Monthly Reads | January 2016

 open book

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction

Something terrible is happening in Opportunity, Alabama. There is a shooter attacking the town's high school. This is Where it Ends takes place within a hour and follows four students as they deal with the events unfolding.

This book will be controversial. It covers a tough topic that no one ever wants to discuss. Regardless of the topic, Nijkamp has written a compelling story with surprises, action, and emotion.

I love that this novel is written from the perspective of the victims. It was nice to see how these different people reacted to a terrible situation. I also appreciated the fact that not all narrators knew exactly what was unfolding, they were involved but outside the situation. This really showed how these tragedies can affect many people, even those not present. It is also clever that each narrator knows the shooter, so we see a little personal emotion in the connection between them.

While reading, I wanted to see into shooter's mind, gain a clue as to why he was doing this terrible thing. However, now that I have had time to reflect, I'm glad Nijkamp didn't include his perspective. It wouldn't change what happened and I wouldn't want to have a reason to justify his actions.

I really liked this novel. I covers a strong topic that unfortunately is relevant to today's teens. This novel is a great way to spark a conversation about violence at school. This story kept me on my toes the entire time and was an emotional rollercoaster. Read this book. Tears were streaming from my face as I read the last pages.

Since the author is on the executive committee of We Need Diverse Books, I have to talk about the diversity in this one. Also, let me preface this by saying that I am all for diversity in novels and believe we should have more.

However, I have to wonder if this novel has diverse characters just to have them, or if they came through naturally. This book takes place in small town Alabama. According to Census QuickFacts, the county in which this story takes place is 84% white. In the novel, the characters introduced are almost all different ethnicities, we also have a disabled character and a lesbian couple. I'm just not sure that this diversity is present in a small Alabama town, but maybe it is. I don't live there, so I don't know.

I want to see more diversity in novels, but I think it should be natural and not to meet a quota or agenda. The world is diverse and that is beautiful.


Airplane Rides: Observations from Above by Jake Alexander


Normally when one writes a memoir, the reader and author can something away from the story. In this case, I felt there was no point to this book except to say look have perverse and open strangers are.

I wanted to like this, it sound interesting, but instead I wound up despising the narrator and wondering why he felt the need to write this down. I don't mind that the stories are lewd and deal with sex, however there doesn't seem a point to them. The author doesn't learn anything and I don't have a reason as to why anyone else should read this.


The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Young Adult | Science Fiction

I was very fortunate to to meet the author of this novel at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference during the YALSA YA Coffee Klatch. Once I heard the synopsis, I knew I had to read it! My intuition was correct, this is an amazing read.

I know, I know, another YA dystopian novel. But hear me out, this book is worth picking up.

The world is at peace, but always on the brink of war. Each kingdom must sacrifice their child to live as a hostage under the guard of artificial intelligence until they reach age. If a kingdom goes to war, the child of all parties involved will be killed (regardless of who is the aggressor). We follow the heroine, Greta, who has accepted her life as it is until Elián arrives and begins to question the order of things.

Bow does a fantastic job creating a new world for readers. This science fiction novel is one that readers of many genres could become captivated by. Greta is a strong lead character, not at all a damsel in distress. Greta develops beautifully as a character as her quest for knowledge and questioning expands.

There is a love triangle, but it include two females and one male, which made perfect sense as the relationships grew. Each character has a distinct personality and you get to see their strengths and weaknesses as the novel continues on.

The ending was not what I pictured at all. It takes the reader by surprise and leaves you wanting more.

The second book to this series will be released in 2016 and I will definitely have it preordered.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I received digital versions of these books for free through Netgalley in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.