The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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Flora BanksFrom GoodreadsSeventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

What if you couldn’t remember anything for more than a few minutes or hours at a time? What if you had no memories from the past seven years? What if, suddenly, one moment and everything about it sticks? Would you travel to the ends of the earth to chase the only memory you have?

For Flora, the written word, whether it’s on Post-its, in notebooks, or on her arms, is her lifeline to the world around her. With no ability to create new memories, she must rely on these notes to help her make sense of her life. It is her normal. But when she wakes up the morning after a party with the very visceral and real memory of kissing her best friends’ boyfriend the night before, an entirely new set of possibilities opens up for Flora. Could Drake be the cure for Flora’s mind? Can love really heal?

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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AllegedlyFrom Goodreads: Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Mary has spent the past six years serving time for a crime she never actually admitted to. Time spent mostly in isolation in adult prison– as a nine-year old– for a crime to severe for juvie, but a child far too young to serve with adults. Released to a group home when she is 15, Mary must live as a ward of the state until her 18th birthday. Just before she turns 16, she realizes she is pregnant. But the state will never let a “baby-killer” keep a baby. In order to protect her growing child and the family she dreams of, Mary will finally have to tell the truth of what happened that night– the night Baby Alyssa died. It’s a secret she’s been keeping for years.

I read this book in less than a day. I started it on a break at work, then picked it back up when I got home. And never put it back down. I had to know the truth of what happened. Who really killed Baby Alyssa and how. And why. I couldn’t stop until I had all the answers.

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Every Exquisite Thing

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From Goodreads: Star athlete and straight-A student Nanette O’Hare has played the role of dutiful daughter for as long as she can remember. But one day, a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper– a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic– and the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As the new and outspoken Nanette attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, she befriends the reclusive author and falls in love with a young, troubled poet. Forced to make some hard choices that bring devastating consequences, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion can sometimes come at a high price.

This is honestly the hardest book I’ve ever tried to review. I read this book months ago. This review has been sitting in my drafts forever. I’ve written and deleted paragraph after paragraph, not quite coming up with the words I really want to use. I’m not sure why. The more I think about it, the more conflicted I am with what I want to say. I liked this book. Or at least parts of it. I remember thinking as I read and as I finished that there was so much within this book that was relatable and important. But attempting to write about the book has been a lot harder than I thought.

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As I read through, I found myself saying, “Wow! This is an amazing quote! This is such an important theme!” But when it came time to write about it… Nothing.

But I keep coming back to this review, still trying to write something about it, because I still feel like there are words in there somewhere.

(*Note– By the end, I found a lot of words. For having nothing to say, this is probably the longest review I’ve written. Be warned.

Also, there are some minor spoilers, but no major plot line reveals. So it’s semi-spoiler free?)

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2017 Reading Goals

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Every year I set a reading goal for myself. And for the past couple years, I’ve failed. Miserably. I started out with a reading goal of 50 books a year. I figured I could definitely knock out a book a week. And for several years I did. Easily. So I upped my goal to 60 books a year. I was pretty close to it anyway, so I thought, what’s a few more squeezed in? That year I didn’t even come close to 50, let alone 60. I barely broke 20. It was pathetic. The next year was the same.

But I wasn’t going to let that happen in 2016. I was going to hit my goal. I was going to use this space to help me achieve that. I have a blog specifically for reviewing books for goodness’ sake! This should be a no-brainer! And then I failed. Again. I barely broke 30. I slacked on my blogging. I slacked on my reading. I slacked on life, to be perfectly honest.

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So 2017 will be different. (Hopefully..) I’m going to continue tracking myself on Goodreads, setting my goal there back down to 50 books again. But I’m going to add to my goal. It won’t just be about the number of books I read. I want to challenge myself to read outside my usual YA comfort zone. I say this every year, and every year I fail. But now I have you to hold me accountable. Someone (maybe?) is listening this time.

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2016 Wrap Up

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Well… I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in 2016.

I set myself a goal of 60 books to read this year. I ended up with… 33.

Ouch.

I’m staring at my list, thinking to myself, “That’s it? That’s all I read? That’s not much…” At least compared to previous years.

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So where did I go so horribly wrong with my reading? Well, I definitely struggled with the beginning and the end of the year. It took me until March to read ONE book, and I haven’t finished a book since October. (Although I’ve been making a lot of progress with my current read these last couple days! You know.. The one I’ve been reading since November..) The holidays seem to be kicking my ass the past few years, making it impossible to have time to read, and then it takes me forever to recover. I’m going to try a LOT harder next year. No more ZERO book months!

As I scroll down the list, I realize there are a lot of mediocre books on it. There are plenty of stories that were good, but not great, but there are some that I don’t even remember what they’re about anymore. And some I plain wish I could forget.

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The Female of the Species

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From GoodreadsAlex 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.

Rarely is there a book that I’ve read lately that I’ve finished and wanted to scream “READ THIS!!!!!” at everyone I see. One that I want to carry with me at work at all times so I can hand it to every single person who asks for a recommendation. Rarely has there been a book that I’ve thought so hard about and has stayed with me for so long after I finished it. And one that is so incredibly timely in light of recent events. But here it is. Seriously. READ THIS.

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Hotel Ruby

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From Goodreads: Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

After Audrey’s mother dies suddenly, her family life spirals out of control. While she’s acting out, her father is closing himself off. After a wild party where Audrey loses control, her father decides to send her and her older brother Daniel to live with her grandmother. But first they stop at Hotel Ruby for the night. The hotel may be out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s far from boring. A one night stay turns into days as Audrey and her family get caught up in the hotel life and all it has to offer, including love. Maybe staying at Hotel Ruby wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, the motto there is Stay tonight. Stay Forever.  Continue reading