Review: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando


Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Publication Date: June 7, 2016

Pages: 432 pages

Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story. (From Goodreads)


“A whole generation oblivious to the truth of the human condition is a recipe for the collapse of society.”

This is not my first novel of Tara Alterbrando since I’ve already read her co-authored novel with Sara Zarr, entitled Roomies (which I loved). Roomies is a contemporary, realistic fiction novel. The Leaving is a mystery-thriller. So, I don’t know what to expect, at first, with this book. And now, having read this book, I could say that Tara has the talent to write these kinds of novels. Even the novel has lacked of intensity, it was well-crafted and intelligently written.

The Leaving is a mysterious tale of six children who went missing without a trace and came back as 16-year-old teens who don’t exactly remember everything happens to them in the past few years of their disappearances.

And now everyone wants answers. Everyone wants to know the truth. And that everyone includes me, of course.

In my honest opinion, it is a slow journey, at first, but as I went along, it diverts to an engaging and intriguing read. Then, it comes back to being slow and backs again for being compelling, and so on. It’s like the book is giving you a time to rest; which I don’t know if it is a good thing or not. Probably not since as for a mystery-thriller novel, I like me a spontaneous heart stopping revelations and mind-blowing twists that will truly shock the hell out of me and will leave me gasping for breaths.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned earlier even The Leaving does lack of intensity, I do think it was brilliantly thought of. It was well-plotted and well-developed. Intricate details are subtly and obviously told at the same time. And the twists after twists are sensible and reasonable. Besides, the main concept/ point of the story– of why the children has gone missing, is absolutely fascinating and unpredictable.

It’s not perfect but it is still worth a try.


Review: Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Hey guys! Paige here. Today we have a guest reviewer (hi Neil! ) in our blog. Neil and I have been good friends in GR for so long and I trust his tastes and reviews in books.

Yasmin and I thought that having guest reviewers in our blog for awhile is a great idea because 1. We’re too busy to post any good review lately and 2. We want to give a chance to some bookworms who doesn’t have a blog but are great in making book reviews. I know-I know. Yasmin & I should be canonized because of having such a great idea.

Anyway, here’s Neil and his review of Meet me here by Bryan Bliss.




Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: May 31, 2016

Pages: 272 pages

Rating: ★★★★☆


In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: Do what everyone has always expected of him? Or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.

Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to. (From Goodreads)



The nostalgia is strong in this book that reading it makes me miss my childhood days and my childhood friends. In a stressful life I have right now, remembering and reminiscing my days as a child is such a sweet thing; a fulfilling moment that spread a warm feeling in my heart. And I’m thanking Meet Me Here for that.

Bliss’s second YA novel is a remarkably well-written and well – told book. A profound novel with good pacing and realistic characters. Even the story only happens in one night, it conveys a lot of desirable things that made this book a worthy read. It’s absorbing and it’s absolutely heartfelt.

First and foremost, I like how this is nostalgic in a way where Thomas and his long-estranged friend, Mallory, remembers and relives their past. I like the subtlety of it all that I thought Meet Me Here is all about Thomas and Thomas alone. It wasn’t. I like how the characters grow in each chapter of this novel, especially Thomas who comes up on his own term to face the inevitable. I like how the book shares knowledge about the trauma of war. And I like the open-ended ending the book has, justifying that Thomas has lot of choices with his life; his future.

Meet Me Here is all about choices and decision and the struggle with reality and expectation. And it’s relateable.

In this novel, Thomas is to decide whether he will follow the path taken by his father and brother– being an Army (which is expected to him by the people around him, especially by his father). Or to embark a new path for himself especially after his brother came back as a completely different person.

It’s almost the same with everybody, right? That expectations and pressure from the people around you. That feeling of reluctance and confusion whether to follow the current or flow against it. That indecisiveness to push through a concrete plan you made for yourself after witnessing an unexpected turn of events. It’s difficult and exhausting. Fulfilling their expectations, weighing things, deciding and all that.