Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

leaving timeAfter reading and really enjoying one of Jodi Picoult’s other books last semester, I was super excited to pick up another. I had seen Leaving Time at a bunch of bookstores and it seemed to be popular. I thought to myself, “well here is my opportunity!” Jodi Picoult is a very well-known and popular author so I assumed I wouldn’t be disappointed. Turns out, I was wrong.

Jenna is a teenage girl in search of her missing mother. The last time Jenna ever saw her mother alive, she was three years old. Now, Jenna is thirteen and determined more than ever to find her mother. She enlists the help of Serenity, a psychic, and Virgil, a private detective, to make something of a ten-year old crime scene. Through lots of faith and determination, Jenna begins to answer her desperate questions. But will it be the answers she wants to hear?

So I have to be really honest. The first half of this book to me was a complete drag and seemed to go on forever. I was warned before I started that if I didn’t like elephants, I may have a hard time reading it. This is because Jenna’s mother use to be an elephant scientist of sorts so there is a lot of background into elephants. While some of the information is cute and interesting, I felt that it was overdone. We get it. Elephants mourn and they get really sad and make great mothers. But where is the mystery?! Cause that’s why I picked up the book. Once the second part of the novel rolled it got better but don’t expect too much. It isn’t until the last 100 pages or so the story really picks up. Yes, it is very touching. Yes, there is a huge plot twist. But I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t bored in the first 200+ pages. Overall, I rate this novel a 3 out of 5. Basically my way of saying, eh, it was okay. You won’t hate yourself for reading it but you might be able to find an equally touching/mysterious novel out there.

Better luck next time, Jodi.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fan GirlWhoo-hoo! I have just finished reading Fangirl.I have been devouring the book for about four or five days now (maybe even less…whoops!) and I am so happy to have finished. I mean, that is the best and worst part of a book isn’t it? I was first introduced to Rainbow Rowell after the massive popularity of Eleanor & Park (which, by the way, is a FANTASTIC book that I might have to review one day). I fell in love with Rowell’s characters and writing styles, so I was super excited to read more of her novels. Let’s just say, I wasn’t disappointed!

If you enjoy romance, sassy characters and fanfiction, there is a good chance that Fangirl is for you. Following a college freshman who writes fanfiction,  Rowell weaves an intricate while seemingly “simple” story. Throughout the novel, Cath faces typical freshman or college issues such as roommates, family troubles, grades and balancing a social life. However, these topics do not seem like a burden when reading them from Rowell. Instead they flow and weave and before you know it, you are captivated. Cath is a lovable character whose flaws and anxieties will become your own. Follow her as she learns about the important things in life and discovers herself.

Blatantly, I fell once again for Rowell’s characters and, especially, her romance. Can I just say, Rowell, stop giving me such high expectations! Where are these men you write about? But I digress. I will admit, although somewhat hesitantly, that I did enjoy Eleanor & Park more than Fangirl. While I loved the romance, characters and action in Fangirl, I often became lost and somewhat confused by the inclusion of fanfiction and long excerpts from the Simon and Baz novels. I found it distracting and unnecessary. To be honest, I kinda flipped pages when it showed up because it bored me. I wasn’t there to read about Simon and Baz! I wanted Cather and Levi. Jeez. Anyways, I forgive Rowell for this. Mainly because despite the intrusions, she still does a hell of a job captivating my heart. I gotta give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I just have to. Because let’s be honest, this is not the last Rainbow Rowell book I will read.

Common Sense Media Rating: 14+ yrs

Flags: drinking references, sexual references, cursing

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

Smoke - Ellen HopkinsEllen Hopkins does it again, delivering another fiery book with a twisted story line and depressing end. I won’t give too much away but if you know Ellen Hopkins at all, you already expect each of these items when picking up her novels. For those who do not know, Smoke is the sequel to Burned, a book about a young mormon girl who begins to question some aspects of life and faith. So, if you haven’t read Burned, just go ahead and stop here. Don’t ruin it for yourself! If you have, let us continue.

Smoke is the continuation of Pattyn’s story almost immediately after the death of her father. Now Pattyn is on the run. With an alternating story line between Pattyn and her sister, secrets begin to unfold and the Von Stratten family must now face the skeletons in their closet.

Overall, I found Smoke to be another great Ellen Hopkins novel. I really enjoy her writing style, especially the poetic aspect. In the beginning, I did find the book to be slightly slow. I could tell that Hopkins was building up to a large reveal and I began to get antsy. I wanted to know already! However, the build up is necessary so if you are like me, stick in there. Hopkins never lets her readers down. While I will admit that I preferred Burned over Smoke (sequels are never quite as good, are they?), I still found the novel to be wonderful. As always, Hopkins not only told a story but taught a lesson. You don’t catch on right away but when you do, it hit you like a brick. And it’s beautiful. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. It was nice to resist the Von Stratten family and escape once again into their eventful and escalating lives.

Common Sense Media Rating: 14+ yrs

Flags: drinking and drug use, cursing, sexual and physical violence/abuse