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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall Cover

Before I Fall Details

February 12th, also known as ‘Cupid Day’ for senior Samantha Kingston at Thomas Jefferson High School. Every American High School has a day like this. Students buy flowers, write a message and send them to whomever throughout the day. It’s a race for popularity to see who receives the most. Sam’s one of the most popular girls in school along with her best friends Lindsay, Ally and Elody. Her boyfriend Rob is the hottest guy in school and tonight she’s going to lose her virginity to him.

With popularity comes a way to act and for Sam this is no different. Cruel and cold to all the other students in her class, she doesn’t bat an eye to painful pranks pulled by Lindsay against her enemy Juliet Sykes. When the group attend a party by geeky guy Kent in school, Sam watches as her life pools at her feet. Tired and drunk from the festivities, Sam sits in the front of the car as Lindsay gets behind the wheel. They were supposed to make it home, Sam is too young to die, but the car hits something and suddenly she’s falling.

However, that isn’t the end of Sam’s story as she wakes up to a brand new February 12th. Stuck in the ‘in between’, Sam must figure why she’s reliving her last day on Earth. A journey of self-discovery that comes too late, Samantha Kingston, this was your life.

This is the kind of book that you might not originally like whilst reading, but it’s after you finish that it creeps into your heart. Sam Kingston is your typical mean girl and I really struggled with her character throughout most of the book. Her redeeming qualities took forever to come about and I felt as if most of the novel was just an excuse for her to piss all over everyone simply because she could.

Yet, the ending gives me what I want and as each day begins anew there’s a little bit more of Sam that is less snobbish and more genuine. This isn’t a story of the Mean Girls; it’s a story behind every insecure teenager trying to get through High School in one piece. Sam does evolve and I grew to like her for learning to stand up for herself. This is the kind of book that does take you back to those four years when everyone though they were invincible, that the future was bright and open. You’ll anxiously await turning the pages, wondering what Sam is going to do or learn next.

Many thanks to Stacey of PrettyBooks for this book!

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

Mimi, an undergraduate student in New York has had a hellish year. Running away from her life for a bit she drives through Canada to an old house along the syne that her estranged father owns. It was supposed to be a perfect hiding place. It was supposed to be a space for her to write and work out her troubles. It became a treasure trove of secrets and fear. At nineteen, Mimi floats along on a river journey that she didn’t sign up for but she isn’t able to fight the current.

The Uninvited is full of suspense from the first page to the last chapter. As this is a mystery type book I can’t get too deep with the story, it’s best that others give it a shot. I found it a surprising mature read from Walker Books, usually known for publishing to a younger audience. It’s a delightful surprise and once I’d cracked the book (it did take a while to get into) I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t explored too much of Canada myself but the scenery is beautifully described and it made me long for days when travelling by canoe was an acceptable form of transport. I’d recommend this book for older teens looking for drama that’s got a sickening strain that begs for discussion. This isn’t your classic YA book and be prepared for uncomfortable confusing moments.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Gabry has spent her life gazing out at the world from the safety of the lighthouse. There is no need to explore since the Return has caused the undead to stalk the living. They call them ‘mudo’ and strict precautions are taken to ensure the survival. She’s never stepped out of line, never questioned authority. Just one night is enough to change everything.

One night Gabry embarks across the barrier with her best friend Cira and her brother Catcher. It’s an opportunity for love to blossom and the mudo to attack. One night and the progression humanity has accomplished is knocked down. Now Gabry must venture past the barrier in search of her heart’s desire, but it’s only the beginning. One step turns into another and Gabry can no longer ignore the previous comfort of her life and the lighthouse.

Second books are always bit tougher to get into. I enjoyed the first book so much I didn’t want to be disappointed by expecting a lot from the second. It takes a couple of chapters for Ryan to show that this book is nothing like the second. Even with the zombie attacks there’s so much more to this world that she expands on. It’s fabulous. It got my heart racing; my hands shook as I breezed through the pages.

Slight criticism are that there is another love triangle and comes straight off of the first book it’s a bit repetitive. But then again it’s a zombie apocalypse. It’s not like finding a suitable partner is a walk in the park. I felt that the book was a bit slow, but I was pleased to learn more about this world and how people were able to successful exist. I’m holding off on the third book, I want to savour it and there are many other books I have to get through first. 

*Released Today* Refuge by Carole Rummage

17-year-old Laney Lowell has lost everything. During the national gymnastic qualifications meet, her world flips after learning her family has died in a car accident. As she moves from Salt Lake City, Utah to Columbia, North Carolina, Laney tries to move forward with an aunt and uncle whom she barley knows. It’s her memories of the outdoors with her family that pulls her to the Refuge, a wildlife preserve where she meets Gabe Randall, who’s rumored to be infected with a serious disease. Ignoring warnings Laney can’t help but fall in love with him, finding light in her world of dark grieving. As she gets closer to discovering his secret, their love will be put to a test she can’t prepare for.

I loved the cover of the book and the premise of the story, but after reading it I personally found it a bit of a disappointment. It gave me the impression it had potential as an adult crossover, but this is not the case.  After researching the publishing company Cedar Fort, it made more sense. I appreciate that a religious publisher can publish a book that’s not consumed with religious themes. I felt that faith had an appearance in the book but it didn’t take over, which I enjoyed. However, Laney’s story isn’t anything new and I guessed at the ‘twist’ right from the first chapter.

Regardless, this book is full of love and secrets. I’d recommend this book for younger readers, around the ages of 12+. It’s a YA on a younger scale and for that I think Rummage did a wonderful job. She covers good values, has easy to relate to characters and describes a beautiful setting with some slight mystery and suspense. It’s well written for its market that has the opportunity for religious and non-religious exposure. For young readers that are looking to read something full of heart, Refuge is a great start.

Cedar Fort gave this book as an ARC for an honest review. Many thanks to the publisher and Carole Rummage!

Comes the Night by Hollis Hampton-Jones

Nineteen-year-old twins Ben Ho and Meade live in Paris funded by their parents. Ben Ho is an artist living the dream, his sister Meade a waif contradiction studying cookery as she struggles with an eating disorder. Tied to Ben Ho, Meade lashes out at herself when he finds himself a pretty girlfriend and ignores her. As she spirals out of control with drugs, lust and lack of calories, can she find the will to pull her life back to together?

I was not impressed with this book. I found Meade to be a whiny, spoiled little brat. Constantly craving her brother’s attention for absolutely no reason other than she’s unable to be alone. I kept reading hoping there would be a turnaround, something or anything that would make me sympathetic to Meade.

I didn’t find anything. At nineteen one can be dramatic, but I felt it was over the top with Meade. She’s in Paris! Money isn’t a concern! Ben Ho and his ignorance to his sister’s pain was smart, but I don’t think he could have helped her if she had let him. At least the book is short. Perhaps those that enjoy reading about endless black holes of one’s soul will find more enjoyment from this piece than I did.

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

The world has changed and life as one knows it has reverted to a futuristic time mixed with the beauty and grace of the Victorian era. Fancy dress and high tech gadgets are the norm for seventeen-year-old Nora Dearly. The term at her finishing school has come to an end and she awaits her aunt’s carriage with patience and slight dread. Orphaned from the recent death of her father, Nora finds comfort through best friend Pamela as they venture home to New Victoria.

It was supposed to be a quiet first night back. Determined to find comfort in one of her favourite war films she shared with her father, a commotion outside derails her thoughts as the walking dead burst into her home. As Nora scampers to the roof, strangers rescue her but she’s horrified that even the handsome Bram is dead as well. Alone and surrounded by zombies, Nora must find strength within if she’s going to escape and return home.

I’ve never read anything steampunk before and I found myself pleasantly surprised how well this YA romance with zombies worked. Zombies aren’t all hungry monsters, but some have been given five years of an undead kind of life before succumbing to the final death. The idea is well executed and for those that need depth within a YA, look no further for Habel has thought of everything!

Steampunk fans will enjoy this book, and for those that don’t understand the genre will enjoy it just as must. There are excellent settings, cool gadgets and zombies falling in love. It was an exciting read that didn’t have my heart beating in fear but thrilled as I turned the pages in wonder about the fate of the characters. I can’t wait to read more from Habel and the next installment in the series.