Time Between Us


Title: Time Between Us

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Release Date: Available

They shouldn’t be together. The rules of time say so. But when Bennett Cooper appears in Anna Greene’s life from out of nowhere (so it seems), she can’t make herself push him away. She lives in Evanston, Illinois in 1995. In his present, he should be in 2012, in San Francisco, California. But Bennett can travel through space, time, or both, and when he arrives in Evanston in 1995, Anna has no idea he doesn’t belong.

Anna has never traveled outside of Illinois before. In Bennett, she finds not only a gateway to the world, but also a gateway to love. However, with Bennett’s extraordinary gift comes secrets and choices, and Anna must decide if she is prepared to join him in his special yet challenging life.

This is just the simple premise of a much deeper, more intriguing book that won my interest, my emotions, and the day I spent captivated while reading it. Time Between Us combines elements of other iconic books and authors, while creating something beautifully unique. The time travel love story reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger; the writing style and plot progression was reminiscent of Sarah Dessen’s wonderful young adult novels; and the nuanced symbols and metaphors reflected John Green. Don’t get me wrong, however – this book is entirely its own, with a distinctive, creative plot and intriguing characters.

As the story unfolds, readers connect to all the characters in the book; Anna, Bennett, Anna’s parents, Bennett’s grandmother, and Anna’s school friends are all perfectly developed. They all feel like real people, with both strengths and flaws.

Not only did I love the book, but I loved the opportunity to meet author Tamara Ireland Stone at a Book Passage event. After hearing her answer questions, I got the chance to have a chat with her about her writing. She was kind, engaging, and inspiring; it was lovely to be able to meet the creator of this wonderful book-world in real life and I was thrilled at how open and likeable she was, and how willing she was to connect with the young adult readers at the event.

Time Between Us is indeed a young adult romance novel, told from a female point of view, so I doubt it would appeal to a great variety of readers. However, for those who like romance, this is a new, fresh story that is beautiful, captivating, and thought provoking. It was one of those books that I had to read all the way through right away, because I was dying to know the ending. This is Tamara Ireland Stone’s first novel, and I was thrilled to learn she is working on her second. Time Between Us was a pleasure to read, and I encourage fans of the romance genre to give it a try! I’m certain you’ll find yourself as immersed in Anna and Bennett’s relationship as I was!

P.S. After you read the book, head over to its website for extra tidbits about Anna, Bennett, the places they travel, a book trailer, and a playlist of the music they listen to throughout the story!

And don’t forget to check out the write-up of Tamara Ireland Stone’s most recent Book Passage visit!

Review by Katie

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Title: Revived

Author: Cat Patrick

Release Date: Available

Death is optional for Daisy. Ever since the bus crash when she was five that killed the driver and twenty children, including Daisy, she has been part of the testing of an experimental drug called Revive, that brings the dead back to life. Daisy is very accident-prone and dies multiple times and, as a result, is revived and moved, her name changed. Daisy doesn’t really mind, although dying is a real pain in the rear. And she keeps dying of stupid causes like choking on a grape, or allergies. She lives with two of the scientists on the project. She doesn’t really make friends, as she will probably move again in a few years, anyway. Then, after dying of an allergy attack after a bee sting, Daisy Appleby becomes Daisy West. She goes to a new school, and, hey, actually makes a friend. Yet, the God Project, as it is so fondly dubbed, is even more sinister than Daisy knows. Soon she gets tangled in a web of lies — now her life is at stake, and this time if she dies, she dies for good.

I enjoyed this book. It was not the best book I have ever read, but it was engrossing and, at times, emotional. The writing was well done, but nothing special. Daisy’s view of death is skewered, so when she sees it firsthand, the result is heartbreaking. There are many light moments in the book, but the idea of morality and how fragile we are adds darkness. The relationships between most of the characters were touching and realistic, although the whole romance element in the book didn’t really do it for me. I’m not a huge fan of romance in general, however, so I might be a little biased. Revived is one of those rare Sci-Fi/paranormal stand-alone novels. It didn’t give me all the answers I craved, but the ending was satisfactory and wrapped things up nicely, no jarring, pull your hair out cliffhangers. I recommend this book if you are looking for a quick and interesting read.

Review by Annalise

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Dark Companion


Title: Dark Companion

Author: Marta Acosta

Release Date: Available

Jane Williams used to be a typical charity case: orphaned and poor, living with an abusive foster parent in the slums. But all of that changes when she receives a scholarship to the prestigious Birch Grove Academy for girls, and is all of a sudden uprooted from the only life she has known and thrust into the life of the privileged and glamorous. She is soon introduced to the headmistress’ son, Lucian Radcliff, who is unlike any other boy she has ever met.  However, he and other members of the community may hold a secret that is darker than Jane could ever imagine.

It’s hard to say much about this book without spoiling it, as the main plot twist doesn’t occur until about halfway through. However, I will say this: this dark, gothic-style novel is full of twists and turns that will keep the reader on edge throughout the story. Because it takes until about halfway through the novel to realize what the shocking secret about the school is, the reader literally cannot put the book down due to the anticipation.

Marta Acosta does an excellent job of drawing the reader in, from the appealing yet mysterious looking cover that immediately caught my eye, to the way she drops a huge plot twist on us halfway through the book. I highly recommend this book to all, but especially to those who enjoy gothic era novels and fantasy.

Review by Danielle

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The Here and Now

The Here and now

Title: The Here and Now

Author: Ann Brashares

Release Date: Available

In Ann Brashares’ bleak vision of the future, humanity has been near extinguished thanks to a mosquito-borne virus that’s decimated the population and left the rest in ruins. Facing extinction, the only hope of survival lies in the past —  in attempting to somehow prevent the future before it occurs.

Prenna James belongs to the group of survivors sent back in time — strong-willed and stubborn, Prenna finds it difficult to consistently comply with the strict and structured rules of her community. While the survivors have assimilated into present day society, due to the inherent risks, contact outside of the community is kept to a minimum and relationships are strictly prohibited. For Prenna, this rule is made infinitely more complicated by her classmate and friend, Ethan Jarves, who, unbeknownst to Prenna, has a few secrets of his own. But despite the complications plaguing her life, things don’t truly start spiraling out of control until a seemingly insane homeless man confronts Prenna, not just aware of where and when she comes from, but aware of the date that changes everything.

With that information in hand and with the threat of humanity’s existence hanging over her head, Prenna and Ethan are left trying to fit the pieces together, to make sense of the ambiguity and obscurity and determine the cataclysmic event that could change and save the future.

Overall, I found The Here and Now to be enjoyable and compelling and unique. I loved the glimpses Brashares’ gave of the apocalyptic future, as well as the snippets of history that lead up to the disaster — it was plausible and interesting and I wish there’d been the opportunity to learn more about the world Prenna came from. Retrospectively, the time travel angle gets a bit messy and confusing and paradoxical in terms of the various branching timelines that occur, and I wish I could have learned more about the science and details and explanations — but I also understand how complicated and tricky such explanations can be. As for the characters — I thought Prenna and Ethan were both well developed and complex, and in particular, I thought Ethan was engaging and interesting, however some of the supporting cast lacked dimension and falls a little flat in comparison.

While The Here and Now is primarily marketed as a ‘forbidden romance’, I think that label is a little misleading. Yes, the romance between Ethan and Prenna grows and develops and is an important part of the plot, but it doesn’t dominate the story and is, in my opinion, far less significant than their primary challenge to save the future. Both plot lines are given equal attention, and support the other, and I appreciated that the romance was important and relevant without overwhelming the rest of the story — the balance between the two was perfectly executed.

Considering the overwhelming numbers of young adult novels that are beginning to blur and fade into one another, Ann Brashares has presented something new and captivating, with innovative details and compelling characters. A quick, but entertaining read.

Review by Kayla

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Beautiful Lies

Beautiful Lies

Title: Beautiful Lies

Author: Jessica Warman

Release Date: Available

Jessica Warman’s Beautiful Lies is a deliberately confounding thriller about twin sisters. Alice and Rachel are monochorionic monoamniotic twins, meaning they shared an amniotic sac in the womb. As a result, they have a special connection. Whenever Rachel is physically hurt, the same wound appears on Alice. Sometimes Alice can even sense danger before it harms her sister. So when one of the twins suddenly goes missing, the other starts bleeding from an unexplained head wound and manacle marks around the wrist. This twin narrates the search for her sister, which suddenly becomes much more complicated when she starts seeing things that don’t make sense and can no longer trust her own mind.

Beautiful Lies is a thriller, but as someone who never watches horror films or reads particularly scary books, I can vouch that it is not horrifying in a way that will give you nightmares. Warman weaves family trauma, mental illness, and trust into the plot, making the story both captivating and thought-provoking. The narrator proves to be unreliable, which increases the mystery and makes the ending harder to guess. There is a whole host of characters, and any of them could be the suspect. But the unreliable narration also makes some scenes confusing, and more than once I had to go back and reread to understand what was happening.

For me, the most intriguing part of the story is Alice and Rachel’s relationship. Originally, the reader is meant to think that they are closer than peanut butter and jelly. It is understandable, but heartbreaking, to find out later that one has been keeping secrets from the other. The narrator feels betrayed that her sister has hidden important parts of her life, but the other is just trying to protect these aspects of her life from the craziness surrounding her sister. Who is right?

Although the book kept me engaged the whole way, it still felt lacking in a way that is difficult to pinpoint. It may be that the story is slightly repetitive: the narrator looks for her sister somewhere, questions her own sanity, tries to do something normal, and then becomes very upset and questions her sanity again. It also bothers me that the suspect’s motives are never fully explained. However, the ending is fantastic, complex, and unexpected. Many will enjoy this suspenseful novel, whether or not you usually read thrillers and mysteries.

Review by Sami;

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The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything

Title: The Beginning of Everything

Author: Robyn Schneider

Release Date: Available

So I’ve written about five beginning sentences for this review, but they’ve all contained expletives because I have such strong feelings about this book that a simple “Oh wow, it was really really excellent,” doesn’t seem to be working. So let’s just leave it at, damn. This book truly was really really excellent. My thoughts are kind of washing-machining around in my head so I’ll try to be a bit organized as I explain why everything about this book and its author is awesome.

The Beginning of Everything is told from the point of view of Ezra Faulkner; Ezra is a popular tennis player and a shoo-in for homecoming king until he gets into a car accident at a party over the summer, leaving him to begin his senior year walking with a cane and a much-diminished social standing. He starts hanging out with his old friend from middle school, who introduces Ezra to the debate team. There, Ezra gets to know Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is new to the school, but not to debate – she’s a competition pro, but she no longer wants to participate. However, when Ezra and Cassidy accidentally find themselves both signed up for a debate competition, they begin a friendship, and, eventually, a relationship.

Both Ezra and Cassidy have such complex characters; author Robyn Schneider manages to create people that seem so very real, in all of their strengths and weaknesses. Readers will like Ezra, because he recognizes that his old friends are jerks, but still feels occasional twinges of longing to be back in the coterie of popular seniors; they like Cassidy for her sharp wit and genuine enthusiasm, but get frustrated by her mysterious identity. The book culminates with a shocking twist and the unexpected ending left me so full of feelings (yes, all of the feelings). And I have to mention the awkwardness – all romantic relationships have some degree of awkwardness, and Schneider captures this perfectly. There’s this one scene… you just have to read it. I couldn’t even believe how realistically awkward it was – just excellent.

Don’t even get me started on Robyn Schneider – she is pretty much the female version of John Green. Not only does her novel have the same authenticity and original feel as all of John Green’s, incorporating romance without turning it into a romance novel, per se, but she even vlogs on YouTube (check out her channel here). Basically, she’s one of my new favorite authors and YouTubers and she’s just awesome in every way.

The Beginning of Everything is one of my new favorite books. I want to read it again and again, because it gives me something new each time. This is an absolutely amazing book, for both male and female young adult readers, especially those who like John Green. If this book was a test, it would get 101%. Please read it. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

Review by Katie

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Sitting Down With Sarah Mlynowski

March 17, MB14 and Book Passage was thrilled to welcome Sarah Mlynowski, author of the Magic in Manhattan and Whatever After series, as well as Gimme a Call, Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have), and Milkrun, to name a few. Check out MB14 member Kayla’s conversation with Sarah as they discuss her writing process, path to publishing, and her latest book Don’t Even Think About It — a new YA novel that follows a high school class after they receive flu shots that come with a side effect of ESP.

We were so excited to have Sarah stop by and take the time to answer all our questions, as well as the interesting and insightful conversation. Hopefully we’ll see her again soon, and in the meantime, don’t miss Don’t Even Think About It (which you can conveniently order here from Book Passage).