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?

 

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine KuderickKiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None as of right 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!

 

 

 

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

 

A1
.A teenager is caught cutting at school and is sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours. During this time she’s forced to confront her addiction to cutting, reflect on what made her start cutting and she meets some other patients along the way whose presence gives her much to think about and make these 72 hours interesting.

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a4
I almost put this book down to be honest because I was just really not into it. It wasn’t the novel in verse thing, which I like, it was just that I was pretty much bored and not feeling like I cared what the last page held. But I kept reading it because I was like, “oh what the hell..it’s really short, told in verse and I’ll finish it in less than an hour…which I did.

1. I swear, I felt no emotions during this book: If I could have recorded my face reading it I feel like my face would have been have remained the same the whole time and FEELINGS pretty much did fluctuate at all. I was just turning page after page hoping something would make me care. I mean, I WANTED to care about a young girl who cuts herself and gets caught and Baker Acted (sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours). I thought I would feel something towards it but I just didn’t. Like at all. I felt nothing really which was strange considering I know it was inspired by this happening to the author’s daughter.

2. From a technical standpoint I thought the novel in verse worked well & the writing was solid: It was poetic and flowed really well. I really LOVE novels in verse and this executed it really well. It really FIT the story well!

3. I will say that I liked that it wasn’t an AND NOW SHE IS FIXED AFTER THIS EVENT type of book but just a snapshot of a girl who can’t help but cut and is forced to reflect on it: It was about a normal girl. Not a girl with a ton of issues or a deep dark secret. But just a girl who got caught up in it for her own reasons (which are revealed). It wasn’t an “AND NOW SHE IS SAVED AND SHALL NEVER CUT AGAIN” book but an honest look at a girl who gets a chance to reflect on it for 72 hours and meet people who will give her even more to think about. It’s that looking back of this is how I got there, this is where I’m at and she gets to think about the path she wants to take when she is released. I FELT like it was a realistic portrayal but I also admit that my experience is limited to this peer pressure induced, wanting-attention-from-a-guy-I-liked week of cutting I had in 7th grade.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ the writing
- I was so bored, no emotional connection whatsoever

Re-readability: No.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Not for mine but I plan to donate my copy to the YA section of my library.

a5fans of novels in verse, people who are interested in novels dealing with cutting

a8On a technical level I thought Kisses of Broken Glass was well written and the way it was told in verse really fit the story well. I liked the idea of the book but I literally felt nothing at all. No emotion at all which was strange because I should have felt SOMETHING while reading. I should have probably put it down when I thought about how bored I was but I 1) thought it would pick up and 2) it was so short I was like MIGHT AS WELL FINISH.

review-on-post-it

Kiss of Broken Glass Madeleine Kuderick

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?
* What are some of your favorite novels in verse??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Book Talk: Falling Into Place by Amy ZhangFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Publisher/Year: Greenwillow Books- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, this is her debut!
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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
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.

a2*CURLS UP IN FETAL POSITION*

a4

I gave you my early thoughts on this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it to be honest. I know it’s been a tough read for some because they hate the characters or didn’t like the storytelling but this book was a major WIN for me!  So let’s talk about it.

1. You will hate all the characters mostly: At first I was like GOOD GOD THESE PEOPLE ARE AWFUL and it’s not even like they ever become super loveable characters even by the end. But I felt like page by page these characters and their relationships with one another got even more and more stripped down and dissected and it made them more vulnerable to me. They weren’t just one dimensional even if they gave that vibe in the beginning for me.  You see characters who have become something that they probably would have never imagined themselves being and you would think it would be simple for them to just change and stop being awful human beings but sometimes you don’t realize how deep you are in and when you do change seems impossible.

2. It’s a really quiet kind of novel but made a huge visceral reaction within me that I didn’t expect: I wouldn’t say I was 100% into this novel at first but rather it was the kind of book that page by page crept up on me and dug it’s claws into me. I seriously had that pit in my stomach feeling as I kept reading faster and faster and the devastation plowed through me like a wrecking ball to the heart and made all my insides crumble. It was a combination of the way the story was told, the plot and all of these really unhealthy relationships. I just felt like I was propelled forward by how sick this book made me feel at times and I just needed to find out how it would end. It made me weep at 1am and I just wanted to curl up in a little ball because it made me feel just a litttttlle bit too much. The emotional response I had to this one surprised me and suddenly my cheeks were damp and my heart hurt.

3. I LOVED how this story was told as it was super unique and really effective: I’m not going to tell you who the narrator is but it kept me guessing a little bit until it dawned on me who it could be. We aren’t told who they are and they can see and know everything but slowly you begin to figure out who it is telling the story. I also really loved the non-linear way in which this story was told. All the flashbacks and detours made my mounting anxiety even more heightened.

4. PRETTY PRETTY WORDS: I loved the prose so much. For example: “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.”

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, storytelling, emotional response, uniqueness
- Nada

Re-readability: YEP I would because it’s one of those books where I almost NEED to go back and read it again.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!

a5people 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, people who don’t mind not loving characters, people who like “darker” contemporary YA (because this certainly isn’t LIGHT)

a8Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang probably isn’t going to be for everyone but it was definitely a ME book. Quiet and unassuming and then an onslaught of emotional chaos for me by the end. I loved the beautiful prose and the unique narration and how it added to my mounting “pit-in-the-stomach” feeling while reading this one. I felt it all. Can’t wait to read more from Amy Zhang — she’s brilliant!

review-on-post-itFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang

 

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?
* Did you guess who the narrator was?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Random by Tom Leveen

Book Talk: Random by Tom LeveenRandom by Tom Leveen
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse- August 12, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Party, Zero, Manicpixiedreamgirl, Sick
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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

On the eve before Tori has a big court date for her role in a national bullying case that resulted in a suicide, she receives a mysterious call from a stranger at random. He says he plans to take his life tonight…unless she can give him one reason why he should live. Being nervous to be connected to another suicide if he goes through with it, she tries to decide if she believes him or if it’s just a prank. But the stakes are too high if she doesn’t take him seriously and try to save his life.
.

a2WHAT!? *also massages hands because DAMN I flew through that*

a4Ever have one of those books where you find yourself, even days later, trying to collect your scattered, fragmented thoughts and they just keep blowing away with the wind every time you get close to articulating them? I’m having a really hard time reconciling my thoughts when it comes to this one especially because it was going so well…and then the ending threw me. So let’s do a pro/con thinger shall we? Maybe that will help you get a better sense of where my head is at. MAYBE IT WILL EVEN HELP ME.

THE YAYS

* If I had to sum up my experience by using a movie title from my youth it would be THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: No seriously, I FLEW through this book. I finished in 1.5 hours. Even Will looked impressed because he witnessed me starting and finishing it. I COULD NOT STOP READING IT. I wanted to know fully what her part was in the death of Kevin and also I was so intrigued by this random phone call and I so desperately needed to know if she would be able to talk him out of the suicide.

* The concept is AWESOME and it delivered on the intensity I expected: A person calls you at random and says they are going to commit suicide and they want you to give them a good reason to live. GULP. That’s a lot of weight on someone and especially someone who has her own craziness going on in her life. Finding out how this all would play out was the only thing I cared about for that 1.5 hours that I read this. The level of anxiety Tom Leveen was able to bring to my reading experience was impressive because I just needed to keep learning about this stranger’s story and the words that Tori will need to say to stop him from doing it.

* It actually took me surprise…like gaping mouth and all: I don’t want to say too much about this because I don’t want to give a hint of what surprised me but just know that it shocked the pants right off me and it takes a lot to do that. MAYBE I should have caught on to something but I DID NOT.

* The conversation starting qualities to this book are great: Bullying online is a big deal these days. This book shows that even if you don’t you pull the trigger/tie the noose/etc that does not mean you are innocent. This is the big thing the main character keeps not getting when she says, “BUT I DIDN’T KILL HIM.” “I DIDN’T BULLY HIM..JUST MADE A FEW COMMENTS.” Etc. Random challenges those kinds of prevalent thoughts when it comes to online bullying.

The NOT-SO-SURE-ABOUT

* I felt nothing emotionally despite how intense the reading experience was: I hate comparing books but a couple of months ago I read a book called Tease that was also from the POV of the bully and that one twisted my heart and frustrated and elicited a lot of conflicting emotions within me when it came to the main character but I felt really invested in her. I literally felt nothing for Tori. She didn’t seem real to me and didn’t illicit any emotions out of me. As invested in the random caller as I was I found myself really detached.

* THE ENDING: GAHHH. Not what I expected and I think it made me further detached from the book. I was like REALLY? THAT’S THE ENDING?  I don’t know how I FEEL about this story now. I don’t know what I was expecting but that wasn’t it and I’m not sure I was really all that happy about it. I was waiting for something super powerful and it fell flat for me. (BABY SPOILER-ISH COMMENT: Also, a little too wrapped up neatly in another area with a KISS and all.)

* The lesson: There was a clear lesson here. An important one. And I’m still struggling to decide if Tori even got it. I mean, it wraps up all nicey like she does but I didn’t FEEL like she really learned her lesson? Tori and the main character in Tease (which I referenced in my first point) were really similar in this way but for some reason in Tease I felt like there was a glimmer of hope for her to learn from this — even if she still had a long way to go. With Tori, I just didn’t even believe it. I didn’t feel any sort of emotions from her at all.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ addictive factor, intensity, writing
- pretty much lack of any emotion and a lot of detachment, the ending

Re-readability: No. That said, I plan to read the copy of one of his other books I have (manicpixiedreamgirl)
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I hope my library DOES have a copy.

a5people who want a book dealing with bullying but from a different POV, people not afraid of heavy topics like suicide and bullying, people who like more intense/gritty contemporary YA, readers who don’t mind a really frustrating main character

a8This one had the potential to be AMAZING for me — the concept, the writing and the absolutely intensity that made me read faster and faster to find out how all this would end. But when it came time to the ending…it just wasn’t what I expected and made me feel a bit disappointed. There was a lot of build up for awesome and mindblowing and I just found myself staring at the pages not even able to reconcile the ending and how I felt about it. And the fact I felt nothing emotional, aside from anxiety, just didn’t help. I need to be emotionally connected at SOME point.

review-on-post-itRandom by Tom Leveen

 

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 feel like something you’d be into?
* Okay was it just me that didn’t feel blown away by the end?? (MAYBE SPOILERISH: I feel like maybe I was looking for a more profound, life-changing ending and it got too lesson-y in a contrived manner? IDK. IDK)
* Did you GUESS or were you shocked??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Everything Leads To You Nina LaCour

Book Talk: Everything Leads To You Nina LaCourEverything Leads To You by Nina LaCour
Publisher/Year: Dutton Juvenile- May 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Other Books From Author: Hold Still, The Disenchantments
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

 

 

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

 

A1
Emi has been in an off again/on again relationship with her older girlfriend and suddenly she finds them off again and she wonders if this time it is for good. While her love life is a mess, her job couldn’t being going any better as a part time set designer in Hollywood. Film is her life and she’s been given a great opportunity to be part of the design process and put her on the right track when she graduates. On one of her hunts for pieces to use in an upcoming set, she finds a mysterious letter from an old Hollywood legend and it leads her to Ava — a girl who has had a bit of a tough past but has this light that burns so bright and Emi can’t help but be drawn to her as they figure out the mystery behind the letter together.

a2*adds other Nina LaCour books to my library list*

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 My book club friend Katie described Everything Leads To You as kind of a contemporary fairy tale and I didn’t understand what she meant and then I read it and I think that’s fairly accurate…and I mean it in the most positive way ever. It’s realistic but it’s not in other ways — the crazy amazing jobs they have and they haven’t even graduated yet, the way things work out, etc. It had a fairy tale, movie feel to it and I loved it! There was just something very ROMANTIC about the whole story.

So let’s talk about a few things:

1. I LOVED the idea that a famous actor left a mysterious letter and Emi and Charlotte try to find the recipient is: I was definitely intrigued by this mystery and wanted to find out the whole story behind this letter. I loved watching the letter bring Emi and Charlotte in the lives of many different people — and ultimately Ava!

2. HOLLYWOOD: Emi and Charlotte both work in the movie business in various capacities. So does Emi’s brother and her ex-girlfriend. I definitely loved learning about their careers and feeling Emi’s passion towards her set designs. It was just really fun to have Hollywood be such a part of this story — their present careers and then it being twisted up in the story of a Hollywood legend.

3. LGBTQ for the win: Honestly I’ve read maybe one or two YA book with lesbians. It’s not to say they aren’t out there but I just haven’t read them. I loved books where it is about them coming out/coming to terms with their sexuality but I REALLY was pleased to read a book where the main character wasn’t in that place in their life — where they were comfortably out and living life. She had a girlfriend before and there was no “issue” with her being a lesbian. Like I said, those novels are important but I was so ready to read a book where it WASN’T an issue but it was just who she was. She’s dealing with a break-up, the bad decisions she makes because she just can’t quit the girl she was with and then a spark of new love…all while dealing with other normal things 18 years old would be thinking about.  It was just so refreshing to read!

4. Nina LaCour’s writing is STUNNING: Everything about this book was just stunning. The characters were brilliantly written. The prose was BEAUTIFUL. The descriptions always transported me. And just the way the plot unfolded and just seemed so SEAMLESS. I was just very impressed and smitten with the writing on every level.

5. The friendship, romance and familial relationships in this novel were equally important to me: I loved Emi and Charlotte’s friendship SO MUCH and I loved the way that Emi and Charlotte became friends with Ava. But even when there seems to be a hint of something more between Emi and Ava, there’s still a good solid friendship there. I LOVED Emi’s parents and my heart was so warmed to see how different characters started considering family in different ways because of each other. Ava’s past was so hard and watching her gain friends and family was so beautiful.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, unique storyline, setting, characters
- nothing really.

Re-readability: Potentially!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? It’s on my “to consider buying when I have money” list.

a5contemporary YA fans, people looking for LBGTQ stories, fans of Hollywood and the movies, readers who like character driven novels with a hint of a mystery element to it

a8Everything Leads To You was a beautiful read — from the prose to the relationships in this novel — it was all just so great. I love the friendships and the romance equally and really enjoyed watching the paths of the characters cross when Emi finds the letter and the mystery of who the intended recipient is unfolds. It was at times heartbreaking and other times it was incredibly heartwarming. A very refreshing read and one I flew through!

review-on-post-itEverything Leads To You Nina Lacour

 

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 series feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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

 

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