couple pages in but…

The Infinite Variants of YA: Interview with Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez)

The Infinite Variants of YA: Interview with Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez)

Posted by on 02/16/2017 • 1 Comment

Hello and welcome to our first official post of THE INFINITE VARIANTS OF YA series! Today we have the absolutely lovely Lilliam Rivera on the blog answering a series of Would You Rather questions (which if you know me, I tend to ask really stupid qs sometimes so she was an absolute champ for putting up with me.)

SO, lets give it up for Lilliam Rivera!!!

A Game of Would You Rather with Lilliam Rivera!

Would you rather have a ginormous family or be an only child?

As much as I used to complain about growing up in a big, loud Puerto Rican family (three brothers, one older sister), I wouldn’t have it any other way. I loved it. You can always find someone to talk to and there are…

The Holiday Novel I Didn’t Know I Needed: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

The Holiday Novel I Didn’t Know I Needed: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Posted by on 02/15/2017 • 2 Comments

I have no idea how to start this review because I just want to throw We Are Okay in everyone’s faces and get them to read it. What drew me to the book was Nina LaCour and the pretty cover. While I haven’t read anything solely written by her, I had read You Know Me Well by her last year which she co-authored with David Levithan and fell in love with her writing.

LaCour’s writing just makes me wish I was buried under a ton of blankets with a book and a nice, warm cup of hot cocoa. We Are Okay is everything I didn’t even know I wanted from a holiday-themed book. It is complex, cozy and gut wrenching. It uses the tropes from common holiday novels but…

Q&A With S. Jae Jones

Q&A With S. Jae Jones

Posted by on 02/13/2017 • 2 Comments

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Today we have a Q&A with the author and hopefully they’ll make you feel even more excited about reading the book!

Please give a round of applause for S. Jae-Jones!

Q&A With S. Jae-Jones

What was your favorite part about writing this book? What was your favorite scene to write?

I loved that I was able to draw on so many things that inspired or influenced me aesthetically as I wrote this book. I love goth stories, Death and the Maiden tropes, Jacques Cocteau movies, Phantom of the Opera, glitter, David Bowie, Mozart, and all of that made it into my book in some form or another. I don’t have a favorite scene,…

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

Posted by on 02/10/2017 • 1 Comment

I have no idea how I am supposed to feel about this book. I love how the author builds tension throughout the book and I love the general creepiness of it but I struggled with a lot of other aspects of the book. The characters, the romance, and even some of the horror elements of the book.

I think my biggest qualm in terms of the actual horror parts of the book is how much they are based on Christian myth. This is obviously a very personal qualm and not all readers will have that same experience but as someone who exists outside of that narrative, it can be a little unsettling to have all this info forced down ones throat. It isn’t even just the satanic elements but rather the…

Just Another Teen Novel (IN A GOOD WAY!!): The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Just Another Teen Novel (IN A GOOD WAY!!): The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted by on 02/09/2017 • 2 Comments

2k17, the year where my eyes tear up because of everything. Currently tearing up because I wish I was a teen and I wish I could have had all these wonderful #ownvoices books in my life as a teen. I am not Latinx but goddamnit, it is so so SO good to read so many #ownvoices novels with non-white main characters. It is so good to see a POC main character and its so incredibly good to see a POC character in familiar tropes. Don’t ever let anyone tell you tropes are bad. TROPES ARE AMAZING (if done right) and people who think books need to not be trope-y are just reading books where tropes aren’t done well.

The Education of Margot Sanchez has been described as being ‘Pretty In…