Reconstructing Amelia: A Mother’s Hunt for the Truth

reconstructingameliapostA rule-following, intelligent teenager dies when she falls from the roof of her affluent New York City high school. At first, her lawyer mother accepts the police’s ruling that the horrific death was a suicide. As a single parent, she blames herself for not being around enough for her daughter, Amelia. However, an anonymous text message declaring that her daughter didn’t jump shocks her out of her grief and she starts asking questions and looking for answers. As she digs deeper into the weeks leading up to her daughter’s death, she learns that Amelia was hiding many secrets. Alternating chapters fill readers in on Amelia’s life, which includes secret school clubs, hazing, a mysterious friend she only knows via text message, a hunt for her father’s identity, skipping school, encounters with her principal and English teacher, and a budding relationship with a girl. The mother starts to wonder if her daughter really did commit suicide – perhaps life was just becoming too much for her. Readers will eagerly turn the pages of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight as they try to find out the truth, too.

This book had been on my TBR list for a long time, as it was on a 2013 Buzzfeed list of 14 books to read before they become movies. All of the other books on the list (Divergent, The Fault in our Stars, Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, Gone Girl, just to name a few) did become movies…except for Reconstructing Amelia. IMDB still lists the project as “in development” and the only name attached to it is Nicole Kidman. So I’m not sure that this project will ever move forward, but it would make a pretty great movie or TV miniseries. The book touches on a lot of important issues like bullying, unhealthy friendships, how much parents and schools should monitor and be involved with what young people do online, and strengthening the relationship between educators and parents, as they both have an important place in the care and raising of our young people.

I went into this book cautiously. I figured that a book with a lot of hype and a possible movie deal could lead to disappointment (Serena by Ron Rash was also on the Buzzfeed list, and you can read my thoughts about that one here). However, the more I read, the more I became hooked. I wanted to find out what had happened in Amelia’s life and how all of the texts and emails would look afterwards to her mother. So many different pieces were woven together to create a compelling snapshot of the lives of Amelia and her mother. I stayed up late to finish reading this book and it was worth it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good thriller, especially teachers, parents of teens, and mature teenagers. Reconstructing Amelia turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2016, and I’m hoping you will enjoy this one as much as I did.

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31 Favorite Books to Celebrate my 31st Birthday

31stbirthday

So, I cheated a bit with this list by counting some series and trilogies as one, but I think that’s fair because it’s my birthday and I get to make up the rules! As these are my favorites, I’ve posted about many of these titles. The links below will take you to my posts related to the books or authors.

My 31 Favorite YA and Adult Books:31favorites

  1. The China Garden by Liz Berry
  2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  4. The Eight by Katherine Neville
  5. Every Day by David Levithan
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  7. The Martian by Andy Weir
  8. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
  9. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  10. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  11. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  12. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
  13. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  14. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  15. Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  16. Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry
  17. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  18. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  19. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  20. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
  21. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  22. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  23. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – link coming soon!
  24. Voyager from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
  25. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  26. Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi  
  27. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  29. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  30. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  31. Deadline by Chris Crutcher

How many of these have you read? Do you consider them favorites as well?

Five Star Books of 2016

fivestarbooksof2016Once again, I was pretty tough on the books I read this year. While I read many books that were good, good wasn’t enough to earn a coveted five star rating! Like I said last year, I reserve the five star rating on Goodreads for books I truly loved. Books that hooked me and I couldn’t put down. Books I had a connection with, characters I loved or enjoyed, and plots that were unexpected. These are books I’d read again. These are books I’d recommend to others (and then feel heartbroken if that person didn’t love the book as much as I did). This year, I marked nine books (out of 61 total) worthy of five stars. It’s interesting to note that two of the books were ones that I read over Christmas break – I was lucky to finish the year with such great books. I plan to write more about Reconstructing Amelia and Three Dark Crowns later. For now, just consider adding them to your TBR list! 

  1. Most of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  4. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
  5. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

fivestar2016

Honorable Mentions:

  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  

What were your most favorite reads of 2016?

Voldemort Likes My Hair

voldemortmyhairI’m in what feels like a theater, as there are rows of chairs where various people (and other magical beings) are seated, when suddenly, Voldemort enters the room. He floats up and down each row along with some sort of creature that can find missing people, searching for Harry Potter. It’s terrifying to be in the same room as him, but I can’t run away because that will draw his attention to me. And he mustn’t know that I’m Harry Potter in disguise! Yes, Harry Potter is disguised as me!

This is the dream I had the other night as I was finishing up the final book in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Apparently I’ve been spending too much time in the wizarding world this summer as I re-read the series! It has managed to creep into my dreams. The dream didn’t end there either – instead, it got even weirder…

I try to stay calm – which is difficult when the snake-like face of Voldemort is nearby – but I’m confident that my disguise will keep me safe. How could he think a 30 year old woman would be Harry Potter? Unfortunately, Voldemort stops when he gets to me and starts running his long, thin, grey fingers through my hair. He brings a handful of my hair to his creepy, slit-shaped nostrils and inhales. He is surprisingly gentle with my hair. He says something like, “You have good hair.” While I’m relieved – and weirded out – by this turn of events, I’m still on edge because I’m still Harry Potter in disguise! What if he takes me just because he likes my hair? Then he’ll really have Harry!

Then my alarm went off and that’s where the dream ended. What did we learn from this? Either that Voldemort may have some weird hair fetish, or that you shouldn’t stay up until all hours of the night reading, even if it is Harry Potter!

I had been wanting to re-read the series for a long time, but always thought it was too much to take on. I have the hardcover versions of most of the books and they are huge and intimidating. Also, there are so many other books to read, so why would I read a seven book series again? And perhaps the scariest thought, what if they weren’t as good as they were the first time around? Pushing these worries aside, I jumped into the series (ebook version this time) and enjoyed every minute of it.

First, I’m pleased to report that the books were still just as magical and wonderful as I remembered. It amazes me every time I start thinking about how J.K. Rowling put together these books. How did she make everything fit together so well? How did she create such a believable and incredible world? How did she craft characters that we would care about for years? For real. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, Luna, Neville, Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore, all the Weasley’s, Lupin, Sirius, Snape. I don’t think there is a cast of characters that I love more. Second, the books were not that big of an undertaking. I read all seven books (plus five other novels while I waited for the books to become available through the Overdrive app) in less than three months. The books read quickly, perhaps because they are technically children’s books, but also because they are so wonderful that you want to find out what happens next.

If you’ve never read the Harry Potter series (*gasp* how is that possible?!), or you’ve been wanting to re-read them but you just haven’t found the time, I encourage you to pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and get reading. You won’t be disappointed.

I’ll Give You the Sun: A Dream Cast

imageJandy Nelson’s Young Adult novel I’ll Give You the Sun is just the sort of book that would be great as a movie. It offers both a male and female teenage lead, a cute British love interest, an eccentric mother, a grumpy tortured artist, a ghost grandma, plus a whole lot of teen angst and drama. Read this post to hear me gush about the novel some more. Hollywood is already buzzing about this movie. As of yet, a Gossip Girl writer and two producers from If I Stay are signed on to the project.

In summary, the novel focuses on twins Noah and Jude as they navigate their early teenage years dealing with sexuality, sex, love, their futures, and their parents’ possible divorce. Jude is beautiful and popular. She’s daring and can surf as well as any of the boys. She fights with her mother about how she dresses and parties, yet strives for her mother’s love and attention. Noah is the weird one. He is a loner and sees the world as works of art. He wants to attend a prestigious arts school. He is also questioning his sexuality, which has him worried because he thinks his macho, sports-loving dad won’t understand. An unexpected turn of events throws their world into turmoil. Suddenly, Jude is the loner, trapped in her guilt and grief, while Noah becomes the daring, social butterfly and stops painting. Can a ghost grandma, tortured artist, and British bad boy get the twins back on track with their lives?

casting_GiveUtheSun

Would you go see this film?

~ Visit the Dream Cast page to see more of my book to film casting ideas.

Five Star Books of 2015

imageI reserve the five star rating on Goodreads for books I truly loved. Books that hooked me and I couldn’t put down. Books I had a connection with, characters I loved or enjoyed, and plots that were unexpected. These are books I’d read again. These are books I’d recommend to others (and then feel heartbroken if that person didn’t love the book as much as I did!).

This year, I marked seven books (out of 54 total) worthy of five stars. Here they are, listed in no particular order:

1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (a re-read)
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
3. The Martian by Andy Weir
4. Every Day by David Levithan (a re-read)
5. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
7. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

imageIf you have been on the fence about any of these titles, I would highly recommend reading them. Especially The Martian. And Every Day. And The Night Circus. And Graceling. And Fangirl. And…you get the picture. They’re all marvelous.

What were your favorite books to read this year?

To the Author of The Night Circus

toauthorNC

Dear Erin Morgenstern,

I recently read your novel, The Night Circus, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It is simply magical. I’m sorry to say that I kept passing this book up. I saw it on book lists and in my Goodreads recommendations, but I thought a book about a circus wasn’t for me. Boy, was I ever wrong. I fell for the interesting characters, the curious magic, and the intriguing duel-like challenge. It was one of those books where I stayed up late reading, eagerly racing for the end, yet dreading the moment when the magic would all be over. I just loved it.

I think one of the great things about The Night Circus was how so much was left to the reader to imagine. While there were descriptions of the circus, of course, there was still room for the reader to picture what the acts looked like and how it all worked. I felt like I was a rêveur myself, wandering the circus and falling even more in love with it each chapter. There were so many characters that it was fun to think about what will happen next for each of them. Normally, I like the author to do the work for me, but for some reason, the possibilities were intriguing rather than frustrating.

While the book was not an “easy” read, with its changing points of view and multiple narrators and its jumbled timeline, it was definitely worth the read. As soon as I was finished, I wanted to read it again! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. I am very much looking forward to your future novels as well.

Your fan,

Anne, at love2read365.wordpress.com