Book Talk: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae


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


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.


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!



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


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.




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


Pivot Point by Kasie West | Book Review




Addie lives in The Compound — a place the normal world doesn’t know anything about and people with special skills like hers live. She’s a Searcher which means, when faced with a decision, she’s able to experience both paths in her head and it really feels like she is living them out which can help her to make the best decision. She’s faced with the ultimate decision to make when her parents announce they are divorcing. If the decision to choose which parent to live with wasn’t hard enough, Addie’s dad is leaving The Compound and will go live into the Normal world. Addie knows she has to search quite a few weeks out to see which decision is best for her to ultimately make her decision but what she sees in her future — both good and bad — makes the decision all the harder.

MAN. This is one of those times where I had this one sitting on the shelf since I received it in the mail, wasn’t sure if I’d like it because paranormal is not my favorite genre and then I let it sit. Then, before Thanksgiving, I show a stack of what I should take on vacation with me and suddenly EVERYONE on Twitter unanimously said Pivot Point. I’m like WHAT? How did I not know how universally loved this book is? SHOULDN’T I HAVE GOTTEN THAT MEMO? Obviously that piqued my curiosity, I brought it and OH MY GOODNESS…not even my post-Thanksgiving food coma could make me put this book down. Friends, this book was AWESOME. Even if you don’t LOVE paranormal books, I highly recommend it. It feels more like a contemporary book more than anything but there are some powers of the mind in it — like clairvoyance, mind erasing, etc.

So I gave you the gist of what the book was about above but what I loved most about this book was how unique the premise was for me. I’ve never read anything like it. Most of the book is her seeing the way these two different paths could play out — if she stays with her mom in the Compound or if she moves with her dad. Every other chapter switches between both scenarios. It sounds like it could be confusing to keep straight which choice she’s living out but not at all!  Just when I thought I liked one scenario better then something happened to make me even more tense and now be more invested in the other scenario.

The way both of these scenarios unfold makes you NOT be able to put this book down and is a testament to the command and control Kasie West writes with. I could feel my breathing getting more rapid as I got closer to the ending as the intensity of the situation just escalated out of control. It’s times like this where I’m shouting at my brain to read faster and I find myself tensing up without realizing it.

The ending slayed me when she was done with her Search and  knew everything that she could lose and how it all hinged on her decision. I wanted to crawl back in bed and hide under the covers and JUST NOT MAKE A DECISION…and I’m not even the character. I could feel the enormity of the decision before her and I loved that I was wholly invested in her choosing the right outcome while also feeling what she was giving up to make that other decision. Not only was I devouring the pages closer to the end but I was also getting very emotional thinking about what she saw.

Can we also talk about Trevor?? I loved him — he’s charming and sweet and yeah I’d fall for him. He had personality — he’s a football player but also a bit of a nerd! I was fanning myself with a certain moment between them. I got very attached to him and so the whole time I was like PSH YOU HAVE TO PICK THIS PATH but then things get complicated and it became not that easy. It broke my heart to think about the fact that she may not choose that path right up until her final declaration of what path she was going to live out. I can’t tell you which one she chose but you will find yourself flip flopping based on what is going on.

Pivot Point is a book I’m sorry I didn’t get to sooner but I’m glad I’m on board now. It was undoubtedly refreshing and one of those books that has you compulsively turning the pages because you just HAVE to know which path she’s going to take — especially as it gets more intense! If paranormal isn’t your go-to genre, like me, I very much recommend this because it feels more contemporary. Plus it’s a damn good story, has a romance I ship and will have your heart racing as both scenarios play out right up until her Search is over and she must make a decision. If you haven’t read this one yet, get on it!


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it?? What did you think? Also, thanks to the people who voted for this one on Twitter! I owe you big time, friends!

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To My Cousin Who Loves Sarah Dessen


Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To X Person


So, every summer we have a family reunion/crab feast in Maryland and every year that we go my teen cousin, a junior in high school, has a Sarah Dessen book. I’ve literally never seen her without a Sarah Dessen book. I’ve talked to her a bit about what else she likes to read and she named a few pretty popular contemporary authors similar to Sarah Dessen but she expressed that she really doesn’t know what to read so she just sticks to all of Sarah Dessen books. Of course, I was all like CHALLENGE ACCEPTED… I will totally make you a list of books to read that are similar to Sarah Dessen’s books. Now I’m not the most well read when it comes to Sarah Dessen books (only a couple) but these are some contemporaries that I think fans of Sarah Dessen will love!

For Fans Of Sarah Dessen

Books Similar To Sarah Dessenif you like sarah dessen booksgood books like Sarah Dessenbooks like just listen by sarah dessen

Pretty much, with the exception of two which I’ll note below, these are some of my favorite contemporary books ever!

1. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: Road trip! Sweet romance! MY HEART! Also highly recommend Second Chance Summer which wrecked me.
2. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby: Beach setting! Great father/daughter relationship! Also super cute romance!
3. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: A classic if you love contemporary YA!
4. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: A new favorite! Funny, sweet and made me cry! One of my favorite dads in all of YA lit. Also love Twenty Boy Summer!
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Paris! St. Clair! One of my favorites!!
6. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson: What a beautiful book! If you like your prose more lyrical..whew! Get this!
7. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: I LIKED this one a whole lot! So much good about it. I don’t think I even had one bad thing to say in my review..I just didn’t get to that LOVE position. But it’s a great book that I really think my cousin would like! She also plays lacrosse so I think she’ll like Cricket in that way for sure! 🙂
8. The Statistical Probablity of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith: SO CUTE! I just can’t even. I devoured it in one day!
9. If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Oh god this book. Make sure you have Where She Went afterwards…I loved that one even more.
10. All I Need by Susane Colasanti: Okay, I didn’t really love this book at all. It was a quick, fun summer-y read but though it wasn’t really my taste I KNOW my cousin would love it.


So tell me…what other books that might not be on my list would be my cousin who is a huge Sarah Dessen fan? She’s definitely not into super steamy books and my aunt would kill me haha. Do you disagree with any of my picks? Agree?

Speechless by Hannah Harrington | Book Review

speechless by hannah harringtonBook Title/Author: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
: Harlequin  Teen 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series:  No
Other Books From AuthorSaving June

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher at BEA. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!




Chelsea Knot is popular and she can’t keep a secret — always blabbing everything she knows and spreading gossip around. The last secret she told almost got somebody killed and has turned her into the ultimate social outcast. Trying to learn from her mistake, she takes a vow of silence which alienates her even further at a time where everybody is talking about her and she’s become the target of a lot of bullying. When she meets a girl whom she would never have associated with before, she is befriended despite everything that has gone on, she realizes she might have a chance to be forgiven by people for what she did– if only she could forgive herself first.

This was my pick for book club this month and I honestly didn’t know what to expect but had heard good things about this book and Saving  June. I’m pleased to report that I really liked this book and think it’s going to make for a good discussion! It delved into quite a few issues without screaming “HEY I’M AN ISSUE BOOK” and I felt like it wasn’t a complete “THIS IS WRONG AND THIS IS RIGHT” kind of book either. I felt conflicted sometimes and I liked that.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is your ultimate “popular mean girl gets thrown from her social status and falls hard to the bottom” kind of story. We know the skeleton for this kind of story — the mean girl is cast down from the social heavens and at the mercy of all those people who she treated like dirt or ignored. Chelsea certainly gets that and  more from the people who she used to be friends and with those she ignored — plus, in her  case, the people close with the person who was affected most because of her gossip. I thought Hannah Harrington really made that skeleton of a story into so much more as it chronicles her downfall from queen bee status to biggest social outcast to what she finds out about herself by the end.

The thing that is always make or break for me in these kinds of stories is whether or not I feel like the “mean girl” has truly changed or if she’s just adapted — there’s a difference for me. It’s interesting with Chelsea because it’s easy to hate her early on (I did!) because she’s a serious bitch but I couldn’t help but know I would root for her  at the  moment that she does the RIGHT THING early on — the thing, that for her life, would be the worst thing. Not days or weeks later. Right away. For that, I already felt like I could root for her. You can FEEL how conflicted Chelsea was about her decision after she starts enduring all the harassment and bullying — it WOULD have been so much easier to not do the right thing and she THINKS that. She knows logically she did the right thing but she can’t help but truly wonder. I found that to be incredibly realistic as I’ve been in the same situation knowing that doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest, and doubting yourself, but realizing you had it to it.

I found her whole journey to be believable and real and I really felt her change was authentic — she eventually saw that, at the end of the day, she couldn’t BE like those people anymore if they couldn’t see what was wrong about the situation. Her journey isn’t perfect — she still maintains a lot of her old ways of thinking throughout a lot of it but I saw true growth and could sympathize slowly but surely.  I loved how she saw all of these qualities she wanted to possess, that her old friends didn’t, through this new group of people. Her journey wasn’t easy but I loved taking it with her and watching her grow and realize who SHE is. I REALLY loved the supporting characters she makes friends with as they have so much depth and are just really great characters– Asha and the whole diner crew and of course SAM.

I’ll say I didn’t always quite understand the whole vow of silence and what it meant to her and I wasn’t even sure that she did, but I realized as the novel progressed, that was kind of the beauty of it. I don’t think she set out to do anything profound or enlightening with her vow of silence but she was just processing what happened and was her way of kind of making  a sort of penance and amends even if she knew she couldn’t fix things.

Speechless was a solid read that breathes new life into the “mean girl fall from grace” plot with the way it seamlessly explores the many facets of high school experience — the fickle nature of popularity and social status, the damage of gossip,  the beginnings of finding yourself in an atmosphere that wants everyone to be the same, etc. –and tackles it at a level that goes beyond the superficial surface of it all. The beauty of the novel is that, even far removed from high school, so many of these things that were explored are still so relevant to me and I appreciated thinking about them as I watched Chelsea, a character I didn’t want to like, make this genuine journey — even though the road was quite thorny. Great characters who are full of depth, a story that will captivate and full of really heartfelt messages without beating you over the head with it.



Speechless by Hannah Harrington review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you feel like her journey was genuine? Who was your favorite secondary character (I LOVE ASHA!!)





Save The Date For: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

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


* Release date according to Amazon

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Pre-Order It | Add to Goodreads

What When You Where Here Is  About: Three weeks before Danny’s graduation, his mom loses her battle with cancer and Danny becomes an orphan.  Amidst his grief and hopelessness, a directionless Danny has to try to make it through his graduation and deliver a hopeful Valedictorian speech while trying to make adult decisions about what to do with their home and his mother’s things. On top of it all, the girl who broke his heart by just shutting him out of her life suddenly reappears in his life. When the manager of his family’s apartment in Japan, where Danny’s mom had spending some of her final months for treatment, sends a letter that reveals to him that maybe he didn’t know all about his mother’s final months and why she seemed so happy in them. With nagging questions and sense of purposelessness that has made him numb, Danny takes a trip around the world to Japan to if he can find the answers and reconnect with his mother through these memories.

Why You Should Be Saving  The Date:

1. This book is BEAUTIFUL though it will steamroll right through your heart. It was an intensely emotional book in so many ways. I knew going into it I would connect with it on a personal level having lost my mother to cancer  but there were whole other levels that I found myself connecting to it and I certainly don’t think you need to have experienced a loss like this for this book to shake you up. So don’t be frightened and think it’s just another “grief” story. It’s much more than that though obviously the profound loss is a big part. Luckily Daisy Whitney has this ability to so subtly make sure, upon finishing, that your heart is in tact; stitched back up by Danny’s story of loss and love and how it takes strength and courage to get through both.

2. Danny’s time in Japan stirred up the travel bug in me. I loved that part of his very emotional journey was also a physical one set in Tokyo. As he looks for answers and tries to feel the spirit of his mom in a city they loved so much, Daisy Whitney makes you feel like you are at the fish market, or ambling along the twisted streets or smelling the cherry blossoms. I loved exploring the city through Danny’s eyes and especially with Kana. She was such a bright and spunky character that just added this whole lightness to the dark that Danny was feeling.

3. Daisy Whitney’s writing is flawless. Whether it was the dialogue or the descriptions of Tokyo or passages showing Danny’s grief — it was just so flawless and natural and I just floated right through the story. I just really love the way she writes!

Who Should Save The  Date: Fans of contemporary YA, Fans of stories that seriously give you ALL OF THE FEELS — not just make you cry but make you feel hopeful or in love or intense mourning alongside the character.

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Putting it on your TBR list? Have you read Daisy Whitney’s previous works? I have them on my shelf but haven’t yet read them! Be on the lookout for my FULL review coming closer to the release date.

Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Book Title/Author: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Publisher/Year: Little Brown 2008
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: How To Save A Life, Story Of A Girl, Once Was Lost

Amazon| Goodreads |Sara Zarr’s Website

Got this little beaut at the library!





Jennifer Harris used to be THAT girl in school — the one that always got made fun of and who was a complete social outcast. Her best friend, Cameron, was her one and only friend in school so when Cameron disappears randomly so does the old Jennifer. Fast forward a little bit and once social outcast Jennifer is now pretty and popular, well-liked Jenna who has a boyfriend — something she thought she’d never have.  On the outside she may have changed but on the inside she still hurts from Cameron’s disappearance so when Cameron mysteriously reappears in her life it hits her hard and she has a hard time reconciling her old self that Cameron knew versus who she has become.

I am definitely a new found Sara Zarr fan! This was just straight-up excellent contemporary YA. It’s not flashy or trying too hard — it’s incredibly authentic and sweet yet tells the really heartbreaking story of two friends who share a whole lot more than just your typical elementary bffs type memories.

I instantly fell in love with Jennifer and also Cameron. Their relationship as kids was just so beautiful and pure — they had a friendship that was so strong because everyone else rejected them. I felt so badly for them but loved that they had each other. And when the book fast forwards to “Jenna” I really loved her too. Zarr really wrote her in a way that you could totally understand her desire to change who she was and get a fresh start but you could feel that deep conflict in her soul where Jennifer and Jenna warred — with Cameron, who accepted Jennifer, being at the heart of it. Zarr creates some really well developed characters in this novel that felt incredibly realistic. And Cameron’s story — so sad!

The thing I loved MOST about this book was that it was a book about friendship — true friendship. Two incredibly broken people who could find solace and love in each other when they were young and again when they found each other again. I truly thought this book would be a sweet little romance and that’s not at all what I got. I feel I got something way more. It didn’t have that forced romance plot and I loved that. Their friendship ran so deep and they shared that secret and I just felt how hard it was for each one of them to deal with it on their own so when they came together again Sara Zarr just created this intense feeling of longing, confusion and unfinished business. There were so many things that were left unsaid with the two of them and I loved how you could just feel the intensity of it.

I’ll say that I personally thought the ending was quite fitting. I felt hopeful and just sad to see their story end. The ending actually did kind of surprise me just because I totally thought I’d predicted what was going to happen. I know a lot of people were wanting more resolution but I was fine without everything all tied up neatly in a bow for this story.

After only one Sara Zarr book I know I’ll be racing back to my library to pick up all of her books because she is a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary YA world. This story of a beautiful friendship was unexpected for me and touched me more deeply than I realized until I was done. The characters were just incredible & the way Sara Zarr unraveled this story and their secret  from the beginning to end was perfect.


For Fans Of: Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Ockler


Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Were you satisfied with the ending or were you wishing for more resolution? Have you read any of Sara Zarr’s other novels? Which was your favorite?

Save The Date For: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Pre-Order It | Add to Goodreads

What It’s About: When Felicia dies, she finds herself in Level 2 — an afterlife that isn’t quite disconnected from the living but isn’t quite the “next life.”  She and the others in her chamber spend their day plugged into computers where they have access to view all their old memories or the memories of others by way of a very elaborate system of credits. When a girl in Felicia’s chamber suddenly vanishes and a very dark piece of her past enters the chamber, a chamber that nobody on the outside had ever come in, and tells her there is an uprising and rebellion happening against those running the show in Level 2. Felicia isn’t sure whether or not she can trust this mysterious guy from her past but her curiosity about what lies outside her chamber, and Julian’s promise to reunite her with somebody important, just might be the push she needs to follow him and align with the rebellion that is taking place.

Why You Should Be Saving  The Date:

1. THE WORDBUILDING. Ok, so I’m going to be honest, at first it was a little slow for me because there  was a lot of info about Felicia’s life in  Level 2 and the way things work being thrown at you in the beginning but very quickly the world just started to come together and I just couldn’t put it down. I found myself so absorbed in this intricate world and SO fascinated by all its elements that kept being revealed.

2. It’s  SO unique in a way that just keeps you reading. I just found this story to be refreshing because it didn’t feel like anything I’ve ever read before. Throughout the story things kept being revealed that blew my mind storywise and the adrenaline started kicking in as pieces start coming together. I never knew what to expect to be honest.

3. Emotionally it’s a winner  — I found myself really attune to  the emotions of this novel.  I felt such a deep sense of sadness at points, I felt anger, the pain of betrayal, longing for what was  lost, the tension, etc. It’s  easy to make me cry but it’s hard to make me feel deeply, to my core, a  ton of different emotions without feeling like I’m on a contrived, whiplashing-inducing rollercoaster.

Who Should Save The  Date: Fans of YA looking for something more science fiction  in nature, those  who like “afterlife”  sort of fiction dealing with heaven, hell, angels, etc,  those looking for phenomenal worldbuilding of a world that they’ve never ever seen, those just plain old wanting to see what this blogger-turned-author accomplished (I am  NOT disappointed in the least).

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Be on the lookout for my FULL review coming closer to the release date.

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

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title/Author: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher/Date: Random House – March 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
How I Received This: The publisher was kind enough to send me this!
Find Wanderlove on Amazon or Goodreads

What it about in a sentence or two:  Bria decides to use the summer before college to trot the globe (err Central America) to reclaim who she is and have the adventure of a lifetime to help assuage the pain of her recent breakup. When her fellow globetrotters end up being middle aged, “by the guide book” type, she eagerly abandons her planned out trip for an invitation to backpack with two “real” global vagabonds who show her what self discovery on the road is really about.

Ever read a book summary and just get this overwhelming urge to keep screaming, “THIS BOOK IS SO ME!!” Yeah…pretty much that was my experience.

Before I go into my review you have to understand thing one thing about me. If I could, I would be a nomadic wanderer traveling the world for the rest of my life. I mean, read my About Me. If there’s one thing I love more than books, it’s travel. Soul shaking, life changing travel. And it always is. As I seemed to have put it way back when I made my About Me, ” I have this insatiable desire to be everywhere I’m NOT.”  So you can imagine why I went batshit crazy about a book that asks, “Do you want to be a global vagabond?” Um why YES..yes I do.

Truly, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year or so! It’s got a little bit of everything — adventure, romance, friendship, self discovery, lush descriptions, & it even has DRAWINGS in it!! Like the realization of a good trip coming to a close, I started to panic when I realized I was nearing the end of this book…grasping for pages that weren’t there. I just wasn’t ready for it to end.

The story is so well written and flows so well at a perfect pace- much like the ebb and flow of a good trip. Hubbard’s descriptions of settings and “on the road” encounters are authentic & vivid; paying tribute to her exceptional travel writing abilities that abound with transportable qualities that make you feel every chicken truck ride or picturesque sunset. As beautiful as her travel writing is, I cannot speak enough about the way these characters are written and the very raw and believable growth we witness. I don’t know WHICH adventure was more satisfying to be honest.

Bria, Rowan, Starling and the characters along the way were so lively and memorable. Bria is someone who is so easy to relate to. She wants to be uninhibited, fight for the person she WANTS to be and just living in this shadow of herself that was partly created by her douche of an ex….but she’s got so much she’s holding on to. Watching her grow and start to rediscover herself was an exciting journey in itself. Rowan…oh Rowan. I wouldn’t mind being his travel partner as it seems we share similar travel philosophies….minus the fact that sometimes he seems a bit pretentious about travel. Travel is such a personal thing and when you are serious about it..I guess it’s easy to sometimes come off like that and wanting everyone to experience the way you do.

Can we just talk about the tension between Bria and Rowan? OH MY GOSH. I could feel my whole body clenching when I would hold my breath during their encounters. I just wanted to pluck them out of the book and smash their faces together causing them to smooch like I used to do with Barbie and Ken. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT!

My Final Thought: Read this. If you love a realistic YA read that is a fun, light not lacking in substance, romantical tension that is done right and a romp across some of the most amazing places in the world…then you might want to bump this one up now! I’ll be singing the praises of this book for a long time to come. It’s more on the romance/self discovery side as I felt some of the travel aspects did start to fade into the background but, if you don’t go into this expecting something resembling a travelogue, you’ll be fine!

Review On A Post-It:

Books You Might Also Like: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson…and if it’s travelogues you seek..I can recommend a few!

Have any of you read this book?? Any other books you’d recommend to attempt to satiate that travel bug?

Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Wow! I just really love John Green. I read and reviewed Paper Towns a few weeks ago and I just didn’t think anything could top my love for that book…but this one did! I wholeheartedly, from the bottom of my soul, loved this book. I wanted to hug it, implant it in my brain for forever, prance around in sunflower fields with it, etc. etc. But seriously, this is one of those books that I can feel in my soul and so many things about it resonate with my own teenage experience and my life 7-8 years out from my teenage life.

Looking For Alaska was so hard to put down, not only because of the characters and the humor, but because of the unique structure. Each start to a chapter or a section is a timeline counting down to some unknown event that we are just waiting to happen. You know it has to be earth-shattering or something and that anticipation doesn’t wear at all as we get to know the characters and the setting of their boarding school. The “after” just rendered me a lifeless little rag doll.

I really enjoyed the characters in this one– such a fun group of friends that seemed real — they didn’t always treat each other right but they had each other’s back. They all had their flaws – real flaws..not things that just are made to seem like some flaws but then are all cleared up by the end of the novel. While I think Alaska could be really selfish and impulsive, I really understood her quite a bit. I identified so much with her on so many levels (although I’m not at all that quirky and eclectic) and found myself a deeper connection with this character that I typically come across in YA. I feel as though if you ask some of my high school and college boyfriends, they’d find some similarities in Alaska and I. It’s funny how I connected so much more with her than with the Pudge. I did like him though.

My only gripe? Sometimes I felt like the dialogue was a little too contrived. I didn’t really know anyone who talked like that in high school. I think we all wanted to believe we sounded that mature and poignant but we never did. I mean, I had some pretty “deep” conversations but in my dreams could I spout witty, intelligent things all the time. I think it’s like the same way that I always wanted to emulate the witty banter of Gilmore Girls. I totally imagine that I sound that way. But nonetheless, I loved this book but I just thought that should be noted because it crossed my mind a few times. That aside, I really appreciate that John Green knows and appreciates the fact that teens DO think about the bigger pictures and really do want to seek understanding. Teens can HANDLE the stuff he presents and he treats them as competent individuals who can handle the message and the deeper thought in his books.

My final thought: It’s hard to really put all the raw feelings and emotions that this book unearthed from within me. I know that sounds dramatic but it was one of THOSE kind of experiences for me. John Green does it again with memorable characters whom I swear have a real & audible heartbeat, the kind of thought-provoking life questions that keep me up at night and the kind of humor that makes me giggle. Oh and did I mention that I cried a lot at different points but especially when I realized what the answer was to their little “investigation” before they did. I understood that all too well.

Warnings: It IS a more mature YA read — drugs, sex talk, cursing. Just so you know. If that sort of stuff bothers you or if you are of a very young age, you might want to skip this one for now.

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