Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Every You Every MeFrom Goodreads: In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he’s been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan’s starting to believe it’s Ariel that’s behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself. Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.

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I really loved how this novel connected pictures with the storyline, and if I read the acknowledgments correctly, Johnathan Farmer provided random photos and David Levithan wrote them into his story–neither of them knowing what exactly the other was doing. That’s really neat, and the fact that it worked into a viable story just blows my mind!  I wouldn’t be able to write a story based on a photo and then keep it going through other random photos given to me, but that’s why I’m not a talented author and Levithan is.  The photos really worked out very well, and I’m glad that Farmer chose to stay in one genre because it added a little bit of spook factor as well.

I liked that this novel was difficult to pin down–I didn’t know who to trust, who was really crazy, and what happened to Ariel; if she’s dead or in an insane asylum… it’s not made clear for some time, though allusions are made. Though I never connected with the characters on a deep level, I was definitely entwined in their story and I really enjoyed it, until the revelation. For me, I just felt like the revelation of Ariel was forced; not possible, if you will. And I basically feel this way because I can’t fathom how someone would be able to do what Ariel did, or how her boyfriend and best friend wouldn’t have known… I’m being cryptic here because I don’t want to give away the story, but overall, the execution and plotline was great until the very end. That’s where it lost me.  Do I recommend it?  Yes I do—perhaps you’ll enjoy the ending more than I did.  Three stars.

3 stars

I purchased this novel from the publisher during a signing with David Levithan at NCTE 2012.

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Circa NowFrom Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Circa Monroe has a knack for restoring old photographs. It’s a skill she learned from her dad, who loves old pictures and putting fun digital twists on them. His altered “Shopt” photos look so real that they could fool nearly anybody, and Circa treasures the fun stories he makes up to explain each creation.

One day, her father receives a strange phone call requesting an urgent delivery, and he heads out into a storm. The unimaginable happens: a tornado, then a terrible accident. Just as Circa and her mom begin to pick up the pieces, a mysterious boy shows up on their doorstep, a boy called Miles who remembers nothing about his past. The only thing he has with him is the photograph that Circa’s dad intended to deliver on the day he died.

As Circa tries to help Miles recover his identity, she begins to notice something strange about the photos she and her father retouched-the digital flourishes added to the old photos seem to exist in real life. The mysteries of the Shopt photos and Miles’s past are intertwined, and in order to solve both, Circa will have to figure out what’s real and what’s an illusion.

With stunning prose, captivating photographs, and a hint of magic, Circa Now is a gripping story full of hope and heart.

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This is an intriguing story that I think both middle grade and young adults will enjoy. It’s real enough in itself, but has an air of paranormalcy that young readers will especially enjoy. Very well written, it is a story of love, loss, and healing through memories and pictures, and I especially enjoyed the Shopt aspect of the novel, as the photos and stories the author created adding another tangible, humorous layer to this story of heartache.

Circa Monroe is struggling to put the pieces back together after her father, her hero, is killed in a tragic accident. Attempting a life of normalcy is hard enough without the constant reminder of her father staring back at her from his office, and not blaming others is an uphill battle for Circa. But as Miles comes on the scene, this novel takes on aspects of magical realism, and as Circa and Miles attempt to figure out what is real and what is a figment of their imagination, readers finds themselves intricately woven into the story, rooting for Circa and Miles as one Shopt photo after another begins to point to a different outcome. One where life and death aren’t set in stone.

While I tend to like novels with a little older heroines as the lease, Circa’s innocence makes her the perfect lead for this novel, and if you’re looking for something completely different, Circa Now is definitely the book for you.

4 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This title releases today.

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