Tag Archive | Stand Alone

Book Review: Gods is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein

God Pancakes

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“Fifteen-year-old Grace Manning is a candy striper in a nursing home, and Mr. Sands is the one patient who makes the job bearable. He keeps up with her sarcasm, teaches her to play poker . . . and one day cheerfully asks her to help him die. At first Grace says no way, but as Mr. Sands’s disease progresses, she’s not so sure. Grace tries to avoid the wrenching decision by praying for a miracle, stuffing herself with pancakes, and running away from all feelings, including the new ones she has for her best friend Eric. But Mr. Sands is getting worse, and she can’t avoid him forever. Robin Epstein has delivered an incredibly engaging, thought-provoking debut YA novel, with all the snappy dialogue and attitude of the movie Juno.”

What I See: This book challenges it’s characters in a rarely seen contemporary way. I appreciated that, but there was still something missing. Grace Manning is a strong female teen character, and perhaps that’s why I’m not entirely on board. She acts a bit too adult. She’s a bit too mature.

It’s a different kind of story, with beautiful passages and thoughts through Grace. I don’t want to hate on Grace, I just want to bring to attention that it’s all a bit cookie cutter when it comes to the end. To go from super adult to typical YA ending makes have a disconnect. 

Nevertheless, it’s a story that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s a coming of age story that hits all the buttons and targets for what a books needs to be. And yet, I wanted something more. Not more pages, but I guess it’s the ending for me. It’s a bit 80’s romantic comedy. The major chunk of the story is full of heart and trials, and I guess I wished the end reflected that growth of character. But the grief subject matter is a great discussion point and I’m pleased that Epstein went there. There needs to be more contemporary, stand alone YA books out there!



Book Review: The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti

Wings cover

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What would you do if you believed that love was a weakness?

Frenenqer Paje was created by her father. Everything she does and who she must become is destined by his vision of her.

Yet, she feels the beat of wings under her shoulder blades, aching to burst free from her cage whilst flying away to worlds unknown.

One day when at the markets of the Middle East, Freneqer rescues a cat near death.

This cat is not an ordinary cat at all.

Together, Freneqer and Sangris – a Free Person, a shapeshifter, a boy, journey around the world and inside themselves.

When one has their life cast for them, is it possible to break free?

I really enjoyed this story. It’s definitely off the beaten path and there needs to be more YA like this. Exploring other cultures and creating stories about growing up that teens of all races can relate too.

What a refreshing read with a main character that isn’t Caucasian! Finally a setting where English isn’t the main language! It’s written beautifully and true of the surrounding cultures. At times it can be harsh but this is not America and it’s brilliant to read about how other families function.

It’s such a touching love story, and doesn’t relate at all to traditional YA. The emotions are real and genuine. You feel the characters learning from one another. Not lusting after each other, but developing feelings based on similarities and longing for a true place to call home. As it’s also a standalone and quite short, it’ll make you thirsty and feeling the pulsing sun through your modest clothing. 

Book Reviews: Black Door by Evans Light

Black Door cover

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Eleven-year-old William, his father and two younger brothers are on their way to a new Summer Camp as their local favourite is out of operation.

What starts as a long car trip turns into a journey through an unknown environment with a starkly painted black door…

What’s behind the door? Why are the campgrounds abandoned? Several questions that might be answered should William take that first step through the black door.

This is a short story perfect for reading to eight-year-olds and above around the campfire. But be warned – there will be a lot of questions!

It’s such a short read that most of my review is really in my rating. I obviously wanted more, but for it’s age range it’s great to kick start imaginations. A good example for kids looking for the next step up in a reading challenge Black Door will keep them turning the pages! 

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard

312 pages

Published 2006

USA Publisher: Warner Books (Right)

UK Publisher: John Murray (Left)

Twelve-year-old Veronica Swan comes from a loving Mormon family. Living in Utah she adores taking care of her two little sisters. Witnessing their murder is an event that forever changes Veronica, her family and the entire community.

As ‘Ronnie’ grows up and processes the grief whilst welcoming the birth of a new sibling, she looks to her faith for guidance. As her life begins to regain normality, she plans her future with best friend Clare and falls in love with the tough neighbour boy Miko. Everything she knows and trusts is tested when her parents choose to publicly forgive their daughter’s murderer, Scott Early. Unable to accept what her parents have done, Ronnie carves a path that will shape her life than more she ever expected.

Mitchard is able to capture the true voice of a teen in tragedy whilst able to blend the complex Mormon faith for readers to understand. Although not directly considered a YA novel, I believe due to the age of Ronnie throughout most of the book that it can be placed in this category. Blending adult issues and themes with teenage angst of true love that’s dampened by different faiths, Cage of Stars is a complex story of forgiveness.

Capturing grace and honestly, Mitchard is able to portray intense tragedy and how people move on. At the same time she’s able to keep Ronnie’s voice true. The tone and language used never falters from the teenage context, even as she becomes a young adult. Slow paced but powerful, Cage of Stars is a great novel to nurse the heart through a difficult time. Ronnie’s strength will inspire, whereas her daring will provide an open channel to process those ‘what if’s?’ we all feel when tragedy hits home. Lastly, her resolve creates peace and sets an example that no mater bad things are, it’s important to hang on for just a little longer.