Book Talk: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Book Talk: Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Publisher/Year: Walker Childrens- April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None! Debut novel!

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





book synopsis Reagan’s best friend is Lilah Montgomery, famous country singer who she knows as Dee, and they’ve planned to spend their summer together as Reagan heads out with her on tour all across the country. Reagan has gotten into some trouble and things are a mess so she’s happy to leave home behind and spend some quality time with Dee who also has been hurting in addition to having a soaring career. When Matt Finch, former teen heartthrob, joins the tour as the opening act Reagan finds herself potentially in trouble with this boy who seems to disarm her with his good looks and charming personality.


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Welcome to part 2 of Jamie Gushes Entirely About Another Amazing Summer Read. (Part 1 was Monday with my review of Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone). If you call the book blogging world your stomping grounds, you’ve probably heard of Open Road Summer and all the love for it pre-publication. I had my copy for many many months but decided to hold off until nicer weather because it just seemed like the kind of book to kick off the warm season with…but all the glowing praise made it hard. But I’m so glad I waited because reading this book outside in 70 & 80 degree weather with a beer in my hand was WORTH it. My happiness meter was overflowing with the nice weather and this absolutely charming as hell story!

Listen, I know the entire universe has probably told you to read this book and you are going to want to skip my thoughts because your whole entire feed is talking about it but THERE IS A GOOD REASON so get yourself a beverage and let’s talk for a bit.

1. Open Road Summer is a book that just feels like it encapsulates what summertime feel like to me and will make you feel exuberant and all sorts of happy. I just want to bottle it up and keep it for a gloomy day. It was just a very charming book that will quickly make you long for summer days and adventures and summer love. There’s friendship and romance and adventure and music and being on the open road and it all just comes together to make your heart explode from LOVE AND HAPPINESS AND FEELINGS. It was just really a FUN story (I mean, who wouldn’t want to go on tour with their famous singer of a BFF all summer). So if you are looking for a book that makes you feel absolutely light and happy and will make you smile lots…this book. At one point I was even cry laughing. (at the end — OMG. Major points if you’ve read it and can guess which part I’m talking about).

2. YAY FRIENDSHIP!! I loved the friendship in Open Road Summer and how solid it was. There wasn’t any jealousy or backstabbing or any things of that sort and it was just really refreshing to read. Reagan is genuinely happy and supportive of her bff’s success and I love the way the two of them interact and how they are always there for each other. The premise just added a lot to the dimension of their friendship because they remained the same with each other despite her success which was really fun to see. I mean, I ALWAYS wonder about the bffs of famous people — like the bffs before they were famous. So it was just a really fun, down-to-earth friendship story in that aspect and it seriously made me 1) super jealous of their fun bff-ship and 2) nostalgic for my high school bff.

3. Emery Lord went zero to sixty and raced ahead to be neck in neck with some of my ALL TIME FAVORITE ROMANCES. That’s a big deal  for me to say. I mean, we are talking on the level of some that have been longstanding faves (Stephanie Perkins Anna & St. Clair, Gayle Forman’s Mia & Adam, etc.). I rarely change my favorite romances so I’m telling you…BIG THINGS HERE. For Matt Finch, I’d overcome my fear of needles and get a finch tattoo. I would. He’s the dream boy in book form — ridiculously sweet and romantic (seriously heart palpitations), sensitive, HE SINGS AND PLAYS INSTRUMENTS, he doesn’t take Reagan’s crap and calls her out on stuff and hes A NICE GUY. Genuinely and not boring. But the best part is how they interact. The banter. How Reagan can be so prickly about stuff but Matt Finch just sasses right back and totally make her tough exterior falter. I mean, Reagan gets mad when Matt writes a song about her when most of us would be flinging our panties right on stage…amirite? But I LOVED that about it. I thought the whole “he’s the faux boyfriend of my bff” thing was going to be more of a problem, and it was a tiny roadblock, but it wasn’t the huge forbidden-y love I thought it would be with major scandal. It was more her resistance to him that made the romance what it was. (Listen, I really shipped Dee and Jimmy wasn’t just the Reagan and Matt show — that’s how well Emery Lord does romance).


4. Reagan..I loved her. She’s a character who maybe isn’t the easiest to click with right away and could rub you the wrong way but I instantly loved her and her attitude. I so thought that this was going to be a case where Reagan was the quiet ordinary one with this super famous bff who was the one who stole the show but it wasn’t the case. Reagan has this really tough exterior — she’s been in some trouble lately, she’s been hurt by a guy, she has major hurt from her mom who up and left when she was younger and she could be quite prickly and judgy. But I loved her so much. I instantly felt this kinship with her for some reason. In some ways, she reminded me of myself at that age though I wasn’t getting into trouble much. But she was stubborn, had some of the same defense mechanisms and the way she got about all Matt’s mushiness is SO how I would have reacted then. I thought she was a solid character and I just loved her perspective a whole lot — her flaws and all — and I loved watching her just let go of some of that anger she held so close.

5. My only thing I wish is that the travel-y/road trip aspect was more: I know that it was a tour so a lot of what was going on was whirlwind stops in cities and tour buses but I had hoped for some good travely bits. My favorite was a part involved a lake but I just wanted maybe a few more parts like that. But it really isn’t like a BAD thin because the story was perfect but just something I had hoped for.


book reviewsI’m not even sorry that all I did was talk excitedly about this one. I mean, you don’t come here for super analytical book talk anyways right? But seriously..Open Road Summer is one of two books I am hereby declaring as THE books you must have in your beach bag this summer if you love contemporary YA (the other is Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson). It’s fun romp across country in a tour bus with two best friends and one absolutely heart palpation inducing Matt Finch that is funny, romantic, happymaking and explores how we let people in & learn to trust when we’ve carefully constructed walls against that. But seriously if you are looking for a fun, feel good read about friendship, has a main character who is real & flawed and an absolutely adorable romance…this is it! I promise! All the hype is warranted.




short book reviewOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you DIE laughing at that part that included a Say Anything reference?? That whole part. And can we talk about the awesome parents (minus her real mom) in this book??

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

Book Talk: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan MatsonSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers- May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: From Author
Other Books From Author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer

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





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


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

So let’s talk:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




short book review

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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

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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
Publisher/Year: Poppy- April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Other Books From Author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, This Is What Happy Looks Like, You are Here The Comeback Season, The Stormmakers





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.

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Book Talk: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Book Talk: If I Lie by Corrine JacksonIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse- August 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: The Sense Thieves series






book synopsis When Quinn is caught kissing someone who isn’t her boyfriend Carey, a Marine who is beloved in her military town, she is pretty much cast out and shamed. Her friends have turned on her. Her own father can’t look at her. Nobody even tried to get her side of the story. Quinn knows that she could free herself from this by telling a secret but she wants to stay loyal to Carey who promises her that he’ll sort it out…until he goes MIA while in Afghanistan and can’t help clear things up.


good books to read

Wow. Wow. Wow. I started this unassuming and slim little book that I grabbed from the library and finished a couple hours later with tears streaming down my face — and the ending was NOT the first time that book made me cry. Another underrated contemporary YA to love and shout about from the rooftops. SERIOUSLY. I am finger waggling and all right now. Go get this book if you love contemporary YA. I thought it would be a good and quick read but I underestimated If I Lie entirely — it was really special and the kind of novel that just embeds itself in you from page 1.

1. I initially thought this story was going to be more about the secret that Quinn was keeping: I figured we’d be waiting with bated breath for it to be revealed. I had my guess of what the secret before I started and I was right because we were told on like page 25. That entirely shifted how I thought this novel would go down and made me pretty curious to see how it would all play out. The story is more about how Quinn is dealing with the aftermath of getting caught kissing someone else and not letting it define her while protecting Carey’s secret. We see her getting relentlessly bullied by people who used to be friends, shunned around town and even in her own home by her dad and struggling so hard with whether to clear her name or keep the secret — all while dealing with the emotions of Carey being declared MIA while he is deployed.

2. My heart ached for Quinn: So much of me just wanted to scream “HELP YOURSELF. Tell them!” when I was watching how awful things were for her but I really did get WHY Quinn chose to keep the secret and it made me admire her more. To watch her get relentlessly bullied and shut out by all her friends and the whole town really was just so hard as a reader because I knew the whole story. Her own dad is even treating her differently. Nobody even tried to hear her side. Quinn is just so, so alone and then, just when she thinks it all dies down a bit, the news of Carey being MIA happens and everyone is just so angry at her even more. There was just so much going on — the burden of the secret, her love for Carey and her fear for him, her feelings towards the boy she kissed, the bullying, her absent mother and her father who seemed to resent her for what she’d done and the sins of her mother– and I didn’t know how Quinn kept it together. I was really, really proud of her in the end. I can’t even convey that without spoilers.

3. Oh the emotions! GAH: Throughout this novel the tears flowed like unpredictable red hot lava. I was so surprised because I just didn’t see this being a really emotional novel. It’s not a real long book but every page just conveyed things perfectly that it just hit me real hard. There were sad tears but also kind of tender, heartwarming tears. There was just a lot of emotions coming from everywhere but they crept up on me so subtly. There were some moments with people that just hit me emotionally and then the ENDING. Oh god. I was just a sobbing mess at many different points for many different reasons. I cry a lot with movies and shows but it takes a really powerful book to make me SOB while reading. (I mean, there’s still quite a handful of books that have made me cry). It was just all so powerfully conveyed that I really took all of it hard FOR Quinn.

4. George: YEP. I’m not saying anything more. Just one of my new favorite characters.

5. There was so much to this story and I really appreciated it. It wasn’t just one dimensional but rather there were all sorts of little threads but not in an overwhelming way and it didn’t feel crowded considering it’s a small-ish book. I was amazed at how quickly I cared and how the story just flowed together perfectly and balanced the many elements with an undeniable finesse– family issues, romance, friendships, the secret.

book reviewsIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson is honestly one of my new favorite contemporary YA books. It was an evocative and powerful read that I will treasure for a long time to come. I loved that this story wasn’t just about a cheating scandal but SO MUCH MORE. It’s very layered and very realistic and just about as genuine and complex as they come. Quinn self discovery and channeling of her strength was one of my favorite parts. And George. You have to meet George. So read this one, it will be worth your while! Can’t wait to see what Corrine Jackson does next!




short book reviewIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson

You May Also Like: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller // Speechless by Hannah Harrington


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

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Book Talk: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Book Talk: Dangerous Girls by Abigail HaasDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse- July 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: She's written many books under the name Abby McDonald such as-- Sophomore Switch, The Anti-Prom and Getting Over Garrett Delaney.






book synopsis Anna and her group of friends are having the time of their lives on Spring Break in Aruba partying and living at the beach. When her best friend is brutally murdered in the house they are staying at, Anna finds herself quickly being at the center of a murder trial in a foreign country by a prosecutor who seems to have it out for her immediately and friends and a boyfriend who have basically all but abandoned her. Everyone — the media, friends, — seems to think she did it. She knows the truth and learns more as the trial progresses and everything hinders on the verdict that determines whether she is imprisoned or free and whether Elise’s killer gets away.


good books to readYou would have thought somebody put a gun to my head and said, “READ THIS BOOK AS FAST AS YOU CAN OR ALL YOUR BOOKS DIE” with how quickly I devoured this one. I started it and finished it in 3 1/2 hours flat with one break to eat. BEGRUDGINGLY. How can one eat when they need to keep reading such a page turner!!? Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was the kind of page turner that will give you paper cuts from frantically turning the pages to satiate your need to know WHO KILLED ELISE AND HOW WAS ANNA GOING TO PROVE HER INNOCENCE.

So let’s talk about why I was cursing my brain and hands for not working together to read this even faster. And I’m going to try to be suuuuper vague because I think it’s best to go into this knowing the barest of essentials which I’ll give to you.

1. The premise: Okay, so the story is right off the bat going to remind you of the Amanda Knox story. I mean, I feel like I was eyes glued to that case and watching all the coverage and speculating on what happened. It also is going to remind you of the Natalee Holloway story that happened when I was a freshman in college and which prompted my mom to freak out and she made me PROMISE I would not go spring breaking. So Dangerous Girls is this mishmash of the two of them with some parallels but with its own tragedy to tell. The group of friends are in Aruba on Spring break and the narrators best friend is found brutally murdered. An investigation is done and she’s being accused, along with her boyfriend, and she finds herself in an Aruba jail being held until the trial. It’s just the kind of premise grabs you from the beginning because of the prominence of these cases and does not let you go until the very last page as you watch this story unfold where a girl’s best friend has been murdered and she’s prime suspect number one.

2. The suspense/mystery: Ah the way this story was told was just so perfect. All the tension and the suspense was palpable and the author just knew how to make you decide you couldn’t stop reading for even one minute. The world ceased to exist to me because I was so planted in the story. We flip back and forth from the past to the present and it’s one of those seamless transitions where you are eager to learn about the back story in the girls’ friendship, their trip to Aruba and the present day where Anna is facing the trial and trying to prove her innocence. Anna’s account of everything was engrossing. I constantly was changing my mind of who I thought it was and it was really easy to have a couple of scenarios in my head for the couple people who were my prime suspects. I kept flip flopping my theories and my distrust and I LOVED IT. If you don’t at all want to know my reaction to the end, skip the next two sentences. I kind of had an inkling of who the true killer was but I had shoved that theory aside so I was SHOCKED at the end but not shocked when it was revealed. There were some THINGS that made me think it but I was like still like WHAT THE WHAT THE WHAAAAT with the reveal and then that final paragraph.

3. The interesting commentary about media coverage & also the legal process in these situations: I know if this was a real case I would have been one of those glued to the tv watching it unfold. Analyzing the characters every move. I mean, in the book we see just how easy it was for the case to happen and then the media frenzy to unleash their campaign against her and paint her as a cold blooded killer before the trial even begun. They analyzed her background, her demeanor, took pictures of her that made her look like she wasn’t affected by this, etc. They took all these things and spun this story. It was interesting to watch this fictional thing to happen but KNOW this is so how it really is. It becomes a soap opera. Everyone has an opinion and an angle and every little thing is scrutinized and taken out of context. It was fascinating to see how media really plays into these stories. I’ve watched it happen and been one of those glued to the coverage. I also found the way the legal process plays out in a foreign country to be fascinating. I know that was one of those things about the Amanda Knox case that fascinated me but I was really so interested by this in Dangerous Girls.

book reviews

If you like books that you are going to devour from page 1 because of the twisty suspense and mystery, get yourself a copy. This book surprised me! Shocked the pants RIGHT OFF ME. (Don’t worry, I put them back on. OR DID I?) You’ll constantly be guessing who did it and pointing the finger at everyone. I loved the premise and the way the story was told — it was this constant mounting anxiety while I was reading where it all was just so, so palpable  — every betrayal and accusation and feeling of hope for Anna and GAH EVERYTHING. It was a nail biter FO SHO and kept me guessing and completely kicked my brain’s ass at times.



short book reviewdangerous-girls-abigail-haas


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you guess?? (If you talk spoilers please label them but I’m DYING to talk about it bc HOLY CRAP!)

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Book Talk: Side Effects May Vary By Julie Murphy

Book Talk: Side Effects May Vary By Julie MurphySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Publisher/Year: Balzer & Bray- March 18, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None! Debut!

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





book synopsis

Alice is diagnosed with leukemia and the prognosis is not at all good. She knows she is going to die and she begins living knowing that — things like telling people how she feels, getting revenge, etc. Then she’s given a clean bill of health and is left with the prospect of learning how to LIVE again when she thought she was going to die AND realizes that she has to face the consequences of all the things she did/said when she thought she was going to die soon.

good books to readI’ve been sitting on this post for a while. I finished having VERY complicated feelings — I like that because yay thinking– and I really had to process it all. Typically when I finish a book I can easily say, “I liked it! I loved it! Or EHHH not for me.” or something to this affect. But with Side Effects May Vary? I just wasn’t able to pin down my feelings for this one right away like I can with most books. And the more I sat on my feelings…I think the more I really liked it. It was like how sometimes when you make a chili or a stew and the next day it tastes even better…the spices and the flavors really got a chance to shine. That’s how this book felt for me once I let it sink in.

What worked:

1. I loved how DIFFERENT this “cancer story” was: Typically most of the books that I have encountered deal with somebody being diagnosed with cancer or something to that affect. The alternating chapter DID show her dealing with the diagnosis but the main thrust of the story is about how everything changed when, after being so close to dying, she gets a clean bill of health and has to deal with all the repercussions of what she did and said — things like revenge plots and also things she said to people that she can’t take back now that she’s not dying. She has to deal with all that. It makes it all very interesting because, despite what I assumed it was about, this wasn’t a story about a girl trying to complete this super meaningful bucket list or even trying to make these profound life changes after almost dying but rather she was just trying to come to terms with what to do now that she lived. How does she start planning for a future she didn’t think she would have? It didn’t always make her likeable or sympathetic but the struggle was real to me and, by the end, her story hit me really hard.

2. Honestly Alice is going to be a tough pill to swallow for some people but I didn’t HATE her: Don’t get me wrong. Girl sucks a lot (seriously, she’s manipulative and mean and downright awful most of the time) and honestly her redemption is kind of miniscule for most of the book. But for some reason I understood her in ways even though I didn’t like her for much of it. I mean, she THINKS she is going to DIE. She’s so close to dying. There’s almost like this new perspective one would have at that and she knows that there aren’t consequences to what she’s saying/doing. I can’t imagine the reality shift that happens when you are so close to death but then you are given a clean bill of health. Her road to redemption is a long, arduous road and it’s messy and we barely get to see ANY of it, just really the start to it, but I really felt for her in her long road to figuring out how to live again when she was resigned to dying. We don’t get to see the happy neat bow, but in my head, I see her story playing out to where she really does take a lot of meaning from her experience once she fully comes to terms with it.

What didn’t:

1. The timeline of the story was one thing that detracted from my reading experience for sure: It was so jumpy. It was Alice and Harvey in alternating perspectives but not only that there was past and present switches for both. So it might be something like Alice Present, Harvey Past, Alice Past, Harvey Present and it was just really hard for me to get planted into the story. It may not be a problem for others but I kept getting frustrated by it because I was being pulled out of it. It made sense in that we needed to know the backstory and how it lead to everything in the now but it didn’t flow well for me and I often got frustrated trying to keep it all straight.

2. For a good majority of the novel I felt really nothing emotionally: I’m a pretty emotional reader and I felt like this should have elicited something from me pretty early on but it took quite a bit for it to…but when it did it did. There was just this wall that just kept me at an emotional distance to a lot of what was going on until I got further on. It may have been the fact that the characters were hard to really get a good sense of because the perspective change. It could have been because Alice herself was hard to like and therefore I kept trying and trying to find ways to connect with her. I eventually DID but it took a long, long while. It could have also been because I loved Harvey in theory but I become frustrated by trying to see what made him LOVE her so much that he would continually take her crap. There was supposed to be something so incredibly special about her, as we see from Harvey’s devotion, but even in the “past” chapters I couldn’t SEE what it was that made him so over the moon about her. But, like I said, I eventually did eventually break down that barrier and had a huge emotional surge/point of connection/reason to care.


book reviewsBottom line, I STILL can’t quite simply put into words what I feel about this one. I’ve tried. It’s a complicated book and you have to be okay with the fact that Alice is REALLY quite awful and hard to like. I personally don’t have to like the character of a book to like the book but I can wholly admit she is a tough pill to swallow and she’s angry and honestly treats people like crap a lot of the time and sometimes it is SO hard to want to care for her in any way— but for some reason I found her so complicated and intriguing and I loved the messiness of the story. In how hard it might be to start living again when you thought you were dying and everything you did/said because you thought there would be no consequences to them, because you were DYING, are now things you have to be held accountable for. I appreciated the freshness and uniqueness of the story even if half the time I felt frustrated and angry. I love that it made me think a ton. This book is going to be so polarizing among readers and I’m interested in seeing the dialogue on both side.
short book review

Julie Murphy Side Effects May Vary

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Tell me your thoughts on Alice! Did her personality impact how you read this one?

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Book Talk: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Book Talk: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja MillayThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Publisher/Year: Atria, Simon & Schuster- November 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, this was her debut!

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





book synopsis Nastya, once a budding piano prodigy, has found everything taken away from her. She’s moved to a new school where nobody will know her and what happened to her and she has no plans of talking about it — or about anything at all. Until she meets Josh Bennett who has had everyone he’s loved taken away from him. There’s something about him that she notices immediately and she sees how nobody even goes near him at school. He definitely notices her because she’s the mystery around school and somehow she keeps showing up everywhere. They begin to get know each other better but they realize there are still so many things they don’t know about each other — secrets that aren’t ready to be told. (I know this sounds vague but THE STORY IS SO GOOD).


good books to read

I mentioned last week that How To Love by Katie Cotugno got me out of a strange slump I was in but there was one more book that helped? YEP The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay blew that reading slump to smithereens. I just need to sing this book’s praises. My dear friend Jen told me a long time ago to read it back when it hadn’t even been released but I just never got to it. STUPID STUPID STUPID.

So let’s talk about what made me all heart-eyed towards this book.

1. This book was the WHOLE package. The Sea of Tranquility was a beautifully layered and absorbing story with just so much depth to it — every plot line felt significant, the writing was excellent, every minor character added so much and the emotions that tie it all together are rooted deep..not something superficial. I felt it all to my core and I really, really needed these character’s in my life. It’s the kind of book that should be in the dictionary next to the word poignant because it was that in every sense of the word but it was beautiful and uplifting and happymaking at the same time. There were times when my heart would be fluttering because of a Josh/Nastya interaction or the feeling of Nastya’s walls falling down a little bit. And then my heart could be brutally aching — just because of the intensity of their stories and their sadness. This story will stay with me.

2. As I finished the book I was immediately longed for the characters. These are characters that leap off the pages and crash right into your heart. Nastya (this girl and her snarkiness!) and Josh (so, so sweet) were the kind of lead characters you long for — realistic and flawed and memorable. They are broken and so wanting to be whole in the face of what has happened to them. You learn a lot about them and you feel everything they feel. I loved their individual story and the strength I saw in them and their relationship brought me great joy and great pain sometimes and WOW it was intense and light and all consuming for the reader watching these two broken souls come together. I loved their time in the garage and how their friendship evolved. It was perfect. And the thing is…it could have been a good book with two great main characters and maybe some decent secondary characters but Katja Millay’s secondary characters made this book move to that GREAT. I was so invested in THEIR lives too and every single one of them added so much to this story. I mean, DREW. You peg him for one thing, and he is that, but he is SO MUCH MORE. He was one of my FAVORITE characters and the more I saw of him and got to know of him I just LOVED him especially with how he and Nastya interacted! I loved the family dinners and just really his family was so memorable to me. GAH I could go on about ALL the characters but I so appreciated how dimensional they were!

3. I haven’t given favorite status to a book in a while but this book deserves it. I read an e-arc I had of this sitting on my kindle and I NEED this novel to be sitting on my shelf. I need it to be here for when I want to get lost in their story and the words. To reread certain parts that just really affected me. This is the type of book that was perfect for me — yeah, there were little things I could be nit-picky about (like a certain part that gutted me but didn’t make all that much sense because I’m not sure I understood the motives of Nastya in that moment) but all I can think about this book is how much I loved it and how deeply I felt. My heart felt raw but so alive after and I never wanted that feeling to end.



book reviewsI hate that I feel like I can’t convey my love for this book. I’m smitten. Beyond smitten. This book just gutted me because of how visceral of an experience it all was — the way Nastya and Josh’s stories are revealed, the beautiful way in which Nastya begins to find herself again and just the raw sadness that emanated from the characters sometimes. But it made me laugh and swept me off my feet and gave me genuine hope. It’s a new favorite for sure and I will be pushing it on everyone I can because The Sea of Tranquility took my expectations for it, stomped on them and gave me this perfect book that I needed so, so bad.




short book reviewsea-of-tranquility-katja-millay


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you love Drew and Nastya’s relationship? Her and Josh? ALSO, is anyone else confused as to why this is labeled New Adult? (Or do you have insight that could help me understand that label?)

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Book Talk: How To Love by Katie Cotugno

Book Talk: How To Love by Katie CotugnoHow To Love by Katie Cotugno
Publisher/Year: Balzer & Bray- October 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, this was her debut! What an amazing debut it was. More please?

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





book synopsis Reena has been in love Sawyer for as long as she can remember as their parents were friends before they were even born. They’ve never been anything more than childhood playmates until one night, when she least expects it, when something happens between them and they find themselves in love — a very messy and imperfect love that is beyond complicated. A story that becomes more complicated when Reena finds herself pregnant and Sawyer has left town. Fast forward a couple years and Reena has had her daughter and is settled into her life now — going to community college, dating and living with her parents. Things are going well, for the most part, until Sawyer shows up in town unexpected. Reena resolves to stay away from him but the pull that has always been there threatens to crumble her resolve.


good books to read
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. One one hand I’m furious with myself for waiting this long to read it but on the other hand I needed this book right now. You may have known I was in a bit of a “THIS IS SO NOT ME” reading year so far in 2014 and I really just needed a book to blow me away. How To Love by Katie Cotugno did the trick — along with another book that I will be talking about soon!

Why was it so awesome?

1. It completely destroyed my thought of “Ehh this is a novel about teen pregnancy” pretty early on: First, this book was SO much more than that. If you looked at this book like “oh god this is going to be a teen pregnancy issue-y book or like a rerun of Teen Mom”…NO..Just NO. It’s a complicated story about love, second chances and forgiveness. Reena may have a baby but this book is so much more than the cliched teen pregnancy stories I’ve come across.

2. I haven’t compulsively read a book like this in a while: I was seriously reading every moment I could — on my phone when I had a few seconds and I even woke up at 5:30 am so I could read it. I think it’s partly in the way it’s told in addition to the fact I was so into the story. It alternate between “Before” and “After”. The Before shows her and Sawyer’s past and really who she was before she got pregnant. The “After” is a couple years later when Sawyer comes back into town and we see she’s already settled into life as a mom. The unraveling of their story was just so gripping and Katie Cotugno gets you BAD with the ending of each chapter. I was RAVENOUS for more. She’d end, let’s say, the BEFORE chapter on a note where I was tempted to just skip the AFTER chapter because I HAD to know what happened next (and vice versa — each one was equally compelling). There are so few books that hook me so bad that after EACH chapter I can’t imagine putting it down. That’s a problem when life demands you still must exist outside of those pages!

3. Reena & Sawyer were two incredibly REAL characters & drew me into their story: These are characters that are going to piss you off probably at times, they are flawed, they are real and they don’t always make the right choice. I LOVED THAT. I don’t know if it’s an unpopular opinion but I LOVED SAWYER. I didn’t always LIKE him and the things he did but I felt the chemistry between them and that there was more to Sawyer. Sometimes I was so frustrated but I felt like I could feel Reena’s resolve not to give into Sawyer but, like Reena, I felt it all crumble. I just loved being tangled in Reena and Sawyer’s messy and complex love story. It was breathtaking at times, I cried, I fumed but I just felt what it was like to be young again and thinking with your heart and sometimes making those mistakes to learn and grow. I also really loved their individual growth — that aspect of the story was just important to me as their love story. They got second chances, opportunities for forgiveness and to come to terms with the past. Also, as a sidenote, I LOVED their banter.

book reviewsHow To Love by Katie Cotugno is a book that shot a line straight to my heart from the beginning and I was so thoroughly enchanted with Reena and Sawyer’s messy yet utterly romantic story that I kept sneaking in moments whenever I could and even set an alarm for 5:30am so I could squeeze in more time. It was beautiful, heartbreaking at times and made my heart just feel so full as I watched these wonderfully flawed characters unravel before me and build themselves back up. I mega loved this book and highly recommend it. Don’t be turned off by the thought that it might be a cliched “teenage pregnancy issues” book because that is NOT at all what this book is.

short book review

HOw To Love Katie Cotugno

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

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Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor | Book Review

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor | Book ReviewMaybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- February 18, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Darlings Are Forever, If I Have A Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?, The Breakup Bible, Confession Of A Not It GirlGirlfriend Material


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




book synopsis Zoe and Olivia have been best friends since they can remember — they do everything together, they danced together, they planned for the future together. Then Olivia is diagnosed with leukemia and everything is so uncertain. Zoe tries her best to be there for Olivia and treat her normally as she continues to get treatment, misses school and seem to continually get weaker but it becomes hard for her with how everything changes and how she is supposed to continue living in a forward motion when things with Olivia are so uncertain.

good books to readOverall I rather liked this one and constantly couldn’t wait to pick it back up…but I don’t think it made the overall kind of impact to make it stand out for me that I thought it would be and there were some little things that irked me. But overall my feelings are more positive than negative — there was just some sort of disconnect there that is hard to explain. It just wasn’t all the way there for me.

Despite the premise which is an emotional topic — a young girl’s best friend being diagnosed with leukemia – it took me a little bit to get emotionally invested (I was invested in the story but not yet emotionally) but when I DID…WOW. I was a hot mess and just weeping by the end. Melissa Kantor got me SO invested in the friendship of these girls that I just felt everything along with them. I loved learning about their friendship and all its facets — how they met, how dance was this huge bonding thing for them and just all the things that best friends did and talked about it. It reminded me a lot of my best friend from middle school and I — being constant figures at one another’s houses and planning how we would do this and that together as grownups. I had some serious friendship nostalgia with this one.

I think that is really where this book shined for me — the friendship. It was complex and it wasn’t always perfect but they had such a strong foundation and really had such love for each other. I’ve read The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor and I think she really is just very talented in creating great stories of friendship that feel authentic and easy to relate to. Knowing the back story and FEELING the magnitude of their friendship made me invested in them going through this together and I appreciated that Zoe, who is definitely not always perfect and doesn’t always know how to deal with this, loved and supported Olivia in the best way she knew how — visiting her, acting normal towards her, teaching the dance class for her, etc. I felt it was realistic to how a teenage girl would react in this situation.

I know a lot of other people didn’t like Zoe but I really came to like her. She was doing the best she could in these uncharted waters. Having been a teenager when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I know how you are consumed with it but at the same time, in grappling with it, you also very much are consumed with the other parts of life going on around you — boys, other friendships, things at school, etc. I felt Zoe was very real in this balance in trying to keep LIVING life but dealing with this situation with Olivia and I loved the secondary characters who added to all this. I know that it’s hard to swallow how things happen with Zoe and Olivia’s sort of crush but that didn’t bother me so much because she’s a flawed human being and we don’t always go about things they right way. I could feel her struggle with the whole situation and so it didn’t make me dislike Zoe and I REALLY loved Calvin (and wanted more of them maybe?)

Even though I grew to like Zoe, I think she was a bit of my disconnect alone.  Zoe’s relationship with dancing was a huge thing — something that was her whole life, along with Olivia, and she’s just never really been able to find what it is that makes her tick after she’s cut from dance. It derails her and how she became after made it hard to connect to her at first. She literally doesn’t have anything, besides Olivia, anymore. She’s disinterested in everything, and mostly everyone, because her plans don’t turn out how she thought they would and just stops living so she just kind of was a flat character for me until I got further in the story. She focuses on dealing with Olivia’s illness and being there for her and I saw glimpses of Zoe becoming interested in life again but I wish I would have seen more growth in her with really FINDING herself again because I might have not felt that disconnect.

“Time does not care how precious it is, how hard you are working not to squander it. Time passes.” — Maybe One Day


book reviewsIf you are looking for a good book about friendship that is emotional and heartbreaking but gives you the warm and fuzzies thinking about your best friend (or former partner in crime from your childhood like I thought of), Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor is a very solid book. I think I’ve read more hard hitting books with similar subjects that had a bit more depth and a bigger impact but, overall, I feel very positively towards it besides some random things and some disconnect with Zoe herself — apart from who she was as Zoe & Olivia.

short book reviewmaybe-one-day-melissa-kantor

books you may also likeThe Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor (more so if you liked the friendship side of this book), Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, The F-It list by Julie Halpern

for-fans-of-bookcontemporary YA dealing strongly with friendship, books dealing with cancer, books with main characters who are into ballet

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Did you like it less/more than me? Did anyone else feel a weird disconnect in ways? I attributed it to Zoe herself and feeling like I didn’t really KNOW her apart from her being Zoe & Oliva. What was it for you if you felt this? Did anyone else bawl?? Whew. I couldn’t stop.
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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
Publisher/Year: Scholastic- October 2009
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Other Books From Author: The Boy on The Bridge, Confessions of The Sullivan Sisters, Dating Game series, The Secret Tree

Thanks to my amazing Secret Santa, Nina, for gifting me this!!
Find It:




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!

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