The Unexpected Relatable Andie Walker

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I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted a review, but hear me out! I read The Red Queen and was not impressed, so then I picked up Matson’s book The Unexpected Everything which is hella long and it took me a while to finish! Expect a review for The Red Queen because I still believe it deserves a review. But let’s start with the more fun one.

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The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 3nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Romance, Family
Pages: 528
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Final Review 4 out of 5

★★★★☆
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Andie has planned everything in her young adult life thus far. Her calendar is packed with important dates, her day-to-day life scheduled out perfectly. She takes after her dad with this. Since he’s running for office, he has to be quite punctual and orderly. Though Andie isn’t a public figure, her tight schedule still remains true, whether it be about her summer internship or some the classic three-week point in which she ends things with whoever she’s dating at the time.
But what happens when Andie’s father is actually home for the summer? And he decides to start being a parent again? Andie’s carefree attitude towards life, but equally planned out inner mind is in for a treat when she has to relearn what it’s like to be a daddy’s girl.
Not only this, but other plans fall through. A glorious, resume-worthy internship opportunity collapses in front of her and she scrambles to figure out what to do in this gap of time. Her friends, though they take up a lot of her time, aren’t much help since they already have their summers planned out. S0 through sheer accident she meets a strange unplanned.
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So I’m going to be honest and blunt to start off with. I enjoyed Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone more so than I did The Unexpected Everything. Not that I didn’t enjoy the book, it just didn’t capture me really until half-way into the book. Perhaps I was still reeling from my disappointment in The Red Queen or some other excuse, but I wanted to be sucked into this book and I really wasn’t until closer to the halfway point.
However, once I was there, I was in. Andie is super relatable, actually at times more so than Emily Hughes from Since You’ve Been Gone. In this modern day and age, our parents sometimes are busier than we are. What with running companies, running for office, or even simply with being a parent, but either way sometimes it feels like we (the children) are forced to create our own space and own way of upbringing. Andie is in this situation. Since her dad is running for a governmental position, which takes him on journeys to DC and other cities, Andie is forced to create her own summer plans. She is extremely regimented, much like her father, but in a different way. Everything has a deadline, from school and finding and internship, to how long she dates a boy. But this is to keep her safe. She is being raised by a single parent who is hardly there to begin with so she needs her own routine in order to stay safe.
I completely understand this drive to be independent which is indirectly brought on by a parent–or parents–not being present. Going through the same thing, I traversed California by myself doing my ripe college years and emerged as the woman I am today, only to move back home and be treated like a fifteen-year-old again. Not cool, Mom. So when Andie’s dad steps in and tries to be her “dad” again, Andie flips out–rightfully so. After what seems like forever, her father is now trying to parent her? I would flip out too.
Since I don’t have a parent running for office, I don’t know the trials and tribulations related to that, but I do understand the pain and heartbreak, but also pleasure, that comes from a friend group and a new boy.
Andie has both of these things. Her friend group, to me, seems like a handful, and as you see in the ending, it turns out sometimes friends don’t last. This is super relatable. We all have friends from high school, grad school, even college now, that we don’t talk to anymore. They were once and extremely important part of your life, almost to the point where life didn’t seem like “life” without them in it, and yet, something happens and it falls apart. You try to stay up-to-date on their life via social media, but it’s not the same. You’ve moved across the country to a rural town and they stayed in the city you once called home. This is what life is about.
Furthermore, the complete fear of falling in love is so real in Matson’s book that I could feel myself getting panicky while reading. At the last minute, Andie pulls away, she recedes back inside of herself in order to protect herself from the pain that she is too used to. YES. How many times have I done this in my life? Too many, let’s just say that.
He wrapped his arms around me, and for a moemnt I leaned against them and let my eyes close. There was a piece of me, a big one, that just wanted to let everything out. To hug him back, to cry on his shoulder, to tell him everything and talk about it together…and he’d tell me that everything was going to be okay. But that thought jerked me out of the fantasy, as appealing as it was. Because everything very possibly wasn’t going to be okay (page 442).
We are our own worst enemies — says every bland Instagram account or false quoting of a famous person on the internet. But, oddly enough, it’s true. Matson portrays Andie here getting inside her own head and potentially ruining everything she wants. Why do we do that? Does anyone else do that or is it just me and this fictional character. We can’t be the only ones. Matson accurately showcases how a woman, who feels like she knows who she is and how disastrous she can be, crumples in on herself in fear of getting hurt. That classic fear, one that no one will admit they have but we all secretly have night terrors about it. It’s easier to push away and be safe than to fall and get hurt.
But another part of me–a bigger part– felt myself pulling away, backing up, slamming all the doors tightly…This was already the longest relationship that I’d ever had. Did I really think I was going to be able to keep this up for months and months longer? I’d already mangaged to wreck the best friendships I’d ever had–of course I would wreck this, too. At some point he’d see who I really was, and then it would be over and I’d be worse off than I was now. So I pushed down what I was really feeling, all the hurt and hope and fear, and reached for anger instead (page 445).
It’s basically like Matson was a fly on the wall inside my head when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend and started to date / get closer to my current boyfriend. To this day I wake up with the fear that he is going to see me as a crippled by depression, fearful, angry at the world for no reason, person and he’s going to back away. So why not end things before they get to that point? I know that if I rolled over and saw myself in bed, I wouldn’t stay much longer. So while reading these pages, I felt all of Andie’s anxiety wash over me, realize my own thoughts about the matter, and begin freaking out in my own regard.
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However, it’s not all bad for Andie and her love interests. In fact, much like the anxious Andie, we also get the Andie that’s in love for the first time and it is truly beautiful.
But I didn’t turn away or walk in the other direction or stop the moment from happening…And then he leaned forward, or I did, and then his lips were on mine…It was a kiss that made me feel like I’d never been properly kissed before (pages 262-63).
Don’t we all want to fall in love like how Matson has her characters fall in love? Emily and Frank. Andie and Clark. It’s not fair that my life isn’t a Matson book.
You should definitely read this book if you found Since You’ve Been Gone a hilarious, quick but heartfelt read as well as if you love dogs. I cannot get over how perfect Andie’s summer job turns out to be! I want that job! If you’re looking for something that can swallow up a decent amount of time (in a good way!) then totally check this out. However, if something a little quicker paced, or more thrill-worthy is up your alley, than I would suggest snagging Since You’ve Been Gone or newer still Beware That Girl (please wait anxiously for me to read through that one too!).

Italy, Gelato, and Romance, oh my!

Let me just start by saying this book made me want to travel. End of story.

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The Regulars by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 3nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Romance, Travel, Family
Pages: 400
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 4 out of 5

★★★★☆

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Carolina, or Lina, isn’t having an easy life so far. Growing up fatherless, her mother and her share an irreparable bond. But when her mother suddenly gets diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with no hope for a long future, Lina’s life turns upside down.

So many questions swim through Lina’s head: What is she going to do now that her mother is gone? Who is her father? Why does her mom want her to go live in Italy? As her last request, Lina’s mom ships her off to Italy, to stay at a cemetery that is run by Lina’s mom’s friend Howard. Lina’s mom had never mentioned Howard before, but suddenly Lina’s grandmother says Howard is Lina’s father. This can’t be true, can it?

Following in her late mother’s footsteps, Lina begrudgingly takes on Florence, Italy. She wants to be swept off her feet by the magical city, but she can’t bring herself to want to stay. Howard is nice, yes, so are some friends that she meets, but she feels that her place is back home in the states. However, a lost journal of her mother’s winds up in her lap and she is forced to look at the city, Howard, and everything around her differently.

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This story is just so adorable, I love it. I plucked this book off of the shelf because of its cute, minimalist cover and two things one can’t not love: love and gelato. Although I wasn’t fortunate to visit Italy during my six months abroad, I knew that stepping foot into this little book would make me dream of going back.

After such a heavy and determined read of The Regulars, Welch brings me back to earth with her lighthearted voice and story. Perhaps lighthearted really isn’t the right word actually, Welch does have the power to make one crave gelato as they sob their eyes out. I actually had to stop myself from reading all the way to the end because I was crying so hard.

Though it took me a little while to fully feel absorbed by the story, once I was in, I was in. Lina became a young woman I could see myself in (although I won’t ever understand her hesitation to live in Italy. I mean, come on! It’s Italy!). Her mother passes, sending her into a totally understandable funk. Not only this but suddenly she is shipped off to a non-English speaking country to live with a man she’s never met and claims to be her long, lost father. Who wouldn’t be frightened of that life? She goes through the trials and tribulations of trusting the right and wrong people, finding out that there were many things she will never know about her mother and her time in Italy, and just who her father really is.

Of course there is a love triangle involved, every good story needs to have one:

He sat down next to me and I unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. OF course I loved it. But it was nothing compared to how I felt about Ren.

And yes. I’d totally just compared the only guy I’d ever felt this way about to a ham sandwich (page 294).

If I had a nickel for every time I compared my boyfriend to food, I would be a healthier woman. But this isn’t just some silly way to compare her crush–Welch subtly takes her reader on a walking journey of Italy. We see the towns of Florence and Rome through Lina’s eyes and we are new to the strange, yet utterly magical world of Italy just like she is. We learn Italian words, mini history lessons regarding famous points of interests in the Florence streets, and of course how amazing real Italian food truly is. So instead of rehashing the age-old tale of “girl goes to live with an estranged father, meets a boy, falls in love, the end”, Welch spices things up by giving us a reason to want to follow Lina to Italy, eat gelato and fall in love as well.

Not only this but she gives us a reason to believe in love again. The love that Howard has for Lina’s mother is indescribable. Welch truly paints a beautifully broken relationship that hurts my heart just thinking about it.

He settled in, like he was about to tell a story he’d told a million times. “When I was twenty-five I met a woman who changed everything for me. She was bright and vibrant, and whenever I was with her I felt like I could do anything” (page 336).

I want someone to talk about me the way Howard talks about Lina’s mother–it makes me have faith in love and humanity again. It makes me want my parents, who are happily divorced and friends still, to tell me about their short-lived moment of true love. Welch breaks my heart by forcing me to know that even though things can work out for Lina because she’s still so young, sometimes love hurts like hell and it doesn’t work out, even in magical Italy.

“One day with Hadley was easily worth a lifetime in Italy” (page 344).

Love is difficult. It isn’t something that can easily be grasped by a gorgeous prince on a white horse. Sometimes we make mistakes in love and Lina learns this lesson the hard way. Her heart is broken by her mother’s death, by finding out deplorable things about her father, and by hurting someone she didn’t even realize she loved. But Howard says it perfectly: “A life without love is like a year without summer” (page 376). Regardless of how much it hurts, we all still pursue love constantly. From our parents to friends and finally to that special someone who may have been unseen at first, but now glows brightly every time we look at them.

Thank you Jenna Evans Welch for providing me with a story that melts my heart, just like gelato on a warm day.

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The Love that Split Me

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welcome to a book that is the epitome of the saying “never judge a book by its cover.” henry’s tale, what i expected to be a cliched, young adult love story, spins the storyline 180 degrees and forces the reader to turn every page, absorbing every word in order to clarify every painstaking detail henry provides.

i was not expecting more than half of what this book provides. every chapter brings a new twist, a new tiny blip in the plot that, though small to the readers, has major impact on the characters and what is happening between natalie and beau.

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The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry
Published by Razorbill on January 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Heritage, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 4 out of 5

★★★★☆

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natalie’s summer is running out. she has graduated high school and is ready to start her new, uninterrupted life at Brown. after changing the past year, she is eager to get away from the small town, Union, she calls home and everyone who inhabits it. however, grandmother returns, stopping natalie in her planned-out tracks.

born to a young, native american woman who wanted her daughter to have a better life outside of the reservation she lived on, natalie’s mother gives her up. natalie seems to have a normal life with her adopted family, but when she begins hallucinating in her sleep, seeing things she knows shouldn’t be there, and must go through intensive therapy in order to remove these images from her young brain, the reader realizes that natalie isn’t a normal teen. suddenly, the summer before her life is supposed to change, one of the main hallucinations to visit natalie over the years shows up again, three years after disappearing for what natalie thought was good. grandmother, natalie’s nickname for the old, weathered native american woman who resides in the rocking chair in the corner, informs her simply she has three months to save him.

what if there are two different Unions? what if there were two different versions of her best friend megan? ex-boyfriend matt? popular girl the reader loves to hate, rachel? everyone has a double in this overlapping dimension of union except for natalie and a strange boy, beau, who resides in the “other union.”

from there, the reader is bounced along on this tumultuous journey where natalie uncovers the secrets of union, beau, and herself.

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“I missed you,” she heard herself call to him–though was it possible to miss someone you didn’t know? (page 390).

honestly, this book would have gotten 5 out of 5 stars if i weren’t so biased about happy endings. naturally, i will strive to never give anything away, however the story does not end in the traditional sense of “happily ever after” which most of the time sends me over the edge. why can’t one small thing, as small as a book of 400 pages can be, end in happiness? is that too much to ask emily henry? now, this is certainly me being biased and a child because the ending does completely coincide with the entire over-arching plot. henry expertly adds in details of the native american people featured. there are creation stories and many other moments full of natalie’s heritage that i haven’t seen in any other young adult read. much like rainbow rowell’s book, Carry On, featuring the unorthodox two gay main characters, henry crosses the threshold of having an “ethnic main character” and creates a storyline unlike any other.

weaving her knowledge of native american tribes and stories, henry casts natalie as an adopted daughter with a troubled past. henry uses creation stories, as told by grandmother to natalie over the years, as clues for natalie to figure out what really is happening to her and her town. i’m not sure where henry obtained all of this information, or if it is correct to any specific tribe, but i can say that it surely is convincing. i was not expecting the creation stories and the journey they would take me on when purchasing this book.

of course there are romantic moments in the story, it isn’t all drama all the time. beau resides in the “other union” and their love seems not to be forbidden, but more impossible. their meeting is by chance, in a time where they both are unaware that there are other people who can jump through time and space. natalie only recently discovered her powers upon meeting beau, whereas beau has been jumping (for lack of a better word) since he was a young boy. but how are two people allowed to be together when they don’t live in the same world? without sounding like the 2006 hit movie, The Lake House starring sandra bullock and keanu reeves, henry creates an impossible world and has it actually make sense.

I don’t believe in love at first sight but maybe this is as close as it gets: seeing someone, a person you have no business loveing, on a football field one night and thinking, I want you to be mine and I want to be yours (page 183).

they can’t contact each other because cell phones can’t connect between realms. obviously even in this fictional world we are still having cell problems. as the summer continues and beau and natalie get nearer to their Closing, a time where they can no longer jump between dimensions, they begin to lose control of their powers. natalie is torn into different times without commanding it and beau can’t get into natalie’s world when he absolutely needs to. however, when the two are together, it really is magical. henry’s depiction of young and urgent love is spot on when it comes to these two.

It’s true that nothing has the potential to hurt so much as loving someone, but nothing heals like it either (page 235).

ouch, henry makes me want to cry with their such young and naive, but totally Gryffindor-like hearts. even though it certainly isn’t possible–crossing into dimensions and time traveling simply through a push and pull in one’s abdomen–beau and natalie are striking characters and my inner fangirl demands that they find a way to be together. cleverly enough, though the title was the first thing that swayed me towards buying this book, and assuming that i knew what it would be about, the title is quite accurate for what the story holds. we want a happy ending for natalie and beau, so in a way, their own creation story that could be featured in this book like the others slightly fantastical stories told. the title “the love that split the world” sounds like its own creation story, as if grandmother herself speaks directly to us when she tells this story.

if you are interested in a young adult book that is out of the box and far from ordinary, pick up henry’s The Love that Split the World. you will be blown away by her intelligence in a field some forget exist. she executes a perfect creation story of two young people, not only forced into the odd, but inevitable world of “growing up” but also the strange, parallel dimensions henry creates. natalie and beau’s struggle to fix their two worlds that are colliding ever so quickly into each other is palpable and you will fall in love with these two star-crossed lovers.

thank you emily henry for such a beautifully crafted edition to the teen reading section. i hope many other readers were as surprised as me by this small, earth-changing book.

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Welcome to my Museum of Heartbreak

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leder’s book has inspired me to create my own mini museum of heartbreak for this review. you can see different pieces of me, scattered across a handful of years, countries, and cities. this gifts came from friends, relatives, mentors, and exes have given me, as well as gifts to myself.

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The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
Published by Simon Pulse  on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Teen Read
Pages: 288
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 5 out of 5

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penelope marx thinks she knows about love thanks to the many romantic stories she’s read. she knows what loving best friends are like, as seen in her two best friends ephraim and audrey, and what loving the new, mega-cool boy at school must be like. she comes to realize, though, that those ideals of love are simply that: ideal and not reality. when she actually gets the chance to date the new boy, his lips are chapped and he is actually kind of rude to her. audrey starts picking the mean girl over penelope and eph is always out dating a different girl.

she begins to realize that heartbreak is in her future, but not just from the new boy. there will be fights on subway platforms of new york, in the hallways of their school, in the natural history museum where her father works, and other scattered places around new york city; fights that involve her parents, her friends, her boyfriend, and everyone in between.

follow penelope as she learns to overcome one of the hardest obstacles we must all face at some point or another: heartbreak.

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once again, i am pretty speechless about a book, same as i was with han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. i’m speechless for different reasons, of course, but speechless nonetheless.

first and foremost, leder’s writing is utterly and completely captivating. i, and i’m sure many other creative writers, have been told countless times to “show and not tell” when it comes to our writing. there is something so lame and pointless in simply saying “the rain fell” when you could be saying something more beautiful, more poetic such as “the sky gave way to thousands of dancing droplets that heated up my skin in their tiny splotches” or something to that affect. well now times that by ten and you have leder’s voice. there are endlessly highlighted sentences and dog-eared cornered pages of this book that i keep turning back because why can’t i write like this?

Keats invited me to his party.

I wanted to hug the acne-ridden freshman passing by; I wanted to dance with the football dude laughing at a dirty joke across the hall. I wanted to burst into a full musical number, complete with a choir of singing unicorns and my cat, Ford, tap-dancing across the hall with a top hat and cane. I wanted to kiss a baby on the cheek, draw chalk tulips on the sidewalk, and buy grape popsicles for everyone in the city of New York.

Keats invited me to his party (page 68).

the story is ever so slightly cliched, but you know what, who cares? i still give it my whole five out of five stars because of leder’s writing style, characters, and storyline, though cliched yes, still captivates. truly captivates. i found myself loving each character in a different way: whether i was loving to hate the new love-interest keats (i mean come on, who doesn’t use chapstick these days? and seriously your shit with cherisse??) but also love to hate and pity and love eph because ugh eph. in a way i didn’t want the book to end how it did, but also cherished the ending as well. siiigh. i want a dreamboat, skateboarder, with beanies and long hair, and smooth lips, but also a coy smile cause he know’s–i don’t know what, but he know’s it.

He kissed me, and I thought of tearing mint leaves, of licking salt water off my lips, of the mornings you wake up heart alive, no alarm (page 140).

i found myself relating more and more to penelope as the book continued. we’re both literary nerds, we both fall in love with the wrong people at the wrong times, we put our trust into the wrong people as well, but still have close-knit group of friends that no matter who or what happens, we’re still friends. leder creates penelope to be a little like all of us–so we can see ourselves through her and her journey. we’ve all had to deal with heartbreak before, it’s one of the worst pains in the world by far, and somewhere deep we know that our heartbreak, at the ripe age of 22, is only just beginning. there’s going to be rejection letters from schools, boys or girls that decide they don’t like us anymore, a death, a disappointing parent or friend or mentor, even the inevitable end to a fantastic, noteworthy time in our lives: these are all cases of heartbreak we all encounter on a daily basis. leder simply broke it down into tender, charming little pieces for us to swallow and take with us as we curate our own museums of heartbreak.

It was Sunday, and I had never felt so pretty, so noticed, so delirious, like every part of me was light and perfumed and lovely (page 160).

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To All The Books I’ve Loved Before

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so of course i’ve heard of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and of course i was intrigued but honestly, i didn’t pick it up right away because i was hesitant. is this a book i would prefer in ebook format (and therefore cheaper)? am i really going to enjoy this or does it sound cliched to me? these questions always had me passing the book up for something else. it still sits, i believe, in my amazon kindle wish list, where it will stay until i clean that out.

all that hesitation aside, simply put, i adored this book. i seriously got a Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell vibe from Han’s writing and the characterization of lara jean. she’s timid, but loves her family deeply, doesn’t really seem bothered by boys because of her “letter solution” however there’s always one that can break that cycle. disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with putting off a Fangirl vibe–in fact, that’s amazing because i love that book too.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers reprinted on January 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Family, Teen
Pages: 384
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 5 out of 5

 

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lara jean has a full family: two sisters (one older, and one younger) and their caring, single father. lara jean’s older sister, margot is leaving for university in scotland and decides to break up with her long time boyfriend, and family friend, josh. what margot doesn’t know is that her little sister has always had a crush on josh. instead of saying or doing anything about this crush, lara jean added another love letter to her collection of five. these aren’t love letters she’s received, but instead letters she’s written to the past loves of her life. once she seals that envelope, her feelings can dissipate and she can move on.

but then her letters somehow get sent to all five of her loves. what is lara jean to do with the most popular guy in school, peter, receives a letter from her and, the dreadful moment, when josh wants to talk about his?

follow lara jean try to cover up the letter fiasco while she finds out truly what loves is about.

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where do i even begin with my adoration for this book? as i said, i was hesitant in the beginning. i was really hoping that this wouldn’t end in a cliche and it TOTALLY DIDN’T. i am not going to give anything away (or at least try not to) but seriously, i was totally surprised. simply put, the book does not end wrapped up in a tight, neat bow and, in some way, it does not end in the traditional sense of “happily ever after.” han sets up her story perfect for the sequel, which i do still need to read, and in my edition gives a very cliff-hanger-y clip of P.S. I still Love You and it tormented me.

Why is it so hard to say no to him? Is this what it’s like to be in love with somebody? (page 286).

lara jean is like many average heroines we are reading these days. she is the middle child and isn’t the good or the bad one either. her older sister, margot seems like a handful but i suppose she had to be because their mother passed; kitty, on the other hand, is the youngest and therefore the rowdiest. lara jean simply rests in the middle–she reads books, bakes for her family, but also isn’t as goody-two-shoes like margot and doesn’t really know how to do all the housework.

she, like many young women, has had many loves. that one boy at summer camp in grade school, an old guy friend that seemed cute during middle school but isn’t anymore, etc. however, lara jean is too timid to act on these boys and han sets up the kicker that she actually loves josh–margot’s long time boyfriend. in the beginning, you wouldn’t even guess that that’s where this is going, but when she provides that tidbit of information, you know that the rest of the story is going to be rocky.

This is the moment I realize I don’t love him, that I haven’t for a while. That maybe I never did. Because he’s right there for the taking: I could kiss him again; I could make him mine. But I don’t want him (page 283).

every character in han’s repertoire can stand on their own. she craftily creates the characters to have enough stability to be isolated from the main story–even have their own offshoot–but not too much that they are taking away from lara jean’s journey through love. this is quite difficult to accomplish and i certainly applaud han for doing so.

i think everyone who loves a little slice of forbidden love and romance, but enjoys family reads as well should read this book. it seriously made me bawl my eyes out at like 10:30PM while my boyfriend was asleep next to me. i haven’t cried that hard from a book in such a long time that i am astounded that han was able to do it. i have completely and utterly fallen in love with peter and lara and kitty and all the characters that hold significance in han’s story. it is just so good i can’t even stand it.

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The End of the Summer Before Forever

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here’s a review that is actually on-time! melissa chamber’s new summer teen romance was just released yesterday so here is my review for it; i hope you enjoy.

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The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers
Published by Entangled: digiTeen on August 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 274
Version: Digital Advanced Reader Copy
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 4 out of 5

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chloe drives herself, and of course her almost famous best friend jenna, to florida from her home in tennessee in order to live with her dad and his new finance for the summer. oh and her new almost step brother landon who turns out to be super hot.

while trying to understand her parents divorce and both of her parents dating other people now, chloe begins to see something in landon besides a bother. jenna decides chloe needs a summer bucket list that will end all summer bucket lists forever; this list will include things that are totally out of chloe’s comfort zone, but when landon wants to help out with the list, chloe comes around.

landon and chloe have their own challenges to face separately, but what if they decide they want to face them together? how would landon’s mom and chloe’s dad feel about how they aren’t feeling brotherly or sisterly at all–quite the opposite in fact. follow their journey as they try desperately to overcome these challenges of pain, family, and of course love.

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okay sooo i ended up falling in love with this novel. i started on shaky ground, since i read this after reading Kisses on a Paper Airplane. that novella left such a bad taste in my mouth that it transferred over, i think, into the beginning of this book. i was super hesitant while reading it, especially with the whole slight incestual relationship plot line that takes me back to shakespearean studies, but overall, to put it simply, i enjoyed this book!

i think those that enjoy fun, easygoing, but also suspenseful novel for the beach or end of summer shenanigans, will love chambers’ The Summer Before Forever. this book, though it didn’t really keep me guessing in the sense that i couldn’t figure out that the two characters could end up together in the end, but instead, they each developed their own, real-life problems that needed to be sorted out that i wasn’t expecting. most of the time, books that fit into this genre of young adult contemporary romance end in a cliche, the characters are too perfect, and everything reads like a poorly written copy of a nicholas sparks book/movie. however chambers’ story differs from that. chambers’ creates main characters, chloe, landon, and jenna, that bounce off of each other and complement each other in fantastic ways. landon, well every woman needs a landon in her life. he is sensitive, sweet, and caring, but also gorgeous–he’s definitely a reason to keep reading.

She looks up at me, and I catch her focusing on my dimple. I forget that thing’s there until I see a girl notice it (location 1581 on kindle).

though he, too, has a problem that is holding him back that i’m sure effects many other people that could be reading this book.

I stand and start counting them out. I’m somewhere around seven or eight when a kid behind me starts yelling at another kid, and I lose count, the numbers dissolving away in my brain. My face is hot, and I think beads of sweat are forming on my forehead (location 1253 on kindle).

and then there’s the main protagonist chloe. chloe is super intriguing to me because while she can come off as a cliche–the shy timid mouse compared to her slightly famous and super outgoing best friend jenna–she also has real moments too. chloe has problems at home with her dad and her parents divorce: this is a real life situation that impacts many of us. chloe is learning how to adapt to this new life that has been placed before her and everyone can relate to this whether it be because of a divorce, moving to a new town, losing someone, or anything.

Fear courses through my body as my stomach wrenches itself into knots. I’m basically a ragdoll in this dickhead’s arms. He could take me under that dock over there and rip off my clothes (location 364 on kindle).

i would say, slight disclaimer, that if you are looking for a good “bucket list” themed summer romance read, i would direct you to Since You’ve Been Gone by morgan matson. this one i felt captivated the whole summer bucket list theme much better than The Summer Before Forever did. i felt as if jenna’s bucket list was simply added to the plot to keep it going–now this worked out well for chambers because i did still enjoy the book and had a great time with the characters.

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“Meh” on a Paper Airplane

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you are warned! this is not a very nice review because i have found a book i didn’t enjoy. i’m just as surprised as you are because you might have noticed i’ve really only been raving about the past couple of books, but this one really through me. and surprisingly it got amazing reviews on amazon and goodreads (nothing on barns and noble yet)! granted, there are only about 20 reviews respectively, and i do try to shine light on some good points, but overall this book is not worthy of my time or kindle.

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Kisses on a Paper Airplane by Sarah Vance-Tompkins
Published by Inkspell Publishing on May 14th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 83
Version: Advanced Reader Copy
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 2.5 out of 5

 

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hannah evans is accepted into a prestigious acting school in london, england where she befriends her scandalous roommate julia. julia samples not only the english tea and country, but also the men, while hannah stays modest because she hasn’t even had her first kiss at seventeen years old. she is waiting for the most perfect moment and even more perfect boy. suddenly, hannah’s mother calls to inform her that she is now engaged and wants hannah to come back to the states, milwaukee, wisconsin to be exact, for the wedding. her new step-dad pays up and hannah flies first-class home from england, with a surprise flirt next to her.

theo callahan is a well-known british pop star with touchable red hair and an adorable accent. but he’s been hurt and is cautious about women now, however, on his way to NYC he meets a remarkable girl, someone who isn’t conventionally pretty but manages to steal his heart anyway in the first-class lounge. they get massages together and hold hands down the terminal before snuggling in for the long ride. he becomes completely taken by her, but what he doesn’t realize is that she might hurt him too.

will hannah ever get her first kiss? could it be with an international music sensation that she barely knows or recognizes at first? will theo ever truly trust a woman again? these questions are all answered in sarah vance-tompkin’s debut novella,  Kisses on a Paper Airplane.

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so what can i say about Kisses on a Paper Airplane? this is another advanced reader copies i received on my shelf from NetGalley, even though the book has already debuted. it doesn’t seem to be very well known yet, and on amazon, one can only buy it as a kindle edition. this could mean that the book is only available digitally–i’m not sure though about that. obviously if a book is available exclusively digitally, this could mean a few things like this is vance-tompkin’s first book, a smaller publishing agency / house, etc. etc.

i wanted to like this book very much because so far NetGalley hasn’t given me a book i didn’t like (i’ve only read one so far though), however Kisses on a Paper Airplane was simply a swing and a miss for me. vance-tompkins writing style is decent, could be improved, but really we all can, so it’s really not that that threw me. in fact, the plot line and characters seemed great and had much potential, i just felt that they weren’t expanded on enough for me. the story seemed very surface-level if that makes any sense. it’s too easy; it’s too simple; it’s too perfect for it to seem real enough for someone to escape into.

He was like a solar eclipse. You know how they say it’s dangerous to look directly at the sun during an eclipse, and yet once you do, you can’t look away? I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his perfect face (location 101 on kindle).

also there were a few displays of my biggest pet peeve’s when it comes to writing: putting in real life people and objects. there are exceptions to this rule of course, but something that has always annoyed me is when a writer uses real-life object terms such as iPhone or iPod, blu-ray player, and really anything specific enough to need the brand name. to me, this feels like a product placement plug, as if the writer is trying to be noticed by Apple and they feature her book because she mentioned their smartphone. there are many other synonyms for iPhone that one can use instead of needing to say the actual brand name: cell phone works fine, even smartphone, or simply “phone.” now it isn’t just Kisses on a Paper Airplane that does this, in fact an old favorite vampire series, House of Night, did this as well. i’m not sure why i get so turned off by it, but it really pulls me out of enjoying the book when i feel like i am reading product placement ads.

Kisses on a Paper Airplane also did this with people, specifically the british boy band, One Direction. now i loved that band just as much as any other hormone-induced fan girl that cried at their songs (admit it, you did) but that doesn’t mean that i am going to place them into my story, or even take time away from the dialogue to mention how much “i’ve cried over zayn leaving the band.” this is sloppy writing to me; it demonstrates that the author either can’t come up with anything interesting to say in their own work that they need to use outside, unrelated notes in order to meet a word count. this also makes the narrator / main character a complete replica of the writer, so much so that they are having modern day thoughts that are not going to stand the test of time. at some point the iPhone is going to become obsolete (if it isn’t already starting considering there are 7 different generations of it) as well as boy bands that are mostly already broken up anyways. by writing these objects and people that are solely pop culture references, your book is basically going to stay in this one era, it will not transfer generations.

I dug through my backpack and found my iPod…The first song [Julia chose] for me was One Direction’s The Story of My Life. I’m a Directioner all the way. Not gonna lie. The day Zayn quit, I shed more than one tear (location 307 on kindle).

finally, and this contradicts what i said in my last review of Taking the Reins, but i felt that this story wrapped up too nicely. while vance-tompkin’s writing is quite simple, i found myself skimming more than actually engaging as i was trying to just get through the story, at the same time, the story was too unrealistic for it to even make sense. it could have been the main character’s, hannah evans, dream for all we know, that’s how ludicrous it seemed. and i’ve read stories about flying wizards and dragons alongside vampires and zombies–things that are perpetually unreal seem more realistic than the characters and storyline we see here.

i wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to my friends, other than for them to have something easy, simple, and quick to read. because as i said in the beginning, the characters and plot line could have been good and i kept turning the page hoping for that good to jump out at me, but instead it seemed trivial and unrealistic.

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The Rosewoods Ride: Review of the first book

1471556475902recently i did some googling and found that there are pretty awesome websites that allow someone to sign up and receive advanced reader copies of books in order to review them. one of these websites is NetGalley, so i became a professional reader (for free, i might add, and i am not getting paid for my reviews) for NetGalley and will now be posted reviews / discussions about the copies of books i’ve received (digitally) from them.

the first advanced reader copy i received, the same day i signed up too, which was pretty cool, is titled Taking the Reins and is part of a growing series called The Rosewoods.

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The Rosewoods: Taking the Reins by Katrina Abbott
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on June 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 178
Version: Advanced Reader Copy
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 3.5 out of 5

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brooklyn prescott is not a normal girl. she comes from a family that lives in secret, thanks to their government job, and who only want the best for their son and daughter. so they ship brooklyn to the states for qaulity education at Rosewood Academy. a school glittering with wealthy socialites daughters, because naturally it is an all-girl school. that certainly doesn’t stop brooklyn or her friends she meets of course.

follow brooklyn on her journey as she reinvents herself for her new friends, as she figures out which boy is the cutest and most with her time, struggles with her horseback riding, and staying out of the dean’s way all in Katrina Abbott’s quirky and inviting language.

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i am giving the first book to this series a 3.5 out of 5 because there were things that did not flow well for me, but also things that i really did enjoy. i started and completed the book in one sitting during the span of one day, which is to say that it is an easy read and i was expecting this.

what i didn’t enjoy happened the most in the beginning. i understand, since i am a write myself, that it is hard to balance the amount of background information to give the reader versus the actions that are taking place at the moment the reader steps into the scene. it felt as if Abbott provided too much background information regarding the main character, brooklyn prescott’s, previous living situation, family, hobbies, etc. all of that seemed rather forced in the beginning, and although i would agree that it is necessary (for the most part), it could have come out a little more nicer. for example, brooklyn mentions her relationship with an older brother, robert, though that takes up some space in the beginning, he is never mentioned again. i’d like to repeat, though, that this is the first book in the series and so for all i know robert could and most likely does come up again in the proceeding editions. furthermore, brooklyn’s parents are total cia, fbi, international spies and while they have a super cool-sounding job, they nor their job are ever touched on after the first few chapters. if they are going to have that interesting of a life without brooklyn in it, then why bother mentioning it? like i said, perhaps this comes up later in the series, but for the first book, a lot of information is thrown at the reader to digest that isn’t brought up later.

what i did love about the book coincides with another small caveat to what i didn’t like. i grew to totally love the  characters, particularly the male characters.i fell right into step with brooklyn’s descriptions of both will (or dave) and brady. i could feel the tension between her and her different male counterparts, as well as the tension between friends when a boy was involved. clearly the boys of Westwood, brooklyn’s brother school to her all-girl academy, are very crucial to Abbott’s story. however, this plays into what i, with a bias i will admit, dislike. i am not the type of person that loves a series, and the fact that The Rosewoods series is ten books long, loosens my enjoyment of them. what i wanted was for the relationships to be wrapped in a nice bow and completed and the end, to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. however, abbott has other plans and leaves her story, naturally, on a cliffhanger. since the book didn’t take me long to finish, reading the next nine shouldn’t be too difficult…

“How’s this: ‘I had a great time with you last night, too, Jared. Except that when I got back to my dorm, I realized my favorite panties were gone. So today, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear any at all.”

His eyes didn’t move from mine, but he swallowed audibly (location 1930 on kindle).

i think readers who enjoy any young adult romance will enjoy this book. as i’ve mentioned before, it is an easier read so it’s perfect for the beach or a rainy day with nothing else to do. abbott’s character dialogue and brooklyn’s personality will have you turning the page over and over again, sucking in the prestigious lifestyle we all wish we could live. i thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to reading more of abbott’s work.

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