ARC Review: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

Author:  Marie Marquardt
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
352 pages, hardcover (328 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher as Marie was on one of the panels I moderated at the Decatur Book Festival. This does not influence my review.

Dream Things True is essentially a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet but the boy is a white, upper-middle-class son of a senator and the girl is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. In terms of the characters, I really appreciated how flawed everyone was, because it felt real and relatable, even though my life falls nowhere near either of these characters.

I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised when I say one of my main issues was the relationship – because it developed WAY too quickly. There was a bit of instalove instalust almost right away, and it made me pretty uncomfortable. I think this took the focus away from the actual issues in the book and I would’ve appreciated a little less of the Romeo and Juliet inspiration here. I think the book could’ve benefited a lot had the (somewhat forced) relationship not driven the plot so much.

My favorite character is hands-down Whit. He was witty and smart, open-minded and oh-so-flawed, but that’s why I loved him. He was real. He stood up for what he believed in, and although he did some terrible things, he acknowledged what he’d done and worked towards fixing it. I also appreciated Alma a lot; she was honest and young and felt very realistic to me. I honestly probably could have done without Evan’s perspective though.

I appreciated the end of this one as well. Marie obviously knows what she’s talking about, and I think she did a great job of properly representing the tediousness of immigration and race and the issues surrounding it. I really respect the fact that Marie just presented the story as is – this is what happens and this is how our society is. I do feel like we could’ve gone a little bit deeper into some of the issues, however.

The bottom line: Dream Things True is a realistic, complex, dramatic, engaging story of immigration and young love. I had some issues with it, but I enjoyed it overall, and I would recommend it to fans of romantic tragedies.

 Rating: 6.5

Book Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Blood and Salt by Kim LiggettAuthor:  Kim Liggett

Genre: Young adult, horror

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

352 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Putnam for letting me read this!

The first line of this book is: “The dead girl hung upside down over our kitchen table.” What an excellent start to a horror novel! The beginning of this book continues to be super creepy and strange, and it hooked me right away. You can really hear that rope creaking as the dead girl swings, first over the kitchen table then later in Ash’s room, school, and everywhere else she sees her. It gave me the creeps. I won’t say I felt that way throughout the entire book though. The middle part dragged a bit and wasn’t nearly as creepy nor satisfying as the beginning and the end were (the last 50 pages or so? WOW).

As for the romance parts of this novel, I really wanted to be all in for Ash and Dane – you’re meant to root for them, but not only was there a bit of instalove (which you guys know I’m not a fan of) explained away by the fact that they are magically attracted to each other (um. By their scent…?), their love felt a bit forced in places. I didn’t get it. However, I won’t lie: they are some swoon-tastic moments here. For real. Also, I honestly felt more about Ash’s brother Rhys and his love interest. Man, were they adorable. Plus, Rhys is probably the character that felt the most…real to me? His emotions were very honest and genuine and it was easy to feel for him. Some of the characters felt a bit flat in comparison to him.

The mythology in Blood and Salt was fascinating, but it was also a bit confusing in parts. There were a few instances when I just didn’t understand what was happening. However, overall, the magic and history about Katia and Ash’s bloodline were really interesting. I think the issue I had was mostly with the middle bits where we were getting some history about Quivira and its people.

The bottom line: Although I did have some issues with this one (mostly with the instalove and the middle part of the novel), I’ll definitely be picking up the second book in this duology. That ending left me wanting more, and I’m looking forward to reading what happens next.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

ARC Review: Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche

Don't Fail Me Now by Una LaMarcheAuthor:  Una LaMarche
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
288 pages, hardcover (273 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an ARC of this book through the Decatur Book Festival as Una was on one of the panels I moderated. This does not influence my review.

Don’t Fail Me Now is a unique, diverse, moving road-trip novel chock full of interesting characters and all the feels. Forced into a terrible situation by their absentee mother, Michelle, Cass, and Denny (three African American children surviving on Michelle’s part time job at Taco Bell) join forces with their newly found half-sister Leah and her stepbrother Tim (white, middle-class, and taken care of) on a cross-country road trip to meet Buck, their dying father who left them years ago. Nothing goes as planned and the hardships the group faces both brings them closer together and pushes them farther apart. Michelle is a strong character who takes care of her family; she’s been through a lot in her short life and doesn’t let it get to her. I think this shows what an incredible, hardworking character she is, but I also appreciated the scenes where it is very obvious that she is only human.

I think my main issue was that, while race and white-privilege are brought up, they aren’t as well-addressed as I would have liked. I think the story could have gone a little deeper into these issues. My other complaint was the middle part of the book, which dragged a bit to me, especially considering the strong beginning.

The bottom line: Diversity; road-trip; strong main character; hardships and persistence. If any of those things sound like something you’d like, pick this one up.

Rating: 6.5 – between good, but not great and pretty good