Book Talk: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Book Talk: Tease by Amanda MacielTease by Amanda Maciel
Publisher/Year: Balzer & Bray- April 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None yet! Debut author!

 
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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

Okay so Tease is told from the perspective of a girl who, along with her best friend and others, bullied another girl who ended up killing herself. It goes back and forth between what started the bullying/led to the suicide and then also is in the present where she’s fighting a case against her and the others for their responsibility in the girl’s death as well as trying to live life after this event.

a2I NEVER WANT TO HAVE KIDS BECAUSE, MAN, BULLYING IS WAY WORSE THAN WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL!

a4What a compelling book! There was a lot of good and then there were some little details that would have made for a BETTER experience for me. I think, altogether, it is a powerful read (albeit a frustrating one at times) that will stir up a good conversation. I absolutely couldn’t put it down because it made my stomach all in knots.

Here’s what I liked about it:

1. Being in the head of the BULLY  made for an interesting experience:  Okay, so I’m just putting it out there. YOU ARE GOING TO BE FRUSTRATED. We are in the head of a girl who bullied a girl with her friends (though her bff was the mastermind) and was AWFUL… and for most of the books can’t see that she did anything wrong. But the thing there was constantly a war waging war in my head because we really get to know her — the good and the bad and what makes her tick — and it made it hard for me to HATE her despite the fact I wanted to strangle her half the time. We see her side of the story and, though I disagree with a lot that she did OBVIOUSLY, I really was able to understand in some ways where she was coming from — NOT that bullying is the answer. The girl who was bullied, Emma, from what we see actually DID things to warrant some of the feelings that she had towards her and was not innocent in the beginning situation. Stealing her boyfriend? Yeah no. Not cool. I GET that rage. I was mad FOR her. (Mad at the boyfriend too). I get the wanting revenge (not the actual carrying out of). I get that sometimes jealousy and fear and insecurities can manifest and it’s not pretty. I GET IT.  As humans we are capable of these ugly emotions and feel them intensely. But the actual letting those feelings manifest into action like THAT? That’s where it was hard to stomach for me and I would feel so angry as 28 year old reader Jamie like, “NO! WHY! STOP!” But then I would feel compassion for her because, as a reader, we know she’s not just a 100% evil person despite what an AWFUL thing she was part of (and as an old lady I was like…ahh so many years to learn and grow from this).

It’s not black and white and I LOVED THAT because people rarely are so easy to put into a box. We never know the whole story — sometimes we just see the tip of the iceberg and we don’t know what is going on underneath. This story really captured that on all sides — especially Sara and a bit with Emma. There was obvious wrong and right but there was A LOT of grey for the reader to wade through.

2. It’s so, so relevant with all the bullying cases making headlines: There’s so many questions this novel brings up and I love that the author did not answer them but posed them through this story. There’s a lot to navigate — especially with online bullying. Emma’s bullying takes place in school, harassment outside of school and there is some vicious bullying on social media. During the whole book there’s the questions of: who is responsible? Should the bullies be held responsible and to what degree? What constitutes bullying and what is just catty teen stuff? It was just a really thought-provoking and compelling read because it’s so realistic and relevant.

Now despite the gripping and page-turning aspects and all the GOOD there were some things I needed to make it better:

1. At certain points it would linger and I found myself bored: Some of the timeline kind of would drag out and I’d just kind of be like OKAY LET’S GET ON WITH THIS.

2. I felt like a lot of the other characters fell a bit flat: I felt like our main character was really pretty fleshed out but some of the other characters just had nothing to them at all which frustrated me. Even with the one moment of vulnerability we see with Brielle, I still felt she just felt like a standard mean girl with nothing really to her. Carmichael was the most fully realized character, I thought, besides Sara but I still felt like he didn’t JUMP out at me. I liked him alright but I felt like I was missing something in his development. And even Emma was just like this sort of person to me. We know she steals Sara’s boyfriend and clearly has some things going on in her own life but other than that she just IS the person Sara is fighting against. I wish we could have learned more about her in the end. OR oh my gosh I would love an Emma novella or something to learn more about her!

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ the complexity of the main character, the unique way this story is told, how much it made me think & the conversation that can happen because of this book
- bad pacing at times despite me furiously turning pages for most of it, a lot of flat characters

Re-readability: Probably not. It was a one time read kind of deal.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I want to buy it for every teen I know! And I want to make sure all the teachers and libraries have it on their shelves (I wish I could fund that).

a5people who don’t mind really difficult characters, people who are interested in books about bullying or slut-shaming that isn’t preachy and shows different sides, people who are looking for a good conversation starter or book club read (MAN I wish my book club read this), lovers of contemporary YA that deal with tough issues, people who liked Speechless by Hannah Harrington

a8What a uniquely crafted story dealing with bullying and slut-shaming that manages to NOT be preachy or make everything black and white. I was so intrigued by the POV of the bully and loved the switching of the story in the past and the present. I love a book that I REALLY have to engage with and think about and this book was certainly that. While it wasn’t a technically WOW book for me for a couple reasons, it really did absolutely pull me in and I do recommend it!

 

review-on-post-it tease-amanda-maciel

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?
* If you read, HOW FRUSTRATED WERE YOU WITH SARA ON A SCALE OF 1-10?? Did it impact your rating of the book or no? (It did not impact my rating personally).
* Does anyone else need an Emma novella?? LIKE I NEED IT.


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Book Talk: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin RaeWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury USA Childrens- May 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None!

 
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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

Pippa is off to Italy for the summer except she’s not at all excited that she’s being forced to go to this art program by her parents. When she finds herself ALONE and in ROME she embraces spontaneity and decides to spend her summer in Italy but NOT how her parents are expecting her to.  She ditches the art program and decides to travel on her which opens her up to new friends, some cute boys and incredible memories.

a2GET ME BACK TO ITALY, PRONTO!

a4What a cute, adventure-filled romance! It was a really good summer read that simultaneously cured and riled up the travel bug in me. I enjoyed and breezed right through it and really enjoyed Pippa’s full story — her relationship with her mom and grandma, the romance, her adventure and seeing the world through new eyes.

Here are the highlights for me:

1. The travel descriptions absolutely transported me: Seriously, Kristin Rae nailed the Italian setting and just completely immersing you in this adventure as a reader. I hated when I had to put it down and be reminded that OH WAIT I’M JUST HERE ON MY COUCH instead of eating gelato (True story: the main character went to the same gelato shop I ate at) or staring at the Coliseum all wide-eyed because of how her descriptions just invited all your senses to just plop right into the story and experience it all alongside Pippa.  The descriptions were just really fantastic and were exactly like what I NEED in a good travel-y novel to satiate my wanderlust temporarily and then make me start fake planning trips immediately after. (Seriously, Will was so irritated with how much my wanderlust HOWLED during and in the days after reading this one). I loved revisiting Rome and seeing more of Italy through this book.

207307_502515195062_247_nfrom my trip in 2007

2. What a sweet romantic hook: I always dreamed of being swept off my feet but some hot Italian when I went  to Italy. (It would only ever be a dream because I had just started dating Will haha). So I completely understood where Pippa was coming from in making “fall in love an Italian” one of the things on her list. Oh and then there’s a charming American boy too! I wouldn’t say there is a love triangle really. I mean, she has feelings for both guys and entertains both ideas but her feelings all make sense to me honestly. I loved watching her try to figure out her feelings for both guys — one who is sexy and more exciting and the other the sweetest guy ever. I liked them both as people but there was only ONE in my mind. But the swoonworthy moments just absolutely made me melt. I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU. Especially the end.

3. I loved the premise and how Pippa really did embrace this opportunity: I thought it was a fun premise that the main character would be sent to Italy for an art program that she had no interest in and then she decides to do what SHE wants to. At first I’m like, CHILD THIS IS DANGEROUS but then I saw Pippa has a good head on her shoulder and makes sure somebody knows where she is. I know I learned a lot about myself through travel and I enjoyed Pippa start to, from the moment she chose to say yes to this adventure, to really start to see herself, her parents and the world through new eyes. This is the element that made it more than just a cute romance and I enjoyed this self-discovery and seeing how her perspectives shifted and changed in certain areas.

And now I’ll share some pictures of little College Jamie in Italy!

208164_502555125042_6661_nTrevi Fountain, bring me back!

207215_502515439572_3483_nFlorence!

215642_502515359732_8572_nVatican!

207189_503020836752_6364_nSeriously, I wanted to faint when I saw the Colosseum. History made my bones just giddy.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ the fun, the romance, the travel
- Nothing really.

Re-readability: Possibly but um can this be a movie?? I’d watch it!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I’m split. I want one just because what if I need an immediate armchair adventure to Italy but I’m picky about what stays on my shelves. Has to be a favorite or I know for sure I would reread it (and I don’t re-read a TON). I would, however, purchase it for a friend if I knew they dug travel-y YA novels.

a5People who like light and fun contemporary YA with substance, people who want fun travel novels, lovers of cute romances

a8Wish You Were Italian was a charming armchair adventure through Italy complete with a side of heart-melting romance and self discovery! It was a great story as a whole and the vivid descriptions just completely transported you to the point where you might start to question yourself if you were really there or not. My heart felt as light as cotton candy while reading this one (except for the one part that made me CRY) while also wrestling with some of the things Pippa was struggling with — her parents, knowing what she wanted, etc. Perfect read in the summertime but also a great way to battle winter blue’s I’d imagine.

 

review-on-post-itwish-you-were-italian-kristin-rae

 

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?
* What are some other books that make you all wanderlust-y??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Just One Night By Gayle Forman (JOD/JOY Novella)

Book Talk: Just One Night By Gayle Forman (JOD/JOY Novella)Just One Night by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2.5
Publisher/Year: Viking Juvenile- May 29, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: If I Stay/Where She Went, Just One Day/Just One Year, Sisters in Sanity

 
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SPOILERS AHOY FOR JUST ONE DAY/JUST ONE YEAR so if you haven’t read those yet…beware!

A1This literally picks up where Just One Year leaves off which is where the door opens. So we find out what happens next after Allyson and Willem have finally found each other.

a2SMILE. HAPPY SIGH. Now I need to re-read Just One Day.

a4Here was my thought process when I first found out that Gayle Forman wrote the Just One Night novella:

1. OMG NEW WORDS FROM GAYLE FORMAN. I NEED.

2.  I really don’t like buying novellas but FINE OKAY IT’S GAYLE.

3. But…I LOVED THE ENDING. It doesn’t need a novella to me. I have how it all goes down in my mind.

4. However, I won’t pass up more time with Allyson and Willem and company.

Here’s the thing: you either found the ending of Just One Year to be satisfying (like I did) or you were furious about how it ended with them opening the door and us not knowing what happens beyond that. I know so many people just wanted to know what happened (I totally did) and hated the fact that we watch them look for each other and we don’t get to see the “end results” so to speak. I totally get it but I felt differently (and I think in the minority?).

For me, the ending to Just One Year was perfect because, even though it was about THEM finding and losing and finding each other again, it was also mostly for me about them finding themselves in the first place. So, as much as I would have LOVED to see the happily ever after and all the nitty gritty details of their reunion, I was at a state of complete contentedness with the ending. It felt full circle and I saw two people who were changed by an encounter they had a year ago reunite as very different people.  They lost each other but they had found themselves. And them being reunited, to me, was just this confirmation that taking risks and letting yourself become who you want to be by saying YES is life changing. But this is just my opinion and it’s probably TOTALLY biased because Just One Day changed my life. Literally. Like action was taken because of this book so that stuck with ME as I read Just One Year as well.

So now that we’ve talked about where I was with my feelings going INTO Just One Night(because that’s important)…let’s talk about Just One Night:

I really enjoyed it! I didn’t NEED it but it made me smile and honestly was kind of perfect. I can’t say a lot HAPPENED in it so if you are looking for some HUGE, dramatic fireworks-and-they-lived-happily-ever-afters kind of thing I didn’t see it as that (I mean, it’s a night) but it still gave me those happily ever after feels anyways because of everything they gained in the first place and the possibilities that there WERE for the future (especially as we learn in Just One Year about a potential job offer that would take Willem to the US). It complemented Just One Year nicely in the way it ends to be honest. It was quiet (okay, the sexual tension and FEELS was anything but quiet) but exciting and FULL of feelings and answers.

I was really pleased that it started from the exact second the door opened. Everything that happened seemed so realistic after that. The emotions and FEELINGS after all the longing and searching. The wanting to talk about everything they both had been through. The exuberance shared with friends who knew their journey to find each other. I LOVED watching them put the pieces together about how they found each other and how hard they searched. Everything that happened was exactly what I think would happen in that scenario. The whole night was the perfect kind of reunion and I loved that we were reunited with so many important characters that aided them to get where they were. I had lots of FEELINGS (happy ones) and I don’t want to give too much away but it was a really nice peek into what happened after the door opened and I was really pleased with it as someone who had already had a whole made-up reunion and thoughts of Allyson and Willem years down the road in my head immediately after I finished Just One Year.

a6loved-it factors+ Nice glimpse into what happened AFTER that I felt pleased with though I didn’t NEED the “closure”, feelings!!, worth the 99 cents for the reunion
- SO SHORT (but this is because I could read about them for forever)

Re-readability: I probably wouldn’t reread it but I will re-read Just One Day and Just One Year (many times)!! Would I buy a copy for my collection? Already did. Gayle Forman is insta-buy for me so even a novella gets bought if she writes it.

a5Fans of Just One Day/Just One Year who are curious about what happened after the door opened!

a8 I didn’t necessarily NEED this novella because I was very satisfied with the way Just One Year ended but I’m glad I read it because I was curious how their reunion went and I wouldn’t pass that up ever! It was a quick novella that gave the perfect, realistic glimpse into their reunion night and brought them full circle as two people who changed a lot over the course of the year after their life changing encounter. Happy feelings for sure!   review-on-post-it Just One Night by Gayle Forman

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless! * Were you pleased with the ending of JOY and how did that affect how you went into this one (if you read it) or are thinking about it (if you haven’t yet read it). The Perpetual Page-Turner

Save The Date: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

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

 Falling Into Place review Amy Zhang

 

* Release date according to Goodreads

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Pre-Order It | Add It To Goodreads


What Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang is about:

Liz Emerson, a popular junior, decides to drive herself off the road and into the tree. Nobody knows, except the mysterious narrator who pieces Liz’s story together for us, that she did it on purpose — everyone assumes it was an accident because of an icy road. The story unfolds as Liz’s family, friends, and classmates find out and cope with the news and flips back and forth to the past and the present to tell the story.

Why You Should Be Saving The Date for Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang:

1. I could not put Falling Into Place down. It just sort of crept up on me, dug its claws into me and I just had this pit in my stomach until I could finish it. The plot mixed with the way it made me feel propelled me forward.

2. It was tragically beautiful and heartwrenching and really, really stripped down the characters: At a glance, these characters could have been one dimensional but as the story is told it really strips down the characters, (and the relationships I would say) in all their complexities and they  just became so vulnerable to me. Even the “dislikeable” ones. Which you could say there are a few. The relationships and friendships are rather unhealthy and, as a reader, you just feel like “OMG WHY STOP.” As you read you see why it all lead up to this destructive event.

3. The narrator is fascinating: It’s told by a mysterious narrator who sees and knows all and is told in a non-linear way (meaning flashbacks and jumping around to different places in the story). It’s easy, after a little while, to guess at who the narrator is but it was a really, really effective way to tell the story.

4. It made me weep at 1am. It’s a quiet novel but it creeps up on you and just lays you out like a wrecking ball does and caused all my insides to crumble.

 

Who Should Save The Date: people who like quiet novels that really dissect the characters, people who want lovely prose, people who like unique narrators, lovers of the complexities of human interaction and motives

 

A Sneak Peek: “Force. Liz. She looked around and saw all the broken things in her wake, and then she looked inside herself and saw the spidering cracks from the weight of all the things she had done. She hated what she was and didn’t know how to change, and half an hour before she drove her car off the road, she saw that despite all of that, she didn’t have enough force to stop the world from turning. But she had enough to stop her own.” (this is taken from the advanced copy and could be subject to change)

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

 

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Putting it on your TBR list?

Book Talk: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Book Talk: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTo All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: To All The Boys #1
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers- April 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Other Books From Author: The Summer Series, Burn For Burn series, Shug

 
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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”

A1OH MY GOSH WORST NIGHTMARE EVER. So Lara Jean writes letters to boys she’s loved or really crushed on when she really needs to just let them go. After she writes them she hides them in a hat box and they are safe and secure…until one day they are not. She finds out that all the letters have been mailed to the boys and she’s forced to confront these boys that have been a part of her past and her present all while trying to keep her family together as her older sister has moved across the world for college.

a2OMG I NEED THE SEQUEL (it’s a duology). I don’t want this to end. I need to KNOW THE THINGS.

a4You ever have one of those really delightful reads where you open your mouth to speak about it and you end up doing some high pitched squeal and clapping your hands emphatically? No? Just me? Okay. Well that was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before for me. Let’s talk about WHY!

1. Lara Jean is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve encountered in a while! I just want to park my butt in the kitchen and chat while she bakes cookies and I eat them all. I LOVED being in her head and I just feel like we would have been friends — her fab sense of style right down to HS Jamie’s skiddish-ness about driving. I really connected with her in the absence of her mom and navigating the changes going on her life. I really just slipped right in next to her and watched everything unfold along with her and I didn’t want the experience to be over. She made me laugh quite a bit and I just really loved her to death! She just shines. I haven’t adored a main character like this in a while. My only thing is that at times her voice seemed super young (inner monologue mostly) and then it didn’t.

2. HOLY CRAP I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO TORN ABOUT A FICTIONAL LOVE LIFE EVER: I mean, I know who I WANT her to be with but oh my gawd the tension and the complications and GAH. But seriously…her love life because of these letters coming out was just so absolutely fascinating! I LOVED IT. I don’t want to say much because I want YOU to discover it for yourself but I loved how the letters brought about truths

3. Sisterly bonds for the win: I have sisters and so I tend to really dig books exploring the complex relationships of sisters. I felt like I really got to know each sister through their bond with Lara Jean and I really understood how they worked as a unit. I loved those sisters! And I could feel their resilience and their need to take care of each other all these years after they lost their mom. And I really could feel that strain and the shift of things in their household when Margot leaves. Lara Jean becomes the one who has to take Margot’s place in keeping everything running the household and watching her try to do that just reinforced just how much they had relied on each other as a unit — to take care of each other, their dad and just to keep the household going in general.

4. Diversity FTW! Lara Jean is half Korean (her mom was Korean) and I loved that we get a sense of her culture which I loved but it’s not the only thing about her as a character (because, to me, that’s not how it is in real life. One’s heritage is not your defining THING). I loved how her dad still tried to keep their Korean roots present as best as he could after their mom passed. It was sweet and touching. Also, HELL YES to the cover model actually not being whitewashed!!

a6loved-it

factors+ characters, plot, writing, could not put it down, the romantic tension, how it made me grin a ton but was still very heartfelt
- nothing really (so close to being a BEYOND LOVED)

Re-readability: YES! In fact I would like to already.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? YES. It would definitely be a keeper on my shelf.

a5Fans of Jenny Han (though the voice is way different than Belly’s), maybe even readers who weren’t fans of The Summer I Turned Pretty because of a lack of connection with Belly, contemporary YA fans who want a story that will make them grin like a fool but that is also very heartfelt.

a8To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before exceeded my expectations. I was drawn in by the plot (I mean, all your secret love letters being sent to the boys you wrote them to??) and it absolutely delivered on everything that could have gone with that. Everything was just impeccable in this story — Lara Jean’s voice, the romance, the family dynamics and just the overall FEELING I got from reading it. It embodies youth in the best way possible and was a very charming and heartfelt story. Warm and fuzzies, y’all. It’s one that is a must read for fans of contemporary YA because it’s just so, so great and I think it has all the things that drew us to realistic teen fiction in the first place. A very refreshing read for me!

 

review-on-post-it

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* Did you love Lara Jean like I did?
* And HOLY TENSION AT THE END. Who here is DYING for the resolution??


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Book Talk: Saving Francesca by Melina MarchettaSaving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Publisher/Year: Random House- May 2006
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: Jellicoe Road, The Piper's Son (companion to this), The Lumatere Chronicles, Looking for Alibrandi
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book synopsis

Frankie gets sent to  St. Sebastians while all her other friends go to the school she was SUPPOSED to go to. St. Sebastians was formerly an all boys school but they’ve opened it up as coed though the boys aren’t very welcoming and there is little offer to accommodate the girls. To make matters worse, aside from the awful boy/girl ratio, the only people Frankie has to associate with are a couple of classmates she never would have talked to before — a mega feminist, a quiet “loser” and the girl who used to be Frankie’s best friend before her friends “saved” her from her. And just as she starts her new school, her mom suddenly won’t get out of bed and Frankie is left to try to keep her family together.

good books to read

Things I’m learning? That, for me, there are BOOKS and then there are Melina Marchetta books. I don’t know if I can even begin to describe why this is so but it just IS. This is my second Marchetta book (the first being Jellicoe Road) and I’m just astounded by her and Saving Francesca was no exception. There’s just something about her books that make you step back and go, “WOW.” Jellicoe Road was more WOW WOW (if you’ve read it you know why) but Saving Francesca was a more understated kind of WOW because of how she just characterizes so much humanness. I don’t know. She puts me at a loss for words. It’s strange because Saving Francesca isn’t one of those stories that is like super revolutionary or standout but she just GETS it. It being a lot of things. I wouldn’t even say that Saving Francesca is a new favorite book but it’s just so remarkable and gahhh I can’t even try to explain it. If you are a Melina fan you just know what I mean, right? Or maybe you should use your words and explain the greatness that is MM for me in the comments??

So let’s talk about what I loved about Saving Francesca:

1. I love stories where outcasts/unlikely friends band together! Okay, so Frankie come to this all boys school the first year they decide to integrate girls in and the boy/girl ratio is just BAAAAD. All her friends go to another school and she is one of a small group of girls from her previous school to come here. They are girls who all hung out in vastly different circles (one being Frankie’s former bff whom she ditched) and it’s a bit uncomfortable for them to hang but they have nobody else because the boys certainly are NOT welcoming. I love watching the barriers break down amongst Frankie and the girls as they come together in their strange way and become ACTUAL friends. It made me a little misty eyed. And then it was fun to slowly see some of the boys come around. I just loved Frankie and her rag tag group of friends!!

2. EFF THE MAN!!: A big part of this book is about all these gender issues within the school. The boys don’t want them there and everything is SO not girl friendly. Frankie would be just as well to just not say anything but get through the year but one of Frankie’s former classmates, Tara, is a feminist and she will NOT stand for the crap that the girls are dealing with. I loved watching these girls come together to stand up for the gender issues as they integrated to the once all boys school.

3. Will Trombal: You just need to meet him, okay? You’ll want to kick his stubborn little ass sometimes but he’ll make you smile and warm your heart for sure. Very great character!

4. The storyline with Frankie’s mom + family stuff just made my heart ache: Melina Marchetta knows how to just write convincingly. While Frankie’s mom was just really suffering severe depression I could FEEL her confusion and her anger and her fear and ALL THE THINGS. The tension within the family just broke my heart and I just wanted everything to be okay…for her mom to get better! I loved Frankie’s family and Marchetta just nails the family dynamics and I could feel this crack within the family while Frankie’s mom is just so incapacitated by her depression. MY HEART. Frankie’s dealing with these normal pressures + the issues at her new school all while her world is just falling apart at home. It’s heartbreaking and done SO WELL but also isn’t overwhelming because this book is FUNNY!

book reviews

Saving Francesca is another beautiful book from Melina Marchetta and now I can’t wait to go read more. Her prose is absolutely to die for and the way she writes characters is remarkable. It’s a poignant coming to age story about a girl whose life is in flux amidst the usual teenage issues — she’s sent off to a previously all boys Catholic school without her friends and her mother, the vibrant woman who always seemed to be the glue of the family, is gripped by severe depression one day. I think it’s less confusing than Jellicoe Road so if you weren’t sold on that popular title than I suggest this one! If you loved Jellicoe Road, I absolutely suggest you read this one!

 

 

short book reviewSaving Francesca book review Melina Marchetta

 

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


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Book Talk: The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Book Talk: The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica VerdiThe Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
Publisher/Year: Sourcebooks Fire- April 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: My Life After Now
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

book synopsis Lexi’s mom is already hanging on by a thread and things at home aren’t so great and Lexi fears they are going to get even worse now that her mom has found out her secret (she’s gay). In hopes to fix things, Lexi agrees to go to New Horizons camp — a camp that promises to completely change her and “take the gay out of her — in hopes that she can save what family she has left and start all over…until she realizes it’s not that simple.

 

good books to readI’m so conflicted on this one honestly. I appreciated things about it but it kind of fell apart for me personally and I seemed to lack some really important connection to the characters even though I really felt for them and found their stories to be compelling.

1. I’m a sucker for absolutely unique premises and this fit the bill there: A camp to “de-gay” teens? That alone piqued my interest and it delivered because I was horrified with this camp with every page I turned — ridiculous outfits, whacked ideas of gender roles, outrageous rules and therapy that will make your mouth drop. Then you add in a forbidden attraction and the fact that the main character, Lexi, is only doing this FOR her mother and it just really become a book you couldn’t put down and gives you a lot to think about and grapple with! Lexi’s inward rejection of New Horizon’s is so, so compelling because on the outside she’s just trying to do this for her mom and is trying to do what she’s told but you feel that knife to the heart with some of the things she has to go through that deny and reject who she is at her core, who she loves and things she believes. You feel how hard that struggle is and what a real struggle it is for people to hide who they really are.

2. Things were going so well but then towards the end I was a little less than thrilled (no spoilers!): So, even though this camp is horrifying and there really is this really thought-provoking and heavy undertone to it all, the story also is lighthearted in some ways with friendships and romance. Lexi is pretty skeptical of all this and we get her snarky sort of outlook on it all and we get to know the 3 other people in her group and their attitudes and reasons for doing it. There’s rebellion and then there’s absolute adherence to the program and they are all trying to wrestle with it all with their variety of reasons for being there. It’s interesting and really deep/dark but there’s also this, like I said, sort of softer side to it all — this joyful sort of love and friendship. It’s a good mix! But then this THING happens and it’s a big thing and I was okay with the shift in the story towards this super serious, awful thing…but then I hated hated hated how it was handled. Like SO put off. I don’t want to get TOO into it for spoiler reasons but just know that. I didn’t feel any urgency in places with the characters re: this thing + I felt like the resolution of it left way more to be desired. We can do spoilers in the comments if you’ve read (label ‘em por favor!).

3. While I appreciated the characters, I never got THAT feeling: I really liked Lexi and admired her. I liked how well her struggle to please her mom with becoming straight vs. knowing what felt right in her heart was portrayed. It was heartwarming but I never felt like I got into the SOUL of Lexi in the way I do other characters so I never really felt moved. And that’s important to me personally as a reader. I felt for her but it never went beyond that. And while some of the other characters in this novel were interesting and showed different sides and reasons for being at this camp, I felt like a lot of them were caricatures to me.

 

book reviewsMan, as compelling as The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi was the whole way through with its intriguing premise and how it delivered on that, there was just some essential ingredient missing to make have a bigger impact on me. It gave me a lot to think on and really explored some interesting issues that are so relevant but ultimately the characters just straddled the line between cardboard and alive for me and I had some issues with a THING that happened near the end and the handling of the said thing. While it’s a really good story that captures that spirit of loving yourself for who you are and accepting it despite what others may want for you, I just wanted MORE from it.

 

 

 

short book reviewSummer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Am I the only one bothered by the ending because all I saw was rave reviews so I don’t know if I’m alone here!


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Book Talk: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Book Talk: Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Publisher/Year: Walker Childrens- April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None! Debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

openroad

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

short book reviewOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord

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

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


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

Book Talk: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan MatsonSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers- May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: From Author
Other Books From Author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

So let’s talk:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

short book review

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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


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Book Talk: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Book Talk: If I Lie by Corrine JacksonIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse- August 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: The Sense Thieves series
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book synopsis When Quinn is caught kissing someone who isn’t her boyfriend Carey, a Marine who is beloved in her military town, she is pretty much cast out and shamed. Her friends have turned on her. Her own father can’t look at her. Nobody even tried to get her side of the story. Quinn knows that she could free herself from this by telling a secret but she wants to stay loyal to Carey who promises her that he’ll sort it out…until he goes MIA while in Afghanistan and can’t help clear things up.

 

good books to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

short book reviewIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson

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

 

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