Save The Date: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

To learn more about why I created/started doing this Save The Date feature back in 2012 and how it differs from my reviews — go here!

 I received this book for review consideration and that has zero affect on my opinions on it. PINKIE SWEAR.

 

The Serpent King

* Release date according to Goodreads

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Pre-Order It | Add It To Goodreads


What The Serpent King is about:

Dill has always been a little bit of an outcast with a super religious Pentecostal preacher dad whose preaching is a bit unorthodox and extreme — aka his congregation frequently handles poisonous snakes during the sermon. But he fell even further into outcast land, and pretty hard, after his father’s public and awful fall from grace which has affected a lot at home, too. His two best friends, Lydia and Travis, are fellow outcasts in their small Southern town. Lydia runs a very popular fashion blog, dresses quite differently than her classmates and has her eye on moving to NYC as soon as high school is over. Travis, mostly content with staying after graduation, is often lost in a popular fantasy series and its fandom where he finds people who GET him. They’ve always stuck together to survive this town but now, with graduation nearing, the uncertainty of the future and their friendship going forward weighs heavily as plans to leave and stay are made and dreams are becoming realized.

Why You Should Be Saving The Date for The Serpent King:

Do you know that feeling when you read something and you are just like YEP. THAT’S IT. THIS IS PERFECT. THIS IS THE KIND OF BOOK I LIVE FOR”? Pretty much the whole time I was reading The Serpent King I felt like this. It’s this feeling I can’t describe and I wish I had the words for it. It’s just this feeling I get whenever I encounter a new favorite book or a book that just has something special. The Serpent King is both of those things. It was everything. It had all the things I want out of a book no matter what the genre is. I have to be honest — my go-to is contemporary YA — but lately, while I’ve been loving many I’ve read, I haven’t been having those books that just stop me in my tracks as much as I used to. But The Serpent King? Like the venom from a serpent, this book made quick work of coursing its magic through me as I read and affecting every inch of my being until by the end I just was rendered incapacitated and alone in a puddle of book feels with one massive book hangover to which there is no anti-venom for.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa ReichardtUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Farrer Straus and Giroux on January 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Morgan survived a horrible tragedy — one that she feels partly guilty for because of an act of kindness she did that day. Racked with fear and guilt, Morgan has not been able to leave apartment she shares with her mom and brother and truly move forward after everything that happened. She’s lost her friends, attends high school via the internet and her therapist comes to her home once a week to try to work through this with her. And then Evan moves in next door and she’s confronted with the life that she’s missing and his presence starts to stir in her a desire to see the outside world again.

a2Very heavy book, oof. Need something happy next!!

a4

One of the worst feelings is finishing a book and just not really feeling what you know you probably should have. Which is really sad because there were moments in this book that were great and really affected me.   I should be overwhelmed with emotional connection given the content of this novel but I just wasn’t in the grand scheme when I finished. In small moments, yes. I was there. But when I finished I was like I was left wanting more overall.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

A1

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

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

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

Some things I loved:

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

 

 

a6RATING-loved-it

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


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

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

review-on-post-itFriday Never leaving vikki wakefield

 

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Book Talk: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren GibaldiThe Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
Published by HarperTeen on June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Ella and Matt, the new bass player in her friend’s band, meet the summer before her senior year after she’s just been dumped by her boyfriend months before. The night they meet deviates from what it ought have been and turns into a fun and crazy night of “saying yes” with Matt and her best friends. Six months later Matt leaves town and none of them hear from him….until he’s back and standing in front of Ella wanting to explain why he disappeared and wanting to recreate the night they met to show her he’s worth a second chance — something Ella isn’t sure can happen after he broke her heart and just left them all.

a2SUPER CUTE! Also, it would be really fun to have a night of saying yes like they do in the book but I’d be careful who I choose to partake in that hahah

a4This book was so cute & such an enjoyable summer read! I absolutely devoured it!

Here’s what worked for me:

1. The fact that it’s set in that summer after graduation and before freshman year of college: I remember that summer being such a BIG summer for me. It held all these infinite possibilities and your head got carried away with dreaming and planning and imagining. But it also produced so much nostalgia within — even though you hadn’t left already things were starting to look and feel different to you. Everything felt SO significant — this is the last time we would all be here together and doing this before everything changed. There was also fear and anxiety of the unknown. All of this that I can remember so clearly these 11ish years later? This is what Lauren Gibaldi wrote SO well in The Night We Said Yes. I could feel all that pulsing through these characters.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Book Talk: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah OcklerThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon Pulse on June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Twenty Boy Summer, The Book of Broken Hearts, #Scandal
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Elyse was on her way to a singing career with her twin sister when an accident took everything away from her — her voice. She decides to get away from her home in Tobago and goes to live with her aunt and cousin in a seaside town in Oregon. She meets Christian Kane — a notorious ladies man — who doesn’t treat her like she’s The Girl Who Can’t Talk and his adorable mermaid chasing little brother Sebastian and suddenly finds herself, in spite of her new fear of the ocean after the accident, in a high stakes boat race to fight for the town and the people in it she’s grown to love.

a2“Where’s my quote notebook? A few I need to add from this one!!”

a4

I think this one was so excellent and it was one of those books that got better to me after I finished it and thought about it a bit! It’s a contemporary Little Mermaid retelling but don’t let that scare you off if you don’t typically do retellings — it’s pretty loose on the retelling. I would say more INSPIRED BY. I honestly didn’t know until about half way through the book and would have probably never thought OOOH LITTLE MERMAID RETELLING.

Here’s what I enjoyed about it:

1. The idea of losing one’s voice: In the book the main character physically cannot speak anymore after an accident but throughout the book you see all sorts of people who have lost their voices to some degree. They can’t speak up. Elyse experiences the physical loss of her voice but throughout the story she really GAINS her real voice. I loved the exploration of ones voice — losing it, finding it, etc. It’s one of those books I really wish I read with a book club to TALK about this because I think this is something a lot of us can relate to.

2. The setting: Oh my gawwwwd you have no idea how badly I want to visit the Pacific Northwest now. It’s set in a teeny seaside town on the Oregon and the way Sarah wrote it is beyond gorgeous. I could envision it all and just found myself yearning to be there. VERY strong setting that really added so much!

3. The romance: One of the sweetest romances I’ve seen in a while. I loved it — their banter, the way they became friends first, the way they really got to see things in each other that they wouldn’t open up to others about. I didn’t think I was going Christian at all because he’s the town player that everyone has hooked up with but there’s definitely more to him but not in a super angsty “I’m just misunderstood/my tragedy made me this way” sort of way. He has depth and I really grew to like him.

4. The absolutely gorgeous writing: This is my 4th Sarah Ockler book and I think she’s an amazing writer but this book really stood out to me in the writing department. It’s just so BEAUTIFUL — I can’t even explain it. Lots of lines that just cause you to pause and really soak it in and beautiful descriptions that made me pause.

5. HELL YES STRONG WOMEN & FEMINISM: There are so many strong and flawed and amazing women in this novel. Elyse herself is amazing and I really enjoyed her as a character watching her fight through the hardest thing she’s ever been through and rebuilding her life after her dreams are taken from her. But then there are all these amazing ladies — Elyse’s aunt and cousin, Vanessa, Vanessa’s mom, etc. I just loved the strong women and how I could feel that pulse of feminism in this novel.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ characters, writing, romance, setting, plot, how it made me reflect about a lot of things
Nothing really..maybe that it took me a little to really get into it/care.

Re-readability: I would probably audio it sometime later in the future.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Probably not but making sure my library ordered it!

a5contemporary YA fans, readers looking for an amazing and absorbing setting, readers who are looking for a book that is equally as sweet as it is heart-wrenching.

a8I loved Elyse’s story so much and watching her find her voice again after a terrible accident and start living life after her dreams are shattered. It was an emotionally powerful journey with a vivid setting and a stirring romance.

review-on-post-itThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids review Sarah Ockler

 

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: No Place To Fall By Jaye Robin Brown

Book Talk: No Place To Fall By Jaye Robin BrownNo Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown
Published by HarperTeen on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

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

 

A1
Amber has always been the good girl — the ones that stayed on the straight and narrow and who was determined to get out of her small town. But she hasn’t always felt really ALIVE until she starts going up to a hiking hangout spot with her best friend Devon where she gets to be whoever she wants and meet people who are just passing through. That feeling from the summer follows her into the school year and she starts to make some choices that make her wonder if she’s that good girl everyone thinks she is. She also pursues an opportunity that would take her out of this town and away from her problems in the form of a music program at a high school for the arts in a big city a couple hours away and the boy who helps her practice makes things even more complicated in her life.

a2That one really grew on me! And awww at the ending!

a4This one grew on me! I was thinking it was alright at first and then I got to a point wherein I’d go to read for 20 minute before bed and suddenly I was done with half the book. Repeat the next night. By the time I finished I could feel my rating meter down below moving up a bit.

1. I loved the small town setting and think the author NAILED it: You might not know this about me but from the time I was born until 7th grade I grew up in a VERY small town in the middle of nowhere, PA and it felt so much like this town. I’m not saying ALL small towns are like this..but this nailed my old town — from the way everyone knows each others business, to the way they speak/some narrow thinking, to the hopeless/stuck feeling one can feel especially when they have bigger dreams, etc. Some of the characters could have absolutely been people I knew. It kind of made me sad thinking about the girls I knew who ended up like Amber’s sister and feel trapped. But as much as it made me feel sad for some of the people who got too caught up in the things of a small town, I love that it gave me the warm and fuzzies about small town livin — I always wanted to get out of there and I felt so superior when I did…and then suddenly as an adult when I’d go to visit my dad I began to appreciate a small town! I really related to Amber in that way and I’m proud of my roots!

2. The romance was so cute: It’s a romance trope I always kind of love when I see it — the best friend’s older brother. Maybe it’s because I totally had a crush on a best friend’s brother? PERHAPS. I loved Will (and hey he shares a name with my husband so even better) and I loved their relationship even though I know that there’s something in this book that might make people not ship them. It’s something I HATE but I don’t know…I think I’m a little more forgiving in high school about it because it’s that time to make bad decisions/mistakes, learn and grow.

3. I loved this exploration of how our mistakes define us: So in this book, Amber makes a BIG colossal, totally not HER decision. She knows it’s wrong and immediately regrets it. But this thing…it makes her question what kind of person she is and if she’s just going to end up destined to become this person she didn’t want to be. I loved that her mistake had BIG consequences and felt like it was handled very realistically. As a reader, you are like WHAT ARE YOU THINKING WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS. It made me think of how many times in my life I’ve had some bad judgement calls that were not in line with who I was/thought I was.

4. FAMILY MATTERS: As someone who has had a semi-dysfunctional family at various points through my childhood and adulthood, I could relate! I loved watching some of the family issues play out even though they made my heart ache. It all felt so realistic and well done!

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or I’d reread it, no.

a5readers who want small town settings, readers who like main characters who are into music (lots of music in this book!), readers who don’t mind main characters who are flawed and get into some messy situations, contemporary YA readers who like a balance of cute and serious

a8

While I wouldn’t say it was a book that really moved me, I really enjoyed the ride. I definitely grew to enjoy it more and more as I progressed and the plot really started to come together. I enjoyed the themes present in this novel and the setting tremendously. I definitely thought this one was going to be a bit lighter of a book but it did have some serious elements for sure and I’d say I was happy with what it was vs. what my expectations were.

review-on-post-it

No Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

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: #Scandal by Sarah Ockler

Book Talk: #Scandal by Sarah Ockler#Scandal by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon Pulse on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Twenty Boy Summer, The Book of Broken Hearts, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

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

A1

Lucy’s best friend Ellie begs her to go to prom as her boyfriend’s date when she becomes sick before prom. Lucy doesn’t want to because she’s not really into the social scene and would rather stay in and play her zombie video game but she does it for Ellie. Even though it’s a bit uncomfortable for her because, unbeknownst to anyone, Lucy has been in love with Cole before Ellie started dating him. And then Lucy and Cole end up kissing which was bittersweet and, before Lucy can even figure out what to do, someone uploads picture proof the betrayal along with incriminating pictures of others at the party on to Lucy’s Facebook. Everyone assumes Lucy did it and nobody will give her a chance to explain and she’s immediately branded as a rat, a slut, a horrible friend and more. Lucy knows her only chance for things to get better is to find who took those pictures and uploaded them and hope Ellie will forgive her.

a2I’m so glad that I was too old to see this cell phone/social media culture in high school. Our phones were bricks and texting was just getting to be a big thing.

a4I’m so conflicted and it breaks my heart to be because SARAH OCKLER. It was an intriguing enough read to keep reading but it did not blow me away like the books I’ve read and LOVED from her — The Book of Broken Hearts and Twenty Boy Summer. The magic that those two, ESPECIALLY The Book of Broken Hearts, had for me kind of lacked in #Scandal unfortunately!

What worked for me:

1. The subject matter: I’m so intrigued by this social media/internet, smartphone obsessed culture –especially how people are now growing up WITH IT. As a teen I begun to be introduced to the texting and all that but I didn’t grow UP with it because it was just becoming a THING so I’m always so curious about how this young generation is affected by it especially in relation to gossip, bullying, how they relate to one another and that kind of stuff. I was intrigued watching how this whole scandal played out via social media and also how they used in ways to “solve” the mystery.

2. How the “mystery” unfolded: There is a bit of a mystery (complete with VERONICA MARS references and banter) to find out WHO was the person who took the pictures that were uploaded for everyone to see on Lucy’s account and started all the scandal. I think THIS is what kept me turning the pages even when I wasn’t connecting to Lucy is that I so desperately wanted to know who did it and why.

3. I appreciated some of the thoughts about how we use social media and the internet as well as how we see other people: Now there was this (e)VIL group who was completely tech-free and while they were silly in some ways they had some good points. They were entertaining and I appreciated how thought-provoking it actually was. And I loved how we see Lucy see these people who she’s overlooked or written off in a different way.

What didn’t seem to work for me:

1. I really didn’t find Lucy compelling really at all: All the other Sarah Ockler books I’ve read I’ve REALLY connected to the main character and cared for them so much but in this situation I cared more about the plot and the secondary characters than I did the main character. In my head it’s like, “Poor girl. Nobody deserves to be bullied” but my heart didn’t really feel much anguish over her plight. I just wasn’t invested and I don’t really know what it was. I don’t mind a difficult main character as you know, so even though what she did to her best friend was HARD for me, that wasn’t really it. It was more like I just found her bland and not this vivid character that she was kind of being painted to be and how her response to the bullying was written it almost made me feel like it was such a minor annoyance more than something that hurt her. I couldn’t tell if it was her defense mechanism to seem like she didn’t care but it didn’t transfer to me as the reader to care much.

2. There were some really great characters besides Lucy but sometimes I felt there were too many and they all didn’t get the development they deserved: There were a lot of other characters that we were introduced to and that all became tangled in this with Lucy and I found myself so intrigued with some of them and others had great potential that never came through. We had Lucy’s sister who I didn’t care for, the (e)VIL group who I found fascinating though sometimes outlandish, Franklin (who I loved!!), the two best friends, a foreign exchange guy who liked Lucy and even more. There are people who are “suspects” and I get how they wouldn’t be fleshed out as well but some of the others I wanted MORE from who fell a little flat.

3. The romance never did anything for me: It wasn’t even HOW the romance happened. It was just that I didn’t find them all that compelling considering that they both loved each other for forever. I wasn’t NOT rooting for them but I wasn’t all I SHIP THIS. He was also kind of a flat character as well. I actually thought the romance was going to go in a different direction than it did, that maybe I would have been MORE interested in, but alas it did not.

 

a6
RATING-OKAY
factors+ plot & how it drew me in, interesting discussions about social media and how we use it, a couple great minor characters
lack of feelings toward Lucy, not enough fleshing out of other characters, romance

Re-readability: Nope but I now I’m itching for a re-read of The Book of Broken Hearts because THAT is my favorite of hers.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No.

a5fans of books that deal with social media/cyber-bulling, Sarah Ockler fans who want to read all her books

a8Sad times infinity. I have LOVED Sarah Ockler’s books in the past so I’m really sad that this one wasn’t in the LOVE/FAVORITE category the way her other books were for me. I have to care about the character’s story/feel really invested in things to really like it and that just wasn’t the case here. Intriguing plot that kept me reading but I really didn’t feel much towards it from start to finish.

 

review-on-post-it

#scandal by sarah ockler

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?
* Have you read Sarah Ockler’s books before and, if so, what was your favorite??
* Were you surprised about who stole the phone and took the pics? (I wasn’t)
* How did you feel about the romance?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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Book Talk: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
Book Talk: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Book Talk: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Book Talk: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Book Talk: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

Book Talk: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie ConnorThe Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
Published by Katherine Tegan on June 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

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

A1

Bettina’s super strict dad never lets her date or really out of the house much at all. But when she starts talking to Brady, a decently popular and cute guy at school, he manages to woo her dad as well and suddenly Bettina has something she never really had — FREEDOM. Plus a great boyfriend. Until suddenly Brady changes and suddenly isn’t who she thought he was at all. As she tries to figure out what to do with Brady, she meets a much older guy in his twenties who she ends up spending significant time with. As she tries to keep this secret relationship with Cowboy under wraps and keep herself at a distance from Brady without sacrificing her freedom, something that happens that tears it all apart and brings the truth out in the open.

a2*wipes eyes* I need a moment, please. *curls up in a ball*

a4

I did not expect The Things You Kiss Goodbye to make me cry. Nope. Sometimes there are books that I have a hunch that might make me cry but this was not one of them — not even when I was reading it did I think that. But oh did I cry…sob really. It’s really hard to explain how I felt about this one — it affected me for sure but I can’t say it was in a way that was lasting or that made it a favorite but I absolutely couldn’t put it down and think there was so much good about it.

Here’s some of the main things I thought about this one:

1. It certainly was a dramatic, intense story and I felt emotionally devastated by the end: I read this prior to BEA and knew I’d forget things about it if I didn’t write down and one of the first things I wrote was “reminds me of the kind of drama you’d get from a Lifetime movie or a soap opera but less cheesy.” A few days later I saw Blythe say something similar to that and it made me feel better because I didn’t know if I was explaining it right in my preliminary thoughts. There’s a whole slew of intense things in this book: abuse, secrets, family drama, an older man and a thing that happens that was pretty intense and made me weep alongside Bettina. The escalation of emotional things happening made me turn the pages faster for sure and by the end I just wanted to sleep for days because I just felt sad.

2. I never felt anything for the romance but had complicated feelings towards it: So there is a secret romance that happens. I guess the age difference didn’t really bother me — it happens — I saw the struggle there. But I never felt the butterflies or FELT the fireworks as I was reading. But I found myself feeling really invested in it toward the end — even though I didn’t believe necessarily it as it was happening. I can’t explain much more of when I felt invested or else it would give the whole thing away but I was very emotional towards their relationship for REASONS.

3. The whole Bettina and Brady situation made me physically panicky: It was very hard to read about how Brady changes. You see how charming he is and how their relationship starts and it’s really sweet. And then I felt like I wanted to vomit each and every time we started to see this other side of Brady. I seriously felt tense and sick to my stomach when it came to Brady. I think the progression of their relationship was written very well because it definitely got to me as a reader and it felt so plausible. It wasn’t ever this huge, explosive thing but these little things that were just getting more and more aggressive and it made me sick how he could just laugh it off and Bettina could doubt herself. HOWEVER, as much as I think this was written very well, I feel conflicted as to how it was dealt with by the end. I felt like there weren’t any consequences for Brady AT ALL. And I know sometimes that is realistic but I kept having this nagging voice wanting SOMETHING a little more when it came to him.

4. Despite my concerns for Bettina and my empathy for sure, I never quite found her to be a character I thought about after: I really did feel for her and have major anxiety when it came to things going on her life but I always felt a bit of a distance from her. She just never really leaped off the page even though her story definitely did…if that makes ANY sense at all.

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ page-turning, got me emotionally invested, felt unique in lots of ways
–  lack of true connection to MC, never truly felt the romance with Cowboy,


Re-readability
: More than likely not to be honest.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite/I wouldn’t read it, no. But I’m contemplating buying this for my 17 year old niece for her birthday because I think she’d dig it.

a5people who like books that are a bit more dramatic and pretty damn emotional, people interested in books that feature a more unique relationship (a significantly older guy), readers who don’t shy away from a book where abuse happens, people looking for books that deal with family, readers wanting a POC main character

a8This book hooked me for sure with its emotional intensity and drama. From the Brady situation to the budding romance with Cowboy, an older guy, I couldn’t stop turning the pages because I was nervous for Bettina and how all this would turn out. I felt emotionally devastated by the end and wasn’t sure WHAT to think about the ending in certain ways. I wished for more in different areas –actually FEELING the thing with Cowboy, wishing for a less flat MC — but I can’t deny that I was sucked in.

 

review-on-post-it

The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

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 anyone else wish the whole Brady thing was a little more wrapped up? I just…I could see it being realistic that way but maybe I just wanted some sort of justice or responsibility or something?
* Was I the only one who wasn’t shipping Bettina and Cowboy (and not even because of age for me)?? I liked their relationship but never felt how this romance happened.


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor | Book Review

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor | Book ReviewMaybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
Published by HarperTeen on February 18, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Darlings Are Forever
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

three-half-stars

 

 

 

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.
The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

three-half-stars

Fault Line by Christa Desir | Book Review

Fault Line by Christa Desir | Book ReviewFault Line by Christa Desir
Published by Simon Pulse on October 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

book synopsis Ben falls fast for the new girl in school — Ani. She’s brutally honest and totally not like all the other girls he knows. In a whirlwind fashion, they start dating and everything is perfect until the party…the party that Ben doesn’t attend. The party where Ani gets raped but doesn’t remember a thing. Rumors are circulating about the details — Ani was shouting about how she wanted them, that maybe it was date rape drugs, she was wasted — and nobody knows what really happened and who is to blame. When Ani pushes Ben away and starts acting out, Ben tries to help her and is met with resistance because Ani doesn’t want to be saved.

good books to readI have ALL sorts of feelings about this book. WOW. What a book. It was a our book club pick and we had A LOT to talk about because it brought up a lot of things. I don’t think that I liked this as much as other people did, as there were some things that just didn’t work for me, but I still think that it’s an important story with good things about it that I couldn’t put down.

What I Liked:

* The POV: I loved that this perspective was male and from someone who wasn’t the victim. I’ve read quite a few books dealing with rape and it’s always from the victim’s perspective, no doubt an important perspective, but this immediately hooked me because of the fact it was from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. I had never read that perspective and found myself thinking, “WHY has this not been done before?” because it’s also an important view to see from people who love and want to help someone when they experience this. I thought it brought up a lot of interesting things to see everything happening from his angle — to see her change and the effects the rape had on her and their relationship but to not be in tune with the inner turmoil she was going through. It added a lot to the story, I felt, and made me think of the struggles that victim’s loved ones also go through in trying to help them through it. I felt Ben’s helplessness and feeling like he just didn’t know WHAT to do. It felt realistic and honest and I appreciated the story being told from his perspective.

* The story itself: My heart was very invested in the idea of this story with some reservations with the characters which I’ll discuss below. Watching this all unravel my heart hurt for both Ani and Ben. To see the before and the after through someone elses eyes and see Ben try so hard to help her as she just is reeling from the rape and pushing him away.  The story was totally soul crushing because the sad reality is this kind of thing happens probably more than we know. All Ani’s actions made my heart hurt and Ben’s struggle to hold on to her was hard to watch…especially at the end. I felt like it was very evident that the author’s background in rape crisis enhanced this story because Ani and Ben’s struggles and reactions seemed very realistic. It was a very powerful story about that “after” and how it affects various people involved and, for Ani, she was stuck in this cycle of blame and guilt and left with all these questions unable really deal with it.

* The discussion that comes from this book: This was definitely a powerful book to make you think and I loved the discussion that it brought up because it is so, so relevant and important. Ani knows she was raped and she can’t remember what happened and only knows what she’s told (the details which make her look to others that she was completely wanting this) and is completely being tormented at school because of what went down. A lot of the conversation and the struggles for both Ani and Ben are if a) she was slipped a date rape drug b) if she got super drunk and was acting “slutty” and maybe a c) is if she just is a “slut”  and wasn’t actually raped at all — all sorts of victim blaming stuff. It was the one thing in the story, and I think in life, that people get hung up on. Does it make it better if it was one or the other? Does it make it easier to handle? Does it change it? Do people feel more sympathy for someone who gets slip date rape drugs vs. someone who got crazy drunk and got raped? Who is to blame? It’s an endless conversation that we even see in the media. “She was asking for it by how she was dressed.” “She got drunk and was flirty and came on to me” “She was drunk but she wasn’t passed out.” I just thought seeing this play out in the story brought up all the relevant news stories I’ve see and things I’ve even heard in high school and college. Fault Line was one of the bravest and most powerful books that really brought this discussion to the table.

What didn’t work for me:

* The romance/development of it:  I know this book wasn’t really ABOUT the romance but it was hard for me to really FEEL why Ben cared so much and hung on because I didn’t see much substance to their relationship. Yes, some young relationships are not based on substantial things but they literally knew nothing about each other and suddenly they were together. She said his hair made him look like an asshole, he thought she had legs for days (that and her honesty seemed to be the two things that made him head over heels for her) and then suddenly she invites him over and they are a couple. We do see a little bit of their beginnings but it just wasn’t much for me. It was difficult for me to care for either characters or their relationship, beyond what I knew I should feel, because there was barely any build up so, while I liked the IDEA of their story, I just felt some sort of disconnect.

During book club we were talking about how maybe there would have been more of an impact had the story been about two people who had dated for longer or at least more of a back story for us to get to KNOW them and see that spark. Ben pretty much gives up everything as he struggles to attempt to save her and it never made sense to me WHY. I never felt it and thus it took me out of the story A LOT — despite how important and powerful the discussion from this book was and how emotional I DID get at the end.

I will say I had NO idea how I felt at the end of this book as a WHOLE but I was teary eyed for Ben and for the very realistic and bittersweet ending.

* the length of this book: Okay so maybe it’s not so much the length, because for how short it brought a lot to the table, but it was more how because of the length I felt some things/characters were underdeveloped and it really detracted (including my above point). There were random people that I thought would be more important that were just kind of dropped. There were things just half developed in my mind and left dangling. A lot of the other characters were hazily developed to me, and I know they WEREN’T the focus of this, but I just would have liked to see a wee bit more development in the secondaries. I DID love  Ben’s friend though (his name is escaping me) and thought he was one of the best.

book reviewsWhile it seems like on paper there were more things that I LIKED about this book than didn’t like, my “didn’t work for me” list items unfortunately made me disconnect a lot from the story. It was a powerful and provocative novel that explored an important and relevant topic that is an ongoing discussion in society from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. There were a lot of good things about this book, no doubt, but the underdevelopment unfortunately pulled me out too much from the story and frustrated me — distracting me from what was great about it.

short book reviewfault-line-christa-desair

 

books you may also likeWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

for-fans-of-bookbooks about tough issues, books opening an honest discussion about rape, books that will give you lots of food for thought, flawed and honest characters

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one or heard of it? What did you think of it? This is a very interesting book for discussion so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!!

The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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