Book Talk: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

Book Talk: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki WakefieldFriday Never Leaving (aka Friday Brown) by Vikki Wakefield
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

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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Friday Brown has been used to never have one permanent home as she’s traveled here and there with her mom but she’s always felt like that’s where she belonged — on the road with her mom. When Friday’s mom passes away, she finds herself presented with a new home but she can’t give up feeling like she needs to be on the move. So she leaves the security she could have and decides to go in search of her own place to belong — which ends up being with a group of other street kids who is held together by Arden, a girl who has a strong hold on the group and who likes to play games — especially when anyone challenges her.

a2*adds to list yet another Aussie novel that I love*

a4If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know I love me some Aussie YA (here’s a Aussie YA 101 list to get you started if you don’t know the magic that is Aussie YA). Vikki Wakefield was one of those Aussie authors I’ve yet to read yet so I grabbed Friday Never Leaving (titled Friday Brown in Australia) to give her a try.  The verdict? I was impressed by this quiet yet moving novel! It was a gritty, emotional novel about what makes a home and a family and that never-ending quest to find where you belong.

Some things I loved:

  1. The rag-tag group of street kids: I don’t typically read a lot of books about young adults who are homeless or runaways. I enjoyed learning a little bit about their heartbreaking stories and, even though there were some toxic aspects of their little family they made together, I really enjoyed seeing they came together to make a family and a home out of their situation and how they looked out for each other. The dynamics are complex, no doubt, but I really loved following this group and coming to care about these characters who have slipped through the cracks of society. Their personalities were so distinct and honestly I wish I had some sort of novella followup so I can know what happened to all of them!!
  2. The writing & emotions portrayed: Oh just that Aussie magic that runs deep over there apparently!! There is this paragraph about grief and losing someone that just SLAYED ME.
  3. How it so perfectly balanced character and plot: I love how it flowed  — memories of Friday’s childhood and life with her mom intermingled with Friday’s journey trying to find her own way after her mom passes away. It had all the character-driven qualities I love in a novel and was wrought with emotion and these stirring passages and then there are these super charged and intense situations that had me biting my nails. I felt the intensity of life on the street, the dangers, the uncertainties. I think the plot went places I didn’t expect which definitely upped the intensity and actually was a pleasant surprised though at times I was like WOW IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING.
  4. How home, family and belonging were explored: It’s always been Friday and her mom. The stories she knows are stories told by her mom. All the history she knows from her mom. She belonged — on the road going here and there with her mom. When her mom dies Friday finds herself alone. She has family that she never knew. She could have a home. But her sense of belonging has disappeared. I loved how the book explored this idea so beautifully and emotionally as all these kids, Friday included, are trying to cobble together some semblance of belonging — something they all share.

 

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, plot, characterization, the ability to surprise me
–  nothing really just missing that SOMETHING to make it be a fave


a5Aussie YA fans, fans who like character-driven novels (that still have plot but it isn’t apparent at first), fans of gritty stories, people who like quiet novels

a8Friday Never Leaving was such a gem and I wish it got more love here in the States when it got published. I cared about the characters and couldn’t put it down with the tension and intensity heightened. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful and quiet but the sorrow and grief and loneliness rattled my bones…and the sense of hope I did feel amidst it all sent me soaring.

review-on-post-itFriday Never leaving vikki wakefield

 

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 other Aussie gems should I have my eye on??

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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
Also by this author: The Summer I Turned Pretty, To All The Boys I've Loved Before
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”

 

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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: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Book Talk: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTo All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: To All The Boys #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on April 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Summer I Turned Pretty, PS I Still Love You
Format: ARC
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”

A1OH MY GOSH WORST NIGHTMARE EVER. So Lara Jean writes letters to boys she’s loved or really crushed on when she really needs to just let them go. After she writes them she hides them in a hat box and they are safe and secure…until one day they are not. She finds out that all the letters have been mailed to the boys and she’s forced to confront these boys that have been a part of her past and her present all while trying to keep her family together as her older sister has moved across the world for college.

a2OMG I NEED THE SEQUEL (it’s a duology). I don’t want this to end. I need to KNOW THE THINGS.

a4You ever have one of those really delightful reads where you open your mouth to speak about it and you end up doing some high pitched squeal and clapping your hands emphatically? No? Just me? Okay. Well that was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before for me. Let’s talk about WHY!

1. Lara Jean is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve encountered in a while! I just want to park my butt in the kitchen and chat while she bakes cookies and I eat them all. I LOVED being in her head and I just feel like we would have been friends — her fab sense of style right down to HS Jamie’s skiddish-ness about driving. I really connected with her in the absence of her mom and navigating the changes going on her life. I really just slipped right in next to her and watched everything unfold along with her and I didn’t want the experience to be over. She made me laugh quite a bit and I just really loved her to death! She just shines. I haven’t adored a main character like this in a while. My only thing is that at times her voice seemed super young (inner monologue mostly) and then it didn’t.

2. HOLY CRAP I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO TORN ABOUT A FICTIONAL LOVE LIFE EVER: I mean, I know who I WANT her to be with but oh my gawd the tension and the complications and GAH. But seriously…her love life because of these letters coming out was just so absolutely fascinating! I LOVED IT. I don’t want to say much because I want YOU to discover it for yourself but I loved how the letters brought about truths

3. Sisterly bonds for the win: I have sisters and so I tend to really dig books exploring the complex relationships of sisters. I felt like I really got to know each sister through their bond with Lara Jean and I really understood how they worked as a unit. I loved those sisters! And I could feel their resilience and their need to take care of each other all these years after they lost their mom. And I really could feel that strain and the shift of things in their household when Margot leaves. Lara Jean becomes the one who has to take Margot’s place in keeping everything running the household and watching her try to do that just reinforced just how much they had relied on each other as a unit — to take care of each other, their dad and just to keep the household going in general.

4. Diversity FTW! Lara Jean is half Korean (her mom was Korean) and I loved that we get a sense of her culture which I loved but it’s not the only thing about her as a character (because, to me, that’s not how it is in real life. One’s heritage is not your defining THING). I loved how her dad still tried to keep their Korean roots present as best as he could after their mom passed. It was sweet and touching. Also, HELL YES to the cover model actually not being whitewashed!!

a6loved-it

factors+ characters, plot, writing, could not put it down, the romantic tension, how it made me grin a ton but was still very heartfelt
nothing really (so close to being a BEYOND LOVED)

Re-readability: YES! In fact I would like to already.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? YES. It would definitely be a keeper on my shelf.

a5Fans of Jenny Han (though the voice is way different than Belly’s), maybe even readers who weren’t fans of The Summer I Turned Pretty because of a lack of connection with Belly, contemporary YA fans who want a story that will make them grin like a fool but that is also very heartfelt.

a8To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before exceeded my expectations. I was drawn in by the plot (I mean, all your secret love letters being sent to the boys you wrote them to??) and it absolutely delivered on everything that could have gone with that. Everything was just impeccable in this story — Lara Jean’s voice, the romance, the family dynamics and just the overall FEELING I got from reading it. It embodies youth in the best way possible and was a very charming and heartfelt story. Warm and fuzzies, y’all. It’s one that is a must read for fans of contemporary YA because it’s just so, so great and I think it has all the things that drew us to realistic teen fiction in the first place. A very refreshing read for me!

 

review-on-post-it

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

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, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* Did you love Lara Jean like I did?
* And HOLY TENSION AT THE END. Who here is DYING for the resolution??


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Book Talk: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan MatsonSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer
Format: ARC
Source: From Author
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!

 

 

 

 

book synopsis When Sloane came into Emily’s life, it’s like she became a new, more daring person and did things she wouldn’t normally do with Sloane by her side — though she still wasn’t quite up to Sloane’s speed. Just as the most perfect and epic summer is about to start for the two girls, Sloane just disappears. She doesn’t leave any explanation — not even when, a few days later, a Sloane-made list that Emily has experienced before shows up in the mail with 13 tasks for Emily to do — things Emily wouldn’t do on her own. Emily hopes that by doing the things on the list she’ll be reunited with Sloane or given some sort of clue as to where she went so she sets out to tackle the list full of firsts, scary things, embarrassing things, random things and more — things that lead her to meeting people along the way who end up helping her complete the list!

 

good books to read

Morgan Matson is one of my favorite authors ever. Her books always just strike the right chord within me and I connect emotionally and always just love the story, the writing and the characters. Since You’ve Been Gone, I’m happy to report, kept that trend alive…but in a different way for me. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer were really, really personal for me because they dealt a lot with grief and loss. There was that personal connection there for me. This one there wasn’t that same HUGELY personal element (though I connected quite a bit in ways) but it proved my love for Morgan Matson’s books even more fiercely because DAMN can she write a story that sucks me in, makes me love the characters, makes me swoon and gives me all sorts of emotions. Since You’ve Been Gone, like her other books, just does it all for me. That perfect feeling of getting lost in a great book.

So let’s talk:

1. I’m used to Morgan Matson’s books making me cry (okay SOB FEROCIOUSLY in the case of Second Chance Summer) but Since You’ve Been Gone just made me grin like a fool — allegedly…according to Will who apparently watches me while I read but I’m too absorbed to notice. Okay, he’s right though. My face hurt from grinning so much. This book gave me happy feels and I did some happy crying at times. I could produce for you a whole LIST of these moments that made my heart happy or made me giggle. This book is sweet, heartfelt and a wonderful story about friendship and really finding yourself. I just felt giddy the whole time I was reading it. And the relationship between Emily and Frank made my heart melt like an ice cream on a hot day…just a sticky sweet puddle of heart eyed feelings. Ooh the friendship and then the tension.

2. I love lists and I loved watching Emily deal with Sloane’s list: I was so pissed at Sloane for leaving Emily with no explanation..just this list. Like YOU HAVE SOME SPLAINING TO DO, Sloane. WHERE ARE YOU? I half wanted Emily to crumple the list up but obviously I was happy she was going to tackle the list because I was so interested in what some of them meant and HOW she would do some of them (skinny dipping, kiss a stranger, steal something). It was a super fun premise and I felt like each thing on the list helped me to get to know Emily AND Sloane even more. Obviously watching Emily go out of her comfort zone with this list was a given, which I’ll talk about below, but I felt like I got to know Sloane in learning where some of these list items came from and WHY she put them on her. I’m a bucket list enthusiast so I was excited about this premise.

3. I loved experiencing Emily figure out who she was apart from Sloane: I don’t know about you but I’ve had the experience of being in relationships (friendships/romantic/otherwise) where I don’t know who I am apart from the person and it’s only when I’m forced to confront that absence that I start to realize how strongly my identity was in those people. Doing these things on Sloane’s list helped her to start to figure out who she was without Sloane there. Sloane had been such an integral part in her past couple years and Sloane was the driving force of their fun and excitement. I loved watching Emily be brave, in the small and big moments, and start to figure out who she was while tackling this list. Even though at first she was doing this list in hopes it would help her find Sloane, she began to do it for herself. Her growth was wonderful to watch and she honestly kind of inspired me.

4. I loved the focus on friendship: Without Sloane, Emily really didn’t have any other friends so I loved watching her meet some new people like Dawn, Frank and Matthew. I just loved them so much and loved how they ended up helping her with the list and it really became less about this THING she was doing for Sloane but for herself and with these new friends. I also really loved how this experience really gave her perspective on her friendship with Sloane and really added even more depth to it when she eventually figured out what happened with Sloane. All these friendship feels made me miss that feeling of making new friends — those friends who end up being your partners in crime, the ones you tell all your secrets to, etc.

5. Morgan Matson gives me an experience: I could say this about her other books but I think maybe I felt like it with this one even more. She makes me feel like I am really involved in the story with the details she gives and how she takes her time in the best way possible to get you to feel it and to KNOW the characters. She just doesn’t paint me a picture of the scene and of the feelings but she makes me feel and experience everything. I feel like I’m there in the midst of it all. I feel the pain of missing Sloane, the fear of doing the things on the list, the thrill of the moment they skinny dipped,the awkwardness of making new friends and seeing Emily’s ex boyfriend. I couldn’t contain my reactions and feelings at times — the laughs escaped, the happy tears fell, the tension constricted my heart and the love just flowed.

6. FRANK FRANK FRANK. That’s all. Also, that boy has excellent taste in music. Okay, so maybe that’s not all. So often in YA I see these boys who are not in fact teenage boys but like supposed to be hot, hunky man candy with all the right moves and words. Frank made me swoon like a school girl in love but he was not perfect or mysterious or anything. He was a teenage boy who was smart and had so many facets to who he was. He felt like somebody I would have REALLY fallen for. And I loved the friendship that he and Emily built. MY HEART. I would like to guarantee a Frank for my nieces and if I ever have daughters (I mean, unless they aren’t into boys). WEAK IN THE KNEES FOR FRANK!

7. Be happy, fans of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour…the music playlists are back!! And they are so, so good though Morgan said they are a little different in the final copy!

book reviewsI LOVED IT. Morgan Matson just keeps solidifying herself as one of my favorite authors. My heart wants to seize up with happiness over Since You’ve Been Gone. It was a most anticipated book for 2014 and it did NOT disappoint. If you love contemporary YA, read it and then go read her other books if you haven’t!

 

 

 

short book review

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Golden by Jessi Kirby | Book Review

Golden by Jessi KirbyBook Title/Author: Golden by Jessi Kirby
Publisher/Year
: Simon  & Schuster May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No!
Other Books From Author: Moonglass, In Honor

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

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

 

ALSO, read the very personal post I wrote inspired by this book!

 

Parker is coming closer to her high school graduation and everything is on track for that next stage in her life. She’s valedictorian, always listens to her mom, is driven but, as her best friend always points out, she rarely takes chances or does the unexpected — despite her best friend’s urging and influence. Her life is shaken when she takes a chance and peers into the personal life that unexpectedly sheds some light on a town legend and tragedy. Everybody knows the tragic love story of Julianna Fernetti and Shane Cruz. Ten years they were the golden couple of the high school and town and ten years ago when a tragic accident on an icy road sent them plunging into the river from which their bodies were never found. The golden couple has been romanticized but Parker finds that things aren’t always as they seem as she reads a sealed class assignment that Julianna wrote 10 years ago and begins to question what really happened the night of their fateful accident.

Honestly, of Jessi Kirby’s 3 novels so far, Golden is undoubtedly my favorite. She’s become an author I don’t hesitate to recommend if you like contemporary YA and placed on my auto-buy list and reading Golden confirmed all these things even  more. Golden is a stunning book with incredible depth, a skillfully unraveled mystery and characters that I really loved. One of those books that absorbs you completely and you find yourself done in a flash and your emotions are all scattered over the place. I was equally enthralled with both the mystery element to this novel as well as the character development and growth of Parker — I really could root for and relate to her.

I really loved how Parker’s story and the mystery of Julianna’s tragic accident were woven together. I felt like I got to know Parker so much through her reactions to reading Julianna’s journal and my heart was in my throat reading Julianna’s tragic story as it was so perfectly revealed. It was one of those tragic stories where your heart just ached and I could feel the intensity and weight that Parker felt for uncovering it all as she read the journal that had been sealed away for 10 years shining a whole new light on a town legend. I loved the adventure that Julianna’s story took Parker and her friends on and how it challenged her with things in her life that she had always struggled with — getting out of her comfort zone, living the life SHE wants etc. It was just a perfect blend of mystery, character growth and one of those books that makes you think and examine your own life. I thought about so many things — how things aren’t always as they seem to be and how they are romanticized sometimes and just how sometimes we get stuck in trap of trying to figure OUT our life rather than living it. I journalled a lot after reading this one.

The mystery thread was SO interesting how it was revealed and kept me on the edge of my seat but not in that thriller kind of way. I kept guessing and speculating. I DID end up making a good prediction and read at a dizzying pace to see if my little hunch was right and it WAS. I love that. Jessi Kirby cleverly unravels things so that you can’t help but start thinking things and questioning things along with Parker. I was reading with a friend and it was hilarious the different predictions we made!

It’s hard to explain, without giving it all away, what is so special about this novel but it’s the whole package — fully developed, interesting characters and dynamics, beautiful writing, thought-provoking and a refreshingly executed plot that practically glues your eyeballs to the pages. I could start spouting off fancy adjectives but you should just probably read the book.

 

Golden by Jessi Kirby was a stirring and beautiful story with depth and emotion and I LOVED IT. I have this desire to reread it already. It was refreshing and one of those books that just is all consuming in the best possible way. I couldn’t stop reading as Parker read the journal of a girl who was the center of a tragic accident and finds her life become intertwined with this mystery — all while watching Parker’s growth. It’s my favorite novel thus far from Jessi Kirby and solidifies her as a go-to author in the contemporary YA genre. Don’t miss this one, friends!

 

Golden by Jessi Kirby

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you guess the mystery or a piece of it??

 

 

four-half-stars

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

teen summer romanceBook Title/Author: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Publisher/Year: : Simon & Schuster 2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in the Summer series!
Other Books From Author: Shug, Burn For Burn, rest of the Summer series!

Amazon| Goodreads | Jenny Han’s website

The Story

For as long as Belly can remember she, her brother and mom spent their summer at the beach house with her mom’s best friend Susannah and her sons Jeremiah and Conrad who along the years have been her playmates, her enemies, brother-like figures and in the recent years — her crushes!  This summer it seems as though the boys are starting to see how much she’s grown up and are actually letting her hang around.  Summers at the beach house were always perfect for Belly and she lived for those months when they’d be back at the beach house — all the other seasons just led up to Summer. This summer seems like the summer that will change everything but will Belly be ready for just how much change?

The Review:

The Summer I Turned Pretty is one of those books that everyone has told me I must read! After having read it I understand why! It’s just one of those really wonderful contemporary YA books that I’m so glad I finally read — it seems like a rite of passage or something for most people who are hardcore contemporary YA fans. And I definitely understand why it’s on all the “Great Beach Reads” lists — it’s got a great summer vibe, romance, fun — but also some substance that makes for some pretty serious and REAL moments that balance really well with the general lightheartedness of the book. Moments that are quite raw and real; a striking contrast to the carefree picture perfect moments of the summers Belly recounts.It’s really quite everything I love in my contemps!

I just love the way Han paints this picture of these summers at the beach house through flashbacks of summers past and obviously through the current summer. She just makes you feel Belly’s love for the beach house and why it’s so special to her. I just got those warm, fuzzy feelings towards my own childhood & teen summer memories — beach days, pools, lazy days lounging in your swim suit, iced tea and more! Han creates the perfect setting for fun and romance and the beach house seems like this perfect backdrop to some of the growing up and self discovery that happens to the characters– something that I feel like will happen even more in the remaining two books with how this one ended!

I loved the boys! Jeremiah and Conrad are just so wonderful and I loved the relationship Belly had with each of them. During the whole book I couldn’t figure out which one was RIGHT for her but I just loved the tension between her and Conrad. I can’t help but love Conrad — I felt like there was something more going on with him and his “brooding” and then at the end when all of his feelings came out…OH MY GOD. I would have been a heaping pile of mess on the beach next to him. I cannot WAIT to see where the next books take her relationships!

I liked Belly. I think I’ll grow to love her. I didn’t feel as though I didn’t get a sense of who she was outside of her love for the beach house and the boys — and the fact she’s kind of whiny. I mean, I know that all we know of her exists in the confines of her summers at the beach house mostly but I did wish I got to know MORE of her — I just didn’t really feel like I KNEW her; but I suspect in the next two books will get a REAL sense of who she is. I hope! The good thing is — she felt REALLY authentic and seemed like a normal girl that anyone could relate to on some level.

 

My Final Thought

Love the start of this series and so glad I finally listened to all my blogger friends on this one! It’s just a really good example of really wonder contemporary YA. It’s just so real and finely written. Jenny Han gets straight to the heart but not in some contrived, overly dramatic way. She creates something light and fun but with substance and heart — the epitome of what I look for in a beach read! Cannot wait to devour the rest of this trilogy! I also will say I wish I was a teen when I read this because  I would have been even MORE obsessed with this!

 

You May Also Like: books by Sarah Dessen, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

four-stars

In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Book Title/Author: In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster May 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Amazon
| Goodreads | Author website

I received this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After Honor’s older brother is killed in Iraq, Honor discovers, on the night after the funeral, an unopened letter from her brother  sent before he passed away. Honor reads the final words of Finn and decides to embark on a journey to California that she believes Finn is sending her on.  Standing in her way is Finn’s former best friend, Rusty, who shows up at the house drunk after years of the two not seeing each other after Finn & Rusty’s falling out.  Rusty, who has the tendency to act like an ass & downright piss her off, convinces Honor to let him join her on this journey. Along the way, the two reconnect and help each other cope with this monumental loss and learn things about each other and about Finn — things that help them relive memories & dull the pain, some that help understand past actions & things that downright catch them off guard and make them realize that perhaps everything wasn’t always as it seemed.

Road trip? A quest that a deceased family member sends the character on? A hint of a possible romance with two unlikely and unsuspecting characters? Coupled with the fact that I had previously read and loved Kirby’s debut novel Moonglass? This had all the makings to make me do a ridiculous happy dance when it arrived on my doorstep.  And that I did.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby was a quick read for me as I immediately found Honor’s devastation thrust upon me and then, once the road trip started, I got to  feeling like I had hopped in the car with Honor & Rusty and settled in for the ride with my hair blowing in the wind & singing along to the classic rock.  The road trip has it’s fun moments for sure but this journey you quickly discover is more focused on the emotional one Honor needs to endure full of hard lessons, facetime with her grief, revelations she doesn’t want to here & opportunities to step outside herself and live.

At times my heart just pained for her, and for Rusty, who shares in her grief. Sometimes it felt like little was happening in this book as a lot of it DOES take place in the car and at stops along the way but then sometimes you felt like when it rained, it poured and I questioned how much more could Honor endure (the storm, the whole police incident & then the big reveal).  It was a pretty emotional read though sometimes the beauty in Jessi Kirby’s books are that they aren’t TOO “heavy” to handle. There is still a lighter feel to them despite the grief and the tragedy surrounding the story. I didn’t get this all consuming feeling where I felt I was being suffocated by the grief  just as the character was like in (one of my favorite books) The Sky Is Everywhere. Whereas The Sky Is Everywhere felt like my heart got run over 50 times over by a cement truck, In Honor pierced and at times stabbed my heart. Still heartwrenching but not to the degree that some teen books about grieving are.  Rusty sometimes creates quite some comedic relief and some of the more swoony moments certainly help to distract.

Speaking of Rusty, knowing that Jessi Kirby is a HUGE Friday Night Lights fan (Texas Forever!!) and many people saying Rusty was based on Tim Riggins (ow ow! Man of my dreams) from FNL, I could NOT read this book without picturing Tim Riggins — which I certainly didn’t mind — but I wonder how I met have felt towards Rusty if I didn’t associate him with Tim– knowing the heart behind the tougher exterior. I mean, seriously Rusty can be a straight up douche sometimes that you wonder why Honor doesn’t kick him to the curb but eventually, like with Tim Riggins, you start to see the mess that lies underneath Rusty and realize his hurt and how mangled that is.

As far as the romance goes,  I’m not sure whether I think there is a true connection there or if I think the romantical aspect was an attraction to someone who understands your grief and it makes you feel better. I couldn’t tell. Maybe that’s why I did find the ending so fitting. Maybe that was the point of it. To not really know in the wake of all these crazy emotions and feelings. But I can’t say I was head over heels for the romance element to this book — I appreciated it wasn’t this instanta-love from the moment they got on the road — it was a slow unraveling of affection that hinted at something more. But I also wasn’t sure I saw what suddenly made her go from bff’s little sister to something more. Was it just that she “grew up” and got boobs? I couldn’t get a sense if there had been something always underlying in their relationship.

My big complaint?  While I really felt for Honor, she never really  jumped off the page for me. I couldn’t figure her out. Which also made me feel weird towards the way she responded to a certain revelation. She seemed to bounce right back from something that would have had me huddled in a ball for days feeling guilt upon guilt and what-ifs. And from what I thought I knew of her, I just expected a different reaction.  The ending really was when I started to kinda feel like I understood where her head was and the fact she had no clue who she was after a HUGE piece of her was ripped away. But even then, unfortunately I don’t think she’ll stick with me the way other characters do when I experience their grief alongside them. I liked her just fine but she just wasn’t fully realized for me.

 

My Final Thought: Between Moonglass & In Honor, Jessi Kirby has definitely grabbed my attention has an author whose works I’ll keep buying.  In Honor has realistic characters that are complicated & have authentic voices, really smooth & accessible writing, romance that doesn’t overshadow other really great parts of the story & a journey that had me grabbing for the tissues but also chuckling and just feeling some sort of togetherness with mankind and the resilience of the human spirit. And I have to say, as much as the ending might make some feel unsatisfied, I rather liked it! This is one to pack in the beach bag this summer, friends!

 

Book Review On A Post-It:

 In Honory Review Jessi Kirby

You May Also Like: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

three-stars

Wither by Lauren DeStefano — The Unofficial Review

So..here’s the thing. I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano last December. My dear friend Steph from Steph Su Reads passed it on to me one night while we hung out because I was SUPER bummed I didn’t get it in my mailbox along with everyone else. I immediately came home, curled up next to my fireplace (my preferred reading spot in the winter) and read all night long. Literally. I read and LOVED Wither last December and here I am now writing about it. Why might you ask?

This may sound like a cop-out but I couldn’t review it. I loved it SO much that I just needed to let it be. I expressed my love on Twitter and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and let it be done. I just finished Fever last night (OMG so good!) and I felt really strong urge to express my feelings about Wither before I do so at some later juncture about Fever. This is not a review. I’m simply going to give you my reading experience with Wither and that will be that.

Reading Wither to me was reminiscent to my childhood reading. When I was younger my imagination was so alive that descriptions in books were incredibly vivid to the point where I really felt oppressed by the weight of living on the prairie or as an orphan in a boxcar. This is how Wither was to me…at 25 years old with a imagination that rarely gets used. It made me remember why I love reading in general. The world that Lauren DeStefano creates in Wither became a very real place and the mood pulsed through my veins so much so that I don’t recall ever remembering that others went to bed and that the fireplace went out. I felt despair and anguish with Rhine in this foreign place. I felt the coldness that just emanated from the mansion where Rhine was held against her will and that need to survive at all costs. I felt the bond between the sister wives and the way they truly needed each other. Everything was just so real to me.

I wasn’t marred by my need to over analyze the plot or the choices or the style. I didn’t think about anything other the story. I just let it be like I did as a child. There was innocence in that reading. I may not have known about plot devices or climax or anything like that but I knew when I was held captive by a story. I knew that crazy sensation of shaking yourself out of the pages of the book that you were so entangled in and finding yourself back in reality. I knew the feeling of willing more pages to appear because you just weren’t ready to be done with the flimsy few pages that were suddenly left because you plowed through the book at an alarming pace. That is how I felt about this book.

Lauren DeStefano’s writing is undoubtedly beautiful and lush and worthy of being savored. My only regret is not slowing down. I mean, but how could I, I needed to know what happened. Her writing is something to get lost in. This story was something to get lost in. She wrote the characters in a way that they have stuck with me the way a select few do so vividly – wonderful wonderful Rhine with her unbreakable spirit and will to fight. Delicate, naive Cecily who just doesn’t know any better but has more strength than giving credit for. Loveable Gabriel who is certainly worthy of Rhine’s eye. Kind and nurturing Deidre who you forget is so young. Strong, fierce Jenna who is quite a mystery but recognizes the truth. Housemaster Vaughn whose evilness is truly frightening. And Linden. Oh Linden. Perhaps one of my favorite characters. For SO many reasons.  Some of these characters were able to provide that bit of beauty and hope in a world and situation that just seems devoid of life, devoid of hope for the future and devoid of true, unfettered love.

I know of some who had problems with things in the book. I know that I didn’t quite understand the world, how it came to be, why people still wanted to have children, etc. For me, I didn’t need to know or understand for some reason. I knew halfway through that I could never analyze this book to death. I didn’t want to pick it apart. I wanted to enjoy the experience. I’m not saying those of you who had problems with it are wrong. I’m not saying it is a perfect book. I’m just saying that when a book grabs a hold of me and reminds me why I enjoyed reading in the first place…it is time for me to let go and just get lost. And I did. Wholly.

If you haven’t read Wither and enjoy YA dystopian novels, I’d honestly recommend this one. The writing is beautiful, the characters are beyond real and the world is frightening. Even if you don’t read YA but like dystopian novels, I’d honestly still recommend this to you as someone who reads and reviews both YA and adult. In fact, I’d really encourage you to pick it up. I honestly would forget sometimes that I’m reading about a young girl because these characters are in a situation that makes them grow up tremendously…so if that kind of “young POV” thing bothers you..you should know it is not there. Their “age” shows through sometimes but appropriately because they are young girls being forced to be wives and mothers and confront dying at an early age.

Have any of you ever had an experience like this? You loved a book too much to review it? Have a book that honestly made you remember why it is that you love reading?

five-stars

Review: The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster – 9/11
How I Got It: Got an ARC at BEA!
Read a summary here.
Pre-Order It here.

I’m going to preface this with: I normally don’t write reviews like this. I mean,  my reviews tend to be more conversational and laid back rather than a literary analysis that is eloquently written with excellent usage of literary terms straight from your college textbook. But this review…I’ve tried to write this 10 times since I finished it and this is the only way it’s worked…to gush and then to rant like I’m calling up my sister and telling her about it.

Oh goodness. This book and I…we have a real complicated relationship. I finished this book in a day. To say I devoured it would be an understatement. It was like the kind of head-over-heels-and-so-deliriously-drunk-on-lust infatuation….you know the kind that might make you go and get hitched after a day together. THAT is how smitten I was with this book.

From the very first page I was undeniably locked in. The mystery and intrigue had me in its grips, I fell in love with Noah (who weirdly enough I kept picturing as a cross between Logan from Veronica Mars and Heath Ledger in Ten Things I Hate About You…more so Logan with his bad boy swagger and adorableness) and Hodkins unraveling of the plot and ability to balance the paranormal, romantical and realistic aspects of the story was brilliant.  There was some sexy, steamy tension and that was a nice distraction from the mysteries and general confused (in a good way!) state I was in.

I mean, there were some bizarre things going on in this book. Good bizarre…in a way that I was DYING to figure it out and trying to formulate guesses as to what is going on. I felt just as crazy as Mara felt trying to grapple with what I was reading — is this a dream? Are these ghosts? Parallel universes? Is she dead or something bizarre like that? WHAT IS REAAAAAL?!? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!? Freakin A. I felt like David after the dentist for goodness sake. Seriously. The screaming and all. AND THIS IS ALL IN A GOOD WAY! MIND-BENDING!

BUT I WAS LOVING IT ALL. I was getting ready to slap a “Jamie’s Pick for Best Book Of The Year”…and, friends, that carries more weight than the big O book club sticker…and mine are sparkly.

BUT THEN…about 3/4 of the way through..something happened. Some may call it a plot hole but I just call it plain old WTFery. It involves alligators and that’s all I’m going to say. But what happened is that it really deviated from what I had come to expect from the story…and not in a good way for me. The whole situation seemed illogical to me and I didn’t quite find it believable in the scope of the book. I can’t really explain it without giving things away but that scene and some of their decisions and conclusions afterward just really seemed off. I mean, maybe it’s just me. I still pressed on because I NEEDED and wanted to know what was going on. I read just as quickly through until the end….and the ENDING…OMG. Cliffhanger central. And a real doozy of a cliffhanger too. I will most certainly be reading the second book.

My other tiny gripe is that, while I really did love Noah because I’m always rooting for that bad boy who isn’t really bad, I found him to be a bit cliched in some ways…not too terribly..but I feel like I must note it. With his playboy, jerk ways…I didn’t ever really BELIEVE that just having met Mara was enough to change. I mean, I guess they have a different connection as you’ll find out when you read it…but I don’t know. There were also some whiffs there of instalove and you know that is one of my personal bookish pet peeves. But again with that…by the end I could kind of see why he might have instantly been drawn to her.

My final thought:  Mara Dyer was a riveting and hair-raising read that will have you turning the pages ravenously with that insatiable desire to know and understand all the little mysteries and the intricacies within the book. I really did enjoy the book but some of the bizarre plot holes and some directional choices of the story coupled with some personal pet peeves prevented me from slapping a “BEST BOOK EVAHHH” kind of label on it. I would highly recommend it for readers of YA who love to be on the edge of their seat trying to figure out a HUGE mysterious puzzle and are looking for well-written supernatural stories and can maybe turn a blind eye to some bizarre plot holes. I will definitely be reading the second book because I am wholly invested in figuring out what the heck is going on!!

Review On A Post It: 

Edit: I found out via Twitter from Michelle Hodkin that there are some  changes from the ARC (that I read) and the final copy…like one major sentence that was missing somewhere. Soooo we shall see if that clears some things up for me!

three-half-stars

Review + Giveaway: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Instead of hanging out with her friends and having a great summer, Anna’s finds herself in a new town as her dad decides to transfer jobs and move he and Anna to live near the beach where he spent much of his adolescence and met Anna’s mother. The thought of uprooting her life and leaving behind her friends is horrifying but pales in comparison to the memories and emotions to be unearthed in a place where her mother, who died when Anna was young, spent her teenage years. Beach life, new friends, cute lifeguards keep Anna busy but can it distract her from the family secrets lingering in her new town?

Let’s just talk about how I’m ridiculously annoyed that when I read this it was COLD and rainy/snowy here in Pennsylvania. I wanted to read this on a beach somewhere because for whatever reason I really enjoy reading books about the beach AT the beach. Weird, I know! Either way, it was a nice vicarious romp through beach life in Cali. I could almost feel my Casper-y winter skin turning crispy under the sun. I felt as though Kirby did a really great job capturing that summertime/beachy feel without being touristy…if that makes sense…just from the lives of people who actually live in a beach town. 


I was nervous to read Moonglass because any book that deals with a daughter losing her mother always hits me pretty hard as I lost my mom when I was in college and the characters grief tends to resonate deep down within me when done well. And Kirby did this well as I found myself really connecting with Anna and the closure that she needed to find in order to move forward. I thought Kirby wrote Anna’s grief and all of the really tough guilt she carried with her with enough layers to seem realistic and she captured some of those inner moments of grief from Anna’s perspective really well.. I thought the interactions between her dad and her and how they dealt with the memories and the grief felt so realistic to me! It was really refreshing to see a parent so invested in their teen in YA lit. I feel like I’m always wondering where the parents are. Her dad had rules…just like my parents did! Imagine that…


And ok, let’s talk about the romance. CUUUUUTE! I loved Anna and Tyler together and the progression of their relationship. It felt realistic and made my little heart pitterpatter and want to start doodling hearts all over my notebook and shoes with my gelly pens. I loved how he was there for her but didn’t try to be her everything, gave her space and actually respected and was afraid of her dad’s rules. It made me laugh because I could so much of that awkward “Oh no, your dad might see us together” stuff from back when I was a teen. There were some definitely swoony (yet realistic) moments in this book.


All in all, I found Moonglass to be an ideal beach/summer read for me. I don’t like complete fluff for a beach read but I’ve also made the mistake of trying to read things that were far too serious on a vacation such as Night by Elie Wiesel. The seriousness of her grief and all the things Anna learns about her mother is balanced well by her relationship with Tyler, some of the really interesting people she meets and the overall setting of a laid back beach life. It isn’t too emotionally draining to read but you do find your heart breaking quite a bit for her at least by the end. I found myself connected to Anna and her story but it did take me a little in the beginning to invest. I think I would have even been more resistant, in the beginning, to care had I not felt a sort of kinship to Anna with the whole bereavement of a mother factor.

Review On A Post-It:

 



And you all are IN LUCK..the publisher is giving me TWO finished copies to give away on this blog right hurrr. You don’t have to be a follower to enter but you must have a shipping address in the US. Please leave a comment below telling me one of your FAVORITE things about summertime and a way to contact you (email, Twitter, etc) and you’ll be entered! Giveaway ends 5/11.


* I received this book for review as part of the Teen Book Scene for an honest review and was contacted by the publisher for the giveaway.

four-stars
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