One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

One Past Midnight by Jessica ShirvingtonSabine has lived two lives for as long as she can remember. She lives each day and then switches at midnight to her other life where she lives the same day over as a different person. She has the same name in both lives and lives in the same area, yet has a completely different family and set of friends in each life. In one life, she her family is wealthy, yet Sabine has to fake her personality to stay with her crowd at school and please her parents. In the other life, she hates her parents and the fact that they are poor, but loves her little sister unconditionally.

It had always seemed like a rule that if she got sick or injured in one life she would still be sick or injured in the other life when she switched over. One day, when Sabine sprains her wrist in one life and her wrist remains perfectly fine in the other, she realizes that the rules might be changing and she may be able to pick one life to stay in once and for all. She begins to conduct experiments to determine if it would be possible to kill herself in one life and remain in the other.

This book was really interesting! It reminded me of that movie Sliding Doors. Sabine is unhappy in both of her lives for different reasons. In one life she loves her sister but hates being poor and in the other life she loves her family’s wealth but hates her fake personality. When she realizes she may be able to pick one, it seems to her that the obvious answer would be the wealthy, privileged life, but she cannot bear the thought of never seeing her little sister again.

When Sabine meets Ethan in one life, he begins to seem like the only person who may be able to help her and the only one who she may be able to convince of her situation. He begins to help her to see the good things about each life, and that choosing between them might not be the best solution. Sabine begins to realize that her situation may be different, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

One Past Midnight was a great story that blended contemporary and science fiction genres.  It was very well written and is actually a standalone novel!

One Past Midnight was published May 1, 2013.

Update!

Hey all! Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA for the past month, but I’ve been busy taking care of my gorgeous little newborn! That’s right–I’m a mommy! It’s still incredible to believe that my little baby girl is finally here. She was born on July 24th, so since then I’ve been basically nursing, changing diapers, and trying to get some sleep every now and then. I did manage to read a few books so far but haven’t found the time to update the blog in awhile. I absolutely love being a mom though, and I am amazed at how in love I am with my little girl already.

So obviously my posting is going to be less frequent than before, at least until she gets a little older. Right now she hates being put down so I’m basically carrying her all day which leaves me unable to type. Hopefully in the future things on the blog will get back to normal, but please bear with me in the meanwhile!

 

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into Place by Amy ZhangLiz Emerson is one of the most popular girls in school, and from the outside it seems like she lives the perfect life. However, she secretly is suffering on the inside and is afraid to ask for help. Instead, she decides to leave her life entirely and plans to drive her car off the road and make it look like an accident. What she didn’t count on was that she wouldn’t be killed instantly, but would instead survive and be taken to the hospital in critical condition, where the doctors say the only way she will survive is if she wants to keep fighting to live.

This was a really powerful story that reminded me a bit of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. However in this story, Liz was purposely trying to kill herself, and instead of the story being told from her point of view it is actually told by a narrator who isn’t identified until the end of the book. The narration jumps back and forth between the narrator watching Liz’s friends and family in the days after the accident and flashbacks of what Liz’s life was like before the accident and how everything led up to that point.

Liz’s father died when she was very young and her mother works a job that keeps her traveling most of the time so Liz spends most of her time alone. This is definitely a big factor contributing to her depression, and leads to her reckless behavior like drinking and driving erratically. It seems that Liz does things like that just to avoid being bored and alone with her own thoughts. What depresses Liz most of all is herself–she has an extreme case of self-loathing and feels that by killing herself she is making the world better. Liz’s hatred of herself comes from the way she treats people–she acts like a mean girl most of the time at school, messing up the lives of those who wrong her even in the slightest way, and then once she realizes how much she hurts people she regrets it and hates herself for what she has done.

The sad thing is that you can see how much Liz is trying to hint that she needs help, especially during the last week of her life. Everyone is so consumed with their own lives or they think that because Liz is rich and popular her life is therefore perfect, and this blinds them to what is really going on. The only one who watches Liz and seems to care about getting to know the real Liz Emerson is Liam, a boy from a different crowd at school who is the first to see Liz’s accident and call the police.

Overall, Falling into Place was a powerful story that was difficult to put down. I am still in awe of the fact that Amy Zhang is still a high school student and she was able to write this amazing book!

Falling into Place will be released on September 9, 2014.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle FormanWARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR IF I STAY

Where She Went takes place three years after If I Stay and is told from Adam’s point of view. Adam and Mia have been apart for nearly three years now and their lives have gone in different directions. Adam has used their breakup as the driving force behind his music, which subsequently led to his success as a rock star. Mia went to Julliard and is now playing concerts at all the biggest venues. Right before Adam is supposed to leave for a tour in Europe, he and Mia run into each other in New York City for the first time in three years.

This book had a very different tone from the first book. Adam is very angry and depressed after all he has been through with Mia. He still loves her and is upset at how their breakup went, and he is depressed because even though he achieved everything he wanted to career-wise, he absolutely hates his career. He has fought to keep Mia’s name out of the press but unfortunately he can never get her completely out of his own head.

Where She Went is told in a similar fashion as If I Stay, alternating between current time and flashbacks. Through the flashbacks we learn what happened after Mia got out of the hospital and how their relationship began to decline when she moved to New York, and we also get to see how Adam’s career took off and what he has done since Mia left. What is hard for Adam also is that he constantly had to be there for Mia after she lost her family in the accident, but what many people didn’t realize was that he loved them as well so he was also hurting badly after their deaths and had nobody to comfort him.

When Adam and Mia meet up after all this time, it is awkward for them both at first. Adam is still angry with Mia for how she left things and isn’t entirely sure what spending time with her will result in. They are both leaving for different countries the next day–Adam to England and Mia to Japan–and know that they have only this one night to fix whatever went wrong between them and have closure. The direction that this book took was very interesting and I was definitely surprised at the way it ended.

Overall, Where She Went was a great follow up to If I Stay. I liked getting Adam’s perspective and it was interesting to see how much Mia’s family’s accident affected so many lives.

Where She Went was released on April 1, 2011 and is the second book in the If I Stay series.

 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”

Mia and her family decide to go out for a drive on a snowy day. When their car is hit by a truck, Mia is separated from her body and watches as she is taken to the hospital in critical condition. As she watches her life happen from outside her own body, she realizes that she has to make a choice: to return to her life after all she has lost, or to let herself die and move on.

This was such a beautiful story. Mia is such a rare teenager–she has a really wonderful family and she knows it. Most teenagers are constantly fighting with their parents but Mia absolutely loves her family and enjoys spending time with them and isn’t ashamed to admit it. This just makes it so much worse for her after the accident because she knows how much she has lost.

The story is told from Mia’s point of view from outside her body. She’s almost like a ghost–nobody can see or hear her; she’s just able to watch what is happening around her. The story jumps between what is happening in the hospital and flashbacks of Mia’s life growing up and her love story with Adam. I really liked how Forman did this–it allows the reader to get Mia’s story gradually and by the end of the book you’re just as torn as she is about the choice she has to make.

Mia probably wouldn’t be as torn about her decision if it wasn’t for Adam. She and Adam are completely different–he is into rock music and plays in a band and she is quiet and plays classical music on her cello–yet they balance each other out perfectly. They were already having problems in their relationship because their music careers were going in different directions, but they were fighting for a way to stay together. When Mia realizes that moving on and dying means also leaving Adam behind, she becomes even more unsure about her choice.

This book really makes you think about life and death, and what you would do when faced with a choice like Mia’s. Continuing on and living despite all she has lost is definitely the harder choice, especially since medically Mia will face a lot of challenges, but taking the easy way out and dying is the harder choice for the people she leaves behind. Mia begins to realize that her choice doesn’t only affect her, but instead will have an impact on everyone close to her.

Overall, If I Stay was a beautiful and powerful story that makes you realize how quickly our lives can change. I loved how the story was told in a back and forth way from Mia’s point of view, and I was literally unable to put this book down.

If I Stay was released on January 1, 2009 and is the first book in the If I Stay series. It is also being made into a movie that will be released on August 22, 2014.

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund“We can only be responsible for what we ourselves do.”

Persis Blake publicly plays the role of a rich socialite, spending time at parties discussing clothes and gossip. But in her private life, she is the Wild Poppy, a notorious spy who rescues people of Galatea from being Reduced and sneaks them over to the island of Albion, where she resides. When Justen Helo, a medic from Galatea, finds her ill after one of her missions and helps her return home, she decides to keep him close so that she can discover his true motives in Albion. What she didn’t expect was how she would begin to feel for him, and how much she would wish she could tell him the truth about who she is.

Across a Star-Swept Sea is actually a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars. While you don’t need to read the first book in order to understand this one, it definitely helps because some characters from that book reappear in this one. I absolutely loved the first book, and the second was just as good.

This book is actually a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I haven’t read but definitely want to after reading this one. Persis has always been very intelligent and has had a bright future ahead of her, but when her best friend Isla’s family is killed and Isla is made acting queen of Albion, Persis abandons school and her future in order to help her friend. She creates the Wild Poppy in order to help Isla make a difference while the council of Albion prevents Isla from actually doing anything politically about the rebellion in Galatea. In Galatea, the rulers are Reducing people–basically giving them a drug that makes them lose their mental capacities. The Wild Poppy saves these people who are Reduced and brings them to Albion to recover.

Justen Helo decides to abandon Galatea when he realizes what is really going on. He sees Persis as nothing more than a flaky socialite however, and doesn’t realize how much of a difference she is actually making. He begins to work in the lab, trying to find a cure for the Reduced, and tries to keep from Persis how involved he really was in the rebellion in Galatea. Persis uses the image she created for herself as a ditzy socialite to keep people from finding out that she is really the Wild Poppy, but unfortunately it keeps Justen, the one person whom she may actually want to be herself with, from seeing who she really is.

Peterfreund does a brilliant job building the world of New Pacifica. Her descriptions paint a vivid world and by doing so she creates an intricate and compelling story that you can’t put down. The flutternotes were the most interesting detail for me–little holographic notes that basically fly from one person to another through the air and then deliver a message to them via an electronic device on their palm. Every detail of this story was fascinating and unique and added a great sci-fi aspect to the plot.

Overall, Across a Star-Swept Sea was a fascinating story with great world building and beautiful writing. I look forward to reading more stories about New Pacifica!

Across a Star-Swept Sea was released on October 15, 2013 and is a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Toxic Heart by Theo Lawrence

Toxic Heart by Theo LawrenceSince Aria and Hunter started a rebellion in Mystic City, Aria has been in hiding outside the city while Hunter has been underground in the city leading the rebels. Aria is growing more and more restless because she misses her boyfriend and feels like she is not helping anyone by hiding out. When she is forced to return to the city and Hunter, she realizes that the Hunter she fell in love with has changed. Aria believes that he can still be the leader they need, and she tries to reunite the city rather than cause more destruction.

Mystic City was a really unique story so I was looking forward to reading this sequel. However, it seems that this book fell into the sophomore slump. The romance between Aria and Hunter, which basically drove the entire story of the first book, completely died in this book. Hunter was distant and cold and had a completely different personality than in the first book. He kept pushing Aria away and doing things that the old Hunter never would’ve even considered in order to win the rebellion. Basically, he became extremely unlikable.

Aria herself became kind of annoying also. She seemed even more naive in this book than in the first, and kept putting herself in obviously dangerous situations and then is shocked when her life is threatened. She wants the city to reunite and everyone to live in peace and harmony, which is all well and good but more than a little bit impossible. I was glad that she finally started learning to fight though, instead of relying on everyone else to save her all the time.

The story as a whole was a bit dragged out, with Aria basically searching the city for the heart of her dead mystic friend for much of the book. The whole book was basically Hunter telling Aria to stay put and do nothing and Aria going out and doing what she wants instead. The ending was definitely different than I expected, and I may still read the next book just to find out how it all ends.

Overall, Toxic Heart was not as good as the first book in the series. I was really surprised that Hunter, such a pivotal character from the first book, had such a diminished role in this one. The romance that was so important to the first book completely fell flat in this one, and I honestly don’t know what will happen in the next book.

Toxic Heart was released on April 8, 2014 and is the second book in the Mystic City series.