Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading on a Theme: What the Dead Left Behind

The main characters in these stories are dealing with the untimely death of a best friend, a brother, a sister, or a boyfriend. And, in each case, the recently deceased has left something behind.

A Playlist:
When Hayden committed suicide he left behind a playlist for his best friend, Sam, with the note, "listen and you'll understand." So Sam listens, but Hayden's death isn't becoming any clearer. What is clear is that Hayden had a lot more secrets than Sam realized. I thought that Playlist for the Dead was a pretty great debut for Michelle Falkoff. It's been a long time since I've read a book with a male main character, and it was a nice change of pace for me. I liked being in Sam's head, and I enjoyed him as a character. The way that Sam dealt with Hayden's death felt honest to me. I was also quite compelled to figure out the more mysterious aspects of the story.  Playlist for the Dead was out January, 27th, 2015. Review copy from Edelweiss.

A Notebook:
Oakley's brother Lucas recently died of cancer, and she feels like the whole world has come crashing down. Hoping to recuperate, Oakley and her mother  take an extended vacation in California. When they arrive, Oakley's receives a notebook that Lucas made for her full of thoughts, memories, and advice for his little sister. Between the sun and the sea and a cute surfer, Oakley just might learn to live again. Chantele Sedgwick's novel was kind of a mixed bag for me. I think the premise and the characters worked just fine. I liked the surfing, and the conclusion of the story was unexpectedly thrilling. All this good stuff, however, was hampered, for me, by the language which felt stilted and wooden. The dialog, especially, just didn't work for me. Love, Lucas is out May 5th. Review copy from Edelweiss.

A Heart:
Quinn Sullivan's been counting (rather than living) the days since her boyfriend Trent died. Trent left something behind, his donated organs. Only one recipient never responded to her letters, and he has Trent's heart. Finding is all she can think about, so Quinn goes outside the system to seek him out. They were never suppose to meet, let alone talk, but once Quinn knows Colton there is no going back. How will she ever tell him the truth? The more I think about Jessi Kirby's novel the more I like it. I like Quinn and Colton together, and I love Quinn's supportive family. Also, this book is like the YA version of the Return to Me, and who doesn't love that movie? Things We Know By Heart is out April 21st, 2015. Review copy from Edelwiess.

A Collection:
Torrey is a new face in a new town trying to figure out how to regain her popularity, both in high school and through her fashion vlog. Since her sister's death, Torrey hasn't posted a single vlog and she knows her interest in Luis and his family's morgue aren't earning her any points in school. However, it's because of Luis and his family that Torrey learns about Day of the Dead and the offerings given to honor them. It's there she begins her path to healing. I enjoyed Can't Look Away. I liked that Torrey found her own path to mourning her sister and became a person who thinks for herself. I liked the quirky characters like Luis's grandmother and Raylene. Donna Cooner has created a book that seems simple, but deals with deep and real emotion.

A Post-It Note:
Lexie's therapist wants her to write about Tyler in a journal, but she can't remember any of the happy times with her brother. She only remembers the day he died and the mistakes she made. Since his suicide, Lexie broke up with her boyfriend and distanced herself from her friends. She's really thrown when she starts seeing Ty around her house and in her dreams. Is she going crazy? I loved The Last Time We Say Goodbye. The more I think about it, the more I like it. I liked being inside Lexie's head both in her journal and her narration and I thought the combination really enhanced the pacing of the book. Cynthia Hand wrote a very honest book about loss and guilt and the process of healing. A truly great read. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Playlist for the Dead, Love, Lucas, and Things We Know By Heart reviewed by JoLee.
Can't Look Away and The Last Time We Say Goodbye reviewed by Paige.

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