Book Review: Falling Into Place ARC by Amy Zhang

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This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy of the novel obtained through Greenwillow Books at the American Library Association Conference for free. This is in no way had an effect on the integrity of my review. Please note that published novel will differ from this ARC.

Genre: 

Young Adult, side effects Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 

304

Part of a Series?:

I believe this is a standalone

Release Date: 

Sepetember 9th, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

My Review:

The synopsis reads: for fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman and Jay Asher. I’ve admittedly never read Jay Asher, but I’ve read everything by LO and GF and you can definitely tell that Amy was influenced by them. The novel reads as a cross between Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. Because of this, I had a struggle to read through the entire novel. It felt like a sort of “been there, done that” plot line and I struggled to keep reading the book. The flashbacks, the coma, that sort of thing, all sort of felt like the previous two books I mentioned. If I Stay and Before I Fall are both favorites of mine so it just felt too close to me to make an impact.

I think what would have made this a stronger book is a stronger main character. In Before I Fall, Samantha is popular and hated, even though she doesn’t want to be and I felt that sort of connection with Liz as well. But Liz didn’t jump off the page nearly as well as Sam did so it felt hard to connect with her. She felt cruel, really truly cruel, and it was hard to connect with her when she started to pull back, when she felt bad. It wasn’t really toward the end, when I started getting flashbacks into the minds of some unlikely characters (trying to be as spoiler free as possible), that I finally seemed to feel for Liz.

What I do think is strong about this novel are two things: Amy’s writing and the beginning sentence.

First off, Amy’s writing is incredible, especially when you stop to think that she’s a teenager. I am still learning to make my writing better and better as I write more but I would most definitely have not published my writing as a teenager. I’ve had to write more and get better as time went on. I think Amy will be the same. But already at such a young age, she is able to write very beautifully, and in a very compelling way. I think that as she learns more and strengthens her story telling, she’s going to be a force to reckon with.

I also think her opening line is just absolutely incredible. That line in its own will be the one that captures you.

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

There is so much about that that immediately pulls you in and immediately makes you want to read the rest and so I think she has that going for her. You can immediately get sucked into the story just by reading that line and I do think fans of Gayle and Lauren will enjoy this novel. I struggled with the similarities between those novels and Amy’s but I think she’s a strong writer and will only become stronger as she develops more skills.

Rating:

3.5 out of 5 stars

Vlog: My Adventures in Las Vegas for the ALA Annual Conference 2014!

WHEW! I am SO exhausted everyone. I just had one of the most incredible weekends possible, price and yeah, I’m fairly pooped.

For those of you who don’t know, or don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I just the previous Friday through Monday in Las Vegas, NV for the American Library Association Annual Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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Now if you’re not sure what that is, I’ll explain. The ALA AC is basically a conference for librarians to come together and talk about books, libraries and all sorts of things. They talk about banned books, ways to get children, teens and adults to read, what programs to bring to their libraries…all sorts of things. It’s literally an entire weekend about books. Its sort of like a BEA convention except way more professional, because its through ALA and its centered on librarians and publishers and that sort of thing.

Now, outside people are invited to go, of course. There is a badge that is designated just for those people, that can get them on the exhibit floor, where they can mingle, talk about books, meet authors and grab ARCs.

Now, Courtney, who you may know as one of my good friends and the youth services librarian behind the epic Ontario Teen Book Fest, has been encouraging me to attend for awhile. I didn’t think that I had a place, as a blogger, and not a professional but she disagreed. Then at TBF, Jessica Brody jumped into the conversation as well, pointing out how passionate and hard working I am and that I definitely should go.

Because here’s the thing: bloggers don’t have the best reputation at ALA. They have a reputation for being fangirly (there’s a time and a place, people) and grabby. I guess a few years ago, a blogger went to ALA and while all the librarians are busy in panels and such, grabbed a TON of ARCs…over 100, easily. She had also brought her sister, and her sister grabbed doubles of everything. An exhibit hall badge is a mere 35 dollars, while librarians and such pay over 200 for theirs, plus travel expenses and hotel and all of that. And a lot of librarians were left hanging on ARCs that they genuinely wanted.

So I was nervous about going but I was encouraged to go, and Vegas is only a 4 hour drive for me, so I booked a hotel, started saving all my tip money from work and decided to go.

And I’m SO SO SO SO glad that I did. It was an absolutely incredible experience. I only experienced the blogger negative attitude a few times, but for the most part, people were nice and welcoming. Honestly, I think a lot has to do with the fact that I know when to be professional about What A Nerd Girl Says. I also made sure to grab only books that I knew I wanted or that really sounded great. I knew people who left with 80-100 books but I only left with 40 and I’m very pleased with that.

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But anyway, I met a ton of amazing authors, librarians, writers, bloggers, all sorts of people. It was INCREDIBLE. I’m blown away by the fantastic experience I had. I learned that next year’s conference will be in San Francisco so I’m definitely planning a trip for that because I just feel like I can’t miss this again! I also did a ton of networking and handed out SO many business cards!

But enough of that. Now its time to check out my official vlog video for the entire event! Enjoy!

Don’t forget, you can also see all the photos from my “crazy” weekend in Vegas here in this album on the official What a Nerd Girl Says Facebook page. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

Happy Reading!

How Tamora Pierce Changed My Life

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Today, order I really started thinking of Tamora Pierce. She just won the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association. If there is anyone in this world that deserves that award, what is ed it is her. Her first novel, Alanna: The First Adventure, came out in the early 80s. She continues to publish novels, and they continue to dazzle her readers.

I first picked up one of her books when I was sixteen years old, nine years ago. I picked up Trickster’s Choice at Target, for two reasons. One, it was only about ten dollars, which was great. I was sixteen without a job so ten dollars was awesome to me. Two, there was mention of pirates in the book flap describing the book. I had an unhealthy obsession with pirates back then. Really, it was very, very unhealthy.

Anyway, the book ended up having absolutely nothing to do with pirates except for the fact that it is briefly mentioned in the beginning that the main character is kidnapped by pirates.

But besides that mistake, it ended up being such a fantastic book. I could go on and on about it but I did a Book of the Week post about it AGES ago and you can check it out here.

A few months later, the sequel to Trickster’s Choice came out, Trickster’s Queen, and I fell in love all over again with Tamora Pierce’s writing. Then an amazing thing happened: my love of this two part series gained me a pen pal, Chloe, who I have been writing (yes, snail mail!) for nearly 9 years now. She is a HUGE Tammy fan and introduced me to the fact that the Trickster series was the fourth Tortall series by Pierce.

So I went back and read the Daughter of the Lioness series, the Immortals series, and the Protector of the Small series. Then I reread the Trickster series again. Then I anticipated and enjoyed her new series, the Beka Cooper series, taking place in the past, before the events that we’ve come to know in the other series.

And the fact is, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Tamora Pierce and her fantastic books in it.

One, there’s the fact that it brought one of my closest friends in the entire world to me. Sure, Chloe and I live on opposite sides of the world; me, in California, Chloe, in Australia. We have never actually met in person. But we’ve been writing to each other for nearly a decade. We’ve read the same books, enjoyed the same movies, and gone through so much together in the world of handwritten letters. I give her books and she gives me books. She is one of my best friends, hands down, and it came from a mutual love of Tamora Pierce.

Tammy also gives me such a confidence in myself and my writing and its because of how long she has been writing. The woman has been around for decades, writing fantastic books, and sure, she’s not turning her books into movies and hitting the red carpet, but she’s been an overwhelming and inspirational presence in the young adult literature and fantasy worlds. She’s always there, and with every single book, she only gets better. She is a force to reckon with and I believe that I can do, because she did it, and continues to do it.

Plus there’s the pure and undeniable fact that she is a FANTASTIC writer. She takes us into a fantasy world that’s both new and yet familiar. She makes you really believe that these places and people and things are all real. You can’t even convince yourself that it isn’t real. Some fantasies that I’ve read before are the same thing over and over again, or they’re just too complicated for me to wrap my head around. I mean, sometimes I just get tired of reading about forbidden romances and fallen angels. It gets old. But Tammy’s stories are unique and familiar and fun.

Her stories are a breath of fresh air when you are surrounded by the same things over and over again. I’m over the love triangles and the fallen angels and forbidden romance, and dark titles with the same black and grey covers over and over again. Honestly, it just gets tiring. I mean, sure, I like the idea of the stories but sometimes the romance just gets in the way and I start to get annoyed.

But Tammy. Oh, Tammy. She creates these fantastic characters. Alanna. Daine. Keladry. Aly. Beka. All of them are strong, admirable characters. Alanna disguises herself as a boy for eight years to become the first female knight in over a hundred years. Daine is a powerful mage, able to communicate and heal animals and shape shift into one as well. Keladry is the first female to come forward to become a knight, with her gender known. Aly becomes the spymaster for a secret rebellion to take back a country from tyrannical and cruel rulers. Beka is a fierce and intelligent force of the Law, helping to solve some of the realms biggest crimes and mysteries with her scent hound, Achoo. These are amazing, strong and fierce women. If there was ever a group of fictional women to worship, this would be it.

Because these women, they do everything in their power to live their dreams and protect their realm. The fact that Alanna disguises her sex for so long and fights and fights, and becomes such a powerful knigh is amazing. Daine uses her powers and her way with animals to fight a WAR, to become a HERO. Keladry goes through years of torment and years of disbelief to become a knight herself, a formidable one, separate from Alanna, her predecessor. Aly is clever, extremely intelligent and 100% committed to helping the raka people take back their country from their terrible conquering rulers. Beka comes from the poorest parts of the capitol city become one of the most successful of the Guard, solving some of the hardest and most mysterious of crimes.

And the best part is…they all fall in love. They all do. And most of them get married, and have that happily ever after. There are mushy moments and exchanges of “I love you”, and sweetness and romance, and even some moments of flushed cheeks by the readers. But these heroines never let the romances get in the way of their goals. When a marriage proposal gets in the way of Alanna’s desire to see the world, she says no, instead of compromising her wishes and dreams. Daine’s love is her partner, her equal and they feed on each other for support, love and strength. Keladry chooses her dream, her determination to become a knight over anything else, over anyone else. She wants love but she can’t let it distract from protecting those who need her. Aly loves someone very much but she doesn’t let her get distracted from her mission, a seemingly impossible task. She waits until she’s completed her mission before completely giving herself over. Beka has her relationships, her flirtations, even a deep love for someone, but she never lets it get in the way of doing her JOB.

Can you see why I’m madly in love with Tamora Pierce and her writing? Can you see why my life, my writing, my passion for books, my outlook, my morals, my values, my beliefs, my strength have been influenced so much from Tamora Pierce? The woman is amazing and creates worlds that you want to be a part of. She creates characters that you wish you could be…and then you realize that, no, you don’t want to be them, because they are unique and they inspire you to be unique, to go out there and be different, and to grab onto those things that you want and dream, everyone else be damned.

I’ve been rambling on for what seems like forever. I could go on for pages and pages, for days and days, because there is no way I’ll ever begin to tell you how important this author, and her books are to me. I only hope that you all have a chance to pick up a book by her and realize how fantastic they are, and how much they can change your life. Besides my dear Queen Rowling, there isn’t an author on this planet that I worship and strive to be as much as Tamora Pierce.

I’ve read a lot of books, and I’ve loved a lot of books. I consume books the way some people consume food, or clothes or shoes, baseball games, even alcohol and drugs. I have a passion for books. But when you get down to it, I have two favorite books.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

and

Tricksters Choice

That should say something right?

Go out there, pick up a book by Tamora Pierce. You seriously won’t regret it. Then come back, and we can talk all about it. I can’t wait for it.

* * * * * * *

Tamora Pierce’s Novels

Song of the Lioness Series

Alanna: The First Adventure
In the Hands of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Lioness Rampant

The Immortals

Wild Magic
Wolf Speaker
Emperor Mage
The Realm of the Gods

The Protector of the Small

First Test
Page
Squire
Lady Knight

Tricksters Series

Trickster’s Choice
Trickster’s Queen

Beka Cooper series

Terrier
Bloodhound
Mastiff

and many more series outside of the Tortall universe!