Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit // This Was So Weird.

  Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel        Savit                                    Publication: January 26, 2016, by Knopf   Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical   Pages: 240                                         Format: ARC                   Source: BEA/Publisher                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

Is it possible for someone to imagine reading a WWII-based book that is weird? I mean sure, we read eerie, peculiar books all the time. That is the reality of being a blogger and reviewer. A few times a month, I encounter novels that were boring, weak, stupid or the scary factor: all of the above. I went literally bananas for this book at BEA last year, and there were a few reasons why. I loved the idea of some kind of Swallow Man or spiritual literary guide for the main character, Anna. Little did I know that this would turn out to be one of the weirdest books in the history of books. It wasn’t bad, but extremely confusing, and I am still not sure if some poets or philosophers would be able to distinguish the hidden message between the lines that Gavriel Savrit implies. It’s either that I’m too dumb, or that this was written without any sort of clarity.

Sometimes when I write for English class, I realize that my main message is not clear. I have problems with that from time to time—I am a bright person who constantly has so much to say and it occasionally is difficult to put it into words. That kind of happened with Savrit’s debut YA story in this case. Anna and the Swallow Man is such a short book, too, which leaves me confused with what was the issue to write more? I would have loved more emphasis and more bizazz on the real themes of Anna’s story. This is not your typical WWII story either. I would call this story a mix of fantasy (think of the title, I don’t think birds really make any sense) and philosophy, but that’s just my take on it.

“It’s their failure, my little Anna, not yours. Men who try to understand the world without the help of children are like men who try to bake bread without the help of yeast.” (39)

I know that this story is not meant to be creepy whatsoever, but I kind of felt this confused, creeped-out vibe coming from Gavriel’s writing. To this very instant, I am still utterly confused with who the Swallow Man is. This book did not do any justice for me. Is he part of Anna’s imagination? Is Anna hallucinating or something? Is she violent? Is she mentally ill? (I wouldn’t deny it because she’s a kid in the midst of a terrorizing World War). Or do we take this in a literal context and just call the Swallow Man a creepy dude who decides to take Anna out from her ordinary society and go out on the run with her? This kind of does not make any sense, and you’re probably wondering and believing that the book was supposed to answer those questions for me. It did not, at all.

I loved the setting of this book, though. “YAY, POLAND!” I first exclaimed when I picked this one up on a gorgeous May morning in 2015. My heritage is Polish, so I have tried many times to understand its history from YA books, but it’s never really happened well. Most WWII books take place in Germany or in The Netherlands, which is just for the situation since a lot of the events occurred there, but Poland was terrorized as well. Sadly, we did not get much of a view on the war per se, but on an emotional journey of a character as she strives to survive on her own with the influence of some dude. That’s all. No biggie. *sarcasm*

I wouldn’t say that there is a reason that this book should be classified as YA fiction. I don’t remember how old she is in the book, but I know she’s not as old as I am. She’s around ten, am I wrong? Yeah, there are bombs, but I have seen/read worse. Maybe children would enjoy the light-fluffy theme of this story, but it kind was just strange for me.

“A friend is not someone to whom you give the things that you need when the world is at war. A friend is someone to whom you give the things that you need when the world is at peace.” (104)

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Anna and the Swallow Man stunned me. Not because of its gorgeousness or well-writtenness (yes, that is not a word), but because of how different it was compared to other stories I have recently read. It is not a favourite for me and I will probably forget about most of it, but there were interesting, smart phrases, quotations, passages and chapters that made me look at things a little differently than I am used to. Take weirdness, mix it in with a cute little girl protagonist, add a creepy man who has birds and there you go: Anna and the Swallow Man. I must say that it is a pretty complex formula.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the weirdest book you have read (recently or ever)? Would you take this one into consideration after I told you about its weirdness?

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon // My New Favourite Gorgeous Pretty

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon  Publication: September 1, 2015, by Delacorte Press                                                         Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                                     Pages: 320                                                                 Format: ARC                                                               Source: BEA/Publisher                                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Michelle’s thoughts:

This might just be the cheesiest and well-known way to start a review about this book but… Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything was seriously everything. I can’t stop thinking about it after putting down and there are millions and trillions things that I simply adore about it. You know how every bookworm has many favourite novels, not only one? I kind of now believe that this one may take that special spot, fellow friends. And that the most amusing, happiest thing that has happened to me in a while.

Everything, Everything took a whip and journey around your unusual, unique contemporary-romance plot. It’s compelling, different and flawless. Nicola Yoon’s writing is some of the best I’ve seen, and I just keep wondering: Where did that gorgeous premise and plot arc come from? Some may compare it to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a totally recommended novel that’s one of my favourites, but this takes its own compelling route and is more unique. No one can simply weave another storyline like this one.

“I keep picturing myself floating high above the earth. From the edge of space I can see the whole world all at once. My eyes don’t have to stop at a wall or at a door. I can see the beginning and the end of time. I can see infinity from there. For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have.” (80)

Maddy, our African American-Japanese mixed protagonist has SCID. It’s a disease where she’s basically allergic to everything. (What a coincidence with the title, right?) She’s beginning to get depressed onto why she has to have it and the fact that she can’t live an ordinary life. When a new family moves in next door, Maddy is compelled to watch them and imagine what a great life they must have. But they have issues, too. The teenage boy in the family, Olly, begins to talk to Maddy through IMing and over notes seen from each other’s windows, and slowly fall in love though they both know it’s kind of impossible to be with each other. What happens when the extraordinary occurs and all your life has basically been a complete lie?

I’d get pissed and raging, that’s for sure. NICOLA HONESTLY KILLED ALL READERS IN THE END. Our book-loving, reviewer protagonist used books and her lovely unique self to promote her message to the one she loves. Without spoiling, that was one completely messed up truth. Not that it was horrible or anything. I’ll just state that I was left shocked with my jaw wide open, not being able to even remember my name after this trauma that hit me. I seriously wanted to punch Maddy’s mother as well as her nurse, because that was kind of messed up. Okay, never mind, it was messed up, but when looking at the amount of enjoyment, it’s a good thing that it happened, because I never thought that it would.

Alongside All the Bright Places, this is definitely the most hyped up contemporary of the year, and I can totally see why. I SUPPORT THE HYPE THROUGHOUT AND THOROUGHLY. Let’s get Team Everything, Everything t-shirts and be the best bookish fangirls on this planet for bookish sake. Contemporary-romances are practically my most favourite genre and finding an unique one with a tall tale is difficult to find. I’d really like to promote an award to Nicola, for everything, and to the person in Penguin Teen’s department who decided to hand copies of this beauty out at BEA. You rule, friend.

“I think of Olly, decontamination-cold and waiting for me. He’s the opposite of all these things. He’s not safe. He’s not familiar. He’s in constant motion. He’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken.” (69)

I’m this book’s Daddy/Mommy.

five (There Are More) Reasons Why You’ll Adore Everything About This Beauty:
  1. HAWAII. I had to note that extraordinary trip of a lifetime, right? I’ve always wanted to go, and Maddy has routes from there. She’s been there when she was a kid, back when “everything seemed to be okay.” She wanted to rebel, have an amazing life and be with the person she loves the most, as well as see the state fish. *giggles* That’s freaking adorable and I wish I could go on that trip.
  2. OLLY, DUH. Olly’s the cutest guy that you’ll read about for ages. HE TOOK RISKS, HE DIDN’T GIVE A SHIZ ABOUT WHAT DISEASE HIS GIRLFRIEND HAD. He acted like it hadn’t existed because Maddy wanted him to think about it in that way. It’s amazing.
  3. DIVERSITY. Woo for diversity! Maddy’s background is African American and Japanese, which is the strangest yet coolest mix I’ve ever read about. Yoon really did add everything in this book to make it perfect and stick out to all readers, readers of contemporary or not. Plus, many readers hadn’t enjoyed contemporary until this book popped out to them.
  4. SUPPORTIVE CHARACTERS WHO ARE THERE FOR MADDY. Maddy’s nurse, Carla, was always there for her when her mother wasn’t. It was like she was her only friend and that simply added thousands of tears to my eyes. She understood teenagers unlike any other parent or bookish character.
  5. THE WRITING. Nicola Yoon is my new favourite author. Her words are compelling, intriguing and I read this all in a sitting. Agh, I can’t stop thinking about that beautiful feeling, that’s for sure. The feels kept flying over me and I couldn’t stop myself from giggling or being afraid for Maddy, as she was a character who reminded me of myself in a way. Relatable main characters are always keepers. I’m this book’s keeper. 😉

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This is something special. You’re probably rolling your eyes right now, but I’d seriously like to say it once more because Nicola Yoon has changed my life with this gorgeous thing. It’s not just a thing, either. It’s a symbol of literature that wins all of the positive medals. I don’t know how Nicola has created this story, but I’d love to creep into her mind for a little bit and hear some of those other perfect stories, because this sure is. Every teenager needs everything that this book gives to readers. September 1, you’ll one day be marked as a special day in history where literature’s best novel was first released.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Wow. talk about life changing, huh? What’s one of those books that completely made it life changing for you? If you only could go one place in the world, where would you go? how would you keep yourself busy if you were stuck in maddy’s situation? thanks for listening to me fangirl and bawl.

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Another Day by David Levithan // A True Memorable Companion

Another Day (Every Day #2), by David Levithan                                                Publication: August 25, 2015, by Alfred A. Knopf BFYR                                                                   Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy                                                     Pages: 300                                                                 Format: ARC                                                               Source: BEA/Publisher                                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM½

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.


After reading hundreds and hundreds of contemporary romances, I still see David Levithan’s work as something else. And in that sense, his writing means so much to me and every single book of his that I’ve read holds a wide spot in my heart for most meaningful and unique. And especially after adoring Every Day, I’ve been eager for a sequel and now that it has hit me and left me breathless, I’ll definitely call that a true success.

Another Day focused on more of the romance and love story than the first novel did, which I can totally understand. Taken place in Rhiannon’s perspective, there were so many intriguing moments throughout that I could definitely relate to, and even remember from the first novel. But here’s the thing, as was mentioned in David’s letter in this ARC edition, anyone could read this book. Although this wasn’t as perfect as the first book, you could read this as a sequel, or if you’ve never heard of this series and you just want to begin with this one. That’s how awesome David wants to give us this reading experience.

“You know it wasn’t Justin with you that day. In your heart, you know. He didn’t act like Justin. He didn’t do things Justin does. That’s because it was me. I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to fall in love with you. But it happened. And I can’t erase it. I can’t ignore it. I have lived my whole life like this, and you’re the thing that has made me wish it could stop.” (76)

It’s a dark, gloomy read as well. It’s basically everything that happened in the first novel, all in Rhiannon’s view. I loved her in the first book, and kind of also longed for a POV by her, and this was the perfect occasion. I never saw it coming or about to be released, actually. And that cover is TO DIE FOR as well. David sure knows how to make his books look hipster, that’s for sure! You don’t even expect this book to be so great and heart-warming, but it took me for surprise and I just can’t stop fangirling/thinking about it.

I don’t even have to give a summary. It’s a simple yet complex read with a genre of paranormal, mixed in with 90% contemporary-romance. A’s character is Rhiannon’s main focus and she spends most of the novel thinking about him and what their relationship will eventually turn into. The confusion is real, and I totally get why she did the things that she did. I seriously adored this book and everything about it. Can I also note that it was pretty life-changing when I really think about it?

When you deeply, really think about it, this book is for anyone. You can be a guy or a girl, liking the genre or premise or not, and willing to enjoy everything. Life may be depressive and all of that, but you have to focus on the bright things. David couldn’t have said it better, to be honest.

“But that’s not all. Justin loves me and hates me as much as I love him and hate him. I know that. We each have our triggers, and we should never reach in to pull them. But sometimes we can’t help ourselves. We know each other too well, but never well enough.” (2)

This book seriously was fabulous. Everything about it was, including the writing and characters. Although something tiny was missing from it all, I adored it and the book itself made my reading experience feel special. You don’t have to believe in everything, but then again not being naïve, and this is that whole experience full of things that are possible. I wouldn’t even call the book fictional in a way because the concept is possible. It’s beautiful.

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Another Day is a companion novel that’s full of everything that a reader would love in a book: awesome romance, intriguing writing and little hints of something special that Mr. Levithan adds into his writing every single time. Get ready to fall in love with A and Rhiannon all over again, through their interesting adventures that fate put them into, following each other for love. You’ll never want to hear the name “Justin” again, definitely. A is now my favourite letter of the alphabet, and also for the meaning it stands for.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*

do a lot of series that you’ve heard of/read have companion novels? what is your opinion of them? are they needed? do you enjoy them more than the first, previous novel? let me know your crazy thoughts, heh. 😉

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