Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mini Reviews: Far From The Tree || Let It Snow









Far From The Tree by Robin Benway



Genre: Young adult contemporary
Pages: 374
Publication date: October 2017
Content warning: Adoption, teen pregnancy, foster care, death, abuse, mental illness, addiction, racism, family break-ups
Available at: Amazon | Book Depository
*This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.


Likes: People recommended this book to me for months, and I kept putting it off because it sounds a bit . . . dramatic. Like one of those stories where the kids have every single problem in the universe and are terribly angsty about it. Then the book won the National Book Award, and I thought, fine, I’ll read the thing.

I’m glad I did. I really liked it!

The author switches points-of-view between three very different families. The separate families become one giant family when they learn that their adopted kids—Grace, Maya, and Joaquin—are siblings. Each of the families is realistic and well-developed. They’re far from perfect, but I never felt overwhelmed by their issues. The characters handle their problems in hopeful, loving ways. Unlike in many young adult novels, the kids actually have good parents!

I like all of the characters, but I think Joaquin is my favorite. I don’t believe I’ve read a book with a point-of-view from a character in foster care. I enjoyed watching him learn to trust his sisters and was very happy when things went right for him. He’s been through a lot.

The plot is compelling. The three siblings set out to find their birth mother. I could easily sit and read 100+ pages of this book at a time because I wanted to know what happened next. I wanted to find the birth mother as badly as the characters did. The characters’ emotions about finding her feel authentic to me. The kids are a little scared, a little excited, a little doubtful, a little curious.


The older she got, the more human her parents seemed, and that was one of the scariest things in the world. She missed being little, when they were the all-knowing gods of her world, but at the same time, seeing them as human made it easier to see herself that way, too. – Far From The Tree



Dislikes: I’m pretty sure only weirdos love their siblings as much as the kids in this book love theirs. There’s so much hugging and crying. I couldn’t handle the sappiness. I’m not lying when I say I’m a cold-hearted witch. Sometimes this book was too sweet for me.

The writing style got on my nerves a bit. The author uses the characters’ names so often that the fictional people in the book notice and comment on it. Then the author calls one of the characters the wrong name. I guess the editors got name fatigue and didn’t catch that.



The Bottom Line: It exceeded my expectations. A realistic, hopeful novel about families that would be heartwarming, if I had a heart. I recommend it.












Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle



Genre: Young adult romance
Pages: 352
Publication date: October 2008
Content warning: None
Available at: Amazon | Book Depository
An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days, one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.



Likes: This isn’t the type of book I normally read. It has “romance” in the subtitle. It’s fluffy! There’s no death and only minimal destruction. This isn’t a book that screams “read me,” but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and this was the perfect way to do it. I had a ton of fun reading these three novellas.

Let It Snow is made up of interconnected love stories. They all take place during a blizzard on Christmas Eve. This book is easy to speed through. I read the majority of it in one night when I couldn’t sleep. The middle of the night probably isn’t the best time to read Let It Snow because it’s laugh-out-loud funny. I had to laugh quietly. The characters get involved in some hilarious shenanigans. All three novellas are fun and over-the-top ridiculous. If you like escapist reads, this is a book for you.

My favorite story is The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson because it’s the funniest. A girl named Jubilee takes refuge from the storm in a Waffle House and meets a sweet guy who brings her home for the holidays.


There is nothing about a bad situation that fourteen hyper cheerleaders can't worsen.Let It Snow



Dislikes: It’s . . . cute. That’s pretty much it. The stories didn’t stick in my brain for very long because they don’t have much depth. They don’t make you think or examine any of the world’s issues. They’re cheesy, fluffy, forgettable love stories. I had a lot of fun reading them, but I can’t see myself reaching for this book again.

The first two stories are much stronger than the third. The plot of the third story is messy. It tries really hard to tie up the loose ends in the first two stories, and I’m not sure that it completely succeeds. It just feels unfocused.



The Bottom Line: Not my kind of book, but it’s a fun way to spend a snowy Christmas Eve.




















23 comments:

  1. Far From the Tree sounds great! Thanks for sharing. :)
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

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    1. Thanks! I liked Far From The Tree more than I thought I would.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. Far from the tree sounds interesting. I'll pass on the other!

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  3. I would agree that Far From the Tree sounds like it has A LOT going on, like every problem under the sun, but I'm glad to hear the story didn't get overwhelmed by it.

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    1. There was a lot going on. I’m impressed that the author was able to balance it all.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. Aw I cannot WAIT to read Far From The Tree! I say like I haven't owned it for ages and still haven't read it yet oops. But I really feel like a feel good contemporary so yessss. And I read Let It Snow years ago and am in agreement. It was cute but like? I couldn't tell you what happened now. 😂

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    1. Haha, I’m pretty sure Far From The Tree sat on my shelf for a year before I read it. It’s a good book, though!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. Yeah for you liking Far From the Tree. That was the book, which started my love of Robin Benway. That is the exact type of book I enjoy, and I believe my heart exploded a time or two during that one. I read Let It Snow, because John Green contributed to it, and I love him. I thought it was cute and fun, and liked how they tied the stories together.

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    1. I will probably read more Robin Benway books in the future. I mostly read Let It Snow for John Green, too. I think I’ve read all of his books now.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. I LOVE Far From the Tree! I think the sappiness was okay *because* they were separated, you know? Also I remember several name mistakes from the ARC, you think they'd fix that nonsense by the finished copy, goodness! But I am very glad it was mostly a win for you too! As for Let It Snow... yeah I think it is too fluffy and cute for me so I'd probably pass.

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    1. That’s interesting that they had name problems in the ARC. I only came across one wrong name in the finished book, but it was jarring. There were so many names that the characters didn’t even know who they were talking to.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I've had my eye on Far from the Tree. Thanks for sharing your ththough. It sounds great. 👍✨

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  8. I'm really looking forward to reading Far From the Tree, so I'm happy it worked for you even if you didn't love all aspects of it. I'm a bit worried about the sappiness, because I'm kinda cold hearted too, and it might get on my nerves after a while. Great reviews!

    Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical

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    1. The sappiness was a bit much for me, but it didn’t make me put the book down, so I guess it was okay.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. I loved Far From the Tree when I read it. I'm usually pretty cold hearted too but I actually liked the sappiness, lol.

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  10. I really need to read Far From the Tree. Like you, I've seen SO many great reviews of it.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. If you read it, I hope you like it. I think it deserves its good reviews.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. Far From the Tree sounds surprisingly good and I am going to have to check it out! I also really did not want to read Let it Snow and am glad of making that decision to skip over it. I've pretty much given up on short story anthologies by many authors and instead to stick to ones written by just the same author for all the stories.

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