Columbine by Dave Cullen

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 Goodreads Summary:What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we “know” is wrong. It wasn’t about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world’s leading forensic psychologists, and the killers’ own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

My Thoughts:

Going into this book I knew next to nothing about Columbine. I knew it was a shooting that occurred in the 90s and that was about it. I never heard anyone talk about it, and the only reason I knew about it was because of a few books I’ve read.I went into this book not knowing a single thing about what happened on April 20th 1999 and came out with a comprehensive understanding of the before and afters of this event.If you’re even slightly curious about Columbine,this a really great book that explains everything. Not only does it talk about the killers: Eric Harris and Dylan Kleobold but it also talks about the people who survived and those who didn’t. With  events like these, you’re always left wondering what happened after, and this book really gives insight onto this. Though the names of the killers may be widely recognized, those that were killed are less widely known.

This book is very thorough. It talks about everything from how they got the guns to how the investigators dealt with the Columbine shooting. Every single bit of information that was relevant was included. Dave Cullen  wrote articles about the Columbine shooting and like  a lot of the press his information was incorrect. Dave states in the beginning that he hopes this book will remedy that, and I really think it did.

I don’t ever read non-fiction books, it’s something I really want to read but I think that there’s a lot of dry books out there. Columbine captivated my attention and wasn’t dry and boring. It was concise, well written and I was able to understand what Cullen was trying to say. I don’t  think I truly understood what I was reading, until halfway through the book I Googled the Columbine shooting.Seeing pictures of the victims, and the killers made it so much more real.This actually happened, and while when you read fiction you can dismiss what happens as improbable and unlikely,this was 100% real. And it was a hard realization,it’s one thing to hear about a shooting,it’s another  thing to have a 370 page book detailing everything that happened. It makes all the more real, and terrifying.

It’s important to read books like this, so that as a society we can understand the people behind the murders and try to prevent mass shootings. This book really shows just how many people were effected by this.To them it wasn’t another news story, it was real life, and I think that’s important to realize. We’ve gotten so used to seeing school shootings on the news, that when one or two people die,no one pays attention. In June 50 people were killed in Orlando, and it’s been only four months, and it’s gone to the back of everyone mind. If we see these school shootings as just another news story,it’s never going to stop.

This is a tough read, but if you think you can handle it, I would highly recommend that you read it.

If you’ve read this book what did you think?Do you have any non-fiction book recommendations?

Hannah Recommends:Spooky/Weird Reads

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So in honour of Halloween quickly approaching, here is a small list of some spooky/weird reads. I’m not  a huge fan of horror so here’s just some books that have halloween vibes or are just kind of spooky.

1.The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Goodreads

This book is about Nobody Owens,this kid who has lived in a graveyard ever since his parents were murdered when he was a baby. This is a very spooky and paranormal read and it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Halloweeny books. It’s a really short read,and if you’re looking for a read this Halloween this could be for you!

2.Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

Goodreads

I know this book is sometimes described as paranormal and if I’m given the chance to recommend this series then I will.The Raven Boys is  just so strange and odd. It’s about a group of friends who are looking for a Welsh Kind. It’s so different and so amazing. The plot, the characters, everything is just great.It’s strange but you love it for the strangeness

3.Unwind by Neil Shusterman.

Goodreads

I’ve already recommended Unwind in a previous Hannah Recommends but it’s my favourite series  and it’s super creepy so yeah.Unwind is a set in a world where parents can choose to have their children harvested for  organs. It’s such an unique idea and it’s just soo amazing. The world building is fantastic and it gives so many perspectives and it makes you think so much. It’s the best dystopian I’ve ever read, and I really need to finish it because it’s amazing.

4. A Great and Terrible Beauty by  Libba Bray

Goodreads

A Great and Terrible Beauty is a paranormal Victorian Fantasy about a boarding school  and four girls who reckon with forces of magic as they travel in another realm. There are three books in this series and they’re all very long but very good. It has a great vibe and just overall a really great series. Magic set in the Victorian era is already a great concept but the story really delivers in every aspect.

There you have it. A few Halloween-ish reads.What are some of your favourite paranormal/creepy read?

 

 

Unbecoming Book Review by Jenny Downham

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Goodreads Summary:Three women – three secrets – one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie’s grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and ‘capable of anything’, despite suffering from Alzheimers. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is ‘badness’ genetic? In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love. Funny, sad, honest and wise, Unbecoming is a celebration of life, and learning to honour your own stories.

My Rating:4/5 stars

Plot:

Unbecoming follows three  generations of woman who are facing a variety of problems. We have Katie a seventeen  year old girl who’s struggling to come to terms with her identity, Katie’s Mom ,Caroline who’s very protective about her children and secretive about her past and finally Mary,Caroline’s Mom who hasn’t been in the picture for many years and has now reappeared. This is a very moving book that is so rich and interesting that you will continue to think about it after you’re done reading it.Unbecoming alternates between past and present, as we learn about Mary and the circumstances that have rendered her unable to be able to be in Caroline’s life. As the story progresses we learn of the many secrets that all three women hide  and what pushed them to hide them.

Characters:

This story is very character based. First let’s start off with Katie. Katie is a very driven and  is that way mainly because of her mother. Her mother has encouraged her immensely to succeed and to focus a lot on her schoolwork.But during the course of Unbecoming, Katie begins to question and challenge her focus on schoolwork and starts to broaden her horizons. This is partially due to the fact that she’s struggling to come to terms with her  sexual orientation. This struggle has led her to doubt herself and everyone around her. Katie’s character was  very well developed, and at the end of Unbecoming her character really did a 180 and changed immensely.

The other two main characters are very interrelated. Mary had Caroline at a very young age, and wasn’t able to care for her so she gave Caroline to her sister Pat. Caroline deeply resents Mary for this, so when Mary is just dropped on their doorstep, she feels reluctant to care for her Alzheimer ridden mother.As the story continues, we learn more about Mary’s life as well as Caroline’s which makes able to sympathize with both of them.

While I instantly liked Mary and found the effects of Alzheimers on her to be heartbreaking, Caroline was a little less likeable at first. She was portrayed as very strict and uptight, but she had her reasons for this and I grew to enjoy her character. Overall all three characters were really well rounded.

Unbecoming is a wonderful story that has great lessons about loving who you are and forgiving people for their mistakes. It’s a fantastic read and I recommend it to any Young Adult readers who are looking for something that’s is closer to an Adult read.

 

A Letter To Phillip

So  I  love to write,so my blog might be a place where  I want to share my writing.These are letters that I wrote from the perspectives from girl whose brother has gone off to war.I wrote this for  English Class and i kind of like it so here you go

January 11th 1942

Dear Phillip,

I know you said that you’d write first but it’s been two months and not a word has arrived from you.It’s so hard to be unable to tell you about my daily going ons. Whenever  something happens to me I always want to tell you about it, but you’re never there. I know you’re probably busy, and have more important things to worry about but Mother is too wrapped up in her own grief to care about what is happening to me.

 

   Sarah’s brother got his letter yesterday, he’s set to leave for training next week. Last night Sarah and I sat outside and just stared at the sky. None of our friends understand what it’s like to have a brother go off to war. We have never been close but I think this will bring us closer. While we were talking we talked about the future, and have decided that if the war goes on  ny longer we would try to become nurses together.

  

  I can hear you yelling at me across the page, telling me about wasting my future. It’s not fair for you, so why should it be fair to me? You always wanted to become a scientist and because of the war that dream may never come true. If I was a boy, our roles would be reversed. I can put my dreams of becoming a teacher on hold for awhile,The war shouldn’t any longer anyway. Maybe you’ll even be home for next Christmas. I’ll save the present I bought for you, you’ll love it.

 

   It’s so hard to talk about such banal things when you’re off in the trenches. It’s so unfair that you- a boy who would never hurt a fly- have to fight in what people are calling the worst war in history. I fall asleep every night with the words “it’s not fair” haunting me. I also hear mother’s weeps and sobs, and for the past two months they have been the awful lullaby that has rocked me to sleep.I should probably stop  writing, you probably don’t have a lot of spare time.

 

Write Back Soon,

Angelica.

 

                                                                                                                     March 28th 1942

Dear Philip,

 

It’s been another two months, and still not a word from you. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you  with my letter. I know that I talked too much,that I was abrasive, and I didn’t even ask  about you.You always did say I was full of myself .So how are you?Have you made any new friends?I have so many questions for you, but I don’t want to waste your time answering them. The only thing I want you to worry about  is staying alive, but please if you could just write a small note to just tell mother and I that you’re okay that would be great.

 

It’s been five days since I started writing this letter. March 28th was the day the officers came. I answered because mother was making dinner. Two men in uniform;one young ,one old handed me a telegram. I don’t remember what they said but I do remember the sound of mother’s screams at the sight of the army men. I didn’t even need to say anything, she just knew. So while I stood there stunned, the officers tried to comfort her. I couldn’t imagine you dead, I found it unfathomable that I was breathing and living and you weren’t. I know I’ve used this word before but it’s not fair.  For the past five days  I’ve laid awake thinking about all the things you could have done if you were given the chance. I think about the man who did this to you,and I hate him.

 

 There’s no body to bring back, but we’ve decided to still have a gravestone next to Dad’s. I don’t think mother ever expected to go before both her husband and son.The funeral is set to occur next week. Our next door neighbor, Miss Schuyler has helped us every step of the way. Remember how we always used to pull pranks on her? Well she’s not that bad. She lost two sons in the first world war and she’s been helping mom deal with her grief

  

 I don’t even know why I keep writing you, it’s not like you’re ever going to read it.But no one understands, not even Sarah. So I have to tell someone.I’ve never been the type of person to write a journal, but writing to you is different. You have always been the one person who I trust more than anything in this world, and now that you’re gone it’s hard to trust anyone.  People keep on coming to our house to offer their condolences, and they keep on telling me about you as if I wasn’t the one who knew you the best. Sometimes they tell me things that I know aren’t true and I just don’t understand why they keep lying to me. Your science teacher came yesterday and he seemed to be the saddest of them all. He kept on telling me about how smart you were, and all the things you could have done. His words were the ones most filled with truth.

 

Nothing in this world is just.  In two years I will be older than you were when you died. I get to live and you don’t. If i have children, they will grow older than you. They will  get to live and you don’t. Millions of people will grow older than you. Hitler  has been able to live sixty years while you will never make it to your twenty first birthday.So many people get to live, but not you.If I could trade my life for yours, I would do it an instant because that would mean mother would be happy and you’d be able to do what you always wanted to do.

 

I think I’m going to keep writing to you, it really helps to put my thoughts onto a page.. I know there’s no address for heaven, so I’ll just store them in an old hat box. I’ll do it until it stops hurting, if that day ever comes.

 

I’ll write back soon,

Angelica.

 

Making Faces by Amy Harmon Book Review

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Goodreads Summary:

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us

My Rating:5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Plot

If you’re looking for a book that will make you cry, look no further Hidden Faces is the book for you. Hidden Faces follows the story of Ambrose Young and Fern Tyler, and their love and struggles as Ambrose goes off to war with his 4 best friends. Hidden Faces is not a book I would typically read as the synopsis is a little lackluster and seems really cliche but I had read one of Amy Harmon’s book before so I decided to give it a chance.

I’m really glad I read this,it’s a very beautiful and tragic book. It’s a story of love,friendship and the effects that war has on humanity. Amy Harmon has this way of weaving a story that grabs you instantly. Making Faces was a book I didn’t  know I wanted, but the minute I started reading it,I realized this book would be amazing and that I would love it.It’s not just a love story,this is a book that talks about PTSD,abuse,disability and so much more. Yes it’s a love story, but  there’s so much more to do this book.

Characters

The best part of this book was the characters. They’re extremely interesting and different characters whose paths intertwine as the story goes on. Of course first,you have the main characters Fern and Ambrose. Ambrose starts out as a jock figure who’s the champion at his school in wrestling. After the events of 9/11, he enlists in the Iraq War with his 4 friends. 2 years later, he comes back completely changed. This is when he meets Fern. Though he knew her in High-School, he never really noticed her.Now he does, and they steadily start to grow a friendship with her.This of course eventually blossoms into something more. It’s nice to see the development of Ambrose, and how his character changes because of the war.

If I had to choose, I’d say that Fern has the least character development out all of them. She’s very basic, I really like her,but there’s not that much about her. She’s been  in love with Ambrose for as a long as she could remember, and  she writes romance novels.When not thinking about romance, she hangs out with her cousin Bailey who is unable to walk due to a disease.Bailey is a great addition to the story, he’s hilarious, a loyal friend and though his disability makes him unable to do certain things, that isn’t the defining part of his personality.

Writing:

Amy Harmon has this incredible talent to be able to create this mood that’s unlike any other book.They’re just something about her writing that draws you in, and I can’t explain what it is. It’s that type of addictive writing that has you reading all the time.It makes the story all the more amazing.

Let me know what you thought of Making Faces if you’ve read it!

 

Blogger Recognition Award

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So  I was nominated by Lia over at at LostInAstory for the Blogger Recognition Award. so thank you Lia,you guys should seriously go check her out she’s awesome. so yeah here are the rules:

Write a post to show your award.
Give a brief story of how your blog started.
Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. (only did 7 since I barely follow anyone)

My Story:

I  only  have had this blog a month and a half ago, but i’ve been writing reviews and doing other posts for a long time. The only problem was that i was using Tumblr,an awesome site but not the right place for original content.In the month and a half that I’ve started, I’ve read so much amazing content, and talked to lots of great people. i’m so glad that i started a wordpress blog.

Advice:

So as I said before I’m new to this whole  blogger thing so take my advice with a grain of salt.

  1.  Don’t be afraid to comment on  people’s post,to interact with the people you follow. That’s the only way to have fun  blogging, you can’t just worry about the number of followers. Interact with people, and the rest will come naturally.blogging is not just about writing,its about communicating opinions and you can’t just wait for people to seek you out.
  2. You don’t need to write reviews, or if you do they don’t have to be the way everyone does them.there is no way one way to have a book blog, and book reviews are not the be end and all.Be unique, take risks.

I nominate( I apologize if you’ve already been nominated)

Maria

Thriceread

Megan

Sumaya

Rebecca

Melissa

 

 

 

If You Like This…Try This #2

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So on this edition if you like this… try this, I’m going to be recommending books based off of other books.So let’s get into it.

1.The Bronze Horseman By  Paulina Simons

The Gist of It:Set in World War 2,The Bronze Horseman tells the story of Tatianna and Alexander and their love story as they try to survive the challenges they are facing.

recommend: The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley.

Like The Bronze Horseman, The Orchid House is set in World War and alternates between past and present as we learn the story of the Crawford family and the secrets that surround them

2.The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Gist of it: The  Night Circus is the  magical tale of a circus that comes without  warning, and a competition that could change the Night Circus forever

I recommend:The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners has a very whimsical and interesting vibe to it. Though it’s very different from the night circus,it has that type of mood that  makes you want to fall into the world you’re reading about.

3. The Cuckoo’s Calling by  Robert Galbraith

The Gist of It: Cormoran Strike is a private detective with very little luck when it comes to getting any clients. But then he is asked to help  solve the murder of a very famous model.With the help of his secretary, Strike tries to solve the murder which may be to the key to his success

I recommend: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night film is a very mysterious read that will keep you turning pages until the very end.If you like odd books that will have you questioning everything then I highly recommend this one.It’s rather different from the Cuckoo’s Calling but it does have that mysterious element to it.

4.The Queen of The Tearling by  Erika Johansen

The Gist of It:Kelsea is a young princess who must take back her throne and learn how to become queen

I Recommend:The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Though it doesn’t have a very similar plot it does have that  very intricate fantastical plot that The Queen of The Tearling has.Plus is has an extremely unique premise and is just a great read all around.

So there you have it,like this.. try this #2.Feel free to tell me some of your fave T.V Shows/movies/book for my next one of these.

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

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Goodreads Summary:As winter closes in and the roads snow over in Dawson City, Yukon, newly arrived journalist Jo Silver investigates the dubious suicide of a local politician and quickly discovers that not everything in the sleepy tourist town is what it seems. Before long, law enforcement begins treating the death as a possible murder and Jo is the prime suspect.

My Rating:4/5 stars

Disclaimer:I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

My Thoughts:

Plot:

Strange Things Done  is set in the north of Canada  in a town called Dawson City. Our main character is the new editor of the local newspaper,but the week that she arrives a local politician  gets murdered  and she is one of the main suspects. Now stuck in a town that believes her to be a murderer, she must try to figure out who the culprit is before it’s too late. Strange Things Done was an engrossing read that kept me hooked until the very end. I found the idea of people trapped in a town at a time where there is chaos and upheaval to be so interesting.Strange Things Done wouldn’t be the book it  is if it weren’t for the setting.The setting enables it to be different from other stories like it. I think this would be a great book  to read in winter as the mood is very dark and mysterious and fitting to winter.

Characters

Our main character Jo is trying to escape her past, as she deals with the scrutiny of the small town citizens.Though her character wasn’t most interesting or unique,she was very strong and she stuck to what she believed in. She believed in the truth and stopped at nothing to figure out who had done it. As the entire town  has turned against her,I found it very easy to sympathize with her.

Other than Jo there weren’t any characters that really stuck out. There was Christoper,a local artist who had been the guy  that Jo had been with the night the person had been murdered.She was just an unremarkable character who was just really unlikeable.Strange Things done was more plot driven than anything.

Writing

Though at first the writing was hard to get into,as the story progresses it began to be easy to read and I was able to go through it fairly quickly.Nothing special,but it very fluid and easy to read.

 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

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Goodreads Summary:

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

My Rating:4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Plot:

This book is very strange and unlike anything I’ve ever read. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is about a girl who has lived in a cult since she was fifteen.One day the prophet of this cult is killed and her home set one fires. She is then sent to juvenile detention where in exchange for information,she will be able to get parole when she reaches 18.Not only does she have to deal with the hardships of going into the real world, and trying to survive through juvie, she has to all of this without hands. The plot of this book is so interesting, and really original. I’ve never read a book that has delved into the topics of cults and the likes.While cults are a thing that occur all over the world, I’ve never heard of a fictional book about it.I love books that explore different perspectives of the world, and I think that this book did a great job of doing that.

Characters:

Minnow is a such a great character, and it’s really interesting to see her come to terms with her situation as she begins to explore a world that she knows nothing about. I loved to see Minnow’s doubts as she begins to question the cult that she has been  a part of for the past twelve years. Minnow’s character is a very unique one, and I loved reading about.

Another character that I really loved was her cellmate,Angel. She is a great friend to Minnow in a time where she feels very lost, and I loved to learn more about Angel as the story went on.I think her interest in science was nice addition that made me like her a little bit more.

The only problem I had with the characters, is Jude. Jude is this boy who lives in the woods near Minnow’s cult.While Minnow grows attached to him, I didn’t really feel the connection between them. I don’t think his character was developed enough to really appreciate him, and I found him be a sort of pointless addition to the story.

Writing

The writing was really nicely done,and the author had lots of sentence that really got me to think. The story switched present and future,and sometimes it can be badly done but Stephanie Oakes did a really good job of it.

So there are my thoughts of The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly. Let know me in the comments if you’ve read it or plan on reading it

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday:Top Ten Books I’ve Read because of Tumblr

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I’m the type of person who doesn’t read a book unless it’s been recommended to me,while I do sometimes go off on a limb, for the most part I like to know that somewhere I’ve seen that someone has liked a book I wanted to read. So for the past 4 years Tumblr has been one of my sources of recommendations so without further ado here are the top ten books I’ve read because of Tumblr.

1.The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is one of those books that everyone talks about on Tumblr, and rightfully so.I’m really glad that I did pick up, because it’s one of my favourite series. It’s very odd and bizarre, and if I hadn’t know about it I doubt I would have picked up, but I did and I love it.

2.Solitaire by Alice Oseman

This one wasn’t really recommended to me by Tumblr as a whole, but there was this one user who raved about I think their url was negative-pessimist. Anyway, I read it and loved it so much. While Solitaire is well known, I don’t think it gets the attention it deserves. Alice Oseman is an amazing author, and I can’t wait for all the books she publishes in the future.

3.The Lunar Chronicles.

Another favourite series of mine. It’s a great quartet with an amazing set of characters.I’m so glad that I read this series.

4.Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.

I won this book in a Tumblr giveaway two years ago, and it’s probably one of my favourite contemporaries. Morgan matson is  incredible at creating chemistry  between characters, while also crafting an amazing story.

5.Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover.

Everyone on tumblr sings the praise of Colleen Hoover, and though I’ve only read this book I can see why. She very skillfully created the characters, and added a lot of depth and meaning to them. I really look forward to reading her other books.

6.The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.

I think I read City of Bones before I started Tumblr, but I never finished the series until like two years later. Partially because of Tumblr, partially out of curiosity. It’s not the best series ever but  they’re both pretty addicting. Plus I love the show.

7.The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

LadyBookMad on tumblr raved about this book, and  I decided to check it out, and I read it in about two sittings. It’s a really underrated heartbreaking yet uplifting contemporary. More people definitely should read it.

8.Fire in The Stars by Isabelle Rogue.

An E-arc was provided to me by the author. I believe it’s self-published, and  really good. It’s basically about this island where criminals go as a punishment and murder ensues. It’s 400 pages of chaos and heartbreaking and it’s great

9.All The Rage by Courtney Summers

I’ve only read two of Summers books, but I loved both of them. She’s a great writer, and plus she’s canadian. This book deals with really important subjects such as rape culture and feminism and I’d definitely recommend it if you liked Speak.

10.Aristotle and Dante Discovers the Secrets by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

This is one of my favourite books. I love the characters of Ari and Dante, and am so excited for the sequel and the new book by Saenz that’s coming out in 2017.

What are some of the books that you’ve read because of someone?