Book Talk: Everything Leads To You Nina LaCour

Book Talk: Everything Leads To You Nina LaCourEverything Leads To You by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Juvenile on May 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: You Know Me Well
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
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
Emi has been in an off again/on again relationship with her older girlfriend and suddenly she finds them off again and she wonders if this time it is for good. While her love life is a mess, her job couldn’t being going any better as a part time set designer in Hollywood. Film is her life and she’s been given a great opportunity to be part of the design process and put her on the right track when she graduates. On one of her hunts for pieces to use in an upcoming set, she finds a mysterious letter from an old Hollywood legend and it leads her to Ava — a girl who has had a bit of a tough past but has this light that burns so bright and Emi can’t help but be drawn to her as they figure out the mystery behind the letter together.

a2*adds other Nina LaCour books to my library list*

a4

 My book club friend Katie described Everything Leads To You as kind of a contemporary fairy tale and I didn’t understand what she meant and then I read it and I think that’s fairly accurate…and I mean it in the most positive way ever. It’s realistic but it’s not in other ways — the crazy amazing jobs they have and they haven’t even graduated yet, the way things work out, etc. It had a fairy tale, movie feel to it and I loved it! There was just something very ROMANTIC about the whole story.

So let’s talk about a few things:

1. I LOVED the idea that a famous actor left a mysterious letter and Emi and Charlotte try to find the recipient is: I was definitely intrigued by this mystery and wanted to find out the whole story behind this letter. I loved watching the letter bring Emi and Charlotte in the lives of many different people — and ultimately Ava!

2. HOLLYWOOD: Emi and Charlotte both work in the movie business in various capacities. So does Emi’s brother and her ex-girlfriend. I definitely loved learning about their careers and feeling Emi’s passion towards her set designs. It was just really fun to have Hollywood be such a part of this story — their present careers and then it being twisted up in the story of a Hollywood legend.

3. LGBTQ for the win: Honestly I’ve read maybe one or two YA book with lesbians. It’s not to say they aren’t out there but I just haven’t read them. I loved books where it is about them coming out/coming to terms with their sexuality but I REALLY was pleased to read a book where the main character wasn’t in that place in their life — where they were comfortably out and living life. She had a girlfriend before and there was no “issue” with her being a lesbian. Like I said, those novels are important but I was so ready to read a book where it WASN’T an issue but it was just who she was. She’s dealing with a break-up, the bad decisions she makes because she just can’t quit the girl she was with and then a spark of new love…all while dealing with other normal things 18 years old would be thinking about.  It was just so refreshing to read!

4. Nina LaCour’s writing is STUNNING: Everything about this book was just stunning. The characters were brilliantly written. The prose was BEAUTIFUL. The descriptions always transported me. And just the way the plot unfolded and just seemed so SEAMLESS. I was just very impressed and smitten with the writing on every level.

5. The friendship, romance and familial relationships in this novel were equally important to me: I loved Emi and Charlotte’s friendship SO MUCH and I loved the way that Emi and Charlotte became friends with Ava. But even when there seems to be a hint of something more between Emi and Ava, there’s still a good solid friendship there. I LOVED Emi’s parents and my heart was so warmed to see how different characters started considering family in different ways because of each other. Ava’s past was so hard and watching her gain friends and family was so beautiful.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, unique storyline, setting, characters
nothing really.

Re-readability: Potentially!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? It’s on my “to consider buying when I have money” list.

a5contemporary YA fans, people looking for LBGTQ stories, fans of Hollywood and the movies, readers who like character driven novels with a hint of a mystery element to it

a8Everything Leads To You was a beautiful read — from the prose to the relationships in this novel — it was all just so great. I love the friendships and the romance equally and really enjoyed watching the paths of the characters cross when Emi finds the letter and the mystery of who the intended recipient is unfolds. It was at times heartbreaking and other times it was incredibly heartwarming. A very refreshing read and one I flew through!

review-on-post-itEverything Leads To You Nina Lacour

 

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 this series feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


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
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

 

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt | Book Review

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt | Book ReviewTell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Published by Random House on June 2012
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Adult Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
four-stars

 

 

 

 

book synopsis Fourteen year old June’s uncle Finn, her best friend and the only person who gets her, passes away from an illness that her parents are hush hush about and seem ashamed of. As she tries to grapple with the loss of the one person that means everything to her she finds a stranger reaching out to her — a stranger who knows Finn almost as well as she did..maybe even more so. June reluctantly spends time with him and together they try to heal from their mutual loss.

good books to read

Oh, this book! My heart. Do you ever read a book and feel like the weight of the world is just sitting on your heart the whole time? One of my favorite expressions to describe how I feel, from one of my all time favorite books, is as having “heavy boots.” Tell The Wolves I’m Home was excellent and completely made me feel a whole array of emotions.  Thank you, Margot, for letting me borrow it and pushing it on me!

It’s an adult fiction novel but the narrator is 14 years old and I found this just to be a most beautiful and heartbreaking coming of age story set in the 1980’s. There were so many things about this book that I loved that I feel like I can’t even begin to tell you about it all — the characters, the writing, this weighty grief that June has to work through and so many other little aspects of the plot.

Watching June deal with the grief of losing her Uncle Finn was so emotional because it was just all so complicated within the family and the public perception of Finn because of how he died! Finn died of AIDs and it’s back in the 80’s so everything is very hush hush and not as much public knowledge about it. Her and Finn were so close and June’s feelings towards him are kind of complicated and intense. Then she meets Finn’s boyfriend Toby, whom her parents kept a secret from her because they blame him for Finn dying, and from Toby she learns even more about her Uncle Finn — to the point where she feels like she didn’t even really know him in some ways and she hates having to had shared him with someone. I loved learning about Finn through June but also through Toby and Finn really became such a real character to me. I could feel the love just emanating from them.

While June and Toby’s friendship was one of my favorite parts of this novel, I also really loved the relationship between June and her sister even though I wanted to kick her sister in the face so many times. I love complicated sisterly relationships and this one was a thread throughout the story I was fascinated by.

It’s honestly just so hard to explain what I thought about this novel. It was just brilliant, touching and got me all choked up. I loved it! It’s a quieter novel but it moves along at a good pace and hooks you with the compelling characters and their dynamics.

book reviewsI loved Tell The Wolves I’m Home. It was just one of those really touching, complicated stories that broke my heart but also mended it in ways. I think it could be a good novel for YA readers who also like adult fiction — good crossover material! This book left a searing impression on my heart and I won’t soon forget it.

short book reviewTell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

 

for-fans-of-bookadult fiction, character driven books, coming of age stories, family dynamics + secrets, stories about grief, books that make your heart explode

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


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

four-stars

Save The Date: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

To learn more about why I started doing this Save The Date feature and how it differs from my reviews — go here!

 

landline-rainbow-rowell

* Release date according to Goodreads

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Pre-Order It | Add It To Goodreads


What Landline by Rainbow Rowell Is About:

Georgie + Neal’s marriage has been off for some time and she knows it has been. It’s not an issue of not loving each other but between jobs and kids and all somehow it just has gotten a little lost. When they are a few days out from leaving for Omaha for Christmas, Georgie has a huge work opportunity arise and she has to stay in LA for it. She assumes they’ll all just stay home but is surprised when Neal decides he and the kids are still going. Scared of what this implies, Georgie wonders if it has all fallen apart for good and if/how she can fix it….until she’s given an opportunity to talk to Neal in the past.

Why You Should Be Saving The Date for Landline by Rainbow Rowell:

1. Rainbow Rowell continues her trend of being able to write poignantly and candidly about all sorts of love: Every book of hers I’ve read (all but Attachments) just perfectly captures some intricacy of love in different stages/forms and all the beautiful messiness that comes with it. I loved that, while this was partly a story about a love going wrong, it’s also a story about falling back in love and remembering the first time you fell in love with that person as well…especially in the face of maybe losing it all. She makes love just come alive and feel true.

2. GOD HER WRITING: I just love how Rainbow Rowell writes and Landline is no exception. I love her dialogue. The insertion of some humor. How it makes me feel. And these beautiful sentences that just make you stop in your tracks. I even read a passage to Will and I NEVERRRR read him things from what I’m reading.

3. Lots of thinking re: my own marriage and really any relationship that’s important: It’s easy to be complacent and take people for granted. To not try harder to keep your love ignited and fall into bad habits. I’m early on in my marriage and things are wonderful but this was such a raw and honest portrayal of how one day you could wake up and be in a place you don’t want to be in your marriage because little by little you let it slip away.

4. She just keeps proving she can write anything: This is her 2nd adult book and 4th book total and everything of hers I read is so wonderfully different and I never know what to expect with her but each time I fall in love in my own way with the book and the characters. They are the books that linger for me and keep me up at night.

5. She makes this THING work: There’s an element to this book, how Georgie communicates with him in the past, that COULD be super corny and she just makes it WORK. So well. Never felt corny.

 

Who Should Save The Date: Rainbow Rowell fans, people who also read adult fiction, people who like love stories that are a bit messy but beautiful

 

A Sneak Peek: “You don’t know when you are twenty-three. You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. You can’t see all the ways you’re going to get tangled, how you’re going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten — in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems” (this is taken from the advanced copy and could be subject to change)

Be on the lookout for my FULL review closer to the release date where I will flesh out my thoughts a little more!

 

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Putting it on your TBR list? What’s your favorite Rainbow Rowell book thus far if you’ve read her?

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

Prodigy by Marie Lu | Book Review

Prodigy by Marie Lu | Book ReviewProdigy by Marie Lu
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 2013
Genres: YA Dystopian
Also by this author: Legend, The Young Elites, The Rose Society
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

 

 

 

June and Day have just fled Los Angeles and are still injured and on the run with no plan except finding the Patriots to see if they will help them. Their escape has made June a HUGE traitor and she’s now wanted all over the Republic and the people believe Day is dead. They make it to the Patriots camp and find themselves involved in a HUGE plot to overthrow the Republic.

We decided to read Prodigy by Marie Lu for book club since we all had read Legend and enjoyed it and NONE of us had gotten to Prodigy. Overall, as a second book in the series, this one was really great! It was the same action-packed, cinematic story that made me fall in love with Legend but with even more world-building and some great twists. This time around though I wasn’t as in love with the characters but we’ll get to that in a bit. Overall it was one of those reads that I couldn’t read fast enough and then I got to the end and feel like I got punched in the face. MAJOR CRAZY DEVELOPMENT AT THE END.

As fun as the cat and mouse plot was with Legend, I really actually think I enjoyed the plot of this novel even MORE. It was intense, not just with action that makes your heart race, but the world became more complete. We get to see more of what is going on in other parts of the former US including the Colonies which really was fascinating and crazy (and I hope we see much more with in Champion). The way the plot became more about the political side of things made it extremely interesting as we learn further information about the people in power and what is going on. June and Day are being used to pull off some big moves with the Patriots and it begins to be hard to know who to trust — for June and Day but also for us as a reader. We see both sides, as June and Day become separated for a little bit as part of the plan, and as the reader we know things the other character doesn’t and you sit there biting your nails as the stakes become higher and higher and you don’t know whose judgment is right — June or Day’s!

One of the huge threads obviously is the relationship between June and Day. I like that there is actual THOUGHT about how plausible their relationship could be considering June was partly to blame for what Day has lost and then the obvious very different upbringing. The tension between them was so palpable and I loved that Marie Lu made it feel real and their concerns were not at all silly. HOWEVER, I did not enjoy this love triangle-ish thing. It felt too over the top for me with both of them having confusing feelings for someone else. I get that both people were a contrast of what they’d have with each other but it was a bit too melodramatic for my taste considering all the crazy things that were going on in the story. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME TO THINK ABOUT MORE THAN ONE ROMANCE WHEN YOU COULD DIE. I had a few eyeroll moments.

Overall, Prodigy by Marie Lu was a darn good sequel that just added more to this world and understanding of ALL the forces at work here in these shambles of the US. I loved where it went plot-wise — it was incredibly exciting, brought some interesting new characters and gave us some HUGE revelations to really propel the story forward and give us a clearer picture than we had in Legend of the inner workings of the government/state of life outside of the Republic. The ending is BRUTAL and completely sucker punched me and I’m DYING to get my hands on Champion.

Prodigy by Marie Lu book review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this series? Heard of it? How did you think Prodigy stacked up to Legend if you’ve read it? What did you think about the love triangle (square? Rectangle?)? DID YOU DIE FROM THE ENDING?

three-half-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?

 

Review: Lola And The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

 Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
How I received: My lovely friend Shanyn at Chick Loves Lit let me borrow it!
On Sale: September 2011
Warning: Fan-girly, gushing OMG review ahead…..every now and again they happen for me. I try to save that for my reading journal but I just can’t with certain books.
 
Let’s just put this out there right now – I was hella excited about Lola and the Boy Next Door but I was a bit scared to actually read it because I loved Anna and the French Kiss something fierce. I kept thinking that, while there is a good chance I’ll really enjoy Lola, I’m never going to feel the same way about it that I did with Anna. It would be like the replacement goldfish that your parents try to convince you is just as great as the one you had to flush down the toilet. It’s not the goldfish’s fault…but it’s just not the same as the one you really loved.
 
The verdict?  I’m going to boldly say that I loved Lola from my head down to my toes….I actually think I liked it even better than Anna. I can’t believe I’m saying it but it’s true.  Stephanie Perkins brought the awesomeness and somehow created a story that could top Anna and the French Kiss for me — the amazing characters, the romance, a compelling storyline, the great setting. It’s all there. While the romantic city of Paris really propelled the story of Anna and St. Clair for me in ATFK, Lola truly is the shining star in Perkin’s second novel.
 
Lola is just one of those unforgettable characters. I instantly connected with her — she’s different and I can appreciate that as someone who has always used clothing as a way to set myself apart…especially in high school. It was something I could control amidst the chaos that was my life. I can’t say my wardrobe was even a fraction like hers but I still understand her mentality. I can truly say I felt like I was reading the character of Lola as a little sister. I was protective of her, I wanted to hug it out with her during both crappy moments and awesome moments and I just wanted to tell her what an amazing girl she was.
 

Ok…I’ll address the big fat elephant on the blog. The Boy! I know…you want to know if the boy is as wonderful and amazing and swoonworthy as St. Clair. Yes, ladies. Eat your heart out. For those of you who loathed St. Clair (yes there are people out there that do — one of my fave ppl of all time and I had a friendly banter about St. Clair at BEA when she revealed this to me), you will be so thrilled about the new crush that Perkins has handed to you on a silver platter. There are seriously not enough “nice guys” in YA lit…but Cricket is leading the army against all those douchenuggets that seem to be in the “in” thing. I want to see more guys that are super nice, but not pushovers, and actually have a personality. He was sweet and sensitive and honestly the type of guy I love and I truly felt as though he complemented Lola so well. The thing I loved most about him (aside from his adoration of Lola) was how he was SUCH a real teen boy to me. Sometimes I find that most of the guys I read are always written so much more eloquently and more mature than teen boys actually are. They always seem to take on these hot, underwear model characteristics and always are suave and dashing. But Cricket was just so real. He’s got quirky hobbies and interests and, hell, he’s got his awkward, stupid boy moments. So refreshing. I love me some Cricket.

 
All of the secondary characters really felt so lively and real to me — Lola’s parents were incredibly supportive and definitely NOT absent. I really liked Max in the beginning and even though my love for him fizzled…he still felt very real. I LOVED how Perkins incorporated Anna and St. Clair into the novel without making them centerstage. PERFECT roles for them and I was ecstatic to see what had become of them.
 
I don’t want to give away ANYTHING about this book but I honestly loved the whole story, the romance, the tension that was present in different threads of the story, and the ending! I felt myself charmed by San Fransisco and swept up in Lola’s life. Anna’s story was somewhat dreamy and escapist for me but Lola’s story felt so realistic to me and I really appreciated that. Lola persevered through a lot in the story and I really believed in her progress and the path that Perkins lead her on. Lola was not overwrought with emotion and drama but perfectly captures the complicated nature of love and relationships with family and friends. It also shows the joys that come with the pain, awkward moments and general confusion of being a teen. I love that about this book — it captures the teen voice in a genuine way with out being too “OMG this is a teen book” that actually doesn’t accomplish the teen voice…like when your mom or dad tries to act really hip and up on the lingo.
 
I typically don’t make bold statements like this but I’m going to because I feel so strongly after reading Lola: Stephanie Perkins is on auto-buy for me now. If she writes it, I’m going to beat down doors to get it. If I were my 13 year old self, I’d be bedazzling shirts proclaiming the awesomeness that is Stephanie Perkins and making a shrine in my room dedicated to her. Um yeah, I totally did that for certain boy bands back in the 90’s.
 
Stephanie Perkins, after two novels, has become my go-to for wonderfully written contemporary YA with swoonworthy romances and unforgettable characters. She infuses so many quirky elements into her books and the little details are so wonderful. Lola is certainly no exception — from an awesome reference to one of my favorite bands (Phoenix!) to having an incredibly cute dog named Heavens to Betsy..I just found myself smiling at the smallest details and it added SO MUCH to my overall enjoyment of the story. Perkins writes the perfect contemporary novel for me. It isn’t so distorted of a reality that it too far-fetched for me but it has just enough drama that keeps you reading….because, let’s be honest, if realistic novels were TOO realistic we’d be bored and feel like we were reading about our own lives. She writes things I felt as a teen and still feel now at 25.  And oh my gosh, PLEASE PLEASE  read the acknowledgments at the end of the book to her husband. SO CUTE. I had to read it out loud to my boyfriend because I just was so moved by it…and then I proceeded to gush about it on Twitter.
Review On A Post-It:
five-stars

Review: Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager

Title/Author: Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager
Publisher: Penguin Australia
How I Got The Book: Linds from Bibliophile Brouhaha let a bunch of bloggers  borrow it for an imformal blog tour because it’s that awesome!

After a horrific event happens that will alter Carly’s life tremendously, she drops out of university and spends her days surfing and working at a local cafe as a cook. She’s found her rhythm in this life away from her family and her old friends and has put up a wall to meeting new people. When Carly meets Ryan, a fellow surfer, she struggles to deal with the past and to decide if she’ll let those walls crumble.

Raw Blue. Wow. I didn’t know what to expect with this one. Right away I knew it wasn’t going to be a light beach read despite it’s amazing setting in an Australian surf town. It’s gritty, raw and will make you think a lot about why people build up the walls that they do. I think it also does give you some glimmer of hope in the end that things will change and get better. You can work through even the most horrible of circumstances. Hidden under the pain and emotion of this book, I think you’ll find that hope I think.

First, I loved Carly. I love that she was a real person to me.  Most of the book is really in her head but I think that’s what made this story so powerful. There was some action that moved the story around and really added to it…it was all very intentional and essentail to the story. I think for some people it could move slowly if you are more into fast moving stories but I found myself moving through it very quickly and really cared to know what happened to Carly. I also love that she is dating someone who quite a few years older than her. I feel like a lot of YA lit (at least what I’ve encountered) doesn’t ever show really healthy relationships with an older guy when it really is not that uncommon to have an 18 year old date a 26 year old. Speaking of that, I freaking loved Ryan. I can see him being the apple of many a YA readers eye.

I think the setting was so unique. I love when I read a book from a perspective that I’ve never personally seen before. I know nothing about what the life of a surfer is like but I really found myself believing her passion and being interested in the surfing culture. Sometimes during the surf talk and the descriptions of things made my eyes glaze over but for the most part I truly enjoyed them and felt like it added to the story. The world that Carly created around her surfing was her safe haven..and I could feel that and understand how she threw herself into that after what had happened to her.

A few things to note: there was a lot more sex and swearing in this book than I’ve encountered in most YA. It didn’t bother me but I know that it might bother some people so I figured I’d point that out. I’d definitely recommend this for older YAs.

My Final Thought: I would definitely recommend this for readers who are looking for a little bit of more mature YA read. The two main characters are 18 and 26 so it’s the perfect read for those looking for somewhere in between the young adult and adult perspective. Raw Blue was one of those books you’ll find yourself emotionally invested in without even realizing it. There was just the right amount of “drama” and love and growth…it really was just such a fantastic YA read. It’s a shame more people haven’t read it as it hasn’t been published in the US!

 And now I’m curious…what other YA books have you read with older protags?

*Will add my Review on a Post-It later…it’s not loading here at work!!*

four-stars

Review: Where She Went By Gayle Forman

Where She WentI warned you that I was going to cry, kick and scream to get the sequel to If I Stay…and well I didn’t quite have to do that because Kristi, one of the most awesome and wonderful bloggers I’ve met, sent it to me!

If you’ve read If I Stay, which I highly recommend if you haven’t, you know it leaves you hanging (and possibly looking like a hot mess with all the crying you’ll do if you are anything like me) …so I was extremely nervous as to how Gayle was going to pick up the story in Where She Went. From the moment I read the first few pages, I knew she was a freaking genius as we get to see the aftermath of If I Stay from the perspective of Adam! Right away I was even more excited to see how things played out for Mia and Adam after such a horrific time in their lives.

I honestly loved this much anticipated book to pieces and felt as though it really lived up to If I Stay and how it resonated with me. If I’m honest, I actually enjoyed it more AND felt such a stronger connection to the characters and their experiences in the grieving process. I was nervous as to how I was going to handle delving into the theme of grief and that whole process, as I have a whole lot of unfinished grieving to do myself, and I thought it was done remarkably well without depressing the reader. I could feel the intensity and the rawness of the emotions and the lingering questions that were left unanswered for Adam as well as for Mia. I could feel for her and understood why she did some of the things she did despite the fact that seemed cruel.

Poor Adam…you really felt for him. While he seemed like a Grade A d-bag now that he was a rockstar, you could tell that he was the same sensitive and wonderful Adam that we loved in If I Stay and just had to work through some of his angst and baggage. He really was grieving a loss too. Losing someone in the way he “lost” Mia is still a loss. I thought that the way Forman incorporated snippets of lyrics from Adam’s music was such a powerful way to show just how much the event had affected him. They seemed so real and not at all contrived. Mia was clearly the muse. I believed in those lyrics.

I thought the way she revealed WHY Mia made the decision she did was done so well and at a perfectly natural pace as it gracefully coasted between the present and past memories.  I could feel that anticipation building up and I could feel the questions just nagging at Adam because they were also nagging at me. I loved their reunion and the way that Mia took him on the “tour”. I was just DYING to find out if they’d end up together or not…or if their lives were so drastically different and too much time had passed for it to work out. The culmination of all those bottled up feelings and unanswered questions took its toll on me and rendered me a blubbering mess. Oh, the bridge scene!

My one teeny tiny gripe: I found it strange that Mia, Adam and Kim were all extremely successful at such a young age. Maybe I’m just sour grapes 😛

My Final Thought:  Where She Went was just as heart-wrenching and emotional as If I Stay but I found that it went even deeper and really captured different aspects of the grieving process so genuinely. Forman’s writing proves to be just as powerful and she really did an excellent job capturing Adam’s perspective and still providing us with sufficient insight into Mia. I was thoroughly unable to put this one down, as I was with If I Stay, and I was quite pleased with the direction that Forman took with their story. If you haven’t read If I Stay, please do….between it and Where She Went you’ll be wholly invested in their story and it will make you appreciate those special people in your life. Pick this up in April when it comes out!

Review On A Post-It (Something new I’m trying for each review–for those strapped for time! I have this habit of doing it in real life when I give people books to borrow):

five-stars
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...