Book Talk: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Book Talk: I’ll Meet You There by Heather DemetriosI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publisher/Year: Henry Holt & company- February 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Something Real, Exquisite Captive
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Skylar has been planning her way out of her small town and the future that would await her if she stayed. She’s gotten into art school and has been working her minimum wage job as summer starts to ensure she gets there — until her mother loses her job and starts slipping back into some bad habits making her wonder if she’ll ever be able to leave her and head off to art school at all. At the beginning of her summer she’s reunited with Josh, a boy she used to work with who is back from Afghanistan after his leg gets blown off, and she encounters a different Josh than the one who has left and they find an unexpected friendship despite their differences.

a2I WANT TO TELL EVERYONE ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

a4Here’s the thing, my little bookworms. When I like books, I have a varying degree of liking them. I can really like them and I can really love them but it is RARE that I add a new book to my favorites. I’ll Meet You There? When I finished it in November, I felt like it shook me to the core like that of a colossal earthquake to the heart — just rearranging and shifting my heart in the way a truly powerful book will. And as I sit here putting the final touches on this review in January, I feel like I’m still feeling the emotional aftershocks of I’ll Meet You There. I’m making room for this book on my FAVORITES shelf. (I feel like there should be a ceremony for this because I REALLY don’t do this often — no matter how many books I can REALLY love).

So let’s get down to it:

1. The whole book reading experience is what I hope for when I start a book: It was just that perfect storm of a great plot, dynamic & flawed characters (even the secondaries!!) whose pulses I could practically feel as I held the pages, an intense emotional connection, writing that makes me dog-ear a lot and this immediate “I need to read this book again real soon.” I’ll Meet You There just had it all. It’s as simple as that. Everything that I need to make a favorite book was in this. That formula might be different for everyone but I truly believe this is going to be a winner for a lot of people because it objectively has the makings of a great book. Everything Heather Demetrios DID she did it SO WELL.

2. I loved the diversity of the characters: I really loved that Skylar and Josh were just a different POV from what I typically read. Socioeconomically they come from a really poor background which is rare in the YA I’ve encountered. The town feels bleak and dead end and I believed it and their struggles just seemed so real. Before I moved in middle school I grew up in a town sort of like that and Heather just NAILED what it felt like in all its complexities from the charm of it to also the things that make you want to GET OUT. In addition to that, Josh lost his leg in Afghanistan and is now an amputee. Obviously I don’t know what it REALLY is like, so take what I say from that perspective, but it really did feel like Heather Demetrios went to great lengths to write Josh’s perspective with care. I felt his struggles and his insecurities as he gets used to not having his leg as well as PTSD.

3. THEIR ROMANCE: You know those slow-burn romances that builds the tension to the point your heart is just pounding and you are like just all “OMG YOU GUYS KISS ALREADY”….that was this experience. It was the perfectly unraveled relationship that I couldn’t get enough of! AND IT WAS SEXY.

4. EVERYTHING?: I just loved everything okay?? There is not one thing I didn’t love. I loved the setting (especially the quirky motel where they work), I loved their individual storylines. I loved the quotes I dog-eared. I loved how it made me feel and what it made me think about. I loved the dual POVs. I loved how Demetrios portrayed Josh’s PTSD and how raw it felt. I loved how that made me want to help all the veterans in the whole wide world. I loved how it destroyed me in the best possible way but then had me soaring with hope. SO MUCH HOPE. AND LOVE. And God, I just love everything. EVEN THE AUTHOR’S NOTE/ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ARE MOVING!!

 

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ EVERYTHING. The whole package. I don’t hand out “favorite book” ratings often so it’s EVERYTHING.
NOTHING. It’s perfection.

Re-readability: OH YOU BET.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? OH YES I AM!!

a5EVERYONE! Especially contemporary YA lovers!

a8I’ll Meet You There was just pure perfection. It’s rare that I find a book that I can call a new favorite and I’m just so moved by it. I love everything about it and highly recommend it. It broke my heart a million times, emotionally captivated me and was ultimately so uplifting. I love these characters. I love their stories. I love this book. I want YOU to meet them.

review-on-post-it

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

PS. Other great reads you might like: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller or The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Book Talk: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Book Talk: I Was Here by Gayle FormanI Was Here by Gayle Forman
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- January 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: If I Stay/ Where She Went, Just One Day/Just One Year/ Just One Night, Sisters in Sanity
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Cody’s best friend, who has been away at college, commits suicide. When she goes to clean out Meg’s room at college, she meets her roommates and realizes that there was a lot Meg hadn’t been telling her when she was away for college — a boy who broke her heart and an encrypted computer file that makes her question Meg’s suicide. As she tries to reconcile the Meg she’s learning about, she also pursues the things she finds in the file to find out what really happened to Meg.

a2*wipes away a tear*

a4If you know me, you know Gayle Forman is one of my favorite authors. If I Stay/Where She Went broke my feels and left me with characters I will NEVER forget. Just One Day changed my life, literally. (Loved Just One Year as well). So whenever Gayle has a new book out it’s kind of scary because there is always the potential NOT to love a favorite author’s book (I will need to a bottle of wine and cake to cope if the day ever comes I don’t love a Gayle book). Her books possess top spots in my heart and on my shelf so obviously going into I Was Here I had some MIGHTY high expectations.

But this right here is what I love about Gayle Forman’s books! They are all so different and yet emotionally they poke and prod into depths of the heart and the soul not always explored and always leave me thinking all these very life-examining thoughts and questions. I Was Here was this same experience. And to be completely honest, I Was Here was a book that kept having this residual affect on me the further and further away I got from reading it. I read it in the beginning of AUGUST of last year and I’m still finding new dimensions to it and having new epiphanies about it randomly that make me appreciate it more. That says a lot to me.

 The plot definitely was one that I knew emotionally was going to be hard as I lost a friend (not a best friend but still a friend) to suicide and it’s such an intense, confusing thing as a human to understand.

I think, by nature, suicide is one of those things that makes you examine someone you love. Cody was already feeling the strain of them living these separate lives after Meg left for college and then she begins to find out so many things about her when she talked to her roommates and cleaned out her room. This  added all these dimensions to Meg. Then there’s  the suicide and all those “WHYS” and “what could I have missed/did I not see” made Cody unsure of everything she thought she knew about Meg and the picture of her becomes so blurred.

I think Gayle wrote that raw confusion very well as Cody tried to reconcile her best friend Meg with the Meg she’s learning about. I could FEEL that as a reader, which in some ways made me feel like I didn’t understand Meg so much or connect to her, but I realized it’s because THAT is exactly how Cody is feeling. So many complicated THINGS are being added to the person of Meg that make her feel like she’s seeing her for the first time — she’s exploring all these nooks and crannies she never was aware of. Things that she’ll never be able to see for herself or hear from Meg’s mouth. You can feel the barest and most raw emotions in Cody — anger, numbness, resentment, guilt, confusion, sadness. I felt that gamete of emotions after my friend committed suicide and so I really understood the disorienting head space Cody was in. I think sometimes she feels a little detached from it all because it doesn’t feel real nor like the Meg she knows but at the same time her emotions are driving her in an intense way. I think we get an interesting picture of a friendship, maybe not the one I expected to see explored, but ultimately one that felt very real and raw after something like this.

The majority of the plot hinges on Cody pursuing the things she finds that makes her question everything about Meg’s suicide. It’s one of those DANGER DANGER DANGER moments as the reader because you know it’s not a good idea as she proceeds. But this is what I LOVED about this book!! There’s this deep drive as humans to UNDERSTAND when things like this happen. To find answers. To make sense of it. To know what could have helped. We like order and things that we can wrap our mind around.  Someone to blame. I grieved very closely with the mom and dad of my friend as they were family friends and I’ve seen this desire very intensely in them even years later. Cody wanted to make sense of things and she latched on to this uneasy feeling she had to pursue answers that maybe would make more sense to her. That could make this easier as she grieved and tried to make sense of the fact that her best friend was gone. I think for me, being able to slip in Cody’s head space so easily, made me understand this desire for closure no matter how reckless it seemed.

The romance in I Was Here takes a back seat to the plot and Cody’s grieving and I think it was better that way. When they do start to have a connection, there’s this “hmmm” feeling I had because it’s a little more challenging of a pairing than Mia/Adam and Allyson/Willem in her previous books. Ben had history with Meg so it’s this strange feeling and you can FEEL that Cody and Ben both feel that at first. I think Ben was pretty hot and intriguing in true Gayle Forman boy-writing fashion but their romance was different for me. I think that’s maybe because we only get to see the challenging start of it and both of them are in very confusing, grief-laden places. I think I wanted more to understand their connection in a deeper way but I think that’s where they are at in the story — a very confusing, trying-to-figure-it-all-out place and all they know is that there is this shared and messy connection between them that they would have never expected. I thought more about it weeks after I finished and started to understand it more though I tend to go for the more sweeping romances myself (ie. her other two) and I think even MORE of the romance would have been a disservice to the heart of this book.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, the depth of Cody’s character, plot, emotional impact
- the romance wasn’t as strong (but I also think it was kind of perfect). I’m still challenged by it.

Re-readability: YES! I NEED to read it again. It’s impacted me so much more in the months since I’ve read it and I just NEED another read because there’s always so much to glean and think about in Gayle’s novels.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Oh I plan on it!!

a5Gayle Forman fans, fans of books that tackle the intricacies of grief, contemporary YA fans that don’t mind something a little dark (but not overwhelmingly so)

a8This is why Gayle Forman is a favorite of mine. This was quintessential Gayle Forman in that she managed to do something so completely different than everything else she’s written but in that same signature Gayle Forman way — an overload of feels, incredibly layered characters, brilliant and compelling writing and an emotional story that just hits ya hard. This one was heavy but oh so good!! It was heartbreaking but made me think a lot about LIFE. Is this my favorite Gayle Forman novel? No, but how can you compete with a book that literally changed your life like Just One Day did for me?

review-on-post-itI was Here by gayle forman

 

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?
* How did you feel about the romance in this one?

 


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Book Talk: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Book Talk: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason ReynoldsThe Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Publisher/Year: Atheneum Books For Young Readers- January 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: When I Was The Greatest
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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

Matt has just lost his mom and he and his dad are trying to grieve but his dad is really having a rough time and is hitting the bottle too hard. Matt knows he needs a job and winds up working for Mr. Ray at the funeral home where the pay is good and it helps him in his grieving. When he meets Lovey he finds someone who knows what he is going through and has been through even worse…but seems to have it all together and might just help him through his grief.

a2MUST READ WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST SOOON!

a4

I’m just saying this right now — Jason Reynolds is an extraordinary talent who needs WAY more recognition. I was so, so impressed with The Boy In The Black Suit. It’s smart, moving and

1. The Boy in the Black Suit was a book that I related to immensely: It’s no secret that I gravitate to books dealing with grief –especially that of a parent– and Jason Reynolds explored this with such finesse and beauty. Now, if you hear “grief” in the summary and normally go running, I’m begging you not to. It wasn’t the ugly sobbing sort of book about grief and it most definitely is NOT all about grief. Rather it was just so quietly profound and piercing in its emotion as Matt grieves his mom and tries to find normalcy in the after and tries to deal with that crushing loneliness that seems to separate you from everyone else because nobody seems to be able to truly understand — whether or not that’s true. I cannot even tell you how many pages I dog-eared because I just kept nodding my head like, “YES. Exactly this. I felt this.” I understood his need to watch someone else’s raw grief to know he wasn’t alone. I just connected with him so much and Jason Reynolds tapped into something REAL and raw that made my heart ache.

2. I loved the relationship between Matt & Lovey: I loved that Lovey doesn’t actually come into the picture right away because we really get to know Matt in a way I think we need to in order to show his loneliness but the downside to that is I WANTED MORE MATT AND LOVEY because they were just so smile inducing. Their connection is just so beautiful and honestly it reminds me a lot of how Will and I really connected for the first time in a real way. There’s something so isolating about grief and when you find someone who GETS it, it feels so intense. That’s how Will and I connected at first (I had just lost my mom and he had lost his mom when he was younger) and then it’s what brought us even closer together as a couple when he lost his dad a couple years into our relationship. What Matt and Lovey share is hard to describe but Jason Reynolds lets you FEEL it in such an honest way.

3. Matt’s POV is one of the best male POVs I’ve read in a while: Truly, his POV was just so refreshing and really captivated me. This book is definitely a character driven novel and Matt felt like a leap off the pages type character to me. God, Jason Reynolds is just a fantastic writer.

4. Mr Ray. That’s all I’m going to say: Look, you just need to meet Mr. Ray because he is one of my favorite secondary characters that I’ve met in a while.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, characters,
- ending was a little too neat & tidy for me/coincidental

Re-readability: I could see myself getting the urge to reread certain passages.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I would like to. If not for myself, for a friend!

a5people looking for great male POVs, readers who like character-driven novels, fans of more quiet contemporary novels,

a8I really appreciated this quiet yet moving novel and really found a personal connection within it. It was well written and just tapped into something so emotionally honest. Matt is just a wonderful character and there’s so much strength in him and he’s just so easy to like. It’s not just a story about grief but about also community and connecting. I really do recommend it and think it deserves way more attention!

review-on-post-itThe Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

 

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?

 

 


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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
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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?
*

 


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Book Talk: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Book Talk: If You Find Me by Emily MurdochIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Griffin- 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: It was her debut novel but she has one upcoming in 2015!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Carey can’t remember much about the life she had before her mom moved them away to a small trailer in the middle of the woods where they have no contact with the outside world, no electricity or running water. All she knows is taking care of her baby sister while her mom comes and goes. This last time her mom leaves she doesn’t come back and the next thing Carey knows is that there are two people showing up at the trailer and the two girls enter the world they’ve been cut off from and thrust into a family which makes her question all she’s ever been told about her life and a secret that Carey has to deal with that has made her sister Jenessa stop speaking.
.

a2HOLY CRAP JUDITH WAS RIGHT. SO GOOD.

a4

Oh my heart. It just ached and also swelled with feelings for these sisters. It’s one of those reading experiences where I realize how lucky I was as a kid because there are all sorts of real life people who endure these things they did. I actually have someone very close to me who experienced what the mom did to these kids (minus like the extreme poverty and such — the taking them away). This was such an emotional and compelling novel that definitely tugged on my heart strings.

1. My heart ached for Carey and Jenessa: It ached for the conditions they lived in with no running water or electricity and a young girl taking care of a baby. The things they saw and experienced and how they had to work so hard to just survive. My heart ached as they are brought back into society and went to live with the father that their mother forced them away from. My heart couldn’t handle the sort of feelings I had as they tried to reconcile who they were vs. the world they haven’t ever really known vs. everything their mom told them. It was in the small things like them experiencing a real shower or a tv but also how they integrated into a real family.They’ve gone from being just the two of them and their mom (sometimes) to living with their dad they’ve never known and his family. Then they are expected to exist in a society they haven’t known — school, lingo they haven’t heard, pop culture/fashion they know nothing about.

2. As someone who has sisters the bond of those two sisters just took hold of me: Carey has basically taken care of Jenessa for her whole life as a motherly figure and really all they have is each other. They’ve been through awful things together and the bond that happens between sisters in all the good, bad and in between moments is so strong in this story. It melted my heart really. Even in the bad situation they were living in, they had their good times because they were together and weathered all the storms together. I thought a lot about my sister and I and how even in the worst times of our life (losing our mom for instance) we’ve always been there for each other.

3. Carey is one strong character: Early on Carey takes on a role that no child that young should have to. But she does it and all the things she goes through turn her into the amazing person she has turned out to be. She is wise beyond her years out of necessity. She takes care of her baby sister. She does the cooking. She is resourceful, thinks quick on her feet and even teaches her and her sister things that the other kids would be learning in school. I was just constantly amazed by her and the kind of person she was really reminded me of someone I know who is young and has had to grow up more quickly than most do.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+
-

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5Basically everybody?

a8If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch was equally as heartbreaking as it was heart LIFTING. It just was the type of story that really got to me emotionally and wedged its way into my heart so much that when I had to put it down I kept thinking about it until I picked it back up…and well after I finished. It was an amazing, beautifully written story about sisters and family and just how the human spirit can just be so so beautifully alive and can triumph even in the worst situations.

review-on-post-itIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

 

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 are some books you’ve read with strong sister relationships?

 


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Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Book Talk: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody KeplingerA Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Publisher/Year: Poppy- 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: The Duff, Shut Out, The Swift Boys and Me
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

 

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

 

 

A1
On the night of graduation, before she gets ready to head to her dad’s house to spend the summer, Whitley has a one night hookup that she thinks she’ll never see again. Imagine her surprise when her dad springs it upon her in the car ride to his house that he is getting married and that she will also be living with her new family which includes and new step-brother and sister. A step-brother who she has TOTALLY seen naked the night before. Her dad is like this new shiny dad she’s never seen and she struggles to feel at home in this new family — with a stepbrother who she is absolutely attracted to.

a2Can’t wait to pick up her other books!

a4This book was super duper addictive. I just FLEW through it. This was my first Kody Keplinger book and it definitely won’t be my last! So, let’s talk about it:

1. The romance was so not typical:  Okay so it had a Clueless thing going on (most of you are old enough to know this movie yes???) for me. I remember even back in the 90’s being like I SHIP THIS SO MUCH (okay maybe I didn’t say ship) but IT FEELS A LITTLE SQUICKY EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT’S NOT? Well, in this book it was the same way. The main character hooks up (yes sex) with a boy randomly on graduation night and then, as she goes to spend the summer with her dad, finds out that he actually is her NEW STEPBROTHER. Ohmygod right? AWWWWKWARD. So, hey-brother-who-I-have-seen-naked can you pass the gravy? I SO wanted them together even though in my head, knowing that there wasn’t anything “wrong” with it, I kept thinking MAN that would be so awkward to date your stepbrother. I LOVED Nathan by the way!! What a great guy!

2. I loved the honesty of Whitley’s voice: I’ve always heard Keplinger just writes with this searing honesty and rawness and I totally agree. Everything written is just so authentic of being teen and Whitley’s voice just really worked for me. There is just that genuine portrayal of being a teen girl in all of its messiness and ugly glory but also in the way that we grow SOOOO much and learn (the hard way a lot of the time). I loved how Keplinger didn’t shy away from drinking and sex and stuff…it felt so seamlessly what a lot of teen experience is. It wasn’t an “issue-y” type of thing ever but you see realistic “consequences” to some of the things she was doing. Nothing preachy or OH THE END OF THE WORLD BECAUSE YOU DID THIS. But just a lot of food for thought.

3. Loved the exploration of family dynamics: Whitley has divorced parents and there is a lot of bitterness there. Whitley has spent every summer with her dad who was like her best friend. This year? He springs the news on her that he’s getting married and…surprise! You have a stepbrother and stepsister! He’s turned into this guy she doesn’t really recognize, she’s thrown into a new family (with a step-brother she hooked up with) and she feels like the odd man out when her dad barely spends any time with her. I just loved how it explored all of it. The feeling of being the old kid in the new family. Having to hear bitter things said from one parent about the other. It was just so perfectly explored because, coming from a divorced kid here, IT GETS COMPLICATED. And as an aside, I LOOOOOVED her stepmom!!

4. I wished for a little bit more depth in some areas toward the end is my ONLY complaint: When it got to some of the things that Whitley was learning, I was REALLY excited to see her think about and put these things together. But it fell a little short for me. The book went RIGHT THERE for me and was so close to having the depth that I needed to make this a WOW read but it never hit that. I don’t know how else to really explain it but with the variety of issues that Whitley was dealing with (especially with her dad) I just wanted MORE in the end I guess. When I reached the end-ish I just felt like it could have been better for me and a little more profound? I don’t even know if that’s the word I’m looking for but I just knew I felt a little disappointed at the end.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ characters, plot, addictive factor, writing
- wanted a little more depth in some aspects

Re-readability: Probably not because I’m picky about rereading but I want to read the rest of her books!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one but I’m probably passing it on bc it wasn’t a fave/I won’t reread

a5contemporary YA fans, people who want authentic voices in YA

a8I couldn’t put this one down! Really impressed with Kody Keplinger and the raw sort of emotions she brings to her teen characters and her ability to tackle some tough stuff. Loved the story and the characters despite wishing for a little depth in some areas. Will definitely be reading more from Keplinger!

review-on-post-it

midsummers-nightmare-kody-keplinger

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?
Have you read any other Keplinger books? Which one should I read next?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood
Publisher/Year: Poppy- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Other Books From Author: Six Impossible Things
AmazonGoodreads

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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

Wildlife is told from the perspective of two girls who are doing a required semester at an outdoors camp. Sib gets a little boost of popularity as she gets her face on a billboard (as well as some scrutiny) right before she comes leave for this semester and finds herself in her first real relationship and navigating some choppy waters with her best friend Holly. Lou is a new student and is thrown into this experience not really knowing anybody and with a heavy amount of grief that is closing her off. She observes her new peers and starts to witness some unraveling in Sib and Holly’s friendship and also starts to feel more drawn in even though she wants to stay an outsider.
.

a2Another Aussie win! Also, I kind of want to go camping or something and get my outdoors on?

a4

I really enjoyed this one!! I’m telling you…I keep waiting for the day that I won’t like an Aussie YA book and today was definitely not that day. Wildlife was just an altogether great read for this contemporary YA lover! Apparently this is a companion novel to Six Impossible Things but I haven’t read that and I wasn’t missing anything (especially since when it was talked about BEA there was no mention of the companion. I do want to read it and read more about Lou even knowing what we learned happened as this novel starts.

So here’s what I liked:

1. The setting : I loved the idea of this semester at an outdoors camp! It’s required so it’s interesting to see everyone adapting to the things they have to do — the chores they are assigned, having no technology, camping and hiking. They had to do this crazy solo hike and camp by themselves which scares the beejezus out of me because 1) obviously and 2) OMG THE WILDLIFE IN AUSTRALIA SCARES ME. I was waiting for her to be eaten alive by some snake or crazy spider. But overall I just loved the outdoors-y element to this and how it contributed to their growth and took a lot of them out of their comfort zone. It sounded like a really GOOD experience to build character and really LEARN about yourself in a different way — minus that solo hike where you camp by yourself in the Australian bush. I would never survive.

2. How it explored friendships: I love reading books about friendships because they are SO complex and honestly such a hard thing to navigate sometimes — especially as you are coming of age and really finding yourself. We see kind of early that Sib and Holly are pretty different in ways and their dynamic is interesting. Sib is just passive and lets Holly be a douche and walk all over her. At first you are like ehh Holly sucks and is kind of mean but then you suddenly are like okay is this toxic? It feels toxic right? I love that it explored how hard it is to be honest with yourself about a friendship that has kind of turned into something not so good — how Sib tries to reconcile the good vs. bad and the memories of Holly and has to decide if the friendship can be salvaged or if, as we grow, that sometimes we have to let people go. But even outside of Holly and Sib there were some other relationships that I enjoyed watching grow and mature! They all just seemed very realistic and had the kind of complexities and messiness I have experienced in my life.

3. The alternating chapters between Sib and Lou: I really liked Sib and watching her grow  and her perspective (maybe because I could identify a lot with her) but Lou was such an interesting character too. She’s a new student and she’s out here with no friends and, not only that, she’s grieving so deeply which makes her even more lonely. Her perspective is truly as an outsider and I loved watching her observe Sib and Holly and everything going down at camp as she keeps her distance but also gets drawn into it all and starts to make connections and open herself up to start to figure out who is after this tragedy.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, characters, themes explored, setting
- nothing!

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

a5fans of Aussie YA, contemporary YA readers, people who like boarding school/camp settings, people who like books that explore friendships

a8Wildlife was just a really damn good character-driven story — interesting characters, great setting, thought-provoking and incredibly well written. I loved watching Sib start to, through the outdoor experience and relationship issues, start to really grow and learn more about herself. It was nice to watch her be less PASSIVE and start to learn to be more independent. I loved watching Lou grow from this experience to — to confront her grief and to open up a little bit rather than keep herself so closed off.

review-on-post-itWildlife by Fiona Wood

 

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?
I’m curious if any of you have read Six Impossible things!
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Book Talk: Even In Paradise by Chelsey PhilpotEven In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins- October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None -- debut author!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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

When Charlotte finds herself becoming friends with Julia Buchanan — daughter of a former senator and famously rich family with a tragedy attached to their name — she never could be prepared for the real Julia and everything that comes with being a Buchanan. She’s thrown head first into their intense and mesmerizing world as Julia’s new best friend — the parties, the lavish gifts, the larger than life family (and a certain brother she falls for)….and also the secrets below the surface that threaten to unravel them all.

a2OMG I LOVE THIS BOOOOOOK. *tweets incessantly about it*

a4

OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. I loved this book. I freaking loved it and I want to shout it from the rooftops. If you like contemporary YA, you do NOT want to miss this one. My emotions were just overflowing by the end of this book and the last paragraph-ish was EVERYTHING for me. I kind of wanted to tattoo it on my arm.

1. This story staked its claim on me by the first sentence of the prologue: I’m serious. By the time I finished the prologue I was doing a little excited dance on my couch and was strapping myself in because I was READY TO GO after that and I knew I couldn’t possibly prepare myself for what was to come (spoiler alert: I couldn’t at all). I was already so curious about the Buchanan family (who slightly reminded me of the family in We Were Liars as I read on) and, like Charlie, I became so mesmerized and enchanted by them. From the moment Julia and Charlie meet and as she gets deeper into the Buchanan family I wanted to know more and more even when certain things began to seem like red flags and she got so wrapped up in them. I got the same electric energy that Charlie felt by wanting to be around them. There was that allure there to be part of this world that was so unlike her world and I felt it. I get wanting to just be a part of something.

2. THE EMOTIONS: You guys. I bawled at the end of this book. The feelings throughout the book had been bubbling up and just burst forth in the form of tears and it was an obvious reason to cry for me. And the last paragraph. IT WAS EVERYTHING and more. I want to share it but I want you to experience it. It was a rollercoaster of feelings (and not just crying kinds of feelings) and it just, coupled with the plot, propelled me forward. The romance. The intensity of their friendship. The tragedy. The aftermaths. It was SO GOOD GUYS.

3. DOGEAR CENTRAL: I was really, really impressed by the writing in this book. It was so beautiful and there were so many lines that just stopped me in my tracks and made me think or FEEL something. I was dog-earring A LOT with this one which is always a good thing for me. The more I dog-ear, the more I love it. I’ll give you a little taste:

” It’s only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us — the moments when choices between yeses and nos determined the people we became.”

 

a6

RATING-loved-it

factors+ Plot, writing, characters, FEELINGS
- NADA

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

 

a8There are just these books that you can somewhat pinpoint elements that made you love it but overall it’s just this indescribable feeling you get when you are reading that just takes hold of you and sets your heart to beating just a little bit differently. That was this book for me. I can kind of explain to you why I loved it but mostly I can’t. I just know how I felt about it. Chelsey Philpot’s debut was wholly impressive — it was beautiful, enchanting, devastating and altogether bittersweet. A true smattering of emotions but I finished the book hopeful and with my heart on fire.

review-on-post-it

Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

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: Words & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate BassettWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Publisher/Year: Flux- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, debut novel!
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. 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
Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning”

a2MAN, I wanted to connect more so I could have really FELT this emotional story.

a4I’m conflicted about this one because I can’t say I was SUPER drawn into it and it was a bit slow for the first half but it was a beautiful book in so many ways.  I loved the piercing story of grief it told. Anna’s grief is real and alive and she wears it in a way that everyone knows. She’s so inside herself and tormented by her grief that she can’t really let herself live after the loss of her “bruncle” Joe (technically an uncle but more like her brother). She’s the kind of character where you FEEL for her but she frustrates you in the way she does her family members and friends. I FELT THAT.

The “mystery” aspect that comes into play when she finds a note, that suggests she didn’t quite know Joe as well as she thought, didn’t really pick up until the second half and that part REALLY drew me when it finally got somewhere.   I think setting up Anna’s grief and family situation, while important, just dawdled a little bit too much for me and I was just holding on until I got to that element that would drive the plot and Anna forward. I love character driven books but I was struggling with her so I needed that plot to engage me a little more.

As a reader I could just FEEL the holes in the fractured family and I thought the people in Anna’s world were VERY fleshed out which I LOVED. I did GUESS the mystery’s outcome but not in a way that made it a dud for me. This book is quiet in the way it reads but OH THE ACHE IS LOUD AND PULSING and her journey back into LIVING her life was hard yet beautiful to watch. Also, I dogeared a lot because the writing is fantastic. Like really fantastic. I WISH I would have connected a little bit more considering how emotional this novel WAS but this was a good book that I WOULD recommend to people who don’t mind a bit of a slower, quiet novel.

a6
RATING-LIKED
factors+ writing, aching portrayal of grief, the plot
- I didn’t FEEL as much as I should have, some boredom in the first half

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

a5people who like quiet & slower books, readers of stories that deal with grief, fans of a little mystery, people who want beautifully written books, people who like stories about writers

a8I think that what would have made my rating on this one SOAR to the higher scale would have been having some sort of emotional response. I can recognize the emotional nature of the story with Anna’s grief and discovering new pieces to her uncle and SEE that it is written in a way that, at times, did make my heart ache but I never felt that “in my bones” emotional response. The first half was REALLY slow for me too but when it finally picked up for me it was worth it. I loved the exploration of grief and this idea that we only have our own pieces to the existence of someone we love even though it might seem we have seen the whole of them.

review-on-post-itWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

 

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

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

That Time I Almost Didn’t Read A Book Because Of The Ratings

Back in May I talked a bit about how social media/the internet can affect me as a reader & one of those things was how seeing ratings and opinions can affect the books I’m considering picking up or starting to read. It’s a struggle for me to pick up books without consulting the internet to check what ratings say. On one hand it’s helpful in weeding out books that probably wouldn’t work for me and finding the books that probably WILL work better for me. But on the other hand? Sometimes I’m not picking up books SOLELY because of poor ratings. I’ve had a book in my hand at the bookstore before and then saw it ONLY had like a 3.4 average rating on Goodreads and put it back. Books that SOUNDED good but I’m like NOPE look at those ratings, look at all the hate.

And that was the case for this book – 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 

I had gotten it for review and was excited about it. And then the reviews started coming in….super negative and the average rating was much lower than it is now (it was like a 3.4 or something I think at one point). Some of the reviews made the book sound AWFUL and ridiculous and I was like NOPE and took it off my shelf and put it into a box to deal with later with my other castoffs. I was so sad about it. But then it caught my attention later because a few people I really trust LOVED it and gave it 4 & 5 star reviews so I was like WHAT EVEN I NEED TO KNOW. So I decided to read it. AND I REALLY LIKED IT.

In this case the SUPER jarring difference in ratings really intrigued me to pick it up. And the things that people who were loving it were saying about it made me realize OH MAN…these are things I WOULD LOVE ABOUT IT and not things that would bother me.

What 17 First Kisses Is About:

So it’s about a girl who has kissed quite a few guys but nothing STICKS really into boyfriend material and guys that she is interested in ALWAYS seem to end up liking her bff. And then in walks Luke. And both girls have their eyes set on him but Claire feels so much differently about him than the other guys…like there’s something real there. So the story goes back through Claire & Megan’s history as friends, all of Claire’s kisses & Claire’s family life but also is at the present where Claire has to choose what to do with her feelings for Luke and her friendship with Megan.

While I felt like sometimes it was a BIT dramatic and the high school hierarchy was exaggerated a bit IMO, I really REALLY liked this book. And the things that made so many people give it 1 stars? Those were things that didn’t bother me personally.

Things That Made Me Enjoy This Book:

+ It was actually a lot “deeper” & emotional than I thought it would be — the summary makes it seem a little more frivolous and fun than it is. Claire’s family is going through some tough stuff and I just thought this book really opened up some interesting dialogue about serious and emotional topics.

+ Family & friendship focuses: Okay so there’s the whole Luke thing but really at the heart of this book is about family and friendships. The friendships painted could have easily been the cliche popular mean girls story but I actually really thought they were well done and the girls were very real to me. I loved watching the friendship between Claire and Megan start and evolve and learn all the inner-workings of the group and those two. There were some not cool things they did to each other but it was realistic struggle and I loved watching them try to sort it out because their friendship really DID matter.

+ the storytelling: It just really worked how everything was revealed and how we learned more and more about Claire.

+ the slut-shaming dialogue: This is where a lot of people HATED this book — all the slut-shaming. BUT MAN did I find it super realistic and reminiscent of myself as a high schooler back in the day. I learned how unhealthy and wrong it was but it took me becoming an adult to realize that. For me, just because I HATE things that are happening in a book does not mean I hate the book. It was hard to read but the thing is IT HAPPENS A LOT and the slut shaming in this book had a point. There are a lot of reasons why I think people slut shame (I think a lot of it is a defense mechanism & insecurity — at least it was for me) and I think that this book really explored those in such an authentic and honest way.

+ the flawed, round characters: Yeah, you aren’t going to like all the things they do and say. The girl hate. The slut-shaming. The mean girl antics at time. The friendship no-nos. But if we laid out the book of MY teenage life (especially my inner monologue)….I guarantee none of you would like ME on paper when you focus on my flaws and ignore the growth (however miniscule) and the GOOD things. I totally dated a boy my sister liked, I backstabbed, I slut-shamed and I did things that 28 year old Jamie is NOT proud of. Sometimes I knew they were wrong and sometimes I didn’t. These characters reminded me of the beauty of this age because of how much you are finding yourself through mistakes and experience (lots of firsts) and how there is SO much room for growing and learning. So that was an aspect that, while I get why others didn’t like these characters, I totally did.

*I had to edit this post, because after I scheduled it, Hannah wrote this AMAZING post and a Twitter convo between myself, Hannah and Rachel prompted another paragraph*

Hannah’s whole point of her post is being true to yourself and reading the books YOU want to read. Obviously we rely on recommendations and blogs  to help us but we shouldn’t forget why WE want to read something despite what ratings and reviews say. One of the things I mentioned while talking to these ladies is how I’ve gone back and looked at ratings for books I LOVED but read before blogging and before I checked ratings obsessively and some of them, if it were NOW, I probably wouldn’t have picked up due to ratings or GR friend’s reviews. I’ve started dipping my toes in the waters of NOT CHECKING GOODREADS when I’m browsing at the library and it’s freeing. And I mean, so what if I read it and the ratings/reviews were right? It was FREE.

I think my experience with 17 First Kisses is one of those things where I learned exactly what Hannah is talking about…to trust my gut because in my heart I knew I didn’t always get bugged about the things that the people giving this 1 stars were bugged about. This experience made me realize I rely too heavily on opinions. I’m not saying I’m not going to stop reading reviews/looking at ratings because it so SO helpful to me but I need to let myself pick up a book I want to even if everyone else says it sucks and not give into all the opinions that are out there.

What about you guys? Have you ever almost not read a book because of ratings/reviews but then read it and were so glad you did? How do you balance reviews/ratings with what YOU want to read? Also, did you read 17 First Kisses….what did you think?

 

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