• Sarah Taphom


Hey all, me again. I've been preparing for the last YATL show of the season by reading McCall Hoyle's books The Thing With Feathers and Meet the Sky. (The covers tho!!!)

Let's start with her debut, The Thing With Feathers.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Sarah's Sucky Summary: Emilie Day has dealt with epilepsy her whole life, but the death of her father turns her into a shell of her former self. So when her mom and therapist decide she should try public school in an attempt to get her to stop feeling so reclusive, she shuts down, and does everything in her power to avoid attachments. But when Chatham York, a jovial boy that's more than meets the eye, she's not so sure everything is all bad. But her epilepsy makes her scared to try things, and she's wondering if anything is worth it in the first place.

I found myself not tabbing this book as much as my other books, which isn't a good sign (not to say I tab every good book - I have exceptions).

I will say though, that this is for those that like the chicklit side of YA, with only slightly heavier themes.

First off, Emilie.

She is disabled; she has epilepsy. But she was a really unsympathetic character to me. She moped around all the time (and I understand she was dealt a shitty hand in life, but that's no excuse for half of the things she does). And she does somewhat learn not to judge people, but the extremeness that she did was awkward to read.

She also makes life really hard for her grieving single mom, which I don't appreciate. She is also self-aware of this, which doesn't excuse her for doing it though.

I liked Ayla, one of the friends she makes at school - much to her shock. She's an artist, and she's been hurt, but that doesn't stop her from caring about Emilie even when the girl makes it hard.

Chatham was a typical YA love interest, so I guess he'd be dreamy to other readers lol. Not to say that he didn't have any substance as a character, but there wasn't much that stood out to me.

Emilie paints Maddie as a stereotypical mean girl, which I don't love because its 2018 and we need to stop with that mess. I don't know if she was even meant to be like that as a character, but that's how she's painted, which I don't think is fair. We don't even find out anything "redeeming" about her until like the very end, if you could even call a one sentence reveal that.

I will say that I did connect with a lot of the parts that dealt with grief and losing a parent, because I've been through that, so let me share some of my favorites.

"I'm sorry." She offers a simple apology and I love her for it. Most people would ask a million questions or give some lame bit of advice like "He's in a better place" or the one that really makes my blood boil: "It gets better with time." Those people don't understand how full of life my dad was, how he was the energy that kept our family on track and in motion, how empty and alone I felt after he died. They talk to comfort themselves because they don't know what else to do.
Secretly, though, I believe death is harder on the living than the dying. I think survivors experience the pain in its sharpest, rawest form.

I don't have any comment on the representation of her epilepsy or homeschool experience, because I have none.

I do also appreciate the acknowledgement that it's really easy to fake progress to your therapist, which sucks. I do see a trend of the Useless Therapist Trope (which I'm also guilty of), and that's either a terrible representation of mental health (be it progressive or not), and/or if it's based on actual experience, that's probably even worse.

HOWEVER, there is a brief moment where Emilie is suicidal and tries to drown herself in the ocean, which I was not prepared for, and you must read that at your own risk. I believe there should have been some type of warning for that part.

All in all, this book wasn't for me. I wasn't a fan, but I could see other people really enjoying it as a good YA contemporary story with heavier elements.

Add it on Goodreads

Buy it here:

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Onto Meet the Sky

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Sarah's Sucky Summary: Sophie March's life has been hard since the accident that injured her sister and caused her dad to walk out on her. While upset, she knows she has to put aside her dreams of going to vet school to help her family out. When a hurricane hits her coastal town, and she gets separate from her family, she has to ride out the storm with the only person she never wants to see again: Finn Sanders, who broke her heart in the ninth grade.

I don't know what it is about either of these books, but I enjoyed this one way more than The Thing With Feathers. I liked the story and the characters a lot more, and you can tell because there are way more tabs in this one.

I see a lot of myself in Soph (okay her name and her uncertainty with her dad make me think of Mammia Mia!) She's smart, determined, cares about helping her family, and is afraid of getting abandoned again. Let's just say I felt very attacked reading some things because literally SAME. And I understand what it's like to resent someone so much, and be called out for and not know what to do if you ever had the opportunity to give them another chance.

I related to Finn a lot too, because of the dead dad thing. Again, he's a typical contemporary male love-interest, but at least he was funny lol.

Here are some of my favorite sad quotes.

"'Sadness is being stuck. Not pursuing your dreams. Sacrificing. Compromising.'"
"Losing someone you love is not beautiful. Period."
"'Life goes on outside even when someone you love is dying.'"

This book almost reminded me of a disaster/apocalypse story, which is cool and I think could be explored a little bit more. I loved recognizing a lot of the things I learned about in my oceanography class about storms, and it felt very real considering Florence just happened.

I'm not religious, but since these books both take place in the South, the MCs are, and they share interesting tidbits about faith that aren't super preachy, which I liked.

"God doesn't expect us to take care of all the problems in the world. He expects us to help the specific people placed in our lives and on our hearts."

Of the two books, I definitely prefer this one. The ending was a little too cliché HEA, but I think the characters deserved that after all they'd been through. Emilie from TTWF and Hitch do may a cameo, which I actually enjoyed.

Add it on Goodreads

Buy it here:

Barnes and Noble


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I feel like all I've been posting lately are reviews that I'm obligated to post and updates that nobody cares about. I swear I haven't forgotten about this blog - I love the idea of a written platform