Book Talk: A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

Book Talk: A Million Miles Away by Lara AveryA Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Published by Poppy on July 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

When a girl loses her twin sister in an accident she is naturally devastated. She realizes that her sister’s boyfriend has no idea about her death because he is in Afghanistan on a tour. She has intentions of telling him but when she does get to connect with him she doesn’t have the heart to tell him, for a couple reasons, but mostly in that moment she sees how hard things have been over them for him. She lets him believe she’s her sister but lines start to blur when she starts to have real feelings for him.

a2Clueless gif

a4

The marketing copy says “for fans of Nicholas Sparks” and I have to say I felt like that was pretty accurate. It was definitely the emotional drama type read I needed for the pool and I breezed through it though I felt SICK to my stomach the whole time as I was reading and she strung this lie out. This is one of those books from the onset that you are like OH GIRL THIS IS A BAD IDEA. I mean, impersonating your dead twin to her boyfriend who is overseas in the military? EEP. ALERT ALERT. HORRENDOUSLY BAD IDEA.

The bad decision she makes doesn’t even bother me that much. I believed it. That sometimes in the moment, especially when grieving, you could make a really bad choice. I understood that it made her FEEL something to feel like she was doing something good for him and also kind of denying that her twin was gone in some ways. I understood how sometimes you get yourself tangled so badly in a lie that you don’t know how to get out of it with the least amount of damage. I was like OH GIRL STOP THIS but I couldn’t stop reading because I truly was invested in her grief and how the story would play out. I enjoyed watching the dynamics of her family as they were trying to grieve as well.

I was digging the book but then slowly my feelings started to wane as we get closer towards the end and things happen with the ~romance~ between Peter and Kelsey. I can’t explain it without spoilers so just know that how it all ended up made the difference from it being okay to my next notch up on the rating scale.

So here’s my super spoilery explanation for what irked me:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-mixed
(I was going back and forth between it was okay and mixed feelings to be honest. But typically my “it was okay” doesn’t have me feeling such strong negative feelings about a big aspect).

factors+ how compulsively it made me read, writing, the grief explored & the family dynamics
–  THE ROMANCE, THE ENDING

Re-readability: no
Would I buy a copy for my collection? no

a5people looking for a Nicholas Sparks-esque book, people looking for a romantic beach read you’ll race through, people who aren’t bothered by predictability

a8It was no doubt a compulsive read that was perfect for the beach but I just really didn’t enjoy the romance and the ending even though I should have realized that it was going to be predictable. I did enjoy the story up until then and the grieving process she goes through really had me emotional.

review-on-post-it

a-million-miles-away

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
What did you think about the ending if you’ve read it?? Mark spoilers in the comments please! :)

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: City Love by Susane Colasanti

Book Talk: City Love by Susane ColasantiCity Love by Susane Colasanti
Published by Katherine Tegan on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Three girls move in together to an apartment in NYC the summer before their freshman year and gear up for their first taste of freedom and being on their own.

a2

a4I wanted to love this one so much. It had the makings to be a total Jamie book — great NYC setting, set the summer before college, new friends/roomies — but it just wasn’t at all. In the first chapter or so I was digging the “look at all the possibilities spread out before us/yay grand new adventure” vibe and all the traipsing across the city was making me want to be back in New York. And then I kept reading and it just wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.

Here’s why:

1. I was honestly bored through most of it — I was expecting this to be a whirlwind summer of new adventures and just trying to figure your shit out. I eat that stuff up. Instead I just found it dragging on and didn’t really find myself enjoying it. I should have put it down but I didn’t bring another book to the pool so I was COMMITTED. I will say that closer to the end things got REALLY interesting to the point I was devouring it but most of the book I was just bored. I mean, the timeline for this book is really short so it’s not like SO MUCH STUFF is going to happen but that’s also why I felt iffy about how much the romances dominated everything in that short time which I’ll talk about below.

2. I thought there was going to be a greater emphasis on the friendships but no: I was really thinking there were going to be some good friend dynamics with this roomie situation and honestly most of this book was about random boys they meet in like the first 5 days they are there and fall hard for (wow how lucky that all 3 just happen to find these dudes so quickly. THAT NEVER HAPPENED TO MY FRIENDS AND I). I can understand that sometimes people are just your roommates and you aren’t bffs with them but the vibe I got from the summary would lead me to believe it was more about the friendships, too. But it also did seem to act like the friendships between the roommates were so great but we got such a shallow view of it in my opinion of it. So, this was more of an expectation thing that let me down. I thought it would be a great friendship  book but no.

3. Ugh the romances: I love romances and love stories and the swoons. YOU KNOW THIS. But none of these inspired any swoons or anything other than UGH. Like at least if I didn’t get the friend dynamics I was hoping for I was hoping I’d at least get some good romance if that was what it was going to focus on. The one romance DID take a turn for the interesting but I just still wasn’t invested much at all. I don’t mind insta-love or attraction in lots of cases because I find it to be very realistic (I mean I thought I was in REAL LOVE like 100 times as a teen let’s be real) but I think I just really didn’t dig that the romance was the MAIN THING going on in this novel when there was so much other stuff to explore and the romances didn’t even feel like anything special enough to incite any feels in me.

4. The 3 POVs blended together so much for me: The 3 girls had such different and interesting backgrounds and stories but honestly when I was reading their voices sounded the same. For how different they all were, their voices were not distinct in my mind at all. At certain points I had to really thing like, “okay which girl’s chapter is this??”

 

a6RATING-Not-a-fan

factors+ NYC setting, the concept of this novel (and planned series)
–  expectations of what I got vs. what it was, not shipping any of the romance, blending of the main characters voices, finding myself bored

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No
Do I plan on reading the sequel?
Probably not unless I hear AMAZING things. I do want to know what happens just out of curiosity but not enough to read it.

a5maybe people looking for a really, really fluffy romance for the beach (but bring a backup just in case!), people looking for a book set in NYC, younger teens maybe (maybe it will seem more glamorous and romantic than it did to this lady?)

a8It pretty much comes down to my expectations for what I thought this novel was all about –new adventures, taking a stab at independence, friendship, that moment in time before college where there are infinite possibilities, some romance — and what it actually was/how it was executed which was basically a whole lot of romance and pretty skimpy on the other stuff I had hoped for. I knew to expect romance (what I am so normally there for) but I expected more than JUST that. In addition to my expectations,  I just didn’t even enjoy the romance storylines and found the POVs to blend too much together. I think there’s so much to explore with the concept of this series but the first book just didn’t do it for me.

review-on-post-it

city love susane colasanti

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Based on what I had HOPED this book would be like, do you have any recs?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

What I’ve Been Audiobooking Lately

All of my audiobooks lately were new reads to me and I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get any re-reads in via audiobook because I have been loving that. I also didn’t audiobook as much as lately because of my new podcast obsession.

 

The Running Dream

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Oh man, I really liked this one! It’s about a girl who loses a leg and is facing the new reality of her life as an amputee. I was just really inspired by this book even though it was fictional because I know this could be someone’s story. I found myself so invested in Jessica and her journey — watching her feel defeated to watching her really work to walk and run again and her growing friendship with Rosa. It was just such a good book that really gets you pumped about how strong the human spirit is and makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. I also loved how it explored how we treat people who are sick or disabled or just physically different through Rosa’s character and Jessica understanding some of what Rosa has gone through. I do wish it would have been a little more grittier as it explored some of her depression after the accident and her struggles to run again. It definitely was a lighter, more uplifting story that gave an inspirational message, and while I definitely was moved by it, I know I would have felt more for it had it been a little grittier in areas. I would probably READ this one because I found the narrator so irritating — kind of valley girl like or how an adult might think a teenager sounds like — and just not my favorite. If I wasn’t so into the story I would have quit because of the narrator.

RATING-reallyliked

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

I’ve loved so many of David’s books but had never read this one. IT WAS SO DELIGHTFUL and the audiobook was soooo good. It was Full Cast Audio and it was my first time every listening to an audiobook where all the different characters had their own narrator when they spoke. The narrators were just all so great and engaging. As far as the story goes, it was just such a cute romance and I just adore all the characters! The setting was so interesting because it’s not at all like any high school I’ve ever seen — it’s this sort of made-up, fantastical  sort of high school where the cheerleaders ride motorcycles, the prom queen is also on the football team and there is so much openness/acceptance when it comes to sexual orientation. It was such a great book about friendships, too. I LOVED the friend group and how they were there for each other so much plus that sexuality wise it was all over the spectrum — people who were really confident in their sexuality and people who weren’t sure what they identified as, etc. This one was just so charming and funny and I just loved David’s books so much!

RATING-reallyliked

story of a girl

Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr

I just felt weirdly ambivalent to this one which was sad for me because I really loved Sweethearts. I do wonder if it was the format for such a quiet book…maybe reading it would have been better for me and I would have connected with Deanna better. There is always this sad yet beautiful undertone to Sara’s books and this definitely had that. Deanna was a character it was easy to feel truly bad for — she gets branded as the school slut at a young age when sleeping with her older brother’s friend and her dad is the one that catches her and basically hasn’t been able to look at or talk to her for years. The past has really affected her even years later, particularly because she was so young when it happened, and all she wants to do is get out of her parent’s house and have a new start. My heart ached for her through so much of this story even when she made incredibly bad decisions. I loved the relationship with her brother — that was a shining relationship for me in this story! I think I just wanted more when it comes down to it — Deanna was an interesting character but I only got invested to a certain point. There was just something missing for me.  The narrator was Sara Zarr herself and I thought she was good. I always like when the author reads because they kind of KNOW the inflections and how things are supposed to sound.

Rating

RATING-OKAY

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these books?? Tell me what you thought! What have YOU been audiobooking lately?

3 May/June Releases I Read

Summer has been busy and my attention span has been that of a gnat to actually sit down and write a ton of book talk type stuff. So mini review time for some books that were released in May and June that I just really would like to talk about sooner rather than later.

Made You Up Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

About In A Sentence (ish): Alex is starting a new school her senior year after an incident that got her kicked out of her last school. She wants to make it through the year with no trouble which is hard considering she has schizophrenia — something she tries to keep to herself and she’s trying to keep in check until she meets a boy who looks like someone from her hallucinations.

Thoughts: This one was really interesting as the main character is a little bit unreliable to us as readers. She has schizophrenia so as things are happening within the story you are constantly wondering if it is real or not real. I really loved Alex and how tough she was. I could feel how frustrating it must be for her to be unable to always decipher reality from delusion but I loved the ferocity in which she lived in spite of that and how she really tried to take control of it in her own way. I loved her so much and my heart broke for her in those moments where she was so confused no matter how much she tried to manage it. There’s a pretty great cast of characters in general — like Miles, the love interest — and I just couldn’t put it down because of my desire for Alex to persevere and to find out what is real/not real especially with some conspiracies. There is a moment, a thing that I guessed and ultimately turned out to be true, and the realization of that moment just broke me down. Made You Up was just a very fantastic read that I recommend. I can’t say how accurate its portrayal of schizophrenia is but, to me, I found Alex’s schizophrenia to feel so real and like while a big part of her…it didn’t at all DEFINE her.

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Devil You Know By Trish Doller

About (in a sentence-ish): Cadie has spent a lot of her time going to school, working and taking care of her dad and sister so when she has a chance for adventure with two boys she meets at a campfire she takes it. All is fun until it’s not because one of the boys might not be what he seems.

Thoughts: This is the saddest thing — to not mark a new book by a favorite author as a new favorite book — which is not to say I didn’t like it. I loved Trish’s first two books but I didn’t LOVE this the way I loved them. I think it’s more of a “me” issue and my deal with mystery/thriller/suspense kind of books. Unless I’m shocked or the mystery is super elaborate or all sorts of mindf*ckery, it never gets like super high ratings. If I completely guess it without any wavering or found it to be obvious, no matter how objectively good the book is (which I can still enjoy those parts), I have a hard time rating it high because it kills some of the enjoyment for me. While it got super creepy and twisted at times, I didn’t find it to be all that mysterious or hard to crack what was going on. I didn’t feel the suspense or exhilaration to because I was certain what was going on  even though I DID fly through this book. I just kept waiting for something to happen to make me be like WOW OKAY but in the suspense/thriller department it didn’t.  But what it didn’t do for me there,  there was so much GOOD. It had Trish Doller’s signature writing which is always so fantastic and a main character who is just SO complex plus she owned her sexuality and her life choices which I loved. I loved reading about her family dynamics and could feel the weight on her shoulders so I just so understood her desire to just be free and a bit reckless when she gets the chance to do something that ignites the desires of her heart that have been kind of locked away. I’m sad I can’t give this higher marks but it just didn’t make me fall in love like her other books Something Like Normal and Where The Stars Still Shine.  All the things I found great about it are so typical of those books…I think it just comes down to the genre being a hard one for me.

Rating

 RATING-LIKED

 

 A Sense of the Infinite Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

About In A Sentence-ish: Annabeth and Noe have been best friends for years and even have planned their future endeavors together until Noe starts dating a guy and their friendship shows signs of drifting apart at a time when Annabeth needs Noe because her personal life is complicated and doesn’t know what to do without her.

Thoughts: What a great and complicated book about friendship! I’m all about books that have really strong friendships but I also really love ones that explore that fragile nature of friendship and those friendships that slowly start to crumble as two people go in different directions life-wise but still want to hold on for whatever reasons. It was such a great portrait of a friendship breakup, especially a really like exclusively close bff duo, and Annabeth’s story was really compelling to me especially with her family dynamics and secrets. Plus Hilary T. Smith’s beautiful prose strikes again! I loved Wild Awake and I could tell she was a talented writer, and while very different kind of style compared to Wild Awake, it’s equally as stunning. I will probably write a whole post devoted to all the things this book brought up re: friendship soon!! It’s a quieter contemporary YA but it explores a lot of things very poignantly.

 

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Book Talk: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Book Talk: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren SumaThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on March 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Told in alternating points of view we meet two girls whose only connection is a girl named Orianna and mysteries that surround them. Violet is a talented dancer from a good family who is well on her way to pursuing her dreams. Amber is a girl who has been locked away in an all girl’s correctional facility for many years despite the innocence she maintains. Amber hopes for justice and Violet hopes for nothing to get in the way of what she’s earned but is something else already set in motion?

a2WAIT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?

WhatJustHappened

a4

OKAY. So this was an interesting experience, guys! I’m LOVING LOVING LOVING the book. I’m TENSELY reading…just turning the pages as fast as my brain can keep up with because things are getting CRAAAAZY UP IN THIS BOOK. And then the ending happened. I didn’t get it. I literally did not understand what happened. So I reread the THING that happens that confused me. STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. So I reread again because maybe the sun from the beach I was reading on affected me. NOPE. NO COMPRENDO. MY BRAIN STILL HURTS. So I googled “PLEASE SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THE ENDING OF THE WALLS AROUND US.” Google was actually real helpful. Sort of. I found two different explanations of the ending. I think the last one made more sense and I THINK is actually what happened. If what I read is what actually happened then it was an awesome ending and such a wonderfully strange & unique book!

I think the only downfall to this book is truly is that I didn’t understand what happened at the end — I don’t know if it was my brain or if the ending was legit kind of confusing. I was so amped about it from page one and then I really struggled with the ending. But before that there was a whole lot of things that were keeping me turning those pages.

I loved the writing — it was so fantastic and had this haunting and atmospheric quality to it that could cause the hair to stand on your arms. Half of the setting is in this correctional facility for girls and she just completely transported me into this place and this look into an all girls juvenile detention center and the effects of being there on the girls. It’s not a setting I think I’ve ever read so I was glued to the book in that way. I loved seeing how the inmates interacted and what life is like day to day but also this exploration of justice and freedom and how unfair sometimes the justice system is if you aren’t as privileged as someone else.

There was this underlying mystery and these undertones that constantly made you feel like something wasn’t QUITE right. It made it such a page-turner in addition to the way she completely immersed you into the setting. Twisty in all the right places, tension that feels palpable. I think a lot of this is due to the two narrators — Amber and Violet — because you aren’t quite sure if you can trust them. Are they guilty? Are they innocent? As you try to wade through the lies and the truths you get so tangled into both of their stories. But then we have this other character, Ori, who we don’t hear from but we know her as Violet’s best friend and Amber’s new roommate and slowly we get pieces as to why she ends up there.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, plot, page-turning abilities, uniqueness, setting
–  the fact I didn’t understand quite what happened at the ending at all

Re-readability: I’m tempted because I kind of like reading twisty books again after I know things
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it’s not a favorite, probably not but I sure hope my library has a copy of it because it is FANTASTIC.

a5lots of people! Readers who are looking for something truly unique, readers who love a little mystery

a8This book truly was on a LOVE level until the ending. I’m fine with having to really think about an ending but I get really frustrated when I can’t understand what happened so it honestly left a bad taste in my mouth even after how fabulous this book had been before that. When I read someone’s explanation I was back to OH MY GOSH WOWWW but ultimately having to google to understand the ending affected my overall feelings. Still very much liked it but I have to be honest about how the ending left me.

review-on-post-itThe Walls ARound Us review

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
If you did read it (and let’s mark spoilers in the comments), PLEASE CAN WE DISCUSS!! PLEASE!!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Book Talk: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

It’s about a girl whose childhood best friend/next door neighbor/crush gets kidnapped by his dad when they are younger and 10 years later he is found and he returns to the house where his mom still lives with her new family and he’s expected to rejoin this life that he was taken from.

a2OMG DID I REALLY JUST READ THAT IN 4 HOURS? I DIDN’T MEAN TO. OOPS. OH WELL. SO GOOD.

a4AH. Is there a name for when a book makes you so giddy and makes your heart so full but also like hurts your heart too and is kind of sad? There should be a word for that literary experience. Someone invent one!  Whatever the case, this was my experience with Emmy & Oliver!  I’m so happy I loved Robin’s latest because I’ve enjoyed her past work — Audrey, Wait! even inspired me to create a “WTF WHY IS THIS NOT MORE POPULAR” shelf on my Goodreads. Her books are hella underrated and deserve way more attention!

Emmy and Oliver was just so beautiful! It was from the perspective of Emmy who was Oliver’s childhood best friend and was the last one to see him before he was kidnapped. My heart broke imagining Oliver’s situation (would REALLY love a short story from him even though I liked the story being from Emmy’s perspective) of being kidnapped by his dad and returned 10 years later to his mother and I thought Robin captured all the complicated feelings Oliver would have so well. It was so heartbreaking as we see him have a hard time assimilating back into regular life and having these complicated feelings about his dad who he’s lived with and loved for the past 10 years. Oliver has changed. The world he left 10 years ago changed.  His truths have changed. There are so many things that just don’t fit quite right anymore and I loved watching him work through those with Emmy by his side.

Emmy and Oliver’s relationship was so just sweet and wonderful. It made my heart flutter and I loved how they worked to get to know each other again — accepting the past and learning what has happened in the past 10 years to get to know the person they are now. I could feel Oliver’s frustration and sadness also while being reconnected with Emmy and their two other best friends who have all remained best friends through that time. He feels like he just missed out on so much as much as he wants to just jump right back in.

Emmy was such a great character — she’d been sheltered a lot after Oliver’s kidnapping happened. She had these parts of her life that she kept from her parents because she knew they wouldn’t approve of because of their strictness but these things made Emmy happy and more like the real her. I loved watching her go for her dreams and she was just a delightful character all around.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ feels, characters, writing, humor, swoons, aww factor
–  nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe because I blew through it and should spend more time with it haha
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one!

a5contemporary YA fans, readers looking for a pretty angst-free romance, people who want a read that will make them smile and laugh but also maybe cry or feel an avalanche of sadness

a8Emmy & Oliver was yet another delightful read from Robin Benway who I believe is a massively underrated author who you all should read if you haven’t! Within 18 pages of this book, yes I know precisely it was this number because I tweeted it, I had snort laughed and teared up and was smitten already. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and hilarious and sweet and heartachingly sad and altogether an enjoyable read. I mean, I DID accidentally devour it in 4 hours. Great balance of romance and friendship and parental relationships!

review-on-post-itEmmy & Oliver

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

To All The Books I Read Before BEA & Never Had Time To Talk About

I fully intended on writing up full posts talking about these here books. Unfortunately BEA happened and my brain has become mush to actually write full posts on them but they deserve to be talked about for sure!! Plus it’s summer and mini book talks are going to me a lot of what you see because I CANNOT SIT INSIDE ON THE COMPUTER IN THE SUMMER. My body won’t let me do it when the sun is shining and the temperature is actually Jamie-approved.

Making Pretty Corey Ann Haydu

Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

May 2015 – Katherine Tegen Books
I received this for review consideration from the publisher. As always, this did NOT affect my opinions of it.

 

I loved Corey’s novel Life By Committee so I was very excited for this one and she didn’t disappoint! I loved the messy family dynamics — no really the dad is shallow, goes through many women and offered his young daughters new boobs for their birthday — explored in this novel. I LOVED the portrayal of two sisters who have been in it together and partners-in-crime until cracks appear in their relationship and everything feels different between them. Also super loved the NYC setting! The main character’s voice felt so….frenetic to me? I couldn’t get a handle on her but then I realized “OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO HOW MY BRAIN WAS AS A TEENAGER.” These intense emotions and feelings and highs and lows. Exquisitely written and full of that raw and unflinching honesty that I’ve come to love from Corey’s books.

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

March 2015 – Balzer & Bray
I received this for review consideration from the publisher. As always, this did NOT affect my opinions of it.

Have you ever read a book that you were like OH MY GOSH THIS IS BRILLIANT but you almost felt like you didn’t FULLY get it? Like MAAAAYBE you weren’t smart enough for it? Yeah, that’s how I felt about this book. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read and so freaking smart and awesome and WOW. But I also feel like it hurt my brain a little. It was this blend of contemporary and fantasy…maybe a little magical realism? I can’t even label it really. Very surreal and dream-like. Definitely ~literary~ sooo I have another book in my arsenal for people who don’t think YA can be literary. I loved the mystery of trying to figure what happened to Roza and I really grew to love Finn. It’s confusing at times but the end really brings it together.

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

 

Extraordinary Means Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

May 2015 – Katherine Tegen Books
I received this for review consideration from the publisher. As always, this did NOT affect my opinions of it.

OH MY GOSH I LOVED THIS ONE. Seriously raced through it! So beautiful and emotional and GAH SO GOOD. I loved that it felt like it was contemporary but the only thing is that in this world there is a strain of tuberculosis that is incurable and has these teens in a sanatorium as they wait a trial that could maybe cure them. It feels like half summer camp/boarding school and half a hospital setting which is a jarring setting at times as you watch them be normal teens but yet NOT AT ALL. I loved the group of friends and I loved the romance — it was so bittersweet because for all the really great and fun moments between them you watch them fall even more sick. I found myself really racing through it to see if a cure would come in time or not! I LOVED Robyn’s writing and definitely plan to go back to her debut for sure!

Rating

RATING-loved-it

 

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think? If not, are you planning to read any of them?

 

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny HanPS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Series: To All The Boys #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

PS I Still Love You is the sequel & conclusion to To All The Boys I’ve Loved before — check out my review here!

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a4Oh man, what a thoroughly satisfying sequel and ending to Lara Jean’s story. And honestly? It has nothing to do with who she ended up with! I’m not going to say here, in the spoiler free zone, whether I was happy about the boy situation because I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that this was a wonderful book with an ending that personally made sense to me! I loved how Jenny really examined all the intricacies that come with first love and your first REAL dating relationship plus your first heartbreak. I felt everything — from the giddiness of your first real boyfriend to the pressures of sex to that absence a breakup creates– and I just loved (well, not loved because OW MY HEART) watching Lara Jean experience it all. And, like with To All The Boys, family and friendship also shines in this. Jenny just handles all these various relationships and how they shift and change so flawlessly — how the sisters relationship evolves, to old friends who come back in your life, to watching people who were once a part of your daily life no longer be there. It explored so many amazing things and I could blather on about each different relationship from this book.

This book actually hit me really hard personally when it came to two major things.

Lara Jean and missing her mom: MAN, Jenny killed me. You know right away in To All the Boys that Lara Jean’s mom had passed away and their dad has been raising the 3 girls. I really connected with the sisters because of that and in this book even more so. Jenny so poignantly captures what it’s like to have lost someone many years ago — the grief isn’t as in your face but it rushes to the surface in certain moments and that longing is always there. It’s the big things but also in the little moments. There was this moment when the girls are talking to their dad and something comes up and Lara Jean has this moment where she can’t remember a detail about her mom. I know that panic and that drop in your stomach when you feel like you can’t remember something about them. And then there is this really hard moment of heartbreak for Lara Jean where she is crying and she just wishes for her mom and wonders what she’d do and OH MAN…I just lost it. I feel like normal people probably won’t feel that emotional about it or see much significance but I can’t tell you how many times after I lost my job that I’ve wished for my mom to be here because I know she would help me come up with a killer game plan.

First heartbreak: I’m not at all going to get into details of who or what or why and if things get worked out but MY HEART HURT ALONGSIDE LARA JEAN. I think Jenny just nails what it is like to experience that euphoria of first love and that sledgehammer-to-the-heart feeling with your first heartbreak. I found myself weirdly emotional about it because it so perfectly captured it and it started dredging up MY first real heartbreak that happened in high school. I was like finding myself thinking about it and feeling emotional about it and I was like OMG I AM HAPPILY MARRIED SO WHO CARES but there’s just something about that first heartbreak that just sticks whether or not you get back together. It sticks with you and it’s the first time I think you really see what it means to be vulnerable with someone — to let them have your heart in that way. You move through relationships with different eyes after that one.

OKAY SPOILER TIME:

DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED

Okay can we talk about the boy situation??? I was so happy with who she ended up with. SO HAPPY. But what I really loved that Jenny did is that she didn’t make either of them be AWFUL or anything. I genuinely loved both of them even though, like Lara Jean, Peter K had my heart more. In my life I’ve been faced with this same dilemma….I’d have a spark with two different guys and I KNOW I could love or be with either one of them but one just has my heart a little more in the moment. I SO UNDERSTOOD THAT. I was so happy Jenny didn’t make one of them be a douche to make it easy for Lara Jean. BUT POOR JOHNNY. My heart was really sad for him because it was wonderful and swoony and made me smile. His little “I never had a chance did I?” gutted me. It sucks sometimes to have to hurt a perfectly good person but the heart wants what the heart wants. I will say that I was SO surprised with how little Josh had to do with this book because I loved him too BUT I think it was so realistic and true of how sometimes people are so involved in your life and then…they aren’t. You move on and forward without people you care about and the anatomy of your relationship can change.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ characters, the romance, the exploration of these big firsts (love & heartbreak), all the relationships (father/daughter, sisters, friends, romance)
–  Honestly not much but I was so hoping for more of the sister relationships to have more of a focus like in the first book

Re-readability: I definitely want to reread both books at some point.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I already did!

a5Well, obviously people who read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But I recommend both books to fans of YA realistic fiction! To people who like books that examine crushes and first love! Fans of books with strong family relationships!

a8Jenny Han is just one of those authors who is able to so beautifully write about coming of age and everything that comes with it. The growing and changing of relationships, all the firsts, pain and heartbreak, etc. I really loved Lara Jean and her sisters and I’m really sad for their story to be over but PS I Still Love You was completely satisfying as a reader.

review-on-post-it

PS I STill Love you review jenny han

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Were you happy about who LJ ended up with??

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Book Talk: Saint Anything by Sarah DessenSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile on May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Sydney has always felt like she has lived in the shadow of her brother Peyton, the one that got all her parents attention, especially as he started getting into trouble. When Peyton drives drunk and strikes a boy, he’s sent to jail and Sydney’s world is shaken and her parent’s focus is definitely on him now. Sydney decides she wants a fresh start and switches schools so she doesn’t have to be The Girl Whose Brother Hit A Kid While Driving Drunk and feel the guilt and shame that brings with it. As she tries to wrestle with the accident and her relationship with her family, she crosses paths with Layla and Mac, brother & sister, who accept her and bring her into their family when she needs it most.

a2I REALLY REALLY WANT SOME PIZZA AND FRIES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

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There is a reason that Sarah Dessen is one of the queens of YA. Well, many reasons. But the one I’m thinking about is that she knows how to do EVERYTHING and do it well. Great characters, crisp and quoteable prose, interesting plots, emotional journeys that bring the feels without ever seeming too much, this astute look into the teenage mind, great adult characters, important relationships with friends and family that feel just as weighty as the romance. I could GO ON AND ON. I will say that this is my favorite Dessen I’ve read so far. It’s so wonderful. SO WONDERFUL. And makes my heart so happy. The more and more I read of her…the more I know she’s definitely an author that will become a go-to.

Two BIG reasons I loved it:

1. Complicated family relationships: Oh man. This one was so good and complicated — just probing into the messy situation of Sydney’s family in which her brother is incarcerated for driving drunk and hitting a young boy. It was a storyline I could honestly relate to in some ways as my cousin drove drunk and ended up killing his best friend. It was horrible and, from my view, Sarah just got so much right when this situation happens. It taps into that feeling of guilt, shame and blame with the conflicting feeling of love and concern so perfectly and from all sides. Sydney has complicated feelings about it — she loves her brother but she doesn’t have the same feelings her mom has in trying to shift the blame and try to act like he isn’t 100% at fault here. She can’t just forgive him and she feels so much guilt over what he did. It puts an even bigger strain on her relationship with her family because as Peyton has been getting in trouble all their focus has been on fixing him. With him in jail, it just makes EVERYTHING about him…even more so than she already felt because Peyton was always the one people were drawn to and who took center stage. I just love how Sarah explored Sydney’s relationship with both her parents AND her brother with such raw emotion.

2. Friendship FEELS!!: Sydney decides to transfer schools after what happens with her brother because she just wants a fresh slate with people who don’t know what happened. She wanders into a pizza shop after school and meets Layla and Mac — an amazing brother and sister duo — who become her friends. FIRST, I love that they bond over food. I feel like a lot of my friendships start out that way. I love the way Sarah gives us a great picture of new friendship and how with that comes a new start but also she doesn’t ignore Sydney’s old best friends and how to navigate not seeing each other at school and the weight of everything that has happened in Sydney’s life recently. I love the group that Mac and Layla bring Sydney into. They just made my heart all aflutter and I WANT LAYLA TO BE MY BESTIE. I though the romance was super cute in this one but the FRIENDSHIP FEELS were where it was at for me. I just love watching new friendships and new friend groups blossom just as much as I do a good romance.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ everything really — writing, MC, family dynamics, friendships, romance, THE FEELS, the compulsive need to read it
–  nada

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I did buy one already! I had an ARC but had to get a finished!!

a5fans of Sarah Dessen, people who want just really solid contemporary that balances light and weighty well, people who love friendships just as much as romance in their books, people looking for a read with interesting family dynamics

a8Saint Anything is everything I love about contemporary YA novels and I devoured it. Saint Anything is just such a testament to this amazing career Sarah Dessen has had thus far because it’s SO DAMN EXCELLENT and hits all the right notes because she has this uncanny ability to create stories that just feel REAL and always leave me remembering the important things in life without ever nearing after school special territory. I don’t know, man, Sarah Dessen just feels like one of those people who observes life and spills it out on to the pages in a way that makes you feel like she just GETS IT even though you know she’s one of those people who is honest about still trying to figure her shit out.

review-on-post-itSaint Anything Sarah Dessen review

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
PLEASE TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE DESSEN NOVEL IF YOU HAVE READ HER BOOKS!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

What I’ve Been Audiobooking Lately

I used to do audiobooks all the time (exhibit A) but then I stopped. Mostly it was due to the fact that I changed workouts and couldn’t listen to audiobooks anymore while doing it and also just having this feeling like I’d rather listen to music all the time. But I have found my way back to audiobooks when I feel like it in the second half of April and May I finished 3 audiobooks.

Also, side note THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your amazing recommendations in the comments of this post. I’m STILL going through them all and adding to my list! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

 

First up I did a reread of one of my favorite books:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I had been wanting to reread If I Stay for a while (it’s been YEARS since the first time I read it) so audio was the perfect way to get to it. It was a really solid audio performance. Really solid narrator. I will say I’m glad that I READ the book first as a physical book because I think I was way more connected to that. But as a REREAD…the audio was great. It was nice to revisit a story I know so well as a favorite but also experience all these details you’ve forgotten. It made me love this book one hundred times more. I really appreciated the details. Also, I realize how many details I “remembered” were actually things from the movie which I saw more recently than I read If I Stay obviously. Even knowing everything that happened this was just as emotional for me as it was the first time. I’ve talked before about why I’m afraid to reread books sometimes and I’m happy that this one held up for me…because it’s a major fear of mine.

 

Then I went on a little Dessen binge which I so enjoyed. As a general statement I find that her books make nice audiobooks (at least for me).

 

First up was Someone Like You:

Someone Like You by Sarah DessenSomeone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

I really loved this one. Some of my friends say they didn’t like some of her early books but man did I love this one. I hadn’t read a ton of Dessen prior to this — a few books here and there — but this one was a little bit more serious or darker (I don’t even know if those are even the right words) than I remember the ones I had read a long time ago. I loved the friendship of Hayley and Scarlett in this one and how they were there for each other through some hard times — loss, day to day struggles, pregnancy, boy drama, etc.. The relationship between Hayley and her mom was an interesting one — I related with having a mom kind of similar to her — very overbearing and strict. I was actually REALLY surprised about the romance (he’s a bad boy type) and how it developed/where it went and even more shocked about how it all ended. I was REALLY happy with the ending — very refreshing and not something I see a whole lot. Regarding the audio, I had no qualms with the narration. Easy to follow.

And then I followed it with:

Lock & keyLock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

Oh man did I love Lock & Key!! My heart was just so full and happy listening to this one. Teared up quite a bit. Dessen is just so damn talented in having complex and great relationships — romantic, family, friendships. Ruby’s home life is so sad to me and I was really excited to see her reunited with her sister Cora and how this sister relationship was explored — all the hurt of these years apart, the mistrust, the shared history as kids. It was so touching. And OH MY GOD I LOVED JAMIE. Jamie is Cora’s husband and he just made my heart so happy with his enthusiasm for holidays and family and his earnest welcoming of Ruby into their family. I just LOVED how much about family this book was. Like I’m tearing up thinking about it now — the family we have and the family we make out of friends and romances. And Nate. Oh man, Nate. Loved that dude. Such a great relationship between he and Ruby. I just really didn’t want the audio to end at all. I want more of all these characters. Again, I enjoyed the audio and found it engaging and easy to follow.

Have you read either of these Dessen books? I’m also curious if anyone has reread If I Stay &  if so how it held up for YOU.

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