The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Having a cold is the worst, but having a cold when it’s warm out and – now – a fire pretty close…that is the very worst. But a little bit of tea, a little bit of soup, and a lot of bit of DayQuil and Alka-Seltzer…I’ll be okay. For today, though, I have a book that I read awhile ago and couldn’t sit on any longer.

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Title: The Hanging Girl {320 pgs.}

Genre: Mystery YA

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Summary:

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

I wanted to wait to read this book until it was closer to Halloween, because this feels like a very fall kind of book, but on one of the hottest days of the summer, I was pulling out my laptop and reading furiously. This was obviously not a book that wanted to wait.

Poor Skye. It’s hard being the daughter of the town psychic. Her mother has given readings and predictions to bored housewives for years, but Skye wants more than that. She wants to move out of her ridiculous little town and into New York, where she can live with her best friend, reinvent herself, and…well, the rest will come to her when she gets there. But Skye’s biggest problem is how to get there: New York costs money, and the Thorn’s are not exactly rolling in it. Even with multiple jobs and giving tarot card readings, Skye never seems to have enough money, mainly because her own mother’s salary doesn’t cover the bills that are due NOW. What’s a fake psychic to do?

When the prettiest, most popular girl in town goes missing, and Skye begins having strange visions, this seems like the opportunity she’s been looking for to make some extra cash. But how far is she willing to go to make her dreams come true?

This book was serious fun. It becomes pretty obvious early on that Skye knows more than she’s telling people, but the twist from there is a RIDE. Skye is smart, but she gets dragged into something she’s not really ready for, and someone smarter than her uses Skye as a puppet. Skye has to keep her life from falling apart if she wants to get through this, but it’s difficult when she’s trying to keep the truth and her bucketful of lies separate. When something goes definitely not according to plan, Skye has to scramble to figure out how she’s going to save herself and those around her.

The mystery of the book was the best part, but the little jumps and scares made it all that more interesting. I loved watching Skye peek around every corner, because I felt like I was doing the same. I was always expecting the worst to come, and even when it did, I was not prepared. Eileen Cook’s writing made sure that I was always on edge, always ready for the next twist, but when it comes, you weren’t expecting it. That’s honestly the best way I can describe the mystery of this book. You’re preparing yourself, and then it’s there, and you realize you were preparing for the wrong thing.

It’s the end of September, which means October {aka, the best month of the year, right behind April} is right around the corner. It’s time for horror movies and scary books and haunted mazes. It’s time to be scared. The Hanging Girl is the perfect pick for the beginning of October: a mystery with little jump scares that will get your heart going and your mind racing.

#tbt: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Oh, Thursday. How I loved you during the summer, but now. Now, you just mean that there’s two more days until I can stay in pajamas for 48 hours. And that’s two days too long. That’s why I thought my throwback Thursday book should be something that makes me happy.

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Title: The Hate U Give {444 pgs.}

Genre: YA {that feels so inadequate to say}

Publication Date: February 28, 2017

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

{DISCLAIMER: I am white woman who grew up in a 99% white community {that’s probably not even an exaggeration}. I’m forever learning, so if I said anything in here that shows my ignorance, let me know. I’m open to all conversations.}

This book has been talked about forever, I feel, but it’s one of those books that shouldn’t stopped being talked about. I woke up sick on the day it released, and I still dragged my sick butt to Barnes and Noble to get it, and the cashier and I gushed over it for, like, ten minutes, and that was with a line behind me.

If you live in America {and you have a TV, computer, phone, or newspaper}, you’ve seen the dumpster fire that was 2016. You saw the police gunning down or brutally abusing people, a vast majority of them young black men and women. Then you also saw the news turning the story on its head, dragging up random “facts” about these young men and women, facts that a lot of people couldn’t confirm, and that seemed to be the point {it’s like we’re in Groundhog Day}. Then you also ALSO saw people going to the streets, protesting, telling stories, trying to get the truth out. Then…the news once more.

It was disheartening, to say the least. Infuriating.

Starr Carter is at the heart of this mess. She is suddenly torn between her two worlds: a black girl at a white high school, and then just one of the kids from her neighborhood. She never asked for this, and neither did Khalil. Two kids coming home from a party, two kids wanting to be treated like anyone else, two kids who did nothing wrong. After Khalil is murdered {because let’s call it what it is}, Starr is thrown into the spotlight, since she is the only person who knows what truly happened.

Can you imagine being sixteen, seeing your best friend murdered, and then having people – the news, your friends, people who want to harm you – come at you from every angle, at every moment of the day? Like, I’m double her age, and I don’t think I could handle that kind of pressure with the strong backbone she did. Some people treated Starr like a hero, and even though she didn’t think she did anything, I would agree with those people. Just waking up each day after the horrible murder and going on about her life is strong as hell. She’s also charming and funny and smart, and as much as she tries to balance her two lives, she never compromises herself.

In my book journal, I wrote, “This book feels like a revolution.” And it is. The news dictates what angle of the story we see. In most big name news areas, the story is always the same: the police officer is right, the other side is wrong. But sometimes {read: most times}, that’s not the case. There’s more to the story than what the news wants to share, and the only way we can hear about it is when someone stands up and says, wait, no, that’s not what’s going on here. Starr is that voice, and this book is that voice. Angie Thomas writes these dynamic, wonderful characters that are from all different walks of life, and the way she breathes life into them makes this book feel like nonfiction {which, I mean, it kind of is}.

If you’re here, you must have read about this book at least once in the last year. I know I didn’t add anything new, but I honestly shove this book at everyone. I suggested it to one of my students back in March, and she hasn’t stopped talking about it. It’s one of those books. You’re going to read it and it’s going to make you look at things differently, and it’s going to stick with you. Also {GET EXCITED}, the movie is cast and it’s starting to film and the Carter family looks amazing and I’d like for it to come out right now, kthanksbye. Like, see the movie, but read the book. READ THE BOOK. You’ll thank me for the rest of your life.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

I was going to start this by telling you how much fun allergies are {you know the kind: constant running nose, itchy eyes, face feeling like it’s either melting or sticking to your bones}, but I’m going to get right to this book because I finished it last night and I have to talk about before I burst.

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Title: Invictus {464 pgs.}

Genre: YA/Science Fiction

Publication: September 26, 2017

Summary:

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

As a rabid fan of Doctor Who, any book that touts a plot where the characters go back in time is one that I’m going to jump on immediately. And am I thankful that I caught this one.

Poor Far has had a life. His mother disappeared on a routine time traveling expedition, he doesn’t really have a birthday, and his school’s commander wants nothing more than Far to fail…which he does. But Far is resourceful and the top of his class for a reason, so it’s no time at all before he falls into a captain’s position, heading up a time traveling ship for a black market smuggler. Like, I know I’m supposed to be all, oh my goodness, this boy is going through time, stealing precious treasures to be sold on the black market, oh my! But honestly, that sounds like the coolest job ever. Far and his crew – his cousin Imogen, his best friend Gram, and his girlfriend Priya – get to travel to different times in history and steal things that would normally be lost in time.

But then Eliot shows up and everything falls apart.

Honestly, there’s not a lot I can say about this book that wouldn’t be spoilers. There’s so much happening, and it all seems to stem from one event. Let’s just say that Eliot has her own agenda, and that agenda could be related to Far.

So what can I say that isn’t spoilery? How about we talk about my sweet baby angel Imogen? The girl who chalks her hair a different, electric color each day, the girl who keeps everyone’s spirits up even when the day seems darkest, the girl who’s madly in love with the Engineer but can’t imagine a time when he would love her back. Imogen is the sunshine of the crew, and she reminds them that they could be back at home, working dead-end jobs for little credits {money}, but no! They’re traveling through time, taking vacations in fabulous places, and doing all this with their best friends. Imogen is basically a sugar cube wrapped in gorgeous, multi-hued frosting, and everyone should adore her. Also! She has a red panda as a pet, and if that’s not the most cuddly animal for Imogen to have, I don’t know what is.

The sci-fi language gets really sci-fi-y once they’re trying to figure out what’s happening with their world, but I like that the different characters are there to explain it. Eliot and Gram will bust out with their scientific language, and then Imogen is right there to break it down for the simpler people {like me – I have a degree in English literature, and anything math or science is a foreign language to me still}.

Oh! Can I also say that what I enjoyed most was the romantic relationships? Whenever there was a problem, Far and Priya tackled it together, and there was never a time where either of them were jealous of the other or caused problems that weren’t there. With everything else going on, it was nice to see a couple who stuck together and figured out a problem with causing any unnecessary troubles. {Same with another couple that show up somewhere in the book, but spoilers!}

Overall, I super enjoyed the story and the writing. It was colorful and detailed, and preparing for a trip back to the past was just as fun as going to the past. Invictus is fun, stressful, and hits your heart hard at certain times. Preorder the junk out of this book. Even if you’re not sure of the whole sci-fi genre, trust me on this one, you’ll kick yourself if you miss out on Invictus.

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

I almost wrote happy Monday, then realized it was Tuesday, which is better than yesterday when I thought it was Tuesday. I don’t know what happened this weekend, but I got all sorts of confused yesterday when trying to order soup from Panera and they told me it was Monday. Book hangover, I’m willing to bet. But that’s okay, because it’s a book hangover from this particular book that I’m willing to get drunk over again and again.

 

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Title: The Golden House {380 pgs.}

Genre: General Fiction {can I say All Too Realistic Fiction?}

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Summary:

When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities, taking ‘Roman’ names, and move into a grand mansion in downtown Manhattan. Arriving shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama, he and his sons, each extraordinary in his own right, quickly establish themselves at the apex of New York society.

The story of the powerful Golden family is told from the point of view of their Manhattanite neighbour and confidant, René, an aspiring filmmaker who finds in the Goldens the perfect subject. René chronicles the undoing of the house of Golden: the high life of money, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis, the arrival of a beautiful woman, betrayal and murder, and far away, in their abandoned homeland, some decent intelligence work.

Invoking literature, pop culture, and the cinema, Rushdie spins the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years, hitting every beat: the rise of the birther movement, the Tea Party, Gamergate and identity politics; the backlash against political correctness; the ascendancy of the superhero movie, and, of course, the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain wearing make-up and with coloured hair.

Can I just…take all the time in the world to tell everyone how much I loved this book? Not only for the Golden storyline, but for the background that molds the Goldens into who they are. Although none of the Goldens are active in the political scene of America, everything that happens back there affects at least one of the Goldens.

So. How to best explain this? René, a young filmmaker who lives with his loving parents in the idyllic {almost too fake} Gardens, falls in love with the Goldens from the moment they move in across the way. They’re fascinating, four men with fake names taken from the highest echelons in Rome. We watch as Nero, the patriarch, slowly descends into madness and confusion, while his children – Apu, Petya, and D – grow into themselves and understand who they want to be, even if they don’t always want to understand. Each Golden boy has his own problem to deal with, whether that be women, work, the world outside, or themselves. When Nero’s past catches up with him, no one in the Golden family is safe, including his young Russian wife, Vasilisa, and their new golden child Vespa.

That’s the main part of the story. Then there’s everything happening outside of the Golden mansion. There is the presidency of Barack Obama and the rise of the people who screamed themselves hoarse for a birth certificate. There’s the little boys who had nothing better to do with their lives than get online and threaten violence on women for playing games. There’s the sudden influx of superhero movies and the lack of heroes in real life. Then, finally, there’s the rise of the Joker, a political opponent with green hair and unnaturally colored skin, a man who says whatever he wants {including talking about grabbing women in a certain spot} and a few select people in America fall all over themselves for his stupidity.

Then there’s the other thread weaved into the story, the scarlet thread of Vasilisa and her determination to have a Golden child so she can be protected for life.

Salman Rushdie weaves these narratives so expertly that you begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there’s a Nero Golden out there, waiting for someone to realize that he’s not fiction. The motley crew of characters are strange and almost otherworldly, but in this world right now, they almost make sense. Also, there were moments where I began to think that maybe Nero Golden and the Joker could have been the same person, if only Nero didn’t have a slight conscience.

I was going to share some of my favorite quotes, but really, I highlighting way too many parts of this book to pick just one. This is just the book I needed since, oh, I don’t know, November 2016. It took me forever to write this review because I thought over it for days, because there was so much I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to get it out without being like, okay, let me tell you about this book from the first word to the last. But it’s out now, so please, please, please, go get it. Some parts are difficult to read – because we’ve lived through those parts – but they’re necessary. Oh so necessary.

#tbt: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Welcome back! I forgot to schedule a post for this last week {I’m blaming Indiana for as long as I can}, but I’m back this week with a book that’s stuck in my head since February, when I read it.

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Title: The Female of the Species {352 pgs.}

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Summary:

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

This had been one of my most anticipated reads of last year. I was frothing at the mouth to get it, and when I did, I devoured it. It was so beautifully written and the characters were so absolutely real that I wanted to live in their world.

How can I explain how much I love Alex? I’ve always appreciated a good sociopath {yes, I’m a weirdo} and Alex is walking the line. She understands the difference between right and wrong, but she ignores that voice inside her that tells her what she’s doing is wrong, because she knows that what the other person is doing is worse than what she’s going to do. She’s like a female Dexter Morgan, except she doesn’t have a kill room. I mean, she is only in high school. Alex is a true outsider, the younger sister of a girl who was murdered, but she isn’t a weirdo. She’s quiet and unassuming, but when people look at her, they only see her dead sister. She uses that to hide behind, so people will only be looking at that while she does what she needs to to get through this world.

Alex really only has two friends: Peekay, the preacher’s daughter, and Sara, Peekay’s best friend. They sniff around Alex, their interest overpowering the gossip surrounding her. Peekay knows what it’s like to be talked about – her name is the longer version of P.K., or Preacher’s Kid – and she wants Alex to know that she understands, even if she really doesn’t. Then there’s Jack, the cool boy that would be the star of any girl’s dream. But he only wants to know Alex, and when he does, he falls hard for her. It starts off as him wanting to assuage his guilt over his role in Alex’s sister’s death, but then he finds that he only wants to be around Alex for the rest of his life.

If Alex’s sister hadn’t been murdered, this would be the start of a beautiful YA love story. But Anna was murdered, and Alex is greatly affected, and so he goes down a dark path, trying to shake off her friends so no one will know what she does. But I think we all understand how hard it is to shake off high school friends.

For years, I’ve had this idea for a book about this exact kind of girl {it’s a different kind of story, though, trust me}. Mindy McGinnis writes Alex so wonderfully, a dark, confident girl who pushes aside the confusion that’s tangled inside of her. She knows what she’s doing and why, even if she doesn’t understand how she can do it. It’s just honestly so perfect and special. I’ve never read a girl like Alex, and even though her actions were questionable {that may sound weird, but read the book and tell me I’m wrong}, she was a strange kind of hero worth rooting for.

The Border by Steve Schafer

Happy Labor Day everyone! As a day where we celebrate the workers of America {and a day when most of us are reeling over a pending announcement from a certain ignoramus who thinks himself a leader}, I thought that today would be the perfect day for this review.

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Title: The Border {364 pgs.}

Genre: YA Fiction {realistic}

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Summary:

One moment changed their lives forever.

A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.

Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families’ murders have put out a reward for the teens’ capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape…

This is a difficult book to read at any time, but in the political climate that is 2017, it’s especially harrowing and heartbreaking. These four kids – because they really are just kids – escape through the desert in order to reach America because certain narcos have deemed them worth killing. If that’s not terrifying enough, reading about them trying to cross through the desert on a meager supply of water and food is upsetting, angering, and so very important for those of us who might have no idea what people go through to get where we are.

All the characters screamed of reality. Pato and Arbo, cousins whose fathers were best friends and business partners, watch each others’ back while also snapping at one another in a way that only family can do. Pato is a dreamer, the kind of kid you’d find in the corner of the library, absorbed by a book {you’ll fall madly in love with him, trust me}. Thanks to his loving parents, he has lived well and has never known the kind of hardship that he must face in this book. Arbo is the same, a chubby boy who wishes to be El Revolucionario, the “peaceful wrestling doctor” that he has created. Marcos and Gladys are brother and sister, two very different sides of the same coin. Marcos is rash and dangerous, the only one to pick up a gun when one is pointed at them. He gets the group where they need to go, but at a price that might ruin them. Gladys is almost angelic, an artist and a thinker, the kind of girl who Pato easily falls in love with. In short, they are real, they are the types of teenagers that you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Together, they try to make it out of Mexico with the limited resources of four teenagers. Together, they decide to do the impossible. Together, they are stronger. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to deal with everything the desert has to offer, including heat and lack of water and animals waiting for their next meal to drop dead. Even when the four stumble across another pack of hopefuls who seem willing enough to help them, they never let their guard down, which ends up being for the best.

Steve Schafer writes their terrible journey in a way that seems so real and known. He describes each dangerous step and stumble in such detail that it’s almost as if he’s taken this path before. While he didn’t, he does explain that he has a friend whose family member was kidnapped in northern Mexico, and that is where the idea for this book came from. He said that his hope is that people will read this book and take a moment to think about what it must be like to travel this path, to leave your home and take to a desert that may kill you, all so you’ll end in a country that has so much opportunity, but may not want to give it to you.

Success, Steve Schafer, because I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for weeks after reading it. I’m still thinking about it, still thinking about the people who are coming over here in hopes of making a better life for themselves. It’s impossible not to. It’s impossible not to want to help and to do whatever you can to ensure that they make it here safely. Isn’t that really the least we can do? Treat people like human beings?

The Border comes out tomorrow, and since most of us have today off, what a great time to preorder this book. It’ll make you think and it’ll make you feel, and while the feelings and thoughts might not be so great sometimes, it’s an important story to be told.

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Happy Friday! I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun weekend, because I know I am, since I get four days off! What would be even better than four days off would be four days off in an air-conditioned house with every restaurant around me able to deliver, but you know, a pool and a happy dog is pretty good. I’ve also come here to make your weekend even better, because of this book that just came out today.

 

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Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon {256 pgs.}

Genre: YA Fantasy {but slightly realistic?}

Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Summary:

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

So, rereading that little summary made me realize how much stuff is actually packed into this book because that is the just skimming off the top of the plot.

Ellie – super awesome Ellie – is in Germany with her classmates when she sees a red balloon and remembers the stories her grandfather – a Holocaust survivor – told her about red balloons saving lives, including his own. Wanting a picture with it, she grabs for it and, bam! She finds herself in 1988 East Berlin, not a place that many people would want to find themselves {probably no one would want to find themselves there, really}. Kai, a balloon Runner, comes across Ellie and takes her to his safe house, where his best friend Mitzi tries to help them come up with a plan on how to get Ellie home. Along the way, Ellie meets the balloon makers, magicians who can write in blood and magic to help East Berliners – Passengers – get over the Wall to safety. The three also stumble across dead Passengers, unfolding a plot that could change history.

I love this book. I’ve been trying to think of a more poetic way of saying this, but there is none. I. Love. This. Book. I love Ellie and Kai, Ellie and Mitzi, Kai and Ellie and Mitzi. The three of them are beautiful together, friends forged from unlikely bonds, and it shows how resilient we can be. They come together and make things work, even with the fear of being arrested looming over their heads.

One of the most heartwarming parts of the whole book doesn’t involve the budding relationship between Kai and Ellie. Well, to me, at least. I teared up each time Katherine Locke switched to Benno’s point of view. Benno is Ellie’s grandfather, and his story followed Benno and his family on their journey from their home to the Łódź Ghetto to the Chełmno concentration camp. Benno had to watch his family get sick, die, be tortured by their lives, and he still survived. Reading it made my chest tight, and I admit that I had to set the book down for a few minutes after reading his story, mainly because while I understand that red balloons are not really magical – maybe? – this part of the book was real. Really real. And it was awesome that Ellie kept that story with her, that she knew what her grandfather went through and never forgot that, even when it starts a fight with a new friend who might be her only friend left.

I honestly cannot imagine what I would do if I woke up in 1988 Berlin. Ellie handles this fact pretty well, even after screaming and running away from Kai, which, really, wouldn’t we all? Even with everything that is thrown at her – magical balloons, prejudiced cops, dead Passengers – Ellie perseveres, because she knows that if she breaks down, she’ll never make it home. She’s the type of strong woman that we should all aspire to be, and even when she trips up, she rights herself and keeps fighting for what she knows is right. Without spoilers, when Ellie has to make a PRETTY BIG DECISION, she makes it because she believes it’s the right choice. That’s all we can do. We have to see what’s in front of us and listen to our hearts. I don’t know if I could have made the decision that she made, because it was a PRETTY BIG DECISION, but Ellie did, and I’m in awe of that type of woman.

Okay, so I finished reading the book and now I need a red balloon because I need to go into the future to get the second book in the series {because this is only #1, thank goodness}. Wouldn’t that be nice? Just grab the balloon, go to the bookstore, and be like, hey, I need this book, like, right now? Because that’s where I’m at right now. I’m searching for a balloons to take me to the second book, and trust me, after you read this book, you’ll be looking for balloons, too.