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
Also by this author: The Memory Book
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: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Book Talk: The Walled City by Ryan GraudinThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Published by Little Brown on November 4, 2014
Genres: YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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

The Walled City is home to about 30,000 people all cramped together in about 6 acres. Everything is built up so high that the sun barely shines in and it feels suffocating, it’s dirty and people live in poverty and there is so much lawless danger — drug lords, street gangs, brothels run by bad guys and more. The three main characters are all in the walled city for their own reasons and their stories become intertwined. Dai is trying to secure his freedom which involves having to run drugs for the most ruthless drug lord in the walled city who also runs a brothel. Mei Yee was taken and forced into working at a brothel two years ago and her dreams of escaping one day are always snuffed out after other girls attempt and fail. Jin went into the walled city to find her sister Mei Yee and disguises herself as a boy so she can look for her sister and tries to stay as invisible as possible while she does it.
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a2I’m glad I stuck with it even though I had a rough start with it!

a4I had a really really rough start with this book. I just could NOT get into it at all but once I pushed through it had me just flying through the pages. While it didn’t blow me away, it was still an enjoyable read that I’m glad I stuck with in the end.

What I liked:

1. The setting was FASCINATING: The idea of this walled city fascinated me but once I learned that it was based on a REAL thing that existed my fascination level grew. I think Ryan Graudin really nailed the atmosphere of it. It’s this cramped walled city (like 33,000 people in 6 acres or something crazy like that) that houses all sorts of degenerates and drug lords, street gangs and brothels and people, lots of young people, who were dumped in there because they were criminals, stolen, abandoned or sold off. It’s dark and violent and filthy and I could SEE it and feel it as I was reading. I could feel the hopelessness and the looming super high buildings (because everything was built up) that made you feel even more trapped. The author definitely made me feel the danger and just the awful conditions these people lived in.

2. I loved the way the three main characters stories were woven together: Each character had their own reason for being in the walled city. One was taken there and forced into a brothel, the other was trying to save her sister in the brothel (and she was dressed up like a boy to survive to do that!!) and the other has a mission to help gain his freedom. I loved how they were brought together and were the key to each other’s survival and freedom in a setting where trust was hard to come by. I really began to care about them and hoped all three would make it out alive.

3. Once I got over the hurdle of getting into the story it became a gripping and thrilling ride: It seriously was this heart-pounding, action-filled story. The danger and the high stakes became so palpable as I was reading. I mean, they were dealing with some of the worst baddies in that walled city and were risking a lot for the freedom they were trying to gain.

4. It was a standalone: It’s not very often that I find an action-y type of story that isn’t part of a series so this was fantastic for me!!

What I wished would have been better:

1. It was SO hard to distinguish the three main characters from each other: I don’t mind multi POVs but I just felt like their voices sounded SO much the same. At the top of each chapter was the name so we knew WHO it was but if I had just read random parts from the book, without context to tell me whose story it was, I would never have been able to distinguish who was who because their voices just sounded like the same exact character.

2. It was hard for me to figure out the PLACE and TIME of this novel: As well done as The Walled City was it kept bothering me that I couldn’t figure out if this was set in the midst of our world or if it was a completely different world. The Walled City itself made me feel it was set further in the past but then there was this part that talked about a plane flying past so I knew that okay planes were a thing so I guess it is more modern setting.

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ action, thrills, setting
writing/storytelling

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I do want to give my copy to my teen nephews because I think they would like it.

a5people looking for a more action-packed standalone, fans of gritty settings, readers looking for a non-US setting

a8Despite the slow start for me and being tempted to put this one down, I ended up being glad I stuck this one out because it became an absolute thrilling race to the ending and I actually grew to care about the characters in spite of how much their voices blended together and didn’t feel very distinguished. I was absolutely transported to the dark, dangerous streets of the walled city and the fear and the danger the characters were experiencing were also mine to bear as I was reading.

review-on-post-it

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
Did you have a hard time distinguishing the voices or was that just me??
Did we ever figure out WHERE this city was located exactly? I can’t even remember after reading it.
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody KeplingerA Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Published by Poppy on 2012
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
On the night of graduation, before she gets ready to head to her dad’s house to spend the summer, Whitley has a one night hookup that she thinks she’ll never see again. Imagine her surprise when her dad springs it upon her in the car ride to his house that he is getting married and that she will also be living with her new family which includes and new step-brother and sister. A step-brother who she has TOTALLY seen naked the night before. Her dad is like this new shiny dad she’s never seen and she struggles to feel at home in this new family — with a stepbrother who she is absolutely attracted to.

a2Can’t wait to pick up her other books!

a4This book was super duper addictive. I just FLEW through it. This was my first Kody Keplinger book and it definitely won’t be my last! So, let’s talk about it:

1. The romance was so not typical:  Okay so it had a Clueless thing going on (most of you are old enough to know this movie yes???) for me. I remember even back in the 90’s being like I SHIP THIS SO MUCH (okay maybe I didn’t say ship) but IT FEELS A LITTLE SQUICKY EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT’S NOT? Well, in this book it was the same way. The main character hooks up (yes sex) with a boy randomly on graduation night and then, as she goes to spend the summer with her dad, finds out that he actually is her NEW STEPBROTHER. Ohmygod right? AWWWWKWARD. So, hey-brother-who-I-have-seen-naked can you pass the gravy? I SO wanted them together even though in my head, knowing that there wasn’t anything “wrong” with it, I kept thinking MAN that would be so awkward to date your stepbrother. I LOVED Nathan by the way!! What a great guy!

2. I loved the honesty of Whitley’s voice: I’ve always heard Keplinger just writes with this searing honesty and rawness and I totally agree. Everything written is just so authentic of being teen and Whitley’s voice just really worked for me. There is just that genuine portrayal of being a teen girl in all of its messiness and ugly glory but also in the way that we grow SOOOO much and learn (the hard way a lot of the time). I loved how Keplinger didn’t shy away from drinking and sex and stuff…it felt so seamlessly what a lot of teen experience is. It wasn’t an “issue-y” type of thing ever but you see realistic “consequences” to some of the things she was doing. Nothing preachy or OH THE END OF THE WORLD BECAUSE YOU DID THIS. But just a lot of food for thought.

3. Loved the exploration of family dynamics: Whitley has divorced parents and there is a lot of bitterness there. Whitley has spent every summer with her dad who was like her best friend. This year? He springs the news on her that he’s getting married and…surprise! You have a stepbrother and stepsister! He’s turned into this guy she doesn’t really recognize, she’s thrown into a new family (with a step-brother she hooked up with) and she feels like the odd man out when her dad barely spends any time with her. I just loved how it explored all of it. The feeling of being the old kid in the new family. Having to hear bitter things said from one parent about the other. It was just so perfectly explored because, coming from a divorced kid here, IT GETS COMPLICATED. And as an aside, I LOOOOOVED her stepmom!!

4. I wished for a little bit more depth in some areas toward the end is my ONLY complaint: When it got to some of the things that Whitley was learning, I was REALLY excited to see her think about and put these things together. But it fell a little short for me. The book went RIGHT THERE for me and was so close to having the depth that I needed to make this a WOW read but it never hit that. I don’t know how else to really explain it but with the variety of issues that Whitley was dealing with (especially with her dad) I just wanted MORE in the end I guess. When I reached the end-ish I just felt like it could have been better for me and a little more profound? I don’t even know if that’s the word I’m looking for but I just knew I felt a little disappointed at the end.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ characters, plot, addictive factor, writing
wanted a little more depth in some aspects

Re-readability: Probably not because I’m picky about rereading but I want to read the rest of her books!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one but I’m probably passing it on bc it wasn’t a fave/I won’t reread

a5contemporary YA fans, people who want authentic voices in YA

a8I couldn’t put this one down! Really impressed with Kody Keplinger and the raw sort of emotions she brings to her teen characters and her ability to tackle some tough stuff. Loved the story and the characters despite wishing for a little depth in some areas. Will definitely be reading more from Keplinger!

review-on-post-it

midsummers-nightmare-kody-keplinger

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?
Have you read any other Keplinger books? Which one should I read next?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood
Published by Poppy on September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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

Wildlife is told from the perspective of two girls who are doing a required semester at an outdoors camp. Sib gets a little boost of popularity as she gets her face on a billboard (as well as some scrutiny) right before she comes leave for this semester and finds herself in her first real relationship and navigating some choppy waters with her best friend Holly. Lou is a new student and is thrown into this experience not really knowing anybody and with a heavy amount of grief that is closing her off. She observes her new peers and starts to witness some unraveling in Sib and Holly’s friendship and also starts to feel more drawn in even though she wants to stay an outsider.
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a2Another Aussie win! Also, I kind of want to go camping or something and get my outdoors on?

a4

I really enjoyed this one!! I’m telling you…I keep waiting for the day that I won’t like an Aussie YA book and today was definitely not that day. Wildlife was just an altogether great read for this contemporary YA lover! Apparently this is a companion novel to Six Impossible Things but I haven’t read that and I wasn’t missing anything (especially since when it was talked about BEA there was no mention of the companion. I do want to read it and read more about Lou even knowing what we learned happened as this novel starts.

So here’s what I liked:

1. The setting : I loved the idea of this semester at an outdoors camp! It’s required so it’s interesting to see everyone adapting to the things they have to do — the chores they are assigned, having no technology, camping and hiking. They had to do this crazy solo hike and camp by themselves which scares the beejezus out of me because 1) obviously and 2) OMG THE WILDLIFE IN AUSTRALIA SCARES ME. I was waiting for her to be eaten alive by some snake or crazy spider. But overall I just loved the outdoors-y element to this and how it contributed to their growth and took a lot of them out of their comfort zone. It sounded like a really GOOD experience to build character and really LEARN about yourself in a different way — minus that solo hike where you camp by yourself in the Australian bush. I would never survive.

2. How it explored friendships: I love reading books about friendships because they are SO complex and honestly such a hard thing to navigate sometimes — especially as you are coming of age and really finding yourself. We see kind of early that Sib and Holly are pretty different in ways and their dynamic is interesting. Sib is just passive and lets Holly be a douche and walk all over her. At first you are like ehh Holly sucks and is kind of mean but then you suddenly are like okay is this toxic? It feels toxic right? I love that it explored how hard it is to be honest with yourself about a friendship that has kind of turned into something not so good — how Sib tries to reconcile the good vs. bad and the memories of Holly and has to decide if the friendship can be salvaged or if, as we grow, that sometimes we have to let people go. But even outside of Holly and Sib there were some other relationships that I enjoyed watching grow and mature! They all just seemed very realistic and had the kind of complexities and messiness I have experienced in my life.

3. The alternating chapters between Sib and Lou: I really liked Sib and watching her grow  and her perspective (maybe because I could identify a lot with her) but Lou was such an interesting character too. She’s a new student and she’s out here with no friends and, not only that, she’s grieving so deeply which makes her even more lonely. Her perspective is truly as an outsider and I loved watching her observe Sib and Holly and everything going down at camp as she keeps her distance but also gets drawn into it all and starts to make connections and open herself up to start to figure out who is after this tragedy.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, characters, themes explored, setting
nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want one!

a5fans of Aussie YA, contemporary YA readers, people who like boarding school/camp settings, people who like books that explore friendships

a8Wildlife was just a really damn good character-driven story — interesting characters, great setting, thought-provoking and incredibly well written. I loved watching Sib start to, through the outdoor experience and relationship issues, start to really grow and learn more about herself. It was nice to watch her be less PASSIVE and start to learn to be more independent. I loved watching Lou grow from this experience to — to confront her grief and to open up a little bit rather than keep herself so closed off.

review-on-post-itWildlife by Fiona Wood

 

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?
I’m curious if any of you have read Six Impossible things!
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Book Talk: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. SmithThe Geography Of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Poppy on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, This Is What Happy Looks Like, Done Dirt Cheap
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

book synopsis “Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.”

 

good books to read

I really enjoyed The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith. It was absolutely different than I thought it would be and in such a good way. I think Jennifer E. Smith’s books are such feel good books and while this WAS that it was a whole lot more honestly. I still think The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is still my favorite but this comes pretty darn close to rivaling it. It was really a beautiful story that really displayed what a talented author Jennifer E. Smith is. Let’s break it down:

1. I loved the idea of this book and, even though it didn’t go the way I thought it would, I loved it more how it DID go: I loved the idea of this chance meeting during the blackout and then the fact that circumstances would send them both away so they’d have this long distance relationship. First, I thought we’d see a lot more of their adventures through the blackout. Secondly, I thought it would be more of a long distance relationship where they were together and keeping the relationship alive through cutesy emails and texts and postcards and stuff. They did communicate through postcards and emails but they weren’t “together” and it wasn’t this constant communication. It was more of a story where these two people meet, feel this really strong spark but move to opposite sides of the world before anything can really happen between them and are left to deal with what to do with all those feelings plus what they were individually going through before they met. I LOVED watching this play out — them in their new environment moving on with their own lives but still having these lingering feelings for each other that nagged at them at certain point. That question of “what might have been” just dangling there because it was never able to really start! It was romantic but in a different way than her usual books — maybe not in such an obvious way.

2. As far as writing goes this is my favorite Jennifer E. Smith book: Another blogger, Heather, and I were talking on Twitter about just how BEAUTIFUL the writing was in this book. I thought her books were always well written but there was just something about this one where I really kept getting lost in the words and was just really impressed by the writing of this one.

3. I loved how the characters really learned what “home” meant in this novel: Both characters, when we meet them, have this really broken feeling of what home means. Owen’s mom passed away and him and his dad just can’t bear to be in their home without her so they just wander. Home for Lucy has been kind of lonely with her parents always traveling and her brothers away at college. I just really enjoyed watching both characters have to reconcile what HOME means for them and what and who it includes. It was just really beautiful to watch this happen though I think Owen’s story just really resonated with me more with losing his mom and watching him and his dad work through that.

4. LOVED all the travel going on in this novel: There were just these little moments that perfectly and quietly captured each location and I just loved seeing these new places through their eyes! At times I wish we could have gotten even more immersed in some places — especially New York during the blackout! I wanted to see more of Lucy’s New York!

5. I loved Owen and Lucy but I didn’t find them to be super REAL to me: I liked their stories and really connected with Owen’s but I never found them to be these super alive characters that I could picture and felt like I really KNEW them. They just fell a wee bit flat despite how much I enjoyed their stories and watched their growth.

6. I loved that this wasn’t necessarily all about the romance but the romance was still compelling: I so deeply felt that lingering of their one night in New York. There wasn’t an insta-love or anything like that but there was this SPARK that they had and they never got to examine that. I loved that they didn’t pine for each other when they parted but there was a very realistic feeling of wanting to know what COULD have been had they had more time together. Wanting to know more about the other person from the little bit you got. I loved watching them work through the other things going on in their life but could SO SO SO feel the pull of each other at times.

book reviews

The Geography of You and Me was just what I needed — sweet, romantic in a untypical way, reflective, beautiful, messy and just a really enjoyable read even if it didn’t go at all how I thought it would by the summary. I expected it to be a bit lighter and more of a long distance romance but I really, really enjoyed what I read instead.  I don’t think the characters were as full and real as I needed them to be to make this a favorite but I really enjoyed this nonetheless.  Really impressed with Jennifer E. Smith’s writing in this one and the refreshing plot!

 

 

short book reviewGeography of You and Me Jennifer E Smith

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you think this one was going to be a bit lighter than it was or think certain elements were going to be different because of the summary..or was that just me? If you’ve read her books before where does this rank for you? I think I LOVED Stat a wee bit more but loved this WAY more than This Is What Happy Looks Like.


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve | Book Review

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve | Book ReviewStella Bain by Anita Shreve
Published by Little Brown on November 12, 2013
Genres: Adult Historical Fiction
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!

one-half-stars

 

 

 

Stella Bain, an American woman, wakes up in France in the middle of World War I and has no idea who she is. She clings to the name Stella Bain and, after she recovers from her injuries, she decides to become a nurse’s aide until she figure out who she is or what to do next. She feels very strongly about going to London to the Admiralty but doesn’t know why so she travels there on a hunch not knowing what awaits her there. Before she makes it there, she is found outside by Dr. Bridge and his wife and they allow her to stay in their home so she can get better and soon Dr. Bridge takes her on as a patient to help her try to figure out who she is.

MEH. I was so excited for this one because the premise sounded awesome and I love adult historical fiction. I hate to say it but it was completely a disappointment for me which is a shame because the first half of the book was SO GOOD — very compelling and kept me turning the pages. But then the second part happened and I felt like the story just got lost somewhere and I didn’t care anymore. I probably should have put it down but I didn’t and now I regret that because the ending REALLY didn’t nothing for me. SO MUCH APATHY FROM ME.

So let’s talk about the only part of this book that really standout for me — the first part. I was hooked immediately. The main character wakes up not knowing her name, where she is or any other details about herself. She finds herself in France during World War I and starts working as a nurse’s aide and just starts rebuilding a life under the name Stella Bain. Something triggers her and she feels like she needs to go to the Admirality in London — on a hunch. That’s when she meets Dr. Bridge and his wife by chance and they start to work on her memory. It was compelling and I felt so sorry for her and wanted to know her story. Early on we learn who she is, but then we learn her back story and how she became to be in France which was ALL very interesting. I was really loving the book at this point. It flowed very well and I was intrigued by the main character.

But then the rest of the story happened. It seemed so scattered and pointless for me. After she found out who she was, I just stopped caring. I didn’t mean to. I was looking forward to her “redemption” so to speak but it just wasn’t there for me and I struggled to keep going. There were SO many different things going on and the storylines weren’t as strong as they SHOULD have been for me. I wanted to care about what was going on in the custody battle but I didn’t because it didn’t feel entirely urgent to me — just a thing she was doing. I should have wanted this romance but it was NOT AT ALL captivating to me despite having caught the tension early on. I think I get what Shreve was trying to do with the rest of the story but it didn’t come together well in my opinion. My friend Hannah and I read it around the same time and we both agreed that we thought the story was going to focus more on the shell shock she had experienced but it didn’t really and just seemed to lose any sort of focus.

I finished this book not feeling anything at all — and that’s the worst kind of feeling for me. I’d rather passionately hate a book than feeling nothing at all.

Ultimately the worst kind of disappointment — a very strong absorbing first half as we watch Stella try to figure out who she is, her identity is revealed and her compelling back story was shared that went downhill. Then this book kind of went off into la-la land and my mind went off with it. I was bored, the storylines were clunky and not compelling and I felt nothing at all anymore.

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Have you read any other Anita Shreve books? This was my first one, unfortunately, and I’m scared to try others but totally would with a good rec. Any other good books you know that are set during WWI?

one-half-stars

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton | Book Review

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton | Book ReviewWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers, Poppy on October 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
four-stars

 

 

 


Cassidy, known to everyone as Sid, is on a ski club trip with her two best friends when she meets a charming guy who invites her to his house for a party. She sneaks out to go to the party, without her friends who didn’t approve, and finds her way to his house. The next thing she knows is that she has woken up in this house and can’t remember anything from the night and quickly realizes that this guy stole something from her that she can’t get back. Reeling from the aftermath of this incident, she comes home and decides to stay silent about what happened. She withdrawals from her friends, starts running a lot, drops her advanced classes and takes the only available activity for credits at that time in the A/V room with Corey — a guy she knows to be a complete stoner. An unexpected friendship, and maybe even more, blossoms between them that makes her feel alive again as she tries to ignore what happened to her.

Wow! What a recommendation from Estelle! What Happens Next is definitely a book I’m surprised more people haven’t read! It was incredibly powerful and highly affective though not entirely perfect, in my eyes, with how some of the things were dealt with. It deals with a heartbreaking scenario that happens way more than we probably even know — Sid wakes up remembering nothing that happened after hanging out with a guy she met on the slopes until she realizes one thing that did happen — something she could never get back. What Happens Next deals with the aftermath of that and how she copes with this secret silently. She acts different towards people in her life and pushes them away, starts running A LOT and drops her college prep classes but, on the surface, she still very much is the same Sid. I felt like the portrayal of her dealing with this (and NOT dealing with it) and all the hurt she harbored was very realistic — she tried to push it away and ignore it but eventually she had to deal with it. I just wanted to hug her so much and kept silently pleading with her to tell someone.

The thing that made me LOVE this book was Sid herself. She is a great character that I felt like just leapt off the page. She was hilarious and strong yet I could feel those insecurities she had. I feel like, before I started this book, I thought it was going to be a really dark, serious book and, while it tackled such a topic, there was so much lightness and vibrancy in this novel because of who Sid is and the hope you could feel even in the aftermath of this horrible event. She had so much resiliency in her and you could feel it but I also could feel those gut dropping moments when you’ve almost forget it happened because you are happy and it comes rushing back. The character of Sid was written perfectly and makes this novel stick with me. Her pain was as real as her.

Also, I really need to point out 2 things — I loved the great family portrayed in this and I loved the friendship of Corey. Corey is one guy I didn’t expect to swoon over and TOTALLY did. His friendship was so important, I think, to anchor her at least a little bit and their romance came as one of those slow burn, I-TOTALLY-BELIEVE-THIS kind of romances. I loved how his relationship factored in but it didn’t overshadow Sid’s growth — she did the hard work but had great support.

I will say I was a little disappointed with how one of the issues was tackled/wrapped up. There were a lot of things that happened as a result of what happened that night and a number of, on the verge of overwhelming, threads that emerged and one of those centered around an eating disorder. It wasn’t developed a lot, like I said there was a lot going on, and I just felt this nagging sense when I finished that I didn’t completely love how it seemed like she just STOPPED doing it. Just a minor issue in my mind while reading but worthy of note because I just felt like it wasn’t super developed at all.

At first I wasn’t sure if I liked how neatly things seemed to wrap up but ultimately I decided that I know this story is just a small piece of this event and wasn’t about the healing aspect but rather the admittance that it occurred and coming to terms with what happened so the healing can begin.

I bawled through the last few pages of What Happens Next — this emotional surge that had been building up from the beginning to the end overtook me and the dam was able to burst forth with my tears. It tackles a really difficult subject brilliantly and Sid is a character who shines. Really, really shines. In the midst of a story that could, at first glance, seem to be a complete downer there is resiliency and strength in a character who is so vibrant and funny you can’t not care and flawless slowburn romance that will light your heart on fire but not distract you from Sid’s journey to come to terms with what happened so healing can come.

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton book review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think of it if you have read it? Did you LOVE Sid like I did?? How did you feel about Corey and Sid? How did you feel about how the subject was portrayed? Also, I’d love for some other recommendations for books that tackle date rape/rape well.

four-stars

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown | Book Review

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

 

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Publisher/Year: Little Brown May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA, Realistic Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Hate List, Perfect Escape, Bitter End
Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

The summer is about to come to an end and Ashleigh finds herself with the realization that her boyfriend, Kaleb, will be leaving soon for college. Concerned that he will forget her and full of insecurities about their future, she laments to her friends who suggest she take him a picture that will make SURE he doesn’t forget her. Drunk and armed with her phone, she takes a naked picture of herself and sends it to him. Months later Ashleigh and Kaleb have a very nasty breakup and Kaleb gets revenge by sending the naked picture out. Soon everybody in the school and beyond has seen it and everyone from the media to the police are now involved and she’s being ostracized at school. Ordered to court ordered community service, Ashleigh meets Mack, the only person in the program who will really talk to her, and starts a friendship with the one person she knows of that didn’t look at the photo when he received it and learns Mack’s story of why he is in community service.

Here’s the thing — I think what Thousand Words tackled and how it was portrayed was phenomenal. I think it’s an important book for teens in this age because sexting is a HUGE issue along with other abuses of technology. It’s a story that needs to be talked about because it sheds light in an honest and accessible way on this issue and also could help teens who SEE these things happen speak up and not further victimize the victim. However, I just had very “in the middle” feelings about it outside of that.

The story was told in a way where we knew WHAT happened up front and then we got alternating chapters of how the whole thing unfolded plus the present day. It was interesting to read the present day and the foundation for where she is now side by side. The whole mess was hard to read and it was really sad to see how she was ostracized at school and even among friends who knew the truth. There was a lot of victim blaming in this one and it was so hard to read about though it felt sadly realistic.

The even stronger point, I thought, in the whole story was how it affected her and her parents — their relationship and the effect on her parents’ life! There was also a lot to think about in terms of consequences for Ashleigh and many other people in this story and I appreciated that added dimension to the story because I didn’t think about some of the consequences as the story began. It made the story feel very complete to me as I battled with what was unfair and fair in this situation when it came to the people impacted by this act (Ashleigh, Kaleb, the bystanders, how her parents were impacted).

I think what is so important about the plot of this book is how realistic it is. It was completely plausible. I mean, the main character is a little drunk at a party and her girlfriends encourage her to make her boyfriend wish he was there with her so she sends her BOYFRIEND a naked pic of herself. After they go through a nasty break up months later, he sets the picture free and suddenly she is caught up in a major scandal and everyone is calling her a whore and slut and circulating nasty rumors. I can imagine many girls out there have done something that they thought was innocent in nature because it was just to their boyfriend and luckily, for some of them, nothing ever gets out but others aren’t so lucky. Sexting aside, in this era with all the technology, there are so many situations that could happen like this when your every move seems to be documented and mistakes are hard to erase.

While I thought the overall story was good, I just had a hard time connecting with Ashleigh. Sure I felt bad for her but I really didn’t feel like I got much from her and she seemed very one dimensional in some ways. I wanted a little more depth with her emotions. I understood her embarrassment but I wanted to get past the surface and really FEEL her emotions and I didn’t. I also thought a lot of the other characters were very bland and rudimentary so that was kind of disappointing because I’m definitely one who needs to FEEL something strongly towards a character (doesn’t even have to be a LIKE of them). The story just felt really impersonal to me though I thought it was good story.

I thought Jennifer Brown did a really great job of taking a timely issue and delicately breathing it to life with a scenario that really isn’t all that unrealistic today. If you enjoy “issue-y” novels that aren’t preachy this is a good one for sure as it looked at things in a multi-dimensional way and was realistic. As much as I think this story was done really well and is IMPORTANT, I just didn’t find what I was looking for to connect to it and make it more memorable for me. A lot of the characters, even Ashleigh for me, just felt at a distance to me where I could KNOW what I was supposed to feel towards them but I never actually felt much of anything except for feeling bad for all the Ashleigh’s of the world whose mistakes unfortunately get thrust out in the open. As impactful as this novel could have been on me, it just wasn’t.

 

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown-  teen issue book

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Thousand Words? Heard of it? If you’ve read it, what did you think? I’m curious if you think Kaleb’s punishment was fair? Have you read any of Jennifer Brown’s other novels? Have you read any other novels/heard of the one that tackles sexting?

three-half-stars

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith | Book Review

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithBook Title/Author: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher/Year
: Little Brown 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, The Comeback Season, You are Here, The Storm Makers

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

A friend let me borrow this one!

 

 

 

When Ellie accidentally receives an email meant for someone else she never could have imagined that the person she developed a friendship with is one of the biggest teen movie stars — Graham Larkin. They’ve kept up the conversation but have remained anonymous about who they are and their background. Graham decides he wants to meet Ellie in real life so he makes sure his next film is shot in Ellie’s very small town in Maine which happens to be the perfect location for the film. When Graham finally reveals himself to Ellie it seems like it is destined to not work. Even if Ellie really believed something could ever work out between an average girl from a small town and a famous actor, she knows she has to avoid all the attention and the spotlight to hide her past.

I thought this one was okay — cute, light and entertaining enough. I didn’t feel as much for it as I did The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight but it wasn’t by any means a BAD book at all. I enjoyed it in the way I enjoyed (ok, still enjoy) Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movies like Passport To Paris, Winning London, When In Rome, etc. It was more of the cheesy cute romance variety where you’ll need to suspend some disbelief and there’s a bit of predictability. This actually would make a VERY cute movie on ABC Family or the Disney channel.

The romance is very cute and is the sort of thing that 13 year old Jamie would have gone gaga over since she always dreamed of chance encounters with the boys of Tiger Beat who plastered her walls where they would fall madly in love with her. It’s a really cute, fun premise that certainly was easy to get into.

The tension of the romance is in that Ellie, the main character who ends up emailing with THE BIGGEST TEEN MOVIE STAR, has absolutely noooo interest in fawning over a movie star. I loved reading the emails they exchanged between each other and how she had NO idea he was famous. It led to some crazy tension when he finally rolls into town and she finds out that HE was the person she had been emailing all along. Not to mention the fact that Ellie has her own secret and needs to keep her life private — something that dating a celebrity would not afford you with all the paparazzi intruding on their every moment. It’s the typical “we could never work out because our lives our so different” kind of thing and I really did enjoy watching them through those moments.

While it was very cute it just didn’t didn’t do a ton for me. I liked the characters but kind of found them to be a little dull though I did love reading about a nice guy though I wished he would have been a little more interesting. The story, at points, seemed to drag and I just never really felt invested in the story or characters to make me feel anything other “well, that was cute.” That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it because I definitely did just wasn’t super strong for me. Also, we read this for book club and it honestly didn’t lend to much discussion to be honest.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is a cute, clean romance that I thought was okay and enjoyable but I didn’t particularly love it. I enjoyed it in the way I enjoyed Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen movies. It’s filled with romantic tension as Ellie tries to fight her feelings towards the guy she has been emailing who she finds out is actually one of the biggest teen movie stars. It’s full of cute moments that I think 13 year old Jamie would have swooned over but it didn’t leave a huge impression on me though it was totally sweet and uplifting. I would 100% recommend this to tweens/younger teens though!

 

 

This Is What Happy Looks LIke by Jennifer E. Smith

 

Recommend if you like: The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen movies or Disney channel movies/ABC family shows, clean romances, cute & light books

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? If you have read it, what did you think? Did you feel differently than me! I would love to hear it!

three-stars

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney | Book Review

When You Were Here by Daisy WhitneyBook Title/Author: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Publisher/Year
: Little Brown June 4th 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: The  Mockingbirds/The Rivals, Starry Nights (out in Fall 2013)

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I borrowed this from a very kind friend.

 

 

 

Three weeks before Danny’s graduation, his mom loses her battle with cancer and Danny becomes an orphan.  Amidst his grief and hopelessness, a directionless Danny has to try to make it through his graduation and deliver a hopeful Valedictorian speech while trying to make adult decisions about what to do with their home and his mother’s things. On top of it all, the girl who broke his heart by just shutting him out of her life suddenly reappears in his life. When the manager of his family’s apartment in Japan, where Danny’s mom had spending some of her final months for treatment, sends a letter that reveals to him that maybe he didn’t know all about his mother’s final months and why she seemed so happy in them. With nagging questions and sense of purposelessness that has made him numb, Danny takes a trip around the world to Japan to if he can find the answers and reconnect with his mother through these memories

I read this book back in January, wrote my Save the Date for it immediately and my heart is still bursting at the seams with my love for it remembering the emotional journey I took with Danny. I can say it’s one of the best 2013 books I’ve read so far and for sure a new favorite. I instantly knew I wanted to read this book when I first creeped the catalog because the story was about a boy whose mom, who wanted to see him graduate high school, passes away from brain cancer 3 weeks before he graduates. I nearly cried just reading the summary because that was my mom’s wish to see us graduate which, luckily for us, she did. I’m always drawn to stories of grief in YA and I knew this was going to hit close to the heart. It did in fact make me sob and sob and sob.

When You Were Here was just all around beautiful. It steamrolls through your heart and then you realize, by the last page, that Daisy Whitney has been so subtly rebuilding those pieces of your heart ensuring that it’s still intact. It’s a story of loss and love but also of the courage and strength you must possess to make it through both. It’s more than just a story about a boy who loses his mom. It’s about how we move forward in all of these things that life throws our way. I definitely connected to the grief portion for personal reasons but, without a doubt, the things that Danny grapples with are things I think a lot of people will connect with.

I loved the physical and emotional journey Danny takes to Tokyo to retrieve his mother’s belongings and looking for answers to what his mom was doing with her time in those last months. I loved how Danny tries to feel the spirit of his mom in the city they loved so much and Daisy Whitney makes the city comes alive as Danny visits the fish market, ambles along the twisted streets or admiring the cherry blossoms. The spunky daughter of the caretaker, Kana, was one of my favorite characters and her spirit just radiated vibrantly which really was this surge of brightness that was a nice balance to the grief and sorrow Danny was feeling. She was the perfect tour guide and really helped him understand some of what his mom was doing and to start the healing process by reminding him to keep LIVING. I love how he learns more about his mom through Kana and her mother and also through the city she spent so much time in, that in turn, help him through this process and learn a lot about himself.

I connected so much with Danny and love the way he was written — one of THE best male POVS I’ve read in YA that was both emotional and felt like HOW A REAL GUY THOUGHT/TALKED. None of this “what the hell kind of boy talks or acts like that?” that I’ve encountered so often.  Having watched my now husband grapple with his own grief I felt that some of the things were so realistic for how some guys might deal with things versus how I did.

I think the ONLY way I didn’t connect with him was with the whole ex girlfriend thing. There is this whole THING surrounding them and their breakup and how she just up and left — it was a little bit hard to swallow and I really struggled to connect with HER which hindered my ability to understand Danny’s love for  her. We get a little of a background of THEM but I felt like I just never FELT what they shared. There are things that will make you understand her more but I just would have liked to truly feel what he felt for her.  I was at such a distance from her whereas, even though his mother wasn’t alive during the book, I felt like I REALLY got to know her and feel the depth of their relationship.

Aside from the emotional grief aspect of this novel there is something that happens that is of the rollercoaster stomach dropping variety and completely took me off guard. I didn’t expect it and it pretty much laid me out emotionally. Big sobby mess over here when I read it — snot nose and all. (I’m so delightful, aren’t I?) I just didn’t see it coming at all.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney is one of my newest favorite contemporaries. It’s definitely an emotional read with moments that will steamroll right through your heart but also a good balance of ones that will uplift and remind you how much strength the human spirit has and how resilient we are in love and loss. Loved the realistic male perspective and I connected with him and his physical and emotional journey to work through his grief throughout the novel (with the aside of fully FEELING this connection to his ex girlfriend). It’s a beautifully written story through and through and I highly recommend it if you are a fan of YA contemporary that is more of an emotional, not so light read. ALSO, favorite pet in YA in this book!

 

 

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it or feel different than me? Did you see the THING coming or were you surprised like I was?

 

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