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Review – Drowning Instinct August 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult.
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Title: Drowning Instinct

Author: Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Publication Date: February 1, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0761377528

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain… magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.


Now I knew this book was going to be heavy, I just didn’t know how heavy. On one hand my heart was breaking for Jenna and I was dying for her, but you know what? I couldn’t cry any tears for her. Somehow I couldn’t make that last connection. Maybe it was because I prepared myself for the bad end and  I could see it coming, because I knew it was going to end badly. This is not your happily ever after story.  A student and a teacher don’t hook up and live happily ever after. Not a 16-year-old and 30-something-year-old. Things don’t work out that way.

The book still managed to take my breath away. Don’t mistake me. I still gasped and floundered. There were moments of absolute heartbreak. The writing is beautiful. The writing is absolutely lovely. I was completely engrossed in the story. I read this book all in one sitting. It was very good. I just couldn’t help myself from comparing it to other books. I couldn’t help myself from finding it wanting in comparison.  Even on its own, it lacks a little something. Something that made me want to cry my eyes out. Then again, I am much older then the targeted audience. Therefore the writing was targeted at a much younger demographic. That might be it.

I was still able to relate to Jenna. She was a reserved, socially awkward teen. She had a lot of problems in her life  though. She had just been in the psychiatric ward. She has a alcoholic mother and a psychotic father. To cope with all this she cuts. Jenna had problems. It was agonizing to read about them and my heart ached for her.

Mitch was the perfect knight in shining armor. He was the sympathetic adult and the perfect friend when she needed one. He actually cared for her. I liked him a lot too. It was hard not to. It was hard to see him as a monster. The lines weren’t black and white. Everything was definitely in shades of grey.

This was a beautifully written book, although it was extremely heavy. You might want to get the tissues handy just in case. I didn’t need them but you never know.


Review – Where She Went July 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult.
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Title: Where She Went

Author: Gayle Forman

Publication Date: April 17, 2012

Publisher: Speak

ISBN-10: 0142420891

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble


This is Adam and Mia’s story, in Adam’s perspective. Three years after the car accident that took Mia’s family life. Mia and Adam are no longer together and Adam is now trying to pick his life back together when he bumps into Mia again in New York City. He’s a successful rock star, she’s a budding cellist who has just performed at Carnegie Hall. Can they find closure over what might have been or will they be able to start over again?


This book took me by surprise. I didn’t read the blurb so I didn’t know it was told from Adam’s perspective. It was well done. His bewilderment over why Mia has left him is superb. His hurt shines through the pages like a beacon even though it’s been years gone by.

I was caught up in the suspense of finding out whether or not Adam and Mia would get back together or not. I was also caught up in the emotion of Adam’s suspended grief. For he was never truly allowed to grieve for the family he too lost. And not only did he lose Mia’s family, he lost Mia.

It was a roller coaster of emotions as Adam encounters Mia again and they rekindle their relationship. Things don’t go as Adam dreamed they would.

Adam’s life isn’t what he thought it would as a rock start either. His success as a musician didn’t bring him the happiness he thought it would. His association with a movie star and his new-found rock star status leaves him constantly on the lookout for paparazzi. He’s on the outs with his band.

I would say this book doesn’t live up to how good the first book was but it doesn’t disappoint either. It’s just as emotionally tender and there is just as gauntlet of feeling in this book as the first.  It just lacks a certain something that made that first book really awe inspiring. I still give this a high rating for this was extremely well-written and if I didn’t have the first book to compare it to, I wouldn’t be left with a slightly unsatisfied taste in my mouth.

Review – If I Stay July 25, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult.
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Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Publication Date:  April 6, 2010

Publisher: Speak

ISBN-10: 014241543X

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble


After a crushing car accident, Mia is torn from her family and ripped from her body. A talented cellist, she relives her life’s precious moments with her family, boyfriend, and friends.  She’s forced to come to the decision of whether or not she should stay or if she should go.


This book was astounding. It was just breathtaking. Mia was real and alive and you could sympathize with her from the first page to the last.  Shy and insecure away from the cello, she comes alive with her music. She has only a few friends, but she’s loyal to those few that she has.

Mia comes from a family of extroverts and she’s a decided introvert. She’s a classical music lover and they’re all rock’n’roll. Yet their love for one another is deep and abiding. It shines throughout the book and it makes itself known. I loved that about this book. That alone made this a “feel good” book.

Another “feel good” aspect of this book was Mia’s relationship with her brother Teddy. They had a close bond that was hard to break. I thought that was endearing and touching.

Adam and Mia were a great couple. They were real, with flaws, and totally believable. Their flaws didn’t make them any less romantic. Although for one moment in the story that I thought was a bit far-fetched and I had to stretch my imagination a bit as far as Adam was concerned. I tried to tell myself that he was really, really desperate so he really, really wasn’t thinking.

Aside from that, the book brought up some very deep feelings. I’m not ashamed to admit I leaked tears at one point of the book. It was just good. As you read the book, you know that whatever Mia decides, whether she stays, whether she goes, it will be heartbreak. It was heartbreak. What she did decide, made me realize where the author would lead on to another book and I was so glad for that.

Whatever you do, don’t let this book pass you by. You’ll regret it. It’s unforgettable.