Love is the Higher Law | Review

*bit of a long post*

Love is the Higher Law | Available for Purchase: Amazon.com « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Pages: 176 pages, hardcover
Received Copy: Paperback copy, also signed by author

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever.

Just last weekend marked the 15th year anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States in: New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, PA. I was invited to meet with a friend on the 9/11 date to spend two days in New York City and in doing so I decided to finally read David’s novel. I bought Love is the Higher Law few years ago when he did an author visit at a local bookstore. It was right near the anniversary and he explained some of the sights he witnessed and also notes this at the end of the book. I thought it was most appropriate reading on the day we remember all of the lives lost, innocent and the brave ones who died saving others.

I read the book on the train, well what I could–there were some loud talkers who ended up breaking my concentration from time to time and I also went in and out of periods where I was overwhelmed with emotion and kept tearing up. I was in high school so I remember more vividly than others who might’ve been younger at the time and also living in New Jersey which wasn’t as far away from NYC as opposed to where I live now. While reading Love is the Higher Law I could relate on various levels of the characters in their feelings, even though I wasn’t a New Yorker or someone extremely close to the situation, that day left a mark on everybody who was able to witness it.

Claire, Jasper, and Peter are coming from different viewpoints on this tragic day–Claire at school Uptown, worried about her younger brother, and getting word from their mother. Jasper has slept through the entire morning in Brooklyn only to be awoken by a phone call from his parents in South Korea to hear of the news, and Peter who skipped school to hang out at a record store and see the effects from Midtown. All present at a party a few nights before, they’re all thrown into the mix Claire and Jasper meeting just by chance, developing a friendship with him and eventually Peter who is a fellow senior such as herself. Peter and Jasper who were supposed to have their first date September 11th, but the day postpones things giving a bad vibe on their meeting. Looking at the devastation and destruction these characters start looking at their lives in a new perspective and realizing they don’t exactly understand what’s happened but know they are forever changed. Thinking deeply, caring more, and an array of emotions helps shape their lives now.

It’s a short read and it’s really interesting from a YA point of view–a time when teens already have so many emotions, to put this new level upon them having the characters examine their lives. I might read it again next year on the date, haven’t decided but I’m glad I have it on my shelf because I haven’t seen a lot of books on the subject like David notes in his final acknowledgements in the back of the book. And again, as someone who was a bit younger than the main characters but still able to witness the impact of that day is really fascinating to read.

The picture above does no justice on how truly amazing this sight was to see in person. The overwhelming emotion of patriotism, love, sadness, anger, and sorrow you have looking at the new skyline and the lights that shine brightly for not only all of the victims but the loss of the buildings which represented a part of the city as well. The sun set beautifully that night and my friend and I watched the sky turn from bright reds, to cotton candy pinks and blues, to a dusty gray, to finally the darkest black to show the twin lights.


I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this on social media at some point, but I’m sharing it again:

For the life of me I can’t remember my first period schedule but, it was our first year using a type of blocking scheduling at our high school. Day Whichever had XXX class first period (driving me crazy I can’t remember), then Driver’s Ed with Mrs. Collura who was BFFs with my English teacher Mrs. Hults–their classrooms were next door to each others, and third period was French II with Madame Cardell…ugh! She was such a useless teacher. I’m getting off topic but I had to set the scene. We started early at my high school, morning bell was at 735am, and classes started 750ish, so I was already a quarter to halfway done with second period.

Mrs. Hults called on our phone system to Mrs. Collura to turn on the news. Most classrooms did have TVs, albeit not modern but would work well enough, and when she did, I believe both towers had been struck by the planes at that point. Either it was just the one, or the second happened in moments that I wasn’t paying attention because I kept thinking ‘Wow, this is just like a movie!’ Not looking at the severity of it nor the sheer magnitude of what happened. Mrs. Collura told us we were probably witnessing history, little did she know how right she would be. Those moments watching the towers burn are forever engrained into my brain. At that point, class ends and it seemed determined by staff that we really shouldn’t be watching the television and try to get back to our classes but within the switch from Driver’s Ed to French, word around school was that the Pentagon had been hit by a plane as well. We watched a little of the coverage, I honestly don’t remember the towers falling or if I watched it live. I think at that point we weren’t allowed to know much else as students but I started going into panic mode.

Before French ended I gathered up two quarters so I could call my mom. With the knowledge I have of Philadelphia now that I live so close and actually working in Center City, I understand the layout and the surrounding towns. I didn’t realize back then that my sister’s attendance at St. Joseph’s University isn’t near the heart of Philadelphia if damage was done but at that time, you honestly didn’t know which piece of news you would hear next. We could all agree that this day, destroying those buildings had a huge impact on markets and big businesses who set up shop in those towers. My dad worked in the financial industry at the time and would seldom have to take the PATH train in right underneath the towers. I never really knew whether or not he would have to go to New York or not until after the fact and he came home after his day. Needless to say I ran to the payphone at school and was able to get a hold of my mom who told me my father wasn’t in NYC today, and my sister should be fine, no reports in Philly so she’s relatively safe.

The weirdest part of that day was hearing some surrounding schools were dismissing kids early. As millennials do, we were sorely disappointed our school wasn’t one of them. The rest of the school day was a blur, everyone and their mother tried to teach us when all we could do is discuss the morning and if there were other revelations we hadn’t heard about. Some kids were called to report to the office over the loud speaker having us all look at each other and morbidly wonder what had happened. A lot of classmates had parents who worked in NY/NJ right where everything happened and you could only imagine.

My neighborhood was next to the high school and I remember walking home, turning on the television seeing every station was reporting the coverage–Nickelodeon, MTV, local news stations, etc. all broadcasting. I came home exhausted and fell asleep listening to the news; I just couldn’t take it. The anxiety for everyone, the anxiety for the people I knew hoping they were okay, the country, the tears I shed when I came home. What’s pretty crazy is my mom would always tape her soap operas on the VCR when she worked. Guiding Light on CBS at 10am, Days of Our Lives on at 1pm on NBC, she recorded a bunch of the coverage that I still have the VHS tape recording history live on TV.

The next year, a family friend and native New Yorker took my sister and I on a day trip to the city. We walked by Ground Zero and the enormous holes in the ground just left you speechless. The construction going on to rebuild, the Missing people’s pictures up and American flags everywhere was a sight to see. Not only that but it was quiet–just so very quiet for the city that never sleeps.

 

That was my day, my recollection of September 11th, 2001. Parts of it mirror what Claire, Jasper, and Peter experienced that day. Obviously on a more emotional level as I didn’t live as close as they did, but the perspective is there for sure. To learn more information on the events & to donate, check out the 9/11 Memorial website http://www.911memorial.org

You Know Me Well | Review

I’m super pumped that I’ve been really on top of my reading game ….well not only reading more but POSTING more! It’s a miracle of miracles! I’m trying to become better and it’s a tough habit to keep up with if you just go in and out of a routine. Let’s briefly discuss my latest read!

You Know Me Well | Available for Purchase: Amazon.com « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 248 pages, hardcover
Received Copy: Paperback advanced reading copy, also signed by author

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

Once again I have this habit where I don’t read the back cover and don’t know what said book is about but if it’s a favorite author of mine or I hear good buzz about the novel is enough to get me interested in reading. That being said–I knew this was a contemporary book and David’s writing is some of my favorite so I was ready to read.

You Know Me Well takes two individuals who are classmates that don’t interact with each other but one night during San Fran’s Pride Week have Mark and Kate meeting only to run away from their problems. Kate is head over heels in love with a girl she’s never met but knows they would have a relationship we grow up dreaming of. Mark is pining over his best friend who’s not officially out of the closet gay yet and while they spend time fooling around and exploring, their friendship is only so much for Mark and he wants it all.

Through a series of events, Kate and Mark develop an overnight friendship, quite literally, and it’s interesting how things play out. Kate and her best friend, Lehna, are pretty inseparable but when Violet–Lehna’s cousin who’s finally moving back to the States, Kate can’t handle the pressure of mixing expectations with reality, not just for Violet’s sake but her own. Kate is an artist who is doubting her life choices in attending college and as her senior year is ending the pressure is mounting. Mark on the other hand is a junior who still has time but the fact that his best friend, Ryan, seems to finally be paying attention to another guy making Mark take the plunge in expressing his feelings truthfully.

There’s a section of the book that includes really awesome slam poetry some characters listen to and you can’t help but read it and feel gutted. Straight or not, one can’t imagine having to hide their true self or fight for it like it was something that was so against the norm. I loved that these pieces were written in because not everyone has an easy time figuring out who they are and what sexuality they relate to.

Mark and Kate find a way to balance each other and find a way to grow a friendship out of what they’re missing with their best friends. Tensions are high between both sets of friends and Mark and Kate develop shoulders to lean on and confidence boosts throughout the story.

It’s a cute and quick read that didn’t have much drama. A dash of comedy, journeys in finding themselves, the trials and tribulations of growing into the next step of life, and figuring out sometimes you need to let go is all a part of You Know Me Well‘s storyline.

ARC August – update week 4

So in the midst of the worst week ever, I was actually able to finish a book! Woohoo! It’s pretty crazy because I’ve basically spent all summer not reading much so it’s nice to know this is starting to pay off–signing up for the reading challenge and whatnot👍

I liked this one, You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan–two gay high school classmates find themselves at a gay bar for Pride Week in San Francisco and develop a friendship overnight. I could’ve used more closure for Mark’s storyline rather than just “hey I’ll figure things out” but I enjoyed Kate and Mark’s guide to self-discovery in becoming who they’re meant to be and shedding what they wish could be. Sometimes friendships just click and I liked what these two characters established within the short time the audience gets to spend with them.

I’ve already started on my next read, And I Darken by Kiersten White…it’s my book club pick for August and I’m seriously cutting it close. I’m also trying to decide what to read for September since I’ve had a decent month reading for August! I’m not sure if the challenge somehow helped or not, but I’ll be writing down some titles that I’ve been looking forward to reading as well as finishing a few I’ve started ☺️ [yes Mindy and Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you both–we should so be done by now haha!]

Top Ten Tuesday – Those Books From Wayback When ?!

August 23: Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven’t Read Yet (this is going to be sad considering how many of those I have unread six years later…), the weekly topic provided by The Broke & Bookish

Oh joy! What an easy topic to discuss because my shelves are so jam packed with books from forever ago! Each time I switch things around on my big shelf, I also discard a few more because I think, ugh I’m probably never going to read you–you need a better home than just collecting dust on my shelf!

So yes, let’s discuss this, shall we . . . . . . .

At the end of 2013, I decided I might start blogging. I tried here and there but in 2014, I attended my first ALA Mid Winter conference which was held in Philadelphia and walked away with a pretty decent stack of books! Since then I STILL have some great ones that I have not even cracked the spines on! Let’s examine what needs to be read still:

         

Guess I need another ARC reading challenge month to help me out with this round of titles 😁

 

 

Mini Review Recap (3)

Deciding to join ARC August was a good idea because the summertime has been slack-time for me and my reading habits so it’s nice to have a little incentive to push through my slump. That being said, I have some new books and comics I have mini reviews for!

Woohoo! Let’s get to it 📚


The Rose & the Dagger
Renee Ahdieh

This novel picked right back up after The Wrath & the Dawn which was great because I had recently read that so I didn’t feel like I had to stretch my mind and remember what had happened. The Rose & the Dagger had more of a magical element to it than the first in the duology. You get a good mix of characters but now that we’re spending most of the novel outside the palace’s walls, we get more interaction with Shazi’s family and friends. Khalid and Sharazad’s passion was my favorite and I did not stop getting irritated at Despina’s character. If you’re looking for a fun fantasy and feminine heroine to read, I’d recommend this duology to try out!


The Wicked + the Divine #20 & 21
Kieron Gillen, Illustrators Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

(film not included which was super cute btw) Laura is alive and she’s rounding up the crew and discussing about Ananke’s shadiness. Starting to piece parts of the story together and shedding light on what could possibly happen if Ananke gets her way, the group could be in more trouble. The art continues to be gorgeous and I think this story arc is ending so we’ll see where things go from here.

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)
Victoria Schwab

I really liked this book for it’s inventiveness and interesting main characters. Bad girl Kate Harker meets up with August Flynn in a world that have humans and monsters semi-surviving in the world. August gave me the vibes of Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Edward Cullen in Twilight–the monster who lives with remorse of the creature he happens to be. I really love the interactions between Kate and August and the trials they go through to survive. There’s drama, action, gore, and a friendship that breaks barriers. It’s an interesting spin on monsters and their powers and after I finished the book I found out there’s a sequel called Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2).

Paper Girls #7 & 8
Brian K. Vaughan, Matt Wilson, Cliff Chiang 

Things are really starting to move along with the series. The bridging of the 1980’s and present time is so cool! The girls from the past are starting to figure out some of their futures and realizing how different the world is 30+ years from when they were growing up. I can definitely see signs of Saga that trickle through, some of the other worldly creatures, but like WicDiv, the artwork is so great and the girls are a cool cast to follow. Cannot wait for more!


P.S. I Like You
Kasie West

GUYS! This book though! I have a tendency to read Kasie West’s books and literally fly through them–reading it in a day or so. P.S. I Like You is such a treat to read! It was an adorable and whimsical concept bringing back the original letter writing in a generation built upon digital conversation via texting and email. Kasie’s writing continues to shine––her last few titles haven’t hit home for me like this one but when I started reading P.S. I Love You, I could not put it down!

Even though it might be a bit of a stretch that Lily and her mystery pen pal at school don’t get caught by classmates and teacher, the story is super cute and Lily Abbott is charming. You get on her level with having the crazy family and feeling like she has a lot riding on her because she’s the middle of the Abbott family food chain. Best friend Isabel and her were a fun duo and then there’s Cade…. OH GOD I FELL FOR HIM INSTANTLY! It’s a cute story of self-discovery when it comes to friends and family as well as seeing people deep down and not who they appear to be.

SOOOO excited that the new Harry Potter script came out aka the eighth book recently! I haven’t started it yet and have sadly heard mixed reviews but I’m keeping an optimistic mind about where things are in the future world of wizards and witches!

Have you read any of these yet? Good/bad? – xoxo Linz aka the Kid

ARC August – update week 2

Success!

image via GIPHY

I have finished one book for this month’s ARC challenge! I’ll admit, there has been a struggle to get into a reading mindset these days. Real life has been busy, trying to nail down phone & in-person interviews for jobs I desperately need so trying to find time where I concentrate and read a story just seems like the last thing on my mind. But somehow I did it!

Really liked this title! What’s surprising is that This Savage Song is the first Victoria Schwab novel I’ve read. I own The Archived in paperback and am dying to read her Shades of Magic series! I was excited to learn there’s a sequel for TSS and can’t wait to see what happens next with August and Kate 😊

Since I’ve got one book under my belt for the #ARCAugust challenge, I’m going to keep myself on a roll and try for finishing a 1.5 books this week. Making a big goal but it’s possible.

 

Hope everyone is getting their arcs read!! Happy reading 😚

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – Review

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn #1) | Available for Purchase: Amazon.com « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Pages: 395 hardcover
Received Copy: Paperback, ARC

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

really liked this novel! Renee Ahdieh brought readers a fresh and diverse universe and a kickass female main character named Shahrzad in a novel inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Shahrzad decides that in the wake of the death of best friend, Shiva, she would put herself in position to end the horror in her land where the King–Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, is to find a girl, marry her, and then hangs her the following morning. As disturbing and tragic as that notion is, Shazi has made up her mind that she will stay alive for as long as she can and plots to kill the king for his inhumane manner in murdering his new bride. She must fight for her fellow females, her best friend’s honor, and her people.

I really loved how strong Shahrzad was portrayed and how smart she was as well. While her beauty was alluring, Shazi made sure she could play that to her best ability and capture Khalid’s attention and stay alive for as long as possible. Within this storyline, Khalid and Shahrzad start to lose their facades and start to form a relationship that takes them both by surprise and one that they fight so hard to ignore.

The world that Renee Ahdieh has created was very fun as the setting was old world Persia, probably not long after Aladdin’s tale (which is mentioned briefly in the book) and what a gorgeous scene that is set. A bit of magic, gorgeous colors to describe what materials the women dressed in and how the men were just as decorated in their royal garb. All of the food Shahrzad at as a newly appointed queen was deliciously detailed and had me drooling on those pages! Between Shazi and Khalid’s storylines we get word on what Shahrzad’s father is doing–trying to save her from this crazy mess she got herself into as Calipha of Khorasan, Tariq (Shahrzad’s boyfriend and brother of slain BFF Shiva) is also on a rescue mission for her and intends on causing a lot of trouble for Khalid. I can’t wait to see what happens in book two because the series ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so excited to see where things go!

  • I would say the two things that I wasn’t wild about in the novel were that I had hoped for more of a backstory between Shahrzad and best friend Shiva, there seemed to be only snippets of their time as friends along with more setting up Tariq’s friendship and love for Shazi as they grew up together. Definitely could’ve explored it more so I’d have been more invested in Shahrzad’s plan to kill Khalid.
  • I also found Despinia, Shazi’s handmaiden as queen, brash behavior and dialogue between Shazi and her off-putting. Despinia kept calling Shahrzad a brat every other conversation and sometimes they’d be on the same page and not irritating each other and the rest of the time Despinia just felt like an odd character. I wasn’t in love with her scenes because they didn’t complement each other.

These were the only points I wished were written a little differently but overall a really fun read and I can’t wait for book two!!

Also in adding The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) to my Amazon cart, I hadn’t realized that there’s novellas to go along with the duology:

Happy reading!!!