Rating: ★★★★★

THIS BOOK! I saw the movie trailer and just knew I had to read the book first.  

I can't even mentally summarize why I loved this book so much, so I apologize for the lack of a good review.

This is one of those books I just fell into.  The story itself.  The characters.  The form of writing Yoon used - the short chapters, the drawings - pulled me in.  How Madeline's world got thrown upside down yet she was ready to face it head on.  How Olly never once questioned Madeline's sickness, but loved her with his whole heart from day one.  How their relationship was so deep before they even touched.  How Carla loved Madeline like her own daughter.  How Madeline's mom suffered one of the worst fates yet woke up every day.  

Ugh, I can't wait to watch this movie and I pray it's good because my hopes are HIGH.




Rating: ★★★★

This was like Girl on the Train Part II - and on a boat rather than on a train.

The first few chapters I wasn't hooked, but once Lo swore she witnessed a murder on the boat, I couldn't put it down.  The story started with a burglary in Lo's (a journalist) flat when she was in her bedroom.  This experience absolutely freaked her out (like it would anyone!) and she just couldn't move past it.  She went days without sleeping and constantly felt that someone was going to harm her.

A few days later she went back to work for her travel magazine and boarded a small cruise ship for a week's trip.  Lo had been so excited for this trip because she finally had the opportunity to cash in on the perks of her job.  However, one night she witnesses what could only be explained as a woman being thrown overboard.  As she tries to figure out the mystery and get help from the security guard, the other guests all begin to believe she's just paranoid after her own experience.  Still not getting any sleep Lo struggles to prove what she saw and starts to think that maybe she is paranoid.  I enjoyed the fast pace of this story and the fact that I did not figure out what happened until Lo did - I hate when I figure out the mystery right away and have to wait for the narrator to catch up! 




Rating: ★★★★★

From the five stars you can see I loved this book. At first I wasn't sure how Lord was going to play out the religious angle, but it was perfect.  Lucy grew up in a religious household (her father is a Pastor) and was dating a proper young boy.  She spent all her spare time with her parents and never really did "normal teenage things."  Along with navigating being a young adult and high school, Lucy's mom had cancer - lucky it had been in remission.

The tears began right away when, while at Junior Prom, Lucy finds out that her mother's cancer came back.  She struggled with her faith in God and how it could possibly be in "His plan" for her mother to be sick.  Lucy was planning to spend her summer at her parent's church camp and never leave her mother's side.  To her surprise (and at first, fright) her mom suggested Lucy volunteer as a camp counselor at a neighboring summer camp instead.  At first Lucy was completely against it, but gave in because she could tell it meant a lot to her mother -- though she couldn't figure out why.

The rest of the book follows Lucy's experience at this new camp (for young kids who have been through tough times) - the friends she makes, falling in love, personal growth, struggling with her faith, and the power of family.  My absolute favorite part of the entire story was how Lord chose to end it.  More importantly, what she chose to leave out and not focus on.  If you have read this, I think you will understand what I mean.  I highly recommend this one, whether you have been through personal tough times or not. 




THIS IS NOT OVER by Holly Brown 
Rating: ★★★

With reviews from ★ to ★★★★★, I knew I had to give THIS IS NOT OVER a try.  I had to see for myself where I believe it falls on the spectrum.  In the end, I kind of see both perspectives.  

THIS IS NOT OVER follows the lives of two women -- Dawn and Miranda -- from two completely different walks of life.  Dawn is a 30 year old college student whose husband enjoys treating her to weekend getaways.  Dawn makes it clear that she had a pretty crappy childhood and is trying to outrun her past.  Miranda, on the other hand, is married to a doctor and living between two multi-million dollar homes.  When she isn't volunteering Miranda is renting out her Santa Monica beach house.  After Dawn spent a couple of days at Miranda's rental, Miranda sent her an e-mail that spawned a hostile cyber relationship.  It is clear from the start that these two women have a lot more to lose than a $200 deposit.  

It seems that a lot of readers found the beginning of the book slow as it was pretty much just a back and forth bickering between two strangers.  Looking back, I didn't find this slow.  I just felt it could have been more developed.  Reading from both Dawn and Miranda's perspectives, I could tell there was so much below the surface of both of their characters.  Dawn would start to say something about her childhood, but then rush right into a comment about how Miranda is saying she is a liar.  

As a reader, I just wanted more.  The last few chapters started to provide that more...but then it was just over.  Just when I felt I was pealing back the layers of these characters, I realized I read the last line.