Book Talk: A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

Book Talk: A Million Miles Away by Lara AveryA Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Published by Poppy on July 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

When a girl loses her twin sister in an accident she is naturally devastated. She realizes that her sister’s boyfriend has no idea about her death because he is in Afghanistan on a tour. She has intentions of telling him but when she does get to connect with him she doesn’t have the heart to tell him, for a couple reasons, but mostly in that moment she sees how hard things have been over them for him. She lets him believe she’s her sister but lines start to blur when she starts to have real feelings for him.

a2Clueless gif

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The marketing copy says “for fans of Nicholas Sparks” and I have to say I felt like that was pretty accurate. It was definitely the emotional drama type read I needed for the pool and I breezed through it though I felt SICK to my stomach the whole time as I was reading and she strung this lie out. This is one of those books from the onset that you are like OH GIRL THIS IS A BAD IDEA. I mean, impersonating your dead twin to her boyfriend who is overseas in the military? EEP. ALERT ALERT. HORRENDOUSLY BAD IDEA.

The bad decision she makes doesn’t even bother me that much. I believed it. That sometimes in the moment, especially when grieving, you could make a really bad choice. I understood that it made her FEEL something to feel like she was doing something good for him and also kind of denying that her twin was gone in some ways. I understood how sometimes you get yourself tangled so badly in a lie that you don’t know how to get out of it with the least amount of damage. I was like OH GIRL STOP THIS but I couldn’t stop reading because I truly was invested in her grief and how the story would play out. I enjoyed watching the dynamics of her family as they were trying to grieve as well.

I was digging the book but then slowly my feelings started to wane as we get closer towards the end and things happen with the ~romance~ between Peter and Kelsey. I can’t explain it without spoilers so just know that how it all ended up made the difference from it being okay to my next notch up on the rating scale.

So here’s my super spoilery explanation for what irked me:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-mixed
(I was going back and forth between it was okay and mixed feelings to be honest. But typically my “it was okay” doesn’t have me feeling such strong negative feelings about a big aspect).

factors+ how compulsively it made me read, writing, the grief explored & the family dynamics
–  THE ROMANCE, THE ENDING

Re-readability: no
Would I buy a copy for my collection? no

a5people looking for a Nicholas Sparks-esque book, people looking for a romantic beach read you’ll race through, people who aren’t bothered by predictability

a8It was no doubt a compulsive read that was perfect for the beach but I just really didn’t enjoy the romance and the ending even though I should have realized that it was going to be predictable. I did enjoy the story up until then and the grieving process she goes through really had me emotional.

review-on-post-it

a-million-miles-away

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
What did you think about the ending if you’ve read it?? Mark spoilers in the comments please! :)

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: City Love by Susane Colasanti

Book Talk: City Love by Susane ColasantiCity Love by Susane Colasanti
Published by Katherine Tegan on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Three girls move in together to an apartment in NYC the summer before their freshman year and gear up for their first taste of freedom and being on their own.

a2

a4I wanted to love this one so much. It had the makings to be a total Jamie book — great NYC setting, set the summer before college, new friends/roomies — but it just wasn’t at all. In the first chapter or so I was digging the “look at all the possibilities spread out before us/yay grand new adventure” vibe and all the traipsing across the city was making me want to be back in New York. And then I kept reading and it just wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.

Here’s why:

1. I was honestly bored through most of it — I was expecting this to be a whirlwind summer of new adventures and just trying to figure your shit out. I eat that stuff up. Instead I just found it dragging on and didn’t really find myself enjoying it. I should have put it down but I didn’t bring another book to the pool so I was COMMITTED. I will say that closer to the end things got REALLY interesting to the point I was devouring it but most of the book I was just bored. I mean, the timeline for this book is really short so it’s not like SO MUCH STUFF is going to happen but that’s also why I felt iffy about how much the romances dominated everything in that short time which I’ll talk about below.

2. I thought there was going to be a greater emphasis on the friendships but no: I was really thinking there were going to be some good friend dynamics with this roomie situation and honestly most of this book was about random boys they meet in like the first 5 days they are there and fall hard for (wow how lucky that all 3 just happen to find these dudes so quickly. THAT NEVER HAPPENED TO MY FRIENDS AND I). I can understand that sometimes people are just your roommates and you aren’t bffs with them but the vibe I got from the summary would lead me to believe it was more about the friendships, too. But it also did seem to act like the friendships between the roommates were so great but we got such a shallow view of it in my opinion of it. So, this was more of an expectation thing that let me down. I thought it would be a great friendship  book but no.

3. Ugh the romances: I love romances and love stories and the swoons. YOU KNOW THIS. But none of these inspired any swoons or anything other than UGH. Like at least if I didn’t get the friend dynamics I was hoping for I was hoping I’d at least get some good romance if that was what it was going to focus on. The one romance DID take a turn for the interesting but I just still wasn’t invested much at all. I don’t mind insta-love or attraction in lots of cases because I find it to be very realistic (I mean I thought I was in REAL LOVE like 100 times as a teen let’s be real) but I think I just really didn’t dig that the romance was the MAIN THING going on in this novel when there was so much other stuff to explore and the romances didn’t even feel like anything special enough to incite any feels in me.

4. The 3 POVs blended together so much for me: The 3 girls had such different and interesting backgrounds and stories but honestly when I was reading their voices sounded the same. For how different they all were, their voices were not distinct in my mind at all. At certain points I had to really thing like, “okay which girl’s chapter is this??”

 

a6RATING-Not-a-fan

factors+ NYC setting, the concept of this novel (and planned series)
–  expectations of what I got vs. what it was, not shipping any of the romance, blending of the main characters voices, finding myself bored

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No
Do I plan on reading the sequel?
Probably not unless I hear AMAZING things. I do want to know what happens just out of curiosity but not enough to read it.

a5maybe people looking for a really, really fluffy romance for the beach (but bring a backup just in case!), people looking for a book set in NYC, younger teens maybe (maybe it will seem more glamorous and romantic than it did to this lady?)

a8It pretty much comes down to my expectations for what I thought this novel was all about –new adventures, taking a stab at independence, friendship, that moment in time before college where there are infinite possibilities, some romance — and what it actually was/how it was executed which was basically a whole lot of romance and pretty skimpy on the other stuff I had hoped for. I knew to expect romance (what I am so normally there for) but I expected more than JUST that. In addition to my expectations,  I just didn’t even enjoy the romance storylines and found the POVs to blend too much together. I think there’s so much to explore with the concept of this series but the first book just didn’t do it for me.

review-on-post-it

city love susane colasanti

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

What I’ve Been Audiobooking Lately

All of my audiobooks lately were new reads to me and I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get any re-reads in via audiobook because I have been loving that. I also didn’t audiobook as much as lately because of my new podcast obsession.

 

The Running Dream

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Oh man, I really liked this one! It’s about a girl who loses a leg and is facing the new reality of her life as an amputee. I was just really inspired by this book even though it was fictional because I know this could be someone’s story. I found myself so invested in Jessica and her journey — watching her feel defeated to watching her really work to walk and run again and her growing friendship with Rosa. It was just such a good book that really gets you pumped about how strong the human spirit is and makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. I also loved how it explored how we treat people who are sick or disabled or just physically different through Rosa’s character and Jessica understanding some of what Rosa has gone through. I do wish it would have been a little more grittier as it explored some of her depression after the accident and her struggles to run again. It definitely was a lighter, more uplifting story that gave an inspirational message, and while I definitely was moved by it, I know I would have felt more for it had it been a little grittier in areas. I would probably READ this one because I found the narrator so irritating — kind of valley girl like or how an adult might think a teenager sounds like — and just not my favorite. If I wasn’t so into the story I would have quit because of the narrator.

RATING-reallyliked

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

I’ve loved so many of David’s books but had never read this one. IT WAS SO DELIGHTFUL and the audiobook was soooo good. It was Full Cast Audio and it was my first time every listening to an audiobook where all the different characters had their own narrator when they spoke. The narrators were just all so great and engaging. As far as the story goes, it was just such a cute romance and I just adore all the characters! The setting was so interesting because it’s not at all like any high school I’ve ever seen — it’s this sort of made-up, fantastical  sort of high school where the cheerleaders ride motorcycles, the prom queen is also on the football team and there is so much openness/acceptance when it comes to sexual orientation. It was such a great book about friendships, too. I LOVED the friend group and how they were there for each other so much plus that sexuality wise it was all over the spectrum — people who were really confident in their sexuality and people who weren’t sure what they identified as, etc. This one was just so charming and funny and I just loved David’s books so much!

RATING-reallyliked

story of a girl

Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr

I just felt weirdly ambivalent to this one which was sad for me because I really loved Sweethearts. I do wonder if it was the format for such a quiet book…maybe reading it would have been better for me and I would have connected with Deanna better. There is always this sad yet beautiful undertone to Sara’s books and this definitely had that. Deanna was a character it was easy to feel truly bad for — she gets branded as the school slut at a young age when sleeping with her older brother’s friend and her dad is the one that catches her and basically hasn’t been able to look at or talk to her for years. The past has really affected her even years later, particularly because she was so young when it happened, and all she wants to do is get out of her parent’s house and have a new start. My heart ached for her through so much of this story even when she made incredibly bad decisions. I loved the relationship with her brother — that was a shining relationship for me in this story! I think I just wanted more when it comes down to it — Deanna was an interesting character but I only got invested to a certain point. There was just something missing for me.  The narrator was Sara Zarr herself and I thought she was good. I always like when the author reads because they kind of KNOW the inflections and how things are supposed to sound.

Rating

RATING-OKAY

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these books?? Tell me what you thought! What have YOU been audiobooking lately?

Book Talk: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Book Talk: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

It’s about a girl whose childhood best friend/next door neighbor/crush gets kidnapped by his dad when they are younger and 10 years later he is found and he returns to the house where his mom still lives with her new family and he’s expected to rejoin this life that he was taken from.

a2OMG DID I REALLY JUST READ THAT IN 4 HOURS? I DIDN’T MEAN TO. OOPS. OH WELL. SO GOOD.

a4AH. Is there a name for when a book makes you so giddy and makes your heart so full but also like hurts your heart too and is kind of sad? There should be a word for that literary experience. Someone invent one!  Whatever the case, this was my experience with Emmy & Oliver!  I’m so happy I loved Robin’s latest because I’ve enjoyed her past work — Audrey, Wait! even inspired me to create a “WTF WHY IS THIS NOT MORE POPULAR” shelf on my Goodreads. Her books are hella underrated and deserve way more attention!

Emmy and Oliver was just so beautiful! It was from the perspective of Emmy who was Oliver’s childhood best friend and was the last one to see him before he was kidnapped. My heart broke imagining Oliver’s situation (would REALLY love a short story from him even though I liked the story being from Emmy’s perspective) of being kidnapped by his dad and returned 10 years later to his mother and I thought Robin captured all the complicated feelings Oliver would have so well. It was so heartbreaking as we see him have a hard time assimilating back into regular life and having these complicated feelings about his dad who he’s lived with and loved for the past 10 years. Oliver has changed. The world he left 10 years ago changed.  His truths have changed. There are so many things that just don’t fit quite right anymore and I loved watching him work through those with Emmy by his side.

Emmy and Oliver’s relationship was so just sweet and wonderful. It made my heart flutter and I loved how they worked to get to know each other again — accepting the past and learning what has happened in the past 10 years to get to know the person they are now. I could feel Oliver’s frustration and sadness also while being reconnected with Emmy and their two other best friends who have all remained best friends through that time. He feels like he just missed out on so much as much as he wants to just jump right back in.

Emmy was such a great character — she’d been sheltered a lot after Oliver’s kidnapping happened. She had these parts of her life that she kept from her parents because she knew they wouldn’t approve of because of their strictness but these things made Emmy happy and more like the real her. I loved watching her go for her dreams and she was just a delightful character all around.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ feels, characters, writing, humor, swoons, aww factor
–  nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe because I blew through it and should spend more time with it haha
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one!

a5contemporary YA fans, readers looking for a pretty angst-free romance, people who want a read that will make them smile and laugh but also maybe cry or feel an avalanche of sadness

a8Emmy & Oliver was yet another delightful read from Robin Benway who I believe is a massively underrated author who you all should read if you haven’t! Within 18 pages of this book, yes I know precisely it was this number because I tweeted it, I had snort laughed and teared up and was smitten already. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and hilarious and sweet and heartachingly sad and altogether an enjoyable read. I mean, I DID accidentally devour it in 4 hours. Great balance of romance and friendship and parental relationships!

review-on-post-itEmmy & Oliver

 

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Book Talk: PS I Still Love You by Jenny HanPS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Series: To All The Boys #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

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

 

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PS I Still Love You is the sequel & conclusion to To All The Boys I’ve Loved before — check out my review here!

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a4Oh man, what a thoroughly satisfying sequel and ending to Lara Jean’s story. And honestly? It has nothing to do with who she ended up with! I’m not going to say here, in the spoiler free zone, whether I was happy about the boy situation because I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that this was a wonderful book with an ending that personally made sense to me! I loved how Jenny really examined all the intricacies that come with first love and your first REAL dating relationship plus your first heartbreak. I felt everything — from the giddiness of your first real boyfriend to the pressures of sex to that absence a breakup creates– and I just loved (well, not loved because OW MY HEART) watching Lara Jean experience it all. And, like with To All The Boys, family and friendship also shines in this. Jenny just handles all these various relationships and how they shift and change so flawlessly — how the sisters relationship evolves, to old friends who come back in your life, to watching people who were once a part of your daily life no longer be there. It explored so many amazing things and I could blather on about each different relationship from this book.

This book actually hit me really hard personally when it came to two major things.

Lara Jean and missing her mom: MAN, Jenny killed me. You know right away in To All the Boys that Lara Jean’s mom had passed away and their dad has been raising the 3 girls. I really connected with the sisters because of that and in this book even more so. Jenny so poignantly captures what it’s like to have lost someone many years ago — the grief isn’t as in your face but it rushes to the surface in certain moments and that longing is always there. It’s the big things but also in the little moments. There was this moment when the girls are talking to their dad and something comes up and Lara Jean has this moment where she can’t remember a detail about her mom. I know that panic and that drop in your stomach when you feel like you can’t remember something about them. And then there is this really hard moment of heartbreak for Lara Jean where she is crying and she just wishes for her mom and wonders what she’d do and OH MAN…I just lost it. I feel like normal people probably won’t feel that emotional about it or see much significance but I can’t tell you how many times after I lost my job that I’ve wished for my mom to be here because I know she would help me come up with a killer game plan.

First heartbreak: I’m not at all going to get into details of who or what or why and if things get worked out but MY HEART HURT ALONGSIDE LARA JEAN. I think Jenny just nails what it is like to experience that euphoria of first love and that sledgehammer-to-the-heart feeling with your first heartbreak. I found myself weirdly emotional about it because it so perfectly captured it and it started dredging up MY first real heartbreak that happened in high school. I was like finding myself thinking about it and feeling emotional about it and I was like OMG I AM HAPPILY MARRIED SO WHO CARES but there’s just something about that first heartbreak that just sticks whether or not you get back together. It sticks with you and it’s the first time I think you really see what it means to be vulnerable with someone — to let them have your heart in that way. You move through relationships with different eyes after that one.

OKAY SPOILER TIME:

DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED

Okay can we talk about the boy situation??? I was so happy with who she ended up with. SO HAPPY. But what I really loved that Jenny did is that she didn’t make either of them be AWFUL or anything. I genuinely loved both of them even though, like Lara Jean, Peter K had my heart more. In my life I’ve been faced with this same dilemma….I’d have a spark with two different guys and I KNOW I could love or be with either one of them but one just has my heart a little more in the moment. I SO UNDERSTOOD THAT. I was so happy Jenny didn’t make one of them be a douche to make it easy for Lara Jean. BUT POOR JOHNNY. My heart was really sad for him because it was wonderful and swoony and made me smile. His little “I never had a chance did I?” gutted me. It sucks sometimes to have to hurt a perfectly good person but the heart wants what the heart wants. I will say that I was SO surprised with how little Josh had to do with this book because I loved him too BUT I think it was so realistic and true of how sometimes people are so involved in your life and then…they aren’t. You move on and forward without people you care about and the anatomy of your relationship can change.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ characters, the romance, the exploration of these big firsts (love & heartbreak), all the relationships (father/daughter, sisters, friends, romance)
–  Honestly not much but I was so hoping for more of the sister relationships to have more of a focus like in the first book

Re-readability: I definitely want to reread both books at some point.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I already did!

a5Well, obviously people who read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But I recommend both books to fans of YA realistic fiction! To people who like books that examine crushes and first love! Fans of books with strong family relationships!

a8Jenny Han is just one of those authors who is able to so beautifully write about coming of age and everything that comes with it. The growing and changing of relationships, all the firsts, pain and heartbreak, etc. I really loved Lara Jean and her sisters and I’m really sad for their story to be over but PS I Still Love You was completely satisfying as a reader.

review-on-post-it

PS I STill Love you review jenny han

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Book Talk: Saint Anything by Sarah DessenSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile on May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Sydney has always felt like she has lived in the shadow of her brother Peyton, the one that got all her parents attention, especially as he started getting into trouble. When Peyton drives drunk and strikes a boy, he’s sent to jail and Sydney’s world is shaken and her parent’s focus is definitely on him now. Sydney decides she wants a fresh start and switches schools so she doesn’t have to be The Girl Whose Brother Hit A Kid While Driving Drunk and feel the guilt and shame that brings with it. As she tries to wrestle with the accident and her relationship with her family, she crosses paths with Layla and Mac, brother & sister, who accept her and bring her into their family when she needs it most.

a2I REALLY REALLY WANT SOME PIZZA AND FRIES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

a4

There is a reason that Sarah Dessen is one of the queens of YA. Well, many reasons. But the one I’m thinking about is that she knows how to do EVERYTHING and do it well. Great characters, crisp and quoteable prose, interesting plots, emotional journeys that bring the feels without ever seeming too much, this astute look into the teenage mind, great adult characters, important relationships with friends and family that feel just as weighty as the romance. I could GO ON AND ON. I will say that this is my favorite Dessen I’ve read so far. It’s so wonderful. SO WONDERFUL. And makes my heart so happy. The more and more I read of her…the more I know she’s definitely an author that will become a go-to.

Two BIG reasons I loved it:

1. Complicated family relationships: Oh man. This one was so good and complicated — just probing into the messy situation of Sydney’s family in which her brother is incarcerated for driving drunk and hitting a young boy. It was a storyline I could honestly relate to in some ways as my cousin drove drunk and ended up killing his best friend. It was horrible and, from my view, Sarah just got so much right when this situation happens. It taps into that feeling of guilt, shame and blame with the conflicting feeling of love and concern so perfectly and from all sides. Sydney has complicated feelings about it — she loves her brother but she doesn’t have the same feelings her mom has in trying to shift the blame and try to act like he isn’t 100% at fault here. She can’t just forgive him and she feels so much guilt over what he did. It puts an even bigger strain on her relationship with her family because as Peyton has been getting in trouble all their focus has been on fixing him. With him in jail, it just makes EVERYTHING about him…even more so than she already felt because Peyton was always the one people were drawn to and who took center stage. I just love how Sarah explored Sydney’s relationship with both her parents AND her brother with such raw emotion.

2. Friendship FEELS!!: Sydney decides to transfer schools after what happens with her brother because she just wants a fresh slate with people who don’t know what happened. She wanders into a pizza shop after school and meets Layla and Mac — an amazing brother and sister duo — who become her friends. FIRST, I love that they bond over food. I feel like a lot of my friendships start out that way. I love the way Sarah gives us a great picture of new friendship and how with that comes a new start but also she doesn’t ignore Sydney’s old best friends and how to navigate not seeing each other at school and the weight of everything that has happened in Sydney’s life recently. I love the group that Mac and Layla bring Sydney into. They just made my heart all aflutter and I WANT LAYLA TO BE MY BESTIE. I though the romance was super cute in this one but the FRIENDSHIP FEELS were where it was at for me. I just love watching new friendships and new friend groups blossom just as much as I do a good romance.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ everything really — writing, MC, family dynamics, friendships, romance, THE FEELS, the compulsive need to read it
–  nada

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I did buy one already! I had an ARC but had to get a finished!!

a5fans of Sarah Dessen, people who want just really solid contemporary that balances light and weighty well, people who love friendships just as much as romance in their books, people looking for a read with interesting family dynamics

a8Saint Anything is everything I love about contemporary YA novels and I devoured it. Saint Anything is just such a testament to this amazing career Sarah Dessen has had thus far because it’s SO DAMN EXCELLENT and hits all the right notes because she has this uncanny ability to create stories that just feel REAL and always leave me remembering the important things in life without ever nearing after school special territory. I don’t know, man, Sarah Dessen just feels like one of those people who observes life and spills it out on to the pages in a way that makes you feel like she just GETS IT even though you know she’s one of those people who is honest about still trying to figure her shit out.

review-on-post-itSaint Anything Sarah Dessen review

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
PLEASE TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE DESSEN NOVEL IF YOU HAVE READ HER BOOKS!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

What I’ve Been Audiobooking Lately

I used to do audiobooks all the time (exhibit A) but then I stopped. Mostly it was due to the fact that I changed workouts and couldn’t listen to audiobooks anymore while doing it and also just having this feeling like I’d rather listen to music all the time. But I have found my way back to audiobooks when I feel like it in the second half of April and May I finished 3 audiobooks.

Also, side note THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your amazing recommendations in the comments of this post. I’m STILL going through them all and adding to my list! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

 

First up I did a reread of one of my favorite books:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I had been wanting to reread If I Stay for a while (it’s been YEARS since the first time I read it) so audio was the perfect way to get to it. It was a really solid audio performance. Really solid narrator. I will say I’m glad that I READ the book first as a physical book because I think I was way more connected to that. But as a REREAD…the audio was great. It was nice to revisit a story I know so well as a favorite but also experience all these details you’ve forgotten. It made me love this book one hundred times more. I really appreciated the details. Also, I realize how many details I “remembered” were actually things from the movie which I saw more recently than I read If I Stay obviously. Even knowing everything that happened this was just as emotional for me as it was the first time. I’ve talked before about why I’m afraid to reread books sometimes and I’m happy that this one held up for me…because it’s a major fear of mine.

 

Then I went on a little Dessen binge which I so enjoyed. As a general statement I find that her books make nice audiobooks (at least for me).

 

First up was Someone Like You:

Someone Like You by Sarah DessenSomeone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Rating

RATING-reallyliked

I really loved this one. Some of my friends say they didn’t like some of her early books but man did I love this one. I hadn’t read a ton of Dessen prior to this — a few books here and there — but this one was a little bit more serious or darker (I don’t even know if those are even the right words) than I remember the ones I had read a long time ago. I loved the friendship of Hayley and Scarlett in this one and how they were there for each other through some hard times — loss, day to day struggles, pregnancy, boy drama, etc.. The relationship between Hayley and her mom was an interesting one — I related with having a mom kind of similar to her — very overbearing and strict. I was actually REALLY surprised about the romance (he’s a bad boy type) and how it developed/where it went and even more shocked about how it all ended. I was REALLY happy with the ending — very refreshing and not something I see a whole lot. Regarding the audio, I had no qualms with the narration. Easy to follow.

And then I followed it with:

Lock & keyLock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

Oh man did I love Lock & Key!! My heart was just so full and happy listening to this one. Teared up quite a bit. Dessen is just so damn talented in having complex and great relationships — romantic, family, friendships. Ruby’s home life is so sad to me and I was really excited to see her reunited with her sister Cora and how this sister relationship was explored — all the hurt of these years apart, the mistrust, the shared history as kids. It was so touching. And OH MY GOD I LOVED JAMIE. Jamie is Cora’s husband and he just made my heart so happy with his enthusiasm for holidays and family and his earnest welcoming of Ruby into their family. I just LOVED how much about family this book was. Like I’m tearing up thinking about it now — the family we have and the family we make out of friends and romances. And Nate. Oh man, Nate. Loved that dude. Such a great relationship between he and Ruby. I just really didn’t want the audio to end at all. I want more of all these characters. Again, I enjoyed the audio and found it engaging and easy to follow.

Have you read either of these Dessen books? I’m also curious if anyone has reread If I Stay &  if so how it held up for YOU.

Book Talk: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Book Talk: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi KirbyThings We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Published by HarperTeen on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Quinn’s boyfriend passed away tragically. Over the past year she’s kind of stopped LIVING life as Trent’s life ended. Trent was an organ donor and one of the things she HAS been doing is making contact with all the people who received his organs. She’s heard from all except the person who got his heart. She does her own research to find who it is and she finds out it is a boy around her age. She decides she just needs to go see him and get some closure. She’s read his story from his sister’s blog and knows a lot about him. She doesn’t plan to talk to him, just see him from afar, but a run-in they have results in them spending time together and Quinn keeps the secret of who she really is despite how close they are growing closer and Colton gives Quinn this vigor for life again as she sees how he approaches life.

a2*gets copying quotes down into quote notebook* GOD HER BOOKS MAKE ME THINK/ARE ALWAYS SO QUOTEABLE.

a4It’s always a little nerve-wracking as much as it is exciting when one of your favorite authors has a new book out. WILL I LOVE IT? WILL I NOT? And Jessi Kirby is one of my favorite authors (you should really check out her books Golden, Moonglass and In Honor). I’m happy to report that we’ve got another book for me to love in Things We Know By Heart.

Let’s talk about some things I really enjoyed about this one.

1. The setting: OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. Jessi Kirby always knows how to write a good setting. All of her books have this atmospheric quality. I mean she really has you hearing the waves and feeling the sand between your toes or taking in the starry sky. This had a beach setting again, like Moonglass, and OH it made me want to pack my stuff and head to the West Coast. Everywhere they went and everything they did…I could just picture it so well. Jessi is one of the best when it comes to creating the setting and it really adds to my reading experience. She transports you in a way that most can’t and did that ESPECIALLY well here in Things We Know By Heart.

2. The hurdles in the romance: I mean, if you’ve read the summary, you know that the dude was the recipient of a heart transplant — her boyfriend’s heart. He LITERALLY has the heart of her boyfriend who passed away  and she falls for him. She knows exactly who he is because she needed to see the recipient of her boyfriend’s heart. She knows she’s crossing the lines when she hangs out with him and then when feelings start to blossom. SHE KNOWS. She feels how weird this is. AND HE DOESN’T KNOW WHO SHE IS AND THE CONNECTION THEY SHARE. I understood her resistance but also how she couldn’t deny a real connection. It’s such a cute romance that is driven by a lot of things but it’s so hard because you KNOW at some point THE REVEAL has to happen in some way. I kept waiting for that moment. It was

3. The exploration of grief: Quinn has really let herself be so consumed with her grief when we meet her. She’s so shut inside of herself and has basically stopped really living and moving forward. When she meets Colton he’s had the exact opposite reaction to that day. He’s finally able to think of a future and he’s really LIVING because he’s been so sick for so long. I loved the contrast of the two who were both impacted by Trent’s death and how Colton’s excitement for life starts to remind Quinn what it’s like to be ALIVE and that she still gets to live. Quinn was hard to connect with for me at first but I really loved watching her want to live life again.

4. HER WORDS: Jessi Kirby writes beautifully and just there are these sentences that are just WOAH. And she makes you think! Beautiful prose in this one as I’ve come to expect! SO QUOTEABLE.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, plot, feels, romance
–  wish I connected a little more with Quinn (and also seen more of her and Trent so I could really feel/understand why her grief was the way it was)

Re-readability: Possibly yes because the writing was so good and the romance was so cute.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes because I want to own all Jessi’s books

a5contemporary YA fans, fans of Jessi’s other books, readers who love Sarah Dessen and want to branch out (my cousin who just rereads SD books over and over listened to my Jessi Kirby rec and loves her books now),

a8Things We Know By Heart was so, so good. It was equal parts sweet and sad and wholly a book that reminds you that, while every day could be your last because life is so fragile, every day is also a chance to live fully in that day and recognize what a gift it truly is. Very life-affirming stuff! Now I need y’all to go buy all of Jessi’s books because they are all worth it!

review-on-post-itThings We KNow By heart by jessi kirby

 

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Book Talk: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer & Bray on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Molly has just returned from boarding school after she just up and left after her bad decision to cheat on her boyfriend — with his brother — is exposed. She plans on spending the summer holed up in her house biding her time until she leaves for college but when she runs into Gabe, the brother she cheated with, she finds herself spending some time with him and eventually runs into Patrick, the brother she cheated on. Having the two boys and all the unresolved feelings in her radius all summer makes for an interesting summer.

a2Well that was quite the messy ride!

a4

Oh this is going to be a book that divides people and I cannot wait to discuss it with you all. I’m just putting this out here — if love triangles or cheating are absolute deal-breakers for you in a book…you might have trouble with this one. Do I particularly enjoy those things (in fiction or real life)? No. But, when well done, they work for me in fiction. And I’ll tell you this…Katie Cotugno is the QUEEN of writing really messy and complicated things well. (You should also check out her book How to Love which I adored). I could NOT put this one down because I just HAD to know what was going to happen.

It’s a premise that, from the beginning, let’s you know there is going to be a bit of drama — a girl cheats on her boyfriend with his brother. YIKES RIGHT? She comes home for the summer, after up and leaving for boarding school after everything happens, and is biding her time quietly with her Netflix and Red Vines before college starts — until she is reunited with Gabe (the brother she cheated with). It’s very very sticky already and let me just tell you IT GETS STICKIER. As she hangs out with Gabe, she sees Patrick a lot. The two boys being in her radius all summer brings up a LOT of feelings. All those angry feelings. All the guilt and regret. All the confusing romancey feelings. It all spills over.

I am not a person who would cheat or would condone cheating. EVEN IN A BOOK. But the way Katie writes the story I found myself torn on Molly’s behalf. There’s the old boyfriend who was sweet and she loved but they weren’t without their problems. They have a long history and were everything to each other. She feels so guilty that she made a mistake with the brother  but she doubts he would ever take her back and she isn’t altogether sure if that’s what she wants completely. And then there is the brother she cheated with, Gabe. She’s attracted to him and he takes her mind off a lot of the hate she gets. She grows to really have feelings for him. She knows it feels weird to be shoving it in Patrick’s face for them to have a relationship but she can’t deny her feelings. I could FEEL the tension — history vs. something new, the person you betrayed vs. the person you betrayed him with. It’s not a position I would want to be in ever but I understood the confusing feelings that even logic or your conscience can’t keep at bay.

I didn’t agree with Molly for MOST of this book. If you are a person who needs to agree with a character’s actions to make or break you liking a book, you will struggle. I constantly was like, even though I understood her messy dilemma, NO STOP NO. BAD DECISION. BAD DECISION. But, I don’t know, in my life especially as a teenager I know that sometimes you WILL make bad decisions — logic and reason and your values mixed with feelings/confusion/uncertainty/feeling in the moment/hormones make for some stupid decisions sometimes. Molly was definitely following her heart/hormones and, even though she knew how wrong she was, she still did it anyways. It’s frustrating as a reader but it didn’t make me NOT like the book and I really enjoyed getting to know Molly in this tumultuous time of her life. She’s flawed and it takes her a long time to learn from her mistakes and I liked that. It felt real. She doesn’t back down and owns up to her crap eventually. I think some interactions with other females in this book, Tess and Imogen, are definitely things that make her grow. She does some shitty things but I found myself rooting for her to sort out all her business and accept her consequences. It reminded me that you can come back from things, albeit they won’t be all sunshine and roses, even from some crappy mistakes/actions.

One thing I love that this book explored was the double standards involved when a girl and a guy cheat. Molly is called a slut and gets bullied and her house egged. The dudes get none of that crap. It took two people to make that happen and I’m glad it was explored in this book! Molly gets all the crap yet there are way more than one person in the wrong in this book!!

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ addictive, character with such a raw and emotional arc, writing
–  maybe the ending? I’m still sorting how I felt about it.

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have one and it’s beautiful!

a5readers of contemporary YA, readers who like messy and complicated subjects, readers who aren’t completely dissuaded by love triangles/cheating/characters who aren’t easy to like

a8While on the surface this book might just seem like a romance with a love triangle between two brothers but it is SO much more than that. It’s about making mistakes (repeatedly) and growing from it the hard way — realizing you CAN come back from it and take control over your life again. It’s messy and complicated but felt so true to life. I could NOT put this down and was frantically racing through the pages because it had my nerves all a mess. I’ll repeat it again — Katie Cotugno is the queen of writing messy/complicated/flawed REALLY REALLY well.

review-on-post-it99 Days Katie Cotugno

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Did you like Molly or did her actions make it hard for you to?
How did you feel about the ending? (mark spoilers please!)

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Book Talk: None of the Above by I.W. GregorioNone of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Published by Balzer & Bray on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

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

 

 

 

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

 

A1

Kristin is pretty much your normal high school girl — well-liked and popular (even got crowned homecoming queen), has lots of friends, has a scholarship to college all lined up and has a boyfriend she’s pretty serious with. She decides to have sex with her boyfriend but it doesn’t go as planned so she makes an appointment with the lady doctor just to make sure everything is okay. She finds out that she’s intersex, a revelation that she can’t even begin to grasp, and before she has time to really come to terms with it herself, the news gets out and everyone at school knows.

a2*contemplates tweeting the author to ask what happens for the rest of Kristin’s life because I’m WAY TOO INVESTED*

a4

I love reading for a bajillion and one reasons but two of those reasons are to feel things and also to learn something and/or challenge my thinking. None of the Above ticked both of those boxes.

1. I was glad to learn about what being intersex means and was appreciative for a diverse read that featured it: Truthfully, I had no idea what intersex was before I started this book. Once I learned, from the book, what intersex was I realized I knew what it meant but I had known it by another name, a derogatory one. I was grateful already to be clear on what intersex is and what it isn’t. I.W Gregorio did a great job explaining it as we watch Kristin herself learn exactly what it means and what it means for her life.

2. I loved the exploration of identity in it: I appreciated so much this story of self-identity and how movingly written it was. Kristin had a sense of self identity before she’s told she’s intersex and afterwards she really struggles to know who she is. Is she a girl like she feels she is? Is she a boy because she does have male parts? She lives 17 years of her life and in one instant she feels like she no longer knows herself as a very basic, to most, component of her identity is no longer what she thought. I mean, you could FEEL the kind of confusion and upheaval this created for her  — even when people tried to explain to her she’s still the same person. And it went beyond just the identity of male/female — she can no longer, at her core, be the same person she was but it was moving how she discovered and rediscovered herself in many ways with an admirable strength and the support of people in her life.

3. THIS BOOK MADE ME FEEL THINGS SO HARD: Okay, so I physically could feel the shock and the confusion and the anguish through the initial doctor’s appointment where she found out and then after when she was trying to process it. I mean, I felt it in my heart and I just wanted to hug her. And that would be hard enough to process? BUT OH WAIT. PEOPLE FIND OUT AND THEN ACT REALLY SHITTY AND BULLY HER. I was seeing RED, guys. I mean, I was gripping this book so hard because of how MAD I was that I’m surprised it didn’t crumble in my hands. Everyone is SO awful to her. SO AWFUL. I wanted to cry so many times. They were cruel and the thing that killed me is I know how realistic it would be. I could the fear and the ignorance bring people to say all sorts of things like tell her she’s a dude and says she’s gay and just really have no FREAKING clue what they are talking about. None of the Above definitely showed how people are so hateful towards things they don’t understand. Thankfully there were some really great characters to make up for the ones who I wanted to punch in the face.

There was so much to appreciate about this novel but I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the romance, while cute, because it just detracted to me. I mean, thankfully it wasn’t an overshadowing plot point and it was great for Kristin to see that there ARE people out there that won’t be like her ex-boyfriend about it but I was more enjoying her personal journey with learning she was intersex and would have personally preferred no romance.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ story, the main character Kristin, the feels, important topic
–  didn’t love the romance addition

Re-readability: I don’t know that I would. Picky with my rereads!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Not for my own personal collection (you know I only keep faves or books I would reread) but I am ABSOLUTELY checking to make sure my local library’s YA section has it and if they won’t order it I would totally buy it to donate because it’s IMPORTANT.

a5people looking for diverse voices, contemporary YA readers who like issue books that don’t feel heavy-handed, readers looking for a story about identity and self-discovery. I would also recommend to teachers and youth librarians because it’s excellent but also you need to make sure it’s in your collection!

a8I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above is a powerful story that I wish all teens would read so that they’d learn to be more empathetic and less judgmental towards what they don’t understand/they see as different..and obviously to learn what intersex is. None of the Above brings a diverse and important voice to the YA scene through Kristin and her story — a story that will have you feeling an array of emotions and reflecting on self-identity.

review-on-post-it

None of the Above by IW Gregorio

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

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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