Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: Book Review

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Title: Wintersong

Author: S. Jae-Jones

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)

My Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Format/Source: US hardcover from my local library

Coming from a family as musically-inclined as hers, it’s only natural that eighteen-year-old Elisabeth, more affectionately called Liesl, dreams of becoming a composer. A female musician, however, is definitely not natural. Society would most certainly look down on her.

In addition to that hindrance, Liesl already suffers from a severe lack of confidence in her music. She was never encouraged and educated with the same care as her brother, Josef, so instead she hides her dreams away in a locked box that lives under her bed.

“The wishes we make in the dark have consequences, and the Lord of Mischief will call their reckoning.”

All her life, Liesl has always put herself last. As the oldest child in her family, it’s always been her job to look out for her younger siblings–her beautiful, golden-haired sister and foil, Käthe; and Josef, her brother with whom she shares an intense, almost unearthly, bond.

This bond is actually where Liesl’s troubles begin. By favoring one sibling, she has neglected the other and put her in danger. 

“Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.”

When Käthe goes missing, Liesl immediately knows just who is responsible for her sister’s disappearance. The boy that she used to play with in the Goblin Grove near her house. The boy who was not actually a boy at all, but Der Erlkönig. The Goblin King of legend. The cruel Lord of Mischief.

“I could not tell what color his eyes were from where I stood, but they were likewise pale, and icy. The Goblin King tilted his head in a duelist’s nod and gave me a small smile, the tips of his teeth sharp and pointed. I clenched my fists. I knew that smile. I recognized it, and understood it as a challenge.

Come rescue her, my dear, the smile said. Come and rescue her…if you can.”

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Book Review

The Upside of Unrequited

Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Publisher: Penguin Randomhouse UK

Format/Source: UK paperback from Book Depository

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Molly Peskin-Suso is the queen of crushes. She’s had almost thirty crushes throughout her life, and she’s only seventeen.

Unlike her twin sister who has been with countless other girls, Molly has only ever been on the unrequited side of love. Cassie, being the extrovert that she is, says this is because Molly has never taken chances–that she’s just never gone for it.

“There’s just something terrifying about admitting you like someone. In a way, it’s actually easier when there’s no chance of anything happening. But there’s this threshold where things suddenly become possible. And then your cards are on the table. And there you are, wanting, right out in the open.”

And she’s right. Molly has never actually been rejected; she’s always been too scared to actually confess her feelings to any of the twenty-something people she’s crushed on. She’s always been too “careful.” But when you’re always comparing yourself to your thinner, blonder, and charming sister who naturally wins everyone over, it’s hard not to let it damage your confidence.

However, everything changes this summer for Molly. She’s starting a new job, and there she befriends her co-worker, the charming, down-to-earth Reid. Him, she can actually talk to without flipping out the way she normally does around most boys.

Though he may be the first boy Molly can talk to with ease, he is an incredibly geeky one who wears this atrocious pair of white sneakers and goes to renaissance festivals. Definitely not the boy Molly has always pictured as her first boyfriend.

Especially not when there’s cute hipster Will who might be into her and just so also happens to be the best friend of Cassie’s new crush. Which is also important, because after Cassie meets Mina, everything starts to change.

The closeness the twins used to share suddenly goes missing, and it feels like Cassie is slowly, but surely, leaving Molly behind.

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We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Book Review

We Are Okay

Title: We Are Okay

Author: Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin)

My Rating: 4.25/5 stars

“I was okay just a moment ago. I will learn how to be okay again.”

As the only student who opts to stay on campus during dreary winter break, college freshman, Marin, finds herself stranded in her empty dorm. She is alone both physically and mentally, but not for long–Mabel is coming.

Marin’s life has been full of hardship. Nothing has been easy for her. Her father was never in the picture, and her mom passed away when she was young. To make matters worse, it seems like everyone in Marin’s town knew and loved her mom. They’re drawn to her, always randomly walking up to Marin and talking about her as if she remembers her. Ever since her death, she has lived with her strange yet loving–in his own way–grandfather.

A few months before we join her story, tragedy struck and eighteen-year-old Marin could not have gotten out of California any quicker. Thankfully, she had college waiting for her in New York as an excuse, and upon her abrupt departure, she cut all ties with everyone she knew, saying goodbye to no one.

But you can’t outrun tragedy forever. After months of silence and the countless calls and texts–laced with the gentle concern of a best friend–going unanswered, Mabel takes a different approach. She decides to visit Marin in person, where she knows she will be incapable of ignoring her. Now, Marin must begin to face all that she has tried, and failed, to put behind her.

Told in alternating chapters between the past and present, we slowly piece together an idea of what Marin’s life was like before she left, and what happened to make her leave the way she did.

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