Book Talk: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Talk: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins ReidMaybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on July 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Also by this author: After I Do, One True Loves
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Amazon
Goodreads

 

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

 

 

A1

In alternating chapters we see two different versions of twenty nine year old Hannah’s life play out — all hinged on what she does next when she encounters an old flame upon moving back to her home of LA after moving from city to city and feeling lost about her life path.

a2*is awake in the middle of the night upon finishing (much like after reading her book After I Do) because this book was every existential crisis I’ve ever had pretty much rolled into one book haha* (I mean that in a good way…super thought provoking)

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Book Talk: Something Real by Heather DemetriosSomething Real by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt & company on February 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: I'll Meet You There
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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

Chloe, aka Bonnie Baker, has grown up in the spotlight. Her whole childhood was on display for the whole world on the hit reality show Baker’s Dozen (aka John & Kate plus 8 but like even more kids). The show got cancelled and it was a pretty juicy scandal surrounding it that affected her family in huge ways. It’s been years since the show has been off year and Chloe has finally started to lead a normal life. Until Chloe finds out that the Baker’s Dozen is making a comeback and she’s being made to participate in it. Fearing being on the show again will take away the life that she is currently loving (and the friends and crush), she sets out to free herself from it.

a2*wants to study all the things about reality tv culture, the psychology behind why we like it, etc. etc.* ALSO, SWOON ATTACK.

a4

I’ve been a reality show addict since forever (Survivor, Big Brother, The Voice, The Real World, Sister Wives, etc. etc.) so OF COURSE I was interested in this one seeing that it is about a family who became famous for having their own reality show. I’m backwards so I read Heather’s I’ll Meet You There first (SOOOOO GOOD) and then tackled this one which is her debut! It was such a good story and definitely surprised me. I think I’ll Meet You There is still my favorite because FEELS but I could not put this one down at all and it made me think A LOT about reality tv. It was also a bit of fun because it reminded me a lot of Jon & Kate Plus 8 SOOO MUCH — similar family with lots of kids kind of show, parental unit meltdown, the comeback to reality tv for the mother. Fun fact: one of my college friend’s babysat for Jon & Kate before they were on the show and she said she was a real douchecanoe even back then.

I’ve always wondered and thought about the kids who grow up on some of these reality shows and Something Real explores that with a family whose whole lives have unfolded in front of the camera and they’ve dealt with the fame and the pressure and the effects of life in the spotlight. We get to see mostly how it has affected the oldest two and how hard it has been for them to adjust in the years that they’ve been off the show — only to get thrown back into it against their own will just when everything has been GOOD. You really get a sense of how hard it is to be in the spotlight. Sure, there are perks, but EVERY THING becomes about your brand and your whole life is just this transparent thing for the world to consume and pick apart. I loved how we see how different members of the family respond to it all (because not everyone shared Chloe’s feelings) and I felt like it’s what I’d imagine it to be like behind the scenes. It also made me reflect on some of these shows and how some of these kids have NO CHOICE and what it could do to them in the present and future. How will it affect them? Will they regret having their whole childhood lived before the world’s eyes? Do they even want to do it? I’m fascinated by it all and made me truly consider if I want to watch reality shows like that with kids in them.

I loved the exploration of the family dynamics — the relationship between a mother who is forcing her child to participate in something she doesn’t want to do again because it’s been traumatic in ways, the relationship with a father who left after his affair was outed for the world to see, the relationship between two sisters who have grown apart as a result of it all and the sweetest brother and sister relationship that became the saving grace in all this. Seriously Benton and Chloe’s relationship was the BEST…so if you are looking for strong sibling relationships…check this one out!

ALSO: THE ROMANCE. When I was reading I tweeted this (with the accompanied gif): “Patrick Sheldon from Something Real is just absolutely making my heart melt from his sweetness.”

swooning

But really, if you like non-boring nice dudes and a genuinely sweet romance….you will be weak in the knees for Patrick Sheldon!

I think the best part about this book is that it surprised me. Totally. Firstly, it surprised me because I thought it was going to be just a fun, quick read to tickle my reality show loving heart but it had a lot of depth and emotion that it just made it go so much more beyond that. I really felt like I knew how awful it all was for them.  Secondly, it surprised me because I thought I had this book’s number. I thought I knew how it was going to unfold and end ultimately but it SURPRISED ME. In a good way. A VERY good way.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ plot, characters, romance, how it went a bit deeper than I thought it would
–  Nothing really. We all know I’m just stingy about handing out Beyond Loved ratings.

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

a5reality show addicts, contemporary YA fans, people who want a book that’s emotional but not rip-your-heart-out emotional, readers who love juicy family dynamics, readers looking for strong sibling dynamics, readers who love the nice guys in their romance

a8Something Real was a surprise! I knew I’d like it but it was even more than I’d imagine. Great characters, a great concept for a plot, a romance you’ll root for and such an empowering story of a girl taking charge of her own life. It’s one I get why it was so popular amongst contemporary YA fans and even people who rarely read contemporary alike! It also made me think A LOT about how I consume the lives of others with reality tv, gossip sites, etc and just the whole idea of it and why we like it/what is harmful about it in some case.

review-on-post-itsomething-real-heather-demetrios

 

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?
*Did you think it was going to end like that if you’ve read it?? (SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT: I thought it would so end with a reconciliation of some sort but I was SO pleased with the ending.
*What other strong sibling dynamics have you loved in books??

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Book Talk: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs WallerA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller by Sharon Biggs Waller
Published by Viking Juvenile on January 2014
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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
When Vicky gets kicked out of her French finishing school when someone finds out she has posed nude for her art class she’s sent home to face her parents who are outraged at how she’s disgraced the family and they are trying to marrying her off to save the family name and her social status. While she tries to pretend to play nice with her parents rules and plans for her life, she really is applying to the Royal College of Art behind their backs, finding a growing interest in the suffragette movement and spending time with a man her parents and their social circles wouldn’t approve of. She dreams of being an artist but at what cost?

a2HELL YEAH SUFFRAGETTES

a4

Historical fiction used to be my one true love, friends. In the past couple years I haven’t read as much of it but this book reminds me why I LOVE it so much. The truly excellent historical novels, like this one, transport me so flawlessly into this sliver of the past and leave me with this insatiable thirst to research that time period or event or find more fiction set in that time.

So what was so great about A Mad, Wicked Folly?

1. The setting: London in 1909 = Edwardian era goodness! The height of the suffragette movement there! Plus Vicky’s world is high society and balls and pretty dresses. I was just so immersed as Sharon just so perfectly and with detail painted the setting for the reader to feel instantly transported to that time. I could feel the tension in the social structure and in the women’s rights movement as well.

2. Vicky is such a dynamic character: Girl is FEISTY and incredibly passionate about her art and I loved it. She’s not a perfect character and that’s what I loved about her. She only really seems to be interested in the suffragette’s works at first because it can further her dreams of going to art school. She has her prejudices, due to her upbringing, that will make you cringe. But it all felt so realistic. How her eyes were opened to the things that the suffragette’s were fighting for. How she looked differently at the social constructs after the things she experienced. I loved watching her growth SO MUCH as she fights to be able to create the art she so desires, asks the hard questions and questions

3. It made me just feel so thankful for these suffragettes: Reading this book and watching what the suffragette’s are doing in this time just made me so grateful for all these women who did so much to give me all the right’s I have. They were laughed at and jailed and treated AWFULLY and still they fought. It was so incredibly inspiring and I just love reading about strong, passionate women. Made me not want to take forget how far we’ve come but also so sad for the ways that as women we still are not looked at as equal to men.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+plot, characters, romance, setting, writing
Nada.

Re-readability: Yes!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Already have one thanks to Jen!

a5historical fiction lovers, people who like reading about strong women, people who like reading about women’s rights subjects, people who are new to historical fiction (bc this one is SO great!).

a8A Mad, Wicked Folly was just one of those books that reminds me why I love historical fiction — I felt so transported to the setting, found myself immersed in the characters ad plot and it gave me this fierce need to LEARN afterwards. I loved Vicky’s journey as she fights to pursue her art when society is positioned against her and then having her eyes opened to the injustices of the time which make her question everything she was ever told.

review-on-post-itA Mad, Wicked Folly

 

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book Talk: The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Published by Simon and Schuster Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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”

A1Don Tillman has never really considered marriage. He’s got his whole routine/life down to the minute and he enjoys his life as a genetics professor. He keeps his socializing to a few friends and doesn’t really date. Until somebody he cares about makes a comment about him being a good husband one day. Considering this as a possibility for his life, he goes about trying to decide if finding a wife is possible…in the most scientific way of course. He comes up with The Wife Project in which he creates very specific questions based on the qualities for a wife that would be most compatible for him which his no easy task considering how particular he is. And then Rosie shows up in his life….Rosie who fails this quiz with flying colors. Rosie who needs his help to find her biological father.

a2I LOVE YOU, DON TILLMAN!

a4Firstly, thank you SO much to the thoughtful and lovely Jen for sending this to me! I had been wanting to buy this one for a while especially because the cover is so beauteous.

1. Don Tillman is an AWESOME and memorable main character and reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory: I was reading it and found myself snickering a lot — he’s really scientific and smart, very literal and just…very Sheldon Cooper like. I read a few lines to Will and said, “who does this sound like?” and he agreed…Sheldon Cooper. (Seriously, couldn’t you see Sheldon coming up with a scientific quiz for a potential wife?). He’s got his routine and his preciseness and he comes together to be this dynamically quirky, loveable character even in his most frustrating moments. It’s quite clear that he has Asperger’s or something similar (he reminded me so much of a boy I used to nanny who had Asperger’s) and it was fascinating to be in his brain especially because he wasn’t really aware that he had Asperger’s..just that some things came differently to him than others. Definitely not your usual character and I loved it! (Someone  on Twitter said he reminds them of Sherlock and I agree too!)

2. The Rosie Project managed to pull off hilarious and heartfelt really well: I laughed quite a bit during this book. It’s FUNNY. Like really funny. But it’s also really worms its way into your heart. It’s heartbreaking to watch Don struggle with things that come second nature to me — things like love. He doesn’t think with his heart and so he sees things very black or white — until Rosie comes around and stirs things up. It was so heartwarming, in addition to how heartbreaking some moments were to read as he struggles, because Don Tillman simultaneously wants to change and yet doesn’t at the same time. He just wants to be capable of love but isn’t sure he is.

3. The Rosie Project isn’t your typical love story and I love that: I read A LOT of love stories and I love ones that aren’t typically. Don hasn’t really dated and, to be honest, he isn’t sure he is capable of loving. He’s so stuck in his ways and he knows  that social interactions are much more difficult for him that he’s pretty much written off romance. With some prodding and a statement from someone he cares about, he suddenly begins to wonder if he is in fact capable of love and being a husband one day. I loved how his own love story unfolded — with all its messiness and unconventional bits. It was so wonderful and it became one of my favorite romances ever without being super romantic or in the obvious way. Love is not easy for him and it doesn’t come naturally so watching him navigate it just gives me the warm and fuzzies because you cannot HELP but root for him! Plus the Rosie/Don banter is A+!!

4. I loved watching Don see himself in new ways because of The Wife Project: He thinks he isn’t capable of change really and I loved watching him decide if he SHOULD change just so he could be a suitable husband or someone worthy of Rosie. As the book progresses you really watch Don start to see himself and the world in new ways and I LOVED THAT. His observations and his reflections were just great in regards to himself as a person and as someone with love to give.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ characters, enjoyability, great writing, plot
Honestly nothing.

Re-readability: Possibly in a few years I may want to!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one! It’s beauteous. Definitely a keeper on the shelf!

a5People who love a good love story that isn’t typical, adult fiction readers who like literary but not pretentious literary sorts of books, people who like charming and funny books, people who like Sheldon Cooper/Sherlock-esque characters (if that makes sense..but a little less annoying than Sheldon can be..AND I SAY THIS AS SOMEONE WHO LOVES SHELDON).

a8The Rosie Project was a book that made me laugh, warmed my heart and just completely swept me up in Don’s unique love story. I can see why the masses have fallen in love with Don and Rosie and all the great characters in this novel. What a fantastic, character-driven book and I can’t WAIT for The Rosie Effect!

 

review-on-post-it

the-rosie-project

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 find a similarity at all to Sheldon Cooper or was that just me?? I kept reading everything in his voice and had to stop so I wouldn’t just picture Sheldon haha
* If you’ve read it, how would you feel about it becoming a movie/who would you cast?? And how excited are you for book 2?? Any hopes or predictions for The Rosie Effect?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford| Book Review

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford| Book ReviewHow To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford
Published by Scholastic on October 2009
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

 

 

book synopsis Beatrice moves to a new town in her senior year and ends up sitting next to Jonah, the outcast whose classmates have named him Ghost Boy, in Assembly. There’s all sorts of rumors about him and it’s a known fact that he has no friends — he’s just kind of invisible.  Something about him intrigues Beatrice and she finds herself in this unexpected friendship with Jonah — a friendship that consists of late night radio shows, secret missions and more. She learns what happened in Jonah’s past and she so desperately wants to help him as she deals with her own messy and complicated family issues.

good books to read

How To Say Goodbye in Robot is definitely going on my “WTF! Why is this not more popular?” shelf. I REALLY loved it. I read a lot of contemporary YA but this is one of those that completely breaks you out of the mold of the typical  stories — it just had an entirely different feeling. It didn’t feel like anything I’d ever really read before or characters I’d ever met! It’s offbeat and quirky and, man, my heart at the end. WOW. I totally did cry at a part at the end. I think that the quirkiness of the characters might not be everyone’s thing but it was DEFINITELY mine.

I always kind of love books about two misfit kind of characters finding each other — find love, some sort of solace but especially finding friendship and that is exactly where How To Say Goodbye In Robot excels. It’s a wonderful book about friendship that just made my heart soar. They’ve both got their own familial issues that they are struggling with and they both don’t really fit in and they just come together for this strange and wonderful friendship that I enjoyed watched develop even if my heart completely broke at the end. The love that they had for each other makes me tear up just thinking about it but I appreciate that this wasn’t a romantic sort of story between them.

This was one of those books that just had a whole host of excellent characters — even the ones I didn’t LIKE and wanted to hate were just real and vivid and integral to the story. I loved the character who called in to the radio show that Jonah and Beatrice listened to every night. They made me laugh and broke my heart and GOD I LOVED THEM. Jonah’s dad, Beatrice’s parents, and some of the classmates made me SO angry but I thought they were all so believable and I had my own sort of sympathy for some of them in ways.

I loved the writing in How To Say Goodbye In Robot and think Natalie Standiford is incredibly talented. It’s subtle, powerful, sparse yet lush and everything was just so perfectly paced in the story. Where she nails it is in the emotional details. I felt a light through it as I watched their friendship grow but I also felt so much sadness that so subtly nestled itself into my chest…only for the end to completely wreck me but also leave me feeling hopeful in ways that are hard to describe.

book reviewsGod, I loved this book. If you are looking for something in the contemporary YA realm that feels DIFFERENT — add this to your TBR. It’s hard to explain the specialness of this book but once you read it from start to finish you’ll find out. I loved this story of friendship and it emotionally kicked the shit out of my heart by the end. It’s quirky and offbeat (maybe not everyone’s thing but so mine) and there’s a whole cast of vibrant characters within the pages of How To Say Goodbye in Robot. TRULY an underrated book for sure!

short book reviewHow To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

books you may also likeGod, I feel like it’s so hard for me to come up with similar titles for this one. SORRY.

for-fans-of-bookcontemporary YA that’s a bit quirky and unique, stories about friendship, flawed characters, vivid characters you’ve never met before, books that subtly break your heart along the way (for different reasons) and then completely hit you in the FEELS at the end.

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you feel similarly or differently than me? I didn’t see that ending coming actually…did you? My poor heart!


The Perpetual Page-Turner

four-half-stars

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers | Book Review

Some Girls Are By Courtney SummersBook Title/Author: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Publisher/Year
: 2010 St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Cracked Up To Be, This Is Not A Test, Fall For Anything,

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

Borrowed from a friend!

 

 

 

 

 

Regina is best friend’s with the most popular girl in school and the keystone of their group “the Fearsome Five.” They have the reputation for being super popular but also being really nasty and being capable of ruining people’s reputations without even blinking. A nasty rumor that isn’t at all true starts to circulate that pits Regina and Anna against each other and Regina finds herself being ignored and on the outs. Soon enough she finds herself the target of a major revenge plot and bullied relentlessly. Regina doesn’t find much pity in the rest of the student body, the same people she has terrorized, but begins to find a reluctant friend in a guy who had a hand in destroying socially. As she fights back against her old friends she also fights to be forgiven.

WOW. Courtney Summers, I will be reading all of your books. Some Girls Are was one of those most venomous mean girl stories I’ve ever read and made me want to dive into these pages and drop kick these girls. I love the “popular mean girl fall from grace” kind of stories for some reason (I just read Speechless by Hannah Harrington recently which was great) but this one was the most powerful, authentic feeling one yet. I read most of this while on vacation for 2 hours in the TUB because I couldn’t put it down long enough to get out. I kept having to blast hot water and I ended up looking like a pruny old lady but Courtney Summers pulls you in, friends. I never knew what was going to happen!

It was such an interesting experience to watch Regina fall from grace because you feel so conflicted. On the one hand, you can tell she is a mega biotch who has been a HUGE bully and so you kind of hate her from the start. But early on you have sympathy pangs for her because something terrible happens to her and it all gets twisted into an AWFUL rumor by someone in her group. But then you think, (about the rumor aspect… NOT about what happened to her), “pshh girl got what is coming to her with all HER nasty rumors she’s started.” But then as the bullying gets worse from everyone in school you feel for the girl. Having a heart…it’s a bitch sometimes! I can’t stand to see anyone get bullied and what happens to her is TERRIBLE and nobody deserves it. I felt really emotional and sick about it because it felt so real. I’ve never been bullied before but I’ve heard about terrible things and seen stories about kids being bullied to the point of suicide and it angers me. Courtney Summer made sure your heart would flip flop over whether to like/dislike Regina but you could agree she didn’t deserve THAT.

I loved the characterization and the arc of Regina. For these years her identity has hinged on being the second most popular girl in school…part of the Fearsome Five (what a lame-o name to call yourselves lol). That’s who she is. She’s done a lot of things to a lot of people and now starts to understand what it is like to be in their shoes. What I loved is that, even though I was pulling for her, she left a bad taste in my mouth a lot. She really did. Just because somebody becomes an outcast doesn’t mean they automatically change or stop THINKING the way the used to and I loved that Courtney Summers didn’t try to sugarcoat her for the sake of making her more “likeable.” I felt like the glimmers of goodness in her that I saw really came from somewhere that was buried and I was rooting for her to dust it off and BEGIN to see that she could be a better person. She had to endure a lot to learn things about herself and about how she wanted to live and I felt like that’s true of life a lot. We don’t learn things easy most of the time thus I don’t expect a character to suddenly be this different person when their circumstances change.

I also love that Regina didn’t have these characters who were, no questions asked, just NICE to her and felt bad for her. Sometimes I feel like there is always, in books, that ONE person who automatically scoops them up and is nice to them and that CHANGES THEM FOREVZ. It felt realistic that Michael and others would be skeptical of her and not so welcoming and she had to do a lot of the CHANGE herself and make amends for what she has done. I also thought it was really realistic that she DIDN’T tell anybody like her parents or a teacher. So often, teens feel like nobody will believe them or it will cause them to be ostracized even more for telling. Plus a lot of times people think it will go away if you endure enough.

Color me very, very impressed. Where have you been all of my YA reading life, Courtney? You gave me a plot that I couldn’t resist that delivered on so many levels. At the very height of the bullying I was appalled and ready to dive in and kick some mean girl butt with Regina even though she herself was not entirely forgiven in my mind. I had very intense and conflicting feelings towards Regina most of the time, Summer’s intent I’m sure, which was actually awesome because it’s a testament to that struggle we have in our head and our hearts where we feel conflicted about justice, compassion towards people who you feel don’t deserve it and second chances. Courtney Summers lets us grapple with that while reading the most page-turning, appalling story of mean girls and bullying. It was so addictive but I feel weird saying that because of the subject matter?

 

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers Book Review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this? Heard of it? If you’ve read it, what did you think? Did you like it as much as I did? Did you like Regina and find her redeemable? What are some books you’ve read that deal with the “mean girl fall from grace” trope or bullying?

four-half-stars

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson | Book Review (Errr A Letter To Morgan Matson)

Second Chance Summer Morgan MatsonBook Title/Author: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Publisher/Year
: Simon & Schuster 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

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

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor and her family are heading up to their summer house in the mountains for their last summer together as a family. Her dad has been diagnosed with cancer and only has months to live. Taylor doesn’t want to confront this reality nor does she want to go back and confront the mess she left here at the lake house 5 years ago – including her former best friend, Lucy, and Henry, her first love. She spends the summer confronting her past, her new reality and trying to make up for the moments lost and not pass up those second chances.

 

 

This isn’t going to be my typical review. I tried to write a review for this but I couldn’t so I’m going to instead write a letter to Morgan Matson. It’s not spoilery but I hope it will give you some insight into just how special this book is. Honestly, it’s incredible. I will give my “Final Thought” at the end still so you can get a general idea of what I thought.

Dear Morgan,

You know I’m a big fan of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour but Second Chance Summer is undoubtedly one of the most special books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Sometimes you read a book that hits so close to home and it’s SO hard but worth it. Even if I had not gone through what I had gone through I know, without a doubt, I’d still be raving about this book and telling everyone how special it is. Second Chance Summer is just such a complete book — it’s about so much more than a girl watching her father die. So often books that touch on this toe the line of just screaming HEY THIS CANCER IS A PLOT DEVICE. Second Chance Summer did not do that. It felt like a genuine piece of someone’s life – a really, really tough time in ones life but not at all the whole story. It’s about honest to goodness life. Ups and downs in all its glory.

I’ve never cried so hard while reading a book and really it was the last chunk of the book that did me in. I teared up a few times throughout but that last chunk felt like I was reliving my own life. My story? My mom was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2004 when I was a senior in college and passed away in July 2006. Those years of watching her slowly lose the fight KILLED me to watch and I’ll never get some of these images out of my head.

Most of the books I’ve read with teens who lose parents is the “After” where the grief is really dealt with but this was the most beautiful, perfect story of the “finding out” you parent has cancer and the process of losing them. Of watching them die, to put it bluntly, which draws that grieving process out. It’s in the details where this book was so perfect. It was perfect, beautiful and painted one of the truest pictures of what this really looks like. The story may be different for everyone but that bare bones experience is so similar. What I liked about it that it was so representative of life. The whole summer was not all about the cancer because real life is not like that. I’d have days where my mom’s cancer didn’t loom so low over my head, days that felt almost normal. I’d deal with normal teen problems, that I knew were trivial in light of things, but these were still my days…my life.  Then there were days that were hard – the days where significant change happened or moments when my mom had to give a little more freedom over. I appreciated this.

Second Chance Summer really got those details almost down to the T from the protective dog that wouldn’t leave my mom’s side, to the day when work told her she couldn’t work anymore (she was MUCH like Taylor’s dad in her workaholic ways), to the days when all she would do is sleep, to the arrival of our grandmother to hold and take care of her daughter in her final weeks or to the moment you walk in the room and see your parent lying there with no more breaths left to breathe.  The tears that litter the pages of my book are a testament to the heart and soul you created within these pages; as well as a reminder of what I’ve gone through. It gives me refuge in some ways. I AM NOT ALONE. I HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH THIS. I CAN GET THROUGH OTHER THINGS I’M GOING THROUGH.

I really want to THANK you for Second Chance Summer. For a character I could relate to. I felt a lot of guilt for living my life while my mom got worse and worse just like Taylor did. I closed myself off a lot. I RAN and still RUN from things a lot. I know I shouldn’t but I do. I want to do great things every day. Like Taylor, I never thought there would be that moment when my mom would never be there. I reflected on this in my Mother’s Day post. Most of all, I love how STRONG Taylor truly was. So often the strong heroines are the ones fighting dragons and bad guys but, after going through this, I view strength in a whole different way — the strength to get through something like this, the strength of family and the strength of the person who is looking cancer (or any adversity) right in its ugly face.

I want to thank you for a beautiful story about watching someone you love die because it was one of the hardest most defining moments in my life. I wish I would have had this years ago to read. I want to thank you for doing it with care. I don’t know YOUR story but what I do know is I felt like you saw what I went through. I want to thank you for not just making this a story about a girl who is losing her dad but about life and love and family and friendship that still happens during that process. I genuinely loved Taylor and her family. I loved Henry and Lucy. And Murphy. And really all of the characters to be honest. Everyone seemed real and important.

So thank you. Thanks for writing amazing books. Thanks for writing characters I can truly relate to. Thank you for making me smile, for swooning, for making reflect and for making me remember to keep living. Thank you for not simplifying it but keeping the story and the dynamics of a sick parent as complex as they really are. Thank you for showing great strength in a way that isn’t of the ass kicking variety. Thank you for not having a romance be the only thing to get Taylor through this and showing the importance of family and friends. Thank you for one of my favorite father/daughter stories ever. I truly loved watching their relationship grow. I called my dad immediately upon finishing. Thank you. This book was perfect in every way.

Love,

Jamie

 

Second Chance Summer is one of the best books I’ve read. Period. It’s hard for me to keep my emotions out of my recommendation but I promise you that you will become absolutely absorbed in Taylor’s story. I PROMISE you this story is not all sad, despite my very emotional letter above. It’s a beautiful and moving story, set at at a summer lake house, that’s about love, friendship, family and second chances — not just about a girl whose dad is sick. Matson simplifies nothing.  It’s equal bits sweet, funny and heartbreaking but this story just felt so COMPLETE. It’s perfect and balanced and JUST READ IT PLEASE. Morgan Matson solidified herself as an auto-buy author for me and she is the cream of the crop when it comes to well written, relatable contemporary YA books with lovely romances and complex, moving stories.

 

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson book review

You May Also Like: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think? Did anyone else bawl there eyes out??

five-stars

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

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

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A friend let me borrow this one!

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

This Is What Happy Looks LIke by Jennifer E. Smith

 

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

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

three-stars

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellBook Title/Author: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher/Year
: St. Martin’s Press 2013
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Attachments

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An AWESOME friend gifted it to me which is a testament to how much this book meant to her.

 

THE E-BOOK IS ON SALE HERE AS I WRITE THIS!!!

 

 

It’s 1986 and Eleanor & Park, two misfits and an unlikely pair, are thrust together in the seat of school bus on Eleanor’s first day at her new school. Eleanor, with her wild red hair and unusual clothing, makes Park feel uncomfortable and she seems to be everywhere these days. As a romance begins to bud, despite all odds, the two realize how hard it is to hold onto love and keep it safe in this sometimes cruel and unfair world.

I may as well just tell you this is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year though I feel like I’m the last one to experience this. It’s easy to let hype make a book not live up to all of the “OMG AMAZING’s” I’ve heard about it but I didn’t really know much about it at all…except that everyone was raving like crazy. Eleanor & Park is worthy of the praise and magnificently written in every way. I almost feel like I have nothing to say about it because it was like book perfection to me and how can even capture that in a review? You should just know, that if I were Oprah (pretty much my life long dream), I would be all “and one for YOU and one for YOU and copies for EVERYONE.”

Eleanor & Park was, without a doubt, one of the sweetest love stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading between two of the most charming, yet not always perfect, characters. There’s those love stories that are whirlwind romances or ones that develop really dramatically or ones that are super sexy. And then there’s Eleanor & Park. On the surface it strikes you as this very quietly budding romance but, like a duck swimming in water, underneath the surface my heart was beating furiously and frantically because of the charming and swoony nature of the romance and the unbelievably realistic tension Rainbow Rowell wrote as this love story developed. And by the end? I’m certain I couldn’t breathe. One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. God, my heart is beating a little bit faster thinking about this story as I write. I was completely invested in their story and very, very emotional by the end.

I loved a lot of things about this novel — the writing, the characters, the plot, the perfectly written dual narrative, the 80’s setting and pop culture, etc. But the thing I loved most? HOW their story developed until the very end. It was so REAL. Every new interaction and “next step” made me swoon and took me back to those younger years when every single moment of “falling in love” was disgustingly significant in the best way possible. A grazing of a hand to yours accidentally? OMG. TINGLING. The first phone conversation? MY HEART IS BEATING FASTER. Seeing that person waiting by your locker? CAN I EVEN MOVE STILL? The first kiss? BOOM DEAD. FOREVER AND EVER WILL I FEEL THEIR LIPS. Remember all those feels?? Well, Rainbow Rowell was magically able to capture my adolescence in a bottle and spill it onto the pages in a way where I was able to relive all that tension and moments where my heart almost jumped out of my chest. I felt what it was like to be young and falling in love and how all the external forces and your own darn head make that really, really hard sometimes.

Friends, I feel like I’m failing you in trying to explain how fantastic this book was for me. I don’t want to say too much but I don’t want to say too little so that you pass it up. I just want you to experience it.  My next book feels like the sacrificial lamb because what could I read next that won’t pale in comparison?

 

Eleanor & Park was book perfection for me.  I was smitten with the characters and felt like I was falling in love right with them as Rainbow Rowell wrote a beautiful budding romance that was perfectly plotted and made my heart beat faster in the quiet moments as well as the more emotionally gut punching moments. My heart soared high and broke hard for many reasons. It’s not just a love story but a testament to how beautiful and special love is in a sometimes cruel and unfair world that is seemingly hellbent on keeping you down for being different. This book is special, you guys.

 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell book review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?? If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it?? Did every swoony moment make your heart explode with feels?? What about the end?? AHH.

five-stars

Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal by Trish DollerBook Title/Author: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publisher/Year
: Bloomsbury June 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Series:  No!
Other Books From Author: Debut title. Her next book, Where Stars Still Shine, is slated for September 2013.

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I received Something Like Normal as a gift from a friend.

 

Travis has spent a year in Afghanistan as a Marine and comes home on leave to find that everything is different — within himself and around him. He struggles to adapt to being home with a new perspective and feeling the full weight of the death of his best friend and fellow Marine. He’s haunted by those memories of Afghanistan and is confronted by the changes in his parent’s relationship, his ex-girlfriend dating his brother and the way his life is just so far from normal now and how his time in Afghanistan has changed him. It’s not until he runs into Harper, a girl who he’d wronged in middle school, that he starts to enjoy his time home and starts to face all of the things he’s not allowed to bubble to the surface — the death of Charlie, the cracks in his family and the reality of post traumatic stress.

WOW! Let me just start off by saying…if you are a fan of realistic YA fiction, you MUST read this! It’s an example of what I love in realistic YA and, while I don’t attach stars to my reviews because they are so complicated for me, I can tell you, WITHOUT A DOUBT, Something Like Normal has garnered 5 stars from me! One of the best books I’ve read so far in 2013 and it seriously is a gem! I just can’t say enough good things about this book and I feel like my review will never do it justice.

Something Like Normal had one of the BEST male POVs ever — right up there with Adam from Where She Went. It was so fresh and felt like a genuine male perspective — you’ll want to punch him at times, hug him and probably date him. So many times I’ll read a male POV and feel perplexed because it doesn’t feel like ANY guys I know…especially not a teenager..but never once did I feel like this. Travis’ voice, in general, was just one that is so memorable and I adored him and his story.  I can’t imagine how he felt coming home from Afghanistan and how changed your perspective is from what you’ve seen and experienced — especially the death of a close friend. My only reference for understanding that is after my mom had died. Suddenly I just didn’t see things the same way and it was hard to operate as normal. You start to see things as more/less important than they were. I think Trish Doller did an amazing job showing the difficulty of a soldier coming back into his normal life and it made me care and think a lot more than I ever have about our soldiers to be completely REAL with you.

While a slim book, the story Something Like Normal tells descended into the depths of my heart and I’m not quite sure it will ever leave. The fullness in which I felt every emotion, the intensity of every heartbreaking scene and the pure and true LOVE I had for these completely special yet flawed characters — Travis, Harper, Travis’ mom, Charlie, Charlie’s moms — is not something that is so easily shaken off by starting another book as is often the case for me. I can’t say I’ve read a book that has affected me like this in a while. My heart swells with a myriad of emotions as I think about this book and is a tribute to Trish Doller’s undeniably beautiful words and ability to make a story not just a story but to transcend into an experience. Not just words on a page but that rare experience where those words seep into your bloodstream and circulates the whole of your body leaving no organ nor piece of tissue untouched.

Your heart is in very capable hands, friends. Something Like Normal is, without a doubt, one of the best contemporary books I’ve ever read and one of my favorite romantic relationships ever as it is beautiful but also flawed as it blossoms (and I loved Travis’ relationship with his mom just as much!). Straight up DAMN AMAZING. Travis’ story will move you and will make your heart soar (and your eyes will experience this phenomena wherein they leak water…). Beautiful, honest and a real stunner of a novel. I will not stop singing praises for this book and I am calling it now — Trish Doller is going to be one of THOSE authors who be a staple in the contemporary YA world. Keep your eye on her! I am excited for what is to come based on the special experience that is Something Like Normal.  New favorite author alert for me!

 

For Fans  Of: straight up excellent realistic teen fiction, a great male POV, an “older” YA book, beautiful stories that balance tenderness with the brutal and raw things life throws your way, those “more than real” characters, a romance that is beautiful yet flawed as it blossoms

something-like-normal-trish-doller

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it?  If you read it, did you love it or feel differently than me? I want to know so we can discuss! Did you cry like a baby like I did at a certain PART at the end? And then again at a part with his mom? As a sidenote, I’m curious if you would consider this novel “New Adult”? THIS is pretty much what I envisioned when I heard of NA — before we knew much about it.

five-stars
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