twofer tuesday: one hook review and TWO book reviews, well maybe three

book reviews first

if i stay by gayle foreman

this book was heartwrenching.

mia is a teenager.  a gifted cellist.  she loves her family, her boyfriend and her best friend.  her life is happy and her future promising.  until she's trapped in a coma.  she has one day to decide whether she should let sleep take her or if she should wake up.  if she should stay.

mia enraptured me right away.  i fell in love with her family on page 2.  on page 154 i stopped reading because my heart and head ached so badly from the tears i needed to cry.  i skimmed until the last chapter or two and read them at warp speed.  then it was 12:08 AM and i doubled over in my living room and sobbed.  the next morning i fought tears while driving to work.  when i read the garderner (by sarah stewart, illustrated by david small) aloud to my second graders i teared up at the end. 

someday i'll go back and read the chapters i missed in if i stay because this book was beautifully written and i need to know what i didn't read.  but the story got to me so much, i just couldn't.

(i can't decide if i'd want to write a book that can affect somebody this much.  it was beautiful and honest and breathtaking and riveting and real and inspiring and so, so sad.  i don't think there's enough kleenex in the world that could get me through writing a book like this.  there wasn't enough in the house for me to read one.)

but.  it was worth it. read it.

remember me by christopher pike

eighteen is too young to die. unfortunately, shari cooper wakes up after falling from a balcony and realizes she is a ghost.  not only does she have to come to terms with her new state of being, but she is compelled to determine whether she comitted suicide as the newspapers report or if a friend murdered her.

twenty years ago, i read this book.  i remembered loving it.  i found it again a few months ago and bought it, super excited because years after publishing remember me, mr. pike wrote not one, but TWO additional books to follow it. EVEN BETTER all three novels were in this ONE book i bought.

i know i've started doing hook reviews (to inform my own hooks in my writing), but in all honesty, i'm rarely, rarely hooked before chapter 5.  now, i am of course hooked enough to buy books and keep reading, but lots of times i'll start a book, read a few chapters then let it lay around for a few months before i go back to it.  this happened with shiver, maximum ride and remember me.  then, once i go back to it and pick up where i left off, i'm hooked and usually finish the entire book in a day or two. 

(for this particular book i read up to page 76, set it down and months later went back to it.  once i got to page 94 - the end of chapter 5- i couldn't put it down.  i even tried to read it while on the treadmill.  i bounced it around while running half a mile, then set it down only to get off every half mile to read another chapter.)  so over the weekend while i was supposed to read if i stay, i finished remember me on friday night.  yeah, the whole thing.  while my kids ran around and pulled out every board game we own. 

(side note:  once i passed the fifth chapter i stopped reading like a writer.  when i do that i look at how sentences start, i notice every time the word "had" is written.  i pay attention to when the setting is being described, when emotion is expressed, how dialogue is written, etc.  but once i pass a certain point i'm lost, immersed in the story and then there's no turning back.  the pages turn themselves and before i know it, i've read the last word.)

remember me was haunting.  truly, truly.  there were a few chapters when i was scared in my own home.  it passed.  then i was flipping through waiting, wondering whodunnit.  LOVED the mystery aspect and the unfolding of clues.

hook review

paranormalcy by kiersten white

many of you may follow author kiersten white's blog like we do.  erica was a big fan of her's.  so naturally, through her, i learned about kiersten's blog and her book, paranormalcy.  then i noticed lots of other blogs had her book on their sidebars.  i added it to my list of future reads.

while at barnes and noble the other night, getting coffee and watching my children read picture books and play on the thomas the train table, i picked up paranormalcy.  i thought, "hey, i'm doing hook reviews now, why not?"  (i couldn't buy it because i hadn't started if i stay yet.  BUT, know this.  i WILL buy it ASAP.  because remember how i confessed (up there) that i don't get hooked until at least chapter three, but usually chapter 5ish?  well, this book got me right away. page one.  i didn't even notice i turned to page two and read on to page 3.

( i am a HUGE twilight fan.)  i LOVED kiersten's take on a paranormal world.  loved the twist that the MC is like the "police" that catch the vamps, the werewolves and whatever other paranormal creatures lurk.  kiersten writes something about the vampire's beautiful white skin (rang a bell) but then goes on to describe the 200 year old shriveled body the MC could view beneath it.  the voice of the MC was fun, fun, fun (she's a teen with a sparkly pink specialized taser) and it was a fun new perspective on the paranormal genre.  did i say fun?  (keep in mind this is all from pages 1-2ish)

on her blog she says something about if one loves twilight, one'll love this book.  if one hates twilight, one'll love this book.  and i can totally see her point!  (these are my own words for something she said way better, but for the life of me i can't seem to find where, exactly, i read this now that i want to direct quote it....sorry.  click on her link above and find it for yourself if you want (or anything else she said that i didn't direct quote anywhere for you!))

**bonus book review**
(here's the book i read to my class monday morning.  i mentioned it above.  the gardener by sarah stewart, illustrated by david small.)
a sweet, sweet book.   a young girl goes to stay with her unsmiling uncle in 1935-1936 while her parents try to find work.  she's used to living in the country and loves to garden.  she transforms the top of her uncle's apartment building after planting seeds in window boxes, broken tea cups and bent cake pans from his bakery.  the girl's positive attitude and simple goal of trying to make her uncle smile is heartwarming and inspiring.  the story is told through letters the little girl writes.  (perfect for second graders learning to write letters!)


  1. I think I will put Paranormalcy on my TBR pile I have been seeing it around but your review just upped the ante for me. Now I really want to read it.

  2. I've been thinking about picking up Paranormalcy. Not enough time to read is really the only reason I haven't!

  3. Some great reviews! Have to applaud anyone that can make you cry/sob with their words. I just don't think I have that in me. Maybe I'm wrong... :) And Paranormalcy sounds like one I'd probably love! I'll have to check it out - thanks!

  4. Thanks, ladies! We'll all have to check back in with each other once we've read Paranormalcy! christy

  5. I'm comforted by the fact that you say it often takes you a full five chapters to get into a story. There's all this pressure on writers to have an incredible first chapter which hooks readers right off the bat, but I don't think it's always possible. Nice to hear you've found several published books which - apparently - don't meet that benchmark either!

  6. I LOVED Paranormalcy! It was such a fun, light read- (although there is a little bit of heaviness at the end) and I finished it in a day I think. And it hooked me from the beginning too. You guys should read it asap. (my word verification is spersms. No joke)

  7. I don't know Adina...I just thought maybe there was something wrong with me as a reader!!!

    Abby, I'm so glad you shared your word verification...hehe I often want to laugh with someone over the words I get!!!



Stay and chat with us! Share your thoughts.