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Perfect: Brilliant Covers, Genius Series

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Perfect (Flawed, #2)

Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured–all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick–the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret–one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

Flawed, Book 2
Dystopia / YA 

352 Pages
Feiwel & Friends/McMillan Children’s Publishing Group
Expected Publication Date:  April 4th, 2017
Preorder a copy here!

See my review of Flawed (Flawed #1) by clicking the cover below:

Flawed (Flawed, #1)

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Quick Reasons: this series has RUINED me; life-ruiner; my poor penguin heart is still pitter-pattering; emotional, dramatic, and horrifying; the moral implications are just spot-on; whoever designed these covers is BRILLIANT; I need this duology on my physical shelves

Huge thanks to Cecelia Ahern, McMillan Children’s Publishing Group, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Okay, penguins…. can we just TALK ABOUT the choices the cover designer made for this series?! I mean seriously…these covers? Say SO MUCH about the story without really saying anything until you’ve read the books. For Flawed, we see Celestine from the mouth down. She is sort of bland, an unknown from the beginning–until she steps up and sparks a revolution. In Perfect…she IS the revolution, so we see her from the neck up. The colors also sort of play on this. She was perfect, “pure”…until she was found NOT to be. It’s just…. GAH, whoever designed these covers? Did a fan-fracking-tastic job of it.

 

And this book? The closure to this poignant, powerful, intense duology? Delivered a hundred percent what I’ve been hoping it would. There are SO MANY moral and societal implications explored throughout each of these reads, but this second book brings everything to a head and makes readers STOP, SIT DOWN, and THINK about what’s going on. It horrifies; it disgusts; it wrenches and tears in two every thought, every assumption, every feeling a reader could possibly be having at any point in the read. Everything is examined; everything is called into question, and then studied more, and then flipped on its head. And there was a LOT of head-flipping in this book; I think I gave myself whiplash trying to keep up with all the rapid changes and out-of-nowhere twists.

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This is an intense read, though. The moral implications, the examination and redefinition of “society”….there are some tough, mature themes happening throughout this book. There is abuse of power. Obsession. Determination to “hide” or “right” a mistake. There is judgment, segregation, and political motivation/power struggles. All of this comes together in a fast-paced, important revelation. The characters are strong-willed and head-strong, the plot is heavy and nonstop, and the ending…while perhaps a bit TOO tidy…a poignant powerbomb. I just… I am in awe, and need this duology on my bookshelves PRONTO.

 

Overall, my first and second foray into Cecelia Ahern proved some of the best decisions I’ve ever made. These books changed my outlook on a lot of things, and are so, SO important in the messages they carry. This is a series I am proud to have picked up and fallen in love with, and I definitely recommend it to lovers of dystopians, political agendas, and intense reads. Perfect is bound to brand you, penguins–grit your teeth and wear the mark with pride. I know I will.

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The Counting-Downers: Inventive, Perspective-Changing, and Beautiful

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The Counting-Downers

The stunningly poignant and life-affirming debut novel by A.J. Compton

Imagine if we could see how long everyone around us had left to live. But we weren’t allowed to know our own numbers…

Trying to make sense of life after the death of her beloved father, free spirit Matilda Evans meets Tristan Isaacs and discovers a marrow-deep connection with him.

No stranger to grief himself, lonely artist Tristan is in awe of Matilda’s fun and philosophical approach to life. With every second spent in her presence, he finds his views on life and loss changing, and begins to embrace the beauty of being alive.

As their friendship turns into something deeper, lessons are learned, memories are made, and legacies are created.

But with both of them knowing how long their soulmate has left in this lifetime, important questions have to be asked and tough decisions have to be made before time runs out.

The Counting-Downers is an inspiring story about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.

Goodreads Rating: 4.27 Stars
Contemporary/New Adult/Romance/Sci Fi/Fantasy
344 Pages
Publication Date: July 24th, 2015
Get a copy here!

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Quick Reasons: life-ruiner!; this book is just… SO many feels, SO much to ponder, SO powerful; a poignant, beautiful story of life, loss, love, grief, death…but most importantly, LIVING; there are no words for how much I love this book; gorgeous, atmospheric prose; beautifully description scenes; a landscape painted of words and emotions; this book touched me, deeply

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Firstly: JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER, oh my penguins it’s so exquisite and gorgeous and just… gaaaaah, so much yes!

I just… I mean, it’s a bit early in my relationship with A.J. Compton to be certain, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new favorite author. A new auto-buy. A new person to watch out for with impatience and childlike wonder in the future. Because A.J. Compton? speaks to me, so deeply. I’ve read two novels by her so far, and have been ABSOLUTELY blown away both times. Why? Because she leaves me thinking. She challenges me to view the world, and the subject she’s chosen to focus on, in different and vastly unique ways. She challenges me to think outside the box, to examine my reactions, and to WONDER. And that is a gorgeous, wonderful, awe-inspiring talent, in my opinion.

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This book? Focuses on some very difficult and abstract subjects. Time, for one thing–and how to handle the passing of it, when you can see exactly how much time everybody but you has left. The subject and plot of this book is so uniquely different from anything I’ve ever read before, because the characters start this book KNOWING that the world around them is dying. Knowing that they, too, have a finite number of minutes, even though they don’t know that number exactly. These characters are flawed, but courageous despite their fears. These characters are well-rounded, vibrantly written…and so, so heart-wrenching.

The world A.J. Compton has written within these pages is both believable and vibrant. There are some grammatical errors–things like missing words are a bit of an issue, though it’s easy enough to figure out from the context what words have been dropped, and it didn’t in any way hinder or take away from my reading. This journey–the growths, the strengths and weaknesses, the love of these characters–took me for a wild, thought-provoking ride. This is yet another book that’s bound to haunt me for years to come, and I adore that so much. I adore how much this one read has changed my perspective, has made me reconsider the world.

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If you guys haven’t picked up an A.J. Compton book yet… GO DO IT! Seriously, what are you waiting for?! Her writing is descriptive and vibrant, her characters are heart-wrenching, and the journey is ALWAYS inspiring and perspective-shifting. A.J. Compton knows how to make her readers think…and that’s a beautiful talent to have. I definitely recommend this book to lovers (or haters) of time; to readers seeking an unexpected but beautiful journey; and to those who think they need a new outlook on living and dying. Seriously, guys–don’t waste any more time. Pick this book up NOW; I swear it’s worth the risk!

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A Review of Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human

Goodreads Rating: 4.12 Stars
352 pages
Published February 2nd, 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Get it here!

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

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Quick Reasons: good god this book!; realistic, endearing, believable characters; lots of angst, drama, and confusion; delicious ambiguity; yet another book that will change your view of the world; this novel is SO IMPORTANT; well-written, sensitive, and amazing

Anyway, it’s not that simple. The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.

So first off: there is bullying in this book, both real life and online. There are some cruel words flung around, especially toward the main character. There is emotional abuse…and a physical assault. Suicide is brought up, talked about, and plays a part in this story. If any of these things are triggers for you, please be careful reading this book (if you decide to).

That being said—the ambiguity in this book about Riley is real and poignant, and I absolutely adore the way Jeff Garvin handled this. There are hints and moments that will have you tilting your head, wondering if that was supposed to be a “reveal”…only to have you read further along, and find a different moment that makes you think the opposite. Riley’s gender—the one given at birth—is never once divulged, and while a huge portion of this book is people wondering…I feel as if I was given the chance to get to know Riley in different, more heart-touching ways. If you’re the sort of reader who thinks you need to know EVERY answer about your characters, though, this book might frustrate you. Just a warning.

It takes me a moment to react; I’m honestly surprised. It’s one thing to whisper about me to her friends, or to laugh when her boyfriend taunts me—but I didn’t expect Sierra to be openly aggressive.

Slowly, I turn and look her in the eye. “That’s none of your business,” I say. “And, while I’m flattered by your interest, you’re really not my type.”

Riley’s snark and attitude are also on point. The narrative is interspersed with snippets from blog posts, from messages sent to and by the MC…all of this leads up to several climaxes and revelations. Throughout, Riley manages a sense of strength and poise that I am envious of. On top of this, I will probably never look at the world the same way twice, especially in regards to gender—this book helped to further strengthen the realization that gender (or looks, or attitude, or clothes, or musical tastes, or….) should never be the most important thing about somebody. We’re all human, we’re all important. We all should feel comfortable in, and validated by, ourselves as whole—because we all ARE whole. None of the characters fall flat in this read—even those who go out of their way to bully or abuse Riley are portrayed in realistic, human ways, and are given chances to be redeemable.

This is the sort of read that breaks all the rules…and comes out on top of the world for it. This is a ground-breaking, heart-stopping, realistic examination of and discussion on not only gender fluidity, but the entire LGBTQIA community. This is, I feel, the type of read that could easily move mountains—it is so, so important, and so powerfully done.

“So, first, I want you to know that everybody experiences some level of anxiety. It’s a normal human response to stress. It’s like your body’s smoke alarm. If there’s a fire, you want to know so you can put it out or call 9-1-1, right?”

I shrug. “I guess. But it feels like my alarm is going off all the time.”

Doctor Ann nods. “Some people’s systems are more sensitive than others’. For you, maybe all it takes is burning a piece of toast, and your alarm thinks the house is on fire.”

This is a life-changer, guys. I recommend lovers of all types of literature pick this up, because it will shake you up and spit you out a different person. The writing is poignant, filled with morals, and always pushing readers to think. There’s a subtle, breathless sense of wisdom in the way Jeff Garvin went about writing Riley and this story… I promise you won’t be disappointed in the journey, if you’re open to letting it sweep you away.